Saturday, February 18, 2012

THE Trip!

What a trip! William's wish to go to Harry Potter World was fulfilled! And the Make-A-Wish Foundation is Ah-Mazing!

After a fun-filled week at more theme parks than I care to remember, we are finally settling back into our routines. We flew home almost 2 weeks ago on Monday, arriving after midnight, but in time to catch a few hours of shut eye before being back at the hospital Tuesday morning for another round of chemo-6 days. Luckily our kids were still on east coast time and woke up bright and early. Ryan and I weren't so lucky even if our bodies were on east coast time. We were exhausted!!! But it was all worth it! William was radiant. I haven't seen him feel or look that good for that many consecutive days for a very long time. But the recent completion of chemo has drained the energy yet again. Although he still looks good and is happy, happy, happy!

The trip began early in the morning with a 5am knock on the door from the limo service to the airport. The boys loved it and were only slightly disappointed that the limo was white. They have this funny belief that the Jonas Brothers are in all black limos and Hannah Montana is in white limos! They got over it pretty fast and we piled in. The flights were good and almost uneventful. The pilot let the boys explore the cockpit and the flight attendants handed out extra cookies. The only significant event was when Soren tried to remove a lid from a Play-doh container and one of his bottom front teeth flew onto the chair. It wasn't loose. It was his first tooth. His urge to cry was quickly curbed as we gushed over the exciting fact that he was the first boy in our family to loose a tooth on a plane! There's always something to be said for feeling a little special.

Our resort: Give Kids the World! Wow! And the wow isn't because it was 5 star amazing, but because of the people who work and volunteer there and the special attention they give to making it magical for the Wish Child and their whole family. Several times, just walking around the grounds I got a little teary just thinking about how amazing everything was and the impact of it all on our lives. All of the boys got a special pillow from the Pillow Tree in the Castle of Miracles, the wish fairy left presents on our kitchen table each day, William got a "star" in the star tower of the Castle of Miracles, various characters came each day to greet the kids, pirate party at the pool, Super Bowl party at the pool with a giant movie screen, popcorn, cotton candy, snow cones, hot dogs, etc., all-you-can-eat ice cream parlor, breakfast each day in the gingerbread house, horseback riding, carousel rides, train rides, mini-golf, remote control boats, fishing, arcade.... should I stop? And this was just at the resort. I think the kids were shocked when they asked to do or eat everything and we always said YES!

Harry Potter World was William's favorite! And of course, we went there first. The Hogwartz Castle ride was a hit! Butter beer wasn't appreciated by all---a little on the too sweet side for some of us, but still a yummy treat. The Hippogriff ride was ridden over and over again by the four younger boys---William is a little too fragile for that much jostling. And Ollivander's wand shop was pure magic. Really! Ask Soren (5yrs old). We hit Harry Potter World first thing in the morning and spent a few hours there. Then we wandered over to Island's of Adventure, another area at Universal Studios, and spent the remaining part of the day there until heading back to Harry Potter World again to finish out the last hour of the evening. We loved meeting up with some Hadfield cousins from VA who coincidentally were there on vacation too! So fun and always good to have a few extra adults and teenagers to tag team the boys!

A bit of history for those of you who may not be Harry Potter aficionados. Ollivander's is the name of the wand shop where all wizards go to buy their wands before entering The Hogwartz School of Wizardry. However, you don't pick the wand, the wand picks you. At the park, wands are sold in the tourist shops and at kiosks in the park for a quick souvenier purchase, but if you are willing to stand in a long line, you can actually go into the portion with Ollivander himself and watch a small production with a lucky audience member and witness a wand picking its master. Our return in the evening yielded very small lines so we got in line. William's lovely bald head and special blue button designating him a Wish Child earned him the coveted role of lucky audience member. The room was so authentic to the movie, the Ollivander actor was fantastic, and the rigged room made every small child a believer in magic. William told me before entering that he didn't want a wand because he already has one that he loves that was made by the father of a family friend. It is very cool. However, after the whole production, we told him he could have another if he wanted. He did. His brother's commented, "William is so lucky because he got a wand that does real magic!" They love the wands they picked too.

We also enjoyed time at Disney World hitting the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Disney Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Sea World. Some of the highlights were the Aerosmith roller coaster which marked William's first "upside down" ride, the stunt car show, more upside down roller coasters at Sea World, the Lion King show, feeding the dolphins, the sea otter show, the Test Track at Epcot, any and all log rides. We packed lots into each day, but we tried to stay at the pace of the boys. We never made it to the parks before 10am, but always stayed until closing. William's special blue button was great. It got all of us in special entrances, front row seats, fast pass lines, and often let us ride our favorite rides over and over again without getting off. During a dramatic melt down by Cameron for some reason I can't remember, an employee stopped to chat with William about what things he was enjoying and tried to cheer Cameron up without success. Then she marched them over to the ice cream counter and gave them all ice cream cones. What a treat and kind gesture.

The flights home were long and late, but we made it into our beds by 12:30am, happy and exhausted.

Here's a slideshow because I haven't found enough time to do much photo organizing yet. I tried to set it to music, but it was giving me enough headaches. I gave up so you'll have to settle for boring silence. I haven't downloaded any of our video and we just barely got all the laundry of the past 2 weeks finally put away today!

William's week in the hospital for chemo right after we came back was fairly uneventful. He started getting nauseated on day 4 of 5. He came home feeling pretty crummy for a couple days, but is bouncing back just in time for his counts to drop. He's probably neutropenic by now and he's probably due for blood and platelet transfusions (he was close and trending down on Thursday). Due to the Monday holiday, he's not due back into the clinic until Tuesday. We'll see if he makes it until then. We may be making a trip to the 6th floor for some blood work a little sooner.

Update: Got the slideshow up because we spent Sunday in the hospital getting blood and platelets. He's not neutropenic, but he's close. Not sure if he's on his way up or down.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Perfectly Scripted Pinewood Derby

Our biggest concern with this year's derby, other than just finishing both cars, was how do we deal with hurt feelings if one car ends up being better than the other. The root of this problem stems from Clark having a hard time understanding why William seems to get "special" attention. All the kids feel this way, but Clark just seems to vocalize it and dwell on it more often. He is constantly upset because William comes home from the hospital with various toys and trinkets or he finds out that William had Jamba Juice or In-N-Out for lunch after his doctor appointments. We try our best to be sensitive to this and make special efforts to make sure each of our children feels special, but it's hard and we're walking a fine line. I know this is true in all families, in all situations, but it just feels exacerbated with this whole cancer thing. So this derby thing raised some awareness as to how we were going to make sure they both come out feeling like winners. (I'm all for kids learning how to be winners and losers, but I didn't feel like teaching it that day).
The carving of the car and the outfit to do it!
The boys did a great job designing, carving, and painting their cars. We tried to give them some sense of ownership before we stepped in to help/finish.

The finished products. William's is the yellow and black one and Clark's is the American flag one.

We finished the cars just in time. Actually, we were a bit late, but we figured we'd just be the last ones to be weighed in. Both looked great and I got a new corded drill to aid the axle prep! I love power tools more than my husband! (Probably because I use them more often!) The boys and cars did great! I couldn't have scripted the outcome more perfectly! William won 1st place for the Webelos (not counting the 2 cars that won first and second overall) and Clark won 3rd place over all. It was perfect because both boys won several races, but Clark won more. Both were sincerely happy for each other! And so were we! Whew!
The excitement of winning a trophy! Always with a flare for drama!
Well done!
A little toned downed, but equally thrilled!
Brotherly love competition!

p.s. Yes, we took THE trip! Details to come as soon as I/we recover!