Wednesday, June 25, 2008

We had an incredible time in Maui!

We made it back in one piece! What an incredible trip. Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, everything went very smoothly. After a 15-hour flight (with minimal layovers in Atlanta and LA), we arrived in Maui at sunset. So we didn't get to see anything on the 1/2 hour drive to the hotel. We could make out a little bit of white surf in the dark, but, other than that, it could have been Greenwood, Indiana. Went right to bed after we got to the hotel and then woke up at 5:15a and took a walk outside. It looks nothing like Greenwood, Indiana. It's gorgeous. Just to stand on the beach and look at the other islands on the horizon and let it sink in that you're standing on a little bitty piece of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Crazy! The weather was tremendous. It was hot (high 80's low 90's) but the constant strong breeze made it perfect. And very little humidity. It rained one day - the day of the luau - but it was just a mist. Nothing like the rain in the midwest where you have to run for cover. Our airport shuttle driver told us they've had no rain in 80-some days so the mountains on our side of the island were pretty brown - they greened up a bit after the rain. The rainbows! Bailey and I saw one that made a complete circle . . . tell you about that later.

I'm trying not to make this a book, but we'll see how I do.

Our first day was a free day. We ate breakfast at the hotel, hung out at the pool, and took naps.

Thursday we went on a half-day snorkeling trip with the Pacific Whale Foundation. They fed us breakfast and lunch on the boat and took us to 2 snorkel sites. The first one was pretty rough seas - big swells even made it difficult to slide off the back of the boat into the water. I had to actually concentrate on not getting panicky. And the current was so strong where we were that we tried to snorkel up-current, like they told us to do, but we ended up staying right next to the boat the whole time. Josie was my snorkel buddy. We held hands - that made it easier for me not to panick. Riss tried to get it, but when she saw the big waves coming over the back of the boat platform, she wasn't interested. She did get in at the 2nd location. They took us all the way around to the other side of Lanai - none of the crew had been back there. (There was a raft tied up at the mooring they normally use, so they had to keep going.) It was great back there! Much smoother water. And Riss got in with me and Jos. (Bailey swam with Scott and Nancy.) But she wouldn't put the mask on and look under the surface of the water! She tried so hard, but couldn't do it. Poor Tom didn't get to enjoy that part of the day - he was sea sick. He got in the water once thinking it might make him feel better to get off the boat, but it didn't. So he hung out with the other sickies on the boat.

Then Friday we went to the Maui Ocean Center - basically the aquatic section of a zoo. (Scott and Nancy played golf.) The Ocean Center had a diver get in the tank with a 2-way communication system attached. He introduced Bailey to everyone and waved hello. Told her to stick around because he had something for her. He was such a nice guy! He had picked up sharks' teeth from the bottom of the tank and gave them to Bailey. They had a great gift shop! We spent about an hour there. The girls got their names painted by than artist named Mok who makes letters out of tripical scenes. They really enjoyed talking to him and guessing the scene he was painting next. He was incredibly talented. That was a fun day!

Saturday was the helicopter ride and luau. Uncle David and Aunt Cindy bought Bailey (and me) a helicopter ride around the island. It was so fun!! We had a great pilot! He landed us on a black beach and gave us tropical refreshments. So much fun! When we were taking off from the beach, we saw all sorts of rainbows! One of them made a complete circle underneath us! It was too big to get a picture of. But what's even cooler about it was that the shadow of the helicopter was right in the middle of it. I think that means something good. But then, we flew down into this big gulch and that's when I thought my life was over. I told Bailey later than I was certain I was going to fall out (as he turned sharply in my direction)and land on a rainbow. The headlines would have read "It WAS a nice trip until mom falls out." I was consciously thinking to myself, "I'm strapped in here, not tightly but I am strapped in; my door is latched, at least I THINK my door is latched . . ." and it wasn't making me feel much better. But enough of myself. We told the pilot this was Bailey's wish trip and said he was "honored" to give her her first helicopter ride. Such a nice guy and fabulous ride!

Then the luau was great! I took as many pictures as I could of Bailey's favorite guy on stage. (We had front-row seats. In fact, we were so close that Josie says, "Where's the stage?" We bust up laughing.) My camera ran out of battery right at the end of the show, and then Bailey's favorite guy comes down from behind the stage when we're all getting ready to leave and he says, "What's your name? Are you with the Wish Foundation?" and, as she has stars in her eyes, he hands her a beautiful lei and gives her a great big hug. She loved it!

