I can’t believe that it’s the last day of 2015. I received an email yesterday that told me my most read blog posts for this year. I couldn’t help but notice what my top 3 posts had in common. These were the posts that I didn’t want to write. These were the posts that made me throw down my pride, stomp on it, and then hit the publish button. I didn’t want the world to know that I don’t have it all together. I didn’t want them to know that I’m a mess.
So why were these 3 posts the most read this year? I think people find transparency to be a breath of fresh air. Moms are tired of feeling like they can’t measure up to the moms who appear to have it all together. Perhaps moms look at me and they breathe a sigh of relief because their life looks a lot like mine. Maybe they are tired of pretense and are looking for authentic. And that’s exactly what God called me to be in 2015. He asked me to be honest about what our life really looks like. He wanted me to stop pretending that I have it all together. It’s not been an easy road to travel but I’m thankful that God called me to take this journey. And I’m thankful for each of you who’ve traveled with me in 2015 by reading my posts. You’re all amazing and beautiful people!
Now for the top 3 posts for 2015:
#3 I Can’t Do This Anymore. This post was about a moment when I hit rock bottom. It was a moment when I asked God if He was still there because He felt a million miles away. In that deep, dark moment I asked if He could do something to make our life better. He answered by sending 2 special ladies to help us with Mikayla and Hope.
#2 I Want A Corn Dog. This post was about the day I had a complete meltdown at a church function. I definitely didn’t want to write this one because I didn’t want people to know how messed up my world is. But I learned that when you Let People Into Your Messed Up World they want to help you.
#1 To The Lady Who Shook Her Head. I usually spend days or weeks writing a post before I publish it. This one just spilled out of me one morning and I published it immediately. Many people loved it and many people hated it. There were moments when I wished I’d never written it. The most valuable lesson I learned this year is that not everyone is going to like me or celebrate what I have to say. And that’s ok. If my words touch even one heart then it’s worth every moment I spend typing my story.
See you all in 2016!
I love Christmas traditions. To be totally honest I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to Christmas traditions. We’ve always put our Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving. But several years ago our oldest daughter discovered Black Friday. What? Why in the world would she want to be out in the middle of huge crowds when she could be home decorating the Christmas tree with me? I still don’t understand it. But now we decorate the tree on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. And it’s ok.
We always listen to Steven Curtis Chapman’s The Music of Christmas while we decorate the tree. As we were decorating the tree this year something very strange happened. I wasn’t hearing the voice of Steven Curtis Chapman. I was hearing the Christmas songs of David Crowder. Really? Which one of you did this to me? I guess it was ok. But it was better when David Crowder finished singing and the sweet voice of Steven Curtis Chapman singing Hark the Herald Angels Sing began to fill the room. Yes. Now we can have Christmas.
My favorite Christmas song is O Holy Night. I have to hear David Phelps sing it every single year. It’s just part of Christmas. Ask my family what my least favorite Christmas song is and they will answer without hesitation. Carol of the Bells. That song is like fingernails on a chalk board to me. The other day Brett put in a Christmas cd for us to listen to while I was paying bills and he was working in the kitchen. All of a sudden the volume got really, really loud and I’m hearing the Carol of the Bells. So I got up out of my chair, walked across the room, and affectionately slapped his sweet head. And then I kissed him. Oh, how I love that man.
Mikayla and Hope have added a new tradition this year. They like to watch Frosty the Snowman in Spanish….and then in French…..and then in Spanish….and then in French. Mikayla prefers Spanish and Hope prefers French. They have no idea what the characters are saying but it makes them laugh. They laugh like crazy every time they’re watching it in French and a character says oui. They don’t realize that they are saying yes. They think the character is talking about a Wii. And it just makes them fall in love with Frosty all over again.
