A Time to be Sad

Today is International Cat Day, it’s also exactly 4 weeks since Duckie escaped the pet sitter’s house while we were at the beach. It’s been a rough four weeks here. Mostly because I get sad, but then convince myself that she well come back, or we will find her, or someone will recognize her from the flyers or she’ll “homeward bound” her way back to our house. It’s a lot of back and forth and wishful thinking. Duckie is a part of our family and the house just hasn’t been the same without here begging for more food, sleeping on our faces and teasing Belle. However, after four weeks I have to come to terms. I think it’s time I let myself be sad and start to say good-bye to the best cat that there has ever been.

I don’t want to be anymore depressing than that, so we’ll just leave it with some of my favorite pics of Duckie for us all to enjoy. After all, it is National Cat Day.

The Best of Duckie

Me and Ducks when I was about 8 months pregnant.
cat tongue
Duckie’s favorite spot in the house.
Belle pretending she doesn't see a cat in the bad.
Belle pretending she doesn’t see a cat in the bed a couple of days after we rescued Duckie and brought her home.
meet duckie
One of the first photos taken of Ducks.
1st home
When Luna and I came home from the hospital and took a nap. Duckie just had to be the one closest to me.
And, when we first got home from our 10 day hospital stay…we had the sweetest welcome home crew!
Duckie’s first Christmas

duckie duckie sleepy kitty

IMG_20131001_140622 IMG_20131027_092942

In case you missed the story of how we found and rescued Duckie almost two years ago, you can read it here.

We love you Duckie.


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!



Thankful Thursday

She loves her bath time!

A few years ago, when my anxiety was at a high point, I started a habit of thinking about, or thanking God, for the things I am thankful for each day. Even when the anxiety subsides, this habit sticks around. I started doing this to ease my mind when I was trying to sleep. Night time is when my mind tends to run a muck, and I have to work extra hard to change my thinking track to something positive and to quiet the negative thoughts. Focusing on what I’m grateful for turned everything around for me.

This habit came in handy during my recent hospital stay, and even now it can quickly turn a bad day or just crappy moment around. This morning I was so very tired after nursing Luna for what felt like the 100th time. Even though she is sleeping more, I am not. I kind of go into a half-sleep, just awake enough so I can hear every little grunt and sigh Luna makes. I’m sure most new Moms go through this, but I can’t help but sleep on edge just waiting for her to wake up and need me.

Anyways, I was exhausted this morning, trying desperately to decide to either go back to sleep or get up and make breakfast. (Food and sleep are the two things I need most and I can often only pick one.) However, right at that moment I glanced at Luna, who was sleeping soundly and she had pushed her tiny foot out of her carefully swaddled blanket and so much gratitude came over me.

Then I thought, what am I thankful for right at this moment…forget the lack of sleep, the hunger, the pile of dirty dishes, the mound of laundry, the bills stacked on the kitchen table, the worries streaming through my head…what do I have to appreciate right now.

Well, first there’s the most perfect baby sleeping peacefully who I am lucky enough to call my daughter. Then there’s the hot cup of coffee I just brewed sitting in my hands. Good Morning America  is on and Robin Roberts always makes me smile. I have my favorite huge fluffy warm blanket wrapped around me keeping me warm. There’s my little Belle curled up in my nook fast asleep, and on the arm of the couch is Duckie, also sleeping. Even Husband is fast asleep down the hall. I have my whole little family together all sleeping around me.  And so so so much more…

Instantly, the groggy sleep-deprived morning felt like the best morning ever. How lucky am I to be surrounded by so much love? When you look at life with a little more gratitude, nothing else seems to matter much.

So, I challenge you, the next time you are feeling down, worried or angry to take a minute and reflect on what you are thankful for at that very moment. See if it can turn your day around.


Finally A Nice Day!


This past Sunday was GORGEOUS.


Like, most of the U.S., Tennessee has been freezing for what feels like an eternity now. The worst part is that it has been in the single digits with zero precipitation. It should be illegal to be that cold with no snow. What’s the point? No one wants to go out in play in dry 7 degree weather, so we have felt as if we are under house arrest. I’ve enjoyed the hot soups, tea and warm fires, but we have felt stir crazy lately.

