Climbing King’s Bluff

Our 3rd day of Tennessee adventures (yup, 3rd day…I’m saving the 2nd day because it’s a doozie) was rock climbing day. We took Sara, some friends and two dogs to King’s Bluff to climb, get some sun and tear up our fingertips.

roric trail climbinb shoes

 

Sara had never rock climbed before, and if you have ever climbed you know the first time is brutal. She was such a trooper. We cheered her own, yelled at her, encouraged her and gave her every tip we could think of AND she made it to the top! That’s got to be one of the best feelings ever!

sara climbing sara climb

 

We took turns climbing and resting. I, yes 3 months pregnant me, managed to climb three routes before being worn out. Don’t worry (Mom), I was perfectly safe. The doctor even said I can do basically anything I want right now. Although, he did say no sky diving…pity.

Rorik tried to get some climbing action too.
Rorik tried to get some climbing action too.

me climbing

Every route has a unique name. This one is "dip in the river". My favorite was "Bob the Builder".
Every route has a unique name. This one is “dip in the river”. My favorite was “Bob the Builder”.
Go Derek!
Go Derek!

We managed to climb most of the day and come out barely scathed. I’m so glad that I’m still able to be adventurous…. I don’t think climbing will be so easy in a few months.

I did it!
I did it!
The group, minus Rorik.
The group, minus Rorik.

Now, keep in mind…if you’re planning to visit Tennessee, pack your climbing gear, swimsuit, hiking boots and caving clothes. Yeah, we went caving too. More to come soon!

Cheers!

 

Off The Grid in Greenwich

Lovely Day

Monday was a beautiful fall day here in Manhattan, and we hate to waste beautiful days so we decided to take a tour from our book of “Great Walks ”. I chose a tour through Greenwich Village because I think it’s a neighborhood we tend to neglect and I wanted to get to know it a little better. After all, it IS the hometown of Princess Mia Thermapolis!

We started the tour in Washington Square, which entertained us for about an hour before we had to force ourselves to leave. This little square/park is always full of the most creative, fun, and entertaining people. Last time we were here we talked to a film crew as they were preparing to film a shot for their TV or movie. The only thing we could find out was that it was a show being filmed for Fox. Being the jaded New Yorkers we sometimes are, we thought “Pfft whatevs…. Just another TV show, can’t walk anywhere without running into a film crew!”

Turns out that crew we chatted with were setting up for a scene for the first episode of Glee!!! We are such idiots!

This time I made sure to search high and low for Rachel and Kurt mingling on the park benches or dancing in the fountain, but I failed to find them. Boo.

I did, however, find MANY other “characters”.

This beautiful little girl danced for at least an hour straight to the beat of the drum circle performing behind her. When she wasn’t jiving on top of this column, she was doing cartwheels around the fountain.

I never did see her parents…

I was almost as excited to see this Waldo as I would have been to see a Glee character!

Where’s Waldo???

This pianist is famous for playing his piano all over NYC, but most famous for playing right here in Washington Square Park. His name is Colin Huggins and before playing in parks he was playing for Joffrey Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre. Obviously successful, but not exactly content, he decided to begin playing outside in the city simply to bring others happiness. He has now managed to make a career out of his lovely idea.

Finally, we left the park to explore the tiny, winding, and very confusing streets of Greenwich Village. (Did you know that several streets have the same name, and at one point 4th and 10th –normally 6 blocks apart– intersect each other???) Anyhow, I LOVE this neighborhood. It feels like a cozy suburb; it’s almost like being transported outside of Manhattan. The streets are narrow, the buildings are much shorter, and it’s much quieter.

We got to see a few cute little courtyards between apartments that are adorable and pretty rare these days. Originally, these areas were for lower-income families and individuals. Others knew that poor people lived here because wealthy people preferred facing the streets to show off the front of their homes. Of course, now these former modest homes are now prime real estate!

Across from The Little Owl is Manhattan’s most narrow apartment. 75 ½ Bedford St. is a record-breaking apartment that was also formerly occupied by the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay.  It’s for sale now if anyone’s interested….just a mere 4.3 million dollars.

