Shutting Down Disney

March 2020

We had no idea March would turn out the way it did, but the month started out hopeful and exciting! We started with more roller skating, a beautiful day at the park with our Wild + Free group, and story time at the library! LJ’s glasses came in and he looked so grown up in them! He adjusted really well. The kid is so compliant with most things. Emmaleigh had been contemplating cutting her hair and got the most beautiful haircut. Just like that both our kids looked so grown!

We spent the weekend watching Frozen 2 with Em’s American Heritage Girls troop and packing/prepping for our vacation to Florida!

The morning we were leaving I was putting shorts on LJ because we’d be spending most of the day in the car and it was warm in Florida. He did not approve. First he said, “They gonna see my legs!” Then he asked. “Do I put pants over these?” He ended up calling them halfpants and was bothered by them all day! 

He had a bloodwork appointment before we could get on the road! It went great and he even told a few nurses about his half pants. Lol!!

We drove down to Chattanooga and ate at a delicious restaurant called 1885. 18 is my lucky number and 85 was Joshua’s football number so it was obviously adorable that the restaurant was named that but more importantly it had amazing wings! We were staying in a vintage camper on the water that night and the drive to it was a windy road on the side of a mini mountain (probably would have been a normal mountain to me 3 years ago but after driving to Alaska through Canada…I’ve now seen real mountains). While we were driving LJ looked out the window and said, “There are so many sticks here, I cant wait to play with them!”

We settled into the camper and let the kids run wild for a bit before jumping in the “hot pool” as LJ calls a hot tub and watched a movie until bedtime!

We got up early the next morning, barely made it up the wet and very steep driveway, and headed to Georgia to have a quick visit with Cody! He was home on a family weekend from school and we were so excited to see him!

We left GA and headed to Jacksonville to hang out with our McCrew! It’s always fun to get our bunch of kiddos together and to just be with friends who truly are family. Our visit was filled with kids jumping in a cold pool, mornings with popcorn, and lowcountry boil! We even got to squeeze the Delfosses and that was so so special!

Our original plan was to go from Jacksonville, to Homestead, then spend a week at Disney World. Covid-19 changed all of that. We were enjoying dinner with the Delfosses and McCrew when Disney announced they were closing. We decided to go to Disney the next morning, to at least get one day in on Friday the 13th because we have weekday passes. So instead of heading down to Homestead, we packed up and headed to Disney World!

We told Em we were going to Disney instead of Homestead first and both kids were super concerned if we would still be seeing Jaden on the trip! We reassured them we would and got them dressed in the Magic Kingdom parking lot! (We have done that so many times it’s kinda normal now, lol!) We all wore our St. Patrick’s Day outfits that we had planned for actual St. Patrick’s Day at Magic Kingdom. Once we got our annual pass stuff settled we headed into the park! 

It was SO fun to see LJ’s reaction to Magic Kingdom! We hadn’t been since his Make-A-Wish trip in March 2018 he was almost 3 so of course he didn’t remember. It was just magical getting to watch him experience it all for the first time…again!

We met Snow White first, then Merida. LJ walked out of meeting Merida and told me how beautiful she was. It was so sweet! 

Then something magical happened. Because we have weekday passes, we knew we’d only be able to do the one day in the parks but the parks were open through that Sunday. I went to guest services and told the cast member a bit about our situation and before I could even finish, she said of course we will give you complementary passes for Saturday and Sunday! Joshua was on the phone with the resort line for 2 hours while we ate lunch and watched the parade. He was able to cancel our original reservation at All Star Sports and make us a shorter one at Pop Century! It really was Disney magic at its finest and they really did handle the whole situation SO well! 

The next day we woke up, ate mickey waffles and went to Animal Kingdom, our favorite park!

LJ and Emmaleigh both have been on an UP! Kick, so it was so fun to start the day joining the Wild Explorer’s Club! We headed over to Pandora next and rode the river ride and made the kid’s their own avatars! LJ is really cautious about everything and did not want to ride but absolutely loved in and thought it was beautiful. The process of the kids making their own avatar was really neat! It was something Em wanted really bad and saved up for so we were happy to make her day by letter her spend a crazy amount of money on a toy. And I say made her day because the kid hasn’t thought about them since she’s been home. 

Before we left the park, LJ was running and fell down. Every time he falls down my heart skips a beat. Did he trip because he’s losing motor abilities? Did he trip because he’s tired? Did he trip because he is 4 and kids fall down? My brain just does a sort of spiral but when he pops up and says, “I don’t like short pants, you get hurt when you fall down with short pants!” he just makes everything better!!

And it does get so much better!

That evening after a long day at the park, LJ and Em wanted to swim. LJ has become more and more confident in pools, but I was not prepared for this…

So after the scraped knee spiral he has me crying tears of joy as he is running and jumping into a pool. It’s a wild rollercoaster y’all! 

We closed the pool down, changed clothes, and headed to ride the new skyliner!! A fun little night ride before a super late bedtime and super early wake up time!

We were at Hollywood Studios before 7am on Sunday. Crazy Disney Mama for sure but you better believe my plan worked! We were all scanned in and in the app right when the park opened at 8am. While in line for Rockin’ Rollercoaster, we got boarding group 14 for the new Rise of the Resistance ride! I’m not even a Star Wars fan but the ride and the whole new park is amazing! 

