Friday the 21st I turned 40. The previous week I got a new tattoo to celebrate. You can check out a picture of that here. It was a collaboration by Josh Woods and Steve Martin at Black 13 here in Nashville at Cummins Station. That was the nicest shop I have ever been in. I encourage you to check it out. Josh and Steve both worked on the drawing and the tattoo it self – taking turns. It was a cool experience and I love the tattoo.
Anyway, we got up about 4am and left for Pennsylvania. Everything on the drive went smooth except for Harrisburg, PA where snow had turned to ice on the roadway. Ronee had to drive about 1 mph for over an hour. The only accident I have ever been in was when I was in the Army in Germany…and it was on ice. Not a fan of ice on the roadway. We saw a horrible crushed car and a truck in a ditch which did not alleviate my anxiety for the white knuckle ride we were on. Eventually we made it through and arrived safely in Mount Bethel, PA at the beautiful home of our friends Phebe and Jon. Phebe is a childhood friend of Ronee’s and they were Maid’s Of Honor in each other’s weddings. Phebe made an incredible dinner with pasta, chicken, salad and more. She also made a delicious chocolate ice cream cake for me.
The next day we drove into NYC. We were having a little get together for my birthday at Lombardi’s which is the first pizzeria in the United States, founded in 1905! It is in Manhattan in Little Italy. We waited for about an hour, but it was well worth the wait. The pizza was absolutely delicious. You can check out some pictures here and here. The Lacay’s (Phebe and Jon) and us were joined by Ronee’s parents (The Cozza’s) and Gerard, Mickie and Hannah DeMatteo. Gerard was the pastor who performed our wedding ceremony. After we were were warmed and well fed we headed over to Ferrara’s (since 1892), a pastry shop, also located in Little Italy. We enjoyed some wonderful pastries and cannoli’s and then we all headed our separate ways.
Later on we went to the AT&T store so Ronee could get a new iPhone as her phone died. Lucky girl has a better phone than me!
Sunday morning Jon and Phebe treated us to an incredible breakfast. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and played pool and mahjong. After some shopping at the mall and a cool store called Five Below (I got a couple knit caps) we had a wonderful dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse.
Monday morning we had another great breakfast with the Lacay’s and then took off for Ronee’s parents house in New Jersey. On the way we stopped in to surprise Ronee’s mom Susan at work. She works at Whole Foods. Check out the fresh pasta. For dinner we had homemade beef stew (holy cow) and rosemary sourdough bread (love it) from Whole Foods.
Tuesday Ronee and I did some clothes shopping (well, I did) at The Garden State Plaza. I picked up some jeans, cargo pants and a cool long sleeve polo shirt at Old Navy. Later on we picked up our friend Jessica and went to Dunkin Donuts to hang out.
Wednesday morning I went to Target for a little more clothes shopping (birthday money to burn and no tax on clothes in New Jersey! I got another pair of jeans and a flannel shirt. Jessica came over and we had some food and some of the Pumpkin Cheesecake (wow) that Ronee’s mom got for me for my birthday. As the evening went on Aunt Karen and the girls (Nicole and Gianna) came by for a visit and then Jay (Ronee’s brother), Asia and baby Jason came up.
Thursday was, of course, Thanksgiving. Ronee and I got up at 4am because we were going to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in the city! We drove over to Aunt Karen and Uncle Ricky’s house and rode into NYC with them and the girls. We arrive at 54th and Broadway around 6am (the parade starts at 9am) and we put our chairs right on the street. We got some breakfast at a nearby McDonalds and tried not to freeze while we waited for the parade to start. Everybody thought we were crazy for going and camping out. But it was really fun and the parade and the giant balloons was cool. It really put me in the holiday mood. I took a TON of pictures which I plan on uploading later this week. Driving out of NYC was nuts and funny.
Back at home Ronee’s parents were hosting 18 people for a gigantic Thanksgiving dinner. All the family and our nephew’s were there. And there was of course a ton of food. Italian wedding soup, antipasto, turkey, sausage stuffing, cornbread stuffing (Ronee made that!), asparagus, beets, cranberry, mashed potatoes, bread, etc. For dessert there was apple pies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, canoli, pastries, cinnamon bundt cake, and a chocolate fountain with strawberries, pretzels, wafer cookies, etc. Yeah, holy cow! So much food. Ate and ate and ate and then ate some more.
Friday we mostly spent time at home with family and relaxed and tried to recover from all the food.
Saturday we had breakfast with the family, packed up our stuff and leftovers in a cooler and hit the road. The drive back took about 14 plus hours and was not too fun. It was raining most of the way. We made it home about 2:00am in the morning.
This was such a great vacation and it was fun to see all the family and friends back in Jersey. Ronee and I’s earliest dating and holidays were in New York and with her family. So being back there always brings back a lot of fond memories. We did not get to see everybody we wanted as there is never enough time. But all in all it was a super great time and a wonderful way to celebrate my birthday and Thanksgiving.
