Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Our Foundation is on the Rock


On October 25th we officially moved into our new house.  At the end of the day we had a very special group of friends visit to pray over our new house, and dedicate everything that happens in it to Christ.  While we were so blessed to have these 9 people in attendance, we had countless others who couldn't make it that let us know they were praying where they were at.

Let's back up a few months ago when we first had this idea.  PBG and I were talking one day about what type of housewarming party we would have.  As you might know we enjoy having groups of all sizes over to party and have fun.  The more we talked about it the more I felt as though we were being challenged to start our journey out right.  Mathew 7:24-27 says to build your house on the rock.  While we were not physically building our house from the foundation up we wanted to make sure our beginning in this new house was in Christ and he was the foundation.

The night was perfect  "Pastor" Bret Allen told a great story about how they have done this sort of thing when they built houses in the Dominican Republic (that was news to me but made me feel good).  From there many of our friends spoke words of great protection, and blessing over us and the new house that God has given to us.  We also heard many prayers for little babies.  I might or might not have given a loud "AMEN" to that.  After that we spent the next 15 minutes or so walking around the entire property praying and asking God to protect and bless this gift he has given to us.  It was all so great and PBG and I felt so loved by our Lord and the people he has put around us.

After it was over we stopped for a couple pictures to remember this time.  The plan is that the picture above will hang in our house for many years.  Thanks to all who joined and to those who expressed their prayers via text, email and phone calls.  We are blessed.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Tour of our New House *VIDEO*

On October 24th Patricia and I closed on our 1st house in Winter Park, FL.  This is a short video showcasing our house and some of the 1st moments in our house.  Most importantly the 1st time we walked into our house, and the 1st time Dodger explored his new home.  I apologize in advance for the cheesy ending.  :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It's OFFICIAL, We are Homeowners!




So much has happened in the past week since we bought our first house but let me back up to the day.  I want to apologize in advance for the length of this post.  :)

We woke up at 8:30am to get ready for 9:30am walk through.  As any big day in your life it can't go off without some small issue arsing.  Our 1st issue was me telling PBG minutes before we leave that they might need a more formal form of a second ID at closing (they asked for 2 forms of ID and the night before I told her a credit card would work). Thankfully Patricia's mom had a copy filed away.  We were on our way to the bank to pick up a cashiers check but not before PBG said in her cute playful girl voice, "You make me crazy." We laughed. 

The bank was opened early and we got in and out pretty quickly.  We even had enough time for Patricia to stop off for Starbucks.  We met Anne-Marie, our realtor, for a walk through at 9:30am.  This was the first time we had seen the house empty.  It seemed so big.  We were very happy.  Not really knowing what to look for in a "walk-through" we just walked around and smiled at what we were about to own. After a quick photo session with Anne-Marie we were off to close near downtown Orlando.

Upon arrival at The Closing Agent we were greeted by our mortgage broker Barry Botwin.  I have spent many minutes talking to Barry over the phone but had yet to meet the man that was helping me buy our first house.  We all went into a medium sized conference room and began to sign a bunch of documents.  PBG explained to the room how she loves to sign her name and I kept forgetting the date.  After 30 minutes or so of signing, reading, and initialing.  They finally handed us the keys to our new home.  It was official!

 
We took a few pictures, and some how even got the "money man" Barry to seal this deal with JAZZ HANDS!


After closing we did what most people do, head to Target for cleaning supplies.  When we arrived at our new house for the first time I set up the camera for a quick video of us entering our new house together (you will see this later on in the video of the day).  We were so happy as we walked around and looked at the entire house.  PBG's exact words were "I love our house!"

About this time is when we realized we had a second issue of the day.  I forgot to call the electric company and I found out that we wouldn't have electric until the next day.  So the idea of us staying in the house that night was just not happening.  I was so disappointed.  I think I was mostly bummed because it was my fault and something we could have avoided.

We decided to power through and start the cleaning process.  PBG and I took on windows to start, then I scrubbed the baseboards while she worked in the kitchen and bathrooms.  Along the way DIRECTV arrived to some how install service in a house without power.  Thanks to the great service from DIRECTV and a very sweet neightbor who let us run a 60 extension cord from her front patio we were able to get that taken care of.

