Three Weeks!!

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Yes, that’s right. It’s DMB time baby!  Three weeks from today, Dave Matthews Band will be in Raleigh at Walnut Creek Pavilion for the 2015 tour.   We have tickets, and CANNOT wait!  Dave is never a bad show.  Never!  Even when he plays a more mellow or subdued set list, it still rocks.  I can’t remember a show I didn’t like, and I’ve seen over 24 of them.  We went to last years show in Raleigh, and have seen them in several other states.  Front row, middle sections, acoustic shows, amphitheaters, stadiums and arenas. Never a bad show!

Dave_Matthews_Band_-_Band_Shot_Melbourne_2005

This year we are going with some good friends of ours, and looking forward to a great time. We are carpooling up to Raleigh together, staying at the same hotel, and then heading to the show together to tailgate and enjoy some DMB.   A few other friends will be joining us for some tailgating, so it will be a great time had by all.  DMB is such an awesome atmosphere.  If you’ve never been to a DMB show, I highly recommend it.  And this year will be similar to last year, where there is no opening act.  It is only DMB.  They play an acoustic set first, and then come back on for an electric set.  They may have special guests join them, but they don’t have a opening act.   They are their own opening act.  And they are AWESOME!

Eat Drink and Be Merry!!

So if you are in the Raleigh area on May 22, let me know and maybe we can all party together for a great evening of good friends and great music!

Who is your favorite band?  Are you a roadie?  Seen them more than once?  

 

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Oh How I love Vegas!!

Imagine laying in bed, warm and cozy under the covers, dreaming away…when suddenly you are awoken, lights come on, a suitcase dropped next to the bed..and your wife standing next to you saying “Pack your Shit!  We’re leaving in an hour and we won’t be back until Monday”.  That is how my birthday weekend started.   See my wife’s reveal here.

Thursday morning, Feb 5, was a great way to wake up.  My 40th Birthday was on Feb 6, and my wife had planned an EPIC secret.  She put me in the car, drove me around the corner to collect her sister and her husband, and then began to drive towards the airport.  At the airport, I was not allowed to go to the ticket counter. My wife handled it, checking my bags and collecting my boarding passes. I knew from Wilmington we were going to Atlanta, but that was it.  Once we hit Atlanta, my wife went ahead and confirmed the gate we were departing from and then revealed it to me: LAS VEGAS!  What a great surprise!   What an EPIC way to start my 40th birthday weekend.  Little did I know, my wife had been planning this since last June, and had choreographed my parents coming to visit to watch the boys, my boys keeping me unaware of anything, and arranging friends and other family to meet us in Vegas.  I didn’t think she could keep secrets from me, but she did a great job.

Welcome to VEGAS!

Welcome to VEGAS!

So we had a 3 1/2 hour flight to Vegas.  Arrived around lunchtime, and proceeded to have an AWESOME weekend.  Had a 45 minute wait to check in at Harrah’s, but proceeded to find our beers in the adjacent market, and checked in.  We spent the majority of the first day just wandering around casinos and playing some penny slots.  We had to watch the show in front of Bellagio.  My boys like Oceans 11, so do we, so we had to watch.

Bellagio

Bellagio

Friday, the day of my 40th Birthday, started out beautifully.  Considering we were still working on Eastern Standard Time, we were both awake at 5:30am.

View from the room

View from the room

I felt guilty if I didn’t take a run, considering I knew the day would be spent consuming alcohol…possibly large amounts.  So we took a 4 mile jog up the strip.  What a beautiful morning.

My Awesome running partner in VEGAS!

My Awesome running partner in VEGAS!

We cleaned up and then wandered over to the dollar beer casino, grabbed a drink, and then hit the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian.  We walked, and mosied thru the shops and ended up at the Sin City Brewing tap room.  Great beer.  Good memories of our last visit to Vegas.   A friend from Wilmington that came out to party with us showed up, and we proceeded to Margaritaville for lunch.  The day was an amazing day, ended at Toby Keith’s Bar & Grille, and an early bedtime for us (with pizza).

Saturday started with a nice 6 mile jog. Another beautiful morning.  Weather was upper 50’s for the run.  Mid to upper 70’s for high temperatures.  Not a cloud in the sky.  Couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.  We spent some time gambling with the penny slots, met some more friends, found lunch somewhere, and then proceeded to belly up to the Carnival Bar at Harrah’s.   I thought we’d spend an hour or so there.  Well, 5+ hours later, we left.  The bartenders there are amazing.  If you ‘ve never seen this and have been to Vegas, you must go.  The bartenders are crazy. Throwing bottles, pouring drinks from 5’ above the bar, dancing, singing, just crazy.  We had a blast.   Another early night was upon us, which we were happy about the next morning, as we felt much better than the majority of Vegas.  No hangovers for us.

