Wow.

THAT was a vacation.

Hands down the best, most memorable vacation of my life. Better than my honeymoon (and no, I don’t even say that with a bias or sarcastically. I had a wonderful honeymoon and as I’ve said before, I am glad I shared that experience with Pete, even though we are no longer married). Better than last year’s wine country experience (which I thought would be hard to do!).

I wouldn’t even know where to start with recapping the last ten days but to share a few snippets of some of my favorite moments, some stats, and some pictures. Here goes, friends:

  • I visited 27 winieries (including one I went to twice – our favorite vineyard from last year, that we are wine club members from – Field Stone Winery.) in total. 27!! My friend Jess and I got a head start on some of the others as we arrived at the ridiculously gorgeous house Saturday afternoon, while the rest trickled in Sunday (my sister and brother in law), Monday (my friend Meg) and Tuesday night (friends Jeannine and Shane).
  • A few of my favorites (if you ever get the chance to go – GO!!) – Field Stone (duh), J Winery (also a fave from last year, great brut rose champagne!), Windsor Oaks, Edmeades, Hawley, Glen Lyon and Williamson (though they were all great finds!!).
  • A hot air balloon ride over Napa Valley at sunrise on my 31st birthday. Wow. Just wow. If you ever have the chance – do it – don’t be afraid, it’s peaceful, serene, and a memory you’ll never forget.
  • About a bazillion glasses of wine – like whoa. We polished off 15 bottles of wine at night – not to mention the pour after pour after pour at the vineyards (averaging 4-5 tastings per day, anywhere from 4-8 pours!).
  • Learning to let go of routine – ack – this was difficult. And when I mean routine, I mean working out. I only worked out twice last week! It was hard to let go, way harder than I thought, but I think my body needed it after all of the half marathon training. (but needless to say, I’m back on the straight and narrow this week and no wine till Friday – THAT will be hard!).
  • Joining one wine club (Glen Lyon), bringing home one case of wine, and splitting two other cases of wine. Like whoa!

Many, many, many more memories from the last ten days and some pictures here should help as well. Thank you friends (and sister and bro in law) for a fantastic time, I’d do it all over again and again and again with you! (TWSS!)

 

Jess and I did a two day San Fran trip beforehand - Golden Date was awesome!

 

 

 

Grape-love at M. Schlumberger!

 

 

Sister shot with the grapes!

 

 

Glen Lyon had a gorgeous estate!

 

 

fake wine snobs 😉 "nice nose on that wine!" - good impression, right?!

 

 

whee hot air balloon!! Goofy grin firmly plastered on my face!

 

 

sunrise over Napa...from the hot air balloon.

 

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Bliss.

Happiness.

Simplicity.

Breathtaking.

Lifetime memories.

An amazing experience that I will never, ever, forget, and it’s not even close to being over.

On the eve of my 31st birthday, I am right where I’m supposed to be. Firmly planted. Breathing it all in.

As I sat at the most breathtaking vineyard (a private tour of the Glen Lyon Vineyard owned by none other than Squire Fridell (the Toyota commercial guy and none other than Ronald McDonald!!), I was utterly speechless. Pictures don’t do it justice (I will post some later when I get home), it was just amazing. Vineyards for acres, sprawling hills and mountains no matter where you turned. Yes, this is where I’m meant to be as I turn 31 tomorrow…ending a year that was most certainly me, in every single sense of the word.

Cheers friends.

me amid the grapes at Field Stone - my favorite winery

~~

PS – Jen came home from the hospital today. I am so thankful. Another 5-week recovery, but she’s on the road, friend, and that’s all that matters. Love you sister.

The fourth in a series of posts on my dad, growing up with (and without) him, and our eventual reconciliation (one of many).

Just prior to our 30th birthday – an epic weekend we had been planning (my sisters and I) for months, since a) we love birthdays (especially our own! Everyone teases us that it becomes a birthday weekend, but shouldn’t it? There are three of us celebrating!) and b) it was our 30th! That’s a huge milestone, no? My dad had been planning a big dinner out in Boston with my sisters, my mom (side note – my mom and dad have since come to a better place, where they are civil and can be in the same room together, so this wasn’t a huge thing, but it did mean a lot to us that both were planning this) and my dad, prior to an epic bar crawl planned the next day.

An argument ensued. Of which I was no part of, but my sisters were. And the argument itself has not much bearing, to be honest, to the outcome of it. My sisters banded together and refused to speak to him, as he had said some of the most hurtful, painful words to my sisters, and words that should never, ever, ever be uttered from father to daughter. I couldn’t even read some of the emails or listen to the voicemails (cue not letting myself get hurt…), but what did hurt me was how much it hurt both of them.