We had our first house guest on Wednesday as Katie Henderson brought us flowers.

Also Patrica's Mom, Dad, and Grandma came by and we had a little 4Rivers lunch.  Picnic style in the non-airconditioned house.  

At around 6pm PBG had to go into work for a bit and the dark of the night started to fall on the house without power so we had to call it a day.  It was a long day, but one I will never forget.  Something else I won't forget...  always confirm you will have power on moving day. 

The next day we had some movers help us in the morning, more cleaning in the afternoon, and my buddy Jake helped me get a small load from the parents towards the end of the day.  Patricia left work at lunch with Emily and Katie and brought me a much needed Publix sub.  During this time our prayers were answered and the power was finally turned on.   

Our next blog entry will talk in more detail about our first evening in the new house where we had many friends visit to pray over and dedicate this property to God. We are so happy and feel so blessed.  PTL!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Engagement Anniversary 2012


Yesterday Patricia and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary of us getting engaged.  Before I get into the story of the day I know most of you are thinking, "this anniversary won't last very long.  No one celebrates their engagement 10 years down the line."  I hope and will try my hardest to prove you all wrong.  If you know the story of our engagement it was awesome.  If you don't you can read about it here.  Nonetheless, this day 2 years ago was perfect, unique, joyful and matchless.  I know we can't recreate it every year but I will do my best to remember it.

With all that said, yesterday was about as perfect a day you can have here in Orlando. 

I booked us a hotel room at the historic Park Plaza Garden Hotel on Park Ave.  This was supposed to be a surprise but sneaky PBG saw an email from the manager last week while in bed.  I might have emailed the manager a week before and asked for a big discount.  I might have played the "we are buying our 1st house on Wednesday card."  Is that a card?  Not only did they give us a huge discount they gave us the biggest room in the hotel overlooking Park Ave. Here are a few shots of the room.
  


 PBG met me at the hotel, and when she walked in she just said, "happy"  As she joined me on the balcony she reiterated, "happy."  From there we had a short walk to the famous Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour.  We had to hurry to catch the final 4pm trip.  

After the boat tour we stopped by at Cocina 214 one of our favorite spots on the Ave to have a "snacklet" as PBG would say.   While there I saw on Instagram that the Meyers were on the Ave so we decided to hang with them for a bit.  PBG was still suffering from Pink Eye and it drove her crazy that she could not hold Benji.



We spent our evening having dinner at the wonderful Park Plaza Garden Restaurant, and relaxing on our balcony.  This might be the greatest single day/date you could have in Winter Park.   I am so happy I got to share it will my bride. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

We have a Closing Day

 
I am happy to report that after 4 1/2 months we have a closing day set.  If you read the last blog you know we had a few final hurdles.  Our last big one was the appraisal.  If I understand it right the appraisal must be very near the accepted offer price if it's not it's very difficult to get your mortgage.  Mostly because banks now a days don't want to give a mortgage on a house that is worth less than the loan.  If it appraised for much less we would have to go back to the seller’s lender to get approval on a new price.  Normally that would be fine but we have to get this done before the 28th of October.  Since they took 4 months for the bank to approve our 1st offer we didn't want to risk it going past that Oct 28th deadline.  With all that said the appraisal came in Tuesday and it went great.  

Today we locked in our insurance, and interest rate.  Which apparently are really good thanks to the market crash a few years ago.  Thanks America. 

Next up our closing.  We have 2 weeks until we sign on the dotted line.  We are so excited and feel like God's hand has guided this whole process. 

With all that said now we really have to get serious about a new sofa.  We are thinking an L shaped sectional for our soon to own bonus room.  Anyone have any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

House offer Accepted - PTL!

As some of you may know we put an offer in on a short sale home in Winter Park on June 3rd of this year.  After the sellers accepted our offer and we moved in with the in-laws as we waited to hear back from the banks.  This summer has been awesome living with Patricia's parents.  Tons of family meals, movie nights, and evenings watching Dodger and Main Player on the hammock.
We were told that it can take up to 7 months to hear back from the bank.  After about 2 months we were told things were moving quickly.  So we started looking at furniture and began to get real excited.  Each week I would email our realtor "any update?". Every week it seemed like I was hearing "we should know something next week". I thought if we could move in by Sept 1st, that would be awesome.  Then a few weeks go by and I thought if we could move in by October 1st.  Somewhere along the way I stopped dreaming of a move in date and was just trying to be patient.

