Monday, November 16, 2015

Disney and Reimagine Conference

The Reiss family finally ventured down to SoCal this November! Honestly, between our trips back and forth to KY and all we've done in northern and central CA, we have kept quite busy over the past couple of years. A southern trip hadn't been at the top of our list until recently. When Jeremy was asked to speak at the Reimagine Conference, it was just the push we needed to plan something Nov. 12th-15th. 

This is what your family photo looks like when you skip it upon arrival because of bright sun, but then almost forget to get the "classic" Disney photo by the castle so you wake up your son from his nap before it gets too dark. Oops!
Jeremy spent many hours over several days perfecting his slides and speech for his first professional speaking engagement. He was nervous and I was nervous for him, but all of the preparation paid off. He did SO well and I was extremely proud of him. He was given lodging and Disney tickets for his efforts! Daddy worked very hard for this relatively "free" trip to Disney. I had hoped that Jeremy would speak on a Thursday to allow us to go to Disney on Friday, but the speaking schedule didn't work out that way. He spoke Friday which moved our family Disney day to a Saturday--not ideal due to typical weekend crowds, but that's just how it all fell. 

We had been forewarned about LA traffic and to make sure we left early from the Bay Area so as to avoid rush hour. Well, we didn't quite leave early enough, but we still made decent time Thursday evening. We were delayed about 90 minutes in slow moving traffic when we hit the LA area, but at least we were still moving and at least the kids didn't all completely melt down. :) Jeremy had some time to check out the venue and prep his talk a little more that evening after we got the kids to bed that first night.

Disney or BUST
While Jeremy did the conference thing on Friday, I was responsible for keeping the three kiddos entertained ALL day in a different city. We only had a small hotel room, so I really needed to get the kids outside. I decided to take the kids to Newport Beach's Balboa Pier and Peninsula Park. I wanted to see the coast and find a playground for the kids that was an easy drive from the hotel in Santa Ana, and this hit the mark. It was an easy drive down 55 with limited turns. Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach were also fairly close. 

A quick selfie before Jeremy went on for his talk
I hired a sitter with Urbansitter to come to our hotel and watch the kids in our room while I headed down to the conference. I got to hear Jeremy speak as well as a highly respected Disney Imagineer who spoke before Jeremy. It was nice to know that thanks to texting, I could easily slip away and head back upstairs to the children if they needed me. We ended up having our Urbansitter stay later to watch Anna Kate that evening while the rest of the family had a late dinner at Noah Elias's home (the conference founder and organizer.) Caleb fell asleep on the way to dinner and he and Emmy BOTH fell asleep on the way home that evening. We were probably crazy to take the kids. Originally, just Jeremy was going to go to the speakers' dinner after he helped me feed the kids and get them ready for bed. Although the children were well behaved at Noah's home, it was late for them which made me apprehensive about how early we could reasonably get to Disneyland the next day. Jeremy and I had a wonderful time getting to know some of the other speakers at the conference, all of whom were very interesting and accomplished people. Noah's backyard was perfect for a party and of course the kids loved making S'mores for dessert! Because of our late night and the amount of time it took us to travel from Santa Ana to Anaheim, park, wait through the security lines, etc., it was well after 10 am before we got inside Disneyland gates the next morning--later than I had hoped. 

Best decision we made was taking the double BOB stroller instead of our single one. Caleb  was just 3 yrs. 2 mon. old. I think we ended up walking about seven miles that day according to my i-phone and there's no way he could have kept up. He napped over an hour in the stroller, too. I could tell that he was more tired than usual at Disney from our late night. Also, it was overwhelming for him at times. I think it was often sensory overload for him. He enjoyed the trip, but not like Emily did. As we exited the park that night, Caleb and Emmy fell asleep in the BOB as we walked back to the parking lot while I carried AK in the Ergo. Parents of three year olds should remember that they may need a stroller unless they are OK with carrying their kid on their shoulders for a good part of the day. 

Chatting up Tinker Bell

A lot of times I wanted photos with Caleb or all of the kids, but it was too difficult and time consuming to work with his moods. Emily was always ready for a photo. Seemed like it always took begging and pleading to get a photo with Caleb so as you can see, we just don't have as many photos of him or Jeremy (since he had the camera.)
It kind of felt like this was Emily's trip to Disney. The rest of us just tagged along. ha! She was ALL about it. Never complained about  all the walking or being hungry or the crowds or waits. She was just very content to take it all in. 
I thought this was cute. 

Family Selfie before "It's A Small World ride."
Em's face while watching Elsa in the parade.
Emily asked to have her face painted after seeing Tinker Bell. At Disney, you say "yes" to these special things. :)

Pretty girl looking even more special. 

Afternoon play in Tarzan's treehouse. Something that thankfully did NOT have a wait when the lines became too much to deal with at the most crowded time of day. 

Dusk at Disneyland

In mid-November, all of the Christmas lights are up and it becomes even more magical. 
Baby girl's face while watching the Paint the Night Parade. While taking a one year old definitely makes for a more challenging trip, I was pleasantly surprised that she had her own moments of joy and delight even if she won't remember it.
So Cool! We all LOVED the parade. It was fantastic in every way and one of the highlights of our day.
People get ready for the parade EARLY. We managed to  claim a good viewing spot that was close to the exit. Front row for parade viewing and easy escape after the fireworks. However, it would be nice to be closer to the castle if we go again. 

Merry Christmas Disneyland! 

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