Dear family and friends,

Since last year I made/ordered cards and wrote/printed our Christmas letter and neither ever made it into the mail, I decided to simplify life this year and handle this virtually instead so maybe it would actually make its way to you all! 2014 has been a good year that has brought some big shifts to our little household (like a baby on the way and homeschooling for K), but much is still the same around here. Josh is still working at the bank and volunteering at Boy Scouts with Nathan, and his new hobby is gaming (40k, Magic, RPGs, for those of you who understand such things!). My year has been a lot different, since I started growing a new human in July and homeschooling K in August! Early pregnancy is never very pleasant for me, so I spent several months not feeling very well, but I still think this has been the easiest pregnancy of the three! All of that has finally passed and I’m feeling much better these days! We are all looking forward to this little boy or girl’s arrival in late March/early April! As for homeschooling, I’ve always been one to say I could NEVER do it, but it has been so easy and enjoyable to have K home and learning here. She has always been one who loves learning, so it isn’t a struggle to motivate her to get through her material. She makes it easy for me! Overall, we’ve had a wonderful year and been able to spend much of it doing fun things and making great memories with people we love!

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N is 12 years old and in the 7th grade at a new school in a new district this year. He is still active in Boy Scouts and plays saxophone in the symphonic band and he stays after school most days to play Magic with his friends. He also keeps busy with a lot of the same types of games that Josh enjoys. Between school and scouts, he’s developed a really great group of friends. This year, he also went on his first solo camping trip with Scouts (without Josh) and has done so a few times now! He has grown up so much this year, it is almost unbelievable. He’s definitely going to be taller than me soon (maybe before the new year arrives, it is getting close)! He is also growing a ‘stache and a few days ago his younger cousin noted that “his voice had lost that squeaky quality [she] loved so much”. 2015 will bring a TEENAGER to our house! He is still doing very well in school, though this year brought a few bumps as he adjusted to the new level of freedom and responsibility at his new campus. He’s such a great kid and watching him grow up is a wonderful gift!

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K has had a pretty big year! She was on the news twice; one little blip from her North Pole visit last year and then again to talk about mitochondrial disease and Ladybug Day with our friend and author, Carole Amber! Speaking of Ladybug Day, that was probably the biggest and best event of her year and you can read more about it here. It was an amazing blessing that we will never forget! K said that it made her feel like the President of the United States! She also participated in the Houston Energy for Life Walk for the first time, too. (If you are local and would like to join us for this important event this year, mark February 7th on your calendars!) She graduated from occupational therapy this year and restarted physical therapy. She also got to attend sleepaway church camp for several days this summer! It was a big undertaking and I had to attend as her keeper, but we both enjoyed it so much! It definitely felt like a victory to participate in something so BIG and NORMAL, and she experienced some really special moments we will always cherish. Our church staff was so helpful in getting K around camp and making sure we had what we needed. It was wonderful. She learned some karate this summer and took musical theater and vocal performance classes this fall! A big factor in our decision to homeschool her was to give her the ability to have a life beyond the classroom; regular school was so draining for her that she was unable to participate in any other activities and while school is VERY important to us, we didn’t want it to be the sum total of her life. Homeschooling has allowed her the freedom to try new things and participate in some neat activities! It has also allowed her to delve a little deeper into the things that are interesting to her and made school work a bit more fulfilling, I think. You can read more about our homeschooling adventures here. While her overall level of health has been good (with the exception of one really persistent respiratory infection that got ahold of her at the beginning of the school year), the past several months have brought on some new symptoms that we are trying to get a handle on, mostly pain in a variety of places; back, GI tract, hands, legs, feet. Homeschooling also allows us to get through her work and accommodate how she feels from day to day, which would not be so easy in a typical school environment. Her mitochondrial disease specialist is also referring her out to the NIH Undiagnosed Diseases Program, so we are hoping that she will be accepted and we might glean some new information about what her ultimate genetic diagnosis might be or how to most effectively manage her health. She also hit a major milestone this year! She has finally overcome her paralyzing fear of having blood drawn and has sat through two sets of labs without a whimper or tear. As much as I hate that this was even a hurdle she needed to jump in life, we are so proud of her and it really does make life much easier on her! Life with K is always a surprising and exciting adventure, every year brings new blessings and challenges and we are thankful that she is doing well overall and has gotten to enjoy so many wonderful BEST DAYS EVER again this year! So many special people have contributed to her amazing little life and we are SO thankful for each of you.

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We hope that each of you will have a very merry Christmas and a wonderfully blessed 2015 filled with many best days ever of your own!

Love,

Josh, Kyla, Nathan, Katie, and Little Duck

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