About Me

I am a single mom of three amazing boys!  All three of my sons entered my family through adoption.  All three of my boys have developmental disabilities. My oldest son, Matthew has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. David, my middle son, has a genetic condition, he has a duplication on his 15th chromosome which leads to autism like symptoms, seizures and learning challenges. My youngest son, Jacob has learning disabilities. Each of my children bring unique challengs to our family and also bring their own personality and joys to our everyday life!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Groundhog Day

Tonight and many nights this week our night ended with sadness. There are some things that I simply cannot fix and I am working hard to remember that as a parent I have limitations.

Matthew is obsessed with driving. Unfortunately, I personally do not see this as a reality.  Even if he could truly operate the car in the best scenario, I don't see him being able to handle an emergency or a challenging situation like driving in a rain storm or merging on the highway.  This is something I cannot get Matthew to understand.  You see in his mind he drives a golf cart, and he drives the cars at the amusement park and so he should be able to drive a car.

He is talking about driving to anyone he is near and he is getting tons of reassurance that "of course you can drive, maybe not yet, but you can drive one day soon."  He has studied the test for a learner's permit more than any other 16 year old I can imagine.  Hours and hours have been spent by Matthew on the DMV home page, and looking over the questions, but no matter how he may be able to study and learn the answers to those questions, I just don't see how he can make the judgement calls in the tough situations for me to put him behind the wheel of a car.

In addition to all of these concerns, I have to be realistic and realize that Matthew is turning into a young black man.  It is a huge fear for me that he would be out driving one day and be pulled over for something stupid like failure to signal.   Matthew might respond to being pulled over inappropriately and things could end very, very badly.  Matthew does not look or sound disabled when you first meet him.  It takes a few minutes of conversation to determine that something might be limited about Matthew, but in the heat of the moment there is not always time for these conversations, and so I have to protect Matthew, and this means right now I have to protect Matthew from something he really, really wants.

Every night we are having the same conversation.  Every night he tells me he is ok with not driving at 16 as long as he can drive at 17.  And then he asks over and over again if he can drive at 17 and I have to tell him no, he won't drive at 17 either.  He then has to tell me that at 18 he can move out and get his permit and his license and then he goes through why he doesn't want to take the bus. He doesn't want to just sit in something that moves, he wants to have control of the moving vehicle.

Tonight we again had this conversation, and then he left the kitchen and went to his bedroom sobbing.  He is broken-hearted over not driving and more than that he shared he just wants a friend.  He is lonely beyond words.

The kids in the neighborhood are overwhelmed by him now that he is texting and communicating non stop with them on instagram.  What was at one time him hanging out for a little while, every few weeks, is now him texting and messaging them almost daily.  It is exhausting as it is the same texts every day.  Over and over again.  It is his way of trying to connect.  For him it is comfort, for them it is exhausting.

I have tried to involve him in Special Olympics, but he doesn't see himself as the same as the athletes we have met at Special Olympics.  I have tried to involve him in typical sports, but it quickly becomes apparent that he doesn't fit into a typical sports team.  He doesn't process the rules of the game quickly enough to make decisions and fit into the team.  His repetitive conversations are exhausting game after game.

He is somewhat successful when he is at the YMCA playing pick up games in the gym, but that is dependent on there being a game going on, and that he is needed as a player.  Additionally, there are times when the kids playing in the gym are the same ones who are tired of him from the neighborhood and so it is just another rejection.

I am going to spend time tonight and this weekend trying to figure out how Matthew can find peers to be with.  I keep telling myself that there has to be a place for kids like Matthew, other kids who simply want a friend.  Kids who are entertained by the same repetitive conversations.  Who are also limited in the opportunities they can participate in but who are fun to be with, and have gentle hearts.  Kids who love a great game of basketball or just shooting hoops.  Kids who love making music, and spending time together.  Kids who love tossing around a baseball.

