Monday, February 28, 2011

My Average Joe

Right now I'm reading an old report from when Brady was evaluated by Early Intervention in October of 2008. This was the 2nd time we had requested that they come to evaluate Brady's gross motor skills. After all, he was 18 months old and not yet walking. Actually, he was having trouble pulling him self up, something he had done shortly after his 1st birthday.

This is what the therapist concluded after working with Brady and scoring his gross motor skills, "Brady is currently functioning in the 1st percentile and 2.0 standard deviations below the mean when compared to his same-aged peers." In layman terms, 99% of children had better gross motor skills than Brady did at that point. It was not good news.

Now I'm looking at a report completed by a Developmental Specialist at Strong Hospital two months later on Dec 23, 2008. Unsettled at the conclusion of the Early Intervention eval that his delay was probably because he was a triplet born prematurely, we decided to investigate further. After meeting with us and examining Brady, the Developmental Specialist concluded, "Brady has substantial lower extremity weakness, hyper-reflexia, and hypotonia affecting his walking. These findings point to mild spastic diplegia a form of cerebral palsy often seen in ex-premature babies." This was very bad news.

Fast forward 2 years and a few months. We all know what happened in those two years; a cancer diagnosis and the realization that Brady's spinal cord had been encapsulated by an aggressive tumor. Then came a surgery that would relieve the pressure caused by the tumor, removal of part of it, but also leaving Brady's spine at high risk for deformity in years to come. We would find that two rounds of chemotherapy would not change the size of the remaining tumor in Brady's chest. We sought surgery from a hospital in NYC with the surgeon was considered the best of the best in the Neuroblastoma world. Another life threatening surgery would end Brady's cancer treatment. To retell this story is to understand that there was a pretty bleak outlook for Brady to regain much of the motor function hindered by this tumor. With every surgery came risks of paralysis and we never knew just how much damage the entangled tumor did to his spine.

I've never been prouded to announce the results of Brady's most recent tests in gross motor function. Linda, Brady's PT whom he has worked with for almost 2 years, emailed me the results just yesterday. This is what she said, "He scored a 100, a perfect "average Joe" at the 50th percentile!" Can you even believe it? A score of 100 is completely, perfectly, miraculously, wonderfully AVERAGE! Never in my wildest dreams, prayers, and hopes did I think we would ever see Brady go from the 1st percentile to the 50th! Matt and I shed tears of joy knowing that our boy is average!

The purpose of the story is simply...HOPE! No matter where you find yourself today, there is HOPE! God doesn't need the opinion of specialists and doctors to do the impossible! His power isn't bound by test scores, diagnoses, or even tumors! I know of several families facing difficult situations today. One family I have been communicating with is in NYC this very morning and their daughter is having virtually the same surgery that Brady had to remove a NB in their daughter's spine. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God wants Brady' story told to bring HOPE to those who need it. Hey--even I need to remind myself of how far we have come to bring HOPE into my hopeless days:)

I hope you will join us in celebrating our "Average Joe!"

Friday, February 25, 2011

Brady on My Mind

It's nap time here at the Williams Family Homestead. The snow is coming down outside, and by coming down I mean in piles! I haven't updated in several days and mostly its because I wanted to write about something wonderful that happened, but I was stuck thinking about something else that isn't so wonderful. Now that it is the end of the week, I've decided to just let it all out!

Last week Brady and I went for his monthly physical therapy session in Rochester. It is the time of year when testing needs to occur to measure his progress. Brady's amazing PT, Linda, had a list of skills that needed to be assessed. I got exhausted just watching the two of them go from one activity to another. It was just incredible to see Brady breezing through many of the tasks! Linda and I both remembered our first meeting with her, 2 years ago. Brady was only able to stand, wobbling in the middle of the floor. I remember her asking me what my goals where for him and me replying, "I want him to walk with as normal a gait as possible." Wow how that goal has been shattered! Look what Brady can do now, look what God has done!!!