Last Thursday we finally got news the banks have accepted our offer, and we need to close before the end of October.  PTL! We were so excited but as my friend Chris Van Slyke told me now the "work" begins.  Well, we were waiting for 4 months so I was excited to get started with the "work".
I am sure PBG doesn't want me to go into to great of detail on the blog but we have about 30 days to get our inspections, insurance and financing in order.  If its not done by the banks' determined date we could lose the house.  So after all this waiting there is a chance we could lose the house?  AWESOME!  With that in mind we are not waisting anytime.  By Friday afternoon I had sent in ALL of our financial documents (FYI this is why you keep a actual copy of your W2s handy) Also on Friday I had received 2 home insurance quotes, and our realtor set an appoitnment for our inspection on Monday (today).


Today's inspection went well for a home built in the late 50s.  Our one hurdle is Polybutylene piping.  I had no idea what this was a few hours ago.  Here is the truth about buying a house.

- You want a house- you have to get a loan
- To get a loan- you have to get insurance
- To get insurance - you have to get an inspection
- If there is an issue in the inspection (like poly piping)- you might be in trouble

Now normally people have lots of time and can negotiate with the seller for fixes.  In a short sale it's not as easy, especially when you have a hard deadline breathing down your neck.

We have been so blessed and we are trusting that God has everything under control.  While this process might have some hurdles I still want to find a way to enjoy the journey of buying our 1st house.
BTW today was the 1st time we have been inside the house since we made our offer in June.  We still love it and we are very excited for the NEW Casa de Grays. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The #GraysCaliVacay on Instagram


So I realized weeks after we returned from Cali that I never blogged about it.  If this is your first time seeing this blog you should know it is partially for you, partially for my parents but it's mostly a digital archive of my journey with my bride PBG.  If you don't want to read anything there are 275 pictures of the #GraysCaliVacay on Facebook here.

I was in LA for work and PBG met me out there.  This was PBG's first trip to Cali.  She was able to spend the 1st day with my brother Ryan and his lady Tiffany.  They took her up into the hills surrounding LA where she posted this wonderful shot to Instagram


We spent some great QUALITY TIME with Ryan and Tiffany. They have an awesome little apartment up in Silver Lake.  If you were wondering if the giraffe made the trip to LA as you can see it did.  I love the area of LA they live in.


This shot was grabbed at the famous Dresden from the movie Swingers.  This was at the end of a long day where we had lunch at the wheels off yet famous Santa Monica Pier.  Before going out to the Dresden we had dinner at this awesome little local Italian restaurant, Il Capriccio


The next morning we jumped into our rental car and headed up the Pacific Coast Highway.  It was so beautiful.  It took us about 12 hours to get to LA because I wanted to take a picture of everything. There were so many gorgeous views we didn't stop for because it would have taken us all day if we stopped every time.  Here are a few.  My favorite moments from the PCH was seeing PBG taking so many pictures.  Many of our best shots on Facebook are from her. 



My wife loves to nap, but for whatever reason she drives great at night.  After dinner in Monterey I was so tired.  PBG took the wheel and took us up through Oakland and to our destination.  We left LA at 9:45am, and arrived in San Rafael at 1:20am.  


The next day before heading into San Fran we spent some time in this park overlooking the city.  I have been to SF 4 or 5 times and I have never been up here.  What a view!
I could write a blog for each day of SF but to conserve time let me hit the high points.

·  We rode the trolley cars (Which are awesome unless you take them to Fisherman's Wharf.  There was an hour wait to get back on them.  So I called a cab and had to kick an old lady out when she tried to steal it.)  
·  We checked out the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar at The Fairmont
·  Had a few great meals, dinner at  Wayfare Tavern was my fav 
·  PBG went to the famous Swan’s Oyster Depot while I grabbed some pizza one day for lunch
·  Had dinner at the Beach Chalet in Golden Gate Park to watch the sunset(it was like a sand storm)

We pretty much drove all over SF.  Here is a shot of some of the things we did or saw. 


