Saturday, November 29, 2008

4 States + 400 Dollars + No Detours = Priceless

We started our venture to NYC on Wednesday at approximately 12 noon. For those who don't know, getting to New York from Ohio is pretty much a straight shot. Given that fact we hoped to make good time, but that also depended on the traffic and weather. Thankfully we had easy going all the way. No problems...traffic, accidents, detours, or weather. Upon entering PA is there was some wet snow, but that was the extent of any "bad" weather. Something to note though, there's a stretch of the drive in central PA that lacks many exits, which includes gas, food, and restrooms. It seemed to take forever between exits. This didn't effect us, but we did make note of it, considering you never know what may happen.

We arrived in Newark, New Jersey at approximately 8pm. As expected, our hotel was immediately across the street from the Newark Penn Station. What we didn't expect was how nice it was. Not that it was a grand hotel by any means, but we expected just a typically travelling hotel. It was a small step up from what we would normally stay in, so we were thrilled. Upon arriving we flipped the tv on. That's when it was announced that there were "unsubstantiated claims of threats warning of possible attacks on the NYC transit system on Thanksgiving." These announcements were in lieu of what was going on in India. The crazy world we live in. We accepted the possibility of the risk, but settled in for the night. Threats come on a daily basis whether we know them or not so we weren't going to let that hinder our plans for the next day.

We woke up at 5:15am on Thanksgiving morning. We each put our minimum 2 layers on our bottom and 5 (yes 5) on top. We each had extra hats, gloves, and hand/feet warmers just in case. Our adventure started by stepping into the Newark Penn Station. It was full of hustle and bustle. We quickly found the ticket machines and made our way through purchasing the correct tickets and then headed toward Track 1. A packed train pulled up, we filed in, and headed to NYC. At that point we had our first "now what?" We never turned in our ticket so we were quite confused as what was going to happen. It was then that a conductor came through and was taking tickets. He hoped we had done the right thing, and thankfully we did. He took our ticket with no problem. Not a surprise but we did fumble our way through many experiences, from riding the subway, to finding bathrooms, etc. Let me tell you though, we were lucky. We happened to "fall into" situations and definitely took advantage of them. With the help of maps we made our way around and didn't have too many snafus. And if something happened we quickly got back on track.

We tried to make our way to Herald Square for the parade. We knew that it was a long shot, but wanted to try. Unfortunately it wasn't possible to get in there. At that point we had to decided whether to stick it out in that area or head up near Central Park. We decided to head north. The city was a buzz. At the same time it was controlled chaos. NYPD was everywhere. And all they had to do was have a presence. Most of the time they turned a blind eye. I can't tell how many times we crossed a barrier to get to the other side of the street. Heck, the majority of the time we were actually walking in the street. Yes, walking in the street in Times cool? They didn't care, as long as you just weren't standing there. After a bit of walking David and I were hot. All of those layers were kicking our butts. And we also needed to find a bathroom. Obviously, everywhere you went there was a line. We happened on a mall-type building and decided to try to go inside. Surprisingly it was open, which not too many people knew about. We quickly found the bathroom and were in and out. Who would've guessed that? After that we decided we wanted to get to the other side of the street. Unfortunately it wasn't so easy to cross the street as the crowds grew. After a small back track we were able to get to the other side of the street and made it into Central Park. It took us awhile but David was able to find an awesome spot, in Central Park, on the side of a hill, where we could see the parade. We knew all of those ventures out for Mardi Gras would come in handy again at some point. For pictures, we had branches in the way, but it was an awesome spot. This was our view

I'm glad we left so early so that we had the ability to find a decent spot and it wasn't long before the parade began. You could feel the energy rise as the parade drew closer. It was coming. I got chills. This has always been a dream of mine, to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in person. And it was about to come true. As the bands played and the balloons filled the air, I couldn't help but feel the tears coming down my cheeks. I know, I'm a geek, but this is something I never knew would happen, and it was right before my eyes. I absolutely love Mardi Gras and won't take anything from it. But although this was also a parade, it had a different sense. It was totally it's own. Trust me, both Mardi Gras and Macy's are totally worth trips. Just amazing. Absolutely loved it.

