Sunday, December 21, 2008

How 'bout them Cowboys?

So, last night Steve had some extra tickets to the Verizon suite for the final Cowboys game in Texas Stadium - sweet!

We were super excited to go. I had never been in the suites at Texas Stadium and since it is no longer going to be the stadium, this was my last chance. Plus, it was a relatively important game as both teams were vying for playoff spots.

We had a great time even though the Cowboys threw the game away. We were able to go with Karen, Steve, Jason, Robyn and Jason's sister, Beth - fun! Jason made sure to order us some yummy food.

Oh and btw, it is super cold in Dallas again - what the heck? Looks like it is going to be another super cold winter - sad!

Founding Fathers Kick

We are currently watching the John Adams mini-series that was originally on HBO. Andy has us getting them from our Netflix account and we love it. It kind of has us on a founding fathers kick and we are realizing how blessed we are that our nation had that certain group of men to help launch the founding of our country, its laws and institutions.

As a result, I am planning to read their biographies and have started with the John Adams one. I also wikipedia all the others - ha. So I wikipedia'ed Ben Franklins this morning and found it interesting that he wasn't uber-religious but more of a Deist - believing in a higher power. But he was very pro-religion in general and was always involved in helping to establish churches and faiths of all denominations. He did so b/c he thought morality was fundamental to a democracy b/c of the need to have virtuous men not exploiting the govt and other men.

He wrote to Thomas Paine: "If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be without it."

Of course, man can be virtuous without religion too... But I wonder with all the corruption that has come to light of our financial institutions, politicians, etc... whether we are in trouble simply because there are fewer people in positions of power who are virtuous.

I was talking to my brother about the Cowboys game we saw last night and mentioned to him that the owner, Jerry Jones, was boo'ed and I thought he said it well - well, he's a thief who has broken no laws. Just b/c something is legal, doesn't mean it is right. It just seems that many of our current leaders in business and politics don't have that sense of right and wrong. And it seems like it is impossible to pass laws and regulation for everything without creating an overwhelming burdensome overhead.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Things I don't understand...

Normally I feel like I can understand both sides of arguments. I think my parents did a good job at always asking us to think about what was the other side of an argument and this helped us to become independent thinkers. Andy might disagree with this... ;-)

But I really don't understand the whole "Merry Christmas" thing. I don't understand who would be offended by it. Obviously, the holiday season exists because Christmas is a Christian holiday that blew up in popularity. And although Christian in origin, it has a lot of secular aspects to it now including Santa, etc...

So why would people care if you say "Merry Christmas" to them? I guess some would argue it's exclusive, but I think it is the opposite. I would not be offended if someone wished me "Happy Hanukkah" just like I am not offended by "Happy Chinese New Year". I think it is nice when people wish me a greeting and I join in on holidays of other faiths and cultures as heck, why not? The more the better. I am definitely not offended and it makes me happy to celebrate. At work we celebrated all the Indian holidays with them because we had such a large Indian population and it was fun. And they loved celebrating our holidays and learning more about them. I wouldn't do any religious celebratory aspects of a holiday that would violate my faith and I get that, of course, others wouldn't want to either.

But why is it an issue? Is someone actually offended by a Merry Christmas card? I hope not because I am sure the person sending it really is just wishing you a Merry Christmas :-). And I know for me, I am celebrating Christmas and so I want to send Christmas cards. And for someone else, celebrating another holiday, I would love to get that card. Seems to me, people are creating an issue when there is none.

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Spiderman

Well, Andy had his dream come true. Our friends Karen and Steve had a Super Hero birthday party for their son's, Hunter's, birthday party. So Andy and Brian dressed up as the special guests, Spiderman and Venom (apparently a bad spiderman character).

Andy, of course, wanted to be Spiderman and he was quite the hit!

Christmas Lights

One of the benefits of not working is actually having time to do all those holiday things we never got around to doing in the past like putting up lights. The last time I actually put up lights was when my brother did it for me when I was still living in my house on Richard, pre-marriage :-).
So this year, I actually had the time to put up lights. Of course, I got a bit stuck. Our roof is very steep so I had climbed on it, but got scared and decided to wait for Andy to finish the final bit of lights.
Unfortunately, Andy has been working really late because he is still doing his old job while also doing his new job and so he hasn't been getting home early enough to be able to help. And all of our weekends until last weekend were completey filled with first travelling back from Thanksgiving and then from hosting this Christmas party we do every year.

So this past weekend we were able to finish putting up the lights and they came out beautifully! I am very happy that we are not the scrooge on the street! Andy was really great. He borrowed a ladder from the neighbors so neither of us had to get on the roof and risk our necks :-).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thanksgiving!

A little late posting about Thanksgiving as it is almost Christmas, but we had a great vacation with the whole family. We went on the annual Cutcher family cruise, but this year Andy's mom and stepfather joined us too! It was a great chance for our families to really get to know each other. On my side of the family our entire immediate family was there including my parents, my siblings, Jay & Evie, and Evie's family, John (Eve's husband), Kate (11), Claire(9) , Luke (6) and sweet baby, Jill (almost 2). We left out of Miami and then stopped in San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. San Juan was a night port and so we did an evening bus tour. St. Thomas we did an island tour and then went to the beach. In St. Maarten, we did this America's Cup tour which was great. Basically we got to crew a boat that raced in the America's cup sailing regatta. We were on the True North which was the boat that Canada raced and we raced against The Stars & Stripes which was the American ship that actually won the America's Cup.