A few blocks later we learned all about The Stonewall Inn. This is the birthplace of gay rights in America. A riot broke out here in 1969 leading to a year of political movements, and on the one-year anniversary the Gay Pride parade began at this same spot.

The park across the street, Christopher Park, is very small and shaped like a triangle, but appears to be pretty popular in the neighborhood.

hmmm, where to go next??

While standing at the tip of the triangular park I spotted a scene that seemed to be straight out of a movie.

I immediately ran over to introduce myself to this guy and his adorable triplets. He was happy to let me take pictures, and even handed me an ad for a movie that will star his three babies. (BTW the dogs are actually a Mommy, a Daddy, and a baby!)

At some point, the sun went down, and we found ourselves wondering the Village streets. We kept trying to get home, but somehow ended up in bookstores and other tiny shops. We did eventually make it home. This weekend was ideal, full of art, food, and exploring, I couldn’t have asked for a better time!

Cheers!

Off The Leash

I am getting better and better at this whole “waking up early” thing people keep talking about. My weekend this week consists of Monday and Tuesday (Happy Rush Hashanah!), and I have actually got out of bed at 6:30am BOTH mornings. For anyone keeping track I’ve done that 3 times in the last week. None of which were on actual workdays, but whatever. It’s so much more exciting to get up for a day of fun than it is for a day of work.

Yesterday, was truly a miracle, because not only did I get up with the sun, but so did Husband! We decided to wake up and take our one and only child/pup to the park for “off-leash” hours. Central Park allows dogs to be off their leash before 9am and after 9pm. I’ve done this with Belle once before, but Husband has yet to experience the awesomeness of no-leash hours.

NYC may be a concrete jungle, but it is also a city of dogs. Take one walk around our neighborhood and you are likely to find all sorts of fancy breeds, rescued mutts, enormous pooches, and tiny ones pushed in strollers. Zoey and I both have a (bad?) habit of loving on all the dogs we see. We can’t help but cuddle all the furry balls of cuteness being walked all around us. Being at the park before 9am is the holy grail of dog watching/petting/loving.

Belle grew up in both Texas and Tennessee and had the luxuries of large backyards, deer filled hills, and fields of grass to wildly chase bunnies and squirrels. In the mornings we could simply open the door and allow her to unleash her energy in the countryside. She still adored going on leashed-walks around our neighborhoods, but was also free to roam the yard leash-free (if raccoons and skunks were nowhere in sight).

For the last year Husband and I have felt really guilty about keeping Belle in our tiny apartment and only allowing her outside if she’s on a leash. Being attached to a leash makes playing fetch in the park a lot less fun, for both of us. So, yesterday, when we arrived at Central Park before 7am and immediately took off her leash I was 50% thrilled to let her run free, and 50% afraid she’d keep running and never turn back.

The entire park was filled with hundreds and hundreds of dogs roaming free. We saw poodles, Dalmatians, Mastiffs, Chihuahuas, German Sheppard’s, Corgis, Terriors, and tons of mutts and mixes. Every dog and owner were happily running around, playing fetch, and chatting to other dog lovers. It was so nice to be around other people who get it.

Dog owners relate the same way parents relate. We see another dog shoving his nose up our dog’s arse, and before their owner can apologize we give them the knowing “don’t worry, we get it look”. Then, when our dog turns around bears her teeth and begins loudly yipping at the butt sniffer, we receive the same knowing look. We’ve all been there. Our dogs are our loves, but we know they are often disgusting, misbehaving messes.

We walked Belle until 9am, when all the leashes were instantly latched on again. We bid farewell to our new doggy friends and walked home. I imagined Belle would pass out from exhaustion and we would use the quiet time to be productive. (i.e Husband will read Reddit and play Black Mesa, while I work on lesson plans and write blogs)

Belle immediately grabbed her favorite toy and excitedly jumped up and down, ready to play fetch over and over and over again, I fell asleep while watching Kelly and Michael, and Husband actually read Reddit and played Black Mesa.

We are looking forward to many more early mornings in the park before the weather starts getting too cold.

