The following is written by my cousin Laura. Laura has been spoiling our Ania with love basically since birth :) Ania often refers to her as "My Laura" (like she owns her haha!). Recently the two of them enjoyed a day out- please enjoy this sweet insight into a special bond!
Ania and "Her Laura"
I feel so honored to have the pleasure of being a guest blogger for this little Dainty Warrior. For those who do not know me, my name is Laura and I am Erica’s cousin through our fathers. The past few months have been difficult on our family, but every time we get to see this little light of a child smile, it reminds us how strong she really is. I am still in awe, every day, of her resilience, her strength, and her constant happiness. She’s the strongest three and a half year old I know!
I took it upon myself to take every opportunity I could to make Ania smile. I am so happy Erica and Mike allow me to take her to such fun things when I can. She is a complete joy to be around. This girl could make the grumpiest person smile. Her personality is extremely infectious and the fact that I got the chance to spend a whole day with her was a total blessing. The first opportunity I had was that I got to spend an entire day with her at the Museum of Science and Industry. Through some company perks, I was able to get us in for free! Coincidentally enough, we also got to go see the Walt Disney Archives as they were there when we came that day. Ania was very excited to see some Mickey and Minnie drawings and pointed them out on all of the signs near the entrance of the museum. After standing in line, for what seemed like forever, we finally got to take the escalator up to the main floor. Now, I personally LOVE this museum. However, it is completely different when you are with a child. Not only was I exhausted taking her to as many exhibits as I could, but it was definitely a unique experience to hear what she had to say about everything and how she interpreted things differently.
When we got upstairs, Ania caught sight of the model trains display that the museum has. She really liked watching all of the trains! There is also a wonderful miniature version of the Chicago skyline. She told me a cute story that it was a castle, which is where Daddy lived, Mommy lived in the school, and brother Kellen lived on the street. When I asked where she lived she said, “In all of the castles!”
Ania with her ‘castles’
We were also very lucky to catch the beginning of a science demonstration. They were showing how different elements make fire change into different colors. Once we watched a few minutes of that, it was time to go see the Walt Disney Archives! The entrance had a big Mickey (which she promptly squealed about), we took a picture, and headed inside. While we were very excited to see all of the Disney stuff, I don’t think it was as centered around children as we originally thought. I loved seeing all of the old-school Disney stuff and how he started out, but Ania really didn’t show much interest. There, luckily, was some kid stuff that she could play with. She got to build her own princess castle on a magnet wall that they had. She did not walk away from that until the castle was just perfect. A few people stopped to watch her and told me her concentration and attention to detail was incredible. This girl will definitely be an artist, if we didn’t figure that out already! The one part of the displays that really caught Ania’s eyes were the actual costumes from some of the Disney movies (Enchanted, Oz the Great and Powerful, etc.), and to that she said “Laura, those are SCAWIE!” so we promptly left that area with her head buried in my shoulder.
With her castle!
It was finally time for lunch! We got hot dogs and a cupcake to share. When I asked if she wanted her hot dog cut up, she told me she was a big girl and that she could do it. This picture definitely proves that!
Being a big girl!
By the way, if there was any question about family relation, it was answered when she started eating that cupcake. If you know me, you know my obsession with sprinkles. Looks like Ania has the same obsession! If a sprinkle dropped off of her forkful of cupcake, she would pause, pick it up, and place it carefully back on the frosting. Can’t waste those sprinkles!
Concentrating so hard! J
Once we were full of sprinkles, we went to find the cows! I think Ania could’ve spent all day in this area and the next one. There was a cow to sit on and take pictures, there were John Deere tractors everywhere to sit in, and you could even pretend to milk your own cow! Ania thought this was a riot. If you ever see her, ask her how to milk a cow. She’s a nut!
Riding a cow!
Next to the cows, there is a kids play area. Basically, a place to play with water and those colored balls that you usually find in ball pits. Welcome to the entire rest of the afternoon at the museum. Ania got a KICK out of this place. There was a tube that you could put the balls into and it would shoot them across the room. She would pick up at LEAST 5 at a time, with a huge smile on her face, tell me all of the colors, and post herself in front of the tube for a good while.
I was able to sidetrack her from this room to go see some of the circus display and the fun mirrors (which was probably the hardest I’ve laughed in a while), and to get some ice cream where there were even more sprinkles to eat!
Her mirror “selfie”!
We made a quick stop into the gift shop, because, you know, “Aunties” were made to spoil kids rotten. We got her some Minnie Mouse ears, a Minnie Mouse stuffed doll, and a mermaid necklace. She was super adorable when we got back home and wanted to pose for some pictures with her new ears on!
After taking a break for Ratatouille and allow Erica more one on one time with Kellen, it was time to go back home! Once in her car seat, it only took 2 minutes for this to happen:
Again, I cannot express enough how honored I am to be able to provide constant smiles for this angel. Every day, every treatment, every ounce of good news I hear, this little girl inspires the heck out of me. She really is my guiding light of hope in this crazy world. I am so proud to call her my family member and I am so in awe of her strength. More than anything, I am in awe of Erica and Mike. They are the strongest people throughout all of this. I cannot fathom what they are going through, but they are most definitely an inspiration. I wish every single day that they did not have to deal with the trials and tribulations of cancer. However, they are taking everything in stride and I just KNOW they will get through this (love you both J).
You will definitely be hearing from me again, as I will be taking Ania this Saturday , February 8th to see Disney On Ice! Keep following Erica, Mike, Kellen, and Miss Ania throughout their battle. Keep supporting her. Keep thinking happy thoughts and praying for good outcomes.