Well, let me tell you. 4AM comes early! But knowing what lie ahead of us, it wasn't as hard to roll out of bed as mama thought it might be. The limo would arrive at 5AM to chauffer us to the airport, so no hitting the snooze button for her! Mama woke my siblings and me up at 4:15. I think she waited until she had downed at least one cup of coffee.
Mama was curling my hair when my brother's started shouting about a large car in our driveway. We went to the window to look...it was HUGE! It was a huge, white limo! Daddy and the driver packed all the suitcases and backpacks into the limo, took a few photos, and then we drove away. I wonder if anyone noticed a huge limo in our neighborhood? Inside the limo were lots of colored, twinkling lights. There were water bottles and cans of pop for us to drink. I don't know why Mama and Daddy wouldn't pass out the pop at 5AM! I sat in the very back between Jenna and Charlie. I felt so special!
We sure got funny looks when we pulled through McDonalds. Mama and Daddy wanted another coffee, and we all were hungry for breakfast. The driver was happy that his limo could make the tight turn to get to the drive-thru! We ate our breakfast while continuing on to the airport. I fell asleep on Charlie's shoulder. He let me rest there. He's a good, little brother.
We arrived at the airport in plenty of time for our flight, and got through security without any jokes about being "John & Kate," or the "Brady Bunch." We walked to our gate, got a drink, and waited for our flight.
Now, this is where lots of fun and unexpected things start to happen!
First, Daddy got called up to the check-in desk at the gate. He came back and said that he and Jenna's tickets were upgraded. But, he gave them to Mama and me...because it's my trip, and because it's almost Mother's Day. He's such a great Daddy. So, Mama and I sat up front, enjoyed a good breakfast, a nap, and in no time, we were landing in Miami. I would like to take this time to apologize to the cleaning crew of our flight. Before Mama could stop me, I had a great fun grabbing and throwing my raisin bran. :)
Next, when we got off the plane, Danielle was there from Make-A-Wish to greet us with a big sign, balloons, and beach towels! She helped us get our suitcases, navigate the huge airport to get our rental car, and just had fun with us. We also met another MAW volunteer from the DC area. She was at the rental car place with friends on vacation. She wanted to take our picture to send up to the DC office, but we got talking so much that she forgot to take the photo!
Daddy finally came back to us (why does getting the rental car take so long?) and said that they upgraded us from a minivan to an SUV...for the same price. Cool! So, we said thank you and goodbye to Michelle, all filed out to the SUV with our luggage, balloons, big sign, stroller, backpacks...can you picture it? Yeah, laugh. No car seats...they were supposed to be there...and no room in the trunk for all of our luggage. (Daddy's note to self: Minivans have more room). And Mama packed light...only 4 suitcases. It was like a circus, but Daddy did it. There was no way the balloons could come with us, so Mama tied them onto the rearview mirror of a rental hummer. I wonder who rented that hummer? They must have been surprised!
So we headed south...out of the clouds and rain of Miami, and into the sunshine of the Keys. Another fun surprise! I can't swim in the rain, and I really wanted to swim!
Our rooms were not ready (insert my parents practicing patience with nowhere to go with 5 tired, hungry kids), and when we did get rooms, they wouldn't even be on the same floor. OK...Daddy says we'll wait for rooms that are together, and just go for lunch...a late lunch. The pool bar was open, but the pool was full of young couples who were very loud...and clearly feeling "no pain." It was OK at first, but when Mama heard the first cuss word, she was over there tellin' 'em to hush. At least that's what she told us she told them.
When we finished eating and were walking by the pool, a man stopped us to talk. He noticed our MAW t-shirts, and said that he and his family were part of a HUGE fundraiser in the Long Island area that benefited MAW, and he was so happy to see a trip in progress. Each year, they participate, along with 5,000 others, in an arctic dip at Long Beach. They raised over one million dollars for MAW this year! Thanks to fundraisers like this, I can enjoy this once in a lifetime trip!
Here comes another surprise. After lunch, we went back to the front desk...still no rooms ready. Check-in was at 3PM, it's now 4PM. Insert more parental patience. Suddenly, the manager said that she was tired of waiting for the cleaners, and we would be put into a 2 bedroom suite at no extra charge! YES!!!
We settled into our room, donned our bathing suits and headed for the beach. I didn't know we were headed for the beach, though, and I kept trying to pull Mama toward the pool water. I was not happy with her, until I saw the Gulf! Water! I walked as fast as I could toward it and sat in that water for the next couple of hours...lovin' it! I love water. It feels so cool and they've told me it's great sensory therapy...whatever that means!
Oh, and since I'm not big on using words, my mom had to tell my sister that she can't be n@ked on the beach. I wasn't watching ('cause I was already in the water), but after my mom took Jenna's bathing suit cover-up off, she turned around to set it down, and when she turned back, Jenna had taken off her bathing suit and was only wearing her birthday suit! Dear sister...this is not a bathtub. The other people on the beach thought it was a hoot. Luckily, they were from France, so it didn't faze them like it does us. I've never seen Mama move so fast to get someone dressed! Later, that lady from France gave Jenna a little play purse. She was quite taken with my spunky sister.
We had a great time at the beach. We saw crabs, and fish of all sizes. My brothers explored the seaweed and rocks, Jenna and Charlie played with new little friends who shared their sandtoys, and I sat by Mama and Daddy and played in the water. The water was warm, and the sun wasn't too intense at this time of day. Finally, they said it was time to get changed to go for dinner. I didn't want to go, though. I just love the water.
Off to dinner we went. It was late. Everyone was pretty tired from getting up so early and not napping...except me. I was wide awake and ready to eat. The food took quite a while, but it was good. I was kind of impatient with Mama. She was slow getting food into my mouth so I just started grabbing food. I made a bit of a mess, but I wanted to eat! When we were done, Daddy asked for the bill. But the waitress said another couple, who wanted to remain anonymous, paid for our dinner. Another awesome surprise!
We slept so well. I got to sleep on the pull-out sofa with Jenna. We giggled for a quick minute, then passed out! What a fun first day of my trip, with so many surprises! I can't wait for tomorrow. Mama said we're swimming again.
P.S. Mama says she'll post photos when she gets them all downloaded!