Friday, January 27, 2012

12 days...

That's how many full days I spent in my NYC apartment this month...kind of crazy!! Living out of a suitcase has some positives, but after a few days on the road things start to get a little monotonous.  I'll be glad to be back in one place with all my stuff again!  Thought I would do a pro and con post about life on the road....

-Spending time in various cities - seeing new things, eating new places
-Not having to cook or clean
-Having a HUGE bed with tons of comfy pillows (not a luxury I have in my shoebox apt)
-Having access to a gym (without having to go outside)
-Racking up the skymiles!!

-Having to figure out everything you might possibly need without knowing exactly what your schedule will be once you arrive
-Eating out for every meal
-Having snacks around the makeshift offices all day...EVERY day
-Not being around to spend time with my friends
-Being in and out of airports all month (and climbing my 5 flights of stairs with ALL that luggage every time)
-Hotel showers...ALWAYS either no pressure or too much pressure...why can't they get this right??
-Working on weekends :(

All that travel often sounds glamorous, exciting, and fun, but it can also be a real inconvenience at times.  I'm always excited to go, but then sad to be gone for so long.  Such a catch-22...

Andrea :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

AFC Championship 2012

I was ecstatic to be taking the train to Championship this year.  It was definitely one of the highlights.  Don't get me wrong, flying is great...but after a month or so of non-stop flight after flight, it can get really old.  Not to mention it's great not to have to worry about checking bags and long security lines!!  Anyway, the train was packed, but very enjoyable...

Train arriving at the station in Providence
Upon arriving in Providence I lugged my huge puffy quite warm coat, rolling luggage, and duffel bag over to the area where the cabs were waiting patiently for customers.  I have all the luggage put into the trunk and get settled in for the ride before I mention my destination to the cab driver.  He quickly informed me that the hotel is actually just on the other side of the train station...haha!  Luckily, he didn't charge me for my brief stay in his cab.  What a way to start off the week, huh?

Once I finally made it to the hotel, I checked in with my AFC team.  Our hotel was great!  We were right beside the mall which had a Cheesecake Factory and a P.F. Chang's.  That was exciting cause NY has a TON of great restaurants that I love, but sometimes you just want to go to a familiar chain :)  Definitely went to both on this trip!  The state capitol was also next door to the hotel.  It was really nice all lit up at night...

We had a lot of fun in the makeshift office on this trip.  The hotel staff dropped off some yummy cupcakes for us...

The cupcake I tried...strawberry with vanilla icing...AMAZING!!

The guys in our group went to Dave and Buster's one night, pooled their tickets, and came back with a prize for me mascot for the office.  LOVED it!! And definitely brought it home with me :)

And of course, we did some work :)  I had two main jobs for the week/game.  The first was to make sure everyone was properly credentialed and parking passes were distributed appropriately.  The second was to make sure the honorary captain and ownership of the home team were in place for the coin toss and post-game presentation.  That was a bit of a challenge this year.  Coin toss was no problem.  However, the game was about as close as it gets right at the end leading the whole stadium to prematurely freak out shut down.  This resulted in me being trapped in the Press Box...well, almost!  With 5 minutes left in the game, I head to the elevators in order to get to field level.  However, the elevators were already - somehow - on lock down.  This wasn't supposed to happen until 2 minutes left.  Keep in mind, I was supposed to be on the field at the 2 minute warning.  NOT GOOD!!  So...I got creative and ran, no really, RAN down all the ramps to the field my huge puffy coat and multiple layers.  Haha!!  I only wish I had a picture of me with sweat pouring down my face to insert here, but I wasn't in the right frame of mind to snap one so please use your imagination.  It was hilarious...after everything worked out ok in the end of course :)  So after the run, I was informed the owners had refused to leave their box until the game was decided so I had a little time to cool down.  Needless to say, I - eventually - got  all the right people to the right place at the right time...which was a huge relief :)  Here's a picture to prove it...