I'm sure this is an incomplete list, but from what I remember from the appointment, this is what Brady can do!
1. Brady can walk up steps, alternating legs, without using a handrail.
2. He can do the same thing coming down steps!
3. Brady can jump forward 24 inches!
4. Brady can jump off steps as high as 24 inches and land on his feet!
5. Brady can walk across a balance beam, even on his tippy toes!
6. Brady can ride a tricycle!
7. This boy can!
and perhaps best of all...
Brady can do anything any other almost-four-year old can do!

It is simply stunning to see the difference when we are at PT. I'm so very grateful for the services he has received since we began this journey over 2 years ago. As I started to realize that perhaps he wouldn't need PT forever, I began to hope that by the time he entered school he could be done with services. It seems as though this prayer is being answered. We will have our meeting with the school district in the coming months, but looks like Brady Williams will be a proud PT graduate:)

Victories like this are so meaningful after a cancer diagnosis. I daily read about families who are in so many different places in their journey with pediatric cancer. Some parents are just dealing with a new diagnosis, others are trying to sort through the maze of different treatment options, while others are learning how to move on with their lives after watching cancer take their child from them. There are so many different outcomes, and so all cancer families have different victories to celebrate and challenges to overcome.

For us, our greatest victory is obviously that Brady is alive! We celebrate that his treatment, although intense, was brief compared to many. And of course we celebrate that he miraculously regained almost-full motor function after such a horrifying spinal cord injury.

For a while I didn't grasp that some of the challenges we would be faced with might not come all at once. We were so elated to be done with treatment and were kind of in a daze of happiness. After several months, we learned that Brady's spine issues would continue to be something we had to contend with. I settled on the fact that this was his "survivor issue" or what the cancer community calls "late effect of cancer." But what I'm learning as we continue on and new issues pop up, and as I continue to connect with other families and research, is that pediatric cancer is an enemy with a very far-reaching sting. It seems as though every child stricken with cancer, will deal with life-long issues. This puts a survivor's parents in a precarious place. We must constantly remain vigilant against relapse, up to date with current research, and continuously guiding Brady's care in the direction of best outcomes for him.

If you have read here for any length of time you know that for us, our hope is from the Lord. Our trust is in Him and He has been faithful. But trusting in a perfect God doesn't make us perfect!!! Dealing with the uncertainty and fear that goes along with life since 2009 has only magnified our own imperfections and caused us to depend upon His perfect strength even more.

This brings me to the not-so-wonderful things I mentioned I've been thinking about. Because I have to, I read about the late-effects of some of the chemotherapy that Brady received in February and March of 2009. If you remember, he only received two rounds of chemo and it did nothing to change the size of his tumor. Matt and I will never know if the chemo helped to mature the cancer cells or somehow make the tumor easier to resect, but we have never regretted our decision to stop chemo and research a different approach. So, as I scanned the awful list of dozens of different chemotherapy drugs, I found the 4 that Brady received and the potential (although not likely) side effects.

Carboplatin: 1. hearing loss 2. neuropathy 3. kidney damage 4. Leukemia
Cispltin: 1. hearing loss 2. infertility 3. neuropathy
Etoposide 1. Leukemia
Doxorubicin: 1. Leukemia 2. heart damage

I want to say loud and clear, that most kids with Neuroblastoma have many, many more rounds of chemotherapy than Brady did. Two rounds of chemo is not a lot! However, the risk is still there as you consider that two rounds was enough to make his hair fall out and to wipe his cell counts two times over. Plus, if you ever want to be shocked, spend some time reading about what is in some of these chemo drugs. It is just horrible.

