A number of people particularly thanked us for the Christmas '91 letter, so we failed completely to produce one last year. Please rest assured: it was nothing personal. We won't attempt to describe the whole two years since our last letter, so a few highly edited highlights will have to suffice.
The biggest highlight of the last two years must have been March 1992. On the 20th we celebrated 8 years of happily married... 10 years of married... had been married for 10 years. Paul was planning to celebrate with a romantic weekend in Paris. However, Sue didn't feel like going away, and Ian Roger arrived on the 22nd. He has been much the easiest baby of the three, so we decided to keep him.
Ian ventured out into public in May when we visited Simon Holley (working for the London Bible College) for his baptism, which was a tremendous event. We then spent the long bank holiday weekend in Weston-Super-Mud. The hotel was halfway up the slope - and what a slope! - but the people were friendly. At the start of August we continued to explore the English countryside when we holidayed with Paul's parents in Tenbury Wells.
The other big event of 1992 was Paul being made redundant. We knew the Guildford office was closing. This happened as expected, and Paul started working from home in April. Alan and Philip had been moved to the spare bedroom, Ian was sleeping in with us at the start, and so Paul took over the boys' old bedroom. There was then a major project to get some software ready for presentation at the International Conference Centre in Birmingham. It was ready on time, although the story is a saga in itself, with the last major problem being fixed at 1am on the morning of the event. To use the old medical cliché, the operation was a success but the patient died... the software worked perfectly, the event was a tremendous success, but the sales did not come in afterwards, so Paul joined the three million at the end of September.
After applying for positions as far afield as Oxford and Reading, Paul was offered a job with 'The Exchange' in Woking, which was the most local of all the jobs applied for, and started at the end of November. Before you ask, Paul is not working for the Stock Exchange (thank goodness!). The full name of the company is 'The Insurance Trading Exchange Limited,' so you can see why it is usually shortened. The new job involves a fair amount of travelling and a car is provided, so we now feel slightly guilty about being a two car family. Before changing the subject, we would like to say a big 'thank you' to all the people who helped us over those three months.
The three boys thrive, to the joy and general weariness of Sue and Paul. Alan's reading was always reasonable for his age, but early this year it seemed to 'click' and has taken off something rotten. You can hardly get his head out of a book these days. Paul and Sue each think he takes after the other in this, which probably explains something. He has just been introduced to Tintin and Asterix, which we get from various local libraries. Last year, reading before bedtime, we managed to get through AA Milne, JM Barrie and Roald Dahl's Charlie stories, plus various Thunderbirds and Stingray books which Paul had saved from last time they were popular. He has never been a group performer, but has discovered acting, starring as Guy Fawkes in his Class Assembly and as the Narrator in his School Christmas Play. His only complaint about the latter was, 'They would not let me rest, and they would not let me explore [the rest of the stage]: I had to just sit there!' He goes to Art classes on Saturday mornings, and has a badge for swimming 5 metres with armbands. He has done two terms' dancing, but sadly doesn't want to carry on.
Philip is now going to the local Nursery school five afternoons a week and loves it (Ian can't understand why he can't stay too). For months, he wanted the same book read to him at bedtime: 'My am a Rabbit'. Philip is never wrong, and takes after his father in some ways too. Philip is a natural performer. Last Christmas he delighted both families with various carols plus actions, and this year has done the same. He has been to dancing lessons too, but also wants to give it up. He still has fine and very blond hair and the sweetest smile. He lacks the 'little curl', but otherwise reminds us of a certain 'little girl'...
Ian is now 21 months, although he would deny it. Anything his brothers can do, he can do, better, louder, faster, and naughtier. Anything on offer, he wants. His vocabulary is fine (he has specially developed a very expressive 'o-o-h' and 'no-o-o' which are suitable for most conversational purposes) but his comprehension frightens us. He still thinks that one beaming smile will get him everything and is most put out when it doesn't. Sue says that one day he will learn we all sit down for meals, and that we stay sat or go hungry. Ian disagrees.
Sue continues to work outside the home as well. Usually half a day in the Church Office, and either a half or a full day at the NRCD, depending on how near is the next deadline for publication. We had decided before Ian was born that, boy or girl, three children really was our limit. Paul declined to submit himself to the knife, so in December 1992, Sue's tubes were tied.
