At Home with the Harlands 
Christmas, 2002

Well, it has been a chase all year, concluding with the usual sprint to the finish line, but 2002 has been another good year for us.

Jeremy has grown into a bouncy little boy of almost two, with lovely curls! He always has a ready smile, and often throws his head back for a hearty laugh. He is now walking, of course, and increasingly climbing everything in sight. He has had a wonderful time at crèche this year, and whilst he has been happy to arrive, he is always ready with a hug when he is collected. His speech is developing, having finally proved that he understands that "Mum" does not mean "either parent", and he is often encouraged by the older three when he blurts out new words. Naming said elder siblings with a pointing finger and a beaming smile is a favourite pastime. He has continued to be a good sleeper, is generally quite relaxed, and is always keen to get out the door, for whatever purpose and with whoever is going. He understands enough about what goes on to give a very cheeky look when he is in the mood, and to fetch appropriate items without being asked. He can rush from the other end of the house to find a cup and present it when the word "drink" is mentioned and like all children, he can hear the word "biscuit" or "chocolate" from a lot further away then he can for words such as "bedtime" ...

Emily, as she will most forcefully inform anyone in earshot, is not a little girl anymore, but still has her big blue eyes and long flowing hair. There is generally little doubt about what she is thinking on any particular subject, and she is always keen to join in conversations (including over the phone). She is now physically able to join in just about anything that the older two are involved in, and has taken to riding her bike on every possible occasion. Consequently the bike has made many trips to the local shops, and many more to the nearest corner. Our acquisition of a backyard swing earlier this year gave her a number of opportunities to show just how many ways there are to climb on and dangle from such equipment. She has enjoyed her time at crèche, and soon found two other young ones to form into a seemingly inseparable threesome. It is unclear as yet how being the only girl of four will make any difference, but she has a definite preference for playing with tea sets and the like. She has joined in swimming lessons in the latter part of the year, and is very proud to be in the same class as Timothy.

Timothy commenced at Hughesdale Primary School this year, and was raring to go. A number of his classmates came from the same kindergarten, and he had soon settled into the school routine. He has done very well, and whilst he is often one of the quiet ones at the back of the class, he knows all that goes on, and often comes home with stickers or stamps to show that he has been very helpful with packing up and with obeying all rules. He is very good at fitting in wherever he goes, and will generally find a quiet spot and something to do. He is still quite a Thomas the Tank Engine enthusiast, although the track design are becoming increasingly imaginative and sophisticated. Just try telling him that a mere dead end is not a buffer with a platform! He has become very keen on his swimming lessons, and now bounces around in the water like he was born in it. He and Emily are also keen on Octopusland, which is a place that one can seemingly only reaching whilst sitting in the (stationary) car and moving all sorts of levers. Soon we may call him Timothy the navigator, as often he pulls out the street directory and asks where we are on the map.

Joshua has found himself as a grade 4 in the upper part of a composite this year and has continued his excellent progress. He has continued to be in the extension group (developing skills such as lateral thinking), and has also continued his enthusiasm for Indonesian. He is an avid reader, and has been known to complain when going to bed that "there is nothing to read!". He has taken to drawing a lot in the past year or so, and often comes up with epic sequences of monsters, action heroes and some slightly surreal figures such as a turbo-powered transporter for Santa. It is common to find all of the kids making various marks on whatever bits of paper are to hand, and it is often Joshua who starts it off. Next year he will be a grade 5 in a 5&6 composite, which will suit him very well. He commenced piano lessons this year, and whilst he was not overly keen on practice, he has developed very well, and played two pieces at the end of year concert recently, despite being understandably nervous.

Linda has had a change of pace this year, having re-commenced at St. Margaret's after an absence of nearly three years, as well as continuing her studies for a Masters degree in Education. Whilst there were a number of familiar faces, there were also many new ones. It was a busy time, but a rewarding one, especially as she was approached about a position at Haileybury College. Hence, after a very positive interview and lots of deliberation, Linda has just recently completed her spell at St. Margaret's and will be commencing at Haileybury in later January. If nothing else, this will significantly reduce the time spent traveling in the car each day. In particular, Emily will be attending the Haileybury preschool programme next year, and so has been happily telling anyone who will listen that she is going to school next year. When asked which one, she invariably replies "Mummy's!". Tennis has, of course, continued, which will make for an interesting time with Saturday morning coaching being part of the assignment at Haileybury. Watch for a report on how this went in the next edition ...

James has continued on his merry way, with the same kinds of teaching duties as previously, and yet more overseas travel (this year to Italy, Denmark and Germany). It was very nearly extended to include Africa as well (as part of the African Virtual University, for which RMIT is supplying teaching programmes in Computer Science), but that didn't come off at the last minute (much to the family's relief!).

Many of these frequent flyer points came in handy with a family trip to Port Douglas in North Queensland in late September. This was a bit of a logistical adventure, especially as it was during school holiday time, but nonetheless was a very enjoyable break. For some reason most people find lying about beside a pool in a tropical climate rather relaxing ...

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