Belle’s Birthday


Yesterday was Belle’s 8th Birthday! I can’t believe I’ve had her for 8 years, or that she’s 56 in dog years. She’s still super energetic and drives us just as crazy as she did 8 years ago. We were too busy having a lazy day yesterday to celebrate so we had a “Belle Day” today instead.

First, we took her to Petsmart to have a little puppy shopping spree. Of course, she mostly barked at other dogs and begged us to hold her.

Daddy trying to help her pick out a toy
Daddy trying to help her pick out a toy

Then, we took her to Sonic to have her very own ice cream cone. We never give her table food, but we know she loves ice cream thanks to my parents. While we were living in Albania for a year, Belle lived with her Grandparents in Texas, where she was slightly spoiled…and gained a few pounds.

ordering her ice cream
ordering her ice cream
and enjoying her ice cream
and enjoying her ice cream

We ended the day at the park because her favorite thing (besides chasing sticks) is going for walks with the family.

That’s her new bone in her mouth..I think she likes it

park baby

I think Belle had a perfect Birthday, she even got what she wanted most…to have the cat locked out of the house.

Just kidding...I let the cat in immediatly
Just kidding…I let the cat in immediately

Happy 8th Birthday Belle!



Attempting to Meet Santa

no one looking

Five years ago I found out that Petsmart has a “Santa Claws” photo event. They set aside a few days in December for your pets to come in and take photos with Santa. Adorable! I took Belle that year and the next, with the idea of making it a yearly tradition. However, we then moved to Albania, then NYC and the so-called tradition was forgotten. Until this year…about a week ago my friend Bella informed me that the Green Hills Mall in Nashville was hosting their own “Pet Photos with Santa” event.

We decided it would be fun to go together with ALL of our pets, including our newest addition, Duckie. I texted Bella beforehand to see what she was wearing… I decided to go all out in Christmas colors and elf looking socks and I didn’t want to be the only cheeseball. She responded with a pic of a red sweater bedazzled with sequins. Thank God, I’m not the only one who likes to play dress-up.

The Green Hills Mall set aside two hours at the end of the day for crazy people and their pets to take their photos with Mr. Claus. We arrived a few minutes early to beat the crowd. However, when we arrived there were already about 100 people and their pets of all sized in line and Santa was taking a break. When he returned he took photos with some kids who had waited first, and then took another break! After waiting for 45 minutes, not one pet had its picture taken with Santa and the animals were getting restless. We decided it was not going to be worth our wait (at least another hour) and created our own photo-op in the mall. We grabbed our pets, headed to the big tree behind Santa’s chair and took our own family and friend photos!

Unpacking the cat
Unpacking the cat

christmas2013 allthepets lovetheanimals

I think our photos turned out great. Who needs Santa anyways? We weren’t the only ones with restless animals either. Lots of people started following our lead, taking their own photos and heading home.

My Christmas sweater won’t even cover my big belly!
my babies
All 3 of my babies!

green hills mall

It may have been a failed mission, but it was pretty exciting just to stand in the crazy line and watch the hundreds of pets and owners. There were dogs of all sizes wearing costume of all sorts. It was worth the wait just to watch them. Although, we may still try going to Petsmart next weekend to get an actual Santa photo.

bad kitty
naughty kitty attacking her sister

Anyone else crazy enough to attempt pet pictures with Santa?


P.S. The cat was much better behaved and more calm than our dog… Husband was probably the least happiest to be there, but he’s a good sport when it comes to my ideas of festive fun.

Hiking and Autumn Leaves

Over the weekend Husband and I decided we had to go on a hike. The leaves here, in Tennessee, are in their prime. I can’t go anywhere without wanting to pull over and take pictures. I grew up in Southeast Texas where we have two seasons…summer and not-so-summery. During the winter the leaves go from green to brown and instantly fall leaving dead looking trees and no snow to liven them up. When I was young I dreamt of traveling to places where leaves actually change colors and now I just can’t get over it. It’s soooo pretty!

I made Husband pull over as we drove to the hiking trail so I could snap a photo.
I made Husband pull over as we drove to the hiking trail so I could snap a photo.