Well we were assigned to the True North and we won the race! We had a great time. Andy and Jay were primary grinders. Daddy was the bartender and I was the time-keeper and captain.

It was great to see all of our families with Evie's family and Andy's family being far away. We don't get to see them as much as we would like.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Good news - I guess

Well, Andy and I are trying for a baby and I have to say I was disappointed we didn't get pregnant right away. We have now been trying for 5 months and typical me, I was getting nervous and wanted to get ourselves checked out since we aren't super young. Well, turns out, we are okay. Andy has checked out and I have too - so far. Enough so that the doctor basically is like - it takes most people up to a year to get pregnant so we'll talk more if you don't by then. I am having one more test this month but I am guessing if that is okay then we will just have to be patient :-). I know this is not very wise, but I was hoping for some drugs that would make me ovulate like crazy and give us a chance of having twins - which I know everyone says not to wish for that, but I figure it would be great to get two for the price of one :-). I also think it would be fun since Andy is a twin.

Oh well, looks like that isn't going to happen since I ovulate regularly and those drugs apparently actually make you less fertile if you are ovulating on your own - isn't that interesting?

I also was thinking we could do IUI to speed things along, but talking to the doctor he explained why really that would be pretty much a waste of money since those guys are probably getting to where they need to be getting.

So, we'll just have to learn to be patient and keep on keeping on - Which really isn't such a bad thing :-).

Christmas in the Park


Last night was the annual Christmas in the Park which is a party that Andy is a host for every year (and now that we're married, I am officially a co-host). Hosts essentially fund this party and each get about 35 invitations to the party which admits a couple. The party benefits a local charity and each guest is asked to bring a gift for needy children. It is always a fun time, but this year was especially fun. We actually got there relatively on time this year thanks to Karen planning dinner prior so we were late to dinner but not to the actual party. I feel like it was 1 am before I knew it and time to head home.

Unfortunately we didn't get pictures of Andy and me because we forgot our camera, but Janet took a picture of her and me so at least we have that! We had a really great time and I feel like the Christmas season has officially begun!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Albin Halloween


Well, it looks like Evie has given up blogging, but I thought these were super cute and so I wanted to post a pic or two of their Halloween costumes. They did a family costume which I think is adorable!

So as you can see (hopefully), Jill was Yoda and apparently the inspiration for the idea. Ha, the whole family wanted her to be Yoda and they would be the other Star Wars characters.
Luke was Luke Skywalker (how appropriate!), Claire was Princess Leia, Kate was a Jedi Knight and John (look closely he is blending into the night) is Darth Vader. Isn't that adorable? Gotta love it.

The Joys of Real Estate

So, we have one renter who has been a bit of a pain in the @*! We had not gotten his rent check this past month so I sent him an email which in retrospect came off harsher than I intended. But this was day 4 of the month and we had still not gotten his check. I was just trying to remind him, but it did come off as pretty "pay up or move out!" which as my brother has wisely pointed out isn't in ours or his best interest - Thanks, Jay!

In any case, during this email exchange which I would like to point out I made sure to let our renter know I was just reminding him not threatening him, said renter told us he would be moving out by end of January. Oy vey! Okay, I am not Jewish, but seriously - bad timing for us to have to rent out in the middle of the winter. And keep in mind, he has a lease until July 1.

So I wrote the renter yesterday and was telling him I was going to start showing the place and would be coming by to get pictures for my flier and then he tells me that they won't be moving afterall by end of January and it looks more like end of April. Yay! He also said he will be able to give me two months' notice so let's hope that actually happens :-).

I have to admit when people ask me what I do since currently I don't have a job, I am a bit at a loss for words. And I have been found to go into great detail about how I quit my job b/c of this this and that and blah blah blah which NO ONE cares about. They are just asking the polite question. So I think now - until I am officially consulting - I am just going to tell them I run our real estate investment business. Doesn't that sound pretty cool and more important than it really is?

Also, it looks like my sweet brother Jay has lined up a 10 week consulting job for me starting at the end of January. Yay! So I am pretty excited about that as well and of course hoping when they see how great I am they will extend me - we'll see :-).

Different Styles

Andy is so funny. Today we had a follow-up appt for his deviated septum and I am in such amusement by his interaction at the doctor which I guess somewhat typifies the way he is in life...



Andy has a bajillion questions for the doctor and he tends to imagine 'issues' and bring all of those up to the doctor. I on the other hand probably don't bring up things I should bring up. I am the patient who keeps the doctor on schedule. It is just so funny to watch Andy interact b/c it is so different than me!

"So should my sense of smell have gotten a lot better, b/c it didn't. Also, I breathe better but I thought it would be more dramatic. Oh, can you tell if there is something in my nose still b/c I think I still feel something..." All legitimate questions, but sometimes I can tell he is just thinking up things to ask :-)! Basically the doctor was like, well I could enlargen your nostrils, but I don't really think that is necessary unless you are experiencing discomfert. Isn't that funny? If I weren't there, Andy would probably be like - tell me more about this enlargening my nostrils... :-)

Honestly, that is what the doctor is for and why there is a post exam. And Andy picked this guy because he has such a good bedside manner. Oh, another funny thing Andy does is he always tells people how great they are when they do something for him and that he will refer people to them. So he did that with the doctor too :-). No wonder he is so good at sales! He is such a people person!