During the parade we had a couple local families around us along with a gentleman that watches the parade from the same spot every year. We kept conversation throughout the parade. Near the end he said that it was the longest parade he can remember to date. Let me tell you, our cold behinds and toes were feeling that. We had started to lose feeling in our extremities so although the parade was awesome we were glad to see it end.

We ventured through Central Park a bit but didn't come close to seeing it all. One thing I'd like to do next time is explore that area more. We headed toward Rockefeller Center but decided to grab a quick bite to eat. We happened on Ernest Klein & Co. International Supermarket. Our food was great, and we even got a Black and White Cookie.

We continued on to Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Terminal, and The Pond At Bryant Park. Then back to Times Square. All of this was unbelievable. It's hard to take it all in. I found myself sitting there, in awe, for a few moments. It's one of those things that you need to physically experience to be able to truly appreciate it. Even so, here's a short video.

Next up was the Statue Of Liberty. We didn't rush there that morning, due to the parade, so we made it there around 3-4pm. It was then that we found out we had made it on the last boat of the day. Whew! Once again, I found myself looking at the statue saying, "That's it! I'm really in NYC!" After our trip to Liberty it was time to go to the WTC site. We passed Wall Street/The New York Stock Exchange on the way. The WTC was interesting. I didn't know what to expect. You can see in, but for the most part there isn't much to see, with all of the construction and barricades around. In general southern Manhattan was quiet. Of course it was a holiday, so not too many people were around, but it was almost too quiet. Kind of weird.

We weren't sure what our plans were after that so we kept walking to see what we could find. It was then that we thought we'd check out Little Italy and get a bite to eat. Everyone's trying to get your business, so it's up to you to find the place you want to eat. After asking multiple restaurants if they charged for sharing a plate, we found one that didn't. In addition, our drinks for the meal were free, including sangria! Our dinner meal was cheaper than our lunch, was VERY good, and experience that we never had before. Another experience to add to our list.

Having already walked about 15 miles that day (I mapped it upon coming home...wish I would've had my Garmin) we decided to take the subway instead of walking all the way back to Times Square. We hung out there for a bit then decided it was time to head back to Newark. We hopped the train and called it a day.

Wow, did that all just happen? This was one of those experiences that I will never forget. Call me crazy, but one day in NYC was better than a week in Hawaii. We hardly did much planning, but it all came together. We didn't think that this would be possible on a multitude of levels. Everyone said we'd spend a ton of money. I guess it all depends on what you do or willing to give up. Our mindset was to experience NYC, and that we did. In the end we spent approximately $400 and that included gas, hotel, food, and transportation. We also saved by walking more than most people would. My final calculation came out to about 20 miles of walking. But that allowed us to see more, keep warm, save money, and burn calories. Not going to say I'm not sore. Yesterday I woke up with sore calves, shins, abs, shoulders, and back. And 2 days later I'm still feeling the effects.

But, it was worth the drive. It was worth the walking. And now that we've done it, it opens the door for many more experiences whether they're in NYC or somewhere else.

For more pictures check out our Flickr page.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

That's Not My Name

Running on the 'mill yesterday my ipod happened on to this song. I didn't realize I had ever acquired it let alone added it to my ipod. I found the beat addicting which made me push through. I guess you could say it was my "power song" for the day.

Nose Stuck In A Book

So the time is drawing nearer. The time for my national board examination to become a registered vet tech. It will be held in January. Just thinking about it gives me butterflies. Thankfully I have found a review book with practice tests/questions that will hopefully help me pass the thing. I can't believe how much information I have already lost from not using it, or don't know (stuff with lab animals and large animals). It frightens me. I'm also thankful that I've had downtime at work to allow me to use my time wisely. Although I'm thankful to have the book and be able to study, I'm not so thankful that I feel like my nose is constantly stuck in a book. My mind circles around memorization and making little "notations" or helpful hints to make me remember what I'm reading. Good thing I have an awesome memory....or at least did have an awesome memory in all past circumstances. Hopefully if I continue with my studying through repitition I'll retain some of it. Although this next month and a half are going to be awful long with the information swirling in my head and my anxiety breaking me down. Here's to more studying....

