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Make A Wish (Part 2)


Since we arrived in Florida later at night, we didn't really have the chance to do anything other than eat a quick supper, unpack and go to bed. I will write more details later about the place where we actually stayed while we were on this trip. It was an unbelievable place, definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the kids!

The next morning after breakfast, we decided where we should go first. The decision was fortunately unanimous ...everyone wanted to take Jaymun to Gatorland and see his reaction to all the alligators and crocodiles! This was a moment that made me proud to be a mom--we were surrounded by all the glitz and allure of Disney's theme parks ...the rides, the excitement, the characters, etc. But when given a choice, Jaymun's siblings wanted to do something that would make him happy first. Sometimes people ask me if the other kids resent all the attention that naturally falls on Jaymun because of his leukemia. I think the honest answer is that they all saw firsthand how sick he's been since he was born and they understand more than anyone else what enormous obstacles he's had to overcome over the past two years. They are quite protective of him and extremely proud of having a little brother who is a living miracle. They all have a tender soft spot for him, yet they treat him like any other "normal" toddler who can be irritating at times. I really love that about a family, how the members accept the circumstances given to them and the whole family unit reshapes and molds itself around the situation.

So, on to Gatorland. I didn't even know such a place existed until Make A Wish sent us on this trip. If your family ever takes a trip to Orlando, I'd highly suggest stopping in at Gatorland. It's about twenty minutes from Disney World and it's quite feasible to tour the whole place in half a day. I don't think Jaymun knew what to think when he realized that he was seeing actual, live alligators up close. It was so amusing to watch him look through the railings at all the creatures in the water. He kept saying, "Oh, wook at dat! Croc-diles! Croc-diles!" The kids were having fun leading him by the hand and pointing out different things to him.

We saw alligators,

more alligators,

and yes, even more alligators.

I have to say the highlight of the day was probably seeing this rare phenomenon. It was exciting for Jaymun to be able to see one up so close.
These are exotic - white (or leucistic) alligators. We were told they're pretty rare, only a dozen (out of five million alligators) white gators are left in the world. They're actually a pale butter yellow color, with blue eyes. Gatorland has four white gator brothers living in their "swamp". They don't have direct exposure to sunlight, as they are susceptible to dangerous sunburn and infections from UV rays. There's your science lesson for the day!

Jaymun was even able to pet a real baby alligator.
He enjoyed it so much,
we thought maybe he'd love
to hold a medium sized one too.

We were wrong.

He was fine up until the point where the alligator
started hissing. When Jaymun realized that the
"croc-dile" his daddy was holding was actually ALIVE,
he wasn't so happy anymore. After this photo was taken,
we all sat down to hold it. When Jaymun saw everyone
touching it, he gingerly held the tail himself and
was perfectly happy (but I only have a photo that
Gatorland took of us, not one on my camera
to show you, sorry!).

After watching an entertaining
"Gator Wrestling" show,
we decided to go back to our villa
and let Jaymun take a nap.

(He got a little headstart
in the van on the way back.)

Make A Wish had given not only
Jaymun but each one of the kids
spending money for souvenirs.
(Yes, they think of everything!)
Jaymun's share was put to good use
on crocodile paraphenalia--shirt,
hat, stuffed crocodile,
rubber crocodile, etc.

Here he is modeling one of his
Gatorland T-shirts at home....