Matthew is looking for a friend, and a friend needs to be a true peer.  I need a friend for Matthew because if I have to watch him shoot hoops alone much longer I'm not sure I can keep smiling and watching and telling him it was a great shot!  I need a friend for Matthew because Matthew needs a friend!  Matthew has joy to share, and someone needs to hear over and over again that Matthew is involved in a pancake breakfast on Sunday morning, and that Matthew is almost done with summer school......and all of the things Matthew wants to share....someone who appreciates Groundhog Day!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

On the night before your Bar Mitzvah

Tomorrow David becomes a Bar Mitzvah, a man in the eyes of the Jewish faith, and tonight I am reflecting on all that this means.  As I think back on David's years up until now I am blown away at all that he has accomplished and the young man he has become.

There was a time that you were very delayed in walking, and then, on the day that your first PT came to the house, you took your first steps.

Then, after months of speech therapy, and still no words, the early intervention team convinced me that you needed to go to a special education preschool program at the young age of 2.  As I went all over town looking for a program that I felt was safe for you, we took a tour of Whispering Pines preschool.  On that tour we met Nancy, an AVB therapist, after an hour with Nancy you said the word "train."

Fast forward to more recently.....you have made me so proud as a child who received a Make A Wish trip.  However, once again for you, it was not quite enough for you to go on a Make a Wish trip, you came back and became an ambassador for their Holiday wish program.

David, you are a determined young man who has a huge heart!  You give your all to everything you do.

Just tonight we were writing your first few thank you notes, and I once again was reminded how very hard you work to do what is so simple for most of us.  To simply write your name takes complete effort and total concentration, but you do it all with a smile.

Tomorrow night we are going to ask that you conquer something that is so hard for you.  Sometimes even just talking to one person at an audible volume is visibly painful for you.  Tomorrow I am going to ask that you say prayers in front of an audience.

Sometimes even me asking you about your day causes you to be uncomfortable when you feel the spotlight is on you.  Tomorrow we are going to ask you to soak up the spotlight and enjoy it!

Sometimes being in a group of people causes you to want to run screaming, and tomorrow the group will be large and they will all be there for you!

Tomorrow David, the day is all about you- all about the amazing young man you have become!

To think back on moments of the last 13 years it is so easy to see some intense struggles, some awesome highlights and so much pride!  Tomorrow I believe will be one of the best moments of my life as I am joined by a group of people who love you and we celebrate who you are.  You are kind, sweet, gentle, and a one of a kind rock star!!!

I love you David Michael Bloom!  Soak up tomorrow as your big day!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Bloom Boys Take on Washington

It has been a while since I have written because I am becoming more and more aware that what I write may at some point have an impact on my boys.   As they get older I realize that these moments in time are more theirs to share than they are mine to share.  That said, this blog is a huge part of my outlet and has been such an important way for me to process our lives.  Additionally, it has been an incredible way for me to document our history and all that we have been through.

If you would have told me that Matthew would become such an incredible young man, I never would have believed it to be possible.  He has always had a heart of gold, but now he has a heart of gold and is also a responsible young man who has a business mowing lawns in the summer time.  He struggles so much with forming relationships with people his own age, but he is truly seen as a gem among seniors, little kids and adults.  He can relate to a 2 year old and make them feel so special.  When Jacob has friends over they beg to hang out with Matthew and he engages with them so well.  Often I think this is because he missed a lot of being an 8-10 year old because he was in crisis for so much of this time period in his life.

We went recently to Washington DC and Matthew loved seeing the monuments.  He enjoyed many of the museums but he did them all at his own time and pace.  For Matthew seeing the monuments and the White House were his favorite parts.  For me, I enjoyed being with Matthew on this vacation.  Often he can be exhausting, but this time he was much more able to enjoy time with the family and then he was also able to take a few moments away from the family when he needed to take a break and then return.  It was truly fantastic to be with him and to watch him enjoy himself.  We were so lucky to spend time with my kids, my parents and my brothers family in Washington.

