Saturday, February 27, 2010

I'm Back!

A little later than expected, but here I am! It turns out I'm a lucky girl in that the two biggest snowstorms Eric and I have seen since leaving Florida in 2005 happened this month: the first on the day I was scheduled to fly to Florida for the cruise, and the second the day I was scheduled to fly back. My flight back from Ft. Lauderdale yesterday was cancelled, but thankfully my mom had come to Ft. Lauderdale to spend the day with Heather and me and was able to take me back to Tampa, where I was able to fly back to NYC from this morning. So, here I am!

But enough plane talk. Let's talk boats. I had an amazing time on the cruise. Heather was a great hostess, and I loved seeing where she lives and what she does day in and day out. I went to every one of her (fabulous) shows, we ate a lot, we drank a fair bit, and we had tons of adventures. We did so many incredible things.

As I tend to do, I took a bajillion pictures. So, the next couple days are going to be spent editing, making cuts, and generally getting my life in order. Then, the recaps will begin - probably one for each island, similar to what I did for our Europe trip last summer. That's the best strategy for my own sanity and organizational needs. Of course, this means it will take about forever to get this all recapped, and I naturally don't expect you all to read every word I write. I just like to have it all recorded for my own memory, but I hope at least some of you will read a little about our adventures. Or at least, please enjoy the pictures!

To whet your appetite, I put together a little collage of a few of my obvious favorite pictures from the trip. Check it out:

So, until recap time, I will be enjoying my weekend and being reunited with my husband, whom I missed very much. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend, too!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I Like You

Through the magic of post-scheduling, this blog is going up as I am on my way to Aruba. Isn't technology great? It is allowing me to share an Ode to My Husband on Valentine's Day, even though he and I are not able to be together. Although this post is actually being written before the fact, I can say with certainty that I miss him very much and am sending him my love from afar on this Valentine's Day.

Eric and I have never really done too much to celebrate Valentine's Day - we don't exchange elaborate gifts or anything like that. But this year, I did give him a little something: a children's book by Sandol Stoddard Warburg entitled "I Like You." I read the text of this book online some time ago and just loved it. I thought today I would share that text with you in honor of the day, and the boy that I like. And of course, I've added pictures, because that's what I do (although the book's illustrations are really adorable in their own right). Enjoy...

I Like You
By Sandol Stoddard Warburg

I like you
And I know why
I like you because
You are a good person
To like

I like you because
When I tell you something special
You know it's special
And you remember it
A long, long time.
You say, remember when you told me Something special
And both of us remember

When I think something is important
You think it's important too
We have good ideas
When I say something funny
You laugh
I think I'm funny and
You think I'm funny too

I like you because
You know where I'm ticklish
And you don't tickle me there except
Just a little tiny bit sometimes
But if you do then I know where to tickle you too

You know how to be silly
That's why I like you
Boy are you ever silly
I never met anybody sillier than me till I met you
I like you because
You know when it's time to stop being silly
Maybe day after tomorrow
Maybe never
Oops too late
It's a quarter past silly

We fool around the same way all the time
Sometimes we don't say a word
We snurkle under fences
We spy secret places
If I am a goofus on the roofus
Hollering my head off
You are one too

If I pretend I am drowning
You pretend you are saving me
If I am getting ready to pop a paper bag
Then you are getting ready to jump

That's because
You really like me
You really like me
Don't you
And I really like you back
And you like me back
And I like you back
And that's the way we keep on going

If you go away then I go away too
Or if I stay home
You send me a postcard
You don't just say
Well see you around
Some time
I like you a lot because of that
If I go away
I send you a postcard too

And I like you because
If we go away together
And if we are lost in Grand Central Station
And if I get lost
Then you are the one that is yelling for me
Hey where are you
Here I am

And I like you because
When I am feeling sad
You don't always cheer me up right away
Sometimes it is better to be sad
You can't stand the others being so googly and gaggly every single minute
You want to think about things
It takes time

