Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is there such a thing as Gambling Rehab?

Lee and I went up to Kentucky for the long weekend to see his family. We had a really great time and of course it flew by! And tragically I forgot to take my camera. It was great to see his family, we always enjoy being with them. I even had my first experience at the horse track (Churchill Downs). I can definitely see how someone could let the momentum of the betting get the best of them! I was doing $2 bets all day (and actually won a few!), but did end up in the hole. But for some reason I was still convinced if I analyzed long enough that I could figure the whole thing out... the stat books are pretty ridiculous. But my trouble sensor kicked in and I stayed within the bounds of "fun". Lee on the other hand wasn't doing too hot at first, but then hit a random 10 cent bet that was such a ridiculous combination of like 4 or 5 different horses with such slim odds that he turned the 10 cents into $38.50! He was really excited and proud of himself. I was proud of course, but mostly glad he left on the plus side to make up for my losing. But I am now a seasoned veteran (and fully prepared for the second annual Derby Party).

School's been non-stop, so it's been consuming most of my time, but Lee and I are heading to Boston this weekend to celebrate our 1st Anniversary (it was Sunday the 24th). We leave on Thursday evening and I will head back on Monday morning (Lee has to go somewhere else to work). Lee has rented a boat for the two of us to take out in the Harbor on Saturday, which I'm slightly nervous about but mostly really excited. The other two days are up in the air at the moment, but I'm sure we'll come up with some fantastic things to see and do while we're there.

A new goal of mine is to increase my vocabulary. If anyone has any good tips, send them my way. Otherwise, be prepared for me to pull out my dictionary at any moment.

Have a happy Wednesday!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An attempt at a mid-week update!

Welp, it's been a whirlwind of a week so far, but I'm feeling the weekend near. This picture is in honor of the fact that I wore workout clothes to school today (I do actually work in a somewhat officey atmosphere), no shower, no makeup and my hair in a messy ponytail... and never actually worked out. I didn't have time. But I was hoping no one saw me multiple times so they could just assume I was on my way or returning from the gym. Whatever, students don't have to impress anyone.

I have an issue with coming up with blog content when I haven't been doing anything exciting, particularly something where I would take pictures (I enjoy pictures). To me the past few days have been exciting, but you know enjoying your job kind of exciting, not the kind of thing that would keep a reader's attention for very long.

So since I need an update... my topic of choice... Since I did take a little vegging time in front of the TV last night... I will give you my opinion on The Biggest Loser finale. ***If you haven't watched it and plan to and don't want the end ruined, stop reading!! ... but please come back later.*** Ok, I wasn't real excited. Don't get me wrong, I love a good before and after shot of weight loss stories. It was definitely exciting to see everyone's progress. But as far as the final result... ehhh. I really like to be happy for people and get all excited for them and feel the emotion with them especially when they've worked so hard. But I just don't really like Helen. Or maybe it's that I just have zero respect for her. She definitely missed the maturity/wisdom boat, and honestly acts like a child. Two specific examples: A) she let her daughter go home so she could stay (every parent on that show ALWAYS goes home so their child can stay), and B) she was ridiculous the night they had their "freedom" and did all their wild-oat-sewing. She was the oldest (48) and acted the most like a kid let loose in a candy store (and then was clearly so proud of herself about how absolutely cooool she was). So on the finale... I don't even know what to say, I've started typing several times and had to erase because I don't even know how to summarize. I'll just say if there had been 3 Helens competing (not only for the $250,000 but for camera time, speaking time, center of attention time), there would definitely have been some hair pulling and probably literal backstabbing. And let's keep in mind this woman is 48 years old. I just feel really sad for her daughter. Anyway, Helen won. I wish Tara had, she was definitely the superstar in the challenges. But oh well. And side note, I hate to go back to poor Helen, but I thought she looked unhealthy. And I'm not just saying that because I don't like her, or cause I might not mind looking unhealthily skinny for a day (juuuust kiddiiiing), but really she looked great the day she left campus and I was a little startled when she came out on stage. She's 5'6" and got down to 117. She didn't look like she needed to be checked into a clinic or anything, but I just thought she was nicer looking with a little meat to hold up that skin. Ok I'm afraid to post this now, I seriously try to judge sparingly in my general life. But it just really bothers me when adults seem to have learned nothing from the years they've lived. It's one of those things I find disturbing. The end.

