Friday, January 30, 2009

Dinner Out

Last night our friends Jose and Karen treated us to a really delicious dinner out at a restaurant near their apartment in TriBeca. Apparently they had gotten vouchers for a "tasting" of this restaurant's dinner course, and decided to bring us along for the fun!

It was sooo good. We shared a bottle of red wine, and kicked off the meal with an appetizer of Bagna Cauda, which is fresh vegetables dipped in an anchovy oil sauce. Yum! Next up was an appetizer sampler including tuna carpaccio in a soy ginger sauce, prosciutto served with small pear slices, and fresh mozzarella. The next course was the pasta course, and the one I was most excited about - lobster linguine in a tomato cream sauce. It was tasty, but it was hard to get the lobster out so it wasn't exciting as I expected. Next up was the entree. Karen and I opted for the fresh fish, grilled with extra virgin olive oil and served on a bed of mashed potatoes with a side of arugula salad. It was so good! Instead of the fish, the boys opted for steak grilled in onion garlic sauce with a side of fried potatoes and arugula salad. The beef was also to-die for. The entrees were definitely the best part of the meal.

We finished off the wine and then completed the meal with some strawberry sorbet topped with raspberries (Karen had mango sorbet instead) and hot tea. What a meal! And of course it was accompanied by great conversation, so it was a very nice evening out.

Eric and me with Karen and Jose at Greenwich Grill

In other news, we still don't have a definite move-in date for the new apartment. In fact, we found out that we're lucky they're even letting us move! Apparently the policy has very recently changed, and they no longer offer the relocation guarantee unless you're moving into a different sized apartment (such as from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom). But, the manager of our building talked to the corporate office to allow it to happen for us because he knew that our plan had always been to move, and we had looked at other apartments in December before the policy changed. So, they decided to honor the guarantee for us despite the policy change. Thank goodness! And hopefully we'll have the final paperwork signed and a move-in date set by tomorrow. I'm ready to get this show on the road!

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Apartment Update

Thanks to everyone who responded either on the blog, via email, or via phone with your votes of confidence in our plan to move to the new apartment! We decided we are definitely going to go for it, and I have filled out the relocation paperwork to get things moving. We're still trying to nail down a definite move-in date, since they will only allow us to reserve an elevator on weekdays, so Eric will have to take a day off work. But, as of now we're tentatively planning on moving February 6. They tell us we'll only be able to have both apartments for 48 hours before we start getting charged double, so the move might have to be pretty quick. We're also waiting to hear back from them to see if there's any flexibility in sure would make our lives a lot easier to have a few more days to move things up at our leisure. So, we'll see.

So here we go again...our third move in a year and a half! But hopefully this will be it for a while. I'm really hopeful that this apartment will last us for a while, and so I hope to invest more time and energy into decorating it and making it home. We're talking about doing some wall-painting, which we've never done before (and another reason why it would be great if they'd give us more than 48 hours to move-in). We'll also probably end up getting nicer furniture as I mentioned before, and we'll finally get that red rug I've been wanting for the living room! So hopefully we can really turn it into a place we'll be happy to stay in for a while. 

In addition to figuring out the moving details, I'm supposed to have some work coming in from my old firm in DC, which will probably keep me busy this weekend or early next week. Also, we had plans to see an off-Broadway show this weekend. And, in other exciting news, Eric has OFFICIALLY been recommended for admission to the NY Bar after interviewing with them earlier this week, so he'll be getting sworn in on Monday afternoon! Very exciting! But, since we have lots of other things going on, I'm going to try to get moving on the packing right away. One plus about moving in New York that I've already discovered is the ease of getting boxes! Tons of bundles of boxes are regularly put out on the street for recycling, so it's like a free buffet of boxes. No more stalking your grocery store for banana boxes, just take your pick from the recycling!

So that's the latest news! I'll continue to keep you updated as we finalize our plans and make the move. I think I've gotten myself psyched up and I'm ready to GO! New apartment, here we come!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We Might Be Moving!

Yes, again. Can you believe it? Neither can I.

Our apartment building offers a "relocation guarantee," which means that at any point during our lease term (but only one time), we can move within their properties for no penalty. They'll just restart our lease in a new apartment. We had this in mind when we first moved in, because although we loved the building and location of our apartment, the actual unit itself left a bit to be desired. But, it was basically our only one-bedroom option in this building, so we decided to take it with the mindset that we could always move into a better unit if something opened up.

And something has opened up!