We just enjoyed a nice dinner with the leftovers after putting up our Christmas tree (a live Douglas Fir from Lowe’s). The holidays have officially begun!
You can check out photos from the trip here. More to be added later this week!
We’ve been uber-fortunate to be graced by the presence of our favorite Canadians, Joel and Melanie for the past week. We’ve eaten delicious evil foods that seem so innocent going into our bodies (BBQ, biscuits, etc.), but that’s what vacation is all about, right? We watched Indiana Jones movies. We took a driving tour of Nashville. We went to Centennial Park and ate Bread & Company.
The last two days we were also additionally blessed to journey to Atlanta and stay with the lovely and talented Chad & Candy Pearson. We at at Soup Plantation, we played a diabolical card game invented by communists called Wizard (I won, in golf score), we went to the MLK Center, we walked up and down a lot of stairs, we rode Marta north south east and west, we dined and toured at CNN and I even read some news, we learned that news people wears jeans under their suits, we amazed one another with our movie knowledge, we dined on Sonic, we also enjoyed Chad’s lovely and delicious banana bread (with glaze!), we went the World Of Coke and drank some of the sweetest and gnarliest soda ever (I made the most suicides- all soda mixed – ever!)…and I turned it all into a fantastic run-on sentence!
I have really enjoyed the last few days. Not only because of our fantastic friends, but because I have been able to spend time with my beautiful and wonderful wife. I just appreciate her so much. She is a trooper!
Well, I can’t say I’m super stoked about our Canadian buddies leaving tomorrow. Nor am I particularly enthused about my return to work. But I can say I have really enjoyed just having fun, laughing, eating and enjoyed life these past few days. Viva la vacation!
Last night I shared dinner and 2 for 1 beers with my buddy and soon to be co-worker, Brad. We went to a sports bar in Cool Springs called Jonathan’s Grille. I had a nice chicken cobb salad and Amstel Light (on tap). It was good and we had some good conversation.
Ronee and I drove around with Ron (my father-in-law) today. We were driving around Old Hickory Lake and Hendersonville. We grabbed a little lunch at White Castle. Then we picked up a belt for the vacuum and some t-shirts. I’m pretty sure Ron fixed it because I heard him vacuuming upstairs.
Tomorrow we’re going to have a full house for Easter dinner. Should be fun! I’m going to try to be thankful and reflective about Jesus tomorrow. That is, after all, what the holiday is all about…right?
I can’t believe it either, but this is my 1,000th blog post!
I started keeping a journal online at the end of 1999 (you can see in the archives) and have been more or less consistently blogging ever since. I have taken down the blog and put it back up again several times. But I really enjoy having a record of where I have been and what I have done. So, for better or worse, I’m giving it my best to be in this for the long haul.
I’ve been watching the Predators Vs Red Wings hockey game on TV. It’s on of the best games I’ve seen in a long time. They are just hammering on each other. Big hits everywhere and it’s been neck and neck. Currently the Wings are winning 4-3 in the 3rd period with about 8 minutes to go. I’m going to keep blogging through to the end of the game.
Spring is definitely my favorite time of year in Nashville. The blooming trees are just beautiful here. Once everything starts turning green it just gets more gorgeous with each passing day. The only downside is it’s also the start of allergy season. I know some people have already been having allergy issues. I can tell that soon I will be taking my usual daily dose of non-drowsy Alavert.
Crap, Detroit just scored. 5-3, Detroit lead with about 3 minutes left.
I found out today that B Rad is going to be my newest co-worker starting next week. Congrats to you, bro!
Dammit, the Preds are going to lose. They just pulled the goalie, but it isn’t going to matter. Ah yes, the old empty net goal. 6-3 Red Wings. I think I hear the fat lady singing…
My computer at work took a dive last week again and we had to have the hard drive and power supply replaced. But now I think I heard I’m getting a new computer. So glad I spent all that time re-installing software. Well, I can’t complain.
I have been sleeping really great lately. I stopped drinking coffee and have been trying (and been pretty successful) to avoid soda or anything else caffeinated. I haven’t really done anything else different, so that must be it. For the first time in as long as I can remember I’ve been sleeping through the night, dreaming and waking up before the alarm clock. It’s amazing. I had pretty bad withdrawals including leg cramps and headaches all last week, but I think the worst is over.
My father-in-law just arrived in town yesterday. So we’re going to have a full house for Easter weekend. That will be nice. I see some good food in my future. Speaking of good food, my mother-in-law Susan has been spoiling me with corned beef and cabbage with red skinned potatoes for St. Patrick’s Day and yesterday she made Irish soda bread that is just delicious. And I might have had some Guinness and Jameson whiskey too. I better keep doing crunches!!!
All in all, this has been a great week. I have so much to be thankful for. Thank you for stopping by and for reading this, my one-thousandth post!