What a year
this has been for us. Celebrations, Vacations,
Milestone events, Awards and work all featured prominently in our lives in
We started off the year with a get together out by the pool with about
30 people enjoying socialising, swimming and an assortment of food from 'All
January we all packed up and flew to Brisbane where we boarded the Pacific
Sky cruise ship for a 7 day cruise to New Caledonia. There were theme
nights and excellent food, trivia contests and cocktails. Frances and
I featured in the onboard entertainment with our line dancing talents.
The boys enjoyed the freedom of the ship and found their own friendship
groups but still managed to get together with us at mealtimes and other
We stopped in Noumea
where we spent the day sightseeing and shopping. Our second stop was
in the Isle of Pines where swimming, snorkelling and sightseeing were the
order of the day. Unfortunately, we were unable to stop at Daydream
Island for an island barbecue but we had a wonderful time nevertheless.
Frances and Joe
was back to reality as we all went back to work and school. An early
Easter gave us a bit of a break from the term and, two weeks later when the
actual school holidays began, we travelled up to the Central Coast where we
spent a week in a cottage just across the street from the beach.
In May I celebrated
my 50th birthday by hosting 42 people for a sit-down dinner and trivia
night. By the end of the night, I could hardly remember my name but everyone
said they enjoyed themselves.
during the next school holidays, Jeremy and I took a little trip to
Canberra, Australia's capital. We visited with friends, went to the
War Memorial where Jeremy reminisced about the days of the Vietnam war.
We visited Parliament house, the Australian museum, learned about the
history of Canberra and visited the science museum, Questicon.
Looking from the War Memorial towards Parliament House
Al Fresco lunch on Lake Burley Griffen
Jeremy in the Senate Chamber in Parliament House
Looking from Parliament House towards the War Memorial
Give Peace a Chance
The end of September
brought together two milestone events. Dominic and Timothy's 18th
birthday and their High School Graduation. These events were
celebrated with a Graduation Mass and a Graduation Dinner. We also
celebrated the event with a party at home. I gave the following speech
to commemorate the events -
Graduation/18th Birthday Speech
Ever since our children could
understand us we told them that it was our job as parents and it was also
the job of teachers to teach them how to be adults. And we only had 18
years to do it. I recall on time when Timothy was about 6 he was rocking
back on his chair. I asked him “How many times have I told you not to rock
back on the chair?” to which he replied, “about 4”. I then reminded him of
what my job was and explained to him that if I had to keep repeating myself,
I may not have time to fit in all the important stuff. I don’t believe that
Timothy ever rocked back on his chair again.
Frances and I, as most parents, took
our role very seriously. When we were deciding when to have children we both
agreed that it was a big commitment and the next 20 years of our lives would
have to be dedicated to them.
What a shock it was to Frances to
learn that she was going to have twins, she says she doesn’t remember this
but when she found out she didn’t say anything for 4 days.
Frances suffered tremendously with
morning sickness and I suffered as well, sympathetically of course. But I
can honestly say that was the only suffering we ever had in raising the
Dominic has been blessed with all of
his mother’s best qualities; he has always been fairly serious and very
sensible, he is dedicated, organised and pragmatic. He knows how to have a
good time, but is always considerate of other people. Dominic always tries
to do the right thing. He also shares some of my better qualities, like
being a good driver, and listening politely when speeches are made.
Timothy has been blessed with some
of my best qualities and many of his mother’s. He has always been quite
inquisitive, creative and a lateral thinker. Timothy is caring and
organised. He takes on each new task with as a challenge and can see that
there are many options to consider when making decisions. Timothy puts in
110% effort and is always thinking of ways to improve things.
We are very lucky that neither of
the boys has any of my bad qualities. I’m sure that they wouldn’t have any
of Frances’ bad qualities either if she had any. Both boys are intelligent
and, more and more, I find myself learning new things from them and
fascinated by their knowledge. They have good outlooks on life and I trust
that the decisions they make will be well thought out and sensible.
I have been lucky to have spent as
much time as I have with my children. I was able to work at their primary
school when they were small and spend time after school and on school
holidays with them.
When we attended their graduation
ceremony the other night, my thoughts were constantly switching from our
first association with St. Patrick’s College to the present moment. My
thoughts flashed back to 8 years earlier, sitting at the welcome Mass when
they were in year 5 listening to the sweet angelic choir of 10 year old
soprano voices greeting us.
I was brought back to the present as
the boys processed into the chapel, singing once again but this time with
booming baritone voices.
