Thursday, November 24, 2011

Give Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

I hope you all are preparing wonderful feasts or hanging out with family or watching parades/football, or whatever it is you choose to do today to enjoy the holiday!

It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without the ol' "What I'm Thankful" list, would it? So, here's the 2011 edition, including some serious and some fun things I'm thankful for today:

What I'm Thankful For...
I'm thankful for my husband, who constantly finds new ways to remind me how lucky I am to have him without even realizing he's doing just that. He is thoughtful, kind, comforting, fun, smart, and easy on the eyes! He has been so fantastic to me this year, especially during this pregnancy. He's a top notch husband and I imagine he'll be an even better father. 
I'm thankful for Baby Girl W. She is such a blessing and every single day I thank God for giving me another day as her mom. I can feel her moving and growing and my heart is already full of hopes and dreams for what her life could be. I can't wait to meet her in March. I love her to pieces already. 
On a related but more light-hearted note, I'm thankful for a Pregnancy Appetite this Thanksgiving. I am fully prepared, both mentally and physically, to eat as close to my body weight in mashed potatoes as possible. On another related note, I'm thankful for maternity pants with that thoroughly unattractive but oh-so-useful-on-Thanksgiving stretchy panel that will allow for mass mashed potato consumption. 
Back to seriousness, I'm thankful for our families. I'm so glad we'll get to spend time with so many of them this weekend. I'm thankful for those that are far away, too, of course, and I'm thinking of them this holiday! 
I'm thankful for our friends, many of whom are going through great life changes as well - engagements, weddings, babies. We're lucky to have such great people in our lives. 
I'm thankful for Achilles and the laughs he brings to our household on a regular basis. I'm also thankful for the kennel that promised him a special Thanksgiving meal today so I can feel less guilty about being away from him on a holiday (because he totally knows it's a holiday and his feelings were really hurt). 
I'm thankful for our apartment. I still miss our old NYC apartment, but I love Hoboken and I'm thankful for the savings this apartment has brought to our bank account! 
I'm thankful for my iPhone. Siri or no Siri, that thing rocks and I am never giving it up. 
I'm thankful for Tim Tebow, because he is both good-looking and awesome. I'm reading his book right now and I just want to hug him (again!). 
I'm thankful for my husband's ability to make a delicious pasta sauce. I don't know how I would have survived my first trimester pasta cravings without it. 
I'm thankful for our travels this year and in past years. We've seen some great things, visited some great places and made some great memories. 
I'm thankful for Crumbs cupcakes. This needs no further explanation. 
I'm thankful for the body pillow my dad sent me a while back. I will never sleep without that thing again. 
I'm thankful for the last three years of New York life, and the three years of D.C. life before that. I love these cities and these years have brought experiences I will never forget. 
I'm thankful for the promise of a new year and all the new, exciting things that will certainly come with it. I'm always up for a new adventure!

Well, I think that's enough for now. What are you thankful for this year?

Have a wonderful day, everyone! Give thanks!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Homeward Bound

Tomorrow night Eric and I are headed south to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with our families. Of course, this is assuming that we can get there in time. Let me set the scene: our flight is due to depart from JFK Airport (joy) at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, the night before Thanksgiving (because that won't be hectic at all). In case that doesn't sound fun enough, my travel weather luck strikes again and this is the forecast for tomorrow:

Oh, goody. Look at that pretty little band of precipitation stretching aaaaaaaalllllllllllllllllll the way down the coast from New York to Florida. even so kindly classified flights leaving from the northeast tomorrow as "headaches," and flights in/out of Florida as "potential problems." Yay!

But, we'll just hope for the best. Although if I don't get down there in time for mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, heads will roll.

Assuming we make it in on time, we have lots of fun things planned for our stay. We'll be having Thanksgiving with families, Eric will get to golf, we'll be going to Eric's 10-year high school reunion, we'll celebrate Gramz's birthday and we may even be able to squeeze in a little time to visit friends or have lunch at the beach or something...but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

This holiday really is a change for us. I'm pretty sure neither Eric nor I have been home for Thanksgiving since moving out of the state of Florida in 2005. For our first Thanksgiving in D.C., I was actually in Cleveland for my cousin's wedding, so Eric and our roommate Jeff were left to their own devices, both for cooking and "disposing of" the turkey.

Yup, that's a turkey carcass flying off our 13th-floor balcony. Boys. (Also, yes, we lived on the 13th floor. Superstition!!!)

