Sunday, March 25, 2007

Phoenix Suns - Detroit Pistons Game March 16, 2007

Terry scored 4 tickets from his company for a Phoenix Suns game last Friday and I'm finally getting around to posting about it now. We got there early and met Randy & Linda (who were already close to the court) to try to get autographs just for the fun of it. I actually got one from Boris Diaw on the cover of the Suns 2006-07 Yearbook. He was very nice to sign lots of autographs before the game and even stood with a girl to get her picture taken. I scanned the cover of the magazine, but for some reason it won't load here. If it did, you'd be able to see the scribbly signature right along Steve Nash's arm (on the cover photo).

Unfortunately it was a pretty disappointing of the worst losses of the season. But it was still fun to see them in person and be part of the excitement of such a great team in such an awesome year. I can't wait to see how they do in the playoffs and see if Nash gets his 3rd consecutive MVP, Barbosa gets 6th man of the year and Marion gets Defensive Player of the Year!

As you can see I got some pretty good shots with my long lens. I tried to take a bunch during the game, but it was just too hard when they're moving so fast, we were at the top of the lower level and I didn't have those huge lenses like the sports photographers who sit right under the basket. I told Terry that's what I want for my birthday next year. Ha!

I think the most fun for me at a game is to isolate on a player and watch his interaction on the court and off. It's so much fun to see their personality and how they treat each other and the opposing team members. Of course, I like to watch them play too, but that's one of the many reasons I like basketball the best.

  1. You have less players to watch
  2. They don't have helmets or masks on so you can see their emotions and interaction better. For example, look at Steve Nash smiling during warm ups and the pre-game greetings. Doesn't he look like he's having fun?
  3. The court is closer to the stands, so you're not looking across the outfield or 100 + yards away to see the guys.
  4. I love the fast moving game, especially with the Suns. There's no way you can get bored with this game.
  5. I won't get into details by talking about Nash's amazing 6th sense for assists to just the right player at the right time or the pick-and-rolls, the alley-oops to Marion or Stoudemire's dunks, plus the awesome 3-point scoring...I just LOVE THIS GAME!
I also had to get some pics of Leandro Barbosa because he's Amy's he's so cute and lovable. What a sweet kid. As Tom Chambers said the other night; "I just want to give him a big hug." I have more pics too, Amy if you want to see them.

I was so glad that we were able to get to a game this sold-out season, even if it was a loss. It was well worth it!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thunderstorms in Phoenix!

Wow! I love this weather forecast, but I don't believe it.

We'll see if we actually get a storm...maybe I can get a picture like this...

doubtful...but I'm optimistic

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Lake Erie in the Winter:

This is a pic of a beach on the shores of Lake Erie very close to where I grew up in Vermilion, Ohio. We used to call this Tiki Beach. I have no idea why. My long-time friend, Scott took this recently when he went home to visit his dad. Scott grew up in a home overlooking the lake. How cool is that!

It's so bizarre to think that folks back there are getting snowstorms when we hit 99 degrees this week in Phoenix! I've been wearing my summery capris and sandals all weekend and we actually turned on the air conditioner yesterday.

I often miss the seasons and yes, even the winter. I remember as a kid walking out on the frozen lake. It was awesome! Of course, I probably wouldn't do much of that now, but would certainly enjoy looking out at it from beside a warm fireplace.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Our whirlwind trip to So Cal

Monday through Weds this week, I needed to go to Southern California to visit some potential venues for our next Getaway at Bo's Cafe for work. It's my job to research and gather info so our team can decide on the best location at the best price for our exclusive fund-raising and marriage retreats for 25-30 influential couples from around the U.S. and Canada. Our guests are folks that generally have the means to stay wherever in the world they want (literally) so we need a place that's luxurious, yet somewhat reasonable in price. Impossible, you say? Well, we'll see...

I didn't want to go by myself, so Amy graciously came along to take pictures of the places while I walked and talked with the sales reps. It was a huge help for me to not have to keep track of taking photos so I could concentrate on questions and just observing the place. Don't I look like I'm concentrating on something important here?

To save money we drove to So Cal instead of flying...about 5 hours or so each way. Amy slept in the back seat for part of the way over and used her backpack as a pillow (above). She also decided that part of her photo assignment was to see how many pics she could take of herself in the mirrors that we passed during the tours. I didn't count them, but I'm sure there's at least a dozen or more.

All 7 of the resorts we visited (basically in 2 days) had either 4 or 5-diamond AAA ratings, except one that was 3 diamond. The one that was 5 diamond, was clearly superior to the others, so I hope we're able to work a good deal to be able to go there. The other properties were all very nice, and places that Terry and I wouldn't hesitate to stay, (if the room rate wasn't too high). But since we're expecting guests with somewhat higher standards, we'll try to go with the highest quality that we can afford. As a non-profit, it's a delicate balance between spending money for higher quality and not appearing that we're being's my job to try to find that balance.

These are the resorts we visited, in order of my current preference, based on factors like, overall beauty and cleanliness onsite, location, proximity to fun activities, amenities, guest rooms, meeting rooms, food, etc.:

Four Seasons Aviara - Carlsbad
Loew's Coronado Bay Resort
Hilton San Diego
Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa
Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines
Paradise Point Resort & Spa
Rancho Bernardo Inn

I could go into detail about each one, but I'll let you look at their websites if you're interested. If you want more info on any of them, I'll be happy to answer any questions or give my personal comments.

