SO we’re in Alaska and we had just gotten back into our hotel room. The kids have taken off their shoes and are cuddled up in the bed watching cartoons before we head back out. Suddenly there’s a knock on the door and Blake, the NBC reporter, tells us there’s a moose right outside! The kids fly out the door – barefoot, no coats – in a mad dash to see a MOOSE! It’s freezing cold! We’re in Alaska!
I’m behind with a three year old who has completely stripped off her clothes because she’s three and they do stuff at that age. I bundle her up in two massive coats and try to catch up – we missed them, and came back in to get warm. Kit and our little ones eventually come back and I see most of our kids are being carried by the very, very kind news crew who realized our silly kids were barefoot. (They also gave our children their coats, which was super nice.)
The barefoot race succeeded, however! There was a moose, hanging out right there at Chena Hot Springs – almost as if it knew that Ben was hoping to see a moose and wanting to make sure that all his Alaska wishes came true.
Here’s the story that was shared, and since I didn’t catch up with them I’m so thankful the news crew was able to document the moose adventure!
NBC Anchorage story – including footage of the barefoot moose run!
During our stay in the NICU we would try to be there when the team rounded on Ben. The nurse would give report and the doctors would all discuss the plans and the respiratory therapists had notes about how he was doing on the ventilator. We, of course, were always full of questions about how Ben was doing, what the next step was, how were things going forward so we could get this boy home to us as soon as he was ready.
We would be daily reminded by them that in the NICU it’s always baby steps – tiny, tiny baby steps. Two steps forward, one (or two!) steps back. They didn’t want us to focus on his homecoming, they wanted us to focus on the fact that he had taken 10ccs in his feeding tube or that his chest x-ray looked incrementally better or that his culture had finally come back clear. There’s not a lot of planning in the NICU – it’s mostly about day to day survival. In a place where miracles are being desperately prayed for and there are too many days filled with tears and complications, it’s literally life or death. You can’t plan a lot in the NICU.
But I’m a planner – it’s how I cope, creating contingency plans and learning about our options and researching. It’s how I can feel some control over the areas I can influence, helping me better let go of the things I cannot change. I’m a mom – these are my babies. I plan.
Plus, I have six babies – planning is key to making it through the chaos. 🙂 Continue reading
Medieval Times and Kiss FM invited our family to attend a dinner and tournament, and this was a first experience for all of us.
The kids were exploring the hall outside the tournament arena and checking out the horses when suddenly we heard a familiar name being called – we were brought up to the king, where Ben was knighted! He seemed to take it very, very seriously – he looked so solemn throughout, it was really cute. Then we were all ushered into the arena where we had seats front and center! It was the perfect view for Ben and all of the kids to get up close to the knights, the horses, and the falcon (Kit says he could feel the breeze over his head as it flew over!)
We dined on garlic bread and tomato soup (which was really good!) and we had ordered some of the vegetarian option as well – hummus, pita wedges, carrots and celery. The main courses were either chicken, ribs, and potato OR a bean soup and both were great! Dessert was a warm apple turnover, and actually one of the best I’ve ever had and I’m pretty picky about comparing pastries to the stuff I had in Germany and France when I was growing up. (Side note if you are going – they only offer tea or Pepsi, there are no caffeine free drinks except ice water. Or the bar.) 🙂 Continue reading
So part of our visit around Texas included a stop to the Austin Capitol. We were planning to just walk through the lobby and take a peek, but Melissa from Trips to the Mouse had more in mind!
Melissa contacted us after seeing Ben’s story and asked about helping make a trip to Disney possible. She set up a fundraiser for Ben and it far, FAR exceeded our wildest dreams. We’ve been keeping it secret from the kids and waiting until we met up with Melissa so she could be the one to tell the kids about the surprise.
But first, the capitol tour was so neat! They took us behind the scenes for some history and civics lessons – Kit and I learned a ton, and the kids were full of questions. It’s a truly beautiful building, and if you get a chance you really need to visit.
At the end of the tour we met back in one of the lobbies upstairs where Melissa was waiting (with a cameraman) to surprise the kids. Melissa pulled out the most adorable Mickey Mouse countdown that said, “___ Days to Disney!” Ben read it and you could see the realization spreading over his face and then he burst into cheers and squeezed me so tight… I’m thrilled Melissa was able to see his response and get some of those massive hugs from him. Thank you also to her husband for documenting it with photos!! Click to see them… Continue reading
So, we were in Oklahoma when we got a call about bringing Ben to California to visit The Doctors show. It was pretty last minute and we had an appointment scheduled for Ben to head into Dallas and visit with the eSight folks, so I told The Doctors I wasn’t sure if we could make it or not – I needed to verify we could reschedule the eSight visit because we were NOT going to miss that! Thankfully the Dallas office said no problem, and we set up the flights to Los Angeles for Ben, me (Heidi/mom) and for our oldest son, Christopher. He was born in LA but hadn’t been there since he was 8 weeks old and we really wanted to make sure he had a chance to see where we lived for that year. Los Angeles was on Ben’s list because he had wanted to see where his brother was born, where his parents and grandparents were born, etc. Thankfully we were able to coordinate it and bring him along. Continue reading
Thanks to Elvis Photography for helping document our amazing adventure!
