Also, where there was once a flat patch of grass on our block of land, there now stands a fully-fledged house just waiting for its finishing touches before we can move in. Here's a couple of snaps to give you a feel for the house and the valley we'll soon be calling home.
And last, but certainly not least, my wife Masumi is looking very round, plump in the most lovely way. Our little girl - yes, a girl! - is due into the world on Australia Day. But the baby is very active, and a summer pregnancy is hard work in tropical Queensland, we'll just have to see if they can both wait that long!
So it's been busy, and that's just the stuff going on at home.
When I haven't been lazing in the Fijian sun, work's been busy, too. I'm settling nicely into my new permanent role at quarantine. Er, that is, the agency formerly known as quarantine. Like any good government organisation, we're into a cycle of reform, rejigging and rebranding. Unfortunately, our new name is much further along in the cycle than, well, everything else. So if you call up the agency formerly known as quarantine, perhaps looking to report something formerly known as a quarantine emergency to someone formerly known as a quarantine officer, be prepared to instead be directed to a biosecurity officer working for DAFF. Yes, that's right, we've been DAFFed. Be careful or you will be, too. Now we just have to wait for our uniforms, signage, legislation, and the rest of Australia to catch up.
Speaking of waiting, I've been thinking lately about writing a book. I have a bad record of saying things like this and never really getting down to it, but this time I think I've got a more concrete idea of what the book could be, hopefully that'll provide enough fuel for the fire. To make sure I follow through, indulge me while I outline the concept.
I already have about 10 years of factual, written material detailing my experiences in Japan. Most of it is based on Shikoku, which is a place that few Japanese really appreciate, let alone foreigners. Shikoku itself is famous for a few things, but perhaps more than anything it is the island's pilgrimage of 88 temples that is most well known in Japan and around the world. Now, I reckon I'd have at least 88 good stories from my time in Japan. So, perhaps I can write a book of 88 short chapters, all about my adventures on Shikoku? If I write it well enough and add some good maps, it could be a story-based travel guide. Probably not quite in the league of the Da Vinci Code, but something like that! Anyway, whaddya reckon?
This all sounds like a lot of exciting change in our lives. True, new job, new house, new baby... it's all happening at once. But the substance of every day seems to be pretty regular - wake (always too early!) to the cries of our demanding baby boy, go to work, tap tap tap on the keyboard, come home, dinner as a family, shower with baby, put baby to bed, and get some time to ourselves before we sleep (always too little!) and do it all again. Routine is a good thing with young children, however, and we'll need to get it down to a fine art with a second baby in the house. And of course, every day as a parent has its little blessings. 2012 looks like it's bound to bring us even more.
We're in Cairns for Christmas. No spectacular plans, just some prawns, a smattering of presents, and good company. We're likely to hit the post-Christmas sales hard, and maybe a few garage sales in the New Year, too, to get ready to move into the new place.
Until next time, when I should be able to share photos of our daughter and gush like a proud father... stay safe, enjoy your Christmas and very best wishes for the New Year.