Monday, July 31, 2006


We got back last week from a great little jaunt to the Northwest. It felt like Texas - the weather was in the 100's. And no airconditioning - just a bit hot!

Went to visit our friends Ray and Elizabeth. Had fun seeing the sites in Seattle and spending time with my former roomie Andrea. Nice to spend time together, felt like just yesterday that they both were living in Texas.

Then we headed down to Portland to visit my uncle at the Brigittine monestary ( We got there to celebrate the feast of St. Bridget of Sweden. Since the monestary is semi-cloistered, we were able to have the unique experience to speak with the other brothers. It was lots of fun!

We took Ryan back to Portand for his conference, and then I stayed at the monestary for a few days. What a wonderful and peaceful experience. I hope that we can make this an annual trip. It was so beautiful!

On another note, this is the week of my big birthday - the big 3-0! Wow, I can't believe it!!

Guess I should get better at updating this thing :-)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Topped $1K

Well, it is a couple days until the Walk for Life, and I have passed $1000! Whoop! Thanks to all our friends and family who have sponsored me. I'm looking forward to a fun walk - we will have a moon bounce, face painting, puppet show, chiropractic testing, and Ry's soon-to-be-famous snow cones!

Just hope it cools down a little...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Sponsor Alexis!

I'd like to invite you to sponsor Alexis at the 12th Annual Walk for Life
on June 10th at Pease Park, Austin and June 17th in Sun City, Georgetown. I'm hoping to get her at least $2000 in pledges!

To sponsor her with a one-time, tax-deductible donation, please click here:
You can make a donation right away via a credit card or make a pledge
and be billed later. To join the fun and participate as a walker,
click here:
Either way, I hope you will support this worthy cause.

She'll be walking with hundreds of Texans from dozens of churches to
promote the sanctity of innocent human life and to raise funds for
life-saving programs and agencies in our community.

100% of the proceeds will support peaceful, legal efforts by Texas
Alliance for Life to protect mothers and their unborn children and to
promote respect for innocent human life. To learn more about us, visit
our home page here: All
donations are tax-deductible.

Thanks! Have a blessed Easter Season!!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Exploring Auckland

Well, today is our last day. Carmel, Matt's cousin, was our guide. We went up the Sky Tower ( to have a view of the entire city. The craziest thing was there were parts of the floor that were just glass and you could look straight down. You could also bungee off the top, but that was a bit scary for us.

We drove around the city, went to the Greenstone outlet (where they sell jade). We also went to the wine store where Carmel works and got a few for our trip back.

Julie and Matt then took us to the airport. They had a 3 hour drive back home, so just dropped us off. We had a pretty uneventful trip, but had the new planes with our personal screens and video games. Finally got home at midnight and got back to the house!

What an amazing trip! We want to thank Julie, Matt, Christina and Damien who took their precious time off to spend it with us! It was a trip of a lifetime!! We have tons of photos, so you can check them out here: Also, Ry is working to consolidate our 4 1/2 hours of video. Not an easy task! Hopefully we will be able to share that with you too!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Te Pui

We went to the Maori Arts and Cultural Center (now known as Te Puia - in Rotorua this morning. The tour was very interesting, learning about how they lived, ate, etc. We saw them make totem polls and learned lots about their culture. They had a geyser, which was very interesting.

We ended with a show of the traditional Maori dances and songs, including the Haka. Even Matt was impressed.

Drove up to Auckland and went to Mass with Marie and family. The Mass was generally the same. It was very nice (but I was kinda tired). Tomorrow we leave :-(

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Taupo and Rotarua

We got up early and headed to Taupo, on the other side of the lake. We saw the awesome Huka Falls! They were soo powerful and clear. It was beautiful.

We drove to Rotarua and saw the sulfer pools. Loved their beautiful color, but could do without the smell. We stayed the night in Rotarua that night.

That afternoon we headed up a gondula to see the entire city. Did couple runs down the 1st ever luge track. Very fun!

Relaxed that evening with Pizza Hut and a movie. One thing Julie and Matt miss in living so far from a town, that is something they miss. It was a fun night.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Lake Taupo

We travelled to Lake Taupo (about an hour) today to Matt's parents beach house. We took their great boat, the Panhandle (also their name for the farm) out on the lake, but it was quite choppy. The lake is actually a created as a crater from a volcanic eruption.

We rested at the house, then went to play miniture golf. It was the best golf I had ever been too. Each hole was a place in the area (ski resorts, hotels, etc.), so you had to go with a local person to explain it to you. Went to the mineral pools afterward. I stayed a little too long, and overheated myself. Found out that doing that isn't very uncommon. Had fish and chips for dinner, played some pool and another night of Clue!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The farm...

Julie and Matt took us to explore the farm today. In olden days, they used horses - now 4 wheelers!