We have a healthy awareness of these potential issues, but certainly haven't been paralyzed with fear over them either. But it was funny I should stumble upon this list of late effects because I noticed Brady boy doing something different recently.
In the past few weeks I have noticed Brady saying, "What?" and "Huh?" throughout the day. Certainly not unusual given that he is a 3 year old boy, but coupled with the fact that he looks at my lips a lot while I'm talking, there is a chance he may be having trouble hearing me. The rational side of me is assuming he has some ear wax built up since he has been sick a few times this winter. Yet on the flip side, I cannot just hope it is something normal and not investigate. Just as we did with the lumps in his neck a few weeks ago, we are going to the doctor next week to have his ears checked. Actually when I called the doctor's office and spoke with the nurse, she commented that she was surprised that his oncology team didn't have his hearing check post-treatment.

I feel as though this cycle of alarm, worry, and constant analyzing of what might be will never end for us. Where would I be without the constancy of a God whose promises are new each day and never fail?

Thank you for reading all of this (if you still are!) I never want it to seem as though all we think about is Brady and his cancer. We can go weeks and weeks without even talking about it these days. But as I described above, our battle is not over and we must remain on guard and always, always fight for this boy. He deserves it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Our Disney Dancer

Ask any of us what one of our favorite memories is of our Disney trip, and I bet most of us would recall this.

On Day 2 of our trip, after a long morning at Magic Kingdom, we all took a rest and were sitting enjoying the mid afternoon sun in front of the castle. Cara had just met the princesses earlier in the day and just seemed on cloud nine. She had the sweetest, most gentile spirit that day. As the adults sat and we took a few trips to the bathroom with the other kids, Cara just started dancing.

She kind of hopped along, twirled, and watched her shadow dance with her. People passed by and smiled at her. She didn't seem to even notice. She was a happy, carefree, beautiful girl and right in that moment she was all alone in front of the castle, just dancing.

I'm so glad Matt thought to capture this precious memory on tape.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Everyday Moments

We have been enjoying our everyday moments since returning from our vacation. I don’t think we have had a day when everyone is healthy since vacation though! So we are spending these last weeks of winter snuggling up, finding ways to entertain ourselves indoors, and enjoying the unpredictable weather of Western New York.

Several mornings a week Allie will ask to help me put away the silverware from the dishwasher. I do the sharp knives first, and then she carefully sorts the rest.  Her preschool days are only 6 months away:(


All dressed up in pink for church last weekend


Both of my beauties.


We reached temperatures in the 50s a few times this week. The triplets and I took a walk to the parking lot of the park to run around for a bit. Brady was practicing his balance beam skills using the parking lot lines.


And with a driveway free from ice and snow for the first time in months, it was time to get out the trikes!


How sweet is Cara as she helped Allie ride a trike for the first time, giving up her own bike to her for a few minutes:)


Eli somehow wound up in a mud puddle, getting his pants wet. He didn’t like the way that felt, so for a few minutes he stood with his pant legs rolled up. Grandma and I had a few laughs at this sight.


Allie’s boot fell off and she was not happy to discover that her sock got dirty.



On Fridays, the kids get to eat lunch at the counter, all while watching cartoons. Before we ate, they helped me make fruit salad. I love the way boys figure out how to make things fun for them. For example, I gave the boys a bunch of green grapes and asked them to gently pull them off and hand them to me. In their own all-boy-way, then pulled them off and then proceeded to shoot them across the counter at me. It actually turned out to be a really fun game.

Here are my goofballs showing off their watermelon-rind-smiles.


They wanted me to take a picture of their pretty fruit salad.


Everyday moments are the ones I try so hard not to take for granted. Everyday moments make me happy.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Trip Report: Day 8

Our magic week was over so soon.

We booked our returning flight for as late in the day as we could, so we were scheduled to fly out at 6:45pm. The Magical Express Bus would be picking us up at the airport at around 3:30 which left us plenty of time to squeeze in just a bit more fun!

You probably have learned already that we are into family traditions. One of our favorite parts of our last trip to Disney was breakfast at 1900 Park Fare. Naturally on our last morning of the trip this year, we decided to do the same thing. This also gave us an excuse to go back and visit our beloved Grand Floridian.

