Wednesday, December 20, 2006


E&R Xmas Tree

We had a very successful and challenging mission. The shuttle undocked from the station yesterday and will be landing Friday…just in time for the holidays.

We celebrated Ross’ birthday, which was yesterday, by going to Dave & Busters with some friends over the weekend. Dave & Busters is basically a video game arcade for adults. We played lots of fun games. I think our favorites were the trivia game…we won a lot of tickets…and a boxing game that Ross played. We ended up cashing in our tickets for a soccer ball and a yo-yo.

We also attended a Christmas party with all of our friends from our life group. We ate lots of food, and had a white elephant gift exchange. Here is a picture of everyone from that night. You can check out the rest in our album.

life group xmas party

Tomorrow we’re planning to go to Galveston to see the Festival of Lights and go ice skating. I can’t wait! I’ve only been ice skating once, so we’ll see how I do. It’s still ~75F (~25C) here. It doesn’t really feel like winter at all, so our trip tomorrow is our attempt to make it feel more like the right time of the year.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Successful Launch of STS116

In follow up to Elizabeth's previous post, I am reporting that Discovery did indeed launch successfully with a spectacular night launch. This is great news because it means that E and I get to go home for Christmas! Of course, E and I ended up playing tag team mission support as she got home a little after midnight and I had to come in at 3 AM. Oh well, that's one of the joys of supporting the space program.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Launch Discovery Launch!

Time flies when you're busy. Since Thanksgiving Ross and I have been consumed with work and Christmas preparations. We got our Christmas tree decorated and even have most of our presents under the tree. My parents came to Houston the weekend after Thanksgiving, and we got a lot of shopping done.

The next weekend was a lot of fun. My best friend Barbara came to visit! We went to my group's Christmas party, decorated another Christmas tree at the church, did some more shopping, got pedicures (Ross didn't join us for that part), and went to see the latest James Bond movie.

This week Ross and I participated in the 2nd Annual Space Exploration Conference here in Houston. I got to see a couple of ISU friends there. Melissa was one of the people responsible for organizing the event, so she was busy most of the time. We finally got to catch up a little on the last day. Alvin, Steve, and Marlo were also there, along with Michael Simpson. It was great to meet all of Alvin's Irish friends that are here at Rice University with him. Steve had updates on his career plans, and I can't wait to find out how everything works out. Marlo was like me...just working!

Yesterday the shuttle was supposed to launch, but it got "scrubbed" for 48 hours becuase of a weather violation. Thanks to that, I haven't slept in 24 hours. I'm working the 11PM to 8AM shift tonight. Tomorrow I work 7PM to 8AM unless we launch. If we launch I only have to work until midnight! The downside is that Ross will have to work the night shift whenever we launch. We're still hoping for a launch before Tuesday. If we launch on Tuesday, we'll have to work Christmas, which would be really disappointing since I worked Thanksgiving too. We'd really like to go home and see our families! Let's hope that the weather clears up, everything goes well, and that we get to launch tomorrow! That would mean I'd get to give one of the "go for launch" calls and see a night launch while sitting on console!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Pine Gully Park

Here are a couple pictures from the park on Saturday.

E on the tire swingPine Gully Park

Thanksgiving with Astronauts

Another busy week has flown by becoming a blur and blending into the new week. Last week was spent in meeting after meeting…understanding software, planning for the EVA, planning for crew training, planning for the next ISS increment, planning for the next flight, and planning for future flights. I had the chance to do a little mentoring last week too, which is always fun and encouraging because it means that someone else should soon be able to help lighten our work load! Really I just enjoy helping people learn how to do this job and giving them feedback and encouragement…knowing that it will help me personally in the future is just a bonus.

