Apologies to all our NZ friends - and even family, Caroline - who will not be receiving a card or gift from us this year. We have lost ten days of our life to hospital so it is only the Christmas stuff I did before then, that is happening (luckily that incldued all UK cards). We have enough presents bought already (and I have been prevented from my usual top-up last-minute shopping) and I was planning just to give money to the older ones anyway. Paul and I did a supermarket shop last night and we will just do without anything we forgot.
We are still goign to have a wonderful Christmas and I think in many ways spending time in hospital is a good reminder of the first Christmas and the stress and uncertainty surrounding it.
This is our Christmas letter as received by those in UK, which obviously doesn;t mention Noah's recent escapade so is outdated.
We have just put up our new ten foot Christmas tree that I had been hankering after for our front hall since we built the new house. I first showed Paul an even taller and much wider Christmas tree that cost twice as much so this one seemed cheap in comparison! After we spent ages decorating it with teddies and red baubles Hannah told me “It looks just like a department store tree.” We’re not sure if that is praise or not!
This year has been the year of the wedding (times two) plus Isaac starting school, Noah starting secondary school, Joe returning from Korea and getting a job in Auckland, Rachel and Adam moving to Queenstown and me returning to study and discovering how slowly my brain works.
Beth and James’ wedding in April was the first time all eight of our children had been together for years and now they will all be together again on Christmas day, so we are really excited about that and Lily is planning a nativity play based on the TV show “Glee” –her new obsession. So far she has cut up a cardboard box for Joe to wear on his back as the donkey!
A quick rundown on family and events during 2011:
Joe – came back from Korea in April, worked for a while on INR online ( – a computer programme for warfarin management developed by Joe and Paul which the new National (conservative) government have pledged to roll-out for use in pharmacies nationwide) then moved to central Auckland and got a computer programming job. He sent us a text as the rugby world cup started saying how busy it was by his flat.
Sam and Anika – had a holiday in South Africa in February so Sam met Anika’s extended family. Anika has qualified as a registered psychologist and Sam continues as a food technologist developing muesli bars. They may move to OZ in 2012.
Beth and James – got married in NZ in April and then blessed in UK in Oct, but live in Sydney. James has been upgraded from doing a Masters to a PhD in ancient history at Macquarie uni and Beth commutes to central Sydney to work at a law firm amongst the poshest shops (Jimmy Choo, Tiffany and Prada).
Rachel and Adam were planning to move to the Gold Coast or Brisbane but Adam got offered a good job in Queenstown so they’ve moved there. We met them earlier in the year at the Taupo iron-man as Adam’s brother who is a firefighter was doing it as was my brother Jon. Both finished with really good times.
Lily has just had the movie premier of her latest movie about people with Down syndrome transferring from school to work. She loves performing to an audience so spoke really well and was delighted when she received a bouquet of flowers. She has just voted in the recent election – she told us she planned to vote ACT (a far right party) as she likes acting but we managed to dissuade her! Next year she will try flatting with two friends who also have Down syndrome. We have far more concerns about this than she does – her only worry is giving friends ‘change of address’ cards.
Hannah turned 21 in January and followed Lily’s lead by choosing a holiday in Disneyland with the family. This was great, beautiful weather but very quiet as all American kids were in school. Hannah did her first social work training placement working with adults recovering from head injuries. This meant she had access to lots of arts and crafts and she made us some lovely things as she worked alongside her clients.
Noah is enjoying school and is proud to be able to walk there himself. There were problems for the first few days as he thought this was an opportunity to walk anywhere he liked (especially to nearby Savage Crescent – his favourite road as it has 8 roads leading off it) but this eased once he had explored all the possible routes around his school and done lots of weekend “dead-end walks” these are exploratory nieighbourhood walks where we walk all the way round cul-de-sacs. His behaviour is gradually improving and he is longing for puberty to start (it may be, as he now stays awake until almost 10pm and then doesn’t want to get up for school in the morning).
Isaac is still a rather fragile little boy, wearing size 2 clothes at age 6, and not having much language. Still he is a happy little boy and no longer in pain, so he has made great progress since his early years. He currently loves the teletubbies and was so pleased when we managed to buy four little beanie-baby teletubbies in the UK. He enjoyed the plane travel sitting cross legged in his economy seat which was so big for him, watching his portable DVD player – he looked like a mini-business man!
As for Paul and I – Paul continues to mostly enjoy his work as a haematologist and is now wanting to write a few medical apps for the IPad, I have found study quite tough, especially when my life experiences don’t fit with the blanket statements we are taught (forensic psychology from a social justice perspective was a particular problem to me!!) but now realise I like giving my brain a work out so will be exploring returing to some kind of work next year. We have also taken up bridge lessons and play much better now we obey a few rules rather than bidding totally idiosyncratically as we did as students! We really enjoyed seeing so many of our extended family this year, first at the actual wedding in April and then at the blessing in UK.
We wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year.