Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Back from vacation

"All good things must come to an end"...or so the saying goes! For Keith and me, we had to come back to reality on Friday night when we returned from our vacation - 6 days in Las Vegas with my parents, my brother and his girlfriend. We had a wonderful time and it was sad when we had to leave. Here is a recap of some of the fun things we did while we were there:

Gambling: Of course you can't go to Las Vegas without doing a little bit of gambling (or in our case...a lot). Keith wasn't sure he was going to enjoy gambling since, as we all know, you are basically giving your money away. But, needless to say, he found a few things (the Blackjack table and a "Deal or No Deal" slot machine) that he really liked. He even bet on some dog and horse races (they were racing separately, not together)! I enjoyed playing (a.k.a. losing my money) on the video poker and blackjack machines. I also sat at a few blackjack tables. I would do really well one night and then lose it all (and more) the next. All in all, we enjoyed ourselves and the fact that we are both back at work today just goes to show that we didn't win it big! :-(

Eating: Another thing that Vegas is famous for is bountiful buffets! The food that is found on these buffets is unbelievable. It would take us 10 minutes just to walk around and see all of the options each time we went to a different one. Luckily, we went to the Bellagio breakfast buffet every morning, so after the first day, I pretty much knew where to go and what to get. The desserts at dinnertime on the buffets were amazing. Luckily they gave you very small portions so you could sample a lot of different ones. (On a side note, I can believe I actually lost weight this week (see previous post)! I tried to be semi-good and not overeat or drink too much, but it was just too hard to bypass all of the yummy food and the $1 drinks!!)

Sightseeing: The sights and sounds of Vegas are like no where else! While you are in a hotel or casino, all you hear is the chatter of people, the music coming from the closest bar or the overhead sound system and of course, the "cha-ching" of the slot machines! Once you step outside the casinos, the massive buildings and lights at night are simply awesome. There is so much to see that I believe you could be there for months and never see everything (although the average person would probably run out of money long before that!).

We also had the wonderful opportunity to take a guided bus tour to the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. My parents stayed behind (and my Dad ended up winning a big jackpot that day!) and Keith, Mike, Blakely and I set out to see one of the 7 Wonders of the World. We had to get up super early (4:45am!!) because the tour company shuttle was picking us up at 6:15am but it was all worth it in my opinion. We had a very entertaining Czechoslovakian bus driver who was full of more knowledge than I ever thought someone could have. He knew everything about the area, the people, the land, etc, etc. He was quite entertaining and quite the talker (I think he talked 75% of the 16 hours that we were on the bus!) We were able to see some wonderful landscape between Vegas and the Grand Canyon and we made three separate stops once we were at the Canyon so we got to see a few different perspectives. It was a long day, but we had a great time (and we still managed to come back and gamble until 2am that night!!)

Another interesting thing that we did while we were there was to see the show "Blue Man Group". It was the craziest show I have ever seen. As my dad described it afterwards, it was "sensory overload"....lots to hear, see and sometimes feel! It was a lot of fun and I would definitely suggest it if you are ever able to see it.

Lastly, the craziest thing we did while in Vegas was when Mike, Blakely, Keith and I went on two amusement park "rides" on top of the Stratosphere hotel (100 stories high!!). The first one is called The Big Shot which is a ride where you are strapped in and then it catapults you over 1,000 feet in the air and when you open your eyes (if you closed them like me!), all you see is sky and the ground. It was super scary and I kept my eyes closed most of the time. The second one is called X-Scream and it is definitely named appropriately. It is sort of like a teeter-totter that extends off of the building and dangles you there for a few seconds (which felt like forever). Here is a video of it:


All in all I think everyone had a great time. A huge thank you goes to my parents for inviting us to go with them. We'd definitely like to do it again (once we save up some more money!!)

Here are some pictures from our trip:

A view from our hotel room window (we were on the 25th floor)Keith and me at the Grand Canyon

Mike and Blakely at the Grand Canyon
A view from the top of the Stratosphere (where the rides were)
A view from our hotel room at night

Another view from our hotel room at night
The group at the Video Poker & Blackjack machines
Keith and me at the M&Ms World store - they have every color you can imagineKeith and me at the Hoover Dam


A great shot of the Grand Canyon - pictures just can't explain how HUGE it is!!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Woohoo!!

I went to my Weight Watchers meeting this evening and I weighed-in down 3.4 lbs!! This is especially exciting since I spent most of last week in the "City of Buffets" (also known as Las Vegas). I tried to be semi-good but certainly not as good as I could have been. I wanted to be able to enjoy the food and libations that vacation offers while still trying to make healthy decisions. I know I could have lost more but I am happy with the fact that I lost anything at all.

