Spring Breakers in New York City

central parkThis year for Spring Break, Andrew and I took separate vacations. He has been dying to do an alpine touring trip through France and Switzerland with his brother for years, so I got over my fear of him going to Europe without me and gave him the go ahead. But with one caveat, I was not going to stay at home alone with my girls during spring break. We decided that we would take our airline miles and see the Big Apple. Nadia has been enamored by the city because all the shows she watches on Disney are set in NYC, so why not. My sister, who lives in Virginia was able to take time off from work and take the train up with her daughter. We also got to hang out with other friends visiting the city too. It was great seeing familiar faces in the big city, it could have been a long, tiring trip without some other adult support.

We got in to town on a Sunday evening, instead of a hotel room, my sister and I decided we would be more comfortable with our daughters in an apartment (not to mention the prices of hotels are ridiculous and they would not take more than 4 people). We rented an adorable apartment on the Upper West Side through AirBnB. It was perfect, plenty of space for all of us to spread out, bathroom and laundry and a kitchen so we could have tea and breakfast in the morning before heading out. Most mornings our first stop was the Juice Press across the street, where we filled up on smoothies to get us started on our day.

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Cake Boss Cafe

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Fire Station at Ground Zero

On our first full day we did an awesome Hop On/Hop off Bus tour through the city. Our first stop we got off at was the 9/11 memorial. We did not go into the Memorial because it was packed and we didn’t have passes. Also, the large sign before heading in reminds visitors to be quiet and respectful. This seemed like it would be challenging for our group of 8 (3 adults, 5 kids). It was still a very surreal experience. Seeing how many people were down there, and going by the fire stations that were most likely the first responders was very intense. I was not ready to go in with my kids and try and process everything that happen, while also trying to tell a 7 year old why a plane would fly into a building. From here we toured around Battery Park and got our tickets to see Lady Liberty for the next day. After Battery Park we got back on the bus and headed uptown, we went by the United Nations, and saw were tons of celebrities lived and where tons of movies and TV shows were filmed. It was fun seeing all these cool places in real life! We finally got off the bus at Rockefeller Center and spent some time in the amazing Lego Store. After our shopping, we decided to have an early dinner so we could make our Night Time Tour of the City and Brooklyn. We ate a quiet little restaurant called Nino’s 46. I imagine it was quiet because most New Yorkers don’t eat dinner at 5:30, but it worked perfect for our crew. We were even able to stop by the Cake Boss Café after dinner for some cupcakes to bring on our tour.

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NYC Skyline from Brooklyn

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Empire State Building at night

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NYC Library

The night tour was awesome despite the wind and my amateur photography skills, it is pretty hard taking photos at night on a moving bus, but I tried and got a couple good ones.

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Lady Liberty

The next day we took our bus tour back downtown and visited the Statue of Liberty. The boat trip and touring the grounds were beautiful. There is so much history here it is truly amazing. I was sad we didn’t make reservations to get into the pedestal or to do Ellis Island, we will have to do that on our next trip. But just seeing the outside of the statue and taking the audio tour, you learn a lot about what went in to erecting the statue and how powerful of a symbol it is and was to people coming to the United States for the first time. We heard this poem on the audio tour, it’s called “The New Colossus” and was written in 1883 by poet Emma Lazarus, who was born in New York City. The poem lines appear on a bronze plaque in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

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Alexandre Gustave Eiffel – second designer of the internal structural elements of the Statue of Liberty

After our visit to the Statue of Liberty we had to get back quickly to our apartment so that we could change and get ready for our night on Broadway. Before the show we had dinner at Sardi’s, which has been the toast of Broadway for 90 years. The dinner was excellent and the service was great, we were in and out with plenty of time to get to our show (without feeling rushed). We ended up seeing Aladdin at the New Amsterdam Theater. The show was awesome, we had great seats so it was perfect for the girls. Plus it was funny and the music was great. Side note: the guy that played Jafar also did the voice for Jafar in the Disney animated movie, so that was exciting! That night it also snowed! Lots of crazy weather for our week. Sun, rain and snow – all in the first 3 days. The next day the girls, my sister and I, had an impromptu “spa treatment”. This was not our favorite part of the trip, but we are dealing with it. This might be a topic of an upcoming blog, once we are completely over it. I won’t go into the details. After we were done at the spa, the girls got rewarded for being such troopers, so by their request, our next stops were M&M World and American Girl Doll.