I like you because if I am mad at you
Then you are mad at me too
It's awful when the other person isn't
They are so nice and hoo-hoo you could just about punch them in the nose

I like you because if I think I am going to throw up then you are really sorry
You don't just pretend you are busy looking at the birdies and all that
You say maybe it was something you ate
You say the same thing happened to me one time
And the same thing did

If you find two four-leaf clovers
You give me one
If I find four
I give you two
If we only find three
We keep on looking
Sometimes we have good luck
And sometimes we don't

If I break my arm and
If you break your arm too
Then it is fun to have a broken arm
I tell you about mine
You tell me about yours
We are both sorry
We write our names and draw pictures
We show everybody and they wish they had a broken arm too

I like you because
I don't know why but
Everything that happens
Is nicer with you
I can't remember when I didn't like you
It must have been lonesome then

I like you because because because
I forget why I like you
But I do
So many reasons

On the Fourth of July
I like you because
It's the Fourth of July
On the Fifth of July
I like you too

If you and I had drums
And some horns and some horses
If we had some hats and some
Flags and some fire engines
We could be a HOLIDAY
We could be a CELEBRATION
We could be a WHOLE PARADE
See what I mean?

Even if it was the nine hundred and ninety-ninth of July
Even if it was August
Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
Even if it was no place particular in January
I would go on choosing you
And you would go on choosing me
Over and over again
That's how it would happen every time
I don't know why

I guess I don't know why I like you really
Why do I like you
I guess I just like you
I guess I just like you

Isn't that sweet? I just fell in love with that little poem.

Today, I hope you are able to spend the day with those you love. Although we're not together, my heart is with Eric. I love you, Eri! I really, really do.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

So Long, Farewell...

...auf wiedersehen, good bye!

Ha. Had to do it.

Anyway, I'm out! I've had a great few days in FL, but now it's time to continue my journey south.

I'm coming, ship!

Just for a quick recap, I arrived in Florida as scheduled around 7pm on Tuesday. Kelley and Susan picked me up at the airport (complete with a sign as if they were my limo waiting for me), then we had a nice dinner at Chili's with Gramz. On Wednesday I spent the day running errands (helloooo, Target, how I've missed you). My purchase, by the way, included two big bottles of SPF 45 sunblock, two underwater cameras, and ginger tablets for motion sickness. Think anyone could guess where I was going? Wednesday night I met up with some friends for wine, pizza, and girl time. Great fun!

With my friends Kristina and Lauren

Today was my big visiting day - my dad and I went up for a nice visit with my grandmother this morning, then I met up with Kelley and Susan at their house and we went from there to visit Toni. I must say, Toni is AWESOME. It was so incredible to see the difference since I was home in November. Back then, we could barely get her to open her eyes before Eric and I had to leave. Now, when I arrived and looked in her room from the hallway, she was in there smiling and waving us in. Incredible. You can see so much of her personality shining through, which is so fantastic. I pray she continues to make such progress but am so grateful for how far she's already come.

After visiting Toni, Kelley, Susan and I met up with Gramz for another dinner together at Smokey Bones, then they drove me home. I'm so grateful for their willingness to chauffeur me around this week! They're good people.

Now, tomorrow morning, my dad and I are leaving at 5 a.m. to make the drive down to Ft. Lauderdale. We're hoping to arrive around 9:00 so we have plenty of time to visit with Heather before she and I board the ship for our fun two weeks! I can hardly wait.

Oh, and as a side note, NYC did in fact get quite a snowstorm yesterday, and the flight I was originally scheduled on was, in fact, cancelled. So, getting on an earlier flight was a good call!

Enjoy the next couple of weeks, everyone!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Change of Plans

Surprise - I'm going to Florida today! I was scheduled to go tomorrow afternoon, leaving at 3:30pm and arriving in Tampa around 7:00. But, New York is scheduled to get hit with a pretty big snowstorm tomorrow - they're calling for 6-12" of snow, and 40 mph wind gusts. Awesome. I guess we'll finally get the snow we managed to avoid during that storm that hit the mid-Atlantic this past weekend. They were predicting 6" of snow for us then, but all we got was a brief flurry in the middle of the night (unlike our friends in D.C. and Pennsylvania who got SLAMMED).

