Back to B’ham

Late last month we traveled back to Birmingham for a few days.

BirminghamWhile we were there we were able to reconnect with some great friends and support (un)adopted (a ministry of our adoption agency) by running in their annual race R(un) for One.

r(un) for one Michael Luke was able to do some networking on and off campus at UAB and I was able to attend a really great seminar on using essential oils to support your hormones and soft tissue.  We didn’t plan a trip just to run around town like mad men for a week though. All these events just happened to fall within the days we had blocked out for Esther to have another surgery.

For those of you that have been following Color Transformed Family for a while you may remember last year when she had a series of surgeries.  If not, you can go back and read about her “special eye’ here and what a brave girl she was with her first surgery and throughout the following months here and here.

When we went back to her ocular plastic surgeon this year we really hoped to set a date for the bone reconstruction of Esther’s series of surgeries.  Instead, we found out that Dr. Ray had moved to Virginia to work in an under served area.  We loved Dr. Ray as a doctor but we weren’t terribly bummed that he was gone because now we get to see Dr. Grant.  Dr. Grant is who Dr. Ray trained under and he has even more experience with Asian eye reconstruction because he trained in Seattle were thee is a larger Asian population.

Dr. Grant was pleased with the progress that was made last year but felt before moving onto bone reconstruction we needed to do one more tissue expander.  The purpose of the expanders is to stretch her good smooth skin so that the scarred tissue can be removed and only beautiful healthy skin remain.  We also found out that he wants to wait on the bone reconstruction surgery until she gets a little older and her front baby teeth fall out.  Her permanent teeth have already formed and he wants to wait until they drop down so that he will have more room around the eye socket to work with.

So while finding out we have to wait a little longer was a bit of bummer it’s still nice to know that we can work to get her even more smooth skin on that beautiful face of her.  I do pray that all these surgeries are over and done with before her peers start start to notice her deformity and then use that to make fun of her.  She’s still at that magical age right now where most children don’t notice and if they do they just point out something is different and move on. It’s like saying, “She’s wearing a yellow shirt and I have on a red one.”  They just verbalize the difference.  Her self confidence and self-esteem are still strong and she sees her self as beautiful (because she is) and I don’t want that to change).  That’s one reason why I make an effort every day to let her know how beautiful she is and even more how beautiful she is on the inside because that’s what really matters.  Mom’s this is so crucial.  We have to pour into our children before the world begins to rob them of their confidence.

Just like last year we prepped Esther mentally for her upcoming surgery.  I know each child is different but she loves facts and wants to know every detail so we don’t hide anything from her.  We run through the series of events over and over so that she can process what awaits her.  For the most part she took everything in stride and like last year looked forward to getting her own bed, watching an endless supply of Disney, and having breakfast and juice delivered to her room.  Seriously, this girl loves to be waited on hand and foot!

About a week before the surgery it became evident that deep down she was nervous.  We began to up the amount of times a day we applied the essential oil blend Tranquil to her.  At one point she was even waking up around five times a night screaming and crying.  She was never truly awake so just going in her room and touching her was enough to calm her.  My heart broke for her in these moments because I knew then how brave she was truly trying to be.

Occasionally, she would tell us that she was nervous but we were always quick to reassure her that everything would be ok and in the end there would be Disney Channel and juice.  Even the morning of her surgery she woke up excited to Children’s of Alabama.  The previous year when she donned one of her fanciest outfits but this time she was fine with leaving her pajamas on and enjoying the relaxing morning.

Noah and I dropped Michael Luke and Esther off at the hospital and then I drove Noah across town to have breakfast at one of our favorite spots, Magic Muffins.

Magic Muffins Next, we made a quick drive by of our old place and then I dropped her off at a friends house before returning to the hospital.

 

During this time Esther just relaxed and enjoyed the morning’s cartoons.  EstherBy the time I arrived they had even given her an iPad to play with.

EstherShe was the picture of calm and collected.

But like I mentioned earlier I knew how she really felt and everyone else was about to find out.

They came to wheel her away for surgery and she barely looked up because she was playing some “decorate your princess” game on the iPad.  But before we made it to the “bubble wall”, this wall with air bubbles and lights in it, to say goodbye she screamed out “Mommy, I’m getting a little scared.”  So I rushed up to walk beside her and I soon as I did she grabbed on and started trying to jump out of the moving hospital bed.  When she’s scared and upset she’s a strong little girl and there was no getting her back in that bed.  I was trying my best not to cry too and just about lost it when the nurse took her from my arms and carried her away from us.

Her body remembers.  It remembers everything about her last three surgeries and it remembers “the day she didn’t feel like smiling”.  Her body knows that the next couple of months just might be difficult and a little painful and honestly who can blame her for wanting to “jump ship”.

The surgery went well and this time they even included a skin graft.  Dr. Grant took a sliver of skin from behind her left ear and moved it to her left eyelid so that it can close more.  This offers her eye more protections, reduces the amount of times a day we need to apply eye gel and eye drops, and preps her eye for some of the upcoming work.

family(Two Days After Surgery)

Children and their resiliency amaze me!  Once again all she needed was Tylenol with Codeine one time after surgery.  One time!  I’m sure it would take a lot more for me.  We supported her healthy skin afterwards with Lavender, used my Sandalwood Moisture Cream on her neck where the medical tape had been, and applied DiGize to her tummy to ease feelings of nausea.