David is spending this year preparing for his Bar Mitzvah.  I am working hard to remind myself that if he says a word during his service "Dayenu, it will be enough".  While my head knows this, my heart continues to travel back in time to when he was born and I had him conquering the sun, the moon and the stars.  It feels like David has come so far in some ways, and yet has so far to go in other ways.

In preparing for our trip to Washington David studied so many books.  He must have carried Washington DC books around with him for months as he prepared for this trip.  That said, it is a challenge for him to answer "wh" questions.  "where do you want to go?", "what do you want to see", all of these questions are a challenge for David and typically end is silence.  While he adored every moment that he was with his cousins, at one point he was frustrated because he feared we were leaving Washington and while we knew he was upset, we didn't know why.  As we asked "wh" questions, he could give us no answers.  
"where do you want to do?"
"what do you want to see?" 
"Why are you mad?"
All of these questions led to silence.  Finally, my dad started offering him places he might want to see and my dad stumbled upon the answer.  David could not leave Washington without seeing the Martin Luther King Memorial.  Once this was known calmness returned and all was good.  We assured David that we were going to the memorial the next morning, and David once again returned to a happy child who truly enjoyed every single moment in Washington.

David toured Washington DC mostly with his cousin.  They conquered every Smithsonian together and she went with him with such true love and caring.  She allowed him to set the pace, and he talked to her throughout every museum.  I followed along giddy with excitement to see him so happy.  For a child who has few moments with peers, it brought me such joy to see him independently wandering through the museums with his cousin.  My niece loved every moment with David and she was able to get him to talk and share these moments in the museum with her.  Truly seeing David with his cousin was a huge highlight of our trip for me.  

For Jacob, Washington seemed to be more about him uncovering who he is.  Jacob is struggling with his identity as a young black, Jewish man in America.  For Jacob seeing the history of African Americans at the African American Smithsonian was intense.  Knowing that Donald Trump is becoming our next President is truly scary for Jacob.  He was scared to uncover the roots of slavery and to learn about sit ins and the fights for equal rights.  While he was scared he also was interested and so this made Washington at times an emotional roller coaster for Jacob. 

I was so proud of the way that he made sure he saw the counter where the sit ins occurred.  While he was tired, and presented as not being interested, once we found the lunch counter, he stood and paid attention to the seriousness of this moment.  

He was taken with Mohammed Ali's boxing gloves that we saw at the National Museum of  American  History.

My favorite moment with Jacob was as we left the Museum of American History.  He saw people selling Black Lives Matter sweatshirts and he stood and looked at the table for a few moments.  As he stood he asked me for a sweatshirt.  When they did not have a sweatshirt that fit him, he asked me to go to the next table to find the sweatshirt.  Again, they did not have his size.  There were multiple sweatshirt options, but he was clear he wanted a plain sweatshirt that simply said "Black Lives Matter".  After a few moments I decided we would buy one that was one size too large as it was important to Jacob and symbolized to me that he understood all that we had seen in Washington.

I am not sure that I have ever been more proud of Jacob than I was in that moment.  He is learning to embrace himself, his culture and his history, and for that I am SO proud!
I know that I alone cannot teach him all that he needs to know about who he is and the history that creates him as a person, but I am working hard to surround him with people who can teach him to be a strong Black man.  His purchase of that sweatshirt tells me that he is embracing with pride the history of Black people.  To me, that was a goal of our trip to Washington.  I wanted all 3 of my boys to embrace the messages of Dr Martin Luther King.  In this time of turbulence in our country, I needed my boys to feel the pride of having President Obama in office. This sweatshirt symbolized that Jacob understood, and we left with me feeling a strong accomplishment.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Jacob Update

I have struggled with writing this post, but as always for me writing is how I cope and so I will write and share because I need to stop crying.