We were at another doctor last week and Andy had to have some blood drawn and you should have seen him work it with the nurse about how he really needed a baby needle. Ha! My husband who can run a marathon without training and hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim with not one complaint, has to have a baby needle. And then when they put the baby needle in, he makes the loudest noise. Trust me, it's a little embarrassing :-). He also did the bajillion questions/imagining illnesses with this doctor too. He was asked if he experienced any pain in this one area and Andy was like - well, four months ago I think I had some pain... Ha!

Pretty cute ;-).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Andy's 34!

Yesterday was Andy's 34th birthday - so he is back to being my same age again :-). I don't know why, but I like him being my same age rather than a year younger!

Since we had his birthday party on Friday and Tuesday was a work day, I just cooked him a yummy dinner and gave him his gifts. I went a bit overkill on the gifts - especially considering that I am not working, but they were mostly things he needed and his birthday was an excuse to get him it.

I bought him three really nice dress shirts and corresponding ties in my attempt to dress up his warddrobe. I had given him one in the morning so he could wear it to work and he has a big meeting today with his new team and he had called me during the day asking if I could get him another of those shirts so he would have it for the meeting he had the next day - little did he know!

I also got him a nice pair of dress brown shoes so he has nice brown shoes to wear to work. So see - necessities :-). He also got quite a bit of reading material. I bought him four books. Three management books (which he had asked for) and one fun book so maybe he will let me read in bed :-).


The one fun gift was Guitar Hero World Edition which is a video game that comes with a guitar, drumset, and microphone. Basically you are scored on how well you play the songs. Guess what we did last night until we went to bed? That's right. Hope I haven't created a monster!

I have a blister on my thumb from gripping the drumsticks way too hard. This game might be hazardous to my health!

So most of my gifts were to help him in his new job as a Sales Manager for HP/EDS. He really liked them and we will just go really skimpy on Christmas gifts for each other :-). I have such a great husband. He is so greatful for everything I do for him which just makes me want to do more.

Of course, I would like to get this ping pong table out of the house right about now :-).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Save the Planet

I know we are way behind the times in doing this, but a month or two ago I finally got a recycle bin and we are now recyclers :-). I think everyone agrees that we are the stewards of our planet and should take care of it.

That said, though, I sometimes wonder how the left usurped the conservation cause. I actually kind of find it amusing to think that my parents are probably the 'greenest' people out there simply because they do not waste anything. They would laugh in your face about recycling probably, but they probably generate less trash than anyone who does recycle. They reuse aluminum foil, save the containers that things come in to store leftovers rather than buy tupperware, have appliances that are 20 years old, keep computers and cars for years, aren't on their 5th ipod - they don't even have one, they wear clothes for years... In fact, the thing that probably makes them the greenest is the fact that they don't consume like most people do because they buy one thing and use it for its entire useful life. And if it breaks, they don't throw it away, they fix it.

They don't waste any food. I was visiting and literally there was like a half serving of vegetables left and I went to throw it away and my mom was like - "Sharon, that is so wasteful. That is a serving that Daddy will eat tomorrow." They never leave the light on when leaving a room - not because there is any great cause out there, but because it is the non-wasteful thing to do.

Of course it is great that everyone is more conscious about how what they do affects the world we live in, but sometimes I think we need to just learn not to be wasteful and not always get the newest thing out there, but continue to due with what we already have. Seems like that is good for both our bank account and our environment.

Ping Pong Party

Andy's birthday is this Tuesday and since next weekend we are headed out of town for the Thanksgiving cruise, and Saturday we have the Margarita Ball, we had his birthday party this Friday.

Andy really wanted a ping pong party. Everyone who came told us what level of player they were (A,B,C, or D) with A being the best and D being the worst. We then paired the A players with the D players and the B players with C players for partners and played tournament style.

We had a lot of fun and Andy's team even won! Of course, we also had ice cream cake - Andy's favorite.

Now, I am cleaning up :-). Almost done!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Millionaire Real Estate Investors

Most people know that we own rentals. We are up to three units, two properties now. Jay, my brother, is a big investor and owns several properties. He is a natural entrepreneur. When he was a kid we were in Sunday School/primary and they had us draw pictures of what we wanted to be when we grew up. I drew myself in a lab coat holding a beaker in each hand b/c I wanted to be a scientist. My brother drew himself with a bag in each hand with a dollar sign on each bag and when the teacher asked him what he wanted to be, he told her - "I want to be rich!" Seriously, he was like 8. How funny or maybe scary is that?

I imagine that we are into rentals because my dad was. He wasn't super into them but he owned two duplexes which paid for our education - private schools and college. Pretty good deal.

In any case, my friend Karen lent me this book the Millionaire Real Estate Investor by the guy who founded Keller-Williams and I am so excited. I am not very far into it, but he claims to tell you how to end up actually making a million by investing in property. His strategy is to 1) think a million, 2) buy a million worth of investment property (personal house does not count), 3) own a million (have a million equity in your investment properties) and 4) earn a million. Now I feel that steps 1,2 & 3 are very doable. Afterall, you just buy rentals which is doing #2 where others are helping you to reach #3. But I have no idea how to go from #3 to #4 so I am hoping the book tells us how. Honestly, my number 1 goal for our rentals to this point has been for them to help us to be able to educate our as of now non-existent children since I think I really want to send them to a private Christian school, but this book has me thinking that it might be a good strategy to accomplish even more.

I would love for Andy to be able to retire early. And I feel like this is something that is very doable while I am a stay at home mom. And I feel like this is a great time to take advantage of deals that might come our way since some people will be looking to sell, right? In any case, I am probably over excited, but I am excited!

Addison Bond Defeated!