We spent our second D.C. Thanksgiving as a "family" of three with a yummy home-cooked meal, and our last D.C. Thanksgiving was Eric's and my first as husband and wife.

D.C. Thanksgiving #2, with Jeff and Eric. This year the turkey carcass went into my soup pot rather than over the balcony.

Ready to eat D.C. Thanksgiving dinner #3, prepared with and served on many of our new wedding gifts! Ah, happy newlyweds.

When we moved to New York, we spent our first Thanksgiving with my dad, who was in town to march in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (which we went to, of course).

My dad marching in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with the Awesome Original Second Time Arounders of St. Petersburg, FL

The following year, we managed to snag VIP passes to the Macy's Parade, which meant we got to watch it in person without the long wait in the cold and unbearable crowd. Now THAT is the way to do it.

At the parade, enjoying front row seats with room to move - luxury!

Last year, there were no parades to go to (well there were, but we sat it out), but Eric did run a Turkey Trot in Brooklyn. Then we just enjoyed a quiet meal at home with our little family.

Oooh, I miss this apartment.

As excited as I am to be home with our families for the holidays, to be honest, I am kind of going to miss our little W. family holiday this year. Eric and I have really put an effort into making our holidays "ours," both by incorporating traditions from our individual families as well as starting our own traditions. Over the past few weeks I have caught myself making plans for our Thanksgiving here, and then I have to remind myself that this year, we'll be doing something different. It has been much more of an adjustment than I anticipated! I think that's good in a way though, don't you? I think it shows that Eric and I are really settling in and making our own family, one that is growing now! I'm excited to share our traditions with Baby Girl W. in future years, too - whatever those traditions may ultimately become.

This year is going to be lots of fun, though. A few members of each of our families are going to do the St. Pete Times Turkey Trot on Thursday morning (the 1-mile way am I running anywhere. Let's just say pregnancy made me lose a little of my speed, and really there wasn't that much speed to start with). Then we'll have dinner with Eric's family (plus my mom!), followed by another dinner with my dad, sister and grandma, and our annual Christmas tree-trimming that evening. It should be a wonderful day. (And my hungry-all-the-time self is particularly excited about all the food!)

What are your holiday plans, my friends? Traveling? Family time? Preparing a feast? If you are going out of town, I wish you safe travels!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Treats & Snoozin', Snoozin' & Treats

(Okay, +100 points to whoever gets where my post title is from! Hopefully, you all are familiar with the original YouTube sensation Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, and just this week a Marcel sequel was released, and included the inspiration for my title. Also, because ever since Eric watched the new Marcel, he can't stop saying that line. So it's funny! And I'm about to talk about my dog, so it's relevant. Funny and relevant!)

Anyway! It has been a while since I posted anything about what my dear little Achilles has been up to, so I thought he deserved a day on the blog. Really, it's pretty simple to sum up his life: "Treats and snoozin', snoozin' and treats. That's it." (Thanks, Marcel!)

You may recall all our various struggles with Achilles' separation anxiety and great crate escape escapades (see here and here for the two main Psycho Achilles discussions), and so you may wonder how he's doing now that we're both working full-time out-of-the-house jobs. I am pleased to report that Achilles is doing great, thanks to a little miracle-worker called THE KONG.

Bless you, Kong. Bless you.

Honestly, that little piece of red rubber is sent straight from heaven. We just stuff that bad boy full of wet dog food (he likes it better than the "Kong Stuffing" they sell), and he will actually go into the crate of his own free will. There have been days when he will just go sit in his crate and wait for someone to deliver his Kong. Then it seems he gets so caught up in going after the (apparently) yummy stuff inside, he doesn't mind that we leave. I think it helps so, so much that he is just distracted during what would be his initial freak-out period, and then when he's done with the Kong, he's past the point of PANIC MODE and instead is just all, "eh, I guess I'll nap now." It is so wonderful to not have to leave for work every day wondering if he's going to hurt himself trying to bust out of there, or bark so much the neighbors complain and we get evicted, or whatever. Instead, we come home to a perfectly calm, un-slobbery, quiet, happy pup. LOVE THAT.

So, that's the "treats," and the rest of the time, Achilles is pretty much "snoozin'." His loss of tongue control continues to be a problem (though a cute problem), and he has also taken to loud snoring and regularly barking in his sleep. All rather precious, except for when it wakes me up in the middle of the night.

Achilles will lay down wherever he's comfortable, even on the back of his good friend Eric.

Somebody just woke up! (Also, he is on no fewer than three blankets here. What a rough life.)

Uh oh.

Oh, for heaven's sake.