But, Sunday was nice. Sunday it was sunny, blue clear skies and 55 degrees outside! It felt like summer. It’s amazing how warm 55 can feel after it’s been only 4 degrees. There was no way we were going to waste the day indoors, so we decided a hike was in order and headed off the the Natchez Trace. We found ourselves back on Garrison Creek trail, where Husband and I hiked back in the fall. This time, we found a different section we’d yet to explore.

natchez trace tree

The lookout
The lookout

Since I am now 37 weeks pregnant, enormous and uncomfortable I assumed we would hike about a mile before I got too worn out, or had to pee and then have to go home. I don’t know why I ever considered this a possibility. Did I forget who I was married to? We ended up hiking 3 miles, which really isn’t that bad…if you are not about to have a baby. I tried to be a trooper for the most part, but we did take a break halfway through so I could sit and rest.

37 weeks and 1 day pregnant...20 days to go!
37 weeks and 1 day pregnant…20 days to go!

hiking moss

Towards the end of the hike we came to a creek that we were supposed to cross, but the bridge had been demolished and the water was half-frozen over. Our friends and I decided to stay on our side of the river and follow where the trail should lead, like any logical person would do. Husband, of course, managed to get across the river, not once, but twice because the other bridge at the end of the trail was also demolished.

The first broken bridge.
The first broken bridge.
Belle probably had the best time.
Belle probably had the best time.


It was such a pretty day. I could feel the sun on my skin and actually enjoy being outdoors. Even some of the plants looked beautiful, which I didn’t expect during the dead of winter. We had a really nice time just walking, chatting and enjoying the scenery. By the end, I was done and hoping I’d somehow convinced Luna she was done too.

Belle was exhausted! She immediately climbed into the carseat and rested the whole way home.
Belle was exhausted! She immediately climbed into the carseat and rested the whole way home.

Back home, Husband and I worked out for another half-hour. I’m doing whatever I can to convince this baby that it’s time to come out and meet us. So far, she still seems happy where she is, but I’m excited to see what the doctor will say today!


More on Duckie

Our little baby rescue kitten isn’t quite so little anymore. Since her last update she has gained a couple more pounds and managed to rule over our entire home. She is now about 21 weeks old,  small for her age (probably stunted from her difficult first few weeks of life), but still manages to boss the dog around and take over all of our furniture.



She is no longer afraid of the outdoors, in fact she often stands at the door and meows, just begging to go out and explore. She  caught her first animal, a mole, and brought it inside to show her gratitude. Thanks cat. I have accidentally locked her out twice now, which appeared to be a much more traumatizing experience for me than for her.



Last week she was spayed and I was terrified that she would never trust me again or be the same after having surgery. However, she has been just as lovable and snuggly as ever, and is certainly just as feisty. The vet asked us to do our best to keep her calm the week after surgery. We tried, but by day 3 she had already pulled out her stitches. Naughty kitty. The doc threatened to staple her stomach, but luckily he changed his mind.

Help Mom!
Help Mom!

cat tongue


Today, she had her first snow day! I didn’t think she’d want to go out, but the second the dog ran out she was right behind her. I just love watching the animals step in the snow and then shake their wet feet off. There were four deer playing in the front yard too… I felt just like Snow White.


snowday our yard

Belle in the snow.
Belle in the snow.

We love having our little rescue cat and are so happy with how healthy and happy she is with us.

This is what every night looks like...
This is what every night looks like…

Duckie and Belle seem to still be getting along fine. We just hope neither one of them tries to smother the baby in a couple of months!

sleepy kitty


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.

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”.

IMG_20131013_152234 (1)

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!



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!



My Spoiled Dog

Ever since moving to NYC Belle has become a snobby little upper east side pooch. She sleeps on a giant white feather pillow during the day, in between us at night, has an Oscar De La Renta collar (from Target…) and she shops in every designer store.

She’s been to Bergdorf Goodman’s, Barney’s, Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Coach, Chanel and Sephora. Virtually every store welcomes dogs here. Several offer treats, leave out water bowls and give her more attention than they give me…the customer. Our recent shopping trip was to Bloomingdale’s, which is only a 20 block walk, but it’s cold out and I decided to take the bus.