Now only 56.6 lbs to go!!!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

My New Year's resolution.....for the 15th year in a row!

As long as I can remember I have been overweight. I am not sure how it started or why (most likely because I LOVE to eat!). It wasn't necessarily that I was a sedentary kid. I can remember playing summer soccer when I was in elementary and middle school and I played JV and Varsity Soccer and Softball in High School. I even had a small stint on the JV Basketball team and one year on the Swim team. For anyone that knows me, you know that I love sports. And, I enjoy playing them sometimes as much as I enjoy watching them. Although I can tell you from many years of experience that it is hard to get moving when you have a lot of extra weight to carry around. It's funny when I think back to how much I weighed when I graduated from high school (15 years ago!). At the time I thought I was so big (compared to my tiny 100 lb girl friends!) but now, I would KILL to be back at that weight!!

Almost every year since I can remember, my New Year's resolution has been to lose weight. I have tried many, many diets over the years. They all seem to work, for a little while. But when I go back to my regular eating habits (I'm a lover of carbs, fried foods and anything salty!!), the weight always comes back and it tends to bring some extra a long with it. In 2003, I joined Weight Watchers and lost almost 40 lbs. I did the At-Work program with about 20 women that I worked with at the time. It was a really good experience and I was happy that I was able to lose so much weight. Unfortunately, when I went back to my old habits soon after I stopped the program, the weight came back. Then, in early 2005, I joined another At-Work program at the University of Richmond. I was able to lose about 20 lbs but I didn't really stick to it very well or very long. So, now, here it is 2008 and I weigh the most I have ever weighed in my life (and it ain't a pretty number!).

A co-worker of mine joined Weight Watchers back in the fall but she wasn't really being faithful. I told her that after the football seaon was over and after we got back from the Bowl game I would join her at Weight Watchers (I knew it was going to be too hard to eat well during the season and the holidays and I didn't want to fail right away). Last Monday after work, Roxann and I went to the Weight Watchers meeting. We vowed to ourselves and each other that we would change our eating habits and FINALLY lose the extra weight we are carrying. For those of you who are familiar with Weight Watchers, I am currenly on the Flex Plan program. I am able to use 29 points per day (for those unfamiliar, every food has a point value based on the number of calories, fat, and fiber grams it contains. You can eat anything you want, but you can't go over the total number of points you are assigned based on your current weight).

It hasn't been easy this past week, but I have really tried to make smart eating choices (and use my points wisely by eating lots of veggies and low-point foods). And I went to the gym every day at lunchtime (see my previous post about that). Unfortunately I won't be able to see how much my first week of hard work paid off because I am going on vacation tomorrow and won't be able to weigh in on Monday night. I went to a WW meeting this morning thinking that I could weigh in and see how much I have lost but apparently you can only weigh in once per week and their week runs Sunday to Saturday. That means that since I weighed in last on Monday, today would have been twice in one week. Bummer!!!! I guess I"ll have to wait until NEXT Monday to find out how I have done. (I did weigh myself on our scale at home and I think I lost about 4 lbs this week!)

I'll post again next week after I weigh next time and let you know how things are going. Say a little prayer for me - I would like to lose about 60 lbs and I know I can do it and finally keep it off this time. It's just going to take time and effort! Now I just need to have some willpower while we are on vacation this week!!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Feast or Famine

You know how that saying goes...."Be careful what you wish for"......well, I was sooooo busy just a few weeks ago and I remember thinking how much better it would be when the holidays and the Bowl game was over. Well, now all of that has come and gone and I am a bit bored at work! Not to say that there isn't always something to do - like filing or cleaning off my desk or organizing something. But, who likes to do those things? NOT ME! I now realize that I work much better (and enjoy it more) when it's crazy busy and I have a million things to do. It's strange but true.

The one good thing about not being busy (aside from there being a lot less stress) is that now I have time to go to the gym at lunchtime. During the season (basically from mid-August to the end of December) I worked through lunch - the football office had lunch delivered everyday so I would grab something out of the staff lounge and take it back to my desk and work and eat at the same time (and of course, it was never healthy food!). Now, since it's pretty quiet here, myself and a few of my co-workers have decided to start going to the gym at lunchtime. We are fortunate to be able to use the weight room that is downstairs in the same building where we work. The good part is that we have cardio machines, weight machines and trainers at our disposal. The bad part is that this is the weight room that the athletes all use so as my overweight butt is sweating on the eliptical machine, there are a bunch of buff football players and very-much-in shape female soccer players in the same room. :-) Part of me is motivated by watching them and the other part of me is mortified! HAHA

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Katie!

