The day after Thanksgiving we went on a family outing. While we were out and about I said to Christi, "You know, most parents don't get the sense of accomplishment that we do from simply taking the family out on the town!" And I must say, it requires constant vigilance and razor-sharp senses to manage our crew on the road…
As a Make-A-Wish kid, Graci continues to get invitations to local events. It's great! We love the camaraderie of other families who understand, Graci feels special, and it offers us opportunities to do things we otherwise wouldn't. On the day after Thanksgiving, Make-A-Wish was sponsoring free ice skating at a picturesque outdoor rink in downtown Salt Lake City. Now you may be saying to yourself…"Let's see. Blind. check. Wheelchair. check. Missing limbs. check. Autism. check. Yep! This is a perfect group to go ice skating!" Well, we weren't quite that brave. We got a sitter for Elli and headed out with everyone else. (It's important to remember just how poorly Elli does in crowds. A night at home for her is generally much happier than a night when there is a ton of sensory input.)
To make it a bit more of an adventure, we decided to take TRAX into town. We drove 10 minutes to the nearest TRAX station, hurried to get on the train cuz' we were barely going to make it, then sat on the train and waited…and waited…and waited…. What was going on? Why wasn't it leaving? I had looked up the departure times in advance. So I picked up a paper schedule, looked it over closely, and finally found the fine print that on Thanksgiving and the day after, TRAX would be running on a Sunday schedule. I quickly scanned what Sunday trains would be like and realized it wouldn't work! They didn't run late enough to that particular station! We had to get off that train before it left! We all rushed for the doors and barely beat them. Our excursion was experiencing a bumpy beginning.
Christi drove while I looked at the various options for TRAX. It looked like we might be able to park at another station about half way into town. The kids were excited to ride the train, and we already had non-refundable day passes, so off we went. We parked, caught the train, and enjoyed the ride into SLC. Lexi was particularly excited when we passed the Mill Creek stop. (She attends Mill Creek elementary.) Once we got to our destination, we walked a couple of blocks to the skating rink.
I'm sure we were quite the sight on the ice! Christi or me trying to hold onto Sophi while maneuvering the large crowds on skates we weren't great on ourselves. Lexi using one hand to hold her cane and grasping onto Christi for dear life with the other. Graci flying solo but falling at least a dozen times. (Poor girl!) Jess clutching the rail on the sideboard with all her might as she traveled around the rink at whatever the opposite of light speed is. The three boys really picking it up quite quickly. (I was particularly impressed with Xander.) And Cali, refusing to go out onto the ice in her chair. (Fortunately, as a Make-A-Wish gathering, they actually had a designated time when only kids in wheelchairs and their helpers were able to be on the ice. Cali and I went 15 or 20 times around the rink. She became a bit of a star. On one of her passes, Jesi held out her hand to give Cali five. When other people saw it, they did the same. Before we knew it, there were at least 75 people with their hands out waiting for Cali to give them five each time she circled the rink. The whole skating trip was way more fun and way more successful than I had imagined:) Sophi had a blast, even cozying up to the Grizzly Bear mascot of the Utah Grizzlies hockey team.
After the skating was done, Santa Claus came for a visit! He completely fell in love with our kids. He was quite overwhelmed and even became emotional as he talked to and held Sophi and Lexi.
From the skating rink we walked through downtown Salt Lake to City Creek Mall and ate at the Chick-Fil-A in the food court.
Sophi demands that the sunshade be down on her stroller. Rain or shine. Night or day. She insists!
Taylor and Parker think they're too cool for the rest of us ;)
Graci sweetly entertains Lexi and Xander with make believe scenarios that have been ongoing for approximately forever:
Cali won't let me take a picture of her…
…but apparently has no problem with selfies!:)
After our meal, we walked a block or two more to temple square and saw the lights. Wow that's a popular place! It was the first night they were lit and I felt like we were navigating Disneyland during spring break. (Yes, we've been daring (crazy?) enough to do that!) The lights were amazing. The life-sized nativity scene was particularly beautiful. And the spirit that could be felt as so many people celebrated the birth of baby Jesus was a privilege to experience.
We boarded TRAX for the ride back. There were some pretty colorful characters on the return trip! We made it back home over seven hours after we had left. Christi and I went to bed that night very tired:) But we both felt so grateful for our wonderful kids. They bring us so much happiness. What a blessing it is to be surrounded by such spiritual giants!