There's an apartment now for about the same cost per month as our current apartment. It's on the tenth floor (we're currently on the eighth), and it has some things that we would really want in an apartment. Actually, it has nearly everything. It has a pass-thru kitchen like our old apartment in DC did, which we loved. It has larger closets, which is a big-time plus in our tiny, storage-challenged New York world. But the best part is THE VIEW. The big, long window that stretches across the living and dining rooms, that faces east overlooking Manhattan. From that window (and the bedroom window too, in fact) you can see numerous Manhattan landmarks, including the Empire State building and...get this!....the New Year's Eve Ball. Yes, we could actually see the ball drop from our living room if we lived there. Why hello there, Mr. Super Warm and Comfortable New Year's Eve 2010. Oh, how I've longed to meet you.

So those are the pros. Naturally, there are cons. One is that the living room is somewhat awkwardly shaped, so there's a very good chance - rather, a probability - that all of our living room furniture won't fit in there. Certainly not neatly, at least. It will take some creative furniture arranging to make it look decent, and will probably ultimately lead to some new furniture purchases. Our couch, which we got used for cheap back in DC, is just too darn big. I love how big it is for lounging on and for accommodating overnight guests, but it's just not New York-sized. So, it might need to be replaced. Not that that's a bad thing...we had planned to get nicer furniture over time anyway, and this would just force our hand a bit.

The other con is the big one. WE HAVE TO MOVE. Yuck. Packing. Moving furniture. Arranging furniture. Unpacking. Hanging pictures. Changing our address. Setting up cable. Etc, etc. All those dreadful tasks we just did in August will have to be re-done. But, when it's done, we'd have a super-snazzy apartment. So is it worth it?

Care to take a look at the potential new W. household? Let's start with the floorplan:

Below are a couple pics of the nighttime view from the living room window.

Looking southeast

Looking east

And because those pictures don't even do it justice, here's a video of the view:

And last but not least, a video of the whole apartment. It starts from the front door and heads in past the kitchen to the dining area then living room, then into the bedroom. Also, in case you're curious, that clicky-clacky noise you hear in the background is Achilles prancing about on the hard-wood floor.

So what do you think? Is the view worth the hassle of moving?

I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland

Well, I obviously didn't get my next round of pictures posted yesterday. I woke up yesterday feeling even worse than I did the day before, so I spent the whole day laying on my couch, catching up on the bad TV I've had waiting for me on the DVR. Just what the doctor ordered! I'm still feeling a bit lousy today, but less like my head might explode, so let's do this. As I describe my weekend to you, it will probably become clear why I am sick.

Last week was our first week back after our Florida trip. In the eight days we spent in the Sunshine State, we drove over 1,000 miles up, down and around the state of Florida, spent time in 4 different cities, slept in 4 different beds, visited 17 family members, 1 friend and 5 pets, and saw one National Championship football game. Of course we enjoyed every moment of it, but needless to say, last week we were in full-on recovery mode and our only plan for the weekend was to not make any plans.

Friday night we decided to see a movie. More specifically, Marley & Me, which I had been dying to see. I will say I enjoyed the book more than the movie, but the movie was also very good. As expected, the end was almost to much for me to bear but I made it through and went home and gave Achilles a big ol' hug. Oh, and by "went home" I mean walked 14 blocks in NEGATIVE FOUR DEGREES. You know, the kind of cold where your face hurts. That was probably Strike One for getting sick.

Saturday was also pretty mellow. We hung out around the house most of the day then went to see another movie, this time Bride Wars, which was very cute. We went to the theater at Lincoln Center instead of our usual Times Square, and after it was over we did a little shopping before heading home.

Sunday brings Strike Two. Eric had a firm flag football game at Riverside Park on the Upper West Side. It was really a nice park, right along the Hudson River.

Football games going on at Riverside Park

The icy Hudson River

Let me pause here and backtrack for a moment. See the picture above of the icy Hudson River? All I could think about when I was looking out at that on Sunday afternoon was the US Airways flight that crashed into this very river last Thursday. I'm sure you've all heard about it extensively on the news, but considering that it happened so close to our apartment, I figured it warranted a mention. It crashed into the Hudson River at approximately 48th Street. We live about 1-2 blocks east of the Hudson at 54th Street. From our living room window, I could see the flashing police lights down by the river. Achilles and I walked out to the river to see if we could see anything, but other than the flashing lights on both the New York and New Jersey sides of the river, we couldn't see much and Achilles was too cold to walk any further to check it out. Needless to say, it was quite a miracle that the pilot managed to land that plane in the river in such a way that it stayed in one piece and all 150+ people on board made it out alive. Selfishly, I'm also very glad that the plane went down in the river and not on my apartment. But after seeing the frozen river up close and personal, I sure do feel for them for having to stand in it and wait to be rescued.

