Sunday, August 12, 2012

The House of Courage. . .

I woke up at 6:15 to the sounds of my daughter stomping around, looking for her “music” (the i-pad).  She is always out of sorts when she awakes.  I slipped downstairs and made a pot of coffee, grabbed a blanket and took her out to the front porch swing.  We sat there, without music, listening to the rooster crow down the hill and cows mooing in the distance.  Marriela sat there calmly for over 45 minutes, a first, a memory I will always have.
We were at the House of Courage by Champions For Life, for a week vacation.  We have not been on vacation as a family for over 6 years (and that was a Make-A-Wish trip) and we were only a family of 6, now, we’re a family of 8. 
To be honest, I was very scared to pack everyone up and go off, away from home for an extended period of time.  So much packing!!  IV supplies, monitors, medications, supplies, clothes for 8 people, fishing poles, frog nets, first aid kits, back-up meds and IV supplies, baby swing, pack-n-play, 2 dogs, a dog cage and their supplies,  the list goes on and on.  2 completely packed vans later, with just enough room for the passengers, we were off. 
The House is amazing.  A log cabin in its finest.  A magnificent view, a breeze the never stopped and a calmness you just can’t explain.  There was no WiFi, but the wonderful X-Box supplied by Champions for Life, and the large screen tv, was more than enough electronics to entertain the boys.  We were well prepared for Marriela’s need for music, but even that was taken care of, with a big stereo at the foot of her bed.  She was in heaven.  The fridge and freezer were filled to the top with food, the cupboards all stocked.  A plate full of amazing cookies on the counter.  And a delicious dinner delivered almost every night.  It truly was perfect. 
We unpacked the vans.  Set up Sergio’s corner of the living room, where he would be joined by his nurses for the night shift.  Clothes put away, baby gates up.  The breeze was amazing and the kids were truly happy.  Then we explored.  Opened up the garage and found the golf cart.  Again, Marriela was beyond ecstatic!!  It was the happiest we’ve seen her in a very long time.  Peter took turns taking them out and seeing the wonderful fishing pond at the end of the road, the trails and the fields of corn and soy beans.  Later we packed up the car and drove down with the makings for s’mores and started a fire in the large fire pit.  The kids enjoyed themselves soooo much.  The act of “camping” is a complete impossibility for our family for many reasons, some medical, some behavioral, and some physical.  So, for us to be sitting around a campfire, fishing off a dock, eating s’mores and enjoying the outdoors, was really more than I could have dreamed of. 
We headed back to the house and settled in, after Marriela happily passed out on the couch, to watch a family movie, which were also provided, as well as the snacks!!  Justing sitting and watching a movie in the peace of the country, with the breeze blowing over us, cuddling under blankets. . .was awesome.  Everyone slept wonderfully in their beds. 
The rest of the week was more of the same.  We discovered several things this week that took us pleasantly by surprise:

  1. Cody is truly a boy of nature.  He didn’t wear shoes almost the entire time we were there.  He happily caught frogs with his bare hands and was happy to wander in the reeds by the pond without any fear of anything.  He grabbed fish with his hands, and learned to cast a fishing pole.  My dad would have been profoundly proud of my baby boy.
  2. Marriela is so much calmer in the country.  A golf cart is as good as any medication we’ve ever tried, at keeping her happy.  She is NOT a fan of anything to do with fishing.  She was very anxious about the “bait” we kept in the fridge and had to eventually conceal the containers so she didn’t know we were keeping worms next to her OJ.  Marriela conquered her fear of boats, as we went on a wonderful Pontoon boat with the boys and our nephew.  She was scared, she cried, she asked to go back. . . she also laughed, thought the boys getting sprayed was awesome, laughed when daddy made the boat turn and happily got on and off the boat with just a hand hold.  Amazing progress for someone who is scared to even walk past a boat sitting on a front lawn. 
  3. Tray was an excellent weapon maker with the help of several rolls of medical tape.  He took sticks and rocks and turned them into very nice little arrows and other interesting items.  He loved catching frogs, but terrified at the prospect of touching them!!  He did eventually get up the nerve to touch a worm with a single finger, but he was happy to look at them from afar.  He was a good shot with the BB gun and hit the target more than he missed. 
  4. Joshua has far less seizures in the country.   Probably related to the number of electronic devices, but could be just the calmness of the environment.  He only had 3 the entire time we were there.  The night of our return, he had to have rescue meds to stop a bad run.  Joshua and I had amazing quality time sitting at the kitchen table putting together puzzle after puzzle. 
  5. Sergio was exactly the same.  LOL  He was determined to get into any water he could.  That included, the toilets, kitchen sink, large fishing pond, etc.  But if you set him up with a little bucket of water, he was happy.  Sergio LOVED the porch swing and actually took a 2 hour nap one day on the swing! 
  6. Annette joined us for a couple of days.  She also enjoyed it very much.  In time they will be building a ramp in the garage so she will be able to get in and out easier.  But we had a great time at the Champions For Life fitness center.  She walked a balance beam, bounced on the trampoline, and enjoyed taking pictures of the kids. 
  7.  Peter, Joshua and Cody all have bad allergies to the country!!  The sneezing was almost comical.  Thank goodness for Claritin!! 

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better vacation.  The kids were happy, outside, getting fresh air, eating good food, and enjoying life without the need for electronics.  We made memories, overcame fears, learned new skills, and enjoyed the peace and relaxation a vacation is suppose to provide. 

Thank you to Champions for Life and the House of Courage.  We are honored you thought of us and can’t wait to enjoy the “cabin” again someday.