Friday, September 12, 2014

Our Iowa Vacation

If you ask Alexa what the highlight of her summer was, I am sure she would say our trip to Adventureland.  We decided to take this trip 1) because Alexa had been talking about going back since our visit last year and 2) we wanted to see how Parker would handle this type of environment to prepare for our wish trip to Disney World in the fall.  

We thought we had made a huge mistake after the first ride of the day.  We started on the carousel and Parker thought that was pure and total torture.  We are talking big-time temper tantrum here.  It was not pretty.   

However, we didn't let that stop us and we took a chance on the Ferris wheel as the second ride.  Luckily, that was a hit with all and Parker really enjoyed it!  Phew!!!

We knew the weather had a chance of being yucky that day but we took our chances anyway because this was really the only time we'd be able to fit the trip in before it got super hot out.  The good thing about the weather was that the park wasn't busy at all.  The bad part is when Paul and Alexa were sitting on the 3rd ride of the day, it started down pouring.  I mean...torrential rain here.  Completely crazy.  Parker and I ran for cover and Paul and Alexa just got wet.  Well, soaked really.  For that matter, Parker and I did too.  But soon the rain let up and we were on our way.

We learned that there were some rides Parker loved and some he hated.  Anything going in a circle like the carousel was awful.  Up and down circles (the Ferris wheel, the chuck wagon ride, and a few others) were fine and rides that went in a circle fast (like the tea-cups) were pretty good too.  But Parker's favorite ride of the day was the Frog Hopper.  He got very excited about this ride and would giggle and sign "more".  We went on it several times!

Alexa and Parker both really enjoyed the water park section of Adventureland.  We had to be very careful, of course, to keep water away from Parker's trach but it worked out fine.  Looking back, we should have allowed more time for the water park but now we know for next time.  

 We had a bit of time to dry off on some more rides on the way out of the park.  Alexa's favorite "land ride" was the swinging ship.  I actually think this ride scared her but it must have been just the right amount of fear and thrill to make it fun.   

Paul snuck in one "big kid" ride at the end of the day too.  

Except for Parker having a colossal blow-out in the middle of the day and us having to give him (and his chair) a mini-bath in a family restroom, the day was definitely a success.  Since it was not busy, we got to hit up all the rides we wanted to and decided we didn't need to go back for a second day as we had originally planned.  Instead, we visited the Iowa Science Center in downtown Des Moines the next day.  

The Science Center was really nice and I'd highly recommend it.  

This is kind of Paul's element so I kind of think he had just as much fun as the kids.

We ended our day with a walk on the bridge over the river.  I apparently didn't get any pictures of this.  It was very nice and relaxing and we got back in the car right before the rain started up again.  

It was a wonderful mini-vacation and I'm glad we made the adventure.  I feel more confident in our decision for Disney World as well and we are all looking forward to that trip very much!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Parker turns FOUR with a Curious George Party

It may be over a month late but I wanted to post about Parker's birthday!   

On August 7th, Parker turned FOUR!!!

That's a little hard to wrap my mind around.  Four years ago my little man was born and that day and those that followed were full of such mixed emotions.  We were so happy to meet our new son and so scared because he was really sick and on so many machines that were keeping him alive.  We didn't understand all that was happening, we had so many questions but couldn't put them into words and we couldn't help asking "Why".   I never doubted that there was a reason for all of it and I fully felt God's presence during that time but it was still very difficult.

There have been three different hospital stays in Parker's life where I experienced a true fear that we wouldn't get to bring him home.  He was that sick and I was that scared.  What a horrible thing for a parent to experience.  Most of the truly scary moments occurred prior to Parker's first birthday and that's why when he turned ONE we wanted to celebrate!  Each year that has passed, Parker gets a bit stronger, is sick less often and makes wonderful strides and progress.  But the feeling to celebrate each year older is still strong and still important to us.  Thank you God for letting us have this wonderful little guy in our lives for another year!!!

So, this year, on Parker's 4th birthday we wanted to do something special for him.  This is a little trickier than it sounds because Parker doesn't enjoy the things other kids his age might.  Paul came up with a great idea though.  He suggested that since Parker loves Curious George so much, we should rent out the old Joyo Theatre and show the Curious George movie on the big screen!!  Wow is my husband smart!

So that is exactly what we did!  I found a free Curious George Birthday Invitation Template on-line.

Then I just had to invite people. Since we've sheltered Parker so much and kept him away from other kids, he didn't really have any of his own friends I could invite. This made me nervous that we wouldn't have many people to celebrate with.  I was very pleasantly surprised when so many people that are familiar with Parker (even if they've never met him) said they'd like to come to his party.   There was a great turn-out of 45+ people at this party and I think fun was had by all.
Parker with Ms. Suzanne

Getting ready to sing Happy Birthday

Enjoying Eileen's Cookies...yum!

Parker with the Stevens' Family

Paul and I (well, mostly Paul) made this super cute Curious George cut-out that we used as a decoration for the party.  Each of the kids got to stand behind it and get their picture taken.  

Parker didn't love it as much as we had hoped

For favors, each of the kids got a Curious George book, banana and a balloon.

Overall, I'd say the day was a great success and I think Parker had a very special day!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Starting School!

The craziest thing happened in our household over the past couple of weeks!

Both of the kids started school!

Crazy I tell you.  Crazy.

I don't feel like I should have kids old enough to be starting school.  This is a BIG life moment for me and let me tell you I was an anxious mess going in to this transition.  

On August 12th, my little girl started Kindergarten!

She handled the whole thing like a pro.  She wasn't nervous at all and was really looking forward to it.  

I am so proud of her.  My smart, strong-willed, artistic, silly, super-talkative, energetic, loving, drama-filled, little princess is now a big girl.  I can't wait to see her grow up and see what she will be and do.  

I only got a little bit teary.  Watching her excitement and enthusiasm was fun and made this transition much easier. 

                                                           DREAM BIG SWEET GIRL!

The week after Alexa started school, Parker had his first day of preschool.  Let me tell you, this transition was probably one of the most difficult things I have emotionally had to deal with.  I wasn't sad really, just scared.  Scared to death.  

We've really sheltered Parker up to this point in an effort to keep him healthy.  We stay away from sick people at all costs and he's never really played with other kids his age.  Now I was turning him loose in a completely germ-infested environment full of curious little kiddos where who knows what might happen.  Again...scared to death. 

  Needless to say, turning over complete control to total strangers and hoping that Parker would stay safe and healthy and hopefully learn something in the process was completely overwhelming.  Most of the planning wasn't done until the very last minute which didn't help matters any but to my surprise everything fell into place just in time.   

The teachers and staff working with Parker have been very helpful and supportive.  They've definitely helped me feel better about things and really seem to want the best for him.  Parker was approved for a one on one nurse which was a number one priority of mine in order to send him to school.  This was a huge relief.

I think Parker's first day was a success.  He met a friend and didn't seem to want to leave.  He was definitely worn out but was happy to return the next day.  Yay!

Unfortunately, Parker only attended two days of preschool and is now sick.  I knew that was likely but was hoping it wouldn't happen.  I just hope his little immune system can kick into gear and he can fight off these germs on his own.  We will see.  If it's meant to be it will all work out.  I really hope it does.  

Parker and Alexa, I love you both SO much and want the very best for you!  This is just the next step on your journey and I hope it is wonderful for you!!!!