Here's the Christmas Letter we sent to our out of town friends and family.
Hello and Happy Holidays! We hope this finds you all well and happy and warm, wherever you are. Unless you want to be bad and sad and cold, in which case you are on your own.
If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be sending out a Christmas Letter, I would have laughed at you for sure. But we have had such a busy, exciting year, that I just want to catch everybody up on what's going on with us. This, of course, is just in case you don't look at the blogs that I update nearly daily for your reading pleasure. :)
In January, of course, our big news was that Maria Kathleen Beck was born.
She is a beautiful girl and she is often fondly referred to around here as 'crazy' but we mean that in the nicest way. She is starting to pull up and stand and she crawls around the house, usually chasing Anthony and usually because he has food in his hands. She is a good girl and is, thank God, sleeping all night now, which makes everyone cheerier.
Mike was home for six weeks after Maria was born and we took advantage of the time to enroll Anthony in First Steps, which is Indiana's early intervention for children who are not developing on target. Anthony has been very slow to speak and although we know he is super smart - he has known his alphabet, colors, and how to count to 20 since he was 18 months old - he just was not very into talking with us so we thought we'd have him evaluated. He started right away in occupational, speech and developmental therapy. His therapists came to the house so we spent most of the spring in the livingroom, Anthony in therapy and Maria nursing or sleeping through it.
In May, we had Anthony's school evaluation, since he was going to be three in June and would move into the school system for therapy. There, he was diagnosed him with Autism , and he was recommended for the extended school year program in our local developmental preschool. He finished therapy with 1st Steps in June and started at school in July. He has been doing very well, he has speech and occupational therapy at school and we have him in a private therapy practice for occupational and physical therapy twice a week, so we are keeping busy! He really is doing well, it is slow going, but we are confident that he will continue to thrive in therapy and in school. Our hope is that he can transition to the Catholic school where we want to send the kids when he is older but we are taking it one school year, and sometimes one day and minute, at a time.
Anthony turned three in June, although he looks older. At 3 years old, he was 39.5 inches tall and 39.5 pounds. He is a terrible sleeper and a great dancer - so I guess you can't have it all! His therapists and teachers all love him, which is a good thing because it goes a long way in wanting a child to succeed. We're lucky to live in Indiana (and oh my Lord, I never thought I'd say that either!) because it is one of only seven states that has an insurance mandate for autism. He loves to jump on his trampoline and play on his swing set and he loves to play music. We got him a guitar for Christmas, but don't tell him!
We went to NJ in June so everyone could meet Maria and see Anthony and so we could see everyone. We went to a Finnegan reunion and it was great to see some family. It was Maria's first flight and she did very well - I lost my driver's license and didn't realize it until we got to Newark Airport, which was a very bad scene until the crack staff at the airport checked me for being a terrorist, realized I wasn't, and sent me on my way. Other than that, it was a great trip.
Maria will be one year old in January and in May we are going to have another baby! These poor kids of ours, Anthony is just getting used to Maria and Maria firmly believes she is the only baby in the world. They are in for a shock, as are we, I'm sure. We are staying in our house for the time being, so we are clearing out our walk in closet for a teeny nursery for the babe for the first few months and then hopefully we'll move the baby into Maria's room when she is a little older. We're very excited, of course, about the new baby.
We hope that you all have the happiest of holidays and merriest of Christmases and a Happy, Healthy 2009! With love from Mike, Joanne, Anthony and Maria