When Calli was told that she got to make a wish to do anything, meet anyone or go anywhere...she first thought of Italy....
She loves History, food, ruins, art and well...anything that has to do with learning about a culture and immersing herself into it! Knowing that she wanted to travel everywhere in Italy, and having a restriction of time and energy to tour each day......she started thinking maybe this was not the time, and about how she would like to have a little bit of summer that she never got to have. She thought of warm waters, and thrilling sites, food and culture and changed her mind to Hawaii!!!
Helicopter tours of waterfalls and volcanoes, and snorkeling, laying on the beach, zip lining down a mountain..those were on her list of things to do once there! Once she realized how long the flight was from Pennsylvania to Hawaii, if we got a direct flight that is...and how much her back or hip can hurt if she sits too long.....and when she found out that Make a wishers cannot be taken on helicopter rides......she cried....and cried.
I tried to encourage her not to give up- there is a whole world out there- and closer to Pennsylvania too! So, we got out the globe, and she had an epiphany!!! Long ago when Jeff Corwin was still doing shows on animal planet, she remembered watching and learning all about Galapagos Islands- they have it all- volcanoes, sharks, whales, penguins, blue-footed boobies, snorkeling, beaches, turquoise water, and sun! She was set, and excited again!!! She was thrilled to tell our Make a wish coordinator, and as a plus, it was half the distance of Hawaii!!!
The next day when she got the call that Galapagos was 2 days of travel time to get to, and she would only have 2 days on an actual island, she was crushed. Apparently, it is very remote (DUH). We would have to fly to Miami, then to Quito, Ecuador. Stay over night, catch a morning plane to the little airport island, then catch a ferry to Isabella Island where she wanted to stay. Another setback, oh dear, now I had a very emotional, very upset, and ready to just forget it teenage girl.
I told her to pray about it, to be calm, and that we were just not meant to go to those places..YET. One day, she will travel the world, one day she will meet and help and experience other cultures, islands, animals.
With the tears in her eyes, I told her, "Now Calli, forget about a place sweets, what do you want to do?" she replied, "Mom, I want a summer, I want to swim in calm turquoise waters, I want to snorkel, and go horseback riding on the beach, I just want to relax and eat different foods, and it not be hours and hours away."
That was easy! I took out the Ipad, that someone generously gave to her, and went to google earth. I know the Caribbean is only a few hours away, so we looked at the satellite view of the earth and zoomed into the most turquoise spot on the Caribbean Ocean. At that moment, it was Turks and Caicos, a small island in the British West Indies, right above Haiti and Dominican Republic.
In a matter of a few weeks, Our make-a-wish contact got everything prepared and ready, and got us nonstop flights- only 3 hours! All we had to do was pack, find someone to take care of our animals and be ready to leave the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
When we found out the week we were going, I realized...we have three dogs and no one that can take care of them. You see, For the past 7 years, we have not taken an actual "vacation" vacation. We have had foster kids, and we have taken several work trips and mission trips with them-a few times I was able to take the kids to the shore for a weekend..... but it was always me taking them, and Mike staying home to care for our 3 dogs, 1 cat and 25 chickens!
There was a few times that Mike was able to go with us on a work trip and a family member or friend would watch them, but we did not want to burden anyone, and Calli really wanted the dogs to be free during the day, not stuck in their crates. These are her babies. So, I emailed the kennel up the road, BEN-JEE Kennels...
I emailed the owner, Jim Hill, and his response took my breath away, confirmed there is still heart and kindness and self-less ness in our world..."I am moved by your daughter's story and her poetry and I will not charge you."
We were so blessed, and relieved, and I just wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH to the staff at BEN-JEE Kennels.
Our friends the Homan family, were willing to take care of our chickens and cat! Thanks guys!~ We were set!
The week leading up to her trip was very busy, as it usually is for everyone, but super more it seemed....I had her meds to refill, I had the dogs to vaccinate with Bordetella and vacation meds to fill, chicken, dog and cat food to stock up on, and none of us had bathing suits that fit, I had to get UPF swim shirts to protect her fragile skin that was already burned so badly from radiation- her entire head, and back needed to be shielded. Then... I got sick and had to get an antibiotic and after 3 different antibiotics over a course of 3 weeks, I was just beginning to feel better.
The week before Thanksgiving Mike's mom Linda, was having weird trouble with her legs, they hurt and she could not walk right, and then she fell. She was back and forth to the doctors.
SUNDAY-the Sunday before Thanksgiving, we were all at Mike's brother Jeff's house, and Linda just could not walk at all. She was crying and in pain, and this is not like her at all. She is strong, a bulwark, has a high tolerance for pain. It was decided that she needed to go to the emergency room, so Jeff and I took her, while Mike, Lori and Chris stayed behind with all the kids. After tests that showed nothing, they decided to keep her for a few days for observation.
