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Oct 31, 2009

Final Wrap Post for Abby's Wish Trip

From Brent

Wow... this is the last post about Abby's Make A Wish & Florida Vacation trip. We waited for a year with great anticipation, and it seemed like it was over in just a few moments.

Abby's Ultimate Wish to beat cancer and have us adopt a new baby brother or sister will help us to continue to live her WISH for a while longer. I've created an "Abby's Wish" badge. You can get the code over there in the right column, at the top. We would be incredibly grateful if you would add it to your blog and pass it on to everyone you know. Here is Abby's Wish page...

Thank You's

The bad part about doing "thank you's" is knowing you are going to miss someone. So I'll just extend that apology now.

Thank first of course to Make A Wish, the Oklahoma chapter for making it all possible. Thank you to Tracy Culwell for taking the time to make sure we did everything we needed with Make A Wish. Thank you to Betty Kay and all the wonderful folks at Make Wish.

Thank you to the Bauman's for their unending love and encourging us to apply to Make A Wish. Thank you to Darron and Tracy for generously extending our Florida vacation at their expense. Thank you to MeeMaw and PawPaw for all you do and the souvenir money for the kids. Thank you to Grandmother and Aunt Missy for taking care of things back home. Thank you to Dodo and Mr. Johnny for loving the kids and watching our house while we were gone.

Thank you to Give Kids the World Village for an incredible week. All the volunteers were loving, kind and obviously passionate about ministering to hurting families.

Thank you to Jasmine and all the Disney characters who seemed to have an extra hug for the Make A Wish Kids. Thank you to the Disney and theme park staffs who graciously allow the Make A Wish Kids to go the front of every line without question or hesitation.

Thank you to Southwest Airlines and American Airlines whose staff and attendants gave Abby special attention and preferential treatment.

Thank you most of all to God Our Heavenly Father who not only numbers the individual hairs on our head, but saw each one fall out of Abby's beautiful brown skin. After God held Abby safe from death's sting four times last year, He then re-numbered each and every strand that grew back on her head, eyebrows and lashes announcing to all that cancer is not yet the final chapter of her story.

God and God alone determines our days and it was His providential care and irrevocable Will established in eternity past that brought Abby into our home and loving arms. It was God's plan that Abby survive to be blessed with this Make A Wish Trip. Everyone else involved, including Michelle and I, are just instruments of God's providence and the fulfillment of His design for the life of a four year old orphan girl from Guatemala.

Miss that, and you miss the whole point of Abby's struggle to live.

A Few More Photos

Abby was basically quarantined for a couple of
weeks before leaving on the trip because the
chicken pox and swine flu were making the rounds.
David Corbly came over to do Abby's Awana lessons with
her so that she could still participate without
having to leave the house and risk getting sick.

Abby got hugs from her favorite characters every day.

Spiderman is about to meet SpideyLandis. That is NOT a
statue looking down on the babies. This Spiderman must have been
an acrobat or something because he ran around jumping up on
things like this kiosk. It was pretty amazing to watch.

From the first moment, Abby had the time of her life.

Another big hug.

As nighttime fell each day, the kids were
tired but never willing to give up.

Michelle met up with another blog family who had two sets of twins and two big brothers.
We loved getting to meet Heather and her family. Abby and Hannah fell in love
with all six of your children. Thank you for taking the time to meet with us.

The beach was a huge hit. The kids had
the best, best, best time there.

Landis loved the water and the waves.

The view from our cottage at Give Kids the World.

Our street and the playground.
You can see the wonderful van they provided us
over on the right.

The kids got to ride the carousel every day after breakfast.

SpideyLandis honing his skills.

Abby's wish to meet Jasmine was very special.

Roller coasters...

...and more roller coasters.

Abby was captivated by the whales at Sea World.

Joy was the definition of every single day.

Abby the Brave. The audience actually applauded
her for getting on this live alligator.

Sami is the very best big sister.

We loved meeting all the Guat-Tots and their families.

Darron and Tracy doubled our dream vacation by
extending it another week at their expense. It' such a
blessing to have such kind and wonderful friends.


Last Day - Abby's Dreamsical Magitastic Funderlicious Trip Comes to a Close

From Brent

Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five | Day Six | Day Seven | More Pics | Day Eight | Day Nine | Day Ten | Day Eleven | Day Twelve | Day Thirteen

The last day of Abby's dream-come-true trip finally arrived. It seemed like two weeks passed in a few seconds.

