The Worst.

This past weekend, I got my heart ripped out of my chest and stomped on by my 11 year old son. I’ve written about him before (About A Boy). He was born with visual impairments (including microphthalmia, which means one of his eyes is visually smaller than the other) and in the time since his birth, we have also realized learning disabilities, processing disorders, autistic tendencies and ADHD. It is not easy to be my son.

The worst.

Despite all of these adversities, all of these struggles, he was blessed with a wonderful little personality. He is a happy kid, always smiling. Out of my children, the other two being girls, he is easily my most sensitive and caring. Every day, he will ask me, my husband and our girls how our days were — and he honestly cares. He loves giving out hugs, with one of his former teachers saying he had a knack for knowing when she really needed one.

But, as with any kid, the one we see at home is different from the one who walks through the school doors. The older he’s gotten, the less smiles we see. His anxiety has ticked up. His frustrations and insecurities regarding his vision and the issues that subsequently stem from them rear their ugly heads far too frequently.  This weekend, however, took the cake. An entire bakery’s worth of cakes, actually.

I honestly don’t even remember what brought it on. He was sitting at the breakfast table, complaining about something. (He is not a morning person — much like his mama.) My husband and I took turns trying to talk him down. The next thing we know, he’s shouting “I hate looking in the mirror! WHY did you make me this way?!”

You wanna talk about a sucker punch? I literally felt like someone had punched me, straight in the gut. I felt the air leave my lungs and I spun around before he could see my face crumble. My husband was right there and immediately wrapped his arms around me as I silently sobbed into my hands. I didn’t look at my husband but I’m pretty sure he was trying very hard not to cry as well as he told me that our son didn’t mean it like that and that it’s not my fault.

But it is.

The genes that are responsible for his eye issues? My husband, my son and I were all tested before my son even reached a year old. Those genes come from me. So while I didn’t knowingly give him his eye problems, the genes that caused them came from me. Me. His mom.

Up until this weekend, we never even really spoke much about his visual impairments. They were kind of like the elephant in the room – as he’s gotten older, he has realized that he looks different from the other kids and that he has trouble seeing what other people do, and yet, we still never really discussed it. Great parenting, huh? I don’t know about my husband but for me, I didn’t know what to say.

But when he cried out “I hate looking in the mirror! Why did you make me this way?!”, there was absolutely no way around it.

I told him we were sorry.

I told him that if I could give him my eyes, I would have done it. I shook my head as I remembered my own mother saying something similar to me in regards to my back pain. I was born with spina bifida and while it was corrected in a surgery when I was 4 months old, I am still left with residual back pain and other complications. She would see me wince when I was younger and tell me that if she could take my pain for me, she would. I remember my 8-year-old self thinking that she was insane for wishing she could have the pain instead. Now I get it, because I would take his coloboma, his nystagmus, his microphthalmia, I’d take it all if it meant he could have normal sight.

I told him that the genes were from me, though I never would have chosen to give him these impairments, and that when he feels angry and needs someone to blame, he can blame me. Because it’s true. It’s my fault.

We told him that his emotions are normal and it’s okay to feel sorry for himself and even to feel anger at his situation, but never allow those emotions more than a day. We told him that there are so many people worse off than he is. That even though his sight isn’t perfect, he still has it. His favorite color is orange. Other people have no idea what “orange” is. When he goes to the beach, he can see the ocean. He can see the sand. Some of the other kids that attend the same summer camp are completely blind. They can only imagine the ocean and the sand.

We told him that even people whose bodies are differently-abled can still achieve fantastic things. We told him about Stevie Wonder, who still plays the piano even though he’s totally blind. Beethoven, who wrote beautiful music while deaf. Stephen Hawking, a world-reknown physicist who can’t even move his mouth to speak but whose mind still works and discovers amazing new things about our universe.

We told him that his eyes do not define him and they never will, unless he allows them to. We told him that when people look at him, they don’t see “the kid with the eyes.” They see a sweet, kind, caring kid. (I may have also thrown “ridiculously handsome” in there because, hey, he is.) And right on cue, I came across a paper he had saved from school on which his teachers and classmates had written their favorite things about him. “Sweet.” “Funny.” “Awesome.” “Kind.” “Positive.” That is what people see when they see my boy. As an 11-year-old, he may not understand it now but those are all the adjectives that matter. Those are the adjectives that make his father and I immeasurably proud.

There were tears on Saturday. There is frustration every day. There is sadness some days. But there is also hope and love all the time. Yes, it hurts me to the core of my being to know that my sweet son will have more struggles in life than most people because of anyone I’ve ever known, he deserves them the least. But… things could always be worse.  And despite the struggles, he is surrounded by people – family, teachers, friends at school, friends from church – who have formed an amazing support system for not only him, but his dad and me as well.

