Friday, August 21, 2009

Flashback Friday

When I was growing up, I had a goat named Rosebud.

As you can see, she was just like any old family pet. Man good memory.

I think one of these days after I start my real job, and my real life, and can eventually get a real house with a real yard... I may just have to get another goat.

(This picture always makes me think of monkeys)

I think Daisy would like that a lot. For those of you who haven't met our newest pet, this is Daisy...

As you can see, she loves the water. This is her and Matt swimming at the pool. She was getting lessons in not attacking people while swimming. I think she passed.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Flashback Friday

So I decided to participate in Jo's famed "Flashback Friday", even though she hasn't had one in a while! (cough cough)

Whenever we were growing up, my brothers and I loved this one movie. Never quite knew what the name of it was.. we just knew exactly where it was at Movieland. :) So we'd always go into the back corner where all the kid movies were and pick out this movie.

Years later I found myself working at the Educational Media Services department of the Texas A&M University Library. This place is basically a free version of Movieland, ie Blockbuster for all you non-Buna folk. My brothers and I have always remembered this random movie from our childhood... the music, the characters, the basic plot (with some holes due to the fact that we were well... kids). One day while checking out movies, I stumbled upon our movie!!!! It had to have been just one of the happiest days for me. haha. I immediately started texting/calling my brothers to tell them about the find. It was called Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

(Of course it is only appropriate that she is throwing up a gig 'em sign,
since I did discover the long lost video at A&M. WHOOP!)

Now most of you know that whenever you watch a film as an adult that you loved as a child, it is never as good as you thought. Well this just happens to still be awesome!!! It is anime, which I think is probably why its not too kiddish even though it is a cartoon. What brings me to mention this film today is that I am still working at o' EdMS and this morning Naussica was sitting at our front desk. It just brings back so many happy memories. I actually looked at the synopsis today and saw that Uma Thurman and Patrick Stewart are two of the main voices. How cool is that?!

I think you should all google this movie and watch it. It may be a little strange for those who aren't quite into anime, but still a goodie! I hope you've all enjoyed this, my first blast from the past "Flashback Friday".

Oh and here is a picture just for kicks and giggles, old school.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sorry for the double post

But I apparently can't figure out how to share this photo book without it "deleting" when I edit the post. So here is what the previous post is supposed to say...

I am so very excited because I just finished the rough draft of our photo book. For those of you who don't remember, this is the album I've been working on of our wedding pictures. I think this will be it. Look it over and send me any kind of critiques you may have, ie mispelled words, better color schemes, etc.

You can also view it at my shutterfly website Enjoy!!!!

Shared photo book from Hillary

Click here to view this photo book larger

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Site

So I have been so excited this past week because I have been working on a new website. I have really enjoyed having a way to keep up with all my friends and family, but I've kinda been missing the whole showing off my pictures aspect of it. While we were in Italy, uploading pictures to this blog was just such a nuisance. Plus there are just so many more that we want to show off. So, we created a shutterfly account. Real easy...

This site has been so amazing. I can post pictures, blogs, a calendar, even polls. One of my favorite parts is that it works as a photo shop. With the pictures that I post onto the site, I can order them to be printed. It also has unlimited storage for pictures - so even though facebook finally upped their album limit, this is even better. Its perfect because in this day and age with digital cameras, I very rarely actually develop anything and my pictures get lost onto cds. What good is that?

I have also started working on a little photo project: a book with our wedding pictures done up all fancy and stuff! I have spent time every day working on this project and it just makes me smile. I cannot wait for it to be done so that I can show it off.

Anywho, I just felt like sharing these little tidbits with you. If anyone happens to still be reading this blog. haha. I hope you all get a chance to check out our new website with all the goods!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Finally home

Wow what a journey we have been on! So sorry that there has been no news for the past few days. You know that cord that I described in my earlier blog about Pompeii? Well alas, the cord did not work and we did not have internet for our last 2 days in Italy. I went ahead and posted for you to see as if I were writing that day.

We are now safely home. After a full 22 hours of travel, we made it. We woke up at 6 am Tuesday morning (aka 11 pm Monday night - Texas time). We had quite an experience at the Rome airport. We went to check our bags first. Mine was right at 50 lbs (coming I was only at 46). Matt's was at 56. Gooo! What were we to do? We had to step aside to unload Matt's bag. We put a few things in our carry on and then had to throw away a few of our toiletries. But we got his in at a whopping 49 lbs.

