The Great Wolf Vacation

20140726-104914-38954735.jpgKnowing 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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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. 🙂

Initiation Staycation

Question: What do you do when your kids are unsure about moving to a new place?

Answer: You take them to every fun activity you can think of in the first week, until you are exhausted. My family has been here to help and tonight after my mom gave Isla a banana not knowing that I had already told her she couldn’t have one, she told my mom “she (me) may fire you.”

It has been one week since we officially moved. In that one week, we have visited the splash park and pool,

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Experienced the Children’s Museum

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Toured the Zoo (Benjamin’s first boat ride)

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Hung out with family

Rode bikes in the street

Had sleepovers

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Ran through the sprinklers

Played at the neighbors (the girls have asked every neighbor if they could go to their house)

All followed by promises of the movies and fishing. (Chuckie Cheese was checked off the list a month ago.)

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(Isla’s first contact with a character)

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We have landed in a wonderful neighborhood and between Lennon, Isla, KC, and Barkley, we are well on our way to getting to know everyone. :). So far I think our Initiation Staycation is a huge success.

The Miracles To Milestones Playground

20140707-081223-29543617.jpgWe have officially moved, but not before we could play on the wonderful new playground. I made sure we were able to have a few minutes to play, or we were breaking in. ;).

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Driving there, pulling up, and unloading Benjamin was a little emotional for many reasons. 1. We did it. We finished this project just in time for our big move. 2. When I think about how supportive everyone has been, it makes my heart smile. 3. We are now moving from a community that has loved and embraced Benjamin and our family. Moving wasn’t the easiest decision.

Well, the playground was a hit with this family. Lennon’s feet barely touched the ground while she repeatedly scaled the entire playground. I spun Isla so many times that I can’t believe she didn’t get sick. Benjamin loved all the toys that were at his reach especially the musical toys and the steering wheels, and I couldn’t have been happier as I watched Benjamin play side by side with his sisters. We also put Benjamin on a slide for the first time. Benjamin is sensitive to the heat and since it was midday, the slide was warm and he was not happy.

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Mom on the other hand was teary eyed. It’s one of those activities that I do for me more than for Benjamin. 🙂 I just want to make sure he has every chance to experience life as his sisters did. Next time, we will try under better weather conditions, and hope for better results.

I can’t thank this community enough. This community donated, spread the word, gave words of encouragement, and worked hard for three days to make this a reality. The Parish couldn’t have been more supportive providing the location, the foundation, and a fantastic group of hard working people.

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I know the kids and families will love it. I hope it is all that they expected and more. I hope and pray that Benjamin has had as much of an effect on the community as he has had in our family. We have been blessed and we are glad to share our blessings with the Miracles To Milestones Playground.

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