277 Days of Treatment to Go
First of all, let me say how much I appreciate those of you who have signed in the guestbook and told me that you don’t mind me hijacking the journal for the past two weeks to update about the trip. I’m sure you’ve realized by now that “short and snappy” is NOT my middle name and I had so many photos and anecdotes I wanted to share! Yes, mainly grumpy anecdotes, I'll admit, but anecdotes nonetheless. Those of you who are online friends don’t seem to mind and those of you who are related don’t have a choice anyway. Be sure to check the guestbook for Jennifer C’s message --- and her personal photo from Gatorland, circa 1989 -- how funny is that??? I’d love to pop in a picture or two from my family’s 1974 trip to Disneyworld, for comparisons sake, but I’m one of those people whose parents rarely took pictures when they were little ---I’m sure that is the psychological explanation for why I take eighteen bazillion photos of my kids every month! I might make them miserable, forcing them to pose for so many pictures, but by God, when they grow up they’ll be glad about it!!!
Anyway, although our second day spent at Universal Studios wasn’t the end of the trip, I’ve saved it for the end of the journal updates because 1) these are my favorite photos of the entire week and 2) it’s the one day we all actually got along and the kids were able to manage pleasantness (for a while, anyway.) Always good to go out on a high note, don't you think?
We started the day back at Islands of Adventure, intent on getting a photo of the kids with Spiderman. You know, if you’ve been following our journey at all, that both Kellen and Kendrie are a tad-bit obsessed with anything-superhero-related. So we went in and had the picture taken, and received a free 8x10 when they saw Kendrie’s GKTW button ----
Let me interject a story here, for those of you who have BEEN to GKTW and who might have noticed something in our photos. Every wish kid at GKTW gets an identifying button with their name on it and the dates of their trip to wear at the parks (good for things like free strollers and parking). GKTW gives the boys blue buttons to wear and the girls, pink buttons. Our first day there, the GKTW volunteers bring out a blue button for Kendrie and are calling her “little buddy”. Although Kendrie’s favorite color is blue and I know when she grows up she wants to be “a boy”, I thought it best to let them know that she is, in reality, a girl. The volunteer apologized profusely, and confessed that they weren’t sure, based on her name, if she were a boy or a girl so they had printed up buttons in both colors. When she walked in the door, with her mullet haircut and cowboy boots, guess which button they pulled out and pinned on her. So he handed her the pink button …. and she promptly informed him she would much rather wear the blue! So all week at the village the volunteers were calling her “little fellow” and “sport” and I was walking along behind her, with the pink button pinned to *MY* jacket, thinking well, I suppose there are worse things in the world, right?
In any case, back to my Islands of Adventure recount: After our photo with Spiderman, we were standing in the middle of Super Hero Street, waiting on Kellen and Blaine to ride the free-fall ride again (and watching Brayden pout, again, just like the day before, that she still wasn’t tall enough to ride it. I swear, she and Kellen BOTH insisted on measuring themselves again for the Hulk coaster, thinking they had grown enough since the day before to ride it now -- how funny is that?) when all the Marvel Superheroes came out for a public meet & greet.
Brayden and Kendrie and I stood in line to wait our turn for a photo, and when Captain America saw Kendrie’s button, he stopped what he was doing, came over to me and pointed out a worker standing to the side. He told me to go over and ask for a private autograph session and that ALL the heroes would be willing to visit with our family privately. So I did, and they did! We followed them to a private area of the park and they talked to the kids for close to ten minutes, high-fiving them, and willingly posing for photos. After they left, the attendant offered to take us to the next section of the park to meet more characters. Again, let me tell you how impressed I was with the level of Guest Service attention we received at Universal Studios!
We left Islands of Adventure and park-hopped to Universal Studios next door. We rode the ET ride which the kids liked, then found the Woody Woodpecker Kids Zone and never left! Kendrie discovered the joy of holding up her arms on the Woody Woodpecker Roller Coaster and I swear she was going for the coaster-club world record for the number of times ridden. Even with our special pass, I was starting to get embarrassed at how many times in a row she ran around and rode it again.
