It’s amazing how much can happen in 365 days. For me, it feels like I’ve lived a complete lifetime in the year that was 2007. There were lots of ups and a handful of downs, but overall this past year was simply amazing. Here’s a recap of the previous 12 months. I will apologize in advance for the lack of brevity. But it’s me, so what did you really expect?
CLOSING OUT 2006
I’ll begin by dipping into the final days of December ’06. With Lee’s birthday being December 30, I’ve been instructed, trained, taught and continuously reminded that it’s less of a birthday celebration and more or a birthmonth event. I was helped out by the fact that Sister Hazel was performing a NYE show at the House of Blues in Orlando and a vast majority of our Nutty friends were in town for the show. So the night before we met up at a bar in downtown Orlando and threw a huge surprise party for Leelee. It was a great time that would be indicative of the year to come.
I have only 3 words for last January ….. THE ROCK BOAT!!! Yes, there were other events like Lee and I experiencing Gasparilla together for the first time and evenings shared with friends at Vallarta’s, but can anything really compare to The Boat? Firstly, we were honored to have been able to share in Joe and Lisa’s wedding which was held on the ship. Following that was an experience that was beyond compare and is one we’re looking to relive in just 18 more days. Lee and I also threw a surprise birthday party for her mom, Patsy. It was great because Lee’s sister, nephew, aunt and uncle all made the trip to Tampa to take part in the event.
February saw my birthday roll around, as well as some freakishly cold weather. In addition, Lee found herself in a freakish amount of pain that month. What we thought was a pinched nerve in her neck or shoulder really came out full force as we traveled to Delray Beach to watch Sister Hazel. Although the show was great, it was tough to enjoy because it was unusually cold and Lee was in so much pain. Following a trip to the ER later that evening – and subsequent visits to various doctors – it turned out Lee had a ruptured disk in her neck.
As March brought forth the relief of warmer weather, it also saw relief for Lee’s ever increasing pain. She underwent surgery to fuse two vertebrae in her neck, and the operation was an overwhelming success. The difference was so noticeable, Lee was all smiles as they wheeled her into her recovery room. Less than 8 hours later, we were back home and planning the St. Patrick’s Day that we would share with so many of our friends. The day started at O’Brien’s Pub in one part of the Tampa Bay area and eventually migrated out to The Slug on the other side of town. A great time was had by all, and the Village Inn will never be the same. Lee and I closed out the month by signing a lease to rent the great house we’re in now.
We didn’t fool around in April as I had the opportunity to spend more time than usual with my kids. With my ex taking a weeklong vacation, I got a chance to have Natalie and Daniel 24/7 for a week straight. It was more challenging than I had expected (it’s funny how we get used to our routines), but it was a lot of fun. The rest of the month was pretty much filled with moving into the new house and lots and lots of packing (and subsequent unpacking).
We always kick off May with a party, specifically since May 1 is Daniel’s birthday. That first weekend in May was party-filled as we took in Cinco de Mayo in Orlando with our Hazelnut friends and a live performance by Dirty Shannon, our favorite local-area band. Two weeks later, we caught them again, along with Big 10-4, at the Florida Music Festival in Orlando. We finally closed out the month with our second consecutive trip to Isle of Palms, South Carolina for the 2007 Hazelnut Hang. It was at IoP 2006 where our world had changed and we met so many wonderful people whom we consider such close friends. To be able to go back and recapture that magic and meet even more new people, it was truly special and amazing. We wrapped up the weekend with a sailing excursion that was memorable to say the least. To be able to share that with our closest friends Jeff, Ellen, Rich and Robin is something I will never forget, although I admit there are moments I don’t quite remember!
As Summer shown down on us in June, I took a week off to be with my Mom. I went home and helped her clean up around the house and around the yard. It was work that needed to get done, and it was so very rewarding for me to have been able to do that for her. The month continued to bring rewarding experiences as Lee and I drove to Rome, GA to catch yet another Sister Hazel show. What made this show so wonderful was that we stayed with our dear friend Robin, and we shared the event with so many of our other Hazelnut friends. It was like a family reunion at “mom’s” house, and they are memories I will cherish forever.
We kicked off the month by attending a Marc Broussard concert with friends. As the situation would have it, I must have had my liquor-meter disabled and ended up ‘missing’ half the night. From what I hear it was a good show, and all I know is that Lee still won’t let me live down that evening. The following week, we also managed to catch two more Hazel shows with our friends. We also had lots of summertime activities with both my kids and Lee’s nephew coming to visit us for two weeks. The pool at our place was definitely put to good use (almost daily), and we also managed to make it out to the beach for some fun in the sand.
