So this is the New Year

Almost. Almost 2017.

I always cringe at the idea of writing a holiday letter, and yet, I love reading all the ones I receive.

So on the chance there are some of you out there who feel similarly about the writing vs. reading about other people’s lives, I present…

Team Watkii: The Year in Review

We started the year in Vancouver, celebrating the arrival of 2016 after having just celebrated Alexandra’s first Christmas. And here is where I start with the mea culpas to my poor, neglected, second-fiddle second child. Turns out that I had multiple people this year ask who that gorgeous girl-child was on my facebook feed, because I hadn’t mentioned her actual NAME in any recent enough post for them to address their Christmas cards. Whoops.

On to February. We enjoyed a great week in Naples with Neil’s parents and sister. We’ve got a nice tradition going with them, where instead of hanging around in dreary old England in the bleak midwinter, we meet somewhere with a bit more sun and a bit less rain. Naples was excellent – one of the few obviously touristy places we’ve visited that also felt like locals actually still lived real lives alongside the schlock.

Definite highlights of that trip were wandering through the old city, seeing Pompeii, eating amazing pizza or seafood or pasta or all three for pretty much every meal, and taking a very creepy and smelly wander on an active supervolcano.

Moving through to Spring, we kept on keeping on straight through until Easter. Quite honestly, it felt like the first half of the year passed in a complete blur. Alex wasn’t exactly an easy baby, so she and I spent a LOT of time on the couch, catching up on Netflix. It was basically the only place she’d sleep and eat. And if she wasn’t sleeping or eating, she was YELLING.

To be fair, she still yells. Except now it’s mostly because she likes the sound of her own voice.  Our house is officially loud.

Over the Easter holiday we took a long-haul holiday that was almost certainly Isaac’s highlight of the year: a week in Jamaica. On the recommendation of a few friends, we ended up at the Franklyn D. Resort. We spent a lovely week relaxing, hanging out in the sea and by the pool. Between the sea and the waterslide, Isaac practically turned into a fish. Neil and I ate our weight in Jerked meats, and even wee Alex might have enjoyed herself a bit (hard to tell past the yelling).

Our last travel hurrah for the early part of 2016 was another quick trip to Vancouver, as we weren’t sure when we’d be able to return – it was time to hand over all our travel and identity documents to the Home Office one last time to process our UK citizenship applications and get UK passports!

Despite our dreams of EU citizenship being somewhat derailed by the whole Brexit trade, we were still very excited for Isaac and I to receive our UK citizenship at the end of July. It was a banner week, really: my birthday, citizenship, then Alexandra’s first birthday!

It also marked the end of maternity leave, and my return to work. Happy, sad, sunrise, sunset, etc.

(I am only half a year in here, and already bored of myself… writing these things is no joke!)

(And actually, I’m now finishing this on New Year’s Day… )

The rest of the year was equal measures very lovely and very stressful.

Biggest on the list in both categories has been buying a house! We discovered our current neighbourhood by total accident when we first moved to Oxford, and four years later, still consider ourselves so amazingly lucky to be in such a nice location with such a wonderful community of friends and neighbours around. So when the house across the street from our rental went up for sale in July, we put in an offer ASAP.

Buying a house in the UK involves a LOT more hoop-jumping than it did in Canada, from both the banking and legal side, and we did lose a considerable amount of sleep over it all, but everything did keep marching on, in spite of itself, and we finally moved in at the end of October (and apparently, that is a FAST timeline as far as real-estate here goes).

We were also put to the test as homeowners who now have to deal with their own problems pretty early, as we discovered the day we got the keys that the attic was home to a MASSIVE wasp nest! (The house had been vacant over the summer, so it had time to grow, unnoticed.) Then we had the matter of a small burst pipe that we thankfully noticed only about 15 minutes after it happened, and we learned very quickly how to contact an emergency plumber. Thankfully we have so far managed to avoid water turning to blood, fiery hail, and frogs.

September had Isaac starting Year 1 at school, and though the beginning of the year was a bit rocky with the transition from mostly play-based EYFS (Kindergarten) to “proper” school, he has settled in amazingly, and is really hitting his stride. It’s amazing and hilarious to witness his interpretation of what he’s learning, and he’s got ample opportunities to exercise his creativity. Generally everything revolves around bugs/reptiles or other minibeasts, anything to do with space, or some fantastical creature that originated in the minds of Roald Dahl or J.K. Rowling. Or most often some Isaacian combination of all three.

Alex also finally really hit her stride between 12-14 months, and she is also thriving and happy and hilarious. This one is a Watkiss through and through – she is LOUD, often just for the sake of being loud, plays the joker whenever she can, and has the most maniacal laugh. She’s already on the small side for kids her age, and due to the birthday lottery, she’s destined to be the youngest in her peer group. It doesn’t phase her at all though, and at nursery she’s well known for being small but mighty! She’s also just as big with her love and affection, and throws her arms around us all for huge hugs on the regular. It is pretty much the best.

With all the busy-ness of the summer and early autumn, we took some much needed time over the October half-term break and headed to Wales for some family time and R&R.

Then November passed in a blur (especially when trying not to think too much about the result of the US election), and we are basically into December, and Christmas season!

We’ve stayed in the UK this year for Christmas and had a very quiet one. Although it’s hard to be far from family over the festive season, it was probably for the best, as I don’t think after the year we had my cortisol levels could take the stress of Christmas travel and dealing with the Vancouver Snowmageddon – though I am jealous of the wintery wonderland everyone there has been alternately cursing and enjoying!

I hope whatever your year held in 2016, it also contained some love, peace, joy and adventure, and I hope 2017 holds a lot more of all those for all of us!

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