Thursday, June 23, 2016

F.I.R.S.T. National Family Conference 2016- Day 1

And we're off!!
Well, last night my mom, the kids, and I started out for our third trip to the FIRST Family Conference. The bi-annual conference takes turns where it is hosted, this year being held in San Diego. Normally we drive, and just make a vacation of it on the way, but there was no way I was going to attempt this drive knowing I would have to be doing a majority of the driving. So Delta it was!

The first leg of our trip has been pretty uneventful so far. We had to be up and at the airport for our 7 AM flight out of Kansas City. It was Gavin's first trip on an airplane, so sleep seemed to evade him, and the giggling prevented me from getting much sleep. I was a little worried about how Mom would maneuver through all of the crowds and the airport with her leg since her accident, but she kept up pretty well! The only thing rough about the flight was the gas that someone was nice enough to keep sharing with the rest of us. By the end of the flight my senses were so offended, I think I had gotten used to the smell. Apparently it wasn't turbulence, so much as flatulence we needed to be concerned with.

After being stuck on the tarmac for over 45 minutes when they told us it would be about 5 minutes before we could taxi, my back teeth were floating, and my kiddos set foot in California for the first time. During our 3 1/2 hour layover in LA, during which we could have driven to San Diego, they entertained themselves by seeing if they could spot any celebrities... mostly the YouTube stars they follow. No luck. I told them they were lucky enough to be in my presence every day. That, however, didn't seem to cut it. But, after 20 minutes in the air, we landed safe and sound in San Diego.  We hopped in a cab, where I'm 99% sure I saw the cab driver eat his own booger, and headed to the Mariott, where we were greeted instantly with friends, lots of friends!  Many we keep in regular contact with, but others we hadn't seen or talked to in two years. It's like a giant family reunion! Except without the hidden drama
The view from my balcony for the next 4 days

It takes me back to the first FIRST conference we attended in Denver 4 years ago, when I saw Ashlynne actually be herself for the first time outside of our home. I had never seen my child so relaxed around people as she was that week, and we get to revisit that feeling every two years. Once again, I see my kid at peace, I feel supported, in the presence of other parents watching their kiddos struggle, and in just a few hours, it will all officially begin when the registration reception starts.

The classes are always so informative, and very often pretty emotional. I love everything I get out of these gatherings. They feel less like a "conference", and more like a class reunion, or a gathering among family and friends where we throw in some medical advice, and a whole lot of support. I so love this family that we have all formed, and am so excited to see what this year holds for us, and what new connections we make! !

We are patiently waiting for Jordan (aka, Sister Salmon) and Sadie to show up, but it's hard to wait to get my hands on my precious little "niece". So we are trying our best to kill time. So far, the kids have found the pool and hot tub, a killer pizza restaurant, and of course, a gift shop, and I have stained one pillow with my fresh hair color. I will be posting more updates along the way, with many shennanigans to follow (I'm sure!). I have joked several times that we will see if either my mom, or I, comes back from this alive after traveling with the kids, and spending this much time in a hotel room together... because chances are, only one of us will make it out unmaimed! So hang around and I guess you will see!  Stay tuned, folks!

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