We are lucky enough to live near lots of beautiful hiking trails and decided to try the Garrison Creek Trail, which is only 15 minutes from our house and in Leiper’s Fork. Leiper’s Fork, a historic rural village is basically across the street from us. This old adorable town is located on the Natchez Trace, which is a National Park Service Unit, and is GORGEOUS!  It is impossible to drive down the Natchez Trace and not see tourists, photographers and hikers exploring and taking photos, and we were right there with them.

natchez trace

The "lookout" onto Leiper's Fork Bridge on the Natchez Tree.
The “lookout” onto Leiper’s Fork Bridge on the Natchez Tree.

me and belle

View from the Leiper's Fork Bridge.
View from the Leiper’s Fork Bridge.

We hike through the woods on an almost invisible trail. The storm the night before left the trails covered in dead leaves and mud so we were mostly guessing where we were hiking. The hike lasted for maybe an hour. It was really nice and beautiful, but HOLY COW, I was exhausted! I am still doing Insanity so I thought I was in decent shape, but the uphill sections of the trails left me out of breath and needing a break. Husband had to actually help me at one point.

walking me and pete 25 weeks

I may have been worn out, but I still enjoyed the hike. Belle was the happiest little dog. She got to run around chasing sticks without a leash, and so did Husband. Sometimes, we just walked quietly in awe of the fall colors around us.

model dog husband hiking sunshine dog

We headed back before the sun went down because otherwise we never would have made it back to our car. Even in the sunlight we almost got lost. I’m glad we got in a hike now, before it gets dark at 5 o’clock and the it’s too cold to enjoy it. What are the chances the rest of November will be this nice?

camo belle leaves between

Happy Hiking!


Duckie Update

We have had our new kitten Duckie for over 6 weeks now. In that short amount of time, a lot has changed! When we found her she was starving, weighed only half a pound, covered in scrapes and bruises and was not exactly trusting of people. NOW, after living in a house where animals are spoiled rotten, she has quickly become a loving house-cat that sleeps right between us and drives Belle (and us) insane.


She has gained 3 pounds in 6 weeks and is not shy about telling us when she’s hungry, or when she wants our food, or when she wants Belle’s food. She has definitely not learned the word “No!” yet. In fact, I’m not sure she knows her name yet. It’s probably my fault though…I call her everything but her name… “sweetie, kitty, duck-duck, littles, goose, lovecat, baby, kitcat, kitten, booboo; everything except “Duckie”.

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The first few weeks we had her she did nothing but sleep on our chests and eat. She has now become the feistiest little kitten ever. Her favorite pastime is hiding under our bed and jumping out to attack our feet and scare the life out of us 87 times a day. She also loves jumping on top of every table, knocking every single thing onto the floor and then hiding those things under the nearest rug. She thinks this is a really fun game…we, on the other hand, do not.


Her and Belle are typical sisters. For a while bed time looked like this…


or this..


Now, they sleep fairly close together most nights. Neither one wants to give up their spot, and they both like to be touching us… yay.

Now this one like to steal my pregnancy pillow...sometimes they are both in it.
Now this one like to steal my pregnancy pillow…sometimes they are both in it.

They also kind of play together now. If you consider taking turns chasing each other and swatting each other in the face playing, then they play all the time.


Our biggest challenge is getting her to go outside. When we carry her out she freaks, claws us and runs back inside and hides. We have now discovered that if we just leave the door open, she will wonder in and out as she pleases, but she only walks on the deck and the stairs. She loves catching bugs and bringing them inside (awesome), but still won’t touch the grass.


It’s been a lot of fun caring for Duckie and watching her grow. Husband won’t want to admit it, but he is loving it too. I catch them snuggling ALL the time. And, sometime he catches me snuggling the animals…


I hope she’s enjoying the attention now, because she won’t be the baby for long!



24 Weeks!

24 weeks

Woah…this pregnancy is flying by! Today, I am 24 weeks (or 6 months) and I feel awesome. My only complaint is the fact that I am carrying her so high that I feel like all of my organs are under my ribs and I get lots of heart burn. I don’t  care though, because she is growing and moving so much and it’s freakin’ amazing!  She is so active, I think we may be in trouble when she finally arrives. Here are the most recent stats….