You can mess with the day we put the tree up. You can mess with the music we play while we’re putting up the tree. You can watch Christmas cartoons in Spanish and French. You can even bring in the Christmas season by playing the Carol of the Bells just to irritate me. But there are some traditions that just simply can’t be messed with. Don’t tell me that Easter Seals won’t be having their Christmas lights or that Taylor’s Christmas violin recital has been canceled. If you have to tell me either of those things please bring chocolate.
Every year we drive an hour to see the Christmas lights. These aren’t just any Christmas lights. These lights have a very special purpose because all net proceeds fund therapies at our local Easter Seals. When the community drives through the lights they are changing lives. They are helping a child learn to walk, talk, dress and write her name. They are helping an adult receive the therapy he needs after a car accident. They are helping people to gain their independence and to have the best life that they can have. We’ve enjoyed this event for years. Now that Mikayla and Hope receive services at Easter Seals this event is even more special to our family.
Every year Taylor’s violin teacher holds a Christmas recital for her students. I always enjoy the new students who play Mary Had a Little Lamb and Jesus Loves Me. They are so adorable. We enjoy hearing Jingle Bells, O Come All Ye Faithful, O Holy Night, and so many other Christmas favorites. I’m amazed at the more advanced students as they play Bach and Beethoven. I’m always proud of our Taylor as she plays her song. This year she played Llanthony Valley. An afternoon of listening to violin and harp music is good for the soul. And it’s part of what makes our Christmas special.
Here we are and it’s now only 1 week until Christmas. Our house is filled with little voices asking “It’s almost Christmas?” Several times a day I hear the words “I want a Zoomer kitty! A black one!” and “I want a Zoomer kitty! An orange one!” I’m thankful that Zoomer Kitties are easy to find and have shipped to your front door. I also hear little voices reminding me “We need to read the book!!!” We all gather on the couch each evening to read the Advent book. I’m thankful for our little girls who get extremely excited about Christmas and want every toy they see. I’m thankful for our teenage young ladies who are so content that they don’t ask for much for Christmas. They make me proud. And I’m thankful that I get to spend my 25th Christmas married to the guy who plays Carol of the Bells at full volume.
Maybe you saw us at Dairy Queen a few days ago. We were the family sitting at two separate tables. Mom, Dad, and one little sweetheart at one table. Three sweethearts at another table. Life is all about strategy for our family. If our two turtles sit at different tables then they can’t kick or hit each other. We get to enjoy our meal and those around us get to enjoy theirs.
Maybe you heard our two little girls burping. I’m sorry if that bothered you but they don’t often get to drink soda. It was a big deal for them. When foreign fizz enters their bodies it makes them burp. They really can’t help it. They said excuse me almost every time they burped. That made me proud. Maybe you heard the dad across the room burp while eating his meal. I did. I also heard his family scold him and it made me happy. Someone burped in public and it was someone from outside of my little village. It was a good day.
I know that you heard us in the toy section at Target. The two little girls who were talking way too loud belong to us. I put my finger up to my mouth and said the words “Shhhh. You’re too loud. I’m standing right beside you. You don’t have to talk that loud.” I don’t have any idea why I always do that. It never works. But at least I’m attempting to do my parental duty. Right? When the word Christmas is mixed with a Target full of toys it makes our girls have only one volume. Loud. Thank you to all of my fellow Target shoppers who were understanding. Thank you for not holding your ears or rolling your eyes. You made my day.
Did you notice how loud the music was in Five Below? I sure did. Shoppers didn’t seem to notice the volume of our girls voices because the music overpowered them. Thank you Five Below for taking the focus off of our girls. It was nice. But if you want a family with sensory processing disorder to shop in your store you need to turn the music down. And a restroom would be nice too.
I wish you could’ve met the nice employee who greeted us as we entered the Family Christian Store. She smiled as our girls got excited about the Christmas tree at the front of the store. She enjoyed our girls even when they were talking at full volume. She smiled as Mikayla and Hope brought me almost every Veggietale dvd and said “We have this one!” As she rang up my purchase she said “You have a lovely family!” I’ll have to admit that her comment caught me off guard. It was the first time that a stranger has told me that I have a lovely family. I could tell that she truly meant it. I smiled, I thanked her, and I floated out of the store on cloud nine.
