We are home from Florida.
Being both the greatest and longest week of my life, I decided that I will write a post for each day that we were there. So much happened. So many things were made clear to me during this trip and there were evident changes in all of the kids. It was a time that I will never forget for so, so many reasons.
The night before we left we drove to Chicago to stay in a hotel. Our flight was at 8:00 am so we had to be up and at the airport by 6:00 am. The kids loved being in the hotel and Mabel slept beautifully with Jeni. It was picture perfect.
We had so much endurance during that first day. Mabel fell asleep on the plane, the kids fought the entire time and even still we were so excited that nothing could stand in our way.
We arrived in Florida at around 11:30 am. We were greeted by two lovely women from the "Give Kids the World" resort where we would be staying. We received our rental van and got on our way. Soon we were pulling into the place that would bring us so much joy for so many days and we knew it right away!
The village gate opened and greeting us were rows of wonky villas like something out of a movie. It was bright, colorful, and happy.
We unloaded the van and started walking. Our first stop was for ice cream, followed by lunch.
Soon after we decided to spend that first day poolside. Our villa was directly across from the pool and splash park which ended up being where we spent the majority of our trip. Mabel loved splashing and the redheads spent hours upon hours playing, swimming, making friends and running wild. It was so quiet and incredibly relaxing.
On day one it became obvious very quickly to Jeni and I that being out of our 'normal' surroundings with Mabel would enhance the severity of her disease for us. In fact, I'm not sure that I'll ever really look at her the same again. I suppose going into this trip I naively expected that staying at a resort with other 'wish children' would bring a sense of knowing; a comradery of sorts. But the grim truth is that Mabel seemed much worse than most kids at the resort. She is our baby here and it is all we know, but far from home at a place where there is other illness, she looks 3 and is very visibly more like 2 months. I didn't realize how heavily it would weigh on me as the week continued...
Right away I purposed myself to let the kids do what they wanted for the week. They had pizza for breakfast and dinner most days and ice cream and pop a million times in between. They stayed up late, woke up late and played hard in between.
Toward the evening of the first night in Florida we drove to the resort's park, lovingly named "Matthew's play place." This is the world's largest game of candyland and it was truly magical. As the sun set in the sky I remember thinking that this day perfectly set the tone for the ones to follow. We were all exhausted but so thankful to be here, together.
Bedtime on night one should have been my first indicator that the rest of the week would be tough for Mabel as she vomited her medicine up soon after taking it. She proceeded to do so every night until we got home.
Day one of our Disney trip was magical; full of energy and anticipation of the week to come.
And my what a week it was!