I spent the night with her and enjoyed some special cuddling time with her and somehow managed to get a decent night’s sleep in the hospital.  The next morning we were given permission to discharge before 7:00 but Esther insisted on staying and eating her breakfast first.  And who can blame her… I had ordered her a feast!

In a few weeks we will start the injections again and they will follow almost the same schedule as last year.  Dr. Grant will give her her first injection and then Michael Luke and I will do most of the others at home ourselves.  You know… just your normal family sitting around watching tv while poking a needle in their daughter’s head.  It’s true!  Barney was the best distraction for her injections last year.  She and Noah looked forward to those nights because they were allowed to pick an episode of Barney to watch. I’m not a fan of Barney and could really do without those songs but if I worlds again this year I’ll endure it.

Like last year, I more than likely won’t share a lot about our experience as it happens but you can expect to continue seeing her beautiful face in my pictures.  Thank you everyone for all your support and prayers.

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8 Tips for Surviving Disney World with Toddlers

Disney World is huge!  There’s so much to do at each park and it doesn’t take long before you have an entire day scheduled for of fun activities.

So what do you do when your smallest traveling companions still nap everyday and consider walking to the mailbox a long distance hike?  

You plan accordingly.   The perfect recipe for meltdowns for my girls is lack of sleep and lack of food so we tried to keep those instances at a minimum during our four days at Disney World.

8 Tips for Surviving Disney World with Toddlers

My 8 Tips for Surviving Disney World with Toddlers

  1. Allow Plenty of Time: For starters we spent THREE full days at the Magic Kingdom.  Magic Kingdom VacationThis allowed us to take our time.  I felt like it offered more for toddlers than any other park.  When your spending that much money on a day of fun you want to make sure you get a FULL day of fun.  We spent our final day at Hollywood Studios.  It’s riding the Frozen wave right now, has several of the Disney Jr. characters,  and has more shows than rides.  Hollywood Studios FrozenIt’s also smaller and less crowded than the Magic Kingdom so it made for a slower paced final day in the park.  Of course, by that point our girls were so exhausted that I don’t think they could have handled anything more.  Our favorite attraction was the Frozen sing-along show.  Hollywood Studios FrozenML even used it as an opportunity to stock up on Frozen knock-knock jokes.
  2. Stay at a Resort: The first couple of days we were there we stayed at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.  20150714_204640One of the perks of staying at a Disney Resort is that you don’t have to fool with your checked luggage.  We landed and then headed straight for the bus to our resort.  I planned ahead and had our swim suits and the girls floaties in our carry-on so that we could relax at the pool while we waited on our luggage to arrive.  Another perk of staying at a Disney Resort is that you get to be one of the first guests in the park.  Magic Kingdom OpeningEach morning we woke the girls up early so that we could be at the park by the time Mickey arrived on the train to open the gates.  I wasn’t able to reserve a Fast Pass for Elsa and Anna because they are spoken for about as soon as they become available.  Because of that  I just planned on skipping the Frozen girls and not even telling the girls that they were there because the wait to see them is usually 90 minutes and I just couldn’t fathom waiting in line that long with toddlers.  After they opened the gates on the first day we headed straight into the park, through the castle and found the entrance to Elsa and Anna.  We walked right up to the beginning of the line and had our picture taken with both Elsa and Anna within ten minutes of the park opening!  Elsa at the Magic KingdomIt was amazing.
  3. Rent a Stroller: I have to give thanks to my good friend, Erin, for this tip.  She’s a Disney with toddler veteran and told me to skip the stroller rental services at Disney and instead check into money-saving companies like Orlando Stroller Rentals.  We rented the Citi Mini Double Stroller for less than $80 for the entire week.  Orlando Stroller RentalsThe stroller was delivered to our Disney resort hotel and picked up from the Waldorf Astoria, where we stayed the second half of the trip.  We were blown away with how nice the stroller was… especially compared to the ones Disney offers and it was a huge money saver.
  4. Do Not Eliminate Naps:  This is the most important tip of all. Disney is tiring and skipping naps for little ones is just not an option. We handled this two ways.  One way was that we took advantage of our stroller.  It had a canopy that completely covered the girls keeping them shaded AND their seats laid flat.  Their nap times mirrored those that they were used to.  This meant we rested each day after lunch for 1 1/2 to 2 hours during the busiest and hottest times of the park.  No big sacrifice there.  The second way we handled naps was to head back to the hotel.  We did this one day and the girls (and us) crashed for three solid hours!  We woke up refreshed and headed back to the park just in time for sunset and dinner with the Beast and stayed at the park until 11:00 that night with happy campers.The Beast's Castle at Magic Kingdom
  5. Stay Hydrated:  July is one of the hottest months to visit Orlando.  Throw in the fact that you are not used to spending your entire day outside and it’s a recipe for dehydration.  Good news though… water is free at Disney parks.  Stay Hydrated at the Magic KingdomSome restaurants had water coolers set out with cups free for the taking.  We learned where these were and frequented them often.  Other vendors were happy to give you cups of ice and then direct you to the nearest water fountain.  I love that Disney doesn’t take advantage of the situation and try to rip you off with $4 water (they have those if you want them) but goes the extra mile to make sure you stay hydrated and are enjoying your day.
  6. Eat at Regular Times: Need I say more.  Children's Meal at the Magic KingdomNoah is my main one that starts to act out if she gets hungry.  Don’t expect compliance on her part if she’s hungry.  Thankfully Mommy took notes and made sure our meals stayed on schedule and brought plenty of snacks for those in-between times.  Yep, Disney is cool with bringing your own food into the park.  We stocked up on granola bars before hand and then treated ourselves to the Dole Whips in the afternoon. Dole Whips at Magic Kingdom... A Must Have Treat Is anyone else in love with these?
  7. Come Prepared with Souvenirs: Fact… toddlers see stuff and other kids with stuff and they want that said stuff.  So imagine what that’s like at Disney World.  Telling your child you love them doesn’t have to involve a life sized stuffed Mickey or all those overpriced spinning light up thingies that come out at night time. I’m not saying don’t buy them but you can plan ahead and limit how much of that “stuff” you do buy.  I stocked up on princess glow wands and glow in the dark bracelets from the Dollar Tree.  When the light-up thingies came out so did ours.  The girls didn’t seem to notice or care.  We also surprised them one afternoon with talking Minnie dolls.  Purchase your souvenirs ahead of time for your Disney TripThey were so excited and I was too because talking Minnies aren’t even available in the parks but were part of an awesome deal I found LAST fall. Yeah, I plan ahead.  In the months leading up to our trip I frequently checked the Target Dollar Spot and stocked up on the Disney goodies.  Stick-on princess earrings, princess necklaces, and other goodies.  The girls enjoyed getting to pick out which Disney princess they wore on their ears each day. On the last day in the Magic Kingdom the girls did get to spend their money that they had saved up on two souvenirs.  It was fun watching them seriously consider what they wanted to spend their money on.
  8. Research FastPass and Avoid the Lines:  Despite visiting Disney World during one of their busiest times of the year we only waited in line more than 20 minutes one time.  And that one time was torture. How?  I researched.  I read blog after blog about the best rides for toddlers, the best ways to schedule your days, and what the average wait times were.  I knew my stuff. So, when it came time to book our FastPass I selected accordingly.  For us, we had two toddler girls who are all about princesses so many of our FastPass reservations were for them.  Repunzel at Magic KingdomPrincesses usually have incredibly long wait times and many times average a longer wait than many of the toddler rides.  I mentioned earlier that we were able to get in the park early each morning because we were staying at a Disney resort.  This was a huge help because during the first two hours that the park was open the lines are the shortest. Often times we would just hop from one ride to the next with hardly any wait. We discovered this was also true for night-time which gave those afternoon naps another perk.  It is well worth your time to research what you want to do at each park and to find out when the best times for those attraction are.  You will be able to do so much more that way.

