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We have a snow (or ice) day today, so I've got time to blog! Today will be catch-up day: taxes, wedding invitations, homework; etc. I already have my day planned, but wanted to hop on here to share my Miss America 2009/Las Vegas experience! Get ready for a lot of (!) exclamation points!

I was excited to be a part of the first Evans Kennedy Group/Hawaiian Tropics Zone "Glam It Up" Fashion Show that featured outfits by Sherri Hill & Jamie Shaw. I had fun being a model, even if one of the dresses they put me in was a size ZeRo and tutu shaped! (Don't worry we won't be seeing any pics of that!) Mom & I arrived in Vegas Friday afternoon and headed straight for PH (Planet Hollywood, wink)! We were SO hungry we grabbed a really expensive lunch at Hawaiian Tropics during rehearsal! Yea, that's right expensive! I gave my mom a funny look when I saw the tab and she said "What? It's Vegas!" I guess she expected it, but when we were in Vegas last year I didn't see any bills! I was just really taken back, it seemed ludicrous! If you are planning your trip to Vegas, make sure you save, save, save!

I went back to our room to freshen up and headed back down for "mingling" before the fashion show. Here are some pictures:After the show, we were back in the room to get ready for the Miss America Class of 2008 Reunion! It felt so good to chat with these amazing women. Some of us have stayed in touch (thanks to facebook), but for some it had been a year since we've seen or talked to one another! We started out with a "red carpet" event where we each received our very own "reunion sash" and LOTS of photo ops. Then it was into the club to dance the night away! I finally headed back to the room a little after1AM...Vegas time! Mind you, that's 4AM Ohio time! Vegas is the city that never sleeps, so I was one of the one's that left early! Talk about being tired, boy was I ever. Here are some pics:Surprisingly, I woke at 7AM Saturday because I knew what the day brought! Mom & I ventured to the Spice Market Buffet where we ate everyday last year! It is good, don't get me wrong but when you have it every day, it gets old...fast! It was nice to step back into that restaurant and have a piece of baklava, which I had everyday last year! We walked the strip and stopped at Bally's to play Black Jack. We made a stop at the Miss America trade show where I found a piece of jewelry for the wedding! And we ran into Mike Allegretto, MAO Director of Operations. He's the best! Shh, don't tell anyone but I was able to make a quick stop in rehearsal! I got to see some of the contestants on stage, Clinton Kelly, Mario Lopez, give Karissa a hug & talk with Kirsten (MA 08)! It felt so surreal to be in there, just like old times!
I so felt that Karissa was going to place in the Top 15! But then again, I thought I was going to get in the Top 15 last year too. This really shows us that we never know! Although we wanted Karissa to win, after the Top 15 announcement we thought Georgia was going to. She almost did (it was a win in my eyes with a $25K scholarship) as 1st runner-up to our new Miss America 2009, Katie Stam! When the show started, I text messaged Kaitlynne (Miss KY) "I'm going to pee my pants!" I knew exactly what those young ladies were going through and I felt the adrenaline rush all over again! It was a wonderful feeling.

We sat next to some of Karissa's friends and behind her sister. After Karissa was not named in the Top 15, you could tell the excitement dropped a little. When your girl doesn't "make it", you tend to root for someone else. Those behind us were rooting for Michigan, next to us was Miss Indiana's roommate and well, we were just trying to cheer for everyone!

The evening couldn't have ended better. I am pleasantly happy with the judges choice for Miss America and I hope she serves well this year. And Karissa arrived to visitation with a smile on her face! She seemed to sparkle and was peaceful. I have to share one of the texts I sent her: Be content with who you are and don't put on airs. God's strong hand is on you, He will promote you at the right time. -1 Peter 5:6 I hope that verse spoke to Karissa, it spoke to me. Our destiny is not in our hands, it's in His. Our life is not our own, it's His. I think this is what I saw in Karissa after finals, she knew it wasn't in her plan and is/was ok with it. We need to continue to support her in her last six months as OUR Miss Ohio! We need to continue to support the program. It doesn't mean anything just because a Miss Ohio doesn't go on to become Miss America. Miss Indiana had NEVER had a Miss America until four nights ago! I am so thankful to have been able to make the trip out and feel blessed to know all of these outstanding individuals and have these continued lasting memories! I hope you enjoyed the photos, here's a link to more pics.
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Tune in to MSNBC tomorrow morning (Wednesday) at 8:30a.m. EST to watch a taped interview with our new Miss America 2009 Katie Stam, where she will receive tips on how to be a news anchor from some of the best news makers at MSNBC.

Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist of Morning Joe welcome Katie to the wonderful world of broadcasting and legendary Brian Williams drops by to share some of his successful guidelines on news reporting with our new Miss America.

Along with Morning Joe, Katie continues her NYC media tour with interviews on Wednesday at: CW11 Morning Show, Better TV(www.bettertv.org), ABC News Now & Associated Press Television.

Please check your local listings for times.

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We're back from Miss America! I'm done with class for the day but am sitting here at work, blogging away when I should be compiling admission kits for the MBA program! But I can't help myself! I had to provide you this link so you can check out some of my pics from our trip to Vegas!


Will blog more later!
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My apologies to you! I'm sorry for the lack of blogging and I am preparing for another spell of bloglessness! I was lucky to squeeze time in to post videos from Karissa's send-off. Classes are back in full swing, I had an impromptu Miss Ohio gig, I just finished my first "paper" (if you can classify it as one) of the quarter, Steve & I finally registered tonight and...I leave for Vegas in a week! I am beyond excitement to make the trip back to Planet Hollywood!

