With Lawson’s birthday in 10 days, I’m thinking about what to get him. I’m not sure about you guys, but my kids have way too many toys. I don’t buy them many toys, but when birthdays and Christmas roll around, it seems like we get an abundance of them. While I’m thankful for any gift given to my kids, I personally love to buy them experience gifts! Experience gifts create memories and fun- something they’ll remember for a lifetime. They can be magical and creative and so very special. After talking to you, my readers, on social media, I comprised this fun list. Ready for some of the most surprising experience gifts for kids? Here they are! Gift Cards for the bookstore to choose new books– We have an extensive home library (and are adding more special needs books) but there’s something so great about taking kids to a book store with a gift card and having them pick out a book. Instilling reading in kids early on is so important, and as a former teacher, it’s very high on our priority list. Pass to Little Land Play Gym– If you don’t follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may not know how obsessed we are with Little Land Play Gym in Waco, Texas. It’s an indoor play place where kids can enjoy themselves by playing in various rooms. They learn lots of different fine motor and gross motor skills there through play. I can see such a difference in Lawson from taking him at least weekly! Make sure you bring some socks and don’t forget the snacks for the cafe! Playing makes kids hungry! We love this bento box to keep the snacks organized and the mess to a minimum. Tell them we sent you! Disney World/ Disneyland Annual Pass– Ok I’m not a kid, but can I be one for this purpose? I kid, I kid…maybe. A Disney World/ Disneyland Annual Pass is a great investment for the family that enjoys traveling or lives close to one of the parks. There is something new to see every time you visit Disney and no visit is ever the same. Gift your passes with a gorgeous princess dress or coordinating family shirts for extra pizazz. Cooking class lessons– Lawson loves to say, “Up please” when I’m cooking in the kitchen. I can tell that he sees how much I enjoy it, and that it brings him joy too. Cooking class lessons are such a surprising experience gift for kids and one they can really enjoy. Rather have cooking lessons at home? I love this pizza cooking set and cake pop making set for kids! Swimming lessons– If you’ve gotta little fish like I do, swimming lessons are a great way to encourage kids to swim safely and have fun. Grab a gift bag, throw in a cute swimsuit or swim trunks, and let your child know when lessons start. They’ll surely be excited! Zoo or Aquarium season pass– This one is probably our most received. Addie loves the zoo and aquarium. Ever since she was little we’ve asked for memberships to take her. Boy, do those things get used! A fun fan with water spray bottle and the pass are a perfect gift combination to make this a fun and surprising experience gift for any kid. Waterpark season pass– Last year we received season passes to our local water park, Schlitterbahn. It was so much fun! Our kids love passes like these because we can take a little day trip, have fun all day, and then come home and sleep in our nice, warm beds. Succulent fairy garden kit– Last summer we got Addie succulents and a fairy garden kit with small gardening tools and it was such a fun gift! We all went outside as a family, mapped out how we wanted it to look, and went to town. Addie enjoyed it so much and it was great that we did it together. Kids will love this experience gift and will want to go plant their succulents right away! Tickets for a train ride– I had no idea how big of a deal trains were for kids until I stumbled upon train YouTube videos and showed them to Lawson. He’s so obsessed that he is actually having a train themed birthday party. Tickets for a train ride with a cute conductor hat and bandanna are a great experience gift to give any kid. I actually bought this whistle for Lawson and can’t wait to give it to him. Sports jersey and baseball/football tickets– One of the most fun trips we’ve had lately was when Toyota invited us to a soccer game. It was a blast and definitely something we would love to do again. If your kid enjoys sports, grabbing a jersey and tickets will be such an exciting experience gift that they’ll never forget. Camera to take on trips– If you have an older kid, this is a perfect experience gift! Kids will have fun taking their camera everywhere they go and it’s so fun to see life through their eyes. This camera is durable and kids love shaking the Polaroid pictures when they come out.Weekend trip to Great Wolf Lodge– It’s almost like a kid bucket list thing to visit Great Wolf Lodge. It’s such a fun place and we got to visit last year and fell in love. Kids