Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bobby and Traveling TJ do the Disney Fantasy Part 1

Bobby is becoming quite the traveler. In June we traveled to Luray, Virginia for the Reece's Rainbow Reunion and then on to Baltimore, Maryland for the PPMD conference. He has also traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio for medical evaluations as well as Gainesville, Florida for and imaging study. In October we went to Orlando in order to visit Walt Disney World in preparation  for Bobby's first Disney Cruise.
A little background on our cruise, I had re-booked a cruise onboard the last cruise Taylor and I sailed and had to switch the date during the beginning of the adoption process. I chose Thanksgiving over the summer so that Bobby would hopefully be ready for such a trip. When I switched the date, I only knew his Chinese name and his date of birth. Since I knew that his name would be different (but hadn't decided exactly what yet), he was listed as TBD :) You will be glad to know that he was no longer TBD as we boarded "Mickey Boat" :)

So begins our story....
Bobby was bouncing as the school day ended. He knew that today was THE day! It was off to Walton to wait for his sister to get out of school. The Baird family had an extra member of their traveling party join at the last minute. Traveling TJ(aka Thomas Jefferson) was packed and ready to go! The Baird family would be showing Traveling TJ the wonders of the modern world via a Thanksgiving cruise on The Disney Fantasy.

Taylor jumped in the van and off they went! The family arrive a little after midnight at the Marriott Residence Inn at Port Canaveral. The trip was off to a great start with a free night at a great hotel through the Marriott Rewards program.

Bobby was the first one up and soon the family was eating a quick breakfast before driving to the port. The excitement was definitely building. Even Traveling TJ was bouncing!

The van pulled in to the port ahead of schedule. The passengers from the previous cruise were still disembarking. Luckily a great parking spot was secured and after all the luggage, totes, wheelchair, kitchen sink and stroller were unloaded, the excited Baird family joined the ever growing line waiting for the terminal to open for check-in.

Finally the porters start to arrive and they take the luggage to the loading area. The passengers were trying to wait patiently, saying Open!Open! Open!  (sorry, wrong commercial!) Finally the line begins moving forward, well at least a few yards. The group waits a bit longer on the breezeway, longingly looking at the Disney Fantasy and snapping pictures.

Then the line surges forward! Into the terminal, through security and there they are...the check in counters with those smiling, friendly DCL cast members just waiting to welcome everyone! Check in was smooth and easy. Taylor secured bench seating close to the bathroom as she knew her brother would most certainly have to go during the wait to board! Mommy and Bobby headed to the Kids Club check-in area and Bobby was given his wristband that was his all access key to the fun! They then rejoined Taylor (and all the carry-ons) As soon as they sat down, Taylor's choice of waiting area proved to be a success. She and Bobby were off to the bathroom, just as she predicted :) While they are gone, Traveling TJ checks out the Navigator to see todays activities and schedule.

Soon boarding numbers were starting to be announced. The Baird family had number 5, so they were among the first on board. Unfortunately due to the passengers being so excited, many did not listen to the announcement to stay back away from the boarding area until their number was called. The crowd in front of the queue area was impossible to pass through and there was a moment of frustration as the Baird family could not board! Well, mom decided to go all the way around and ask for help. After explaining that there was no way to get Bobby's wheelchair to the entrance through the crowd, the cast member unhooked the queue rope and the family was finally in line to board! The first stop was to scan the cards and then on to the Welcome On Board photo.

After finishing the photo op, it was on to actually cross the gangway onto the Disney Fantasy. "Disney Cruise Lines welcomes the Baird family!" Finally, on board the Fantasy!
First stop was Guest Services to turn in 2 pillowcases to be signed and for tickets to build a gingerbread house. With that done, let the feasting begin!  Up to deck 11 and Cabanas. What a better way to start off the cruise than shrimp, fresh pineapple and Asian stir fry (for Bobby!)
With full bellies, the family headed to visit the kids clubs while waiting for the cabin to be ready. Who did they run in to? Why Snow White! Now, Bobby is partial to Ariel and was not too sure of Snow White. He didn't want to make Ariel mad after all ;)

Bobby loved the Oceaneers Club. Who wouldn't love to crawl through slinky dog...

Or build a giant Mr Potato Head?

Or play computers, or dress like Captain Hook, or play on the magic light up floor or......Fun!!
Soon it was time for the cabins to be ready. Off to deck 7 and cabin 7596! A great location mid-ship. Awaiting Bobby as he entered the room was a basket from Jake and the Neverland Pirates :)

Taylor also had a basket waiting for her :)

Mom hung up the Fish Extender outside the door (but forgot to take a picture) and arranged some magnets on the door to make it a bit easier to find the room. After checking out everything in the room (with many "Awesome's!" from Bobby), the crew headed to the D lounge for the FB group kids meet. What a great way to kick off the cruise! The kids did a scavenger hunt type activity and won prizes that mom got to hand out! Bobby met several new friends as did Taylor. Mom loved being able to put real people with the FB names.

Then it was on to the Beuna Vista Theater for the lifeboat drill. Once everyone was checked in, they allowed those in wheelchairs to leave first, which was very helpful in order to be able to catch the elevator up to deck 11 for the Sail Away Party. Traveling TJ was so excited!

Once again Disney provided! There was an area reserved for wheelchairs that allowed bobby to be able to see the Sail Away Show without people standing in front of him. He decided to sit on the steps and really enjoyed the show.

Then it was back to the cabin to watch from the verandah as the Fantasy left the port.



The luggage arrived and the unpacking began. Soon it was time to head to Royal Court for the first dinner of the cruise. Food was wonderful and having another family share the table was so much fun! Bobby had his first ever Mickey Ice Cream bar. He loved every bite!


