Friday, August 20, 2010

Caribbean continued... otherwise entitled "The Longest Post Ever"

Dear Jeremy,

You asked me to take over writing about the rest of our trip. I hope it’s ok that I’m doing it in letters. I’m just kind of in the mood.

Your honey

P.S. You need to get that Harley out of your sweet little head.

Dear Teresa,

When we came into your store to get the alterations done for Graci’s dress, Grace couldn’t keep her eyes off the sparkling tiaras. You must have noticed because you brought Graci one that had been slightly broken and told her that we could take it to a jeweler to get fixed and she could have it! I thought it was so sweet of you, but didn’t realize until later that it was a $250 tiara! WOW. That was so extremely generous of you. You should know that when we took it to get fixed and they heard Graci’s story that they did it for free. People are so good. I also want you to know that Graci LOVED wearing it, and it set off her dress perfectly. The night that she wore it to dinner, I heard more than one little girl exclaim, “Look, it’s another princess!”

A grateful mom

Dear Snow White,

We are convinced you are the real thing! Your voice, your charm, your mannerisms—you were perfect! And we found it very “princessy” that you would take time to visit the kid’s club and teach the children to do-si-do. Jessica especially loved that. And you are now Xander’s #1 top favorite princess—pretty cool!

A family who adores you

Dear Tiana,

You are my Graci’s new favorite princess. Thank you for taking so much time to talk to her. Thank-you for remembering her each time she came back to see you. You will be happy to know that she now has a porcelin replica of you sitting on her dresser (from her sweet Daddy). (:

Someone who needs to go out and see your movie

Dear Cinderella,

I am so sorry that Xander experienced stage fright and couldn’t make himself get down on one knee. It would have been a perfect photo-op, but I still think the one we got was pretty darn cute.

The mother of a prince

Dear Belle,

You are beautiful! We loved hearing you sing in the musical. I want your dress.

A princess wannabe

Dear Nassau,

I would love to spend a week getting to know you a bit better. As it is, I fell in love with your charm and beauty. Loved your people. Loved your beaches. Didn’t love your heat and humidity. (Just look what happened when we pulled the camera out of the bag!) I definitely want to visit you again, but next time I’ll try to come when it’s a bit cooler.

A fan

Dear Atlantis Aquarium,

Thank-you for giving us a discount upon finding out we were a Make-a-Wish family! We LOVED visiting you! We were fascinated with the variety of fish and sea creatures on display. We will definitely send friends and family your way!

A happy family

Dear Sawtooth shark,

I can’t decide if I think you are beautiful or one of the ugliest creatures ever. You fascinated me and my children. Are you for real?

Can’t decide if I’m a fan

Dear readers,

You are about to see approximately 5,000 pictures of us parasailing. Just so you know, it was every bit as cool as it looks. You should definitely include it on your list of things to do someday. It only cost (gulp) $420 for the seven of us to go. Thank-you, Make-a-Wish, for giving us an allowance that allowed us to do it! This will go down as one of our favorite family memories ever. We absolutely loved every second of it.

The newest parasailing fans!

Dear Toy Story, The Musical,

WOW, WOW, WOW! We were in AWE the entire show! The costumes, the special effects, the music—it was every bit on par with Broadway. Jeremy and I kept exchanging looks of amazement throughout the production and our kids were riveted. I am uber-impressed!

A girl in love

Dear Alex,

I think you are my favorite person from the trip. I don’t know that I have ever met a sweeter and more humble man. Your smile and gracious ways just made our day. Thank you for cleaning up all of our messes each day, preparing our beds each night, leaving us fun “animals” and chocolates. and for being attentive to our every need. We both so wish we had taken a picture with you.

Jeremy and Christianne

Dear Disney,

WE LOVE YOU! We love everything Disney! You plan out everything to the very last detail and somehow manage to make every minute magical. You are the best ever!

A Disney family

Dear Castaway Cay,

You are paradise! What other place on earth can you snorkel, ride bikes, eat all the food you want, go on waterslides into the ocean, have a dance party with Stitch, and leave the little ones to play in their own private “club” making sandcastles and going on treasure hunts while you enjoy relaxing on a beautiful beach?

A girl who could go there every day

(Again, what the humidity does to the camera!)

Dear Colin,

Thank you for everything you did to make Graci feel special throughout the cruise. From the plates of treats left on her pillow to the special notes on her door each day to arranging a special “party” just for Make-a-Wish families to meet with Captain Mickey, to giving us snorkel and tube equipment for FREE, you went above and beyond in making our wish girl feel special.

Two grateful parents

Dear cast and crew of “Dreams,”

This was one of the most amazing productions ever. We loved every single second. You had both of us in tears thinking of our Graci’s dream coming true and also of all the children out there who aren’t as fortunate. The show was fantastic on every level. I just wish that every child in the world was able to be there.

