It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post and Jared has reminded me about it a dozen or so times. It’s the 24th of April and it seems like a good day to pen something and perfectly fitting since it’s Jared’s birthday. As usual, I wait until the night before his big day to break out his birthday card to begin writing (that is what I am doing now). We have this long-standing tradition of expressing how much we love and appreciate one another in writing on our birthdays. I always look forward to opening Jared’s handwritten card each year on my birthday telling me how much he adores me. It never gets old, unlike each year that passes which in turn, slowly ages us. We are all told that in a blink of an eye, our life is over. Birthdays have always put that phrase into an unnerving perspective for me. In what used to be another year closer to becoming an adult, has fast become another year closer to the other end of the life spectrum. What do we want to accomplish in the next year of life? In the next five? Do we have goals and steps to get there?
One thing I have come to learn (taught myself to learn) is to love without fear and to love without limits. I am blessed beyond belief to love a man who loves me tenfold in return and he shows it unabashedly each and every day. So for his birthday this year and every year I want him to know that I think about him at every moment of the day. I love waking up each morning and running to the TV to turn on News 2 so that I can see him once more. I adore the way he holds doors open for me and pulls chairs out for me to sit in restaurants and even when it’s just the two of us at home. I am amazed by his generosity and his thoughtfulness not just to me, but to so many others he encounters. I love that he cherishes each and every friendship he has and how he never takes them for granted. I love how he thanks each viewer that comes up to him for watching and I know he truly feels blessed. I am amazed how he welcomes my family into our home to visit for as long as they want. I cherish how he wants to take advantage of each moment we have together and to live life beyond the fullest in the small amounts that we share.
I have shined in his grace on some of my darkest days and have been lifted up in his support by a shield of encouragement and strength. In moments of winning, I have been electrified in his embrace and warmed by the exuberance of his pride. Jared has never withheld his love for me whether it has been a really bad day or a really good day for us or one of us individually. He is all that I have ever wanted and beyond anything I could have imagined. On this birthday of his, I want him to know that I am blessed beyond wonder and blessed beyond prayer that he is mine and that we share this life together. Each year that he turns older is a moment that I reflect of how far we come, how deeply we love and how happy I am to be with him. Jared, you are amazing. Happy birthday to the most handsome, brilliant, goofy, loving man that I am blessed to share my life with. I adore you. Happy Birthday!
P.s- He is a huge Orioles fan, so I guess I’ll say go O’s! (just today!) haha
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us . . . “
Jared and I made plans to escape for a quick overnight to Knoxville this past weekend and we were delighted to find a charming city so close to home. The only other time we had been to Knoxville was over 7 years ago when we briefly stayed the night on our move to Texas. This time was different, of course. We headed out on our journey (a quick 2.5 hour drive) on a rainy afternoon, immediately after I got out of work in hopes of seeing a glimpse of the fall foliage and taking a quick pause on city living. I had been craving a nice hot cup of Starbucks coffee to go with my RX bar on our drive, but forgot to tell Jared I wanted that until we had passed the last Starbucks on our route. A little heads up if you are traveling from Nashville to Knoxville the last Starbucks to enjoy on your drive is in Cookeville. It’s okay though, Jared found a Dunkin’ Donuts express and we stopped there instead.
Jared made reservations at Emilia located in the historic market square in Knoxville. We arrived after dark in the misty rain and walked hand-in-hand along the brick sidewalks. We were met with warm lights that decorated the entrances of all of the shops and restaurants of the market square which made for a romantic stroll to dinner.
The food at Emilia was fresh and comforting on a rainy night. We started with the warm homemade focaccia that arrived thickly sliced with a perfectly crunchy exterior and a soft middle. It was accompanied with a small dipping bowl of whipped ricotta and olive oil topped with sea salt and pepper. For dinner, I had the pan roasted salmon and Jared had beef short rib ‘francobolli’ which was a ravioli filled with braised beef, cheese and root vegetables. The whole meal was divine.
Jared had been up since 2am that morning to do his early morning show so we decided to head back to our hotel for the night. We had been hoping to drive out to Gatlinburg the next morning for a hike, but since it had rained over 2″ there in 2 days, Jared made the judgement call to stay in Knoxville the next day. We will definitely make plans to for a trip to Gatlinburg in the near future.
Jared had been looking for places to go bowling just in case the weather prevented us from hiking (good thing he knows a couple things about planning for the weather). I think it had been about 3 years since we had been bowling together and we love to bowl. Fun fact: It was actually the activity Jared picked for our third date.
He found a place called Maple Hall— which turned out to be a captivating 11-lane boutique bowling alley located at the center of downtown Knoxville. It is quaintly tucked away in the basement of the old J.C Penney building. The environment is completely cozy with plush soft-leather couches and oversized pillows located at each bowling lane. The interior exposed brick walls in the bowling alley add to the feel of being in a historic building. We had a blast. Jared won both games, but don’t get me started on that. I ordered a chardonnay and I quickly forgot about the loss(es). After our bowling time expired, we ended up heading over to a lounge area in the back of the venue that had several comfy couches and coffee tables to order lunch and watch the other bowlers.
We had so much fun that we are going to plan another trip very soon!