We started by musetering a paddock. What this means is using Matt's very trained dogs and his calls to move the sheep from one field to another. It was a very interesting experience.

Had lunch with the Olds. That is how New Zealanders refer to their parents - Old Lady and Old Man. We stared with sauteed wild mushrooms that they had picked from the farm. And then had a yummy macaroni casserole.

Matt's parents Simon and Joanne took us on a tour of the farm. We saw the preserved rainforest (about 1000 of their 7500 acres). They also have a city farm of 500 acres (the nearest town is about 30 minutes away). We looked at their entire property from the highest point of their land. It was beautiful. We also heard lots of stories about my brother Steve throughout the day - Steve's pond, where Steve sheared the sheep, etc.

Julie then made us a traditional New Zealand dinner. A lamb roast (that Matt killed last week), potatoes, kumra (like sweet potato), carrots, brocoli, and wild mushrooms. Very good!

We brought Matt the game Clue, since we had fun playing it with him when he visited us. We taught it to his parents that night. I think they were a bit confused. Another great day!!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Waitomo "Glow Worm" Caves

We left early this morning (5:45 New Zealand time/3:45 Australian time) to head down to the Waitomo Caves. It took a couple hours, and the countryside was just like Lord of the Rings.

We got to the Rap, Raft n Rock ( to check in. We had a small group, just us, our guide Marcus, and a Czeck guy named Marek.

We first donned our gear - wetsuit, jacket, pants, belt, boots, helmet and light. We then practiced abselling and abselled about 100 ft. into the caves. We hiked in the underground river and saw some glow worm caves. The "glow" is on the ceiling, as a byproduct of the larvae there (of a kind of spider/mosquito). When you turn your lights off, it looks like the ceiling is glowing (and so other bugs think so too, and are caught in the webs of the larvae).

We hiked, rafted, did a little spelunking, and ended with rock-climbing ourselves out (which was quite tiring since it was our last thing).

We drove to the "farm" that Matt's parents have. About 7500 acres with mostly sheep and some cows. Met Matt's parents and had some of Julie's great lasagna!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Goin' to New Zealand!

Today John and Gill took us to the airport. We got there early, did a bit of shopping, then headed down to the gate! They stayed with us and watched us get on the plane. So sweet!!

Took the short jaunt to Auckland and Julie and Matt picked us up. We stayed at Matt's aunt and uncle's place in Auckland. Michael and Marie are so sweet, and we got to meet the entire family. Since my brother Stephen lived for about 9 months in New Zealand, I am now introduced as Steve's sister, not Julia's cousin :-)

Monday, April 03, 2006

the beach!

So, for our last day in Australia, Christina took us to the beach! Here we come Sunshine Coast!!

We went to a cool aquarium called Underwater World. We learned about seals, otters, stingrays and all other kids of fish. They had a cool exhibit where you were on a moving walkway and the aquarium was on both sides and over you! so cool!

We then went to the beach and went in the water. It was great! Ry and I had so much fun, like we were little kids - jumping in the waves and trying not to get saltwater in our eyes.

John and Gill made us a traditional Australian dinner - lamb, pumpkin, potato, peas and carrots! It was yummy! We had pavlova for dessert (meringue with whipped cream and fruit). It was great! We sure are going to miss this beautiful place and wonderful hosts!! It has been so much fun!!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

the Big Pineapple

Damien had to leave us today! His work called him to India for a business trip.

Christina took us to the Big Pineapple. It used to be a working pineapple plantation, with macadamia nuts, petting zoo and more. When we got there it looked a bit abandoned. After we spoke to a worker we found out that the land was for sale, and the owner was not doing any improvements. It was sad to see the empty fields where pineapples used to grow.

Luckily, since there were few people there, we were able to crach our own macadamia nuts and were one of the only ones on the Nut Mobile. It seemed a little like a family amusement park whose hey-day was in the 70s and 80s.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

exploring around Brisbane

We went up into the mountains today and explored! Did some wine tasting (and brought a few back), had a great pizza, and went to a cheese factory and tasting shop.

Now, wine tasting is different in Australia than in the US. At home, you pick a few wines you wish to taste, and usually have to pay a fee. We tried (just a sip) of every wine they had on the menu! It was great (even though I got a bit tipsy)!!

Had Chinese tonight for dinner. Ryan has been craving it the entire vacation, so he got his wish!!

Friday, March 31, 2006

travelling back...

We left at 5 a.m. this morning to catch our flight back to Brisbane. That pretty much shot us for the day, we were quite tired.

