Saturday, December 28, 2013

Santa's Wonderland

We've become pretty brave this year.  

With an upcoming trip to Disney World with Daddy's work (my kids are going to think you can only go to Disney with a band) we've felt the need to push a little.  With the help of an incredibly helpful home trainer through our school district, we've pushed and have done some things with the kids this Christmas that are completely out of our comfort zone.  

Okay, so HOME is our comfort zone.  Moving on... 

There's this amazing place called Santa's Wonderland that is only about an hour and twenty minutes from here.  We'd never even considered it.  Ever.  Because that's crazy.  In the past it's been completely prohibited by the sheer expense of it.  This year, as we sat around poking round the internet after dinner one night, we saw that a friend bought deeply discounted tickets to this cool place through LivingSocial.  It was, if we were careful, within our reach.  

About halfway we stopped for some fast food.  Part of our cost and sanity-saving measure.  There was nothing but ice cream that Ryan would have eaten at the park-thingy, and I wasn't sure we could afford to eat there anyway.  We planned to be there at least twenty minutes early, and it was a great thing that we did!  We got a decent parking space, but still had a good walk and didn't have to take one of the three shuttles we saw.  Ryan was quite disappointed.  A good bus ride is a wonder to him. 

There was a bit of confusion in the line as to which line was a line, which we should get in with LivingSocial tickets, blah blah blah.  But it was our first line.  

We didn't lose him.  He didn't really lose it.  

There were moments I thought we'd surely messed up in trying this, but I kept pushing the panic down and keeping him with us.  He pings from here to there and wants desperately to keep moving constantly.  We made it.  He made it.  

After about twenty minutes or more (and remember, we were early and the line was LOOOONG) we rounded the corner quite like cattle and were in, guess what... Santa's Town's gift shop.  Straight through the gift shop, we stepped back in time and into an old-fashioned country Christmas.  A little village of wooden railed food shops broke only for a stage with a holiday crooner. Off to the left waited several young ones to see the guy in the red suit, and to the right was our first destination... the best part.  

Hey Ryan, say cheese!
Ryan, how about a pose with sister?  Such a big brother.

Richie the Red
The queue marked by tiny white lights snaked over dirt and an open wooden bridge.  There were plenty of lights to keep us busy, and the biggest surprise... RYAN MADE IT.  There were no meltdowns.  He was squirrelly, pinging from here to there and desperately ready to keep moving.  But he made it.  He held it together, with the help of the three of us keeping him with us, and after about twenty minutes it was time to get on one of the flatbeds and ride through the elaborate light displays.  

He saw the wooden steps up to the trailer and froze.  "NO!"  

I got on ahead and showed him it was okay, and he did climb up, still proclaiming his opinion.  As others came on to this very popular attraction behind us, I did something that usually makes things worse.  I put my arms around him and pulled him close in a desperate attempt to convince him that this was okay.  "It's just like a train, sweetie.  Look, the truck pulls the trailer just like a troublesome truck!  It's like the people train without a roof." 

He relaxed and I asked if he'd like to sit beside me or on my lap.  On my lap it was.  The train thing must have been convincing enough, because once that truck began moving, he was good to go. 

The best part, other than the amazing lights and the fact that all the kids LOVED it, was Ryan's performance.  

No really.  At one point, the masses of bright colored lights reminded him of one of his favorite movies, Madagascar 3.  Much to my surprise, he stood to his feet in the middle of this flatbed lined with hay bales full of people, and sang at the top of his lungs the song that Marty the zebra sang.  

From my rather large 8 year old child, with people we did not know at all lining this trailer with us, sang, "RAT TAT DA DA DA DA DAT DA circus..."  and the rest of the song.  

All I could do was bury my face in his back and laugh rather nervously.  But what I wanted to do?  

I wanted to tell all these poor stunned folks how long we waited for his first meaningful words.  I wanted to tell them how being here is a dream come true both financially and ability-wise.  I wanted to tell them how many hours of speech he's logged and fought through to be able to form those words so clearly.  How amazing it is that he remembers movies and songs the way he does, and how this is an expression of how incredibly excited he is.  

I wish I could have concisely explained how amazing this moment was for us.  How proud I was of him.  

But in that moment, and several others along the way this Christmas season, I've come to see why Mary treasured these things and pondered them in her heart.  

No one can ever understand like we do. 

Maelynn riding a pony, making her aunt proud!
Our new family friend, apparently.
Oh, the petting zoo! 

I can explain all these things with pictures and maybe even video, but you can never really, truly feel my joy at watching the kids have fun.  How tickled we were when that goat tried to eat Richie's shirt, or when the calf mooed right behind (and I mean RIGHT behind) Maelynn's head.  Can't really explain the relief when we got through each line, and the thanking the Lord every time we were able to calm him... to help him find himself again when he began to get upset. 

Thanks be to God for the courage to just try it, and for the amazing time we had. 

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