Parents of kids who love to dream

Dear Violeta and Andy,

You were the best. Thank-you for paying attention to every detail and making each of us feel special and important. We loved your magic tricks and your accents and the way you didn’t even blink when Taylor would order THREE entrees at once. You were super cool.

Table 28

Dear Pirate Deck Party,

I’m not sure why you kept zoning in on OUR children and OUR family and putting our images up on the big screen, but it sure made the kids happy!! They loved watching themselves dance and smile and they loved seeing all of the characters in their pirate gear. We also thought it pretty sweet that you served another ENTIRE dinner just three hours after eating our FIRST dinner. Awesome. Jeremy was especially thrilled to find turkey legs (his favorite part about Disneyland) and I loved the warm crepes with ice-cream and topping—yummy! You put on a great party!

The fam

Dear Jesi and Xander,

You were SO MUCH FUN to have on this trip! I loved watching the wonder in your eyes as you saw and experienced things for the first time. I loved that you dared to go parasailing, I loved watching you in the ocean, I loved seeing your faces as you met your favorite characters, I loved the looks on your faces when we said “yes” to almost anything you wanted to do or see or eat! I loved that you were confident enough to walk into the kids club and not look back, and I loved spying on you and watching you enjoy the amazing activities they had planned for you. I love that you are such dear friends. I love YOU!


Dear Parker and Taylor,

I LOVED watching you enjoy your independence throughout the cruise. From watching movies on the main deck while enjoying the swimming pool to having fun at the arcades to playing in the oceaneer lab to ordering room service after midnight—you two really played it up! I am glad that we are able to trust you and that you had so much fun making your own decisions about what to do and where to hang out. I hope you thoroughly enjoyed not having a curfew for a few days, because it will be awhile before that happens again! I’m so glad you are such good friends and made so many great memories together.


Dear Deck 4,

Because of you, we discovered a new family favorite-- shuffleboard! I am now convinced that if we ever are able to build a new home, it must have a long enough deck to accommodate this game! We loved the views as we played and we loved staring off at the beautiful sunsets. We're so glad not many families discovered your charm!

the Greens

Dear self,

In the future, try not to get in any pictures right after you have gone swimming. Unless you remember to wear waterproof mascara. Also, just because all of the food was free didn't mean you needed to eat all of it.

The voice of reason

Dear cruise packages everywhere,

Don’t you feel just a bit like you’re cheating when you call it a “five day cruise” but require that everyone be off the ship by 9:00 a.m. on the fifth “day?” I’m just sayin’…

A girl who didn’t want to leave

Dear Gatorland,

When we found ourselves at the airport with several hours to spare before our flight home, we decided to pay you a visit. We were thrilled upon arriving to find that Make-a-Wish families get in free. Thank-you!! Just thinking about you now makes me smile. You were a cross between a small-town county fair (minus the rides) and a zoo (minus almost all of the animals). We loved watching the alligators “jump” for food. We loved seeing the white alligators and found them quite beautiful. We loved people watching. We loved the rootbeer floats. We loved leaving. (Did I just say that?)

Gator fans

P.S. To be fair, I think we would have loved leaving less if it hadn’t felt like 110 degrees outside and if we wouldn’t have been exhausted from the few hours of sleep we had gotten on the last night of the cruise. And I think everyone should have the chance to visit Gatorland. Once.

Dear Gator wrestler,


Someone who tries to stay away from large teeth

Dear Mom and Dad,

Words can never express our gratitude for your willingness to watch Elli. Though we missed her, we were soooooooo glad that we didn’t bring her along. She would not have enjoyed the cruise, and we would have enjoyed it 1,000 x less if she had been there. You are amazing and we love you!

All of us

Dear Kent and Terri,

How sweet of you to be there with a sign to welcome us home at the airport! We had no idea that you would be there, but should have—knowing how thoughtful you have been through this whole process. Once again, thank-you for EVERYTHING. It truly was magic. We are so so grateful.

Our family

Dear Graci,

Oh how I love you! I hope that the Disney Cruise was everything you ever dreamed of. I loved watching you throughout the trip. I loved watching you with the princesses, and I hope you know that you are the prettiest one of all! I loved seeing your face each time something special happened just for you. I loved that you were so enamoured with the characters and that you would spend so much of your time taking pictures with them. I loved giving you the freedom to do almost anything you wanted over the course of the cruise. I loved shopping with you. I loved seeing your fuzzy pants and sandals under your “poofy dress” as you walked down the stairs. I love you so much, my sweet Graci. I am so grateful for the memories you have made and for the magic you experienced. I hope you will always remember that it is because YOU ARE LOVED by so many people.


And finally, Dear Elli,

It was SO GOOD to see you again!!