Congratulations Brad!!

Brian’s brother, Brad, has reached a major milestone by successfully completing his Business degree! We flew out to Dallas to celebrate this joyous occasion with him. While we were in Dallas, we took a hike through a very nice park and enjoyed two rounds of miniature golf with family. It was a nice trip and we’re glad much of Brian’s and Brad’s family from New Mexico was able to attend.










For Amanda’s 28th birthday, we went on a Caribbean Cruise on the Carnival Conquest!!! We went to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. We left out of Galveston, TX, and were in Grand Cayman-snorkeling-for Amanda’s birthday. Brian’s mother, Sue, also went with us to celebrate the quickly-approaching conclusion of year-long cancer treatment. The ship was beautiful and exciting and the cruise was extremely relaxing for all of us.

Ship Facts:
Approximate Cost: $500 Million
Home Port: Galveston, TX
Country of Registry: Panama
Passengers: 3,200
Crew: 1,200 (Almost 100% International)
Maximum Speed: 23 knots
Tonnage: 110,000
Horsepower: 85,000
Length: 952 Feet
Beam: 116 Feet
Passenger Decks: 13

Below are just some of the pictures from the trip.

Picture of the Carnival Conquest – the Fun Ship!

Map of the adventure – stopping in Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.

Picture of our first “elegant evening”, standing at the stern of the ship.

The three of us on a chairlift in Jamaica. It was so lush and beautiful. We just came from Dunns River Falls where Brian and Amanda climbed a 900 foot waterfall!

In Grand Cayman, with the cruise ship in the background.

Our second “elegant evening”.

Brian free-diving to look at all the cool stuff on the bottom.

Brian free-diving again, and seemingly walking on water?!?

If you’d like to see all the pics you can download this ZIP file that contains all the pics.

Brian got a fancy camera that has a continuous shooting mode. Check out Ciara flying!

Sadly, Amanda’s grandmother – Polly – passed away in January. Amanda and her grandmother were very close, as Amanda and her grandmother lived together and went on many adventures over the last 10 years. Polly was in poor health for quite some time, so we are thankful that she is no longer suffering, but we will all miss her nonetheless. Below are the pictures used to exemplify her life at her service. May she rest in peace.

Polly’s Collage (Big file 3.6 MB)
Polly and Homer (Big file 10 MB)
Pictures contained in the collage (VERY large file: 85 MB)

Brian and Amanda celebrated their 6th anniversary in Florida! Neither of us had been to Florida before, and we could not have picked a better time — hurricane season was over, and almost everywhere else in the United States was undergoing freezing temperatures.
Amanda’s older sister, Laura, has a time share, so she invited all of us to join her. There were eight of us in all: Laura and her three kids (Brad, 8, Natasha, 5, and Luke, 2), Brian and Amanda, and Amanda’s little brother, Chris, and his girlfriend Amy. We were in West Palm Beach for 1 full week.
We saw the sites and relaxed on the beach. We found a lot of neat shells and man-o-war jellyfish, and Brian found a bright orange conch shell (which had something living in it – that spit at us! – so we threw it back), we found a washed up puffer fish, and Chris found a sea anemone in a little pool. All in all, it was a fantastic trip, and great to get away!


Brian and Amanda, with high-rise buildings and ocean in the background.


Laura and kids (Luke, Natasha, and Brad).


Amy, Chris, Amanda, Brian.


Kids playing in the sand.


All of us at the beach, about to get pummeled by a HUGE wave.


Action shot of Brian, Natasha, and Chris braving a wave, while Brad is getting out of range.


Action shot, right before Laura is taken down by a fast-moving wave. (Chris and Luke in foreground.)


All of us on the balcony of our suite.

Amanda took a spontaneous 10-day vacation to Montana to visit family and see Glacier National Park for the first time. Amanda brought the warm weather with her from New Mexico to Montana, and the days were in the 70s and low 80s! Amanda visited her mother in West Yellowstone, Montana, then her sister, Kassy and her family in Missoula, Montana. We went to Glacier National Park on September 27th and 28th, which just happened to be “Volunteer Appreciation Weekend” so EVERYONE got into the park for free both days!! We did not see any wildlife in the park (aside from fellow Americans), but the glaciers and fall colors were beautiful. Below are some pictures of scenery and family, and you can see more pictures of Glacier National Park by clicking here.

View of river and mountains in Southwestern Montana where Amanda and family were raised.


Amanda in front of cluster of Aspen trees.


Amanda and Nicole in front of a river in Glacier National Park. Amanda bought Nicole the shirt she is wearing, and it says “If you think I’m cute, you should see my aunt!” 🙂


Kassy, Nicole, Tim, and Amanda with waterfall on left in Glacier National Park.

For Brian’s 29th birthday, we rented a cabin in Cloudcroft, NM–“9,000 feet above stress level”. We went to “get away”, hike, and enjoy the lush scenery. Below are some pictures from our hikes–we walked about 13 miles in two days! There were lots of different kinds of mushrooms (some white, that looked like pinecones, some yellow and looked like a lemon peel, and some brown, red, and as big as our hand!!), as well as beautiful flowers in every color of the rainbow. The air was very fresh, the earth was damp, and everything seemed so healthy and alive. We had a great time, and now it’s back to reality.


View from “Rim Trail” with White Sands in the background.


Amanda and Ciara.


Brian and Ciara.


All of us.


Green mushrooms mingled with moss.


Yellow mushroom that looked like a lemon peel.


White mushroom that looked like a pinecone and the top moved freely.


Brown mushrooms all along a log.

