Christmas 2006
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Joe and Frances 2006

 

How lovely 'tis to take this time
To greet our dearest friends,
To wish them health and happiness
Before the old year ends.

Darkness comes late afternoon
And winter lies ahead,
But friendship is a glowing fire
When all seems cold and dead.

Just as in some vacant barn,
Unnoticed in the night,
The whole of human history turns,
So we, too, make things right.

We must keep alive the flame
Though darkness grip the Earth;
For in the love we find in friends
Is our chance for rebirth.
-Nicholas Gordon

The year 2006 can be summed up in one word Ė busy.  So many things have happened this year it is hard to see how it could all fit into one year. It has been a year of sadness and sorrow. It has been a year of new beginnings.  It has been a year of celebration, of travel, of hard work and of extended family.  As Christmas approaches at the end of this year and I reflect on its highs and lows, I pray that next year is just as fulfilling and that all of my family and friends remain safe and happy during 2007.  God Bless Each and Every One of You.
 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
from Joe, Frances, Dominic, Timothy and Jeremy (and Matilda)

 

This year has been a year of sadness and tragedy for our family as we lost 6 family members since my last newsletter.  First was my Uncle Efraine. (My motherís sisterís husband) who, after successfully having an aggressive cancer removed, suddenly went into a coma and never came out. He passed away last November.  Then in January, my uncle Frank, (My dadís brother) passed away from stomach cancer.  The following month, my cousin Nancyís husband Bob passed away having never fully recovered from a second liver transplant.  In August, Francesí fatherís brother, Ken, passed away. 

Tragedy and shock struck our family in August after my sister Brandyís husband, Rocky was murdered.  It is still unbelieveable that such a horror could actually happen to ordinary people.  And finally, in November, another of my dadís brothers, my uncle Tony passed away.  Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of all of these people and we share in your sadness, especially at this time of year which can be the most difficult.  It reminds us to value and cherish each and every moment that we have with all of our loved ones.

 

In January we rented a cottage across from the beach at the Central Coast for a week. The weather was beautiful and we were able to start out the year relaxed and refreshed
 



Jeremy Year 11

The next week Jeremy began year 11 and he quickly got involved in his school by training to be a Eucharistic Minister for the school Masses and entertaining and astounding the spectators with his debating prowess as they competed in the Catholic Schools Debating Association season.



 

In March, Dominic and Timothy started their first Year of University.  Both of them are attending The University of  New South Wales and are both doing a four year Bachelor of Software Engineering course.  Timothy also got involved in the Computing School of Engineeringís annual CSE Review which is a comedy production that parodies Computer nerds.

 


Timothy


Dominic

In August, after nearly two years of planning and pushing, my classroom at school got a complete refurbishment to industrial standards.  The students will be able to learn about the Hospitality industry and actually use the type of equipment that they will experience when they go to work.  I also completed the upgrade on my training to be up-to-date in the latest industry standards.


New industrial kitchen at Strathfield South High School


 

 

Dominic has progressed to the next level of his driverís license getting his Green Pís which means that in a little over a year he will be on a fully unrestricted license.  Timothy hasnít been too interested in progressing past his learnerís licence, which he allowed to lapse and hasnít yet renewed.  I imagine he will renew it during the holidays when I will take Jeremy for his learnerís license as well.

 

Speaking of driving licenses, I am training to get my light rigid vehicle license which will enable me to drive a 30 seater school bus.  I will be pursuing that during the holidays.

 

 

Frances had an interesting year at work as her firm, Sothertons, merged with another accounting firm, Moore Stephens, more than doubling its size.  The merger meant that their premises were not adequate for their needs so they moved to another building in the city.  It is a larger, more modern premises and all seem to be settling in comfortably.

Frances also received a well deserved promotion to Senior Manager this year.
 

 

We were delighted this year to have an American visitor.  My cousin Brendaís daughter, Toni was part of an exchange program and spent a semester at the University of the Sunshine Coast, near Brisbane, Queensland.  She came to spend a few days with us over Easter. (If you look at the ďvacationsĒ page of this website you can see photos of her visit. It was great to have our third American visitor in the nearly 20 years since Iíve been living in Australia.


Timothy, Dominic, Jeremy, Frances and Toni






Speaking of having lived in Australia for nearly 20 years, on July 27th this year I became an Australian citizen.  Whilst I still retain my US citizenship, I find myself committed to the values of my adopted country and feel that this country has provided my family and myself with a wonderful lifestyle and many, many opportunities.

 


Australian Citizenship July 27, 2006

 


On September 27, Frances and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.  It is remarkable how it seems that no time has passed at all during those 20 years when in reality it was, and continues to be, the most amazing time of my life.  Our marriage is a strong partnership that is based on acceptance of each otherís independence and diversity while, simultaneously sharing a strong commitment and agreement to those things that are most important in our lives, our family, our friends, our values and most of all our love for each other

To celebrate this anniversary, Frances and I decided to indulge ourselves and take a holiday without the children.  The holiday centred around my cousinís daughterís wedding but we included a 7 night Caribbean cruise and three days in Las Vegas.

