This year has been a less hectic one by our usual standards – settling into our routines and just enjoying time with our family and friends.
This time last year we were preparing to host our very first Christmas with all of Janet’s family. It had been many years since we’d all been together and we had the added joy of having Katharine & Steve’s son Patrick who was only one month old. We had a lovely time, getting back to a traditional Australian Christmas with cold meats and spending the day in the air conditioning looking out at blue skies instead of around a fire looking out at the snow.
We came back to Australia to be closer to family, and we’ve taken advantage of that this year – spending a lot of time with both Janet and Adrian’s families and utilising the baby sitting services. Unfortunately most of Adrian’s family is still quite a distance away in North Queensland so we don’t see as much of them as we’d like. We did manage to get up to Townsville in February to meet Lisa and Danny’s twins (Anabelle & Imogen) who were born just before Christmas last year. We’ve also enjoyed having Grandma come to stay on several occasions.
Adrian’s family also came together on a sadder occasion when his Nan passed away. Nan was in palliative care for two weeks and it was a real privilege to sit with her in those final days. While obviously it was a sad time, it brought us closer to Adrian’s “Brisbane family”.
Our trips away this year were family oriented as well, the first with Janet’s family to a beautiful big house in Maleny. The week away coincided with Ella’s second birthday so we took her to Australia Zoo for the day. She loved seeing all the animals and was delighted when the kangaroos ate straight from her hand. The rest of the holiday was spent relaxing and learning to play golf on the private bush course.
Our other trip was with Adrian’s family for a weekend away in Ipswich. Adrian’s Dad and Michelle put on a luxury weekend at their place, since they could accommodate us all, including Wilton the dog who was hard to fit in anywhere else. The weekend was spent eating, geo-caching, exploring the sights of Ipswich, eating and picking out a selection of plants to create a garden along our back fence.
We also had one “holiday at home” where Adrian took two weeks off and we stayed at home taking Ella on little adventures around South East Queensland. We did a range of things from a three night camping trip with Adrian’s Dad and Michelle to exploring some new parks, a bus trip into the city to take Ella to the state library and museum of modern art and a trip to Underwater World.
This year Janet has taken on the role of music leader for seniors connect at our church, which involves selecting music, liaising with the pianist and leading the singing each month. A few months ago she also started volunteering in the church office once a week, helping with the finances. She’s been really enjoying a bit of time “being an adult” and it’s been a great opportunity to meet new people.
Adrian is still working from home for a company in the UK, but now has a colleague here in Brisbane, Rob, who he’s worked with before and gets on with really well and another colleague in New Zealand. In the last couple of months he’s taken on the “serve leader” role for our church’s main campus – helping to match people who are able to help out with places where help is needed. That gets him out of the house and actually talking to people more which is good, as well as being really interesting to learn more about how serving is such a key part of a strong Christian faith.
Ella continues to be a joy and delight to everyone around her. Her speech is quite remarkable for her age and the depth of her understanding constantly amazes us. But at heart she’s still our little girl who loves to sing, ride her bike, read stories, watch planes and play on Daddy’s iPad. Ella loves all the time she gets to spend with her family and it’s especially cute to see the relationship developing with her cousin “Packit”. She continues to do very well at swimming, having just gone up to the excellence program for kids under 3 where she goes into the lessons without us.
For Christmas this year we’re doing the road trip up north to Grandma’s place. For the benefit of those in the UK, the trip up is roughly twice the length of the UK. It will be our first road trip as a family and we both have great memories of long drives to visit Grandparents in our youth, so hopefully Ella will grow to love them as well.
We hope this letter finds you in good health and that the New Year brings peace, joy and happiness.
Adrian, Janet and Ella