As the summer pressed on in August, I continued to press for donations as I was working to raise money for Operation Swan Dive. I still could not believe I was going to jump out of a plane – which I ended up doing at the end of the month. Prior to that, however, we dealt with the passing of Lee’s grandmother, and we drove to Alabama for the services. Although Granny’s passing was relatively expected, it was still a very sad moment for all of us. However, it was one that allowed Lee to reconnect with her family after having been away from home for so long. The next week we traveled to Massachusetts for Operation Swan Dive. I am so proud to say OSD managed to raise over $83k for Lyrics for Life, and the entire experience was breathtaking (both literally and figuratively). Not only was my skydiving adventure a memorable one, attending the L4L gala in Boston – and the subsequent after party at The Hub Pub – was so much fun and incredibly unforgettable. Shortly upon returning from Boston, we got to see one of our favorite performers, Claire Wyndham, perform live in Orlando. Lee and I wrapped up the month by traveling to New Jersey for a family wedding.
Not only did we kick off September with a trip to New Jersey, I was thrilled to be able to take Lee for her first ever visit into New York City. We met up with our good friend Jill, as well as Lee’s cousin Kathy, and we worked our way up and down the Big Apple. It was exhausting but really, really incredible. We continued our travel tour by driving down to Miami to celebrate my buddy’s birthday. His girlfriend chartered a sailing excursion to celebrate the event, and it was so much fun to be out on the water in the warm South Florida sun. What a great way to close out the summer.
October continued to add to our Hazlenut memories with the Lyrics for Life Gala in St. Pete. It was yet another wonderful Sister Hazel show, and one we got to share with so many of our friends. Our friend John Taglieri was also in town as part of his music tour. He was kind enough to put on a house concert at the Harringtons’, and about 20 of us collaborated to write a new song with him. It was hysterical and exciting to brainstorm and throw out lyrics and ideas and watch it transform into a song. Two nights later, we went out to catch JT’s show in Tampa and just laughed as we were part of the first ever live audience to hear his brand new song ‘Mac & Cheese’. We also celebrated my daughter’s 8th birthday in October (EIGHT?!?!?! When did THAT happen?), and we wrapped up the month by catching our other friend Chris Glover perform live in Orlando. It was definitely a musically and fun-filled month.
I kicked off November by taking my son camping with his Cub Scout troop. It was a great experience for the two of us, and if there’s one thing I learned about my first camping experience it’s that I have lots of gear I still need to buy! One of our Hazelnut friends Erin came to visit us, and she, Lee and our dear friend Lindsey took in the Blue October concert while I hung out with my buddy Joe. It was one of those serendipitous evenings that found us at Downtown Disney and we ran into two other mutual Hazelnut friends. Later in the month, Lee and I took the kids to Alabama for Thanksgiving with Lee’s family. Natalie and Daniel loved the being “out in the Country” and I know it was a Thanksgiving experience they will never forget.
We finally got into December and started it up with our second-annual Christmas party. The theme was ‘Caribbean Christmas’ and we enjoyed a house full of so many friends having just a great time. We even had two friends, Shannon and Brian, fly in from Maryland for the shin-dig. It was very heart warming to be able to have that experience at our house, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s party. We also caught 2 more Sister Hazel shows in December – I know, we’re junkies – both of which were part of their ’12 Days of Christmas’ tour. Both shows were great and both gave us the opportunity to once again be with our Hazelnut family. Lee and I celebrated a low-key Christmas with the kids and then I surprised her with the plans for her birthday and New Year’s weekend – which saw us traveling to Alabama to be with her family and friends.
As I look back at 2007, I know there are so many events I’ve neglected to mention, all of which contributed to making the year so memorable and complete. I am truly blessed to be able to live the life I am living. I am surrounded by so many wonderful and amazing people, and I know that knowing them and having them all in my life allows me to live this life that is so rewarding and fulfilling. Not everything in 2007 was perfect and cheery, but there is not one single event I would change. Life is about ebb and flow, and I am so fortunate that my life this past year was overwhelmed with such positive flow and so many memorable moments.
As Lee and I ring in the New Year tonight with her family, I hope and pray that you all have a wonderful and safe New Year’s, and that 2008 be full of joy and prosperity for you. I thank God every day for all the blessings in my life, starting with Lee and my children and including every single one of you that take the time to read every blog I post. I thank you all for making this past year so wonderful, and I look forward to the many shared moments, both big and small, that I am sure will make this upcoming year just as wonderful.