Three weeks ago Jacob went for his physical.  My goal was to talk about some of his learning challenges and to talk about seeing a specialist for some educational evaluations.  The appointment changed in an instant when the Dr listened intently to Jacob's heart for more than 3 minutes.  I knew in my mommy gut something was wrong, but this wasn't our typical pediatrician  we were seeing and so I assumed the doctor was maybe just being extra cautious.  Unfortunately, after a long listen the doctor explained that Jacob had a significant heart murmur and that we needed to see a cardiologist.  As I panicked, and tried to hold it together for Jacob, the receptionist at the desk reassured me that he would get hold of the Cardiologist ASAP and we would have answers.

My boys has struggled through so much this year:
  • Lyme Disease
  • Significant learning issues
  • Drastic changes in his behavior
  • Changes in his ability to write and perform small motor tasks
How is it possible that there was now a problem with his heart?

Within 48 hours we were in the Cardiologists office and and EKG and an Echocardiogram were performed and it was determined that Jacob has a Mitro valve prolapse along with a bulge in his aortic root.  Putting these 2 issues together there is a strong likelihood that Jacob will be dealing with a diagnosis of Marfan Syndrome.  The Dr gave us names of Genetic Cardiologists to see in Boston or NYC and said that this was the next step for us.  We need to have a definitive diagnosis made so that we can know what to expect long term for Jacob, and that we needed a specific type of specialist to help with the diagnosis.  

Jacob, an avid football player, was told in the office that there would be no more contact sports because if he is hit in his heart it could be fatal or he could require immediate heart surgery.  That was all Jacob heard and all I heard because Jacob lives all year to get to football season.  He is not the best football player on the planet, but it is where he feels like part of a team and it is where he is the most alive.  With all of his struggles it was one more thing that he was losing.

As we left the office I carried my sobbing 9 year old to the car as I tried my best to hold back my tears.  My mom was with us, and I think it may have been one of the hardest moments for the 2 of us.  She could not comfort me, and she could not help Jacob.  We were both devastated.

I have done my best to simply ignore this potential new challenge as honestly it is putting me over my limits.  I don't know how to cope with one more challenge.  Between school challenges for all 3 boys, IEP planning, and daily struggles of life, this was becoming too much to juggle.

I told Jacob's teacher and the school nurse of the new diagnosis as I dropped him off at school and the limitations on Jacob for contact sports and then I just knuckled down and pushed ahead.

Having children with so much going on, and balancing it all is lonely and alienating.  I am fighting with the insurance company to get permission to go to Boston.  I am working to ensure that Jacob is safe and feels ok about not playing football.  I am finding child care because our summer plans changed after the heart issues were found.

All week I have cried tears of sadness for another thing on my plate.

I have worked and balanced phone calls and texts as I have had a total of 10 people in and out of the house to care for my 3 children this week.  I have worked to ensure that my school functions and the teachers felt supported and the children laughed all while I wanted to simply burrow and hold my boys and feel like one day it would all be ok again.

As I have finally read more about Marfan syndrome my best guess is that this will be Jacob's diagnosis in Boston.  It explains a lot of his struggles but not his educational struggles.  We will cope and move forward because that is the only choice we have.  He will feel love and connection but I wish he could feel it now, instead of having to rebuild his connections.  He is moving forward as he finds his way at the YMCA camp which has welcomed him with open arms.

Over time this too will just become our new normal and we will move forward, and my hope is that in Boston they will explain a plan of action which will help Jacob and possibly allow him to play sports that create such a strong outlet for him physically.  He will likely not be allowed to play football, but if he can find another sport, another outlet than he too will move forward.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Make A Wish Ambassadors

Make-A-Wish® America

Tonight was incredible!  A few weeks ago we got an invitation to be Ambassador's at The Make a Wish Volunteer Appreciation night, and I immediately said we had to do this!  As a family we have been so touched by all that Make a Wish gave us when we went to Orlando in April, and I just knew we had to share our story.

