Wednesday, September 7, 2011


So, we said we were cutting up some time to make it more manageable, but you thought that meant we were going to be more timely in updating.  Silly people.  Actually, it is always on our minds, but in the day-to-day rush of things.  Well, you know . . .

Anyway, from early on after the stroke.  Lizzy was concerned about going to space camp.  Space camp is in Pleasant Grove, Utah and is a camp where kids learn about space and perform "missions" in similated space ships.  The missions themselves are very Star Trekkie.  Last year, Lizzy and Spencer went and absolutely loved.  They loved it so much that they began planning their return trip on the way home last year (Spencer spent the summer working as a volunteer at the camp).  In fact, right before the stroke Lizzy had finished earning enough money to pay her way.  So, she started asking about going to space camp about 2 weeks after the stroke.  At first, the doctors weren't too keen on the idea, but as Lizzy improved, they got on board with the idea and finally gave her their blessing.  So, Lizzy was stoked.  Then, when Lizzy's grandpa heard that we were going to be that far West, he organized a family reunion of all of his kids and their families, and he made it possible for us to spend three days in Disneyland.  So, all of a sudden what had begun as a dubious trip to a space camp for four days turned into a two week marathon of fun and driving (I have heard rumors that those two are not mutually exclusive, but  . . .  LOL). 

The first leg of the trip was great.  A friend of Lizzy's was able to go with us to the space camp.  It was awesome.  Lizzy couldn't spend the night, but we would pick her up about 11pm each night and then return her between 7:30 and 8:00 each morning.  The rest of the day, she was blowing up aliens or working as the engineer or weapons officer.  She loved it.  Spencer did a great job of keeping an eye on her and telling us often how well she was doing.  The four days of camp were so good for Lizzy.  She got to hang out with a bunch of kids here age and interact as a normal 11 year old.  It gave her confidence another shot in the arm, which was needed.  Most of all, though, she just got to have a lot of fun. 

After we picked up Lizzy, Spencer, and her friend from space camp, we took her friend to stay with some of her family (who brought her back to Missouri when they came a week later to a family reunion) and headed to Las Vegas.  On the way down to Vegas, we stopped to see Julie's grandma.  Grandma Stansfield is still going strong at about 90 years old.  In fact, I wouldn't want to be her husband-- he passed away a few years ago and she's a bit miffed that he hasn't come for her yet.  Still, she is in great health and we hope she's with us for a while longer.  It is always a treat for our family when we can see Grandma. 

In Vegas, we stayed at Julie's dad's house and did absolutely nothing more strenuous than swimming in the pool and changing the channel on his big screen TV.  This was probably Tom's favorite part of the trip.  :)  Julie's dad joined us the second night and then we headed to San Diego.  Or so we thought, Grandpa was too busy playing and singing with the kids to actually take the right exit.  So, while Julie and Tom tried to figure out how you ended up getting south by going north, he just kept a speeding on-- emphasis on speeding.  Fortunately, (kind of), he got pulled over for speeding about 20 minutes past the exit, and we were able to ask him about where he was going.  Zach and Hannah, who were with Grandpa, put on the charm and had the police officer eating out of their hands.  That was good for Grandpa because he didn't have the title or the insurance and the car was registered in a different state than the one the gave him a driver's license.  He got off with a small speeding ticket.  Then, we were off, and so proud of grandpa who only missed two more exits the whole way down.

In San Diego, we got to see the newest addition to our family, Aunt Stephanie's new baby girl (less than a week old when we saw her).  What a cutie!  We are all glad that Uncle Jeremy's genes stayed out of the way on that one.  We held her and did our best to spoil her as much as we could during our hour together.  Then, it was off to spend the night in San Diego's Safari Park.  We were right between the lions and the elephants (that way if the lions escape they don't eat the park's big investment, they just get some out-of-towners.  That's what we call a win-win).  They had a really nice program in the evening and the next morning with some private tours and backstage kind of stuff, but we did hope for some more noise during the night.  The lions roared a little around 5am.  Other than that, the only excitement was a false alarm around midnight.  At first, people thought the lions were roaring, but it turned out to be Tom snoring.  :)

Following our time in San Diego, we went to Anaheim and the Magic Kingdom.  We have learned a couple of things about visiting Disneyland during the summer.  First, don't.  I swear, if you weren't there, you were about the only one.  We are pretty sure that everyone else in America came the same week we did.  Second, if you ignore our first piece of advice, take someone in a wheelchair.  The handicap wait times are super short.  While there were a lot of rides we couldn't go on because of Lizzy's condition (roller coasters are no longer a part of her future), there were a ton that we could and we had a super time.  We tried to do everything in sight as Lizzy and Julie planned out our daily route including food options and rest breaks.  It really was a great few days.  Lizzy got to go on Pirates twice and Hannah got to see the Princesses.  There isn't really anything more a person could ask for. 

After that, we headed home.  It was quite a long drive, but we were all relaxated and ready to face the world again.  Of course, when we got home the air conditioner had broken down and it was 95 degrees in the house, but that is another story. 

Until next time, thank you for your continued interest and love and prayers.

Tom and Julie and Lizzy Smith