July 10, 2014

Settling In

We were so excited to settle into our semi-permanent hotel that will serve as our home away from home for the next little while and to sleep in past 7am the next morning. We forgot to share that plan with Bridger so he still woke us up at 6:30.  Oh well, sleep is over rated (or so I keep trying to convince myself.)

Our family went to the breakfast area of the hotel and I immediately declared to the rest of the family following behind me to retreat - that we were all going to McDonald's.  The breakfast area was packed with a bazillion people, the noise level was incredible, people were eating on every available surface, including the floor.  Even if there was an available table, there was not a single table that was compatible with a wheelchair.  I can spot a disaster before it happens and this would have been one for our family.  So we did an About Face.

The sweet woman who was tending to the breakfast buffet saw us leaving and stopped us in the hallway to offer to us the use of the conference room to eat our breakfast.  We went into the conference room to see a table perfect for the size of our family and perfect for a wheelchair and it was perfectly quiet.  Everyone brought their breakfast into the conference room and we had a delightfully quiet breakfast with Bridger contentedly eating his waffles.  Starting the day off quietly for Bridger will ensure that his behavior will continue to be manageable a little longer into the day.

Simple. Little. Gestures.

Just the simple little gesture of the breakfast buffet attendant noticing us and offering the conference room had a huge impact on our life that day.

I went to the hotel manager and expressed my appreciation to him for that employee. Later that employee came back and told us that the manager said that we can use the conference room as our private dining room the remainder of our stay.

I love and appreciate people that live life with such a keen peripheral vision.

Because of that, our 4th of July in Utah started off great so we began our morning by going up with Alan's brother, his wife and cute kiddos to Bridal Veil Falls.  It is a beautiful little walk up to a stunning waterfall.  There is a shallow pool at the base of the waterfall that the kids enjoyed playing in - despite the water being completely frigid!  I sat by Bridger on the edge of the bridge, trying to shield him from the blazing sun. There were a dozen other families there with lots of children playing in the water and climbing around. Watching all of the kids playing in the shallow pool looked like fun to Bridger and he wanted to take part.  So we removed our shoes and I carried his body into the shallows and let him "walk" around the pool while I held him.  There aren't words to describe how painful it was to carry his 70 pound body as I stepped barefooted across the jagged stones of the shallow sub thermal water.  I am pretty sure that could be used as a torture method in POW camps.  My feet still have indentation marks from that experience. We found a large rock in the middle of the wading area that he was content to sit on where his toes could still skim the water and he and Ty played their favorite game of "Throw Rock, Fetch Rock, Repeat."

Fist in eye = 1st signal that sun is triggering reactions for Bridger

The other children loved exploring and climbing and didn't want to leave.  Bridger couldn't take the sun any longer so I walked with him and Ty down the trail to a shady spot to escape the sun while the others finished up their fun.

Now for the confession that any reader of this blog without a special needs child probably won't understand, but every reader with a special needs child will shake their screen and scream "YES!". . .

That waterfall adventure was a stinging moment.  There were dozens of picture perfect families having their quality family time, laughing and smiling together.  Moms and dads were standing there or lazily sitting and watching their kids run around and play.  We tried to fit in.  Most of our children were running around and playing but there I was lifting and carrying Bridger, trying to hold him upright on a rock and make him feel like he was playing just like the other kids that he was watching while Alan was single-parenting the other four.  I left the family fun early to go sit by myself (with Bridger) because of the intense sun that was knocking him out.  Alan and I have our adventures and create our fun, but being in the company of dozens of families and their gaggles of children rubbed salt in our wounds of how easy it SHOULD be.  Nothing is leisure in our world and the sight of leisurely family moments is a reminder of how hard we work - always.  But for the sake of the other 4, we carry on.

We ended the evening with a fun dinner and some fireworks at Alan's brother's house and we returned to the hotel to put the little kids in bed and call it a day.

Alan was leaving the next morning to return home to Virginia to get back to work and live the bachelor life for the next three weeks while I will be on my own here with the kids. Vacation Chapter 2 is about to begin.  The question is -- is it Alan or I that will be experiencing a vacation?

Don't think too hard on that, it was a rhetorical question.