At Home with the Harlands
Christmas, 1997

Dear Friends,

After a very hectic and involved year, which seems to have drawn to a close a lot more quickly than we would have liked, we are here drawing up a general newsletter as a way of catching up on all sorts of correspondence (and correspondents!).

Naturally the highlight of the year was Timothy's birth on 27th February. It had been a long and hot summer (as this year is turning out to be), with several days of 38+ degrees, on which Lynda could only lounge around in the pool in an attempt to stay cool, or head for her parents' airconditioned lounge, to be served with drinks and generally waited on hand and foot. It seemed that the day of the arrival couldn't come too soon (which is always the case, but it seemed particularly acute in the heat). Come the day itself, the process was all very smooth (well, at least from James' perspective! :-). Lynda's mother was keen to be present, and was there throughout the last stages, although she confessed later to feeling a bit uncomfortable watching her daughter go through labour when she had had five children herself! Timothy is a big boy, and made his debut into the world at a weight of 8lb. 14oz. Ever since he has hovered around the 90th percentile for just about everything (including volume!). He arrived at 12.21pm on Thursday 27th February, and as it happened his cousin Caleb was born at 12.21pm on Thursday 27th March. Naturally the two cousins are pretty close together on all aspects of development, and this is not expected to change much in the future (despite much monitoring and comparison by Lynda's brother (Caleb's father)!).

By now Timothy has four teeth (including his two front ones, in plenty of time for Christmas), has been crawling for several weeks, and has begun to stand himself up on anything vertical, including us and his older brother. Unfortunately he has not yet been able to defeat the law of gravity, but that doesn't appear to stop him from trying. He is also vocalising a lot, and much to James' delight has managed to utter a collection of sounds remarkably like ``Daddy''. Lynda, of course, is a lot more sceptical! He gets on superbly with Joshua, and often follows him around the house as much as possible, almost like a second shadow at times. Joshua, for his part, is delighted to have a younger brother, but can feel a bit trespassed upon when the Brio train track is spotted! Joshua has also been known to express his appreciation by wrestling with Timothy on the floor, which seems to delight both of them, until the inevitable happens and one of them ends up crying.

Joshua, for his part, is growing ever upwards, and is off to school in late January. He has had a great time at Kindergarten this year, and topped it off with a performance as one of the kings in the Christmas pageant. It looked doubtful a few days beforehand when he was requested to play the part of a sheep! He has made various friends whilst there, but most of them will be going to a different primary school. His school, Hughesdale Primary, is within walking distance, and is on the smaller side, which makes it almost ideal to us. He is now the proud owner of a uniform and schoolbag, and is looking forward to going to school with all the big kids. He has been reading and writing and generally acting like a kid who will get a lot out of a stimulating environment. He has become an expert at reading and interpreting traffic signs, especially on the freeway ... It is becoming clear that he has a lot of one of his uncles in him, the one who is 6'3'' tall, and fairly lanky. He has been progressing well with swimming lessons throughout the year, and has finally achieved the semi-ultimate goal of being able to do a torpedo for 10 metres. He has also displayed a natural affinity for the duck dive ...

There was another addition to the family during the year, in the form of a spoodle named Max. He is the child of a black cocker spaniel father and an apricot toy poodle mother, and is basically black with tan outbreaks on his legs and around his face. He is only about twelve weeks old, but is pretty bright, and has been making his mark all over the veranda and the back yard! He and Joshua have naturally become close friends (and Timothy shows an enthusiasm as unbounded as his control!), and spend a lot of time getting each other tired and dirty. Joshua has taken to spending time in his sandpit without shoes and with lots of water (how else does one make volcanoes?). This then requires the removal of wet socks, which get hung up on a nearby tree, only to be discovered by Max, and chewed with much enthusiasm. Lynda is somewhat concerned over the water bill, laundry usage, and the inevitable need to replace worn socks. Max is naturally a very inquisitive and friendly dog, and has an excellent temperament. If only we can get him not to dig holes in the back yard ...