I called Bob last night to find out the results of the election on the Addison Bond. After Tues night the bond had been defeated by 3 votes, but there were provisional ballots that still needed to be counted. Well, after counting them, the bond is now defeated by 15 votes! 15 votes out of 5,000 or so votes. Wow. It is really cool to feel like I made a difference. Seriously without me walking around getting the word out with our fliers, I bet the bond would have passed. And I put up my sign on the street and talked to our neighbors and other signs popped up as well!

And to everyone who says their vote doesn't matter - this is just one example of how it really does. And it really does affect people's lives. Because this bond was defeated, each resident of Addison will not have several hundred dollars in increased property taxes. And the businesses won't have what I imagine to be up to a thousand increase in their property taxes. Sure we won't have an expanded flight museum or an expanded theatre, but honestly I don't think anyone will miss them...

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Election

Of course, anyone who knows us knows that we were disappointed in this year's election, but we also think there were some good things to come out of it... I think it's really great for all Americans, but especially minority Americans to see that this is truly the land of opportunity for all races, creeds, etc... How can you argue with that? I really hope this helps African Americans to stop feeling that people have it out for them and realize that we really are a country where merit means more than anything. I also think rightly or wrongly, Obama's election will help with our perception abroad. So we are trying to look at the bright side.

On the not so bright side, I am devastated for all the unborn children out there who will continue to not have a voice. And I honestly don't understand how any Christian could vote Democratic when 1 million lives per year are on the line. It is funny, for some reason if someone isn't Christian, I give them more of a pass for voting for Obama. I guess I just believe "with knowledge, comes responsibility". I also understand that there is more than 1 issue on the table, but I don't see how any issue trumps 1 million lives annually. I just don't. I truly believe this is the slavery issue of our day and like back then, people are too cowardly to stand up and defend those who have no voice. These same people who are Christian and don't fight for the lives of the unborn, would have sat silent as slavery continued ...

So, I know many people find me obnoxious about the issue, but as the saying goes, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." And I am glad that people know where we stand...

I am also very worried for the economy and our nation in general. Everyone seems to think Obama will govern from the middle, but even the media is now saying, we have no idea. Of course we don't. He had never done anything before for us to know.

I am also a bit happy McCain did not win. I really would have hated having a supposed Republican passing socialist legislation such as his proposed negotiating down the principle of mortgages of those who can't pay. I only wish a true conservative had been on ticket - someone like Ron Paul who truly believes less government is good for every American. I also believe Republicans deserved to lose because they behaved like Democrats for the past eight years. I hope the party retools and comes out better and sincerely hope we don't end up with two liberal parties...

Some day I hope people realize that individuals do better than the government at running their lives and that the more responsibility they give the government, they less freedom and opportunity they have. I also wish more voters owned a small business so they could see how government impedes those businesses from succeeding and as a result from creating more jobs for you and me.

Now for a quote from Thomas Jefferson:
"A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labour the bread which it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities."
--Thomas Jefferson

Meeting the neighbors

This weekend we had our neighborhood block party. It is pretty funny because the neighborhood block party ends up being us all meeting at a bbq restaurant and eating together. But, hey, it works!

It was really nice to actually meet the people on our street. They were super friendly and I like feeling like part of a neighborhood. I think I had to drag Andy there a bit and he wanted to leave a bit early, but he was a trooper and stuck it out for me. I guess there is a reason none of the single guys showed up!

I was surprised at how many singles we have on our street. Definitely the neighborhood make-up seems to be singles of all ages and older couples. In fact, we don't have one family. Isn't that interesting? It's not that surprising really since the schools aren't very good, but I still found it interesting.

We went trick or treating at Jason and Robyn's with Caroline and I saw the benefits of living in suburbia where everyone else has kids around your age. It was really fun. People were sitting out on the front lawn while kids came by and everyone seemed to at least know of each other. Left me thinking, this is why everyone moves to suburbia. :-)

Movin on Up

As most of you know, Andy has been up for promotion but we have been waiting for the 'official' news. First, he was asked to manage the Dell account, but we were going to have to move to Austin. We were definitely willing to do it although a bit reluctantly because Verizon wasn't going to pay much in relocation. Then, as luck would have it, a reorg occurred and that same Director wanted Andy for a position in Dallas on the HP/EDS account. That account has had plenty of issues, but it is also a top 5 account for Verizon with something like $150 million in revenue.

I am really proud of him. He definitely deserves this and will make a great manager.

Monday, November 3, 2008

First came love, then came marriage, then came...

a baby, right? That's what is supposed to come next. I know that we have only been trying for the last 6 months and Andy was gone for 2 of those months for work trips during the 'fertile' week so I guess it's only 4 months...

But the impatient person that I am is a bit frustrated... I know it's crazy but I always thought I would get pregnant right away. I mean come on - my sister has four kids, my grandmother had two and that's with my grandfather having been told he would never be able to have kids b/c of his low sperm count and of course my mom had three without even trying... So I am little perplexed at us not getting pregnant - especially considering the very convenient tests we now have which tell us when we are ovulating.

So we are going to the doctor tomorrow to just get checked out to make sure there isn't something obvious getting in our way. :-) We will see if he has any words of wisdom!

The Sykes went to Washington

So we had a really nice visit to DC. It was so great to see Aaron, Bety and Shin. Dinner there reminded me why I was such good friends with all of them in college. Conversation was so easy and had depth. I really miss being able to hang out with those guys on a daily basis.