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Horse Drawn Carriage in the park

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Friends Fountain

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Promenade in the park

After this crazy day we headed back to our apartment and chilled out for a bit and ended up eating at little place that was around the corner called Pomodoro Rosso and were in bed early. For our last day in the city we decided we were done shopping and fighting the crowds so we spent the day in Central Park. We took a horse drawn carriage tour around the park and saw more sights of movies and shows like, Sex in the City, Elf, Home Alone, Enchanted and Ghost Busters. This was a fun way to see the park and it was a beautiful day too. After lunch, we had to say goodbye to my sister and niece since they had to get to Penn Station to catch their train to DC. We thought we might check out the Museum of Natural History since it was just around the corner from our apartment, great idea – except, everyone else on spring break had that idea and once we walked in apparently all the ticket terminals went down. There was a huge line of people waiting and we were not 100% certain we would get in if we waited in the line. Instead of waiting in line we decided to make our way to the other side of the park to check out the Central Park Zoo. Although it wasn’t exactly like the zoo in Madagascar (high expectations) we did have fun checking out the cool birds, snow leopards and seals. After the zoo we made our way back to our apartment, by way of a super cool playground (one of the 21 playgrounds in Central Park) and Strawberry Fields, where we visited the John Lennon Memorial. We had our last meal in the city at little sushi place called Raku – It’s Japanese 2! (that really is the actual name) and went to bed early to get ready for our 6am car that would take us to the airport.

Strawberry Fields - John Lennon Memorial

Strawberry Fields – John Lennon Memorial

Overall it was great trip! We had a lot of fun seeing the sites, shopping and fighting the crowds. We ate some great food and the girls loved eating giant pretzels and hot dogs from the street vendors (one of Daddy’s favorites from the city too!). It really was comical how many people were packed into the city. But on the flip side, when we hung out in Central Park or in our neighborhood on the Upper West Side, it didn’t feel too crowded. I think it will be a few more years before we go back, maybe when the girls are a little older and can appreciate the museums a bit more and their taste in shopping becomes a little more in line with mine.

Until Next Time, thank for reading.

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mice…ugh

I am really not a fan of mice. ***WARNING: This might get graphic, it was not a fun time and if you are squeamish you may not want to read on.*** I actually put myself a little bit in the squeamish category which is why I have to write about it, so I can stop thinking about it. But they might come back that’s the problem. Ugh.

So here’s the story, once the girls started back at school I started hearing weird sounds around the house, scuffling, scratching, what I thought might be the ghost of Lola. I knew it probably was not Lola and more likely mice or rats, so I called a pest control company I used to use while I was working in property management – Willard’s Pest Control. They really have been great and helpful. They crawled under the house and into the attic to check for critters, blocked off all the entry points on the exterior of the house and laid out traps all around the house. Which is great, but guess what, the mice don’t come around when people are around, they wait until you leave.

Now we have a new ritual when we come home from any outing, we check the traps. The first mouse we caught was with the snap trap under our sink, the little guy was killed on the spot. The girls and I found him after the first Willard’s visit. We all screamed like little girls, then I stepped up and just swept him into the trash. It was not easy and I nearly threw up and cried a bit. I imagine some people might be wondering where was Andrew for all this fun? Well, all this happened during the work day, and apparently this is one of the lovely tasks that you get when you work from home. And really the first one to see it, is the one to deal with it, because you can’t let it sit there and wait for the husband or the exterminator to take it away. At least I could not do that and the girls would not leave it alone.

Yesterday was really the worst. We knew that the little guys were around the house because on Friday we found our peaches with mouse sized bites out of them.

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Luckily, Willard’s was scheduled for a follow up visit on Monday, so I showed him the picture and told him about the turds we found in Siena’s room. He said that mice are sneakier than rats, so we needed to set more traps all around the house (not just under the sink). This time he set out sticky traps because the snap trap obviously didn’t get the one eating the peach. But the problem is the sticky trap doesn’t kill them right away. Mice get stuck alive and eventually bury their face in the glue, then suffocate to death – so horrible. So, he put the traps out, we left the house for a few hours and when we came home from Parkour (distraction link, getting to the worst part) we found the peach eater (or one of his friends) right out on my kitchen floor, stuck in the trap eating peanuts. I had to get rid of it, the girls both saw it, we all screamed, cried, I called my neighbor (not sure what I was hoping she could do) but it bought me some time. I sent Andrew a text: FUCK. I hate mice. He was on his bike so he didn’t see it until it was too late. As he biked up the driveway, he asked me why I was crushing the garbage with the cinder block? He obviously had not read my text.

So there you have it, I have killed 2 mice and it feels horrible. I really need them to get out of my house, this is not something I can live with.

Lola, L-O-L-A, Lola

Lola (1999-2013)

Lola (1999-2013)