So that's the latest in Achilles' life. I'm sure he's also looking forward to his time at "camp" next week while Eric and I are in Florida for Thanksgiving, and I'm sure he's also thrilled about being a big brother in March. At least I hope so. Fingers crossed he doesn't eat the baby!

(I kid. I don't think he'll eat the baby.)

(I hope.)

Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lovely Fall

I know I complain an awful lot about fall and how much I dread it. But really, it's not fall that I dread, it's the winter that follows. I'm sorry, Fall. That's really unfair to you.

But not to worry, every year fall takes some time to remind me just how lovely it really can be.

Eric and I had a great fall weekend this past weekend. We started things off with a trip to Times Square on Saturday, to see a big Mario Bros. event they had set up. (Okay, that has nothing to do with fall, but let's just roll with it.) They were giving out free ears and tails and had a big course you could go through, just like you were in the game. Of course, it was insanely crowded (duh, it's Times Square) and the line to go through the course was probably a solid two-hour wait. So, we snapped a couple of photos and moved on with our lives.

Super Mario 3D Land setup in Times Square

A peek at one end of the course

From there we walked over to Bryant Park, which is already switched over for the cold-weather months: the grassy lawn has been replaced by the ice-skating rink, and the holiday shops are already lining the walkways. Eric and I did some browsing in the shops, which is something I enjoy every year. Bryant Park is definitely my favorite park, year-round.

Happy Bryant Park skaters

I loved the little "dinosaur kid" (it's a mannequin, don't be fooled like I was) set up in front of that shop!

On Sunday, Eric and I went back into the city to Central Park to wander around and check out some fall foliage. We were not disappointed.

Wow! Now that's colorful!

Hanging out by the bridge

Fall colors around the Wollman Rink (yes, ALL of the skating rinks are operational by now!)

Bethesda Fountain

Baby's first fall, of sorts?

Hansom cab passing through the park

Not only did we just admire the foliage on foot, but we also crossed off yet another item on our NYC To-Do List: Rent boats from the Boathouse in Central Park. It was such a lovely afternoon, and we knew that this was probably our last chance until next spring - and frankly, I don't know how I feel about juggling an infant on a rowboat, so this seemed like a better time. There was no wait, the price was reasonable and we had the cash with us, so we went for it. We rented our boat for an hour, and Eric did all the rowing (because he's awesome), allowing me to just take in the gorgeous surroundings. It was a perfect fall afternoon activity. Just perfect.

Rowing our boat in Central Park

I mean, honestly. Those colors are insane.

Enjoying a lovely boat ride

As you can tell by the canoodling couple in this shot, it was rather romantic.

Pretty, pretty

Such a great way to spend the afternoon together!

It was really a perfect fall weekend. As always, I loved every second of my one-on-one time with Eric, too - I'm really trying to treasure days like this as I know they are numbered. Of course I am overjoyed and oh-so-excited to start having "family days" with the little one, but it's been just Eric and me for so long, I want to make sure I take advantage of all the "just the two of us" time we have left.

And Fall, I'm sorry I'm mad at you every year when you start to show up. You're really not all that bad.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Dark Knight Rises on Wall Street

So you know that last weekend there was some filming going on for the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. You also know that someone very near and dear to me was involved in the filming as an extra. As I mentioned, Eric signed all sorts of confidentiality agreements, so I am not here to tell you anything he may or may not have mentioned to me about his experience. (Well, I can probably tell you that he said it was AWESOME, but we'll leave it at that.)

However, I did head into the city on Saturday to see if I could catch sight of any of the filming action for myself, and THAT I can tell you about!

As soon as I got off the PATH at the World Trade Center and started walking towards the Stock Exchange, I knew things were happening in the neighborhood. I could hear tons of people yelling, fake gunfire, the works! I knew this scene that was being filmed was going to be a big one - over 1,000 extras were involved, and all the big stars were rumored to be a part of it. So yeah, it would be a little hard to miss it.

Of course, I hate downtown because the streets are named, not numbered (terrible idea), so I wandered in circles for a bit before I found a spot where I could actually stand around and see some action. By pure chance (yeah, that's what we'll call it) I ended up along the barricades at the corner of Pearl St. and Wall St. It just so happened that was where many of the "Gotham City cops" were lining up for their scene.

Photo posted to Twitter by @CMay22 of the Gotham Police lining up

Another photo posted to Twitter, this time by @DarylLang, of more Gotham PD

Cluster of police standing around at Pearl & Wall St.