Carnival Bar

Carnival Bar

We started Sunday with a large breakfast.  Much needed huge breakfast.  Needed to put some food in our systems. We played some more penny slots. I lost more.  Not too much more, this time.  After all the people in our party finally awoke and joined us, we took a limo to Old Downtown, where Golden Nugget and Fremont Street Experience is.

downtown

This was my first REAL visit to the old downtown area.  I made it there a few years ago, but was only there about 30 minutes (ask my wife the story of that one).  We walked around some, taking in the sights.  We found $3 blackjack and decided to play some.   Well, my wife bowed out after about 10 minutes due to the cards not going her way. I stayed, won back our initial investment, and then wham.  The dealer got hot. And I mean hot.  Scalding hot.   $100 gone in like 2 minutes.  4 hands.  OUCH!  So, I took my $100 beer and left the table.  We spent the rest of the day just wandering the area, sightseeing, having drinks.   If you have never been to Vegas, you see just about every thing.  Crazy people, I mean, you can see anything.

Golden Nugget

Golden Nugget

Fremont Street Experience

Fremont Street Experience

Crazy people

Crazy people

My wife and I ventured to Container Park, just north     (I think north) of the downtown area.   What a cool little area.  This is a park, with small shops and restaurants around a large courtyard and playground area.  All the shops are made out of old shipping containers, stacked on top of each other.  What a great concept.  The outdoor courtyard had a lawn, kids running around, live music.  Great atmosphere. We visited Banger Brewing, had a nice tour, then headed back to Harrah’s.  We ended that night with a good seafood dinner in the hotel.

Container Park

Container Park

Well, most of our group went to bed. We hit the Carnival Bar again, and the Piano Bar pianobar  in the hotel, and had to force ourselves to get to bed at a reasonable hour for our return trip to NC.

Monday was our day to depart Vegas.  We were ready to go. Missed our kids.  Needed to get home to stop the bleeding of the bank account.  We had a great time. I had a great time. I was SOOOO surprised.  My wife did a great job surprising me.   She is amazing and I love her so very much!  I can’t think of a better way to spend my 40th birthday.  And just one of many events to make this year the EPIC-est year.

What did you do for your 40th?  Have you been to VEGAS?  Favorite thing in VEGAS?

friday morning view 2PS.  It was mentioned on the flight home that this was our last trip to VEGAS.  A week removed from the trip…..We Are Going Back!!

EPIC Update…..

What an EPIC beginning to 2015.  I mean, to be waken up at 4am the day before your birthday (see the revealing of the surprise here), rushed off to the airport by your wife, and end up in Vegas with friends and family, not knowing any of it until you see the departure gate at our 2nd airport….that is an EPIC beginning to a GREAT 40th Birthday weekend.   We saw so much, drank a few, slept some, drank some, gambled and lost money, we exercised some, played slots and lost money, drank some, missed some sleep, and had an all out fun vacation.

It ended last night by returning to Wilmington, NC (without our luggage). It was time to be home, we were ready to be home, and it was great to see the boys again.  There will be a much bigger recap , similar to the race recaps everyone is familiar with, to come soon, but this time it will be the VEGAS Recap.  Thanks for reading.

View from our window in Vegas!!

View from our window in Vegas!!

Was it SUPER for you?

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The Super Bowl is over.  The Patriots won!   Was it the outcome you wanted?  Did your team win?  Mine did, and I’m happy about it.  I’m glad it was a good game, not a blowout like last year or other Super Bowl’s in the past that I’ve seen that were over after the first quarter.  Glad to see that.  Statman was keeping track of all his favorite players, the lone Clemson player (Byron Maxwell), and wishing he could stay up to watch the Seahawks win (much to his dismay at breakfast this morning they did not).  Bookworm was half a sleep most of the game (except for when the food was put in front of him).  Bookworm had a busy weekend of sleepovers and playing Minecraft, which wiped him out.

