We began at 3:30am on Monday, August 4th. We were picked up in the biggest limo I've ever seen and the kids were in awe. They did great getting up and ready and we watched Pippi Longstocking on the hour and a half drive to the airport. We barely made the plane. We had enough time to check in and run to the gate, but we did make it. We then had a connecting flight to catch in Atlanta which I was unsure about making as well, but God got us through and we ran to that gate just in time.
After arriving and picking up our rental car we drove to Give Kids the World Village. The most amazing place. It was founded by Henri Landwirth who was a child during the Holocaust and went through tremendous suffering during that time. He lost family and friends. He went on to come to America and eventually began Give Kids the World to help children suffering from life threatening illnesses come to a place where they were essentially the stars.
My parents drove from Clearwater to spend the week here with us as well and were waiting when we arrived. We went into the "House of Hearts" to check in and each of the kids were given a stuffed animal. Afterwards we drove to our villa for the week, a two-bedroom duplex.
A little while later Brandi and her three lovelies arrived. We got to know each other somewhat and then took her 3 and my older 2 out to explore. We went to the "Castle of Miracles" to play and ride the carousel first.
Then we HAD to check out the ice cream parlor!!! Sorry, but this picture was too priceless NOT to put on my blog.
How ironic that I captured this picture of Braeden and the now infamous phone!!! I told Braeden to leave it alone, Brandi assured me it was fine, and HE ERASED IT!!! I was completely embarrassed. I still can't believe how nice she was/is about it. (I am not so sad about the fact that the priceless picture of me she had taken was erased!)
It's hard to express the thanks I have for being able to meet Brandi and get to know her. Her blog constantly challenges and inspires me to walk God's plan for my life in the best way I can. We were able to share some of each other's stories and I wish we had had even more time. Her kids are precious and I hope that we can spend more time together in the future.
We took a couple pics before they left, and as Brandi expressed it perfectly, it shows two moms trying to spend time together with the kids. :)
After they left my parents and I took the kids to the "Gingerbread House" for dinner. Each of the places, but especially the Gingerbread House, humbled me to no end. There were volunteers all over the place helping to serve, clean, cater to the families, do anything they could to help the place run smoothly. Give Kids couldn't function without these volunteers. There were kids and adults, retirees, and boy scout troops. God's love and blessing was abundant in them! There were no short answers and hurried workers, but people willing to take your tray, get your drinks, fill you up with goodies and love alike.
After dinner we walked along the "Avenue of Angels" - the area around these wonderful buildings which have pavers inscripted with names of children and families who have come to this amazing place. A person from Discovery Cove was there with a sloth for the families and kids to see and ask questions of and touch. Braeden and Olivia LOVED it!