When the headmaster gave his speech
at the graduation, I remembered sitting at the year 5 orientation day when
he stood on the stage with the college prefects and asked us to entrust our
little boys to St. Patrick’s and in 8 years time he would return to us fine
young men like these. In his speech, he recalled his words and kept his
I am excited for them to move
forward and become who God intends them to be, yet melancholy to say good-by
to a part of my life.
Time goes so fast, doesn't it? I was
watching the boys studying for their exams just a few weeks ago; all I could
still see were my little 8 year old boys sitting there. Sometimes I long for
just a moment from them to be little again. I'll see young children when I'm
out and so wish I could be there again. Time went so fast....and I knew then
I would feel like I do now. I savored every minute I could, so I have no
regrets, just not enough time.
However, if they were still little,
I would not know the wonderful mature people they have grown up to be. I
truly believe that there is no force in the world greater than the love of a
parent for their children.
Well, the 18 years that we had to do
our job is up, the teachers have done their part and Frances and I have done
our best. I suppose that we now take on the role of consultants.
God has given us the greatest
present we could ask for in our children and now Frances and I would like to
give our present back to society, these two fine young men.
So would everyone please be
upstanding and charge your glasses to Dominic and Timothy.
Dominic and Timothy
Timothy Year 12
The end of school brought
recognition of years of hard work. Dominic and
Timothy both featured their software designs at the school display evening.
Dominic received the first place prize for the year in Software Design and
Development, narrowly beating out his nearest competitor, Timothy.
They both reached marks in the 90's which got their names in the paper and
both ranked highly in the State.
Dominic with his first place prize
The end of the year also brought conclusion to Jeremy's
compulsory school years as he graduated year 10 with a mass and formal
dinner/dance. Jeremy did very well academically achieving marks in the high
80's and 90's for his School Certificate.
Jeremy Scrubs up well.
Graduation from year 10
The party's over, it's time to call it a day.
Dominic and Timothy also
enjoyed their formal as they and 8 others shared a limousine and enjoyed a
night of music and festivities and the party afterward. They told us
all about it when we picked them up at 6:30 a.m.
Dominic and Timothy
Timothy with his date, Viviene
Getting ready to go
By the Way
In October, Matilda had to have surgery to
remove a tumor which turned out to be malignant. They removed it all
but expect it to return some day. So far it has not and she is doing
In November, within a day
of each other, Dominic and Timothy got part time jobs. Timothy now
works at Woolworths - a major grocery store, and Dominic works at Dan
Murphy's - a liquor store.
Frances' firm - Sothertons
will be merging with another company - Moore Stephens
from the first of January which will more than double the size of the
In March, Dominic got his licence which meant we were sharing our two very
old cars, both of which required major repairs this year.
In September, Frances and I decided to bite the bullet and buy our first
Brand New car - a Toyota Camry.
all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
OUR CHRISTMAS PRAYER
FOR YOU IS THAT YOU ENJOY YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON.
KEEP THEM CLOSE TO YOUR HEART, IF NOT IN PERSON, THEN IN SPIRIT.
JAN.-JUN. WAS SPENT
CELEBRATING BIRTHDAYS, SHOVELING SNOW AND TRYING TO KEEP WARM. THEN
TRYING TO KEEP COOL.
JULY I TRAVELED TO
OHIO FOR THE GURTO FAMILY REUNION. IT WAS GOOD SEEING THE FAMILY MEMBERS
THAT COULD MAKE TO CONNEAUT AND CATCHING UP ON ALL THE FAMILY NEWS. I
ALSO HAD TO CLEAR OUT AUNT SUE'S CONDO. I SPENT SEVERAL WEEKS THERE.
IT WAS HARD FOR ME TO LEAVE THE CONDO FOR THE LAST TIME.
SEPT. DAVID AND I
WENT ON VACATION TO LAS VEGAS. WE DID A GOOD JOB THROWING OUR MONEY
AWAY. WE DID GET TICKETS TO THE CELIN DION SHOW. WE HAD GREAT SEATS
AND THE SHOW WAS EXCELLENT. WHEN WE CAME BACK WE CELEBRATED MORE
OCT. DAVID AND I WENT
TO THE WALK/RUN IN MEMORY OF CHILDREN WHO HAVE DIED WAY TOO SOON. DAVID
WALKED, I TOOK PHOTOS.