For now, I'll share just a couple of tidbits that were fun about the visits. The outside photos here are of the Four Seasons Aviara which was head and shoulders above the rest. A beautiful resort inside and out.

Click on the photo of the table full of water and treats to see that the Hilton San Diego set it up just to welcome Amy and me. WOW!!! At this same table, we were also introduced to the General Manager of the resort, the award winning Head Chef, Hermann Schaefer, the Hotel Manager and some other man that I don't remember his title. Talk about intimidating, but certainly made us feel important & special!

These shoes were worn by our sales rep at the Paradise Point resort. She was a sweet young lady and did some creative things for us as well.

By the end of each day we were pretty tired from all the driving and walking so we just relaxed in the room. On Weds night we were trying to get home to see the Suns play the Mavs for a critical basketball game. We listened to the first half on the radio coming home and I got to see the 2nd half and the TWO overtimes on TV at home.

I had a fun time and was so glad that Amy came with me. It wouldn't have been nearly as much fun by myself.

And here's a contest for a trip to Ireland!

Unfortunately, it ends on Saturday and you have to go to the Cost Plus World Market store to enter...

I'm not sure if I'll get there, but I'll bet the number of entries is pretty low. They only allow one entry per household too. If you have a chance to go by a store, it might be worth it.

I just entered the Win a Scottish Castle sweepstakes, to win a once-in-a-lifetime, 5-day trip to my own castle in Scotland. As Clan Chief I'll get to select five friends to join me in the magnificent 16th century Fenton Tower. Plus, I'll choose four exclusive excursions to truly enjoy Scotland like royalty. Choices include golf at Gullane, salmon fishing on the Tweed river (below), a Private lunch in Edinburgh Castle's Gatehouse, and more! The toughest part will be deciding who to take with us if we win.

You can enter too - just go to

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Leadership Catalyst Getaway at Bo's Cafe March 1-4, 2007

Last week our organization hosted our 2nd marriage retreat for executive couples called the Getaway at Bo's Cafe, which is why I haven't been blogging much lately. I'm the Events Manager so I get the privilege of coordinating all the details for these events.

These are the 3 guys who are the authors and presenters in the organization (L to R - John Lynch, Bruce McNicol, Bill Thrall). They did the majority of the teaching for the weekend. I love these guys! They're an awesome trio, each with their own strengths and contributions to the group.

We held the event at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort in Tucson and it went very well with very few glitches. Here are a few pics to give you a feel for the weekend.

When we got back to our room the first night we were greeted with lots of goodies (one of the perks of being the event coordinator...they want to keep you happy). Besides a plate of fresh fruit, chocolate dipped strawberries, chips and salsa (like the ones Linda mentioned in her blog) we also received a cool plate of chocolates including these chocolate cacti. I was going to save them for our get-together on Saturday night, then forgot to bring them over to the Hospitality Suite. On Sunday, when we were packing up to leave they were still sitting there waiting for us, so I forced myself to eat them on the run as I was packing up the last of our stuff. They were delicious! One milk chocolate, one white chocolate and the biggest one was dark chocolate. My favorite! How did they know?

On Friday night Don & Carol, and Terry & I had a chance to meet some old friends who live in Tucson for dinner. Dave Argentati used to play steel guitar, mandolin (I think) and guitar in a band with Terry many years ago. We had recently reconnected with him and met his wife Kathrin. It was so much fun to catch up on their lives and get to know them both better. We went to El Charro Cafe for mexican food. The restaurant happens to be celebrating their 85 anniversary this year. I can see why they've been around so long. The food was excellent! Check out Dave's music site and if you live in the Tucson area, go check out their band some time. We're hoping to go down and see them play when we have a chance.

Because it was the second time around for the event and we had more help with set up from the LCI team on the first day of the retreat, I actually had a bit of time to relax during the weekend.

I was able to join Linda, Michelle and Carol beside the pool. As you'll see from their dress, it was pretty cool, especially in the shade, but the sun felt good and we enjoyed the time together on Saturday afternoon while the guys rehearsed for their performances that night and in the morning.

On Saturday night after our big dinner, most of the support team went to the Hospitality Suite to kick back and relax for a while. There was a huge balcony off the suite with a beautiful view of the city, golf course and nearby mountains (see below-enlarge to get the best view).

So all in all, it was a success on many levels, and based on the feedback we've recieved so far, the teaching made a huge impact on the couples that attended. Those who are familiar with the principles of grace and trust that are the core of Leadership Catalyst, know how life-changing they can be. These retreats are our way of introducing those principles to couples who may not have heard about them before, especially in relation to their marriage. It's an amazing thing to see how God can impact a marriage, family and beyond when a husband and wife understand how His grace and protective love can work in everyday life. What a blessing! I'm so honored to have a small part of bringing this message to the world and I look forward to seeing where God will be taking it in the future.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Check out this awesome free geneology website! It's called Geni (Everyone's related). Every time you add a family member and include their email address they get an invitation to go online and add as much info as they want and add more family members. It's quite addicting. I just added like 10 people as soon as I got online.

Supposedly, the only people who can see your tree are those that you invite to join, so that helps keep it secure, hopefully. I still probably wouldn't put too much personal info in there...besides, you never know who will end up in your extended family...there are lots of black sheep out there.

It makes me want to just keep going... The good news is that if my family members go online and complete their sections it will save me a lot of time and I'll learn more about them too! This could be a really great addiction.

Have fun!