Friday, August 26, 2011

Slight Tumor Growth?

Max’s most recent MRI seems to show a 5mm growth in the tumor that is around his optic nerve.  There is some uncertainty because in his May scans his head was oriented just a little differently so the pictures between the two scans can’t be lined up as accurately as one would hope.  Comparing the tumor in question to his February scans there doesn’t seem to be as noticeable of a change.  Unfortunately, that comparison was done only by the doctor and I, not the radiologist.  The radiologist has far better tools for matching things up.  Because of the location of the tumor, if it is growing it could further impair his vision but his vision exam showed no change and, oddly enough, was actually a little better than May.  Rather than start chemo right now, he’ll go back in 6 weeks for another MRI and vision exam.  If he is stable, he'll move back to visits every 3 months otherwise we'll have to decide on treatment or just closely following things.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Max's Shunt - followup

Max had a follow up with the neurosurgeon on Dec 9 at CHOP.  The doctor says that he's fine and from our perspective, things went really well.  He isn't scheduled for an MRI until February, which is when we'll see the interior handiwork.  Should be interesting.

Some things that were different than we had expected :
  1. The shaved part of his head was not "small" as had been described to us in pre-op.  To be fair, it also wasn't large, but we were expecting something that would easily be covered by recombing the hair and it was too large for that.  Max does have rapidly growing hair so within a few days you couldn't see it from the front and 5 weeks later it is only easy to make out once you are close.
  2. The bulk of his pain stemmed from the muscle in his stomach on the side opposite from his incision.  Not sure if this something unique to Max but he still has occaisional complaints.
  3. He was alert after surgery far sooner than I had expected.  He could answer questions within an hour.  This was a welcome change as his early MRI's required sedation and it normally took him more than 2 hours to get to the point where we had any idea where he was and what was going on.
  4. He was able to move about sooner than expected.  By lunch he had made his way to the bathroom once. 
  5. Walking with full mobility and stamina took much longer.  He was home from school for the whole week because we just didn't think he'd be able to keep up with moving throughout the halls, even with an elevator key.  We had focused all of our attention on his head and had given zero thought to how cuting the muscle in his stomach would affect him.  As far as the impact to his life, the stomach had far more of an effect.  There really wasn't much to do with his head other than shampoo it.
Max, and nearly every other person we're aware of, is eargerly awaiting Christmas.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Max gets a VP Shunt

We left home at 3:45 am, got coffee'd and gas'd and made CHOP by 5:45 am.  Very quiet down here at that hour, but not desolate; we were patient number 3 for surgery.  We were called into the pre-op area at around 6:30 am and Max was asleep and on his way to surgery by 8 am.  His surgeon came out around 8:45 and told me that everything had gone quite well.  He was surprised that Max wasn't showing other symptoms as there had been a good deal of pressure built up. 

I was re-united with Max in the PICU where I found him huddled under many warm blankets but shivering and mumbling that he was uncomfortable.  He wasn't really awake enough to give me any details but we got him turned around on the bed and a little more comfortable.  At that point I got my first look at the scar that we'd recently been advised would be faily small.  It isn't small.  To be fair, it isn't large.  Clearly, it will take some time for hair to grow back in and cover this.  The scar is probably 3-4 inches long and sits inside a shaved area that is slightly larger than an egg (but I don't bake much so ...).  There is also a scar of the same size just above his belly button that I saw a few moments ago is bruising quite nicely.  One of the doctors that came in early said that would be painful for a while as they had to stitch up some muscle there.