Also, if you have a dog, you must must absolutely must read this.

Cheers!

Summer Lovin’

It’s official, there is one week left of summer break. My full time hours start the day after Labor Day which means I need to squeeze in as many fun-in-the-sun activities as possible into the next seven days. It also means that I have a ton of little jobs to get done, but of course I procrastinated all these tedious to-do-before-school-starts lists, and allowed them to pile up.

Summer has always been my favorite season. I would be perfectly content living somewhere along the equator, dressed in flip-flops, a bikini, sunglasses, and braided hair everyday. I love the hot sun on my skin, the relaxed attitudes, the vacations, and the swimming. No other season can compare. Typically, I go into a slight depression this time of year, when Autumn starts blowing in, but I am determined to have a new attitude this year.

I am going to welcome Fall with open arms. I am going to get excited about my new work responsibilities coming up. I will even prepare myself by going to bed early and getting up early this week. I MIGHT even start cleaning out my summer wardrobe….probably not though… I will, however, look forward to the many great opportunities Autumn surely has waiting for me. Right?

Of course, I am only telling you this so that you will each hold me accountable. I expect lots of emails and phone calls this week checking in to make sure I am pumped about the seasons changing, and getting into bed before Talk Stoop comes on the TV.

Between trying to prepare myself to be a responsible adult again and getting organized, I am also going to wear my shades and flip-flops everyday, explore more of the city, take Belle to the park as much as possible, eat an entire watermelon, and hopefully make it to the beach one more time.

The goal is to do at least one super fun/relaxing activity every single day for the next 7 days. For day number 1, we went all over Manhattan hitting 5 different flea markets looking for a large ornate picture frame for my Betsey Johnson print. Zoey and I each purchased a Betsy Johnson print from one of her local stores before they closed recently. So sad…I still can’t believe she went bankrupt.

Anyhow, we bought these with the intentions of buying old frames, spray painting them black, and hanging up our prints in style. Zoey, however, did her little frame project without me, but it’s okay because I forced her to take me all over town today searching for my own. We even accidently found a farmer’s market full of  locally grown deliciousness.

mmm, I love fresh focaccia bread

AMAZING!

We had a good time foraging for antique, used, and recycled goodies….

Check out the Albanian Leke we found. One booth was selling bills from literally every country. Who knew I could have made cash off my Albanian cash?

…BUT, we could not find one suitable frame. Boo.

We did find run into a Pakistani parade though. I can’t ever go through the city without running into a parade.

I didn’t make it to the park today, but I did get some quality time with some lovies. We all snuggled on Zoey’s couch all evening to watch every episode of Bunhead’s (AKA Gilmore Girls: The Sequel).

Cheers!

Baby Butts and TexMex

Guess who stuffed themselves with 3 large Mexican meals in two days?! Aaaa the sweet (or spicy? taste of success. Mexican food in Texas is the best because everyone gets their own bowl of salsa in they refill your bowls with pitchers of salsa every 10 minutes. Husband would disagree, but I think no other state can compare to Texas’s TexMex.

My last few days in Texas were full of quality time spent with loved ones. Mom spoiled me with extra love one day by taking me to get a mani/pedi and my eyebrows waxed. Hmm, maybe she’s just concerned that I’m looking a little rough around the edges… Either way, it was nice to be so spoiled.

We went shopping in the cute little downtown areas around where my parents live, and I bought the cutest bracelet from Gaudie & Co. They’re called Lenny and Eva and they come in tons of styles. You can choose different sizes and colors in leather cuff, chains, or necklaces. Then you can choose an inspirational word of quote, and finally add charms. I really love the way these look when they are stacked, but I could only afford one during this trip. Perhaps Santa will bring more for Christmas???

I chose the word “breathe” because I so often need a reminder to do just that.

