Campobasso 2002
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Dominic, Santa, Jeremy and Timothy


I am the Christmas spirit!
I enter the home of poverty, causing palefaced children to open their eyes wide, in pleased wonder.
I cause the miser's clutched hand to relax, and thus paint a bright spot on his soul.
I cause the aged to renew their youth and to laugh in the old, glad way.
I keep romance alive in the heart of childhood, and brighten sleep with dreams woven of magic.
I cause eager feet to climb dark stairways with filled baskets, leaving behind hearts amazed at the goodness of the world.
I cause the prodigal to pause a moment on his wild, wasteful way, and send to anxious love some little token that releases glad tears - tears which wash away the hard lines of sorrow.
I enter dark prison cells, reminding scarred manhood of what might have been, and pointing forward to good days yet to be.
I come softly into the still, white home of pain, and lips that are too weak to speak just tremble in silent, eloquent gratitude.
In a thousand ways I cause the weary world to look up into the face of God, and for a little moment forget the things that are small and wretched.
I am the Christmas Spirit!
- E. C. Baird

Christmas means Hope, Love and Peace.   May these blessings be yours each day, to brighten your journey all the way.

Merry Christmas and a Happy, Safe and Blessed 2003
With Love From,
Joe, Frances, Dominic, Timothy, Jeremy and Matilda

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I'm Finished!!!

What a year this has been!  Travelling 200 km a day to the Campus at the Central Coast  for up to 4 days per week and attending classes up to 12 hours per day.  That was my routine from January until July while I completed the academic portion of my double degree course.  Fortunately I was able to share both the ride and the tribulations with my colleagues.  It seemed as though the assignment load would never end.  My boys had to make their own way home and wait for a parent to appear.  Frances had to cook several meals a week.   But I did manage to fulfill one of my lifelong dreams.  I always dreamed of riding up the coast in my van with my college mates, listening to the psychedelic sounds of the sixties as we debated the pros and cons of society and how we could and would make a difference (see photo below).
From July until December (just yesterday in fact) We practiced our teaching.  We had 2  4-week pracs and a 10-week internship.  I taught year 7 and 8 computers, cooking and sewing, year 9 and 10 food technology and year 11 Hospitality.  I can say with pride that I, along with my colleagues, completed the course gaining many distinctions and high distinctions.
I am now awaiting word on where I will be placed come January 28, when the new school year begins.

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Retro - We still got it!

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Frances and His Holiness - The Dalai Lama
One of the highlights of the year happened in May when Frances was given a personal invitation to join the Dalai Lama in the Royal Box at the Sydney Opera House for a concert that was held in honor of his visit to Australia.  Frances was selected to present the Dalai Lama with a gift and had a very enjoyable evening.    
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A room with a view
In July, in between the academic side and the practical side of my course, I happened to call a radio station contest and won a prize.  It was a weekend away to the Central Coast.  Even though I had just finished 10 months of almost daily travelling to the coast I was still excited because it included 2 nights at a luxury hotel.  I was disappointed to discover that the weekend  didn't include Friday or Saturday nights so we had to arrange to go on a Sunday and Monday.  Fortunately it was during school holidays as we decided to take the boys along.  We were told that children under 16 were free if staying in the parents' room but there was a catch! A maximum of 4 people per room.  No matter how we tried we couldn't get around it.  We had to book another room for the kids.  So much for our "free" weekend.  But we all enjoyed the break and allowed ourselves to be pampered just a little.  We spent the time in the heated pool or the spa sometimes wandering into the steam room and sauna.  We sat outside in the courtyard and listened to the jazz band playing as we sipped our cocktails.  Jeremy quickly got used to the lifestyle and is ready to go back again. 

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Dominic and Timothy's first day at Pizza Hut
After Jeremy's indulgences we had to put the twins out to work!  Just kidding!  Dominic and Timothy decided that they were now old enough to get jobs.  Dominic wanted to apply at Pizza Hut and, for the sake of convenience, I suggested that Timothy do the same.  They were both hired within a week and have been working one or two nights a week since August. I'm glad that they chose the Pizza business as their first job as my first job was in a pizza shop also.  They wait on tables, clear away and reset the tables, serve drinks and keep the Pizza, pasta and dessert bars full. They are saving up for their big trip at the end of 2003.

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Look Ma! No Cavities
Jeremy's handsomeness is increasing daily!   In June he was fitted with his braces which he will wear for 18 - 24 months.   So far there have been no dramas except the couple of times that he swallowed his rubber bands.


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Dominic Year 9 Timothy Year 9 Jeremy Year
By the Way . . .

Frances and I are enjoying an unfamiliar freedom as we can now leave the boys alone for a while while we go out.

We tried joining a gym and a ballroom dance group but neither of them were what we wanted.

All the boys enjoyed two days away when they accompanied their Aunt to the Dubbo "Zoofari".  They had a 6 hour train trip to Dubbo, lunch, afternoon zoo tour, dinner, evening zoo tour, breakfast, a morning zoo tour and finally a seven hour bus ride back home.  They all enjoyed themselves.

Frances and I attended the Lord Mayor's Christmas party last night at the Riverside Theatre in Parramatta.  We were entertained by a Scottish Piper playing Christmas Carols on the bagpipe, Fire Batons, An Irish Comedian, Belly Dancers and a dance band.  The atmosmphere was elegant and the food and company were delightful.

We were also seen at several other parties throughout the year, a 70's retro party, a 50th birthday celebration in an ancient hotel, A coach trip to the wineries at the Hunter Valley.  I was given a farewell party when I finished work at Holy Family School and caught up with the staff at the Christmas party the other night.  We will be attending Frances' work Christmas party tomorrow which will be a Catamaran luncheon cruise around Sydney Harbour. 

I plan to celebrate my completion of studies with my Uni mates just after the New Year with a BBQ.  It should be good as all of them are food people, in fact, most are top chefs.

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