Monday, March 23, 2015

Meeting Winter

For Lilly's Make A Wish, she asked to go to DisneyWorld and also meet Winter the dolphin. They considered that two wishes so they granted DisneyWorld for us. Jay contacted Clearwater Marine Aquarium separately and they made a special day just for Lilly. Unfortunately, this was the morning that Lilly started to get sick. She didn't have that "sparkle" in her eyes that she normally does when talking about Winter. She was so excited to see her, but you could tell she wasn't feeling very well.

Lilly got to go out by Winter and have one-on-one time with Winter and her trainer. She still talks about how neat it was to be right by the "Real Winter." She definitely has a love for animals. 

Lilly also got to meet Hope and do some tricks with her. 

Lilly learned that the bellies of dolphins are really a light pink instead of white. And that they feel like a "wet marshmallow"... Slimy and soft at the same time! 

Lilly got to go in Dr. Clay's office (from the movie Dolphin Tale). A videographer came in and asked her some questions and they're going to put a video together for Lilly's special day. We'll make sure to post it as soon as it is available. 

Emery loves Ricky aka "Rufus" the pelican.

We liked this magnet. "If Winter can, I CAN!" Lilly knows that she can do hard things!

We are so grateful to Becca and Clearwater Marine Aquarium and all they did for Lilly. Even though she wasn't feeling well, she still talks about some of the things we did that day.

We were so close to Clearwater beach that we had to stop for just a few minutes. In fact, the boys just dropped the girls off while they went and got gas and ice and then came back for us. We really needed to get on the road and head to the hospital. Lilly had a fever. :(

Funny story: We collected some seashells while we were at the beach. We didn't have any place to put them - except for my pockets. When we got back to our hotel and I emptied my pockets, I found a hermit crab living in my pocket!! Good thing he didn't pinch me!!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Universal Studios

We had a two-day pass at Universal Studios while on our trip. It's a good thing we did... The first day was pretty much a wash. Emery was feeling so awful and she was ornery as ever. We went on two little rides in Seuss-ville and that was it! Kind of a waste. But, like I said before, we tried to make the best of it even though we had sick girlies.

The next day was spent pretty much entirely at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Can I just say that Jay was in HEAVEN! He was like a little kid in a candy store! I loved it too, but not as much as he did.

Platform 9 3/4 and the Hogwarts Express was pretty neat. Universal definitely doesn't disappoint when it comes to production and presentation! It was awesome! It was so cold the second day that we had to get the girls Thing 1 and Thing 2 sweatshirts. And Jay, of course, got a Gryffindor jacket!

Diagon Alley was so cool! It's like you stepped into another world! We were so bummed that the Escape from Gringotts ride was under maintenance. That was one ride I REALLY wanted to go on. Guess we will have to go back sometime in the future so we can try it out!

We also loved going into Olivander's wand shop. Lilly wanted so badly to have the "wand choose her", but she wasn't selected to participate. It was still really fun though. Lilly decided to choose Luna Lovegood's wand. She says the end of her wand looks like a lily! Both Lilly and Jay got an interactive wand and was able to "cast spells" around Harry Potter world and create magic. Emery chose Hedwig the owl instead of a wand.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was a crazy ride! I have never been on one like it before! The ride uses robocoaster technology which allows the seats to pivot while being held above the track by a robotic arm. The experience includes a flight around Hogwarts castle, an encounter with the Whomping Willow and a horde of Demontors, and a Quidditch match. We were able to take the girls in with us and go on a tour of the castle, and they just waited with my mom while we went on the ride. 

The Frog Choir was great and even took special time to visit with Lilly. Always in character and so fun to talk to!!

The Flight of the Hippogriff was Lilly's very first rollercoaster she's ever been on. Ever. As you can tell from the picture, she LOVED it. She ended up going on it 4 times! 

We definitely want to go back. Preferably when our girls aren't sick and are happy and healthy. Harry Potter is always a favorite in our family... Universal Studios did an incredible job creating Harry Potter World. 

"Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home." 
~J.K. Rowling

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sea World

Sea World was a fun day. It was one of the days that both girls felt good. We enjoyed going to the animal shows the most.

Dolphins are Lilly's favorite! Not only was it a dolphin show, but an acrobat show as well. Lilly wanted to sit in the "splash zone", but we didn't. 

Both girls loved finding birds and squirrels to feed along the way. If Emery was ever in a bad mood, all we had to do was feed the birds and she would perk right up again. 