We also shopped at another awesome store called Down to Earth where everything (lotion, soaps, makeup, shaving bars, bath salts, body scrubs) is made from organic and local ingredients, and literally made in the room in the back of the small store. My mom bought some awesome delicious smelling gifts and goodies for herself and a few others. I scored a grapefruit soap bar that helps fight acne and other cool stuff like that.

a cute handmade crown from recycled pieces

I love shopping and getting presents, but the best times are still dominated by the babies! I know you didn’t get enough of the cute kids in my life, so here’s a few more photos of us having an awesome picnic day in the backyard – complete with a bouncy house and water slide. These are some lucky babies.

chasing bubbles!

gotta love those butt dimples!
Never gonna grow up

I have been telling Husband how much fun it is to have kids, and I was hoping that spending a play day with these babies would really pump him up about being a Dad (not that he’s about to be). My friends are in on the persuasion too, and were all ready to talk up the pleasures of being a parent.

Within minutes of visiting, one friend was peed on, I was pooped and peed on (there was a lot of naked babies in pools), one kid was bit, and another was crying. It was awesome.

 I was still having a blast, and we just reminded Husband that the play-date is just very realistic.

I am missing my own baby Belle, who is definitely getting spoiled by Zoey back in NYC. My parent’s dog has been my replacement cuddler this week.

Shhh! Don’t tell Belle!

Our last night at “home” we stayed up until the wee hours of the night playing Rook with my parents. Mom and I kicked butt (surprise, surprise).

Now, I am sitting on another stuffy plane, waiting for free coffee, and wishing they didn’t charge us to watch TV on the flight. Our week in Texas was great. A week wasn’t long enough to see everyone I wanted to visit, but I’m thankful for the qualities hours I had with some of my favorite people.

Farewell Lone Star State!

Cheers!

Must Love Dogs…and Cats

I’m going to sound a little repetitive after yesterday’s blog, but I love animals. My favorite is obviously Belle. Poor Belle. While we were out gallivanting around Orlando and Costa Rica, she was left in NYC with Zoey’s cats. And, to add insult to injury I spent a large portion of our “honeymoon” snuggling orphan dogs and cats.

No matter where we went in Costa Rica, the stray animals, and some not stray, sought us out! (It may have been the bag of cat food Zoey we carrying in her purse…) Either way, we were able to get our “pet” time in with the local animals.

A couple days ago, I introduced you to Girl and Cat, the animals of Paos Lodge.

Our next stop was our resort in La Fortuna at Mt. Arenal. Immediately we found two scrawny cats (whom I deemed Costa and Rica) and fed them our leftovers. Two days later there were about 5 cats and they’d each be waiting on the porches of our bungalows for leftovers, cat food, and lots of petting.

I was feeling such a connection with the Costa Rican cats that I started feeling a little invincible towards all animals. While visiting one resort, I decided it was perfectly safe to pet the wild ocelots.

They nuzzled my hands, licked my fingers, pawed at me for me, and eventually bit me. It probably wasn’t the best idea.

The next hotel we stayed at was in Puerto Viejo. This hotel was made for nature lovers! It’s located across the street from an unspoiled beach, in the middle of the jungle, and surrounded by hammocks and animals.

The first morning we were there Zoey walked to the beach to watch the sunrise. As she passed a group of palm trees she heard a tiny “meow”, and looked to the tree to find a teeny baby kitten. Immediately she picked it up, knowing it needed help. As she is scooping up the baby, another baby kitten falls from the tree and lands on her back!

At 5:30am, Husband and I are woken by Zoey pounding on our door. I opened the door to find her swaddling the two kittens.

We spent the next three days keeping the kittens fed, watered, and warm. Oh, and we named them Mary Kate and Ashley. Mary Kate is the skinny one..obviously. After lots of pleading, the hotel owners (who had already adopted 3 dogs and a few cats) agreed to make sure these kittens were also taken care of.

This cat, who I named MooLatte, adopted us. She woke us every morning by meowing at our door, and even brought us a dead mouse as a present one morning… so sweet, and disgusting.
Two of the adopted dogs.

Even the last place we stayed, a super nice hotel right outside of San Jose, had a cat…a very well fed cat…for us to love on.

I’d like to tell you this is the end of the animal posts and pictures…put I haven’t even touched on the wild animals of Costa Rica!

Cheers!