A Flight to the North Pole

Last Friday, Wyatt was given an opportunity to “fly to the North Pole.” It was definitely an amazing experience, one that we will never forget. 

All week I had been telling him about how we were going to fly to the north pole and see Santa, so he was pretty excited when we arrived. And just like any other flight, we had to check in for our boarding pass. I loved that even the monitors said that we were checking in for the North Pole! And Wyatt looks cute and tiny sitting there waiting for his ticket. Lol. 

There was an orchestra playing, decorations everywhere, and Wyatt was grinning from ear to ear as we moved to the next phase of our day. We had to check in with the event, where they gave him a sweatshirt, and a name tag, which reminded me of Paddington Bear, that hung around his neck. There was more music being played here, with people in costumes greeting the kids and entertaining everyone until we moved to the security line. We did have to go through security, as we were getting on a real plane and would be in the terminal. This was the only part that gave me some anxiety – because Wyatt was in a wheelchair they moved him to the other side of the gate – without me! I was very nervous about my kiddo being left there without me, and I asked the TSA agent to please make sure he didn’t wheel away. Wyatt didn’t take off but he did try, that little monkey! 

Once we were through and I could breathe again, we were zoomed off by an elf to the terminal to wait for our plane. This area had clowns handing out balloons and playing games, and the flight crew was on hand to greet all the children. This, I think, was Wyatt’s favorite. He was in awe of the pilot and co-pilot. They gave him some little wings, which was pretty cool too. Finally, our plane arrived taxied up and we were ready to board our flight!

It is all very choreographed and efficient, so things are kept moving, partly because small children are not usually super patient. So I didn’t get as many photos as I wanted, but I did capture a few moments. Wyatt was also obsessed with the seat belt. I ended up keeping him on my lap, seat belted in. And then, we “took off”! The plane in reality taxied around for about an hour, and even gathered some serious speed to mimic take off. We had to leave the window shades down though, to maintain the illusion for the kids- which was a battle between me and my son, who kept wanting to open it. Lol. On our flight we were served lunch, and the elves sang carols. It was a great time, and Wyatt loved the music, and the actual plane itself. Once we landed, we were whisked away through the North Pole’s airport to “Santa’s castle”, or the hotel. Everything was decked out in Christmas decorations, cookies and candy and most importantly, coffee, lined the tables for us to snack on. Here they also had a show for the kids, of characters dressed up like superheroes who put on a mock battle, and Anna and Elsa were there singing all their songs. The kids were called up one by one to see the big man himself, and then – we went home! But not before we were given, literally, a sack of presents for the kiddo. 

The generosity of the donors and volunteers that put this day on was immeasurable. The time, the planning, the gifts, the people from the hotel to the Silverliners who organized it, to Delta Airlines who flew the plane – it was an absolutely perfect, amazing, one of a kind day.

Here is a link to a local news story about it! See if you can spot us!

Dino-Might!

I love dinosaurs. I always have. I used to dream about being a paleontologist when I was a kid, but then realized I was better at words than math. I have a love for the sciences even though I am not great at them, and I want to pass this along early to my son. I started collecting dinosaur crafts and projects and coloring books and all sorts of fun things to do with him in July, which I deemed would now be known as Dino-month.

So I was super excited when I saw that a nearby indoor playscape/preschool/wellness center was having a drop in class for preschoolers and toddlers all about dinosaurs!! There would be songs and stories and sensory bins and a craft – all for $12! I was so excited to take Wyatt. I knew he would love it. Then I realized…I would have to socialize too! My biggest nightmare as an introvert super shy momma, is interacting with other parents. But, like we push our kids to move past their fears, so must we as parents push past ours. And it is good for us to get out of our comfort zones too – I need to grow and move forward as well. So, this was it for me. Wyatt needs to do this sort of thing, it is so good for all kids to interact with their peers and all that, and especially for Wyatt. As a kid with some developmental disabilities due to his CP, he picks up a lot of language and movement by being around other kids. So, it was time for this momma to toughen up and go talk to some strangers! Lol.

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I had this super cute outfit laid out for him to wear – but then it got breakfast on it and had to be changed. Note to self: put cute outfit on preschooler after he eats..

We finally rolled up to the place, which was in the middle of an adorable neighborhood. I was feeling nervous, made worse when I walked right in to the end of the baby and mom yoga class that was before the Jurassic Wonders class. But the yogi (whom I actually knew, I met her when our husbands worked together years ago) is a sweet welcoming soul who made me feel less awkward and less like bolting back out the door. Wyatt and I took a seat and waited for the class to clear out then I put him down to explore. The place, Nature’s Playhouse, was super accessible and I totally loved its vibe. Natural materials, solid and sturdy wooden toys everywhere, tables scattered about, puzzles, a rocking board. I felt like I was in a kid’s secret fort. Wyatt dug it, and enjoyed that shoes weren’t supposed to be worn in that room, since he hates wearing shoes. He had a big grin on his face the whole time we were there.

As the rest of the parents and kids trooped in, we circled up with our kids for story time  and songs. Afterwards, there were two sensory areas, an area with dinosaur books to flip through, including a cool one with different textures to touch, and the craft, which was painting a dinosaur with sponges and paint. Wyatt and I started with the painting, getting the messiest out of the way first.

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I think he did a great job! After that we headed over to the sifting through the sand bin, where the kids used paintbrushes to brush away the sand to find the dinosaur stickers hidden under the sand. Wyatt seriously loved this the best. Most of the other kids liked the area where you dug through beans and did some pouring and jazz, but Wyatt liked the sand area. We happily played over there, I made awkward (on my end) conversation with another mother, then, it was time to go! The class passed by super quickly.

