Knowing that we only had KC home a few weeks before starting work, and since it’s been a year since we have had a family vacation, I knew we needed some time to enjoy each other and to focus on the kiddos. Deciding on a vacation for this family isn’t easy. We are limited by so many things, but primarily by Benjamin’s needs. Disney is too hot in July, a cabin on the lake is rarely accessible, and flying is a challenge I am not ready for, so after googling “vacations for kids with disabilities” and finding The Great Wolf Lodge, I was intrigued.
My mom kept Rush for us so we could focus more on Benjamin and the girls, and so I could involve Benjamin more in the daily activities. I can’t imagine trying to juggle Rush and Benjamin in the water. I think Rush was just fine staying with Nana.
We arrived Monday and I couldn’t have been more excited. Starting the day off with a bang, KC and Lennon went to ride slides. Isla wanted to stay In the little pool with us, so with her “assistance” I started to discretely change Benjamin into his trunks and swim diaper while he was stretched across my lap. (1st mistake) Benjamin had more in the diaper than expected so I asked Isla to grab the wipes. After 5 min, a woman next to us grabbed the bad and handed it to me so I could look. No luck, Isla had taken the wipes out in the car. (2nd mistake) With no choice, I strategically cleaned him with another diaper, working hard not to spread or drop anything, while keeping Benjamin completely covered. Starting off with a scene of a too long Benjamin spread across my lap, while fussing at Isla, and sweating, we definitely attracted some attention.
Knowing that The Great Wolf Lodge was listed in the Top 10 of vacations for people with disabilities, I guess I was expecting to see other families like ours. Instead, we had our normal adjustment period getting comfortable with the stares, as well as, children AND ADULTS splashing acting like they were completely oblivious that my son is hooked up to a machine. Believe me, they stared long enough to know. :) I covered the vent with a few towels and we never had a problem. The stares never bother me; however, this day, I was angry and upset. I don’t know if I was mad at the stares, angry with the splashing, or furious with a disorder that doesn’t allow Benjamin to run, splash around, and play with the other kids. Things like this rarely affect me, but here I sat in the pool holding Benjamin splashing with his arms, while my eyes filled with tears. I fought them back never letting Benjamin see me upset or anyone else.
A little while later, my guardian angel nudged a woman to speak to me. She didn’t really know what to say, just how happy she was to see us with Benjamin in the pool and she loved seeing how much fun he was having. With tears in her eyes, she mentioned how it reminds her how fragile life truly is, but that she was so impressed with what we were doing. Those few minutes reminded me of all the wonderful things this life offers us and completely made me forget about my previous pity party in the Zero Entry Pool. I wish I could of explained to her what she did for me that day, but sharing my feelings verbally is not one of my strong points.
The rest of our trip was a blast. We ventured out to Fort Worth to watch the Longhorns mosey through town, took some pictures with Cowboys, and visited Lego Land. KC and I even took turns riding the slides that Lennon was too small to ride. Benjamin saw his first 3D short movie, fell in love with a monkey ballon animal, and participated in story time at the Lodge. (He even clapped on cue with the little dance).
The Great Wolf Lodge was a great experience. The waterpark was awesome, the rooms were clean and large enough for the fam, the floor lamp worked perfectly as a feeding pole, and the staff was extremely nice. There were only a few negatives to The Great Wolf Lodge…
1. Very few handicap accessible parking spots. However, on the last day, we realized we could park at the conference center entrance for easier parking and it was closer to our room. (Realized on the LAST day)
2. Our last afternoon in the pool, a child had “an accident” ending our pool time a little early. Glad I missed seeing this.
3. It was a little crowded.
I am so thankful for this vacation. Since Rush has been born and we have been fighting with Colic (so bad that a doctor gave me a pamphlet for a fussy baby support group), I feel like I haven’t given enough attention to Lennon, Isla, and Benjamin. KC and I were quickly reminded of Lennon’s creativity, Isla’s humor, and Benjamin’s love of life. Though I may have my moments, at the end of the day, it’s easy to see how truly blessed we are.
If you happen to watch the Amazing Race (Asian version), keep an eye out for the family. We might have been caught in the background while they were filming in Fort Worth, Texas. :)