We went to Mount Vernon the next day and it was great. Seriously, one of the best museum/historical things I have done. The house was really interesting but honestly the George Washington exhibit is what I found to be so great. They really have done an amazing job at helping you to feel like you get to know the man and doing an appropriate homage to him. It reminded me of how one great man can really make such a difference. It also made me a bit sad to think that we don't really have many of those around nowadays. He sacrificed his whole life for our country. And I wonder what would have happened if he hadn't.

The next day, we were going to go to the Smithsonians, but unfortunately there were several issues with Andy's work and he had to go work. So I went to the Holocaust museum by myself and spent the entire afternoon there. That too was really an amazing experience and it is truly just shocking that something like that could have happened so recently. I honestly cannot believe that people did not stand up for what was right and I wonder what is going on in our world today that we are complacently allowing to happen by being indifferent and not standing up for what is right. It was a good reminder that apathy and indifference can be as dangerous and evil as actually being the perpetrator.

I really liked this quote which was on the final wall as you exited the exhibit:

" When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out."

- Pastor Martin Niem├Âller

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Sykes go to Washington

I am excited. Andy has a work trip to D.C. and since I am not working I get to accompany him! Yay!

We are going to have dinner with my friend, Aaron, and his wife, Bety, and our other friend, Shin, on Saturday and I need to plan what we are going to do Sunday and Monday. Any recommendations?

I really really wanted to tour the White House, but apparently you have to plan way in advance for that as they have to give you security clearance and all that jazz. Very sad!

This is why people don't own rentals...

I am super glad we have our rentals (my old house and a duplex we bought while married), but I tell you what, the tenants always seem to call at a bad time. But thinking of it, I guess no time would be a good time, now would it?

In any case, we have had our first 'cold spell' come through, so our Velasco tenants started up the heater and of course it didn't work. Not a biggee, but annoying. So I am meeting a new A/C guy there today. Let's hope he can fix it for not that much money! We have a great A/C guy that we like to use, but he lives remotely and so he doesn't get cell coverage and so we are never able to get him out quickly. I hate that b/c he is good, honest and cheap, but seriously, Stewart, answer your phone or check your messages! :-)

I really appreciate our tenants in my old house. They never call. That enough gives me incentive to not ever raise their rent :-).

Onto the Fad Diet

Well, the low calorie thing was working - but slowly, so I have resulted to going on the Scarsdale diet, which honestly seems very healthy and effective. I haven't ever done it before which is a bit amazing considering my mom and sister always have used it.

I am only on day 4 and have to admit, that it is really good and effective. B/c I like all the food on it, I don't find it that hard to follow. I started it while visiting my parents in Shreveport. Poor Andy had to fend for himself while I was away.

I read up on it and they say that diets like this (i.e. low carb/low glycemic) work really well for 'apple shape' people (which I am). And honestly it is just the diet that all doctors tell you to eat all the time so it isn't like it is really rocket science. Basically eat lean meats and vegetables. I kinda feel like the South Beach diet stole from Dr. Scarsdale! It is the same thing :-).

I still have a long ways to go before I get where I want to be, but I have lost 7 pounds which is definitely below what I wanted to lose in one month, but hey, at least it is the right direction. My friend Janet and her sister are doing Weight Watchers and they started a month before me and during that time Janet lost 10 pounds and I gained 5. So I have to remember that not only am I losing, but I am also not gaining which seriously is a big win.

I am a bit astounded that I let myself get so out of control.

Useful links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarsdale_Diet
http://lowcarblisa.tripod.com/id18.html

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nothing like a yard sign...

...to help you actually meet your neighbors! So, I was going out for a run this morning and there were these two older gentleman on the street and one yelled out to me - 'hey, I like your sign!'. So, I introduced my unshowered, this-is-why-mom-says-to-never-leave-the-house-without-makeup self to my neighbors and we started discussing the bond and other things of interest. You know, like the bailout, the $400k AIG spa day after said bailout, how corrupt politicians are, etc... Ha, I loved it! Another guy joined the conversation while walking down the street and I thought to myself - hey, this is like talking to three of my dad at one time! In any case, it was nice to see that there are still some small govt people out there.

Also, I found out there is a street email list which of course Andy and I are not a part. So I am going to go speak with the lady in charge today to get us signed up for it! And I am going to start going to our city council meetings.

I also realized that this would be a GREAT neighborhood for people to retire - hint, hint... There are lots of retirees who are apparently very social and all know each other. There are lots of events as well for them. I love it.

I also love that the guy with the scraggly beard (who looks like Santa) is named Jay. Maybe that is what my brother will look like one day.

So I have a list

Okay, okay, so I have been not working for almost 4 weeks! OMGoodness! I am a bit embarrassed at how little I have accomplished in that time.

Yes, I have lost some weight, worked out a minimum 1 hour a day and cooked basically every meal around the house ... But, you know all those things you say you are going to do once you have the time? I haven't really done much towards those goals...

So, I made a list and I will knock at least one thing off the list a day.

I also am not that pleased about my diet progress. I am awesome during the week. No lie. I eat 1000-1200 calories and work out like crazy. But then the weekend comes and I am not awful, but I am not great. So I am losing but only like 1.5-2 pounds/week. That is not going to get me where I want to be anytime soon.

So I am realizing I might have to result to a fad diet afterall to get a quick jump start. I am dreading it though. Probably what I should do is do it during the weekend so I stick to something over the weekend when I am at my weakest! The cabbage soup diet is calling out to me.

I already had a bite of Andy's oatmeal today, so I am guessing today is not the day I begin. And we have a wedding this weekend so maybe Sunday I start that? Who knows. I just know on it I always lose like 5 -7 pounds in less than a week and that would put me under a big milestone.

