Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Christmas Letter 2008

News time again as 2009 rolls in.

The last few months have powered on by. Niall has finished his assignments for Uni, just in time for us to go on holidays! We had a week away in Port Macquarie in November with the kids with pretty good weather (no rain!) relaxing the whole time. It was great. After the craziness of this year, it was just what the doctor ordered. You can read about some of the busy-ness of this year from our previous entries.

Niall has had a busy year with UCATSA, Uni, keeping up with Fi’s commitments and going to church meetings/engagements both in Newcastle and Sydney. Niall has worked hard on his Dip. Ed. Subjects, resulting in HD’s for every subject he’s done. He completed a 4 week placement at Newcastle High School’s IT Department in June which went very well. Now he only has 1 placement to go and he’s finished. Niall just returned from the Uniting Church’s National Christian Youth Convention in Melbourne where he led a community of 120 for a week. The rest of the family missed him a lot, but are glad to have him safely back with us again (albeit with a swollen knee from twisting it on the second last night - it's gradually improving).

Fi’s choir commitments have kept coming thick and fast after Battle of the Choirs. The highlight was doing a Musica Viva concert with Sydney Chamber Choir of some 16th Century music, some in 40 parts (about 1 person per part). It was difficult, but sounded fantastic. Although Fi didn’t attend NCYC this time, she did coordinate the Hunter tour and the post-NCYC service. She celebrated her 35th birthday while Niall was away – but was sent a beautiful bunch of native flowers from Niall – aaww! Life is filled with work, church and family (and choir of course).

Niall and Fi celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in May with a few days away near Port Macquarie (without the kids). Bliss!!

Laura had a busy December with a number of performances including a drama show (which the kids wrote themselves and performed from memory – Laura did lots of the splits!), the Christmas concert at school, singing two solos in the junior choir, and her ballet concert and presentation night (the concert was at the Griffith Duncan Theatre at the Uni - the same place Fi used to have her ballet concerts…… many years ago). She had her 7th birthday on 28th December with a small family lunch out at her favourite chinese restaurant – eating chicken and corn soup, spring rolls and honey chicken. We were very proud of Laura when she received a wonderful school report (with the highest rating for ‘effort’ for everything). And she also was awarded the Outstanding Achievement for Year 1 award – she beamed from ear to ear – almost as much as her parents. She is doing really well with swimming and piano still.

Connor is now 4½ and still loves his Thomas trains. He’s very tall now and is able to pronounce his words much more clearly – although we still can’t distinguish between ‘train’ and ‘crane’. Connor now loves swimming lessons and is almost able to swim by himself. He loves telling us “I like you”, which is very cute. Connor loves preschool, so we’ve booked him in for two days for 2009. He has had enough of playgroup, so it looks like Fi will have to finish up this year and do something different next year with Connor (sob, sob). Connor told Fi that if she wanted to keep going to playgroup, she’d ‘have to wait until Laura had children and the you can take them to playgroup' – a forward thinking child (knows too much for his own good!). Connor has taken a great interest in lego (the older kid sized lego) and is now building all sorts of interesting vehicles – particularly planes.

Niall’s family has been travelling lots this year. Hilary and Jeff went away for 3 months (after Jeff retired) to UK, Europe, South Africa and nearby African countries. They got back in October just in time to look after the kids for us! Murray and Yvette spent 6 months working in England and returned in September. Ross and Sophie travelled to UK and Europe to visit Murray and Yvette and some of their other friends during the year.

Murray has a permanent job in Canberra at a Christian school. Yvette has a contract position in Canberra, hopefully becoming permanent. They are trying to sell the Bathurst house and have bought a house on the outskirts of Canberra. Dr Ross has been accepted into Radiology for his specialisation (a huge opportunity), so he will now be staying in Canberra for at least 4 years. Ross and Sophie have just bought a townhouse in Canberra, and have just moved house; great timing since they are expecting their first baby mid-2009. The family recently pitched in to do a renovation rescue paint job of their townhouse in Newcastle, ready to sell at the end of January (even Laura had a go!).

The McKay family and in-laws had a great pre-Christmas get together at Gloucester (see the photo), and we’ve had visits from all of them during December and January, which the kids have adored!

Fi’s family news….. Kanella is getting married in May to Norman (from her church).
Aunty Dawn continues to deteriorate with significant loss of speech and hand movement through repeated small strokes. Her roommate recently passed away, which was very upsetting for her. Fi continues to visit her weekly and do some of her washing and shopping. Fi, Ange and Amber (their cousin) sang some carols at the Nursing Home before Christmas, which went down very well - apparently Connor stole the show though because he was so good (who cares about the good singing??!!).

Angela has moved in with her boyfriend, Chris Hartley, and continues to enjoy singing. She has had some paid singing engagements, but is still trying for the elusive contract for a musical or Opera. The rest of the family is still doing the same stuff. And everyone is doing well.

Well, that’s the news to date. Hope you and your family are doing well – please let us know how you are going and don’t forget to drop in if you’re in Newcastle!

We pray that you have had time to reflect and restore over December and January (there’s still time to do it!) – what a great time it is to consider what amazing things God has done for us and the possibilities that lie with God as we journey on through life.

Love the McKays
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At 7:53 pm, Blogger Janine said...

Laura looks so much like you Fiona! Wow!
You have two beautiful children.


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