Friday, December 30, 2011

Farewell, 2011

And so, the time has come to bid farewell to 2011.

It has flown right on by, don't you think? I know I say that every year, but when I think back to where I was just 365 days ago, it seems like yesterday. Last year I was eagerly awaiting the new year, hopeful for what it would bring. I have to say, 2011 has delivered.

Frankly, I wanted to entitle this post: "I Hugged Tim Tebow and Got Knocked Up: 2011 FTW!" because that's just the kind of incredible year it has been. But then I realized that title might unintentionally imply that the latter was a result of the former, and considering that my blog already gets several hits per day from people Googling "Tim Tebow's wife," I thought it best to avoid confusion. But really, those two things alone could have made this year the best yet, and they were only two components of what made 2011 so great.

Let's reflect, shall we?

In January...
I went to Florida, I battled a smoke detector (causing Achilles to develop a phobia), we found a new apartment in Hoboken, I went to Cleveland, and we enjoyed (endured?) another blizzard.

In February...
We saw an incredible Idina Menzel concert at Lincoln Center, soaked up every last second of our NYC apartment, moved to and explored our new home in Hoboken.

In March...
We celebrated St. Patrick's Day Hoboken Style, saw a couple of fun Broadway shows, toured our former neighborhood, celebrity-watched at The Comedy Awards and crossed Katz's Deli and the Friends apartment building off our NYC To-Do List. Plus, Eric rocked another half marathon and I was nominated for a Shorty Award for a picture (taken by Eric) that I twittered after one of our winter snowstorms!

In April...
We went to Ryan and Amanda's wedding and had some other fun in Florida, ate a lot of cupcakes, saw some comedy, hit up the Easter Bonnet Parade yet again (although sans dog this year), went to an NFL Draft pre-party, plus the NFL Draft red carpet and Round 2, compared biceps with Peyton Hillis, stalked the Glee cast all around New York City and watched the Royal Wedding with the rest of the world.

In May...
We rode our bikes for 42 miles through all five boroughs of New York City in the Five Boro Bike Tour (I'm still not sure how that actually happened), went to a Bruno Mars concert and a Brad Paisley concert taping, saw a few celebs including The Lonely Island and Nick Offerman, saw a taping of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and I crossed an item off my life bucket list when I HUGGED TIM TEBOW. We also took a Memorial Day weekend road trip to Cooperstown, Buffalo, Toronto and Niagara Falls (which included one new baseball stadium towards Eric's goal of visiting them all!).

In June...
We once again ate some 'cue at the Big Apple BBQ Festival, celebrity-watched at the Tony Awards, met Matt LaPorta when the Tribe played the Yankees, checked out Citi Field, and loved every second of the Glee Live concert. Also, Eric went to D.C. for the U.S. Open and I hung out with Tom Hanks.

In July...
We went to a great patriotic concert at Lincoln Center, watched the Fourth of July fireworks from Hoboken, celebrity-watched at the Harry Potter and Crazy, Stupid, Love premieres, and went on a road trip through Pennsylvania (including two new baseball stadiums) during my birthday weekend (29!). Also, I got pregnant, but there's no blog post about that. Ha!

In August...
Eric's friend John visited us, we celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary, spent a couple days in Chicago (two more baseball stadiums), and Eric weathered a hurricane while I hung out with my Gramps in Cleveland.

In September...
We watched celebrities play football at the Madden NFL Pigskin Pro-Am, remembered the events of 10 years ago on 9/11, my sister visited us, and we spent a weekend in Boston (one more baseball stadium, leaving me officially baseball-ed out for the year). Also, we shared our good news with the world - there's a baby on the way!

In October...
I met Jonathan Groff, Eric got cast as an extra in the new Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises, I felt my baby move for the first time, we saw another great concert at Lincoln Center (John Williams), Eric ran the Urbanathlon and it snowed.

