Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Family Break before the Holiday

I had planned a Family Holiday, before Christmas...months before, actually. I never realized how much I/we needed a break. Jason is in school (while working full-time), and I'm working and trying to keep the rest going (cooking, cleaning, therapy appointments, E's school/Daisy troop stuff, Christmas prep, etc.)--WHICH, by the way, I could NOT do (well) without our Fantastic Nanny Annette.

We went to Christmas on the Potomac. We drove up on a Sunday early afternoon--and both girls were ANGELS in the car, including Vivian (!).

The Hotel lobby had a little village in it! With trees and everything!

And a fountain that had a light show!

We went to the ICE show--where the entire (extremely frigid 5 degrees) room is full of ice sculptures. It is outside of the hotel. We bundled the girls up tight in their snow clothes. I asked if there were any mobility options through the hotel--the ICE "bubble" was a walk--not far for the able bodied--but I wondered about E, all bundled up in fleece and snow gear. They offered a wheelchair.

It was the first time I considered using one (not counting post-SDR in the hospital). I asked Elena if she wanted one. It is cumbersome for her to walk in her crutches all bundled up, and I didn't want her to run out of energy for the ICE display. I also happened to read a bunch of posts on one of my newsgroups regarding "learned helplessness", so my brain was on overload regarding Elena and her 0.1 mile trek to the ICE bubble. She didn't seem excited to use the chair. After Grandpa told her she'd "get a ride" so she could "have lots of energy" to explore the ICE show, she agreed.

IT WAS SO SMOOTH AND FAST. Inwardly I was very emotional...guilty, disappointed, confused. Once we got inside, we found out that we had some time before entering the cold room, so we bundled up for nothing. We watched a video about the making of ICE, and Vivian was a whiny puddle b/c she wanted to go inside.

Pre-ICE family picture

Everyone had to wear giant parkas, no matter what was underneath. Thank goodness we had on all our warm gear--b/c even with the addition of the parkas, we were cold!

E in front of one of the sculptures--she insisted on walking everywhere on her own, by the way.

They had a huge giant ice slide (no pics), that both girls liked but it was hard and cold, so we didn't stay there long.

After we exited the cold room, the girls got to ice skate!

There was a woman (in the video above) who saw E having difficulty on the ice, and she came over to give us some pointers. First, I was very defensive (Viv and I were far away) b/c I didn't think she realized that E was going to have a harder time on skates than some other kids. But after I got within earshot, I realized that her advice was actually just perfect for any skater. E went around the rink about three times; her last one (shown here) was her best one. At first, she really couldn't get her feet under her body, but she slowly improved, and the woman's tips were excellent (think about taking tiny shuffling footsteps; if your feet drift far apart, try to slowly step them back together; a helper, like J or I, should hold the child's elbow rather than a hand or torso). I spoke to her afterwards and told her about E's CP. She was SHOCKED, apparently. Overall, both kids loved the experience!

There was even a little train!

We enjoyed wonderful food, a fountain and light show in the Atrium (it was huge!), and the glass elevators were a huge hit. The girls were so well behaved at dinner I couldn't believe it. At one meal, we walked to a restaurant .3 miles away from the hotel. After dinner, we walked a little further to explore. Vivian didn't last long, but E and I hung around.

National Harbor Tree

The way back was uphill. Elena kept a good pace, never complained, never fell, and just kept on going. She walked over .75 miles that eve.

Gaylord Decorated "Forest"

It was a Family Holiday where I got to realize how so many things have changed. Changes I am so grateful for. The biggest change is Elena's going to bed/sleeping habits have been reformed so well, she goes to bed easily now, and she was perfect on our little Holiday. Vivian is so vocal and observant--it's hilarious. They (can) play together so well, it's wonderful to see. E is adventurous, both with her palate and her physical activities, and is very independent most of the time. I got to spend time with the kids AND Jason, which is rare, b/c most of the time we're tag-teaming work and family responsibilities and we don't get much time together. It was beautiful. My parents were there, which was also lovely, as it gave us some support so we could just enjoy the kids instead of wondering where the other parent was when the girls went in two opposite directions. It was a break from our normal life, and also let me enjoy how all our hard work has paid off.

Fingers crossed it just keeps getting better.


Josephine said...

That picture with Vivian facedown on the floor is AWESOME!!! That is SO something my 3 year old would do :) I am amazed by how much Elena walked! Wow!

Just the Tip said...

Sounds like you had an amazing time! Go E for walking that much!

We want to go to the aquarium soon, but i'm going to need to call because Peyton can't walk that long by herself and they have a stroller rule.

I can't wait for the video & I LOVE Vivian on the floor!!