The last day we got off the beaten path and went up into Muir Woods outside SF.  This was so relaxing, it was a beautiful day, we took in a short hike, and it was a great way to end our trip.  I highly recommend it! 


The #GraysCaliVacay was a huge success.  I have been so blessed to travel for work and for pleasure for so many years.  I am glad that I now get to see the world with my wife.  I look forward to many more trips with her!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

We Bought Our First House


Our 1st house to be...   
Well let me be clear we haven't actually bought our 1st house.  We our under contract for a short sale house but there is still a lot of hurdles to jump.  I am sure most of you, if anyone reads this blog anymore, didnt even know we were looking so let me back up.


3 months ago:  I spoke with a realtor friend of a friend just to get educated on the house buying process.  We told her we were somewhere between 15-18 months from buying a house.  Boy, were we wrong. 

Fast forward a bit and we had looked at a few house online but nothing of much interest.  If you don't know there is a bit of a lack of inventory in the Orlando housing department so we resigned ourselves to signing a new lease at Garvin at the end of June. 

June 1st: We saw a house online and had some interest, here is how the listing read:

 This spacious home features a large living room with French doors to the backyard patio. The completely remodeled kitchen offers seating at the breakfast bar or the adjacent dining room, solid wood cabinets, recessed lighting, newer appliances, and silestone countertops. This open kitchen/dining area overlooks the sunroom that is filled with natural light. New windows keep the home cool as does the brand new air conditioner installed just last year (transferable service warranty! With 3 full bedrooms and a small bonus room that is perfect for an office, this home is flexible for any size household. Other features include a custom closet in the master bedroom and updated master bathroom complete with a decorative tumbled marble and travertine tile. There is a newer roof installed in 2007 with transferable warranty and beautiful parquet floors throughout most of the home. Do not miss this opportunity to find such a move in ready home at this price. Just minutes from Winter Park shopping and dining and convenient to I-4!

That got us interested, so we drove by and we were more interested (I might have trespassed a little bit), then we decided to call the realtor and they had an open house that night.  I won't spend too much time describing the house because I have pictures.  It's a 1950s ranch style home near Lee and 17-92 (before you jump to conclusions and think that is not a nice area like PBG's dad did, he changed his mind once we drove him by the house). We liked the house as we entered the main room and the master bedroom (custom closets) but when we turned the corner and walked into this fully remodeled kitchen, dining, great room with an extra office my jaw hit the floor.  Now I have seen too many shows on HGTV so I dialed it back in but I was floored and was trying to not act too excited.  Needless to say we really liked the house.  Part of me even thought this is a little too good to be true. We found out that they were only accepting offers until Sunday.  As we drove home we could not believe we were not even really looking and now we are talking about submitting an offer.

June 2nd: The next day we wanted to take PBG's parents by but the house was full of showings all day and could not get an appointment.  At the last minute the listing agent called me back and said if you can be there in 10 minutes I'm going to make sure everything is locked-up and you can walk through once more.  We sped across town and the "Main Player" and the "Boss Lady" gave their approval.  Now we are in FULL business mode. Talking to mortgage brokers, our realtor was on vacation so we were communicating with Sharon our stand in (who was awesome) about comparable prices. This house is DONE, I mean fully remodeled which is not what I thought we would have for our 1st home.  The list price was $115k.  I knew after walking through this 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1750 square foot house it was going to have multiple offers much higher than that.  That night on our drive home PBG and I went by the house for the 5th time in 24 hours.  We prayed together about this house and spoke to my dad and he prayed with us over the phone.  We knew we had to move fast which is tough with a big decision like this so we wanted to make sure this was God's will. 