Note: I did not take this picture. You've probably seen this one on the news. Someone on one of the ferries that went to rescue the plane passengers took this. After seeing the ice in the picture above, can you imagine having to stand on the wing of a plane in that like these poor people are doing?

Now this one, I did take. This is taken from Hudson River Park, right by our apartment. You can see a string of red lights across the river - that's the emergency vehicles in New Jersey responding to the plane crash.

Anyway, back to Sunday's happenings. When Eric and I arrived at Riverside Park, the first thing we saw was children sledding, something I realized my husband has never done! Can you imagine? I just can't imagine a Floridian childhood, a childhood that does not include bundling up in snow clothes until you can barely move, building snowmen, building snow forts, sledding, tobogganing, etc. How deprived he is! So now we will have to find ourselves a sled and give it a go one of these days.

Sledders in Riverside Park. How cute! Also, very smart - they had bales of hay in front of the lampposts so that kids wouldn't go face-first into the post. That's probably a much better solution than just saying "Don't hit the post/tree/fence/whatever!" as your friends are on their way down, like we did back in my day. These kids today with their crazy technology.

A man who has never been sledding watching kids sledding

We made it down to the field and soon the football game was underway. The highlight (at least according to this commentator) was an interception in the end zone made by Mr. Eric W. himself. Unfortunately, despite Eric's best efforts, their previously 2-0 team is now 2-1. But, at least Eric got his first experience of playing football in the snow!

There's Eric, about to make the interception!

That's him in the green shirt, running with his intercepted ball!

The football game provided us with a very chilly afternoon, so we spent the rest of the evening in watching TV/movies. That was when I started to feel a sore throat coming on. Not good. But, Sunday night was also when I got the email about my interview! So that certainly brightened my spirits!

On Monday, Eric had the day off work and as you know, it was the anniversary of our engagement. I still wasn't feeling wonderful, but I wanted to get out and do something nice with Eric, because if he has a long weekend, I want to do whatever I can to enjoy it fully with him! It was snowing all day so we decided to take advantage of it and go to Central Park to take some snow pictures. And it was just beautiful. I think most of our pictures came out very well, but they just can't convey how lovely it was. It was quiet and peaceful and just so pretty.

We took a ton of pictures, so I'll try to limit what I share to just my favorites. Ready to feel cold?

Statue at the entrance to the park

Hansom cab

Watch your step!

Snowy scenery

Check out the snow accumulating on the brim of my hat!

There were so many ducks in the water by the bridge! People were feeding them and I loved them. How are they not cold?

Winter wonderland

Watching the ducks from the bridge


Snowy Eric

A very pretty gazebo up on a hill

In honor of the anniversary, our rings had a little photoshoot!

Snowy branches


Isn't it lovely? After wandering Central Park for a while, we made our way over to Fifth Avenue with the intention to do a little more shopping. We made a couple stops, but soon I started to feel really lousy. Suddenly the snow wasn't feeling so magical. Instead, it just felt wet, cold, and gross. So we hailed a cab home and I spent the rest of the night resting on the couch. Strike Three, I was out.

And that was our winter wonderland weekend!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Got an Interview!

Just had to quickly share that I found out over the weekend that the graduate school I applied to would like me to come in for an interview on February 13! It's actually an Interview Day with other applicants, and it sounds super intense. This is the tentative schedule of the day they sent me:
9:00 AM–9:15 AM Continental Breakfast
9:15 AM–9:45 AM Welcoming remarks
9:45 AM–11:15 AM Introduction to Faculty and their Research Interests
11:15 AM–12:30 PM Talk with Director of Experimental Training and campus tour
12:30 PM–1:30 PM Lunch
1:30 PM–4:00 PM Interviews with the faculty
4:00 PM–5:00 PM Reception with clinical applicants in the Multipurpose Room
5:30 PM - ? Dinner with faculty at local restaurant
Crazy, no? That will be a long day of trying to impress people. I think it will be good though, because it will give me plenty of time to speak with faculty and current students to see if I feel like this program really is the ideal fit for me. If I don't feel comfortable with everyone, it will certainly lessen the blow if I don't get in. Although I hope I get in! I'm optimistic now, since this looks like I made it through the first round of screening and now got a "call-back," if you will.

I have to send them an ordered list of faculty that I would most like to speak to one-on-one, so I will be spending a lot of time over the next couple of weeks reading up on the faculty and reading some of their research, as well as reviewing some of my own research and past cases so I can speak confidently about what I have done in the past. And I know I can speak freely about my plans for the future! That part I've got down pat.