In November...
Eric went to a taping of SportsNation, saw some Dark Knight Rises filming on Fifth Avenue and was a part of filming himself on Wall Street. We went to Florida for Thanksgiving and Eric's high school reunion. We also found out we're having a BABY GIRL!

In December...
I kept on loving my husband and telling you all about it, my mom came to visit, we saw lots of celebrities including Tom Cruise, I met Darren Criss, we saw The Roots and Jimmy Fallon record a performance for the NBC New Year's Eve special, and we celebrated a lovely, quiet Christmas at home.

VIDEO: Our year in pictures 
(Music is "Auld Lang Syne" by Lea Michele, from the New Year's Eve soundtrack)

Not a bad year, right? All of that on top of good health for us and our families, a great home in which to live, and lots of love in our lives. We are very blessed.

Now that we have looked back, it's time to look forward. 2012 promises to be a year like no other for us. It is strange for me to go into a new year with absolutely no idea what my life will be like in 4 months, or 6 months, or 10 months, or by next New Year's Eve. This year will bring completely new experiences and a whole new life, and next year's "look at everything we did this past year" list will look completely different. It's both terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. I think I'm up for the challenge, and I'm excited to dive headfirst into the new year with Eric by my side and my baby on the way.

Friends, thank you for once again being a part of this past year in my life. I wish you nothing but the best in the new year and can't wait to see what 2012 brings for you. Enjoy every moment!

Signing off for 2011,


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our Very Merry Christmas

Eric and I had a very quiet yet very lovely Christmas this year. We missed seeing our families, of course, but considering that we are rarely home on actual Christmas anyway (usually we go home either in December before Christmas, or after Christmas in January), we are getting pretty good at celebrating the holidays in our own way. This year, our Thanksgiving trip replaced any kind of Christmas trip, so we knew it would be a New York Christmas for us once again.

I was a little worried late last week that Eric would have to work over the holiday. Such is lawyer life, right? But, it was a Christmas miracle! No work for Eric! So we were able to enjoy the entire weekend together free of closing deals or drafting documents or whatever it is he does at work into all hours of the night during the busy times. Thanks, Santa!

Christmas Eve was a rather quiet day at home. Eric prepared his sauce for our Christmas lasagna, and also took a break to run out and get me Christmas cookies. Honestly, how sweet is that? He knew I was missing all the cookies/candy we always have at my grandfather's house in Cleveland at Christmas - ginger snaps, chocolate covered pretzels, sugar cookies, lebkuchen, peanut butter cups...oh, yum. So, he went out and got me some cookies. Eric is sweet and awesome.

That evening we went to the candlelight Christmas service at a local Lutheran church. Before we left, we took our Christmas pictures in all our holiday finery.

Our Christmas family

I couldn't resist a belly pic by the tree!

It was a wonderful service, complete with lots of carols. I feel like every year I am disappointed in Christmas Eve church services for their lack of carols, but this one did not disappoint. We practically sang 'em all, including (of course) "Silent Night" by candlelight. The service ended with a rousing "Joy to the World," too. Then we walked back home for the rest of our Christmas Evening.

All weekend, the Empire State Building was lit for both Hanukkah and Christmas!

When we got back home, we exchanged our ornaments. Eric and I get each other ornaments every Christmas, which is one way our tree has come to be totally personalized. Eric is an awesome ornament giver, too, so there's always a lot of pressure. This year, he got me a very pretty "Hope" ornament, and I got him a Batman-themed ornament: I found a Gotham PD patch online, just like the one he wore as an extra in the new Batman movie, and turned it into an ornament. It was a good ornament year!

Showing off our new ornaments (Achilles is very interested)

Then we snapped some Christmas photos of the dog, raiding his tray of "gingerbread men" (rawhide treats):

Boy oh boy, is he ever ready for us to have a baby to dress up and photograph and get him off the hook.

We slept in on Christmas morning, then went right to work opening gifts when we woke up. Achilles did his stocking first. Surprise! More rawhide gingerbread men!

Our tree on Christmas morning

Get in there, Achilles! You can do it! (Also, how great are his Christmas pajamas?)