June 3rd:  On Sunday I was leaving to LA for work and I left PBG to do EVERYTHING.  In between flights I was calling PBG, calling our realtor and getting updates.  Also while I was in Houston on a layover I wrote a short letter to the sellers that I hoped might tug at their heart a little bit.  I just wanted to be a bit more human that a name and a number on piece of paper.  I didn't think that they would pick us if someone offered them something more, but if someone offered something similar I thought it might help.  More to come on this part...  when I landed in LA PBG had gone to 2 parties, and also found time to sign an offer on our 1st house.  She was awesome.  She was so careful and going over every paper she signed with greater detail than I probably would have.  As I arrived at my hotel in LA I felt a bit uneasy.  I felt like our offer was good but we would lose it to a better offer.  In short sales it's tough.  There is NO negotiating.  You submit one offer and cross your fingers they pick you.  Around 6pm PT, 9pm ET, after I spoke with PBG I texted our mortgage broker and realtor to raise the offer.  I still thought we very well could lose the house, but I felt very peaceful about our price.  I went to bed in LA thinking 2 days ago we had not walked through one house and now we are putting down a fo-real offer.  It was a crazy exciting 2 days and now we had to wait.

June 4th: Monday started one of my busiest work days of the year as E3, a video game convention, started.  Around 1:30pm ET my realtor called me as I was in the middle of a live webcast and I could not answer.  I texted her to call PBG.  Then PBG called and texted, "when can you talk?"  I knew something was up.  At the time I thought maybe they liked the letter but someone offered more so they were giving us an option to raise our offer.  PBG and I jumped on the g-chat and she told me they accepted our offer.  I was overcome with emotions but had to calm down and finish the webcast.  When it was over I called PBG and said "shut up!"  Literally 3 days ago we had never looked at a house, we made 1 offer, and got our first house.  The rest of the day PBG was signing more paperwork, and sending to our realtor.  We were so excited, but I was soo busy for the rest of the week so it was hard to balance my emotions.

June 5th:  At this point we had all the paperwork signed and just had to get our escrow check in by Friday.  That afternoon I had a new friend request, it was the wife of the family selling the house.  She was so nice and was excited for PBG and I but expressed how bittersweet it was for them.  It was short, it was sweet, it almost brought me to tears. It was one of the kindest moments I have experienced from essentially a stranger. 

June 6th: Thursday was the last night we could overnight our check for escrow and when we arrived at UPS we found out that overnight cutoff time in LA is 5pm, and it was 5:35pm.  So we still had one more hurdle to get over for me to feel comfortable.

June 7th: Friday was a big day for 2 reasons.  It was the our deadline to submit our escrow check.  It also happened to be the day I received my annual bonus from work. This was just one of many reasons we knew this was all part of God's plan.  His timing is so much better than ours.  Who would have thought that out of 365 days a year our escrow check was due on the sameday we got our bonus?  We are blessed.  That Friday I woke up at 8am to walk to the big Chase skyscraper in downtown LA, and was there before it opened.  When the doors opened I was greeted by a very nice man who helped me wire the escrow money out. 

So here is where we stand now.  It is a short sale so now we wait.  Now the seller submits our offer to the bank and they have 190 days to accept it or counter to us.  This process takes sometimes 3-7 months.  In the meantime PBG and I are still moving.  We are moving in with her parents, and have to be out of Garvin Street home by the end of the month.  We are so excited to spend the summer with her parents, save some money, and be financially ready for when it's time to move into our house.

So many people put in so many offers and go through a long excruciating process when they try to buy a house.  We feel so blessed that this has been relatively easy.  God is good.

More pictures below.  :)
Front living room looking toward back yard and to the right in the kitchen
kitchen

dining looking into office and sunroom


backyard





Thursday, May 10, 2012

Patricia's new job


From November to a few weeks ago Patricia and I have prayed for a new opportunity for her.  She was open to a new career and even contemplated going back to school.  We prayed for more than a job but something she could really enjoy and dig into.  As of 3 weeks ago Patricia started her job at First Presbyterian Church of Orlando.  She is the Student Ministries Administrative Assistant, and she says "and I hang out with kids."  To many of you this isn't breaking news but for those of you that did not know, I wanted to tell a bit more details about how this came about.

