Merry Christmas!

Dear family and friends,

Where did the year go? It seems like just last week that we were saying goodbye to all our friends in the UK to move back to Australia and now here we are, nearly a year later sitting down to write the Christmas letter.

Our transition back to life in Australia has been remarkably smooth and we feel truly blessed at how well everything has come together for us. We moved home in time to celebrate Janet’s Mum’s 60th birthday and then spent three months living with Janet’s parents while we searched for a house to buy. We settled on a four bedroom, low set house in Rochedale South which is close to Janet’s family and not too far from Adrian’s southern family. There was a fair bit of work to do on the house before we moved in – cleaning, painting and new carpet. We were somewhat surprised once we cleaned the walls to paint that they were actually painted white and not a brown colour. Once all our new furniture was in place, we enjoyed spending time finding a home for everything and putting lots of photos up to really make it our own. We still have a long list of things to improve, but we’re pleased that we’ve managed to get a garden started at the front of the house and have just bought a lovely outdoor setting for the back patio ready for summer.

While all this was happening, Ella has been growing up so fast. She took her first steps at just 10 ½ months while we were staying with Janet’s parents so it was lovely to share that moment with them. Within days she was running rings around us. From a young age she’s been able to understand us remarkably well and became very adept with non-verbal communication to express what she wanted. More recently she’s started to pick up words at a rapid pace and is now putting them together to form short sentences. She has a way of making even the simplest words sound cute – especially when she’s waving her favourite teddy’s arm and saying “hello”. She can name and point to the major parts of her body and knows lots of animal sounds – including that ducks say “duck duck” (we’re working on that but it is very cute). She’s also eating all by herself, using a fork and spoon (and sometimes her hands and face as well) and is happy to eat whatever we’re having for dinner.

Ella still loves her books, but is really enjoying being able to go play with her ball in the back yard and she loves going to visit the boys (Caleb, 6 and Josh, 3) across the road. She also loves helping Mummy and Daddy doing jobs – watering the garden, putting clothes in the dirty clothes basket, unpacking the dishwasher, pulling weeds (and occasionally plants) out of the garden and checking the mail.

We’ve gotten Ella back into swimming lessons and she’s doing very well – happy to put her head under the water, kicking well and starting to swim with her arms. Her favourite part of being in the pool is “monkeying” along the wall.

Ella and Mummy also love going to play group each week where Ella has learnt to paint, draw and get into other crafts amongst playing with the other kids.

This year we’ve thoroughly enjoyed being able to spend more time with Adrian’s family. Adrian’s Dad and his family live not far from us so are able to drop in from time to time and we were able to head up to Townsville at Easter to see his Mum, sisters and their families. In September Adrian’s Mum celebrated her 60th birthday so there was a big family gathering in Toowoomba with almost all of the extended family, including the New Zealand mob. We’ve also enjoyed having Adrian’s Mum visit a couple of times during the year.

The sad news for the year was that Janet’s Nan passed away at the age of 87. Thankfully she passed away peacefully and the whole family was able to gather in Leeton to celebrate her life and spend some quality time together.

The circle of life continues though as there will be new additions on both sides of the family by Christmas. Janet’s sister Katharine and husband Steve are expecting their first and Adrian’s sister Lisa and husband Danny are expecting their second and third all at once with twins. So a very exciting run-up to Christmas and we can’t wait to meet the new additions to the family.

Adrian is really enjoying his work, continuing on with the same company he was working with in the UK. Due to the time zone differences he’s become known as the “Night Watchman” but its proven really useful to have someone awake during the UK night in case of problems. He flew back to the UK for a whirlwind trip to stay in touch with his colleagues but was able to squeeze in a visit to a few friends while he was over there as well. Being able to work from home and have lunch with Janet and Ella each day is great – not to mention no longer having an hour long commute each way.

We haven’t been doing much exploring this year, but have enjoyed having friends and family over for lunch or dinner – much easier now we have a bit more space than in the UK. However we did go camping with our church growth group – a first for both Ella and Janet, which was enjoyed by all, so hopefully we’ll do a bit more exploring again soon.

We hope this letter finds you in good health and that the New Year brings peace, joy and happiness.

Merry Christmas,

Adrian, Janet and Ella

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