Max was given fentynol (sp?) for pain earlier and recently had some Tylenol and Oxycodone.  He napped nicely both times and is still sleeping from does two.  When he's awakened they, of course, shine a bright light in his eyes, and do a brief neuro check that seems like it is pretty annoying but he just takes it in stride.  Right now the nurse was giving him an antibiotic while he seemed to be sleeping.  When she went to check his blood pressure on his left arm, he moaned and raised his right arm (which is his bp preference).  He's a remarkable young boy.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Pre-Surgery Visit

Today was mostly uneventful though we did learn some details of the surgery.  We now know that Max won’t have a significant part of his head shaved but also won’t be able to get a haircut for quite a long time after the surgery so he’ll be getting a shorter than normal cut this weekend.  We find out the rest of the aftercare details on Tuesday, before we leave the hospital.  The day of the surgery, Max will get a cup of “giggle juice” (Versed & Tylenol).  In the past that’s been enough to get him to sleep but we’ll see if that is still true.  They’ll use it before he gets the IV for the rest of the surgery so things should be smooth sailing for the 80 minutes or so that he’ll be in the room.  This update is short because we’ve got to head out for Boy Scouts to get his first “self-packed” bag checked before weekend camping starts tomorrow night.  While it is colder here than normal, the forecast is for the rain to stop early tomorrow morning so hopefully we’ll be dry

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Max needs a shunt

Hard to believe that the Make-A-Wish trip was nearly two years ago. While a lot has happened since then, things have been going well so updating Max’s blog didn’t seem all that important. Sadly, things have changed a little bit. Max’s MRI back in July showed that his ventricles weren’t draining Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) properly. At that time, we scrambled a little to meet with the chief of neurosurgery at CHOP about what was likely for Max going forward. He explained that while the MRI showed a clear and significant change, he didn’t believe that surgery was warranted because Max wasn’t showing any other symptoms. The most likely symptoms for Max would be a change in the color of the optic nerves, headaches, and/or dizziness upon waking in the morning.

This past Monday was Max’s 3-month follow up MRI. This time around, in addition to scanning his brain and eyes, his entire spine was scanned because he’s showing signs of scoliosis. The spine was just precautionary and to get an initial image of his anatomy in case treatment for scoliosis becomes necessary in the future. In July and now, the curvature of Max’s spine isn’t bad enough to warrant treatment but he’s close so he’ll be watched closely as he goes through puberty and growth spurts as that is when things could change a lot in a short period of time. Adding the spine to the MRI turned what was typically a 90 minute scan into a 3 hour and 15 minute scan. How Max was able to lay mostly still for that long and be inside the MRI tube is beyond me. Near the end he was clearly, and understandably, restless and would cross his legs. I’d hear the radiologist say, “Max, don’t move.” and he’d reply with a simple “Sorry.” That happened a lot near the end. When it was all over he jumped up off the table rather quickly causing both the nurse and I to worry that he’d collapse from being dizzy. He insisted that he was fine and actually started hoping a little bit. We tried to get him to stand still but he said, “I’ve really got to pee, it’s an emergency!” Apparently he’d been holding it for a little over an hour. It is stunning what he’s able to tolerate.

While he was in the bathroom taking care of things and getting dressed, I was visited by the radiologist who wanted to make sure that we wouldn’t be leaving the hospital. I knew something was up, but she wasn’t able to share, so I let her know that we still had two doctor’s appointments to go before we could leave. It was 12:45 pm before we were able to leave and we had to be at the first doctor at 1:30 pm so we ran down to McDonald’s. Max ate his entire meal in just under 8 minutes, which is a record for him. We were able to make it to the doctor slightly ahead of schedule so we got checked in and then started to play air hockey on the new iPad from work. That was fun but we only got in a few quick games before his doctor called us in. The doctor never calls us in. We typically go in with a medical student who does an initial exam. That person then explain their findings to the doctor and he reconfirms their results and tells us what it all means for Max, always making sure that Max understands. This time there was no medical student. Max was examined quickly and then we were asked if the oncologist had called yet. I told him that no, we hadn’t heard from her yet, but we knew something was going on. He said that the team had already talked about the MRI and we needed to go see oncology before going to the orthopedist.

