But first, an update on the girls: Emma has continued to do very well in school. She is reading now! She went into K-4 already recognizing her letters and knowing their sounds, but her teacher is teaching the students to "blend" the sounds together to read words. She's surprised us almost daily with the words she sounds out as we look at books, drive by signs, etc. She's learning how to write legibly, also, and we get the sweetest pictures addressed to "Dad" or "Mom" and signed with love from "Emma". Our most exciting news this month is that Emma had an ultrasound and urologist appointment, and her kidneys and bladder looking great! Her doctor said that unless Emma develops health issues, she doesn't need another ultrasound or checkup until next summer! We are praying that she will continue to be healthy and infection-free. She did have a fever this month, and I took her straight to the doctor to test for a UTI, just in case. But she didn't have a UTI, ear infection, or strep, so it turned out to be just a virus. That's only happened a couple of times in her life, so we were doing the "Just a Virus" dance in our house!
Hallie understands most of what we say to her, and she is communicating with us verbally, too. Dan and I are probably the only ones who can understand her, but she can now say water, flower, cookie, cracker, meat, milk (although she usually calls it "night night" since she always gets a bottle before she sleeps), ball, bird, moon, more (along with the sign for "more"), bye bye, hi (always with a wave!), woof woof, quack quack, duck, Dada, Mama, and Nana. She still refuses to say Papa, and she says "Ma" for Emma. She is almost 15 months old and still doesn't walk independently. When we push her to try, she plops right down on her bottom and crawls instead. But she can pull up and hold onto our hands, furniture, or a walker to help her walk with assistance. She can also climb onto low surfaces to reach forbidden items. She is interested in everything Emma, Dan, or I are doing and wants to be fully involved. She loves music and lights up and rocks back and forth when we sing or play music for her.
Hallie and Emma have become more interactive and playful together in the past few months. It's the cutest thing!
Emma loves all of Hallie's baby stuff, and likes to pretend that she's a baby sometimes, too. We didn't really have to deal with Emma reverting to babylike behavior after Hallie was born, but she enjoys play-acting like a baby.
In other news, my parents went to Boston this month to visit my brother, Steve, his wife, Sheila, and their 2.5 year old daughter, Meera. I wish it was a happier occasion, but they went to help out with Meera, who had a broken femur and was in a cast that immobilized her from her waist to her knees! Poor little girl! You can see part of the red cast on her upper leg, and you can probably tell from the way my dad's holding her how difficult it was to handle her. Since daycare was out of the question until her cast was off, Steve and Sheila needed help watching her so they could continue working. I'm happy to report that she's out of her cast now and her leg has healed well!
Right before Thanksgiving break, our family cheered on the StoneBridge School girls' varsity volleyball team when they played in the State Championship
Their team is so good! They won the State Championship for the second year in a row!
We took advantage of $1 admission to the Virginia Living Museum this month. We met Dan's parents, my parents, and Dan's brother, Tim's, family
Emma with the most important men in her life
They had an indoor aquarium and some animals outside to see. They recently added a dinosaur-themed play area, which the kids loved!
I think this was supposed to be a dinosaur footprint, but it looks like I dropped Hallie in a pile of something else.
Another fun event this month was Christian Heritage Day at StoneBridge. The entire student body dressed as Pilgrims and Native Americans and participated in special activities related to the first Thanksgiving.
Emma dressed as a Native American and allowed me to braid her hair.
There was a petting area in the school courtyard with ponies, sheep, goats, bunnies, and guinea pigs.
The kids got to make their very own candle
And ride horses!
Emma's class with their teacher, Mrs. Baines
For Thanksgiving week, we took our first real road trip with our girls. First, we drove to Washington DC and visited IKEA. It's the closest store to where we live, and we've missed shopping there since we moved from San Diego.
Hallie found the perfect place to conduct her business.
They had a room with a dollhouse and toys that Emma loved, of course.
Our real reason for stopping in DC was to spend time with Dan's brother, Tim, his wife, Dawn, and their five boys. We spent our first day at the Aviation Museum next to Dulles National Airport. It was the best, and probably largest, aviation museum we'd been to!