But the real question is: “Was it super for you?”.   Did you have lots of friends over and have a viewing party?  Did you eat a lot of good food?  Drink a lot?  We kept it quite subdued at our house.  Kelli had a 20 mile run on Sunday (not failing to mention the 10 miler on Saturday), and being a school night, we decided not to have a party (much to our disappointment as we love to host a good party!).  We came up with an appetizer list earlier in the week, and made many of them from the list.  They were GOOD (my wife is such an amazing cook)!!  We started with some filo shells filled with bacon, cream cheese, some seasonings, and some other yummy stuff.  They were baked and were incredible.  Kelli can provide the recipe if you want it.  It was much better than the way I describe it.  We then had Chicken Parmesan meatballs, substituting turkey for the chicken, and no parmesan cheese filled middles.   I got this recipe from A Little of This and That, so thank you.  My wife also made a great buffalo chicken dip, with lots of cheese, some taco flavored grilled chicken, salsa, more salsa, and more cheese.  Add tortilla chips, some celery and carrots with ranch, and that was our buffet.  And boy did we ever eat alot.    Bookwork and StatMan enjoyed it themselves, and ate the filo shells before they even hit the table.

As for the commercials, was not very impressed. Some were funny. My favorite being the Snickers commercial with Marsha Brady, and then the poor polar bear not being drafted.  Other than that, I was disappointed and somewhat appalled by a few of them, as some were just utterly wrong.  I know the theme this year was targeting more family oriented ideas, but some of them went way too far.  I’m sure you could agree with those, so no need to re-hash them here.   If you want, feel free, I’ll comment back.

All in all, it was a good night.  We made up some fun games to pick while the game went on to keep it interesting.  We ate lots of food, drank a few beers     shinerand just enjoyed the company of our family.   The boys went to bed after the halftime show, which I must say is one of the better ones I have seen in the past several years.   Kelli and I watched the rest of the game, ate a few buffalo chicken boneless wings…and then called it a night.

So, for me I would say my super bowl viewing party WAS  super for me, as I was with the ones I want to spend my time with.

How was your night?  Was it SUPER?

Sports, Reality and Stat Man

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Wednesday is here.   The holidays are over.   I went back to work on Monday.  The kids went back to school on Monday.  We all resumed our “normal routines” this week.  I’m sure some of you have made new year’s resolutions.  Some of you have already started exercising like mad men, trying to get ALL the miles in now to prepare for that upcoming race in March, or May, or November.  The gyms are full of people lining up to register and begin their resolutions.   And by May, the gyms will be empty again.

I do miss being home on vacation.  I basically spent 2 full weeks at home on vacation.  I worked a couple days  between Christmas and New Years (since I used all my vacation throughout the year and didn’t save it all for December).  But it was fairly slow, so no real stress.  I did start to get bored.  I wasn’t bored with my family, or bored with being at home.  I just didn’t know what to do.   I should have picked up my book “Unbroken” and read more than the “Introduction”.  I didn’t want to start any home projects as I knew I’d be getting back to work on Monday.  My wife said to just sit and relax.  I didn’t think I had a hard time doing that, but I guess I did.  It was rainy out.  So, I watched football.  I tinkered in the garage, played on the internet…watched more football. I tallied the results of our family football pool. Watched some more football.  Drank a few beers, including my Porter homebrew (ps. It’s really good!).  Jumped on the new trampline with the boys. Watched more football.

My family loves football.  Mostly college, but we get behind the NFL teams when it comes to the playoffs. The Carolina Panthers, our local team (well, North Carolina based and I grew up watching them), played Arizona in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.  My 8 (soon to be 9) year old, now to be known as Stat Man, has been collecting football player cards for the past year or so.  He holds them in a stack, carries them around, flips through them, memorizes them, shows them to everyone, wraps up certain players to give as gifts at Christmas based on where that person is from (he wrapped up two Kansas City Chief’s players for his grandparents, as they went to a KC game this year, and they live in Missouri).   He is immersed in football year round, since August 1 when his season started, helping me with my fantasy football draft, watching the scores for me, telling me ALL the stats, watching SportsCenter every Saturday and Sunday morning.  Stat Man corrects me on statistics, players, where they played in college, numbers, etc.   It’s awesome!   Here is what he prepared for the Panthers game on Saturday afternoon:

Playing Card Matchup

Playing Card Matchup

And as the college football season is winding down (one game left, and not really  much interest), and the pros now in the playoffs with the Super Bowl on February 1, I guess we will turn to baseball.  Stat Man will learn all new stats for this season, and we will have really high hopes for the Red Sox.  Pitchers report on Feb 1.