We left the house tonight armed with our scrapbooks of our vacation and I had a few notes about the story of David to share.  We came home with our hearts full!  It is incredible to be surrounded by a group of people who give their time to make the wishes of children come true!

As soon as we arrived we were greeted by staff members of Make a Wish who immediately welcomed us and made sure we were all comfortable.  All 3 of the boys were greeted with such warmth and caring, but the best part was that once again David was the star!  David was asked about his trip, and he got to show off his scrapbooks.  People oohed and ahhed over his pictures with Mickey Mouse, and asked him to share about his Wish trip.

People reached out to me and I got to share our story.  So many people think of Make a Wish as an agency that grants wishes for children with cancer or other terminal illnesses, but they are working hard to change this misconception.  Make A Wish grants the wishes of children with  life altering and terminal illnesses.

David qualified for a wish due to his genetic disorder.  David takes 4 anti seizure medications each day and still struggles with seizures.  While seizures are not commonly a terminal condition, they have certainly altered David and cause him to struggle in so many different areas; socially, cognitively, with communication, and emotionally.  For David this wish was truly a celebration of all that David deserves given all of his struggles.

Tonight as I shared our story, David's story, and then I got to share about how incredible our Make a Wish trip was my goal was to inspire these volunteers to keep volunteering.  I want these wish granters to know that the work they are doing is changing the lives of children and families.  In a time of challenges and struggles the wish inspires children and families to keep up the fight.

After a week for us personally full of struggles and challenges tonight was exactly what I needed.  I needed to be reminded of all of the gifts that come with our struggles.

  • As Matthew worked the room tonight, and greeted everyone, and all of the wish granters fell in love with him, I was reminded of Matthew's amazing strengths.  He is an almost 15 year old who has a gift for making people feel special.  His warmth is infectious and he makes all who meet him fall in love with his generous spirit.
  • Jacob tonight was the goofball entertainment.  he was the adorable little brother who made everyone laugh.  As I was giving my speech Jacob was the goofball who came up to say hi to the crowd on the microphone.  He was the funny munchkin doing head stands and getting people to laugh.  He desperately wanted to win the raffle, and ended up not winning, but one of the winners gave him the golf balls he won anyways.  (Jacob came home and immediately gave the golf balls to our neighbor next door- this is the perfect picture of who Jacob is....he will beg and beg and beg for something, and in the end he doesn't want it for himself, he always wants it so badly for someone else!)
  • David was the star of the night.  He smiled so hugely as people came over to greet him and talk to him.  As Matthew told my mom, "his smile was bigger than I have EVER seen it!"  This group of people knew how to reach David.  As one of them said, "if you ask him questions he answers.  We loved hearing about his trip!"
Tonight was the night that I needed at the end of a long challenging week.  I needed to be reminded of our blessings and of the gifts that we can share with others.  As my life has its ups and downs, tonight I will remember!  My boys are rock stars and together we will support Make a Wish, an agency that is changing lives one family at a time!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

A magical night

After watching the Lion King show at Animal Kingdom our plan was to go to Epcot for the night.  At this point we were using our final day of tickets to any of the Disney Parks and we knew it was either push through the exhaustion and hit Epcot, or we would need to skip it all together.

Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to push on to Epcot, one of David's favorite Disney experience is the Nemo ride at Epcot, I also had to be realistic, and the boys were falling apart.  It was hot.....very, very hot!  Our feet were tired, and we still had a few more days of major parks ahead of us.  As we walked out of Animal Kingdom David became the voice of incredible reason and all but flat out refused to go to Epcot.  He was tired, and made it very clear that he was not going to another Amusement Park.  I quickly offered a compromise; we would go home to the Villa for a few hours, maybe take a dip in the pool, and then head off to Epcot in time for a ride or 2 and the fireworks.