So that's my big news! Isn't it exciting? Also, I have quite a few pictures to share with you from the weekend, but those will come later. We got a lot of snow this weekend so Eric and I spent some time taking pictures, but now I am paying the price with a bit of a cold. So, I am going to spend the rest of the afternoon snuggled up on the couch with the dog, watching the Presidential Inauguration hoopla and trying to keep the sneezing to a minimum. I am optimistic that I will be feeling better tomorrow, so hopefully I can get the pictures up then. But, just to tide you over, here is a sneak preview:

Snowy bridge over frozen water in Central Park

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Monday, January 19, 2009


Three years ago today was a very exciting day in my life. Three years ago today, my wonderful husband asked me to be his wife! And I'm pretty glad he did. I know most of you probably know the story of our engagement already, but I'm feeling nostalgic today and want to relive it. So, here we go!

The basis for the date started ten years ago today, on January 19, 1999. Eric and I were two sixteen-year-olds in love, and on that day Eric promised that one day, he would ask me to marry him. Now, we did realize we were young and we really didn't know where we would end up. And, as tends to happen, high school romance soon gave way to the ups and downs of college life. But, even when we weren't together, we always remembered the 19th.

When we eventually got back together in college in 2002, it was with a condition that our relationship would be much less intense...more about fun than future, if that makes sense. And we were very happy. We moved to DC in 2005, and by that time, the topic of marriage was every so often being mentioned. However, I fully believed that a proposal wasn't even on the horizon for another year or so. "Just for fun," however, we went looking at engagement rings in January of 2006. You know, "just to see what I liked." I was hopeful, but still didn't expect much to come of it for some time. Little did I know that while we were looking at rings, Eric had already purchased a ring for me and had it hidden in our roommate Jeff's closet!

On January 19, 2006, we planned to go out to the National Mall and walk around the monuments at night, after I got off work. The monuments are so gorgeous at night; it's probably my favorite time to see them. Eric requested that we each write a "speech" about our relationship to share with each other while we were out. So, I spent quite some time at work that day writing Eric a letter to read that night. I also drew little pictures representing important moments in our relationship around the edges of the paper, as I used to do when I would write him notes in high school. For example, I drew a pine trees to represent where we first met (at Whispering Pines), a roller skate to represent our first date (we went skating and laughed until our faces hurt), a milk shake to represent Steak 'N Shake (where we worked together; also the job I got to pay to take him to my homecoming!), etc.

When I got off work that night, Eric had a red rose waiting for me at home. He was throwing together his "speech" (he actually hadn't planned to write anything!), although he said he couldn't figure out how to end it. But, we went out on our way anyway. We stopped first for a very romantic dinner of McDonald's for me, and Chipotle for Eric. Fancy! Then, we made our way out to the mall.

We walked down to the Lincoln Memorial (my favorite one), just talking and enjoying the evening. It was very cold, and at one point I tried to put my hand in his pocket, but he wouldn't let me. Turns out he had the ring in there! When we got to Lincoln, we took some time to read the speeches inscribed on the walls before taking a seat on one of the many steps, looking out at the Washington Monument and the reflecting pool. We covered up with a blanket I had brought and soon it came time to read our speeches to each other. I went first, and this is what I said:

Dear Eric Ryan,

I thought today I would give you a letter reminiscent of the letters I used to write you in high school. I am so amazed at how far we've come in our relationship, and I am so thankful for every day we've shared. I thought that, after all these years, you might like to hear some of the reasons why I love you.

I love you because you came into my life at the time when I needed you the most. I truly believe that you were the answer to my prayers, and I thank God for you every day. You gave me so much hope and showed me a happiness that I never would have dreamed would to be possible.

I love you because to this day, you can make me smile until my face hurts. You still give me butterflies in my stomach and make my heart skip a beat. Every day reminds me of our roller-skating date, because even though our relationship has changed since then, my feelings of delight to be with you have always remained constant.

I love you for listening to me. You let me ramble on about insignificant things, but you always listen as if they were of vital importance. You are always willing to offer advice and support, and I appreciate that.

I love you for your faith. It has been amazing to watch you grow, and I admire your eagerness to share your faith with others. I love that you push me to be a better person and pursue a closer relationship with God.

I love you for your relationship with your family. I love that you are close with them and love and respect them so much. I know that the relationship you have with them signifies the relationship that you will have with your own family someday.

I love you for your humor. I love your sarcasm and your wit. I love that we are able to laugh together at so many things.

I love you for your intelligence and insight. I love that you are always trying to think about things in new ways, and you challenge me to do the same.

I love that we are each others' biggest fans. We each want nothing more than for the other to be a success, and we have such faith in each others' abilities.

