We are home from our amazing Florida trip! I actually don't even know how to describe our adventure in words. It would be impossible. It was the most magical, amazing, memorable vacation I have ever experienced in my lifetime. I only pray that our boys will take the good memories with them forever!
Give Kids the World Village was our "home base" for the week, and I cannot say enough good things about this amazing place. They treat children like celebrities 24 hours/day. Our boys have never gotten so much love and been so spoiled ever before (and that's saying a lot!). Around every corner was a surprise. A cookie truck handing out cookies and lemonade. A generous group of people randomly handing out Christmas presents. Gifts being left on our kitchen table daily. Free food and ice cream whenever we wished. Rides on trains. A huge party every single night, in which EVERY child was made to feel like the most important person in the world. A carousel to ride any time of the day. A tree that snored. Access to a pool and splash park and mini golf and arcade games and a magical castle with a wishing well that burps (this was the boys' FAVORITE place and we visited it twice/day minimum). I could go on and on.
In addition to everything at the Village, we were given passes to every theme park in the Orlando area. We made the most of those passes and managed to hit most spots on our list. Elijah's main wish was to go to Aquatic Waterpark, and we got the FULL treatment there. We felt like celebrities!
Not only did we get our very own dolphin show at Aquatica (seriously!), but we got our own HUGE cabana. We had our very own, private space for the day, which was stocked with goodies (a TON of goodies), a fridge filled with water and a couch and comfy chairs and the whole works. As the generous man from Aquatica walked us back to our area, I began to cry. I really didn't expect that sort of treatment. I felt overwhelmed and grateful for the experience and everything that was being done for us. Then we received two huge bags of goodies, including water guns for the boys, a framed photo of the four of us from the dolphin show, towels and candy and chips and seriously it went on and on. That wasn't all! We got a behind-the-scenes tour of the waterpark, where we learned about the inner workings of the park. Elijah and Sammy got to "line a backwash" by turning a giant wheel, which meant they helped to purify the water in the park that day!
(taking a break in our cabana to eat mid-day...can you tell Elijah was tired?!)
We went to Magic Kingdom on Sunday and had a BLAST. I think it's safe to say it was our favorite place. One of the perks we received was having a Fast Pass that put us in the front of every line in every park. We took full advantage of this, as we knew we would never have this opportunity again. I think we made it on 10ish rides that day alone. They were all incredible! We walked for about 7 hours straight. The boys got to meet Mickey Mouse (Sammy loved this). Elijah got super duper special treatment and was sent back to meet the other Disney characters (Sammy ran screaming).
Elijah and Sammy bonded with Mayor Clayton and his wife Ms. Merry at the Village. They appear at the parties every night (there is a different theme every night of the week...pirate/princess, pool party, CandyLand, Halloween, birthday, Village Idol, Christmas) and at other various events during the day. Elijah especially was enamored by these two and was ready to pose with them for a photo at every opportunity. The last night of our trip, the boys got tucked in by Ms. Merry. I got video of that and Elijah has watched it about 100 times.
Elijah decided he wanted to be a contestant on "Village Idol," which is the Village's version of American Idol. He sang the Alvin and the Chipmunks version of Jingle Bells. He asked me to PLEASE come out on stage with him, so I did. I coached him through the song and he did GREAT! It was one of the cutest things I've ever seen and I'll never forget it.
We also made it to Animal Kingdom, although that was our roughest day. Elijah did not sleep well during most of the trip, and the night before AK was the roughest night. Our AK day was rough for all of us. We were running on fumes and we were all grumpy and totally spent. We did enjoy the Festival of the Lion King show, where we were again treated like royalty. We sat in the front row! Dan was called on stage to demonstrate a warthog noise (super funny). Then Elijah got to run around on stage with the performers! It was an incredible, colorful and enjoyable show. Sammy hid his face in my lap for most of it, in fear that someone would ask him to come on stage. :)
We went to Universal Studios one day and had a blast there. This is where we were introduced to the world of 3D! Elijah did great with it, which surprised me. Sammy was terrified. All of us except for Sammy loved the Despicable Me and Shrek rides. I rode on the Harry Potter ride by myself and was in HEAVEN. I was super happy to walk through Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. :)
I'm hoping to put together a video of our trip in the next few weeks. I also have a huge list of Sammy quotes to share that are hilarious!
Elijah's sleep on the trip was sporadic, but mostly poor. He was up early (4:00ish) on most mornings. We tried the medication for a few days that his sleep specialist recommended and the following couple of days were VERY challenging. So we stopped the meds. We are praying so hard for answers in this area. I am dreading sending him back to school because I cannot stomach anticipating calls/emails from teachers and the principal. It makes me sick to think about it. Something needs to change and we are praying about what that might be. I have a few other things in the works that could help our boy. More on that to come (hopefully soon)!
We are SO GRATEFUL for our amazing trip, but we're also dealing with some major post-trip blues. Thanks for checking in! We wish you all a very Merry Christmas!