Well, this has been a crappy week. We lost our kitty of 14 years today. This really has been one of the worst weeks I have known and I hope that writing about it will help me get through it a little easier. I knew this day was coming and anyone that has lost a pet knows how it feels, it sucks. We have had Lola since she was a kitty; we got her from the Humane Society when she was only a few weeks old and she has been our sweet, lovable, lazy, irritable, wonderful cat for all those years.  On Monday, when we got back from an overnight camping trip, our friend emailed to ask if all was okay with Lola, since she didn’t eat much while he was watching her. My email back was simple and casual and just said, yeah, she’s fine, she’s old and not eating much these days, nothing to worry about. But then, as I watched her walk through the house, I noticed that for a cat that wasn’t eating much she looked awfully fat and rounded through her belly. After Andrew and I talked about it we decided we should probably call the vet to just make sure everything was okay. Well, everything wasn’t okay. An ultrasound on her belly found that something was leaking fluid in her abdomen. Then we headed off to the emergency vet, more tests and waiting around and then back the next day for a more intense ultrasound.  When we got the ultrasound results back they told us it was fatal, either abdominal cancer (carcinomatosis) or feline infectious peritonitis. Neither of which is good. But as I took the call from the vet, I was following the girls around at the zoo and not really in a state to fully understand. They told me they could do a few more tests to determine exactly what it was, I told them to do that and bought us a little more time. Then we waited and waited another full day. During this day, Andrew and I had a lot of long discussions about what this meant and what we needed to know from the vet to determine what to do. What was her quality of life going to be? Was there any way to recover? How long does it take before she would die on her own? Was she in pain? And so on. Then on Wednesday as we are driving to our anniversary dinner (we got Lola the year we were married), we got the call we were dreading and waiting for with the final test results.  She did indeed have the carcinoma (cancer) that had metastasized through out her abdomen and other organs (I was glad to hear that this was not related at all to her last health issue back in February). As we asked all the questions, the answers became more apparent, she wasn’t going to make it and her quality of life was not good. She was in pain, she was not eating and she was ready to move on. But were we? But through the tears Andrew said something to me that really stuck and held true. She is in pain and we are in pain, and the best thing we can do is let her go. We went through with our anniversary dinner and I am sure the other patrons thought we were breaking up as we were both crying over our dinner. But the next morning, after a sleepless night I got up and called our vet and told them what we needed to do.

Nadia's card to Lola. At the top it says "I'm sorry you have to pass on" - then she wanted everyone to sign it.

Nadia’s card to Lola. At the top it says “I’m sorry you have to pass on” – then she wanted everyone to sign it.

Meanwhile we had to let the girls know what was happening. I took the phone call from the vet in the car, and we were all together. They heard my questions and saw me crying and knew something was wrong. Nadia, our 6 year old was very matter of fact, and thoughtful telling us that “Everyone has to pass on at some point” (she even made a card for Lola), Siena, 9, didn’t want to see me crying because that would make everyone else cry. Over the past few years, Lola never really warmed up to the girls so I don’t think they are as heart broken as Andrew and I, they are already asking about the next pet, but we have told them that is a long way off.

When I finally arrived at the vet this afternoon for our last visit, I cried the whole way there. Petting her through the carrier, feeling her shiver, as I think she knew what was going on. I told Andrew he didn’t need to come, I didn’t want him to rearrange his whole day for this and I felt I could handle it on my own (boy was I wrong). I took some deep breaths as I walked in and just hoped I could get right in to see the vet. There were a couple other people in the waiting room when I walked in with Lola in the carrier. I looked straight ahead and tried not to make eye contact with anyone, as I am sure I looked like a total mess. But of course, the nice lady next to me was admiring our beautiful cat. “Is that a Russian Blue?” she asked. “Yes”, I said, not in the mood to make small talk. Then she says, “Does she have a little cough?” that’s when I lost it. This poor lady did not know what she was getting into; I totally started bawling and had a hard time keeping it together. At that point, the receptionist scooted me into an examining room where I was able to hold Lola and cry alone. The nurses and the doctors at Magnolia Veterinary Hospital were so kind and sweet and caring. I held Lola as they gave her the medicine that helped her fall into her deep kitty sleep. And as I told the girls, they gave her the medicine to help her get to Kitty Heaven where she will be her old playful self. She can bask in the sun, play with fun toys, chase birds and bugs and be the healthy Lola we know and love.

Lola Lee Kitty Cat, you will be truly missed.

PSA: Yarn & Cats DO NOT Mix

catwithyarnYes, its an iconic image, the fun little kitty, frolicing with a ball of yarn for hours of fun, right? NO! We recently found out the hard way that any type of yarn play needs to be supervised. Especially when your cat is pushing 14 years old. Our little Lola had an emergency vet visit last weekend when my daughter asked the strange question: “Mom, why does Lola have a string coming out of her butt???”. Well, dear that is a perfectly legitimate question. Ugh! Yuk! Oh God, WTF?? We have some crafty little girls in our house and there is quite a bit of yarn lying around on the floor and spread all about, and I will admit, I did give Lola a ball of yarn as she was lying on the bed, thinking maybe that would get her to play a little (in her old age she needs some activity). Well, I didn’t expect her to EAT IT! And there in lies the problem, Lola ate the green yarn and in turn, it needed to come out. Although, she did get sick a few times we thought it was just a hairball, and then it came out the other end (sorry for the gorey details – but sometimes this stuff needs to be documented). When the yarn didn’t come out with a simple tug (GROSS!), we headed to the emergency vet – 7pm on a Friday, must have been a fun way for the vet to start her weekend too! After about an hour of so of “tests”,

LOLAxrays and other exams Lola got to come home. Now we have the fun task of giving her a pill 2x per day and as any cat or pet owner knows giving pills to animals is not a fun task.

Hopefully Lola will be just fine, we didn’t kill her with our yarn (although I certainly thought we did as I was driving her to the vet). But now we know, for next time, no more yarn for our kitty cat! And hopefully, this post will help other cat owners out there, so they never have to experience this themselves.