286 Days of Treatment to Go
First of all, let me say thanks to all of you who posted (often funny, occasionally hilarious --- do you guys actually *read* the guestbook?? You should! Some of you are just plain comical!) notes letting me know that your idyllic family vacations have, on occasion, been less than idyllic. More like spending time trapped in an elevator with that annoying brat from "Full House". You know, *that* kind of fun. From spending a small fortune on meals, to sibling rivalry, to tantrums, to throwing up on Main Street in Disney, thanks for sharing your stories and making me laugh.
I’ve decided the best comparison for our trip is to think of it as similar to giving birth. Going through it, there are moments that stink. Downright painful, in fact. But afterwards, you forget the pain and only remember the good. At least that’s what I’m telling myself, ha!
Our first day we drove to Orlando and checked in at Give Kids the World. Now, I’ll be honest. I have logged on to other Caringbridge Sites, of kids who had recently stayed at Give Kids the World, and read comments by parents who stated they simply couldn't find the words to explain how wonderful this facility is. I’ll admit, I’ve inwardly scoffed, “Then get a thesaurus and start typing!” because, truthfully, I have an insane need to live vicariously through other people. But guess what? After staying at GKTW myself with my family, I simply can’t find the words to explain how wonderful this facility is. Henri Landworth, a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to America with only twenty dollars in his pocket, is the founder. Just typing that sentence makes me feel guilty. I’m proud if I can manage to donate blood every eight weeks and stay caught up on the laundry, let alone raise millions and millions of dollars through hard work and perserverance … and look at the magnificent things this gentleman has accomplished during his life! You can click here if you’d like more information, or buy his book “Gift of Life” (proceeds help the village) for a truly interesting read.
Anyway! I don’t want to give away all the details and secrets and surprises, since I know lots of other families are going soon and I don’t want to ruin the anticipation for them. (Unless you really want to know, so you can plan your trip, then e-mail me privately and I’ll give you a heads up!) Suffice it to say this amazing village, run predominately by volunteers, gives new meaning to “Happiest Place on Earth”. Most likely, I guess, by the fact so many of the workers are there out of the goodness of their heart (duh, isn’t that what “volunteer” means???) Some are “regulars”, and some are like the retired couple we met from Maryland, who drove down in their RV and were staying for a month, volunteering every day. I wish I could explain the feeling it gives you, to witness so many people, working so hard to ensure you and your children are having a good time, helping in whatever way they can. (Even when your kids are intolerable hooligans who are too excited to remember to say "please" and "thank you" most of the time, and these kind people continue to help them anyway!)
The village itself is great, with lots of fun activities planned throughout the day and evenings. We enjoyed simply walking around looking at the whimsical decorations (I guess I enjoyed that more than the kids did), going for fifty thousand merry-go-round rides (the kids enjoyed that more than I did) and taking advantage of the fact the Ice Cream Shop opens at 8am (enjoyed equally by Escoe parents and kids alike! Yes, you really *can* have ice cream for breakfast if you want --- just try that in the real world, ha!)
To try and put it in words is impossible. How can you explain a spirit, a light-heartedness, an atmosphere of frivolity? Imagine living in a carnival and being greeted with a smile and a kind word no matter where you go. Knowing everyone wants you to be happy and goes out of their way to make your life easier for a few days...
I know, I know, you assume that must be what it is normally like in the Escoe household all the time! Sorry to say, you are wrong and our six days at Give Kids the World was a true slice of heaven.
Well, I’m rambling now and probably not making any sense. It’s hard to be entertaining, in a flip, funny way, about the part of our trip that touched my heart the most ….. I’ll be back to my normal, insufferable self soon. But for now, I’ll just post a few pictures from the village and then get on to the Theme Park portion (a.k.a, "Who made the pact with Satan and sold my children's personalities???"-portion) of our vacation in the next journal entry. Thanks again for your guestbook entries; we get a real kick out of hearing from you guys!
The view from outside our villa. Keep in mind, these 2-bedroom, 2-bath villas were bigger than some of the base housing Blaine and I have lived in! OK, well, those of you in the military know that's not always saying much, but it was a great set up ---- very generous accommodations!
Another highlight of the trip, getting to meet one of the All-Kids families we know online. This is Kendrie and her new friend Alexis. Alexis' mom and I have become friends and I was so happy to see them walk into the Gingerbread House (the GKTW restaurant) on our first night! Karen, Alexis, Rachel, the whole gang .... we really enjoyed getting to spend time with you guys!!!
This was one of the kids' favorite village activites -- an interactive Dino-Putt-Putt.
Uh, oh .... maybe it's a little too interactive. Where is that roaring coming from?????
"Hey, get me outta here!"
We even have a brand-new Baskin Robbins built near our home, but you can tell by looking at this photo that there's no comparison for fun! Who wouldn't want to eat an ice cream sundae at 8 in the morning, sitting in a big bowl? We loved it! I'm sure our dentist loves it, too.
No, there's no need to glance at your calendar and scratch your head (or any other body part) in confusion. One night each week at the Village is "Christmas" and we got to hang out with Santa for a while, in addition to doing crafts, games, playing in the snow (!) and enjoying ourselves.
More details to follow.............