Then the best part of the day was the time spent at the Curious George Water Playland, full of fountains and tubs and hoses and tubes and all kinds of SURPRISE splashing places. I got ambushed once by some kid I didn’t even know, but was glad I risked the water spray because I got so many cute pictures of the kids playing. If it had been twenty degrees warmer, I don’t think we would have ever gotten them to leave. As it was, they only grudgingly put on their dry clothes when the uncontrollable shivering started. (Note to self: check the weather channel and go to the places with water-parks BEFORE the cold front comes through!)
We ate a late lunch at a place called Mel’s, which was set up to resemble a 50’s diner and had 50’s music playing over the speakers. I had what were quite possibly the best onion rings I’ve ever had in my life that day, and experienced the one true hour of happiness on our vacation when the kids were laughing, happy, and enjoying one another’s company --- eating food that we didn’t have to take out a bank loan to purchase and doing a little booth-dancing to Sha-Na-Na (Well, except for Blaine, who doesn’t have a spontaneous booth-dancing bone in his entire body.)
Proof positive that she had a good time by the end of the day!
And that pretty much sums up the entire week. Well, we also attended a Medieval Times dinner, which was fun. Well, it became fun after Blaine lied to the attendant to get Kendrie a hat. Before that, she just whined. Apparently at these dinners, you are assigned seats in a specific section, and assigned a knight to cheer for. We got the yellow and red knight, which was unfortunate since Kendrie’s favorite color is blue. We bought her a blue flag to wave which wasn’t good enough; she wanted the BLUE cheap, paper Burger King hat to wear. So on the way out, after she conveniently left her yellow and red hat behind, Blaine asked the attendant for an extra blue hat and luckily, they were kind enough to give us one. Can you believe we’ve been home almost two weeks and that stupid blue hat is STILL sitting beside her bed in a place of honor???
So, my never-ending thanks to Make-A-Wish and Give Kids the World for the gift of such a wonderful week. Despite the arguing and bickering and fighting and whining, we had moments of greatness that will be forever etched in my memory. Those are the moments and photos I will scrapbook. The other moments, of my children pouting and skirmishing and quarrelling and disagreeing, well, sadly, those are preserved forever on videotape. I’ll be sure to get it out and watch it the next time I get a wild hair to plan a family vacation.
Thanks also to all of you who have sent your well-wishes to Blaine for his surgery next week. He’s already settled in the hotel in Seattle and I’ll be joining him tomorrow. I’m not exactly sure when I’ll be able to update again. The surgery is Tuesday and the doctor estimates it will take about ten hours, then he’s slated to be in ICU for the next 24 hours. Hopefully by Wednesday night or Thursday I will be able to update all of you. Or who knows? Watching him sleep might not be that inherently fascinating --- maybe I’ll sneak the laptop into the ICU and unplug a monitor or beeper or something to use it. But we really are thankful that so many of you are keeping him in your thoughts and would ask that you send some positive vibes to the northwest on Tuesday morning.
Mom appears to have everything under control here and has Kendrie’s chemo schedule all worked out. I’m telling you, her quarter-bribery-scheme was brilliant!! Kendrie practically runs to the kitchen every night, and Brayden and Kellen are chanting “Chug-a-Lug, Chug-a-Lug!” right behind her!! Who knew my kids were so easily manipulated with money? It sure didn’t work as well with our chore-chart system, I can tell you that!
I hope you all have a great week; have I mentioned how lucky we feel to have so many great friends who continue to check in on us???? Thanks!
WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Today it’s not my cancer that stinks, it’s my dad’s. Because it means he went away for a while and I miss him lots. Mainly because my mom can’t play ball to save her life and it’s pretty boring playing outside with her instead of him.
BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: I’m getting a stack of quarters big enough to rival any Saturday night poker champion! And did I tell you that my grandma brought us Home Alone 3 to watch? It is the funniest movie EVER! And I’m speaking from experience because I watched it (no exaggeration) five times today!!!