After dinner, the crew headed to King Triton's Tree Lighting Ceremony. Gotta love the holidays with Disney!
Once again the Baird's were on the move. This time they headed toward the Walt Disney Theater to see A Fantasy Come True. Bobby was enjoying the show, but after a long exciting day, he fell asleep before the end of the show. So after the show it was back to the cabin and off to sleep. Well, for mommy and Bobby it was off to sleep. Taylor was off to make new friends at the Vibe. Tomorrow would be a day at sea and a chance to explore the ship!        

Friday, November 1, 2013


This precious little girl is very special to me. This is the first child that I wrote the profile for on Reece's Rainbow and I had the privilege of choosing her RR name. At the beginning of May, I named this little one Shari after my mom. My mom passed away just a few weeks later at the end of June. So when it came time for the Angel Tree Fundraiser for Reece's Rainbow, there was no doubt in my mind that I would participate and that I would ask to be Shari's warrior. I was thrilled when I received the confirmation that I was assigned as her Angel Tree Warrior!
So here is the deal, the goal of Angel Tree is for each warrior to raise $1,000 for their Angel Tree child. That is a lot of money and is a bit intimidating, but I know that it can be accomplished. This $1,000 can help offset some of the costs involved in international adoption. Maybe, just maybe it will help her find a family quicker.
The one thing I know is that I cannot fail this little girl. To me she represent my mother, who I miss dearly everyday. I am doing this in her honor, just as I named little Shari after her, the most important and influential woman in my life.
 Little Shari has potential, she just needs a chance. My friends, you have the opportunity to help this child be seen and possibly find a family quicker just by donating. Help me meet her Angel Tree goal and help me honor my mother at the same time. I know that Shari Baird is watching over little Shari at this very moment. Won't you join S.O.S (Supporters of Shari)? Click on her picture at the side of this blog and scroll until you find her name and picture. You can purchase an ornament with Shari's picture on it for $35 or just donate whatever amount you can. I have been saving change for a couple of months and sold a few craft items at the Atlanta Buddy Walk to start her off. Can you join S.O.S. by giving up that cup of coffee (or anything else?) and donate that amount to get us moving toward our goal? No amount is too small or too big.
Since this is also the first Christmas that I cannot give an earthly gift to my mom, I will honor her memory and donate to her RR namesake. I know that this will make her happy as she watches over my family and little Shari from up above.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Playing catch-up 6 months home!

So, I am a terrible blogger. I have not taken the time to finish our trip report nor to update about Bobby. So much has happened in the 6 months since Bobby came home. He went to Kindergarten for 6 weeks. We went on a long trip for camping/reunion in Virginia and a Duchenne conference in Baltimore and my mom passed away while we were gone. We came home in time for Bobby and Taylor to go to Camp Walk n Roll and then Taylor was off to 2 weeks of band camp. She returned and we had my mom's memorial service. Bobby started 1st grade. We saw Dr Phan and others at the MDA clinic in Atlanta. We were guest patient for 2 lectures at Emory. We traveled for a week to Cincinnati Children's Hospital for more initial evaluations and then to Gainesville, Florida for an imaging study. So I have posted the 6 month update report I am sending to Bobby's orphanage to catch everyone up on where we are. I can't believe it has been six months! I hope to finish the trip report and to post further on our trip to Cincinnati, but it may be a while as we are off to see the Mouse next week!

So here is the 6 month update report. Enjoy!

Hi! It is hard to believe that it has been 6 months since Bobby (Bao Guan Xiong) joined out family! He has transitioned well and is such a joy! I can tell that he had been loved and well cared for before he came to me. He loved his airplane flight home, although he did find the second flight a bit long!

Bobby finished the last 6 weeks of the last school year in a Kindergarten class and loved it. He had a wonderful teacher and teacher’s assistant and made several new friends.

Bobby had a busy summer. We started with a camping trip and met many other adoptive families. Bobby loved swimming, mini golf, the jumping pad, wagon rides, boat rides, eating s’mores and the bubble party.


This summer Bobby was also able to go to Camp Walk ‘N Roll which is a camp for children with Muscular Dystrophy. His sister Taylor went with him as his counselor. He had a great week meeting other kids who also have muscular dystrophy and participating in all the camp activities. He rode a horse, went down the pool slide, fished, did archery, played in a treehouse, built wooden crafts and many more fun activities. He had so much fun and cannot wait to go again next year.


Bobby also enjoyed playing in his backyard this summer. He also loved being inside building a lot of Lego creations.

Bobby also got to see Mrs. Tyler from the Sunshine Academy again as we met her for lunch. He was very happy to see her.

Bobby started First grade this year and has the same first grade teacher his big sister had when she was in first grade! He has made some new friends and loves school!

I took Bobby to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in order to see the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Specialists and his visits went well. Bobby was able to be seen by a neurologist, nutritionist, physical and occupational therapists, cardiologist, and pulmonologist. He also had a bone scan which gave him great results. While Cincinnati was a long drive for us, it did allow us to meet 2 other adoptive families who we had become friends with on the internet.

The first family had adopted a little boy from Lithuania. Bobby loved going to the zoo and the park with them. He hopes to be able to play again on our next visit.

 The second family was the Lanz family who had adopted Bao Sha Mei and Bao Xin Qing. The kids seemed to remember each other and were so excited to see each other again. It will be nice to be able to get Bobby and the girls together a couple of times each year when we return for Bobby’s appointments at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Today marked exactly 6 months since Bobby landed in the USA. We celebrated by going to an event where he could see, touch and sit in all kinds of trucks and vehicles. He loved sitting in the fire truck, helicopter and Bobcat digger the best.

We will be visiting Walt Disney World next week and look forward to sharing pictures of Bobby meeting Mickey Mouse!