Monday, November 17, 2008


A few weeks back David and I were talking about random places we'd like to go or experiences we'd like to have. I brought up that I'd love to have the experience of being in a big city on a holiday to see how things are. You know, like in movies, where it seems like it's just another day, or people hunker down in their lofts, or where people take the train out of the city to their hometown in the burbs. I figured I'd never live in a big city on a holiday, but at least I could travel there. I also brought up that it's a dream of mine to experience the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Of course I prefaced all of this with "This is a pipe dream, but...." To this day I wake up on Thanksgiving and the first thing I do is turn on the tv to see the parade.

We didn't think much of it until later that night. David said, "Why don't we go away for Thanksgiving this year. This is a time to do it. We both have multiple days off and won't have to use vacation." In addition, not that I was ever a huge turkey fan, but having the Thanksgiving center around a meat-filled extravaganza, it's not as appealing as in past years. I'm not playing the "poor me" role. I'm still proud of my choice of being a vegetarian and know that I could have a million other options to choose from on Thanksgiving, but it is what it is.

We weren't 100% sure if we could do it, but we looked into our options. Originally we thought, Chicago. Upon bringing this up, mom wanted to join in. Mom absolutely loves Chicago. This would mean she wouldn't have to cook anything for Thanksgiving (which she dreads), and we could experience the shopping after Thanksgiving. Although it seemed like a great idea, Dad wasn't sold on the idea. In addition, Justin and Cass were on the fence with the idea. In the end they all decided to sit this one out. Instead Thanksgiving will be spent up in Michigan. At that point we decided Chicago was out. We could venture on our own but shopping really isn't our thing, especially when we wouldn't have a group to go with, just to enjoy some window shopping.

Our idea was at a standstill until we found that Sita and Alpa weren't planning on having Thanksgiving this year. Sita has her state board test (for massage) the following week and fixing a big dinner isn't high priority on her list. Not to mention David's sister is a nurse and will be on call that day.

It was then that we started searching for other options. For shits and giggles we looked up how far it is to NYC....8 hours. Ah, that's not bad. The wheels started to turn. Within an hour I pieced together where we could stay, how we'd actually get into the city, and then where we could go, and how much it'd be. I was in high Heaven...was I actually going to experience the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade? I took a few moments to take it all in. Can we do this? Can we do it financially? Can we physically take on NYC? We've always wanted to go but were intimidated about getting around. True, money is tight, tight, tight. I can't even put into words how tight it is. The bottom line is we probably shouldn't go. At the same time, as said previously, this is the time to do it. We've always thought that NYC would be awesome but couldn't see staying there for a week....I think I'd get "bored" by 7 days, and financially it'd be impossible. Going for a day or 2 would be perfect. I was able to aquire transportation maps online and mapped it all out. We'd stay in Newark, hop the train to New York, then use the subway system to get around. Our plan is to stay a day and get as much in as we can. Although we have ideas of what we'd like to see, and a plan about how to do it, so we don't totally waste a day, we are going in with an open mind of "whatever we get to see, we'll see, If not, we'll see it next time." Of course our first plan of action is to go to the parade....after that, we shall see. Our plan is to keep in Manhattan and not venture to the surrounding areas this trip.

Surprisingly we found that this trip may actually be more affordable than Chicago. The most expensive thing is gas. The room and parking, are cheaper. And with unlimited ride passes, transportation is even affordable. Everyone tells us that we'll still spend a ton of money. I hear them and recognize where they're coming from. True, we may spend more money, but at the same time, remember we're not big foodies, so it's not like we're going to spend a ton on food. In addition, we don't plan on doing much, if any, shopping. Once again, our biggest expense will be gas, our room, transportation, and if we want to go to Ellis Island.

I still can't believe we're going to go to NYC. I still can't believe we'll be there for Thanksgiving and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I still can't believe that even though we have planned a few things, we're still heading there on a whim. This will truly be an interesting adventure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Back In The Swing Of Things

Yes, I believe the ol' running Heidi is back. The one that can't let a day without running pass, or atleast without feeling real guilty. Today I got everything together so I could go running after work, but the end of the work day came and I just felt so tired....I decided to take the day off. As I drove home I kept fighting with myself....saying, "I should go run..." but "I'm exhausted, I need a night off..." It kept going and going and as I sit here, I'm thinking to myself, "Why didn't you go running?"