I love that we are so alike and so different at the same time. Despite our separate interests, something fits just right.

I love that you always make me feel beautiful. Even on those days when I feel fat, or my hair is crazy, or I am sick with a cold and a hearty cough, you can always make me feel like the prettiest girl. I could quite possibly go on like this for days. There are so many more things I love about you - your smile, your laugh, your eyes, your voice, your selflessness, your ambition, your kindness, and on and on - but most of all, I love that through all of our ups and downs over the years, I knew in my heart that you would always be a part of my life. I know that our love "bears all things, believes all things, endures all things!"

Thank you, Eric Ryan, for letting me share the last seven years with you. Thank you for all of the laughs and tears and hugs and kisses and cuddles and times on benches. I hope that we can share many more benches for many more years!

Love, Meghan

By the time I finished reading my letter, Eric was shaking. I thought it was just that he was cold (it was FREEZING out), but he said he was fine and was pushing the blankets off his legs. He said he had finally thought of a way to end his speech, so he started reading what he had written for me:
Meghan Elizabeth,

It has been a tremendous privilege to watch you grow into an amazing woman. I am so proud of everything you have done, and will continue to do. I think you are gorgeous. You have the prettiest eyes, the softest skin, and the finest features of any one woman I know. As I try my best to be more spontaneous, you have succeeded at becoming more fun and open-minded. You represent the total package. I have no doubt; God must've spent a little more time on you.

Seven years ago to the day, I promised, and I swear, that I will be there when everything in your life makes you truly happy. If that happens when we meet in Heaven, wonderful. But if there is anything I can do on this Earth to help you along, I want to know so I can do it. I repeat this promise to you as the very least I can for your having seen to it that I am truly happy by just being me.

It's hard to argue that our relationship was true love at first sight. I blame the expression. You can certainly desire someone you see in passing, having no interaction other than a first "sight." But you can't love that person. The dictionary requires "an intense feeling of deep affection." A first "sight" allows a feeling only skin deep. Meghan, I feel in love with you at the first possible moment we spent together as total people. I felt as though I was in a dream at the roller rink. Every time I look into your eyes, I feel like am still in that same dream.

I love everything about you. Seven years ago to the day, I asked you an important question. You said yes, and my life and the love I felt for you has continued to multiply in happiness. There is no one else on Earth I can see spending the rest of my life with, and if I could stretch the outer bounds of my imagination, it would fall short of what I have found in you.

So, Meghan Elizabeth...will you marry me?

At this point he was down on one knee in front of me, holding a ring. I was absolutely shocked. Despite the important anniversary, I had no idea he had planned to propose. In fact, I even debated leaving out the part of my letter that talks about his "future family" because I thought that might be putting too much commitment pressure on him, and I wasn't sure he was ready for that! So I was just completely surprised to see him on his knee in front of me.

Naturally, I said yes, as a girl tends to do when the man she loves says sweet things to her and then gives her a ring. And I cried, also as I tend to do. The ring was beautiful, and the engagment was a dream come true. We left shortly after that, because in case I haven't mentioned, it was COLD. Even though my hands were freezing, I didn't want to put my gloves on and cover up my ring! On the whole way back to the metro, Eric was just spilling over, happy finally to have his secret out in the open. He shared details about how it all came to be and kept asking if I was really surprised! He was really cute. Then, I spent the whole metro ride home staring back and forth between Eric and my newly engaged finger and grinning like an idiot.

I remember waking up the next morning and looking down at my finger again in disbelief. I was so, so happy. I had to go to work that day, unfortunately, and I had class that night and all the next day, so I was hard-pressed to even find time to call family and friends to share our good news! That was torture, I tell ya.

Now, three years later, Eric and I are married and happier than ever. He planned the perfect proposal and it is now one of my most favorite memories. He's the best husband a girl could ask for.

I love you, Eric Ryan! Happy Anniversary!

We actually went out and bought a new digital camera so we could take this picture soon after the proposal!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Superman Wears Tim Tebow Pajamas

In honor of both the end of the college football season for this year and Tim Tebow's announced return to Florida next year, I thought an Ode to Tebow was in order. Because we all know I am a big Tebow fan! And, you won't have to listen to me talk about him until next fall, more likely than not. Unless, of course, he single-handedly creates world peace or eliminates global warming or some other such thing, which wouldn't surprise me.