He isn’t perfect. (Who is?!)

But he is loved beyond words.

And for that, we are blessed.

Samantha

It’s been a year since I last saw you. One full rotation around the sun, 366 days, 8760 hours, 525,600 minutes. One full rotation around the sun too long. 366 days too many. 8760 hours since your last kiss. And 525,600 minutes of having an unfixable hole in my heart.

You came into my life on August 17, 2002. It was a normal, lazy Saturday morning until my parents’ next-door neighbor knocked on their back door and asked if we happened to know if anyone who was looking to adopt a puppy. I looked down. You looked up. And that was it. It was love at first sight for both of us, I think.

Samantha Puppy

I wasn’t looking to adopt a dog. I still lived with my parents. But I begged and pleaded and eventually, they gave in making me promise that you would move out once Daddy graduated from college and moved back to Maryland. What they didn’t know was that they’d fall in love with you too. Your adoption created Grandmommy and Granddaddy, since we had to differentiate between me (Mommy) and them. Even now, with you gone, my children call them that. My brother’s daughter calls them that. Because of you! How’s that for a legacy?

I’m pretty sure that everyone who knew you loved you. How could they not? You were so happy, always always smiling. You were so laid back. You were so loving. It sounds so cliche to say that you were my best friend, but you were really were. You were so much more than just a dog. A lot of people won’t get that, even if they say that they do. Even if they think that they do. They don’t, not really, and they never will.

picThey will never understand the bond we had. They weren’t there on our quick jaunts to the snowball stand or the road trips to Virginia Tech to go see Daddy. They weren’t there when I’d cling to you after a particularly hard day or a big fight. And you’d just let me. You’d stay there as long as I needed you and just let me hug you. God, I miss that.

I miss everything about you. I miss that dent in between your eyes that was my favorite place to kiss. I miss how you’d walk over to and nudge my elbow up to pet you. I miss how you’d follow me wherever I went. I miss how you’d get so excited at hearing “go look out the window.” “Daddy’s home.” “Do you wanna…” “Grandmommy/Granddaddy/Uncle Robbie’s here!” “Sammie, look – there’s a bunny!” I miss how you’d look back at me when I made you go outside to do your business in the rain. (You were such a priss.) I miss how you loved to go bye-byes and how you would stick your head out the window. I miss how you said “boof” instead of “woof.” There isn’t really anything that I don’t miss about you.

I always said that when you died, I’d lock myself in my room for days and cry and as much as I did want to do that when the time did come, I couldn’t. I had to go on, I had kids to take care of and work to do. I actually surprised myself at how “strong” I was through such a sad time but I think – I hope – you’d have been proud of me. I had (and still have) my moments. Daddy, Grandmommy and Granddaddy gave me a gift certificate to get a stuffed version of you for my birthday that made me burst into tears. Looking at pictures of you has the same effect. Writing this was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever written and it still doesn’t feel like enough. You deserve a book or a song for everything you were to me.

sams urnYou left us on Friday, June 12, 2015, just two weeks shy of your 13th birthday. The kids traced their handprints so you wouldn’t be alone. We had you cremated along with the handprints, and Baby and Hedgehog, your two favorite toys. Your ashes sit on top of our mantle in a beautiful marble urn that says “Our Sweet Girl” with your name and dates on it, and one day it’ll be buried with me so we’ll be together forever. Grandmommy even had your paw print turned into a pendant that I wear every day, so you’re never really far from my heart. I usually go to sleep each night holding the pendant, remembering the 12 years and 8 months that I had it all.

My beautiful Samantha puppy.

My beautiful Samantha Puppy.

 

Happy times with my girl.

Happy times with Samantha.

 

Happy, smiling girl.

Happy, smiling Sam.

 

obx6

Sammie ith Daddy at OBX, June 2005.

 

Miss that face.

Miss Sam’s beautiful face.

 

sam and me 5

Goofing off.

sam and me 4

sam and me 3

 

 

She always loved the snow. She'd lay in it for hours.

Sammie Girl always loved the snow. She’d lay in it for hours.

 

I love you, Sam, and I miss you more than I could ever put into words. I hope you know that somehow. And I pray that we will be reunited one day.

A Balancing Act

balancing actLife is all about balancing, isn’t it?

Balancing school and play.

Work and play.

And those are just the main things. Then you’ve got sub-balancing. Kids’ activities. Your activities. Cleaning the house. Cooking dinner. It never ends! I don’t know about you, but I get exhausted from all this balancing. And after almost 12 years of marriage, 10 of which I’ve been a mom, I keep waiting to get better at it and it still eludes me.

