March 19, 2005

Dear friends and family,

We hope this letter finds everyone well and happy. Instead of a Christmas letter for 2004, we decided to wait until the holidays were over and we had new family pictures done to send out a letter. Besides, we thrive on doing
things "differently". This has been an eventful year for our family, both positively (Michele finished school, Matthew learned to walk, we celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary, Shana Marie was born and Alexander and Miriana learned to read) and negatively (the kids had ear infections, the stomach flu, the regular flu, pneumonia, hospitalizations and seizures).

Charles: Charles is still working at Intelitech, where he has been working as a programmer/analyst and "if-it-plugs-in-he-can-fix-it" person for the last 6 years. Various projects and changes in the company have kept him very
busy this last year. He also flew out to St. Louis and Phoenix on business trips in August. At home, he has been busy with the normal "household repairs" and "upkeep" that come with home ownership, as well various "home
automation" projects. He is also operating as a full-service Internet Provider (ISP) for many people, from our home. Lately, he has been working on helping Michele's parents get their new house ready for habitation. For the last year he has been spending 25-30 hours a month as a volunteer "ordinance worker" at the LDS Temple in Portland, OR. He is also still serving in the church as our Ward Clerk, and as Stake Computer Specialist.

Michele: Life has been just as busy for Michele as well. She happily finished her Bachelor's Degree, in "Family Life" with an Elementary Education emphasis, from Brigham Young University in July. She had been going full time for a year and a half, through BYU's Independent Study program. She is looking forward to using her new skills and knowledge to "help her be a better mother". She has been working hard taking care of four little ones and the household, as well as home-schooling the older two. She is still serving as Nursery Leader (over the 18 month to 3 year-olds) and writes the Relief Society Newsletter at church. After finishing her degree, Michele decided to start learning American Sign Language (ASL) and teaching it to the kids as their second language. Everyone is really having a great time with it.

Alexander: "Mr. Curious". Alexander turned four in November, two weeks after Shana was born. Alexander's speech is improving everyday as well as his understanding of the world. He has a passion for construction machinery and has loved watching Grandma and Grandpa Cooke's house being put in. He is fascinated by the way things work and how things are put together. He has become quite proficient with a screwdriver! He is doing very well with his reading and has several books "under his belt". He loves math – including counting for the fun of it, to 100. Addition and subtraction came fairly easily and now he's working on the concept of multiplication. He enjoys
learning sign language and loves asking "what is the sign for ____?" He adores his baby sister and is always doing things to make her laugh. He loves having Matthew old enough now to play with, wrestle around with, and
chase around the house. He and Miriana are as inseparable as twins. He is starting to learn the notes on the piano and will probably start lessons (at home) this next year. He is learning to do chores, such as making his bed
and folding (cloth) diapers for mommy. In February, Alexander got the flu, with a temperature of 104.6, had febrile seizures and an ear infection (his first). It was quite nerve-wracking! But he's now back to his spunky, curious, full-of-life self.

Miriana: "Miss Drama". Miriana is still our dramatic little red head! She turned three the end of December. She is all girl. She loves dolls, barrettes and flowers. She discovered Barney, the big purple dinosaur, this last year and won't go anywhere without her Barney doll or puzzle. Her number one passion though, as it has been since she was 5 months old, is books. She would rather sit and look through books more than anything else in the world. Consequently, her desire to read has enabled her to be far ahead of most children her age: She has two books "under her belt" and is working on another. Sign Language is a natural thing for her - she can communicate in it better than anyone else in the house! She will sit and watch signing videos for an hour and then sign nursery rhymes to herself. A year ago she was labeled as significantly developmentally-behind with her speech and large motor movements. She only said a handful of words at 2 when all of a sudden she recited her entire alphabet perfectly - and could
recognize upper and lower case letters with ease (and she was never directly taught them). Now she is ahead of where Alexander was at her age verbally, and right on target with her gross motor movements - all on her own. She
adores her new little sister and always wants to hold her.

Matthew: "Mr. Determination". Matthew, now 21 months, is our most "determined" child. He has been the child who can produce the greatest range of emotions in us as parents. He can make you want to pull your hair out and
then he'll melt your heart in the blink of an eye. At 13 months, when he learned to walk, he would use a toy broom handle to push things he wanted off of bathroom counters, or pictures off of walls. At 18 months, he figured
out how to open all the cabinet latches and now loves to "get into" everything. At 6 months however, he learned how to give "real" hugs – ones that made the recipients grin. At 18 months he learned how to give real kisses, and loves to share this skill with everyone! He has a great desire to "keep up" with his older siblings and consequently moved from a high-chair to the regular table at 17 months old and learned how to run and jump just two weeks after learning how to walk! He ended up contracting the stomach flu twice in December and was hospitalized with severe dehydration and accompanying seizures (no fever at all) the day after Christmas. It took him awhile to recover from that, then he came down with the normal flu and a severe double ear infection, but he is now back to his normal mischievous self!

Shana: Miss "Sleepy". Shana Marie Boling was born on November 4, 2004 at home. It was a wonderful experience, and we plan to have future children born at home as well. Our midwife, (Laura Hamilton), Charles, Michele and
Shana were the only people present at the birth. The other children spent a couple of days at a friend's house so that we could "recover". Shana is definitely the "sleepiest" baby we've ever had. She started sleeping nine hours at night when she was six weeks old, and by four months was sleeping 10 hours at night, plus three naps, one of which was three to five hours long! For the first three months of her life she was the HAPPIEST baby ever!  She only cried when she was hungry and that was only every three hours during the day. At three months she developed bronchitis and the flu which quickly turned into pneumonia. After that, her temperament changed to that of a more "normal" baby. But she's quick to smile and loves the entertainment her older siblings are always providing.

The Cookes: Michele's parents, Wayne and Beverley Cooke, purchased property near us in the spring of 2003. They sold their home of 19 years in Hockinson, WA and moved in with us on September 13, 2003. A year later (this
past October), they moved a triple-wide "repo" manufactured home that they purchased in November of 2003 onto their property. They had to replace many things, repaint, re-carpet etc. They are getting closer everyday and hope to
be moved in in the next few months.

We want to wish all of you a wonderful year!

Charles, Michele, Alexander, Miriana, Matthew & Shana Boling

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