Who knows. Why is gaining weight so much fun and losing such torture! Ack!

Community Organizer

SO... As part of my quest to get in shape during my time off from work, I have been going to the gym and running around our neighborhood on our running trails in Addison. All these yellow signs have popped up around the lake saying 'Vote NO on $58 Millions Addison Entertainment TAX - BOND ($4,027 per citizen).'

It really is quite ridiculous. The city council is proposing a bond of $58 million to build an aviation museum and to expand the Water Tower Theatre which today is only at something like 60% capacity. Now, I am not opposed to all bonds, but this would do nothing for the City of Addison - like we would pay this money and what would we get for it? Are people really going to come from far and wide to go to a flight museum? I do love Water Tower Theatre, but I feel like we already get the benefit of their being in our back yard. We took my dad when he was visiting to an outdoor showing of 'Oklahoma'.

Anywho, I also got an email yesterday from those in charge of this campaign and so I responded that I would love a yard sign and since I have some time I can do anything they need. So last night, we got our yard sign and I got a bunch of fliers which I am going to go door to door and hand out. Ha!

So now I am a community organizer - right? That counts I think. So Obama aint got nothing on me!

Here's the website: http://www.addisontx.org/

I am excited! I think I might actually start going to Addison City Council meetings. Watch out!

Checking out...

After the last debate, I have decided I have to check out of this election. By that I mean I can no longer follow all the news about it religiously like I had been doing. It has really depressed me! Isn't that ridiculous? For the first time, I don't feel like I have a good option at the polls and feel like neither candidate stands up for anything of principle. I know, I know... that was probably true in all the elections I have previously voted in so maybe it is just I have finally woken up. I hope not. I hope there are principled leaders out there.

Andy and I were talking on Sunday and he was like - you seem sad. And I was like - you know what? I am. I am depressed about this election - isn't that silly. And he was like - oh, so it's like I get when the Bengals lose and I responded 'exactly'. Do we have our communication down or what?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Moving Video for Christians Voting this Election

Catholic Vote video, but relevant for all Christians:



It really is amazing. I read an article just today from a feminist on www.msn.com where she was stating how awful the movie "Juno" was because it had a girl having a baby and giving it up for adoption rather than her just aborting the baby. I honestly just don't get it...

What a weekend

This weekend was a lot of fun. Andy's friend from college, Matt, came into town for the Bengals/Cowboys game. He got here on Friday and they met up with the other Bowling Green guys, Steve and Jason, for happy hour. Imagine my amusement when I got a text from Andy telling me they had made their way to Pete's Piano Bar. I think that is so funny that 4 guys would choose to go to Pete's Piano bar. Ha, but they love it! I took the opportunity to go see 'The Women' a girlie movie that I have been wanting to see for a while and it was very cute. There are so many girl movies I want to see right now including Nights in Rodan(something) and The Duchess. I will have to try and make those some other time!

Saturday, we had a poker game since Matt likes to play poker and we had so much fun. We had a great crowd - enough for two tables, and lots of people we hadn't seen in a while were able to come! I tell you I seriously had diarrhea of the mouth. I was just talking up a storm - but that is natural, right, when you haven't seen people in forever? :-) I think everyone had fun and seriously the women cleaned up! The top 3 winners were women (nope I wasn't one of them) and I have to say I am impressed! Matt had brought Guitar Hero with him and so those who were booted had a fun activity to keep themselves occupied.

Then, Sunday, we headed to the Cowboys vs. Bengals. My brother, Jay, was able to join us too. The tailgate before the game was fun - Thanks, Liza! Then the game was great. Seriously, the Bengals were 0-4 and so none of us had high expectations, but the game was a nail biter with the Bengals actually putting up a good fight. Of course, in the end, they lost as they tend to do so that wasn't so great. But I was just happy it was a game until the very end. The Bengals do lose a lot, but I have to say, their games tend to be good ones. So now they are 0-5 which is pretty depressing b/c basically their season is over and football has just started! Oh well. Poor Andy he gets so sad over these things. :-)

So we had a really great weekend! We are so blessed.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

30 Day Shred

So Jillian Michaels, the girl trainer on the Biggest Loser, has this workout video that I read about. The reviews basically implied that this workout was great, so of course, the marketer's dream that I am, had to go purchase this video, 30 Day Shred.

Wow, it kicked my bootie. She has 3 workouts that increase in level of difficulty. I started out with Level 1 because I have seen her on that show and figured I should see what I am getting myself into.

In any case, it was hard, but good hard. I have done personal training sessions before and honestly they have not done anything for me. I seriously will spend an hour with a trainer and feel like I have done 5 minutes of actual working out. All they talk about is form, form, form - which I get is important but I really need to have my hour long workout be a bit more productive. I always wanted someone like Jillian to kick my bootie and make me hurt.

This video does that. You are left spent. It is only 20 minutes so it is very doable. And from others reviews it sounds like it will get me the results I am looking for. We'll see. I have only lost 3 pounds so far and I have been pretty amazing in how much I have been working out. A bit disappointing if you ask me. Granted this weekend I did not diet hard core like I had been during the week so I am guessing that is what slowed me down. So I cannot go off no matter what.

So I will couple this with my hour of cardio every day and see what happens...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Line between compassion & personal responsibility

So today on Oprah (I have not yet tired of Oprah or the View in my almost 2 weeks of unemployment) they had these women and families on where they were addicted to heroin.