Happy Birthday to my sister Katie. Her birthday was yesterday and we had a small celebration at her house last night.

It was hard for me to believe that she actually turned 29! Not that I think that is old - since I am 4 years older than her - but I have always thought of her as being in her mid-twenties. I guess the years have passed so quickly that we are all getting up there in age! Oh well.....my family always has fun celebrating birthdays no matter what age the person is!

My grandma made her famous deer soup for dinner (it was sooo good!) and Keith and I bought her a Princess Cake (what she asked for).

A princess cake (pictured below) is a Swedish cake made of sponge cake layered with bavarian cream and topped with marzipan, which is a thin layer of mostly sugar and ground almonds that is rolled out and placed on the cake as the "icing". A local bakery, the Albemarle Baking Company, makes them and they are very popular with Charlottesvillians (including Katie and Keith!)



Keith and I hope that 2008 is filled with much happiness and many blessings for Katie. She is truly a blessing in our lives and we have both enjoyed spending more time with her since we moved to Charlottesville! Happy Birthday Sis! We love you!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Happy 1st birthday to Pierce!

Even though Pierce's actual birthday was December 24th, I am just getting around to posting about it.

Katie and Shaun had cupcakes and gave him a present on the 24th but his party was this past Saturday.

A great time was had by everyone, especially Pierce! My whole family - minus Blakely - was there along with my grandma, who is still visiting from NY. Also in attendance were Shaun's parents, brother and grandmother along with his cousin and his family. Check out Katie's blog - click here - for some pictures from the party.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Our Christmas

I realize that this post is definitely out of order, but with all of our traveling, I neglected to post anything about Christmas! Keith and I had a wonderful Christmas traveling between Somerset, PA to visit his mom and then to Richmond, VA to see my family. We enjoyed both trips and were able to spend much needed restful time with our families.

All of our family members were more than generous with their presents to us and we are very thankful for all that we received. We are both truly blessed to have such wonderful people in our lives!!

Here are some pictures of our gift opening at Keith's mom's house on December 23rd:

Men's undershirts for me...wow, just what I wanted!!
(I opened one of Keith's presents by mistake!)


Keith and I got his mom an HP Printing Mailbox (it's a printer that can receive messages and pictures that people email to her). Here Keith is showing his mom how it works. It's really cool and she really likes it!
Here Keith is modeling his new jacket!

Here are some pictures of Christmas Day at my parents' house:

My parents' HUGE Christmas tree (it's real!)
with loads of presents underneath!

Pierce opening his gifts!!


Blakely, Mike, Karen, Brian and Katie opening gifts

Pierce and Uncle Keith were having a heart-to-heart talk!

Keith, Shaun, Pierce and Mom opening gifts

Dad got an autographed football from me
(signed by Buffalo Bills players RB Marshawn Lynch and QB Trent Edwards)My grandparents opening gifts
(the Virginia shirt was from me and the Virginia Tech shirt from my brother!)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

We're home!! Finally, after living out of a suitcase since December 21st, we are back home and sleeping in our own bed! We enjoyed our travels and visits to Pennsylvania, Richmond and Jacksonville, but it's always nice to come back home.

Lucky for me, my wonderful boss gave us the rest of the week off (since we worked 6 days straight - including Saturday & Sunday - in Jacksonville). I enjoyed sleeping in today and spending quality family time with my sister Karen & her husband Brian (who are visiting from VA Beach), my sister Katie, Pierce and my grandma (who is visiting from NY). Tomorrow will be another day of rest and more family time. It is really nice to be home and have this time off! I'm sure Monday morning will come all too quickly!!

A Disappointing Loss

After all of the fun we had in Jacksonville, unfortunately it came to an end with a disappointing loss for UVA in the Gator Bowl on New Year's Day. Thankfully it was a great game, with the Cavaliers in the lead for 56 minutes of the 60-minute game. But in the end, we had given up a 14 point lead and ended up losing on a last second field goal.

Here are some pictures from the our day:

Keith and I at the tailgate party before the game

My co-worker Roxann and her husband Justin at the tailgate party.

The NFL Jacksonville Jaguars were
practicing next to the stadium.
Our team warming up before the game.
Keith and I at the game. Go Hoos!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone! Keith and I celebrated tonight with thousands of people in Jacksonville (it was a mad house!!). Of course, we don't know all of these people - just a few of them. Here is a video I took during the fireworks at Jacksonville Landing. It was an awesome fireworks display and a wonderful way to ring in 2008!

video

Now we are headed to bed - big game day tomorrow! Wishing you all many blessings and much happiness in 2008! :-)