Friday night our life group got together, and Jenny led us in some discussion and reflection about ourselves. It was a pretty neat exercise. She had us draw a face on one side of a piece of paper. Then we passed it around to everyone in the group, and each person wrote something about you on your piece of paper. Those comments turned out to be the surface level…what we put on, share with the people around us, and allow people to see. Then we flipped the paper over and wrote about the things that we were really struggling with or dealing with right now. Of course, that was the deeper side that we often don’t share with people...we try to deal with it on our own and appear perfect to the world. The great thing about this is that we really don’t have to go through life alone. Of course, we have God, but He has also provided us with friends to give the love and support we need. We just have to take the time and opportunity to share our lives with our friends so they can be there.

Saturday was a gorgeous day. I had to work on console in the morning, but in the afternoon, Ross and I went to the park and had a picnic. We threw the football and Frisbee around, played on the tire swing, and watched the sailboats glide by on the bay. It was a nice break from a busy week.

This is normally a week that most Americans look forward to. You get at least one day off of work, spend time with your family, and eat lots of good food. For me this will be a busier than normal week because I’m working on console in the evenings and supporting meetings and crew training during the day. There is a spacewalk (EVA) from the space station tomorrow where one of the crew members will be playing golf…I think it’s for advertising. Then I get to spend my Thanksgiving with the crew. Ross is going to be cooking a delicious meal, so I won’t be missing out on the traditional good food this year, but I will certainly miss getting to see everyone. Ross may go to a friend’s house in the evening to spend time hanging out and playing video games…that should be fun!

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Ross and Bailey CampingElizabeth CampingAfter a hectic week with little time to spend together, Ross and I took the weekend to get away! We went to Guadalupe State Park to go camping! It's the first time we've ever gone camping together, and I think we both agreed that we'll do it again. Our friends Emma and Chris were nice enough to let us borrow their camping equipment so we didn't have to spend a lot of money on something we weren't sure if we'd like. Thanks to their thoughtfulness in giving us more than just the tent and sleeping bags we thought we'd need, our trip was a success. We got there Friday night and set up camp in the dark. It got pretty cold that night, so we eventually got a fire going. The next day we hiked almost every trail the park has, which totaled 8-9 miles. The pictures are from the end of that day. We were all pretty tired...especially Bailey since she's used to sleeping most of the day. That night it got down to 40F, which we were not expecting! I know that's not very cold for some of you, but for us with no heater, that was cold! Today we went fishing for a while and then packed up camp to head home.

It ended up being a good day for Texas sports, which we listened to on our drive home. The Houston Texans won. The Dallas Cowboys won, and the Houston Dynamo are now the MLS (Major League Soccer) Cup Champions!!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Broken Garage Door

Today, when I got home and tried to close the garage door, things didn't go exactly as planned. After some (self-) debate, I decided to write about this in my Projects Blog even though it wasn't exactly a scheduled project. I thought I would post this link for those of you that aren't so interested in projects but might care to read about our broken garage door.

Go Dynamo!

For those of you that have always wanted to work at NASA, you would have enjoyed my last week at work. I spent the last week and a half working in the Mission Control Center. If that wasn't exciting enough, I got to reconfigure systems onboard the International Space Station and respond to my first real-time failure. Fortunately, it was nothing serious, but that's what we train for.

For the next year I will be extremely busy working on all of my new assignments. I am now responsible for all of the planning and operations for my system that will take place in Increment 15, which is a 6 month period that a specific crew will be onboard the station. I am also responsible for the planning and operations for my system for the shuttle flight that will deliver the ESA Columbus module to the station, as well as for a new version of software that will be loaded onboard the station. All of that is on top of the tasks I already had and working on console...I'm going to be busy!