Not knowing what is wrong, only that something is wrong, is such a crappy feeling. Because we’d added the spine, I was worried something new was going on. Thankfully, I wasn’t given a lot of time to ponder all the what if’s as we got in to see the neuro-oncologist within just a few minutes (something else that never happens). She started right in with the MRI, showing us that the ventricle on the right side was significantly changed from last time having become larger and showing more spill over than before. The good news was that the left side was smaller than it had been 3 months ago. We talked for a while about the implications of the change being only on the MRI with Max remaining without other symptoms. The concern expressed by the neuro-ophthalmologist is that Max's optic nerves might not show a change in color because they're already so badly damaged. The fear is that Max could completely lose his vision as his first symptom. The neuro-surgeon argued that would be very unlikely and that headaches or diziness would be far more likely but also acknowledged that Max will almost certainly need a shunt in the future.

At this point we're all agreed, Max included, that Max does need a shunt and that he should have the surgery soon, rather than wait for anything further to develop. This Thursday, November 4, the whole family will head down to CHOP for a meeting where Max will get a physical, have blood drawn for testing, and we'll discuss the entire procedure and answer all of the remaining questions. Then, on Monday, November 8, Max and Bob will head to CHOP for Max's surgery. We won't learn the time until the Friday before hand but we already know that Bob can stay with Max in the hospital and that Max will be there for at least 24 hours. The expectation is that he'll get to return home on Tuesday where the girls will have a feast of McDonald's, BBQ potato chips, and milk already prepared.

On Wednesday, Max will head to Lehigh Valley with Tracy for injections that he would normally have gotten on Tuesday. While these could be given at CHOP, Max would miss his monthly visit with everyone at Lehigh Valley. Also, Max will finally get the much coveted "overnight" bead for his necklace. He's longed for this since getting his first beads many years ago but had thus far eluded the qualification of an overnight stay at a hospital.

While Max is concerned about the surgery, he agrees that he needs it to make sure that other things don't go wrong. He is looking forward to the trip to Philly with the family tomorrow, his party/feast when he returns home, his overnight bead, and some super fantastic prize that is certain to be coming his way.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Make-A-Wish - The Last Day!

Friday, December 5 was the last day of our trip! The night before we’d been out late finishing up shopping so the kids pretty much crashed on entering the room. Tracy was up the latest stressing over what we may be leaving by hind but it seems like she got everything. We let everyone rise on their own schedule as today would be long; our flight wouldn’t get to Newark until nearly 11 pm. The entire car was packed and we arrived for a final visit this year at the Magic Kingdom. Max had wanted to do the monorail (he remembered his co-pilot trip from early very fondly) but the line was way too long and we opted for the Ferry instead.

On our walk down (up ?) Main Street USA we got several pictures with the castle in the background. Gwendolyn was dying to get on Space Mountain and not getting that done had the potential for her to consider the trip a bust so Tracy and Gwendolyn headed in that direction while Bob took Max and Olivia to get the last two cars on Max’s souvenir list. Walking into the shop Bob saw Sue Ort, yes Sue Ort the teacher at Old Farmer’s Road and member of the Ort Farm clan. Sue had watched Bob and his brother as well as Carey and Casey MItschele eons ago when cows still roamed on what is now Douglas Drive so it was great to catch up with her. She and her sister Wendy were visiting and today happened to be Wendy’s birthday. After Max met Sue he was getting impatient to make sure his cars were still here so we found and paid for his treasures and then headed to Tomorrowland where the plan was to wait outside the Laugh Floor for Tracy and Gwendolyn.

About 10 minutes of waiting (which had been followed by a not so short shopping trip) but got a text message from Tracy saying that Space Mountain was shut down but they were on the ride. Tracy suggested a trip on the people mover to see if we couldn’t get a picture of the oldest girls from this angle. Fortunately, the ride was already working again when the people mover cruised through Space Mountain so we met up at the Laugh Floor. During this show, Olivia was ‘chosen’ to play the part of Boo in the short story told by the animated monsters. She thought that was great – all she had to do was play Peek-A-Boo – and Max and Gwendolyn were proud of her performance.

