Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013

Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays, but we have a great tradition with the Grubb family to eat pizza and visit some neighborhood homes for trick or treating.  Kyle went as DeWayne Wade, David was Lebron (last minute change), and Hope was Belle.  After all the Disney fun we are all worn out.  David and Hope were home by 7 and Kyle shortly after.

Kyle, Claire, Kelsey, Tanner, David, and Hope!  We have been together on Halloween since David was a toddler. 
Hope was really into it, but wanted big brother Kyle to walk her to the door:)
Sweet Belle! After a party at preschool, lunch with friends, and then Halloween night fun, this girl is worn out!! Thankfully tomorrow is Friday. 
David and Sweet Kelsey. She is the sweetest friend to David and they have been together in class since first grade.  We called it an early night here in the Robinson house! Happy Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Back to Reality

After  really smooth return flights home today we are back home in Virginia.  I am not going to lie, it was very hard leaving paradise.  Mike sent me and the boys to check out this morning at Give Kids the World.  He probably should have done it because when he caught up to us I was wiping away big tears. 

How do you properly say thank you to a place that has literally blessed us with this magical week?  It did not help at checkout that I was handed a DVD with 168 pictures of us on it, an official group picture already printed from our visit with Mickey, and an invitation to return anytime to visit. 

At checkout I was also handed a packet with an offer for a free scrapbook by a local Crops of Love group!  Can you believe that? If we will send them our pictures, they will make us a scrapbook (handmade with love) for free.  I started crying then and then when the guy handed our family a passport that we could use for up to a year at a huge list of attractions for free I totally lost it.   Over the next year, because of this passport we will be able to enjoy places like Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens for free! 

Upon returning to Tri Cities airport there was yet again a limo to pick us up.  The kids were so excited to ride in the limo in daylight!
They were so tired in that limo....
That this picture sums up how we all feel.  Blessed but very tired.  The alarm is going to be brutal in the morning but I am looking forward to returning to preschool just in time for halloween parties!  We also will celebrate Halloween tomorrow night in the neighborhood with friends. 
David helped the limo driver find our house!  Ha!  Good night from Virginia.  This Momma is blessed, thankful but ready for my bed!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Disney Day 6

Today was our last full day of our wonderful and magical vacation here at Give Kids the World.  I am sad to leave, but my heart is so full of wonderful family memories.  We have had a ball! 

Today we were blessed with tickets to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventures.  We have never done those parks and we were amazed!  We are already talking about a return trip here to volunteer back at Give Kids the World and to visit Universal.  That place was amazing!!!

Our first stop was the Despicable Me 3D ride!  All five of us love that movie and the ride was awesome!!  I love these three little cuties!! Universal Studios is amazing to wish families.  At disney wish families are allowed to go in the fast pass line, but at Universal you are escorted by a staff member to the ride literally. 

As we were leaving the Despicable Me ride, a minion was posing for pictures.  We did not even notice him it was so busy in that place, but a staff member saw my wish button and asked us if we wanted to pose with the minion.  Can you believe that?  We were blown away with Universal-there is so much to do for all ages! 

Agent David with the Men in Black! 

Next we hopped on this Transformers ride which was AWESOME!  It was a little loud for Hope but she is fearless and begged all day for a roller coaster.  Her height is the only thing keeping her off of rides. 

As we were coming out of Transformers, Gru from Despicable Me and some of his minions were doing a dance show in the street.  David was in heaven!!
For a lunch time break we headed to the NBA City Restaurant for lunch.  Our boys were in HEAVEN at this NBA place.  Not only was the food awesome, but there were games, a store, and huge TV's on the wall.  Kyle's new career goal is to work at this restaurant.  There was a TV in each booth so you could watch ESPN while you ate. 

There was this picture booth option that the boys just had to do!  They selected the Miami Heat of course and the photographer posed them like this.  When the picture was printed Lebron, Dewayne Wade, and Chris Bosh were photoshopped in so it looked like my boys were on the team!  Great keepsake to frame for their room. 

Here are our three outside of the restaurant! 

Universal is amazing and there is this whole cat and the hat area.  David and Hope are big Cat and the Hat fans, so we spent lots of time in that area.  AWESOME!!!

Hope giggling through the Cat in the Hat ride!  We loved it so much that we rode twice! 

