Avery has grown and matured a lot this year. She has reached the ripe old age of 4 and has decided that she likes it and doesn't want to get any older yet. Her birthday is in February so I have been asking her what she wants to do for her 5th birthday party, but she says that she doesn't want to be five!
In her old age (!) she has become more aware of her physical limitations, but seems to have absolutely no doubt (for better or worse) that she will be able to do everything she wants to do when she grows up. She knows where her shunt is and that she needs to keep magnets away from it, but last time we went to see her neurosurgeon (October), she was trying to convince us that the doctor had to look at Brogan's shunt first. She wouldn't believe me that he didn't have one too. She still doesn't like to tell us if she has headaches, but she is getting better at telling us where it hurts when she's hurting. Most of the time at home she uses the bathroom all by herself, and sometimes I don't even know about it until she comes and finds me to tell me that she just used the potty and washed her hands all by herself! She also uses the bathroom all by herself at school (they have child-sized one), and she even started using the toilet at church all by herself a couple of months ago, which actually amazes and baffles me because it's a full size toilet with no potty seat.
She has grown a lot this year in confidence, and will strike up conversations and initiate play with other children when we're out in public. She has become a little mommy, as most oldest girls seem to be, and I often have to remind her that I am Brogan's mommy, not her, although she likes to argue with me about that! She adores Oliver and loves to talk to him in the soft, high pitched tone that grownups use with babies as she explains the world to him. She likes to teach both of her brothers and cheers for them when they achieve something new. She and Brogan have their daily little spats and disagreements, but they do love each other very much, and when another little boy hit Brogan at the Christmas party a few weeks ago, Avery spent the next 3 or 4 minutes telling him off and defending her brother.
Avery has made a lot of progress in her reading and writing. Most of her artwork these days is signed with the phrase "Avery loves Mom [and] Dad" :) She is using upper and lower case letters, and reads almost all of the sight words. She is excited to be able to read books by herself (which she says she be able to do when she is 5) and recently she's been saying "I'm going to read this book in my head by myself" Her penmanship in general has improved so much!! At the beginning of the year her pictures of people consisted of two dot eyes with a dot for the nose and another for the mouth, and maybe a rough circle around the face. Now eyes have irises and pupils, noses have nostrils, ears have ear canals, and more and more details are added all the time. She can draw squares, rectangles, circles and triangles. She can write all of her numbers, although 5s are still a little frustrating for her, and her 8s looks sort of funny :)
More and more, she is her Daddy's daughter when is comes to food! With her CP, she is much more prone to constipation than most of us, so we talk to her about the importance of eating lots of healthy, fibre-rich foods. Just this week I was eating a marshmallow snowman, and when I asked her if she wanted some she said "No, it's not healthy." That being said, she does love chocolate. She's also grown to appreciate other sweet things, like fruit rollups and fruit snacks, which she never liked before. Also, string cheese is currently one of her favourite snacks. In fact, it would probably be her choice almost every time. This may be partly because she can open the fridge, open the drawer, pull out a string cheese and open the package all by herself. She loves to be independent! She used to hate string cheese... :) She is getting much better about trying new foods, and most of the time she will at least try something before she decides she doesn't like it :)
She is happy and funny and an absolute joy to have around. She's started telling 'knock knock' jokes, and while they don't always make sense, they're always hilarious, and even if they're not she makes me laugh by rolling around in hysterics over her own silly joke! She loves to laugh, and she also has the funniest fake laugh I've ever seen! She loves to dance, she loves to do artwork, and she loves to play games with her Daddy, who is always coming up with the most fun games which are also good for her and/or educational. She loves talking about getting married, and often "marries" Gabe, Brogan and/or me, because "we love each other" :) Getting married usually involves castles and balls and crowns and dancing :) She still says that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up.
Brogan is quite the bundle of energy! He is defiant, boisterous, affectionate, enthusiastic, and absolutely determined. He lives his life with passion. When he likes something, he loves it, when he dislikes something, he loathes it! When he is happy, his joy is contagious, when he is sad he is absolutely heartbroken. He loves cars, trains, juice, chocolate, bugs, bare feet, glitter, playing in water, running, jumping, children, hugs, kisses, chasing, racing. Did I mention trains and cars?? His favourite movies/shows are Cars, Toy Story (all of them, but especially 3 since we just got it for Christmas), and Thomas and Friends. His vocabulary is improving. He hates having his hair washed, teeth brushed, face cleaned, and nails cut. He likes to run when you tell him to stop. He likes to "shoot" us with his finger, and then revive us with a kiss :) He is just about done with his day time nap, although some days he still collapses at 4 or 5pm and we have to fight to keep him up to bed time. He is still the world's worst sleeper, waking up at least once a night, usually twice, sometimes three times. He no longer suffers from night terrors, although they did last longer than Avery's - Avery stopped having them when she was about 12 months old, Brogan had them until 18 months or so.
Sometimes when I'm trying to get out the door in the morning to get Avery onto the school bus, Brogan runs to bar the door because he doesn't want Avery to leave. He loves her, but still hasn't quite figured out how to be gentle with his affection. When he tries to hug her Avery usually thinks he's trying to wrestle with her! He pronounces Avery "Waywee". He calls himself "Bogin" and he says "Hi" to every single person we see :) He introduces himself to random people by thumping his chest and announcing, " Ah Bogin". He usually then proceeds with "Ah Mom ah Waywee. Ah Dad ah beebee" which means something along the lines of "This is my Mom and Avery, and this is my Daddy and this is my baby." He is starting to say Oliver's name now too, and it is pronounced "Owah". Most of the time, though, he still refers to him as "beebee".
As I already mentioned, Brogan is very affectionate. He loves babies, and when he sees one he crouches down and calls them "Cooooot!" with a big smile on his face! He needs me to give him about a billion hugs a day (Mom? Mommy??? Hug!!) When he hurts himself, he usually feels better as soon as I've kissed him where it hurt :) He loves Avery too, but sometimes he'll stand and watch her playing for a while, then walk over, clip her on the head for no reason and then run away. Sometimes in the middle of the night when he wakes up, he needs lots and lots of big hugs :) And when I put him to bed in the evening he points to all the different places where he wants me to kiss him (Eyes, ears, cheeks, etc) before I'm allowed to leave :)