Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Introducing The Girl of the Year

But we already knew that, right? It's just that now it's official! Georgia was chosen as the Girl of the Year for the Austin chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society! She and the Boy of the Year, Nikman, will serve as inspiration for the 2011 Man and Woman of the Year candidates as they compete to raise the most funds for this spring's campaign. It's a huge honor and a great opportunity for Georgia to, as we keep saying, "bang the drum" as loud as she can! Not only is our girl a fierce cancer warrior, she's turning into quite the advocate as well. She shared a few words of encouragement with the crowd at a campaign event last night, and she's looking forward to being the face and the voice of other area patients throughout her "reign." : ) Thanks to Sarah and everyone at the local office, and good luck to all the candidates!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Georgia's Wish Trip - Part IV

The grand finale! We spent Monday, our last full day, at our favorite park, the Magic Kingdom. We were able to ride about half of what we wanted on Thursday, so now we had the whole day to enjoy ourselves with plenty of time to see and ride everything else. And we did! We always like to start with a little trip around the whole park on the WDW Railroad: all aboard!

Next, we went to Adventureland for the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean, and we even saw Capt. Jack Sparrow himself entertaining his many fans. In Frontierland, we all loved Big Thunder Mountain, but Trevor was bummed because Splash Mountain was closed for refurbishment. I guess he'll have to wait until next time for that 50 foot drop! We did run into Woody and Jessie, though, so I think that's a great trade-off, don't you?

One special thing we got to do was take advantage of the Wish Lounge in the First Aid station. It's just for wish kids and their families, so we took a break, got a drink, and worked on adding Georgia and Ivy's new pins to their lanyards. Among others, Georgia chose a Genie this trip since it's a symbol of Disney's partnership with Make-a-Wish and other similar organizations. That girl, always thinking!

After lunch at Tony's Town Square Restaurant (where we had a perfect view of the afternoon parade), we headed over to Tomorrowland for another spin on Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear:

Daddy showing off his skillzzz. Again.

Ivy really wanted to ride the cars at Tomorrowland Speedway, and I found the best vantage point for pictures - the pathway from Tomorrowland to Toontown, right next to Space Mountain. I could have used a better setting on the ol' camera, but you get the idea. : )

Sunday drivers. Wait - who's that behind you?!

Speed racer!

We took a wild ride on Goofy's Barnstormer, and then enjoyed Mickey's PhilharMagic (something new to us) and back-to-back rides on Peter Pan's flight, thanks to the sweetest cast member who noticed Georgia's wish kid button. More magic!

After such a great day - a great week! - I wanted to end with something really special, so as a surprise, I booked a table for the Wishes Dessert Party. We were treated to an amazing dessert buffet and primo fireworks viewing - Tinkerbell flew right over our heads! - and we all agreed it was the perfect way to say "See ya real soon!"

Everything was just as delicious as it looks!

Some of us may have gone back for seconds.

With about an hour until closing, we hurried over to one of Georgia's favorites, the Hall of Presidents, where, I have to say, she looked rather at home next to the Presidential seal. Hmm ...

One quick stop for a couple more pins, and we were on our way back to the village. The whole week was even more magical than we could have ever dreamed, and we're still talking about it every day. Give Kids the World is such an amazing organization, and we encourage you to learn more about it and consider helping more families enjoy the time of their lives. And, of course, this trip, this "wish," wouldn't have been possible without the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the many folks who donated time, talent, and treasure to make it come true, so thank you thank you thank you!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Georgia's Wish Trip - Part III

Saturday, we started out at Animal Kingdom - such an amazing park! You could spend several days there, just walking the trails and seeing all the animals. We hit the highlights in DinoLand, U.S.A. and then enjoyed the Finding Nemo show from the front row! A few brave souls took off for the Kali River Rapids and came back looking fairly dry. Another faction set out for Expedition Everest - whee! - and then we all had a wonderful time on the Kilimanjaro Safari. The animals were out in full force, including their babies, so you name it, we saw it. It was incredible! We even had to stop the jeep as two rhinos took their sweet time crossing the road in front of us. We wrapped up our visit with the Festival of the Lion King, where Trevor was selected to lead the elephant section with his most excellent elephant call.

That evening, we went to Disney's Hollywood Studios for our maiden voyage on Toy Story Midway Mania! So cool! Just like with Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, I believe Trevor was the top scorer in the group, but we all had equal amounts of fun. We also enjoyed the Great Movie Ride, even if we weren't expecting Al Capone to jump out of the scenery and into the row right in front of us! Finally, we ate dinner at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, where you sit in "cars" and watch old sci-fi movie trailers while you eat. It's one of our favorites at WDW. Afterwards, we strolled through the Osborne Family Lights, which seem to get bigger and better every year! Ivy especially enjoyed catching snowflakes and dancing to the music. What a way to end the first day of the new year!

Sunday, we went back to Epcot. We started in the World Showcase, and Georgia and Ivy took their passports to every country for stamps and autographs. It takes a while to go all the way around the world, doncha know, so we just had time for a quick bite to eat in the America section before another another spin around the Test Track and Spaceship Earth before calling it a day.