How far along? 24 weeks

Total weight gain? 7 pounds (I never weigh myself, but I just went to the doctor yesterday)

Sleep? O.M.G. I invested in a pregnancy pillow called a “snoogle” and I think it is the best purchase I have EVER made…like ever. The only problem is I have to fight Belle for it every night. She loves to snuggle my snoogle.


Best moment this month? Husband was able to feel her move for the first time last week. It’s not nearly as exciting for him as it is for me, but still pretty wild.

What I miss the most? this changes daily…sometimes it’s a second cup of coffee, or a glass of wine, or my skinny jeans, but this past week I missed being able to ride all the big rides at Disney and Universal.

Emotions? I feel level-headed lately. My emotional roller coaster has stopped for now and I just feel calm and happy most of the time. I didn’t think I had much pregnancy brain, but I did give a sales clerk my wrong phone number twice yesterday, and threw away my paycheck.

Playing fetch with Belle
Playing fetch with Belle


Cravings: I’m just hungry most of the time. I get full really fast since everything is so high, but then I’m starving again 20 minutes later.

Belly Button? It’s halfway out and totally weird.


Wedding rings? Still on. I have not been swollen at all…yet.

Looking forward to? Choosing her name and announcing it to everyone!



Only 16 weeks to go!


Our Newest Family Member

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to our newest little love…

meet duckie


Duckie (full name Duck River) had a very sad start, but seems to have hit the jackpot this week. While canoeing and setting up the bachelor party on Duck River this weekend we found dear Duckie. Uncle Michael actually heard a screaming sound coming from the bank right after we passed a big bridge. After pulling to the side, Duckie was found screeching and crying while hiding and hanging onto some large rocks.

It took some team work and some pretzel and cheese snacks, but we managed to catch her, wrap her in my sweater and safely hold her in the boat. Her chin and nose were scraped, her front left paw was cut badly, she was skin and bones and her tail had been cut off. We are 99% sure someone tossed her off the side of the bridge.

Riding in the boat, wrapped in my sweater
Riding in the boat, wrapped in my sweater
Getting ready to snack on some cheese and pretzels
\ Getting ready to snack on some cheese and pretzels

The very nice people at Higher Pursuits Canoe Rental gave us a box, a shirt to use as a blanket and even some cat food to take home.


Duckie enjoying her first real meal in a while.
Duckie enjoying her first real meal in a while.

Duckie was so scared and skiddish the first 5 minutes, but ever since we gave her a little love she has been a lover and a cuddle bug. She loves to sleep on everyone’s chest and purrs as loud as a motor.



Sunday morning marked our first vet appointment. Once again, Duckie was surprisingly calm and well-behaved.  The doctor performed every test imaginable, and besides the scrapes, bumps and a few ear mites she is pretty healthy. After a round of antibiotics and a lot of food (she barely weighs over a pound!), she’ll be good as new!

Cuddling up and getting ready for the doc to come in
Cuddling up and getting ready for the doc to come in
Duckie's first vet appointment
Duckie’s first vet appointment

Now, I know what you are all wondering…how did Husband respond? Weellllll, I did not plan on telling him until after the bachelor party weekend, but the workers at Higher Pursuit spilled the beans. However, after hearing Duckie’s story, Husband couldn’t say no. In fact, he seems very happy to have a cat when he is sleeping with the cat on his chest all night.

And, what you should be asking is…how did Belle respond? Belle is curious. She attempts playing with the kitten. She sniffs her butt, follows her, gives her the evil eye and acts a little scared. The cat is not even the slightest bit scared of Belle. In fact, she often tries to cuddle up next to Belle, but Belle just looks away and pretends like the cat doesn’t exist. I think it’s good practice for her before there’s a human baby here.

Sad Belle, she's not the center of attention anymore.
Sad Belle, she’s not the center of attention anymore.
Belle pretending she doesn't see a cat in the bad.
Belle pretending she doesn’t see a cat in the bad.
She's exhausted from all the changes.
She’s exhausted from all the changes.

Duckie is quickly becoming a spoiled pet cat. She already sleeps with us and does basically whatever she wants around the house. Our family seems to be growing quickly and we are excited to find out more about the baby next week!