I am so glad that I went – Wyatt had a blast! I will have to watch for other classes that fit into our crazy life schedules, even if it is just to drop in and play. It is worth it for the big grin I saw on my son’s face the whole time we were there.

Walking back to the car, I noticed the sidewalk full of acorn hats, something I had missed on the way in. I stopped and picked one up. Acorns are special to our family, almost a talisman. My Wyatt is my acorn, my tiny boy – and like my grandma said, “From tiny acorns grow mighty oaks.”  Stumbling on these acorns was a reminder, I think, of how we all need to grow, to be strong and to be mighty..

I am looking forward to our next visit!

What Wyatt’s Reading/Book Haul : March

What

I think this is really March part II, but oh well. Lol. Wyatt had a big book month! We are working on the 1000 books before Kindergarten challenge, which is fun for both of us! He absolutely loves books (like his mom!) This is what we read together this month, including books that he received for his birthday! (His own little book haul!)

 

Library List: Booboo by Olivier Dunrea, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. (not pictured Punk Farm)

Birthday Book Haul: Happy, Colorful World: Farm and Forest, Five Stinky Socks, Peep and Ducky Rainy Day, The Little Artists Collection, Seasons, Lift the Flap What Are Stars, and Big Fish Little Fish.

Wyatt’s Favorites: While he pretty much enjoyed them all, he absolutely loved Booboo, The Little Artists Collection (which we have to take with us everywhere), and of course, Five Stinky Socks. To Wyatt, there is nothing funnier on the planet than stinky feet and socks. So that book is one we read over and over. And over. As long as he is listening and loving it though, I will read it as many times as he wants. And Booboo – Wyatt is working on developing language skills, and he immediately said Booboo after reading this book. And would ask for it to be  read again, by name! This was huge for us. Words and sounds are coming faster these days – reading is so good for developing speech, so we make sure to read at least a few books together everyday. We will meet that 1000 book goal sooner than we think!

And if anyone wants to know my favorites from here, I loved Happy by Emma Dodd, The First Sticker Book Nature, and Paul Bunyan. My husband and I love the tall tale of Paul Bunyan, his ox, and those giant pancakes. Happy just makes me happy! Such a sweet book, great for cuddling and reading before bedtime. And the sticker book is amazing! I was so impressed by how cool the stickers look honestly. It is very well done. And seriously, who doesn’t love stickers?

We are already hard at work (hardly work, more like) on our April reading!

A Rainy Day Remembering

It has been raining here all week. Combine that with my husband working 15 hour days everyday, and  I have had lots of time for reflection. Jimmy Kimmel’s emotional plea also got my mind to wandering, remembering the time when my own little guy was in the NICU.

The day W. was transferred to Children’s Hospital from the NICU at the hospital where he was born, another baby went too. Another little boy, born much earlier in his gestation, only 25 weeks, and who was even smaller than my small fry, who only weighed 2lbs 15 oz. Baby A was so tiny, just across the room from my boy, a few short steps.

He left for Children’s first, his father’s tired face, full of worry, fear, sadness, yet resolute, strong, for his child, his boy. The same things I saw reflected in the face of my husband, as he made his own walk down the hall next to the large life sustaining machine our doll size son occupied. Both fathers accompanied their boys. The moms, me, and Baby A’s mom, were left behind, to stay another night, alone on a floor filled with happy mothers and fathers and babies. My own father ended up staying the night with me that night, sleeping in a chair next to my bed. The next morning my mom arrived, and I cried in her arms for the first time since they took my son away.

At Children’s, this little boy was still just a few steps from W., right across the aisle, their issoletes facing one another while their small occupants dozed and fought on.  Life in this particular NICU was like being in a fishbowl. 6 babies, 6 beds, 6 families. Most of the time, it was mostly Baby A’s mother and me sitting bedside. Despite so many babies in such a small space, communication is discouraged, for privacy reasons. Even these smallest patients are covered by HIPAA, and while it is isolating, it is still better than finding people circle around your baby’s bed. In reality though, we still all knew what was going on- when doctors do rounds 6 inches from you, it is hard not to overhear things. We knew Baby A had heart problems, just like they knew W. had brain bleeds and obstructive hydrocephalus.

We often ran into each other in the halls or on the way up or down, in the elevator, coming and going. We would exchange greetings, ask how each other sons were doing, cordial, friendly. We shared the fishbowl with them for two weeks, then W. was moved to another room, a step down room as his condition became less scary. We still saw Baby A’s parents in the halls, and would exchange greetings, but no longer were in such close proximity.

Then, one Saturday, alarm bells kept sounding, in the next room over. All day long, over and over, sending the NICU nurses running. Billy and I knew, somehow, that it was Baby A. We held our son and thought of the little boy fighting so hard in the next room, a battle so much bigger than himself. And by some sad twist of fate, his parents were not there that day. Not at all that day, after so many days and nights at his side. I desperately wished I could go and hold him, comfort him, but obviously, that couldn’t be.

After a few hours, there were no more alarms going off. No more mad scrambles to the room next door. And when Billy and I left for the night, we saw his mom and dad in the hall for the final time, talking with the doctors.

I think of them, and Baby A, often. Especially this time of year, around W.’s birthday, as the two would have been the same age. I think of his mother, his father. And I will never forget their little boy’s name.