Stair-stepped from the oldest to the youngest: Benjamin, Nathan, Aaron, Josiah, and Emma.
Dawn and Tim
The military monument they built at the entrance of the museum
The next day, we visited the newly opened Museum of the Bible. The building was beautiful, and they had some very good exhibits. There was no gospel presentation, but it displayed the history, truth, and relevance of the Bible through the ages.
Micah and Hallie playing in the kids' room that was full of Bible-related toys, games, and a playground. It was so much fun, and after we toured the museum for a couple of hours, Dawn and I took the youngest kids back there while our husbands and the older boys continued looking at the exhibits.
Emma and Josiah moving the pillars like Samson!
On our last day in DC, we visited Great Falls National Park. It was absolutely beautiful, and there were handicap accessible trails to see the falls, so we could push Hallie in the stroller. Bonus!
Our nephew, Micah, dressed as a bear for his great outdoors adventure. Heh!
Our first view of the beautiful falls! We saw a couple of people kayaking down the falls later that day. It was fun to watch them.
Our girls were both crying within minutes of being exposed to fresh air and exercise. Dan laughs, but they *may* get that from him.
Tim and his boys
Hallie just wanted to get down and explore when she saw the other kids climbing and running around. So we found some good places for her to try rock climbing.
And see all the "wa-wa"
Tim, Dawn, and Micah
Nathan and Benjamin
Josiah and Emma in a hollow tree stump
Exploring the remains of a structure built by the townspeople of Matildaville
We all had a blast at Great Falls! I'd definitely recommend checking it out if you visit the area!
The next stop on our trip was Pittsburgh, PA. It's been years since we've visited a new city to see a hockey game, but before having kids, we used to do this every year. We just had a day in Pittsburgh to see a few of the sights, and it was such an interesting city. Downtown is completely surrounded by water and bridges, so driving the unusual road patterns made us feel like we were in a different country.
It was cold in Pittsburgh! We bundled the girls up as much as possible when we went outside. They looked adorable. :)
Our favorite experience in Pittsburgh was riding the Incline, kind of a vertical trolley that takes you up and down steep Mount Washington. Several inclines were built for commuters originally, but now there are only two left for commuter and tourist use.
Ready to ride!
Dan and the girls enjoying the view while riding the Incline.
At the top of Mount Washington, where we saw beautiful views of the city
Later that night, we went to the Pittsburgh Penguins vs Vancouver Canucks game
Waiting for the game to begin!
Dan and the girls watching the game. Hallie was so frustrated because we wouldn't let her down to play. If you've been to a modern arena, you know that the seats are on a terrifyingly steep incline and packed tighter than airplane seats, so there was no way we were letting her crawl around.
After they made it through the first period, I took the kids to the "Kid Zone" that they'd added to the arena to save the sanity of parents and their children. They had some hockey-related games to play, including a toddler-sized "hockey rink" with balls and short hockey sticks. And Hallie got to crawl around and explore, which was all it took to make her happy. We spent the second period playing, then went back to our seats for the third period, and the girls were tired enough to sit still for the remainder of the game.
The hockey game ended at 10 pm, and we put the girls in pajamas and hit the road! We drove through the night until 4:30 am to reach Dan's parents' house in Williamsburg on Thanksgiving morning. It was exhausting, but the best decision we made on our trip. The girls slept right through the drive, and there was zero traffic going through Pittsburgh, Washington DC, and Richmond. It was the most peaceful drive during our journey.
We all fell into bed at Dan's parents' house at 4:30 and the girls let us sleep until 8:30, but thankfully we got to take naps before it was time to eat dinner.
Thanksgiving dinner at Dan's parents' house was delicious and fun, as always! We had a great time visiting with family and friends.
Dan's sister, Robin, brought a gingerbread turkey for the girls to decorate. They had so much fun eating the candy instead of putting it on the turkey.
The poor guy didn't even get eyes. Maybe next year.
And when the cooking and eating were finished, Grandma finally got to rest and enjoy some time with her four granddaughters. It was a wonderful day!