Grilling, Fireworks and Lots of Rain

Happy 4th of July!!!! A little late maybe, but I was so busy celebrating America’s Birthday that I didn’t have anytime to sit down with you. Like most of America, we had plans to go to a big party and spend the night watching explosives light up the sky. Toss in a little barbecue and some beer, and you have one perfect Independence Day.

Festive nails are necessary too…

although I’m afraid they look like more like “Pepsi” nails than “America” nails

My day started off as the textbook definition of perfect. Husband and I both slept until 9am without waking once. It was pouring rain (the best way to sleep) and the only reason I woke was because of my naughty puppy. I woke to her sitting on my stomach, growling and glaring out the window next to me. I turned around to see two female deer and two baby deer grazing in our backyard!

The baby right next to my window...
The baby right next to my window…

We spent the morning slowly getting ready and eating breakfast in bed before heading out for the day.

A Nashville friend of ours has an ENORMOUS annual 4th of July party that includes live music, catered food, swimming, a hundred people we don’t know, ice cream drove in from Cincinnati and fireworks.

pic_to_send IMG_20130704_173528 2013-07-05 21.17.36

You may be wondering why these musicians seem to be playing in a bedroom, well that is because the rain that started early in the morning never stopped. Our poor friend had to move his entire huge party inside, which turned out to be just as fun, minus the fireworks and swimming.

Later that night, still raining, a group of our besties decided to move the celebration to my in-laws. We got way too much food, grilled hotdogs in the fireplace, shot bottle rockets off the deck, shared some wine and fell asleep watching Will Smith save America from aliens, like true Americans.

2013-07-05 21.13.30

I am way too excited about the hotdog action
I am way too excited about the hotdog action

It seemed ridiculous to be huddled around the fire on the 4th of July, but the high was only 67 degrees here! It was definitely not a typical 4th of July, but who cares. We all had a great day, except Belle. Poor Belle is still suffering from post-traumatic stress after all the fireworks. Anyone else’s dog start hyperventilating on the 4th?

Hope you had a great and safe one! Here’s to the rest of summer.


Lazy Sunday

Lazy Sundays are the best, the absolute best. Today we had 10 people over just to hangout, see our house and eat lots of snacks while chillin’ on the deck. We went out for lunch, out for snocones and out for dinner with the whole family. Now, we are already in bed snuggled up and getting ready to watch True Blood and Dexter. I love days like this and I love that I get to see are Tennessee friends and family ALL the time now.

In fact the last week has been an awesome week. I went to McMinnville to swim and hangout with a good friend and her adorable daughter,  to the Frist art museum, a Cirque show, Holiday World, numerous friend/family dinners, a softball tournament for one of my former students and so much more. Here’s a photo recap of some of my fav moments. (I somehow forgot to snap many photos of friends and took pics of babies and puppies instead.)

Belle shopping with me for paint at Lowe's.
Belle shopping with me for paint at Lowe’s.
Roric! I want to steal this dog from our friend Derek.
Roric! I want to steal this dog from our friend Derek.
Me and baby Lorelei chillaxin' by the pool.
Me and baby Lorelei chillaxin’ by the pool.
Husband got stitches after hitting his arm on a grinding stone at the wood shop.
Husband got stitches after hitting his arm on a grinding stone at the wood shop.
Big boy Parker picking flowers for me and his Mommy
Big boy Parker picking flowers for me and his Mommy
Giddy up Giraffe!
Giddy up Giraffe!
Belle eating her peanut butter and cheese flavored puppy ice cream
Belle eating her peanut butter and cheese flavored puppy ice cream
YES! Finally got myself a snocone!!!
YES! Finally got myself a snocone!!!
One of our many deer...
One of our many deer…
Teaching Parker to stick flowers behind his ear
Teaching Parker to stick flowers behind his ear
On the way to Holiday World!
On the way to Holiday World!
Beautiful Tennessee sunset
Beautiful Tennessee sunset

Hope everyone else had a great weekend too! Back to the real world tomorrow.