About two months ago Bret Allen, PBG's longtime friend (now working at First Pres) asked PBG if she would be interested in this position.  I was way excited.  Like I said she considered many other things in the past few months, (one of which is becoming a professional calligrapher, which BTW if you need any work done she is actually really good at it). With no true direction we spent many nights praying about her "next right step."This was truly a God thing.  We wanted to be careful as to not commit too soon but as the days went on it felt more and more like the best opportunity ever.  There were so many positives but just to name a few: she would be working with a handful of friends, the church is downtown only a few miles from our home, First Pres is a wonderful established church with what seems like a vibrant church family.  After a few weeks going back and forth during the interview process she finally had her 1st day.  I was sad to be in NYC on her 1st day but I managed to get some flowers to celebrate my wife's big day.  Did I mention how excited I was? 

She is now in her third week and loving every bit of it.  She is getting to work along side some really great Godly people.  She is happy to go to work, even happy to stay late (which is new for me to see lol). I always had a feeling God would someday give PBG an opportunity that would let her use her talents she crafted while working at Young Life. At the end of her 1st week on the job PBG and I helped watch children at a First Pres Family Camp retreat at Southwind.  It was a great opportunity for Patricia and I to get to meet some of the families she would be working around.  It was so fun to see her work with these families and these children.  I feel truly blessed to have such a Godly wife and I look forward to how he will use her at First Pres.

Good job bebe.  You are the best!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Day off for Pancakes




There is nothing like a day off in the middle of the week with my wife. Last week I was able to peel away from work for 1 day to do something that we should have done months ago. Thanks to my friend Rob Semsey who told me about this. Thursday, Patricia and I drove from Orlando to The Old Spanish Sugar Mill in DeLeon Springs State Park.


For those of you that are not familiar it is an old mill from the 1800’s that was reopened in 1961. Apparently it's packed with a 30-minute line out the door on Saturday mornings. We walked in at a lazy 1pm and were immediately seated. As you can see there is a griddle in the center of the table where you actually make your own pancakes. There is a small light switch on the side of the table that turns the burner on. 


I can't forget to mention that you get to make your eggs on the griddle as well. You order a pitcher full of either wheat or white pancake batter, and for those of you that are more experimental than me (like PBG) you can get all sorts of pancakes toppings. PBG had sliced bananas, peanut butter and chocolate chips. I kept it simple… no toppings, just plenty of butter and warm maple syrup that they make from scratch at the mill. (I tried to buy some, and they don't sell it.) We had so much fun! I highly recommend ordering the bacon it’s amazing!

If you are looking for something cool, new and fun to do you have to try this out. Oh and since I didn't say it yet the pancakes are awesome. There is also a spring there, swimming area and a boat tour. I wish it was a nice sunny day and maybe we would have taken in more of what this park offers.


Before I left I had to try and climb this huge old historic tree. One thing I love about my wife is not only does she not stifle me when I want to act like a 14 year old, she encourages and takes pictures of it. It was so much fun until that park ranger buzzed over on her 4 wheeler and said "get out of the tree". Adults are so annoying. I decided to follow the rules and swung around the tree branch and dropped to the ground. I scraped up the inside of my arms pretty bad, but for some strange reason it was cool to get some small scrapes from doing something fun.  To see more pictures check out this Facebook album. 

If you want to visit the Sugar Mill website click here

Monday, March 12, 2012

Our One Year Anniversary Live Blog

Instead of writing a lengthy blog post, I have decided to post pics and write as we go. If that's ok with my wife. :).

Write now we are at White Wolf Cafe before we head to Tampa. Cinnamon roll for me, bloody Mary for the lady. This weather is so perfect today.



Were on the road an look who is coming along. Dodger!

Halfway there and my 2 co-pilots are asleep.

By the pool at the Sheraton Riverwalk.

We are here!

Come back all day for updates, if you dare.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Patricia's 29th Birthday Timeline [PICTURES]

For those of you that don't know I love birthdays.  Most importantly mine, but now that I am married I have a 2nd birthday that I love.  February 7th.  I also wanted to give a shout out to the blog biggest fan Sarah Stevenson.  Patricia met her at our company Award Party and she almost asked for Patrica's autograph.  I'm kidding, she was real cool.  It's fun to know someone besides my mom actually reads this stuff.  PBG might not read it if she didn't have to edit my broken English. (KIDDING bebe)

Back to the story. 