We spent a few hours packing up our rooms, returning strollers to the bell men, and getting our bags checked for our return flight. That is another wonderful benefit of staying on Disney property. We were able to check our bags at our resort! We said goodbye to them that morning when we checked out and didn’t see them again until we were back in Buffalo! Isn’t that great:)

We hopped a bus to Magic Kingdom and then jumped on the monorail to the Grand Floridian. When you to go to WDW with toddlers, a big part of the fun is just riding that monorail!


Ahhh…the Grand Floridian. I missed this place!


It was time for our reservation at the 1900 Park Fare breakfast buffet. The food here is so, so, so yummy! We are still thinking about the Mickey waffles, bananas foster syrup, and this amazing vanilla sauce on top of the caramel pecan rolls. Oh my.

The character interaction at Park Fare is great too! Each character spent a lot of time with us and I love the way they playfully interact with the kids.


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With our bellies full, we enjoyed one of the most beautiful lobbies in all of WDW.


We didn’t have any park tickets left, and not really enough time to go anyway. We thought it would be fun to check out one of the Vacation Club Resorts called Saratoga Springs. Disney has a time-share-like program called DVC (Disney Vacation Club) and some friends of ours are a part of it and encouraged us to check it out. A girl can dream, right?

The wonderful people at the DVC picked us up in two passenger vans and drove us over to the lovely Saratoga Springs Resort. While the Grandmas and the kids played in an awesome kids’ room (complete with toys, movies, and snacks), Matt, grandpa, and I learned more about the DVC and got to tour some deluxe rooms. This type of lovely vacationing isn’t in the cards for us now, but maybe some day! It was a wonderful way to learn about something new and spend some extra hours that we had:)

I’ll condense our “long trip home” story into just a few sentences. Our flight was supposed to leave at 6:45. Some strange and wild weather started in Orlando (tornado warnings, pounding rain, lightning). Our flight got delayed, and delayed some more. We didn’t take off until close to 9pm. The flight was long, the kids were tired, Allie cried a lot, we were all kind of sick of it! Eli started coming down with something, he had a fever by the time we made it to Buffalo at 11ish. It was a long, cold drive home.




There you have it! Disney 2011 in pictures and some very special memories!!!

We have a few really great videos that I’d like to get on the blog soon (ahem, Matt, pretty please?).

I hope you have enjoyed reading! Our kids are the best, our parents are the best, and you guessed it…this trip was the best!



Sunday, February 13, 2011

Trip Report: Day 7

Just as it is tradition to go to Magic Kingdom on the first day of our Disney trips, Matt and I like to end our trips there too.  What better way to get our money’s worth than to spend 12 straight hours there. By this point we were kind of running on fumes, but there was so much fun left to be had!!!

We didn’t make it for rope drop that morning, but were still there early enough to avoid Fantasyland crowds by heading there first. Despite the fact that we once again got a lot done by going there first, the crowds were much, much heavier on this day than our first day there. There were large tour groups of kids everywhere. It just isn’t easy to navigate two double strollers through a crowded Magic Kingdom…so I apologize to everyone who was inadvertently run into by us!

Here are my cuties riding the carousel. Pictures in birth order:) And notice Little-Miss-Motion-Sickness on her first carousel ride…she did great!





If you ask the boys what their favorite ride at WDW is, they will tell you it is Peter Pan’s Flight. I really like that ride too, but read somewhere that it is one of the most low-tech rides in all of WDW, remaining essentially unchanged since it opened decades ago. Brady was bouncing around with excitement as we waited to ride.


Since there were heavy crowds, we spent a lot of time walking to get Fast Passes, then crossing to the other side of the park, only to walk all the way back later. We did that to avoid having to stand in lines. It seemed like we did a lot of walking this last day!

We spent some time in Toontown because we knew it was the last time we could ever do that. Toontown is now closed as part of the Fantasyland expansion. One ride we went on for the first time was Goofy’s Barnstormer. It was an adorable  little rollercoaster that the big kids all loved. I have heard they are giving it a makeover as part of the expansion and turning it into a Snow White and Seven Dwarves' coaster.


