Newport Flower Show


This weekend my mom and I were able to share another mother-daughter day--this time to Newport, Rhode Island.  Over the past few years, my mom and I haven't been able to take any special day trips together, so I'll admit that I feel spoiled now that we were able to squeak in two trips in a little less than a month.  (Our first trip was to the Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill.)

The theme to the Newport Flower Show was "Jade: Eastern Obsessions," and it was held in one of the famous Newport mansions called Rosecliff.  While my mom and I are not avid gardeners (we dabble here and there), we certainly do appreciate flowers and often fantasize about turning our own backyard into a beautiful, serene oasis one day. So, going on this trip did exactly that--it gave us a chance to spend valuable time together, and it gave us a chance to dream.  It was a much needed respite for both of us that have been working "double duty" at work and feeling too overwhelmed and exhausted to daydream about the future.  (I feel stunted when I don't have a chance to daydream...)

For all of you flower lovers (or daydreamers that want your own backyard to turn into an enchanted garden), these pictures are for you:

A beautiful lily pad reflection pool w/ patio.

This rock structure offers a beautiful waterfall.  (Lewie would love playing in it all day long.)

Chinese lanterns!!

A gorgeous stone walkway.

Dining in elegance.

Me (the Rosecliff Mansion is in the background)

I love the idea of adding Chinese parisols to a garden setting.

A garden "in miniature."  This one won first place!

A unique flower exhibit.

My mom standing beside the Ocean wall at the Rosecliff Mansion.

What do you daydream about?

Hot Air Ballooning for Father's Day


For Father's Day weekend, my husband and I decided to take a quick, four day trip to Vermont.  We found a great getaway deal from Travelzoo that we couldn't resist, which included a three-night stay at the Castle Hill Resort and Spa with extra credits towards two massages and a dinner for two.  Before booking the reservation, I made sure our little guy could come with us too.  Fortunately, they found a room that could accommodate the three of us, and they didn't even charge us extra!

By far, the highlight of staying at this resort was the pool and hot tub.  The outside pool was heated, which means that the water was typically warmer than the air, and the hot tub was nearby for convenient access after the pool.  Both the pool and hot tub used a fine salt to keep the water clean instead of chlorine, which means there was no chlorine smell, no burning eyes, and no green hair.  We made sure to use the pool everyday--Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning.

On Saturday, we had decided to attend the 34th Annual Quechee Hot Air Balloon Craft and Music Festival.  While riding on a hot air balloon is definitely on my "bucket list," we didn't make reservations to ride one this time.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money and have our little guy be afraid.  Instead, we figured it would be just as fun (well almost) to watch them all go up into the air at once.  After enjoying the festival itself, we walked over to the field at 6 p.m. to prepare for the hot air balloon lift off.  At first, the weather didn't seem to be cooperating and so all of the hot air balloons were lying dormant on the field.  Then, all of a sudden (around 6:30ish), the breeze seemed to dissipate, and before we knew it, 21 balloons were inflating and preparing for lift off.  While they didn't all take off at once, they did follow each other in close sequence--one, then another, then another, and then another.  I got emotional after watching the first one leave the ground; it was such an exhilarating experience, and my brain didn't know how else to handle it other than to make my eyes well up with tears.  Lewie, amazed, even said to me, "Mommy, I never saw anything like this in my whole life."  After the fifth or sixth balloon, however, he was eyeing the playground and wanted me to push him on the swings.  Kids--go figure!

On Father's Day, we treated ourselves to massages while we took turns watching Little Lewie, and for dinner, we used our restaurant credit to eat at their castle.  While eating at the castle was cool (Lewie enjoyed going into the different rooms to look for secret passage ways), my husband and I both agreed that the environment was a little too stiff for our liking.  Most of the couples were older, and for this reason, they seemed somewhat displeased that we brought our very active four year-old to dinner.  While no one said anything to us in particular, we did receive lots of glares.  All I could say is that Little Lewie behaved wonderfully in my eyes.  He didn't talk too loud, and when it took a while to be served our food, he was very well mannered as we walked into the other rooms of the castle to keep him entertained.  We certainly couldn't be blamed for interrupting any one's dinner.

All in all, we had a wonderful trip, and I feel very grateful that my extra online teaching assignments were able to help pay for it.  The next time we go to the Quechee Festival, (yes, I plan on going back), I definitely want to be in one of those balloons!

It only took a matter of minutes for each hot air balloon to inflate!

The very first "lift off."  This balloon was from Fairfield, CT--not far from us.

More balloons getting ready...

The next two balloons preparing for flight.

Up, up and away!

The race to "the top"

And we have another lift off...

I love this picture.  The hot air balloon was literally right above us.

Floating away...

Taking a picture from the playground area.

Anyone that's seen Wicked the musical would appreciate this balloon.  It says, "Defy Gravity" on the other side.

Big Lew and Little Lew on Father's Day.

My husband and me... Little Lew took the picture!

My husband spotted an orange salamander outside of the castle.

Me and my little guy in front of the fountain.

There was a wedding here on Saturday.  The tent actually has chandeliers inside!

The Castle, built in 1902.

The other side of the Castle.

Big Lew enjoying the hot tub.

Me taking pictures of the pool.  

Another picture of the pool area.  (I'm a sucker for gardens and landscape design.)

Taking a swim in the 80+ degree water.

Fairy Dust...


Like all kids, Lewie has an active imagination, especially at night.  Starting as early as age two, he'd be worried about open closets, large shadows, and mysterious noises inside or outside the house.  At age three, he'd be worried about one more thing--bad dreams.