of all ages will love GWL and the best part is- it doesn’t matter what time of year you give the gift because their water park is indoors! So gift your favorite swimming bag and tickets, and have a blast! Disney on Ice tickets– Any Disney fan will appreciate Disney on Ice tickets. Grab your favorite Disney costume to add to this experience. Your kid will be so thrilled to see all of their favorite characters and it will definitely be very memorable. Alphabet silicone mold for crayon making– As a kid, I always enjoyed making various craft projects. This one needs adult supervision, but gifting an alphabet silicone mold and some crayons can make for a fun project. Break the crayons, add to the molds, and melt in the oven. Once they’re melted, kids can enjoy making art with their creative color combinations. At home spa day pampering– This one is an Addie favorite. Grab some relaxing essential oils (Addie likes Young Living Lavender and Gentle Baby), a cute owl diffuser, fuzzy headband, clay mask, and lotion to put in your gift bag. Treat your kid to a relaxing spa time and you never know, you might get some relaxing time, yourself. Which gift on the list is your favorite?
My daughter Addie has a chromosomal abnormality that has given her a myriad of medical complications. The first year of her life she spent 6 months in the NICU, came home for 6 days, then spent 4 months in the PICU. It was a very tough first year. Since that first year Addie has had her share of hospitalizations, but most of them were just a few days long. Most recently though, in October, Addie spent over a month in the hospital. Many people over the past 5 1/2 years have asked us how they can support us best during times like these and I wanted to create this post on the best ways to support families with special needs children in the hospital as a resource. My hope is that special needs families will pass it on to their loved ones that ask how they can help and it lessens the burden for them coming up with ideas! Bring meals. One of the best ways to support families with special needs children in the hospital is to bring meals. When our kids are in the hospital, we don’t want to leave their side. Bringing meals helps so special needs parents can eat without having to leave the hospital or walk down to the cafeteria. Here’s how this best looks: call or text either of the special needs parents and tell them you’d like to bring lunch. Ask what they like, and bring it to them. You can gauge whether or not it’s a good time to chat by body cues from the parent and if they’re ok with it, stay and chat. If things look busy or the parent looks frazzled, it’s best to give them a big hug, tell them you love them, and leave lunch with them. If a parent is home during this or the special needs family has other children, asking if you can bring something to drop off for dinner is always appreciated too. After a long day at the hospital no one wants to cook. Having dinner waiting at home is always so helpful. Give gift cards. Visa gift cards, gift cards to Starbucks, a gift card for a date night, or even an Amazon gift card is always appreciated by special needs parents. This is a favorite way to support families with special needs children in the hospital because they’re pretty universal but are so helpful. Special needs families can use gift cards for gas, bills if the parents need to take off work for an extended time, groceries, date night for after the hospitalization, or even just a hot cup of coffee. Throw in a thoughtful card and you have just blessed that family immensely with your gesture. Drop it off at the front desk with a room number for an anonymous surprise, or visit and slip it to the family before you leave. Either way, you can’t go wrong. Bring snacks. Typically families with special needs children in the hospital are there for days, weeks, and sometimes months. Bringing snacks is a great way to show you’ve been thinking about your loved ones. Ask them what their favorite snacks and drinks are. They’ll thank you because that means less spending money at the vending machines where choices are sub-par. Someone got this snack box for us once and it was pretty amazing. Offer to do housework. This one might sound crazy, but you have no idea how much this will support families with special needs children in the hospital. Ask if you can take their trash cans out to the curb on trash day and put them up. Ask if you can come work on laundry that’s piling up. Ask if you can come take care of the dishes that no one’s been able to tend to because they’ve been at the hospital all day and it’s the last thing they want to do when they come home. Ask if you can stop by a couple times during the day to let their pets go outside. Here’s the kicker though- YOU need to come up with how you want to help them. The brains of