Ever since getting back into running I haven't had a night, after work, off of running. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love being back in the swing of things, but when you rise at 6am, get to work before 8am, work until 7pm, then go to the gym for a run, get home close to 9pm, that makes a long day. Not to mention, I still have to take care of the kids, the house, and feeding myself. Obviously that's not my schedule everyday, but it is for 2 days of the week, and the other days are pretty darn close.

So although I'm sitting here feeling guilty I'll keep reminding myself that although I love running and consider it time for myself, I also have to make other time for myself by taking a "chill" night. Maybe I can get some reading in.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

500 Miles For A Banana Split

I took Friday and Saturday off for running, but got right back to it today. I had originally planned to run an easy 2 miles, but then realized if I ran 2.85 miles I'd have my 500 miles for the year. I run 3 miles almost everyday, no biggie, right? Ah, but somedays you have it in you, somedays you don't. I recognize that and listen to my body on a daily basis. 9.9 times out of 10 I can hit my "goal" for the day, but you never know. But as Yoda would say, "Do or do not, there is no try." That was my mantra while running. And sure enough I did.

When I arrived at the gym this morning, it was extra quiet, and dark. There was one guy their lifting weights. I'm guessing he likes the peace and quiet of the gym too, given he felt there was no reason to turn on the lights, and just use the small amount of natural light from the windows. Within a few minutes I found myself alone in the gym. Peace. Me, music, the treadmill, and a mantra. My goal was within reach. I remember signing up for the Diabetes Challenge thinking, "How the heck am I going to attain this goal?" As with everything, it's just breaking it down into smaller steps. Thankfully Jamie, the creator, told us if we maintained a weekly mileage of 10 miles we'd meet our goal. That definitely made the goal seem accessible. I set out having a smaller goal of meeting my weekly mileage of 10 miles, with the 500 miles in the back of my head and in my running log.

My run went well. I rocked out and sprinted the last 1/4 mile. When I finished I stepped off of the treadmill knowing that I had just hit a milestone in my life. Another one to add to my half marathon. I had a sense of pride. However, this time there was no one cheering me on the entire time. I had to continually hold myself accountable. If I didn't run or failed to meet my mileage for the week I only had myself to answer to.

So this leaves to question, what's my next milestone? Ah, we shall see. First I'd like to see where I end in my mileage for the year. After that the options are endless. I'm up to doing another Half and David and I still maintain that we want to do a marathon within the next year.

And since I never officially congratulated myself for the half marathon I made up for it tonight....A Toft's Banana Split. Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Don't Tread On Me

Everyone knows that ever since the Half Marathon back in May I've been in a funk with my running. I continually tried to get on track and personally feel I have failed miserably. However, I believe I have hit a turning point. With David's new job comes many benefits, including a key to the fitness center at the school. There are 3 treadmills, bikes, a small indoor track (15 times around makes a mile) and a ton of weight equipment. We can also go whenever we want. Upon learning we were able to use the facility it gave me relief to know we can go there this winter to run and not have to worry about breaking my neck out on the ice. Not to mention I can't have an excuse for not running in the winter season. I hadn't planned on using the gym until needed but David talked me into meeting him after work one night. In all honesty I was dreading the experience knowing it was going to be on a treadmill. Although I've had very little experience on treadmills I just didn't like them. It seemed to take forever to go the same distance as being outside. Not to mention I just got bored. Then when I arrived I found my view to be this....

Before, I got bored people watching, how in the world was I going to deal with running into a white wall? I sucked it up and went on with the run and found it not to be too bad. Whew! Actually it was so good I went the next day, and the next, and the next. Yep, I think I'm back in the swing of things. Of course the weather's been real nice and I should be running outside, but I'm taking advantage of this new found inspiration. I've found that taking clothes to work and having a "date" with the gym definitely helps me stick to my plan and holds me accountable. And for the most part the gym is quiet. The only ruckus I have every so often is a youth basketball league. They don't bother me much though as I just tune them out listening to music. Otherwise, I only have 1/2 the lights on and maybe there's 1-2 more people. It's not like at a regular gym with a ton of people. It's just me and my run, which is how I like it to be.

