Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An Afternoon on the Intrepid

Eric and I had a really nice weekend this past weekend, despite the whole Tim Tebow concussion thing. On Saturday before the game, we decided to take advantage of Free Museum Day, which meant we could choose one museum from a list for free admission. Unfortunately, none of the big ones like the Met or Guggenheim were included, but the Intrepid Museum was, so we opted for that one. We have been on the deck of the Intrepid several times before for their movie nights, and I did the museum once briefly with my dad, but I was looking forward to spending more time there with Eric. We also invited my friend Amanda along with us.

We all met for breakfast at our favorite local diner first, then walked over to the ship. It was a fairly nice day - partly sunny but a bit chilly. We had a great time touring the ship. You get to walk around inside and see what the setup is like (there are so many buttons and knobs, I can't even imagine knowing what they all do!), plus there's an area with lots of interactive, hands-on stuff. We had a great time exploring! Care to see some photos of our fun afternoon?

Planes and helicopters on the deck of the ship

Some handsome guy on the deck

Up close and personal with a plane

He's going to be mad at me for posting this one, but I like it!

Reviewing the maps

In a simulator cockpit thingy

Sleeping on bunk beds with Amanda

Inside a "space shuttle"

After the museum, we picked up some H&H bagels for the rest of the weekend (yum) then went home to watch the Florida game. We had a nice day on Sunday, too - we just went out to lunch and then picked up Season 3 of Dexter to brush up on last season's happenings before the Season 4 premier that night (which, by the way, was AMAZING). It was a great weekend together!

I'm especially thankful for this past weekend because Eric has just been so busy at work lately. He has been working late and over the weekends quite a bit, so I was glad he had some free time for those couple of days. Now that this week is underway, however, he's been back at it. In fact, he was even instructed yesterday to tell his wife that she won't be seeing him at all for a few days. So, that's a bummer. I know that I shouldn't complain, because it's good that he's busy (and even has a job at all, these days), but I miss him. He's a fun guy to have around!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mom's birthday! She had a party with friends and family on Saturday, and her Jazzercise students threw her a little party last week as well, so she has certainly been celebrated! I wish I could have been there to wish her a happy birthday in person at one of her parties, but I'm thinking of her today and wishing her the best!

Happy birthday, Mom! Love you!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Celebrating 5 Years of Achilles Fun


Birthday boy!

Today is Achilles' sixth "birthday," which really means it's the fifth anniversary of his adoption. When we adopted him, the vet estimated he was a year old, so we celebrate his birthday on the anniversary of the day we got him. It has been five years since we brought him home with us already! I can hardly believe it. In those five years, he has given us more than our share of both laughs and headaches. As he gets older, he is calming down a little bit (crate escapes notwithstanding) and his face, which was once as black as could be, is getting progressively whiter. Other than that, he's the same sweet pup we first met at that shelter in Gainesville.

Achilles then and now:
On the left, the picture of him posted on the shelter website. On the right, looking goofy just a month ago. Look how much whiter his snout is!

Achilles is a spoiled dog, as we all know. So of course, we must celebrate his birthday in a grand fashion. Last night we had his "party," because his good friend Eric might have to work late tonight. We sang to him and then let him go to town on a doggy birthday cake we bought for him. He loved it!

"Well, this looks interesting."

"Oh, yum!"

"Why do you keep interrupting me to take my picture?"

Achilles and his good friend Eric

Today, weather-permitting, I'll be taking him to the dog park for some fun free time, and he also gets a new bone today. See? Spoiled. But, he's not just spoiled by us, either! For the first time in his life, Achilles got some mail this weekend. His Grammy (my mom) sent him a birthday card! Isn't that sweet? He was so flattered.

Look! It was addressed to him and everything!
(Addresses have been removed to protect the innocent)


Loved this little guy hiding out on the back of the card

I realize if you don't have a dog (or even just aren't as into your dog as I am) you may think I'm a bit unhinged for doing all this, but this dog has just really become a part of our family. He brings us so much joy and we're so glad to have him. Happy birthday, Achilles! We love you, pups!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"Did I Hold Onto The Ball?"

Holy cow. Last night was scary. Very scary.

Eric and I had a great day out yesterday (more on that later this week), then stayed in to watch the Gators play Kentucky at night. The game was going very well. The Gators went up 31-0 in the first quarter (!), but then slowed down a bit and Kentucky even scored. In the third quarter, the Gators seemed to be in position to score again, but a couple of penalties backed them up a bit. happened. Tebow got sacked, and as he came down, he hit his head on the knee of a fellow Gator. Over and over again ESPN showed us how Tebow's head went backwards with the initial hit then snapped forward again after hitting his teammate's knee. Meanwhile, Tebow lay motionless on the field.