As soon as we got back to the Villa the boys were hungry so we walked over to get dinner. I had heard that it was Christmas at Give Kids the World, but as we are Jewish I didn't give this much thought.  However, as we were walking over towards dinner, all of the kids and their families that we passed were beyond happy and chatting about Santa.  I could tell that the boys were becoming curious, and to be honest, I was also intrigued.  How do you celebrate Christmas in April?  How do you celebrate Christmas every week?  What does it all look like at Give Kids the World?

It turned out that Santa was set up right across the hall from the dining hall, and so as we walked in to the dining area we decided to check out Santa.  Magic.......true magic is all that I can describe.

First, we got in line to wait to meet Santa and there were so many amazing volunteers.  Each volunteer was just so devoted to each family and child that they interacted with.  Santa took time to take pictures with each child and family.  He took moments with each child to ensure that magic happened.  Then after each child  met with Santa they walked off of the stage area and are told to simply pick out a toy- these were not little toys....these were the types of toys children fall in love with- huge brand new containers of Legos, art sets, board games, nerf footballs, and so much more.  Truly, just more magic for children in a week full of magic.

After meeting Santa we had dinner, and then my mom took a little break and headed back to the Villa while the boys and I went off to explore Give Kids the World.  As much as I had wanted to hit every amusement park, and I thought missing Epcot was a bad idea, David was totally right....we hit the land of Magic by staying at Give Kids the World.
  • There is a video arcade on property- no money needed, walk up to a game and play.  Complete with a teen night, this was a space just for kids.  The boys and I had an awesome night playing Pac Man,  a basketball video game and playing David's favorite, the driving game.  He laughed every time I told  him that based on how many times he crashed his video game car he would NEVER drive a real car.
  • There is  a room with an electric train that goes through a toy village.  For little children this is pure magic. 
  • We met some incredible families who just were able to be in a moment together and I was reminded again of the importance of slowing life down and spending time in the quiet together.  It isn't in the crazy non stop action where all memories are made.  After a day of busy, and so much to see, one of my favorite memories was just playing the driving game with David and Jacob and shooting basketballs with Matthew.  I also loved watching Matthew shoot hoops with another child who was staying at Give Kids the World. 
  •  We were walking back towards the Villa and the boys asked if we could have ice cream and I was in a happy place and said yes.  As we went back to the ice cream palace we saw more volunteers scooping ice cream late at night.  We were happily eating ice cream when more families came in and I again just soaked in the moments of happiness and togetherness.  The boys asked for seconds on ice cream and I said yes- they thought I was being "amazing" and yet I was just soaking up Give Kids the World moments.  I was watching the volunteers and seeing the happiness in the families and just wasn't ready to head back to our villa.

  •  As we headed back towards our villa there was one more moment of awesomeness.  While we were we waiting in line to meet Santa one of the volunteers had chatted with David and Jacob very briefly.  He was just one of the amazing volunteers we interacted with, and I assumed we had moved on and he had moved on to the next family.  I never expected that when we bumped in to him 3 hours later that he would remember my boys names and take such care to interact with them again.  He asked questions about their night, addressed them by name and just related to them with such care.  It was so heartwarming for me to see.  It made me smile that a 20 year old guy would never know how important this interaction was for me and the boys, for him it was just a natural part of being at Give Kids the World, but to me it was anf\other sign of the magic of our week. I am used to us being recognized, but I am not used to people remembering David's name- he is often the quietest of my 3 boys, and often the most overlooked.  For this volunteer to remember him and approach himself was must a moment of beauty to me.

Our final moment of magic on this Christmas night happened the next morning.  As we got back to the villa Matthew realized that he had forgotten his football from Santa  at the video arcade.  I called the front desk and they told me that the football had been turned in, and I could come and get it.  I was exhausted and just wanted to get the boys to bed, so I said we would stop by in the AM on our way to the next park to get the football.  Little did I know that the magic would find us again in the morning.  As we opened the door to go to Legoland on our porch was the football and a note:

                     " Santa and the elves missed you last night!  We picked out a present we hope you will enjoy" 
Of course this note along with a present was left for each and every child who was staying at the villa who had misesed the chance of seeing Santa.  Another reminder that every single little detail is taken care of at Give Kids the World.

