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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Behind The Scenes - What We Didn't Share In Our Annual Christmas Letter This year

Every year, we compile an annual Christmas letter sharing the highlights of our year and a little bit about each child. Of course, we try to focus on the positive without becoming "That Family" who looks so picture perfect and brags about every accomplishment possible. This year, I thought I'd share the things we left off of our annual Christmas letter.

I didn't tell everyone about my son's struggle with TMJ after having his braces off. With him, we went with lingual braces - The kind that are on the back of your top teeth, so not noticeable. That is a decision I regret. Oh, we paid more to get the lingual braces, but in hindsight I feel more as though they were a bit of an experimental style of braces. I watched him go to visit after visit and on occasion, his jaw was pried so far open that I was amazed it didn't break. He even received an apology letter from one of the orthodontic assistants after one visit saying, "sorry we beat you up so badly." So, I know it wasn't my imagination that his jaw was being pushed beyond the normal limits. It didn't reveal itself, however, until after his braces came off. He started having jaw pain, and the treatment was no picnic. It was quite painful. We decided to go with our family chiropractor whom we still owe more than a thousand dollars, on top of the thousands we paid for the braces. My main concern is that my son is out of pain.

I left off the entire "new" van information. My van had turned 50,000, and my husband's was more than 75,000 with some issues that were not entirely pressing, but would have added up to more than a thousand in repairs. In June, Kia offered incentives for new van purchases. So, we went to their food trucks picnic with free food just to take a look. Really, we had every intention of test driving a new model van for the purpose of measuring it and proving our point that it was smaller - too small - for our needs of transporting music gear and five people on our yearly tour. Well... We were proved wrong. The van actually has slightly more space in it, and the dealership made us an offer that just made too much practical sense to pass up. Long story short, we have a four-year lease on a beautiful new van,

Now, the celebration got complicated, however, when we discovered that the top of the van had no cross bars to hold a cargo carrier. They changed the design to be these two small bars that are flush with the van - not raised to easily secure crossbars. We tried to find roof rack crossbars for flush side rails to hold our cargo box (A vital necessity when traveling). It all worked out after endless online searches and phone calls. In the end, we praise God for the people at Yakima! We got some Yakima crossbars that worked well, even through wind and storms on the road.

I left off how my oldest daughter finally found a dance studio she likes after a couple years of searching to find a somewhat close replacement to a dearly loved teacher she had since she was 2. I signed her up for Int/Adv ballet, just like she had in the spring. Only, a couple months into it, I noticed she wasn't really excited at all about dance night. Come to find out, the studio had changed the class to a Beginner class since most of the girls who signed up had never had dance ever....  My daughter has been dancing for 11 years.....  Thankfully, we caught the mistake and they allowed her to switch classes to the Advanced ballet class, but this meant she had to learn a dance for the Christmas performance in about 30 minutes before performing it. Still, she is happy she didn't spend the entire year with beginners.

I didn't mention that after our 5-week tour, I had mysterious foot pain. I'm still not sure if I fractured something or what happened, but I discovered that the muscles and nerves on the bottom of your foot are quite painful when not functioning properly. Thankfully, it has eased quite a bit.

I didn't even mention how my hubby is in desperate need of a double hernia operation, but he can't afford the cost of the surgery nor the time off for recovery. He did see a specialist who looked at him for 5 minutes, told him he could call anytime to schedule the surgery and then received a bill for more than $300...Which we are probably still paying.

I left off our seemingly never-ending debt despite our constantly working ourselves silly which was underscored and highlighted as a deeper reminder of just how financially sad things are when we actually qualified for the state's medical insurance for our children and was offered a huge tax credit for my hubby and I.

I also didn't mention that because of Obamacare's rules, our happy little health plan ended this year, and we were forced to find an alternative to our low premium family self-employed plan. Since we could not afford any of the alternative plans that are considered to be acceptable forms of health insurance, we humbled ourselves, cringed, and went onto the government's site to find a plan, provided far more information than I was comfortable with, and in the end, feel as though we have sold our children's souls to the government. But, we are covered and within the legal requirements of the new health care laws even though we were left feeling extremely impoverished and low.

I try very hard to be an optimistic person of faith and to encourage rather than bring people down. I do not like gossip at all, but I often deal with discouragement and desperately fight depression because, generally speaking, people tend to baffle and annoy me. Thankfully, there are a handful of exceptions who brighten my days. My expectations for myself are high, and perhaps I expect too much out of others as well, so they often disappoint me. Though, when I respond with how I honestly feel about a situation, I am reprimanded and told that as a Christian I must choose to love everyone, which makes me withdraw all the more from the baffling population of people I had hoped could be my friends.

Probably the most touchy happening this year that I left off of our Christmas letter happened at our homeschool co-op in the spring. I didn't mention that we left the homeschool co-op we had been a part of for the past year and half or so. The reason we left had a lot to do with the way a serious matter was handled, or more descriptively not handled. One of the co-op's male teachers and parent was charged with sexual abuse of his 13-year-old daughter. As horrific as this is, the way the co-op board members, of which the wife of the male teacher and mother to the 13-year-old was a board member, handled it left me feeling uncomfortable. For starters, they tightened up the ruling for their teachers working with the kids. Now, everyone has to be screened with background checks. While this sounds responsible and as if they are addressing potential future catastrophes, it left me with an angry, bitter taste in my mouth because it's not a true solution. It seems to me that the board members were more concerned about covering themselves from lawsuit than getting to the heart of the matter. This man would have passed that background check, and it happened with his own daughter and apparently with none of his students. Still, I couldn't help but wonder if there were any occurrences of possible abuse or attempted or even suggested abuse, testing the waters style, within the classroom where my son attended with this teacher. Even though I had a child in the classroom, I was never questioned about this. In fact, the only mention of it was when the main woman in charge announced to us that the man had been arrested and then mentioned that someone may be contacting me to question my son to make sure there were no other children or teens involved....  This never happened, and her passing comment was told to me on a miniature golf course during a teen outing with teens from the co-op - Never in an appropriate, private, or official setting, and her statement to me was preceded by her angry comment muttering something about how a former board member wanted to take the entire co-op down and how she felt that the burden of any lawsuit should be upon the shoulders of the board members in place at the time the teacher was "hired". Even if this former board member had bad feelings towards the current board members, this former board member did not cause this horrific abuse any more than the man's wife or daughter did. While, I did question my son privately, how are they so confident that no one else in that classroom was inappropriately touched or spoken to by this teacher! The entire situation doesn't seem to even phase anyone else in the least who continued on with the co-op - Or, they are new families and are unaware. So, of course, their lack of worries over the ordeal leaves me feeling as though I must be wrong to feel the way I do. But, it also makes me angry and left to feel as though my son, and other students in this man's classroom don't matter to the co-op's board.

So, there you have it - The other side of the story. These are the things we left off of our annual Christmas letter. And, truth be told, even though I consider our family as pretty much an open book with nothing to hide and very little we are even embarrassed or ashamed about telling - there are probably more we aren't willing to share.

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