July 20, 2017

{DENVER : LPA National 2017}

Goodness these Little People of America National Conferences come around quickly each year ... I guess one could say, "time flies when you'are having fun".  This years conference was in Denver.

This year I had a companion ticket to use with Alaska. I was able to get relatively cheap airfare for Caden and I, including flying in and out of Wenatchee.  In order to make it work and get into Denver we took the first flight out of Wenatchee, meaning getting up in the middle of the night. It sounded great when I booked the flights in January, but then when the time arrived, I wondered, "what was I thinking?!".  I set two alarms on my phone and my alarm clock, in fear I wouldn't wake up or would hit off.
Caden of course, was too excited to go to bed, and told himself in one tone of voice, "Body, I need to sleep, I have a busy day tomorrow" then in a different tone of voice he says, "ok boss" ...the kid kills me!
Upon landing in Seattle we had a three hour layover, which was perfect for spoiled, who wanted his annual breakfast at Anthony's at Sea-Tac with a window seat to watch the airplanes.
Coincidentally, Seattle area friends were on the same flight as us, and seated in the row directly behind us..  I was amazed at the "assumptions" we encountered.  On four different occasions, four different employees assumed Caden belonged with them.  Why? Because he is little as are they. Simply sad!  ... although we did find humor in it ... and thru out the week, as C got on my nerves, I told them they could have their son back, I was done :-)
Our hotel was located in the core of Downtown Denver, with lots of familiar eating establishments nearby {Jamba, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, Chiptole, Cheesecake Factory .... the list goes on }. Everything was within walking distance, with a free trolley bus that ran up and down the street all day ... perfect for the little legs who tire easily.  In all honestly the Krispy Kreme across the street was not a good thing ... it could have turned dangerous if we were there a few more days {ha!}
{Momma brag} ... going into this years conference, Caden was a little bummed that his good friend Preston wasn't going to be there this year.  I kept telling him this was a great opportunity to meet new friends.  As I continually repeated myself through the months leading up to the conference, I wondered if was "hearing" me. ... evidently he was.  You guys, this picture was taken after only being there approximately five hours {at the first dance of the week} ... honestly, I don't even know how he befriended these boys.  Super adorable! They instantly clicked and became fast friends!  ... one lives in Montana, the other in Canada. He ran over to me at one point and said, "Mom, can we come here tomorrow night?" I replied with, "ya" and he said, "Good, cause I'm meeting some really cool friends".
... unfortunately, at the conferences, some drunk always thinks its fun to pull the fire alarm. Dan's reply to my text to him made me laugh out loud ... but there is totally truth behind it. 
We had a plan our first morning, I had ran back up to the room to get something, and during that time, C called me to say he saw the guys and they're going to Starbucks, can we go?  So, we scraped our plan, {it's C's week} and went to hang out with the boys at Starbucks.
This years conference was different ... and more proof that Caden is growing up.  In the past years, I've know the kids that Caden was hanging out with.  I'd "met" the parents on Facebook, thru other blogs, etc. and us parents would introduce the kids to each other ... This year, I was continually asking, "Caden whats your new friends name?"  .. wondering who their parents were, and introducing myself to new parents, "are you Joe's Mom?" ... "yes".  

Caden also wanted to be alone with his friends, so I often sat off to the side, sometimes alone, sometimes visiting with the other parents.  It was different ...but a good different, and so fun to watch from afar.