When I saw him just laying there on the field, not moving, I think my heart actually stopped. I nearly cried. You could see the concern on the faces of the Gator fans at the game, and I'm sure around the nation. The whole Gator team even went out on the field to see if he was okay. He just wasn't moving! I was just thinking, "forget about our Championship hopes this season, just let Tebow be alright." It was very scary. I even told Eric that this is why I don't want our future children to play football. I can't even imagine what his poor parents felt as all this was unfolding.

Tebow did eventually get up and walk off the field. Coach Urban Meyer said the first thing Tebow said to him when he went over to him was, "did I hold onto the ball?" Oh, the Tebow we all know and love! He was eventually taken to the hospital for tests and observation. It looks like he has a concussion, and thankfully nothing more serious seems to be going on.

I'm so glad he's okay. And, the Gators have an off week next weekend, so they have two weeks for Tebow to rest and for them to knock out this flu bug that apparently has been making the rounds through the team, as well. Hopefully they'll come back refreshed and strong to play LSU in two weeks! I'll be praying for a quick recovery for Tim Tebow and the rest of my beloved Gators!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dexter (and I) ♥ NY

Have I mentioned lately that I love New York? You never know what you might stumble across to turn a so-so night into a fun one.

Yesterday evening I had a job interview, which I didn't even mention on here beforehand because I wasn't sure it would pan out. I think the interview went well, but I was NOT excited about the job itself. If they call to offer me the position, I'll be turning it down. It just was not a good fit for me. Bummer, right? Eh, chalk it up to more interview experience.

But, the office I was interviewing in was just blocks from Eric's office, and by the time I was done Eric was also ready to get off work. I wanted to run down to Herald Square to pick something up, so we decided to walk together. As we passed Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue, we stumbled across something FUN!

First things first, how many of you watch Dexter? Because let me tell you what, I love me some Dexter. Seriously, LOVE that show. Our friends Leah and Chris got me hooked on it while we were still in DC, and I finally sucked Eric in during Season 3 last year. Season 4 starts this Sunday and I am psyched. If you're not familiar with this show, basically it's about a serial killer with a conscience, of sorts. He has a "code" he follows when he decides who to kill - he only kills people who deserve it. And of course, he spends his days working as a blood splatter analyst for the Miami Police Department. What else would he do for a living?

For those of you who don't know me very well, you may not realize that I have a total fascination with serial killers. I first realized my obsession when my mom dropped me off at college, and as she left she mentioned that it was the tenth anniversary of the serial killer in Gainesville. At first I was a little freaked out, but then I got to Googling, and was fascinated by what I read about the Gainesville Ripper. I have now read basically everything I can get my hands on about that killer, Danny Rolling, among others. It's what inspired my forensic psychology degree, as well. So really, Dexter is right up my alley.

Anyway. The new season starts on Sunday, and they have been having some Dexter events around town to promote it. Earlier this week, Eric went over to Grand Central to see a mosaic of Dexter made out of blood slides. They also had other props there, like the fingertips in ice from the first season, and the Skinner's Knife from Season 3. I didn't make it out there to see all this, but Eric was nice enough to send me pictures.

Dexter mosaic made out of blood slides

Fingertips in ice, courtesy of the Ice Truck Killer in Season 1

The Skinner's knife from Season 3

Last night, without even knowing it was going on, we came across another great Dexter event, even better than this display at Grand Central! Lord & Taylor had just unveiled their Dexter-themed window displays, and the blood slide mosaic was set up outside the store. There were people standing there to take your picture with the mosaic, then they gave you coupons for a Dexter gift bag you could claim (along with your picture) on the tenth floor of the store. So, of course Eric and I had our picture taken, and after admiring the window displays, we headed up to the tenth floor.

With the Dexter mosaic

My favorite of the window displays, showing strings set up for blood splatter analysis, as Dexter does for a living
(Blood splatter analysis was also my favorite topic in my college Forensics class!)

"Slice of Life" window display - there's "Dexter" holding a knife by the baby carriage, since in the new season he is expecting a baby with his new wife.
I assume the woman in this display is meant to be Rita, his wife, and her children Cody and Astor.

This one looked like the police station - evidence tags everywhere, and donuts on the table. Dexter always brings donuts for his co-workers. He's so considerate.

When we got to the tenth floor, it was a par-tay! There were all sorts of people milling about, enjoying free Dexter cocktails, which were vodka mixed with some red stuff that, judging by the taste of this drink, was little more than water and red food-coloring. We also picked up our gift bags, which included copies of Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD, and the book Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. We also picked up our picture and admired the other Dexter-related displays they had around, like the kill plan for Miguel Prado from Season 3.