After a gruelling year in 1996, in which Lynda took on the role of Day Organiser for the school (which meant being at school very early to receive phone calls from staff who were ill and arranging for their classes to be covered), overall House Co-ordinator, Excursion Co-ordinator, Bus Co-ordinator, Year 11 Co-ordinator, Exam Co-ordinator and Everything-Else-That-Someone-Ought-To-Do-But-We-Don't-Know-Exactly-Who Co-ordinator, it was with some relief that Lynda went on twelve months' maternity leave last Christmas. It was an experience which gave her a lot of new insights into her colleagues, to say the least. Lynda is to resume teaching duties at St. Margaret's in late January, and will be teaching mathematics to Years 7-12, as well as being a Form Teacher for Year 8 and a House Link. It shouldn't be quite as busy as late last year, but it won't be too far behind! She has promised to practice the art of saying ``No!'' every now and again ... Although she is looking forward to going back, it is proving to be mentally challenging to return to the world of the classroom after a year of nappies, feeding, kinder duties, mess, washing, ironing, cooking, etc. etc. etc... Lynda was also pleasantly surprised to receive a certificate from the kinder teacher ``for just being around the place a lot'' (which Lynda interpreted as spending too much time there!) but it has been enjoyable to be able to spend time with Joshua and the other children. Lynda has also been playing tennis regularly, and has enjoyed her time away from being a mother. However, Timothy seems to be able to detect when Lynda is about to walk in the door, and hence wakes up demanding a feed.

James has had a busy year at work, as ever, but was very happy to end the working year with a promotion to Senior Lecturer. As with most things in Universities, this was a rather slow administrative process, especially with the recent Government cuts. This has lead to a rather less than pleasant environment, with staff cuts and more work for the remaining staff. However, RMIT is still generally a good place to be, and there is much good research getting done. James' passport didn't gather too much dust, with a conference trip to Belgium preceded by a short stop in London, and followed immediately by a conference trip to Townsville. Apart from the tightness of the plane schedules, this was notable for Lynda, Joshua and Timothy making the trip up from Melbourne to spend the conference week in Townsville as well. This was a great break from the Melbourne July weather, and Joshua occasionally asks when Daddy will have to do some more work in Townsville. We also had a visitor from England come out to the Townsville conference and spend a few weeks with us in Melbourne afterwards. This was not only a good time for research work for James, but an education for Joshua in the art of making swords out of Duplo, especially those which are stuck in stones ... Singing has still been a favoured pastime, with a number of concerts with the Astra choir. This has at times provided Lynda with a source of frustration as she is sure that the people who draw up the rehearsal schedules don't have families! All of us have also been involved in the church in some way, with James becoming the Secretary of the Council of Elders. This has managed to keep us all out of mischief (at times, at least!). James and Lynda also took part in an Alpha course for about 15 weeks. This was a discussion group based around a series of videos, with the other members of the group being parents of similar ages and backgrounds. This was an excellent way to get to the nub of many issues in the Christian faith.

The house renovations are not totally finished, but seem to be ever-reducing in scope. James promises that the bedrooms {\bf will} have doors over the summer, with the sanding of them progressing, but not yet complete. There are also a couple of fences that need painting, and some other outdoor clean-up jobs. However, it is looking a picture compared with a couple of years ago. The garden has also been a source of much pleasure and Lynda has finally managed to produce a decent head of broccoli, not to mention enough feral tomatoes to feed an army!

We are aware that there are many people to whom we owe letters, and we hope to catch up on a lot of correspondence over the summer. Hence we hope that this rather impersonal broadcast serves as an indication of things to come.

Naturally, the door at Hotel Harland is always open to visitors, and anyone who is passing through Melbourne is more than welcome (provided that you have a tolerance for being latched onto by a very energetic and friendly boy of nearly five ... )

We hope you have a peaceful and joyous Christmas, and we wish you all the best for the New Year.


Lynda, James, Joshua and Timothy (and a ``woof!'' from Max).