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It is that time of the year again. A moment to reflect on the year that has passed and to somehow convey, in a manner that does not send the reader to sleep, where we are at, and what we have been doing. It is customary to make such an epistle breezy and self-congratulatory, to pick out highlights and to celebrate achievements. This year, as any other year, there have been many such events. There have also been some difficult moments: times that have brought us to the conclusion of 2008, with slightly less cheer than we might have hoped. But let’s start at the beginning …

Jack and Ness moved to Canberra in January, where Jack took up a graduate position with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. It has been an exciting year to be in Canberra. He was able to participate (in a voluntary capacity) at the 20/20 Summit. He also stood on the lawn during the Prime Minister’s historic apology to the Stolen Generations and took part in a community cabinet in his old home town of Adelaide. Jack has been offered a permanent position within the Office of National Security and, although enjoying his work; he is still toying with the idea of doing a Phd, eventually.

Ness has tackled the move with her usual drive and tenacity. She landed a temporary job within the Attorney-General’s Department the day after arriving in Canberra (trust Ness) and has since been offered a promotion and permanency. Ness has enjoyed the challenge of playing soccer for Belconnen United and won the Player’s Player and Most Improved awards this year. She is also looking forward to being a bridesmaid in her sister Heidi’s wedding in January.

I have always told my children, by all means go away to work, but make sure you live somewhere interesting so that I can come and visit. I am not sure if Canberra exactly qualifies, but we did enjoy visiting them earlier this year.

Phoebe turned twenty one and celebrated with a big party. If you want to see photos, they are on my blog at: http://hannercymraes.blogspot.com/2008/09/phoebes-21st-birthday.html She has also completed her second year at university. Phoebe achieved reasonable marks in all subjects but, just between you and me, her interest was somewhat eclipsed by her growing friendship with a young man called, Andy. On a less exciting note, she has continued to experience back pain since her tobogganing accident in Switzerland. She therefore decided to have the plates removed from her spine in November. The operation went well but she is still recovering.

Seth turned eighteen this year and started driving. He also did year twelve. It isn’t easy doing VCE when your older brother and sister both got high scores. He is no academic slouch, however, and has given it his best shot. He also had a good time in the process. There are photos of him dressed up for his final day of school on my blog:(just in case you hadn’t noticed, my blog is a serious hobby). We get the VCE scores on Monday and then begin the process of applying for universities. He is planning to take from study next year and to work for a few months, before travelling overseas with Phoebe.

Naomi Priya has had a difficult year. It is as if she has read a book called how to be a rebellious teenager and applied herself diligently. I am not going to go into the finer details of her misdemeanours (no, you won’t even find them on my blog). I will only say they have angst, expensive mobile phone calls, heavy eye-liner, and a change of schools. Andrew and I have found the most difficult aspect of the whole experience is our divergent reactions. It feels like we are being torn apart.

Apart from the trauma of a hellion fourteen-year-old daughter and a wife who in her middle age has developed self-confidence and opinions, Andrew has had a great year. He now works pretty much full time from home. He has made a number of trips overseas with work but has still managed to fit in some recreation. He has hiked frequently at Wilson’s Promontory, has continued to cycle long distances, his most recent achievement being to complete the Great Victorian Bike Ride. He also led a small group for our Church, Heathmont Baptist and had his last year on Vermont Secondary College council. He and Monique have continued to make music together but on a smaller scale. You can check them out on: http://www.myspace.com/andrewmonique

Liz continues to attend Welsh language classes (although her knowledge retention is less than brilliant). She has also enjoyed a successful year studying Novel at TAFE (technical and further education). She has started writing reviews for a magazine called the Historical Novel Review and has been invited to submit a feature article to their magazine, Solander. She has been doing an extra day per week at the library since June, which as allowed her to contribute to the City of Boroondara youth blog.(there’s that word again). She enjoyed being involved as a volunteer in the Melbourne Writers’ Festival and spoke for the first time at a Balwyn library book talk. The extra library work ends next week (yeah!) and hopefully, teenage issues aside, she will finish the re-write of her novel in 2009.

We will celebrate Christmas 2008 at home with the Canberra Corbett’s, Paul (whose Mum is Liz’ Godmother) and, of course, Andy:-) My Mum will not be joining us for Christmas as Ian and Wendy are home from Malawi. But the Rev. Dr. (latter is a newly acquired title) Ian Dicks and family will join us, afterwards for a beach holiday in Port Fairy.

Well that is it, the year in brief. I trust you also have many things to celebrate and that you have managed to find your way through the obstacles that 2008 and has thrown in your path. My God Bless you with a continued assurance of his presence in 2009, and the grace to honour his precepts.

Love as always
The Corbett family

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