Sipping my Dexter drink next to the kill plan for Miguel Prado

I must admit, I did not finish my cocktail (holy strong drink, Batman!), but we had a great time at this little event we just wandered past by accident. And that is the beauty of this city - you never know what you may come across. I was assuming my evening was basically a waste of time because my interview didn't pan out, and then I found this fun little cocktail party in honor of my favorite fictional killer! Only in New York, my friends...only in New York.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thinking of Toni

Today my mother-in-law, Toni, starts chemotherapy. She will be going three times a week, every other week, for the next 12 weeks. I'm sure she's very nervous about it...I know I sure would be. So, I'm thinking of her today and praying for her. She's such an incredible woman, I know she can beat this thing, but I just wish she didn't have to go through all of this. Please send a prayer her way today, if you can.

Toni, we're thinking of you today and every day! We love you!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Fall 2008 at the Pond in Central Park

Today is the first day of fall.

Really? Again? Already?

Apparently, yes. It is once again time for the leaves to change colors, for carving pumpkins, for planning Halloween costumes, for the weather to cool down (though it really was barely hot this year!), for eating pies and drinking cider, for restaurants to pull in their outdoor tables, for ice skating rinks to start appearing around the city, and for me to cry because it will be winter soon.

Fall really is beautiful, and I'm not upset about fall. The weather lately has been fabulous. I just wish it would stay that way! But, alas, I know what is to come.

You can also file this season change under "holy cow, I can't believe it has already been one year..." We have now been in New York for a year, Eric has been working for a year, we're making our way into a second full cycle of seasons. Wow. Where did this year go?

In honor of the day, here's a quick look back at our first fall in New York. Oh, how I wish fall didn't have to be followed by winter, so I could enjoy this beautiful scenery without dreading the cold days months to come! It really is lovely, though, isn't it?

Pretty trees in Central Park

A waterfall in Central Park

Wollman Rink

Happy fall, everyone!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

"Yay and Yikes"

That's what my sister posted on her Facebook yesterday after she got some great news...

She got a contract to sing on a cruise ship!

For those of you who don't know, my sister is an awesome singer. I realize there may be a little family bias there, but I really think she's actually really good, not just "she's-good-because-she's-my-sister" good. She has been a performer ever since I can remember. When we were kids, she would memorize musicals (most notably, "Jesus Christ Superstar") then sing them to me, from beginning to end. She was in choir. She was in plays. In high school, she made an awesome Audrey in "Little Shop of Horrors" and a fabulous Diva in "Starmites." After high school she got a job as a singer at Busch Gardens, where she has been working for years. She also received the highest honor a singer can receive - I asked her to sing at my wedding. HA! I kid. But she did sing at my wedding and she did a beautiful job.

My sister the performer! From left to right: Playing Audrey in "Little Shop of Horrors," 2002; as the Diva in "Starmites," 2003; in costume for the Busch Gardens Christmas show, 2006; and singing at my wedding, 2007!

Although Heather has been doing a great job at Busch Gardens, the time has come for her to move on, and now an opportunity has presented itself. Yesterday she accepted a job on Princess Cruise Lines. This job, I must say, sounds like the most awesome job ever. She will first spend some time in Los Angeles rehearsing. Then she will fly to Italy - yes, ITALY - to meet up with the ship. She will spend the first month of her contract cruising the Mediterranean - we're talking Greece, Italy, Spain, and other boring places like that. Then, they'll make their way to the Caribbean, and she will spend another five months cruising around down there. She also has full passenger status, which means she can go anywhere and do anything she wants on the ship. Other than performing, she has no other ship-maintenance duties. She will have her own room, too. Sounds amazing, doesn't it? Can you imagine getting paid to travel the world and do what you love?

The only downside to this is that she signed a six-month contract, which means she will be gone for six months. I know that since I moved away it is not unheard of to go six months without seeing members of my family (although Heather and I have always been good about visiting each other when we can), but now knowing that we can't see her for six months (unless we go on her cruise, of course) is a little crazy. Especially since I have been spoiled with seeing her this summer - we've seen each other at least once a month for four out of the last five months! It has been great. Not only will she be gone for six months, but she leaves in just over two weeks already! She's giving her two-week notice to Busch Gardens on Monday and then she'll leave October 6th. Wow. Hence, her "yikes" on Facebook!

