Sunday, July 3, 2016

RR Reunion in KY

Those of you who know me well, know that it was the help of a charity named Reece's Rainbow that first led us to Erik.  Not only did they find him for us, but they gave us a grant which helped us to afford to adopt him!  Fast forward 5 years and Reece's Rainbow again gave us a large grant (with the help of many generous donors!!!) so that I could adopt Maylee and Violet!  I am DEEPLY grateful to this organization!!

Not only do they give grants and help kids find their families, but every year, they host a reunion for their families so that the new parents can network with each other, the kids can make friends with other kids with similar backgrounds, etc.  This is extremely helpful, as our families are UNIQUE, and connecting with others like us is invaluable!!  (You may remember that we used to go to gatherings with other families who had kids with missing limbs when Reese was younger - this is similar.)

Maylee, Erik and Violet and I (along with my mom) just got back from spending 5 days in Kentucky with a number of other "RR" families.  We had a ball!!!  Because I know pictures are valuable, I wanted to share some of our pictures and adventures with you!  For privacy reasons, I will only share pictures of our own family (with a couple of exceptions).  Trust me when I say that these reunions are IMPORTANT.  It is just a very casual time to visit and gain support.  No classes were held, no workshops, nothing formal; just the way I like it!

Ready for pictures?  ;o)

And we're off!!

We brought Mary, cause she's portable, but we couldn't bring Sammy - just no room in the car...

Most of the group of RR parents and kids!

Just the kids.

My three.  Violet is beside herself with excitement!

Andrea, the Founder and President of RR, and her 3 RR kids.  Without the grants that I got from this organization, these three kids may not be here.  Certainly Erik would not be!

We stayed at Jellystone just outside of Mammoth Cave, KY.  As last year, we rented a cabin right in the midst of other RR families!

Hangin' by the pond.

The girls had a BALL on the jumping pillow!!

Okay, so maybe I did, too!


So silly!

Erik with Andrea.  Erik is extra special to Andrea because he was one of the first 5 kids ever listed on the RR website.  :o)  Not sure why he doesn't look happy here!  LOL

There was a fun place called Kentucky Adventure (or something like that) and they had all kinds of fun activities!  We bought a bunch of tickets and played our hearts out!  Here are my Mom and Violet headed on the sky lift to go up to the Alpine Slide!  (I stayed below with Erik.)  The view was beautiful!

Here comes Maylee!!!!!  Not sure where Mom and Violet are...?

Whoops...  Violet chickened out and there they come back down the lift...  (Neither looks too happy.)

I stayed with the 3 kids so Mom could go back up the lift and slide down.  She's such an adventurer, even at her age!  I love it!!

Maylee and I had a BALL on the go-karts, even though afterward I realized that she should not have gone (with her back precautions) and I shouldn't have gone (with my stomach and wound the way they are...).  But we survived and have a REALLY fun memory!

While Maylee and I were on the go-karts, Mom took the little kids on the bumper cars.  Vi said this was one of her favorite activities of the trip!  ;o)

Waiting for the waterslide attendant to get off break.  (Her 10 minute break was actually 28 minutes.  Grrrr...)  Got a great picture, though!

Couldn't decide which picture I liked better of Mom and Erik, so I put them both on here.  (I like the one above best, personally.)

Last year, we couldn't get Violet anywhere NEAR the waterslide, but this year, the slide was much smaller and tamer, and she willingly went down!  Had such a good time, she went down again and again!  So proud of my brave girl!!

I can't even TELL you how much I love this picture of my mom!!

Maylee's such a pro at waterslides that she looks like a cool cat coming down.

Can't go camping without toasting marshmallows for s'mores!  (Erik is supervising.)

The girls took turns sleeping on each of the top bunks.  One night, I had Maylee over my head, the next night, Vi.  Not sure why they did it that way, but whatever works for them!  LOL

Looks like it was Vi's turn this time (Maylee was sleeping over my Mom, apparently.)

Erik slept with Mary and me.  Mary wasn't too happy about that.  ;o)

We took a day to visit Abraham Lincoln's birthplace, which was not quite an hour north of where we were camping.  It was super cool!

