A Boat Charter to the Thimble Islands

9.05.2020

In mid-August, a scary reality dawned on me...the summer was almost over, and I had little to show for it!  It's as if I turned on a light switch, and the darkness was suddenly revealed.  I kept looking at the calendar, as if it were my first time, counting the days.  "No, that can't be right.  School isn't starting in less than two weeks."

COVID-19 stopped everything.  There were no amusement parks, adventure parks, weekend getaways, museum trips, trips to the movies, or restaurant reservations.  Sure, some of these places opened up with appropriate social distancing measures, but we didn't even consider them with my 75+ mom living with us.  In my daily habit of doing the same-ole-same-ole, I neglected to consider that we could have made plans doing safe activities--activities that would have been fun if I only took the time to think outside the box, do some research, and be a little creative...

On August 17th, after two months of being asleep at the wheel, I finally started researching activities on the internet, and guess what?  I discovered that if I had opened my mind a bit, I would have seen there were actually many safe alternatives to staying home.  There was a two-seater boat tour in Mystic (Mystic Boat Adventures), bicycle rentals, Harley rentals, kayak rentals, and the like.  There was hot air ballooning, RV rentals, and glamping (luxurious campsites with heated tents, tree houses, or another unique places to stay).  Unfortunately, I was so wrapped up in my own depression, fear, and anxiety that I let an entire summer go by without any plans, and now, in less than two weeks, it was time for school...the carefree weeks of summer vacation would be over!

On the 17th, I started researching Thimble Island Cruises--an activity in Connecticut that I always wanted to experience.  I didn't like the idea of going on a boat with other passengers, but hey, maybe I could be convinced to think otherwise.  

Then I read... "This year only...charter a boat for less than $200 and invite up to 15 passengers to go on a one hour boat tour."  The only "hitch" was that the boat charter was not available on the weekends; I could only charter the boat Monday - Thursday, so I had to take a day off from work and find others that could do the same.  On the 18th, I called to make boat reservations, and before I knew it, I was asking friends to join me for that Thursday (the 20th).  My sister-in-law could go with her four kids since, being a school teacher, she would not be expected to return until August 24th.  Then two of my grade-school friends could come with their two children as well.  (Their husbands couldn't get the time off from work, but then again, if they had, we would have been over the 15 person limit.)  I wanted to invite other friends, too, but we couldn't go over the limit...not even by one person.
























The day ended up being spectacular.  In fact, the weatherman said the temperature and the dew point made it one of the top ten best days of the year.  We wore our masks onto the "Sea Mist," but once we were on, we social distanced by family.  Each family found their own comfy spot on the top deck of the boat, and we enjoyed taking in the views.  We learned a little bit of history, too, such as there are 365 Thimble Islands, and the name of the islands come from the Thimbleberry, a plant native to the area that produced sweet, red berries, similar to raspberries.   Unfortunately today, the captain told us that the Thimbleberry plant doesn't even exist on the islands anymore.  While some of the islands are nothing more than a rock (that stays above sea after high tide), some of the other islands are populated and lavish...with beautiful houses, decks, and even swimming pools.  We all joked about each of us purchasing our own island.  I found my dream island above...it's the one with the ski chalet type house with solar panels.

On the tour, my two close friends surprised Lewie by bringing him birthday gifts (since they weren't able to come over for his big day).  They also brought Munchkins to share (in lieu of a cake) since we were limited in terms of what we could bring aboard the boat.  They sang "Happy Birthday," and so, Lewie was able to celebrate his 12th birthday AGAIN--"Sea Mist" style!   

The hour tour went by fast, so when we disembarked, we decided to find a nearby restaurant with outdoor dining; some of the restaurants closed in the area by 3 p.m., so we drove to the next town over and ate at a popular seafood restaurant.  There, we sat at picnic tables and enjoyed food like fried clams, lobster rolls, fried shrimp, onion rings, hot dogs, burgers, and fries. We talked about our summers, the 2020 that never was, and of course, the looming first day of school that was bringing a little anxiety to all of us.

At the end of the day, we vowed to send each other pictures, and we all left, grateful for having this last "summer experience" to enjoy together.  I left wishing I had planned more unique outings like this but also feeling satisfied at the same time.  It was better late than never.  It's a day, for sure, that will go down in the "history books" as the boat ride during COVID-19 that made life feel normal and even a bit joyous.  We will rise above this pandemic, and our friendships will endure this and any challenge that comes our way.

Happy Birthday to my 12 Year-Old Tween!

8.12.2020

Well, it's official;  my son is a tween!  He doesn't quite have the sassiness of the teen years, but he has entered a new phase where he's a bit more vocal about what he likes and what he doesn't.  Each year, Lewie's personality becomes more pronounced, and it's interesting to compare our similarities and differences.  For example, Lewie is a creature of habit and a home body; he's just as content to stay home as he is to go on a short outing, and in most cases, he prefers to stay home!  For me, on the other hand, I like travel, adventure, and trying new things--a fun day for me is usually finding somewhere new to explore (instead of staying home).