I often wonder why kids have nightmares or night terrors.  (There's a difference; you can read about them here.)  Evidently, it sounds like they can become worse in preschool, and even such anxieties like starting kindergarten can be a cause for them.  My little boy has a tendency to dream about ghosts, witches, and all around scary stuff, which has been a reason for me to reduce his intake of Scooby Doo.    I have to say that since his fascination with Scooby Doo has been replaced by Thomas the Train, he appears to have less scary dreams--a major plus for Thomas to say the least.

One night, when Lewie was nearing age three, he had a bad dream and was inconsolable.  He insisted on going to bed with Mommy and Daddy, and if this couldn't happen, then he wanted to go downstairs to watch cartoons instead.  Being very tired and worried about another long day at work, I was desperate to get my little boy back to sleep without bringing him into our cramped queen bed.  I brainstormed, and then it hit fairy dust.

Years ago, I bought fairy dust, a very light, shimmery powder, at a Renaissance Fair.  I'd use it on my skin and around my eyes if I was going out dancing, but now that my dancing days had expired, I had no use for the powder...

"Lewie, I have something that will give you good dreams," I said enthusiastically.  "It's a very special secret.  Do you want to see it?"

Of course, Lewie wanted to see it.  What kid can resist a secret?

I told him to wait in his bedroom as I fumbled for it in the bathroom.  When I finally reentered his bedroom, I let him watch me take it out of a soft, navy blue, velvet pouch.  "When I want to have good dreams, I just put a little fairy dust on my wrists and forehead," I said, "then I think about things that make me happy."

Well, Lewie didn't just want the fairy dust on his wrists and forehead.  He wanted me to sprinkle it on his pillow, put some on his palms, and of course, he wanted to touch it for himself.  I must say the fairy dust does look and feel pretty magical.

That night, he slept "like a baby" (no pun intended), and now, to this day, we still use it to ward off bad dreams.  Sometimes he asks for it before he goes to bed, and sometimes he doesn't remember to ask for it until after he's woken up from a bad dream.  The only thing I can say is that my fairy dust does the trick.  It brings happy thoughts and peace to my little boy, so I plan to use it for as long as he will let me...

"Mommy, can you put some fairy dust on me?" my little guy asks tonight before we start his bedtime ritual of bedtime stories and a prayer.

"I sure can, my Little Lewie.  I sure can..."

I wish I had fairy dust when I was younger to ward off all of my bad dreams...

Who knew this little jar could have medicinal properties like drinking Chamomile tea before bed?

A Day Out With Mom (A Trip to the Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill)


Every third Thursday in the month of May, the Beacon Hill neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts invites the public to view some of their "hidden gardens" in their brick courtyards.  Having formed in 1928, the Beacon Hill Garden Club has been active for 85 years, and in 1929, they began their first "open gardens tour," which charged $1 tickets to view eleven gardens.  (Today the tickets are $35.)

In 2000, (almost 13 years ago), I took my mom on a trip to Boston to participate in their garden tour.  This year, when I surprised my mom with the tickets, she became anxious.

"Annette, I can't do this tour now.  I'm not used to walking a lot and that area has lots of hills.  I think you should invite someone else."

My heart sunk.  I know my mom is turning 70 this year, but I never thought of her as too old or too 'out-of-shape.'

"That's why we have to do it this year," I answered, "we're not getting any younger, and some day, we won't be able to do it.  Besides, I remember there being restaurants and cafes in the area. If we get tired, we can go to one and relax.  We don't have to view all the gardens.  It will be fun just to see a few of them."

And so it was decided, we were both going on the trip after all.

We took a tour bus, which dropped us off at the Boston Common, and we walked a few blocks to the very beautiful, historic, and posh neighborhood of Beacon Hill. (Townhouses range in the area of $650,000 to $4 million.)

While some lines were fairly long, my mom and I weaved around the area to find the homes with the shorter lines, so we could make the best use of our time.  To my surprise, my mom not only did great walking (even on the steep inclines), but she did better than me.  After viewing our tenth garden, I was ready to give up, but it was my mom that insisted we could go to 'one more.'

While I had no problem walking around the area, I struggled for two reasons; the first is that I didn't bring comfortable shoes to walk in that day, (I originally thought they would be comfortable), and the second was that my allergies were at an all-time high.  The pollen from all the beautiful flowers and gardens made my nose run like a faucet; even my extra-strength allergy medicine couldn't stop it.

After spending a long five hours touring the gardens, the bus then brought us to Quincy Market where we had a chance to eat and shop before our excursion officially ended.

Indeed, I was proud that my mom did so well on the trip, and I think she may have even surprised herself.  Before Lewie was born, I used to take my mom on lots of day trips and weekend excursions, but once he was born, as all moms know, he became my primary focus, and so all our trips were unintentionally postponed.

Now that Lewie's older, I made a promise to myself to rekindle our special mother-daughter days.  I know one day, in the very near future, Lewie will even be able to join us.  One thing I've learned is that special moments like these are not guaranteed; sometimes you have to make them happen before it's too late.

A Wisteria Tree growing along side one of the Beacon Hill Townhouses

My awesome mom waiting to enter one of the courtyard gardens.

A beautiful window box.

One of the magnificent courtyards.

More beautiful gardens and fountains.

The "garden area" of someone's town house.  I LOVE the historic feel of this house.

An absolutely elegant backyard living room.

Me in front of a popular flower shop.  I would have loved to buy everything in the store!

Isn't this a cool staircase leading to an upper patio?  The 'fireplace' is a fountain.

Are you a "Shark Tank" fan?  If so, you might remember this business getting a loan from 'Mr. Wonderful.'

My mom in Quincy Market.

Me in front of the Wicked Good Cupcakes Store.  How cool that this family-owned business is now in Quincy Market?