Extending Our Happily Ever After

"We do! Now let's live healthy and fit!"


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Gardnerville, NV and South Lake Tahoe!

Our RV was still in the shop for repairs and we were told that today would be the day we could pick it up, however, we really wanted to go exploring! So, we got out of the house early and headed up to South Lake Tahoe. My cousin, Natasha, wanted to show us the Tallac property, which is a lovely site of three museums, the Pope Estate, the Baldwin Estate and Valhalla… this is a leisurely stroll through buildings and homes to give one the sense of what it was like to live lakeside years ago. With the beauty of the day and weather, it was perfect for us to be there.
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Of course, before we even got out to start our siteseeing, we were called to pick up the RV, but we just told them we’d be there to pick it up before they closed for the day, we were enjoying our time by the lake.
After the Tallac properties, Natasha took us on a hike that gave us a lovely view of the lake. We really enjoyed it, but got a bit nervous at the end when we all had to scale a huge rock for that lovely view! I think we’d have been fine, except that we were in the presence of two very young children and so Christopher and I were a little on edge. Christopher lifted first one, then the other up to me and I was like, “sit down, DO NOT MOVE!” and freaking out til all of us were on this rock and able to hold on to their little hands! NERVOUS! LOL But, they survived to scamper down the mountain. Whew! They are good boys! Maybe they were nervous, too?
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We headed to the RV Repair and after $800 spent to repair the fuel pump, we discovered that we had another problem that was repaired as well… Much to our delight. When we bought this Class A, we were told that our fuel gauge did not work and that it would cost $1,500 to fix. The dealer didn’t want to do it, or if they did, they wanted to have us pay for half to fix it and this on top of our price. We weren’t going to do that. So, we ended up getting them to take off $1,000 on the price of the RV and we drove off the lot with full intent to just jot down our mileage and get gas at every 250 miles across America, which is what we have been doing. Well, they fixed the fuel pump and guess what? Fuel Gauge automatically fixed itself! WOOHOO! BONUS! THANK YOU! That made us VERY happy!

Last night with my cousins, and my cousin, Sondra (Natasha’s sister) came out to visit. It was great seeing her again… (Ivan and Christopher have never met her)… and then we all headed to bed to leave in the morning for SIN CITY!

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Our Plans – We Can’t Wait to Get Started!

Lots of plans and they basically started with our weight loss! March 2012, we took a look at ourselves and decided that we wanted to live longer and healthier lives. We started the 17 Day Diet and then about 34 lbs later, I started exercising and today, we are over 150 lbs lighter between us… I’ll have an exact figure on Monday when we are both getting back into gear with the diet and the fitness, as we’ve both been a little slack with it lately.

When we lost the weight (at one point, near 200 lbs between us), I had hopes (still do) of writing a book, I had started a blog and also a facebook page and called it Extending Our Happily Ever After (thought the title just FIT perfectly with our situation!). http://www.extendingourhappilyeverafter.com and I even started writing the book, but then work and life got in the way and it got moved to the back burner.

Then we’ve both been busy doing our daily lives, as does just about everyone. We all seem to get up, go to work and come home exhausted. Isn’t that what you do, too? Aren’t you tired of it? Well, so are we! LOL Plus, my son is 17 and going into his senior year of high school, which is a very busy time for us, so we have that going on as well, with college visits and then thinking of which college to go to and which major to pick. Lots of decisions!

In the middle of all of this, my husband’s company decided to close up shop and move it’s workforce to China. Luckily for us, they gave us notice. So, his last day will be the end of September. Like a growing number of people living in America, we struggle with finances and we live paycheck to paycheck. Add to that my hip replacement last year and my car accident only 6 weeks later and well, it’s not been easy.

I’ve written about this before, but another goal of mine, a bigger goal of mine, is to move back to California, where my parents are. My mother is battling early dementia, which is getting worse and worse and my father is basically her only caregiver and both are in their 70’s. My mother is riddled with arthritis and both of my parents are obese. I learned all of my eating and fitness (lack of) habits from them. I’ve been wanting to go home to help them with their weight, now that I have figured out what to do, hoping that I can help them. I know I can’t help my mother with her mind, but if I can help them lose weight and help my mom, then maybe the weight loss can help her get her knees operated on (due to the horrible arthritis)… she can hardly walk as it is.

Well, that has been a goal of mine for a few years now, but it’s so expensive to live in Southern California. Not to mention the cost of moving cross country from Northeast Pennsylvania and with us barely getting by now and then taking the job loss hit soon, well, we had to think of something and fast.

My husband came up with an idea that we both took to immediately. RV Living. Due to his age and him losing his job, we are going to use his 401K to buy an RV outright and a truck to pull it. Also, we’ll outfit the RV with solar panels. Then, we’ll move out of this house, which is financially killing us (two mortgages and a huge electric bill and oil bill).