Our Housegroup finished our marathon study of 'Women in the Bible' earlier this year, and have now moved on to looking at 'The Church'. Paul managed to surprise the entire Housegroup by covering the history of the Church from the New Testament to Modern Times in a single evening (don't tell anyone, but he left a few bits out).
Sue and the two older boys went to the Pantomime this January. It starred (well, featured, anyway) their (rapidly painted) model of Tracy Island - yes, we did one too. Sue has just completed some evening classes in the Science of every day life, so if you want to know why planes stay in the air or the importance of polymerase chain reaction, just ask. To fill in a few spare hours, she has also become the chair(person?) of Alan's school support group, recently renamed as the HOWS ('Helpers of Westborough School'), and spends many a happy(?) afternoon drumming up support for the various activities. One of these activities was a Quiz night at one of the local pubs. We went along one evening to their regular quiz night just to suss it out, and to our delight ended up winning a bottle of wine.
In June, Paul took the two big boys camping near Lyme Regis with some folk from Church. Sue was supposed to be having a quiet weekend at home as Ian was not yet walking. However, the weather was so nice she decided to come for one night after all, and (being a two car family) jumped into the other car and turned up to Paul's astonishment late on Friday night. Getting Ian to sleep in a sleeping bag was great fun, but eventually we managed it, and spent a splendid day together on the Saturday, walking along the cliffs to a 'nearby' beach. 'Suitable for a buggy' we were told. We have been caught out like that before, but intrepidly set out anyway. Sue had forgotten she was supposed to be feeding a cat that weekend, so part of the morning was spent in emergency phone calls to Guildford to arrange sustenance for a starving moggy. Sue and Paul both ended up with sunburn: getting the boys regularly plastered in cream took us too long.
Later in June, our families gathered for Ian's dedication, which was made even more enjoyable in at least four ways: Ian behaved impeccably; the dedication was performed by Barry Sandell; David Race, still suffering from ME, was able to be at the service with us; and finally, Ian chose that morning to take his very first steps. What a show-off!
Sue's brother Peter got married in August this year to a wonderful girl called Jo. We managed to give them some Able-Labels with 'Peter and Jo Lipson' on them. Jo appreciated this, but for some reason, Peter was less keen, so we agreed to replace them. We stayed with David and Louise (née Harrison, ex Oxborough) Taylor and their three children on the way to the wedding in Sheffield, and with Paul and Sue Cockburn and their three (obviously the best number) on the way back. We thoroughly enjoyed the whole trip, and sincerely hope the two families will recover quickly.
Peter and Jo had a barn dance in the evening, and Alan and Philip danced with various Aunts and Uncles. Just before we left, there was a simple dance and they partnered each other. It's not often you could call Alan 'sweet', but that evening he made up for a great deal in his public relations. We also continued our exploration of the English countryside with a holiday in Norfolk, when we had the pleasure of visiting Richard and Sally Jordan who happened to live just down the road from where we were staying.
1993 was the year that three of the five of us first went flying. Paul started early in January, flying to Edinburgh for a business trip. He had a delightful time staying with John and Heather Aldhous, who had trekked to Everest the previous year. He has subsequently flown on numerous occasions to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester, and now regards it (almost) as a normal part of the working week. Sue and Philip both flew for the first time as well, but we had to pay for that trip in a Cessna.
Our cultural education continued with several trips to the Science and Natural History Museums. Alan loves the rockets and, predictably, the dinosaurs. Paul and Sue managed to see two films: Clint Eastwood and Robin Hood - what an odd film. Still, we enjoyed them both.
Achievements of the year include getting the house repointed. Later in the year, Paul's father built the framework for a garden shed, then transported it to Guildford where we assembled it, and added walls and a roof, over several weekends. It is now quite the best garden structure for miles around.
Fritz Goerling, Jonah Masaka, and Rob and Heather Lawrence visited from Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe and Mexico, respectively. Paul remains Treasurer of the Church Mission Support Fund and became Secretary of Open Air Campaigners in France, supporting Mark and Sue Howe and their work.
In summary, 1993 was not nearly as exciting as 1992, thank goodness! Wishing you a calm and peaceful new year,
Love and best wishes,
Paul, Sue, Alan, Philip and Ian Hazelden