special needs parents are fried. They make so many decisions during hospitalizations that when you say, “Hey, how can I help you?” they usually reply, “I’m not sure.” or “Let me get back with you.” They simply don’t have the energy to tell you how they need help. BUT if you offer specific help, you’ll most likely get a swift answer back that they will appreciate your help. Join them on holidays. It’s hard being in the hospital during holidays. Our family has spent 2 Halloweens, 2 Thanksgivings, 1 Christmas, 1 New Year, 1 Valentine’s, 1 St. Patrick’s Day, and several other holidays in the hospital. It’s heartbreaking for us. We want so badly to do what “normal” families do on holidays. Visiting special needs families in the hospital during holidays is so welcomed. It means you were thinking of us enough to take time out of your special day to help make ours a little more normal. If that doesn’t say love, I don’t know what does. Bonus points if you bring something festive like glow bracelets, holiday headbands, or fun themed socks to wear at the hospital. Pray. This one is so important. If you want to support a family you know with special needs children in the hospital then offer to pray. Pray with them in person, call and pray over the phone, send a prayer through text, or pray on your own. Reach out and ask others to pray as well. Whichever route you choose, know that this means so much to special needs families and your prayers and God’s love sustain us during these horribly rough times. I love gifting Jesus Calling so families can read a small devotional daily and pray. Provide time wasters. Sending or bringing a goodie basket with time wasters like a hand lettering practice book, a nature puzzle with a roll up mat, sudoku, or even a word search are great. Hospital life is busy but also really slow. Bringing these is a great way to keep their mind off of the harsh realities of being in the hospital yet again, and are very appreciated by special needs families. Wait for updates. There is nothing more exhausting to a special needs family than getting tons of phone calls and texts wanting updates on the status of the child. While we know you mean well, there’s a lot that goes on in the hospital and things can change rather quickly. Please wait for families to update you as they can. Whether they update in group texts, email blasts, Facebook posts, or phone calls- it is easiest for them to gather as much information as they can from the day and then relay it to everyone once there’s a steady game plan from the hospital team. I hope this list of ways to support families with special needs children in the hospital has been so helpful to you! If you’re a special needs family, bookmark or Pin this so you can send it to your loved ones during hospitalizations. If you’re a loved one, thank you for visiting so you can best help those you love!
It’s 2 pm. I get a text from Addie’s nurse that she won’t be able to come in that night for the third night in a row. She’s sick and she knows it’s best for Addie if she stays home until she is well enough to come back to work. I tell Mathew and we come up with our plan for the night. I’ll make dinner, put Lawson to bed, give Addie her nightly feed and draw up all her medicines, and then we will bathe Addie and move her to her room together for the night. We pull out her bed to give Mathew room, dress her, do her trach and g-button care, 3 nebulizer treatments, give medicines, and hopefully finish by 10:30 pm. There won’t be time to relax tonight and Mathew will likely get little sleep as every beep of Addie’s pulse ox will wake him for fear that something is wrong. In the middle of the night Mathew wakes me and says Addie’s trach needs to be changed. We get it set up, change it, and I crawl back into bed. We wake up exhausted. This is just one scenario we’ve had in the past. But even on days or nights with nurses, we feel caregiver burnout. Caregiver burnout is real with special needs parents, but our children always come first, and we are happy to do whatever needs to be done for them. Parenting is stressful for anyone. Even parents of the best kids have their challenges, but parents of children with special needs deal with stress on a whole other level. Being a parent to a child with special needs can be like having a full time job. In fact, it’s like having two full time jobs. Making phone calls to insurance or medical companies, responding to emails regarding school or therapies, going through our calendars to see what times we can make appointments work- it’s constant. This doesn’t even account for the revolving door of people that are in and out of our homes all day and the lack of privacy if you’re lucky enough have nursing. Without support or without the kind of support the special needs parents need, it’s easy to see how they can head