So, that’s what I’ve got after spending four days in the Disney parks with toddlers.  If I could add one more tip though it would be to above all have fun.  Disney theme parks with a toddler are a magical time and they totally buy into all the magic and experience it as “the happiest place on earth”.  Enjoy the view of your little ones in absolute bliss!

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Encountering a Plague

True Story: Monday night we were driving home from Texas and one of our girls (who will remain nameless) requested to stop for a “potty break”. So we pulled over at the first gas station we could find because with toddlers you never really know how long you have when they say, “I need to go right now.”
Before ML could get one of the girls out of the car seat around ten mosquitoes flew into our car and started attacking them. I thought they were gnats at first until the remaining girl started crying because she was being bit. I jumped into Super Mom mode and had her out of the car seat in record time. It didn’t matter though because mosquitoes were all around us outside. It was like a plague!
On top of that we looked like we were “on” something because we just kept swatting at the air and nobody else in the parking lot seemed to be attracting these pests. I’m sure it was comical because we were almost to the point of crying. Just imagine a family whining, jumping, and swatting at air.  Got it? That’s what we looked like.
We tried to get back in the car but there were around 15-25 mosquitoes in our car at this point and with still over an hour of driving left it would have been impossible to continue on without doing anything.
Thankfully, I remembered that I had a couple of bottles of oil that I had not packed in our luggage. Purification and Peppermint being two of them.

Insect DeterrentWhile still be swarmed by mosquitoes we quickly applied SEVERAL drops of each all over our bodies and clothes. Purification has citronella in it and almost instantly it deterred them from biting us. We were able to finish the drive home in peace even though we brought on board around 20 extra passengers.  We survived but poor Noah woke up that night terrified and fairly sure that she had bugs all over her pillow. It was definitely a traumatic experience.
If the Super Mom in you wants to be prepared for events like this and armed with eleven oils that you can use to invest in your health now is the time to send me a message or click here. Kits are on sale right now. Purchase yours or just a bottle or two of oil from me and become a part of a community of people committed to health and wellness

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