Drew Bledsoe on the left and Mr. Kraft on the right...task complete :)
Outside of the Patriots winning and Chris (along with a lot of other people I know) being bummed about the outcome, the experience was an interesting one.  And I got to check another stadium off my list...yay!!  I'll leave you with a few more pics from the week...

Trophy still in the Tiffany's blue bag...

Steven Tyler, yes THAT Steven Tyler during his rehearsal for the National Anthem

Catching a few minutes of the game....

Andrea :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Championship weekend....

Unfortunately, my Bengals didn't make it very far in the playoffs, but I am excited to be working AFC Championship this year.  This will be my fourth time working Championship weekend.  I've had some great ones.  Thought I'd take a little stroll down Championship memory lane :)

In 2009, I went to Phoenix for NFC Championship.  What a trip!  We had a blast...and the weather was gorgeous AND warm in January.  Can't beat that!  Here are a few pictures from that trip.

Co-worker Alison at the Heart Attack Grill...hilarious!

Suns game...a friend of mine hooked us up with a suite :)

holding the coveted trophy

Pausing for a picture...

Cardinals win...they were BEYOND excited!!
In 2010, I had the time of my life in New Orleans with the same NFC crew.  New Orleans has always been one of my favorite cities.  It was particularly full of fun with Who Dat Nation in full force :)  Take a look...

Spending a little time in Jackson Square...

Some co-workers and I just happened to run into Jimmy Buffett one night :)

For some reason we couldn't take it out of the plastic this year :(

Pre-game picture inside the Superdome....
Saints celebrating post-game....

Last year, I switched over to AFC and in the process I experienced my first crummy weather Championship.  I ended up going to a repeat stadium, too :(  It's always better when it's a dome and a new stadium!  However, Jordan made the trip up for that game making it a lot more fun.  Though the outcome wasn't what I had hoped, it was a fun experience.

Pittsburgh Penguins hockey times!

the trophies got an upgrade...

Me and Jordan - pre-game :)

As I look back now, it seems that the home team has won each of the times I worked Championship.  I'm not completely sure how much more common it is for the home team to win, but I know Chris is hoping it doesn't hold true this time. We'll see soon enough!  I'll post on Championship 2012 after Sunday.  For now, it's off to enjoy Providence, Rhode Island!

Andrea :)

MLK Jr. Day

This day was always such a welcome holiday.  You had been back at school for just the right amount of days to need a break in grade school.  You had just finished all the sorority rush parties and Chapel Day in college.  But someone forgot to tell the NFL that this was meant as a day for rest and relaxation.  Now I always end up traveling to my assigned Championship city on this very special day instead.  I guess it could be worst, huh?

In all seriousness though, I've always been intrigued by MLK, Jr.  What a man!  I remember watching his speeches on video in our basement during my younger years...memorizing various passages from some of his famous speeches.  I've visited the place where his life was prematurely taken in Memphis, TN.  The Civil Rights Museum and Lorraine Motel will leave you speechless.  Such an ugly time in the history of our country, but also such a pivotal time.  I appreciate the efforts of this bold, Christian man.  He's a true and worthy American hero.

A couple of weeks ago, Chris and I had the chance (finally!!) to go see The Mountaintop with Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.  The play is a fictitious account of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last night at the Lorraine Motel.  Bassett plays a maid that is called to deliver coffee to his room.  It was phenomenal...and surprisingly, quite comical.  We really enjoyed it.  Very much worth the hour I spent standing in the cold to get our discount rush tickets...even if it did take me two shots to finally get there early enough to get them :)  Highly recommend the show, but you better hurry cause it's closing soon!!

Hope you take some time to reflect on MLK, Jr. and all that he stood for today!

Andrea :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I love San Antonio

Could there be a more relaxing place for work meetings in early January?  I can't think of many!  San Antonio is fabulous and so laid back!  I love it!  I had a chance to go for a morning run down on the riverwalk a couple of days. The weather was great, and it was a perfect way to get oriented to the area.