down the path of caregiver burnout- and fast. Did you know that special needs parents typically have chronic stress relating to raising a special needs child? It’s magnified more when the parent has caregiver burnout. You may find that the special needs parents you know have anxiety, PTSD, depression, intense fatigue, weight gain, weight loss, medical issues, low sex drive, or insomnia. They even are at higher risk for divorce. In our own lives, I’ve seen this even start in Lawson. When Addie’s pulse ox beeps more than a couple times, he runs over to Addie to make sure she’s ok. He’s not even 2 yet. Through it all, our children with special needs are our pride and joy. Despite caregiver burnout we wouldn’t change our children or our situation for the world. If that means doing all that we need to for our children, special needs parents will do it in a heartbeat. Looking for signs of caregiver burnout? Caregiver burnout for special needs parents can look like:1| Mentally checking out. I’ve mentioned this before but you may find special needs parents on their phones just to take their mind into another world. Special needs parents experience nearly every emotion every day and it is exhausting. If you find yourself constantly trying to mentally check out, it’s time for a break.2| Suffering from memory loss. A couple years ago, I spent some time trying to work on myself and went to therapy. It was really helpful. I mentioned to my therapist I was having trouble recalling information like stories that were told to me, conversations I’d had with others, and more. She told me that it was very common with special needs parents with caregiver burnout to suffer from memory loss because the brain was in constant trauma mode. Wow. 3| Inability to rest or relax. Special needs parents typically have a hard time resting or relaxing. Our minds are constantly focusing on our children’s “sats” (aka saturations), plans for the next day, worrying about weather, prepping medicines or feeds, and even worrying about our children’s attitudes. We dwell on the day that just happened and can fixate on whatever may happen the following day.4| They’re frequently sick. Many special needs parents are sick often. When you combine lack of sleep, not eating healthy meals (because they’re usually so busy or in hospitals where takeout is easier), it’s very easy to get sick. Special needs parents don’t take care of themselves either and continue to do all they can for their children without taking a break to feel better, which can make things worse.5| Rarely spend time with friends or doing hobbies. Some special needs parents don’t have nursing, family that live close by, or even family or friends that are involved enough to know the care their child needs. It is easier for special needs parents to stay home instead of spending time with friends or doing hobbies simply because taking the time to train someone or “get them up to speed” takes too long. Alternatively, if a special needs family does have these resources available to them, they may find it easier not to leave their child because the stress of worrying takes the fun out of the things they love.6| Not taking time for self care- emotionally, physically, and spiritually. As you can see from the first 5 signs, special needs parents don’t take enough time for themselves. Many times they don’t have time to go to therapy sessions for themselves, workout at the gym, or spend time in prayer/meditation. After a long day and much more to do before bed, special needs parents with caregiver burnout simply are too tired to care for themselves. Here’s how to break out of caregiver burnout for special needs parents: 1| Ask for help. This one can be hard for special needs parents but is very important. Research respite care where you live, talk to nurses about increasing hours if needed, discuss with family/friends how they can help you. IT TAKES A VILLAGE! Whether someone bringing freezer meals helps you best or someone watching your child for an hour so you can take a hot shower for once, ask for help. One of the best gifts I ever had was from a friend, Suzanne. When our family was going through a particularly hard time Suzanne (who I didn’t know well at all) asked if she could come bring dinner to take stress off my plate. She held baby Lawson as I ate and we chatted. She then encouraged me to take a long bath while she watched Lawson and Addie, did my dishes, and threw out my trash. It was such a blessing. Another instance was when my friend Juanita said the Lord called her to come sweep my floors. She had never been to my home before but came over, swept, and took that burden off me. What may have seemed so small to these ladies was an incredible blessing of much needed help for me. 2| Take care of your health. You can’t help others well when you don’t take of yourself. One way that Mathew and I take care of our health is by using Young Living essential oils and supplements daily. Despite lack of sleep and the toughest of situations, we have found ourselves healthy for several years now because we use our oils and supplements daily, eat lots of green veggies, and limit caffeine. Scheduling regular doctor appointments (for mental and physical health), eating healthy foods as often as possible, exercising (even if you need to walk a few laps around the house) can make a big difference. 