We ran out of there and through Buzz Light Year for a final visit with Buzz and Zurg. Bob no longer remembers who shot the most that time but is pretty sure Olivia beat Max soundly. At this point it time for lunch at Cosmic Rays. This lunch went pretty well but we had wisely found a table far from Ray so Max didn’t get distracted by the bad jokes.

Oh, forgot to mention that today was in the 80s temperature wise (and we were back to a possible snow storm). With the heat Max was getting a little cranky so he and Bob opted for a break by the carousel while the girls tried to ride Dumbo. Dumbo was just not happening – the line was at least 40 minutes and we were on a short schedule today. The girls moved over to the carousel where we have a wonderful picture of Olivia expressing her pleasure (not) at skipping Dumbo.

That part of our trip we headed to Thunder Mountain! This time, we were sent around to the exit by the cast member working the entrance. This was way cooler than the FastPass line; we got to talk to the Cast Members running the ride and we were told that the back of the coaster is the faster, cooler seat. Back it was for Bob and Max while the girls rode one seat forward.

Gwendolyn loves the wet rides but we hadn’t done any yet. Max really didn’t want to do Splash Mountain but relented when he was told we could do Thunder Mountain one more time … after Splash Mountain. Max wanted to ride with Tracy even though it is common knowledge that Tracy ALWAYS gets wet on these rides. Bob rode with the girls in the back of the car as Tracy had chosen the middle as the ‘dry’ seat. No shock when the ride ended with Tracy soaked, Max a little wet and the rest mostly dry. She dried a little on our last ride on Thunder Mountain before we headed towards ToonTown to see Mickey without Christmas garb.

On the way to Mickey we stopped by the Haunted Mansion but Bob fell asleep as soon as he sat down so there is really nothing to report :). The visit with Mickey went well and then we headed to the Laugh Floor which would be our final ride of the trip. Bob texted in a joke (Q: How do you cut the ocean in half? A: You use a Sea Saw of course!) with Gwendolyn’s name that he done last time with Max’s name. We’ll Gwendolyn was now nearly as famous as Olivia was earlier. Max was just happy to hear his joke read and wasn’t jealous that he hadn’t gotten credit. It was a nice way to end things.

On the way out of the park, Tracy had to shop for one more thing (how Bob didn’t see this coming is just beyond him). Gwendolyn went along to help while Max, Olivia and Bob shared a popcorn by City Hall. They were able to finish the entire box of popcorn and wash up before the shopping was done. All but Bob changed from shorts to pants in the parking lot. We finally got on our way at about 4:15 pm.

The Orlando airport (MCO anyway) is a little confusing for returning rental cars as there is one notice at the very beginning of the loops but nothing more until you’re right on top of the turn. Thankfully we didn’t miss it and found the AVIS return just fine. The guy that checked out the car found a sky cap to help with the bags and we were on our way home. Gwendolyn grabbed a sandwich while Max and Olivia got milks (Liv’s was chocolate, of course) while we waited for our plane. The flight home was uneventful; Max and Olivia slept for most of it. We arrived at Newark right on time and were greeted by Jim, our limo driver, who had secured two carts in anticipation of our having a really large number of bags. Good call. Everyone was excited for the ride home but only Olivia and Bob were awake by the time we got to Route 78. We arrived back in Flanders safe, sound, and utterly exhausted at about 11:00 pm. Jim and Bob got the bags inside while Tracy got the kids ready for bed. Bob then ran to the A&P to get essentials before they closed knowing that doing it in shorts and 25 degree weather while he was still awake would be preferable to having to get up at 5 am when Max came to let him know that there weren’t any bananas or milk ;-)

Make A Wish Day 5

Thursday, December 4 was the fifth day of Max’s Make-A-Wish Trip. We’d been running long and hard for four solid days and tried to recharge a little by taking it easy this morning and not arriving at Animal Kingdom until 10:30 am. Max, of course, had been up far earlier as he was looking forward to lunch at the McDonalds inside Dinoland. The park didn’t seem too crowded so we took our time going in and stopped for photos outside the gates and then twice more for different angles of the Tree of Life. Once we’d had our fill of photos we headed off to the Kilimanjaro Safari. There we saw plenty of animals and were entertained by our driver.