I have zero plans for the weekend at the moment except to relax. I was just chatting with my friend Jen about trying Flip Burger Boutique (Ashley, I will give you my full review and maybe even send you a picture) which is apparently started by a guy from Hell's Kitchen or Top Chef, or maybe another reality cooking show (I'm a failure at remembering these things). Anyway, Ashley (my sister-in-law) told me about it and I've been wanting to go ever since. Lee has had an equally crazy week so we'll probably do a whole lot of non-crazy stuff. And I'm pretty excited about it. We have to rest up for our big travels next weekend to the old KY :)

One more note... in 11 days Lee and I will have been married for 1 year :) I love him.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Atlanta Zoo!

We took a trip to the Atlanta Zoo thanks to my Dad and IBM. It was a friends and family type thing, so all the family came and we had a really great time. I mean my family's my family and all but I have to say they are just wonderful. Here's Evan as a panda:

And Drew and Alli with their snow cones:

And Alli on a gorilla:

And of course someone had to tip off the paparazzi... we can't go anywhere:

And me and my sisses:

Here's me and Drew... she broke her wrist at school. She can't play softball any more so it's a sore subject, don't try to talk to her about it.

Here's me with my Mommy and Daddy:

Here's Lee who was particularly happy with his popcorn:

Here's a picture of us on the train.

And Carrie and Alli at the front:

And here's me and Alli on the carousel. She rode a panda. And Drew rode some type of bird. And Dad and Evan rode a panda too I'm pretty sure. And I was just the weird aunt taking pictures.

Andy ended up not being able to come because he was on call for work, so we missed him. But other than that it was a super fun day at the zoo. Until... dun dun dun... There was an announcement over the park that there was a tornado warning in Fulton County and that all outdoor activities were canceled. So in a matter of MAYBE 2 minutes here were the next events: Mayhem with the entire population of the zoo trying to get to the exits... I zipped Drew's broken arm into my purse and hung it on her shoulder... JUST as the bottom dropped out of the clouds. And we swam out of the park in the midst crazy sounding winds (I won't lie I was scared, and Evan, who I was carrying while I ran, kept whispering he was scared, so I played super calm and said it's just rain, no big deal)... we made it to our cars completely soaked, and had to forgo dinner together for the sake of getting dry.

But other than the dramatic ending to the day, I had a blast! And for the animal highlights... these were my favorites:

The meerkat with excellent posture:

The otters:

And this guy:

A last minute Derby Party!

Saturday was the Kentucky Derby, and well on Friday night we were out with friends (as seen in the previous post) and were discussing that a Derby party would be particularly fun. I started thinking about it and the fact that Lee is from Louisville, and I think I've spent enough time there at this point to pull something decent off... so we got more and more into the idea and made it happen. We did sleep in on Saturday, but then ended up throwing together a particularly wonderful Derby Party.

I pulled out anything we had relating to Kentucky and here is the starting center piece. (I didn't have time to iron my tablecloth, so don't look too close).

And here are our appetizers. The key Kentucky ingredients were the Mint Juleps and we even made Benedictine.

Lee was our house bookie and we did our own version of betting on the races, he even kept us up on the current odds. Our game was complete with prizes (a girl prize AND a boy prize since the genders had very different methods of bet placing). I picked "Mr. Hot Stuff" and "Chocolate Candy" based purely on the names. My favorites. And they let me down. I should have known. Here's the cutest bookie in Smyrna:

Here's some more pictures, Stephanie getting really into the horse racing with her horse whip, and Jen and Jaime in their fabulous hats:

And then dinner of course. Lee grilled out. We got so into our classiness that we pulled out the fine china and silverware and monogrammed linen napkins for the occasion:

And of course Derby Pie for dessert, that Jaime did an excellent job on. And also in this picture (for Lee's Mom!) is our inaugural use of the utter creamer that I am in love with:

And in conclusion, we all decided that this will be an annual event. It was too much fun to not do again. We thought of so many ideas for next year. But of course we have to actually go to Kentucky one year soon for the ultimate experience. I'll close with the picture we made the boys take with their Derby Hats. Left to right, Scott (Jaime's friend from NC), Matt (Lee's friend) and little Lee.

YACHT rock!

As I mentioned earlier, on Friday night we went to see a band called Yacht Rock Revue. I had caught the end of their show one time when Lee had gone with some friends and I had met up with them. But this was my first full experience and it was FANtastic. SO much fun. They cover all music from late 70's, early 80's, which I probably only know thanks to my super cool parents. But the band is totally in character, 70's suits, shaggy hair, sunglasses, and the dance moves to go with the whole look. And they pull it off fabulously and the crowd LOVES them. We didn't really get pictures that show off the band, but I think the happiness on our faces shows how much fun it was:

Here's a picture of me and Jen where we happened to get the band in the background!

And just a cute picture of me and Lee.