 


Caribbean Princess
 

On October 20th we boarded a Qantas jumbo and began 24 hours of travelling to Fort Lauderdale.  We had two layovers on the way, at San Francisco and Las Vegas, where we could see the casinos on the strip from the airport.  We were able to pick out the casino where we would be staying on our return journey.  We arrived at our Fort Lauderdale hotel about 12:30 am on Oct. 21st and woke up around 9 the next morning.  After a quick brunch with my mother and aunt, we boarded the Caribbean Princess and located our cabin.  We had a lovely cabin on the top level that had a private balcony where we could sip our cocktails and watch sunset on the Caribbean Sea.  Our cruise stopped at 4 ports, Princess Cays, Bahamas; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; and Cozumel, Mexico.  We enjoyed sightseeing, lazing on the beaches, climbing waterfalls, visiting turtle sanctuaries and being serenaded by wandering Mexican musicians while eating our lunch  al fresco and, of course, too much shopping.  The ship itself was grand and glorious as we ate and drank too much, watched movies under the stars, joined in the shipboard activities, danced until the wee hours of the morning and watched the wonderful shows.  It was reminiscent of the Caribbean cruise that we took 20 years earlier on our honeymoon.

Bahamas

Jamaica

Grand Cayman

Mexico

Anniversary dinner

Fort Lauderdale
 

We arrived in Florida very refreshed and relaxed (and in my case, very sunburnt).  We had a week before the wedding and we were able to catch up with family and friends.  My mother was in Florida for the wedding, so naturally we spent quite a bit of time with her as well as several aunts, uncles, cousins, and of course, my grandmother.  My grandmother is a remarkable woman and I always enjoy and treasure every minute that we can spend together.  We caught up with some friends as well and managed to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing in Little Havana and Miami Beach between relaxing on the beach, shopping and, once again, eating and drinking way too much.
 


Grandma at 92


Uncle Christy, Frances, Me, Aunt Peggy

 

Me, Pauline, Dixie, Frances


Frances and Mom in Little Havana

Frances on Miami Beach
 


Mom with her sister Diane and brother Dan

 

The end of the week heralded the wedding festivities commencing with the rehearsal dinner at an Italian Restaurant that was hired out for our intimate gathering of about 80 guests.  We heard speeches of praise for the bride and groom and their families and caught up with those we hadnít seen in years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday morning was really windy and there was some rain, but the weather couldnít dampen the spirit of the day.  It was a beautiful wedding Mass in a lovely church in Deerfield Beach.  The bride was beautiful and the groom was debonair as they exchanged their vows.

 

 

 

 

 

 


A windy wedding day


Dutch and Courtney


Me and my cousin Diane

Ron and Courtney

Belin
da, Mike, Frances and me

 

That evening we were treated to a magnificent wedding reception at the Boca Raton Resort and Club, an historic hotel, on the waterway. It was a lavish, five star affair, elegantly set in the Chapel room for 180 guests.  A nine-piece band entertained us as we danced until late.

 

 

The next morning we attended Brunch at my cousinsí home. White gloved waiters serving Mimosas and Bloody Marys and Gueridon chefs preparing omelettes in their beautiful garden which has been featured in Boca Raton Home and Garden Magazine put the finishing touches on what could be described as a Regal weekend.

 


Brunch in Diane's Garden

More of the Garden

Sunday Brunch
 

Then it was off to Las Vegas for three days and three nights.  We stayed at the Luxor Hotel, an Egyptian themed hotel/casino, complete with pyramid and sphinx,  at the end of the ďStripĒ. Most of our time was spent walking through the many fantastically themed hotels up and down the strip.  We saw the old classics such as the Flamingo, Casino Royale, Caesarís Palace and the Stardust (which incidentally closed down only a few days before we arrived) as well as the newest and most spectacular ones such as the Venetian, Monte Carlo, Paris, Wynnís, the Bellagio and New York, New York.  We saw two shows, the Folies Bergere at the Tropicana, and the Cirque du Soleil performance of the Beatleís LOVE at the Mirage.  The shows were magnificent and I would highly recommend the Beatleís LOVE if you ever get the chance to see it. 

 



The Luxor



 


 


New York, New York and Excalibur

By the way,

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I managed to lose quite a bit of weight early this year and, remarkably, managed to keep it off, despite all of the good food that was on offer while I was in the US.

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After discussing the possibility for many years, Frances and I decided to get ducted air-conditioning/heating in our house this year.  We managed to test out the effectiveness of both extremes and are looking forward to a more comfortable summer this year.

bullet

Dominic and Timothy have turned 19 this year and have successfully completed their first year of Uni.

bullet

Jeremy turned 16 this year.  He has also successfully completed his year 11 coursework and has begun the arduous task of studying for his Higher School Certificate which he will sit after his graduation next September.

bullet

Timothy is still working at Woolworths Ė he is now the office cashier and tallies the monies at the end of the shift.

bullet

Dominic recently began a new job at Liquorland and is working hard preparing for the busy season.

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Our poor old dog, Matilda, who just turned 12 the other day and wasnít expected to live much past last Christmas after her tumours, is still with us.  Generally her health is good and she is as enthusiastic as ever, but unfortunately her eyesight has gone.  She is almost completely blind and bumps into things as she tries to get around.