We want to start up the blog again and the Extending Our Happily Ever After actually still fits as a great title to this lifestyle. We are starting this weekend to take each room of this house and sort through our belongings… we will SELL, DONATE, and TRASH all of our belongings til hardly anything is left. We only need what will fit into the RV.

We will document along the way. I have ideas of what I want our website to be once we are IN the RV, as I have been thinking about this non-stop for the past 6-8 weeks! lol Initially, our main focus is to get out of the house and save money. That’s our primary focus… We’ll still work full-time, so that we can actually keep saving money. Once we feel we can move to California, then we’ll make the trek cross-country and both of us hope to take time doing that, to actually enjoy the RV a bit and get a taste of the life that we are dreaming of. We have friends and family across the country that we’d like to visit and this is what we’d like to do, but once we end up in California, then we do hope to settle near my parents, although we’ll be living in parks that we may have to move from one to the other from time to time. Ivan will most likely get a full-time job for a while and I will either get a part-time job or a full-time job, depending on how I can be able to also fit in caring for my parents, which is my primary objective. We would like to end up full-time RV’ing and retiring early, if at all possible… that is our dream.

We looked at some RV’s and very early feelings are 26′, people are suggesting 5th wheel and a truck strong enough to haul it. We don’t want the mobile RV at all.

Ivan and I are still discussing getting a dog. I don’t want one and he does. I think “let’s just save money and they cost and plus, let’s just be free and not have any ties” (btw, we aren’t going to kill off the cats, when they are gone, though, we are not planning on replacing), so this is still an ongoing discussion. At the moment, he talked me into the 2nd cat and he’s been regretting it for years… so I am throwing that at him… his argument back to me “it’s probably because you wouldn’t let me get the dog”… ball in my court… “Probably?” Really? we are going to base a decision on “probably???” I think not! 😉

So, what do you think of our BIG PLANS???


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Catching Up – News from us…

Hello everyone! Well, lots has been happening. Where to start? Weight, I guess, since we started with weight, we’ll touch base on that. I’ve gained some back and so has Ivan. I’m about 250’ish now and not too sure what he’s at, but it’s not pretty. Looking back at my previous blog, I’m about what I was before, but up a few pounds… but with me, the real setback has been my fitness. I wouldn’t say it’s been non-existent, because I still do things like walks and go hiking, but the daily exercise, that has pretty much gone out the window. Food has been all over the place. That’s been Ivan’s problem and since he never really did the fitness thing (a bit of a cause for us to get into “discussions”), that has helped him with putting on the pounds.

My job at UPS is starting up a fitness challenge on Monday and I’m in charge of it… so I’m DEFINITELY looking forward to it! It’s a 12 week challenge to track your daily fitness and this is JUST what I need! I plan to do a minimum of 3 miles of walking, either with my Leslie Sansone walking DVD’s or just by walking outside and if I do more, so much the better! I know that with the fitness, the diet will follow and the diet I always feel very comfortable with is the 17 Day Diet, so I feel that my weight will start going the direction I want it to. As for Ivan, well, he should follow suit with the food and hopefully on the weekends, I can get him to go on the occasional hike with me. I’m still working on him with the fitness. It’s a struggle, I tell ya!

Health-wise, I’ve had a few issues. I found out that I have arthritis in my right knee, but we aren’t going to do anything with it, it’s bearable and weight loss and fitness should help it. A few months ago, my left shoulder started really acting up and by acting up, I mean, it started not moving much… and then radiated over to my right shoulder. I let it go and eventually it just about stopped moving altogether. I can’t even put my own bra on un-aided! A huge thank you to Ivan for stepping in to help in that department! Anyway, I finally went to see my Orthopedic Surgeon and found out that I have bursitis, tendonitis AND arthritis… isn’t that LOVELY? So, now I’m going to physical therapy! BTW, the gang over at PT said that I could have just called (they are the same ones that helped me through my hip replacement last year). Let’s see, what else? Oh yes, I was told that both of my carotid arteries had blockages, so I had to go to the hospital to get an ultrasound and see just how blocked they were (thankfully, 1-15% and they say to just get back to eating healthy and start up with my exercising)… and I had bloodwork and that came back good. So, it’s been pretty eventful with me and doctor’s offices and I’m pretty sick of it!

Not sure if any of my previous posts informed any of you that my son won a scholarship for this summer? Anyway, he did! He was selected about of over 450 kids in Pennsylvania to be one of 62 chosen students to win the Pennsylvania Governor’s School of Sciences Scholarship. For the past 5 weeks, he’s been dorming at Carnegie Mellon University and he comes home on Saturday! We have been so very proud of him! He starts his Senior year of High School on September 4th! Whew… BIG YEAR!