We spent some time chatting with the Fairy Godmother just behind the castle in a quiet spot next to a lovely fountain.



Our two princesses…one of my favorite shots of the week!


And thank goodness we had our tour guides, Eli and Brady, to help us navigate.


We had the best lunch on Monday at  Columbia Harbor House in Liberty Square. It was just a counter service place, but we found a quiet spot on the second floor to eat. There were no other people eating in this little room and we had a great view of Liberty Square from our table. It was just one of those sweet, peaceful moments that you are lucky to find at Magic Kingdom. (And the fried shrimp lunch was so delish!)

We caught the afternoon parade again! It is SUCH a great parade!




By far, the most crowded area was Tomorrowland. Last year we didn’t even go to Tomorrowland at all, but this year we wanted to check it out. Earlier in the day we had stopped by to get Fast Passes for Buzz Lightyear Ranger Spin, so we went back to ride that. Once again, the Toy Story ride was adorable and really exciting for the kids.


The line for the Astro Orbiter was really long, so we had to skip that. We also didn’t feel like waiting an hour to ride the Tomorrowland Speedway. This is one of the lessons we learned  on this trip. It is impossible to see and do it all at WDW. We had a mental list of the things we wanted to make sure and do. The things with very long lines and no fast passes we sometimes had to skip, and that was okay! Luckily our kids are too young to know the difference. I’m not sure how easy it would be to convince a 7-10 year old that some rides have to be skipped!?!

One of the best moments of the trip for Cara was meeting Princess Tiana and Naveen from The Princess and the Frog. They were just the sweetest characters, I think my favorites of the week.

Eli was having a sad moment as we walked up to meet them (He was lamenting about the fact that Matt and I did not let him ride the Haunted Mansion with us. He wanted to see ghosts!). As we walked up to meet Tiana and Naveen, I was trying to coax Eli to come up and meet them. I said, “Naveen, do you have a sword that Eli could see?” He replied, “I don’t have a sword, but I do have GREAT HAIR! Check out my swoop? This is how I get all the ladies!” It was so funny!


Our Magic Kingdom day was coming to a close. We knew that we wanted to stay and see Wishes, the nighttime fireworks show. We had missed it our first night because Brady wasn’t feeling well.

We were able to snag our favorite spot to watch the fireworks. I’m not sure this spot even has a name, but it is a little pavilion to the right of the castle, down the brick pathway, kind of in front of Tomorrowland Terrace. There is a little winding path that leads you there, and inside are several tables and round chairs. It seems everyone wants to watch the fireworks on Main Street or right in the Hub in front of the castle. This spot is great because it is out of the way, you can sit, and there are barely any people there. The best part? Tinkerbell flies right overhead!!!

By this time, Eli had exhausted himself. He was sound asleep throughout.



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Remember the crowds I was talking about? After the fireworks we would realize just how big the crowds were! I have never seen such a massive amount of people trying to leave MK at one time. We were at a standstill several times as we tried to make our way down Main Street. They had to divert part of the crowd to an alternate exit “backstage,” behind Main Street. We just kept inching our way out, in a wall to wall crowd, trying to stick together. I was so glad to have the kids safely in their strollers, but sorry about how my ankles I ran into.

The bus line back to POP Century was long, but we didn’t have to wait too long. Everyone just collapsed into bed. Everyone except for Matt and I!! We had a lot of packing to do! Tomorrow we would be leaving Disney and going back to our winter wonderland. We did have some fun planned before we left though. One more day of reporting to go!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Trip Report: Day 6

Our trip was winding down so quickly! The plan for our Sunday was to go to Hollywood Studios. There were extra magic hours scheduled for HS on that day. Usually I would have planned to avoid extra magic hour day (all Disney resort guests get to stay in the park for 1 hour after the general public on specifically assigned days. Sometimes the extra magic hour is in the morning before regular opening time). I decided to schedule HS for that day because Matt and I would be going to dinner that night and wanted to have a chance to go back to a park afterward. We hadn’t paid extra for the park hopper option, so we had to go back to the park where we had spent the morning.