This boy loves warm hugs. <3
Talking with the news crews.
TWO thumbs up!
Just before lift off.
First flight toast.
(It’s okay, it was sparkling apple cider.)Fi
Special transportation arrived!
Fire fighter Ben!
Getting some help from his big brother.
You can see the news reports here:
I’m still laughing that Albuquerque was on Ben’s wish list! We knew almost nothing about this town, but we knew it was on our way back from Arches National Park and a good place to stop and stay the night.
Then we got messages from a couple locals in that incredibly friendly town and suddenly our overnight trip (just so we could say we had been there) was becoming SO much more. More than we could have ever possibly imagined.
Thank you to Katie Herrera of Tyler Brooke Photography for making this epic adventure possible, AND for documenting these sweet moments. We’ll treasure this experience forever, and the kids have been asking repeatedly when we can go back to visit Albuquerque again. We fell in love with the city and the people.
On to the photos! (More to come tomorrow!)
First was the 6am meet up with the news crews while we had breakfast (thanks to The Village Inn) and then there was a mini-hot air balloon festival!! Which included Ben and Kit heading up, and Ben’s grin was ear to ear. They had a sparkling cider toast afterwards as Ben got his first flight certificate and the kids all enjoyed collecting the hot air balloon cards. (We really need to go back for the huge international balloon festival one year – it’s in October. You should go.)
More photos here… Continue reading
Ben’s wish list included the hope of seeing a variety of animals and he’s been very fortunate to see many recently (the zoo, Sharkarosa, etc.) However, I don’t know if any were as beautiful as the race horses we saw at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie. They invited us to come out and see the race horses (and enjoy a delicious buffet!) and it was such a fun day!!
We pulled up front and Stacey met us and lead us inside, up the elevator and into this gorgeous dining area overlooking the track. Just the view was worth visiting there! We had tables reserved right up against the window (as well as a tv so Ben could see close up everything that was happening.) It even had a sign that said “Ben’s Wish” and when we looked into the program Stacey showed us race four – it was named Ben’s Wish!! And we were going to go down to the track to get a photo of that race with the winner!
The only hiccup being Ben’s little sister thought this meant she could RIDE in the race, and her three year old self was not amused when I told her she couldn’t actually ride the “pony” she picked.
After reminding the kids that they must eat something healthy before hitting the dessert, cake, and ice cream bars we let them loose on the buffet. It was delicious – C loved the enchiladas, B loved the salmon, Kit and I both thought the build your own pasta bar was fantastic. (We went back for seconds – so, so good.) There was Blue Bell ice cream with toppings, a huge variety of cakes and pies, cookies, strawberries, trifle, cobblers, chocolate sauce… oh, and a really great salad bar but the dessert kept distracting me. 🙂
Then of course there were the horses! Continue reading
Our third day we granted the kids’ wish to try a New York bagel (they approve) as we walked down to the Museum of Modern Art to see Starry Night.
It was breathtaking.
Then we headed back to our hotel to be picked up for the Katie Show, and everyone was so gracious and warm and welcoming! (More on that later, I’m writing my outline now as I play catch up!)
Among the many surprises we received, Ben and Kit were able to attend Wicked that night. (Ben loved it, of course, he loves musicals of all sorts!)
We flew out the next morning, and it was a whirlwind adventure of NYC that we’ll always treasure!
Funny update: Awhile after the trip when we were settled back home we got a package in the mail. It was from the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and they said since we hadn’t let them know we were coming (we just quietly went ourselves and got our own tickets that morning), they wanted to send Ben a special package to help him remember the trip. It was so incredibly thoughtful of them!
Our second day was full of lots of running around and memory making. Kit and five of the kids met up with someone from Katie’s show to help them go check out the Statue of Liberty then meet us at Central Park for a picnic. Ben and I headed off also to catch the Statue, but also the Empire State building and then the picnic. In the afternoon we napped the kids before taking Ben and C to a comic book store, then everyone headed to dinner at an arcade and on to Times Square. The kids requested we take the subway home as that was their favorite mode of transportation all day. 🙂