So, when I saw that forecast, I knew my flight tomorrow would be cancelled. I don't know for sure if it has been, but I assume it will be and I have already heard of other airlines cancelling their NYC flights for tomorrow. So, I decided to be proactive and called the airline to see what could be done. They were able to switch me to the same flight a day earlier for no charge. So, now I am flying home this afternoon at 3:30 and getting in to Tampa around 7:00.

I'm sad to leave Eric a day earlier, but it's good that I'll be able to avoid the headaches of flight cancellations. Plus, this gives me a little more time to enjoy Florida before heading off to cruise time. Tonight my sister-in-law Kelley has generously offered to pick me up from the airport, then I'll be going to dinner with her. Tomorrow I'll be taking care of last-minute errands before the cruise and meeting up with some friends in the evening. Thursday morning my dad and I will be heading up to my grandmother's house for a visit, then in the afternoon I'll go visit Toni and have dinner with Waters folk again. Then, Friday my dad and I will leave early in the morning to make the drive to Ft. Lauderdale to meet up with HEATHER! Hooray!

So, lots to come in the next couple of days, and even more in the next couple of weeks. I'm not sure if/when I'll be able to post during all my travels, so this may be it until I return to New York on February 26th. But, I'll pop in with a brief update before then if possible. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful couple of weeks!

Monday, February 8, 2010


Ah, another great weekend under my belt. I have to say, I have been having some fun lately. Amanda leaving soon has forced me to get out into the city with her to see and do all the things she wanted to do before leaving, and it has really been a lot of fun.

Friday night we had plans to go to a fairly new bar/nightclub called Carnival. Unfortunately, although we had decided to do that this weekend instead of last so Eric could join us, he was stuck at work until midnight and was unable to make it. He has been really busy at work, which has been a real bummer. But, it's good that he has work coming in and it sounds like he's getting a very good reputation around the firm. I miss having him around, but I'm so proud of him and so appreciative of his hard work. Eric is just the best, what can I say?

But, Amanda and I had to go to Carnival sans Eric. A bunch of her nurse friends joined us, as did our old friend James from Gainesville (we all worked together at Calico Jack's). This bar was so much fun! Inside, it's set up literally like a Carnival. The ceiling looks like a big top tent, there are murals of Coney Island on the walls, performers on stilts walk amongst the crowd, and the dance floor is found in the "Funhouse."

The tent ceiling

Amanda, James and me in front of the Coney Island mural, featuring the Cyclone (aka the scariest roller coaster EVER)

Stilt lady

The Funhouse (although it doesn't actually contain any crazy mirrors or anything, just a dancefloor, another bar, and some VIP tables)

The bar serves a variety of novelty cocktails, including a Blue Cotton Candy Martini (garnished with actual cotton candy) and liquor sno-cones (I highly recommend the cherry sno-cone with Absolut Raspberry vodka! Yum!).

Amanda sipping a cotton candy martini

Enjoying my grown-up version of the sno-cone

Although I did love the sno-cones, my favorite part of Carnival was the games. They had a variety of standard carnival/fair games around the main room that you could play. For your cover charge of $10, you received five game tickets. Amanda, James and I pooled our tickets and played the ring toss game, and the fish pong game twice. I am very proud to say that on the second go-around at the fish game, I won a goldfish! Ha! Amanda and I named him Zippy, after the Ziplock bag he came in. And now we have a new member of our family!


World, meet Zippy!