Saturday Scott, Nancy and Tom played golf at Ka'anapali so the girls and I took off early in the morning and went on the Road to Hana. We didn't do the whole thing (that would have taken all day) but we went about 15 miles and got a good taste of it. We walked some trails, saw a waterfall, and spent most of our time at the Garden of Eden. The girls fed the ducks and peacocks (Josie was brave, Bailey ran from them), saw all sorts of bamboo - even black bamboo that feels like plastic, rainbow eucalyptus trees (the trunks are all sorts of colors) - just beautiful. Had a picnic lunch on the side of the road next to the Pacific.

Sunday was a free day - we hung out at the pool.

Dinners were great - we ate at Bubba Gumps on the water in Lahaina, on the Ka'anapali Beach at Longboards. Needed a quick dinner Friday night so we wouldn't miss the premier on Disney Channel of "Camp Rock" with the Jonas Brothers. The girls have been planning that for 4 months! So we ordered pizza that night.

Monday was our last day. Our flight didn't take off until 8:45p, so we fiddled around in Central Maui and sat at the beach and watched and photographed windsurfers. Then we stopped in for appetizers and cocktails at Mama's Fish House. Once again, my camera ran out of battery with the windsurfers, so I didn't get any pics of Mama's Fish House, but it was the most amazing building and decor I've ever seen. I can't even begin really to describe it - just wood everywhere and beautiful fresh flowers - even on the spare toilet tissue in the restrooms. It was gorgeous and the food was incredible. Very, very expensive, but it was worth it.

Then to the airport to return our vehicles (the Make-A-Wish Foundation rented us a 7-passenger mini-van and Scott rented a Jeep Wrangler) and begin our trip back home. We landed in L.A. and Donald Sutherland boarded our plane to Atlanta. That was very cool. We tried to sleep on the plane, but none of us really got much sleep. Josie didn't get ANY sleep at all from Maui to L.A. and ended up sleeping during our 45-minute layover. We were making fun of her for crashing on the floor of the LAX.

We arrived in Indy yesterday (Tues.) at 4:30p. Our limo took us home. Josie was happy to see Mickie (her cockatiel) again. We ordered pizza for dinner and went to bed. I slept for 11 hours! The girls slept for about 14 hours! But we feel good today! I think we're already caught up on our sleep. (Unless there are typos here, then I must not be caught up yet.)

Been doing laundry while blogging, and now off to the grocery store to replenish our food supply.

Enjoy the pictures!


Maui Pics

We got to see Brandon (L) and Colin (R) at the Indians' game the night before we left for Maui. Brandon is Hawaiian so he was giving us some tips.

Wow! Our ride to the airport.

Bailey's Make-A-Wish representative, Krista.

We made it! I think Rissy's saying "You want me to smile after that flight?"

They're even cute in their jammies at 5:15a! (Of course that's 11:15a Indiana time.)

The Hyatt grounds were gorgeous!

"You guys better get down! Look what's behind you, Josie!"

Just another beautiful early morning walk. The moon setting over Lanai.

On the boat to go snorkeling with the Pacific Whale Foundation.

Jos and Riss had a moment of the blahs but it passed after their nap.

Tom's didn't pass so quickly . . . at all . . . even after a nap.

Another early morning walk.

Diver Scott at the Maui Ocean Center - he welcomed Bailey and waved hello.

The mornings really were spiritual.

Jos and Riss.

The view from a helicopter.

Our pilot, Mike.

This is the gulch where I thought my life was lost.

Co-pilot Bailey.

Bailey's complimentary drink from the Royal Lahaina Luau.

Bailey's favorite dancer. He presented Bailey with a gorgeous lei courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation after the show.

You should've seen his tattoos. You can kind of see them on his right leg. They were cool!

We didn't drive the entire Road to Hana, but we got a taste of it . . . and the mosquitos got a taste of us!

The "Garden of Eden" was beautiful!

The rainbow eucalyptus was like nothing I've ever seen before.

Gorgeous birds - the owner was kind of wacky though.

Bailey and Jos hang with the birds.

Now we know why the windsurfers like this beach!