We have started going into the desert for our daily exercise. Ciara enjoys these outings because there is a lot to explore, not to mention fun things to chase (rabbits beware!). Check out the pictures below.


Ciara, out of the blocks, barreling full speed ahead, racing for the finish line.


Ciara rounding the corner on the last leg of the race, clearly in the lead, dust flying up.


Ciara re-fueling after a hard-earned win.


Ciara posing for the camera after the race, before another exploration effort.

For this Memorial Day Weekend, we went to Belton, TX to visit Amanda’s little brother, Chris. While we were there, we went to a huge waterpark–Schlitterbahn– and we went to Belton Lake with the dogs. We had a great visit, and Ciara got to meet her cousins, Shane and Chewy, pictured below.


Shane and Ciara. Shane is 5 years old and between 110 and 120 pounds. Ciara is 5 months and 45 pounds–one chomp if Shane were that kind of animal!

Shane, Chewey, and Ciara. Ciara thought that was SO funny!

Brian and Ciara at the lake–Ciara likes to swim, but not for long.

Below is a picture of Brian’s mom, Sue/Susan/Susie. Sue is going through a medical crisis right now and needs thoughts and prayers in droves. She has a positive attitude and a fantastic spirit and will get through this difficult time. Sue loves being outdoors, so the picture below is absolutely appropriate while she is going through treatment–the serenity of it is both a psychological and physical salve, and Sue looks healthier and more radiant than ever. May it remind her of times to come, and help her–and all of us–through this difficult time. Thanks for your support!

Brian's Mom

This weekend we went on a hike to the top of “A Mountain” in Las Cruces (3.5 miles roundtrip), and to Caballo Lake near T or C, NM. The weather was great for both adventures, and Ciara loved playing in the water.




Ciara has demolished our Jade Tree, Spider Plant, and Christmas Cactus, made our hose into a soaker hose, and played with the watering can. Now, we admit that it was partly our fault because they invaded her space this past weekend, and so she may feel she has free reign. And, they waver in the wind, and probably seem like nice toys. And that we are gone all day so she gets bored. And that she may need a more “natural” diet than the dog food. And that she may be entering her terrible-two/teenage rebellious years. However, the poor plants!! Even with this massacre, we still shake our heads and laugh because even we did not see this coming. So, other than destroying our healthiest plants (we still have a couple there in the back, for now), she is still in good standing, and has not eaten anything of value.



Ciara is now 4 months old and 40 pounds! We have had her for about 2.5 months and in that time she has learned to 1) sit on command, 2) lay down on command, 3) stay in either position until “released”, 4) shake with one paw, then the other, 5) jump on the couch (yes, we taught her that…), 6) jump on the bed (we taught her that, too), 7) come when called (usually), 8 ) walk calmly on a leash, 9) stop barking when instructed (usually), and 10) become fully house-trained. Miraculously, she has not chewed anything she wasn’t supposed to–except the sprinkler system–and her adult teeth are almost all the way in! The pictures below are supposed to show how much she has grown in 2 short months, though it is difficult to see the real difference. Suffice it to say that her weight has increased by 25 pounds and she outgrew her first collar.


Amanda and Kassy (Amanda’s sister) went to the “Red & Black Ball”–a fundraiser for NMSU’s Dance Program. The evening featured many different styles of dance (Contemporary, Latin, Ballroom, Flamenco, etc), as well as Hors d’oeuvres, free wine, dinner (talapia, beef, asparagus, rice, salad, rolls, and dessert), a silent auction and the Mike Caranda Orchestra. Below are 2 pictures of us, all dressed up with someplace to go.



There is an ostrich ranch between Tucson and Phoenix, where you can feed ostriches. Now, the ranch also has emus, deer, donkeys, and lorakeets that you can feed. Below are some pictures of that adventure, and the last is of Ciara–who DID NOT get carsick this trip!! Yahoo!!







The Wearys (Amanda’s family) just had a reunion in Phoenix. This one was especially monumental as Harold (Amanda’s great uncle) is turning 100 years old this year! His brother, Mel, (Amanda’s grandfather) is turning 94. Below are some pictures of the event.


Amanda, Grandpa Mel, Brian, and Ciara

Grandpa Mel, Amanda, and Uncle Harold. Together, we equal 221 years!

Our niece, Nicole, just turned 5. For Christmas, she got a Jeep that she can drive all by herself. It has low, medium, and high speeds, but she only knows how to go fast!! Watch out!


This past weekend, we went to Silver City to visit the family and brought Ciara, of course, who was able to play with her cousin, Honey, for hours and hours (see picture below). Honey is a couple months older than Ciara, but they are the same size, for now. Honey is about as big as she is going to get (she is a terrier/jack russell cross), but Ciara will definitely have the size advantage on their next play date!!


This weekend, our outing was a hike in the desert. It was the longest hike yet for Ciara’s little legs (4.2 miles around A Mountain), but she made it! See pictures below.




Ciara went to the vet and we found out that she is 2 months old, very healthy, and about 18 pounds. She will not be as tall as a lab, but she will be stockier (more brute strength). She had her first puppy shots and is scheduled to go back in a couple of months. So far, as new parents, we have found that we are more tired than before, as we have to get up at all hours of the night, but we are still happy with our new addition, and have not yet experienced any post-partum depression. Below are some recent pictures of the family (Brian and Amanda, plus the “fuzzy-faced kid”).


All three of us, one of whom is NOT cooperating!


Both cooperating.


Ciara on her bed.


Ciara fighting Brian for her bed!

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