From the Safari we headed to Restaurantosaurus in Dinoland. We’d done lunch here in the past because they had Max’s favorite –the Chicken McNugget Happy Meal. Oh the horror when we learned it was no longer a McDonalds. In retrospect, a flag should’ve gone up when we found that the character breakfast that used to be at this location was moved to the Tusker House and had a completely different menu but Bob had incorrectly assumed this was just an attempt to dress up the breakfast location a little (it was a McDonald’s after all). Max was so upset that he had a little rant and then through his hat in disgust because we had promised and we were ruining his life. It so did not look well :( Bob was able to get him to pick something to eat, a hot dog and fries, and then he and Gwendolyn got on line while Tracy found a place to sit with Max and Olivia and fed those two their yogurt and fruit. Ordering lunch made things even worse. Well, getting lunch was the real trial, ordering actually went very smoothly. In Bob and Gwendolyn’s little queue there was one woman in front of them. Oddly, the first meal to come out for their queue was the gentleman behind Bob. Maybe he just had a small meal? Nope. The next one served was a good five minutes later and was again someone behind Bob. Of the six service lines that were going all had at least two orders kind of stuck while people behind were getting served. One of the servers finally, after at least 10 minutes of people having to step awkwardly around those that had ordered before, realized what was wrong and grabbed a series of meal tickets from the holder on the counter. Now things were going to get fixed! Nope. No idea whatsoever what happened to that troglodyte but it took another 15 minutes before a manager finally came out, got all of the orders reprinted, and got the people at the front of the queue served their meals.

Bob had assumed that he’d be walking from this little slice of heaven into a far worse slice run by an agitated Max that had now had nearly 40 minutes to stew over just how ruined his life was becoming. Imagine Bob’s great surprise to find Tracy, Max, and Olivia laughing and having finished their yogurts, fruits, and juice. Things were starting to look up. While everyone else was eating, Bob called Amy, our Disney guru, to confirm that there was a McDonald’s in Downtown Disney where we planned to go later for souvenir shopping. He had to do something for Max as he had adjusted so well to this deviation.

After lunch we ran down to Camp Mickey Minnie to do meet and greets with some characters while we waited for 1:30 pm which was when we were supposed to meet Allie, Max’s teacher’s daughter. Donald was on break but his line was really long because people were waiting for him. However, Daisy was holding court in the hut and either those in line had already seen her or decided to just wait for Donald because the three kids ran right up to see her. The Disney photographer got some good pictures of them running up as well as group photos.

On our way to Mickey’s hut, we saw that Kona from Brother Bear was out and about so we got on line to see him and another bear. We did Kona, Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy before 1:30 pm. The line for Donald was a little too long so rather than risk it we decided to go to the meeting place at the exit for the Lion King show. There Tracy, accompanied by Max and Gwendolyn, talked to a cast member about Allie to find out what more we needed to do. Bob was standing further back with Olivia when the doors for the exit opened and a tremendous crowd came out making it impossible to join back up until all had passed by. Olivia took this time to climb all over jungle gym Bob but only kicked a few passersby.

Once we all got back together we learned that Allie would come and see us soon and soon it was; our Disney angel walked out just a few minutes later. Allie, Tracy, Gwendolyn and Max talked but Bob couldn’t hear much of it with the crowd noise so the details are sketchy but he saw the kids get pictures with Allie and got her to sign their autograph books. What happened next was that we were escorted in to the theater via the exit and then taken to front row, VIP, seats in the elephant section. A few minutes later Allie ran back and asked the kids to come with her to help start the show! Max thought it was great but Olivia decided now was a good time to be shy and wouldn’t budge. Gwendolyn wanted to go but was also being shy. Bob let her know that this would never happen for her again and she’d be very upset with herself if she didn’t participate. Remarkably, she took the advice (though we understand that this will stop in two years when she turns 13 :( ), and Allie, Max and Gwendolyn taught the audience how to do the hand jive. The kids had a little trouble keeping up with Allie, especially at the end when it was really fast, but they had a great time!