Many of you may have heard a few of the facts about the legend of Tim Tebow that have been circulating as he has become such a football superstar. In case you haven't, I thought I would share a few of my favorites:

  • First, the obvious: Superman wears Tim Tebow pajamas.
  • Tim Tebow can get Chick-Fil-A on Sundays.
  • When Tim Tebow was a kid, he made his mom finish his vegetables.
  • Tim Tebow counted to infinity. Twice.
  • When Google can't find something, it asks Tim Tebow for help.
  • What color is Tim Tebow's blood? Trick question. Tim Tebow does not bleed.
  • Tim Tebow is the reason Waldo is hiding.
  • Tim Tebow ordered a Big Mac at Burger King, and got one.
  • Tim Tebow doesn't get sacked. Tim Tebow sacks defensive linemen.
  • Tim Tebow's tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.
  • If it tastes like chicken, looks like chicken, and feels like chicken but Tim Tebow says it's beef, you better believe it's beef.
  • Tim Tebow once won a game of Connect 4 in three moves.
  • When the boogie man goes to sleep, he checks his closet for Tim Tebow.
  • Superman's only weakness is kryptonite. Tim Tebow laughs at Superman for having a weakness.
  • When Batman is in trouble, he turns on the Tim Tebow signal.
  • Tim Tebow knows the EXACT location of Carmen Sandiego.
  • Tim Tebow can divide by zero.
  • Life doesn't give Tim Tebow lemons. Life asks him which fruit he wants.
  • Tim Tebow has the greatest poker face of all time. He won the 1983 World Series of Poker, despite holding only a Joker, a Get Out of Jail Free Monopoly card, a 2 of clubs, 7 of spades, and a green #4 card from the game Uno.
  • Tim Tebow CAN believe it's not butter.
  • Tim Tebow's helmet wears Tim Tebow for protection.
But really, all joking aside, I'm really glad Tebow's coming back for another year. He's such a great asset not only to the Florida Gators but to college football in general. And as I've mentioned before, my favorite thing about Tim Tebow is his faith. Although his athleticism is highly impressive, even more impressive is his recognition that his talent is God-given, and that his status as a college football superstar provides him with a platform to share the Word with the nation. Do you know that usually during this season, he wore the words "Phil. 4:13" on his eye black, and encouraged his teammates to put meaningful messages underneath their eyes as well? True story. However, Tebow switched up his verse to "John 3:16" for the National Championship game, and following the game "John 3:16" was the TOP search term on Google. I thought that was amazing!

Looking forward to another year, Tebow! Go Gators!

Oh, I can only hope my future child should be so lucky as to be the football to Tim Tebow's Heisman pose!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's Great To Be A Florida Gator!

Boy, are we missing Florida these days. As I write this, I'm watching the snow fall outside and it is currently 17 degrees, although Achilles and I are bundled up in blankets on the couch so we're pretty oblivious to that. My poor husband, however, is probably painfully aware of the cold temperatures because he walked to work this morning, as he does every morning. It is supposed to get all the way up to 24 degrees today, but tomorrow the predicted high is 13 degrees. That's just not very many degrees. And it's a little hard to stomach when you think that a week ago, we were at the beach and enjoying Florida sunshine. As I mentioned in my last post, I now understand the mentality of those snowbirds I used to hate while we still lived in Florida - now, a January through March Florida vacation sounds like a great idea. Now that the Christmas decorations are down, the snow and cold are not so enjoyable. But, we brought this on ourselves, so we will just have to deal!

Anyway, back to business! Time to talk about the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME! Are you ready?

We left my dad's house around 7:30 a.m. the day of the game to make the drive to Miami. We were all Gator-ed up (even more so than we would be for the game), and were armed with a CD of Gator music that Heather gave us for Christmas. The drive went smoothly, and the CD got us pumped up! Plus, we finally learned all the words to the fight song! That came in handy later in the evening.

Ready to leave my dad's house! I'm sporting my new Gators pajama pants, courtesy of Wal-Mart.

Our driver!

We got to Miami around 11:30 a.m. We drove right past the stadium on our way in, which got us even more excited! We made our way to Eric's friend Eric's (we'll call him Eric P.) apartment, where we would be spending the night. Eric P. is currently in St. Pete with family, so his apartment was unoccupied and he was kind enough to let us crash there. We got in and finished getting ready for the game, then went out in search of lunch. In doing so, we encountered a gas station cashier who did not speak any English whatsoever (not even "$18 on pump 6"), and lots of Burger Kings. We finally settled on a Taco Bell, then continued on to the stadium!

The stadium, as seen from the car

Showing off some of the details of my Gator attire: my spririt fingers, if you will.

I also had spirited feet! Don't you just love the Gator shoes???

