Sunday, September 21, 2008

Aspen Trip Pictures Like I Promised

I promised you pictures so you could see our Aspen experience with Millionaires Lifestyles. I can't even put into words how amazing the trip was. I cannot wait to go back to Aspen again in both the ski season and warmer seasons. There is just so much to do there that two days just wasn't enough. We packed in as much as we could.

The weekend started on a Friday night upon our arrival. We were picked up from the airport by a driver at the Ritz-Carlton and whisked away to the Ritz-Carlton property. I was amazed just at the sight of the town of Aspen, but I was blown away when we arrived at the property. It looked exactly like what you see in movies when the wealthy head to the mountains for vacation. I couldn't believe we would be staying there and that thought continued throughout the trip.

We got to the suite to find that it was a 3 bedroom, 3 bath suite with Cara and I having our own room. With that room came the best bathroom I had ever seen. It had marble everywhere and there was a switch on the wall that you could flip to HEAT UP THE FLOOR!!!! Of course I played with this the entire trip. There was a nice balcony that stretched the length of the suite and overlooked the heated pool and hot tub. Enough about the room though...

We had lots of events planned. We got to go to a Chef's Corner with the chefs of the Ritz-Carlton. They prepared an eight course meal right in front of us and gave us the recipes for everything they cooked. There was also a bottle of wine with every course which led to some interesting behavior later in the night. :-) We also went paragliding which was a lot of fun. We also got to spend a lot of time just walking around Downtown Aspen and seeing the city.

Enough of me telling you about everything. Just about everything can be seen in the pictures. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as we enjoyed taking them. If you would like more information on how you could possibly have a similar experience with Millionaires Lifestyle let me know and I will get you in touch with the right people. ;-)

Kylee's First Trip to the Zoo

Will and I decided to take our niece, Kylee, to the zoo this weekend. Here are some pictures from our day.

She was so cute, as she got so excited looking at all the animals! It was a lot of fun! It also gave us a 'taste' of parenthood. Boy were we tired at the end of the day!! The stuff not documented in pictures: us figuring out how to open and close her stroller, trying not to feed her too many things Mom and Dad don't want her to have, digging through her diaper bag for necessities of taking care of her, and finally, Kylee opening the bathroom stall door while I was going to the bathroom! Whew! We discovered we still need a little training before we are ready for our own. :) We had a great time though! And Will is completely ADORABLE with Kylee!! I know he will be a wonderful father when it is that time...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Last Lecture

For the first time in ages I actually read a book for my own personal pleasure. Anybody who knows me knows that I am far from a reader. I pretty much only read magazines and I don't even read those very often. Anyways, I picked up The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon. If you don't know the story about him, let me bring you up to speed.

Randy Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in early 2007. If you don't know much about cancer, this is one of the types of cancer with the worst survival rates. He had done many treatments and had all the cancer removed, but when he returned for a checkup they found numerous tumors on his liver and he was given 3 to 6 months to live. He had a wife and three young children that he knew he would be leaving soon. So he decided to move his family back to Virginia to be closer to where his wife was from so she would have help once he was gone. As he was helping his wife get settled into their new home, he was asked to give what many professors give at the end of their careers, a last lecture. He struggled with the idea of whether to do it or not as he wanted to spend as much time with family as possible, but he decided to do it. There was a catch though, he required that the lecture be recorded so that he would have something to leave behind for his children. This is where his lecture took on a life of its own. The video of his lecture has spread across the web like wildfire. With so much attention being brought to it, Dr. Pausch decided to write a book about the topic of his lecture, chasing your childhood dreams. This book is how I came to know about him.

Even though Dr. Pausch passed away earlier this summer, I feel like I know him now. If you read the book you will know what I am talking about. This man completely captured how to live in his short book. Even as he knew he was dying, he continued to live as if he would be here for a long while. I feel like I am better now for reading this book and I just want to get off my butt and start doing so many of the things I have talked about. Dr. Pausch accomplished all of his childhood dreams by simply going for them and I should do the same. He was a good man and he will be missed.

If you have more interest in Dr. Pausch, his lecture, or his book you can go to for more information. You can view the entire lecture there and read some passages from the book.