And it made me angry because somehow I got lumped into this fight, and he didn’t speak to me either (not that I truly wanted him to…).

My divorce date passed. No call from him.

My house closing passed, no call from him.

My move date came and went, no call from him (and he had agreed to help me move to, for the record, so he knew the date…yet another broken promise).

That hurt. It felt like a slap in the face, as we’d all gotten closer to him in the last year, had let him into our lives. He was extremely supportive of my divorce, he had the defensive papa bear hat on, and was upset that Pete had ‘done this’ to me, and I appreciated it. I let him in, and I hadn’t truly done that before.

And then this.

Needless to say, our birthday celebration with dad was off. We hadn’t spoken to him for two weeks leading up to our birthday in October, and were not expecting to speak to him on our birthdays. My sisters and I were together, celebrating our birthday together, when first Jess’s cell phone rang. Dad. She didn’t answer. Then Jen’s cell phone rang. Dad. She didn’t answer. And finally, my cell phone rang. I didn’t answer.

We listened to the voicemails. He had called us at exactly our birth date and time….8:02, 8:04 and 8:06 pm. He wished us happy birthdays. I could tell he was sad, almost broken, and he may have been crying. He was at least probably drinking.

We didn’t call him back.

None of us.

The words he’d said, and the pain he’d caused was what stopped us. He hadn’t apologized. He hadn’t even tried. A phone call on our birthday wasn’t enough. We needed more.

He called us at Christmas. And on New Year’s. We didn’t answer, nor call back for the very same reason. It wasn’t enough.

Finally, this spring (2010), he reached out. He called Jen and said he was wrong, he said some very bad things, he made the biggest mistake of his life and he wanted to make it up to us. He cried.

He never cries.

And least of all, he never apologies. Ever. EVER.

So we agreed to meet at his house. Just us. No girlfriend (his), no husbands (Jess or Jen’s). Just us.

To be continued…

The third in a series of posts on my dad, growing up with (and without) him, and our eventual reconciliation (one of many).


After my parents officially divorced (a couple of years after they really separated, from what I recall) when we were 9 or 10, we didn’t see our father much. He tended to fall for the wrong women, get in trouble (fighting with them, letting them ‘take’ his money etc), and well, he’d always put them first, before us. So, when he had a girlfriend, he’d tend to disappear for awhile, or want to have us meet the latest woman in his life, something we never really wanted to do. And that would drive him farther away.

As did child support. He had a knack for finding ways out of paying child support (as measly the sum he somehow finagled his way into), disappearing, getting paid under the table so he wouldn’t have money ‘on the books’ showing how much he really had, or simply not paying.

That is something to this day that I can’t truly forget, because I can’t respect a man that won’t support his children. My mom struggled as a single parent, trying to go back to school to finish her degree when we were in middle/high school, and to put food on the table. We were on food stamps. And ‘government cheese.’ But we made it. With some help from family, and a lot of determination and willpower and God’s graces, we made it through some tough times as a family financially. My sisters and I got jobs at 14 and have never looked back. Probably why we have always, always had jobs, full-time in the summer, part-time during school, and never really taking time off for a ‘summer off’ as many of our friends did. (One of the things I wish I could have – or found a way to – do, at least in college, or before diving into full-time employment after graduating. Cie la vie.).

But, back to my father and my relationship with him. Unlike Jen, who loved him so much…in large part for who she wanted him to be, and Jess, who just got angry with him and would fight back (verbally) when he would say hurtful things to us, or push us away, I never really let myself get close enough to get hurt.

I saw what it did to Jen. Broke her heart. Over and over.

I saw what it did to Jess. Make her angry, hurt her feelings. Pissed her off.

And I just didn’t care enough to let him get close enough to hurt me or make me angry. I am sure that comes across a bit callous, but it was my defense mechanism. If I didn’t care enough, it wouldn’t hurt enough.

Fast forward to fall 2009….to be continued.

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Bliss

Wow, what an amazing finish to a fantastic week off! Literally the last three days have been filled with nothing but the beach, good friends, and relaxation. Some of the moments from this weekend are by far, in my top 10 of the summer.

A couple of moments I want to capture:

…heading to my friend Steph’s private beach on Friday for a couple of hours with our other Kick friend Jacqui. Crystal clear water, not a soul around except for us, and a glass of prosseco.

…girls night at my place on Friday, with a few of my friends, capped off with a drink at one of my fave summer bars.