Then it was our turn. I must say, Santa Eric was very good to me this year! In addition to all my fun stocking stuffers, he got me new perfume (Coach Poppy), a gorgeous new purse I've had my eye on, and diamond earrings! I got him a Tim Tebow jersey, baseball cufflinks, a globe for his office, an inflatable remote-controlled shark (it will fly around our apartment!) and chopsticks that look like Star Wars lightsabers. We were both very pleased with our haul! To be honest, we did go a little crazier than usual with Christmas this year, but we both realized this was the last Christmas we could focus on just us. Because from here on out, it will all be about the little one!

Diamond earrings and new perfume!

My new purse, and Eric with a few of his gifts (jersey, flying shark and lightsaber chopsticks)

Speaking of Baby Girl, we did allow ourselves to get her one small present this year: a little plush Pooh Bear. I think she likes it already!

Pooh Bear under the tree

Yeah, she likes it.

Poor Achilles lost interest in all the festivity after his stocking, and took to just laying around looking pathetic.

Christmas is a very difficult time in the life of this dog, apparently.

He did like laying on the wrapping paper, at least.

We also got some really great gifts from family, including clothes for both baby and me from my mom (but those all came early!), an adorable baby book from my sister, and our stroller from my dad! We put that bad boy together right away and had Achilles help us test it out.

Eric setting up the stroller, and Achilles and me modeling it. What do you think? Nice, right?
(I researched the living daylights out of strollers for a about a solid month, and we settled on the 2011 City Mini in purple and gray. It's so nice to finally have it here, after all my stressing and research!)

Achilles definitely approves of our stroller choice. He was perfectly happy to go for a ride - so much so that I worry a little that he now thinks we bought  him an awesome device to push him around in. Later that day, he also discovered the basket underneath the stroller:

He does like a nice confined space, but how did he even think to climb in there?!

We spent the rest of the day relaxing at home. We made all our family phone calls, and Skyped with most of Eric's family in the afternoon. It was so great to see everyone! We also snacked on our usual cheese, crackers, sausage and shrimp cocktail. (And Christmas candy/cookies, of course!)

Mmmm, lunch.

Eric was so excited about his lightsaber chopsticks, he ate his Raisinettes with them. Now those are some impressive chopstick-ing skills.

That evening we had our delicious Christmas meal: Eric's lasagna. Lasagna on Christmas is a tradition we adopted from Eric's family, and I must say, I am a fan. His hard work on the sauce and the lasagna itself does not go unnoticed! Especially this year, by this carb-loving pregnant lady. I kind of wanted to just stick my whole face right into that lasagna pan.

So good.

We spent the rest of the night relaxing and watching movies. What a nice day!

We did continue our celebration into the 26th, when we went out to Succasunna for Eric's uncle's annual Christmas party. We were able to see Eric's uncle, aunt and cousins, which was great - they're such nice people! We had a wonderful time at their party! Unfortunately, we didn't take any pictures, so you'll just have to take my word for it, but it's true. Also unfortunately, when it was time to come home, our cab driver got lost on the way to the train station, causing us to miss our train, which meant standing outside in the cold on the platform for an hour until the next train. That train also gave us a 40-minute wait time when we had to transfer in Secaucus, so we got home about two hours later than planned. Good times. Other than that, though, it was a lovely evening!

And that was our Christmas! Quiet, yes, but so nice. I also assume this will be our last quiet Christmas, as next year we'll have a nine-month-old baby to share it with. I'm already so excited to have her here next Christmas. Things will be very different! I can't wait!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

O Tannenbaum, and Other Decor

Well, how was your Christmas? We had an absolutely perfect holiday, and I hope you all did, too! I'm going to tell you all about it very soon but first I need to get my life together and get the pictures ready. So in the meantime, I thought I would just show you our festive home. I've done this before in our last two apartments (here and here) so this may not be very exciting to you, but bear with me.

