KCS Holiday Express! (And a Note about Leaving Denial Behind)

The Kansas City Southern Holiday Express train was in our area today, so we took the opportunity to go visit! After a morning (and early afternoon) full of lessons, we loaded up with my sister and nephew and headed out!

The Holiday Express is a holiday train. (I can’t call it a “Christmas” train because, sadly, I saw nothing that acknowledged Christ as the Reason we celebrate Christmas.) We met some of Santa’s “helpers” while we were in line.

We entered the caboose.


We saw Pooh “bringing up the rear” as we were waiting to go in . . .

And saw Santa when we finally got inside. (And no, we don’t “do” Santa, but it was part of the tour.)

Then we got to tour a few more cars. One was full of a tiny city with trains (KCS, I’m sure) zooming around the countryside.

There was also a car full of every type of Santa “doll” you can imagine. It was mostly white, for some reason.

We had a good time, and I’m glad we went. But as I watched the girls and the other children we were in line with, I realized, again, that my precious Roo is different. She is beautiful, sweet, wonderful, and smart, but she is different. She is starting to notice that she’s not like everyone else too, and that makes me sad.

Roo is my child with special needs. I’m only beginning to come out of denial (yes, after 5.5 years) and realize that I am the parent of a special needs child. She was so much healthier than PD for the first several months that I considered her my “healthy baby” until last year, although she had already had two sinus surgeries and was still struggling. The surgeries, allergy diagnoses, gastrointestinal issues, and restricted diet didn’t make me acknowledge that she’s different. (Can we say it together now? De-ni-al.) I finally started to admit that “something was going on” last fall when we started her on immunoglobulin infusions after she was diagnosed with an immune deficiency. But I didn’t think she was that different from other kids, even though she complained about how her friends didn’t have to do infusions every week.

Then this year she had her third sinus surgery and was diagnosed with a mild speech delay, sensory processing disorder, and delayed fine motor and visual-motor skills. She started speech and occupational therapy. And my beautiful, bright, precious girl struggled to grasp the simplest fundamentals of reading and math, and it became obvious that she has learning disabilities too. And I realized . . . I have a special needs child.

I’m still grieving because it hurts me to see her struggle, and she has been through a lot. I am so proud of her because she’s making progress. She works hard and never gives up! It’s hard to let go of my ideas that she’s just ______ (fill in the blank with my excuse-of-the-day), and admit that she has special needs.

One of my first acts of acceptance was to become the Special Needs Director for The Homeschool Village. Another step is to join the Special Needs Blog Hop (button below) to connect with other parents of children with special needs.

I know that Roo is going to be just fine. We’re working on the delays and physical issues, and we’ve started using multisensory teaching methods that are working! She’s going to flourish and do everything God has planned for her to do.

I’m going to be fine too. I’ve just got some accepting to do.

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22 Responses to KCS Holiday Express! (And a Note about Leaving Denial Behind)

  1. Charlotte Nyman says:

    I want you to know that all children are special!! God made them that way for a reason. I can remember when my Jennifer, now almost 30, would ask me ” Mom why does everyone stare at me?” and I would simply answer, “because you are one of God’s chosen children”. Later, when she was older, she would she a child with special needs and say” look Mom, there is one of God’s chosen children”. Now that is a lesson everyone should learn. Be strong, and know that God is always with you.


    • Thank you for the words of encouragement, Charlotte! Yes, I tell her (well, both of them actually) over and over that God makes everyone different, and everyone has special gifts, talents, and abilities. Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if everyone were just alike?!


  2. Carol giese says:

    You have probably seen this. It was very comforting to me when we began to have difficulty w/our son. I remember when I realized our child was “different”.
    Praying for your sweet family,