Before leaving for the park, it was time for our usual breakfast! Here was our little table for 4!


So there is this ride called Toy Story Mania. From what I read, it is the most popular ride in all of WDW, and being that it is at Hollywood Studios where there are not as many attractions for younger kids, this ride has created a frenzy. On a slow day, the regular line can be over two hours long! There is a fast pass line, but I read that fast passes are almost always gone for the day by 11am!

From everything I read, you had to be there at rope drop in the morning and send one person in your group to do their best speed walker imitation over to the ride to get a fast pass in what is likened to a running of the bulls. Being the crazy girl that I am, I happily volunteered. With our 8 park tickets in hand I said goodbye to the group and pushed ahead into the crowd once we went through the turnstiles. They had the crowd roped off a few hundred yards up Hollywood Boulevard. Everyone was packed in like sardines, there wasn’t any wiggle room. I ducked into a store along the left side of the street and walked as far down the street as I could and came out towards the front of the crowd. Then I just waited. People were pushing, people were mad when they got pushed, and I was just in shock that this was all about a Toy Story ride!

A few actors came out and did a little dialogue and then a countdown! By the time they got to zero, the crowd was moving. No one was running, but people were moving with a purpose. As I was doing my best to gain ground on the the slow walkers and those with large strollers (ha!), I laughed to myself at just how much of a departure this was compared to my usual moments in my every day life.

I made it to the ride and scoped out the fast pass line. They actually had a queue line set up just to get a fast pass! There were people just filing into the regular line to ride, and then there were 5 fast pass machines set up. I was about 10 people back in one of the fast pass lines. I looked behind me to see a line so long that I couldn’t see the end of it. I waited about 15 minutes to get our fast passes. In that 15 minutes I learned two important things:

#1 Don’t get in the line behind the Brazilian Tour Group Leader. There were thousands of teenagers from Brazil on holiday at Disney the last few days we were there. One of their tour group leaders was ahead of me in line and she needed 75 fast passes. She had to put each ticket into the machine one at a time.

#2 Don’t try and get fast passes for people who have not entered the park for the day. The guy ahead of me thought he had a great idea. He got to HS early, while his family slept in at their resort. He would get their fast passes using their tickets, and then meet them at the gate later in the morning to let them in. The only thing is, the machine doesn’t give you a FP unless that ticket has been used to enter the park that morning. He was not at all happy about this. You have to love a Disney Cast Member who refuses to get upset with an irate man who just wants his kids and wife to ride Toy Story Mania. The last thing I heard before they called security was, “You are going to give me my fast passes!” Yikes!

We would later learn that the fast pass distribution ride was over 45 minutes long and that they were completely distributed by 11am. The standby line was 150 minutes. Isn’t that crazy? Anyhoo—I had survived the experience, thought it was kind of fun, and was looking forward to coming back at 11am to ride with everyone.

Everyone else had gone to Voyage of the Little Mermaid and I was able to catch up with them before the show started. Cara just loves Ariel and this show is really cute.

Afterward we walked to far end of HS to find where there was a meet and greet for Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater! It blows my mind to think that last year the boys didn’t even really know who Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and the Cars characters were. This year…a different story!



Our next adventure would be meeting Buzz and Woody! This ended up being our longest wait of our vacation. We waited at least 45 minutes in this line, but the kids did great (other than when we lost Allie…yes, even with 5 adults along on our trip we lost a child for a few seconds!)

The funniest part about meeting characters is that they don’t talk! Of course the princesses talk, but all the rest of them are just completely mute! I think the kids are shocked by this and it sort of makes them clam up too. A lot of the time the kids just kind of walked up and stared at the characters. But when they were playful, the kids would be playful in return.



