Something Awesome Happened

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This post is a continuation of last weeks post.  If you missed reading Hoping Something Awesome Happens you can read it here.

Will Mikayla and Hope put their feet in the ocean before the week is over?  Or will they just want to stay at the swimming pool all week?  These questions were constantly going through my mind.  I wondered if the ocean was too big for them to process.  Maybe it was too loud for their sensitive ears.

On the third day of vacation my questions were answered.  It was an exciting moment when Hope decided to put her feet in the ocean.  Daddy smiled as the water hit her feet for the very first time.  I was smiling too as I snapped a picture to capture the moment.  Hope decided that the ocean was pretty awesome.

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Mikayla has always had an “anything she can do I can do better” attitude towards Hope.  So it wasn’t surprising when she decided to put her feet in the ocean.  She thought the ocean was a lot of fun too.

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I was relieved that we weren’t going to spend the week with half of the family at the swimming pool and the other half at the ocean.  Even if our two turtles hadn’t enjoyed the ocean I would’ve been glad we made the trip.  Our older girls, Taylor and Brynna, loved every second of their time at the ocean.  I loved watching the smiles on their faces all week.  I’m so glad that Taylor asked the question “Could my gift for high school graduation be a trip to the ocean?”  I’m thankful that she got us out of our comfort zone and challenged us to do something that we’d never done before.

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As I sat on the beach I couldn’t help but notice the kind smiles that many strangers shared with our girls.  One lady smiled at Hope and then she looked over at me and she winked.  It was as if she was saying “Isn’t she the cutest little thing!”.  A couple walking hand in hand grinned as they watched Mikayla & Hope playing in the sand.  Numerous strangers smiled at our girls throughout the week. Maybe they thought our girls were adorable when they were wearing their fedora beach hats and sunglasses.  Maybe they were smiling because every seagull our girls saw was as amazing as the one they had seen minutes before.  Or maybe they were smiling just because it’s fun to watch little girls loving the beach.  One evening as I sat on the beach I got tears in my eyes.  Okaloosa Island was a beautiful place.  The waves, the sand, the seagulls, and the sky were all beautiful. But Okaloosa Island was a beautiful place for another reason.  It was beautiful because it was a place where our family found acceptance.  P1080768

One of the highlights of our vacation was going on the Southern Star Dolphin Cruise.  Within a few minutes of departure we saw a dolphin.  The captain said that on a cruise you can see anywhere from 2 to 25 dolphins.  We were blessed to be on a cruise where we saw many dolphins.  The girls loved standing at the stern and feeding fritos to the sea gulls.  It was an amazing experience and we would do it again in a heartbeat.

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Every Wednesday night they shoot off fireworks from the pier  We decided to walk down to the beach and watch them.  Mikayla is scared of fireworks. Even if she wears ear plugs she can’t handle the noise. She buries her head and she won’t even look at them.  The fireworks started and Mikayla turned around backwards, covered her ears, and hid her face.  Our cottage was quite a distance from the pier. We could see the fireworks but we couldn’t hear them.  I told Mikayla that we couldn’t hear the fireworks and that she should watch them because they were really pretty.  Daddy tried to convince her too but I didn’t think she would listen to us.  Then all of a sudden she took her hands off her ears. She turned around and right there on Okaloosa Island our little girl saw fireworks for the first time in her life.  And she thought they were pretty.  It was an amazing moment that our family celebrated.

I thought we would be a few days into our vacation and the girls would be begging us to go home.  I was completely blindsided when by midweek the girls insisted that they weren’t going home.  Ever. Really?  Who are you two? What have you done with my girls?  On Friday evening Hope decided it was ok for us to go home the next day because she wanted to see our cat.  But Mikayla insisted we weren’t going home. Taylor asked her when she wanted to go home.  Do you want to go home next week?  She said no.  Do you want to go home next month? Yes. Next month was when she wanted to come home. I began to have visions of us having to drag her kicking and screaming to the van because she didn’t want to go home.

The trip wasn’t without its challenges.  The girls made a scene in a couple of restaurants.  One of the scenes was bad enough that I told Brett to order for us and we were going to the van.  Just come and get us when the food is on the table.  He said we weren’t going to do that and he took them to the restroom for a little pep talk.  I’m not sure what he said to them but it worked. When they came back they sat quietly, they colored, and they ate their food.  Victory was ours and it felt good.