…one of my best runs to date on Saturday morning, again with Steph and Jess and Scott. It was only 60 degrees at 7 am, the air was crisp, the sun was shining and my shins didn’t cramp once. Made it 10 miles in 1:52…slow to most, but my fastest as well! *pats self on back*

…Beach day #2 again at Steph’s beach, with Jess and Scott as well. Another perfect day of weather, more prosseco, capped off with an awesome cookout at their place, with a few other friends (and Steph’s cute brother Josh…hehe), a bonfire, and tiki torches. And wine. 😉

…sleeping in a bit, eating breakfast on the patio this morning, complete silence. Much needed and enjoyed.

…beach day #3 with my friend Jess. Took awhile to find a beach with parking that hadn’t filled and damn, was it a scorcher (in the 90s today), so we only lasted a couple hours, however, it ended with a yummy ice cream twist down the street from her house. Yum, like whoa.

I couldn’t have asked for a better vacation to (somewhat) end the summer. It’s been an amazing summer and I’m totally planning my top 10 summer memories post for this week or next. And my “dad” series as well. Happy Sunday funday! 🙂

Jess, Steph and me

Okay, maybe I’d just *date* you…don’t want to jump in *too* fast now, do we? 😉

Wow, what can I say? Maine was again, amazing, and exactly what I needed. From Friday afternoon until last night, I was in an utter state of happiness, relaxation and appreciation. Growing up, I think I took for granted the little piece of heaven that is Maine, and the fact that it’s a wonderful way to spend some quality time with my grandparents, too. Every day, I realize how lucky I am to have them both in such good health, and to have a close relationship with them.

For example…

Gram joked with me that “we” need to find me a man (and then proceeded to tell me about the cute man at her church…who’s actually twice divorced. Um, that’s a wee bit more baggage than I’m looking for, but it was cute and funny and I loved it).

We played a mean game of dominoes complete with de-lish blueberry cake that Gram made from the fresh blueberries we picked the day prior (pics below, take a gander!).

Gram and Gramp shaking their heads in half-teasing, half-‘shame’ at our forgetting to take our floaties in before a big thunderstorm and away they flew (but, Jess and Scott managed a successful search and rescue mission on the jetski and found two of them, so all was not lost).

Gram sharing a story with me from childhood, a story I had never heard before, and I’ll never forget it, the perspective, the hindsight, too, and well, the real-ness of the conversation.

Gram and Jess and me taking an impromptu mini-hike up the street and into the woods on the hunt for blackberries (which weren’t ripe, sadly, but I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle that was Jess as she ran and screeched away from a bunch of horse flies that seemed to love hovering over her head. I did, however, manage to thwack a few of them right on her head, killing them!).

…those moments were moments I loved and appreciated and capture here, and in my memory.

A few others?

Spending a wonderful, fun, reminiscing, wine-filled long weekend with Amy and Eric. We had a blast. We played Balderdash (which was hysterical. if you have never played it, definitely do!). We played Trivial Pursuit (boys vs. girls, and um, for the record, it’s not our fault we kept getting questions with multiple choice answers!). We just enjoyed the time together. If they lived here, we’d be together all the time. I’m convinced. They rock.

Reading “The Lovely Bones” from cover to cover in two days. Amazing book. Loved it.

Taking an impromptu nap on the dock on the one cloudy afternoon we had. Hearing the waves lapping the shore, boats chugging by, and the birds chirping was the perfect recipe for a nap.

Enjoying many an afternoon glass of wine or frosty cocktail, because, why not, right?

Running to the foot of the lake and back a few times, trying to channel my inner runner, focus on nature and not on my screaming lungs (half-successfully!).

Blueberry picking with Ames, Eric and Jess (and again, Jess gets bombarded with horse flies – wtf perfume were you wearing sis?! ;-))

Doing a bootcamp-type workout on the dock with Jess on Tuesday morning. So awesome to do, as the lake with our backdrop, smooth as glass.

I could go on and on, but I’ll leave you with a few more pictures of the vacation I’m sure I’d marry if it were a man 😉

Blueberry picking!

Blueberry picking!

see that vat? we got three of those bad boys - yum!

see that vat? we got three of those bad boys - yum!

Jess posing with the berries ;)

Jess posing with the berries 😉

stuffed burgers anyone?

stuffed burgers anyone?

Kayla gazing out the window post t-storm

Kayla gazing out the window post t-storm

Nala cuddling with her mom - I love this pic.

Nala cuddling with her mom - I love this pic.