Friday, July 10, 2015

April 23 At the Village

We have had a very busy couple of months.  It's hard to get to the writing about all the fun when you are busy making more memories, but I'll do what I can.  We just returned from a trip to Tennessee for a Clayton family reunion which I will write about soon, but first I must finish sharing all about Annalise's wonderful trip.  We do not have any more traveling planned for the year, so maybe I can get caught up a bit.  School and all it's craziness does start in just over a week though, so we shall see!
So Thursday, day two of our trip, began with John getting a ride back to the airport to pick up our other rental car.  As I mentioned, there had been some mix-ups with a vehicle for our family and by the time we realized that Make-A-Wish had not reserved a wheelchair van for our family it was too late and unfortunately there were none available.  So a couple of days before our trip we got it worked out as best we all could.  We ended up using a stow and go van that had seats that could fold down so that we could get the wheelchairs in.   With the chairs folded down, that only gave us room for 5 people and thus the need for an additional car.  So wherever we went as a family, we would take both vehicles and caravan to our destination.  At first it was kind of a bummer, but it ended up working out fine.  A couple of the nights John and the older boys wanted to stay at the park later and since we had two vehicles, I was able to go back to the village with Bryce and Annalise which worked out well. 
So anyway, Thursday morning John grabbed a quick breakfast from the breakfast cart that goes around GKTW Village and headed off to the airport.  While he was away, the kids and I checked out the village. 

Our first stop was the Gingerbread House for breakfast.  While we were there, they were doing some construction on/near this building so we went in the side door instead of the front.  The new building that they were working on looks like it will be very nice.  This place is great.  They have volunteers who carry your tray to your table and get drinks and other items that you may need. 


I was a little worried about what they may have for Spencer, but when we got there and I explained that he has Celiac Disease, the volunteer I was speaking with immediately got one of the head staff members there to help us out.  She asked Spencer what he wanted and soon returned with pancakes, waffles, eggs, sausage, fruit, etc...all safe for a child with Celiac Disease. 

Annalise loved the whipped cream and strawberries.  Who needs a waffle when you can just have the toppings.  The second morning we were there she discovered the chocolate doughnuts and had one every other morning that we were there.   I would sneak bites of egg and fruit in to her between her bites of doughnut. 

Since Bryce doesn't eat anything by mouth anymore, he usually entertained himself with the iPad while the rest of us ate.  We would feed him either before or after we had our breakfast. 

Our next stop was the Enchanted Carousel. 

This carousel brought back some fantastic memories.  This was Bryce's favorite thing when we were there 5 years ago for his wish.  It was so fun to see him on it again. 

We rode multiple times, Annalise choosing a different animal each time. 

The older boys weren't thrilled about riding the carousel, but they were good sports and rode along with us.

Spencer and Bryce hanging out by the snoring tree.  Old Elmer I think is his name. 

Next we stopped at the Ice Cream Palace.  Ice cream for breakfast is a must at GKTW. 


We asked in the Ice Cream Palace about gluten free ice cream.  We were told that they did not have any, but they had some popsicles that were safe.  Later another lady came in and we found out that they did indeed have Celiac Safe ice cream.  It was just kept in the back and the volunteer we had spoken to at first had not known about it.  Spencer was very happy with that discovery. 
Our days in Florida were so packed that there is just too much information and too many pictures to share in one post so I will continue with the rest of our day in another post.  It sure felt great to be back at the village!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Day has Finally Arrived!

April 22, seven months after Annalise's first visit with her wish granters, the day of her wish trip finally arrived.  Her ride arrived at 7:30 to take our family to the airport. 
Definitely a sweet ride!

Because of the size of our family and the fact that we have the two wheelchairs, they brought a van along as well as the limo to carry the chairs and all the extra luggage. 

We really were all very excited.  The sun was just very bright at this time of the morning.   

Our family with our limo and van drivers.  They were super nice and very helpful men.

Amber, one of Bryce and Annalise's caregivers came to help get Bryce and Annalise ready for the day as I finished up with all the last minute duties for the trip.  See those leaves in Annalise's hands?  Remember them.  They will come up again in a bit. 

Annalise looking cute in William's glasses. 

Amber checking out the inside of the limo before we headed off.  We wish we could have tucked her away in one of our suitcases and taken her with us. 

It was fun to see the looks on people's faces as they drove by our limo.  I wasn't quick enough to get a picture, but somewhere along I-10 we noticed someone taking a picture of us as he drove by.  As John looked closer, he recognized the man as someone from his work. 
Bryce wasn't so sure (okay he was terrified) about riding in the limo without the safety of his wheelchair.  He clung to my arm the entire way to the airport. 

About 10 minutes before we arrived at the airport, Bryce finally lifted his head up and looked around a little bit.  I was even able to get a little grin out of him. 

Arriving at the airport 
Annalise's wish granters, Jeff and Mindy Clark, were there to help us.

Remember those leaves Annalise was playing with before we left our house.  As we got to the airport, she saw them again and began playing with them and rubbing them on her face.  It took about a minute before she started sneezing and having itchy watery eyes.  We were able to get them away from her and get her all washed off and luckily the allergy symptoms went away without too much problem.  Luckily we didn't have to give her Benadryl which makes her hyper and irritable.  It's not what you would expect it to do nor is it what you would want while on a plane ride.   Luckily she cleared up without needing that.

Jeff and the Southwest employee who was assigned to help our family get through security.  That was definitely a nice touch!
Annalise taking a look at the little gifts she received from Southwest Airlines. 

Our beautiful wish kid!
While in the airport, the little sling seat that helps support Annalise's in her walker broke and we could not find the little attachment piece.  Jeff rigged something up for it and luckily it held throughout the trip.  I still need to get a replacement seat for her. 
I think she may be getting a little long for these changing stations. 

As we were waiting for our flight, this nice man began talking with me.  He said that he was a music therapist.  He works with adults who are on hospice.  He had his autoharp along with him and asked if Annalise would like to play it.  She, of course, loved it!

Heading down the ramp!  The gate agent (here in the white shirt) was so kind.  He was having fun helping with Bryce.  He even got him out of his chair and carried him into the plane for us.  That was a nice surprise.

Unfortunately Bryce needed a diaper change even before we took off.  If you think the changing tables are small in regular restrooms, you should see the ones on a plane!  Changing him there was quite the trick. 
Although his feet hung into the sink, we were able to avoid turning on the water during the change. 

Bryce was a little freaked out at the beginning of the flight, but soon calmed down and began looking around.  He and the rest of the kids all did great throughout the flights. 

Our greeter Phil found us and soon we were on the shuttle out to Give Kids the World Village.  Make A Wish had also scheduled a couple of rental cars for us, but do to a little miscommunication the GKTW village people didn't know about that and had the shuttle take us right to the Village.  John had to get a ride back to the airport later that night to get one of the cars.  He would then return the next morning to get the van.  Kind of  a hassle, but finally we all arrived!

Our Villa

We got in pretty late so we checked in and headed over to our villa.  Here are some of the surprises we had waiting for us in our villa. 

During our check in, the GKTW Village volunteer gave Annalise this Mickey doll and a little whale to each of the other children.  The pink dolphin here is one that John and I brought back to Annalise from our cruise in February. 

Annalise lined all of her stuffed animals and new toys up and said it was time for a family picture.  What a great family. 
 It took everyone quite a while to get calmed down and settled in for the night.  We were all so excited to be there.   Annalise insisted on sleeping with all of her new friends so that none of them would get lonely.  :)  She is such a good little mommy!