July 30, 2015

LPA National 2015 ~ St. Louis

Clearly, it's taken me a few weeks to get this post up.  It's been fun to go through my oodles of pictures ... and relive the conference, weeks later.

We headed to the airport Friday morning ...
We had time to eat breakfast at the airport, we scored a good seat, and Caden was able to watch the planes come and go.
Ready for fun!
My kid loves flying! ... he also anxiously anticipates the "fun pack" that Alaska Airlines offer. Not sure it's worth the $6.00, but he digs it ;-)
We arrived in St. Louis around 7:00pm. We quickly checked in to our hotel room, checked in to the LPA Registration and then checked in at the DAAA Registration. Below, he is so intently listening to the game rules and signing that "he will play nice with others".
Our room was good sized and we also had a fun view of Cardinal's Stadium right out our window.
We really didn't have time to do much on arrival day. After our numerous check - in's we walked around the block to explore our surroundings ... then headed to bed. We had an early wake up upon us. {Goofy kid!}
DAAA (Dwarf Athletic Association of America) Soccer was Saturday morning. We had to be downstairs to the bus at 7:00am {don't forget about the two hour time difference - ack!}
They had opening ceremonies, the National Anthem, and then we found Caden's team.
How appropriate that Caden was number 7 and Madelyn was number 11.  "7-11" ... because, really, these two are quite the pair {more on that later}.
... he quickly made fast friends ...
... discussing their game strategy ...
A little clip of Caden playing.  DAAA is wonderful! Caden has the opportunity to play with kids his size!  He wasn't super aggressive out there, but he had fun. I don't have a ton of video from soccer, something was eating my cell battery that day {rats!}
video
... more strategy planning ... Caden's face is so serious ...
They played three games, and had time to "rest" in between each game. Of course he chose not to rest and continued to run around.
Game #2
Caden didn't assist with this goal, but I thought his enthusiasm and little dance after the goal, was hilarious!
video
Caden's team was supposed to be kids ages 7-9. However, St. Louis had low attendance numbers and the teams ended up being 7-11 year olds. 
This was the first conference where Caden was making friends, and I had no clue who these kids were, where they lived or who their parents were. ... he's growing up!
Smiling at his coach. She was great with the kids!
Again, just met this kiddo on game day, and they were fast friends.  You have to love it!
They only won one game out of three, but because of how the bracket played out, they still received a silver medal. Caden was pretty stoked!
These two! It didn't take them ANY time to pick up from where they left off last year {Well maybe an hour ...}. I love Madelyn and her family!  The similarities between Caden and Madelyn are quite scary. They really are the boy and girl version of each other!
... please, one good picture ... okay, they stop for one ... and right back to bickering!
His new friend, Joey. A very nice, polite boy.
... their body language is worth a thousand words ...
We went with Madelyn and her family to dinner. We told the concierge at the hotel we wanted to go to a suburb for dinner. Lesson learned, next time we will say a "trendy suburb". The area he sent us to was a little "scary".  However, we did find a cute street with a good BBQ restaurant.  ... in which Caden thought he needed to wear Ron's glasses.
After dinner we finally found Preston ... of course he joined right in with the clowns, and within minutes he taught C & M to do a booty kick. I give up .... not one of them could focus for a picture :-)
Saturday was the 4th of July. However, this year we missed out on any festivities.  Construction is being done at the Arch, so there were no fireworks down there this year. We had planned to watch out the hotel window, to see if we could see fireworks ... but we ended up at the dance and kind of forgot to head to a window ... all well!

Sunday, we visited the Arch. The pictures below of the flags, were inside the historic court house. Very pretty.
hello ... has anyone seen any clowns? ...
View from the top of the Arch. Caden wasn't that impressed with the view, and wanted down as quickly as we got up. I think he may have been a little freaked out with the height, but wouldn't admit it.
Couldn't believe how dirty/brown the river was. I'm definitely spoiled with my Washington rivers.
After the Arch, we walked to a cute little restaurant we had driven by the day before. It turned out to be a little further then we thought ... and the kids, especially mine ... thought he was dying.  Oh the drama!
St. Louis had some cool old buildings, that are being renovated into apartments. Very cool architecture.
How did kids survive before electronics?!
Since we walked "forever" in Caden's words ... it also meant we had to walk back.  But amazingly, when we stumbled upon this cute splash pad ... he was no longer tired, and could run for hours ;-)
I think these pictures truly express the kiddos personalities! What fun!
That evening we attended the family fun night. The entertainment was provided by Joel Meyers, an illusionist. He was great!
 
