January 2, 2012

The Christmas Card That Never Was

Dear Friends, Family, The Internet, etc.,

This year we resolved that we were finally going to join the ranks of friendly, responsible, caring families who send out Christmas cards with a picture of our lovely family for you to place on your fridge so that you may gaze upon our smiling faces as you go back for seconds of eggnog. We were even thinking about going all out and writing a letter. I mean, it's not like we don't like you, or that we mind sharing. Between this blog and Travis' column, it's pretty obvious that we are open about how life's been treating us.

But as is evidenced by that blank space on your fridge...Erm. Well. We never actually got around to sending the card, writing the letter, or even taking a picture. Personally, I'm going to blame it on the picture. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a family photo with a two year old as part of your family? Well, yes, you probably do. That's why you are smart and start trying for one way back in July, back when you still have a 5 month cushion to get one in.

However, as most of you know, our lives took a pretty drastic turn back in July and now, 6 months later, we are just getting our feet back under us. When I looked through our photo files back in early December, I was dismayed to find a stunning lack of group photos. Plenty of shots of Luke doing crazy things or pitiful pictures of little Sam all hooked up to monitors, but not a single photo that included all of us that I was happy with.

Part of my family came to NC to spend Christmas with us, so I was determined that with extra hands around, we would finally come away with our coveted family photo. As our time together came to a close, I looked through our memory card and realized we still were lacking a fridge-worthy photo. So, I bundled everyone up and herded them out to the dock of the rental house we were staying at, and finally got it. As you can see from below, Luke isn't looking anywhere near the camera, but considering what the outtakes look like from this photo shoot, this is a pretty fabulous shot. Many thanks to my brother for capturing it for us.

So, even though this photo was technically taken after Christmas and photo cards are no longer on sale, thank God for the internet and it's ability to give you excuses to do everything digitally. Without further ado (sorry for all the ado-ing it took to get to this point), our Christmas card for 2011!

2011 was a year for surprises and change.

Between Samuel's birth, his surprising diagnosis, and our world getting turned upside down as we faced a month in the ICU getting his heart fixed and a pacemaker installed, his entrance into our lives has created a huge splash. But, can I just tell you something about my Samuel? Despite (or maybe because of) everything he's been through in his short life, he's the sweetest baby I've ever known. I can't wait to watch this little guy grow up and love on him every step of the way. He's been doing so much better. Between physical therapy and feeding therapy, we've seen him make big changes in the last few months. And we are finally getting to the point where at the end of a doctor's appointment they say, "Alright, see you in a year." YES!

Luke has been changing rapidly in every aspect. When I looked back at photos from last January, I couldn't get over the physical changes. He went from a pudgy toddler rolling around in the snow to this stretched out little boy who goes careening around my back yard yelling at the top of his lungs...for no apparent reason other than just because he can. He's still not talking very much, but his physicality is amazing (and FRUSTRATING). He needs a toddler treadmill to help burn off some his excess energy every day, cause Lord knows, I'm not capable of helping him do it on my own. He can be quite the terror these days, but I love his strong little personality and watching him learn new things.

Travis has undergone huge changes at work this year. They've had almost a complete turn over in their staff this year and he is now the interim senior pastor with a new music director and one veteran secretary holding strong. The congregation will vote in the coming months about making this a permanent position for him. While I struggled at first with him taking on extra responsibilities during these hard years of raising young children, there is no denying the joy that is evident in my husband these days. He is excited about going to work each day, and is full of new ideas and passion for these people and for God's plan for them. We'll continue to work on setting boundaries between work and home, but I'm not as stressed about it as I was before. It's worth going through all of it if at the end the day, the man who comes home is happy and fulfilled by his work.

For me, the past year was full of changes. As the year went along and Samuel was born, my world got smaller and smaller. For the first 2 months of his life, I rarely left the house except for trips to the grocery store or Target. Then it was back and forth between the hospital and home. Now that we are on the other side of the pacemaker, my world is starting to open up again. We venture out to church most Sundays and I'm excited to get back into leading my confirmation group and handbells again. I am able to get to the gym a couple of times a week now and I'm not looking quite so postpartum anymore. I'm excited about getting back to work for at least a few hours a week just to have some adult interaction in my life. I feel like now that Samuel is getting settled down, I can finally start to pick up the rest of my life again. It feels good.

I'm not sure what 2012 will bring for us, but after having survived 2011, I feel like we can probably handle whatever it dishes out. Bring it on, 2012. The Nortons are ready.

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