Dear friends and family,

It is Christmas Eve and I am writing our annual Christmas letter, in my pajamas once again, because I am what they kindly refer to as a “sprinter” (which is procrastination viewed through a rosier lens). We managed to take our yearly Christmas photos yesterday and then Nathan promptly spiked a fever, throwing the rest of the holiday celebrations into amorphous upheaval. I also had a stress dream about Josephine going into anaphylaxis last night, because the holidays are full of delicious and dangerous foods, which I am obviously super chill about. But there is still much Christmas joy abounding, even in the midst of fevers and potty-training and plans that may not quite pan out. 2018, like most years, has held a little bit of everything and we are so thankful for it all.

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Josephine is a fire-cracker, especially if fire-crackers loved to cuddle and steal their mother’s pillow in the middle of the night because they are still stalwart co-sleepers at 3 and a half. She has big feelings and big opinions and makes us laugh big laughs and also reminds us to pay attention to the little things. She slows me down daily, literally and figuratively, and I cannot imagine what life would be or what it ever was without her. She loves music and is usually in control of the car radio. Her favorite song right now is You’re My Best Friend by Queen, and some days we listen to it upwards of 20 times. She is deeply attached to a show called The Fresh Beat Band that aired on NickJr from 2009-2014, and nobody on earth remembers it so I am forever explaining it to friends, family, and strangers at the grocery store. The characters are her imaginary friends and she can frequently be heard deeply sighing, “Jesus, Fresh Beats…” in exasperation at their hi-jinks. I have no idea where she gets this from. Surely not me. She loves Target and church and if it was up to her, we would visit both at least daily. She does NOT like Santa and is still lecturing me about the time I asked her if she wanted to take a picture with him. She fully expects baby Jesus to show up at our house tomorrow and I have no idea what to do about that. She is so fully herself that it takes my breath away sometimes, in both exasperation and deep joy.

2017 was pretty brutal for K because the onset of dysautonomia really turned things upside down, but 2018 was much better in many ways. Time somehow allows us to find our equilibrium, even when we are still mostly upside down, and it feels like that is what this year has given us. K is finding her joy in art this year and even took a class at UHCL this fall, and she has also thoroughly enjoyed playing D&D with her homeschool group this year. She is obsessed with Homestuck and honestly, it is harder for me to explain than Fresh Beat Band, but she loves it and her and her friends create universes and additional stories for these characters and I am all for using imaginations! She still loves writing and musical theatre, though she isn’t quite up to performing these days. Homeschooling is still going well; math is the bane of her existence but somehow we are bravely soldiering onward. We are part of a really fun group of homeschoolers and she has enjoyed being part of the Book and Movie Club and the monthly game days. She has some really great friends and we are so thankful for their persistent light in her life!

N has had a big year. I guess this comes with growing up, which he insists on doing. He is (impossibly) a high school junior and has also just finished his first college semester, quite successfully. He started therapy this year and it has been wonderful for him (and yes, he wanted this to be part of the letter). He has grown in leaps and bounds, in all ways, and the thought of him leaving the nest in the next year or so is already looming  a bit too largely. He has jumped into theatre with both feet this year and it has brought him much joy, and gifted him with a wonderful community. In the Spring, he Assistant (to the) Stage-Managed Beauty and the Beast at Clear Creek Community Theatre. In the summer, he was stage manager (and lighting designer and prop master) for Into the Woods at Upstage Arts. In the fall, he accidentally auditioned for a role in Bob, A Life in Five Acts at school and made the cast. And in the winter, he auditioned for the UIL team and earned the responsibility of being THE male understudy, so he gets to learn all of the male parts and attend every rehearsal. He also was a student organizer for the Houston March for Our Lives earlier this year and attending that with him was definitely a bright spot. He went to DC this summer with The Institute for Civility in Government and had some great experiences (and a couple of less than great experiences, thanks Ted and Brian!). He really enjoyed learning about economic policy and is interested in interning at EPI someday. He’s hoping to attend UTD after high school, and we are hoping for some brilliant scholarship offers!

Josh and I are fine. Fine means exhausted, right? Because we are SUPER FINE. Teens and toddlers with just a dash of medical fragility, is a masterful combination for peak fineness. Life is a rich stew of potty-training, co-sleeping (the sleeping might need air quotes), driving teenagers all over the planet (but also never having time to accomplish drive time hours, someone explain this to me), hilarity, doctor’s appointments, paperwork, hospitalizations, coffee/margaritas/board games with friends, great books, writing, food allergies, more board games (ahem, Josh), laughter, exasperation, advocacy, theatre, art, music, being bossed around by someone one-third of our size (she seriously feeds us our lines sometimes), things that break at the worst moment, church, work, play, what’s for dinner/who is home Venn diagramming, deep conversations, eating in the car an embarrassing amount, more coffee, and somehow finding time to be present with people we love so much and who always manage to keep us afloat. Life is a big, joyful, maddening mess, but we are thankful for every bit of it. Thank you all for being a part of what makes our lives so beautiful.

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With love,

Josh, Kyla, N, K, and Jo