There were also various GPD police cars around the area:

Gotham PD

Gotham City license plate

While I waited at the barricades, the cops weren't really filming anything - they were just sort of standing around waiting for instruction. They did gather up to do a bit of yelling at one point.

VIDEO: Cops being filmed yelling

Besides the yelling, I just really got to see them wandering around amongst the fake snow (yes, it's fake, don't worry - no more snowstorms for us yet). One particularly good-looking Gotham PD officer came over towards the barricades, so I had to take his picture.

I love a man in uniform.

Looking good!

I hung around there for a bit then started circling the area a bit more to see if there were any better views. I did get a pretty good angle that gives you an idea of the sheer number of extras being used in this scene:

Looking down towards Wall Street from Trinity Church - check out the huge screens and tattered flags!

Tons and tons of people

There is plenty of evidence on the internet that this was a big, giant brawl scene between the Gotham PD and the "bad guys," and they were repeatedly filming the two groups running towards each other, crashing into each other, and fighting. I'm certainly not the only one posting photos, videos and recaps of what they saw during filming. There are lots more pictures to be seen here, along with some videos. I particularly enjoyed the video fact, if you keep your eyes towards the back of the group near the scaffolding (especially around :27, and :40-ish), you might even catch a glimpse of that hot cop I took a picture of earlier brawling with the bad guys:

VIDEO: Fight scene in progress!

All that brawling left the aforementioned hot cop a little bloodied, and definitely pretty sore:

Okay, so he really just looks more handsome than battered here, but look! A cut on his face! He looks so dangerous. And you should have seen the other guy!

Even when filming wrapped for the day, there were lingering signs that Downtown New York had been turned into Gotham City:

Gotham Stock Exchange, with tattered flags hanging from the building

Guide for tourists to Gotham City

Exploring Lower Gotham

There are three camoflage tumblers under those tarps!

Pretty cool, right? I wish I had been able to personally catch sight of the tumblers, or Anne Hathaway, Matthew Modine or Christian Bale (oh man, I wish it), but it's still fun to see traces of Gotham City here in New York, and of course, I enjoyed the Gotham PD! Now, we'll just have to wait for the movie to come out to see if I recognize anyone...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

20 Weeks

If you are my Facebook friend, you've already seen this photo, but I just wanted to throw it on here, too...for posterity, or something.

This is me, 20 weeks pregnant, with 20 more to go:

I gotta say, I'm pretty happy to feel like I actually look pregnant and not just "oh-that-girl-might-be-pregnant-but-she-probably-just-eats-too-much-pizza" anymore.

To see what a difference 10 weeks makes, check out this week's photo compared to my 10-week photo. I'm wearing the same shirt, but different pants (for obvious reasons!):

On the left: 10 weeks pregnant, one-quarter of the way done!
On the right: 20 weeks pregnant, halfway done!

And to think, I thought my "belly" (bloat, rather) was noticeable at 10 weeks! Ha! Ten-Weeks-Pregnant Me was funny.

And yes, don't worry...I ordered a whole slew of maternity shirts this weekend that are on their way to me as they speak. My poor, stretched-out black turtleneck will be relieved from duty very shortly.

Now, on to the next 20 weeks!

(P.S. If you are a person who does not care for pregnancy posts, my apologies for three of them in a row. I'll be back on Friday with a new topic!)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

So, the verdict is in - Baby W. is now Baby GIRL W.! How awesome is that?! Eric and I are thrilled, to say the least.

Proud parents!

Friday was pretty much the coolest day ever, so I want to talk more about it because I don't want to forget a thing. So, bear with me on what may be a long-winded pregnancy post. It was just too fantastic to leave it be with only a simple "It's a girl!"

Eric and I both took the day off work on Friday, and walked over to Hoboken University Medical Center for our 9:30 appointment. We were about 15 minutes early because I knew I had to register first, but the registration line was crazy long. So long, we missed our appointment and they let someone else go ahead of us. By the time we got registered and got in to the ultrasound, it was after 10:00. Why not add a little more suspense to the whole thing, eh?

When we finally got in, as always, I was so excited to see Baby pop up on the screen right away. She was moving all over the place in there! In fact, she was making it hard for the ultrasound tech to get all the measurements and pictures she wanted. I joked that she's already a fidget, just like her dad. But, one at a time, she would let us get a look at all her little parts - her pretty little head, her spine, her 10 fingers and 10 toes (the tech said she has long fingers, so I can only assume she'll be an excellent pianist some day!), her perfect little beating heart.