We had a great time at Carnival, but to be frank, the novelty drinks (though very fun and delicious) were a little pricey. So, some of Amanda's friends decided to head to a bar called Home Sweet Home on the Lower East Side and we opted to join them. I had a great time at that bar, too - it was just a little hole in the wall, like somebody's basement. There was no sign out front, just stairs leading down the bar. The drinks were cheap (by New York standards), and the music was excellent, with a very 50s & 60s vibe to it. It was the kind of music that got everybody dancing, but you didn't even care how you looked - you just danced. Kind of like wedding dancing. It was great! And, the most interesting part - I had Zippy with me the whole time. I'll tell you what, you haven't lived until you have danced the night away with a goldfish. That fish is a party animal. He was a hit! I really wanted him to live on after the night (I figure most of the fish they give out at Carnival probably don't), but I told myself that even if he didn't make it, at the very least he had a far more exciting short life than most goldfish do. Go Zippy!

Look at that dancing fish!

Amanda and I love us some Zippy.

Finally I decided it was time for Zippy and me to call it a night, so I left a little earlier than my friends - I left at 3:30! What is this, college?! I can't believe I have been out that late two weekends in a row. Craziness.

The rest of the weekend was so nice also, although I have less photographic evidence to back that up. The best part was that Eric didn't have to work all weekend, so we got to spend all Saturday and Sunday together! Saturday we had a leisurely morning at home before braving the cold for some errands, including getting some supplies for Zippy, who did make it through the night! Go Zippy! We got him a nice bowl, some pretty blue rocks, some food and other necessities. He's all set. We also picked up dinner at Daisy Mays BBQ and brought it home to eat while we watched the sky turn pretty shades of pink at sunset. Lovely!

Look at that gorgeous sky!

That night we stayed in and watched Shawshank Redemption, which for me was one of those movies I have seen parts of, and I know people love it, but I never saw it all the way through. So, that was fun to finally see it, and I love movies about prison life and prison psychology. And of course, it was so wonderful just to be able to cuddle up on the couch with Eric and watch a movie. It's been a long time since we did that.

Sunday brought another leisurely morning (well, for me - Eric went out running while I relaxed), then more errands, then home for the Super Bowl. We just watched it in the comfort of our own home and made some burgers and sweet potato fries for dinner. Eric is a big Peyton Manning fan so I think he was a little bummed with the outcome, but I was pretty indifferent.

The Empire State Building lit up for the Superbowl - yellow and black for the Saints on the North/South sides, and blue and white for the Colts on the East/West sides

We did spend most of yesterday being concerned about Zippy, who was looking very lethargic all day. But, as the sun set, he started swimming around like a crazy fish! Is it possible fish are nocturnal? Or was he still just recovering from his wild weekend out on the town? Regardless, he seems fine today and is settling in nicely to our little home. I hope he sticks around for a bit.

Achilles checking out his new "brother"

They're already the best of friends!

So that was my weekend! I had such a nice time. Now the next few days will be busy as I prepare to leave for my trip! Tonight I have dinner plans with Amanda, which will be the last time I see her before she leaves New York, since she will be gone by the time I get back from the cruise. Tomorrow night Eric and I will celebrate our Valentine's Day with a nice meal at home. The rest of the time will be spent packing, cleaning, and preparing. Busy, busy!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Day In the Life of Achilles

Before I get to the subject matter of this post, I want to congratulate my cousin Erin and her husband Brian on the birth of their new baby boy, Benjamin Matthew! Congrats to the new parents and welcome to the family, Ben!

Now on to Achilles...

I started thinking that in light of all my posts about Achilles' many mental issues and challenges he presents us with (see here, here and here), he might be getting himself a bad reputation on this here blog. Sure, I do counter those "OMG HOW DO I DEAL WITH THIS PSYCHO DOG" posts with some shots of him in cute holiday gear (see here, here and here), but there is more to Achilles' life than separation anxiety and cute outfits with fake facial hair. And that is what this post is here to show you.