Sweet little lady selling baked goods. The only ingredient I recognized was "brown sugar", so I bought that one.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

School's Out

Wow - this is a great year! Nearly 7 months out from surgery and no rhythm problems. Yeah!!! We are enjoying every single day. We are finding the good in everything. We aren't doing any sports right now - no soccer or softball or basketball - so we get a lot of family time together. Josie just got home from a 4-day trip with her cousin, and I missed her! Bailey and Riss and I were watching our new favorite show this week (So You Think You Can Dance) and it just really hit me how it must have felt for Josie and Riss to be without me and Bailey for 6 months and then again for 6 weeks last fall. That must have been hard! Rissy simply said, "It was!"

Bailey and Riss and I went to the library yesterday morning to try to find a little bit more challenging books for Riss to read -- we went to Borders Friday night for some books to take on our long airplane ride coming up and Riss already went through those books like they were candy! (Junie B. Jones books) I told her I wasn't buying any more books but we'd go to the library and try to find some with a little more substance that she will enjoy reading. Well, Bailey was trying to help her find something and, for some reason, it seemed like everything we picked up had something to do with dealing with death. Riss finally said, "I don't want to read anything about anybody dying or fainting." (I don't know where the fainting came from.) Bailey got a little irritated with her and I said, "Bailey, think about it. She has a sister who has been critically sick these past 3 years and I think that might just hit a little too close to home." It's really interesting to see some of the effects of our extended hospital stays and Bailey's critical illness coming out on occasion. I know it affected us as a family, but to see its effects so clearly shows me just how deeply it affected us as a family and each of us individually. This also makes me very excited for Bailey's Make-a-Wish trip coming up next week. The girls are so excited and I'm so very grateful that we all get to participate in this trip as a family. If any of us were left out, it just wouldn't feel right.

Speaking of our trip, we leave next Tuesday (the 17th) and return the following Tuesday. This is going to be a trip of a lifetime. Trust me, I'll take LOTS of pictures. There's a mountain 10,000 feet in elevation that we had to check with Dr. Darragh to see if it would be wise to venture to the top of. He said we'd just have to try it. If Bailey started feeling light-headed or had difficulty breathing, we'd just have to turn around and drive back down. And Josie and I found this hike through a bamboo forest to a waterfall that we'd like to do, but it's uphill and about 5 miles round-trip. I don't know if it will be too rigorous for Bailey to undertake but we're resolved to simply trying it and, if it's too much, we'll just rest and turn around. We're taking lots of water and lots of snacks and are prepared for an incredibly exciting week in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We got a map out and showed Marissa just how far exactly Hawaii is out in the middle of the ocean - and how small it is - and her eyes got really big. It's so fun to see the expression on little faces when they see things for the first time. I have a feeling this trip will be full of those expressions - both on little faces and on the "big old adults", as Bailey likes to call us. I haven't warmed up to that phrase yet.

Bailey gets her driver's license this Friday. Nope. Still not warmed up to that idea either. She's improved quite a bit having driven for the last year and really is a very good driver, but I'm still not there. This is hard. I know she has to do it, and she'll be driving out there all by herself before long, but I'm not liking it. I want to deny her this opportunity, but I just can't do that to her. We did sit down yesterday and ordered her a medical ID tag with her medical information on it. That might make me feel a little better - we'll see. I doubt it.

On to better things, she finished up second semester with A's and B's, and only has 1more week of her biology class to wrap up her first semester, and she's got A's and B's there too. I am competely impressed with her doing 1st and 2nd semester simultaneously this year. And I'm very thankful to her school counselor and her teachers who met after school with her and came over to our house to help her get through her work. Last time we saw Dr. Darragh, he said, "You know, we put you in a very difficult position last fall with your school, and I'm proud of you that you've been able to work hard and get all caught up." Bailey just beamed! She has so much respect for him. And he fixed her belly button! She had a herniated belly-button after all that fluid she had last year and, of course, it could have been fixed with surgery but since no one wanted to do that, he told her to wrap an ace bandage around her belly to poke her belly button in and allow her muscles to shrink back in and eventually it would keep her belly button in. And it worked! She wore it daily for about 4 months and she's now ready for her 2-piece bathing suit. She's so excited! And keeps saying "I love Dr. Darragh!" Haha!!

Have I ever mentioned that I have the best girls in the world?!

Just wanted to give you an update before we leave. You'll have a full report upon our return - complete with pictures!

Have a great summer, everyone!