Ross and I had a great weekend. It started with our life group getting together Friday night. I didn't get to be there because I was working, but a few people were still there when I got home. Then I kept Ross up until 3:30 in the morning talking. Saturday we had Girls' Night/Guys' Night. 10 girls came over to our house. We ate lots of good food, including the crawfish pie that Ross made, we did makeovers with my friend Mary that sells Mary Kay, and we played games. The guys went out to eat and played pool. When they were done, they came back to our house, and we all hung out for a while. Sunday we went to our 2nd soccer (football for you non-US people) game. We saw the Houston Dynamo win their MLS conference game, which means they go to the finals next weekend! It was pretty cool.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Progress docked

Things have been busy for the Taylors lately. Last weekend we met with our life group, which is a group of about 8 couples that meet twice a month to hang out, eat good food, and study God’s Word. Ross usually leads the discussion. Our group has really enjoyed using the studies that Bill Hybels wrote as a guide. They always seem to ask questions that get people talking about their lives. We also went to a wedding for April and Patrick where we got to see some of my friends from Chi Alpha. It was fun to see people with their kids and find out what they’re doing now that they’ve graduated. Sunday we went to see The Guardian with our friends Emma and Chris who recently found out that they are expecting a little one of their own.

This week has mostly been about work, but we did get to go to dinner with some of my friends from ISU one night. We met Alvin (from Ireland) and Melissa (from Washington DC/Houston) at Chuy’s for some good Tex-Mex food! Alvin is attending Rice University for the next six months, so I’m looking forward to seeing him more while he’s here. Melissa was in town getting ready for the Space Exploration Conference that will be held in Houston in December. They’re going to have some great speakers there, and I’m really hoping I’ll get to attend.

I’ve been working on console this week. There was a lot of excitement on Thursday when a Russian Progress vehicle docked. Things didn’t go completely as planned and we had to power down some equipment on the station while they got everything back to normal. That kept things interesting and busy for a while!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Rain, Rain...go away!

Today was a little crazy. On our way into work this morning, we kept hearing the radio announcers talking about school closures in the area due to heavy rain and flooding. We didn't think much about it since the streets here were okay this morning, but the trip home was a different story! I left around 5:30 and had a lot of trouble getting home in my big SUV. The water in front of our house was up past the sidewalks and there were a lot of flooded and stalled cars in the area. Ross was playing basketball and tried to fight the same water in his low Trans Am. However, he quickly realized that he wouldn't make it home, so he went back to work for another hour while the rain stopped and the water drained.

The exciting part of my day was when I got a call from Alvin! He's a friend from Ireland that I met at ISU. He's studying at Rice for the next 6 months, so hopefully we'll find time to get together while he's here!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ruston and LA Tech's Homecoming

Ruston was our next stop. Both sets of my grandparents live in Ruston, and we got to see them all. When we got into town we visited with my Dad's parents, and were thrilled to find out that my Aunt Kathy was there as well! From there we went to my Mom's parents for a catfish fry! It was sooooo good. To top that off we got to spend time with three of our very best friends. My cousin and maid of honor, Meg, drove from Atlanta, GA to see us, which was about an 8 hour drive, and Barbara and Heath recently moved to Ruston. Heath is now a professor in mechanical engineering at Louisiana Tech University, and Barbara is continuing to work for the same company from Ruston. They also recently found out that Barbara is pregnant!

I had an Industrial Engineering Advisory Board meeting all day Friday where we spent time learning about the new things going on in the department and meeting with the students. It's a little frustrating because there are a lot of things that need to change and the progress is slow. Things are improving though, and the students this year are really dedicated and want to see things improve too. Hopefully, we can all work together to make a difference!

Saturday started with a bike ride through the Mitchum Peach Orchard with Barbara and Heath. Then we went to the tailgating events for LA Tech's homecoming with Meg where we visited with a lot of our old friends from college including Ross' best man, Scott, and met Barbara and Heath again for the football game. It was a pretty bad game...8 turnovers. Needless to say, we lost, but I had a great time despite the score. We ended the night by going to one of our old hang outs...Johnny's Pizza. We sat around talking for several hours. It was fun to think about how we all met and remember all of the things that happened while we were there. I've posted a few pictures from the tailgating and the game, so check out the album.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Shreveport and the Revel

Ross and I had a great time in Leakey last weekend. After Leslie and Philip's wedding, we headed to Shreveport to visit with my parents. We had a great time there. We had dinner with two of my high school friends, Brandi and Adam. They are one of the coolest couples I know. They have been together since high school and have always been two of the strongest Christians I've ever known. Brandi was one of the most influential people in my life in high school and college. She always held herself and me to a higher standard. It's thanks to her that I never got into any trouble! Adam's pretty incredible too. He's a walking miracle. While fighting overseas, he had a rather large piece of shrapnel go into his neck and somehow miss all of the important nerves, arteries, etc. that go through that small area. I really enjoyed getting to catch up with them.