3| Find an inclusive church home. I can’t express enough how helpful finding a church home can be for special needs parents experiencing burnout. Our current church has a program for members with special needs, and although we haven’t taken advantage of it, I’m so grateful it’s there if we need. Bible study has also been incredibly helpful for me, and it’s something I make sure to carve out time for weekly. Even when Addie was in the hospital Mathew encouraged me to make sure to attend Bible study as a way to break through caregiver burnout. Just as you make sure to schedule time for your child with special needs, it’s important to do the same for yourself so you can seek social support 4| Make plans to do something fun. This one is important. As hard as it is to get away, or as hard as it is to get away and not stress, it is SO important to make plans to do something fun for yourself. If this means a couple hours to yourself at a bookstore, a run to Target to just browse, or even perusing your local plant nursery, do it. If it means going away on a week long vacation, do it. Whatever “something fun” means to you, put it in your calendar and do it. It’s easier said than done, I know, but even if you can’t get out of the house, think of ways to enjoy yourself in the home. Bring out the board games, invite friends to watch your favorite show together (your friends won’t judge the state of your house- promise), and more! 5| Prioritize your tasks. Making small to do lists can be so helpful for special needs parents feeling burnout. Separate task lists into levels of importance so you can do the most important things immediately and save the less important for days when you have extra time. Some of my favorite things when I feel caregiver burnout: DIY BATH BOMBS INSTBTW BOOK DIY TERRARIUM FERVENT BOOK LEARN LETTERING VALOR EO DIFFUSE OILS BAKING KIT I hope this has been so helpful to you, from one special needs parent to another. Which step will you take first to ridding caregiver burnout?
Being a special needs mom has taught me so much in the 5.5 years Addie has been around. I recently asked my Instagram Stories readers what they wanted other moms to know. Your responses tugged at my heartstrings because there are so many secrets special needs moms want others to know, but won’t say, and I completely understand where you all are coming from. 1| We love to be included even if we can’t go. Special needs moms are busy. Between doctor appointments and therapies, there’s a lot going on. It brings us so much joy when you include us for mom nights out, girlfriend getaway vacations, dinner out, or even a simple coffee date. We may not be able to join every time, but trust us, we really want to! Your invitation means the world to us because it shows you haven’t forgotten us amidst our busyness. CLICK TO SHOP2| We appreciate you asking about our kids, but then we want to move on and talk about non-special needs stuff. Being a special needs mom totally rules our lives. Don’t get us wrong, we love being a special needs mom, but we are also just a girl…sitting in front of a friend…asking them not to talk medical stuff (unless we need to vent.) Even though many days we don’t feel like anyone other than “mom” there is so much more to us and we want to talk about that stuff! So let’s talk about our needs for pedicures, how much we love Mexican food, or the latest episode of The Bachelor, but please let’s not only talk about special needs mom life. 3| At times, we can resent you. That one really hurts to say, but it’s true. When you talk about the next sports activities you’re putting your kids in or the milestones your child is reaching, you’ll probably see us slip out of the conversation or just stand there nodding our heads. We can’t relate and it’s hard on us. It’s not your fault, but it’s just hard sometimes. CLICK TO SHOP4| We are so thankful for small victories. Many times it takes our kids longer to do things that neurotypical kids do. When our special needs child has a small victory, it feels like we’ve won the lottery. It makes us grateful for every doctor appointment, surgery, therapy session, or medical device. You may find a special needs mom shouting a small victory from the rooftops and we hope you’ll join us in celebrating whatever it is too. 5| Being online