Monday, December 31, 2012

A Season for Change

I am a sucker for an infomercial... currently watching one on a Saran Wrap and tin foil cutter. I need it.

That's not what this blog is about...
I just felt the need to confess.

Christmas has come and gone, once again. All the little elfish surprises are done, presents are opened, and I have eaten enough junk for an army of Sumo Wrestlers. As I prepare to embark on yet another year, I like to look back at the past year, & think about what weighed on my mind the most and how could I change it.

The first thing that comes to mind is Lake. Most of my days do revolve around Lennon, what we do, where we go. I am at home with her every day, most the day. Lake is at school. He comes home, we do homework, we play a bit, I get dinner started. Looking back, I hate that I missed this age (Lennon's age, 2) with him... He was in daycare, I was at work, & by the time I was home from a long and mentally exhausting day at work, being a super fun and creative mom was the last thing I had time for. I took it for granted. The very little time we had together. He's six now, almost seven years old, and he loves his momma.

To say the past year hasn't been a trying one, would be a lie. I have a toddler... It's supposed to be trying. That, and Lake seemed jealous of Lennon. More than normal. She was a bit demanding, and tornado-ish as ever, and I felt I neglected Lake in trying to channel her wild ways. I mean, I know I didn't, but I felt he didn't get enough of my time. It's one of those bad mom moments, a terrible feeling!

This past week with him out of school, with the holidays upon us, I promised myself I would make it a Christmas he wouldn't forget. So, after many hours of Pinterest searching and blog readings, I found the ideas I liked best, made a "to do" list and dangit we had a good time. I know these are the last few years he will believe in Santa, and all the child-like magical things, so I wanted to take advantage. We have never really talked about Santa, so I was honestly shocked as to how gullible he was. He always seems so much older than he is. I call him an "old soul".

So... Instead of just some ole ho hum average Christmas season, I made it a butt-load of fun. I created a "12 Days of Christmas" advent calendar, I bought the "Elf on the Shelf", and then on Christmas night we made a runway for Santa's sleigh & reindeer. I even gave up my OCD controlling ways & let my little guy help me pick out Christmas gifts for the cousins. Ok... so he picked out 2 of 7. He also picked out the gifts for the 2 less fortunate kids we shopped for this year.

Anyways... We did the usual, new Christmas pajamas & a Christmas movie night, hot chocolate most every night, reindeer food, milk & cookies, & a birthday cake to Jesus... And when he said he "heard Santa using our bathroom & sink" that wintery night, I knew my work had not been in vain. And when he gasped and nearly stopped breathing altogether when I showed him the picture someone shot of Santa's sleigh in the sky.... I knew my work was done.

The past 2 weeks, he has laughed louder and laughed harder than ever before. My heart has been so full. To see him happy is the best feeling in the world.... Knowing your child is happy, makes all the difference.

The next year will be full of surprises, as it always is. I will make an extra effort to make every day magical and special. I will not take for granted the days I have with my babies.., they are only little for a little while.

Tomorrow I will begin my focus on living a life full of intention. Year 2013 may not include hover crafts and flying cars... But it is going to be a wonderful year, full of surprises, answered & unanswered prayers, and lots of miracles.

Happy New Year to you & yours.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Very Griswold-ish Christmas

"Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny freaking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white butt down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of buttholes this side of the nuthouse."
- Clark Griswold, Christmas Vacation
(Edited for children - it's just not quite the same)

Well, it's that time of year again. The time of year when I put on my mental elf suit, load up on eggnog & peppermint everything, and force Christmas and jolly goodness down the throats of my husband and children... Why?... Because "It's the most wonderful time of the year!"

Really it is... I love making hot chocolate every night and watching Christmas movies. I love new Christmas pajamas & wrapping presents. I love making new traditions and continuing old ones.

This year is ending with a bang. We have had a few new additions to the Davidson Family:

• Birdie Jean, rescued dog, age 1.
We (as in "I") got her for the kids as an early Christmas present. Birdie is a Yorkie / Weenie Dog / mutt mix. There's really nothing that says "Christmas" like picking up your new dog's poop piles & steppig in her pee while cleaning up leftover Christmas decorations. Or better yet, chasing down your toddler after she steps in the new dog's poop and squished it between her toes. Good times. Memories made. Don't want to make those again.

• Bumper, Elf on the Shelf, age unknown.
This one really gets me pumped about Christmas. These are the last precious years Lake will actually believe in magical goodness. After listening to his stories of friends at school and their elves, we (as in "I") decided to get him one. They only had a girl elf left... he was ticked, but he quickly got over it once she started doing her thang. It is like I get to relive my childhood imagination all over again. Coming up with ideas for Bumper every night has been a lot of fun. Not nearly as much fun as the shock on his face each morning. Memories made. Definitely continuing these memories.

