Monday, November 14, 2011

November 2011 update

Well it’s been another busy few months since our last update. Here’s some of the happenings in our household since July:
* Settled into our new house; so warm and comfy with everything we could ever want and more!
* Enjoyed our housewarming braai with 60 friends and family (over a long afternoon!)
* School production for junior school (Connor was a pirate – aarggh!)

* Music concerts at school with the fabulous marimba band, choirs and the kids did their first public piano performance on the grand piano at school!
* Choir concerts (Fi did a small solo with Schola Cantorum in September)
* Lots of afternoon sports for the kids
* Endless braai’s (BBQs) at our house with fantastic food and company!

* Family Visits
Niall’s youngest brother, Murray, and his wife, Yvette, and 1y.o. daughter, Jemima, visited us in late October. We spent a whirlwind 10 days showing them the sights of the Cape including wineries, markets, Robben Island and a few days at Pringle Bay - a really hectic but fun time with all the day visitors we invited! And they were here for Jessie (Niall’s cousin) & Luke’s wedding – a very casual, chilled, fun wedding!

A week later Fi’s mum, Ros, and her husband, Hilary, came to visit for 10 days. The kids were at school, but had 2 days off to spend with Nanna and Poppy. Lots of sightseeing, lunches, dinners and talking! They went off for another 2 weeks touring SA and Vic Falls (Zimbabwe), they had a wonderful time!

* Excellent school results for the kids
Both kids are doing very well at school. Connor is reading so well and is managing to get faster at completing tasks and now is a pro at colouring in! He loves all the sports and also likes riding his bike and going for hikes with his dad. Connor had 4 piano lessons before we left and started piano at Rhenish in July – he’s made so much progress and learns so quickly. The two kids now play duets!
Laura is excelling at her school work. She made the top 20% of the grade, including Afrikaans, which is fantastic! She came top in Creative Writing and was also given a special award for excellence in choral singing (she’s only been in choir for 6 months!). She was also asked to play a piano item for the award presentation. All her friends keep telling us how lovely she is. They are both fantastic kids!

* Fiona as special guest artist
Fi was asked to be a special guest artist at the school’s Prestige Music Concert in September. After many months of wearing sporting attire (tracksuits and t-shirts) to school, the parents were rather shocked when Fi came out in a ball gown to sing opera and jazz numbers, accompanied by the suave Niall McKay on guitar for the jazz song!
Fi has also been asked to work with some older music students to help with singing technique. The 4 hourly sessions have gone very well and have been a great opportunity for Fi to do some ‘work’.

NOW FOR THE BIG NEWS: Niall has finished his Masters Thesis!!!
Niall submitted his thesis and completed his last component, the ‘defence’, the day before his birthday. The panel was extremely happy with his thesis and work this year and awarded him cum laude, the highest level you can achieve. To finalise everything he had to get his summary translated into Afrikaans (thanks Caroli!) – an interesting requirement for a Uni that has all its post-grad work in English! Anyway, it is all submitted now and he will graduate in December. Now on to the PhD! We celebrated his birthday and the finalisation of his Masters at a (you guessed it) braai with friends and family at our house.

Where to from here?
Well you may ask – as we are! We will be moving house mid-Jan, but not sure where to as yet (the house we’d booked is being sold, unfortunately). Niall is looking into PhD options with Stellenbosch and Newcastle University and scholarship options. Fiona hasn’t found work as yet, so it’s looking like we’ll be leaving South Africa some time in 2012.

We have so much to be thankful for with amazing friends and family around us, a lovely house (and Dottie the dog!), supportive family back home, a wonderful school for the kids, and an absolutely beautiful part of the world to live in (check out the beautiful status flowers in our suburb in photo below). Fi is so taken with the ruggedness and proximity of the mountains and the lovely landscape. Niall likes climbing the mountains. And there is so much wonderful food! Currently it’s strawberry season, so we’ve been eating so many delicious strawberries (AUS$2.50/kg!). Can’t wait for mango season.

We’re looking forward to having more visitors in December - our friend, Phil Ireland, followed by Niall’s mum, Hilary, and her husband, Jeff, and his daughter, Julie, before Christmas. Then even more fun when Ross, Sophie and Holly arrive after Christmas! So much to look forward to….

Please pray for us as we continue to discern God’s will and try to focus on living in the present, not worrying about what will happen in the future.