It amazed me how deserted the riverwalk was in the morning...especially compared to how very lively it was in the evenings. Nice for a run though. And it's a good thing I got in a couple of runs because the food was AMAZING!!  I have a sweet tooth so I had to try the Blue Bell ice cream my first night there.  I saved the Bananas Foster for the last night.  Both were amazing!

Yummy Chicken and Pineapple Tacos with Mexican Rice

Of course, it wouldn't be a trip to San Antonio without "Remembering the Alamo".  I had a chance to stop by in the evening as well as during the day since our hotel was roughly three blocks away.

Live Oak Tree and Wishing Well
I did mention I was in San Antonio for work meetings, right?  From this post so far, it might be hard to tell :)  We brought in all of our Regional Directors from across the country for two full days of meetings.  I think the meetings were productive as we had several new initiatives to discuss as well as some new procedures for the HSPD program in general.  It's always good to spend time visiting and learning from these individuals.  We have quite an array of folks working with us - former players, current top high school coaches, and even a couple of lovely ladies :)

We stayed at the Hilton Palacio del Rio.  They were in the process of doing some construction on their lobby and lower floors, but besides that small inconvenience it was an absolutely wonderful place to stay.  It was located right on the riverwalk.  Its three restaurants sat right on the river making it very easy to take in lots of the sights and sounds of the nightlife in the evenings.  Take a look...

Our hotel and The Friendship Torch
Just outside the back of the hotel
Gorgeous view from my hotel room balcony
Can't say that I really have any complaints about this lovely city.  It was a great little getaway even though work was the predominant focus.  I had been before with my family a long time ago.  We all enjoyed it then as well, but I'd never had the chance to go back until now.  I hope I don't wait as long to return this time!

Andrea :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

It's 2012...


I can't believe it is 2012.  Time seems to fly by these days.  I have been talking about starting a blog for a few months now so I thought I would make 2012 a good excuse to finally create one :)  There are plenty of other things I hope to accomplish throughout the course of this year as well.

1 - Like most other people across the globe, I want to make working out a priority and try to maintain more healthy eating habits.  One specific thing I'd like to do that will help make both of these a reality is to run another 1/2 marathon this year.  I'll be keeping you posted when I decide which one (or maybe two) I'd like to try to fit into my busy schedule.

I'm not sure I ate any healthier throughout the year, but I did complete the Brooklyn Half Marathon in May.  That has to count for something!

2 - Read through the Bible. Every time I resolve myself to this task, I end up getting distracted along the way - whether by work or my personal busy nature.  This year, I want to make it a priority.  And it's on my bucket'll soon find out just how dedicated I am to crossing something off that list ;)

To be completely honest, I didn't really make any progress on this one at all.  I did stay consistent with my Tony Dungy devotional everyday.  That's a small step in the right direction.  This will be a 2013 goal as well.

3 - Take more time for myself and my personal interests...whatever they happen to be at the time!  Starting this blog is a step in the right direction on this one, but there are many other things that I talk about doing and then never find the time to do.  This year, I'd like to try to find the time for those things.

I think I did this one.  I completed the NYRR 9+1 to qualify for the 2013 Marathon.  That was definitely something I wanted to do.  I read more and took more time to do things I enjoyed.  I even went to my first ever movie by myself.  I still need to take more time for myself, but I definitely got better in 2012!

4 - Clean out my closet(s)...and donate the clothes/shoes/etc. I haven't worn in months, or possibly years, to charity.  This will also make getting ready in the morning much less of a hassle!!

This was DONE in August!

5 - Finish the scrapbooks and other creative projects that I have in the works now so that I can begin more projects.  If I only had more space, who knows what fun things I could create!

Well...I am closer than where I started at the beginning of last year, but I still have a lot to go in this area.  I am making progress though!

6 - Finish paying off my student loans.  If I can stick with my plan, this one should be accomplished.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed because there are a lot more exciting things I can think of to do with that money every month :)

DONE...and so very proud of myself on this one!!

I'm sure there are others that will come to mind over the next few weeks, but I think these few are a great place to start!  Look forward to sharing my progress on each of them with you throughout the year!

Andrea :)

*Updates in Red added on 1/1/2013.