The highlight of the evening for me was when they played Toto's "Africa" or "Rains down in Africa" or whatever it's called. I loved that song already, and apparently so does everyone else. The crowd went crazy. It was really a great time. If anyone is ever in town when they are playing, I'm pretty sure Lee and I could easily be talked into going.

The REST of Nashville!

After our amazing half-marathon, we headed back to our temporary home and got showered and then headed right back out to an all you can eat craw fish boil that was so much fun. We were able to just sit and eat all we wanted and recover for a bit. It was a pretty perfect way to recover, outside on a patio, learning to rip a craw fish open (it was my first time!). The one sad thing is that now when I'm away from Lee and doing something really fun, I do tend to have my moments of "Lee would love this, I wish he was here" ... so it would have been nice if he could have joined in the loveliness of the care-free afternoon. But maybe next year! We ended up sharing a table with a couple who were experienced craw fish eaters and they gave me a full tutorial on the proper way to rip off the head, etc. Here's her demonstration:

Here are Jen and Kate before the mass murdering of craw fish

And Jaime with her craw fish

Also, we had happened to make friends with the restaurant manager the night before at a different restaurant (long story, apparently he manages multiple restaurants, they had messed up Jen's dinner the night before, so he came to our table to apologize, and we're pretty chatty, then he ended up being at this restaurant the next day) and he ended up providing us with a large amount of desserts (one the night of the dinner mis-hap, and 3! the day of the craw fish boil). It was fabulous to just eat without a care since we had worked oh-so-hard that morning! And here's a picture of full-and-happy me and Jaime.

And here are all the girls at the table

And a random craw fish race type thing? They had numbers on them and people were betting on which one would make it to the outside of the circle first. #1 won. Duh.

This is all the people staying in the house that weekend. The two guys in the back were Matt's friends in town for a Dave Matthews concert (and a girlfriend that's not in this picture, she's in the middle in the picture of all the girls at the table), so it was a packed house! Kate and Matt (the homeowners) are in the front to the right of me.

Then that night we went to the Billy Currington concert that was included in our race registration. It was lots of fun, but there were lots of tired, limping people there who had just run a marathon or half-marathon that day, so it wasn't the liveliest of crowds. Here is a picture of the three of us before heading in to the concert:

We had a really good time before heading home at a very respectable near midnight. We had a LONG day and I lasted much longer than I expected! We got up the next morning and had a lovely brunch before heading back home to Atlanta. It was a packed trip that's for sure, a fabulous weekend with fabulous friends and I wouldn't change a bit of it!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Nashville's Country Music Half-Marathon!!

So the big event came and it was definitely a fabulous weekend. I wish I could put up all of our pictures, it's so hard to choose. So here is how the events unfolded: Me, Jaime, and Jen headed out of town after lunch on Friday and got into Nashville in time to get to the expo and get our race bibs/chips/t-shirts/free stuff. Here's a pic at the expo:

There were TONS of people there so lots of hustle and bustle all around. I had only done 5Ks and 10Ks, so I was super impressed by the people picking up numbers for the marathon. Or maybe I was just in "please-intimidate-me" mode. But we were all pretty darn excited. So then we were staying with a couple that were Jen's friends from high school/college, who turned out to be really amazing hosts. They had done the race a few times themselves so they knew all the efficient secrets to making it a good day. They just got married last month so didn't have time to train for this year. We got to their house around dinner time and then headed out and had some dinner, then came back for a good night's sleep! Thank goodness I was able to sleep, I still can't sleep on Christmas Eve or before anything that involves anticipation. We got up super early and Matt (the husband half of the hosts) was already up with coffee made in to-go cups for us and ready to take us to where we needed to be. It was great. Here's Matt and Jen happy to be awake!

His office was super-conveniently only a block or two from the starting line so we were able to go there to park, drink some water, use the bathroom, etc. It's funny how the more I run, the more bathroom issues become a common topic of discussion with no shame, it just is what it is, you gotta make sure you're free and clear before you set out, and even then you're still not guaranteed a potty-free race (foreshadowing my fate). We just met this guy and he was making our pit-stop plans. And we were grateful.

Then a bit of stretching...

And here we are heading off to find our "corral". There were 30,000 people registered so they had to start the race in waves of about 1,000 each. We were in wave 9 so that wasn't too bad. Jen (the seasoned marathon runner) was in 6, but she hung back with us so we could start together.