Before we get to Achilles' daily routine, I thought I should update you on the latest Achilles crisis - the Moving of the Crate, Part 2: The Destruction of Our Duvet Cover. We tried a couple different things to keep Achilles in place while in his crate, and I think we've finally got it figured out. First we tried getting those rubber floor mats that hold rugs in place, and putting them underneath the plastic mats we have "protecting" the floor. Well, that holds the mats in place, but the crate seems to be able to slide on top of the mats now. And we HAVE to have the mats to shield the floor from as much drool as possible. So we also bought one of those really thick, rough welcome mats (although this one says "Go Away") and put the front of the crate on that (with the rubber rug slide-stopper thingies underneath it). We were hoping the welcome mat would be coarse enough that he wouldn't be able to move on top of it. While we were testing that theory, we put a big cardboard box between the crate and the bed so if our plan didn't work, Achilles at least wouldn't be able to reach the bed for more destruction. This is how that worked out:

Uh. He seems to have moved.

The box seemed to be a good call, because he ate a giant hole in it. Better that box than my comforter, I say.

Hmm. That clearly did not work. But, then we figured out the big secret: Achilles seems to only be able to move the crate forward when it is put in long-ways like that, probably because he is able to get the momentum of the rest of the crate behind him as he moves forward (look at me thinking physics!). So, we turned the crate the other way. It's a little harder to get him in now, because the door opens up into our heat/AC unit, but it's do-able. And now, if he moves forward, he just pushes himself into a wall, not towards the bed. Success! Plus we have that thick welcome mat in front of his crate, so in order to head towards the bed, he would either have to move that mat or lift himself up over it. And, for good measure, we put a 20-lb dumbbell in front of the crate to make it even harder to move. I will not be outsmarted, dog!

Achilles' area now

So, that's our current setup. It seems to be working for now. I'll be sure to let you know when he figures out how to unlock the padlock on the door of his crate, or when he figures out how to bench press twice his weight to move that dumbbell. Yes, I'm saying WHEN. I am certain these things will happen. And then we will be on the news, I'm pretty sure, because WHAT KIND OF DOG IS THIS.

But, now let's get to Achilles on a day-to-day basis, because contrary to the impression I'm giving here, he really does not spend all of his time being a lunatic. He really is very sweet most of the time.

This dog is definitely a creature of habit. He thrives on routine. When things divert from his routine, he gets very anxious and squeaky at best and very dramatic at worst. Example: this weekend while Eric was in Florida, Achilles went on a hunger strike. He wouldn't eat. That meant his...uh...outdoor habits were disrupted as well, and he was shaky all the time. He also did not play ONCE and spent all his time in the bedroom alone (after reading the rest of this post, you will understand how abnormal this is). As soon as Eric got back, the routine was restored and now he is back to his usual self. In light of this, it does worry me that I will be gone for two weeks for this cruise, but I hope he'll be okay and not starve himself to prove a point or anything.

Okay, I'm still not making him sound any less crazy. So let's talk routine, shall we? Have a look into Achilles' life:

Every morning, Achilles gets up when Eric does. Eric takes him outside, then when they come back in, Achilles comes back into the bed to sleep by me. As Eric showers, I usually start waking up. The second I start stirring, Achilles comes and lays on my chest so I'll pet him. We usually cuddle like that until Eric comes in the room to get dressed for work.

As soon as Eric comes in the room, Achilles growls and runs to get either his bone or his frog. This cycle continues the whole rest of the time Eric gets ready for work: when Eric leaves the room, Achilles comes to cuddle with me. As soon as Eric comes back, Achilles growls and pounces on his toy of choice. Sometimes he and Eric play a little bit before he leaves for work.

Achilles loves a good bone to chew on.

After Eric leaves, Achilles and I head out into the living room. He immediately finds a comfortable spot to sleep and stays there for a couple of hours. He prefers a spot in the sun, if possible, but any comfy spot will do. If it's a dreary day, he'll usually find a spot on the couch so he can be touching me at all times. If he's cold, he'll cuddle up against my legs under a blanket.

Achilles in his chair in the sun

When he gets hot, he makes this face.


Sometimes you just have to put your feet up.

Around lunch time, Achilles generally decides it's time for me to pet him. He will come and sit next to me (and sometimes put one paw on my leg) and stare at me until I invite him into my lap. Then he will generally cuddle up and rest his head on my chest while I pet him.

Mom. Pet me.

