An introduction to our family and background on the wish trip: (If you're realllly bored you can read the Pre-Trip Report here) Phoebe, age 8: Phoebe is the star of the show, the Wish Child, who had her wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. We were referred to the organization last August by Phoebe's Geneticist after we were given yet another set of negative test results. Normally, negative test results sounds like it would be a good thing, but for Phoebe it means we don't know what is the root of all her difficulties and delays. We have an arsenal of specialists who handle different aspects of her medical needs and they all seem to feel confident that Phoebe has some sort of "syndrome", probably a randomly occurring chromosomal abnormality. She is 8 years old, but is closer to a one year old cognitively, and is still trying to master quite a few of the basic infant/toddler milestones. She is visually impaired due to optic nerve atrophy, she cannot walk unassisted, she is unable to perform self-care tasks, she decided to be half-potty-trained (the messier half, thank goodness!), and she is non-verbal. Medically, Phoebe has been through a myriad of small, uncomfortable, and worrisome situations, but the biggest concerns now are her seizure activity and her growth. Because we don't know what she has, we don't know what to expect for the future and that is scary. I was a little surprised when the representative called from MAW to say she was approved. I am aware that they have expanded their scope to include children with life-threatening conditions, not restricted to terminally ill, but I was still surprised. I thanked her profusely and chose not to think any deeper than that. If this rare opportunity was being presented to Phoebe, I'd help her take it, and enjoy it, to the fullest of her abilities. There is no point in trying to make life fair, that's not what it's about, but it was somewhat comforting that Phoebe had this special trip, meant just for her, when there are so many other experiences in life that she will not have. Tessa, age 4 (on the right): Tessa is the little "big" sister. She has a unique position as the youngest chronologically but the oldest cognitively. Other than her exquisite beauty, she is opposite of Phoebe in every possible way. That is where my email address and screen name come from - yin yang girls. Tessa was born an independent woman. She is always on the move (a specialist who saw her at 2 months old told me to expect an ADHD dX when she is older and I do believe she's right). She has never wanted to be cuddled unless it is on her terms. She is stunningly smart, strong and agile; talking well before one year, walking at 10 mos, reading and writing names and a couple of small words at barely 3, counts to 100 and knows the months of the year, canine make-up artist and cell phone hacker. I joke that between my two kids I have no idea what "normal" is and she has helped me to realize that it just doesn't matter. The last 4 years have been the longest four of my life! But I do look forward to watching her grow into the amazing person I know she'll be. Tim, aka Daddy, thirty-something Tim is a great Dad. Not the sentimental type; remind him of a holiday or anniversary and a swear word is likely to come out of his mouth. But when a diaper needs changing or one of the girls needs some one-on-one attention he's there! He works in law enforcement and loves it. Can't wait to go back to work after some time off, so he can "relax". If you call being shot at relaxing, then okay. Me, aka Mommy, also thirty-something for a little while longer.... Wow, that blur technique really does wonders for the wrinkles! In my BC life (Before Children, that is) I was an aspiring photographer with a pretty decent clientèle built up. Then I took an 8 year maternity leave. I have been trying to get my name out there since we moved to our newest neighborhood (we've moved 4 times in 5 years but plan to be here for at least a few). I have a couple of family weddings coming up this summer and their payments have gone towards a new DSLR, conveniently purchased right before this trip. In more recent years I have volunteered with a national adoption organization, organizing the training classes required by hopeful parents to be approved to adopt through the agency that sponsored the organization. Basically it was a support group for previous and hopeful adoptive parents, birthparents and adoptees. Along with the classes I spearheaded social and political events and helped compile a monthly newsletter. Since both of our girls came to us through adoption I have a strong passion for the whole process. Phoebe came to us through a planned adoption and I just think her birthmother is a true hero. Tessa came to us through state foster care and unfortunately we have never met any of her birth family. We were placed with both girls straight from the hospitals they were born in and I am so grateful for the ways they have changed my life. I love to read when I have time. I love movies. I love all kinds of music and still force my husband to go dancing with me occasionally. I spend way too much time on the internet, but have made some wonderful friends through the years including many new friends here! We have an additional cast member joining us for the extended portion of our trip. "Auntie" Heather, 41 yr old friend, former housemate and virtual sister: We've been besties since 1992, longer than I've been with DH (94) and I can honestly say I wish she was my sister. I'd be willing to trade. She has my kids listed right along with her niece and nephew as her beneficiaries. After a divorce in 2003 she came to TX to live with us because her "baby" (a Rottweiler named Josie) was being turned down by apartment complexes