As the first year of the new millenium draws to a close, it is hard to believe, as usual, that things have gone so quickly. If the next 999 years are going to be as eventful as the one that has now just about finished, it is going to be one extremely busy epoch ... Naturally the highlight of the year was the birth of Jeremy Michael Harland at 2.26am on February 15th, weighing in with an opening balance of 4.115kg (9lb. 1oz.). This young man had kept us waiting, as he was nearly two weeks overdue by the time that he arrived. This was new territory for us, in that all the others had been early, and we had fully expected this again. There was a very real prospect of a birthday on Valentine's Day for a while, but he managed to delay things by a couple of hours or so too long. That said, he came so quickly in the end that the doctor didn't arrive in time, and he was delivered by two midwives. He was very placid right from the beginning, finding the routine of feeding and sleeping to be no trouble at all, and he has remained that way. He is a solid blue-eyed boy with wisps of orangey hair that suggest that he will be more like Timothy than Joshua in appearance, and comparisons of him with photos of Timothy at the same age bear this out. He is currently crawling around commando-style at breakneck speed when he is not pulling himself up onto things, which can sometimes produce spectacular results, particularly as his skills for getting down again remain underdeveloped. James claims that he has already said "Dad" many a time (although there is not universal agreement amongst the household on this point!). His eyes seem to follow everything that goes on, and he has been learning very quickly that he has three older siblings! He seems to thrive on interaction, and there is nothing quite like the look on his face when someone comes to play with him.
Emily has definitely made the transition by now from a baby into a little girl, and if anyone has any doubt about that, she will certainly set the record straight! She has longish blond hair and prominent blue eyes, and her energy has in no way abated. Her speech has been progressing in leaps and bounds, and she is able to follow much (if not all) of adult conversations (particularly when key words such as "chocolate", "ice cream" or "Wiggles" are mentioned). She is a great fan of Play School and especially the Wiggles, and will happily sing and dance along with a CD or video. She can also spot a poster, book or video of the group from about 1,000 yards across a crowded shopping centre. Ponytails and the like are often demanded, but dresses can be such a problem when one is climbing the ladder up into the lemon tree. She loves books, and is often to be found pushing a book into your hands with a brusque demand that it be read, and is quite a persuasive negotiator when it comes to turning one bedtime story into three or four. She will always want to join in any expedition outside the front door, from going up the driveway to fetch the paper to trips overseas. She is a keen tricyclist, and will happily ride a few blocks in this way. All in all, it is a real pity that as her birthday is about three weeks past the deadline, she will have to wait until she is nearly 6 to go to school.
Timothy has had a wonderful time at kindergarten. Whilst still being a quiet type rather than an extrovert, he has become more confident and interactive during class times. He has proved himself very adept at puzzles, and as the teacher noted, he will often quietly assist other children if they are having trouble with them. His teacher left on maternity leave halfway through the year, but he still managed to keep up a steady supply of stamps on his hand and the like for being prompt to pack up and for following instructions as given. He has several friends who live nearby, which has meant that there have been a number of mutual play sessions and lots of pointing out where friends live when travelling about the local streets. He really enjoys having two younger siblings to play with, and there is a clear change in the dynamics when Joshua comes home from school. His call of "Good morning, Jeremy!" followed by an enthusiastic statement of "I said `Good morning' to Jeremy!" is always good for a chuckle. His knowledge of the different engines in the Thomas stories continues to expand --- just try telling him some day that Henry is a red engine and is number 8! He will be commencing school in late January at the same school as Joshua, and that is something to which he is really looking forward. He has a uniform already, and was in the habit of wearing it to his last few kindergarten classes. With any luck that same level of enthusiasm will be retained when it comes to doing his homework!
Joshua has continued on his merry way at Hughesdale Primary School. He was in a composite grade this year (grades 3&4 combined into one class) as a grade 3 student, which seemed to suit him very well. He was again in the extension class, which covered some less traditional areas, such as lateral thinking, and he is always enthusiastic about getting up and going to school. He has been studying Indonesian this year, which he has quite enjoyed, if for no other reason than that it is clear that Mum and Dad know a lot less about it than he does! He has been asked a lot of questions of the form "What is the Indonesian word for ... ?". He continues to develop his social network, and there have been a number of occasions both after school and at weekends when he has asked if he can go to a friend's house or vice-versa, and it has been clear that this seeking of permission has been preceded by a certain amount of planning and negotiation by both parties. This can range from a brief session playing with each others toys to an overnight stay (which is sometimes inaccurately called a sleepover --- we tend to call them sleepunders). Like many children his age, he is very keen on the Harry Potter stories, and has read them all several times over. He liked the movie very much, and in anticipation of its release re-read all four books in their entirety. It can be quite amusing when reading some part of them to him when he has a full-hearted laugh at some clever line, and asks for it to be read again and again and again ... He is looking forward to the imminent release of the Lord of the Rings, although he hasn't read the book (well, not yet, anyway). It will be interesting to see how he reacts to having Timothy around the school as well next year, but given the way they play together (often with the older brother setting out the rules and the abilities of the participants in intricate detail), it should turn out very well.
Linda has had another busy year in the triple role of domestic engineer, postgraduate student and Assistant Treasurer for Hughesdale Kindergarten. The latter role has generally seen her collecting money for various events (fees, incursions, social events, etc), and consequently a large number of visits to the bank. Her studies have succeeded very well, and she will be continuing with them next year, working towards a Masters degree in Education. She will also be returning to teaching Mathematics at St. Margaret's (although she is also now qualified to teach Information Technology), and after nearly three years away, she is quite looking forward to being back. She has also resumed playing tennis, with the variation that she often now rides her bike to the courts.
James finally managed to shed his responsibility as Course Co-ordinator this year, but later than he would have liked. Still, that meant he was able to concentrate more on teaching and research, and this was showing in various outputs by the end of the year. Travel has also been high on the agenda, with conference trips to Siena in June and Cyprus in November, and supplemented by two trips to Hong Kong (in May and December) which formed part of an initiative to assist a local college there to set up an IT programme. The frequent flyer points are certainly looking healthy! He has continued involvement in both the Coatesville Uniting Church and the Astra Choir, but both involvements have been somewhat reduced by all that travel.
We hope you have a peaceful and joyous Christmas, and we wish you all the best for the New Year.
Linda, James, Joshua, Timothy, Emily and Jeremy