More evidence, I almost have a middle schooler {gasp}.  LPA offers events for a group called "Caught in the Middle" - for kids in 6th - 8th grade.  Even though Caden is entering 5th grade, they allowed me to purchase a pass for him, at the last minute, since the majority of the boys he was hanging out with are entering or already in middle school.
A couple of goof balls on the elevator
Reunited with sweet Caty, could he have leaned any further away from the "girl"?!
{lunch with friends, apparently something was hilarious}
{quite the ladies man} ... even though he thinks girls are gross now, he may look back on these days when he's older, and think, "man, I was a lucky guy" {ha!}
Caden's "adoptive" dad. Love this family, and everything they give to LPA!
A lot of you have asked what do you do at a conference ... honestly, its a lot of "this" Hanging out in empty ballrooms, in the hotel.  Some years more, some years less, depends on the location and the landmarks nearby the hotel.  The kids run around, play and talk, while the parents socialize.
{Again} ... a lucky boy with a pool full of girls.
This Mom!  Madelyn's Mom ... it would be my wish to someday share grandchildren with her {Caden will kill me if he see's this ;-)} ... seriously though! I am so thankful I get to spend a week with Pam each summer! We see things the same way and our husbands are so similar ... they both love to tell us to "be a parent" when our kids may be having too much "fun" ... it might of been nice to have a break from the husbands this year {although we did miss them a little}, as we did this years conference solo.  There is nothing better in life then having good, fun friends!
"Caden, can I please get a picture of you guys" ... nope, instead the "gentleman" starts jumping up and down and splashing the "ladies" ... sad.
The yearly picture under the LPA banner {I need to put each year next to each other in chronological order} and dinner with Madelyn.
Getting ready and psyched for a little Caught in the Middle, glow in the dark, capture the flag.  The gentleman who organized these events is a true gem and deserves an award.  ... he is a middle school teacher, so that helps a little, but seriously, he has a level of patience I could never achieve!
{Dance Number Two} ...they are nightly from 9:00pm to 1:00am. 
a little video, they are hard to capture ... someone gets angry if he catches me
video
At the last minute, on the 2nd day, Pam and I, decided to purchase tickets {for the third day} on one of the organized LPA tours, it was a little pricey, but turned out to be well worth it. We usually don't do the organized LPA trips, but we realized, if we didn't jump on the bus, all of our time would be spent in the hotel, and we couldn't go back home and have people ask, "what did you do in Denver" and we respond with "hang out in a hotel" {ha!}

Caden woke up the third morning in tears.  ... the sad reality of these conferences.  Sleep is minimal {he was at the dance until at least midnight each night}.  He runs and runs.  His voice was gone and his legs hurt. .. and he refuses to slow down or take a break ... he doesn't want to miss a beat.

We had to get down to the tour bus in 30 minutes and he wasn't budging.  After some talk, I was able to get him downstairs, and his tears semi dried ... he wore sunglasses so no one could tell he had been crying :-(.  We hit the gift shop in the hotel lobby and purchased cough drops, lifesavers, throat spray, and Emergen C ... and walked out $21 poorer {robbery at those joints}.  We hit the coffee shop and grabbed a quick breakfast to eat while on the bus ... with a little ibuprofen, throat meds, and resting his voice {what an idea} he was feeling a little better with in a couple hours.

