Matthew, Anna & Lizzie’s Christmas Letter 2009

Hey there!

Now you may be a bit miffed that a tiny piece of card (slightly bigger than previous years) is all you’ve got to show for your Christmassy greetings from Matthew, Anna & Lizzie, but if you factor in the fact that the card is 100% recycled and totally chlorine free, PLUS the trees that have been saved AND the extra bit of ‘cool’ that the little ‘moo‘ card provides, then hopefully you’ll find you’re not so hard done by!

This year Matthew has shunned writing the HTML for the Christmas letter by hand and instead is using WordPress – the same bit of software he uses for our blog – if you’ve been keeping up on that and our flickr account, the news listed here may not be such a surprise!

Which one did you get?

If you’ve had one of these in the past, you’ll have probably figured out that we’re a bit sneaky and usually have several different designs that we then specially select for each recipient – just so you don’t miss out on the other designs, here they are:

Family Niddler - Christmas Photo Family Niddler - Christmas Photo
Regular family photo “The niddlers”
Christmas Photo - outtake Christmas Photo - outtake
What’s the thing that’s clicking daddy? Tickling Lizzie!

What a year to look back on

Reading through our Christmas letter from 2007 (nephew number 2 was slightly late by the way – 24th December), it seems like such a long time ago and our lives were very different then – not quite so much happened in 2008 (well ok, Matthew’s brother and his wife had a baby, we went to a bunch more weddings, Anna stopped working at Basics Bank and became pregnant, the two CAP craft sales raised £1,700 between them, but no more hedgehogs died in our kitchen).

Snow BusinessMrs Niddler + bumpThis year has been a rollercoaster ride in comparison! In February we had more snow than Southampton’s seen in a LOOOONG time, Anna’s bump just got bigger and bigger, and then in March Matthew started to get a little nervous every time his phone rang! Preparations were made for “Nano” (we didn’t know what we were having, so picked the baby’s internet moniker prior to naming him/her). On the 15th April, Anna started having contractions in the morning, and then after a very long night without sleep, at 2:02pm on 16th April, Elizabeth Mary Evans arrived in the world weighing (no wonder that bump was so big!) a hefty 8lb 8.5oz:


WaaaaaaahIn the rest of April and May there followed the traditional phases of denial, terror and panic as we went through the frightening process of becoming new parents – and learning for the first time that sometimes the baby won’t stop crying whatever you do, that driving up and down the motorway at 3am is actually better than the alternatives, that smelling of milky sick day-in-day-out is something you really can get used to, and that all that time we spent complaining that we were tired beforehand was just a drop in the ocean of fatigue awaiting us!

When Lizzie was 3-4 weeks old it became apparent that Anna was having a severe MS relapse (having previously only had mild symptoms), and she quickly went downhill to the point where she was hardly able to look after Lizzie – she was then taken into hospital for 5 days so she could get access to the drugs and physiotherapy she needed. This was an immensely difficult time for us all, and in the following months as Anna recovered we were incredibly well supported by family and friends – among the many other forms of help, I don’t think we cooked a meal for ourselves in nearly 4 months straight!

Elizabeth / Lizzie / Nano / Nibbler / Elspeth

We have alternative names (depending on our mood and her behaviour) for Elizabeth – Lizzie being our most common, however ‘Elspeth’ makes an appearance when she’s misbehaving – it’s the Scottish version of Elizabeth and we quite like it!

Starting on real foodLizzie has progressed at astonishing (at least to us!) pace – and is now chomping away on any food she can get her hands on, and even has a single tooth that’s come through to help her with the tough bits! She often eats what we have for tea, and even seems to have acquired a taste for Matthew’s chilli con carne!

015She’s been very popular among the family – particularly her cousins (pictured with her youngest cousin (and the only one on Matthew’s side of the family) – Katie), and over the Christmas holidays she will get to meet 5 more of them – we know they’re very excited to meet her, we’re hoping she won’t be totally overwhelmed by the experience!

I'm a pumpkin mummy!October saw us visiting Riverford Norton where we get our vegetables delivered from – and Anna decided that Lizzie should go dressed up appropriately – as a pumpkin… she was immensely popular, although in years to come she may not thank us for keeping the pictures! It was a great day out and felt like something of a victory for Anna to be able to walk all around the farm in the company of family and friends without difficulty.

Just recently

The run up to Christmas has been pretty hectic with the annual Christmas CAP craft sale raising about £700 – Anna struggled to find time to get crafts made in-between being a mum but somehow turned out a vast array of lovely items for sale, and at home we made adjustments to the kitchen to accommodate a new cooker, and had our fence replaced, and had to get a new alternator for Matthew’s car and… and… the list goes on!

Lizzie’s had a cold in the last few weeks, so has been quite hard work – especially when combined with the gripes of having teeth, although this has meant she’s (after a lot of protesting) fallen asleep on us a couple of times – something we really miss from when she was tiny and did it all the time.

We’re really looking forward to the Christmas holiday break, and are hoping that we’ll be able to relax and spend time together as a family and see if we can chip away at that sleep-deficit – so apologies if we don’t get to see you over the break, it’s nothing personal!

Job stuff

Matthew’s employers (Hewlett Packard – who bought his employer, he’s not changed job – and yes, he can get you a discount on a new printer or laptop!) were fantastically accommodating when he needed time off to look after Lizzie while Anna was out of action. There was a period of uncertainty as they restructured things and decided to close the office he was working in – and make everyone redundant. Fortunately the senior management saw sense and decided to retain Matthew and another person who does the same job – and he’s changed to officially working from home rather than merely never going into the office!

Anna’s departure from Basics Bank in mid-2008 was actually very well timed as it gave them the opportunity to restructure the whole organisation, and now it’s a “mobile” venture that moves between different local churches, which handily includes one just round the corner from us – so Anna and Lizzie only have a short walk to pop in to say hello!

In Summary

All in all, we’ve come a very long way in the last year, there’s very little about our lives that’s not changed, not all the changes are for the better, but we’re now feeling like we have a grip on things and can start to work from a new base of “normal” – including having to remember to get a babysitter if we want to go out!

Every blessing to you and your kin for Christmas.

Lots of Love

Matthew, Anna & Lizzie