I think I mentioned that my husband is losing his job at the end of September? Well, he still is. He’s chosen to get the free training to get his CDL License… so that’s what he’ll be doing after that. We have been thinking about our future lately and have a huge announcement, but I wanted to catch up this blog to what we’ve been up to before I let you all know our plans for our future… so, stay tuned and tomorrow night you’ll get to hear all about our plans… it’s something Ivan and I have been talking about for the past 6-8 weeks non-stop but we were hosting a French student and we were really just too busy to do anything about it. So, we’ve been planning things and our French student just left yesterday morning and now we can proceed with the little details…

It is VERY EXCITING FOR US! Hopefully, you’ll all be excited for us as well. Talk to you tomorrow.


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Days 28-33 – 100 Day Challenge

Been such a busy week! But, I have been exercising and losing weight! 

I donate plasma now… and they actually weigh you every time you go to donate. Last friday, I weighed per their scale at 250, and the previous Tuesday at 251 (this is at the end of the day, having had lots of water, as I have to be fully hydrated)… I’m fully clothes, plus sometimes with a coat, actually, although I’m trying to lose that now. Anyway, last tuesday, it was 246, today it was 244. But, this morning, naked, I was 238. So, I’m sort of all over the place. I’m setting my Sparkpeople weight to the 238, but using the losses from the Biotest just to see how much I’ve lost from visit to visit. Regardless, it feels good to show a loss at each visit. 

Also, I was featured in my company’s website for my weight loss story… It posted today. Here is the article: 

Where Is She Now? 

Story update: UPSer loses 140 pounds…and more 
Last year, Marie Smith shared her story about her weight loss success. Since it aired, Marie has lost 10 more pounds towards her weight loss goal. During the past year, she’s faced obstacles including surgery, a car accident, and rehab. 
In spite of these challenges, Marie continues to focus on her ultimate goal of maintaining a healthy life style. 
To see her post from last year, (click here *story link to internal company website*) and check out her update below. 

As told by Marie: 

Last May, I had a total right hip replacement, which has done wonders for my health and well-being. The new hip has aligned my body so well, that now, my back has few issues and my back pain has lessened tremendously. I feel 20 years younger! 

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But, as we all know, life has a way of throwing us curve balls. A mere six weeks after my hip replacement surgery, my son and I were in a car accident. The car was nearly totaled but luckily, we were both fine. I was jostled a bit in the car and my hip took a hit. However, I got right back to therapy and worked hard. Six weeks later, I celebrated with a hike that truly tested out my new hip. 
I have used this opportunity to get back into “life” and start living it! I have become a lot more active. I get out as often as I can, and I walk as much as I can. I try to find places to hike, and I’d like to start biking. 
As for the weight – it is an ongoing struggle. I know that I didn’t get to nearly 400 pounds and stay that way most of my life because I had will power. To this day, I love food. But, through my weight loss journey, I have learned so much and what foods to eat. I know what the healthy options are and I know that my body feels better when I eat them. 
Like others in my situation, I do struggle when I don’t see the scale move towards my goal. And sometimes that will trigger an old pattern of overindulging. But then I remember to take a step back and look at the big picture. I’ve worked hard and done very well for not gaining and at least maintaining. I know I have the tools to lose the rest of the weight, and I know that I will do it. 
What really keeps me motivated is what I’ve accomplished. I’ve been surrounded by supportive friends and family from day one and I know that support is HUGE in the weight loss journey! 
Just the other day, I got this text from a friend, “I have to just say that I will always remember your words to me: If I can do it, anyone can do it. So when I work out, I remember you saying that. So don’t ever think you never inspired anyone, because you inspired me.” 

Marie’s Words of Wisdom: 
* Weight doesn’t come on overnight and it’s not going to go away overnight. 
* The best anyone can do is make those changes that will get them on the healthy track and help them live longer. 
* Definitely get active. It’s the best thing I ever did and the cleaner way of eating is so important. 
* Listen to your body, you may think it’s asking for a burger and fries, but then you are hungry an hour later. It’s only because you didn’t give it the nutrition it was really asking for! 
* start listening. You are only given one body in this lifetime… treat it right. It will do the same for you.


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Day 26 & 27 – 100 Day Challenge

Had an emotional day yesterday. Basically, I got a call that most women get at some point in their lives… the dreaded call back after a pap smear. I reacted poorly. 

First… a little history. 18 years ago, I had this happen to me. That led to a couple of conization procedures at a great hospital and doctors telling me “good news and bad news”. Good news “We got all the bad cells” Bad news “we cut away so much of your cervix that you won’t be able to carry a baby to term” which I heard as “you won’t ever have a baby”. 

