Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Canada - - Take Three

This part of the trip was extremely meaningful to us.
It was exciting and fun, and so very sad.

Those of you who have been with us for the last several years will remember this post about our first meeting with the O'Hara's!

Three years have passed since we met one another in person, and we have been talking for the last five years.
Although we have only met twice, Jenn is a very dear friend to me.
She has been my lifeline, my sounding board and the first person I turn to when I desperately need someone just to understand.

I have said it a million times before, I am so very fortunate to have Addie - and for her to be doing so well.
The odds have been against her since the moment she entered this world and despite her gregarious little self, each day is a challenge.

Jenn has the picture perfect family, and they are the most loving, caring and close knit family I have met, and I honestly can't say enough good things about them.
It was Hanna who brought us together and although the challenges Addie faces is different than the ones that Hanna faces, we share an extremely rare bond - through a heartbreaking diagnosis of Microcephaly.

Since we were passing through Canada, I had to make sure we met up with the O'Hara's, even if only for a little while.

Gracie is Hanna's older sister and she is absolutely precious!
The girls brought Addie a bag full of gifts, one being a monkey apron - it is so incredibly adorable and couldn't have been more perfect!

Jenn and Matt also made sure they brought my family a bag full of special surprises as well.
It.  Was.  Awesome.

Thank you Gracie for being so sweet to Addie - we miss you!

Hanna is a doll.

My entire family met the O'Hara's for dinner, including my brother and his best girl from Detroit - it was a lot of fun!

Baby Ben has three older sisters to keep him busy and from the look on his face, I think he was hoping that this little blond girl wasn't going to be permanently added to the mix.

Hailey is Hanna's younger sister and this is the first time we got to meet her.
She was so sweet, but was so very quiet throughout dinner.

Addie was - in heaven - being around all the girls.

We got into town much later than I had anticipated, and it was close to bedtime.

When I asked the girls if I could take a picture, they all climbed up onto the bench and just happened to be in order by age and height.
They are all absolutely beautiful!

We took one final picture before the night started to come to an end.

It was much harder to say goodbye than I thought it would be.
I so wish that Jenn's family lived nearby, for my own selfish reasons, but also for Addie.
She was so happy being surrounded by the girls.

One of the gifts The O'Hara's gave to Addie was a photo album full of pictures of them.
It was one of the most thoughtful gifts Addie has ever received.
As soon as we got her in the car, she began looking through the album again, and asked, "Where going?".

She didn't want to leave - and neither did I.
It was hard.

Thank you Jenn and Matt for meeting us for dinner and for being who you are.
I hope to see you again soon!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Canada - Take Two

We had to take a few minutes to thaw out and there was no better place than the local gift shop/wildlife viewing area.

Addie has issues with Santa, the Easter Bunny and anything resembling a clown (smart, smart girl), but has zero problem approaching a gigantic bear.

She even insisted on holding his hand for the picture.

Julien owns jackets.
We even had one mega warm one with us on the trip.
He opted not to wear it.
I opted not to unnecessarily raise my stress level.
He is 15.
If you have had one of those people in your life, you understand.

Addie - was giggling and attempting to do, "Super Ballerina!".
The sun was blinding us.
I'm pretty certain my toes were completely numb.

I don't know if they were all delirious or they just knew that they didn't have an option but to smile for the camera.
Either way...

They were all full of laughs!

My sister, Julien and I ran across four lanes of traffic, over a muddy median and through frozen grass to get to this spot.
After all that, he was going to take a picture with me and act happy about it!

As you can imagine, this was not peak season at Niagara Falls.
I was not complaining.
There was zero wait time at a popular restaurant and while we were all busy chatting, the waitress took Addie's baby and got him a chair of his own.

When Addie spotted him, she was concerned enough that she had to get up and make sure he was OK.

After lunch, we proceeded West - and Addie was exhausted!
We were all so incredibly quiet in hopes that she would take an extra long nap and be in great spirits for our next surprise!

We had an uneventful five hour drive through farm lands - and other than high winds and a little rain, the weather was great - considering what we could have been encountering.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


(Happy Easter! - This Blog is still catching up from Spring Break)

I have been to Canada more times than I can count.
Each and every experience has been - rather remarkable.
My Mother was adamant that we take the kids to Canada, and while everyone but Gabi and Addie had been at some point, it was necessary that we all go again.

After I convinced the border patrol guard that just because we are from Alabama didn't mean that we had brought an arsenal of firearms with us, we were granted access to a beautiful day of memories.
...and I was most appreciative of the barrage of questions...

The experience is similar to that of visiting the Grand Canyon.
A lot of standing around, just looking at the beauty before us, yet enamored with the enormity of it all. 

~ I remembered that I had this photo!  1978...probably sometime in the summer months! ~
Me with my Dad and Grandmother.

I'm not sure that Addie knew what to think of it all!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

From Manhattan to Buffalo

I couldn't leave New York without visiting M&M World!

The very sad part of visiting this three story display of yumminess is that I left without buying one single M&M for myself.

The interesting part of the visit was how enamored Addie was with this M&M.
Several times, Addie was stepped on by the M&M because she kept walking right in front of the M&M trying to get her attention as she walked throughout the store.

I must have said, "I'm so sorry!" about 100 times before we left.
I wasn't really sorry, I was enjoying myself, but it was the right thing to say.

I had none.

Bad lighting and all.

Our time in the city was quickly coming to an end

and as we prepared for our departure, 

I was happy that we had the opportunity to share with Julien just a little piece of what my parents did for us when we were kids, but I was also so happy to be leaving the city behind.

After we packed up, we decided to head over to Brooklyn for lunch.
We couldn't leave New York without stopping for pizza in Brooklyn.

I had asked Julien to find us a restaurant or two from Man vs. Food that were along our driving route.
One quick search of the web and Julien had us routed to L&B Spumoni Gardens!
Much to our delight, the dining room had a great atmosphere - if I don't count the customers yelling at the wait staff - and it was a lot of fun, and the food was pretty awesome.

This sweet Little Monkey was all smiles and had the best time!
I'm absolutely sure it was the quieter atmosphere that had her so full of giggles.

I did.

From Brooklyn, we began heading back West for our next adventures.

Due to the weather, we ended up staying the night in downtown Buffalo.
How any of us were functioning at this point, I just don't know.
I needed a nice long nap.

These two thought they were going to have a blast in the hallway until I caught them and ruined their fun.
It's what I do.

This is more like it.
Safety first and all hands on deck.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

From Boat's to yet another...Taxi

After leaving Central Park, we hopped on over to Liberty Island 

and an attention grabbing boat ride for Addie.

Our day was filled with lots of activities, way too many taxi rides and we wrapped up our day at the 
9/11 Memorial.

It was overwhelming - and heartbreaking - and I'm thankful that we had the opportunity to see it.