Saturday, February 6, 2016

Noah's Wish: Day 2

Yesterday, Friday, was our first full day at Disney World. We still hadn't really clued Noah in on what he was here for and what all was going on. Even as we drove in to Disney World. he knew something was up, but it wasn't sinking in. We chose to go to the Magic Kingdom first because we felt it has the most to offer for a little guy like Noah.

The first roller coaster we went on was Space Mountain. I rode this as a child but as an adult roller coasters seem pretty scary but I was determined to ride it with my Noah. It wasn't the most thrilling experience ever but it wasn't the most horrible experience ever either and it was over in 5 minutes. After that though, I stayed off the coasters! But Noah rode them ALL. I think Snow White's mine trail was his favorite. He rode it more than once.

Noah on It's a Small World
But I think the favorite part of the whole day for all of us was It's a Small World. We didn't really think Noah would enjoy this ride that much as it is on the slower side but he loved it! First of all, they have a special wheelchair boat where they lay a ramp down and we just wheeled him on and then there were seats for the rest of us. He's really comfortable in his wheelchair (it's molded to fit him after all) so whenever he can stay in it, he seems more comfortable and stable. Then, he just enjoyed the whole ride. All the colors, all the children, the soft music, the cool breeze; it was just soothing. I was towards the back of the boat while my Mom was up in the front closer to Noah but I could hear her explaining things to him like the children were from different countries and they were signing the same song in different languages and how at the very end, it was the word goodbye in many different languages. Noah's eyes were big, he was engaged, looking around, and soaking it all in. It was definitely a high light of the day for all of us.

Other posts about Noah's Wish:
Travel to Florida
A Wish and a Secret

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Noah's Wish: Travel to Florida

Noah enjoying a movie during
the drive to Florida
We arrived in Florida this evening and I type this from the bar in our adorable little villa.....

Let me back up though. We opted to drive to Florida versus flying because we felt like we could control much more - no delays, no noisy children on flights that might upset Noah, etc. Because it is about an eight hour drive, we decided it would be best to break it up into two days.  We left on Wednesday afternoon, literally the minute he got off the school bus. Make a Wish rented us a mini van to travel in, which J and I had picked up earlier in the day, and we had it loaded and ready to go and were literally sitting around waiting on the school bus to bring Noah home like two children on Christmas morning.

We took him straight from the school bus to the mini van and told him we were going to go on an adventure. Honestly, he looked pretty confused as he looked around the mini van, saw his pillows, our luggage, and pointed to our truck asking why we weren't going in our truck. The rental mini van had a pull down DVD player in the back seat, we already had Dolphin Tale (one of Noah's favorite movies that he's only watched 648 times) loaded up and ready to go so we turned the DVD player on and watched his eyes get big as one of his favorite movies began.

Driving in a car with Noah for an extended period of time is usually pretty rough. He gets fussy after a little bit and just tends to fuss or yell a lot and there's really not a lot you can do to soothe him. But this time, things have been completely different so far. He has sat in the back seat by himself, distracted by the DVD player, watching movies and even fell asleep for a little bit.

If you read my post the other day, you know that my parents are accompanying us on this adventure. They left a couple of hours before us to go to my brother's house to drop their dog off. We met up with them at a McDonald's off the interstate in the middle of no where. Noah had no idea that they were coming a long and the look of surprise on his face when my Dad walked up to our mini van was priceless.

Noah riding the carousel
We ended up making it all the way to Jacksonville and spent the night there. Then this morning, we made our way to the Give Kids the World Resort a few hours away. This place is pretty cool! The staff is so nice and they really put the kids first in the layout and design of the villas as well as the entire resort. So far, my favorite thing (and probably Noah's too) here is the carousel. Noah has always loved carousels - so much so that he had a carousel themed birthday party one year when he was young - and even at his age now, he still loves carousels. The carousel here has two different spots - the turtle is pictured - that a wheelchair can just be pushed up into. You then just lock the wheelchair into the turtle and he's good to go. So much easier than putting him on a horse and having someone stand behind him with their hand on his back to give him that little bit of extra support that he needs.

We finished off the day by visiting Santa and having Christmas Dinner at Town Hall at Give Kids the World since every Thursday is Christmas here.

Tomorrow - it's Disney time! He still doesn't know!

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Secret and a Wish

Before I get to the heart of this post, I want to share a little story with you…..

Once upon a time in a land called Mississippi lived a little girl named Nicole. This little girl adored Minnie Mouse. She had amazing parents who worked hard to take her family on summer vacations. One year, Nicole was so excited to go with her family to Disney World and meet Minnie Mouse. All she wanted to do was give Minnie a big hug. But her parents had other ideas. Her parents wanted her to go on this big silly boat for breakfast. Nicole was very upset and loudly protested. She just wanted to go to the Magic Kingdom and meet Minnie Mouse! She didn’t want to go eat breakfast on a big boring boat.