• 12 Days of Christmas Advent Calendar.
This is so easy a caveman could do it. It's also relatively cheap. I used an old picture frame that has been sitting in my garage. I covered it in an old Christmas tablecloth and glued 12 bags, stamped with "Day 1"... And so on. In each bag, I dropped a small $1 gift from "Dollar Tree" (store where everything is $1). Starting on Dec 14, they will open the bag and get a gift, while counting down the days until Christmas. It's super exciting for them and really easy for me. Win - win.

Now... Do I get stressed about finding the perfect tree? Yes. Do I get stressed about shopping? Yes. Do I get stressed because we haven't sent out Christmas cards in years? Yes. Do I get stressed over my husband refusing to put lights on the house every year even though his son begs for it? ABSO-freakin-LUTELY.

Amidst all that stress, there is a happiness and a joy that bubbles inside me. It comes from reminding and teaching my children about what is really important. I love planting seeds of admiration and celebration for the birth of our Savior in the hearts of my earthly angels. Since the day Lake was born, we decided Christmas would never be about getting a ton of gifts. That's what birthdays are for... The day we celebrate each of our children and the blessing they are to our life. Christmas would be about giving, and teaching. We give each child 3 presents... Just like Jesus received on his birthday, one from each wise man. We bake a cake (the kids choose the flavor). Lake & Lennon decorate the cake (very hard for me to give up the reins on this one); I light the candles and we all sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. (Notice my use of semicolon... They are so rare these days. I love a good semicolon.) At church, we buy gifts for kids less fortunate - Lake gets to pick out the presents. The kids are in Christmas programs at church, so the family gets to come & watch.

So that's it... my absolute favorite part about Christmas is teaching my babies about what is really important.... Jesus. Others. You. In that order, true JOY can be found. It can't be bought, and it can't be faked. The tree will die, the stockings will come down, and by New Year's Day, we're all on sugar free diets. But, one thing remains... Jesus is still our Savior and He is still giving freely. Let us remember what is really important and make that a daily tradition... Not just at Christmas, or during the holiday season.

Merry Christmas from us to you!

What traditions do you have?
What new traditions are you making?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Surprisingly "Normal"... But not without work

Tonight, I was putting Lennon to bed... Her teeth were brushed, her hair pulled back, & her princess pajamas were on... She was all set. I turned off the big light after I turned on the little lamp. She climbed in her big girl bed for the second night in a row. I rolled back the covers & she tucked her wee legs in the cold sheets. She laid there on her tummy, all ready for "night night".
I said, "Ok, let's say our prayers." She laid there on her belly & propped her head up on her elbows, with her tiny hands clasped.... And I prayed.
At the end, I said, "In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen" and she nodded (her "amen"). Then, she laid her head back down. I kissed her goodnight, cut off her lamp, and left the room.

I walked to the den. I sat on the couch and I cried. No, not sad tears. Happy tears. I thought to myself, "It's not at all what I expected."

When Charlie stepped out of Lake's room, I told him of her sweet little prayer time, and how it surprises me. Surprised at how big she is now.

I also told him, "It's not at all what we expected."
His response? "Yeah... It's normal."
We laughed at our old ignorant naive selves.

Coming from a person who bucks the "norm" at every opportunity...
This is a surprisingly welcomed norm.

Looking back on myself the day she was born, and the weeks after, I almost laugh.
The thoughts I had, the fears I had. If I could talk to every parent who has the shock of a baby born with Down Syndrome... I would say this:

"The shock wears off. When it does, treat the child just like you would any other. Discipline more. Praise more. Whatever you do: Do not handicap your child by not pushing him/her in learning how to do things. Oh, and beware: The child will cause you to love deeper than you ever dreamed."

My daughter is where she is because we push her, and we don't allow her to be catered to. We work through sensory issues, we work through motor skill issues, we are working through speech issues.... We WORK. We don't treat her differently, and we won't let you.

I once was given a piece of advice and it has stuck with me.

"I refuse for someone to see my child acting up in public and for that someone to look at her and say 'Oh it's because she has Down Syndrome.' No, it's because I didn't push her. I didn't discipline her. She is smart. She is capable."

That advice meant more to me than anything I have heard. I share it often and I use it to drive me in all areas concerning Lennon.

The Lord has given me strength when I didn't have it, courage to ask questions and seek advice or help when needed, and He has given me a desire to succeed as her parent. I didn't know it would be this hard at times, but I also didn't know it would be this "normal" at times.

I am grateful for the challenges...
because they draw me closer to Him.
I hope I always feel this way.