A couple of important things to note:
  1. The reason why some of our last few posts were loading VERY slowly (or not at all for some folks) was because of the amount of photos on the page. We had SEVEN posts showing on the home page of our blog, so each day a new post with 30 or so pictures was making it harder and harder for the blog page to load quickly. I've changed our blog to show TWO posts now AND if you want the pics to load even faster for any given post, click on the title of that post and load only that one single post with pics.
  2. A lot of future Make A Wish families read our blog and we need to be VERY clear that our Make A Wish trip was only the first 7 days. For liability reasons, Make A Wish can not and WILL NOT extend the trip. We extended our trip on our own at our own expense (or more accurately, at Darron and Tracy's expense who graciously made it all possible). The Oklahoma chapter of Make A Wish provided only the first 7 days only of our trip.
Okay, the business is out of the way, back to the fun stuff. On the final day we got up and decided to go to the beach one last time. We had great fun there and hustled back to Darron and Tracy's to begin our travel day from the pits of Hades.

Evidently, back in our beloved Tornado Alley, storms were pounding Texas and Oklahoma. We were flying American Airlines which goes to the Dallas hub. We beat it back from the beach in plenty of time, packed up early and got ready to go only to be notified of the first of many delays. Over the course of the day we would sit and wait in the airports surrounded by tired and disgruntled travelers, all of whom had seen their day stretched into the black hole of flight delays. It would be 1am that night before we would walk through our front door.

That evening, we finally boarded the plane in Orlando only to find, joy of joys, we had been packed into the first row of the bulkhead... you know, those tiny little 16" wide seats where the arm rests are otherwise known as "hip vices" which do not raise up, move or give way AT ALL.

Let's do a math story problem together: If Johnny gets on the airplane after eating ice cream every day for two weeks, and finds that his seat is only 16" inches wide, what percentage of butt cheek should Johnny expect to permanently disfigure? What is the total dollar amount Johnny will spend on Ibuprofen divided by the number of passenger snickers? What geometric shape will Johnny's butt be formed in to during the three hour flight? Finally, how many pounds per square inch will the Jaws of Life have to be set at in order to dislodge Johnny from the seat upon arrival?

And you thought math was not useful subject....

My dreams of sitting next to Abby or Landis, thereby gaining another half a seat width for my ample sized nether region was dashed. Now I would endure 2.5 hours of torture as my pelvic joints were dislocated upon take off. Oh well, that's what I get for giving into that woman's enticing temptation of nightly ice cream (that woman? Sorry, the dreadful memory of it all makes me say things that will result in even more punishment). I think I gained about 125 lbs in two weeks which will now take me 10.8 dog years to work off.

We arrived in Dallas thinking we had 10 minutes to make our next flight but God was merciful and it was delayed an hour too. This was a good thing since, as you know, our connection was on the total opposite end of the airport. I've never figured out the physics behind this phenomenon. No matter what gate you come in to, somehow it's always the FARTHEST possible distance from the next gate you need to be at.

Eventually we boarded and wouldn't you know where are seats were... the bulkhead row. Only three though, so I graciously gave up those seats to Maria, Abby and Sami. SpideyLandis and I headed back to seats 17D and E. Once a beautiful college girl bound for Oklahoma University sat down next to Landis, I was free to do whatever I wanted. How quickly he forgot the memories of Jasmine's love.

SpideyLandis immediately befriended her and to the young lady's credit, she sat and talked with him the entire flight apparently enjoying his tales of Spiderman, pirates and roller coasters. Her parents and sister were in the row behind us and soon SpideyLandis had them all roped into his little world of adventure. Landis was captivated by the attention so the short flight was all fun for him.

As for me, I was so tired and uncomfortable that nothing mattered. I just wanted to get home. I so completely over did it with the tennis, golf and theme parks, that even now I'm still in a stupid amount of aches and pain. But it was worth it.

Here's a few more little tidbits, then some pics from the last day...

Paw Paw's Birthday

Paw Paw's (my dad) birthday came during our trip so the kids wanted to call him and sing happy birthday. When I asked them what we should get him as a gift, without hesitation, Landis confidently declared "a Transformers costume!".

If we could find one his size, that's exactly what he would be getting!

White Girl

Landis again, and don't ask where he got this one because we have NO IDEA. We were sitting at a restaurant eating dinner at the Cocoa Beach Pier. Landis was getting a little distracted, goofing off and not eating his meal.

Maria gives him a snap of her fingers and says "Landis, eat your dinner!"

