I am back, even if only temporarily to share with you our 2011 Christmas letter (blog).
2011 began for our family at a New Year’s Eve Party at Mark & Chantelle Tangs. They had the entire Tang family with them for the Christmas season so it was great catching up briefly with Scott & Rachel who I hadn’t seen for years & also seeing Meg & Bill who visit from time to time.
In January we enjoyed a short family getaway on Stradbroke Island which was very relaxing & days were spent in the pool and enjoying the surroundings.
Josh was selected for the Gifted & Talented Program allowing him access to a wider range of resources to challenge him & opportunities to enhance his learning through additional programs within & external to the school.
Colin & I refer to Josh as our nutty professor as despite his very serious & mature outward demeanour he is a comedian at home, often quirky and has a natural sense of humour and he loves to know about everything & how everything works and is constantly asking lots of questions.
During second Semester Josh was able to represent the school in the Tournament of the Minds held on the Gold Coast. Josh is a fantastic big brother and very protective of his two younger sisters.
Alyssa is our fun loving social butterfly. We nickname her “Miss Smiley” as she never fails to wake up with a smile on her face & she generally has a very happy nature. She is very easy going and gets along with just about everyone (except her big brother who she tends to clash with often, but they can be the best of friends too some days).
Alyssa started violin lessons at school this year and also joined the school choir and lunch time dance classes l and is developing a real love for music & dance. After a few basic lessons from me she is also teaching herself to play the piano. Alyssa loves school and learning and at the end of year school assembly held last week Alyssa received the academic excellence award for her class.In April Alyssa celebrated her 8th Birthday & Baptism. She was so excited to be baptised, especially by Colin as she is a bit of a “Daddy’s girl”.
Nikayla (Nikki) was born with music in her soul. She has a sweet little nature most of the time & sings everyday both songs she knows and she also makes up her own so perhaps we have a singer / song writer in the family but I guess time will tell.
Nikayla is our play date queen and has had more play dates this year than the other two put together. Although I am happy for her to have time with her friends I have found it becoming a bit exhausting at times so have had set some limits. When Nikki is not with friends she and Alyssa play extremely well together & they often remind me of myself & Carissa growing up. Nikayla has both Auntie Carissa & Grandpa Triffitt wrapped around her little finger.
Nikayla too has had a great year of school and also received the academic award for her class at the end of year school assembly.
Nikayla dressed as the Very Hungry Caterpillar in this years School Book Character Parade
Alyssa & Nikayla
In February Colin & I celebrated 12 years of marriage & went for our annual anniversary weekend getaway to Kingscliff in Northern NSW which has become one of our favourite places to visit.
Konnie & Colin enjoying a Jeboat ride on the Gold Coast broadwater for Colin's Birthday
In April the school held the Cross Country & we discovered we have 2 long distance runners in the family with both Alyssa & Nikayla coming 1st place. The Cross Country was shortly followed by the athletics carnival where Josh shined in the sprint races and the girls also did well.
Josh, Alyssa & Nikayla
Our family spent Easter in Noosa with Mum & Dad & Carissa. It was a memorable holiday but for many of the wrong reasons. Only a couple of days into our stay Colin was spending time with Josh and they were taking turns riding Josh’s rip stick (2 wheel skateboard) when Colin lost balance and went down hard. He had fractured the radial head of his elbow and was facing the possibility of surgery. After much deliberation between surgeons they decided to not do the surgery as there was a high possibility he would be left with even less mobility or other complications & hoped that physio would help get most of the mobility back. Eight months later he is still having issues with it & although his mobility has improved it is nowhere near where they had hoped so he continues to have physio. Two days after Colin’s injury I had a fall down the stairs in our holiday apartment & fractured my tailbone & sprained my wrist. The two of us with our injuries were a real pair.
The bruise following Colin's injury
Family Boat Ride on the Noosa River
Poor Nikki dissapeared into her life jacket which was way to big for her.
On our return from Noosa Alyssa went into hospital to have a mole surgically removed from her scalp. I found it prior & it didn’t look at all friendly so when I took her to get it checked out the doctor was concerned & sent us to a skin specialist who confirmed it needed to come off.
The wait to find out the results was nerve racking but all turned out ok. We are glad it is gone though as they said it had the potential to become bad news. As you can imagine we were glad when April was over.
By May the kids were back full swing into basketball & Josh even started umpire training resulting in his first paid job umpiring junior basketball games & earning himself $4 per game. He would umpire 2- 3 games each Saturday morning & is a good little money manager so has a nice little savings plan going for himself.
Josh's Basket ball team u/14's including his cousin Lindsay at back right
Alyssa's Basketball Team U/12's
May turned into another month of hospital appointments with fracture clinic appointments and physio for Colin & follow up for Alyssa. I also took Josh for a simple eye test as he has been getting migraine headaches for some years now & he had several close together & also very bloodshot eyes. The next thing I knew the optometrist was instructing me to take Josh immediately to Emergency as she said he had a raised optical nerve and combined with headaches could mean pressure or bleed in the brain. He got the all clear after running tests that is was a false alarm & the bloodshot eyes were due to allergies but we will still required to attend several follow up appointments with the eye specialist and paediatrician over the following weeks.
In May/June we were very blessed when Colin’s employer offered to fully fund his return to university to undertake what will be his second degree, this time in engineering which will go hand in hand with his current field of work. Colin has desired to return to school and further his studies for a while but the timing has not been right & we could never find courses to fit in with his work schedule. His employer has allowed him several hours away from work each week to attend uni lectures and tutorials on the agreement that he starts work an hour earlier each day.
It has certainly been an adjustment to have Colin working full time and back at uni but he loves it and has been very committed & motivated. He did well during his first semester and is now enrolled for next year. I am really glad that he has been able to do this as he has been a support for me the past few years as I have been building our business, served as Stake YW’s President, been through 2 heart operations and served as ward Relief Society President.