This picture makes my eyes mist a little-look at the joy on Kyle's face!  We have all had a total ball, but I have wondered a few times if it has bothered Kyle how much attention David, the wish child, has received.  David's agenda has kind of dictated what we have done, and sweet Kyle sat through all the Beauty and the Beast stuff at Disney, smiled through princesses, and tried to enjoy the Little Mermaid show.  He has been a great sport!  The other night on the tram to one of the parks, Kyle said to me "Mom life would be so boring without David."  He loves his brother so much even though David is not always appreciative of kyle's sweetness.  Today at Universal the lines were short and David was content to chill out in the stroller so Kyle and I hopped on lots of big roller coasters and thrill rides.  He wanted to do this water ride so bad but none of us wanted to get wet.  He begged us to do it solo and we let him.  Pure joy.  It is not always easy to be the sibling of a child with a disability who has also battled cancer.  He has missed a lot of time with us, and this smile makes me smile. 

Thanks to Jason Burris, David has a new obsession with Ironman!  There are lots of super heroes at Universal-wow!!

We got back to the village tonight for italian night at the Gingerbread House.  It was so yummy and awesome.  For our last night tonight in the village there was a birthday party for Mayor Clayton.  Here is David posing with Mayor clayton before the party! 

 There was a huge birthday cake, ice cream, games, and a dance party to celebrate Mayor Clayton's big day! David loved the music and here he is dancing with Mrs. Mary and a volunteer.  Check out that little blonde girl dancing with them-she too has DS and she was adorable!!!
This is the perfect picture to end our magical vacation.  David insisted on one last carousel ride here in the village before heading back for baths and bed.  I asked David while we were on the carousel if he has had fun and this was his reaction!  Words fail me too on how to sum up the generosity of Make-a-Wish, Give Kids the World, and all the 1500 volunteers that work here in the village to make this a magical vacation for the families that visit here.  We are committed to paying the kindness forward because we have learned first hand that it truly does make a difference.  We thank God for this precious family time together and all the amazing memories that will forever be tucked in our hearts. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Disney Day Five!

Disney day five had my eyes misting a few times over the sweetness of it all.  I am also sad to think that our time here is coming to an end soon.  Thankfully we have a wonderful life to return to or I would be in serious mourning. 

Our morning started off on a wonderful note!  Monday  mornings Mickey and his friends from the Disney parks visit Give Kids the World.  As a family we are blessed with plenty of time with Mickey, a volunteer that takes over my camera, and then upon checkout we will get the official pictures from the Give Kids The World volunteer photographer.  They do everything to make sure that the entire family is in EVERY picture.  That alone makes my eyes mist a little:)
Kyle is not to big for a picture with Mickey!!  We got family pictures, each child got an individual picture, and then we got a big group picture! 
After Mickey we headed down to the Castle of Miracles for meet and greet with Goofy!  David was so excited because he loves him so.  He loves him so much that he was a ham with him and they posed several different ways.  We also ran into Mary Poppins outside of the castle. It was so special and sweet that characters come here so wish kids do not have to waste precious time at the parks to see characters. 
Another family picture!  Hope was so proud of herself for taking pictures with the characters.  She did not want her individual picture with them but we are so proud of her for being in the family picture!
Hope has been in true heaven here at Disney!  There is a tradition here at the village to get Mickey to autograph the stuffed Mickey that the wish kid gets upon check in.  Hope kept us on task to get that done this morning:)
By 10:00 a.m. we had done two character meet and greets here in the village and had a huge and awesome breakfast buffet here in the village.  Then we headed to Animal Kingdom!  The first stop on our itinerary was the Safari.  It is truly remarkable and we saw so many great animals. 
Then we headed to the Festival of the Lion King show.  This is when my eyes misted again.  When David was first diagnosed he was obsessed with the Lion King because we had just gotten back from Disney where we watched this show.  I remember distracting him with the Lion King movie while we talked with oncologist and surgeons.  During the finale today when that woman with that gorgeous voice sang Circle of Life I was a little overcome with thanksgiving.  David of course sang every song and loved every moment!
If you are ever at Animal Kingdom make sure to watch that show.  WOW!
Big Boy David rode Everest at Animal Kingdom!  I am not sure he will do it again, but we are so proud of him for trying:)
Here ia another moment where my eyes misted a little.  This amazing staff member at Epcot came u p to David and started chatting with him.  She then handed him an official autograph book that you can buy around here and asked him to sign it.  She said that wish kids are the true heroes and sure enough she had a book full of wish kids signatures.  Can you believe that? 
Tonight was suppose to be the Halloween party, but because the true Halloween is on Thursday, they switched the Christmas party to tonight.  So my kids got to have another Christmas party! 
Complete with another round of gifts. 
After the Christmas festivities and of course a stop in the ice cream palace, we headed to the Castle to see David's star in his permanent location.  While we were gone today the gift fairy brought all three of my kids a vinylmation and then the star fairy left David directions to his star.  To see David' own handwriting on that sweet star up on the wall, was so very sweet.  We are now considered part of the Give Kids the World family so we are welcome anytime we are here to visit his star, eat at the village, enjoy the activities and come "home" to visit. 