We arrived at the stadium, paid the exorbitant parking fee, parked the car, and headed out to start the fun. The first thing we did was track down some old friends of mine that I used to work with at Calico Jack's in Gainesville. We miraculously found them amongst the tailgating, and visited with them for a bit. They were recently married, and used the same DJ we did for our wedding based on our recommendation! So we talked weddings and what's new in life for a bit before Eric and I headed back out on our own to explore some more. I should mention that the parking lot was a sea of Orange and Blue, just like a home game for the Gators. Judging solely from the parking lot turnout, it was probably 90% Gator fans and 10% Sooners. Wow.

The stadium

With my husband amongst the tailgating fun

With my friend Erin

Eric practicing his Gator chomp!

We wandered around for a bit, and stopped at a souvenir stand to get Eric some Gator beads. They had a t-shirt that I wanted but it was $45!!! Highway robbery, I tell ya. Eventually our wandering led us to the ESPN College Gameday set, something we are familiar with from our college days. Gameday would sometimes come to UF before a big game, and if we were feeling ambitious, we'd get up early (early in college standards, mind you, so like, 9 or 10:00) and go out to where they were broadcasting from and stand behind the stage to try to get on TV. There's always lots of craziness and chanting and sign-waving, so it's a good time. In fact, here's a picture of us at College Gameday before the 2008 UF v. FSU game:

Mr. and Mrs. W., circa 2003. Ah, college days.

This time, we decided that instead of jumping around behind the stage to try to get some TV face time, we would stay in front of the set to try to get a good look at the commentators. We were so close to the set, and did we ever get a good look! Desmond Howard, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit walked right in front of us, and I even got a picture with Kirk! He's known as the good-looking one, and he is even better looking in person. Yum. All the ladies were freaking out!

The Gameday set

Eric at College Gameday

Desmond Howard. I love how it looks like he's wearing a full suit on TV, but really he has jeans on under the desk!

Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso on the set (they were actually wearing full suits)

Lee Corso doing the Gator Chomp!

Me with Kirk Herbstreit! Isn't he a cutie?

After spending some time at Gameday, we decided to move on. From there we just wandered around the parking lot a bit more and took in all the tailgating fun.

Eric "catching a pass" from Tim Tebow

For some reason, Gators have a reputation for wearing jean shorts, or "jorts," if you will. I think Georgia fans started it. I'm not really sure why, but it has apparently caught on. Come on Gators, get your life together! Let's kill this stereotype.

Think the owner of this car is a Gator fan?

We finally decided to pay to get into the official tailgating tent, to see what was happening in there. And in there we discovered all the Oklahoma fans! There were many more Sooners in there than in the parking lot, which makes sense if you think about it. Florida people could drive to the game, and therefore tailgate in their cars in the parking lot, but Sooners flew down and didn't have as many pre-party options. They were still outnumbered, but they were much better represented in the tailgate tent. I'd say overall the proportion was 70% Gators and 30% Sooners.

In the tent they had all kinds of things going on. Food and drink to buy, the bands performed, football stars signing autographs, photo booths, a Ferris wheel, games (including a Rock Band station!), and even a tent where you could take your picture with the National Championship trophy! So we killed a fair amount of time in the tailgate tent.

The tailgate tent

With the trophy!

Before we knew it, it was time to head into the stadium so we could get some food and find our seats in time to see all the pre-game happenings.

Stadium at night - it's almost game time!

Inside the stadium!

Our seats were in the VERY TOP ROW of the stadium. But, we still had a great view and we were on the corner of the Florida end zone, so it was just fine. It was just a pretty good hike up to our seats!

Waaay up in our seats. See the top of the stadium behind me?
I was also trying to show off my orange and blue glow stick bracelets, but they didn't come out too well.

Our view of the field from our seats. See? Not too bad at all!

Up in our section, ready for the game!

We watched all the pre-game warm-up stuff, the band performances, and the National Anthem (complete with a poorly-timed flyover).

The Gators before the game

Florida band pre-game show: they're making the state of Florida! (upside down)

Oklahoma band

The National Anthem

And was time for the teams to take the field! They played the same intro that they play in the Swamp for the Gators, which includes menacing footage of alligators in their natural habitat set to the Jaws theme, followed by the warning: "The Swamp...only Gators get out alive!" as the Gators run onto the field. It's so awesome. It gets us Gators so pumped up every time! Then, you know, the Sooners took the field too.


Heeeeeeeeeeeere come the Gators!

The Sooner Schooner leading Oklahoma onto the field

And then it was time for the coin toss and the kick-off, and the game was underway! We have no pictures from the first half. It was way too intense. The Gators scored first, but the Sooners tied it immediately after and went into halftime tied at 7-7. Twice the Sooners were poised to score, but the Florida defense held them off. As you may remember me mentioning in the past, I do not handle close games well. I tend to cover my eyes (or at least the lower half of my face) and get very tense. This is how I watched the majority of this game:

Eric, however, took a louder approach. Well, I helped with the yelling while the Sooners were on offense, but Eric was much louder throughout and ended up losing his voice!