helps us. If you see a special needs mom aimlessly scrolling Facebook or checking out “what the cool kids are doing now” on TikTok, chances are we are trying to forget about our hectic lives and are trying to gain some normalcy. Being a special needs mom means there are times we need to forget about hours of therapy, insurance and bills, doctor appointments, diagnoses, and whatever else. Diving into the Internet helps us have some semblance of downtime. In fact, you may see us on social media during intense times in our lives like our children’s surgeries or intense hospitalizations. Our brains literally are trying not to fall apart and being online can be one coping mechanism. CLICK TO SHOP6| Sometimes we’re bad communicators. A simple text or phone call (let’s be real- just text) can go a long way with us! It’s not that we don’t have time for you or forget you, it’s that we are constantly communicating with medical teams, specialists, insurance companies, durable medical equipment reps, and more, that when we finally have a moment to ourselves, we don’t think to text or call our friends (and sometimes even family.) Please extend us grace and know that any time you reach out it is such a blessing to us, even if you’re the one that always reaches out first. We still love you, promise! 7| We love when you include our kids. We feel like we hit the jackpot when you invite our kids to a birthday party or play date. Better yet, we love when your kids include our kids when they’re invited. 1 in 20 children have a disability of some kind now, and including our child is so special to us. We hope that your child befriending ours will leave a beautiful impact on both sides of the friendship. Who knows, you and your child may grow to become a special needs advocate! CLICK TO SHOPMoms, thank you for hearing our voices and not judging. Life is so hard for our families already and your kindness and understanding go so very far. We are grateful for our relationships with you and hope this has been a helpful way to begin to understand us as special needs moms.
Our Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World was hands down the best experience of our lives. Mathew and I had been to Disney World several times as children and adults, but there will never be anything that compares to a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World. Being a parent of a child with special needs can be so hard, but for our family, it’s always fulfilling. Addie is our world and I always feel like we do our best to give her an amazing life, but when the opportunity to have Addie choose a Make-A-Wish trip, we knew Disney World would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for her. I’ve dreamed of Addie being able to go on a commercial flight, and always wanted to take her to Disney World, but there are so many logistics when taking her to a doctor appointment, let alone the Happiest Place on Earth several states away. Make-A-Wish made all the logistics happen so effortlessly, and it was such an amazing thing to take Addie on the trip of a lifetime. With the help of my sweet friends Kathy and Christy (and several of my amazing Disney blogger friends), we had an amazing experience that I truly felt was the epitome of a Disney dream. I want to share our tips so other families with children that have special needs or other Make-A-Wish families can enjoy when they go on their very own Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World! 1| Buy the Magic Band. Magic Bands are a completely optional purchase that I recommend all Make-A-Wish families purchasing. We purchased one for our trip and it was so worth having! We were able to use it to get all the pictures from our rides and Photopass photographers with ease. To make sure I didn’t lose it during the week I bought a cute Magic Band bow. 2| Do Bibbity Boppity Boutique with a Savings Twist. My sweet friend Kathy gifted Addie money for her birthday to do Bibbity Boppity Boutique. Although some people ask Make-A-Wish for this as their “extra” we opted for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets as our extra. Kathy had sound advice for Addie and I’m thankful we took it. Buy your Disney Princess dress ahead of time. By bringing Addie’s dress with us, we saved SO much money! We spent $75 and Addie got her nails, hair, and makeup done, a cute cinch backpack, face gems, pixie dust nail polish, and a sash. She still had the full experience but for a fraction of the cost. 3| Dress up for the Occasion. This was the best thing we did. If you know what characters will be at which parks, take the extra time to grab princess dresses or costumes for your wish kid and siblings to wear. It makes for the best photo ops! Lawson got a great picture dressed in a Buzz Lightyear costume with Buzz Lightyear and dressed as a Stormtrooper in Galaxy’s Edge. Addie dressed as Anna from Frozen when she met Anna and Elsa, had a BB-8 dress on when she met Rey and Chewbacca, and even dressed as Moana for Animal Kingdom! If adults want to get in on the fun, definitely DisneyBound or get matching Make-A-Wish family shirts. 