The drive home was a complete nightmare.  It was supposed to take 12 hours to get home but it turned into 14 hours.  Mikayla got car sick within a few hours of our departure from Florida.  Then Hope got sick.  Her sickness required a change of clothes.  We had to drive through 5 states to get back home.  I can say with pride that our girls puked in all 5 states. It was not fun.  I was very thankful for sand buckets lined with Walmart bags.  We pulled into a gas station 6 hours away from home and deposited our bag of car sickness into the trash can.  If only I had a pair of ruby slippers.  I would’ve slapped them on my feet, clicked my heels together three times, and said “There’s no place like home.  There’s no place like home.  There’s no place like home.”  And I would’ve found myself waking up in my bed at home realizing that this nightmare trip home was only a dream.   OK.  Back to reality.  I don’t own a pair of ruby slippers and the only way home was to keep driving.  I wasn’t happy and I had a complete meltdown.  Just ask my handsome man.  It wasn’t pretty.

But do you know what?  Even though the ride home was a nightmare I would do it all over again.  It was an amazing week.  Taylor’s dream of seeing the ocean came true.  Our family made a wonderful memory of seeing the ocean together.   Mikayla and Hope’s dreams of seeing a dolphin came true. Taylor and Brynna got to experience the joy of riding the ocean waves on a boogie board.  Mikayla saw fireworks for the first time.  And our family found acceptance.  We took a risk by taking this vacation. We experienced a few bumps in the road throughout the week.  But the good definitely outweighed the bad.

Hope asks every day “Go back to the beach?”  I tell her that we’ll go back next year.  Maybe if you’re on Okaloosas Island next summer you’ll see our family.  I’ll see you smiling at our girls as they’re talking about the seagulls or riding their boogie boards.  You’ll see me smiling as your family buries your little guy in the sand.  I just know that it will be another amazing trip to the beach.  And maybe we won’t need any buckets for the ride home.

 

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Hoping Something Awesome Happens

Remember my Waiting for Something Awesome to Happen post from back in February?  If you missed it or want to read it again you can find it here.  Then come back and read the end of the story.

On July 11th we piled in the van and started our 12 hour venture to see the ocean.  We’ve never driven more than 5 hours with Mikayla & Hope.  I was excited about going to Florida but I wasn’t excited about 12 hours in the van.  The first half of the trip went well.  The last half didn’t.  We arrived at our cottage on Okaloosa Island at 10:00 p.m.  As Brett was parking the van Mikayla said “Wanna see the dolphins. Need a flashlight.”  We ended our long road trip with a van full of laughter.

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The next morning we enjoyed our first peek at the ocean from our window.  Then we put on our swimsuits and we headed to the beach.  None of us had ever seen the ocean  It was a memorable family moment as we all saw the ocean for the first time.  Taylor and Brynna were smiling from ear to ear as they put their feet in the ocean.   Taylor hugged me and thanked us for giving her this trip for her graduation.  Suddenly all the chaos that happened in the van on the way was worth it.

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So we’re sitting on the beach admiring the view and one of the little turtles asks “Go to the swimming pool?”  Really?  We drove 12 hours to see the ocean and you want to go play in the swimming pool? We can go to a swimming pool at home.  We’re going to stay at the beach.  “Go to the swimming pool?”  No.  We’re staying here at the beach.

“Go to the swimming pool!”  It was no longer a question.  It suddenly turned into a demand.  And then both of the little sweethearts were insisting that they were going to the swimming pool.  For 15 minutes we heard “Go to the swimming pool.”   They weren’t going to let it go.  So Brett took them to the swimming pool.  We spent the first morning of vacation with half of us at the beach and half of us at the swimming pool.  Not really the way that I had pictured it.  But if there is one thing that I’ve learned in the last 10 years it’s that sometimes things aren’t going to look like I pictured it.  Just smile and move on.

In the afternoon we suggested that it might be fun to go to Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone.  They have a putt-putt golf course with animatronic dinosaurs.  Mikayla & Hope enjoy golf and they love dinosaurs. So it was on our list of things to do.  Hope didn’t want to golf.  She wanted to go to the swimming pool. We told her that dinosaur golf would be a lot of fun.  She wanted to go to the swimming pool.  We battled for around 30 minutes trying to convince her that dinosaur golf would be fun.  And she spent those 30 minutes trying to convince us that the swimming pool would be more fun.  I was standing there looking at her and thinking this is going to be a really long week.  But then it was like a rainbow appeared after a storm. Hope looked at us and she said “Go to dinosaur golf.”  Oh, Hopey.  What a great idea!  Let’s go play dinosaur golf!  She smiled and we loaded up and headed to Wild Willy’s.

After 3 holes of golf we started to hear thunder and see lightning in the distance.  This is what it looks like when your girl has sensory processing disorder and she doesn’t like the sound of thunder.

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Hope didn’t want to golf anymore.  It’s hard to hold your ears and your golf club at the same time.

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This is the gal that talked us into this trip.

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It’s best to pick the yellow golf club.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the right size.  It just needs to be yellow.

