Sunday, March 4, 2018

Birthday weekend for Papa

Birthday weekend at Universal with the kids!

Unfortunately they advertised it in 11 different sizes. Even little Wyatt wore Happy Birthday Old Man.

Nikki and Steven and Cole and Grace came in a day early so we spent the day with them at Animal Kingdom on Friday. The place is very cool. One note of interest: Dede took Grace to see the hippo asleep on the bottom of the big tank, Every so often he would raise his head above the water and then sink back down.

Dede felt certain that the hippo was one of those robotic creatures Disney uses in their parks. She insisted the hippo was fake even though we all told her that this was REAL animal kingdom ... not FAKE animal kingdom. 

She finally approached one of the staff in the gorilla exhibit and asked the question. "Is the hippo in the tank real?"
"Interesting question. Although some of the creatures are not real in Disney parks, the hippo is real."
"OH ..."
"But I have a question for you. Do you know what kind of fish those were that swim around the hippo? They are scavengers who ....."    Oh no ... Dede found a new friend.

That became the running joke of the trip: Real or not real?

When we got back to the hotel to wait for everyone, we rented an outdoor man cave. It was a cabana that had everything: TV set, phone, drinks ... you name it.

It even had its own beach by the pool right out front.

Had dinner at a really cool place in the hotel that had a great atmosphere and served some killer drinks like a tequila old fashioned. 

After a couple of those ... I really forgot what we ate ... some kind of seafood dish  ... oh yeah ... paella. Good stuff!

The next day we started out early and headed to Universal. Well we tried to start out early but with three kids, and a whole lot of bags and carts ... it takes a little while. 

But we made it to Harry Potter World. Have to admit I was impressed. Never read the books or saw the movies but liked the butter beer and rides. It stretched between Islands of Adventure and Universal. 

A train connects the two ... you have to see it. 

Wyatt wore his hat on Saturday and became an instant hit with the 80 year olds.

Not to be outdone with headgear ... Alissa did her best Unibomber impression.

Beer was the drink of choice all day. (especially because there were lots of adults to watch the kids and Moms and Dads deserve a break now and then).

Nate and Josh competed to be hailed as the new king of Guitar Hero. (Must be the only time that Alice Cooper gets airplay any more).

Minions were a BIG hit.

These THINGS were a big hit too.

Surprise bonus: It was Mardi Gras in the park ... food, music, floats, beads ... very cool!!!

Papa is a very happy man. 

So lucky to have this much love in one great weekend. Thanks Dede ... Thanks Lawvers ... Thanks Cohens and Thanks Mombergs!!!! Love you guys.

Saturday, February 17, 2018


Went to Italia Mia the other night.

Tony, the owner was holding  court in the kitchen. He was talking to one of the customers who stood on the other side of the counter.

We were in a booth on the other side of the restaurant but could CLEARLY hear every word. Just a guess but I think they were both talking about the old days ... in Jersey. Reminded me of the old Abbott and Costello routine, "Who's On First?" except that they never got off first base.

" Hey Tony ... remember Aldo?"
" Yeah."
" Yeah. Aldo  ... remember?"
" Yeah I know Aldo."
" He worked in the restaurant right?"
" Who?"
" Aldo."
" Oh yeah. Aldo."
" At the pizza place right?"
" Aldo?"
" Yeah."
" Yeah at the pizza place."
" Hey ... did you know Gianni?"
" Yeah. I know Gianni."
" I thought you might know Gianni."
" Gianni."
" He had a brother right?"
" Who?"
" Gianni."
" Gianni?"
" Yeah ... I think it was Mario."
" Mario?"
" Gianni's brother. Mario."
" No."
" No?"
" No. Don't know no Mario"
" What do you mean? He was Gianni's brother."
" I don't know no Mario."
" He was Gianni's brother."
" You mean skinny Mario?"
" No Mario wasn't skinny. He was fat."
" That's him ... Skinny Mario."
" No ... fat Mario."
" Yeah. We all called him Skinny Mario."
" Why did you call him Skinny?
" I don't know."
" He was Gianni's brother?"
" Maybe. I don't know."

At this point in the conversation, Deb and I were cracking up. Tony saw me laughing. He looked over at me and said. "Hey Joe (always calls me Joe or just HEY) You know this-a guy?"
" Which one ... Aldo, Gianni or Skinny Mario?"
"No ... this-a guy."
"He drive-a me crazy this-a guy. Always bustin my chops, this-s guy"

We all have a laugh together and after a few minutes, Tony's friend says ..."Hey ... you remember Little Paulie?"