Let's start in the entryway, shall we? The little cabinet right in the main hallway is the new home for my beloved Willow Tree Nativity, which my mother gifted to us piece-by-piece over several years. We finally completed it last year, and it is probably my most favorite Christmas decoration.

Our Willow Tree nativity hanging out underneath our family photo collage in our main hallway

A little closer look

Moving into the kitchen, we have some Santa towels, candy canes, and all the lovely Christmas cards we received hung along the top of the pass-thru window.

Also pictured: Christmas cookies on a cooling rack, and a big pot of Eric's sauce being prepared for use in our Christmas lasagna! Even our cooking is festive!

Cards from dear friends and family

As I have mentioned in years past, I collect nativity sets. They are just my favorite piece of Christmas decor, and I'm starting to accumulate them in all shapes and sizes. In the corner of the kitchen counter in the above picture, you can see another one, one of my very first ones, also a gift from my mother:

How cute are these little guys?

In our dining room, we have a festive Christmas tablecloth and our advent wreath in the center of the table:

Pardon the ugly brown box against the wall - that's Baby Girl's crib! Because it was delivered earlier than we planned, it (and the other furniture pieces) have found a temporary home in their boxes in our dining room until we can make room to set them up.

We also have some Santa/snowman decor near the bookshelf across from the dining room table, and the lamp shelves there are sort of a Tower of Nativities now. There's a tiny one we bought in Philadelphia this summer, a gorgeous one my dad got me several years ago, and an adorable little one my cousin Molly bought for me in Mexico.

Decor by the bookshelf, and our lamp with shelves covered in nativities

On the left, the top shelf, including a holiday family photo from a few years ago and our tiny Philadelphia nativity. On the right, the pretty one from my dad on the middle shelf.

Close-up of my Mexico nativity on the bottom shelf

I have to pause here for a moment because I mentioned my cousin Molly, so I have to talk about Molly for a second. (Remember Molly, of the Margarita Bridal Shower and the Awesome Mexico Wedding?) Now that it is "Facebook and Christmas Card Official," I can happily share that my cousin Molly and her husband Arturo are expecting a baby boy in May! How fantastic is that?! She's like a sister to me, and being able to go through pregnancy together and ultimately having our babies just two months apart is pretty much the coolest thing ever. Our kids will totally be BFFs and it will be awesome. Congrats, Molly & Arturo!

Back to my apartment, let's make a stop in the hallway that leads to the bedroom, bathroom, and my dear sweet washer and dryer. On our little set of drawers in that hallway, we have a beautiful new Advent calendar my Aunt Debbie sent us, and (you guessed it!) another little Nativity that I bought in Illinois when I was visiting Molly for her bridal shower.

The Advent Calendar is all about the Christmas decor at the Met - very pretty.

How sweet is that little nativity?

Now, back to the main living area.

Home sweet home (also, boxes for Baby Girl's dresser and chest of drawers making a cameo in the foreground)

On the window sill, we have another new, sort of different Nativity we just bought this year, and we have miscellaneous decorations adorning the tables.

We saw this at Macy's and just thought it was really different. Isn't it cool?

Snowman on the coffee table

Bowl of ornaments on the end table

We still have our handy-dandy stocking hanger:

Still so much nicer than taping them to the windowsill! And don't worry, it has extra hooks so it will be able to accommodate FOUR stockings next year!

We still have our lovely Christmas dog, ready to model whenever necessary:

Achilles hanging out with the Grinch

Waiting for Santa? I'm assuming he's sad because both of our stockings are full but his is still waiting. Don't worry pup, treats are coming!

Christmas pooch

And of course, the main event - our tree! I love our tree more and more each year. This was the first year that we did not have to use one single "filler" ornament, a/k/a all the red and silver balls we bought when we first got the tree because we didn't have any other ornaments. Now our tree is filled with ornaments that mean something to us and carry special memories, and that is something I love very much.

Looks like Santa came already!