The point of the show was to make you feel sorry for these people and I don't know if I just lack compassion, but I kinda didn't have much of it for these people. In fact, I had anger. The parents who got addicted to heroin and led their teenage children down that same path. They also had a 1 year old baby. I simply don't understand why if you are addicted to heroin and homeless why you would not put that baby up for adoption so that child can have a chance at success at life. He was beautiful and I can only imagine the nightmare that is ahead of him with such irresponsible, selfish parents.

Then there was this other girl who was 5 months pregnant and addicted to heroin. Again we the viewer were given a sob story about her addiction. Now, I know this is harsh, but she has a choice. She chose to take heroin. She already had a little girl. She is 5 months pregnant and has done nothing to get off of it. She announced she was sober for 2 weeks and looked around at the audience in expectation of applause. Hello? Who makes a choice so selfish? I simply do not understand.

I guess what is most infuriating is that these people acted as if the reason they are in their position is because there is not enough help out there for them. This is the problem of a bailout culture. No one wants to take accountability for where they are with their lives. I don't think we are doing these people any good by catering to their victim mentality. If we are honest and open with them and tell them - look, you are the only one who can choose to change we are doing them a favor rather than agreeing - yes, there should be more programs out there for you.

I am all for charities helping people out of situations like this. We all make mistakes - I get that. And we all need a helping hand from time to time to help us out. Thank the Lord that there are people out there that provide that. I have benefitted from that and I have been that helping hand as well. I think it is all of our civic responsibility to help those in need who are truly asking for help and are taking steps forward to turn their lives around. But that doesn't diminish personal responsibility and owning our mistakes. I don't think catering to this victim mentality is doing anyone any good.

My Stud of a Husband

So Andy had surgery today for his deviated septum. I have to admit, I kinda thought a septoplasty was a made up surgery, but if you saw Andy's septum, you would be a believer. He has (I guess had) a really crooked one and two doctors said that it was one of the worst they had ever seen and really affected his breathing. So anyways, he had that fixed today.

So he was just so cute and sweet. When he was coming to as the anesthesia wore off, he immediately started asking for me and saying all these cheesy things in front of the nurse. It was pretty cute :-). He was also pretty funny pre-surgery showing the world his jewels. Those hospital gowns don't really leave much room for modesty.

He was pretty out of it and then we came home and I put him to bed where he basically passed out until 2:30 today.

But then, he checked his work email and started working and it is 6 pm and he is still working! He is so funny. I tell him he needs to rest, but of course he is still going to town.

In any case, I am very grateful he is okay. I know I am a bit paranoid to worry that anything could happen with such a simple surgery, but the whole anesthesia thing freaks me out. Thank you, Lord, for keeping my wonderful husband safe and healthy.

His nasal passages look quite a bit larger, so I am hopeful this will help his breathing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Reorg!

So sounds like a big reorg is going on at Verizon today so I think we should know our fate soon on whether Andy will be moving to Austin for his work. I am happy just to know that soon we will know. I am not very good with limbo! I had a job lined up here in Dallas but didn't take it because it sounded like we were going to move to Austin any moment and then a freeze was put in place pending this reorg. So we will see. I have mixed feelings either way and feel like either way we will be happy :-).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Government Bailout

I cannot even express how apalling I think it is that the government is about to hand over $700 billion in yours and my hard earned dollars to these banks which have been completely irresponsible. I completely don't understand it. I will grant that I am completely clouded by my experience at Citi, but I will tell you my experience... (And they will be one of the banks to benefit from this bailout).

They are the most bloated and irresponsible company I have EVER seen. CitifinancialAuto had layoffs, but no other area has had any substantial amount of layoffs. I have heard this might change, but I tell you this. There were TONS of people sitting around doing nothing all day every day. I know this was true of my experience and yet supposedly the company is struggling to make ends meet. The CEO Vikram Pandit has done nothing to stop the insanity and cut down the bloat after having been there almost a year. I would sit there and see people literally twiddling their thumbs while I would be working 80 hour weeks. I would voice my frustration and because management is so incompetent and does not care about the good of the company but making sure they are not seen as a non-team player nothing productive ever got done about these situations. They have matrixed every function and what this means is people are matrixed away from you and so they no longer have any accountability. They report to a manager in a different office who has no idea what they are doing and doesn't do anything when you escalate an issue to them. Your management will not escalate b/c if they do, they fear they will not be seen as a team player. So you end up with a small core team that does all the work and a ton of matrix functions that literally do nothing. You will even ask these people, what do you do and they will tell you that they are looking for work to do. It is a classic b-school case study of how NOT to run an organization but apparently no one in management went to b-school.

Financially all these functions are also matrixed away, but they then send an allocation back to the core business group with no explanation or accountability of those numbers. They have no obligation to keep their numbers to what was budgeted and when you ask for some transparency you are literally told, oh well I have to allocate all these costs out so sorry. If you try to get detail it is like pulling teeth and again when you try to escalate, nothing happens because management doesn't want to be seen as rocking the boat and so the incompetence continues.

Last year when Citi was struggling and cut their dividends to shareholders, we were handing out bonuses equal to 10-20% of employee's salaries. What company have you ever been at that has functioned like that? How irresponsible is that to their shareholders?

And now they want us to give them money? When are they going to pony up and suffer? That is my question b/c they have yet to suffer. And I have seen my boss at the CIO level talk about how the government should bail them out despite them being the ones who were completely unethical and aggressive in their lending practices. Before ANY of my tax dollars should go to these companies, I want to see a reduction in expenses of nothing less than 20%. Right?

