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Christmas Letter 2008

What a year!!! With everything that has happened over the past 3 months, it is easy to forget that we had 9 other months before that, but we’ll try and let you know all that we’ve done this year…It’s worth saying right at the start that we set up this blog just before leaving the UK so that we could let everyone know our news as it happens, so most of our experiences are actually on other pages rather than in this letter. Please feel free to subscribe (if you haven’t already) so that you get an email every time we add anything.As usual, the first main event on our calendar was Millie and Sophie’s birthday in January. They were 7 years old this year, and for the first time decided to have separate parties. Unfortunately, they both went for the same thing, so we spent what seemed like the whole day at the bowling alley, first for Millie’s party in the morning, and then for Sophie’s party in the afternoon.

Sophie having a rest

Sophie having a rest

Before we knew it, we were into Easter and we once again travelled to La Rosiere in the French Alps for a week’s skiing. We stayed in the same apartment as last year…and found that we were sharing with the same family as last year too. All six children carried on where they’d left off the year before and had so much fun. The skiing wasn’t bad either. Jo managed to ski to Italy for the first time ever, and by the end of the week, we were skiing down red runs all together as a family (Sophie did most of it on her bum, but didn’t care!).

Kim's little bridesmaids

Spring came along, and the girls were once again bridesmaids. This time it was for Kim, one of their Godmothers. It may have been the 3rd time for them, but it was the first time that they’ve actually behaved impeccably in the role. As a wedding present, we also made the cake, which was quite an experience too, as the oven’s thermostat decided to break while all 3 tiers were cooking. After 9 hours (!) we guessed something was wrong as the cakes were still raw. We got there in the end and at least we can laugh about it now.

Summer came, and we had a week’s holiday in Corsica, returning after 10 years (we had our honeymoon there, albeit on a different side of the island). Millie and Sophie loved it. We had an apartment with its own swimming pool, and seemed to spend most of the week in it.

Doug orienteering - April 2008

Doug orienteering – April 2008

Millie clearing leaves

So what now? Well, we moved into our house 10 days after we arrived (not bad, eh?!) and the girls were then able to start school. We got here just as leaves as the fall was in full flow. The colours were amazing, and we had lots of leaves to pick up in the garden – we managed to fill 50 bags (black bag size) from our garden alone.Our ghost

We witnessed our first Thanksgiving in October (yes, it’s different to the American version) and then suddenly all thoughts turned to Halloween. We had around 100 trick or treaters visit the house. Oh, and we should probably mention our resident ghost. You see, our house was the only one in the road not decorated up to the rafters and the girls were feeling a little left out! Jo took them shopping, and we ended up with an inflatable 7ft ghost by our front door. We also still have 4 pumpkins in our garage, which we don’t know what to do with – you see, none of us like pumpkin!

Unfortunately, around this time Sophie caught a bug at school. We didn’t realise it at the time, but she couldn’t fight it (or got a secondary infection) and ended up in hospital with Pleureffusion and Pneumonia. It was not a great time for any of us. Sophie spent 5 days in hospital on oxygen and IV drips, Jo stayed with her, Millie was at school, and Doug had the job of trying to be in lots of different places at once. We were all relieved when the consultant said that Sophie could come home. It’s times like these that you realise just how little you understand about the medical system in different countries, and how much you rely on friends in times of need.

Well, we all survived the trying time, and are now looking forward to our first Christmas in Canada. The snow is here, and we hope it will be well and truly magical. It will be strange, though, as we’ve never had Christmas with just the four of us. We’ve usually had at least one set of grandparents with us for the day, if not Aunts, Uncles and a little cousin.

We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and  a Happy 2009. And remember…if you are ever over our way, please drop us a line.

Lots of love

Doug, Jo, Millie and Sophie

Balmer Family

Balmer Family