Unfortunately David and I are unable to run together due to our schedules (he runs later, after he's done for work). But that's no biggie. And the white wall? In the begining I found myself counting the holes in the wall, now it's not an issue. Of course I notice it because it's there but most often I tend to get in my zone and don't think much of it. It's hard to eyes just relax, kind of like looking at one of those Magic Eye pictures, and just rock out to my music. I wasn't one to listen to music much while running outside due to safety, but now I definitely need music. Like I said, it helps tune things out and keeps me going strong. I'm thankful that I gave running inside a chance. I know I won't run inside forever and still love to run outside, but this helped mix things up a bit, and for that I am thankful. I'm back to keeping a daily running schedule of 3 miles and feel great. I just needed a change and a good kick in the ass.

Even while I was in the funk I was able to maintain my minimum 10 miles per week, which is good. I'm interested in seeing what my total mileage for the year will be. But for the time being, if you watch my mileage over to the left of the blog you'll see that I'm getting awfully close to my goal of 500 miles this year.....only another run or two and I'll be there....

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Business in the front...

Having a shorter hairstyle means it's cute =), but it also means more haircuts =( Through the help of Erika I was able to find an awesome stylist. Anna is amazing. She can do anything with a pair of scissors. Add on top of that her awesome ability to color and you have it made. Unfortunately Anna works at Dino Palmieri, which is located in Beachwood. Everytime I want my hair done I have to travel 1-1.5 hours to have it done. Traveling to Beachwood hasn't been that big of a deal, as David and I will make a day out of it. At the same time though, traveling that far every 4-6 weeks can strain you a bit. On top of that, it's not the cheapest haircut in the world. Don't get me wrong, I'm the type to pay for what I want, but at the same time I must be realistic.

Now most people will say, "Why don't you get your hair done in Sandusky?" It's not as easy as that. I've attempted other options but no one seems to hit the nail on the head. In addition I'm not seeing any hairstyles from local stylists that I go "wow! that's cute." I'm not saying that every hairstylist in Sandusky sucks, that's far from the truth, but I just haven't found the "one." With that being said, I'm always open to new options. I recently ran into a family member and she referred me to a newer place called Crazy Mullets. She said they're all "punk-type of people" that work there, and it's cheap. I figured why not give it a try.

Crazy Mullets is located in Lakewood. Yeah, I know it's still a trip, but it's shorter and the cost of the cut is about half the price than Dino Palmieri. After putting it off and finally getting sick of my overgrown 'do I gave them a call. After a few rings it went to voicemail. Man! After finally getting the courage to call I didn't even get to talk to anyone. Bummer. But, within 1 minute my phone rang back. There was a super nice girl saying she was calling from Crazy Mullets. She said she tried to answer the phone but it wasn't allowing her to do so. She answered my questions I had and made me feel real at ease with choosing them. They have a walk-in policy but appointments are accepted. I made an appointment and patiently waited for Saturday to arrive.

On Saturday we made the trek to Lakewood and were pleasantly surprised with the area. We haven't spent much time there in the past, so everything was new. It looks quite interesting and a new area we definitely need to check out. We walked in a found this...