I just loved watching her move around. At one point, she gave us a thumbs up, and at another, she had her hands clasped together. She also had her feet right together for a bit, and for a quick second we were able to see her mouth moving in a chewing motion. It's just so cool to see!

The action slowed down for a bit then as Baby settled in and made herself comfortable. The tech just needed one last view of the heart to get everything she needed, but Baby refused to budge and stayed in a position that was no good for the desired heart view. As the tech fussed around to try to get the angle she needed, I asked if this angle was at least good to tell the sex of the baby. I figured it was, as she was laying in there with her feet over her head! (I guess modesty is something we'll have to work on later.) The tech said, "You want to know?" and we said "YES!" And then came the beautiful words - "It's a girl!"

I cried. My hunch all along was that it was a girl. For whatever reason, ever since the beginning, I have been thinking of the baby in terms of "she" and "her." I have been worried about girl names more than boy names. I've envisioned girly nurseries. Of course, I would have been thrilled with a boy and I do hope Eric and I will have a son someday. I would love that. But I was delighted to hear that my "mother's intuition" had been correct and I will have a daughter. A daughter! How fantastic is that?

Because Baby Girl was still being stubborn (she's a spirited little thing, isn't she?), the tech had me get up and walk around a couple of times to try to get her to move. This time, Eric and I went out to the lobby and paced back and forth and talked about our baby girl. I just couldn't believe it.

After a couple of tries to get her to shift, Baby Girl still wasn't having any of it and the tech couldn't get the heart view she wanted. So, we decided to call it quits for the day. The tech did say that the heart looked just fine, she just couldn't get the prime angle on it. She also told us that the kidneys seem to have a little extra fluid in them - within the normal range, so nothing to worry about, but at the higher end of the normal range. Given all that, she wants us to go back in a month for a follow-up ultrasound to try to get that heart picture and to check on the kidneys. I would have loved a 100% clean bill of health for Baby Girl, but I'm not worried here and I'm excited to see her again in a month!

Want to see a couple pictures of our little one? Here she is:

Her sweet little profile

A foot! It looks pretty long to me - maybe she'll have long, narrow feet like her size-9.5-foot mother.

The tech took this one 3D photo of her face. Usually I think these types of photos look kind of alien, so I must be biased here, but I think she looks beautiful! Look at that pouty little lip!

We left the hospital in a daze (or at least I did!). We decided to celebrate by going into the city to hit up the big Babies 'R Us in Union Square, where we wandered for quite some time. We spent a while playing with the strollers (and finally decided on one, hooray!), and then spent even more time looking at baby clothes. We ended up purchasing a sweet little pink dress for Baby Girl, which she may be able to wear as an Easter dress if she is born in time!

Baby Girl "trying on her dress" (hey, as much as possible right now), and Achilles checking out his little sister's wardrobe. I think he approves.

We stopped for some lunch then went back to Hoboken, where we picked up some pretty pink roses and a bunch of pink balloons to celebrate.

I just don't believe it.

A celebration for Baby Girl!

We spent the rest of the afternoon making all the necessary phone calls to tell our family and friends the good news. A girl! Hooray! I still don't think it has really sunk in yet that I am going to have a daughter, but I am just too excited for my own good. I don't think I slept much at all this whole weekend because I was far too wound up.

A picture of her parents to commemorate the occasion

In other baby news, tomorrow I will hit 20 weeks - the halfway mark! Twenty weeks down, 20 to go. I can't decide if it's going really fast or really slowly, but it's going! Halfway!

Also, that pretty little pink dress is not the first thing we bought for Baby Girl. Last week, I caught a great sale at JC Penny, where there was a nursery furniture set I have had my eye on. Not only was the set on a good sale, but I also had a 25% off coupon (plus free shipping!), which made the price too good to pass up. And so, we bought our nursery furniture! Can you believe that is the very first thing we bought for Baby? We didn't waste time with onesies or booties, no sir. Go big or go home, people.

This is the crib - I love the scalloped edge at the top

The dresser that will serve as our changing table and will hold Baby Girls' things
(There is also a chest of drawers with the set, that will help us store more of our stuff)

Of course, I use the term "nursery" loosely - by "nursery" I really mean "corner of our bedroom," but whatever. The furniture was on backorder which I thought would actually be perfect, as we did not plan to order the "big stuff" until later so we could save the space for a while. But, I got an email yesterday that it has already shipped! So, it's time to start sorting through our bedroom stuff and making room!

And that's the update! We have a little Baby Girl on the way! Now, let the name decision-making begin...