We had been gifted a full week away.  We had been gifted a week of fun at Oralando's best amusement parks.  We had been gifted money to cover any expenses, and yet on top of this the staff at Give Kids the World made sure that Santa visited each child one time during their week at Give Kids the World.  One more memory.  One more moment of magic.  One more incredible touch to make kids wonder and parents smile!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Taking my animals to Animal Kingdom

Today was going to be the day that we were all to be tested.....we had seen 3 parks in 3 days and the goal by the end of the day was to have seen 5 parks....today we were to conquer Animal Kingdom AND Epcot!

Our plan looked great on paper: get to Animal Kingdom at opening, see as much of the park as possible and leave Animal Kingdom to head to Epcot by 4/4:30.  We knew that we needed to only see the major parts of Epcot and could likely skip visiting the Countries, and we knew we wanted to see the fireworks.  With plans for water breaks, and inside rides, i figured we were good to go.

Well.....good to go, until we started our day by oversleeping!  We weren't ready to leave the villa until almost 9:45, and so we were starting our day behind schedule.  No big deal, with a stop for coffee and breakfast, we were on our way, and set to stay on schedule.

As soon as we entered the park we headed right to  Dinoland U.S.A and my favorite ride DINOSAURS!  I have always loved this ride, but until this year the boys were not fans.  My hope was that with their new found love of rollercoasters that they may also enjoy this thrill ride.  Matthew and Jacob loved it, but David was again overwhelmed with the movement and the visuals.  Matthew and Jacob and I rode a second time, while my mom and David hung out waiting for us.

We then headed over to see the Finding Nemo Show- again, this was an purely incredible show.  David especially was totally enthralled throughout the entire show.  Watching the puppetry and the action come to life was amazing.

The boys then wanted to return to Dinoland USA to try the carnival area.  Jacob and Matthew again quickly headed onto rides, while David had his heart set on a game.  At this point in our trip I knew that David was collecting stuffed animals- he had a huge mickey mouse, a large patrick from Spongebob square pants, and now he had his heart set on winning a dinosaur at Dinoland U.S.A.  The problem is that I know these games are rigged and often impossible.  As we approached the lady running the games I mentioned that we were there on a Make A Wish trip, hoping that the lady would help him "win" the game......however, she was set on doing her job, and made it clear that there would be no "wins", he was to win or lose the game on his own.  He was playing the game where you have to throw a ball into a container- there were about 100 containers and David had to get his ball to land in one of the 10 containers that were different colors.  Ball 1, no luck.  Ball 2, no luck....Ball 3...I am holding my breath as it rolls around .....and LANDS IN THE RED CONTAINER!  He won!  I have no idea how he did it but he won!!!!

I have rarely seen a child so in love with a stuffed animal as David was as we strutted back towards my mom to show her his prize.  At this point the other boys were done riding their rides and we headed off towards Rafiki's Planet Watch.  My plan was to keep us on time and to hope that Jacob wouldn't notice Expedition Everest, a huge rollercoaster.  Unfortunately Jacob has a nose now for rollercoasters and sniffed out Everest......My hope was a quick ride on Everest and we would be back on track and off to see the baby animals.  It was hot as could be, and I wanted to get David out of the sun and on to see the baby animals and some inside exhibits.

Jacob LOVING Everest!
Jacob immediately got on Expedition Everest and got off and declared it AWESOME!  Matthew was riddled with anxiety- he was desperate to ride Everest but also scared and so he started asking questions.  "is it fast?" ,   "does it go backwards?", "do you go upside down", "is it fast" "does it go backwards"," Do you go upside down?"  over and over again, to every person he found, he repeated his questions, and then he watched the ride go again, and then he talked about wanting to ride, and then he asked his questions.  Finally, after Jacob rode a second time, Matthew decided he wanted to ride....ok, maybe not wanted to ride as much as he felt he HAD to ride it......Jacob quickly convinced him that he would go with him and keep him safe     ( yes, it was an awesome moment of mom pride to see the 2 of them go off together to get on the ride).  Matthew covered his ears, he worried, he panicked, and then he did it!  He rode Everest.  He had no need to ride it again, but was so proud of doing it once!

i love Matthew's face in this picture!

