Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

Peace, not perfection

I never tire of the holidays.

I have no max input of twinkly lights.

Buying presents does not exhaust me.  I could wrap for days and days.

I love the endless onslaught of Christmas cookies.

I have no fear of the rush to move from house to house, visiting with family and friends, enjoying coziness and cheer and gingerbread house making and ALL OF THE HOLIDAY THINGS.

(I have probably grown tired of the Trolls Holiday Special but that is beside the point.  Those creatures are annoying.)

I am sure that much of my love of this season stems from the fact that I have two love languages: gifts and quality time.  The American Christmas Season was made for people like me.  I mean seriously – all we do from Thanksgiving through New Years Day is what I love – buy things and love on each other through endless holiday gatherings.

Sometimes where I falter is in reminding myself that the American Christmas Season was not made for all of the people I love.


For example, about a week ago, my parents took me and the rest of the ladies in the family to an afternoon performance of The Nutcracker.  I imagined a magical afternoon with my girls, their faces lit up with unbridled excitement at the costumes and the music and the dancing.  As the performance drew nearer though, I began to have some trepidation of how Tessa would respond to the theater environment.  In general she has struggled in concerts, performances, and other events where there is clapping and lots of sensory input.  In the name of including her, we forged ahead with the day, and I was hell-bent on making this a great experience.

Until it wasn’t.

Before the curtain even went up, it was apparent that she was going to sob her way through the performance (I suspect in fear of the moment that applause would break out).  It didn’t matter if I covered her ears or found some other way to block out the noise, she was not going to have it and my magical day with the girls suddenly felt heavy and sad.

I’ll be totally honest – when I ran out of the auditorium and into the bathroom with her, I cried in anger for about 15 seconds because this beautiful experience was so hard for her.  It felt really unfair.

And then, as I sat with her in the lobby and waited for John to take her home so that I could watch the show with Ellie, I thought through all of the hard things that people deal with in the holidays.  I gave myself an internal stern talking-to and reminded myself to calm the **** down.  Because seriously, this is a molehill compared to the hurt that people struggle through during what should be a sweet and festive time.

My struggle with perfection has come to head this season as I have seen my eldest start to navigate the very real irritation that I also feel when things do not go as planned.  She is as I am.  And to help her function in our world, I have to consciously choose peace in the imperfect, not in perfection.

It is not easy.  I have wanted desperately to rearrange ornaments, or people’s choices in meal times, or my child’s psychological brain function…. it’s not realistic.

Peace is not perfection.

Peace is not perfection.

There is still so much to be learned. ❤


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Celebrations – A Photo Dump

You’ll have to excuse my long absence – I’ve been busy partying.

No, seriously. We can’t stop. It is bordering on over-the-top. I love it.

Two weeks ago, I (conveniently) enlisted my family members to write about Tessa’s birth. While they did that, I camped out in my kitchen and baked for 6 days straight. Cookies for neighbors who decorated our shared walkway with twinkly Christmas lights, goodie bags for my amazing department at school with some of the most dedicated, hardworking teachers around, pudding ‘cupcakes’ for Miss Tessa’s first birthday party… and then chicken chili and posole and black bean salsa for the party. My bakeware was tired. My oven was tired. My feet were tired. But the party was just getting started.

Saturday, we celebrated Tessa’s first birthday.

What the heck is this hat, Mom???


Oh, there’s cake involved?  Well, alright then.


Group pictures are a challenge… Especially when Mama Bear insists that all party-goers must wear hats.


And John insisted I take a picture of myself in the hat and “photoshop” myself in.  And since I don’t know anything about photoshop, I’m just sharing it here.


Sunday, we took a break. But only because I had a migraine (and John had to finish his Christmas shopping).

Monday, in the absence of snow, we celebrated rain.




Tessa and I stayed inside, where it was warm and dry. 🙂


Tuesday, there was a new addition to our family. Welcome, Baby Tony, and congrats to my brother and his lovely wife.




Wednesday, our Christmas Eve celebration with Oma and Papa (John’s parents) included a Happy Birthday Jesus cake, decorated by our own little cake boss.








We also got ready for Santa.  Ellie read some books and left cookies by the fireplace, which was actually an amazing feat because Ellie is terrified of the big guy in red.


The following pictures are blurry because our scared-y cat kept running away.  The idea of a creepy stranger breaking into the house to deliver anything, even a Mermaid Barbie, was horrifying. 


Get me outta here!!

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On Thursday, Christmas was just plain lovely…

Ellie says, “Ack!!  Santa made a mess on the fireplace!!”  Also, there was no snow in Chicago for Christmas,so I’m not sure how Santa left snowprints, but the little ones didn’t catch that little blunder.


Where is everyone??  I want to open presents!!

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Grapefruits with my dad – an annual tradition…




Until dinner, when all of the children had had enough and all of the adults had had enough. There were lots of (toddler) tears at the dinner table, so naturally, there were plenty of adult beverages to get us through as well.

On Friday, we ditched our kiddos at my parents’ house and celebrated the birthdays of John’s very best friends. It’s a big year for us… The Big Three Oh. You know we’re getting old when the main topic of conversation at the bar table is how the live band is too loud…. 😉



Saturday was the big, extended family celebration for Christmas and a little white elephant exchange. I came home with a little ice cream maker (which, for the record, doesn’t work. At. All.)

Group child pictures… there are 30 on my phone and these are the best two… crazy kids.


IMG_7205  White elephant fun…




Queen Ellie and King George


How we knew the night needed to be over…


Sunday’s celebration was the end of a painful Bears season. And because we have heard “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” far, far too many times (see Ellie’s video here), the Christmas decorations came down. It was a week earlier than usual, but really, we had to stop the madness. I have never been more thankful to hear my child sing Let it Go. It was that bad.

We let Ellie feed Tessa… they both loved it.


We wrapped up ten days of celebrating today with a visit from one of my dearest friends and her family.

So now, it’s December 30th and we’re just kind of lounging.  Tomorrow for New Years Eve, I think we’ll do…. nothing.

Happy Holidays!!

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Car rides with Ellie sound like….

Hanging out with Tessa sounds like…

For better or worse, quiet is not a word that is in our vocabulary these days.  🙂

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