THE DART FAMILY CHRISTMAS LETTER 2002
A NEW ERA BEGINS
How many years has it been since you've seen a Christmas letter or even a humble card from us? You could be forgiven for thinking that we had fallen off the face of the planet. I think our last 'official' Christmas letter dates back to 1999 when the world seemed a very different place on the eve of a new millennium.
There is much to tell you about in a very small space -- Belinda has set me a very strict word limit! I think she is concerned that I might not be able to hold your attention for very long…
Well, the first thing that those of you astute readers might have noticed is that this ‘Christmas Letter 2002’ has arrived after Christmas. In fact, by the time you are reading this letter it will actually be 2003! We trust you enjoyed your Christmas celebrations and take this opportunity to wish you a happy and prosperous new year.
ABOUT THE CHILDREN
Well, the first thing to note is that there are now three of them for those of you not already up-to-speed! Allow me to do my ‘proud father’ routine and gush for a while.
Thomas Whitmore is a delightful young man who loves the company of others. He is an excellent big brother to Bethany and Simon, who both adore him, calling him ‘Ta’ or ‘Tommy’. Thomas turned 8 this year and successfully completed Year Two at Oxford Falls Grammar School, making excellent progress under the careful guidance of Hamish Oates. He was made a class prefect in term 4 and relished the opportunity to show himself responsible. Thomas is an excellent communicator who loves to talk, in fact his desire to be fully informed about upcoming events sometimes poses a significant challenge for his patient mother. He has really enjoyed church related activities this year, especially Friday Night Live, which he refers to as “the most fun in the entire universe”!. Thomas has a deep appreciation for many forms of music and has really enjoyed private lessons on the keyboard this year. He also loves all kinds of sport; to the total bewilderment of his parents – perhaps it skipped a generation!?!?
Bethany Joy has once again lived up to her middle name this year. Her primary love language would be ‘gift giving’. She loves giving, receiving and making gifts for the many special people in her life. Bethany turned 5 in March and has now completed her third and final year at the Holy Trinity Preschool. She has been a delight to her teachers and classmates alike. Bethany is a very creative person and this is often expressed in drawing, painting and craft. She is very popular among her peers, and seems to get invitations to an inordinate number of birthday parties. Bethany too is a good talker, in fact we seem to have bred three excellent talkers, so much so that Mum & Dad have had to implement a structured "interrupt rule" in order to maintain our sanity. Bethany adores both her brothers who sometimes compete for her attention. Bethany has a soft heart and a warm smile that seems to melt the hearts of all around her. She looks gorgeous in her new school uniform and is counting the days to when she will start Kindergarten at Oxford Falls Grammar.
Simon Wesley is growing up very fast. He will turn 4 in just two short weeks. Thomas and Bethany refer to him as the “cutest boy in the world” which is probably not too far from the truth. He is a delight to the whole family. He started Preschool this year at Holy Trinity and while he misses his mum, and sometimes doesn’t look forward to going, he is never in a hurry to go home when she arrives to pick him up in the afternoon. Simon’s most prized possession is “Ooty Teddy” a soft green teddy bear that he takes with him almost everywhere he goes. This small green bear even inspired Bethany to invent “ootty talk”, another language that usually manifests itself when Ootty Teddy is around, much to the delight of all family members! Simon has also learned to put on his own sandals, usually holding one sandal against a foot and asking the question “is this the right feet”? Upon receiving a “yes” he proceeds to slip on the sandal; next he takes the other sandal and, holding it against the other foot, again asks “is this the right feet?”!!! As a joke, Belinda once answered “no” leaving him completely baffled!!!
On the health front, we have mostly just suffered from the odd coughs and colds, although I was diagnosed with a reflux condition earlier in the year that medication has greatly helped to mitigate. Simon also has had a lot of problems with his right ear. Even with grommets, he seems to have had one long continuous ear infection. Antibiotics proved of little use and a swab finally seems to show that he has had a fungal infection that is now being properly treated. He ear is already showing considerable improvement.
Well I guess by now you have already worked out that we moved house during the year. We were sad to leave our Beacon Hill home, but felt that it was time to move to a less busy street with a bit more land. Thus on the 5th of July we moved to 4 bedroom split level home in a quiet cul-de-sac in Belrose right next to a reserve. Our house has a double lock up garage with internal access, plus two living areas and a large internal laundry. The formal lounge and dining area also has a slow combustion fire place. The main bedroom even has a ensuite and french doors opening to a timber deck! We also have a large 40,000+ litre in-ground concrete pool that has been beautifully landscaped. Thomas refers to the pool area as ‘paradise’ but the boy is prone to hyperbole! Dad has had a lot to learn about pool maintenance, not to mention garden maintenance, but the children cannot get enough of the pool at this stage of their lives. They have all shown dramatic improvement in their swimming ability. Bethany no longer needs her bubble, and Simon knows no fear! Once he puts that shiny black swimming cap on there is no stopping him!
My wife seems to grow more lovely with each year passing. We have had quite a stressful year in many ways, but Belinda’s gentle counsel and her skills as a homemaker have carried us all through the difficult times. Not a day goes by when I don’t thank God for His precious gift in granting me such a beautiful wife. Recently someone innocently asked Belinda how she ‘kept busy’ during the day. I resisted the urge to strangle them (smile), and instead gently explained how she managed a household of three children and a husband, worked four part time jobs, looked after extra children after school, supervised homework, had jointly led a 6 month parenting course, as well as co-leading a mid-week ladies bible study fellowship and somehow facilitating a Sunday school program for 3-5 year olds at our church.
I have had pretty intense year. As well as the stress of moving, my position at LSE has been completely restructured. This has been a blessing, with my role a little more clearly defined and a greater number of people reporting to me. Unfortunately times have been tough financially for LSE, but 2003 is shaping up to be a little brighter for us. Belinda and I did a parenting course in 2001 called Growing Kids God’s Way which was an tremendous help to us and our children. With the encouragement of the NSW state reps and our church leaders, we decided to lead the course ourselves in 2002. This was a challenging, but precious time over the 18 weeks of the course. It was immensely satisfying to hear the testimonies of the participants during the graduation service.
We also enjoyed a camping holiday in January which started with a family get together of the immediate Dart clan. We went on from there to Adelaide. We also enjoyed a number of weekends away with friends to Canberra and the Blue Mountains. The most exciting day trip was to the road between Oberon and Jenolan Caves to see the snow (before it melted!) in June with our dear friends the Leas and the Irvings. The children and the grown ups were enthralled!
TIME TO SIGN OFF
Thank you for being our friends and we trust that you will forgive us for being so tardy with this letter. We send you our love at this time and pray that you will have a monumental 2003.
With love from the Darts of Belrose.