The last activity of the night was to do the star pillow activity.  It is this really cool interactive thing where the kids shake the tree and make a wish and the tree gives them a magic pillow to take home with them.  Hope got a girlie one and the boys got sportsy ones. 

Today was awesome-simply awesome.  David got to see his Lion King show, we got to see his star in its permanent spot, we got lots of presents and love from the village, and we made awesome memories at Animal Kingdom and Epcot.  So far, David's favorite has been Test Track at Epcot-we have ridden it three times this week:)  Good night from Give Kids the World:)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Disney Day Four!

The last two days have caught up to us and we are a wee bit tired.  Today to rest up some we took a break from Disney parks and headed out to SeaWorld.  I had not been there since I was a little girl and we had a good time! 

Wish families are blessed with a chance to sneak in a back way and feed the dolphins.  We thought only David would get to do it, but amazingly all five of us got to go!  Hope was horrified and hid in the stroller.  Kyle was grossed out and took pictures for us, and David loved to watch them but did not want to touch their fish food:) Mike and I had a ball!
If the school superintendent gig does not work out for Mike he could get a job at Seaworld with the dolphins!  He was a natural feeding them!  Ha! What an awesome life experience for us!  Kyle and David did touch the dolphin. 
After that we headed to Shamu stadium for that AWESOME show!  Wow!  We all loved that so much and....
we were blessed with special seating but we chose the no splash zone.  Here is David yelling and trash talking to Shamu that He did not get us wet!  David actually cried big tears when it was over!
That show was so awesome!  There was also trick or treating going on at Seaworld, so the kids got to trick or treat while we were there!  That was an unexpected surprise. 
Dave has a new girlfriend now-Joan the jellyfish!  She was so sweet with him. 
After she smooched on David, she fell in step behind Kyle and put her arm around him and gave him a big smooch too-you can see that he was scared to death!  ha! It was sweet that she was so attentive to Kyle.  David has gotten so much attention here because he is the wish kid that I often wonder if this is hard for Kyle. 
We had a shark enounter and went in the shark tank!  Seaworld was way better than I had imagined!  They had several roller coasters there that Kyle loved, several kiddie rides that David and Hope loved and this awesome Antartica ride/exhibit that you actually meet real penguins in their frigid enviroment.  AWESOME!
We headed back to the village before dinner to get an early bedtime for David.  After dinner we went into the Castle of Miracles to let David sign his star. 
A volunteer helped him put it in the fairy treasure box so tonight she can magically put it on the ceiling!  Tomorrow when the gift fairy delivers another round of gifts for the kids, a sign will be dropped off with directions on where David's star is hung in the castle.  We will forever be part of the Give Kids the World village and we can come back anytime for the whole day and visit and enjoy the village.  Amazing!!  Tonight while we were there doing David's a family whose child had passed had come back to visit their child's star.  It was so touching yet oh so heartbreaking.  When you see all those glittering stars in the castle you just wonder how many children made it to adulthood and of course you pray and pray and pray that youe child will be one that can come back as an adult and visit their star. 
Tonight here in the village we were invited to the World's Largest Candyland game!  It was at the huge and gorgeous playground here in the village.  You got to do all these games and fill up your card when they were complete.  You could turn your completed card in for a prize for all three kiddos!  Here is David and all of us playing a real  life game of Candyland around the playground with a volunteer! 
The boys made airplanes out of candy with the help of volunteers! 
Of course the gingerbread man was there!  David kept wanting to race him because of the book.  The kids for their gift today from the fairy was an authentic Candyland game but it is the Give Kids the World edition.  How awesome!
We ended this awesome day by visiting the cookie cart on our way back from the party.  In the evenings there is a cart that drives around with lemonade and cookies for anyone that wants one!  Amazing:) 
We are getting to bed early tonight because tomorrow morning Mickey and friends are visitng the village for photo ops!  We are so excited!!!