He had me laughing hysterically, along with Caden.  His humor was borderline not kid appropriate, but he was good!
Caden cracking up!
video
During the show, Caden was routinely watching the time.  It was also medal night for Soccer. He was anxious to receive his silver medal.
I love how he acted so serious!
The setup for the medal ceremonies was not ideal. These were the best pictures I could get.
So proud!
After the ceremony, we weren't sure what to do. Caden really didn't feel like going to the dance, even though his friends were going.  We decided we would just go for a few minutes. Imagine my shock and laughter when I looked up 10 minutes later and Caden was on the stage of the dance, rocking it! This kid!
He ended up closing down the dance that night .. yes, that would be midnight!
Monday morning we had Caden's appointment with Dr. Pauli. Yet another reason I love these conventions!  An opportunity to see Dr's whose primary practice are dwarfs.
Dr. Pauli was overall pleased with Caden's health.  Caden still has quite a bit of laxity in his knees {even for a person with Achondroplasia}. He said if Caden didn't complain of leg pain from time to time, he would wonder how come Caden wasn't expressing pain.
I pointed out that Caden has grown his "achon rump" this past year. Little did I know, there is actually a medical term for that, Hyper Lordosis.  He is going to send us a series of exercises we can do to with a physical therapist to strengthen Caden's lower back ... in hopes of preventing problems that may arise later in Caden's life.
As far as Caden's headaches and vomiting he thought possibly that could be related to Caden's obstructive sleep apnea.  However, we have since seen the sleep clinic at Seattle Children's {more on that in the next post} and have ruled that out.  ... so most likely, Caden is experiencing migraines.
We caught the end of the General Conference Meeting. Bill Klein {TLC's Little Couple} was the guest speaker.  He was actually a lot more informative and funny then I had anticipated.
That afternoon we headed to the City Museum with Kim and Preston. I cannot even begin to explain how bizarre this place was.  Kim and I were both a little weirded out by it.
It was full of mazes, mazes in which you could lose your kids.  The roof had a bus on it, in which the kids could play in the bus. Nothing there seemed safe.
...  a little train for the kids to ride ....
... and a maze in which they could watch the train go by ...
... complete with artifacts from a Grandma's basement ...
It was an interesting place, and one that if I never go back to, that would be okay :-)  The boys had fun, and that is what matters.
... that night we watched the fashion show ...
Notice the two clowns in the front row clapping away. They are toooo much!
Miss Madelyn participated in the fashion show this year. So cute!
... so much cuteness ...
Caden found a bike proportionately perfect for him at the Expo. 
Cute Kids!
We ended Monday night in the hotel room at 11:00 in hysterical tears because he left his BBQ Pringles down stairs. He told me I was the worst Mom, for not remembering to grab them. He was DONE! We were on day four of constant fun and not nearly enough sleep!

We were supposed to have DAAA Track & Field Tuesday morning.  However when I saw rain was in the forecast,and I knew how tired he was ... I decided to let him sleep Tuesday morning. It wasn't worth battling the time difference and lack of sleep to get to the bus by 7:00 again.  I was bummed we missed it, he was a little bummed ... but in the long run, I think it was an ok decision.

Tuesday afternoon we headed to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery tour.  Dan visited St. Louis as a child and said it was one of the must do's while we were there.
I think Dan remembers the brewery fondly because of the architecture of the buildings ... it reminded me of a mini Lego village ;-)
The "photographers" ... Caden took this cute picture of Madelyn ... and also a million not so cute ones ;-)
... they wanted their own table at dinner ...
Cute boy!
Our final day, Wednesday, we woke up to rain. Pouring down rain. Uck!
We went over to Ballpark Village, at Busch Stadium. So much cuteness! Finally something new and trendy!
... and then it was time to say our good bye's :-(  Sadly, this conference had lower then average attendance. Several of our friends didn't make this years conference and we missed them. ... but as always, it was fun to meet new friends.

St. Louis was fun ... however, I don't think I ever need to go back. The downtown core was deserted, basically depressed!  I asked the taxi driver on the way to the airport what supports the downtown economy.  She said the Cardindal Games are what keep the downtown alive, winters are tough.  ... and since the Ferguson events, they have seen tourism drop 50%.

Pam and I discovered this yummy beer during our time in St. Louis. As Caden and I were walking through the airport, we stumbled upon this brew pub.
It was pouring down rain and 61 degrees while we were waiting for our flight. I was freezing!  I didn't pack any long sleeves, socks or pants for Caden nor I. I was ready to return to our heat at home!
Caden captured this picture on the flight home.
The convention was worth every penny spent!  Caden has so much fun with his friends, and 3 weeks later he is still bringing up random stories from the convention. I truly believe the conventions are a huge factor in why he is okay with being little. ... to those that helped us get there this year, THANK YOU!

Next year is Boston!  I'm already stressing about how we are going to afford it! Our house payment is going to be larger then we are used to, and saving will be more difficult!  I'm in need of a flexible, evening, part time job ... let me know if you have any ideas!  We will make it to Boston, because I feel it is that important!  We just have to figure out the how :-)