As she stood in line with her family waiting to board the boat, she began to notice there were an awful lot of children in line. Then, as they got closer, she noticed balloons tied to the boat. “Hmmmmm” she thought, “something is up. Maybe this isn’t so bad after all.” She boarded the boat and sat down at the table with her family. A few minutes later, out of the corner of her eye she saw the red and white polka dots for which Minnie Mouse is famous for. She looked up and was SO surprised to see Minnie Mouse rounding the corner and then making her way to each and every table spending a little time with each child. Her sneaky parents had kept a BIG surprise and that made the experience all the better…….

I remember as a child wondering why would my parents want to surprise me like that. Why wouldn’t they have just told me we were going to a character breakfast. Now that I’m a Mom myself, I totally get it. Sometimes the surprise factor makes the experience that much better. I have a secret and a surprise in the making. Today, I’m going to share my not-so-little secret with you.

In the summer of 2014 my sweet cousin, Shelby, was interning at Make a Wish in Mississippi. She asked her Mom to message me and asked me if Noah had ever received a wish through Make a Wish. I responded with a no and that I didn’t think he was eligible. I thought wishes were only for children with terminal illnesses but my Aunt explained that the requirements were a little different now and that Noah would most likely be eligible. Due to his special needs, Noah misses out on a lot of the opportunities that are afforded to his same aged peers have, so I thought I should contact our local Make a Wish chapter and see if he was eligible. After a mountain of paperwork, we got a letter confirming Noah was indeed eligible for a wish.

Two wish volunteers came out to our house to meet with Noah over Christmas break in 2014.They asked Noah about his wish. After much consideration and deliberation, Noah decided he wanted to meet Darth Vader, see and possibly pet a dolphin, and ride roller coasters. Because Make a Wish only grants one wish, his official wish is to meet Darth Vader. Since Darth Vader “lives” at Disney World, Noah will meet him there also allowing him to ride roller coasters and go to Sea World to see a dolphin. All of that happened so long ago that he has probably forgotten about it and he for certain doesn’t know this is going to happen in TWO days! 

Noah would be SO anxious if he knew about this trip, so we don’t intend to tell him until we are on our way and even then it will just be a “surprise” location for a bit. It may seem odd to some not to tell him but as his Mom, I know him best and I believe this will help with the stress and anxiety a trip of this magnitude would induce for him. I have some tricks up my sleeve to make this trip easier on him and I’ll probably share some of those as we go.

Since we don’t have another child at home, Noah has the opportunity to bring along a “friend.”  Without a shadow of a doubt, I knew if given the opportunity to choose himself, he’d bring the person he refers to as his best friend; my Dad. And where ever Granddad goes, Nana goes so my Mom is going to come along too. We’re thrilled to have them both join us for this special adventure. 
It’s going to be an amazing trip! Make a Wish thinks of everything and works really hard to make this an extra special trip full of perks and fun! To be completely honest, it feels really surreal still. I doubt it will feel like a reality until we are actually on the way.

It seems kind of silly to ask for prayers about this trip, but this is a big trip for Noah. For my prayer warrior friends, please pray that Noah isn’t too anxious, that he embraces this vacation, that he doesn’t have seizures, that he has a great time, and is at peace. Please pray that he does OK with the noise we’ll encounter at the parks, in restaurants, and what not. Please pray for safe travels for all of us and that we all have patience and endurance to keep up with this fearless, roller-coaster-riding dare devil of mine.

And don’t worry, I’ll be sharing photos and updates on social media as time allows so be sure to follow along if you aren’t already!

PS. Remember this is a secret, so zip your lips! ;) 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Word of the Year 2016

For the past couple of years, as the end of the year draws near, I choose a word for the following year. That word kind of becomes a mantra for me throughout the year to focus on. I pray and ponder on what word to choose and then finally choose a word. I try not to think about it too terribly much and more of let the word choose me.

The first time I did the word of the year concept was back in 2012. 2011 had been a hectic year full of ups and downs with Noah’s health and I chose the word breathe. I connected with that word so much on so many levels. I feel like that word really carried me through that year.

I usually make something with my word of the year on it to display it so that I see it over the year. And because I usually blog about it, discuss it with friends who also choose a word of the year, etc. my friends and family will even tell me sometimes throughout the year to remember my word of the year causing me to refocus.

So, the word of the year, I have chosen for 2016 is grateful. Over the past couple of months, I have made a more conscious effort to be a more positive person. To be honest, I’m a pretty positive person for the most part I think. I’ve always kind of had a Pollyanna attitude about life but I want to take that a step further and try to focus a little more on finding the good, the positive, and the happy in the little moments of my crazy, hectic, wonderful life. It’s easy to be grateful in the good moments of life, but it’s harder to be grateful when things are rough and that’s what I want to focus on; finding something to be grateful for in the midst of chaos.

So, did you choose a word for 2016? If so, leave it in the comments?