College basketball season is gearing up.  Clemson doesn’t really have a good team, so nothing to follow there, other than the increasing #’s in the L column.  My other favorite team, Kentucky Wildcats, are very good this year and favorites to be cutting down the nets at the end of the year.  I will watch the conference tournaments and the Big Dance, but nothing really in between.  Stat Man will keep me posted I’m sure.

So what are you doing the beginning of this year?  What do you have planned for 2015?  Races? Vacations?  Sporting Events? Concerts?

Weekend Update

So this was supposed to be written and issued Monday or Tuesday of this week, but as I’ve said before, sometimes work and other stuff get in the way and delay what I have wanted to do.  So, without any further delay, here we go…..

It was a fairly busy weekend for my household.  We spent Saturday morning at the William H. Craig Race for Life 5k as the end of year 5k race for our STRIDE team from my son’s middle school.  My wife volunteered and took on coaching of this team, actually, implementing it at this school, and taking the lead as the coach.  I provided some assistance, and help with keeping the 15 6th graders from running completely rampant while they were out running around and she was busy coaching individuals.  It was a great season.  You learn to really care about these students who come out and spend the time to train for the 5k.  It was a great experience, and we are doing it again at our youngest sons’ elementary school in the spring.  We completed this 5k on Saturday morning, hung out and watched the awards, and then headed home for coffee from the rather cool morning we’d just spent 5 hours in.

We spent the rest of Saturday afternoon cleaning up things around the house, raking the back yard, throwing the football in the front yard, and just passing time before my oldest had to be at a birthday party.  Once home, it was just mom and dad and our 8 year old for a few hours.  We proceeded to make his bedroom EPIC.  He is a shark lover, and wildlife and ocean lover, and we (well, my wife actually) painted his room a few months ago. We have just been really busy and have not gotten around to decorating his walls. Until Saturday night.   Let’s just say it is now EPIC!

EPIC Shark!

EPIC Shark!

We then proceeded to watch Rudolph, and settle in for the night.  I also sampled my Porter that had been carbonating in the bottle over the past week or so.  And I just have to say that it is quite tasty, and only time will make it better.   It came out to be around a 6% ABV beer, and is very clean with a decent body. Slightly sweet, but that comes with the ingredients used.  All in all, it won’t last long, especially with beer loving friends and family going to be around over the holidays to help eliminate it rapidly.  Guess I’ll start planning my next batch to brew.

porter1

Sunday was a day of cleaning to prepare for the family coming to visit.  We watched some football, played some football, ate some good food, and watched a few Christmas movies.  It appears we are going to have to cram  A LOT of Christmas movies in over the next week to get all of our favorites in before the holidays end.

So I’ll wrap this blog up.  I’ll be posting a few more before the end of the year, as hopefully more time will allow. Work as gotten in the way this week as I feel I’m covering for my entire department, but it will all be worth it in the long run (well, it better be!).

What will you be doing this next week as we close in on Christmas?  Are you running? What is your favorite movie or family tradition?

Homebrew Saturday!!

beerguy

So, I know you all have been patiently waiting my Savannah marathon race recap.  I’m almost done with it.  Just final proofreading and it will be published.   But I wanted to give a quick status of what this Saturday has brought. The Holidays are quickly approaching, and it is a family tradition between us adults in my wife’s side of the family, to have lots of beer to sample and celebrate with.  My brother-in-law and I both homebrew beer, and today was my day to get a batch going to be ready for Christmas.

Malt and Hops for the brew

Malt and Hops for the brew

I have been brewing for over 15 years, and have brewed many different flavors, perfecting some, struggling with others, but just enjoying the hobby of making homemade craft beer.  Today I am brewing a porter, similar to Sam Smith’s Taddy Porter.  Nothing like a good, solid beer to warm you during the cool winter, holiday season.  My wife is not a big fan of the smell of the wort during the brewing process, and since she’s out of town at training, let’s get to it.  Brew day has arrived!!   My boys love to help, adding all the hops and malt and watching it boil.   Pitching the yeast is the final moment before it goes into fermentation for a week or so.

Boiling Wort w/ Grains

Boiling Wort w/ Grains

We will be bottling this beer the weekend of Thanksgiving, so it will have 2 to 3 weeks carbonating in the bottle before it’s ready to drink.  I will keep you all posted as to the drinkability of this beer.  Happy weekend to all!

What do you do as traditions for the Holidays?  Do you enjoy a hobby with your kids?  Do you enjoy craft beer?