Christmas Traditions according to the Tapley Family

Jesse and I each grew up in a home where the holidays were on FULL display, I’m talking christmas towels in the bathroom, pictures removed from the wall to be replaced by christmas cross stitching, throw pillows switched out and little christmas knick knacks on every available surface. So when Jesse and I got married we agreed to a small/ limited decoration style but rich with tradition. That has been our style until this year. I can now feel the tides changing as Zoe gets more and more into the spirit of Christmas, which if I am honest, makes me pretty excited!

So here are a few of my favorite traditions that we have…

The Elf on the Shelf. Our elf’s name is Elvis. He shows up every Thanksgiving night and sticks around till Christmas Eve. He’s not as mischievous as he once was, because the bigger the kids get (the boys know we move him) the less fun it is…

Christmas Cookies. DUH! If you don’t make cookies is it even Christmas??

Star Wars. Three years ago the boys convinced us to watch the entire Star Wars Saga over Christmas Break. The newest movie was getting ready to release so we thought it was a great idea. That great idea morphed into one of their favorite traditions: every year, every movie. This year we had to start before Thanksgiving so that we could get them all in before the latest episode came out in theatres. Before you know it, we will be watching them in January just to prepare for the next year! But this has been fun and the boys really enjoy it. If I am completely honest, I spend a lot of this time on my phone, reading, or writing. img_7683

Christmas Classics. We also watch Elf, Home Alone, and Charlie Brown every year too. It sounds like we spend a lot of time in front of the TV, which I guess is kind of true. But honestly I don’t think I’ll ever feel bad about being snuggled up with my crew sipping hot chocolate and coffees while watching these classic films.

Family Ornaments. Each year I pick out a new family ornament that shows some sort of significance to our year. This year I picked a Mickey Mouse one for the year of all things Disney. Our last year in Alaska is a beautiful snowy angel, the year we decided to adopt is a clay Africa. It’s fun to see these and see where we’ve been and how we’ve changed.

Stance Socks. I don’t know that I have shared how much my husband loves socks…but he does. But not just any socks, Stance socks. He has made the tradition where every year we each get a new pair of sock for Christmas. They don’t necessarily match, but all that matters is that we get a picture each year with our new socks on.img_2245

Now here are a couple of our FAILED traditions:

Three gifts each. We tried to give the kids only three gifts each year, because that’s what Jesus got at “the first Christmas.” Jesse got this idea from his cousin when he lived with them in California. I loved the idea until it got really difficult! I would get them three presents and the stuff their stockings with all the other random stuff that I wanted to give them. So now while we don’t go crazy, we just can’t be limited to only three gifts… sorry Jesus.

Gingerbread Houses. For the life of us we cannot build a gingerbread house that stands! We have only tried a handful of times but until THIS YEAR…not one has stood through the night. Whether its poor craftsmanship or our dog that jumped ON TOP OF THE COUNTER to eat it, its just got a tradition that lasted in our home.

My favorite part of this crazy busy season is the time we get to sit and laugh with our kids. Snuggled up on the couch, watching any of the movies and just being with them. Soon this will all change, new people will be invited in, they will not want to snuggle me, they may even go to different homes! But this time with them will not have been wasted.

Merry Christmas my Friends!! 

I hope you are able to take a deep breathe, enjoy this season, eat that cookie, laugh a little harder, and be merry! Let me know some of your favorite traditions or some that you have had that failed!!

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The Date Night That Ended in Tears

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Last week Titus and I met up with a few of his classmates and his teacher to watch the movie WONDER. Their class read the book earlier this year, and they wanted to see the movie all together. Obviously I was game for that, I read Wonder a few years ago and loved the storyIt was an opportunity to have a nice night out for me and my sweet boy.

Titus is our middle child. He was our baby for a long time and when Zoe came home his role as the “baby” was shifted. He and Zoe compete for attention quite a bit, they are both entertainers, both super funny and both very competitive. All that to say, he doesn’t get a lot of the one on one time or attention he craves. So this was a great opportunity for us.

A Theatre Pic is a must…Or did you even go?!

WONDER is about a little boy with Craniofacial that starts public school for the first time in 5th grade. His family is fiercely protective about his feelings, but they know that this is the right next step for their family. Auggie (the main character) knows that yes, he looks different, and yes, others notice and often stare. But as a family, they just hope that no one will be ugly to him. His family’s  life revolves all around him, and at one point in the older sister in the movie says, “My family is the earth and our life revolves around the Sun (son).” That line hit me right in the gut.

 

A few weeks ago I sat with Titus and Zeke at lunch, surrounded by other friends and parents Titus (my little performer) made a joke, “No one even sees Zeke, or me anymore. They all only see Zoe.” I deflected and joked with him, smiling nervously, while crying inside, “Did he really feel this way?! CRAP!” His little joke replayed in my mind as soon as I heard the sister say that. You see I know the truth, our life was flipped upside down the moment Zoe landed in Texas. Not in a terrible way, but our family shifted. We all started learning a new language, we have seen a whole slew of doctors and specialists, we have had fits and learning curves, and our lives have revolved around a lot of these things.

 

All the way home I choked back tears while we talked about the movie what he liked best, how it was different from the book, who our favorite character was, and so on. When we pulled up in our driveway I looked at my second born and confronted all those feelings. “Titus, do you feel like our life revolves around Zoe? Do you sometimes feel invisible? Do you know how much I love you and how special you are to me?” It was a talk that I hated having to have. I cried so much and so did he. We made a deal, “Titus next time you are feeling invisible or really need my attention, put your hands on each side of my face and tell me you need me. I need your help! Ok?!” We hugged and I kissed his sweet face. One of my biggest goals in raising these three kids is that they see me recognize my faults, and see me ask for their forgiveness. If I teach them nothing else I want them to know how to humble themselves, ask for forgiveness and press on. Also I want to teach them to Love God and Love Others but you get me right?!

 

So why tell you this? Because it’s hard. Mothering three very different kids is tough work. And I guess I just wanted you to know that you are not alone. This is tough, but it matters! 

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These 3…I hope they know how hard I am trying!