The one thing I LOVE about this kid, however, is that he is as sweet, kind, and generous as can be; he has a big heart and is both sentimental and grateful.  He loves reminiscing about old times, and he repeatedly mentions the people and things in his life that he's most thankful for...  A psychic once told my mother-in-law that Lew and I would have a boy, and he would be an "old soul."  Well, in my opinion, the psychic couldn't have been more accurate.  This kid sometimes displays more wisdom than me, helping me see when my Type A personality and perfectionist attitude gets in the way of true enjoyment and happiness.  He reminds me that sometimes it's okay to "just be" and "enjoy the peace found in the moment" (instead of trying to conquer it)!

This year, our birthday celebration was quiet.  We had Lewie's best friend visit him the day before, and then Aunty Kiki and Karen visited him on his special day.  We promised that other friends and family would see him in the next few weeks, too, but we would keep gatherings small, so we could allow for appropriate social distancing.

To make the day special, we had ice cream for lunch at Rich's Farm, and Grammy made him his favorite chocolate cake.  We also spent most of the day swimming in our pool, and of course, we had Bruce come in for a short swim, too.  With Little Lewie, being Little Lewie, he thanked us multiple times for an awesome party, and said today was the best birthday ever.  How can I not be grateful for such an awesome kid!!






To end this special birthday post, I am posting my annual interview with Lewie.  Some answers have changed from last year, but many are the same, proving, once again, that Little Lewie is definitely a creature of habit.

Here is this year's interview:

Q:  What is your favorite color?
A:  "Orange." (This is the same as last year.)

Q:  What is your favorite book?
A:  "It's hard to say; I like all of Katherine Applegate's books."  (So far, we read, Home of the Brave, Wishtree, The One and Only Ivan, and Crenshaw.)

Q:  What is your favorite cartoon?
A:  "The Amazing World of Gumball." (This is the same as last year.)

Q:  What is your favorite movie?
A:  "My favorite movie that I watched this year was A Dog's Purpose."

Q:  What is your favorite board game?
A:  "Chinese Checkers."  (He's been recently playing this A LOT with Grammy.)

Q:  What is your favorite computer game?
A:  "TABS (Totally Accurate Battle Simulator)."  (Of course, he asked for the Oculus Rift S for his birthday, and he's really been enjoying playing Rec Room in VR.)

Q:  What is your favorite place or favorite vacation?
A:  "I can't choose. I loved all of our vacations."

Q:  What is your favorite thing to do at school?
A:  "P.E. (Gym)." (This is the same as last year.)

Q:  Who is your favorite teacher?
A:  "To be honest with you...still Miss Drayton, my second grade teacher."

Q:  What is your favorite sport?
A:  "Dodge Ball."

Q:  What is your favorite food?
A:  "French Toast." (This is the same as last year.)

Q:  What is your favorite ice-cream flavor?
A:  "Sweet Cream." (This is the same as last year.)

Q:  What is your favorite thing to do with Mommy?
A:  "Walking and jumping on the trampoline with you."

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A:  "Either a Youtuber or a game developer."

Q:  What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy?
A:  "Go swimming with him."

Q:  What is your favorite moment as an eleven year-old?
A:  I forgot to ask this question, so I'll find out tomorrow!

A COVID Summer

8.08.2020

This summer has been, well, different.  There's no summer camp, no pool parties, no amusement parks, no sleepovers, and, so far, no vacations.  Perhaps the most difficult decision was to cancel (or postpone) our trip to Glacier National Park.  In July, we were going to go on an awesome 10 day trip of hiking, sightseeing, boating and adventure parks, but as the date grew nearer, we realized it would be too risky to fly and be in crowded spaces, especially since we have my 76 year-old mom living in the same house!

I can't say, however, this summer has been terrible.  We are still managing to visit friends and family (one small group at a time), and we've been spending more time outdoors than ever before.  Even more, we've added our puppy, Bruce, into the mix, and he's made life anything but boring. 

Here's Summer 2020 at a glance:

In June, we went strawberry picking.  We tried a new farm and loved it.  The social distancing was perfect so that neither of us needed to wear a mask, plus the strawberries were ripe, juicy, and delicious.  We even treated ourselves to a Dunkin' Donuts Frozen Hot Chocolate on the ride back home.  It was the perfect treat to end a perfect day outdoors.






We went to the lake house!  Friends of my dad invited the three of us to enjoy a day at Gardner Lake in Salem, CT.  Not only was the ride beautiful (we took back roads that brought us through Durham, Haddam, and East Haddam), but we had a chance to swim, relax on floats, jet ski, and go tubing.  It was a beautiful day spent outdoors reminiscing with old family friends.





We swam, lit a campfire, and made s'mores.



We hiked in new places...many new places...













And we enjoyed lots of puppy antics while watching Bruce grow!!







And so while life has definitely been moving slower, we haven't been doing less.  We are just having a chance to enjoy the simpler things...right next to home.