Picnics in the Park

I mentioned in a previous post that I am going to try to spend as much time as possible in Central Park. I am happy to say, I have been doing a fine job with this plan. Today is rainy and dreary, but prior to now we have actually had some beautiful spring days. Over the weekend I had two picnics in the park, and was able to lay in the grass and soak up everything that makes Central Park so perfect.

Even our walk to the park is beautiful!
Even our walk to the park is beautiful!

yellow us


The various colored tulips, the bright pink cherry blossoms and the fragrant magnolia blooms are almost overwhelming. Everywhere I looked there were people gazing at the them, photographing them or even painting them. The few weeks when all the tulips are in bloom are similar to the Autumn weeks when all the leaves are orange, red and yellow. It’s so beautiful, short-lived and you can’t help but feel lucky to witness it.

tulips red closeup painter

After we ate our sandwiches, we spent lots of time people watching. There were numerous brides taking portraits, families playing frisbee, and thousands upon thousands of tourists. Tons of tourist means tons of tourist traps. Around every bend was a performer. Sunday in the park consisted of accordion players, artists, singers, dancers, bubble makers, food vendors and masseuse.

bubble bowbridge


We were really enjoying our time in the park, but Belle was having the best time. Anytime we take her to the park she is so full of energy and excitement that it seems she will explode with happiness at any moment. She barks, runs, jumps and chases every stick and child in sight. Everyone thinks she is the most adorable thing ever when they see her running and fetching sticks. I never understood why, but Zoey just pointed out to me that New York dogs do not play with sticks. Interesting…

belle bellestick


6 weeks left to enjoy this beautiful park! I love New York! Hopefully, I will be able to find this much beauty and relaxation in my new backyard.


Feeling Funky

Okay, it’s been a couple of days since I’ve posted because I have been in such a funk. I am lonely because Husband is still in Nashville. Work has been busy and fun, which just depresses me. I have come home and cried often this week because I cannot believe I won’t see most of these children again. Then, there’s the packing and the cleaning. Remember when there was a major exam in high school or college and you needed to study for days and days, but for some reason you ended up organizing your closet and cleaning out your junk drawers instead? I’ve done a lot of stuff the last few days, but not a lot of packing. Then there’s the job hunting. All of this = funk, and not the superfly music genre kind.

Today, I decided I had to get out of my funk and turn things around. It was beautiful and sunny today so I called up Zoey and had her join me on a long walk through the park.

Did I mention it was beautiful today?
Did I mention it was beautiful today?

As soon as we got to the park we regretted not bringing a blanket and a picnic. There were families playing frisbee, babies chasing bugs, puppies running everywhere and thousands of people laying in the sun. (As soon as NYC reaches 60 degrees on a weekend you will find 100’s of girls laying out in bikinis at the park…people are desperate for some sunshine and nature here.) We tried to ignore our desire to picnic and lounge since neither of us brought snacks or cash, and roamed around taking gorgeous photos of the cherry blossoms instead.

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You know it’s a beautiful day when you can get such great photos on your phone. We eventually had enough of the walking and the watching other people sunbathe, that’s when it hit me…I have money on my Starbucks app*! So, we did the obvious and walked to the closest Starbuck’s stocked up on snacks and beverages, walked back to the park and lounged away.

There were so many people with adorable dogs all around us. Half of us let them off their leaches and played fetch with our loves. That is until two dogs began wrestling, one began playing fetch with someone else’s croquet balls and Belle started growling. There were also a dozen babies having a field day with all the pooches.

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While Zoey and Belle were playing together I took a cute photo to send to Husband. He then took a cute photo of his friends playing in TN to send back to me.


I am still laughing.

We had a great day and evening eating junk food and duct taping a mold of Zoey’s body (I’ll have to explain that last part later). I think the funk has gone.

My friend Sara sent me this quote the other day because it reminded her of me. I was honored she thought of me because I love Audrey, and glad to be reminded of what “I believe”.


I also believe moving, packing and job hunting will all get easier. Tomorrow is another day, and tomorrow I will pack.


*I actually only had a few dollars left on my Starbucks app, so I had to reload it (which is possible to do on my phone), however I forgot my password. After numerous attempts I called Husband and had him reload it from his phone in Tennessee. Zoey and I are obviously desperate and pathetic. Heaven forbid we just walk home to get our wallets!