We have had some quite big changes in our lives this year, especially in these past couple of months! Gabe did his internship and graduated with his BA over the summer, so we prepared to put our house on the market and Gabe started looking at job options closer to Charlottesville. We went on a real little family vacation to Williamsburg in September and had a great time visiting Jamestown, Yorktown, the beach and Busch Gardens, as well as our super fun hotel! We put our house on the market at the beginning of October, thinking that it would probably take months for it to sell, and we got an offer after our third viewing, and moved out on December 8th!! So that all went very quickly, and we feel very blessed to have been able to sell it so fast in a slow market! 8 days before we moved, we managed to find a nice little house to rent in Stuarts Draft for 6 months, and, thanks to all the lovely friends who showed up to help us load up the truck, the move went very smoothly! We are happily settled in for the next few months, and are getting ready to make an offer on a house we love closer to Charlottesville. This is the perfect location for us right now though - about 80 minutes to Roanoke, where Gabe is still working 3 days a week, and 40 minutes to Charlottesville, where we are looking for a house and job. Gabe has managed to get himself a job offer which he is excited about, and is set to go to Chicago for training next week, so that is exciting! We feel as though we are moving into the next phase of our lives, and it's all great :)
Avery has grown up a lot this year, and has made huge strides in her reading and academics! She is now the proud owner of 4 adult molars and 4 adult incisors. She lost her two front top teeth in March and is STILL waiting for adult teeth to replace them!! We do know they are there though, because we saw them in the x-rays she had done when she was diagnosed with scoliosis in October. So she won't be toothless forever ;) This year Avery has become a very proficient reader! She still comes across words she needs help with, but every time I hear her read I am amazed at how awesome she is :) This has also allowed her to become pretty independent with her school work - I set her up with her lessons, and she does her work! I still find that if she takes a couple of days off, it's hard to get her back into the routine, and she complains about having to sit and do her school work, but if we are consistent with doing school work everyday, she does it with no complaints. We got her a new desk for her room so that she could sit on her ball at a decent height, and for several weeks after that, we kept on finding her at her desk at 9 or 10pm doing schoolwork!! Her favourite subject right now is Math. 7pm bedtime is a thing of the past for our big girl! She started having a hard time falling asleep that early, so we decided to try new rules for her, and it's been going really well. She still gets ready for bed at the same time as the boys, but she gets to stay out of bed (in her room) until 8pm, and then she can read in bed until she has to turn out her light at 8:30pm. Generally she follows these new rules very well :) Most recently, she's been using her hour in her room to sit at her desk and do puzzles or colour. She is still very good at puzzles, and has several 100 piece puzzles she does with no help. She has also finally decided that colouring inside the lines is worth doing, and colours beautiful pictures for us and her friends :) I also look forward to her notes whenever she decides to write them :) She'll write sweet little notes just to tell us she loves us, or that she likes playing with us. Sometimes when she's mad at us she'll disappear to her room and march back in a few minutes later, push a note at us and wait with a cross look on her face while we read it. Those notes are always written in uppercase and end with at least 5 or 6 exclamation marks. "I DON'T WANT TO GO TO SLEEP!!!!!!!" It's always so difficult for me to keep a straight face, she's just so darn cute!! Avery wants to grow her hair out long again, but she's only allowed to have it long if she proves she can look after it properly by brushing it everyday and keeping it tangle free. So we'll see how long that lasts ;) This year Avery has made a couple of closer friends of her own choosing, which is fun to watch. She particularly loves her friends Greta, Elena, Kayla, and Kaylee. As far as her CP goes, Avery has made a lot of physical progress this year. She is up on her feet more often than not, which is exciting to watch, but it also means that almost daily aches and pains have become the norm for her. We are working on a daily set of stretches and exercises her PT Lisa recommended, and that seems to help, and we are hoping that as we stick to it, and as she gains more strength and flexibility, she will be able to put less stress on her body as she moves, and keep the pain at bay. She understands the connection between less exercise and more pain, so complains less about having to do her exercises, but it's still not her favourite thing to do. She can do 10 sit-ups with her arms crossed over her chest if I hold her feet down, and she is working hard on being able to hold her balance with one foot up on a step, although that is still very difficult. A couple of weeks ago Avery was presented with her very own special needs tricycle, thanks to Wheels on the James, a generous anonymous donor, and the Police Academy in Roanoke (they put it together and had Santa present it to her!) We are all very excited about her bike, and can't wait for the snow to clear so that we can go on an outing together! Currently, Avery wants to be a Photographer and a Mom, and maybe a Paleontologist or a Meteorologist, because they're super smart :)
