Dear friends and family,
It is January 4th and I am terribly late with our yearly letter, but thanks be to God for the gift of the church calendar because I can still call it our Christmas letter as long as I publish it by Epiphany, which falls on Monday this year but we will celebrate tomorrow. This letter, like much of 2019, has not gone quite to plan. I usually sit down no later than Christmas Eve and write this, but Christmas Eve was a bit full this year; church and friends and family all day long. The truth is that I might have been dreading this letter a little, so the busyness was exceedingly welcome. It is sometimes hard to find words for the hard years, to hold joy in one hand and despair in the other, to feel the tension there and let it be what it is. There has been so much joy this year; so much shared laughter, so much generosity, so much warmth from community, so many beloved folks who make our load feel light, but there has been some despair too; continued increasing struggles for K, upheaval, schedules that are increasingly full, four year olds who are quite tired of forced tagging along and very good at screaming, ambulance rides and needles, and so on. So here we are, just over the line into the new year, looking back with grateful hearts and forward with hope.
Josephine is a four year old firecracker. She is hilarious and bossy and sensitive and particular and a fantastic judge of character, and much like her dad, she cannot resist stirring a pot or pushing a button. This was the year she fully potty-trained and started going to sleep in her own bedroom (though she does not stay there). She also has fallen head over heels for her big cool cousins this year and they have such fun together. She seems to be running her own social skills lab in the waiting room on the days K has double appointments and every new kid is a potential playmate, no matter what their differences might be. Her food allergies are still a major concern and she had her first scary reaction on Christmas Day, epi and ambulance, the whole bit. It was an accident, but I think it has reminded everyone of the very scary realities of living with food allergies. In spite of the big risks the wider world poses, we are seriously contemplating allowing her to attend Kindergarten next year because she seems really ready and like she would thrive with her peers. We know kids who have made the leap with similar allergy concerns and it gives us hope for Jo. Thankfully, we are not strangers to the world of accommodations and staff training, so that will make it a bit easier. She really enjoyed both of our trips this year, to Great Wolf Lodge this summer and “Great New York City” this fall. It is hard to believe that five is just around the corner for her, and we are so grateful for every exhausting and joy-filled day we have with her.
K has had a challenging year, especially the last few months as her ability to walk has become compromised. After years of using a wheelchair sporadically for long distances and energy conservation, we have had to adjust to a more constant need for her chair, to learn even more about accessibility and how to do things like buy movie or theatre tickets when she can’t get into a place without her chair but would really prefer to sit in a comfy regular seat once we arrive somewhere, rearrange house furniture to make our terribly inaccessible house a little better, and a million other tiny adjustments. She is in physical therapy twice a week and occupational therapy once a week and her therapists are wonderful. Everything feels like it has shifted. But we also had the great big glowing joy that was her Wish Trip this year and it was everything we could’ve hoped for and more. Our church announced the surprise to K with confetti canons and I still get shivers of joy every time I find a piece of confetti lurking somewhere in the sanctuary. We were in NYC for 5 glorious days, stayed in a giant gorgeous suite, saw three Broadway shows (Hadestown, Mean Girls, Beetlejuice), got to go backstage EVERY TIME because of the miraculous kindness of friends and strangers, met the cast of Hadestown, ice skated in Central Park (K in her chair, loving every minute), ate too much pizza, gawked at the gigantic beautiful library, went on a carriage ride around Central Park with a beloved long-time friend, had a drink with another long-time friend who had found a way to get us backstage at Hadestown, gorged ourselves on beauty at the Met, and made it through TSA with our strange circus of liquids and medications and medical devices. It was an overwhelming, surreal, amazing trip of a lifetime for all of us. She also attended prom at Texas Children’s Hospital in the spring and had a sorority party in her honor at Chi Omega, and both were big highlights for the year. It was a hard year, but it was made easier by all of the big joy and the steady presence of her wonderful friends.
N has had a bustling year, with his schedule largely dominated by various theatre projects. In the spring, he was a major character in the UIL one-act production of Maelstrom and they did very well, making it all the way to Regionals! This fall he was in Singing in the Rain, and then he had the lead role in Night of the Living Dead. He was also asked to be the lead in his school’s short film for UIL so he has been busy filming this winter break and we are looking forward to seeing his action movie debut this spring. After that, it will be right back into UIL one-act competition season! I’m so glad he stumbled into the passion of theatre last year. This fall was also college application season, which feels absolutely impossible. He wants to study game design and he has been accepted into both of his top choice schools; UTD and UT Austin. We are still waiting to hear if he will be accepted into his desired major at UT Austin and what sort of financial aid he is offered, but we are very proud of the hard work he has done to make his dreams reality.
Josh and I have largely been along for the ride this year. The kids are busy, so we are too. Josh got a promotion at work and I was ordained as an elder at our beloved church. We manage to find time for the things we love and it keeps us afloat when the waters get a bit perilous. There has been enough board games, coffee, pizza, margaritas, good books, great conversation, prayers, laughter, deep and honest chats, shared burdens, and hope to keep us going every day. It was a bumpy year, one that I was not sad to see go, but when I think about the good stuff, the life-giving stuff, there was a ridiculous abundance and I could not be more grateful for that. Thank you for whatever big or small part you played in that abundance. We are the luckiest.
Kyla, Josh, N, K, and Jo