Well hello, Lovelies, all 454 of you! I'm at home with a slumbering Sam whilst Mr PB has whisked pyjama-clad Joshie and India off to see the family fireworks down at the Hobart waterfront. At the close of this extraordinary rollercoaster of a year for us on Planet Baby, I thought I'd share some other moments of 2011 which capture its essence, like I did last year. Goodness, there were 217 of you Planetarians back then - you've more than doubled in number!
Before I start, though, I want to share a few quick words with you - okay? I can't thank you enough for all the kindness, support, care, empathy and sheer compassion you've shown me this year. You've been the ballast to my ship as I've had to navigate it through uncharted waters. When the year began, I had no idea what lay ahead. But with your fabulous and incomparable support, I've made it through all the challenges thrown at us. Thankyou so much - you are all beyond compare.
Right, let's get this slideshow up and running! Settle down in your comfiest seats, preferably with something cold and sparkling in your hands and let's go.
I posted about our Australia Day barbecue by a riverbank with the grandparents here. By that stage, I suspected it would be our last such outing with my darling Dad, as it proved to be.
Here's a photo I left out of the post which is now one of my most treasured ever. I didn't include it then as I wanted to protect his privacy. Now I consider it an honour to share this precious moment of connection with you, a very natural but beautiful space in time when it was just Dad and me. *In that very moment*.
I cherish it because it shows him in more vibrant health than what followed so soon afterwards.
I cherish it because we shared a love of wine and he always loved a good toast.
And I cherish it because it captures his love for me.
This is how I'd like to remember him.
Seeing Joshie delight in using my childhood watercolour painting set made my heart swell. I just adored seeing his creativity flow and the genuine thrill he felt in creating something. Just fabulous!
By March, I was totally absorbed by participating in the 'Blogging Your Way' e-course run by the divine Holly Becker of decor8 fame and the gorgeous Leslie Shewring from A Creative Mint. As my Dad's health started to deteriorate more rapidly, I found this course to be a balm for my wounded soul. It was envigorating and utterly stimulating. I was stunned at the creativity which poured forth from me, unbidden. I felt *alive*.
This photo is one of the many I took of my moodboard we had to create for homework. I was staggered by your responses to my posts about the BYW course here, here and here. Two of those posts now rank in my top 3 most popular posts, by miles! I was particularly moved by Le's extraordinary and insightful comments about my moodboard as she spectacularly deduced qualities about me which I hadn't even recognised myself!
By that stage, I was so inspired to take my blogging to a completely new level and tap into long-buried skills. Oh, I was fired up!
Then life became more turbulent.
As we started our efforts to buy a house here in Hobart, sell our Sydney apartment and extricate ourselves from the long-term lease on the rental house we were living in, Dad was admitted to hospital for 4 weeks.
That period was one of the hardest of my life as I tried to juggle all that with the usual demands of family life and trying to take care of my health.
This photo of Joshua's Easter card to his beloved Pa makes me weep.
This photo of his Mothers' Day card to me does the exact opposite - it's one to treasure for the ages!
By this stage, life was such a battle. We'd bought our new home, were trying to sell our apartment and still couldn't find a tenant for the rental. For a few weeks, we were paying for 3 mortgages on 1 income. Dad's health was deteriorating rapidly and he was readmitted to hospital.
In the middle of all that, darling Melissa sent me a precious care package from the UK which boosted my spirits immeasurably.
Then we moved into our gorgeous new home. Sammy had his birthday party with his Spot cake.
Dad was too unwell to leave the hospital to attend.
We tried to keep our spirits up but it was tough going.
And then Dad's battle ended on 17 August.
This was the last posie of flowers the pixies picked for him from our garden just days before he died.
Then you precious souls, led by my treasured friend, Felicity, flew to my aid and sent me your big box of bloggy love for my birthday as I grieved.
This gorgeous card of Peter Pan and friends was inside it.
You will never know how much I cherished those expressions of care and love. Thankyou.
I started to just *be in the moment* with the pixies again, treasuring our moments together. How could I not, with this adorable face beaming at me?
And then our cottage garden started bursting forth into bloom. I located my green thumb and enjoyed pottering about, pruning here and there. Bringing in roses from our garden to place on my desk in *my room of my own* became a source of immense pleasure.
And then slowly, my crafting mojo has returned. The joy is starting to creep back in.
And that, my precious Planetarians, is the *up-note* where I'd like to leave you on tonight. Farewell 2011, you crazy rollercoaster year for us and hello 2012!
Wishing you and your dear ones sparkling health, prosperity and contentment in 2012. I'm looking forward to sharing this bloggy caper with you again!