We also made it to the Red River Revel while we were there. The revel is an arts festival in Shreveport that takes place every year. We always enjoy walking around checking out the paintings, pottery, photographs, jewelry, and crafts. Of course, it doesn't hurt that they have a lot of good Louisiana food too!

Our last day in Shreveport we went for a bike ride through downtown and along the river. It started raining about half way through the ride. We were soaked and muddy by the time we got home, but it was so much fun!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Back to life

Since returning from ISU, Ross and I have been busy getting used to normal life again. Another shuttle flight has flown. I was on console to give a "go for launch" call, and Ross worked the flight providing support during inspections of the shuttle. At work I was recently made "lead" for several things including an upcoming space walk, which will occur the day before Thanksgiving, and a European Space Agency (ESA) flight that will take the Columbus module to the International Space Station (ISS). Being "lead" means that I will be the representative for my system responsible for coordinating between other systems and international partners. It will be a challenge, but it should also be a lot of fun. It may include another trip to Europe, which would allow me to see some of my new friends from ISU!

I came home to a couple of friends recently engaged, several weddings to attend, and a handful of people announcing they were didn't stop while I was gone! We are actually on a vacation right now. Ross and I drove from Houston to Austin, TX to visit some friends and meet a new baby. Ross gave a presentation at the University of Texas for work, which was our excuse for going to Austin in the first place. From there we went to Leakey, TX to see Ross' sister, Leslie, get married to a great guy named Philip. We had a wonderful time! They worked us hard, but it was a lot of fun. When we arrived in Leakey, the building that was to host the reception was still under construction. It did not have toilets, electricity, or dry-wall, and there was construction equipment and stuff everywhere...this was 2 days before the wedding. The next morning it was incredible to see how many people pulled together to get everything done. Leakey is a town of about 360 people, and I think about that many people pitched in to help in one way or another. By the end of that day we had dry-wall and electricity, and the girls had finished everything that could be done to prepare for decorating...we still didn't have toilets yet though. At 6:30 the morning of the wedding, the guy who owned the company responsible for installing the toilets came down and installed them himself! Ross and I were actually able to sneak in a bike ride that morning before getting started working. For those of you who don't know, Leakey is in the hill country of Texas, and we are used to riding the flat roads of Houston. Needless to say, we didn't have to ride very far to get a good workout!

When we got back from our bike ride, we helped set up tables and chairs, covered exposed pipes and electrical cords with rocks, cleaned the building...literally sweeping the workers out, and decorated both the wedding and reception sites just in time to get cleaned up and have a wedding. Ross and I were the photographers for the event, so we had fun taking pictures of everything. It was absolutely gorgeous! It was the first wedding I've ever been to where I got to wear blue jeans and people were in cowboy was perfect for Leslie and Philip. They looked so happy, and we are happy for them! You can check out some of the pictures we took in the album section of our web page. I think they turned out pretty well.

Now we are in Shreveport, Louisiana visiting my family. Ross' parents will be back in Shreveport tomorrow. Then we will head to Ruston, LA where we went to school at Louisiana Tech University. I am on the industrial engineering advisory board there and have a meeting that will last all day Friday. Both sets of my grandparents also live in Ruston, and my mom's parents will be having a fish fry on Thursday...I'll fill you in on the details of that after it happens!

New Blog...

We've decided to start a new blog page now that I'm back from ISU to keep people posted on what we're doing. Of course, Ross will continue to update the Projects Blog as well to let you know what kinds of projects we're doing around the house...there's always something!