We Dreamed A Little Dream...
And it came true! This may be the longest blog post I ever write. I have so much to say, and I don’t know how I could cut anything out.
I think I have told Bryan over and over- It feels incredible and overwhelming and thrilling and scary and exciting to create something that there is a need for, and that people want to come to. We worked for months on every little detail. We planned and planned down to the last detail and prepared to go to Florida for the first Dream Retreat.
I arrived the day before to get settled and get everything set up before the launch team arrived. I was overcome to the point of tears so many times during that first day: when I saw the beautiful resort, the swag that Katie worked SO hard on, and meeting families who i had only seen in little squares for years. My heart was so full and it hadn’t even begun yet.
Thursday morning, my family arrived, and my favorite Eicher family pulled in right behind them. It was getting really real!
We started out the weekend with a pizza and pool party. We had lots of extra hands to help play and supervise the kids in the pool. So thrilling to be able to relax at the pool knowing there are extra hands and extra eyes on the kiddos.
That first night, I knew the bonds that were forming were special. The dads went out after all the kiddos went to bed, and they had the best time. In fact, the friendships that formed between those guys that weekend is special. We, as mothers, form bonds more quickly and have more opportunities to do so. But the dads got to experience being around other dads who just get it. And that was huge. In fact, they still text on a group message a million times a day. It makes my heart so happy.
The next day was a beach day- it was a lovely day on the beach! We had helpers again to keep an eye on the kiddos and make sure everyone was safe. We went back to get ready for dinner, ate and headed back to the beach for the amazing bonfire. We danced and chatted and roasted marshmallows by the fire light. It was magical if I do say so myself.
That night the mom’s went out- like really went out. We started at a bar that had closed “for one drink”, because we were all so tired. Well, that turned into dancing, playing, and even swimming in our clothes at 3:00 AM. (so many videos I will spare you from, but that I will laugh at forever) Where we were escorted from the pool by a security guard, who happened to have a son with Down syndrome as well.
The next morning the mom’s and kids painted with Sevy of Sevy Marie Art. That was another favorite! Watching my sweet Dex paint next to Sevy, and watching her create and paint was awesome. Dex’s piece is in my office so I can remember that magical morning every single time I look at it. The dad’s went fishing in the bay, and loved that time together as well! Then the mom’s had a time of writing with Kelle Hampton, which was amazing. I was so excited to meet Kelle. Nella’s story was the first one I read about having a baby with Down syndrome right after Dex was born. She was so much fun, and so lovely. Then the momma’s got pampered at the spa, which was a beautiful way to end the afternoon.
That evening was another favorite- Parent’s Night Out. We had a Kid’s Night In with bounce houses, a kid’s buffet, art projects and movies. While the kiddos had the best time- the parents went to a beautiful private club to watch the sunset, then headed into the little town for dinner and drinks. So nice to know that our kiddos were safe and we could all go out and enjoy time with each other.
The next morning, we had our farewell brunch, where we ate, looked at the photos, listened to Lisa and Joey Eicher share about their family and Liz Plachta shared about Ruby’s Rainbow. We said our goodbyes, except no one wanted to say goodbye. So we all just stayed. We spent the afternoon together and went into the town until dinner. It was a perfect ending to a perfect weekend.
I have thought about the Dream Retreat every single day since we left (and not just because we are prepping for February). So thankful that this need in our community can be met through the Dream Retreat. I am blessed to have the best co-founders on this team with me. We put our heart and soul into this retreat, and are praying it is a way for families to find respite with extra support and with families who truly get it. After all, our kiddos are the ones who brought us together!
If you want to hear more about the Dream Retreat, follow us on instagram at @adreamretreat or check out our website. I am honored and excited to see where we go from here!
** All photos are by Clay and Emily Goswick