Next up was the Jedi Training. You have to be 4 years old to participate and when we did Make-A-Wish, Em did the training but LJ was too young. So to be at Disney World TWO years later and LJ with us to become a little Jedi was SO special to us!!

Next up was the new ride, Runaway Railroad! It’s a super cute ride with old school Mickey and gang! Then we got to meet Edna Mode and Sully! There was so much new on this trip…guess that’s what happens when you take 18 months off of Disney! Something else that was new to me was Emmy wanting to dress up as Rey for the day instead of Bo Peep or Jessie. My little princess really is growing up! She even met a girl dressed as Rey whose name was also Emily! They were so cute!

We finished our time at Hollywood studios visiting Chewbacca and BB8. It was emotional to say the least. So grateful to have stood in that very special spot where LJ had to try so hard to stand 2 years prior. I remember worrying about him tripping on the little edge of BB8’s stand. Such a different experience this time. 

Next we took the Skyliner to Epcot! Our kids were starting to drag after a 3-day maniac trip, so we rented a double stroller. We wanted to kind of enjoy Epcot! We headed straight to meet Ralph and Venellope Von Schweetz! Another pair of the kid’s favorite movie characters and a new meet and greet!

We met Elsa and Anna in their new Frozen 2 outfits, rode the Frozen ride, and watched the new firework show! The only other thing we did while at Epcot was break up fights between our kids and hand out screens, it was a mess! But a beautiful one, as always, and a memory I never ever want to forget. 

We ended the night waiting in the Skyliner line, split up so Joshua could go get the car from Hollywood Studios, and met back at the room. We slept in and woke up to a very weird Disney World. It wasn’t happy and exciting. It was sad and empty. All the signs for the park hours said closed, they even had to make do with what they had because they didn’t have enough closed magnet things.

We had one more meal with the characters, at the brand new Topolino’s Terrace inside of the Rivera Resort! It was a really hard reservation to come by, but not that morning. There were less than 10 tables seated and of those were us, a couple of families, but the rest were Disney collage program kids. They were all crying because they were being sent home abruptly due to Disney closing. It was sad but we were so grateful to being seeing Mickey and Minnie one last time before we left Disney.

We stopped at Disney Springs to use up our snack credits and Emmaleigh had her first gluten free onion rings!

We drove the 4 hours to Homestead! It was so exciting to be back to a place that was such good home to us for 4 years. But so weird at the same time because as soon as we got there the social distancing orders become much more serious. We were in Homestead but not able to see everyone we wanted to see. We stayed with our dear friends, who my children are madly in love with their children! We kind of like their parents too! 

The next morning we go to visit our old church which is now Restoration Church’s new building! It was so beautiful. We know the families of this church and the hard work they put into making it home and they did such a fantastic job. Joshua had fun looking at the new sound equipment and we all had fun listening to our little girls sing their hearts out! Jaden joined in too but he’s more of a backstage guy. LJ was running around and stomping his feet. 

Next we went to Robert Is Here, they weren’t closed to the public yet and milkshakes and boiled peanuts sounded delicious. We met up with the McPeeks there and it was so amazing just watching our kids play where basically they lived at in Homestead. Definitely brought back many memories of LJ crawling around on that splash pad…

On the way back to the house LJ asked if he could marry Carmen. It was the sweetest, most innocent four-year-old thing to say, but it stings every single time he talks about his future like that. My brain runs through all the what if’s and all the things we might miss with LJ. I have faith that God’s plan is good. That it might not look like my plan, it defiantly already doesn’t, but His plan is much better than mine. I have to, in that moment, just give it to God and be as present in the now as I can be because honestly that is all I can do. 

Leaving the Berrios’ was weird too. The last time we left their house it was to start our trip to Alaska. We had no idea what our lives would look like just 6 months after arriving there. We couldn’t imagine our future would involve DIPG. 

We stopped in Forsyth, GA for the night and was served a Corona Continental breakfast. Just kidding, they didn’t call it that, but it was like the bag lunch option at school. We drove the rest of the way to Ohio with our amazing little road trip crew! Our children really are rockstars in the car!

After we got home, we picked up our Dolce and gecko and began our quarantine. Joshua had to self-quarantine for 14 days due to travel but he ended up being told to telework for 60 days. As far as the kids and I go, staying at home is pretty normal for us. We resumed homeschooling, and I am so grateful we decided to homeschool 4 years ago. 

God had a plan then, and he has a plan now. 

The worst for our family was that we were not allowed to take Em to the children’s hospital. LJ had a clinic appointment at the end of the month. We didn’t have anyone to watch Em (and wouldn’t ask anyone because of COVID-19), so Joshua stayed home with her and LJ and I headed down to Cincy. He really likes his sister at his appointments and asked about her the entire time. We did bloodwork, EKG, beads of courage, and received CYCLE 24 of the clinical trial!!

He did it, LJ was in the last cycle of the clinical trial!!

We finished the appointment by saying hi to the Varns family through the doorway. We finally got the medicine and headed home. LJ couldn’t wait to get home and told me that he missed his sister several times during the drive.

We ended the month of March forgetting LJ’s ophthalmology follow-up appointment…what day is it anyway?!?

typical quarantine day

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