It's been a busy December in our house. Not unlike most homes this month. Holiday decorating. Holiday parties. Cookie baking. Shopping for gifts. Our house also has four kids with final exams this week. The stress level is a little higher than usual. Tomorrow is day one of finals for the older three. Will has his Algebra final on Thursday morning. Classes wrap that same day for everyone. Yippee!! And Friday we will head to Pennsylvania to spend Christmas and New Years with our families. We're all more than ready for the break. Ian is continuing to work hard and fight off "senioritis" so far. Hanna is always a bit stressed about school in general so finals escalate that a bit, but she's coping well. Rachel seems mostly un-phased about finals but is definitely ready for the two-week break from school and homework.
I love Christmas! And the traditions it brings with my family. I think my kids and Kirk are doing some of these for me... but... well it's good to keep Mom happy. Each year since Ian's first Christmas the kids have had matching Christmas pajamas. No one has pushed back yet so, once again this year we'll all be decked out in our holiday attire as we head to bed on the 24th. We always put our tree up the day after Thanksgiving. The kids always take turns pulling the number out of our advent chimney, Santa slowly lowering down the chimney towards the fireplace. We always make gingerbread houses, and drive through our neighborhood looking at all of the lights. And we always go for Japanese food on Christmas Eve. When we travel to Pennsylvania some of these traditions may look a little different but we still do them all. This year's christmas pajama photo will be in front of Grammy's tree, not ours. And our Christmas Eve dinner will be at Aunt Jaime's not at Kiku. It may all be a little different but we're all together creating memories and that's the important part.
Three years ago we added a new tradition. We started giving our kids experiences for their birthdays and Christmas. There really is nothing that they need so rather than spending money on things, we began buying tickets to concerts, sporting events or season passes to a local amusement park for them. All four of them love this. And Kirk and I are getting time with our kids, who are growing faster than we can even imagine. To us it's money well spent. Last year their large Christmas gift was a ski trip to Park City. We're a ski family. We have done annual trips every year since Will was 3 years old. That's ten years. Our trip to Park City was our first trip out west. A much different experience than skiing in Michigan like our kids are used to. If you ever get the chance to go to Park City make sure you go. It's absolutely beautiful. And the kids did really well given the size of the mountain and the length of the ski runs. Even Rachel did well the first two days. Much better than we had anticipated. But on the third day the wheels fell off the bus and she had an epic meltdown on the mountain. Long story short it took us two-hours to get her off the mountain and she never put her skies on the remainder of the trip. It was not at all how we had hoped the trip would go for her. Or Kirk, myself or our other three kids. It was a rough evening. We have tried to focus on the fun we had that week and the memories we were able to create despite what happened on that mountain. We also spent time running through the snow and then jumping back into the hot tub, playing Skipbo, and Uno and watching episodes of one of our favorite shows, Impractical Jokers. Overall it was a great trip. But that two hours on the mountain have left their mark with Rachel.
Ian is heading into his last semester of high school. He knows his Mom is having a hard time with this so he knew he had a captive audience in me when he said "Can we have a ski trip to Colorado before I go away to college next year?" After a fairly brief discussion with Kirk we booked the trip and are headed to Beaver Creek the week after New Years. They are so excited! Everyone, except Rachel. She immediately asked what she was going to do. We hadn't figure all of that out just yet, but had a few ideas in mind. About an hour after we shared the news with the kids Rachel came to us with her own idea. She asked if she could stay with Grandma in Altoona. She would rather stay in Altoona with Grandma Jeani and Grammy Betty than go with us to ski. In that moment my heart burst and sank all at the same time.
I was so proud of Rachel for advocating for herself and recognizing that skiing is not what she wants to be doing. And coming up with a solution to the situation. She is very excited to have both Grandmas all to herself for the week. And in a very big way I can tell that she's relieved to not have to go with us. Altoona feels safe to her. It's a more quiet, slower pace of life there. It's very much how she prefers life to be.
But my heart sank at the idea of her not being with us. She won't be in any of the pictures. She won't be there for any of it. I'm still struggling with this, but I know I have to come to grips with it because this is what makes her happy. And happiness is what I want for her. Reality is all the travel will be too much for her. A nine hour drive to Pennsylvania, a week of holiday celebrations with our families, flying to and from Colorado and spending two full weeks out of her routine would be a lot for her to tolerate. And likely wouldn't have ended well. So the best option for her is to be exactly where she wants to be. I also came to another realization this week. Our other three kids need a break from her. They give things up a times, live with her outbursts and verbal attacks on them and have to cope with Kirk and I "handling" her. Kirk and I aren't the only ones who become stressed by having a special needs child in our home. And I feel guilty for even writing this but Kirk and I need this break too. Autism and the teen years are no joke. She's challenging at best. We love her endlessly, but her Autism can be utterly exhausting some days.
So the plans are set. We will spend the first half of break in Pennsylvania celebrating Christmas and New Years with our extended family. The second week five of us will fly to Colorado for a week of snow fun. And Rachel will spend a week at Camp Grandma relaxing and getting lots of one on one time with both of her Grandmas.
Our Christmas break may look a little different this year. And we surely aren't a Norman Rockwell painting but we are love. And love is acceptance.
I hope you all have a memory filled Christmas and a year of blessings in 2017!
I can imagine how it must feel to know one of your children will be missing, but I so agree that its very amazing and quite mature of Rachel to come up with a solution to what might be a problem for her. Frankly I might have to take notes from her because I am not always good at realizing what is too much for me to handle. Wishing your family a wonderful Christmas and a relaxing ski trip; and Rachel a wonderful time at Grandmas'!
Love and Hugs
Happy holidays to you and yours Karri! That's pretty amazing that Rachel came up with a solution that works for everyone. That's maturity and while I know you're feeling a bit torn, enjoy that break! Siblings need a break from each other too and that's okay. I'm so excited to know that you guys made the trip to Park City last year! I've been many times and hope that you had some yummy barbecue at Texas Reds. I think there was a Chinese place across the street too. Yum! Have fun in Colorado and you might even share a ski lift with a Hollywood star!
I love this picture of your family. I know how torn you must be because I'm feeling torn about it right beside you. But we are all used to life not turning out the way we pictured in our heads. The time will be amazing, you'll have a few moments of sadness along with it but Rachel will have her storybook vacation. Much love to you.
I love all your traditions. I too love Christmas and can stress myself out a bit with trying to do too much. Hope you have a good trip to Pa and To Colorado. I know it will be hard for you going on vacation without your daughter but she will have her vacation that works for her. Many holiday wishes and hugs to you all. Nicki
We help moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies. And if something goes wrong, we offer information and comfort to families. We research the problems that threaten our babies and work on preventing them.
© Privacy, terms and notices