In my last post May the Force Be With You I wrote about my feelings of uneasiness when travelling with a child with special needs. To all the special needs families out there, holla back if your travelling list includes the following when packing for a child with disabilities: wheelchair, noise reduction headphones, chewy tubes, various diapers for the sh*t explosions in the bed/pool/public, eating utensils, medications and vitamins, and the favourite toy you whip out of your backpack to buy yourself an extra 10 minutes of serenity. Don't forget the service dog!
Here’s a #momtruth post I recently saw on one of my favourite mommy blogs via @catandnat:
Their caption was bang on: “This goes for any type of holiday, including your own birthday and Mother’s Day… so basically all the days. Who’s on vacation? Who’s on relocation? And who’s just at home being a snack b*tch?”
As I was frantically packing the suitcases the night before our family trip to Florida, I was also emptying the kids' backpacks. I came across a nicely wrapped gift to Bella from her Community Class team at school. Yes... I secretly opened it. #momtellsthetruth
As I took the snow globe out of it’s box, the shimmering magic of snowfall was transfixing as I was staring into Bella’s eyes inside the globe. The slow falling flakes reminded me that I had the choice to shake this globe into a snowstorm, or to enjoy the beauty in each flake that floated before my eyes. I started the dishwasher and sat down on the couch to admire this gift. My world can carry on busy and rushed as ever, but sometimes a moment like this reminds me to observe the most beautiful and seemingly insignificant things.
So after our family's two week vacation, here are some memories and milestones from our Floridian snow globe (minus the snow) I'd like to share with you...
Air Canada's customer service was great with our family. From checking in our baggage, going through security and customs, and boarding the flight, our family was always greeted with a smile and treated respectfully. This is what it looks like when we don't have to wait in any lines at the airport!
Within minutes after the plane took off, Kadence jumped onto Bella’s lap and stayed there for the whole plane ride. It was worth giving up most of my seat to Bella’s 4-legged friend. Bella listened to her tunes with her blanky in hand for the whole flight.
On our second day in Florida we ventured to Busch Gardens in Tampa with Nana and Opa. We saw many exotic animals and Petie attempted his first big roller coaster with daddy!
On Christmas Eve Petie blew his first bubble. Thank you to Peter's other wife, Aivone for taking this wicked picture. You are worth every penny ;)
Santa showed up in Florida to deliver Petie and Bella’s gifts. Bella was able to use her fine motor skills to open her gifts with no prompts!
St. Fort De Soto Beach is located in a conservation area in St. Petersburg. We were very lucky with the beautiful weather on this day. Nana, Bella and I walked along the long stretch of white sand and calm waters, while Opa (Peter Sr.), Peter, and Petie found many shells and sand dollars on the sand bar.
We attempted a few restaurants as a family. Bella's typical routine during meal time is to finish eating within 8 minutes and then return to her play, however the headphones really helped Bella sit nicely at the table until everyone was done. Here is a picture of Bella applying her fork program. Thank you to Bella’s Breakthrough Autism team for working so hard with her life skills!
My cousin and her family from Montreal were also in Florida during our stay in Florida. We met up at SeaWorld in Orlando. This by far was the biggest milestone for Bella. She was able to sit through the shows and clapped as the dolphins jumped in and out of the water. She was able to request to go to the bathroom and had no accidents. And thanks to SeaWorld’s ride accessibility program, we were able to skip the line and go on a ride as a whole family!
Bella was able to last the whole 10 hours (from opening to closing at the SeaWorld theme park). Both kids ended up sleeping in the next day until 9:45am! #momwin
My in-laws live on a golf course and we were able to see many wild life right in their very own backyard. My husband was able to get into character as Martin from Wild Kratts.
When your child has special needs, vacations can be tricky. However with planning, creativity and a sense of humour, it is possible for families like ours to have amazing adventures. I'm happy to say that I was able to veer off my schedule board and create some magic in our Floridian snow globe.