So a little side note... at the moment I'm totally optimistic about my next race. I can't wait. But I think it might be a similar phenomenon to post-childbirth, when women just went through this horrid process of pain and endurance, but after they have the finished product they are totally willing to do it again. Maybe not a perfect metaphor, but maybe similar? So while I'm totally optimistic now, I have to admit there were moments in the race when I was thinking "WHAT did I get myself into?!". But I did it. I finished. And want to do it again. To summarize my first half-marathon experience I would say it was challenging. I'm so glad I did it, but I was NOT prepared for the hills or the heat. It just happened to be around 80 degrees in Nashville that morning and very sunny... and Nashville is really hilly! My goal was to average under 10 min miles, but I ended up finishing in 2:23, which is just under 11 min miles. But considering the conditions and the fact that I really pushed myself (AND I had to stop TWICE in the port-a-potties!! there's a few minutes right there, right??), I was pretty satisfied with my performance. And I have a medal to show for it :) The picture I started this post with is after the finish with our medals.

The race itself and the crowd and the energy was all super fun, I really liked Nashville. The day certainly didn't stop there, but I need to do non-blogging things for the rest of the day. I will have "the rest of Nashville" up tomorrow I hope!!

Tonight we're going to see Yacht Rock Revue at Andrews Upstairs with a lot of friends. We're gonna do some type of patio/outdoor eating before, and I won't lie, I'm pretty pumped about it! I'll close with a picture of Lee from the last time he went to see this band. People dress up. Have an awesome Friday!!!

A desperately needed update!!!

Ok, so things have been pretty darn hectic for the past couple of weeks, so I have not had time to slow down and update the blog! As a result of so much going on, I have a lot of content to share, so I think I'm gonna break it up into topics. Hopefully this won't consume too much of my Friday. And if it does, consider yourself really important as you read!! So the week after Easter wasn't too eventful as I can remember and as there's nothing good in my planner. And I've totally blanked on that weekend. Except I do remember cutting out material for a purse I'm making. But maybe I should just cover the highlights rather than boring you.

Then that week of the 20th... Lee was out of town working and it just so happened that mister Marty (of our friends Becky and Marty) had to go out of town also, for training I think. Pause... I'm gonna find you a picture of Becky and Marty...
Sooo, Becky (my BFF/kindred spirit/common-law sister/roommate/etc) and I took the opportunity to hang out for a few days and also keep the loneliness of missing our husbands away. They also have a dog (Mattie) so I went over to her house to stay. It was as usual great to hang out and spend some time together, and I have to say Becky does a really good job of listening to me when I way over analyze situations (I've embraced it, I just like to think of ALL sides of situations, all possible scenarios, weighing all facts/people/emotions involved, no particular crisis at the moment, it's just what I do.), and she has a gift for humoring me and giving feedback while I do this. As do my mother and my sisters, and a few others, but if I start naming people I will leave someone out. Bottom line, female relationships are certainly something to be cherished! I try to return the favor whenever I can.

I also went to an event with my friend Katherine at the Georgia Tech Alumni Association called Women on Wednesdays, which had I been keeping up better with updates I may have given its own post. But since I'm summarizing, here are the highlights. It was called "Personal Presence: The Ability to Persuade and Influence with the Use of Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication" and it was basically about the image you portray and the language you select and how this effects relationships, the workplace, getting things accomplished, etc. It was actually a preview for a longer workshop she's doing next weekend, so it was abridged content, but I loved it, mostly because the lady was really inspiring. The point of her talk was pretty much how your presence influences people to think that you really have something valuable to say and to stop and listen and consider. And the second she opened her mouth, I was fishing for my notebook thinking this is gonna be good, I have to write this down! Haha, it was funny to stop and realize that she was the perfect poster-child for what she was preaching. And I pretty much wanted to be her best friend. So it was inspiring to try to be someone who people want to listen to, especially since I will be graduating and looking for a job soon! Her name is Nadia Bilchik. She's written books and stuff too, but I don't know much about those.

I also went to the Dave Ramsey "Town Hall for Hope" event on that Thursday night, which was pretty much his state of the union address. It was somewhere in Texas I think? But they did podcasts to something like 6,000 places all over the country for people to come watch (maybe some of you went?). I went to see it at a friend of my friend Jaime's church here in Atlanta. It was really good. He pretty much said suck it up and you know "be the change you want to see in the world", but more from a hopeful perspective that we can do it and we'll be fine, we just have to be active and responsible people who are accountable for their actions. He also used the phrase "Work like it all depends on you, and pray like it all depends on God.", which I think addresses a lot of the problem, that people aren't working like it depends on them, our culture has made everything the government's problem.... blah blah blah, I'm walking the edge of controversy that I typically like to leave for the more politically bold. Bottom line, it was really good, and inspiring, and hopeful, and all the things it was intended to be.

So that was a pretty busy week, and then that weekend, on to Nashville for the half-marathon!! But that's a post within itself...