NOV. WE MET DIANE AND
BARRY AT BLACK RIVER FALLS, WI. WE HAD A VERY NICE VISIT. WE HELPED
FEED THE INDIANS. WE CELEBRATED THANKSGIVING WITH DAVID'S SISTER
CHRIS. GREG AND AMANDA STAYED IN MADISON SINCE THEY BOTH HAD TO WORK ON
FRI. LATER IN THE EVENING WE WENT TO A FRIEND'S HOME FOR PIE. ON THE
5TH DAVID AND I WENT TO HOLY HILL TO LIGHT CANDLES IN MEMORY OF FAMILY
AND FRIENDS THAT HAVE PASSED AWAY.
DEC. SO FAR IT
HAS BEEN BUSY. WE HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET THE HOUSE READY FOR THE
CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY. NOT HAVING MUCH LUCK. I MAKE A TO DO LIST EACH
MORNING IT IS A WHOLE PAGE LONG. I DO ABOUT TWO THINGS IF I AM LUCKY.
IT IS LIKE GOING ONE STEP AHEAD TWO BACK. ON DEC.11TH AT 7PM IS THE
ANNUAL COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS LIGHTS AROUND THE WORLD. SO PLEASE LIGHT A
CANDLE FOR A CHILD THAT WAS CALLED HOME TOO SOON. IF YOU COULD LIGHT A
CANDLE FOR PAM ALSO WE WOULD APPRECIATE IT. GREG AND AMANDA WILL BE HERE
FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR. THEY ARE DOING WELL. GREG HAS STARTED HIS
OWN BUSINESS SO HE HAS BEEN REALLY BUSY. HE WORKS AT UW THEN GOES HOME
AND WORKS ON HIS PROJECT. AMANDA IS WORKING AS A PHARMACIST
ASSISTANT. SHE HAS DECIDED TO HOLD OFF ON GOING BACK TO SCHOOL. THE
COMPANY DAVID WORKS FOR WILL BE CLOSING THEIR OPERATION IN MILWAUKEE
APRIL 2006. SO HE HAS STARTED LOOKING FOR OTHER JOBS. HE DID HAVE ONE
OFFER YESTERDAY. WE HAVE BEEN LOOKING AT CONDOS. WE WILL MAKE A
DECISION IN THE SPRING. I AM ENJOYING MY NEW POSITION AS RESIDENT
RETIRED PERSON. I HAVE BEEN TAKING A TON OF PHOTOS. I JUST LOVE DIGITAL
PHOTOGRAPHY. I ENTERED A PHOTO CONTEST. I FOUND OUT A FEW WEEKS AGO
THAT I WAS SELECTED AS A FINALIST. I AM SITTING LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW
AT THE SNOW. IT HAS BEEN REALLY COLD AND WE HAVE STARTED TO GET SOME
SNOW. LAST WINTER WE DIDN'T GET SNOW UNTIL JAN. I GUESS WE WILL HAVE A
There has been a lot going on with us, so I thought that I would give you an
update on everything.
April, I had to take a leave of absence from working at Bruce's. I had
3 tumors in my stomach and the big on was 8 lbs.
May, I had surgery. I had to have a hysterectomy and also that's when
she found the other tumors. Karl ran track and broke two school
records and he was invited to Painesville to the Invitational to run there.
He ended up with 3 ribbons.
June, Kyle made the All Stars. He was the catcher. Kyle and Karl
went to 2 basketball camps. One was at Youngstown State and Ashland
July, Kyle and Karl played in 2 basketball summer leagues at Conneaut
August, Kyle and Karl started school at the High School. They are
freshmen. They both played on the High School Varsity Soccer Team
They both lettered in Soccer. They played soccer in August, September
October, I started working for the Conneaut Area City Schools. Kyle and Karl started basketball. They both made the
JV and Varsity Basketball Team. In November, we all moved into a
now, it's December and I'm late getting my Christmas cards out. I just
got the Christmas tree up and starting wrapping presents.
In September we celebrated our 1st year of being a
family. We had to brave two hurricanes last year when we got married and
this year was a repeat with two more hurricanes coming through the area.
We had minor roof damage after we had replaced the roof from last year, but
overall everyone and everything was fine. The kids missed two weeks of
school and were a little stir crazy. Michele’s office was closed for a
week, and Mike was on duty 12 hour days to protect our community.
We have settled into the life of having a police officer in
the family even though that means not having him home during hurricanes. We
are all healthy and looking forward to the holidays.
Mike is working on finishing his Bachelor’s degree, so that
when he is ready to retire from the Sheriff’s department he can teach at the
Police Academy at the Community College. He has been working on getting
some flying time under his belt after being away from flying for a few
years. Of course, he would love to get his own plane. More toys.