Even with her impending extended absence, I'm so excited for my sister. This is something she has been wanting to do for a long time, and I'm so glad she's finally getting the chance. I know she'll be great at it, too. She was born to be a star! If you want to see her in action, check out this highlight reel of some of her Busch Gardens performances:

VIDEO: Heather's Busch Gardens Highlight Reel

Heather, I wish you all the best as you prepare for this next step. Congratulations!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Now It's the Moms' Turn

I had a great time with my mom and Aunt Debbie this past weekend! Forgive my delay in posting about it - things have been busy. I have actually had some work to do with a local jury consultant, which has been excellent. I worked with her before Molly and Heather visited and she loved my work, so she called me again to help with another project this week. Even though I'm still in need of a full-time job, it has been nice to be doing something in my field again, and having a little income. So that was what I was doing Monday. Yesterday I was doing some celebrity stalking, as I have been known to do these days, but we'll get to that later. But now, on to the weekend!

Mom and Aunt Debbie were scheduled to arrive around 2:30 p.m. on Friday, but their flight was delayed for two hours. What is going on with my mom flying in and out of New York? The first time she came to visit, her flight home was delayed because of a March blizzard. Then we had the whole mess when she and Heather tried to fly into JFK before going on to Budapest. Now this. I think maybe Mom should take the train next time!

Anyway, they ended up getting in around 4:30. I met them at JFK airport and we took the subway back to my apartment. The silver lining of their delay was that they did not miss a beautiful day for sightseeing in New York - it was chilly and rainy all day. The downside of this was that our evening plans fell through. We had planned to go to the top of Rockefeller Center for some nighttime city views, including a red, white and blue Empire State Building and the World Trade Center Tribute in Light. But, thanks to the rain and low cloud cover, we wouldn't have been able to see much of anything. So we stayed in, ordered Chinese food, drank wine, and chatted. Late in the evening the clouds lifted enough that we were able to see the Tribute in Light from our apartment, as well as a little more of the skyline, so that was nice!

We didn't get a picture of the Tribute in Light, but my mom got this great shot of our skyline view at night.

On Saturday, the weather was a little better. At least, it didn't rain all day and when it did rain, it was mostly just gross drizzle, nothing unmanageable. We did our general Times Square/East Side tour, with a few minor tweaks. We started out in Times Square, including the M&M and Hershey stores. Then we made our way to 42nd Street where we stopped for lunch in Bryant Park then stopped inside the New York Public Library.

Mom and Aunt Debbie in Times Square

Inside the New York Public Library

We then made our way up Fifth Avenue, with stops at the American Girl Place, Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick's Cathedral (and Best Buy to have Aunt Debbie's camera battery charged!). We also stopped in to FAO Schwartz, where the ladies treated me to a lovely rendition of Chopsticks on the Big Piano.

With Mom at Rockefeller Center

Aunt Debbie and Mom on the Big Piano

From there, we walked over to Serendipity, a well-known dessert shop, to try their famous Frozen Hot Chocolate. Serendipity is also known for their Golden Opulence Sundae, which is the world's most expensive ice cream sundae, priced at $1,000! It is actually covered in edible 23k gold leaf. Wow. But, as these sorts of things have a tendency to do in New York, Serendipity had a very long wait for a table. By this point we were exhausted so we decided to forgo our Frozen Hot Chocolate. We headed back down to Best Buy to pick up Aunt Debbie's camera battery, stopping at Grand Central on the way. We then made our way home, although we did make a quick stop for some Crumbs cupcakes to eat after dinner!

For dinner we enjoyed some of Eric's homemade sauce and meatballs, plus salad, garlic bread and wine, then our absolutely delicious cupcakes! After dinner, Achilles put on a bit of a fashion show, and then we all played Rock Band. It was Aunt Debbie's first time, and she did a great job!

Aunt Debbie on the drums

Mom rockin' out on the guitar

On Sunday, Eric was running the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Central Park. In fact, he organized a team from his office to run in it as well. So he got up early to run the race, and my mom, Achilles and I went along to cheer him on. The running was kind of a mess with all the walkers and runners being mixed in together, but he did a good job! Unfortunately, we missed him crossing the finish line. Oh well. Good job, Eric!

Eric and Achilles before the race

Running! (My mom got this pic. I was sleeping on the job, apparently, and nearly missed him running by!)

After the race, we stopped back at the apartment to pick up Aunt Debbie, then Mom, Aunt Debbie and I headed over to Times Square for a major highlight of the weekend: the Broadway on Broadway concert, which featured performances from every Broadway musical to promote the new Broadway season! It was great! Plus, the ending was fantastic. After a rousing rendition of "Don't Stop Believin'" from the Rock of Ages cast, they had someone sing "New York, New York" and they dropped confetti and streamers on Times Square, just like they do on New Year's Eve! It was fantastic, especially since when Eric and I did New Year's Eve in Times Square, we were too far back to be under the confetti - so, now I have experienced it all! We had a great time just taking in the moment, then everyone enjoyed playing in the confetti once the performance was over.