The tour bus took us up thru the red rocks {these pictures are out the bus window, so they are a little reflective}
A lot of Denver's terrain reminded me of Wenatchee with the foothills.  Denver is just a little greener and has a little more leafy foliage then Wenatchee.
We got off the bus in a little touristy town called Golden ...
A gorgeous creek ran thru the town, of course C and Madelyn found sticks to chuck in the creek. ... but thankfully, neither one managed to toss the other in the water.
The picture on the right, in the middle distance, shows Coors Brewery.  I couldn't believe the amount of acreage the brewery took up ... amazingly huge!
Brunch in Golden with a couple of Hooligans. Madelyn was trying to wipe the food off of Caden's face and he wasn't having any of it.
That late afternoon, I was able to talk Caden in to some down time in the room. His voice was still raspy and he had a big evening ahead of him.  I actually watched part of Bad Moms and part of Pretty Woman while he played on his iPad {can't remember the last time I watched a movie in the middle of the day}.  I went to the restaurant next to the hotel, and grabbed dinner to go.  It was a good break, that I am thankful he agreed to!
That evenings Caught in the Middle activity was a scavenger hunt that took place on several floors of the hotel. {the poor guests who weren't with LPA} ... remember, Caden did not know these boys three days prior to this picture. {amazing!}
This year we celebrated 60 years of Little People of America .. {LPA what a blessing!} with a reception, reflecting back on each decade.  LPA was founded by a gentleman by the name of Billy Barty. He organized a meeting in 1957 in Reno, Nevada ... 21 people attended ... and the rest is history. Thank You Billy! ... 60 years later and over a thousand {some years, thousands of} people attend these yearly gatherings.
{photo booth silliness}
This was 12:15, yes almost 1:00 am and these three were still hanging out {can you imagine them in their 20's?!} ... thankfully, after I snapped this picture, we called it a night.
Day four, we saw Dr. Hoover Fong for a checkup.  Going into the appointment, we had no huge concerns ...and thankfully, she was in agreement. No immediate concerns at this time {we've come a long way!}
...after his appointment we had lunch at a very good local mexican restaurant.  The boys were adamant they had to sit at the opposite end of the table from the girls. The boys proceeded to draw on their "kids" menu's with crayons, a plan for what boy was going to chase what girl, including girls and boys names who weren't with us at lunch, at the dance that night ... oh are we at an awkward stage or what, good times {I giggled my way thru lunch}
{meeting Denver's finest}
{i was able to grab him for one selfie}
The fashion show.  These lovely ladies have hosted for the past few years. They do a wonderful job. I couldn't talk Caden into participating, but hopefully one  year he will change his mind.
.... and with that five days of fun was over. SO SAD!  This was the first year Caden was truly sad to leave the conference. I had to pull him from a Caught in the Middle game of Dodge Ball.  The look in his eyes could kill and a couple of his friends were teary.  He and his friends tried to talk me into changing our flight and staying longer. The conferences last a week, but we don't always stay the whole week. I have strict instructions from Master C that we are staying the full week next year {I encouraged him to get a job .... ha, that didn't go over well}.

Texting his new friends from the Taxi on the way to the airport ... gotta love moving airport floors!
Our flight home sucked! We sat on the plane at the gate for THREE hours because of a mechanical problem.  We missed our connecting flight to Wenatchee. Thankfully my Super Dad {thank you papa!} came to Sea-Tac, picked us up and drove us home ... arriving at our house at 11:30, five hours later then we planned. We missed the 4th of July festivities, I had intended to arrive home for just in time. rats! ... However I did call Alaska, to politely express my frustration with the delay and ended up with $450 in vouchers to use towards a future flight! Thank you for making it better Alaska Airlines.

These conferences are true magic!  When C was so sad to leave this year, I wondered, "am I giving him a false reality, letting him live it up this week each summer, with kids just like him" ... "is it wrong?" ... but then I go back to, "no, Caden has never questioned why he is little, or if he is the only one" ... I truly believe it is this week, that helps him be him!

Caden "pondered" more then ever this year.  At one point he told me he wished some of his friends were here.  I said, "like your friends at home", he said "ya", and started rambling off some of his average height friends. He said he wanted to introduce them to his little friends. I thought it was cute he wanted to show them this side of his life.
He also asked "how did it happen" I said, "what, you being little?" ... he said "yep" ... I told him "it happened when you were made, a few of your genes didn't form like average height kids, and that mutation is what makes your bones grow slow" ... his reply, "that's cool".

Friends & Family, next years conference is in ORLANDO! It is going to be super expensive. I hope Dan will be able to come with us next year.  
Dan and I both value the importance of these conferences ...but we don't always see eye to eye on making them happen. Dan knows better then to mess with Momma Bear ... but he will also mention things like, "maybe we can take a year off" ... or "I'm not going in the poor house for these conferences" ... nuh-uh!  I will get us there!  ...and the look in my eyes, usually tells him to shut the f*** up, and he gets it {ha!} 

As gift giving opportunities come around, please consider gifting Caden with Disney Gift Cards {he is adamant he wants to take part in all of the Orlando tourist opportunities} and or Money to go towards our trip.  It really really is the best gift you could give us {XOXO!}