Life Lately

Last Friday morning, we had a meeting with Ryder’s Kindergarten principal (yes… I said Kindergarten!!!  I know… me neither.).  The decision to make the investment to put Ryder in a private school was not an easy one.  But every step of the way, Ryan and I both feel God’s reassurance that it was the very best decision, and this meeting was no exception.  Our sweet principal meets face-to-face with every new student and their families to answer questions and get to know us all personally.  Ryder was quite a ham, and his typical charming self.  We’re so excited for fall and the next chapter for our big boy.

Grandma (Ryan’s mom) had come over to stay with Evan while we were at our meeting.  So once we got home, she loaded up both boys (and their bikes) and headed off to her house where Grandpa and Auntie Heather and Cousin Tirzah were waiting to play.  They “swam” in the hottub, got spoiled with fudge pops, and played on the new teeter totter… and at the end of the day, they were all sufficiently exhausted.  Winning!

Ryan decided to take the entire day off, instead of just going back to work after the meeting.  And since both boys were hanging out with Grandma & Grandpa all day, we planned to have a date day.  What a rare blessing to get to spend seven (awake) hours together – just the two of us!  For several days, we tossed ideas around about what to do and where to go.  I even sought suggestions from friends on Facebook.  Our final decision was one that nobody would’ve guessed, and keeping the surprise until after the day was over made it even more fun.

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you’ve come to understand that offering me an alcoholic beverage of (almost) any kind is an exercise in futility.  I’m not opposed to others drinking (in moderation). I simply don’t enjoy the taste of alcohol.  Very occasionally, I’ll partake in a mudslide or some other fruity concoction that masks the taste of jet fuel.  And for as long as I can remember, I’ve proclaimed that wine tastes like feet.  I even toasted with water at my own wedding.  I’m often surprised that Ryan’s family has kept me around as long as they have!  Nearly everyone in his immediate and extended family is well-versed in the finer points of wine consumption.  Many of them even have special sections filled with their favorite wines in his parents’ personal wine cellar.  And while I usually accompany them on their wine tasting field trips, I’ve never actually tasted it with them (even when I wasn’t pregnant).  On one particular outing several years ago, I even purchased a t-shirt (intended for children, even though it fit me) that said “I like my grapes in jam” and wore it proudly.  They eventually stopped begging asking me to try, stopped trying to convince me that I’d love some particular blend, and even stopped putting a wine glass at my spot around the dinner table (unless they planned to fill it with sparkling cider).

In a surprising move, Ryan lovingly suggested adding wine tasting to our date’s itinerary.  Knowing that it’s something he enjoys, and also knowing that it is possible that my tastes have changed over the years, I agreed… on the condition that he was patient with me, and didn’t make fun of me for not liking anything.  He agreed… and I agreed.  So off we went.

We decided it would be best to go to Livermore since we’d be joining the boys for dinner in Tracy, and visited Bent Creek Winery first.  The tasting room was small but cute, and their one-eared barn cat was laying sweetly in the doorway waiting for a pet.  The man behind the counter wasn’t very friendly or interested in conversation, so we didn’t stay long.  But I did like their Red on Red, and both of their Ports (he served one with candied pecans and one with chocolate… we bought the one with chocolate, naturally).  Next was McGrail.  I remember visiting their winery several years ago because the grounds and tasting room are really beautiful.  The gal who helped us was friendly and gave me good advice: don’t judge any wine by the first sip… give it at least one more.  Unfortunately, I didn’t really like anything I tasted there.  We decided to try one more winery before calling it a day and looking for lunch, so we stopped at Wente (where I bought my “jam” shirt years ago).  This ended up being a two-for because TaMas was also on their property.  Again, the pouring staff left something to be desired in their professionalism, but they had a couple of really delicious Ports (which we purchased).

Apparently, we saved the best for last, because we came away with quite a haul from Wente.  I guess it also helps that Ryan had helped me narrow down the kinds of flavors I preferred… lots of fruit, not a lot of spice, and very smooth, creamy “oak-y” wines were my favorite (aside from the really sweet stuff).  The lady behind the bar was wonderful – very knowledgeable and friendly, and willing to help a wine rookie like me without making me feel dumb for liking sweeter stuff.  She has worked in the wine industry forever, so she and Ryan also had lots to chat about.  They managed to hit the nail on the head for me, and I loved everything she offered me.  We came away with a red, a couple of whites, a Riesling, and a couple of muscats, including an really yummy orange one.


I’m so grateful my sweet husband knows me so well.  He allowed me to quietly experience something new, without any pressure or goading from the peanut gallery.  The weather was beautiful, and we got to spend time together without any distractions.  When we got back to Tracy for dinner, we were rewarded with jaw-dropping surprise on the faces of our family when we told them where we’d been.

The next morning, we loaded up bright and early and went to the Woodland Highland Games.  We are McFarlands and my parents were hosting a clan tent, where they could greet other clan members and share information about the clan through their organization called Clan MacFarlane Worldwide, Inc.


If you haven’t been to a highland games, I highly recommend going (there are many this summer, including one of the nation’s biggest in Pleasanton Aug. 31-Sept. 1).  You’ll see actual “games” (including the caber toss and other athletic events), sheep dog trials, dance competitions and exhibitions, bagpipe competitions, living history exhibits, concerts, and tons of vendors selling everything from kilts and shortbread cookies to swords and suits of armor.  You can also visit the Glen of Clans and find where you belong.  Everyone is family at a highland games!  And let’s not forget about the food… try some bangers and mash or a shepherd’s pie while listening to my favorite crazy pipe band The Wicked Tinkers.  The boys enjoy wearing their kilts, and I enjoy hearing everyone comment on their cuteness as we walk around throughout the day.

IMG_4676Plus, it’s another way to completely exhaust your kids so you can put them to bed early!  You’re welcome for that little tidbit 🙂



Leave a Reply