We had a lunch reservation at 11:30, and it was a little after 11, but we decided that while we were at that end of the park we would use our fast passes and ride Toy Story Mania!!! (I learned that restaurants at Disney will hold your reservation for up to 20 minutes!!)

I’m definitely not going to spoil this ride for anyone who might be going to Disney soon. I will give it two very enthusiastic thumbs up! Everyone in our group loved it!

I got to ride with Brady boy…how cute is he in his little 3D glasses?


Here is a shot of the boys enjoying their snack in the stroller. We saved so much money by packing snacks everyday!


We also went on the Backlot Tour that morning. I was kind of let down by this one. Perhaps it was the fact that Allie was pretty bored with it too. She was getting really antsy during the ride part, so we ended up taking pictures of ourselves. Do you think we look alike?


I would take a picture, show it to her, and she would say, “Again!”

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We arrived at 50s Prime Time Cafe for lunch (a little late). There was some mix up with our reservation. They had us down for a table of 3, so we ended up waiting quite a while for one. This place is a lot of fun. As the name suggests, the atmosphere is from the 1950s, complete with a waitress who acts like your mom. She yelled at us to keep our elbows off the table, reminded us to eat our vegetables, and called Grandpa “Skippy!” The food was pretty good, but the milk shakes were great! Instead of ordering kids’ meals, I ordered one adult meal and split it among the kids. It felt good to give them meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and a vegetable instead of the usual chicken nuggets.

After lunch we caught the Beauty and the Beast stage show which was great! The only thing was, we didn’t allow enough time to get a spot for the parade. We were the family walking around only 15 minutes before trying to find a spot. We ended up having to stand behind a few rows of people and didn’t get the best view. Here are Cara and Matt making the best of it.


The parade was brand new the week before I think. It is a Pixar parade called Countdown to Fun. The songs have been stuck in my head since we got back.


After the parade it was time for Matt and I to have our long-awaited date night!!! I had surprised Matt with tickets to the Hoop Dee Doo Review, his all-time favorite thing to do at WDW. The first night of our honeymoon we went there for dinner based on the suggestion of a friend that it was a lot of fun. They sat us at a table for two in the very front row. The actors incorporated us into the show several times and we had the best time! Ever since then, Matt sings the Hoop Dee Doo song and talks about how he wants to go back! For Christmas he was so happy to open two tickets to our favorite show!

We took a bus to the Wilderness Lodge and from there took a boat to Fort Wilderness Campground. As we were being seated I just had this feeling as we walked further into the dining hall. Sure enough, we were seated at the exact same table for 2!!


Hoop Dee Doo is a corny, loud, and wonderful dinner show set with a pioneer/wild west theme. The jokes are bad, the food is great, and my stomach hurt from laughing so hard. I thought the first time was fun, but 7 years and four kids later, we had even more fun:) Matt and I both put Hoop Dee Doo on the top of our must-do list (I’m not sure I would have this opinion if my kids were with us. There are kids there, but it makes a great date night!)

After the dinner and the show, we hopped on a bus back to Hollywood Studios. I have to say that at this point I was exhausted, like barely putting one foot in front of the other exhausted. We had been going for days. When we returned to the hotel each night, I spent an hour or so unpacking, sorting, and repacking for the next day. Despite feeling like I needed to be carried, we tried to have some fun for a few hours.

Remember what I was saying about extra magic hours? Well, there were many, many extra people that had come to the park to enjoy the extra hours that night. It was so crowded. When we got there the line for the 8pm Fantasmic (the nightly show at HS) was thousands of people long and it was over an hour before the show started. We decided to skip that and check out the line for the Rock and Roller Coaster. I can’t remember exactly, but I think the line was at least an hour. We realized that we should have gotten fast passes before leaving earlier. In the end we went on The Great Movie Ride and also went to the Narnia attraction (two thumbs down on this one). And then…we left!

Besides, tomorrow we would be spending 12 hours at Magic Kingdom!