Next we went through the security check. Both of our bags were searched. We had to take out dirty clothes and souveniers to show them what we had in our bag. Apparently they saw something that looked dangerous. haha.

We then boarded a bus and shipped over to our terminal. We got to spend this time hanging out with Dolores and Ann and well as John and Jen. The next long hours of our life were spent just sitting and waiting. It was another 2 hours before our flight left for Atlanta. Then it was a grueling 10 hour flight back. We actually landed early! This time around we watched Marley and Me, Last Chance Harvey, and Defiance.

It was so sad when we finally got served dinner. For the past 8 days, we had been dining in style. A 5 course meal at least once a day. Most of those were always for dinner. Proscutto, pasta, veal, dessert, wine, bread, salad, so on and so forth. Tonight it was a turkey and cheese sandwich. Sad day. It was official. Our vacation was over.

By the time we got to Atlanta, we went through customs and got our luggage rechecked. We said goodbye for the last time to Dolores and Ann. We miss those ladies as well as everyone else in our group. Back to the waiting game. Because of all the rain throughout the country, our flight was delayed for an hour. We were both so incredibly exhausted. I was so bad off I could still feel the motion sickness while we were sitting in the airport. I could have sworn that the entire building was moving. Matt just rolled his eyes and laughed at me because of course, it was not.

We made it back to Austin at about 9:15 pm. (Remember that we left at 11 pm the night before??) We stood with his parents waiting for our luggage. No luggage. Apparently even though we could not get on an earlier flight, our luggage could. It had made it there already and was sitting outside some office just waiting for us... I think almost laughing at us because we had to wait to come home.

But... we're here. Home at last. Hopefully sometime soon I will get the chance to post many more pictures. I will try to go back through and insert into different points in the first few blogs as I have in the more recent ones so you can see exactly what we are talking about. Aside from that I will be posting them on facebook. I believe non facebook users still may be able to view the picture albums so I will try to post the link on a new blog.

We are not sure if we will continue to blog. This was mainly set up just to keep track of our journey through Italy. But during the next few weeks will be the time that I edit our older posts with more pictures. Maybe then we will continue to chronicle our everyday lives here in the mainland!

Thank you so much for keeping up with us on this great adventure. (And now I want to bust into Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Great Adventure" for those of you who remember (my) 7th grade Vacation Bible School! lol)

Imperial Rome (Monday)

Today was finally a late day for us. We were able to sleep in until 8 am, but of course Matt got up to do his workout at 7. We grabbed our breakfast and were so excited because we finally had salt and pepper! Our eggs finally tasted great.

We hopped a bus with our first tour guide Mauro and headed for the coliseum. They drove around all the ruins of the emperors of Roman time. We saw the remains of Nero, Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, and Augusto.

The coliseum is just massive. It once held 50,000 Romans. The coliseum today does not stand as it was during the Roman reign. It is not due to earthquakes or war, but due to the fact that the first Pope wanted to get rid of all the Paganism in Rome so they started to tear down the coliseum and recycled the materials for the Vatican city. This is why Rome is known as the “Eternal City”; they have reused and recycled everything so the city will never die. The parts of the coliseum that are still standing today are there because of the ingenious engineering they had back in those days. The whole place is basically like lego land. They place bronze pins in every brick and stone to add a sturdy core. The bronze is such a great material because it moves with the environment. It absorbs the vibrations of earthquakes.

(Matt putting his finger in the holes where the bronze pins were.
Stolen during economic hard times)

(Hillary as the newly elected Roman Emperor)

The coliseum walls are made from stone, brick, and marble. You can see from the pictures that there are a lot of holes in the walls. This is where the marble was built into the walls, but after Rome collapsed, people took the marble and sold it for money. That is what distinguishes the original walls from the new walls. Marble was such a big commodity then that even the steps and seating were made from marble.

(Marble steps)

(Marble seating)

When we entered, we were able to go through the emperor’s entrance. There were 80 entrances total around the coliseum with 1 dedicated to the emperor. Yeah we got to be royalty today. Whenever we first got there we had quite another experience as well. Mauro was taking us in and got into a fight with one of the ticket people. This is the second day in a row that we have experienced our guides yelling at other people. It got pretty heated and then Mauro walked away to get somebody else to take care of business. After we finally got through the line, Mauro was quick to make sure that nobody spoke Italian. Haha.