To which Landis, three years old, replies, "say what, white girl?"

After we picked up our jaws, we had a good laugh over it. Of course, kids being kids, he tried the same response again a few minutes later and was met with a threat instead of a laugh. It's a tough lesson to learn for a 3 year old: certain things get a laugh the first time, and trouble the second.

I remember one time when Christian was little. He did something he knew was wrong, so he walked into the room spanking himself. We got a big laugh out of that and he escaped the real deal. Of course, it wasn't long before he tried it again and much to his confused dismay, he just ended up getting two spankings: one from him, one from me.

Ice Cream Sicko

In Orlando while waiting at the airport, Maria decided that we had to have one last ice cream. It was of course the perfect symbolic ending to a trip that was built around the consumption of ice cream (a choice that would result in my soon to be dislocated hips on the airplane).

We all get a cone or cup and sit down at the table. Sami and I are sitting one side of the table together and after a few minutes I feel this tap on my arm. I look look over at a wide-eyed, slack-jawed Sami who is pointing at Mom.

I turn to see Maria pouring her coffee into her ice cream cone. Now, I was already well aware of the fact that she has a serious case of F.D.D (Frozen Dairy Disorder) but this was bizarre even by her ice cream standards.

"What in the world are you doing?" I asked.

"Coffee flavored ice cream" she explained as if pouring coffee into an ice cream was perfectly normal. I guess in her little ice cream Bizzaro universe it is.

"What a nut job," I thought to myself as I went back to eating my chocolate ice cream with chocolate chunks covered with chocolate syrup in a chocolate cone washed down with some rich chocolate milk finished up with some chocolate dinner mints (just kidding... what? do you think I have F.D.D. too? I was eating peanut-butter-fudge-nuts-Reese's-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-waffle-cone-ice cream - NO COFFEE TOPPING. That's perfectly normal ice cream behavior).

Hot Stuff

We are sitting at dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Sami is eating HOT salsa like it's ice cream with coffee poured on it (a family illness, I know...). Just looking at it is making me want a drink of water.

Being the sissy I am about hot food, I'm sort of wetting the tip of my tortilla chip with salsa while Sami is scooping it up by the spoonful.

I find this big old chunk of Jalepeno in my salsa, a piece so big it was obviously missed in the dicing process. It's about the size of a quarter. I thought, "I'll teach Sami a lesson since she's so proud of herself, bragging about the hot sauce not bothering her".

"Hey Sami, want this 'big piece of salsa'?" I asked. Okay, it's a little evil not telling her it's a pepper but hey, I'm not the one showing off.

"Ooooo, yummy" she declared seeking our admiration at her complete fearlessness of the hot commodity. I handed over the Jalapeno preparing for the satisfaction of my inevitable revenge.

She pops it in her mouth, chews it, chews it, and chews it some more. I'm looking for tears. I'm looking for sweat. I'm waiting for her to grab the water. I'm anticipating her getting mad at me for tricking her.

I would be disappointed.

She chews it up, swallows it down, reaches for another chip, loads it up with more salsa, looks over at me, and coolly proclaims, "now that's what I'm talking about..."

Yep, she's only known English for one year. She's learned all the really important phrases.

Last Day Pics

Sunrise on our final day. I love the early morning.
This is the view from Darron and Tracy's back yard.
Tough life, I know.

The kids enjoyed one last romp at the beach.

Even with all the "bigness" of Disney
the kids had just as much fun in the simple sand.

Tracy and Darron say goodbye to the little ones.

Once we home, did we rest? Did we stay home?
Of course not. We got dressed up and went to
WonderFall at our church. These are the same
outfits they wore at Disney and they wanted to
show them to everyon at church.

Abby gets her face painted.

Baby Halina (Lentz). She came home
from Ethopia a few months ago. We are so
excited to be adopting again. Seeing Halina
just makes us wish it was tomorrow.

Princess Abby.

SpideyLandis gets a Spidey Mohawk.

Sami with a butterfly face painting.

The little kids were throwing wet sponges
at me while I was taunting them.

Abby petting the kitty. They were giving this cat
away... not to us though. I can guarantee you that.

SpideyLandis jumps from a skyscraper....

Abby and Taylor get ready to slide down this huge slide.
What you don't see is the next photo that my wife would kill me
for putting up. Abby is half way down the slide, her Princess dress
hiked up to her ears, with her little brown Guatemalan legs
straight up in the air... hot pink Dora undies on full display.