Saturday, 31 December 2011

The year that was

What a year 2011 has been. It's so easy to dismiss it as an annus horribilis for our family (and for many others who have been affected by the worsening state of the economy), but it had a lot of good moments too. All in all, it was a year full of challenges, a few humbling tumbles and many lessons learnt.

It was year of making new friends

Lucas and Sofia spending an evening at their new friend Michael's house.

and renewing old friendships.

Lucas celebrating his 9th birthday with friends he has known since Reception


It was a year of developing new interests and hobbies.

Sofia learning to steer her uncle's boat . . . 


. . . and striking her 'king of the world' pose

Lucas gives the kayak a go with his cousins' help.


Lucas learning wall climbing

Lucas joins the school choir and discovers that he can sing.

Sofia discovers the joy of reading and using the computer

Lucas became a Cub Scout this year.

And Simon learned to skydive.

Lucas tries out long-distance cycling.


It was the year that Sofia got to meet Peppa Pig and her family at Paulton's Park



and Lucas discovered that he has the potential to become a fashion model (a lovely boost to his sometimes-shaky self-confidence).




It was a year of births

Our new friend Phoebe was born in September.

Simon's corn snake breeding program turned out to be a huge success.


The kids and their friends William and Ollie saying hello to the very young lambs at Sacrewell Farm


and saying farewell to a favourite pet.

Ziggy, my favourite mouse, died in the middle of the year. 

There were many moments spent having fun and chilling out with good friends









and beloved cousins.








We spent hours reading books that we thoroughly enjoyed.

Sofia gets another Miffy book on Christmas Day.

Our evening ritual: reading books, lots of them

My December reading pile, all borrowed from the library

It was the year my little girl turned 4 and my not-so-little boy turned 9, 

The kids on Christmas Day

Sofia doing her yoga pose on her 4th birthday


Lucas's birthday cake: a double layer chocolate cheesecake (as he requested)

Lucas opening his birthday present from us—a Rubik's cube


the year that I ventured into selling my art and this Christmas, discovered that I could sell my cookies too!

My chocolate crinkles

It was a year spent learning to live in the moment and cherish each other's company;

In Sunny Hunny on a not-so-sunny day

Sofia the shark

The clifftop at Hoburne Naish

Playing on the beach at Hoburne Naish


 of learning to simplify our lives and discovering what really counts.

The kids opening their Christmas presents this year--no bulky toys, just games they can play together and books to read

Oh, and a little dress-up Madeline doll for Sofia

It was also the year we relearned the value of putting our feet up once in a while.





Here's looking forward to a blessed, wonderful, adventure-filled 2012! May your new year be filled with beautiful things.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Gratitude

Four weeks ago I was inhabiting a world of hurt. I was ill with an exceptionally nasty flu. Days after I went down with the bug, news came from home that my sister was in critical condition, having suffered from an aneurysm-induced stroke. I felt my heart was going to break into a million pieces.

Fortunately, my sister is now recovering at home, being cared for by my mother and my nieces. I got over my flu two weeks ago and have since plunged myself back into work and Christmas-related chores and activities.

This afternoon, after what felt like a hectic week getting ready for Christmas, we managed to sit down together to just relax and watch a film (well, I had my sewing project on my lap) and eat some popcorn. Afterwards, I went to look at the things that we put up around the house to prepare for Christmas. It felt good to just stop and appreciate these things (soon to be discarded and forgotten for a year) and the work that was put into making them.

Lucas's snowflake mobile (along with his dreamcatcher)
Sofia's giant bauble

Lucas's edible snowman
Our miniature paper Christmas trees
A mobile we put up in the dining room using a foil star and some beautiful papier-mache moons and stars my husband bought in India

Our little Christmas tree, now nearly a decade old

The past couple of weeks have just been so busy, what with the kids' school activities all being held in a single week (there was a mad rush to get costumes sorted out, among other things) and cards and presents to be made and posted or delivered personally. It was easy to get lost in the frenzy and forget what we're actually celebrating at Christmas.

The kids' Christmas cards for their friends
The kids making peppermint bark for their friends
A few of the things I have been baking: chocolate crinkles, Nutella cupcakes and cupcake madelines

Tonight as I finally take a breather from all the chores that had to be done before Christmas comes (in less than an hour), I will take this moment to express my gratitude for all the good things that I have in my life.

I am grateful for:
  • the wonderful friends that I have—the ones who are quick to give words of comfort and encouragement when I feel like my world is falling apart, or turn up at my door carrying food that my mother used to cook for me whenever I was ill, or know exactly when I need a hug or a pat on the shoulder;
  • my family—my kind and loving sisters, my hardworking brother, my nephews and nieces, my terrific in-laws, my husband and my kids, and of course, my mother, our family's pillar of strength;
  • the time that I get to spend with my kids and husband, time that I often take for granted but get to appreciate whenever I slow down and just live in the moment;
  • my home, my neighbourhood and community—I am so grateful to live in a place where my kids can enjoy their childhood in a safe environment;
  • the little blessings that sometimes come unnoticed —my daughter's infectious laughter, my son's clever ideas, my husband's (mostly) funny jokes, the sunshine that we occasionally get in the winter, little acts of kindness from friends and strangers;
  • life itself, and the many surprises, challenges and lessons it continues to give us. It may be a bit exhausting and frustrating sometimes, but I wouldn't have this life any other way.
From our home to yours, have a blessed, beautiful Christmas,