(Emperor’s entrance marked by the cross)

The games of the coliseum were such a big deal to the emperor that he actually paid for everything! The food was free, the admission was free, the gladiators were paid, and the animals were bought all by the emperor. Mauro said that in today's time, one event would be 1 billion dollars! CRAZY!

We had a bit of free time so we all went upstairs to the second level of the coliseum. These stairs were quite difficult to climb. They were steep and slanted down toward you. When we got to the top we were able to see down into the arena where they had all the passageways for the animals and the gladiators. It was really neat to see where they released all the animals and then where the gladiators really fought. Mauro said that for a gladiator to be set free he had to be victorious in 20 to the death fights. It may not seem like it would take that long, but they only had fights 2-5 times per year. As a gladiator the first thing you would do is walk into the arena and address the emperor. If you turned your back, it was immediate death. When addressing the emperor each gladiator would hold out their arm (hail Hitler style) and either keep their fingers together or apart. Together means that they will fight to the death, while apart means that they would only fight to the first injury. Experts estimate that during the 500 years of active competitions in the arena, over 600,000 people were killed.

After we left the coliseum a group of 12 (the fun group) stayed by ourselves to taking a walking tour of the palentino and ruins of the ancient emperors. We were able to see casa di augusto. You could still see the marble on the ground that had been broken up and covered by dirt. We even walked through a small museum that had tons of busts and sculptures from this palace. We also saw a wall mural that was put together like a puzzle with only the pieces that they have found through the rubble. We next walked down to see the largest arch in the world. It was really neat.

For our afternoon, we booked the fountain tour around Rome. This was great. Although we were both extremely tired and worn out from all the walking and heat from this morning, the tour gave us something special to do for our last day in Italy. Our guide was John Luigi and he was fabulous and very informative. We visited the famous Trevi Fountain which was only built in the 1700s so is still relatively new.

We also went to St. Peter’s Basilica. This one however, is different from the other basilica we visited while we were at the Vatican. This basilica is where the chains of St. Peter are kept. These are the same chains that he was bound with in captivity both while in Rome and in Jerusalem.

(angel of death)

This is also where the famous “Moses” by Michelangelo is kept.
When designing this statue, Michelangelo put a pretty significant landmark on him. When the Bible was first translated they made a mistake in talking about Moses coming down from the mountain after speaking with God. The text says that he had rays of light beaming from his head (sorry I’m paraphrasing from what the guide told us so this is probably not exact either). But whenever it was translated it said that Moses had horns coming from his head. Well since rays of light are kind of hard to sculpt, Michelangelo decided to keep the horns to signify the history and to make it easier on himself.

We also went by the Pantheon which is named for a place that all the gods were worshipped. This was really neat because they actually have an open hole in the top of the building. And down below they have holes in the floor to drain all the water that comes in during rainy times. To the very left was the door of sunset because the sun actually lands there every night at sunset.

One of the last fountains we saw was in Piazza Navona. This is a very popular square. The fountain was built to represent the four continents (Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas) and each fountain coming from the sculptures represented the largest rivers. America’s river was something that we didn’t really know of and that they said was because when the statues were being built America hadn’t really been explored so they did not know of the biggest rivers yet. Another neat fact or well rumor is that the American statue was built with his hand over his face. It is said its because Barbirini (I think that is the way to say his name) built the statues but did not build the building. He placed the hand over the eyes of America to hide his face for the disgrace of a building that he was looking at. Apparently Barbirini was rude. Haha.


This marks the point of the great flood in Rome. December 28, 18970 the water rose so high as you can see from this picture!

Even though we were both just pooped and exhausted we have to say that this was a great end to our tour. We had our last dinner tonight at the hotel. Our last 5 course meal and of course, it was quite good. We all downed about 2 bottles of water each (and these are the liter size, not 20 oz size). We actually had an early night for the first time. Well, that was until the fun group went back upstairs to have our one last night together. We recruited another 6 people for tonight: Jason and Laurie, Pat and Lenny, Ronnie and Dave. We stayed out until midnight or so, almost not wanting to leave because that meant the end to “us”. I’ve actually set up a trading system with Pat, Lenny, Ronnie and Dave. I will be sending them each some true Cajun file and they will be sending some true northern maple syrup. Yum yum!!

We board the bus for the airport at 6:45 am. I know what I’ll be doing on the plane! SLEEPING!!

We will see you all very soon!