10:05 AM - Patricia wakes to tell me that I overslept.  I walk into the other room come back to bed with her 1st birthday card.  Inside she reads some mushy stuff but most importantly her 1st gift.  The back read "I don't have to go into work today.  Lets party!"  Weeks ago I worked on MLK day and saved a day off for this occasion.  In a very excited screeched, she yelled "Yay lets party!"  That was followed up with "OK good night" Which means let's go back to bed for a bit.  PBG is a professional sleeper.  Most of you might think you are good at it but she has a PhD. 


10:45 AM - I finally roll out of bed to cook her a great healthy breakfast of champions.  Thanks to my brother Brent for introducing me to the new Bisquick plastic container.  Genius.



11:30 AM - Her Parents, the boss lady, and the main player, came over with a balloon and chocolate cake.  After a few stories, some coffee and cake they took off and we finally got ready for the day.


I spent hours trying to decide on what the afternoon activities would look like.  I finally decided on a bike ride, tennis, and fun outdoor stuff, then the iPhone weather app killed that with stories of rain, that never came BTW.  I have long wanted to head out to Clermont, FL to tour the Lakeridge Winery so that is what we did.


1:30 PM We took off for Clermont.  As we jammed to Rihanna's "You Da One" we started west.  Having only had pancakes and cake so far we thought a 4River stop in Winter Garden was needed.  PBG killed some ribs I stuck with the brisket sandwich.  No sides as we planned for a nice dinner in the evening. 
3:00 PM We finally arrived at the winery.  We watched a short video and then quickly walked through the entire winery.  It was so cool.  It was like watching an episode of "How It's Made" in person.  We walked along the catwalk to view the production area and then outside on the balcony to see the spectacular view of the vineyards where the grapes are grown and harvested. In the picture below you can see some of the production area and the machinery. On the bottom left is where they do their bottling.


4:30 PM Wine Tasting began.  Did I mention this is ALL free.  If you live in this area this is a must do afternoon adventure.  Before we got started they carded Patricia. I had to sprint to the car and back with her ID so I didn't miss anything.  I believe we tasted 8 or 9 different wines.  It was so much fun.  At the end we bought a few bottles.  My favorite was their chilled Southern White hers was CuvĂ©e Noir Reserve.  On our way out we took a few pictures overlooking the vineyards.  FYI- the grape vines are all hibernating now (looks dead).  They will be back in march.
6:00 PM We headed back to Orlando.  Patricia laid down for her afternoon birthday nap as I got a few things ready for the evening. 

8:00 Dinner was at Mitchell's Fish market in Winter Park Village.  Being that I don't eat fish my choice was easy the burger.  Patricia took a bit longer because she wanted to eat all the sea animals.  While she was deciding on her dinner choice I hid a few envelopes all over the restaurant.  Patricia would have to play 20 questions with me to find out where these envelopes were and then go and ask the chef, bartender, hostess, table 71, and 1 more.  While all the envelopes had been dropped off PBG finally decided on the biggest seafood plate in the house.  She could tell you more but I think it was crab, lobster, mussels, shrimp, and a hammer head shark.  The shark is a joke.  After our apps Patricia set out to find all the envelopes.  I can't say she was excited about this fun game but she played along.



This is where I learn we are very different.  If she presented me with a scavenger hunt within the restaurant I would have broke out a magnifying glass and took off like inspector gadget.  She wasn't as hasty.  This is my bride getting her last envelope from the evenings chefs.  Everyone at the restaurant was awesome and played along really well.  In the envelopes where different types of sunglasses and she got to choose from for her birthday gift.  I don't think I would do the game again but it was still a fun story.  The food came and went and we were too stuffed to move.  The last gift of the night was 3 more envelopes.  Inside of them were homemade vouchers to a summer vacation that she has been wanting.  You can see all 3 below. 
 




She was way excited about these gifts.  She has never been to Cali and it should be quite a trip.  If you are wondering the trip won't be until June.  After dinner I made a fire in our fire pit and we enjoyed a glass of the wine we bought at the winery.  While sitting around the fire I printed up a few married couples questionnaires about goals, life, all sorts of fun topics.  One thing I learned is that she remembers things much better than me.


I swear that was the end of the date :)  It was a fantastic morning, day and night.  I hope that every Feb 7th I can spend this much time with the person I love.  I love you Patricia, Happy Birthday!