MONDAY - I took all three dogs to the vet- OYE VEY- they went through an entire bag of treats to distract them from other dogs- they each got some shots, and a check-up. Calli stayed home alone and for some odd reason had so much pain, nothing relieved it, nothing helped. All day, she cried and complained, which is not like her. I was on the phone with her doctor several times and late into the night, and decided to wait till the next morning to bring her in.
TUESDAY- Calli and I were out of the house before 6:30, and made it to CHOP by 8:30- it took so long that morning to get to CHOP. Her doctor reassured us, that this WAS NOT tumor, she just had a fantastic MRI the week before and it was most likely muscle or bone. But just to be sure, she ordered x-rays of her bones, NO CANCER in her bones, and as a matter of fact,her marrow looked phenomenal, her spine- was curved perfectly,and no more scoliosis from the tumor was present. It was her muscles!!!
It turns out, she had been working out so much, that she pulled muscles in her back, and was experiencing pain from that.
TUESDAY NIGHT- As soon as I got home from CHOP, I took Mike's mom's van back to the hospital at Grandview and picked her up. We stopped at the pharmacy, I put some meals in her freezer, removed all her rugs so she could not trip, did a little bit of laundry and waited for Mike to come get me. Now... she had a walker, and could barely walk as it was. Turns out that they thought this was her sciatic nerve crippling her. I thought it odd, since she kept saying the bone in her leg and knee and hip hurt. It was hard for her.
WEDNESDAY- All day, I cooked, and cleaned. Aidan made the pumpkin pie, Calli made the pecan, I made the apple. I made stuffing, Sweet potato casserole, the way my Mama makes it with pecans and brown sugar, and I made my special potatoes, green bean casserole, Waldorf salad and I smothered the Turkey inside and out with herb butter. I did not take one picture :(
THURSDAY- This year, was just the four of us, and Mike went to pick up his mom and brought her over for dinner. It was so difficult for her to walk. We had a very simple and peaceful day.
FRIDAY- I woke up very early and yes...went black Friday shopping, I only got a few small things that were a good deal at Walmart. For the last several years, we have been trying to simplify Christmas, and focus more on being together than the whole gift thing. We have had a full house of foster children for the last 5 years, so it was necessary. A good friend of mine, told me once- "Our kids get 3 gifts, Jesus only got three." So that is what we do each year- they get one gift for each other, one from their teacher (me) and one from Mom and Dad. After I got home, we started cleaning up the house, and trying to get organized. I used a list on my phone from TRIP IT- that helped a lot!
SATURDAY TIME TO PACK! OYE! We packed and packed, and cleaned and did all the last minute stuff you do before vacation, and now it was time to say goodbye and drop off our beloved dogs to the kennel.
SUNDAY- we woke up quite early and were quite surprised when a LIMO showed up at our door!
|This was Calli & Aidan's first ride in a LIMO!|
The limo was warm, and had fresh water...but I got really sick, I mean very car sick, riding sideways is not my thing ;p Calli got a little queasy too, but I think it was from me gaggign or from Aidan's gas.....
I checked in online, so we arrived at the airport, and after checking bags, we went right through security- we were escorted, because I had Calli in her wheelchair. Of course I beeped and beeped and beeped, and had to be patted down :) It was all very funny, and we had time to kill anyway. When it was time to board the plane, they let us on with Calli first, and then called everyone else on board after we were settled. Mike and Aidan were in the last row, and Calli and I were in the bulkhead seats so that she had more room...but the plane was not even half full and I believe the Lord opened up the seats right next to us, so Mike and Aidan moved up right away.
|We both had two windows in the bulkhead section|
|Maryland or Delaware- We were waving hello to our dear friends in Ocean City, Ocean Pines and Berlin Maryland!!|
|One of the Islands|
|Going down, starting to land!!!|
|We seriously thought that this runway was sand!!!|
|NOPE, there is an actual runway :)|
|We rented a car, and Mike drove like a wild man following the wild taxi driver in front of us to our condo!|
|Not our Suburban- LOL- Mike BARELY fit to drive-|
This is a video of our condo room- bigger than our house- square footage wise.
|Yeah...um... he was annoyed at me or Aidan, um or both :)|
Our first meal was up the sandy beach at the Mango Reef.
|Hard to see at night- we were right on the beach, with a gentle breeze|
We walked a nice slow walk back to the Regent Palms, where we were staying. It was a wonderful first day :)
More to come, I will update day by day-