Sunday, May 26, 2013


We just returned from a wonderful 4 days in Disneyland, our first real vacation since Jason's accident (we've certainly travelled a lot since the accident, but always for work on physical therapy...this was just for fun).  We drove down to Anaheim, something I was a little worried about prior to leaving.  I wasn't sure how Jason would do in a car for 6-7 hours, or Savannah either for that matter.  To help Jason, we bought a special cushion for the car that would make it easier on him--it seemed to work, thankfully. Keeping a three year old entertained for a long road trip required a bit more thought.  We did the obvious--loaded up her iPad with movies/games/etc, but I also wanted activities for when she inevitably got tired of that.  So, I broke out the car tray we bought for our trip to Tahoe--it's made of a soft material, so in the event of a car accident, it would collapse and not hurt her.  It provided just enough stability for her to be able to color, play with dolls, and eat snacks.  She wasn't a fan of this at 16 months old, but at 3 it worked perfectly.  We'll definitely take it with us when we head East in July...we'll be driving from Baltimore to Beaufort this go round.
Ready to head off on an adventure!

In the weeks before we left, I also stocked up on lots of litte, $1-$2 toys/sticker sets/coloring books.  If she got bored with one thing, Jason was able to reach in the magic bag o' toys and pull something new out for her.  This worked perfectly...she was great for both car rides (and didn't sleep at all really...maybe a quick 20 minute nap?).

We didn't tell her where we were going--just that we were having an adventure.  When we asked what she thought the adventure was, she had two ideas that were repeated quite frequently.  The first was that we were going to San Diego (I thought this was rather specific, and odd, since we've never been there or talked about it, but she told us one of her teachers was going there, so I'm guessing this is where she got it); her second hope for our adventure was that we would milk cows...she likes farms, so I guess this wasn't too surprising....

When we finally arrived at our hotel, the person checked us in mentioned that all the princesses lived nearby...her little mouth just formed an "O" and she got even more excited.  It was awesome.  We stayed at the Grand Californian, which is one of the Disney hotels...I can not say enough good things about this place.  From an accessibility standpoint, it's hands down the best hotel we've stayed at--unlike other places that seem to just follow the letter of the law re: ADA, the folks at Disney seemed like they actually consulted a wheeler to see what would make life easier for them.  The shower was set up so that J could actually use it independently--a first for us.  Most of the time, the shower requires you to push your chair so far away (in order to prevent it from getting soaked) that you can't reach it post-shower.  They even thought of little a small threshold ramp, so that J could access the balcony.

Beyond being incredibly accessible (which carried through the entire park...we didn't run into any problems the whole so nice), the hotel was just beautiful, and made it so easy to get to the parks.  We will definitely stay there again.

Now, to the fun bits--the parks! Savannah enjoyed (most) of the children's rides.  She was less excited about the indoor rides, but eventually worked up the courage to do some of those (she really liked the Little Mermaid one...especially because we got a special car that the wheelchair could roll directly in to).  The carousels were her absolute favorite..but more exciting than rides were the princesses.  I totally underestimated the amount of time we'd spend waiting to meet princesses.  She wanted to meet them we did.  We did a special lunch at Ariel's Grotto, which besides being pretty yummy, also allowed us to meet several princesses (less to stand in line for later).  Sav was in heaven.

Happy to have met the princesses...and to have had a really big dessert!

After lunch, she napped (another good thing about staying at the park--can easily get back for nap time), and then we went to meet more princesses and watch the first parade.  Jason's wheelchair gained us access to a very good parade spot.  There's not much to recommend an SCI, but getting to the front of the lines and parade areas is certainly a perk of this injury.

On the Dumbo ride...nearly all of the rides were accessible.  

I asked her to show me how excited she was, pre-parade!

She got particularly excited about Peter Pan and Captain Hook!

Our second full day in the parks was spent mostly in CA Adventure...again, lots of carousel rides (and very slow train rides!).  Thankfully, Savannah is not a big fan of the Cars movie, so we avoided the huge lines there, spending most of our time in Bug Land and at the various Little Mermaid attractions. We also decided to try out the ferris wheel.  This ride offers a twist on the traditional ferris wheel--some of the gondolas swing.  From a distance, this looked like nice, gentle swinging, so we all got on. Jason transferred out of his chair and we enjoyed a nice, gentle ride up to the top.  And then we came  And the swinging was not gentle anymore.  I hate heights (and ferris wheels), so I was not feeling great.  Savannah freaked out, and was clinging to me and then, from across the way, I could hear Jason yelling that he did not have enough trunk control to hold himself up with that type of swinging (there weren't really any places for him to get a good grip on the seats...).  We were quite the spectacle...thankfully it ended before we all ended up in a puddle on the the future, we'll do the cars that don't move.
On the ferris wheel, pre crazy swinging!

