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Merry Christmas!.

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Merry Christmas!

We hope this finds you enjoying the holiday season, with plenty of eggnog and cookies … once again, its time for the annual Wrighty Christmas letter!! 2006 was indeed another memorable year for the Wrights. We spent our first full year here settling into Wisconsin life, enjoying trips abroad, and discovering the US through Paul’s eyes. Our biggest excitement though is having a little one (code name “Ziggy”) on the way!

Starting with the news that is likely to end our lives as we know it … our mischievous little boy is due to arrive January 11th. We’re happy to report that the pregnancy has gone well – the biggest crisis to date seems to be Paul’s loss of his primary drinking buddy. As for the little one, the doctor assures us he’s happy, healthy, and destined to be intelligent as well as a world class golfer. As for the new parents-to-be, we’re discovering the complicated world of prams, play yards, and whiz bang baby technologies … all available for the price of a small island. So far, only one thing is for certain ... “Ziggy” will be starting life in style, sleeping in a beautiful hand crafted cradle built by Dad Yates, which arrived via special hand delivery from mom and dad.

Life in Wisconsin has treated us well in our first year here. After surviving sub zero temperatures (measured in F or C) during the winter, summer in Milwaukee was an absolute treat. The city comes to life with jazz in the park, summer music and cultural festivals, playtime along the lake front, and countless cafes and restaurants. Friends initiated the “Milwaukee Gourmet Club” – a monthly get together themed by the hosts. We’ve now attempted preparation of an Indian curry and successfully hosted a swiss fondue night! We ventured into new territory as homeowners, renovating our entire outside property. The addition of a custom deck, fence, and two car drive has vastly improved our outdoor space ... Very exciting for us!

Not a chance we’d finish without a travel tale or two. This year, we made our way back to Australia in May for playtime with family and friends and the Smaynesy wedding. A reminder of all things Aussie we miss, we had a terrific time. In July, we snuck away for a (last?!) romantic holiday on a Caribbean cruise. A fantastic trip given the incredible service, endless choice of activities – Paul walked away mini golf champion while Alana holds the air hockey record – time spent poolside, and the terrific destinations. A weekend getaway in October took us east to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. A cousin’s wedding was a terrific opportunity to gather the Merkel family in a destination teeming with fall colours, country town hospitality, and the unforgettable “Corn Maze”. A second Thanksgiving celebration in North Carolina was again a memorable family get together ... and thank you to my aunties for a wonderful baby shower while we were there!

On the job front, we’ve both done well. Excel Expert was re-born as an American business under the banner of Forward Square Software Solutions. Paul’s focus drove an expanded client base, added new consultants to the crew, and developed a more sophisticated business model. Alana’s time as a “bug chick” (e.g. marketing manager for the Off! repellents brand) was also a success. Travel in this role was limited to cities across the US, with the exception of a few days in Toronto, Canada. Big changes around the corner though … after a six month maternity leave in 2007, Alana will be returning to SCJ in a new role as a Global Sales and Marketing Training Manager. Exciting opportunities ahead!

In final headlines, its baby central in our world with nine little ones due to close family or friends between December and April … congratulations due all around. Notably, baby Wells Wright is due in March - we’ll be an aunt and uncle to our second little niece! Congrats also to all of the newly married couples! And finally thanks to all of our visitors this year – Karl, Louise and Jimmy, and Gina and Forest.

To close – we miss you all heaps. Hope 2006 was full of happy memories – here’s to a year ahead of health and happiness. If you’d like to keep tabs on us through the months, including news of the newest little one, don’t forget to peek at!! Happy New Year!!

Love, Paulo and Banana