We loved this animal show. All the animals in this show are rescued animals. I was surprised how well the cats were trained. There were also pigs, ducks, and even a skunk in the show.

We wanted to feed the dolphins, but they don't do that anymore at Sea World, so we got to feed the sting rays instead. Did you know that sting rays don't have teeth? When you feed them you're supposed to put a tiny fish in between your fingers and place your hand at the bottom of the pool. The sting rays swim across your hand and suck the fish out of your hand. My mom was a little surprised and kind of screamed when she fed the sting rays... Note to self: don't let her go first because then Lilly will be scared and not want to try it. Ha! Lilly just tossed the fish to the sting rays instead.

We had fun watching the dolphins in an under water viewing area. Lilly really wanted the dolphins to acknowledge her and swim up to her. You know, like in the movies... The worker that was there said she sometimes has luck when she takes her big black jacket and puts it up to the glass. The dolphins get curious to know what it is. And then when the dolphins swam over to the jacket Lilly started waiving to the dolphins. They kept coming back again and again. It was so cool to watch!

Shamu is huge! Her baby is huge! It amazes me that whales this big can jump out of the water like that. It was a great way to end the day. The girls were tired. We were tired. And our fun filled week was just beginning!!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Make A Wish Trip Part 1

Wow. Where do I begin? We made lasting memories. We had highs and lows. Both girls are still talking about the fun times we had. We will always remember Lilly's Make-A-Wish Trip!

We were a little worried to travel on Tuesday morning because Emery got sick the night before. Fever. Horrible cough. Gunky nose. Not happy. Was she going to travel well on an airplane for 4 hours? We had a sleepless night and said a lot of prayers. The quote kept coming to my mind "Doubt your doubts, before you doubt your faith" by President Uchdorf. I just had to have faith that it would all work out ok. Jay kept thinking about that quote from President Hinckley "Be believing, be happy, don't get discouraged. Things will work out."

Both girls did great on the plane. Lilly loves flying. Emery slept most of the way. When we arrived in Orlando and were waiting for our rental car, Em found a pretty yellow car that she LOVED! Silly girl!

We were told to look for a person waiting for Lilly from Give Kids The World. Lilly was so excited when she found Cheryl. She ran to her and gave her the biggest hug! We got our bags, rental van, and directions to the GKTW village, and were on our way!

Give Kids The World is a magical place! "Give Kids The World exists solely to fulfill the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, providing them a memorable, magical experience that will live in their hearts for years to come." It lived up to it's name. There was a special spirit about that place. We were sad to leave. They treated us like royalty and we will never forget our time we spent there. Some of our favorite places at the village were the Castle of Miracles, the Ice Cream Palace (where you can have ice cream for BREAKFAST!), and Marc's Dino-Putt.

Inside the Castle of Miracles, Lilly got to send her special star up to Stella the Wish Fairy and she placed it in the Castle for all to see. Lilly will always be a part of GKTW and one day we hope to come back and visit and find her special star again. The picture on the left is Lilly pointing at her star with a laser pointer. There are thousands of stars in that castle!!

We had a few rainy days while in Florida, and one day it poured and poured. We made the best of it though. The girls loved having a "spa day" where they got their nails painted and make-up done. Lilly asked if they needed help painting nails because she is an expert! Lilly also enjoyed riding horses at Keaton's Korral. She is definitely an animal lover like her mama!

Have you ever seen a white squirrel before? Around GKTW there were white ones, black ones, brown ones, gray ones. We also spotted a few dinosaurs along the way while miniature golfing!

Mayor Clayton and Ms. Merry came and tucked the girls into bed one evening. That was special! Emery was already asleep when they got there and we were a little worried she would freak out if she woke up and saw two GIANT bunnies nearby. She has always had a fear of "costumed characters." Well, lo and behold, she woke up and gave Ms. Merry a hug! We were shocked! We were all convinced that she was still half asleep. We were excited to take her to DisneyWorld to see if she would warm up to any of the characters there.

On Thursday nights it's Christmas at the village. They played Christmas music throughout town and the girls got to see Santa and choose a special gift! We even got to meet a few special Disney characters at the village.

Magical. Unforgettable. Special. Amazing. Incredible. Fun. Uplifting. Inspiring. Wow. I don't ever think there will be a place that we stay on vacation that will top GKTW Village. When we would leave the village and come back, we would always get a "Welcome Home!" greeting at the front gate! We felt so welcomed. We felt so loved. And for that, I am forever grateful!

There is so much to be blogged about our trip. I'll try and get another post up soon!