That's the stuff.

Then, because I don't usually have the stamina to pet him for as long as he requires, I go for a distraction and ask him if he's hungry. He gets very excited and runs to meet me at his food storage bin in our bedroom, then chases me back out to the kitchen while I fill his bowl. He might eat a little bit of food, then it's back to cuddling and sleeping in the sun.


Ah, sunshine.

Achilles is a BIG fan of licking. He especially likes to try to lick me after two of my afternoon activities: working out and showering. After I do each of these he follows me around the house, trying to lick my forehead. I don't generally let him, but he tries every day. That dog loves to lick.

Achilles licking the sliding glass door at my dad's house on my wedding day. Yeah.

As the afternoon wears into the evening, Achilles starts to be a little more on edge. He seems to know about when it's getting to be time for Eric to come home. He pays more attention to every little noise in the hallway which means he gets pretty barky while we wait for Eric.

In the warm weather months, we might walk to meet Eric on his walk home. Those days, Achilles gets very excited when he hears my phone ring around "Eric time" because he knows we'll be leashing up and heading out to meet him. When we start approaching Eric, I ask him, "Achilles, where's Eric?" and he starts checking every person who walks by to see if that's Eric. When he finally sees him, the tail goes crazy and he runs up to him. It's very cute. Those boys are BFFs.

Don't be convinced when Eric says he doesn't like the dog. Look at those faces!

This time of year, however, it's just too cold to take Achilles outside for any longer than absolutely necessary. So, we wait for Eric in the apartment. I often sit by our living room window and watch for Eric - I can see him crossing the street from our window. When I spot him, all I have to say to Achilles is, "I see him!" and it's go time. He freaks out and runs to the door where he waits, listening intently to hear Eric in the hall.

Achilles waiting for Eric

When he does hear Eric coming, he runs to get either his bone or his frog to greet Eric at the door. He's just always so happy to see him. As Eric said the other day, we should all strive to be as happy about ANYTHING in life as the dog is about him coming home. Check out the videos below...the first one shows Achilles waiting for Eric. I don't have a full video of his response when Eric comes in, but the second video is Achilles greeting us when we picked him up from the kennel this summer. That should give you a pretty good idea about his level of excitement when his family is reunited!

VIDEO: Achilles waiting for Eric to come home. Watch for it - at the 56-second mark, he hears Eric in the hallway and his tail goes nuts, then he runs to get his bone. Awww.

VIDEO: Achilles welcoming us home at the kennel

Once Eric is home, we eat dinner while Achilles humps plays with his frog. I'll spare you pictures of that, and just give you this one of him holding on to that frog for dear life as I pick him up.

Crazy dog.

After dinner, one of us (usually Eric, because he's very sweet) takes Achilles outside again. While the boys are downstairs, I usually hide. Then when Achilles comes back in, he comes to find me. I'm usually hiding in the same set of places (bathtub, closet, behind the bedroom door, on the kitchen counter), so he cycles through them all until he finds me. It's very cute.

We spend the rest of the night all hanging out and cuddling on the couch. Usually once Eric is home, Achilles cuddles with him and growls at me if I try to cuddle with him too much. It's like he's trying to look cool in front of his friend Eric and is all, "get away from me, Mom, you're EMBARRASSING ME!" Ha.

Oh, those boys.

Achilles just loves him some Eric.

When it's time for bed, Achilles waits patiently in the bedroom while we get ready. As soon as we lay down, he climbs up onto Eric's pillow and licks his face for a bit. I told you, he loves to lick, and Eric is the only one who doesn't generally mind it, so there's another reason why they're BFFs. When Eric has had enough and cuts him off, Achilles will crawl down towards the foot of the bed and nestle into a good spot for the night, usually between Eric and me. We all sleep the night away, then repeat this whole process the next day!

So you see? He's not all bad. Sure, he can be a brat sometimes, and he's definitely spoiled, and he definitely has issues. But, he's also sweet and loyal and loves us with every fiber of his being. He's a good dog!