Colin continues working for Stoddarts, who he has now been with for 9 years out of our 10 years living in Queensland. He continues to work as a detailer/draftsman & also estimator within the company and also does private drafting work from home. He works 5 minutes from home so we get to enjoy lots of lunch dates together.
At church he has served in the Young Men’s program for the past year and has in the last few weeks gone into the Sunday School Presidency.
In September I was released as the Relief Society President of our ward after serving for just short of 2 years. What can I say other than what a huge learning and growing experience it has been. I was able to serve with the most amazing women who were such a huge support in helping serve & care for the sisters in our ward of whom there were many, with 100-150 sisters in our Relief Society at any given time. I have seen so many wonderful women doing good for others not because they have to or have been assigned to but because that is just who they are and what they do each and every day.
My eyes were open to things I have never had to see or deal with before and often it was challenging but it made me appreciate even more the gospel teachings, my family and my upbringing and that I have always had love in my home and surroundings & have never had to go without the necessities of life. It made me grateful that I have not had to experience many of the challenges of the world that others do on a daily basis. I enjoyed working with our Bishop an extremely kind and humble man who was struggling with his own enormous challenge, the return of a brain tumour requiring surgery & intensive treatment, but still he served faithfully until his release.
Some of the awesome women on our Relief Society Board that I had the
opportunity to work with
Due to the huge growth in our area, several weeks after my release our ward (congregation) was split. Previously two wards had met in our chapel and from these two wards they created a third ward that would be required to meet at another chapel as our church meetinghouse is at full capacity. Despite the split our ward is still of considerable size and continues to grow.
I am now be serving in the nursery with the 18 month-3 year olds and love it. Since the split we now have 11 nursery children with 6 moving up to primary next year and we gain some new children next year when they turn 18 months. I come away each week feeling so loved by all these little people who want to sit on me knee and give me lots of hugs & say the cutest things. Some weeks can be a real workout keeping up with them, but they are lots of fun and such a delight with each of their different personalities. We have two little identical twin girls in nursery that I struggle to tell apart so am doing my best to learn who is who so I don’t confuse them with one another. I work in nursery with our Bishops wife who was the Relief Society President prior to me so we tell everyone it is our reward for being such good RS presidents.
Later this year we sold our Job Jogga’s business which I have worked from home for the past 6 years. I was ready for a change & with Colin returning to school I knew I would need to take on more responsibility at home to allow him time to study & to do that required some changes. A Sunshine Coast lady who runs an indoor play centre & Cafe & also has an online wholesale business supplying children’s products approached us to buy the business before we had even had a chance to advertise it for sale so all worked out well.
I am loving having a little more time for myself & completed my first craft project in years just last week (those of you who know what my schedule has been like the past few years will know what a HUGE achievement that is for me). I can’t wait to give it to a very special little someone for Christmas.
I have just commenced casual work for Dad doing admin for his business cyclopsqld.com.au
It is perfect for me right now allowing me the flexibility of working from home but without the extra work & pressure that comes from your own business
It has been nice to catch up with extended family during the year. My cousin Christian has surprised a few times popping in to visit while up from Sydney. We have also seem Uncle Kim & Auntie Deidre, Uncle Tom & Auntie Ann, Uncle Wally & Auntie Wanda, June King who we all consider is family and also Colin’s Dad & Auntie Lexie, Auntie Edna, Uncle Claude & my mum’s cousin Christine & her husband Tony all visiting QLD from interstate. Our kids just love all these extended family members that keep turning up & we keep telling them they are more so they are excited to meet some of them when we go to Tassie after Christmas for a holiday to show the kids where we grew up & to celebrate Colin's dads 70th Birthday.
In July I had the opportunity to attend the Time Out for Women event in Sydney. I travelled down with Mum, Carissa & Cassie for the weekend and we all really enjoyed it & I came home feeling uplifted and motivated. It was also wonderful to see so many familiar faces and to catch up with many wonderful women that I haven’t seen for some time.
It was great catching up with Lisa
In September Nikayla had her tonsils, adenoids out & grommets put in out after experiencing significant hearing loss for some time from fluid build up in her ears from head colds & ear infections. She came home from hospital complaining everything was too loud & now a couple of months on she still blocks her ears from time to time with some loud noises as she has just not been used to the volume of noise she can now hear. Her last hearing test came back as normal so we are all excited about that as the months leading up to her op we had to repeat EVERYTHING to her.
Also in September Colin & I attended our Stake Ball. It is always a great event that we look forward to with a sit down dinner & live band.
The Christmas Season is upon us again and thus far we have enjoyed attending events that come with this special time of year. “A Bethlehem Experience” was held in Gold Coast Stake last weekend. It was a fantastic night and as we walked the streets of Bethlehem to find the baby Jesus it reminded me of a similar thing our ward put on at Christmas time growing up for members & the community.
Last night for family night we attended the Movie World White Christmas with the Spark family & had lots of fun on the rides, enjoying the fake snow, seeing the Polar Express in 4D, watching the Christmas parade and soaking up the lights & music & atmosphere that surrounded us.
This coming week we are looking forward to many more opportunities to gather with family and friends as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
We wish each of you and your families a Merry Christmas and the peace of His love at Christmas and always.
Love The Penney’s
Here are a few more pictures from this year:
Nikayla dressed as a Genie for the school Halloween Disco
The kids heading out for date night with Auntie Carissa to see Alladin at the theatre
Alyssa & Nikki ready for their Wacky themed disco
Alyssa ready for School Halloween Disco
Alyssa & Josh at Movie World
Nikayla with Auntie Carissa who came up from Melbourne for Nikki's 7th Birthday last month.