I just love our holiday home. It feels warm and cozy and festive. I'm always sad when it's time to take the decorations down, although we do leave them up until Epiphany so we have some time left to enjoy them. And, this year taking them down should be a little easier to handle, because when they come down they will be sent off into storage to make room for Baby Girl's furniture and belongings! And who can be sad about that? But for now, I will happily enjoy my tree while it's still up and glowing so beautifully!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

O Holy Child of Bethlehem

O Holy Child of Bethlehem!
Descend to us we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!

I hope you all are enjoying a day filled with family, friends, joy, lots of love and gratitude for the Gift of today!

As always, Merry Christmas (and/or Happy Hanukkah) to you from New York City:

And Merry Christmas to you from Achilles Santa, caught in the act in our apartment last night:

And Merry Christmas from our family to yours:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pregnancy Brain Dump

We've had an awful lot going on lately, so I haven't posted a pregnancy update in a while. I figured today I would just throw it all out there in one big clump of a post. My friend Jessica is also pregnant and due about a month before me, and she has started doing regular pregnancy posts in a bullet-point format, which I love reading, so today I'm going to copy her style and give you a list of recent happenings and thoughts.

- I'm 26 weeks pregnant now, and officially in double digits until my due date.

The bump situation at 26 weeks!

- I feel very round, and my belly button looks weird. It's still an innie, though! Well, it's more flat than in, I guess, but you get what I mean.

- I passed my glucose test - no gestational diabetes for me! Hip hip, hooray!

- New symptoms that I am not a fan of: Back pain (lots and lots of it), swelling feet (I have started propping my feet up on my recycle bin at work), shortness of breath, acid reflux, restless sleep, getting kicked in the ribs.

- On a related back pain note, my coworkers chipped in and got me a very generous spa gift card for Christmas. They gave it to me at the end of the day when my back was absolutely killing me, and I nearly wept tears of joy. Pregnancy massage, here I come!

- I'm starting to feel sort of "large and in charge," but I can't get used to this belly. I just forget to accommodate for it and am forever trying to squeeze through spaces that are too tight, and then I find I can't fit and get all embarrassed. I also burned my belly on the stove the other day when I reached for something on a shelf above the stove, forgetting my belly is big enough to hit the skillet on the front burner. Then, the following week I accidentally stuck the darned thing into a plate of BBQ chicken. I also keep bumping into people in the elevator. Really, this belly has a mind of its own. I just can't get used to taking up this much space.

- I have learned that putting a napkin on my lap when I eat, while still polite, does nothing to stop food from getting on my clothing in case of spills. I mean, any dropped food will hit my belly long before it makes it's way to my lap. I have the collection of stained shirts to prove it. (Apparently, I'm also a slob who spills a lot.)

- I have been shocked at how few people offer up their seats on the train to a pregnant woman. I know I am no more entitled to a seat than anyone else, but as someone who always gives up her own seat to the pregnant/disabled/elderly, I've been surprised. I have only been offered a seat a handful of times, and only by women - not one single man has offered his seat to me as of yet. And we're not just talking any women offering their seats, either. In fact, the list includes a fellow pregnant woman and an elderly woman. I mean, what am I even supposed to do with that? Of course I can't take seats from these women! Mothers of boys out there - raise your sons to be more gentlemanly than the men of NYC, will you, please?

- Baby Girl is still moving around a lot and I'm starting to get a sense of her schedule and when she's really active. One thing I like is that every morning during the work week, when my alarm goes off and I start to stir, Achilles always realizes what's going on and comes and lays by me so I'll pet him and cuddle with him before I get up. Lately, Baby Girl has started kicking right around the same time, too. Maybe she's just mad that her dog-brother is all up in our personal space, but I prefer to think that she wants to be a part of the morning cuddle time and we're all getting into a little routine together.

- On a related note, Achilles cuddled with his baby sister for the first time last weekend:

Say it with me, now: "Awwwwww!"
(Although I do wonder if he notices that my lap has gotten smaller...)