in CA. She had to sell their house as part of the divorce. We had a one story with a game room upstairs that she could use. So she packed up her truck and left CA behind. She lived with us for about 2 years. She's familiar with Phoebe and her needs, and was there when Tessa was "delivered" to us. She and Tim get along fine, kinda like brother and sister. They can tease each other, yell at each other, or hang out. They're comfortable with each other. We've all been in situations before where we got on each others' nerves and we figured out how to work it out and move on so I knew we could survive a week on vacation. So in September we met Phoebe's "Fairy Godmother", or Wish Granter, Liz. She is a volunteer who works with MAW and meets with the kids and families to hear their wishes and coordinate with our main chapter office in Phoenix to try and get the wish granted. We made a list of Phoebe's loves to try and think of the best wish for her. Since she is non-verbal (no signing or pointing or anything) we needed to voice her desire for her. (I have later learned that some Wish-granting foundations will not grant wishes to children who can not communicate the wish themselves. Thank heaven for Make-a-Wish!) We thought about horses, of course, but couldn't think of a wish that would truly satisfy that desire in a way that she has not already experienced. We thought a week at a dude ranch or something like that would be too tiresome for her and riding occasionally is something that she gets to do through school in weekly hippotherapy lessons. They specify that the wish should not be for medical equipment or vehicles, etc. It must be something the child will truly enjoy as a once in a lifetime opportunity. We thought about a cruise and how it would be convenient to have a bedroom ready and waiting at any moment, endless food (she LOVES food!), and pools and music and maybe even some neat activities at shore. Liz got some info for us about the Disney cruise and it appeared that Phoebe was not old enough or capable of doing most of the excursions and the cruise she mentioned was only 3 days. I have been on cruises before and the short ones just don't feel like long enough to enjoy it. You are just starting to find your way around and suddenly it's over. Instead we looked more into the Walt Disney World option. Liz had mentioned it as I guess it is a very common wish for kids to ask for. The trip would include 6 days at a place called Give Kids The World Village, another charitable foundation, which is like a fully accessible amusement park in itself. Then a standard gift of 3 day Disney tickets, 2 day Universal tickets and a day of Sea World tickets. This really sounded appealing knowing that the entire trip would be geared towards young kids and kids with special needs. Not being able to think of anything better (umm, cooking classes in Italy? Tour the Louvre in Paris? A day on a movie set with Johnny Depp? Oh, yeah this isn't MY wish...ahem) we decided to make visiting Walt Disney World her official wish. In October we emailed back and forth with Liz about possible dates. It looked like our chapter was pretty busy and she suggested we give some dates in March or April. I looked at the calendar, did my best to avoid Easter and school vacations and requested April 17-23. During this time I had already started planning and had found a Disney chat room where an entire thread was dedicated to Wish Trips. I discovered that some families asked to extend their trip (on their own dime) and thought it was a great idea. Tim agreed and so I asked Liz if they would be able and willing to make our return flight one week later on April 30. In November our dates were approved and it was official. The real planning began! Dining reservations were made. Crowd calendars were consulted. Library books checked out and renewed a few times over. I decided that this was too special an event to be worried about budgets so I applied for a couple of new credit cards (our old ones, although practically empty, stink) and was pleased to be approved for some 0% on purchases offers. Perfect for all those hotel bills. Liz and Wish-granting partner Christina, whom we met for the first time that night, came over to give us our itinerary paperwork and spending money. I guess it's tacky to talk numbers here, but I will disclose for future Wish Trippers that had I been worried about a budget on this trip it would have been no problem to eat out, buy souvenirs, etc and not worry about a dime. Some of my great new friends here on the DIS are very talented and like to sew. They call themselves the "Big Give" and make custom clothes and send assorted "pixie dust" items to Wish kids and their families for enjoyment on the Wish trips. These kind and generous "fairies" asked if we'd like to be part of a "Give" and I said "of course!". So one by one packages arrived and it started to feel like Christmas. The girls were totally spoiled with adorable clothes, toys, books, bows, autograph books, etc, etc. We also received "Mickey Mail" from other families who were taking trips before ours. Some had messages of excitement for the girls to visit and others had autographs. It brought tears to my eyes every time I thought about how kind people can be. Total strangers spending their time and money on us just to help make the trip that much more special. When we took the trip it felt like we had many friends there with us. Opening a package from Big Giver Lynn. Some of the alternative titles of this trip report were: What ELSE did I forget to pack??? Got Plans??? Got Rain??? Phoebe's Wish for a Nap Who wants to come over and view our vacation slide show??? This will be a chronicling of our trip; the highs and lows, the expected, the unexpected and everything in between.