We are back from our 10 day trip to California and what a trip it was! I am so proud of my little family for trekking all the way across the country and not only managing it all well, but having the time of our lives! If someone had told me a year ago that we would be bringing our 2 young kids (1 with special needs), 4 suitcases, 2 strollers, 2 carseats, 1 posture walker, and 4 carry-ons on a plane to California, I probably would have laughed… and then cried and had a panic attack because I hate flying. But somehow it all worked out and we are back home! The laundry is flowing and so are Ryan’s boogers – Cincinnati allergies can go suck an egg.
The main reason for our trip was to attend the bi-annual 11q Research and Resource Group 2014 Family Conference to learn more about Ryan’s condition and meet other families with 11q kids. I will address that in my next blog (spoiler alert – IT WAS AMAZING!!!!). Considering that my brother lives in San Diego and Ryan’s love for Mickey Mouse (and the fact that I was actually getting my ass on a plane after a long hiatus) we decided to lengthen the trip to include time at Disneyland and catch an Angel’s game. After much anticipation, we were off!!!
After arriving in San Diego, my brother, Dave, helped us get all of our luggage and the rental van. We stayed in San Diego for 1 night before heading up to Anaheim. That gave us a little time to see my niece, Chloe, and get the girls on pacific time. It was remarkably easy to get them on track. The next day Dave took the girls to some nearby tidal pools to play while Katie and I went grocery shopping with Ryan. Charlie had a blast but I fretted all day about discovering that Ryan had chipped her front tooth somehow. We never saw it happen and she didn’t cut her lip. A total mystery. I’ve been calling her “Chipper”.
The first night in Anaheim we spent in “Downtown Disney”. We had dinner, walked around, listened to music, and shopped. It was a nice introduction to the next 2 days in the actual park.
The next 2 days were spent in the park. Katie had done a lot of research prior to the trip so we felt fairly prepared. The first stop was to get a wheelchair pass for Ryan so we could use her stroller as a wheelchair and enter certain rides easier and in some cases, quicker. We basically got a “come back” time so she didn’t have to wait in super long lines. It was recommended that we have a stroller for Charlie, not just Ryan. I’m glad we had it. Girlfriend got tired with all the walking. Katie had printed out a list of all the attractions and marked which ones were for us. The girls were total troopers and we did way more than we ever dreamed. Ryan went on 11 attractions, Charlie 18. Ryan went on every attraction we did and never sat and waited for us. Ryan was able to nap in her stroller both days and we spent the majority of both days in the park and went back to the hotel for dinner. Katie went back to the park with Charlie at night (that’s when she went on more attractions). Charlie got 10 characters to sign her autograph book and Ryan got lots and lots of hugs. Disney truly is a magical place. I’m just not sure if it’s more magical for the kids or the parents! Seeing Disney through my girls’ eyes was amazing… I had happy tears on more than one occasion!
The girls got to meet Mickey and Minnie 2 different times each but the first was the most magical. Ryan is completely obsessed with him. The girl only has a couple words (or sounds) in her vocabulary but everyone knows that “Meh Meh” is Mickey.
After Charlie got the chance to hug him and get him to sign her book, Ryan walked right up to him. Her reaction was priceless. Like mother, like daughter…
…She cried! But it was happy tears! Since she doesn’t really know how to express herself, she half laughed, half cried, and just clung to his face! Everyone in the room knew something special was happening at that moment, especially Mickey. He gave her lots of extra attention and even came back to her to give her nose kisses. For me, it was the highlight of the trip. Thanks to Dave, we got the entire thing on video. We soon realized that Ryan LOVED the characters. She would do her little laugh/cry every time she got a hug. And even through their plastic or fuzzy faces, those characters would kind of look at us like “Is this OK?” and we’d say “That’s her happy cry, it’s OK”. And they’d love on her and kiss her and let her touch their faces. Then they’d pat me on the back as if to say “It’s OK, mom”. Shit, I’m crying now just thinking about it!!
On the 2nd day, Charlie and I arrived at the park right as it opened and raced to the Frozen line. We got in line 10 minutes after the park opened and still had to wait in line for 2 hours. Charlie did great! She got a little whiney with about a half hour to go but rallied after bonding with a little girl in line behind us. You might be thinking, “You’re crazy for waiting in line for 2 hours”. But you know what? I’d do it all over again to see that happy face!
We finished our tour of Disney with a character breakfast the 3rd day. This was money well-spent. The characters came right to our table for pictures and hugs and when they walked away Ryan would pine for them. She wanted all the attention!
The Angel’s game on the last night in Anaheim was more for Katie. Katie’s bucket list is to visit (and buy a ball from) every major league baseball field. She’s been to 7 so far. But it was still tons of fun for everyone!
The trip is only half over! We could have left at this point and I would have called it a success but there was more fun to be had! Cali Trip – Part 2 coming soon!