Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas 2009 Update

Greetings to you all as we head towards Christmas 2009!

Another busy year has passed us by in 2009 in the McKay family. We were saddened by the loss of a treasured relative, joyfully welcomed a new addition to the extended family (baby Holly) and were excited by the news of a new brother-in-law and another cousin on the way….read on to find out more!

All about us
2009 marks the end of an era with Connor finishing pre-school and starting Kindergarten at ‘big school’ next year. Both kids will be at school next year – growing up so fast!

Connor is a loving, kind and gentle 5 ½ year old who loves trains (still), Ben 10 and building things. He’s started to take an interest in reading and writing and can’t wait to go to school next year at Jesmond Public with Laura. He loves swimming and playing totem tennis as well as surfing the internet for his favourite games. Connor lost his first tooth in November and his first big tooth is already growing fast. He loved his two days of preschool this year and made a few close friends. His highlight this year was his 5th birthday at Walka Waterworks where there was a miniature train!

Laura has just turned 8 and had a party with her friends in mid-December – a Wizard of Oz party! Laura loved dressing up as Dorothy and her friends joined in the fun with a tin man, wicked witch, Glinda, Aunty Em, munchkin/dog and of course Connor as the Wizard! Lots of preparations by Laura and Fi and help on the day from Niall, Aunty Ange, Uncle Chris, Nanna and Poppy helped make the party a great success – the Emerald City cake was something to behold! Laura did a lovely piano concert for us and won the school talent show where she sang “You can’t stop the music”. She has performed a number of solos at school concerts and presentations – she has a great voice and has her microphone technique down pat from singing at church!

Laura has grown up so much this year (very tall!) and has worked really hard in her school class (2/3/4) where she has enjoyed being extended by year 3 and 4 work. She received outstanding results in all her subjects, only missing out by 1 mark to her friend on the academic achievement award. Laura received the award for Citizenship for Year 2 – we’re very proud of her! She loves reading and dancing around the house – performances for every visitor willing to watch! She has a great group of friends at school. Laura is still swimming and has been doing basketball this year. The school offered drama again this year and she enthusiastically embraced this and is going to be doing drama with Young People’s Theatre next year.

Niall had a busy first half of the year with the ministry at uni in great transition. By mid-year three new mission workers were employed and Niall was able to hand over some tasks to others. The UCATSA group has continued to grow with a new group of people coming through and getting involved.

Niall has just finished his last placement for his Diploma of Education. It was a busy November! He received a great report from his supervisor and is glad to have done it but is happy to be back doing chaplaincy again. He enjoyed the Home Ec classes and learned a few tips from the kids. And the teachers learnt a few tips from Niall from all the home made food he brought in (including pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving).
Niall’s knee is still playing up, so he is on the waiting list for another knee op.

2009 is the year of the Canberra trips. Niall and Fi escaped to Canberra in May to spend time with the other McKays prior to the arrival of Ross and Sophie’s baby (without kids). At the end of June, we visited Canberra again (all of us this time) to meet our new niece and cousin, Holly McKay, born 26 June 2009.

We all enjoyed the School of Discipleship in Canberra in July (another trip to Canberra!). The whole family stayed on site in a family group of dormitories. It was fantastic to spend our nights chatting to other parents while the kids were fast asleep. The kids got to spend a night off site with Uncle Murray and Aunty Yvette – lots of fun for everyone!

In October we spent 4 nights at Minnamurra (near Kiama) – half way to Canberra! - with the McKay/Kite family. The weather was ok in the mornings (generally), enough to fit in some canoeing and walking and then playing indoors in the afternoons. A great relaxing break!

Fi has had another busy year with Chamber Choir (although not as intense as Battle of the Choirs). The choir has recorded a CD of the complete works of Iain Grandage, a composer from Western Australia. In July four visiting choirs held concerts with us over one weekend (huge weekend!). Our last concert for 2009 was our first Christmas concert (on our own) at Sacred Heart Cathedral. It went really well and I had a lovely solo too. Next year the Uni have committed to taking the choir to China in July to compete in the World Choir Games (20,000 competitors!).

Fiona has been busy at work, continuing with her two days a week, mainly working on the Mardi-Mangrove Link Project enhancing the water supply on the Central Coast. Next year Fi is looking to work an additional 5-hour day once Connor settles into school.

Fi has continued her involvement with the P&C at the school as Secretary. It’s been an up and down year, but the new committee looks like it will help make things running smoother in 2010. Our church has been able to support the school in many different ways, and Fi’s involvement has aided this as well. The church hosted a disco (with free cupcakes), the Presentation Assembly and held a dinner for the teachers. We have an amazing school – only 200 kids, with a large number of refugees, English as second language and special needs kids. It’s been great to be an integral part of helping facilitate the running of the school and support its activities.


This year has been particularly difficult for Fiona as her great Aunty Dawn continued to deteriorate in the nursing home; she passed away in September just short of 87 years. It was a long deterioration since she arrived there in June 2007, and very difficult to watch. Fiona and her dad were her primary carers. It was a relief to know that her suffering was over but sad to have lost the last remaining relative from that generation on her dad’s side.

Fi’s family

Chris Hartley proposed in mid-December to Fi’s sister, Ange – they’re planning on getting married later in 2010. Chris went to a lot of trouble to organise the perfect proposal including a printed book with photos and text of their journey together (including a dust cover) and of course a visit to Hunter Valley Gardens (their fav spot!). Ange is rehearsing for a kids production in Sydney in January and has been really busy this year establishing a new singing group called Haute Chorale – a boutique ensemble.

Ros (Fi’s mum) and Hilary are doing well. They’ve finished their house extensions. Mum is enjoying sewing patchwork quilts and celebrated her 60th birthday in May.

We’ve attended two family weddings this year; in January Hilary’s son, Scott, married Erin in a 43 degree sweltering day,

and Kanella (Fi’s step-sister) and Norman’s wedding in May in Sydney.

Tim (Fi’s brother) has just finished Year 10. Fiona’s dad fell on his shoulder in September and had the muscle reattached in surgery. He’s gradually getting full use of his arm back again.

Niall’s family

Hilary and Jeff went away for 2 months on a road trip up to Northern Australia, which they really enjoyed. Hilary has had a few health problems in November with some chest pains resulting in a rushed trip to Newcastle Hospital and another trip to Gloucester Hospital for vertigo, which took a few weeks to recover from. Jeff had a short trip to PNG to help out with some water project advice in November, but otherwise has made himself busy by getting involved in the local environmental group at Gloucester and protesting against coal mines proposed in the area.

Murray and Yvette are due to have their first baby in mid-2010. Yvette has permanent work now and they are both doing well. Ross, Sophie and baby Holly are also doing well. We all caught up at Gloucester at Christmas time with Jeff’s parents coming from WA as well – Wally and Joy love Connor and Laura (and the rest of us!), which is always a joy!

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 (and stay if you can!).

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