The only problem is that dogs have to be in carriers on the bus. Belle is absolutely terrified of carriers. She screams, cries, bites and claws as if she is on fire. I hate putting her in one, but considering how much we travel and how we take her everywhere with us it’s inevitable. She has actually torn up every single carrier I have ever bought, which is why I just got a new pet carrier from EzyDog.

I love it because it unzips and folds up into a completely flat carrier so it’s super easy to store in our tiny apartment. The inside is soft, the outside is tough and durable. There is no netting, just giant air holes so I can actually stick my fingers through the holes to gently pat Belle and keep her slightly more calm. I may have been excited about these inventive features, but bratty Belle could care less.

She is SO dramatic! Where does she get this from?!
She is SO dramatic! Where does she get this from?!

Once I had her safely in we left together and she remained calm as we walked and waited for the bus. No tears. No yelping. I was one happy Mama.

street busstop

Once we were on the bus, things took a turn for the worse. When I sat down the whining began, then the yelping, then the high-pitched, ear-piercing cries. I tried my best to calm her…

airholes ezydog

Stupidly, I unzipped the carrier, just a little. I wanted to stick my whole hand in and strangle pet her to keep her quiet….people were starting to glare. The second she heard the zipper she pushed her tiny head out.



She tried her best to tear and bite her way out of the carrier, but she failed. So far, the EzyDog Transporter is the strongest dog carrier we have ever had! Finally, after what seemed like hours, we made it to our destination.



Belle was happy to get out, shop and walk around, and I was happy to fold up her carrier and hand it over to Husband to carry under his arm. We shopped and shopped, and enjoyed the night.



Husband snapped the funniest picture of us while I was looking at purses!



It turned out to be a night of only window shopping, but it was worth the bus ride and the use of our new dog carrier.



Maybe next week we’ll take her to a store that actually sells dog merchandise!


Quality Time With Friends

I spent a good portion of my vacation time with some of our closest friends in Tennessee. We played many many rounds of Settlers of Catan. (If you have not played this yet, you should!) We made lots of fires, roasted hotdogs, and even made smores. Once Settlers and camping in the living room got old we resorted to old favorites like Murder and Sardines. (Again, if you have not played these games, then get a group of friends together as fast as you can and start playing.)

We have an awesome group of friends who are up for almost any game or activity we suggest. I’ve got to say playing these games as a child is fun, but playing as adults (wine included) is even better!

Sometimes our silly games got old and I had to take a few breaks to snuggle with the animals. Wilmer the cat (formerly known as Wilma) is a giant cat who loves living in the wild, but comes in every night to snuggle up and be loved on by her his many adorers. The dog is Rorik, and he is GORGEOUS.

And, yes that's a chinchilla.
And, yes that’s a chinchilla.

When the pets were busy, I snuggled up and played with my favorite boy in Tennessee.

Miss him already
Miss him already

We took this handsome little devil to a place called Pump It Up. This is an enormous facility full of bounce houses. Of course, his favorite part was a machine that creates wind after you insert $2. The best part is that we never had to insert any money. He was happy to just stand in the little tunnel and spin around in circles. ALL of us were thoroughly exhausted by the time we left.


By the end of the week, Husband was antsy to get outside for a more adventurous game with our friends. His game of choice: paintball. Not just any paintball, but sniper paintball. Here’s how we play:

Someone (i.e. the boys) set up a course outside. The course has a starting area, a base, for the players (the criminals?) to hide behind, and leads up to a flag. One person is selected as the sniper (a lucky person…usually, almost always, a girl). The sniper is stationed near the flag, but not too close. The players/criminals goal is to capture the flag and bring it back to their base without getting shot. Only one person has to survive for the team to win. The sniper has exactly 12 paintballs to shoot with, so he/she cannot just shoot wildly.

Don't we look tough?
Don’t we look tough? …and very very layered

It is a scary game, but it is A LOT of fun. Plus, if you wear enough layers it does not hurt (very much) when you get shot.

And that is how I spent quality time with my BFF’s in Nashville. Cannot wait to go back!