Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Make-A-Wish Day 7: Heading Back Home

Sunday we went to Tampa to visit some dear friends and attend church with them before flying home. But we couldn’t leave Give Kids the World without first having ice cream for breakfast.


Poor Isaac got car sick though, so his ice cream for breakfast wasn’t that great. But, hey, even a Make-A-Wish trip can’t be absolutely perfect, I guess. He was a good sport about it and I think that he was glad to get out of his church clothes and into his pajamas sooner.


I’m kicking myself for not taking pictures with our friends, the Knights—I didn’t even think about it!  I suppose I was too busy talking with them. Scott snapped this one of the kids playing a game with his camera-phone and I’m grateful for that. In fact every picture on this post is an iPhone photo. Apparently I was a little camera-ed out after seven days.


It was slightly sad to see our dream vacation come to an end but we were excited to go home too.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU so much Make-A-Wish and Give Kids the World for a vacation of a lifetime!!! It was so wonderful for our family!! One day we hope to bring our kids back and volunteer at the villa, Give Kids the World is a truly amazing place.

Make-A-Wish Day 6: Sea World

Saturday we went swimming one more time and had a blast. My kids loved this pool, it was just perfect for them. Some of the best memories of this trip are just playing at the pool.


The kids love to be launched into the pool. I call that second shot: “Airborne Ellie”



Saturday was the perfect day for the slightly slower-paced Sea World and we enjoyed feeding the dolphins, seeing the shows and, of course, riding “Journey to Atlantis” (Sea World’s Splash Mountain).


Feeding the dolphins.


Sting rays and sharks.


The shows were great and it was a lot of fun to watch my kids watch them. The first one we went to was the Shamu show and I don’t think Isaac ever sat down—he just stood there, captivated with his mouth wide open. I loved it!


We happened upon the seal and otter show after we thought we’d missed it and we loved it. It was so funny. So funny. I still sort of laugh thinking about it.

I’m so glad that we got to go Sea World, it was a great way to spend our last park day.

Make-A-Wish Day 5: Magic Kingdom

Friday was our final Disney day but before going back to the Magic Kingdom we had breakfast at the Give Kids the World Gingerbread house and then—surprise—we rode the carousel again! Several times, as you might have guessed. All of those sweet volunteers were so cute and just let my kids ride over and over and over again.


0525 Castle of Miracles - Carousel

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Back through here one last time.



Sword in the Stone, is there a future king in the family?


The carousel in the Magic Kingdom (because we haven’t had enough merry-go-round yet)

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The Winnie the Pooh ride was a family favorite

For lunch we ate at The Crystal Palace where the Winnie the Pooh characters came to visit during our meal. It was lots of fun, especially for Ellie. And the adults really enjoyed the great buffet (a major step-up from park-food!)

Crystal Palace Lunch (2)Crystal Palace Lunch (61)Crystal Palace Lunch (19)Crystal Palace Lunch (43)


After a few more times down Splash Mountain we talked the boys into The Thunder Mountain Railroad roller-coaster. However, due to technical difficulties we only experienced half of that ride. It got stuck going up the big hill and after a while we were evacuated. Hilarious, huh?


We ended the evening with the electrical parade and the fireworks show again (we were actually on the ferry boat for the fireworks this time) and then we said good-bye to the Magic Kingdom.



Make-A-Wish Day 4: Animal Kingdom & Magic Kingdom

For those of you who may be wondering, “what happened on day four?!?” I finally have an answer for you:


First of all, we slept in. After getting up early and rushing out the door for the first few days of our trip we decided to have a laid-back morning. After a big breakfast we headed over to the awesome Give Kids the World pool for some swimming. It was so much fun.


And then we were off to Animal Kingdom because that was next on the kids list of things to do.



The safari was a lot of fun, and so was Kali River Rapids (that’s why I’m soaking wet in the picture below). My parents took the kids for lunch and Scott and I had a little afternoon “date” at the yummy Yak and Yeti restaurant; it was wonderful.


It was extremely hot that day and Jacob decided he didn’t want to be in any more pictures, so every time he saw a camera, he’d turn his back. Ellie’s not really diggin’ it either. It really was hot.

In Animal Kingdom we found the boys favorite souvenirs—African animal pillow pets. Jacob chose a cheetah and Isaac a zebra. It was love at first sight. My boys have wanted pillow pets for quite some time so it was the perfect choice.

After some ice cream to cool down a bit (yeah right) it was time to see the Magic Kingdom. I had really been looking forward to this part. We rode the ferry and it was exciting to see the castle come into view, a little magical, I have to say (well, at least for me—everyone else seemed sweaty and tired!)  


The first stop was meeting the princesses. SO. MUCH. FUN. Because of the magic pass we went right to the front of the line for Ellie to meet Belle, Cinderella and Rapunzel. Seriously, isn’t Elizabeth’s smile so cute?!? She was nearly in heaven.


We have a little dinner tradition in our family. Everyday we ask the kids what their highlight of the day was. Now—two-months after coming home from our trip—when we ask Ellie her highlight of the day she says, “meeting the princesses.” As if it still just happened. It’s pretty cute.


And naturally we just had to get her a toy too.  She picked a Rapunzel doll and was so anxious to get it out of the box; we had to open it right outside of the gift shop. And then that doll did not leave her hands for the next 36 hours (you think I’m exaggerating). It was darling.


Next we introduced the boys to Splash Mountain, which we rode a half-dozen times (again, you think I’m exaggerating). Eventually we had to stop for dinner and we munched while watching the electrical light parade.  Once again, kind of magical—but mostly just for me. The boys favorite part of Magic Kingdom was definitely Splash Mountain.


At the end of the day we made our way back to the ferry while watching the “Wishes” fireworks show and our exhausted kiddos fell fast asleep before the boat ride ended.


I have to tell a story about the fireworks show here. There were a few things that I had all planned out in my head before we even left Utah; one of them was this fireworks show. Mostly because I had read other blogs about other people’s Make-A-Wish trips and it always seemed that the “Wishes” fireworks show was a beautiful, spectacular, joyful and emotional pinnacle of these people’s wish trips. So, I sort of had that expectation. It did not happen that way.

First off, we wanted to beat the crowd out of the park since it’s closing time once the show ends. But I did not realize this “crowd” would number somewhere near 100,000 people. One hundred thousand people, people! Wow. All clumped together on Main Street to watch the fireworks. I was gob-smacked to see the sea of people. So, while they were facing the castle watching the show begin, me and my little brood were walking very quickly in the other direction, desperately trying  not to get separated. It was traumatic, not beautiful.

Also, I had sort of forgotten that my son hates loud noises. Hates them. So while I had imagined a beautiful scene (like the picture above—which was taken at a very safe sound-distance) most of the time Jacob had his hands pressed firmly to his ears and was nearly in tears.

We did make it down to the ferry dock before the end of the show and then we could turn and watch the fireworks finale from there. And that was a great little moment for me, but the prevailing emotion was relief at having all arrived safely and together. My only ‘wish-come-true’ at that point was that no one was lost!

The good news is that since coming home I have found a podcast of the “Wishes” fireworks show that the kids and I have repeatedly watched on our computer. That’s the way we do Disney fireworks, comfortable and crowd-less in our own home.