It was just so intense. I mean, close games are always tough, but we felt like we had so much riding on this one. The money we spent to get there, the time, the hours in the car, everything. I kept thinking about all the fun things we did all day and the great pictures we took, knowing that if the Gators lost, all of that would be tainted. I wouldn't want to look back at those pictures, because the whole day would be ruined. So much pressure!

Halftime was a somewhat welcome break from the stress, although not entirely because we knew that when the second half began, it would be as if the first half didn't count for anything. Tie game. Yikes. But, I tried to relax and enjoy the halftime show.

Florida band halftime show. Band members are dancing with the Dazzlers!

More halftime show

Ah, the second half. The Gators scored again, and then blocked an Oklahoma field goal to keep the score 14-7. However, the Sooners scored again, tying it back up at 14-14. The Gators answered with a field goal with just under 11 minutes left in the game. The Sooners got the ball back and were driving down the field, but an incredible interception by Gator Ahmad Black put a stop to that! The Gators got themselves back into the red zone, but a couple of false start penalties kept pushing them back. However, they would not be deterred, and largely through Tebow's will they scored again - with a JUMP PASS! My favorite! It was incredible, and the crowd went absolutely nuts. 24-14 Gators with just over 3 minutes left in the game!

3rd down and 6 yards to go in the 4th quarter

Huddling up before 1st down and goal

Taking position for the JUMP PASS!

Gator Nation Celebration! If only this picture could convey the NOISE at this moment.

The Sooners got the ball back, but the Gators held them and nothing came of it. Then the Gators got the ball back, and had nothing left to do except run the clock out! Everyone was so pumped. Tebow even got his first unsportsmanlike penalty for chomping in the face of an Oklahoma player who had intentionally pulled on Gator Percy Harvin's ankle, the same ankle that had kept him out of the SEC Championship game because of a sprain. Look at that, Mr. Tebow may not be totally perfect! But the Gator Nation ate it up with a spoon, and the Sooner fans began to clear out.

I would like to mention that the Oklahoma fans were very classy about the whole thing. We know a few people from Oklahoma, and every Oklahoman we've ever met has been just the nicest person. The fans at this game did not do anything to alter that opinion. I was even sitting next to some Sooners, and as they left the game they congratulated us on the win and wished us safe travels.

And so the clock ran down, Urban Meyer got the Gatorade, and the celebration erupted on the field! Such a great feeling. Everything we went through to get ourselves to this game was worth it, and it was amazing! GATORS ARE NATIONAL CHAMPS!

VIDEO: The final seconds of the game!


Celebration on the field

As Eric once said, "Any statement about Florida is an understatement."

It's great to be a Florida Gator!

I nearly broke my ankle to get this picture. I had to climb down to the row in front of our seats and didn't realize that my beer had spilled on the ground below my feet, making my adorable Gator shoes very slippery. As I was stepping on the seat in front of me, my foot slipped and the seat folded back up with my foot stuck in it! I ended up with a real pretty bruise on my ankle. So, please fully appreciate this picture so that my pain was worth it.

National Champs!

Final score: 24-14 Gators!

Gators on stage to receive the trophy

Urban Meyer and the trophy


We watched the celebration from our nosebleed neck of the woods for a bit, then started to make our way down towards the field to take it in from a closer point of view. We got to see the players and press milling about on the field and got some pictures of all that, before finally making our way out of the stadium, accompanied by the band and lots of celebration!

Brandon James

Ahmad Black, the one who made that great interception in the fourth quarter

Carlos Dunlap, Defensive MVP

Eric down by the field

VIDEO: The Florida band leaving the stadium

Outside the stadium, the celebration continued in full force. Most of the people still out there were the fans who did not have tickets to the game, but came out to tailgate all day anyway and watch the game on TV while drinking excessive amounts of beer (and it showed!). It was pretty crazy! We made another quick stop by the College Gameday set for their post-game show, then began our journey back to Eric P.'s apartment. Eric was wired and wanted to drive back to St. Pete that night, but I was much too tired so we just spent the night at the apartment as planned then drove back on Friday.

And that was our National Championship experience! It was so much fun. GO GATORS!

So give a cheer for the Orange and Blue, waving forever. Forever pride of old Florida, may she droop never!
We'll sing a song for the flag today, cheer for the team at play. On to the goal we'll fight our way for Florida!