I want to be one of those moms who has it all together. I want to be one of those moms at which others marvel, wondering how I do it. I want beautiful, gray-free, frizz-free hair and stylish clothes. I want to be that Pinterest mom who churns out homemade organic nutrition for her family, has a clean house, hand makes her own wreaths and other assorted decor, the mom who is never late, never frazzled, and remembers everything her kids need for every little school project.  That’s what I want. What I am is very different. I do not have it all together. I definitely do not have frizz-free hair (or gray-free, anymore). Definitely don’t have stylish clothes. My Pinterest fails far outnumber my Pinterest wins. I don’t make organic stuff; half the time anymore, I don’t even make dinner. Forget wreaths and decor. I’m late, I’m frazzled, and 9 times out of 10, I send my kid off to school without the supplies for the school project and without the planner signed. I’m the mom in the drop-off line at preschool with sunglasses on on a cloudy day because I don’t want others to see so plainly that I haven’t even had the chance to shower yet. I am, in two simple words, a mess.

And that’s just me as a mom! The other part of me, the wife bit? Yeah. Kaput.

During the 2 hours and 45 minutes I have to myself each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday while my littlest one is in preschool, I let my mind wander as I head back home and 99% of the time, it wanders somewhere along the lines of: what happened to you? WHO are you anymore? I used to be a musician. I used to be a reader. I used to get the occasional manicure. I used to go to the salon regularly and get new clothes or shoes (or both!)… just because. I used to go to the movies more than once a year. I had interests and dreams.

My littlest one, the one currently in preschool, will enter kindergarten in August and in our district, that’s a full-day deal. Some days, I can’t wait. (Today was one of those days. Holy tantrum, Batman!) Some days, the thought of watching ALL of my children ride the bus off to school tears my heart out and I can barely breathe. I wonder though, could this be a chance to reclaim myself? This will be the first time in over TEN YEARS that I haven’t had a kid with me. Ten years. Am I too far gone? Am I even that same person I used to be? WHO am I anymore? Edited to add: Oh crap, is this the making of a midlife crisis??

The truth is, I don’t know. I don’t know who I am. It sounds like I’m not happy. (I am, though!) I have a solid marriage with a good man who loves me (except my feet). I have 3 kids that, while trying sometimes, are really great kids. I love my family and my church and my town and my friends. I am content. But when I have more time; more time to balance work vs. play vs. kids vs. husband vs. us vs. me, could I maybe move past contentment? Contentment’s pretty great… but is there more?

Only time will tell.

A Supremely Monumental Decision

I’ve heard it so many times before.monumental decision

“How can you possibly be a real Christian if you support gay marriage?”

And because I hate political discussions – as well as confrontation – nine times out of 10 I’ll just smile and attempt to change the subject. But after this morning’s SCOTUS decision in regards to this very matter, I feel almost compelled to share my thoughts. Some will agree with them, some will not, and that’s all okay.

First, I’d like to take this time to admit that 20+ years ago, I used to be against gay marriage. I thought it was sinful and the bible plainly said that it was an abomination. Tab A into Slot B, and all that. I was a teenager, just starting to form opinions on world issues and in my teenage naïvety, I was pretty sure I had the world all figured out. (LOL. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.) There was no gray area between the black and white I saw. This was right, that was wrong, and that was the end of story. Like I said, I was young and naïve.

I spent my 20s and early 30s focusing on snagging my husband and starting our family. It was somewhere in there that I actually started to think for myself. I began to question a lot. About everything, really, but especially the issue of equality for gay community.  It was also during this time that I found our current church and we began attending regularly. I heard the pastors preach of love, love, love. I heard my children learn songs about God’s unfailing, unending love for us. And I started to wonder… how could this loving God condemn someone to Hell because of whom they love? That question is pretty much where it all began to change for me.

But it says so in the bible!

Yes, it does – in the book of Leviticus. But have you ever read Leviticus? That book has some crazy stuff in there! Among stating that lying with another of the same gender is an “abomination,” it also says that: women are worth less than men, tattoos are prohibited, rude children should be put to death, women who have premarital sex should be put to death, birth control is a sin, slavery is a-OK and God shuns those with disabilities. (As the mother of a special needs kid, that last one really was a slap in the face…) So if you find yourself disagreeing with these additional statements from Leviticus, then maybe you should give a second thought to that whole “abomination” part as well. Know why?

Because guess what else it says in the bible?

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New International Version (NIV)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. I’m pretty sure there is no fine print at the bottom of 1 Corinthians 13 that says (*does not apply to gays). 

