Today is the beginning of my work year. I had such a good break with Hanno; we've been watching cricket, snoozing on the lounge, laughing at the chooks, talking and reading, and while he's been doing odd jobs in the backyard, I've been knitting and sewing. I feel thoroughly refreshed and I'm looking forward to the year ahead. I'll take this opportunity to send my sincere thanks to so many of you who sent cards, emails, comments, gifts and kind thoughts to Hanno and me and to our sons and their families last year. It was a momentous time for all of us in so many ways and we've all come out of it stronger, more connected and with our focus firmly on our beautiful babies and the year ahead. We all felt the love sent our way and appreciate your affection and kindness more than you know.
Sarndra and Shane with Opa holding Alexander.
Hello cousin! Jamie and Alexander getting to know each other.
We had a lovely Christmas with the family. Kerry, Sunny and Jamie arrived on Christmas Eve and came to the Christmas breakfast with us the next morning. We didn't do any work there this year because we had so many local residents who asked if they could volunteer, we just sat back, had some breakfast and mingled. I proudly swanned around with Jamie in my arms, took a few photos and walked around with the donation jar, and that was it for me. I'd take a guess and say there were about five hundred people there, so again, it was a great success. When we went home, Shane, Sarndra and Alexander arrived and stayed with us on Christmas night. After we opened our gifts, we had a late lunch and relaxed and talked for the rest of the day. It was wonderful seeing the babies playing together on the floor; they are both so happy and content, just as all babies should be. I have to tell you that seeing my sons with their own sons is real joy and it makes me so proud seeing all four of them being the most wonderful parents. I don't think I was so relaxed and self assured when I was a young mother. I hope you enjoyed the holidays with your family and friends and like us, took advantage of the time to connect with your family and recuperate.
Christmas day in our kitchen.
As well as being time for relaxation, I used some of the previous few weeks to organise myself and do a some tasks that will help me during the year. The fridge has been cleaned out, the oven and microwave are sparkling, the pantry is clean and organised, the stockpile cupboard has been cleaned out and checked. I have enough soap and cleaning products to do us for a while. The only thing that let me down is the ironing; it refuses to be done. Oh well, I can deal with that because everything else is fine. I've even synched my calendar and music, moved files to a portable hard drive and deleted photos. Whatever is ahead for me this year, I'm ready for it.
Sunny and Jamie with Santa. Jamie wasn't too sure about the man in the red suit.
Opa with cute elf Alexander.
There is so much to look forward to. I have a full list of workshops ready to go at the neighbourhood centre, a number of talks I'll be giving around the place, my Women's Weekly column is continuing, I'll be back on ABC radio and Hanno and I have decided we'll pack ourselves into the car and drive south to promote the book. Penguin is organising some promotion in Melbourne and Sydney and of course we don't want to fly down but hopefully we can stop off along the way in some bigger towns, sign some books and meet up with some of you. We'll take s few side trips and catch up with friends along the way and have a little holiday while we're about it. I'll take the laptop with me so I can continue to blog as we drive around. We haven't had a holiday together for a long time. Hanno went to Germany alone in 2010 and I went to Tricia's for two weeks last Easter, apart from that we had two weeks in Victoria about ten years ago. We're looking forward to this adventure very much. I'll have more details about it when they're organised.
Jamie as he sets off to discover every inch of our kitchen floor.
This year I'll continue writing about our simple lives, and as there are so many new folk reading here now, I thought it would be a good time to go over some of the core elements of our way of living again; not only for the new readers but to keep us on our toes too. I'm sure you all feel the pull of commerce and pressure to buy convenience. We feel those same pressures and it will be good for us to review where we've been so we're sure about where we are going. Soon I'll be writing about cheese making too because we've just set ourselves up with a little cheese fridge. I've made cheese in the past but here in the sub-tropics it was too difficult to cure the cheese without a special fridge. I've finished the On my Mind Friday series and will be featuring instead a short list of links to articles, blogs or posts that have inspired me in some way. I hope to not only bring new ideas and writers to you but to expose them to a wider audience as well. And this year I'll link my blog with the Down to Earth forum more so we can all explore various subjects in more depth. On the more practical subjects that I write about here, I'll open up a thread on the forum to carry the conversation on over there so I can answer questions, you can add your thoughts and we can all have our say. Every so often I'll throw in my thoughts about ageing, work, babies and anything else that I've been thinking about.
I'm really pleased to be back. I've missed you! But I'm better for the time away and all it allowed me to do. I'm very optimistic about the coming year, there is a lot to think about and discuss with you, and, as always, I'm looking forward to reading your comments.