4| Reserve a Character Dining Option. It’s one thing to meet the characters or to have a Genie Pass and meet a lot of characters, but it’s a whole other thing to have a meal with a character. In the past we’ve done fun character dining like Chef Mickeys or Crystal Palace, but we wanted an extra special meal for Addie’s Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World. I absolutely recommend dining at 1900 Park Fare, especially at Christmas to see the gorgeous gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian, hear Christmas music from a pianist, and you can have a delicious and upscale meal with Cinderella, Prince Charming, and the evil Stepsisters. The food was incredible (get the prime rib!) and everyone in our whole party enjoyed it. 5| Get the Best Parade Spot. I’m going to give you my best Magic Kingdom secret spot for parades. Make-A-Wish families, this spot is incredible for character interactions. Across from the Hall of Presidents is a handicap accessible spot. If your wish kid is in a wheelchair or medical stroller, go there! There is also a small section blocked off for those that are hearing impaired. Since Addie has a cochlear implant we were also able to go to that section without a problem. So many characters stopped and loved on Addie! Make sure to wave and blow kisses. You’ll be surprised at how much Disney magic you’ll see. 6| Have Fun with Stormtroopers. Don’t miss Galaxy’s Edge on your Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World even if you aren’t a huge Star Wars fan. Get your family some Ronto Wraps at Ronto Roasters, ride Rise of the Resistance several times in a row (gotta love that Genie Pass), and then walk around! If you see Stormtroopers, mess with them! Tell them someone in your party is with the Resistance, boo Kylo Ren, or anything else funny. It’ll give you another fun experience to add to your trip. P.S.- don’t forget the blue milk. 7| Grab an Iconic Disney Snack. Whether it’s a Mickey pretzel, Mickey donut, Dole Whip, or churro- don’t miss out on the amazing snacks Disney has to offer. They make for the best pictures (especially if they’re as big as your wish kid’s face), taste delicious, and are an essential experience for a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World. The sweet cast members at Harambe Market gifted us with Disney snacks on our first day at Animal Kingdom as pixie dust and it was so special to us! 8| Rest Your Feet at the Lion King Show. If you’ve never seen the Lion King show at Animal Kingdom put it on your list. It’s a great show to see to rest your feet, get out of the rain, and just enjoy in awe. Plus, if you let them know you’re a Make-A-Wish family, they’ll try really hard to put you in the front row. You may even experience pixie dust! We were asked to join at the end for dancing on stage and took Addie out for a spin. It was so cool seeing all the characters so close! 9| Get A Face Painting. Did you know Make-A-Wish kids get a free face painting in each Disney World park? We found a face painting booth near Rockin’ Roller Coaster and while our families enjoyed the ride, my mother-in-law and I took Addie to get her face painted. The artist was so sweet with Addie and made sure she was comfortable in every way while doing her face paint. It made the day just a little extra special and many people were remarking how cute it was! Don’t skip this fun freebie. 10| Use Your Genie Pass As Much As You Can. Listen, Genie Passes are one incredible perk during your child’s Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World. Use it as much as you can during the trip. Make-A-Wish parents face the harsh reality that their kids can die, their kids are very sick, they’ve practically lived in hospitals so long, and/or their kids can get progressively worse over time. A Genie Pass is such a privilege, but at the same point, you’ve earned that pass. Anyone who is rude has no idea the struggles you’ve gone through. They might say, “Oh must be nice…” but they would never be able to walk a mile in your shoes. Brush them off, say a prayer for them, and enjoy every single ride with your wish kid. I truly hope that you and your wish kid have a phenomenal Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World. Our time there was such a blessing and it truly was the most magical experience ever. Make-A-Wish did a phenomenal job in planning everything and we are so grateful to them for this opportunity for Addie. I pray we will be able to take Addie to Disney on our own someday and have another incredible time.