  3. Tammy says:

    I went through that with my son. The early years were so hard. I still have a difficult time when we are around other children his age. What helps me, is to concentrate on the positives. I think about everything that he has accomplished, and how much I love him. It has gotten easier, with age, but the sadness hasn’t totally gone away. I hurt for my child, for how hard things are for him. I also rejoice in the happiness he has brought me, and the joy he finds in the simplest things each day.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Jennifer, I love you and your heart dearly. Your first steps began long before you started the Dir of Special Needs for HSV……they started with you making all of those dreaded phone calls, reaching out, calling, searching…not settling and listening to that small quiet voice of God. We both have children who the world views as different. God created them extra special. Some just have more special needs than others. Thankfully, we are all different. Your little Roo has some hiddent talents…and that is why God made you her Mommy. He knows and knew (long before you or I ever entered this world) that he was going to put her with you and together, you were going to bless eachother and others…through His love and grace. Denial? No…..you’ve been searching. Wanting to accept it? No…not any more than any other mother. Loving and seeking…..that’s where you’ve been…and frustrated at the webs we have to tear down and break through (not walls…walls don’t grow back and stick here and there like webs)….to find the beginning of the answers so we can begin to understand what our NEXT ‘first’ step should be! Push forward, help yourself, your daughter and help others…but, please do not take on more than you can handle. Right now, little Roo needs you….seek HIM first…..Love you!

    • Rebecca,

      You’re right. The search began long ago. It is only recently that the full impact hit me.

      I often tell myself those very words—that God chose me to be her mother, and He will give me everything I need to parent her well. I am seeking Him with everything in me, and He is answering those prayers in ways so wonderful I couldn’t have imagined them!

      Your sweet comments made me cry (happy tears). You are so special to me. Thank you!


  5. akbutler says:

    I went through the same thing last year with my son – the denial, the confusion – and now working through acceptance since my son’s autism and sensory processing disorder diagnoses. It takes time – don’t rush it and don’t be afraid of those happy tears and the ugly cry. We all do it.
    Visiting from the blog hop. Happy to see you here. Great pictures!!

    • Thank you for validating my emotions! It is hard sometimes, but I have so much to be thankful for that I don’t let myself get down for long. I’ll be visiting the blog hop list and checking out your blog soon too!


  6. Stacie says:

    First of all your trip sounded and looked like fun through the pictures. I wish we had something like that here. Next week I am taking my Girl Scouts to the National Rail Road Museum for the Festival of Lights.

    Been there when my son felt different from everyone else. But I can honestly say it does get better. At times we do have some melt downs and tears but we work through them.

    Your daughter sounds like she is determined to learn and I love the fact that she doesn’t give up. My son had delays in fine motor too too. He also had a speech delay. The speech is a lot better though. He also has problems with math and reading. He probably still is on a end of a first grade level yet but we are working hard. His math is coming around. I am so glad that I get the chance to home school him and go at his pace and make things a lot more fun for him.

    I don’t remember if I went through a denial period. I know my husband did. I do have my moments of frustrations and at times I cry. I am glad that I met you at the twitter hop. I am glad you joined us in the special needs blog hop. I am also glad for the weekly discussions at the home school village. I know our kids have something different but if you every just want to talk you know where to find me :)

    • Thank you for your kind words, Stacie. I am glad we met at the Twitter party the other night too. Thanks for inviting me to join the blog hop. Please feel free to spread the word about the weekly discussions!

      I definitely know where to find you! I will keep that in mind. It is nice to be “meet” other people who understand what it’s like to have a child with special needs.


  7. Dani G says:

    Having a positive attitude is absolutely everything and actually does make a big difference in our kids’ progress!!

    Hi from the blog hop!
    Here’s my post:

  8. Jen says:

    Hi and welcome to the bloghop, love to meet you. It takes a while to get used to the idea of having a special needs child, it took me a bit of getting used to, probably the shock mixed with ‘oh no, am I up to the task’, for me anyway. It does ease up and then becomes normal, just a new normal:) Jen

    My post:

  9. Kathy says:

    The “accepting” part is really difficult but it seems that life is easier on the other side.

    Hi from the blog hop.

  10. Jean says:

    What a great post. I enjoyed your honesty. And I’ve been there. I swore it was “only a speech delay” even though I knew there was more. In fact, I knew my son had Autism since he was about 9 months old. But still, when they dropped the bomb at 18 months it was still hard to accept. Good for you. I know many parents who are ignoring it after way more than 5 years!

    And how fun was that train? We had nothing good and Christmassy to do around here that didn’t cost a mini fortune. Glad you had fun!

  11. Pingback: (Long Overdue) Update on Roo | Jennifer A. JanesJennifer A. Janes

  12. Pingback: What Parenting a Child with Special Needs Has Taught Me About Myself - Jennifer A. Janes

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