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Our sweet Brynna

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The next day we went to the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park.  For months the girls have been saying “Need to see a dolphin.”  Brett and I wanted to make sure that their dream came true.  Dolphins were the very first thing that we saw when we entered the building.   The girls were excited.

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We went to the dolphin show.  Hope was listening when the lady was talking about dolphins.  After we left she kept saying “Dolphins aren’t fish. They’re mammals”.  This was a huge success.  She heard it, she processed it, and she repeated it.  She’s still repeating it a zillion times a day.  And it makes me happy each and every time I hear her say it.

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We were at the Gulfarium for three hours and we only had one minor behavioral issue.  It was truly a miracle.  Hope took her last look at the dolphins and Mikayla took her last picture of the fish.  And then we were off to the gift shop.  I wasn’t surprised when they very quickly latched onto stuffed dolphins. We left with three dolphins named Winter, Olaf, and Olaf’s baby named Dave.

Stay tuned for another upcoming post to find out if any more awesome things happened on our vacation.

Mikayla and Hope Go To Nazareth

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It’s been an exciting week at our house.  Mikayla and Hope went to Bible School.  I cried when the music started on opening night.  I felt a little silly. Was there any other mom in the room who was crying tears of joy because her kids were at Bible school?  Or was it just me?

Our girls are 10 years old and they’d never been to Bible school.  There’ve been many reasons why the road to Bible school has been long for them.   But the journey to Bible school finally ended at Nazareth.

The girls were placed in two different groups.  Mikayla got to travel through Nazareth without Hope tagging along with her.  And Hope got to travel through Nazareth without Mikayla tagging along with her.  It was so good for them.  As we drove home on the first night Hope kept saying “I was good.” over and over again.  She was so proud of herself.  I think she was amazed at how good she could be when Mikayla wasn’t with her.

It was certainly an exciting week for them.  If you didn’t get to go to Nazareth this week here’s a recap through the eyes of our girls.

I spit out my cheese.

I spilled my lemonade.

I made a sheep.

I tripped.

Someone fell off the roof.

The puppets talk.  They’re not real.

I tripped too.

I made a fish.

Someone fell out the window.

I ate gummies.

She not supposed to eat gummies.  It sticks to her braces.

I made a bag.  I need money.

I play games.  I eat snacks.

And that’s all that I heard about Bible School.  And it makes me smile.

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Hope Through Daddy’s Eyes

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As we were riding the tram at the zoo my husband was having a conversation with the cute 6-year-old boy sitting next to him.  Brett said one simple sentence that I can’t stop thinking about.

Hope spotted a peacock and she said “Look a peacock!”  She gets really excited when she sees a peacock.   A little while later the tram was traveling up a hill and Hope spotted another peacock.  She said “Two peacocks!”

The little boy next to Brett said “Where’s the second peacock?”  I wasn’t able to see the little boys face since I was sitting in front of him.  He probably had a puzzled look because he was thinking “Why’s she seeing two peacocks?  I only see one.”

Brett said “There’s only one.”

The little boy sweetly asked “She doesn’t know how to count?”

Brett said “She knows how to count.  She just does it different than you do.  She’s counting the peacock that she saw earlier and this one.”

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She just does it different than you do.  That’s the sentence that I can’t stop thinking about.   I love that sentence.  That’s the sentence that I always want to remember when we’re living life with our girls. They aren’t doing it wrong.  They’re just doing it different.  The little boy saw one peacock.  Most of us would’ve seen one peacock.  Hope was still thinking about the first peacock.  And then she saw another peacock.  One peacock plus one peacock equals two peacocks.  She was right.  There were two peacocks.

I wish everyone could see Hope and Mikayla through their Daddy’s eyes.  They would realize that our girls just do it different.  Different means that they sometimes do it slower than we do it.  It also means that they sometimes do it faster than we do it.  Different can mean that she stands on her head to watch TV while we’re sitting on the couch.  Or that their pants feel funny while our pants feel fine. Different means that she’s holding her ears and we have no idea why.  Different means that she didn’t answer a question because she didn’t understand it.  Or that she can spin and she never gets dizzy.

Our world is full of different.  Different isn’t wrong.  It’s just different.  Our family may look much different than other families.  If you see me straightening Mikayla’s pants just remember that her world feels different than your world.  If you see Hope holding her ears when she walks past a waterfall just remember that her world sounds different than your world.  If you run into us at Walmart you will hear our girls talking about the balloons that are on the ceiling.  I didn’t know that balloons often float up to the ceiling in Walmart.  I have only two things on my mind when I go into Walmart.  Get what’s on my list and get out.  I never spend time looking at the ceiling.  But our girls are different.  They notice everything around them.  There’s a world around me that I don’t take the time to look at.  But our girls have all the time in the world to look at their world.  Yes our girls just do it different.  And I want to do it different too.

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