Here's the jist of my itinerary: We arrive Friday in Las Vegas around 2pm with no time left for dawdling, we have to rush to PH for rehearsal. I won't have time to stop in our room, so my carry-on will consist of various shoes, earrings, makeup & hairspray, etc. I will be fitted for a dress or two and rehearse for "Glam It Up!" We have to be hair & makeup ready around 6:30pm, because doors open at 7pm! I am psyched to be a model for the "Glam It Up" event, which should end roughly around 10pm. Then it's off to the Miss America Class of 2008 Reunion! I am thrilled to death to see 20 of my Miss America ladies! Who knows when I'll get to bed, but I don't care! I will surely be on a caffeine high the entire trip!

Saturday is time for some slots, shopping and lunch with my Miss Ohio family! You will watch the Miss America competition when it airs in Ohio at 8 at night but in Vegas it will be 5 in the afternoon. We'll be getting "prettied-up" soon after lunch! Who knows what Saturday night brings but we know what happens Sunday morning...flight back to O.H.I.O.! I plan to take both the video and digital cameras! Be ready for some great feedback after Miss America 2009! I can't wait to be there when they call out Karissa's name! Go Buckeyes!


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The 2009 Miss America Quality of Life Award finalists have been announced:


Las Vegas, NV – January 15, 2009 This year's Quality of Life finalists were announced today at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas during the 2009 Miss America Pageant Arrival Ceremony. The Arrival Ceremony was the first time the Las Vegas community was able to see all the Miss America hopefuls and welcome them to the city. On hand to announce the finalists were Mayor Oscar B. Goodman, Bill Feather, president of Planet Hollywood Management, Inc., Art McMaster, president and CEO of the Miss America Organization and Sam Haskell, III, Chairman of the Board of the Miss America Organization.

The eight finalists and their personal platform issues are:

Miss Alabama Amanda Tapley: "Music for a Cure"

Miss Hawaii Nicole Fox: "The Adopt-A-College Program"

Miss Indiana Katie Stam: "Super Saturday of Service"

Miss Kentucky Emily Cox: "Uniquely Me - Promoting Self Esteem in Adolescent Girls

Miss Michigan Ashlee Baracy: "Breast Cancer Awareness & Education"

Miss North Carolina Amanda Watson: "Making ALS History, One Person at a Time"

Miss Rhode Island Francesca Simone: "F.A.C.T. - Families of Alzheimers Carrying the Torch"

Miss Virginia Tara Wheeler: "Empowering America's Youth"

This year, the newly renamed “Evelyn Ay Sempier Quality of Life Awards” were funded through the generosity of our Miss Americas. In honor of Miss America 1954 Evelyn Ay Sempier, the Miss America sisters funded three Quality of Life awards with special attention paid to depth of service, creativity of the project and the significant effects upon the lives of others.

Quality of Life Awards were introduced in 1988 to recognize contestants who excel in their commitment to community service. In order to be considered for the Quality of Life Award, contestants must submit an application describing their involvement with Children's Miracle Network, the national platform of the Miss America Organization, and their own personal platform issue.

The winner of the Quality of Life Award will receive a $6,000 scholarship, the first runner-up will win a $4,000 scholarship, and the second runner-up will win a $2,000 scholarship. Winners will be announced at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on January 22 during the 10:30 a.m. (PST) press conference.

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Despite the dreary, foggy, gloomy weather over the weekend; Steve and I traveled to Tuscarawas in support of Karissa's send-off! I held the honor of hosting/emceeing Karissa's celebration on Sunday afternoon. It was delightful to see familiar faces, give hugs and to see our Miss Ohio 2008! She has represented the State of Ohio with beauty, grace and confidence. I wish her all the best as she continues her journey to Las Vegas where she will compete for Miss America 2009...and brings home the crown! I hope these videos work, I'm still getting used to my new Christmas present. You will notice Steve acted as the official photographer and he did an excellent job! In one clip you will hear background voices, it is Steve & Karissa's dad, Ron! Also, you'll notice how Steve pays attention to Katelyn Jane and not the show! There are some really great parts. Enjoy!

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A new year brings new blessings! On December 28, my fiance and I along with his brothers and sisters, surprised his parents with a family photos session in celebration of their 30th wedding anniversary! (For those of you who don't know, Steve is 1 of 7!) Pictured above is my soon to be "new" family, taken at the Franklin Park Conservatory. We used our wedding photographer for these family pictures, because she's the best! I hope to post more of our engagement pics and family pics later. Don't forget to check out the promo video.

I got some amazing gifts for Christmas this year, one of which is a new video camera! I'm also working on a video to give to my future mother-in-law for her birthday later this month! I'll be sure to post that too. One other wonderful gift I received from my future in-laws, is a vintage hand sewn ladybug quilt! It is absolutely beautiful and I've used it the past seven days straight!To round out my top three best gifts this Christmas, drum roll please...I'm going back to Miss America! On Christmas Day I cried my eyes out opening a box from my mom that held the MAO competition magazine, copies of emails and flight info for...Las Vegas! This came as a big surprise but is something that I truly wanted! A chance to go back and enjoy a bit of Vegas, watch Miss America from a different point of view, reunite with MAO Class of '08 and to be able to be there to support Karissa! I will be in attendance for Miss Ohio 2008's Send-Off Celebration to Miss America, this Sunday! Don't forget to make it out! It will be a very enjoyable event...and I'm the emcee, I mean c'mon! Smile. Here's a link to info on Karissa's send-off.

I've said it time and time again but I am truly blessed!