Saturday, March 02, 2013

McKay news Christmas 2012-early 2013

Very late Christmas letter - 2012 (and beginning of 2013) PART 1 Whew! What a year we have had in 2012, with more adventures to come in 2013. Both kids had fantastic school reports last year. Laura received the academic award for Year 5, which was a fantastic achievement. Laura enjoyed the Year 6 farewell last week (which was like her farewell too) dancing and having fun with all her classmates. We enjoyed some wonderful celebrations at Jesmond Public School including their 125th anniversary and Multicultural day - the day was a feast of food, dance, song and fun. The school is so blessed to have a huge cultural diversity and we all got to be a part of it. Laura, Niall and Fi sang a South African song and we all did a presentation on SA to each of the classes (quick 8 minute rotations). Everyone enjoyed the bobotie in the tasting room. And the school’s Multicultural Cookbook was a hit (including the bobotie recipe!). Laura has enjoyed the dance group and choir. Both kids have loved the Djambe drumming classes – the teacher Isabelle was fantastic! The last few months of 2012 were stressful as Fi was made redundant from her job (absolutely no work on) and the financial crash meant there weren’t many jobs available. We have been very blessed with support from family and friends and with God’s help Fi was able to find another job – just in time before the last payments from her previous job finished. After 2 months of searching, Fi was offered a job with Monteath & Powys, a local surveying firm, in the Planning department. She works 3 days a week (Mon-Wed) and has just started some extra hours during school days on Thursdays (working from home), and has a lovely team to be part of. She’s already learning lots of new stuff so she can delve more into Council work. While Fi was off work, she was able to spend lots of time with the kids and catch up with some friends and family, help with school events, church kids club and camp and lots of other stuff! So the time was not wasted, and although stressful, will work out for the best. After 9 months of waiting (since we packed it in Stellenbosch), our stuff from SA finally arrived (in my first week back at work in the new job!). Much excitement was had unpacking all our things – finding a space for them all was another fun task – and nothing was broken! Connor really missed his lego, Laura missed her clothes and shoes. Niall enjoyed seeing his books and the bikes again. I missed the KitchenAid mixer, bedding, cutlery and my clothes. We had to beg, borrow and steal while we waited for our stuff, so it’s nice to finally have everything in one place again. Niall has been busy reading, reading, reading – and has now started writing his thesis. He met his aim of 6,000 words by Christmas. He’s loving the PhD and has been busy networking with staff and students – initiating a Tuesday lunch gathering and other get togethers. He attended his first conference in New Zealand and presented a paper, which went well. We had some great news in early Feb that Niall has been offered a scholarship for his PhD! Niall continues to swim, run and cycle regularly and recently competed in a small Triathlon in Penrith and is readying for another one this time in Newcastle in March. He has recently been offered part-time supply work with Merewether Uniting Church, from February 2013, so that will help with our finances and is a great opportunity. We have been involved with the soup kitchen (it's more of a community dinner than a soup kitchen) at Merewether for a number of years and have enjoyed taking our kids there on Tuesday nights to share with a range of people over dinner. Laura celebrated her 11th birthday early with 5 friends for a sleepover (wake over??) in a tent outside, which was fun. Then the celebrations continued as we visited family in Sydney and Canberra, enjoying a yummy ice cream and pizza celebration for her actual birthday at none other than Murray & Yvette's new ice cream shop, Stripey Sundae. We spent some time in Gloucester with Niall's family which was lovely too - this time celebrating Murray's 30th. The kids were both accepted into the Hunter School of Performing Arts for 2013 after auditioning in piano in September. Although Connor was a little hesitant to leave all his friends again, they have both adapted well to the challenges of starting at a new school. They have started into new activities this year with Laura doing drama classes and Connor starting soccer soon and continuing their swimmin and piano and Laura continuing tennis. It's certainly busy! So it comes to the end of the year and we look forward to 2013. We expect a few trips to Canberra with Sophie and Ross expecting in March. Lots of music-making with the new school, the new drum kit we were given and a piano exam for Laura. New friends, triathlons, singing, saying goodbye to some friends, missing our friends and family in SA and possibly some travel for Niall. Our minister, Maz, is leaving in March, so there will be new things at church as well. But in all this we trust that God is present. We pray that you and your families will be blessed with peace and joy and the love of God – and there is always space here for visitors. Love, the McKays.