As a Christian, I am called to live as Christ-like an existence as I can. Am I perfect? I’m pretty sure my parents, husband and kids can testify that I most certainly am not. However, there is one rule that I strive to live by every day. Some days I succeed, some days I don’t but I never not try. What rule is it? “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” It is not my place in any way, shape or form, to judge someone else for the way they live their lives. Gay marriage has absolutely no effect on my marriage. None. It has no effect on you or your marriage. What gives you the right to decide what I can and can’t do with my own life??!!?! Mind your own business. If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get one. But don’t tell other people what they can and can’t do and how they should live their lives. You have no right.

So yes. Today, I celebrate the decision made by the Supreme Court of the United States. You may not, and that’s your prerogative but notice what I am not doing: I am not telling you how to think or what to do. Pretty nice, isn’t it? Perhaps that is something you should try yourself.

Live and let live.

My Super Power? Invisibility.

invisible motherPart of the reason I started Love Laughter Lunacy was to allow me an outlet. Sometimes you just need to share/vent/whatever, right? As it turned out, I also started my first job in 9 years right around the same time so I have spent much of the last 6 months immersing myself in learning as much as I could about my new employment and Love Laughter Lunacy took a major backseat. And even though I’m busy today with various tasks, I felt almost drawn to write for this blog today.

Have you ever read The Invisible Mother? If you haven’t, take a moment to do so because chances are, you’ll completely relate to the first part and the second part will completely uplift you.

I first read The Invisible Mother a few years ago after a friend of mine forwarded it to me. I remember thinking “that’s ME!” and my eyes filling with tears as I read it to completion. It’s my go-to when I’m feeling underappreciated or overwhelmed, which as a mom of small children, happens more frequently than I care to admit. Just this morning, I couldn’t even finish a cup of coffee before my children came running downstairs with breakfast demands. “I want toast!” “I don’t want toast, I want <something that we don’t have!>” “Where’s my milk?” “How much of this do I have to eat?” Once I finally had breakfast under control, their attentions turned to lunch and then dinner. “What are you making for…” followed by my answer which was then, inevitably, followed by “ewwwwww!”

Now, before I go further, let me say that my kids – while they do have “moments” from which they are lucky to emerge alive – are generally really good kids. But they’re kids. They’re 9, 6 and almost 4. The universe revolves around them and anything less than instant gratification is not good enough. It’s frustrating and astonishing and embarrassing and infuriating all rolled into one and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that some days, I am certain I’m doing everything wrong.

The thing is though, that every mom feels that way at some point and anyone who says otherwise is in denial or lying. Look up any “mom” blog and you will see articles filled with moms who struggle daily but don’t think this is a recent development. First published in 1975, “The Mother’s Almanac” by Elia Parsons and Marguerite Kelly is filled with common-sense wisdom for all moms. A quote of theirs that has resonated with me since first having my son over 9 years ago is “Motherhood brings as much joy as ever, but it still brings boredom, exhaustion, and sorrow, too.  Nothing else ever will make you as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, for nothing is quite as hard as helping a person develop his own individuality, especially while you struggle to keep your own.” Don’t tell me you don’t relate to that quote, I won’t believe you.

How many of you bemoan “I used to” or “Before I had kids…”? I used to write. I used to plow through books. I used to weigh 40 lbs less than I do now. Before I had kids, I didn’t even know what channel Disney Jr. was on. Before I had kids, I had hot dinners and unmelty ice cream – and I didn’t have to share any of it! Before I had kids, my husband and I used to see movies in the theaters all the time.  I could go on and on about all the great things I did before I had kids. Do I miss those days? Sure I do. But before I had kids, I also had never experienced the smile of a sleeping newborn. The excitement of witnessing my child hit a big developmental milestone. Chubby hands on my cheeks pulling me in for a sloppy kiss. The simultaneous thrill and heartbreak of watching them ride away on a bus on their very first ever day of school. I never had a refrigerator filled with artwork. Never gazed at angelic faces as they slept peacefully tucked in their beds. I hadn’t yet experienced the exhilaration of playing Santa, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg that is raising a child. That’s the small stuff. That’s not even close to the serious stuff – the building of the cathedral.

Every day is another beam in the cathedral. Every struggle of theirs that need a mother’s help is another nail that holds it all together. I am helping to build masterpieces – the finished work of which I will never see – so despite the challenges that comes with being a parent, despite the fact that my kids will never appreciate all their dad and I have done for them or sacrificed for them until they’re a lot older (possibly even parents themselves), it’s not for nothing. I am building a cathedral.

the invisible mother

The Invisible Mother

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’

Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??

Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’

Some days I’m a crystal ball; ‘Where’s my other sock? Where’s my phone?, What’s for dinner?’

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature -but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going, she’s going, and she’s gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when she turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’ It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’

In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: 1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names. 2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. 3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. 4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was Almost as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.

No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, he’d say, ‘You’re gonna love it there…’

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.

‘Tis the Season!

'Tis the Season Now, I know I said a few weeks ago that autumn was my absolute favorite season of the year – and it is. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my favorite time of year is from Thanksgiving through the New Year. You see, I’m a traditional kinda gal and this time of year is just steeped in tradition.

It starts with the night before Thanksgiving, when we go to a friend’s for his annual Pre-Thanksgiving festivities. He started it the Thanksgiving immediately after we graduated high school and has done so ever since. It’s always fun to catch up with those we really don’t see any other time of the year due to either distance or just busy schedules but my favorite thing has been watching us all morph from college kids to 20-somethings trying to figure out once and for all what we want in life to 30-somethings with actual careers,  spouses and families. The night doesn’t go quite as late as it once did and shenanigans of inebriated “kids” have given way to [slightly] more mature adults but it’s still a good time and an evening we always look forward to. Unfortunately this year, it snowed the entire day before Thanksgiving so we were unable to go. It felt a little odd but we put on Elf and let the kids experience that movie for the first time. (It was a hit.)

The next day is Thanksgiving – the one holiday my husband, kids and I still split between both his family and mine. It makes for a hectic day but it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if we did it any other way since this has been what we’ve done since our first Thanksgiving together in 1995. My mom always makes the same foods which is extremely comforting to me. I’m sure they’re probably pretty similar to what most Americans have that day – roasted turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, a dish of gherkin pickles and olives (it isn’t a holiday without it), pumpkin pie… We always head home fat and happy after two dinners, singing Christmas songs in between all the groans and buttons popping off our pants.

The day after Thanksgiving, I avoid stores at all costs. I can’t think of any worse thing than to go fight mobsMy girls with Frederick II of people just to save a few bucks. Some people get a high off of it but I am not one of them! Instead, we head off to the local tree farm to pick our Christmas tree. A sub-tradition of getting our tree began a couple years ago when our son announced that he was naming it Frederick – which I thought was a great name for a Christmas tree! Last year was Frederick II but this year, he wanted something a little less “fancy” so he and his dad came up with… Johnny Needles.

We spend that entire day decorating the tree and the rest of the house. My house decorated for Christmas is my favorite. It is so warm and homey with the warm glow of the Christmas tree and candles flickering… As I type, we are all together on the couch watching Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus. The only thing missing is hot chocolate. In the next week or so, my husband and I will take part in one of my absolute favorite traditions of ours. We turn off the lights, cuddle on the couch and watch Love, Actually. We have done that every single Christmas since we were married 10 years ago. I. love. it.

In between the craziness of Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, we have another big happening – on December 21, 2005, I gave birth to my sweet boy. Though his birthday is only 4 days before Santa arrives, we always make sure we have a big birthday celebration. I’ve known others who’ve had children with birthdays at Christmastime and most of them wait to put up any decorations until the birthday has passed. My boy, however, loves when we put up the Christmas decorations because then he knows his birthday is right around the corner.

Christmas Eve evening is one of my favorite nights of the year. My children are in the children’s choir at our church and our minister of music has them sing at the 6pm family service. I love watching them stand stmattchristmaseveon the altar singing of Jesus’ birth. Our church is gorgeous any day but it’s especially breathtaking at Christmastime. My entire family attends the family service and then my mom and I usually return to church for the candlelight service where I sing with the adult choir. (I’ll be taking a break this year as the gifts that Santa is bringing require quite a bit more assembly than his gifts have in the past so I’ll be staying home to play Mrs. Claus to my husband’s Santa. As much as I’ll miss my candlelight service, I am looking forward to playing Santa!) My mom and dad then spend the night and I think we’re just as excited to see the kids on Christmas morning as the kids are to see the result of Santa’s visit!

As you can imagine with three little ones, Christmas morning is pretty crazy but I love it. I love watching the kids faces as they see the tree with all the gifts underneath of it for the first time. I love playing along with the whole Santa schpiel. I love watching and listening to them play with their new stuff as the smell of Christmas dinner begins to waft through the house. Inevitably, at least one kid will pass out… and nine times out of ten, so does my dad.

There is really nothing I don’t love about Christmas. I love the traditions and the new memories made at every turn. I love seeing the lights on houses, the carols on the radio, baking cookies with my husband and kids… I love it all. And now that you know a little about me (okay, a lot!), what are your favorite Christmas traditions?