Steven is a junior in high school and getting ready for
college. He took his SAT college entrance exam and would like to study
architecture at the University of Florida. We took him to see the college
and he attended his first college football game – a win over Vandy in
double overtime. Needless to say he was hooked on UF. At his high school
he has joined the Building Construction magnet program. They are going to
building the new concession stand at their school. Since he has started
driving he is more interested in the beach so he won’t be leaving Florida to
Lauren is beyond active. She did Pop Warner Cheerleading for
the 3rd year. They finished first in the local competition,
third in regionals in Jacksonville, & then went to National competition in
Orlando and placed 4th. She is on the middle school cheerleading
squad too and student government council, plus her 5th year of
Girl Scouts. All with keeping A & B’s. Her energy level is off the charts.
Mike’s son Jared joined the Air Force and leaves in February.
He was in Air Force ROTC in high school. Please pray that he is stationed
in a non combat location. James is working and discovering how tough it is
to make a living in Palm Beach County, so we are encouraging him to go to a
trade school. He love s the beach too much to leave this area.
As for Mike & I, we are looking forward to moving away from
South Florida. It is growing too fast and is being overbuilt. We purchased
a townhome near Daytona Beach for a get away for holidays & summer and
possibly to retire to. It is located in a fly-in community with a nice club
and golf course. So it has the aero club for Mike and the country club for
Besides my full time work for a wonderful private foundation
I am enjoying my community involvement on three boards. But family comes
first and so I try to balance family, work, volunteerism, & playtime.
In May, we plan on returning to Italy for another family
visit. My sister Diane and the kids may join us. It will be a wonderful
Hope this year has been full of fun, good health and
happiness for you and your family. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season
and a happy 2006!
years old already! Driving in 5 months!! Pleasantly enjoying the 9th
grade and acting every bit like freshmen in high school. Luke played
baseball in the spring, football this fall, and is into varsity wrestling.
He competes against mature 18 yr.olds that have a lot more muscle mass, but
he never gives up. As a freshman, he’s doing great! He’s taking honors
geometry and honors English. He’s doing great in school, but complains
every day about the work load. Oh well… I tell him it will make him a
better person. He’s maintaining a 3.82 GPA, so I guess I could back off a
little. We’re at the same school and I teach him
That’s been ok. A few times he had to be put in his place, but all in all,
it’s great to be at the same school!
Toni: As I
said in my previous note, she’s studying abroad this
semester. She’ll be going to The University of Sunshine Coast in Brisbane,
Australia. She leaves
and returns June 20th. We will miss her so much, but what an
opportunity! She’s in her 2nd year at Baldwin-Wallace College
and studying to be a middle childhood education teacher. Her two
concentrations are math and science. She played volleyball again and did
extremely well. Not sure if she’ll continue volleyball next year because of
missing the spring season due to Australia and her studies next year will be
more in difficult.
hard at his business. Taking longer trips now because of the season, but
is working and that’s always good.
hard, but not coaching middle school basketball!!! Last year was terrible!
Too much!! I still coach volleyball in the fall and probably will continue
because I do love it! I went to the Bahamas last spring and made two trips
to South Carolina last summer. I hurt my knee in August (torn MCL) but it’s
healing. I’m not bouncing back like I usually did!! Skiing is put on hold
this year, but I’m still in charge of our school ski club. I’ll go up,
supervise, sit by the fire, and relax. That actually sounds nice!! New
schools are being built so we have a very short Christmas break and no
spring break. I hope we all make it…especially teaching adolescents!!!
I’m sure there’s
more to share, but this is enough for this year. I wish everyone a great
Christmas and HEALTHY New Year.
doing well here in Pittsburgh after finally arriving home from New York
following 6 weeks of hospitalization. I am doing well and slowly improving
and doing physical therapy on my hip and arm. It is great to be home and
Jim is a wonderful nurse and housekeeper!!!! Thanks for all the thoughts,
calls, concerns and cards- it certainly lifted my spirits during my
hospitalization. We had a quiet Christmas and spent the day with Bob and
Nancy and the boys. Bob is getting weaker each day and it is so sad and
hard on the family as there is no hope for improvement. Janice and Amanda
flew in for 5 days and will be leaving on New Years day to head back to
spoken to Flora and Kim in the last few days and are keeping Frank in our
prayers. We wish you all a happy, healthy New Year and will keep you all
posted on our news from here.
BAnn and Jim
Brandy and Rocky
In the quiet moments of the holidays, may you find
peace and joy
Love Rocky, Brandy and Family
May you enjoy the beauty of
nature's gifts this holiday season and always.
Love Aunt Effie and Johnny