From Noah with a Way-Too-Long Preface from Jennie

My Christmas cards were late this year.  I cried about it.  If you asked my level-headed husband, he would contend that the latest cards would arrive no later than two days after Christmas.  I would contend that means they might as well not have gone out at all.  To further complicate things, in the postpartum chaos that was Christmas 2013, I failed to save my Christmas card ledger with updated card recipients and corrected addresses.  I had to revert back to 2012, which doesn't seem like a big deal, but it's amazing how much can change in two short years. 

This is the point where everyone is saying, "Man, I wish I had her 'problems.'"  Because, you know, they aren't really problems. 

This Christmas was wrought with lots of little things that compounded together made it feel a little less "Christmasy" than usual, all punctuated by an actual problem on December 17th, a geocaching hunt - turned terrible eye injury for my dearest Sam.

So, on Monday, four days before Christmas, two days after I mailed our cards out, Sam had surgery on his eye.  To understand fully, his eyesight is like another child.  In January of 2013, he went from being legally blind to having better than perfect vision when he gave himself Lasik surgery for Christmas.  [Edited to say:  HAHAHAHA.  He is amazing, but pretty sure this did not come out the way I meant for it to.  He gifted the surgery to himself.  An actual doctor performed it.  Phew.]  And now, because of a literal thorn in his eye, his eyesight is potentially tarnished.  His ophthalmologist is optimistic (say that 5x fast).  For him, the hardest part is waiting and seeing.  It's a good life lesson.  I just wish I'd been the one with the thorn in my eye.  Goodness knows I have enough weird health issues this year.  What's one more? 

So, because of my own [lack of] organizational skills, Sam's eye injury (for which, by the way, if you have prayed him through, we are so very grateful), and my general winter blues that seemed to come a little earlier this year, we delegated the writing of our annual Christmas letter to one of the kids this year.  And if you didn't receive one in the physical mail, I apologize for the oversight and ask that you accept this electronic version as a substitute.  I'm asking for grace this year.  Lots and lots of it.  Wish I was as good as giving it to myself. 

Merry Christmas, my friends.  May your 2015 be the best year yet!

Dear Friends and Family,
It seems that Mommy and Daddy are pressed for something called “spare time” these days, so they have gotten very good at delegating tasks in order to get things done around here.  That means, this year our annual Christmas letter is coming to you from me, Noah, since 2014 was my first year of life.  (And I’m the cutest.  That’s not relevant, but it’s true.)
In January, I watched Mommy entertain all of us in the waiting room of her OB’s office at naptime with loose items from her purse while waiting for Daddy to come and rescue us from certain boredom and mischief.  It was the best when she found those loose Smarties she’d been meaning to clean out for weeks.  I took careful notes from my big sister, Leah, as I watched her lick the kitchen sponge, eat two-day-old mac-n-cheese off the floor, and paint real nail polish on her face like lipstick.  Then, we took our first of many homeschool “field trips” of the year – this time to the urologist’s office to check out Mommy’s kidney stones.  (This was not one of our most favorites.)
In February, we went to Disney World for ten days.  Sarah was devastated that she wasn’t tall enough for Expedition Everest, Leah slept in a pack-n-play in the bathroom, and Daddy and Mommy made me my very own nest inside of a suitcase for a bed.  It’s okay, they left the lid open.
In March, Leah turned two, but it didn’t mean much to me since I wasn’t even allowed to try the cake.
In April, I perfected my pterodactyl impression.  Sometimes it’s hard to get your point across as the fifth child.  When you screech like a baby pterodactyl, you get results.  We took a quick work trip for Daddy to Maryland, during which I sang (or squawked like a large birdlike dinosaur for the duration of the drive depending on who you ask).  April was also the month Mommy took all of us kids to Target and made it to the café for popcorn before she realized she left me and my stroller at the customer service desk.  I forgave her.  Actually, I slept through this, but I heard the stories.
In May, I watched Mommy cry tears of joy over Ben finishing his yearly math work.  She’s a bit obsessed with completing what she starts.  Ben celebrated with a cup of hot tea and a book.  Sarah turned five.  I still didn’t get any cake.
In June, I grew some horns on my head.  It’s okay, they went away as quickly as they appeared.  I helped Mommy and Daddy decorate their 2nd grade classroom for VBS, and by “help,” I mean I laid on the floor and took a nap while they did all of the work.  Abby was elated they were her teachers this year.  Ben, Abby, and Sarah all stole the show in the VBS musical.
In July, we took another whirlwind trip to Maryland to hang out with Grandmom and Grandpop.  I got my first taste of a good, old-fashioned Maryland snowball.  Then we all shivered because it was only 74 degrees that beautiful July evening.  (You know, because we’re from Georgia.) We also began our newest family hobby – geocaching.  This would take us on many, many adventures this year.
In August, we took a trip to the Emerald Coast for Mommy’s birthday.  You guessed it, still no cake for me.  But, I did eat a lot of sand.  I really started bonding with Leah.  She teaches me the coolest stuff, like how to cover every square inch of one’s body with diaper cream.
In September, Mommy frantically tried to cram as much “official” school in with Ben, Abby, and Sarah (the now kindergartner!) before leaving for our Most Epic Adventure yet, meticulously planned by Daddy.  Ben started Bible Quizzing, which is great because that means I’m the man of the house for 1.5 hours a week on Tuesday mornings.  On September 30th, we set off on our full-fledged cross country trip.  It was the beginning of a long partnership between me, my carseat, and the baby carrier.
In October, we covered 7,105 miles, found 190 geocaches, stayed at 18 different hotels across 27 days in 17 states, left 2 blankies behind, visited 1 zoo (unless you count Vegas), lost 1 tooth, and landed safely at home with 7 happy, tired Sheppards.

In November, I finally got to eat birthday cake.  Hooray!  But since my birthday is all the way at the end of the month, I kept my belly full of raw onion in the meantime.  (It’s the only thing I can reach in the pantry.  Leah taught me this too.)  My personality really started to shine at age One.  I love being mommied by my big sister, Abby (she even changes my diapers), and Sarah and Leah really know how to make me giggle.  I just tackle Ben.  He’s a good sport and lets me win.  Also, got my first set of black eyes.  The fireplace won that contest.

Finally, December.  I hope this month finds you well.  I have had to sit still for far too long typing this up, so I’m going to step away from the computer and run around the house, flashing my dimple, and stirring up mischief.  That’s what little boys do. 

Mommy and Daddy said it would be polite to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a blessed 2015.  If you ever find yourselves in central Georgia, please come play with us! 
Love all year long,
Noah (and Sam, Jennie, Ben, Abby, Sarah, and Leah too!)


Sharon said...

Noah, your family has had quite a year! Thank goodness they have you to hold it all together, huh?! (They do know, don't they, that you're the glue???)

As I read your letter, I couldn't help but think of how God has His hand over all of us. So much happens in a year - good things, difficult things, funny things, sad things. But, through it all, there is the undergirding of the Lord and His strength. This I see in your letter, and in your family. A witness to His great love.

So, can't wait to see what adventures lie ahead in 2015.

And hey, some advice? Though you have wonderful sisters, I'd follow big brother Ben. He's much less likely to play with diaper cream...

Love you guys! Hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and may God richly bless you in the New Year!


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