2011 Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas! Last month was Thanksgiving, but our thankfulness continues as we celebrate our Lord's birth and the many ways he has blessed us this year. If you have been reading this blog, you know much of what we've done in 2011...but here's a quick summary of our year.

Tom and Cindy celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in November. We've reflected a lot on how our lives have grown and changed in the past 10 years...it seems like just yesterday that we said our vows and yet we feel like we have grown a lifetime in such a short time. We are both more thankful than ever that God brought us together and created this family. Tom is enjoying his work (write us privately if you don't know about his job) and Cindy is busy homeschooling and taking care of the family.

We had an early celebration of our 10th anniversary with a family trip to San Diego (it's nicer to celebrate in the summer than in the late autumn, and this year our anniversary fell on Thanksgiving Day). Other memorable trips we made were camping at San Clemente State Beach and Joshua Tree, trips to Cindy's sister's home in the mountains, and a father-son trip to the desert and hike.

Our family mourned the passing this year of Tom's parents, George and Alice, within six weeks of each other. It has been a time of sadness and transition as we get used to life without them around, but we rejoice that their bodies are made new and they are healthy and well as they serve their Lord for eternity.

Lukas (7) is excelling in second grade. He takes music, P.E. and art classes at a local homeschool co-op one morning a week, and the rest of the week he studies Bible, piano, reading, spelling, writing, language, math, logic, manners, history and science at home. Tom teaches history and Cindy teaches the other subjects (except piano!) History, science and music are his favorite subjects, and his ability to memorize poems and passages--as well as his ability to recall facts--amazes us. This past year Lukas enjoyed Lego camp, visiting his aunts for several days and hosting his birthday party at a bowling alley. His current tooth count is: lost 6, gained 4. Our favorite Lukas quote for the year is, "I'm more excited that I appear to be."

Natalie (6) is excelling in kindergarten at the neighborhood public school. We knew she could keep up academically with a typical kindergarten class, but the challenge is to keep her focused on what's going on in the class, accommodate her fine motor delays, and help her transition as the children move around to different areas. God answered our prayer with a great one-on-one aide for Natalie. We know that Natalie has surprised her teachers at this new-to-her school with her abilities in reading and spelling, and we're excited to see how she's starting to pick up math concepts, which are much harder for her. She's making progress in writing (currently she uses letter tiles to complete a spelling test) with the hope that tiles won't be necessary in first grade. Medically, Natalie has had a big year. She's had kidney reflux diagnosed, two glaucoma eye surgeries, and a change in her seizure medicine; but at the end of the year, we see her medical issues as stable. She recently had a sleep study that showed she's snoring a lot, which means she doesn't get good quality sleep. We appreciate your prayers for 2012 that this sleep issue will be solved, which might mean another surgery or some sort of equipment, or perhaps a new medication. Our favorite Natalie quote is, "They're decorating Christmas lights!"

Konrad (4) is excelling in preschool (five days a week at home). He is very eager for us to give him new work, and actually gets his own schoolwork and starts working on it right away when we arrive home from walking Natalie to school. We've made it one-third of the way through "How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" (which I also used with Lukas and Natalie) and is making great improvement in writing letters and numbers. Improvement comes easily when a child is so willing to practice! And now Konrad gets a little more school in the afternoon since he gave up his afternoon nap. Konrad also started riding his bike without training wheels this fall, and is doing everything he can to keep up with Lukas (Lego creations and all). Before he turned four, he looked forward to this change of age for several months, even insisting that he would be nine, not four. (Nine is older than the next age Lukas will be). And he's a great big brother to Dominik. It's interesting to see the dynamics among the three boys: Konrad learning patience with Dominik the same way Lukas had to learn patience with Konrad. Our favorite Konrad quote is, "First I be four, then I be five, then I be six, then I be seven, then I be eight, then I be nine." "Then you'll be ten?" "No, not ten, only nine."

Dominik (18 months) is currently working on his talking phase. He started walking right before 13 months of age and went immediately to running. He also expects to do everything his older brothers do: those legs just aren't quite long enough to ride a trike, or he would be chasing them on wheels too. He's transitioned from the highchair to a booster seat, and eats really well with a fork and spoon (although the opposite hand sees a lot of use too). We may have another fastidious child in our family (Konrad also can't stand to have a mess on his hands) as Dominik often asks to have his hands wiped. We've encouraged Dominik to keep that morning nap so that Cindy can have more concentrated time for school with Lukas and Konrad, but he can definitely function without the nap. Favorite quote: "Stinky!"

And besides that, we've enjoyed seeing many of you, family get-togethers, RTS reunion, parties, play dates, beach days, meeting new friends, and just playing in the yard. It's exciting to see how God has blessed us this year and we look forward to another thankful perspective next year.

We pray that you and your family have a very blessed Christmas and New Year.

Tom , Cindy, Lukas, Natalie, Konrad and Dominik

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