Within a few months, I was pregnant. Very high risk, due to the fact that I had VERY little cervix left, therefore, hardly anything holding my baby inside. Let’s see… that led to a 6 month pregnancy, instead of 9… baby coming at 28 weeks to the day, and in NICU for 53 days, lots of issues with prematurity that have all corrected themselves (thank God!). Anyway, after my pregnancy, the visit you make the the OB/GYN to do a check up showed that the “good news” I got previously was incorrect news. They apparently “missed” a few cells… those cells, along with the pregnancy hormones grew and went cancerous and now I was told that I needed a hysterectomy. I ended up getting a partial one 17 yrs ago. Sooooo, bottom line, I have a total mistrust in diagnosis given by doctors when it comes to these sort of things…, now back to my story… 

Yesterday, I got a call. What was said to me was this. My pap came back with atypical cells, these cells were sent in to test for HPV, which came back negative, sooo, all is good, come back next year. 

To anyone else, that would be great news… however, I think you know what that news did to me. I was a mess. 

My game plan on this issue is this… on Monday, I’m going to talk to my doctor about this. Ask him if I can request we possibly do the test again, or see what he has to say, seeing as this has happened to me before. Not sure what that outcome will be, but if it’s a no-go, then I’m going to call the insurance company and ask for a 2nd opinion… I just do NOT feel comfortable about waiting an entire year. Not with my history and my nervousness. I just feel that I “got lucky” with cancer once before and I’m not sure that I’ll do it again. Also, a year when it comes to cancer could mean life or death… this is my life and I don’t want to just sit idly by. 

Soooo, with that said, today was a better day. 

My son and I went to visit a college today… Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA for their Math and Science Day. It was wonderful! Great faculty and students and really a great day, overall. They provided breakfast and lunch (I was good!) and the weather was great, too… although just a bit windy, but the sun was shining! 

I let my son drive there and back, as he’s got his permit and we are trying to get him alot of experience behind the wheel… he did a great job… Merging was the lesson for the day. 

Wanted to share something with all of you… I got this message from a friend of mine. It really lifted my spirits on Thursday! She has been exercising like a crazy fool and I wasn’t expecting this lovely message from her… this is what it said: 

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Day 25 – 100 Day Challenge

Today was a good food day. Plus I came home and exercised with a Leslie Sansone video, too! I did two miles. I felt really good about that.

Also, I discovered a new song that I love! It’s not a new song, actually, but a song that I hadn’t heard before. I was listening to the Ten Tenors on my tablet today at work and they covered a song called Throw Your Arms Around Me that was written by Mark Seymour with Hunters and Collectors (an Australian Rock Band). I had never heard of them before, but I’m downloading an album of theirs from the 80’s and seeing if I like their music. We’ll see.

I love finding new music to listen to.

I’m going to try adding a bit of activity to my day in little bursts… even if I just did minute bursts throughout the day of ab work or arm work, I think it’ll help in the long run… I’m going to give it a go… I think I can try different exercises at work, get away from my desk during my breaks, to stretch and see how that works out… I’ll let you all know how it goes.

I’m heading in to work early in the morning, it’s another Plasma donation day for me, then my son and I are visiting a college on Saturday… so, we are heading into another fairly busy weekend. Unfortunately, that’ll cut into our weekend walk around the lake, but I am sure we’ll fit in a walk on Sunday!


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Day 24 – 100 Day Challenge

Today was another good food day… I’m getting back on track! Thank goodness! I still didn’t do great with exercise, but I did walk at work today, so that’s something.

Also, I was called today by lady who ran an article on my weight loss story for our company last summer. She wanted to do a follow up story. I had told her that I really didn’t lose any more weight. We talked for a while and she wanted to know how things were after my hip replacement surgery and the car accident I had last year and told me that after all I had been through, to hear that I had maintained the weight loss and that I was still excited and focused on my journey even though I still had disappointment that I hadn’t lost more weight told her that my story is still very motivating and very relevant to what she was looking for. She said that it was “real”… not every weight loss journey was easy or full of constant successes, but it was just that… a journey.

I am still motivated to lose weight, even though I have not seen the scale get into “new weight loss” for over a year. I still challenge myself to get out and exercise, I still get up every morning and drink my lemon water and pack my lunch and go to work with the excitement of being on plan and I think it’s that energy that probably has helped me keep the weight off and not gain it all back on. I am proud of maintaining the huge loss I’ve done. I also know and have every confidence that I will reach my goal, even if it’s going to be “in my own sweet time”… it will come. At least I’m headed in the right direction! That feels amazing!

I am thrilled with my health and my energy and stamina. I could ask for more, but I’m quite happy with this!