 

Sharen and David 2006

DEAR FAMILY AND FRIENDS: 

OUR CHRISTMAS WISH FOR YOU THIS YEAR, IS THAT YOU BE BLESSED IN ALL AREAS OF YOUR LIFE.  THAT YOU ARE ABLE TO SPEND THIS CHRISTMAS WITH THE ONES YOU LOVE, IF NOT IN PERSON THEN IN SPIRIT.  WE WISH YOU PEACE AND GOOD HEALTH. 
 
    DAVID RETIRED IN APRIL, HE SPENT MOST OF THE SUMMER FISHING AND GOLFING.  IN JULY, WE WENT TO OHIO FOR THE GURTO FAMILY REUNION.  IT WAS GOOD TO SEE AND VISIT WITH FAMILY MEMBERS.  IT REMINDS ME HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO MAKE AS MANY REUNIONS AS POSSIBLE.  WITHIN THE LAST FIVE YEARS WE HAVE LOST SIX FAMILY MEMBERS.
 
    IN JULY, WE ALSO WENT ON VACATION TO BRYCE CANYON, ZION NATIONAL PARK AND LAS VEGAS.  WE REALLY ENJOYED THE TRIP.  NATURALLY WE TOOK A LOT OF PHOTOS.
 
    IN OCTOBER, DAVID DID THE WALK IN MEMORY OF CHILDREN(OF ALL AGES) WHO HAVE PASSED AWAY.  HE HAS BEEN DOING THIS SINCE PAM PASSED AWAY.
 
    NOV.  WAS BUSY FOR US.  WE WENT TO HOLY HILL AND LIT CANDLES FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS THAT HAVE PASSED AWAY.  RIGHT AFTER THAT WE WENT TO OHIO FOR UNCLE TONY'S FUNERAL.  GREG, AMANDA, CHRIS, MARSHA, AND FOUR DOGS WHERE HERE FOR THANKSGIVING.  GREG COOKED THE TURKEY, AMANDA MADE CRANBERRIES AND GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE.  CHRIS AND MARSHA BROUGHT THE PIES.  WE HAD WAY TOO MUCH FOOD.  EVERYONE HAD A GOOD TIME EATING AND VISITING.
 
    DEC. 10TH IS THE COMPASSIONATE FRIEND'S LIGHTS AROUND THE WORLD.  IT IS FROM 7PM UNTIL 8PM.  YOU LIGHT A CANDLE AT 7PM IN YOUR TIME ZONE AND PUT IT OUT AT 8PM.  AS YOU ARE PUTTING YOUR CANDLE OUT THE NEXT TIME ZONE IS LIGHTING THEIRS.  I WOULD LIKE TO ASK YOU TO LIGHT A CANDLE FOR PAM.  IT HAS BEEN FIVE YEARS SINCE SHE PASSED AWAY.  THANK YOU FOR DOING THIS FOR PAM AND US.  DAVID AND I ALWAYS GO TO THE SERVICE.  WE ALSO LIGHT CANDLES ON CHRISTMAS DAY AND THEN ON DEC. 29TH IN MEMORY OF PAM.
 
    GREG AND AMANDA ARE DOING WELL.  THEY WILL BE GOING TO ATLANTA FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR.  WE WILL CELEBRATE WITH THEM BEFORE THEY GO.  DAVID AND I WILL SPEND A QUITE CHRISTMAS AT HOME. 
                                                                                                                 
LOVE SHAREN AND DAVID

 

 

Michele and Mike 2006
MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY 2007 from
Michele Mike & family

Jim and B-Ann 2006

Christmas 2006

Another Holiday season and has been such a fast, eventful year for all of us.  I'm very thankful that I have had no problems after my accident last fall and no problems with hip or wrist - just can't do all I want to do.

We had a nice Thanksgiving and will be here for Christmas as Jim is not up to par and can't do much traveling.  he has had many up's and downs so he has had to accept he can do.  We were not able to get to Conneaut for Tony's funeral.  Have talked to Lucile and will be a sad holiday for them too - know Nancy and the boys don't want to be here for Christmas as it was always a big time for Bob - so they will be going to be with Jan, Dave and Amanda in their new home in Dening Wa.  Dave works in Bancouver, Canada.  Amanda is a Sr. at Oklahoma University.  Patti and girls will be with us.  Kelly is a Sr. and Jenna 10th grade.  Both were on Varsity Cheerleader Team - so enjoyed going and seeing them at the football games.

Happy to hear you wee here this fall - talked to your mother and was nice she got to see you while in Fla.  hope this finds all well and wish you a wonderful Holiday Season and Happy Healthy, New Year!

Love,

BAnn and Jim

PS Sending this picture of "the Gurtos" - so glad they came down to see us when Chris was here.


Christy, Effie, Jimmy, Pat


 

Brenda and Doug

May the tranquillity of the season be a special part of the holidays for you.

Toni and Luke


Sherry

Wishing you a Christmas filled with all the things that make this season special.

Kyle, Sherry and Karl