Brogan is still the most affectionate and loving little boy EVER! He needs lots of hugs and kisses, and loves to tell us how much he loves us on a regular basis. "I love you all the way to the moon!" or, "I love you all the way to the top of that tree!" His sense of humour sometimes comes out when he does this too, and he'll say things like "I love you all the way into my eyeball!!" His laugh when he's said something he finds funny is hilarious! He finds potty humour very funny, of course...! Sometimes he amuses himself (and his siblings!!) by putting a toy down his shirt and saying "Oh no! I need to poop!" and then exclaiming, "Oh no! I pooped on the floor!" as the toy falls out of his shirt. Yup, boys are fun...! Haha! He loves to make everyone laugh, and randomly makes funny faces and noises just to get a reaction. He thrives on love and attention, and still loves to be surrounded by as many people as possible! Brogan turned 4 in August, and ever since then he has been impatiently waiting for his 5th birthday. He can't wait! He still asks me at least once a week if it's August 15th yet, or if he's 5 yet, and gets upset every time I say no! Since leaving Roanoke, he has been missing the YMCA childwatch and his friends, especially Elliot, Sam, Trevor, and Peter. Brogan is showing a little more interest in learning these days. He definitely recognises numbers 1-10 by sight now, and knows all his uppercase letters, although he has to be in the right mood to do it. If he's not in the right mood, he will just say "I don't know!!!" when you ask him to identify a letter. He is starting to also put more effort into controlling a pen, and is getting better at tracing shapes, letters, and numbers. He is still easily frustrated when things don't go right the first time. "Ohhhhhhhhhh, I'm not good at this!!" he'll shout in despair as he throws his pen to the ground! He is finally putting on his seatbelt by himself, although we do still regularly hear excuses like "I'm too tired to put on my seatbelt!", or "My hands are too tired to put on my shoes!" We signed him up for soccer in the fall, and I think it helped a little in helping him understand that just because he's not perfect at something the first time he tries, he can still do it and have fun, and if he keeps on trying he will get better. That's a tough lesson for him. He would rather just stick to what he's already good at, like making friends and running around and being silly and being a helper and loving everyone :) He's still my pickiest eater, although he does like a variety of foods now. But again, only when he's in the right mood!! One day he'll happily eat a whole plate full of spaghetti, and the next day he'll say he just doesn't like spaghetti anymore! He loves broccoli though, and will eat all his broccoli before he'll touch anything else on his plate. He is starting to understand the need for healthy choices, and when he feels sick he'll analyse it by saying things like, "I shouldn't have eaten that candy because it made me have diarrhea." Brogan has the cutest way of speaking, and uses his own special form of past tense. "I watched-id a movie." or "I ate-id a snack." or "We played-id with trains." He wants to be a Dad and a train conductor when he grows up. Sometimes he wants to be a missionary too, but most of the time he doesn't want to be a missionary because he just wants to be a dad!! He wants to marry Mommy when he grows up, and isn’t happy when I remind him that Mommy and Daddy are going to be married forever!!!
My (most likely) last baby is no longer a baby but an adventurous little boy. He still loves Mommy and Daddy the most, and gets shy around people. He's still struggling with going to nursery in our new ward at church - new places and new people are always easier to handle when he has Mom or Dad by his side, and he does NOT like us to leave him!! Although he finds strangers scary (unlike his brother!), he is very brave when it comes to things like swinging and sliding and jumping off stuff (unlike his brother!!!). He loves his brother and sister and wants to be just like them! Just tonight, Brogan had a nose bleed, and Oliver watched very closely as I tried to get the bleeding to stop, and then he sat down, pointed at his nose and said, "Owsh, nose!" I laughed and asked him if his nose was hurting too, and he made a pouty face and said, "Yes." So I gave him a tissue and he wiped it clean. Ha! Like his brother before him, Oliver has been in no rush to speak real English, although his language skills are definitely picking up a bit now. Just in this past week or so he has added Avery, Brogan, Hungry ("OnGhee" - too cute), Milk (instead of just Drink), HoHoHo, and a couple of other words I can't think of right now, to his repertoire. He probably has about 50 ish other words. Go, fast, play, Come on ("mon"), cookie, blue, cheese, please, thank you ("atchoo"), yes, no, Mommy, Daddy, drink, baby, food, light, star, Buzz (Lightyear), moo, bird, Woody, train, plane, car, piggy, tablet ("tob" - he loves playing on Daddy's tablet!), phone, "self" (meaning: I hurt myself), kiss, again, more, stop, love you ("Adoo"), "Ah Mee" (means "Come and get me!"), stomp, pee, poop, cute, "ahSat" (What's that?), banana, ACHOW (as in Lightning McQueen), help, dog, cat, woof, meow, push... and several more I know I won't think of until after I've finished this post :) He loves being chased and tickled and tackled, and he has the cutest way of "shooting" us - he'll run up and down on the spot on his tiptoes, pointing his fingers at us and saying "ChuChuCHuchuchuchuchu" We need to get a video of that soon!! Oliver still naps most days, although not everyday, so I think we'll be done with napping within the next few months or so. He likes sitting on the potty, but isn't anywhere close to being potty trained. He likes to be independent as much as possible and gets angry if you help him when he doesn't want help. He has successfully put on his shoes all by himself at least once :) He says the cutest little prayers, quiet little sounds interspersed with recognisable words, and he gets upset when someone else says the blessing on the food, so usually we have two prayers :) He loves to get involved when the other two play games on the Wii or Xbox Kinect, and runs with so much enthusiasm and energy! He loves being outside, and loves “riding” on his tricycle, which mostly involves sitting on it and running. Oliver still has a good appetite, and will pretty much eat most things I put on his plate, which makes me happy!
Goodbye 2012! Here’s to hoping that 2013 is another great year!