2010 Christmas Letter

Where has this year gone? We pray that 2010 has been a blessed year for you, as it has been for us. The  Happy Ones blog is the long version of what we did this year; here's the short version:

The biggest news of the year for our family was the birth of Dominik, in May. He's seven months old now and has doubled the smiles in our family (if that's possible!) Dominik has surprised us by rolling over, crawling and sitting up well before his siblings reached those milestones. We won't be surprised if he walks before his first birthday--not that we want it to happen that quickly, but we won't be surprised. He wants to get involved with anything he sees his siblings doing--playing, eating, laughing--and will look at a complete stranger and smile until the stranger smiles back. He's making a few sounds like "hi!" and "da-da" but no real words yet.

Konrad just turned three and has a lot of fun trying to keep up with Lukas. Whether it's riding a bike or a scooter, or helping Tom with gardening or errands, Konrad wants to do it all. During school at home, Konrad loves putting puzzles together, drawing, coloring, playing with play-doh, and making pictures and patterns with a box of shapes. His favorite floor activity is making huge creations with Duplos and inventing a name for them, followed closely by running Matchbox cars on a track. Konrad seems to like games with balls more than Lukas does (which means Cindy plays ball with him, not Lukas). Konrad's big milestone this year is potty training: from diapers to dry all day and night in less than a month!

In her last year of preschool, Natalie just turned five and is doing very well in her "blended" classroom in a public school, which means half the kids in the class have an IEP and half the kids don't. The academics are at a higher level than the preschool class Natalie was in during the previous year and a half, and the next step for Tom and Cindy is to research her kindergarten placement options for next fall. Natalie reads quite a few words, and is very interested in spelling. The big milestone Natalie is working on this year is also potty training, thanks to her preschool teacher. Needless to say, going from three kids in diapers to only one has really helped our budget! Learning to ride her trike is Natalie's second big milestone: it's still not her favorite thing to do (spinning on the swing is her favorite), but she can do it! We would appreciate your prayers as we learn how to deal with Natalie's minor seizures. She's been taking medication for seizures since October, and although the seizures have decreased, we're still deciding if the side effects of the medication are worth it, or if we need to try another medication.

Six-year-old Lukas (seven in February) is doing very well in first grade. Cindy teaches him at home four days a week, and one day a week he attends a homeschool co-op, where he learns science, history, art and physical education. Tom works with Lukas on the home assignments for California History and Geography, while Cindy works with him on Astronomy, Art and PE. Lukas is reading very well and learning many math concepts, and his handwriting has really improved in just the past year that he's been practicing cursive writing. Lukas started Taekwondo in January, achieved his yellow belt in May, and is close to testing for his orange belt. He loves to kick, but doesn't like the stretching so much (we try to explain that the stretching is very important for kicking!) He has also been taking piano lessons for a few months, which gives him an outlet for music.

The other big news for our family this year was our cross-country road trip to Ohio for the International Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome Family Conference. We all piled into Tom's van and spent 17 days on the road, visiting sites (from the Indy Motor Speedway to Abraham Lincoln's birthplace) and family (Cindy's cousin Rachel in Iowa), and family sites (Tom's mom's birthplace in Illinois) on the way to and back from Cincinnati. We were so blessed to have a safe and enjoyable trip, and to meet so many wonderful families who share some of the challenges we face as a special-needs family.

Tom and Cindy are very happy in their current jobs: working in an office and working at home. We value our time together as a family very much and try to do as much together as possible. We have family goals for 2011 that we hope to share with you as completed or partially completed a year from now, but we're trusting in God for his timing and will in our lives.

We pray that your Christmas celebration is joyous and thankful, as we honor and worship our only Savior.

Tom, Cindy, Lukas, Natalie, Konrad and Dominik

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