That afternoon, we spent a good bit of time tracking down a balloon vendor so that Sav could get a Mickey balloon....she was very excited when we finally found him (this was way harder than it should have been!).

We wrapped up our trip with another character meal--this time breakfast with Chip and Dale (and friends).

Mickey mouse waffles!

All my fellow Nutmeg parents can probably appreciate how excited Sav was to meet some bears...

We had such an amazing time, but are glad to be safely home and enjoying a quiet, long weekend. I hope you all enjoy the weekend, too!

All my love,

Thursday, May 2, 2013

April Outings

April wasn't all injury and was also a month of outings/parties/holidays/fun!  A few months ago, Jason and I started talking about re-arranging his SCI-FIT schedule, so that we could have more time together as a family.  Since October 2011, Jason has gone to SCI-FIT pretty much every Saturday, leaving home around 8am and returning around the time Savannah had her nap, this left very little time to do anything together as a family.  So, as of April 1, Jason no longer does SCI-FIT on Saturdays (we now have the standing frame/glider, so he is able to get a lot of the gym workout done at home...he's still putting in at least three hours at SCI-FIT a week, though).  We have made good use of our time together, going on lots of little outings with Savannah.  Without further ado, this is what April looked like for us!

Dying Easter eggs...a little tricky to do this one handed, but Sav did a great job!

The Easter bunny was good to her.

I spent a morning in Savannah's classroom with her, post-collar bone fracture.  I highly recommend all parents do this: one, I was super impressed with how all the teachers manage 18, 2-3 year olds (and the kids listen to them so well!), and two, I got to see what a normal day looks like for her, which was awesome.

Painting, one of her favorite activities.

Savannah and I went to a tea room in Niles (called Thyme for Tea..HIGHLY recommend!).  She got to have "tea" (apple juice in a tea pot) in a fancy cup, and lots of finger sandwiches and treats.

They even provide a big bin of hats for you to rummage through...I thought Savannah picked the perfect one for her little head :)

Cute kids plate of goodies.

Annual trip to Harley Farms to see the new baby goats...these had just been born within the last 24 hours!

Savannah was initially wary...

But she warmed up eventually (especially once one of her school friends joined in on the fun!)

Lots of picture walks....

Saturday morning "hike" on the Alameda Creek Trail

Sometimes, I forget how beautiful NorCal's nice to be reminded occasionally!

Post-walk lunch...tired girl.

And tired puppy.

She's really been into dressing up the last few weeks...

At school, Savannah and her friends often talk about San Francisco, so we decided to actually take her there (horrible parents that we are, she'd only ever been once prior to this outing...)

She actually did enjoy the BART ride (I think this was her favorite part)

Ferry Building, views of Bay bridge and Treasure Island

We got ice cream soon after arriving, then Savannah turned to us and said, "ok, now I want to go home."  

We ended the month with a lovely birthday party for one of her best buddies.  She was super excited to try out his baseball equipment!

And ice cream sandwiches, a first for her...she was a fan :)

We're only a day and a bit into May, but it's already shaping up to be a great month.  Classes ended at Berkeley yesterday, so I'll have more free time to dissertate (trying to finish up my second chapter in the next two weeks...), though I still will proctor my kids' final exam on May 17 (we got the 8am spot....woohooo! Nothing like leaving Fremont at 6 something in the morning to watch students take an exam for three hours). But, perhaps most excitingly...we're going to Disneyland on May 20!  Our tickets and vacation package stuff came in the mail yesterday (we booked through AAA and, so far, I've been very impressed, both with price and the "extras" you get for going through them)...Savannah doesn't know about this trip, though I could probably tell her "we're going to Disneyland," and it wouldn't mean much to, if I said "we're going to where the princesses live," that'd be something else entirely....  We're planning on just putting her in the car, and surprising her with Cinderella's castle....hopefully it works.  I've found that, lots of times as a parent, when you're very excited about something you've planned for your child, their reaction doesn't always match up to your expectations (see this:  I'm hoping this is not one of those times :)

Love you all,