- One thing that I still find funny is when Baby Girl moves around while people are talking to me. For example, if my boss comes to my desk and is going over something for me to work on and Baby is kicking up a storm the whole time. It's just weird to have all that going on inside of me while life is totally normal on the outside and nobody knows it's happening except me. It's like a little secret Baby Girl and I share!

- She did kick Eric in the face the other day when he rested his head on my belly. In all fairness, I warned him she was in a kick-y mood.

- Recently I bought cream cheese and checked the expiration date. It expires AFTER my due date. I'll be a mother by the time that cream cheese goes bad. I had a little "holy crap, this is happening" moment right there in the refrigerated items aisle of the grocery store.

- I feel like I have a ton of research to do about various things and not enough time to do it. Doulas, pediatricians, hospitals, birthing methods and birth plans...who has time for it all?

- I'm also irrationally panicked about finishing all the projects I have started over the last...oh, I don't know...three years or so? and have yet to finish. It didn't bother me before, but it does now. Is this the start of that "nesting" thing I keep hearing about? Someone please lie to me and tell me that even after the baby comes I'll have all kinds of free time to do things like knit scarves and finish cross-stitches and put together scrapbooks. LIE TO ME, PEOPLE.

- Another recent fear: what if the ultrasound was wrong and Baby Girl is actually a Baby Boy? I mean, she had her legs up over her head so I don't think there was much room for error (she was rather proud to show the goods, I guess), but if for some reason something got missed, I sure hope Baby Boy likes to wear pink and ruffles. These are the things that keep me up at night.

- Also keeping me up at night: hip pain, back aches, bathroom trips.

- One symptom I am a fan of: my hair stays on my head. As an epic shedder (my college roommate once found one of my hairs in her refrigerator, for example), this is a nice break. My broom probably doesn't know what to do with itself now that its workload has been so significantly lightened. And my hair is so luxurious!

- It's almost 2012, which means it's almost the year my baby will be born! I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it.

I think that's all for now. Thank you for indulging my pregnancy-related thoughts! Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

Getting Into the New Year's Spirit?

Yeah, sure, we're getting a little ahead of ourselves, as it is not quite Christmas yet (although it will be very soon!). But, on Tuesday night Eric and I went to our first New Year's Eve celebration. Hey, let's get this 2012 show on the road, am I right?

Remember back when we celebrated our Fourth of July in May for the sake of filming a segment with Brad Paisley for the July 4th television special? Well, this is the same sort of thing. We went to a taping of a Jimmy Fallon/The Roots concert that will air on NBC's New Year's Eve Special this year, so we got to celebrate our New Year's Eve a little early.

Once again, we got free tickets to this event through, and showed up dutifully by 8:00 p.m. (in the rain) on Tuesday night. Luckily, the rain died down before the event began, and we were soon ushered in to the Today Show Plaza at Rockefeller Center and decked out in New Year's garb. Jimmy, The Roots & Co. were still rehearsing, so we had to wait in a long line for a bit.

People lined up, waiting to get up to the stage. See the Rockefeller Center tree in the distance there?

Are we festive or what?

We were then moved into the main spectator area. Eric and I were on the far left side (facing the stage), just a few people back from the stage. The first performance was Jimmy Fallon, The Roots and others singing a recap of what happened in 2011 to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." They rehearsed a couple more times, then filmed several takes of the song. We (the audience) were instructed to cheer and sing along, which we did: "And Charlie Sheen lost his freakin' mind!"

"Carolers," including The Roots and Jimmy Fallon

Oh, hey, Jimmy.

Enjoying the show!

When they were satisfied with that song, we had a loooooooong wait while they changed the set over for The Roots. I guess they had some technical difficulties, but it took FOREVER. Finally, The Roots took the stage and recorded a few takes of two different songs.

Almost ready to go!

The Roots, with a pretty tree backdrop

Unfortunately, pictures/videos weren't allowed during any of the performances, so you'll just have to take my word for it that they were awesome. And if you happen to be ringing in the New Year with your TV tuned to NBC, and aren't too drunk to remember by that point, keep an eye out for us in the audience during these performances!