Category Archives: Give Kids the World

Dreaming of Warm, Sunny Days

We’re having snow days this year. A lot of them. More than I remember ever having when I was in school. (Yes, I know I sound like a grouchy old woman. Hush.) Paul, though, remembers the winter of 1978, when there were 22 snow days. So it could definitely be worse.

I had taken today off to try and get a bunch of stuff done around the house. So it’s good that I’m not trying to work while the boys are rousting around today. But it does dampen my grand plans for the day. I got out the tent and tunnels. It should distract them for awhile.

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I had yesterday off too, for a company holiday. I don’t think I’ve ever worked anywhere that took President’s Day, but I’m not complaining. I spent the day continuing the decluttering effort I started on Sunday. There is this closet by the front door in our house. It’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s built over the stairs to the basement, so there are these deep, wide shelves built into it, and it’s HUGE. Which seems to mean, unfortunately, that I just shove more crap in there. I dreaded opening the door.

But I dragged everything out (WHAT ARE YOU DOING MOM?!!???!? WHAT IS THAT?!? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH THAT?!?  MOM?!!?????) and sorted ruthlessly. The amount of stuff that went either to the trash or the donate pile was shameful. Or impressive, I guess, depending on how you look at it. I did get it organized, and I’ve been going over and just looking at it because it makes me so happy. I even made my sister admire it. 

I made two more big garbage bags of stuff from other rooms and shoved them in the car. As I drove away from the donation center, I felt freeeeeeeeeeee. How do we accumulate so much stuff?

In other news, it’s been a year since our family went on our magical, amazing wish trip. Just thinking about it makes me smile. The weather was really so beautiful, and we had such a wonderful time. And we made such friends!

I got the nicest surprise this Sunday when a comment popped up on on the blog from Jess and Maggie. They’re the beautiful girls in the picture below, and they were our special friends during our week at Give Kids the World.

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They were there on a school volunteer trip with their teacher (below), who was just as great.

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This week, the girls are back at the village, and they thought of our crazy boys. I’d shared the blog address with them last year, and they remembered it!

Jess and Maggie, I hope you’re having a wonderful time again this year, and making another family feel as treasured as we did. You’re seniors this year, I believe, so it’s really not very long until you’ll be going off into the wide world on your own. I’m so glad that we got to meet you. I don’t know what your futures hold, but no matter what it is, your kindness will serve you well.

And soak up some sun for us! We’re a little buried right now.

 

Small Packages

Levi got a little package in the mail today. It was from Give Kids the World, and I couldn’t imagine what it could be. (Though I was pretty sure it wasn’t a bill. Which was a welcome change from the rest of the mail.)

It was … a rabbit. Mayor Clayton, to be specific.

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He and his wife Ms. Merry preside over the village at Give Kids the World. Ms. Merry was at our first breakfast at GKTW, and Levi was overjoyed to meet her.

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Later that week, Mayor Clayton himself showed up in his nightshirt to tuck the boys into bed.

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I can’t say it was my favorite part of the week, but only because there are too many wonderful parts to have a favorite. It was really a lot of fun.

Levi got the rabbit, it appears, because he was supposed to get one while we were there, but they were out of stock. They didn’t want us to miss anything, so they mailed it out now.

He’s a very nice rabbit. But even more than Mayor Clayton himself, I am grateful today for the memories he packed in his cummerbund.

Everybody’s Gone Surfing …

 

I just found this picture from Give Kids the World, and it’s too good not to share.

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One of the amazing things at Give Kids the World is the pool. It’s enormous and heated to nearly bathwater temperature, and shallow all over, so you can really pack in the kids. There’s a zero-degree entry ramp and PVC wheelchairs provided with straps. Kids that hardly ever get to go in the pool can go.  There’s a pirate boat that serves as the backdrop for the Pirates and Princesses party every Friday night, and also as a screen for movie nights. Pretty fantastic.

And in the “surf shop” you can stand on a gigantic board and pretend to catch a wave. The boys don’t really get surfing at this point, so there they are with their special friends J and M. This was taken by Paul on the day I was so sick. It’s one of my favorite pictures from the trip.

Good memories.

Tuesday at the Village

We had Easter dinner at our house tonight. Besides my mom and my siblings (less the Canadian contingent, of course), my mom’s sisters came. They asked about pictures of our trip, and I was reminded that I haven’t shared a lot of the snapshots we took. I’ll keep at it.

Just for fun, I took a picture of all Levi’s meds when I was packing. The picture below contains a few bottles of mine and Paul’s, but almost everything there is for Levi.

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This picture does NOT include his Vest, which comes with its own rolling case that just qualifies for carry-on status. it also does not include the dietary supplements – I packed a small/medium rolling suitcase about 2/3 full of his special milkshakes and juice on the way down. Traveling with CF is definitely an undertaking.

Monday was spent in traveling, settling in, and hanging around the Village. On Tuesday, we headed for the Magic Kingdom (you may remember the stern lecture I had to deliver on the way in). We stopped on Main Street USA for the obligatory castle picture.

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Shortly after this was taken, a parade came down the street. We had no idea what we were doing – it was beginner’s luck. We got to see Mr. Incredible and Goofy, among others. The boys decided there might be something to this Disney thing after all – up to that point, it’d been parking, people movers, and lines for strollers.

