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December 220, 2015

Dear Friends and Family,

This year finds us very busy and pretty much in the same situation as we've been in the past two years. Theodore almost has learned to swim, Edwin and Zachary got to ride bikes a bit more this summer, and Theodore doesn't yet ride a bike. Hopefully by this time next year, Theodore will have caught up on those skills!

A fun story from this year: Early in the new academic year this fall, Edwin came home from school, and while I (Donna) was in the basement working on laundry, Edwin yelled down to me, "Mommy, I need you to put an 'x' on this piece of paper!". I asked him why, but he just repeated the request. Upon return upstairs, I saw that he'd filled out, in his neatest possible handwriting, a form sent home requesting permission to take saxophone lessons! "But, Edwin!" I countered, "You own a violin and I already asked you if you would like to take violin lessons at school. You said you didn't want to do that, because it would mean you'd have to be taken out of class to do that and you didn't want to be taken out of class!". His reply, "Mommy, I changed my mind!" I did what most parents do at this point and said we'd have to talk about it together with Daddy.

Later that evening, the two of us sat down with Edwin and the form and asked him why it was that he wanted to play the saxophone. A huge smile spread across his face, and began to get very excited! "I like the jazzy sound of it!" So, we were sold. He gave a correct answer to the question. By the next night, we'd rented him a sax, and he's been going to town with it ever since. He just loves to sound things out, things he's heard, things from school, things he makes up, just anything. We are very happy with his saxophone playing.

Zachary has been practicing his violin and sounds quite good. He's also gotten into origami and is quite industrious. I (Donna) showed him how to fold sonobe origami units, which means is that he has to do a large pile (maybe 30 or so) of the same origami folding, and the units themselves fit together to form a larger construction. He seems to enjoy this, although it took a while for him to learn to like it. I wanted to give him a project that he could complete in roughly an hour, but not just a couple of minutes. So, this has been a success. Zachary also loves following the instructions for complex Lego kits, especially MineCraft type kits.

Also, both older boys have learned this year how to solve the 2x2x2 cube, otherwise known as the "Pocket Cube". This is a skill I (Donna) often teach to my Freshman class.

Theodore is totally all about cars and wheels, and he draws them all the time: cars, busses, trucks, but especially police cars with blinky lights! He puts wheels on everything. He builds lots of random Lego cars, busses, etc, but not following any directions. (He builds Light Sabers out of anything he can find, also.) Early this year, he was reading in one of Zachary or Edwin's books, and he saw a drawing of a kid with a "car bed". He started putting little Lego wheels along the sides of our sofa, his bed, and any other piece of furniture, in an attempt to simulate this car bed he'd seen in the book. To humor him, I taped paper plates onto the corners of his bed and the sofa, and he just went wild with excitement! In order to prevent my house from totally looking like a recycling center, I bought him some round pillows. (Actually, they're yellow emoticon pillows.) I don't think I even had to tell him why I bought them. They were immediately put to use as "wheel pillows" and we often find them associated with random pieces of furniture.

Speaking of Theodore's favorite vehicles, two nights ago, something very special happened at our house. Santa came to our house! He really did. Every year, Santa drives by our house in a police car, followed by a firetruck and ambulance. They have lots of lights and sirens going, and a huge megaphone to wish Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to everyone. They drive fairly slowly, slowly enough that Michael was able to get the kids out on the porch to watch the procession. But, the procession stopped in front of our house! Santa and an Elf got out of the police car, and gave each kid a candy cane. I don't think this will ever happen again in our lifetime. Theodore, not quite understanding the Santa costume, was nonetheless very happy that someone in a police car came to his house and handed him candy. The police car made his day.

Michael and Donna continue to teach at American University, and if you want to hear more about that, feel free to email us. The students are exciting as always, and American University is a fun place to work.


Michael, Donna, and the boys

Last Year's Letter is Here