A colonial Georgia flag


Next up, our final installment - the Magic Kingdom!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Give Kids the World

What a magical place! The pictures can hardly do justice to this kids' kingdom, but here is a glimpse of our home-away-from-home for the week. We can't wait to go back and volunteer!

Our "villa"

The Ice Cream Palace

The Gingerbread House Restaurant

The Pool House at the "Park of Dreams"

The Enchanted Carousel is under that red mushroom top.

The Castle of Dreams

Inside are over 100,00 wishing stars, one for each child who's visited.

Ol' Elmer, the snoring tree. Really, he snores.

The Amberville Train Station

Mark's Dino Putt Putt Golf

At Keaton's Korral, they have horses ...

... all kinds!

And you never know who might show up for a visit!

Even this guy.

Sweet dreams!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Georgia's Wish Trip - Part II

Friday, we spent New Year's Eve day at Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Probably - no, definitely - the highlight of the trip. Even if you're not a Harry Potter fan, you'll love this place. And if you ARE a Harry Potter fan, you'll really LOVE this place! It's like walking through the books and movies, just as you imagine everything would be. Georgia and Ivy were in heaven!

The sign says, "Please respect the spell limits."


The Hogwarts Express!

The main attraction, The Forbidden Journey, is an incredible ride inside the castle. You pass through hallways with talking portraits, Dumbledore's office, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, and the Great Hall (which is where you start and end the ride). It's pretty intense, but Georgia loved it so much, we did it twice in a row. Highly recommended - just watch out for the SPIDERS!

The streets of Hogsmeade are packed with little shops (the employees kept saying the shops aren't small, they're "authentic." Whaa-whaa). You can actually go in Zonko's Joke Shop and Honeydukes Candy Shop, which we did:

Then you can go in Olivander's and Dervish and Banges, which we also did:

There's a bit of a show that happens in Olivander's, where a volunteer is selected to "chose" their wand. We were chatting with the doorman beforehand, and he noticed our "Happy Anniversary" buttons (Trevor and I got married New Year's Eve 1997). Before we knew it, another employee brought us a surprise gift of two mugs of butterbeer (for which the lines were incredibly long!), and we all shared the delicious frozen treat, kind of like a frozen cream soda. So. Good.

Afterwards, we went into the actual shop to choose wands, and THAT is where the real magic happened. Really! You can choose wands based on a special day, so Georgia used her birthday and got a lovely birch wand. Ivy was next and wanted to use her birthday as well, and when the wandmaker(?) brought out the box, he said, "OK - this is the wand of Ivy." I thought, oh yes, she's wearing that button with her name on it. But she wasn't! So I said, "Did you say 'the wand of Ivy?' Because that's her name!" He looked at me with huge eyes and said yes and showed us the back of the box, which said, "Ivy wand!" I just know it was a sign from our beloved Dumbledore! : )

We bought t-shirts at Dervish and Banges, sent a few postcards from the Owl Post, and decided to call it a day in Hogsmeade. It was really SO fun - you must go!

We spent some time in the Dr. Seuss area, including a stop at yet another ice cream place, "Hop on Pop," and enjoyed a few rides and all the Grinchy Christmas decorations.

Georgia, the Christmas Ball Photographer

Later, we headed back to the village to ring in the New Year! We have so much to celebrate - the most important being Georgia's diagnosis anniversary - and this was the perfect place to do it! We played a rousing round of putt putt golf, some people ate MORE ice cream, and then we had a countdown with Georgia and Ivy's newly-adopted pygmy puffs, Strawberry and Ginny. With the village all decorated for Christmas, including a tree in our villa, it was quite a festive party!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Georgia's Wish Trip - Part I

On December 29th, we flew out of San Antonio, bound for Orlando and a week of celebrating! You can just see the excitement, even at 4 AM!

We met up with all the grandparents and were on our way. After arriving at Give Kids the World, we explored the village a bit, ate some lunch, and then headed over to Epcot, where the real fun began!

If you've never been to Epcot, we can highly recommend Soarin' and, Ivy's favorite, Test Track! They also love Spaceship Earth and Turtle Talk with Crush - Ivy even asked him a question. Dude! And because Georgia is a "Wish Kid," she had a special button and pass that put all of us in the front of every line, which, at this time of year especially, can be over an hour long. Yep, our girl was treated like royalty the whole trip - so appropriate for our breakfast the next day, her birthday, at ...

Cinderella's Royal Table!

That 5 AM reservation call I made six months ago was well worth it as we celebrated Georgia's 11th birthday right where we celebrated her 3rd birthday.

Happy Happy Birthday, Georgia Lee!

We met all the princesses and enjoyed a delicious breakfast before we hit our favorite rides in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, the top of the list being It's a Small World, Peter Pan, and Space Mountain. We met so many characters throughout the week, and Georgia and Ivy both have autograph books full of signatures. A Magic Kingdom, indeed!

Georgia loves the carousel

Ivy really loves the carousel

Georgia and Lolly take a spin on the Teacups

Georgia and Romy on the People Mover

When we got back to the village, it was Christmas! Like it is every Thursday! It was "snowing," and there were carriage rides and a visit from Santa himself. We capped off the night with some ice cream, like we did nearly every night, and were ready to rest up for the big day to follow!

Next up, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! And more!