You have a lovely family. I knew in my heart that what she said is true. It’s true even though life sometimes doesn’t feel lovely. There’s nothing lovely about sensory processing disorder. There’s nothing lovely about having a language disorder. When I find myself in the middle of the burping and the behavior issues and the therapies it doesn’t feel lovely. When I spend the majority of the day being a referee and telling our two little lawyers-in-training to stop arguing with each other it doesn’t feel lovely. When life constantly feels like a series of one strategy after another it doesn’t feel lovely. And when I’m so tired at the end of the day that I have to ask for help getting the girls to bed it doesn’t feel lovely.
But then God sent a stranger into my life. She looked at my life and she saw lovely. She saw our girls find joy in the simplicity of a Christmas tree. She didn’t mind when our girls were talking much more loudly than they needed to. She enjoyed watching them get excited over virtually everything that they saw and touched. And she decided that it was lovely. And that’s exactly how God looks at each of us. He sees everything that we go through. He sees every disorder. He knows when our behavior needs a little work. He sees us when we’re irritated, depressed, and ungrateful. And He still sees lovely.
I didn’t realize when I entered the Family Christian Store that I would receive an early Christmas present. But I did. I received a gift from a stranger. It wasn’t a gift that could be bought or wrapped. But it was a gift just the same. Perhaps is was the best gift that I could ever receive. It was the gift of a lovely family.
I really wish that stores wouldn’t put up their Christmas trees in October. It makes two little girls anxious. It makes them think Christmas is coming really soon. It’s makes them ask a bazillion questions. And it makes me just a little bit crazy. Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. I love having little girls who are excited about ornaments, candy canes, and new toys. I’m just not good at playing the “how-many-questions-can-you-answer-about-Christmas-without-losing-your-mind-and-it’s-only-the-first-week-of-November” game. When November rolls around I like to think about Thanksgiving. I like to read The Plump and Perky Turkey to the girls at bedtime. And I like to think about all that I’m thankful for. I don’t want to think about Christmas quite yet. I’m a one thing at a time kinda gal. It’s just who I am.
So there I was at the beginning of November with two little sweethearts asking me “It’s almost Christmas?” I told them the truth. It was going to be a long time until Christmas. They didn’t buy it. Or they didn’t want to believe it. So they kept asking “It’s almost Christmas?” I finally found the answer that seemed to calm their anxious hearts. I told them that Christmas is after Thanksgiving. They believed me. The question “It’s almost Christmas?” ceased to be a part of our conversations.
We had our first Thanksgiving dinner with Brett’s family on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. I got the honor of sitting at the kiddie table with my girls. Hope took her last bite of food, pushed her plate away, and declared “Christmas is tomorrow!” And then she started ordering Grandma to put her tree up. I’ve known this little gal for 10 years. I really should’ve seen that coming.
We put our tree up the day after Thanksgiving. Then the girls ordered me to go wrap the presents. And the “It’s almost Christmas?” question came back to haunt us. I decided to try a new approach. It will be Christmas after you sleep 28 more times. That didn’t go over very well. So I told them that I would make a calendar that they could put a sticker on every day. Then they can see with their eyes how close we’re getting to Christmas. A couple of days ago Mikayla asked me once again “It’s almost Christmas?” I told her it will be Christmas after you sleep 26 more times. She looked at me with a blank stare and she said “Make the calendar, Mommy.” This is what life looks like when little girls struggle with auditory processing but are strong visual learners. Hearing just doesn’t mean much. But seeing is believing. A calendar was the magic answer.
This morning was the magical day when November turned into December. They each got to put a sticker on their calendar. Every sticker gets us one day closer to Christmas. When you put a sticker on the number 24 then it means that tomorrow is Christmas. Mikayla just asked me for another sticker. Sorry, sister. Only one sticker a day. That’s the rules.