These banks AND their employees have been reaping the benefits of their risky lending for how many years now? And we are supposed to feel bad for them now? Oh no, they might be out of a job for 6 months. Where was your and my paycheck when the internet bubble burst? I don't remember us getting 700 billion for all the startups that were over bloated and over valued. You know why? Because we are a free market economy.

I truly believe Paulson coming from Wall Street is trying to help out his buddies there. He and Pandit probably go to the same dinner parties. This is robbing you and me. I encourage everyone to write their congressmen and tell them there is no way they should spend your dollars to support these incompetent companies. It is WAY too early for any talk of such a bailout. I cannot even believe this is what he is proposing. Let everyone tighten their belt for a year or two and let these companies suffer! Let them sell some of their many assets for a loss to survive? The BofA purchase proves that.

And just like I don't think the banks deserve a bailout, I don't think the people who lived beyond their means and got into mortgages they could not afford deserve it either.

It makes me so mad when I have always lived way beneath my means to ensure I was always able to meet my financial obligations. And to have these people who think they are entitled to a house they could never afford and cars they couldn't afford whine to me is ridiculous. You bail them out, you penalize honest hard working people who lived their lives right. Why should we have to pay the price for their risk? We shouldn't.

That said, I think the #1 lesson from this entire mess is that we really need real financial education in our schools. I have always been a big proponent of Junior Achievement because they provide the type of education that every child needs and that a lot of children do not get from their parents. Teach children about credit cards and interest payments and what that means. Teach them about loans and the different ways they are structured. Why is this missing from our schools? I am even okay with mandating education whenever people enter loans. Banks can whine about it, but they put themselves into this position.

Okay, that's my rant for the day. If my taxes go up to pay for these dumb banks, I am going to be so angry. Get Bush out of there. He is the most liberal President ever.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Day 5!

Okay, so I am pretty excited. I am on day 5 of the diet/workout plan and I have been awesome! I have not stuck to a diet for this long since before I got married, so this is good news. I would start a diet and would be really good and then have a stressful day at work and would fall apart. I know plenty of people lose weight despite having stressful lives so I know that isn't an excuse, but it IS easier when you don't have that stress and have time to cook and work out.

I had signed up for Weight Watchers with my girlfriend, Janet, about 6 weeks ago, but of course I didn't actually stick to it for very long. But the good thing is I already have their online tools and so I have started as of Wed documenting everything I am eating and my activity. I will weigh in this Tuesday to get my starting point for WW. I weighed at home of course and so I have faced the reality of how much I have to lose.

It is funny how my life now currently revolves around food prep, grocery shopping and working out. Not a very substantial existence, but I feel like I am lucky enough to have this opportunity, I should take advantage of it. Also, the last time I went to the doctor (which was the first time in forever), he found that my cholesterol was high! Can you believe that? I have never had high cholesterol. It wasn't off the charts, but definitely way higher than it should be. And keep in mind, I have gained weight but I am still not overweight by doctor charts, I work out 5 days/week normally, etc... Of course, I did have a high fat diet even though it might be low in calories so that might have had something to do with it. Eating those bite size chocolates all day at work could not have been good for the cholesterol. :-) You think?

SO, hopefully, not only will this time help me to get back into my skinny jeans but will also help me health wise.

From all of this I think I have a good business idea for which I am going to run a business case.

I quit!

So, this week - Tuesday to be exact - I did the craziest thing I have ever done. Anyone who I have spoken to lately knew how much I hated my job. It literally was an environment where everyone was mean to each other. I had a boss who was a jerk. I had absorbed 6 people's jobs in addition to my own due to layoffs or employees leaving for which my boss refused to approve a req. And I think the worst thing about it was even though I was appreciated for being a hard worker and doing excellent work, I didn't feel like senior management had any interest in doing what was best for the company but in making sure they didn't rock the boat. I definitely don't suggest buying Citi stock :-).

In any case, I quit. And I am glad I did. My only regret is that by the way I quit, a girl at work who I am friends with is getting blamed for my quitting which is ridiculous. Funny how people believe what they want to.

So I don't have anything lined up yet. I am waiting for Andy to find out about whether we will be moving to Austin and then will line something up. I plan on taking 1-2 months off to get healthy again. So get ready for lots of posts about Sharon's fat farm - yay! My job officially now is to work out and eat right. I literally gained 20 pounds while at this job which I think is just another sign of how miserable I was. I am pretty excited about this as we are trying to get pregnant and I simply hate the thought of getting pregnant having 20 pounds already to lose. We also have our family vacation the week of Thanksgiving so I am glad that I have some time to get in shape before that!

I also am just going to get our lives together and do all those things you never have time to do when both of you work demanding jobs like cleaning out the garage, hanging up those pictures, etc...

Luckily, I have an amazing husband who has been so supportive. I am really blessed :-).

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Getting the ball rolling...

Soooo, we have been married a bit over a year, and I have been delinquent in getting us set up on a blog where we can share with our friends and family what we are up to.

It really is a shame as we had such a busy year last year! I mean besides getting married and going on our honeymoon, we ran a half marathon, participated in the World Series of Poker, Andy had an amazing year in sales and won us an amazing trip to the Mediterranean, Sharon started a new job... Yikes! I am a bit bummed for our sakes that we didn't document all that a bit better! So I figure with this we'll not only be able to share with friends and family, but also keep it for our own posterity. We can look back and remember our first years of marriage and remember all the good, bad and ugly :-).

In any case, consider the ball rolled...