Mom and Aunt Debbie at the concert

"Chicago" cast on the big screen (my mom got this pic too - her camera has a fantastic zoom.)

Here comes the confetti!

Aunt Debbie and me enjoying the grand finale

It's like New Year's Eve in September!

There was so much confetti on the ground afterward, you could make confetti angels, like this kid did!

Aunt Debbie and Mom enjoying the confetti

I loved this little guy just sitting there amongst all the fun. This will probably be the only time his parents let him just sit on the ground in Times Square (I hope so, anyway)!

VIDEO: Clips from "Broadway on Broadway," including songs from Wicked, Rent, West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera, Rock of Ages, and the grand finale!

After the concert, we hopped on the subway down to Brooklyn, where Eric met up with us. He got in line for our favorite pizza, Grimaldi's, while we went to get our ice cream from the Ice Cream Factory. Both were absolutely delicious. The pizza was so good, we ordered a second one after we finished our first! Ice cream, pizza and wine is just a beautiful way to spend an afternoon. Then, of course, we walked back to Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge. It was an absolutely gorgeous day!

Aunt Debbie, Eric and Mom in line for Grimaldi's

Aunt Debbie and Eric walking across the bridge

I love this shot of the skyline my mom got as we walked across the bridge!

With my mom on the bridge

I had to put these two pictures together! We took the same picture of both daughters and mothers over the last two weekends.

When we got back to Manhattan, we hopped back on the subway up to Central Park. We wandered around the park for a bit, enjoying the lovely scenery. I always love walking around the park.

Acting out the statue at the SE corner of the Park (Aunt Debbie is the guy on the horse with a bird on his head)

Eric, me and Aunt Debbie in Central Park

After the park, we took the subway once again, this time to Rockefeller Center because we were geared up for some celebrity stalking. The MTV Video Music Awards were being held at Radio City Music Hall, and my mom was very excited about the possibility of seeing some celebrities. So, we braved the crowds to see what we could. I was very nervous our efforts would prove fruitless, but we actually did see some people! We saw Pink, Taylor Swift, and the lead singer of Cobra Starship (who I must admit, I am unfamiliar with, but this is what people told me) as they were preparing to make their entrances on the red carpet. I also saw Chet from Real World Brooklyn, and caught some far-off glimpses of Jennifer Lopez and Sway (an MTV reporter). So, successful!

Radio City all decked out for the VMAs

Pink, ready to make her entrance on a fire truck

Taylor Swift, getting out of her car to get on her horse-drawn carriage for her entrance

Gabe Saporta of Cobra Starship, about to enter on a NY Sightseeing bus

Me with Chet from The Real World

Some very tired celebrity stalkers!

We were so exhausted by that point, so we went on home and watched the VMAs on TV. It was fun to see everything we had just seen in person! New York is just so cool.

The next morning, Mom and Aunt Debbie had an early flight to catch so I walked them to the subway at 5:15 a.m. and saw them off (note to future guests: let's try to avoid this 5:00 a.m. stuff, okay?). It was such a great visit! Thanks so much for coming, ladies! It was great having you!

Since we're on the topic of celebrity sightings, I'll just throw our sightings from yesterday here into this post! Yesterday I spent several hours stalking LeBron James, who was signing books at a Barnes and Noble near Eric's office. Unfortunately, I completely misjudged how early I would need to get there to get an autograph, and by the time I arrived at 11:00 a.m. (an hour and a half before the signing was to begin), they had already cut off the line! So, I joined the line of hopefuls (that's the people who were waiting despite being told there was no chance they would get an autograph) and waited and waited. I actually got very close to getting my autograph, but by that time, LeBron had to leave. So, no luck. Boo! I was so bummed. But, I did get to see him as he arrived and when he left at least! And when he left, Eric (who had joined me for his lunch break) was able to get really close pictures. Eric, you're my hero!

LeBron on his way out of Barnes and Noble

Also, Eric walked right by Mayor Bloomberg on his way home from work yesterday. He says he's very short. It seems our celebrity sightings always happen in clusters!

So, that was the last few days in the W. household. Now, if you can believe it, we actually do not have any visitors scheduled in the coming months. Unheard of! I have to say, as much as we do love having visitors, I am looking forward to having some time to just relax and hang out with Eric. I need a rest from my tour-giving profession - for a couple weeks at least!