HO HO HO !  for Christmas 2003

 Well, I’m not really laughing as I career out of control towards another Christmas season !!  Just a touch manic maybe!  Decided this year to make things even more complex by planning a (very special!) family holiday for after Christmas.  Most inconsiderate of the rest of the world to keep doing Christmas and end of year activities while I try to get my head round an overseas trip!  

Yes, New Zealand, here we come on the 30th December.   (3 weeks, one in the north, 2 in the south, motorhome the whole way round.  Meeting up with local friends who have been in Tonga for a year, and spending our first week with them.  Spending New Year’s Eve with an internet pal and her family in Auckland, which is all quite exciting too. I’ve planned and booked a couple of adventurous activities as well to try to live up to our reputation. (Sadly we just haven’t had the time to do much in the way of family outdoors stuff, but hopefully this will kick start us again.) But the rest of the time we intend to cruise around and take things as they come.

 

Well, I can’t quite think where the year’s got to. How come 4th term goes so quickly? (and why did the school organise a school fete for December?!!) 

 Marc’s been away a few times this year.  Philippines and China recently for 5½ weeks… and a few other trips to the Philippines earlier in the year.   Same old story. I’m unimpressed with the long absences, and he’s tired and rundown from working too hard. Earns lots of time in lieu but no time to take it. Works late most days, though he’s signed up for Touch football 2 nights a week this year, which gives him some exercise.. when he’s in town.   There are the inevitable “local” trips in between the overseas ones which also involve absences of several days (and often a lot more driving.)   Considering other options, but they all involve moving, and don’t guarantee any less travelling (and probably less money.) Hmmm. 

We spent the first part of the year sorting out the sale of our house at Burrawang, and in fact Marc took a month’s leave to go down and work on the house to finish off some of the stuff we never got around to finishing off.  There was a bit of a saga to selling it . .  We had trouble with the tenant – decided all his tennis court building junk all over the yard was very unattractive… but had more trouble getting him out.   We both went down for 2 days in June to clean out the shed and to clean up the yard (and are now paying for stuff in storage up here.. no time since to sort it.)  Suffice to say we sold it for a fair bit more than we had anticipated before our visit down there in January… and for a lot more than one of the Bowral agents recommended listing it at, but we were a bit nonplussed to recognise the buyer as the sister of the agent!!  Anyway… we had a deadline tax wise to sell it. Made it, and it’s left us in a very fortunate position financially. Bit sad, end of an era really, but it helps to think of the $$$.  We are thinking of extending this house (but not if we decide to make any moves) and also it’s about time we got a newer vehicle… but we just haven’t ‘got round to it’.

 The girls have still managed to thrive, doing well with school, sport and dancing. Cait made it to State in school swimming with a Junior girls’ relay team. Alison made it to Regional under her own steam! (Meant an overnight trip up to Mullumbimby).  Both made it to Zone in Cross Country.  Both did well in their ballet exams – Cait gets a trophy as she got a Special Merit Honours, and Alison got a Special Merit (3rd Highest award out of several levels).  Cait got a distinction, a credit, and an achievement in the  Uni of NSW competitions. Alison has matured a lot with the help of a great teacher this year, and is much more organised and confident. 

Zoe’s just about finished with preschool!! Starts Big School next year, can you believe it.  She’s no slouch in the brains department either… and with 2 big sisters at school next year, and 3 Orientation sessions under her belt, I’m not anticipating too many problems.  She’s matured a lot this year… as they do! (although she’s still my little girl!)  After a tentative start to swimming, she’s clicked with it all, and is now pretty advanced for her age, swimming in a class with kids 2 years older – doing an _hour_ class after preschool on a Friday!  It’s been great for her self confidence, and aerobic fitness (which I hope will manifest itself in better walking while we are away!  She does say she’s ‘training’ for New Zealand!)  We won’t mention the bike riding however. !!!


 

I’ve not achieved a hell of a lot, it feels.  Kept up my swimming squad class this year which has kept me a bit on top of fitness… but I’ve fallen off the wagon this last term in terms of losing weight.   Did a Paint Shop Pro course last term with Adult Ed (but haven’t had too much time to put any of that into practice) and, putting pressure on myself to appear intelligent, enrolled in an online TAFE course (computer course), which has been a bit of a failure self-discipline wise.  In hindsight I should have just waited till Zoe was at school to decide what to do, as trying to study and look after 3 kids, by myself a lot of the time, is actually quite time consuming, and distracting. 

With Marc away last holidays, I took the girls and myself up to Queensland for a week’s “holiday”. Well, it was a trip.  A driving trip – me and 3 kids!! What was I thinking?!!  But we caught up with people, went to Australia Zoo, stayed in motels, and a ‘fancy’ hotel in Brissy… and … well, I came home for a holiday!

 We’ve pulled out our kayak a couple of times recently… with great plans to get babysitting and go regularly to the Kayak club races on a Saturday afternoon… but stuff like kids’ vomiting attacks have put a spanner in the works there in recent weeks.   We are doing a half day sea kayak trip in New Zealand, with the kids, and will hopefully find time for ourselves with it next year. Caitlin is actually keen to start paddling, so we might need to look into that!!

 What else?  Marc’s parents sold their house on the Gold Coast, and have turned the top floor of the house round the corner here into a holiday flat (keeping the bottom floor for themselves.)  I’ve been managing it for them (and thus earning a little bit of pocket money.) We can arrange ‘mates’ rates’ so if you’re thinking of a holiday up this way (by the beach) but still want your own space, well, you know who to call!  

Sorry if we missed visiting anyone on our trips north or south.  As usual they tended to be a bit frantic with time always short.

Back to immediate plans: We are spending the week over Christmas before we leave for NZ in a holiday house in the Blue Mountains. (We had to get the dogs to Marc's parents in Blackheath for dogsitting, and decided we needed our own space.)  Will have to catch up with relos for christmas, do some last minute shopping, and Marc is hanging out to do a canyon.  We fly back in on the 23rd, but will have to head homewards, with school starting back on the Wednesday!  Eek! 

I've kept up the online photo album [updated]
 .. well, I've fallen a bit behind this last oh-too-short term, but I'll get back into it next year, especially with pics from our NZ trip!!

Well, that’s our story.  Hope everyone has a great Christmas and a good year in 2004!!

 

Tracey (the scribe) & Marc
  Cait, Ali, Zoe
and Rags & Rattles of course too!!
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