The girls worked on workbooks to earn their Jr. Ranger badges.  (They got them!)

On the path to the monument.

Inside the monument, in front of the replica of Lincoln's home.

At the base of the monument. (You can see the girls and my Mom sitting on the steps above Erik.)  There were 57 steps representing one step for each year of Lincoln's life.

There is a name for this little stream, but I can't remember what it is.  This is the place where Lincoln's family came to collect their water.  It was really peaceful down there.

Another view of the monument.  Beautiful, isn't it?

Getting their books signed off!

The newest Lincoln's Birthplace Jr. Rangers!  Good job, girls!!

Back at the campground: Andrea and her son Reece (yes, THE Reece!), with Mary.  Reece just loved and loved on Mary.  ;o)

Reece was so gentle with Erik and so loving.  What a darling young man he is.

Enjoying some time with his Gram.

Mary enjoyed hanging out on the porch of our cabin.  She loved getting to be outdoors so much!

Erik, too, LOVES being outdoors!  We actually saw some new and positive behaviors out of him on this trip, which is always fun and exciting!  I took this picture because he was being particularly funny and animated during supper!  He was cracking us up!

Reece's Rainbow sponsored us on a trip to Kentucky Down Under, a really cool place that had all kinds of Australian animals, petting zoo-style!  It was a ball!  Vi was too scared to hold any of the birds, but she was brave enough to hold the cup of nectar to feed one.

Can't take my mom anywhere...

Maylee was a little unsure at first, but she decided holding the birds was really fun!

Next stop - kangaroos!!!  We saw a joey nursing on his mama - how cool is that?!

Violet got over her fear with the kangaroos - they were SO gentle and sweet and tame!  I want a pet kangaroo now, please.

We spent plenty on feed, and it was worth it!

We all LOVED this part of the visit!!!!

My mom enjoyed it, too!

Erik wasn't too sure, but he did okay!

There was a huge tortoise hanging around which was also fun to pet!

This place also had a couple of emus.  The emus were a RIOT to feed!!!!  They pecked at your hand aggressively, and while it didn't hurt, it was scary!!  LOL  You have to watch this short video!  (The girls wisely did not even consider feeding them - no way they could have handled it!)

LOL - look at the distance my mom is keeping - you didn't mess around with those guys!

Erik, just enjoying the ambiance of the place.  ;o)

Yep, I petted the tortoise, too.

A Clydesdale horse was freely roaming around, grazing.  He was huge and beautiful!!

No petting zoo would be complete without a pen of goats.  ;o)

Erik didn't voluntarily touch any of the animals (he's a Watcher, not a Do-er), but he kept his eye on them, at any rate.  (The sunglasses were on his back to keep him from continually throwing them on the ground, when hanging from the front of his shirt.)

You haven't taken a selfie until you've taken a selfie with a goat.  What do you think, new Facebook profile pic?

Overlooking the beautiful KY scenery.

Caves are EVERYWHERE in this area, and the zoo also had one!  We WISELY left my mom and Erik in the gift shop, and we sported our headlamps/flashlight, and headed "down under" for a fascinating and exhilarating cave tour!  The ONLY lights in there were from our headlamps/flashlights!  

Inside the cave.  Thank heaven for camera flashes!

Maylee, protectively helping her little sister down, down, down the cave, while their mother stood behind, snapping pictures.

You can see other members in our group climbing down into the cave (we were toward the front of the group).  Besides being DARK, it was WET in there, and we had to be VERY careful not to slip!!

On the other side!!  We made it through!!

The last thing we saw before leaving the zoo was this bison.  Because we studied Lewis and Clark a few weeks before our trip, the girls were thrilled to see a real bison up close!

Because we had some tickets left at the Alpine Slide place, we decided to head back there and use them up!  Mom and the kids simply rode the lift up the hill and down, but Maylee and I stayed up there so we could sled down (I hadn't had a turn at it yet)!

We had such a good time!!

If you've made it this far, thank you!  This was the last stop on our visit - we had such a wonderful time and are so grateful for the opportunity to visit with and make friendships with other families like ours.