The show was awesome! We were sitting so close to the action that the kids got high-fives from many of the cast. We’ve seen it before and thought it was a great show but sitting this close was very cool. At the end of the show, while the lights were still down but the cast was still on the floor, Allie came over and said, “Follow me.” We all jumped up and ran after her to end up in an alcove where she said Max and the girls would meet the cast in a few minutes. That meeting was fantastic! Everyone came out in costume so the pictures are full of brilliant colors. Timon (a character from the Lion King movie) made an appearance as well so the kids got pictures with him and autographs. It was a great visit but Allie had another show to get ready for so we had to say our goodbyes.

We got out after most of the crowd had dispersed so the line to see Donald Duck was minimal. The kids got pictures and autographs with him and Max took a moment to let Donald know that he had made a mess of Mickey’s house (in Toontown at the Magic Kingdom) and that he really needed to make sure he cleaned up. Donald just looked away. On our way out of Camp Mickey Minnie we saw Pocahontas for autograph and pics followed by a trip to the ice cream stand. Max didn’t want anything, Gwendolyn had a fruit bar and Olivia completely wore the Mickey Mouse ice cream thing that she had ordered so it took a while to clean up.

From there we were on our way to Expedition Everest where the agreement with Max was that if Olivia was tall enough he, too, would have to ride. He remembered that the ride went backwards, something he isn’t very fond of, so he was hoping that Liv was too short. In route we learned that the parade was starting in a few minutes so we took a spot that looked good as we’d never actually seen the Animal Kingdom Parade. Max and the girls sat in front of the stroller and within just a minute or two, Max had folded himself up, lying across his pretzel lap, and fallen asleep. He was the talk of most people around us for the next 10 minutes or so. The parade was fun and what we realized, because we had such great seats at the Lion King show and could see the cast members there close up, was that many of the folks in the parade were from the show. One of the men came up to Olivia and asked if she could light her shoes up for him, as she had done during the Lion King show. That was fun.

We made a quick detour into It is a Bugs Life. Max had said that he didn’t want to go in as early as yesterday so he was more than reluctant. Olivia did not like how dark it was inside and everyone but Bob (who can’t smell anything, ever) hated the stink bug part of the show. I think that show may get by passed the next few times :) We got out and headed to Expedition Everest where Max was overjoyed to learn that Olivia was at least two inches too short for the ride. Gwendolyn argued this for a bit but Bob, Max, and Olivia split while Tracy and Gwendolyn did the ride with Max’s fast pass.

Because Max hadn’t wanted ice cream earlier, Bob offered him a soft serve at a cart. He only wanted vanilla but Olivia wanted more ice cream and would only take chocolate so we compromised on a swirl of the two. Bob paid, took the ice cream and asked Max to grab some napkins and we headed toward the restroom area that we had just stopped at, prior to splitting, because there were several unoccupied benches there. Or so Bob thought! Bob got Olivia’s stroller parked so that she had a good view and then realized that Max wasn’t there. In less than 200 yards and in a fairly thin crowd, Bob had lost Max! It didn’t take long to spot him in his neon green Make A Wish T-Shirt so Bob and Olivia walked over to the group that Max was talking to. He was in the middle of about 15 people and they were obviously all talking to him. Bob was hoping that Max had decided to ask someone about the most recent state quarter or jumped into a conversation that he found interesting but this was not the case. While Bob didn’t run, he also didn’t crawl so the time that had elapsed over the 200 yard walk was well less than a minute. However, during this brief period of time, Max had 1) gotten a pile of napkins, 2) decided he was lost when he didn’t see Bob (who is freaking huge, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, and pushing a stroller), 3) and flagged down a group of people whom he informed of his status as well as Bob’s cell phone. The group saw Bob well in advance of Max. When Bob was pointed out to Max, Max did get excited but didn’t seem all that distressed. However, when Bob and Max got a chance to talk afterwards it was learned that Max really did think he’d been abandoned for about 14 or 15 seconds and he thought that he had done just what he’d been told to do if lost. He was close but had forgotten about the “look for a name tag with mouse ears” part of the rule. Thankfully it happened in the nicest place on earth and he wasn’t really lost (at least that is Bob’s story and he’s sticking to it).

