Christmas Letter from the Blacks 2017

Another Year over and this one was full of special Dates.

Fred & I were sick over Christmas and the New Year so a lot of January was taken up recovering from that long drawn out flu.

We did manage to enjoy babysitting Matthew each week too.

At the start of the month I had another appointment at the Fracture Clinic (first one had been last October) where they said the bone in my foot was healed but I could expect to have pain for up to a year after the break.

Fred & I decided a holiday in warm weather would be good for us after that rotten flu so off we went to Gran Canaria for 9 days.

Jonathan spent 2 weeks in New Zealand with his best friend from Primary School who is a doctor there.
This was the big month for Fred as he had his 60th birthday and was so glad he had already retired early.  We sort of counted our holiday in February as his birthday present.

Also this month saw our first wedding this year - a friend from church.

With Matthew well on his feet and loving to play hide and seek and run around everywhere we thought we would have a little Easter Egg Hunt with him when he would be at our house.  Unfortunately it rained but I just hid all the eggs in different rooms and he looked so happy each time he found one.

Missed it

But then he got it

Fred had wanted to go to a Church Conference in the US at the end of the month and asked me if I wanted to go too.  I didn't want to go to the Conference but was happy to go along for the holiday and sit by the pool in Orlando, Florida.

While we knew we would be in America it seemed sensible to go for 2 weeks instead of just one and take time to go to Kentucky & Ohio (2 states I had never visited before) to see the "Ark Encounter" and the "Creation Museum" and also the city of Cincinnati which has at least 5 bridges linking the 2 states.

At the Full-size Replica of Noah's Ark

I started off the month at the Fracture Clinic again and this time they agreed with me that the pain was not coming from the break at all because of the position of it and they decided I would have to have an MRI Scan done.  (Still waiting to even receive an appointment date for that!)

Then there was a bit of a reunion of Fred's side of the family as we went to our niece's wedding in St. Johnson and Ballymena.

This was the month our church alterations were completed and that had meant some very busy months for Fred previously.

Later in the month I had a reunion of some of us girls!!! who had studied at Queens together - we are now managing to make this twice a year due to early retirements.

We had a weekend in Londonderry to go celebrate my sister's 70th birthday and make her laugh during a family photo shoot her kids had arranged for her.

Another birthday this month, this time the big one for me.  Jonathan came over from Leeds so along with Daniel & Suzie and Matthew we all had a nice time together.  I'm sort of counting the trip to Kentucky as my present.

Of course this was a very special month for us all because our granddaughter Ruby Ellen Joy was born on 4th July - she was late in coming but managed to make it here on Fred's mother's birthday and then it was nice that she had my mother's name as her second name.  Daniel and Suzie were so delighted with a quick birth and Matthew was so excited to have a baby sister.

Ruby just a few hours old with a very happy big brother

We went to Evensong at St. Anne's Cathedral a couple of days later to meet up with a Canadian who had worked with Fred a few years ago.  He and his wife were over on a choir trip around the UK singing in several cathedrals.

We love taking Matthew out to parks and lakes and other events like a Teddy Bear's Picnic in the Open Ark Farm which was one of the places we went to this month.

Then Linda arrived from South Korea.
She would be here for a whole month!!

So that meant this month involved a lot of shopping with Linda because it is not so easy for her to get clothes in South Korea  -  they just don't make them for European figures.
Also a lot of eating and chatting and planning - those who know Linda will definitely understand that.

At the end of the month we had a family holiday - all 9 of us.
We went to Cornwall to a large house for a week and Stephen flew over from South Korea to make the family complete.  

A Selfie at Lands End

At the Minack Theatre

I have to admit the real stars of the show were not the couple who were there to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary but the two children who everybody wanted to play with and cuddle.

A Beautiful Day at St. Michael's Mount

Daniel and Suzie moved house from East Belfast to Carnmoney and needed some help, any excuse to just hang around with Ruby and Matthew is ok with us.

Then Daniel's birthday and Jonathan's birthday which meant Jonathan came over to visit again.

Another Wedding, this time my nephew with Daniel as best man - I think he did a good job of getting back at Glen for the best man speech he made at Daniel's wedding.

Then a lot of shopping for Videoing Equipment because .......

....... we now had a month centred a lot around producing videos of Jonathan for You Tube.  
Fred has enjoyed working out what was needed and where and how to set up cameras, backgrounds and lights, followed by the editing.  

Christmas and winter jumpers featured in one of these shoots so that's a hint that something will be coming this Christmas but the first Series of 5 Jonathan did is already on You Tube and his blog.

Linda and Stephen are coming to NI for Christmas so we will all be together (the 9 of us) on Christmas Day for the first time ever and it is unusual for this to be managed with part of your family so far away in South Korea.

Another first is that we are all going to go to the Belfast Blacks that day too - I am so looking forward to that.

During the time in Cornwall we had a family photo shoot which was really needed as the family has grown quickly in the last few years.  

It was a gift from the kids for our wedding Anniversary and this is 
my favourite picture of the lot.

The two Proud Grandparents