For my nerdy computer friends, please check out what might eventually be Dr. Pausch's legacy in computer science. He created ALICE, a project that uses educational software to trick people into learning how to program. He left it in good hands and it is still going strong.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Living Like A Millionaire

As I type this post I am looking over my shoulder over a balcony at an awesome pool and some beautiful mountain scenery. I've been living like a "baller" as they say for the past few days. We, with some other members of my family, are in Aspen for the weekend courtesy of Millionaires Lifestyle. It's an awesome company my aunt has started and I am so appreciative that she allowed us to share in this awesome experience. I will be giving more details about the trip after I get home and can post pictures, but just know that I have been having more fun than I have had in a while.

So be looking for pictures and more info on what I've been doing up here in Aspen. Have to run now so I can go get dressed for a night on the town that has been planned for us. I don't have a lot of details of what is supposed to be going on tonight, but someone let it slip that I will be more than amazed... :-)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tuesday, September 11, 2001...

At 9:30am on this day seven years ago, I woke up and experienced something that immediately changed my life forever. Sometimes things happen to you in your life and all you can do is drop to the ground and disbelief and this was one of them. I remember it like it was yesterday. I don't know if this is the right place for it, but I feel like sharing my 9/11 story...

I slept in that morning because my Engineering Economics professor had canceled class for that Tuesday. I was sleeping so peacefully, when all of a sudden my phone rang. I answered the call and it was Cara on the line. I thought that was strange because she was supposed to be on a flight to West Texas for a soccer game. She told me that her flight had been canceled because planes had flown into the World Trade Center. It didn't really register to me what she said because I was basically still asleep. So I got off the phone and laid back down for a few minutes before the light bulb went off in my head about what she had just told me. I hopped out of bed and turned on the television only to see a plane crashing into the second building. I screamed out loud not knowing I was watching a replay of what had happened hours earlier.

I ran across my dorm suite and beat on Dre's (roommate) door. He opened the door and told me he had tried to wake me up earlier and tell me what happened and then explained what was going on in the situation. As he told me, my heart sunk down into my stomach and I felt so sick. When he finished I went into my room and just cried for what seemed like forever.

The rest of that day I was on and off the phone talking to people about it as we learned more and more about what had happened. I remember finding out that the attack was planned to be much bigger with targets across the country using flights leaving from all the major airports across the country, including DFW. This is what hit me the hardest. Cara and her team were scheduled to fly out of DFW that morning and she easily could have been on a flight that was destined for doom if the FAA had not grounded all flights. I've never spoken of this, but it scared me so much to think that in an instant Cara and many of the friends I was beginning to make on her team could have all been gone. The "what could have been" thoughts angered me and saddened me at the same time.

So each year since that day in 2001, I look at today as a day to give thanks. Any one of us could have been one of the people on those unfortunate flights, just like any one of us could be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Be thankful for the people in your life and cherish them because they may not always be there. Also, be thankful for those who have sacrificed for our freedoms, not just right now, but over the many years of time in our world. I know I would not be doing many of the things I do or have many of the things in my life if it weren't for them.

I also personally want to thank all the people in my life for being there. Life has punched me in the stomach many times, but you've always been there to help me get back up and stand on my feet even when you didn't even know you were doing it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Toulouse Perspective

It appears that I come from a family of bloggers much more talented than I am. It also appears that I married one (seeing that the past 4 blogs are Will's!). Anyways, I thought I'd share recent political blogs from my family. The first comes from my brother's blog, Retrospective Reflections. It is a commentary on John McCain's pick for VP, Sarah Palin.

The second is found on the PBS website (click here), where my father was asked to do a blog reflecting on religion in the National Conventions.

You should check them out and see where I get my blogging skills. ;) Ha! Well, at least you can appreciate their skill. :)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Non-Karaoke Karaoke Party

Well, Cara is now 26 and to celebrate we wanted to do something different than the usual night of bar hopping. So to be different, we decided to have a karaoke and cookout party with a few friends. It sounded great in theory, but it just never quite took off like we planned.

First thing, there was no cookout due to a long story involving a certain dog chewing off a vital piece of my grill. The dog will go unnamed...

Second thing, there was no karaoke!! We have two karaoke machines and per Murphy's Law neither of them worked. Our newest karaoke machine was working just great up until the time Cara and co. arrived here. I had been jamming and testing it out, but when we wanted to get the singing started the machine would not read any kind of CD. So I tried to switch to the old machine we had on standby and it would not even spin the CDs so they could be read.

So we had to fall back on just talking and hanging out with friends and it seemed to work just fine. We should probably do things like that a lot more... :-) Everything else worked out greatly and there was the hugest cookie cake ever for everyone to share. There's still a ton of it left and I just might have to eat a lot of it.