Their favorite thing at that park may have been the flying carpet ride. They’d just recently seen Aladdin for the first time, and Levi was asking about riding a flying carpet even before he knew about an upcoming trip.

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Back at the Village and after a restorative nap, we headed for dinner and then straight out into Mayor Clayton’s surprise birthday party. (Held every Tuesday night. He’s a terribly forgetful rabbit.) Because it was Fat Tuesday, it was also a massive Mardi Gras party with street performers and a slew of Universal characters.

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Recall that all the ice cream you can eat 24/7 is a major perk of Village life. Elias took advantage of this at every opportunity.

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The meeting with Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat was one of the nicest surprises we had, especially for Elias.

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And because the Tuesday in question was also MY birthday …

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I couldn’t resist a quick photo op with the mayor.

Hiatus

No, I am not still on the beach. I apologize for the radio silence. There wasn’t much to say about our remaining time at the beach (except that it was fantastic), and then I was sick again, and we got on a plane, and it was back to the craziness.

We did get to go to Suess Landing at Universal Islands of Adventure on our last day, and the boys had a great time. We rode a fishy ride (One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish themed) on which we got wet. Very exciting. And Elias rode the Seuss carousel with me, on an elephant modeled after Horton. I don’t have any pictures of that yet – Paul was the photographer that day, and I haven’t done a file dump off his phone.

The Orlando airport has a shuttle tram from the main building to certain terminals, and we rode a fairly empty one to our gate. Other than the four of us, it was mostly crew members in our tram, and one of the pilots asked if the boys wouldn’t like to drive. He moved us up to the front of the tram, and they had a great time. Right about when this picture was taken, Levi was exclaiming, “It’s a TUNNEL!”

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When we were at Give Kids the World, we’d return almost every day to find gifts on our kitchen table. We got so many toys and games that I had to go buy duffel bags (yes, plural) at WalMart to get everything packed to go home. Here’s a picture of the bags I got – with a sandwich bag box for perspective. They’re big. And they’re full.

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I still haven’t found a home for everything!

I have so many more pictures to share that never made it to the blog while we were gone. As long as it looks like you’re all still enjoying them, I’ll keep at it. Once I get them off Paul’s phone, of course.

 

A Different Sort of Day

We did make it to see Shamu last night, and he was all geared up in this pirate duds. This is a pretty bad picture – Shamu kept jumping up and down, and I’m not much of a photographer, so I couldn’t compensate.

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Today was a different sort of day again – Levi wasn’t feeling so well. It was different from whatever hit me – he felt pretty good most of the day, but just couldn’t keep anything down. Paul stayed home with him and gave him lots of love and baths and let him play Angry Birds. We decided that it wasn’t necessary for all of us to stay, though, and Paul had no interest at all in something I very much wanted to do, so Elias got a whole day alone with his mama. He had a fantastic day hanging on to my finger and  chugging along after me. Just about every time I looked down, I saw this:

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The two of us went to Universal Islands of Adventure, and he continued his shameless flirting tour by utterly charming the parking attendant before we even got into the park. We passed through Seuss Landing

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and arrived at my desired destination – Harry Potterville. It did not disappoint (as someone told me it would not). The Hogwarts Express is sitting right there as you walk in, and you can visit all of the shops from the novels, as well as tour Hogwarts castle. I didn’t do any of the rides (Elias is far too little for any of them), but I did do the walking castle tour. The talking portraits are everything I could have hoped for, and the Fat Lady guarding the Gryffindor common room is a hoot. I grabbed a frozen butterbeer on the way out, and Elias shared it with me. (Non-Potterites, calm down. Butterbeer is non-alcoholic. Think root beer.)

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We had a great day together, and I think his very favorite thing might have been the moving sidewalks between the parking and the park entrance at Universal. There were several going each way, and he laughed like a loon every time he stepped onto one.

The Splash Bash party at the village (normally held poolside) was moved indoors because temps are in the 50s tonight, so we toddled on over to the Safari Theater, and right inside the door we found the boys’ new girlfriends. :)

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We even tried to Facetime with Gigi and Auntie Lou right then, but the boys couldn’t tear themselves away. Men are fickle.

A Spot of Bother, and Christmas

We had planned to hang around the Village today and let the boys decompress from all the chaos at the theme parks. Turns out this was a very good thing. I woke up in the wee hours, sick. Whew. I was down for the count most of the day. Instead of running around with both of us all day, the boys ran around with Paul. I was either in bed or on the couch most of the day. I couldn’t face any supper except some saltines and Sprite, but I did make it down to the Christmas celebration afterward.

While I was worshipping at the altar of the porcelain god, the boys went to the pool and met some special friends. There is a group of girls here on a school service trip from New Jersey. Two of them fell in love with the boys, and entertained them for a long time. When we made it to the Christmas celebration, there they were, dressed as candy canes. Here is the joyous reunion, with the boys showing off their new presents.

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I don’t know if I’m going to be able to make it to a theme park tomorrow or not. I am much better, but definitely not running on all eight cylinders yet. Hoping for a good night’s sleep tonight, and that my sickness definitely was food poisoning, and that it won’t be transfered to anyone else.