Had John (Damien's dad)'s world famous fish and chips! They were the best we had on our whole trip!! Fresh fish, right out of the cooker!! yummy!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Exploring Cairns

Since you have to wait 48 hours after scuba diving to fly, we spent today exploring! We went to the local rainforest, the Daintree. It was very interesting - you walked on a catwalk through the forest (about half way up), they climbed a tower and saw the top of the forest, and walked back on the ground floor. It was great!

There was lots of rain, and we just missed it when we returned to the start.

We went into Cairns and went to the night markets. We walked around the downtown areas and found a local (not a chain) jeweler. His name was Mark and he was from New Zealand. He mines his own opals and creates unique jewelry. I got a beautiful opal, which I can't wear until my anniversary! And what a beautiful anniversary present it is!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Diving day!

We went snorkeling today on the Great Barrier Reef. We went out to one of the far out reefs, so it took over an hour to get there. The weather was a bit choppy, so we are thankful Christina and Damien brought sea sickness medication.

We donned some wetsuits and went out at the first stop. The waves were choppy, and we were kicking hard to get to the reef about 10 meters behind the boat. Only, when we looked up, we were beside it. The waves had pushed us backward.

We didn't stay out the whole time at our first stop, but the subsequent ones were increasingly better. It did rain a bit, and it was funny to feel it on my back and look down and see the beautiful coral and various fish. It was an awesome experience. Ry did great for his first time snorkeling! It is just amazing what you can see. Christina and Damien also enjoyed their scuba diving.

By the end of the day, we sure were tired. It takes lots out of you! But tons of fun!!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Off to Cairns

Today we caught an early flight to Cairns. Since Christina and Damien travel lots, we had breakfast in the Quantas Club. Nice to see how the other half lives...

Once we got to Cairns, we went and saw the Mossman Falls and did some walking through the jungle area on a walkway about halfway up (kinda high for me). We then went to Port Douglas and found our little 2 bedroom condo. Very cute!

Had dinner at a place called Mango Jam - had mango daquiris and mango salsa on my pizza. yummy!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Australian Zoo

Christina had to work today, so Damien was our tour guide for the Australian Zoo. The Zoo is owned by the Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. We saw a cool show about snakes, tigers, birds and crocodiles. We also petted kangaroos and koalas! We actually walked thru their exhibits.

Had an Aussie BBQ for Gill's birthday. A few different foods than a Texas BBQ - pumpkin, eggplant, and even eggs in addition to steak and chicken.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Ry went to Mass for the first time outside of the US, and was surprised how similar it was. We talked with the priest and he'd even been to Texas!

Then went to our first Rugby game - the Brisbane Broncos vs. Sydney Eels. It was a hot day, but we had a great time. We had front row seats, which were awesome. Ate the traditional meat pies and drank cold beer. The game is also quite quick - 2 40 minute periods with a 20 minute halftime. And they don't stop the clock! It was even more exciting that the Broncos won!!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

We're in Brisbane!

We arrived in Brisbane at noon on Sautrday! Christina and Damien met us at the airport, and we went downtown. We saw both of their offices and did a walking tour of downtown. Even had fish and chips on the river! Lastly, we saw Christina and Damien's property where their house will be built.

Christina and Damien live with Damien's parents (John and Gill) now as their house is being built. They made up a comfy room for us to stay there. Damien's sister Katrina also lives with them, so we made a full house!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

the journey begins

Our journey began with the Super Shuttle picking us up at 3:20 today. Our flight left at 6 from Austin, then we connected at the crazy LAX airport. Then flew to Auckland! 12 hours passed quickly - the food was yummy, service great, and we actually slept.

Had a few hour layover in Auckland and made it to Brisbane.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


This week I have been wondering what I can watch on tv. I have been glued to the Olympics for th past 2 weeks. I saved the closing ceremonies for a couple days, just to extend my fix. I just love the Olympics, especially the winter ones. With the winter Olympics, it is more than just a test of strength and will, but a test of the elements. We cannot control nature.

In 3 weeks we will be in Brisbane. I'm getting a little excited - have started my preliminary packing! Have a few more presents to buy, but we are getting it done!

Happy first Sunday of Lent!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Goin' South!

Southern Hemisphere, here we come! We've booked the flights and are getting ready! yea! Brisbane and Cairns, Australia, and Auckland and all over the North Island of New Zealand! We can't wait!

Ry is now looking for video cameras, to accurately depict our trip! Let the adventure begin!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Well, it has been too long since my last post! I was thinking no one was reading it until Christina (in Australia) told me her husband has been checking it out! Well, I should post more!

Christmas was great - spent time with both sides of the family! Had New Year's at our house, and made some mean Cuba Libre's! yum!

Work is coming along, enjoying the job! Had our first big event this weekend, the Texas Rally for Life ( It was a great success despite the early rains (which we soo needed!).

Guess I will write more "thoughts" later! Gotta get the gumption to ask for time off for our vacation! More on that later...