Bright colors everywhere with cool music playing. Free drinks in the refrigerator. Their stations were Craftsman tool chests and their chairs were classic-looking red and white. The 2 stylists, who were male, and totally not who you'd think would be stylists, immediately greeted us and once again made of feel at ease. This means a lot to me given that sometimes I walk into Dino Palmieri and get totally ignored. Half the time I don't feel like I belong there and have this odd feeling the girls working feel the same way too. Anyway, we were told it'd be a few minutes and feel free to have a drink. After a small time one of the stylists came up and told me he was going to be doing my hair. And although he was nice, I had to take a few deep breaths because looking at him I didn't know what I was getting into. He had an Iron Maiden shirt on, his hair was crazy in the sense of style and color. And he had piercings everywhere you could think. He's definitely crazy....After I heard how he went to the circus the night before on mushrooms I couldn't help but think, "Why am I trusting this guy cutting my hair?" But I figured, why not? I've had many of bad haircuts. And trust me, hair always grows back. He ended up being totally cool. He kept conversation flowing and didn't make me feel out of my element (even though it was probably quite obvious). I told him I was up to him doing anything, as long as I can wear it to work. He ended up keeping my current cut, but my style was WAY different. He asked me how I wanted it styled....I once again told him that I was open to anything, which he said he loves to hear, and he went on doing his thing. I ended up having a pompadour type style. Of course I still am wearing the same 'ol style I've been, and the the pompadour was something I would have never done on my own, but I had a ton of fun having him style it that way. I ended up spending only $25 (including tip) and was definitely happy with the cut and experience. Not to mention he gave me a coupon for next time....I have 2 more if anyone else is interested.

Even though I had a good experience I'm not going to stop going to Anna. I absolutely love what she does with my hair, and will go to her here and there. This just gives my pocketbook and car a well-needed rest for the time being.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Our Own Linus

When I was growing up I had "my little pillow." It originally belonged to my brother Justin, but I soon inherited it and never let go. That thing went with me everywhere. You'd see me with my pillow, walking around, with my thumb in my mouth. My mom and grandma made various attempts through the years to wean me off of my little pillow onto a new one. It never worked. It never had the right touch or right feel. Nothing could replace my my little pillow. I'll be the first to admit that I hung on to that pillow until just over a year ago. Yes, I was married and all, but I took my little pillow to bed every night. Thankfully, in talking with others I have found that this isn't all that odd. The little pillow is hardly in existence. It's basically in shreads. After many washings, it's become thin, thorn, and lost stuffing. I knew that one day it'd have to be retired if I wanted to be able to keep it at all. I started to place it farther and farther away each night. First the bedside table, then the dresser, then to my closet. I successfully made the transition. David, being the wonderful husband he is, thought he should try to replace the hole I had. He bought me this super soft, fluffy blanket. I believe it's chenille. It was cool to the touch and I'd wrap my head in it each night. It didn't take long, about a year, to lose it's super softness, and then we purchased another one. It's not that I'm ashamed, but once again, I knew this wasn't something I could not continue for the rest of my life. It wasn't long after that I started to wean myself off of the blanket. I can now say that I'm little pillow and blanket free.

The point to this post is that I'm not the only one in our household with a "cuddles." The first day we had Viking home we gave him a bright blue towel for warmth and comfort. We called it his blankie. It didn't take long for him to attach to the bright blue blankie. He'd play with it, chew on it, and cuddle up with it. After 2 years it was in shreads and we knew it was time to replace it. I searched high and low for a new blankie that matched the color. Once I found it I bought 2 (one for back up). We introduced the new blankie but he didn't want anything to do with it. He wanted his old blankie. After weeks of attempts he finally let go of the old one and embraced the new one. I was able to salvage a small piece of the originally blankie and have it stowed away. As he has grown older he still plays with the blankie but thankfully his chewing has lessened. Although it's rough, we are still on the second blankie.

As everyone knows, and some may disagree with, we treat our animals closely to how you'd treat an actual child. We are the first to recognize that they are not the same as humans, however receive great joy having them as part of our family. With that being said, I never dreamed Viking could get this attached to something like a towel, like I did with my little pillow. He's absolutely hilarious with it. If I take it to wash it, he mopes until I bring it back to him all clean and warm. As stated previously, it's darn near impossible to change it out. He wants nothing to do with it. And every night, he let's you know when it's time for bed. He finds his blankie, grabs it in his mouth, takes it to wherever he wants to relax, and falls asleep with his blankie. When it's time to go to bed, I tell everyone, "Time for night night..." Everyone falls in and heads upstairs. You'll see Viking hop up, grab his blankie in his mouth, and head to the stairs. He continues holding the towel in his mouth, drags it up the stairs, and jumps up in bed with it. And even after a long day I can't help but smile every time this happens. I'm sure we'd survive without having all these furry kids running around, but I think things would be a bit dull. They keep us rolling....