Finally, over an hour later, and no longer anywhere near being on schedule, we were off towards the animals.  As we walked we saw a quiet spot with a line, so of course I had to see what was going on.  It turned out that this was a Character greeting area with Safari Mickey and Minnie.  I figured since David had just waited almost an hour while the boys rode Everest that we could take a few minutes to meet Mickey and Minnie.  We showed the person our special passes and he let us go in the Fastpass entrance and this is where we noticed that even in the Fastpass line we still had over a 20 minute wait to see the famous Mouse.  As we waited David started to pick at things and bang the wall, and then bang his head on the wall.  I walked out to ask if there was any way that he could meet Mickey any sooner.  He had been in the heat too long, and it was all a little too much, and he just wanted to see Mickey.  Sadly, we were told that he needed to wait in line.

As we waited the family in front of us began to notice David's struggle.  As they were called in to meet Mickey the mom encouraged us to go in front of them.  She was so sweet, and David was really struggling and so we went ahead.  Unfortunately, once again David checked out as it was time to meet Mickey.  

Even with David checked out, this was a magical moment.  The mom from the family in
front of us was so touched to meet David and our family, and she was so sweet and kind.  She took pictures of David meeting Mickey and just seemed to innately understand, one mom to another, how important this moment was to me.  After we met Mickey we took a moment to help David rehydrate and get back together, and as the other mom came out she asked for my email address.  She had taken some pictures of David meeting Mickey and wanted to make sure that we got a copy of them.  As she left she and I both had tears in our eyes- it was truly a magical moment that we shared and a moment of connection from one mom to another that I will cherish.

As we continued on we headed to get some lunch and then finally to Rafiki's Planet Watch.  We were now officially behind schedule, and decided to simply live in the moment.  We knew that we couldn't leave Animal Kindgdom without seeing The Lion King Show, and based on the available show times it was more and likely that we wouldn't make it to any show before the 5:00 showtime as it was already 2:30!

We quickly took the train over to Rafiki's Animal Planet and while the boys enjoyed seeing the animal hospital area, and my mom and I enjoyed hanging out in the air conditioning, this part of the park was not nearly as big a hit as it had been a few years ago.  Matthew was thrilled to meet Chip and Dale ( again, a fun mom moment as my 14 year old happily stood in line to meet some cute chipmunks!)

After a quick dash to the safari ride, it was time for the highlight of the day.......
At 5:02 we got to the entrance...I am convinced we have missed our opportunity to get in, and yet once again our awesome passes save the day.....we are quickly escorted to front row seats.....Please, don't allow yourself to believe that this is all roses and sunshine...as we are trying to get David to come to the show, all he is saying over and over again is "it's just a show""it's JUST a show" "it's no fun, its JUST a show" over and over and over again...repeat, repeat, repeat....there is no distracting him, no convincing him that it will be fun, until the show starts....from that moment on.......his eyes glimmer and he is HOOKED!

The Lion King Show was amazing for all of us!  Jacob is amazed by the monkeys are their gymnastic movements, Matthew loves the rhythm and the music  David loves all of it, and even giggles later as we remind him that he thought it would be "just a show!"

As I watched the boys at the show, I began to realize that we had to live in the moment more.  While I want to get to Epcot, I realize that David is cooked.  He is exhausted, and an exhausted David is not a David who is having fun.  I suggest to my mom that maybe we should go back to the Villa for a little while and then head to Epcot after everyone has cooled off.  She agrees and so we head back to the villa.

Stay tuned to learn about our magical night in the next blog!