Dear friends and family,
Yet again, we are going the virtual route for our Christmas letter. There comes a time when you have to admit defeat and realize that you are never, ever going to get anything into printed format and into the mail. This is that moment. In fact, it is December 23rd as I write this and we have not yet taken a family photo for our Christmas card, so it’s pretty clear those won’t be making it into the mail either! I still plan on forcing my family to take a group photo, because COME ON, we need at least one good picture of us each year. (Update: It is December 24th upon posting this and we HAVE a picture, because my husband is awesome! Yay!)
2016 was yet another year when Josephine totally changed our lives. If 2015 was the year of open heart surgery, then 2016 has been the year of food allergies. We discovered her milk protein allergy shortly after her heart defect was diagnosed, but instead of outgrowing it as predicted, it became life-threatening! We discovered she also has life-threatening allergies to eggs and tree nuts (and therefore must avoid all nuts), and she also has a wheat allergy and a dog allergy. She can’t go anywhere she might be exposed to her serious allergens and we cannot have them in the house. It has been frightening at times and extremely life-altering, but she is still thriving and we’re finding our new way forward. Josie has also had some oral-motor issues and is currently in feeding therapy to help her learn to pace herself when eating and manipulate foods safely and successfully. She doesn’t talk much, but has a robust sign language vocabulary and is very skilled at communicating with us, she can even tattle and veto songs on the radio in the car! She has strong opinions about the world and isn’t afraid to share them! She and Josh were in a short TV commercial clip for Magical Winter Lights and during the shoot there was really loud music playing and she did not like it, so she’s clearly signing “Nooooo.” It looks really cute if you don’t understand ASL and it is pretty hilarious if you do. She’ll be having a hearing test shortly after Christmas and we are more than ready to have those answers already! She has changed a lot this year and she is FINALLY sleeping well and on a routine that is working well for all of us. She is such a little character and brings us so much joy and takes us on many new adventures. I think she would say it was a great year, much fewer doctor appointments and nobody opened her chest up!
K is 11 years old now and and in 6th grade, and she is doing incredibly well. I am amazed at how steady her health has been and how well she has been doing overall. Homeschooling really agrees with her and it has definitely changed things for the better. She is now in the teen class at theater, which she LOVES, and she has made good friends and great memories there. She played Frenchie in their summer production of Grease and enjoyed every minute of it! She is into all sorts of fandoms I have very little understanding of like Undertale, Steven Universe, Aphmau, and a few I do understand like Hamilton! She spends much of her free time on FaceTime and Skype, role-playing and computer gaming with friends, and writing the next great American fanfic. She says 2016 was a GREAT year!
N is 14 and a freshman in high school. This was his first year of marching band and he really loved it. It took up sooo much time, but he didn’t seem to mind. He’s been a bit less active in Boy Scouts this fall because of the time marching band required, but he’s getting back to that now that marching season is over. He is actually the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader for his troop right now! He went to summer camp at BTSR, out in the mountains of West Texas. His classes are all going very well and he has been dating (or rather, texting, as kids these days seem to do) a fellow band-mate, Chloe, for a few months. When he has free time, he’s usually playing computer games and chatting on Discord with his friends or binge-watching comedies on Netflix. He says that although the world at large was a bit concerning in 2016, his personal life was pretty good.
This year, Josh built himself a board gaming table out in the garage and is running a (nerdy) board gaming channel on YouTube (Josh H Gaming Corner) where he plays his board games for people who like to watch. This year he played Dungeon Saga, Zombicide, Pandemic Legacy, Last Night on Earth, Zombie 15, Descent, just to name a handful. He also finally sold his 2001 Honda Civic, the car we drove away from our wedding in and brought two babies home in and a million other little moments in the 15 years we had it. Josh says he had a fantastic year.
It’s been a pretty standard year for me. The kids keep me fairly occupied (especially my Velcro baby, Josephine, and her ever-evolving adventures), but it has not been as demanding as last year for sure! It has been nice to gain some evening time back now that Josie no longer requires me to be in bed with her to sleep, and my favorite thing from 2016 might be weaning from pumping for her. I really loathed the pump even though I am very thankful I was able to provide a good amount of milk for her through her first year. In my spare time, I still enjoy dabbling in photography and writing, and this year I became a contributor for Houston Moms Blog so that has been a fun opportunity! I also love spending time with friends as often as I can manage it (for awesome things like our Gilmore Girls marathon pajama party, Halloween murder mystery, Galentine’s Day, outings with the girls, playdates with the littles, and so on). This year, I’ve even had a few dates with my husband! A (new) normalcy is slowly returning to our days and that is pretty nice.
Thanks for reading about our year. We hope that each of you will have a very merry Christmas and a wonderfully blessed 2017!
Josh, Kyla, Nathan, Katie, and Josie