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Dear friends and family,
It is hard to believe that another year has gone by already. As most of you know, we spent half of this year trying to sell our house and move to Arizona, but God had other plans for us. Don and Manda spent a long weekend there in July, checking out the incredibly cheap houses and loving the dry, sunny Phoenix weather. We had several showings of our house here, but in the current market, we were unable to sell for more than we owe. Then, two months after taking our house off the market, Don got an unexpected job interview at a local company. Several weeks later, the job was his. We do still hope to move to a newer home with more than one bathroom, but for now at least, it looks like we will be staying in New England.
While Don certainly had many benefits while working from home (including being a one-car family and working in his jammies), we are excited about his potential for professional growth as he moves into software development at the new company. And while it will be an adjustment to say goodbye to Daddy in the mornings after having him around all the time, it also means the children don't have to whisper and tiptoe whenever Daddy is on the phone. In addition, Don has recently started working part time at yet another local gym. His love for gymnastics keeps bringing him back to the sport, and we are hoping to sign the children up for gymnastics classes soon, too.
Besides the excitement of house shopping and a family vacation to Disney World and Clearwater Beach, FL in April, we also found out that we were expecting a new baby this year! On October 10, we welcomed sweet Abigail Joy to our family. She was born by repeat Cesarean section weighing 5 pounds and 9 ounces. Her siblings adore their baby sister and ask for a turn holding her throughout the day. At two months old now, she is smiling and cooing more, and her skinny newborn body is filling out with delightful baby plumpness. She is a great nurser and, for a newborn, a good sleeper. We are so thankful to have another beautiful, healthy baby!
Lydia is now two and a half years old. She wants to do whatever her brothers are doing, whether it's playing outside or doing schoolwork at the kitchen table. She often asks Mumma, "What can I do to help you?" and when she sees you for the first time, she'll tell you, "I have a sister Abby!" She is quite possessive of her "Baby Abby" and nearly smothers little Abigail with kisses, hugs, and (sometimes very loud) songs.
Hayden is five years old and has already finished first grade! When we started first grade homeschool in January with Donny, we decided to include Hayden as well, and he has kept up amazingly well given his young age. He has beautiful handwriting and often surprises us with his understanding of math concepts. He loves anything that Daddy does: guns, weapons, working out, video games, etc. He is often quiet in new situations, but if you give him a few minutes, he'll be happy to flex his muscles for you!
Donny just turned seven and continues to be our talkative, imaginative scientist. He is interested in everything science-related (animals, outer space, rocks) but also loves geography, history, and crafts. Because of his ongoing love of building Lego creations, we have been participating in a Junior Lego League this fall, where he works with a team of other young boys to solve a challenge using Lego pieces. After spending the summer being terrified of bugs, he has overcome his aversion to the outdoors and now loves playing outside in our yard. In their spare time, the boys have both enjoyed playing Angry Birds (a video game they play on Don's phone) and mastering the card game Uno.
Don has taken up bowhunting this fall, but so far, all the deer seem to be in people's backyards instead of the woods. Manda got a bow and arrows of her own (pink, of course) since she wasn't able to practice shooting her (also pink) handgun, due to being pregnant for ¾ of the year. We continue to host a College and Career Bible study for young adults, and Don has also been teaching the teen Sunday School class at church. Manda still loves being a full-time mom, homeschooling the boys, and spending these precious days with her little girls. We are both thankful for the ways God has been at work in our lives this year, and look forward to seeing what He has in store for us next!
We pray that you, too, will see the Lord's hand at work as we celebrate the Savior's birth this Christmas season. May He bless your family with a Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year!
Don, Manda, Donny, Hayden, Lydia, and Abby ~ 2011