The older girls loved the ride and Gwendolyn wanted to go again but it was getting late (around 5 pm) and we still wanted to try and do the few rides at Epcot that the kids were looking forward to before heading to Downtown Disney for dinner. On the way out of the park we stopped by Guest Services to check on two Disney passes that we had left over from our 2004 trip to see if they could be used tomorrow by Bob and Tracy. We were hoping that each had a day left from that previous trip when Amy and Tara had not done the parks but stayed at the rental house with Owen and Olivia to rest up. Imagine our surprise when we learned that we, in fact, had 2 days left! That was great, but now we have 2 more adult tickets and 2 kid's tickets that might still have 1 day left on them but we need to find for the next trip.

On the heels of that great news we headed to Epcot arriving there at 5:40 pm. We left everything in the car because we weren’t staying long. We made a bee line for Turtle Talk and walked in just as the show was starting. Having Max get picked the last time we were here to describe a bikini had set the bar very high. While this show was fun, it was far more entertaining to have Crush talk to Max about Max wearing a bikini top to the beach while Max thought he was only talking about a bathing suit. On the way out, all 3 kids decided that they wanted to do the Nemo ride which Bob had thought was somewhat less than entertaining on our last trip. Bob was correct but it only took 5 minutes out of our lives.

From there we went to Soarin. On our last trip Bob and Olivia had stayed outside because she was far too short for the ride back then. Now, everyone was tall enough, but Max was not looking forward to the ride as he has a minor fear of heights. He agreed that he would sit next to Tracy, hold her hand the whole time, and close his eyes if things got to be too much. He did fine and everyone had a great time. From there we headed to our last ride of the day, Test Track. Here we saw a friend of Gwendolyn’s from school, Emily. Neither had known the other was in Disney the same week so that was nice, unexpected surprise.

We ran back to the car and then raced over to Downtown Disney to get dinner at McDonalds and finish the souvenir shopping. The parking lot was packed but we finally found a spot and we were done with dinner at 8:37 pm! We went over to the Disney store where Tracy and the girls went their way and Max led Bob on what was expected to be a long, painful, and possibly horrifying journey. Max was done in five minutes! He had decided he wanted some Matchbox type cars that were $5.00 each. He had done the math ahead, and had picked his cars during his other trips. He struggled a little bit because the Star Wars cars were not available but getting both C3PO and R2D2 was going to put him over budget. Bob let him know that because we were done so quickly he could get both cars the next day at the Magic Kingdom where we’d seen them earlier in the week. Bob cannot describe how wonderful and unexpected this was. Max had been brutal to pull out of the stores for the entire trip, insisting on stopping at each and every kiosk to scope things out and taking a really long time to do so. Here, it paid off handsomely though. He didn’t even ask for anything else. It can be so hard to try and guess what he is thinking, but often comes through at times like these. To his credit, this kind of thing happens more and more with him as he ages and the tantrums that involve throwing his hat are becoming few and far between.
Max and Bob were finished and able to find the girls again within about 10 minutes. Olivia had found her souvenir so Bob took she and Max back to the counter to pay for these purchases and pick up a discounted (Disney discounted anyway) duffle bag to bring all of the purchases home. After this, Bob and Max tried to help Gwendolyn figure out something appropriate but she was having a very hard time. She is at a stage in her life where she understands that things cost money and is unwilling to spend money on herself or have people spend their money on her. That mentality made for a long time in the store but she finally found something she liked. Gwendolyn rejoined Tracy to finalize shopping while Bob, Max and Olivia headed outside to ditch the chaos at 9:46 pm. By 10:17 pm, all three kids were sound asleep in the car as we headed to hotel to pack and prepare for the last day of our trip.