August 9, 2018

::Orlando - LPA National 2018::

This years Little People of America {LPA} National Conference was in Orlando ... 
In order to fly out of Wenatchee and arrive in Orlando on the same day, we had to be out of our house by 4:45am ... crazy! It always sounds like such a great idea when I book the flights.
Caden woke up on his own at 4:15, he has some kind of crazy internal alarm ... poor kiddo looked so out of it while waiting for Dan and I to get ready.
Checked in and waiting at the Wenatchee airport ... I think these two clowns are probably discussing the fact that Mom is crazy to book such an early flight.
Our first morning in Orlando and Caden is still out ... with the time difference and the day of travel the day before he was still asleep at 10:00am.  I had to wake him up ... that wasn't fun.
Saturday morning we set out to explore the area ... we knew once Caden connected with his friends, he wouldn't want to hang out with us and or leave the hotel.
We were only a block away from the hotel and we instantly understood the "humidity" AWFUL! We have similar if not warmer temperatures then Orlando this time of year, but have very low humidity, like 15%. Orlando's was continually above 55%.  These pictures are deceiving with the blue skies and puffy clouds ... it was not glorious weather!
Once returning to the hotel Saturday afternoon, Caden quickly began reuniting with friends and we were instantly reminded why this trip is a priority for us every year!
The older Caden gets, the less he wants us nearby ... and it get's harder and harder to snap pictures.
ONE YEAR. These kiddos haven't seen each other for 365 days ... but you would never know that.  Their bonds are unexplainable ... 
The first afternoon, they had a Caught in the Middle Activity {CITM} of capture the flag.  The CITM events are a great opportunity to meet more kiddos their age, and they are structured, supervised events, so they aren't running "wild" the entire week. Dan and I took the alone opportunity to go out to dinner with Ron and Pam {Madelyn's parents} without our kids ... how nice!
... no time lost ... Caden and Madelyn quickly pick up their usual shenanigans. Saturday night was concluded with the nightly dance.
Sunday morning the kids had another CITM event at a nearby bowling alley {no pictures}.  Dan and I again went out with Ron & Pam. We were in the same shopping complex as the kids so we "peeked" in on them, being careful not to be spotted, as they would be irate with us ;-) The event was well organized. They had low tables with a buffet that all the kids could easily reach.  Such simple pleasures on a week just for them! ... fun was being had by all. ... and to the Korpai's, who graciously volunteered their time to orchestrate these events this year, Thank You!
... after the bowling event the kids still had energy, so we hit the pool ...
... only a few more years and he'll realize he's lucky to swim with such adorable girls :-)
... these two ... sharing his tic tacs, loaning her money ... 
... and thirty minutes later, fighting with one another.
...another night at the dance 
Monday morning Dan and Ron went golfing. Caden had his doctor appointment.  Another wonderful piece of the convention is to be able to see LPA Medical Advisory Board doctors who deal just with dwarfism ...the best of the best.  No immediate concerns with Caden. He's at the top of the charts for weight and the 75th percentile for height.  If he stays on that height curve (which he has for several years) the doctor predicts his adult height will be about 4'6".
We went back to the bowling alley/arcade with Yale Monday afternoon.  The boys played while his Mom and I visited.  
Monday night was Pirate Family Fun Night ... followed with the nightly dance.
.. the kid is relentless ... always wanting to wrestle ... and Dan met a new friend.
My hope that maybe just one night we could go up to our room before midnight, wishful thinking.
Tuesday morning we met the Roxburgh's nice and early to head to the Kennedy Space Center.  
The Space Center was amazing!  We were there for four hours and weren't able to see all of it.  The kids were done! ... however, we could have easily been there for eight hours plus.  The size of the space shuttles, the buildings they build them in and the size of the roadways that transports the crawlers with the shuttles was overwhelming.
... suckers for the souvenir photo
... the space center was worth the money and the adventure.
... the nightly dance.  Yes, every night there is a dance, but this is where the kids have the most fun hanging out with one another.
Wednesday morning Caden went to Blizzard Beach at Disney with a couple of other families. Dan and I weren't super excited about spending the money to go, so they graciously offered to take Caden with them.  He had a blast and Dan and I had a few quiet hours at the pool.  
Wednesday evening, we found Top Golf ... heard of it? Caden loved it ... picture a bowling alley, but golf.  It's a fancy driving range, with a social atmosphere, that keeps score based on where you hit the ball.
... golf on tv ... a score board ... and desserts ...
... one more dance ... and with that four full days had come and gone and it was time to say our goodbyes.  "Well now I won't see them for a year" ... was what I heard on the way up to our room. It sucks!  Caden has asked that we please stay at the convention all seven days next year.  ... yes, buddy, we will make it happen!
Wednesday morning ... we started the second half of our trip. ... five days at Disneyworld.  We knew it was going to be hot. We knew it was going to be expensive ...but we couldn't be "there" {orlando} and not do Disney. We knew, chances were, we would never go to Orlando again {it's been confirmed, we won't ... too humid .. yuck!}
We planned it so we could do the first two days of Disney with Roxburgh's. Our first stop Wednesday afternoon, Animal Kingdom.
... Animal Kingdom turned out to be neater then I had anticipated.
... another family who lives near the Roxburgh's joined us ... C and their son became fast friends. It's that unexplainable LP connection ;-)
... the safari tour was pretty neat ... alligators, giraffes, zebras, hippos ...
...waiting for a jungle river ride ...
We had dinner at the Tusker House, which was a character dinner buffet, where we met a few new friends.
As with Santa, Caden is convinced the characters aren't real ... this picture makes me laugh because I feel like he is looking in Daisy's mouth to see if there is a human in there.
... Thursday, we went to the Magic Kingdom ...
... Ariel's ride
... Buzz Light Year ...
These two! ...someone suggested they need a reality TV show on TLC ...There is definitely truth behind that! ... they are our millions of dollars, just waiting to be launched. 
... Dan and C's favorite, Pirates of the Carribean
Sorry, wasn't going to pay $16.00 for the souvenir photo ...
I love a parade! ... and the Disney Parade's are my favorite!
... main street ...
Tom Sawyer's Island ... Dan's favorite. He relives his childhood there.  ... I think these two could of hung out here all day, but time didn't allow it.
We had a character dinner at Crystal Springs ... and met more new friends ...
... the kid buffet was a perfect height for them.
.... Caden thinks Ron is pretty cool ... he kept us giggling
We rented these huge strollers for the kids. ... they turned out to be a blessing. Caden only used his the two days we were with our friends, since he had buddies, and wasn't singled out.  ... but it really saved his legs ... remembering for every one step we take, Caden takes two and a half steps.
... the end of a 14 hour day at Magic Kingdom. We were DONE.  I don't think I have ever sweated that much in my life!
Friday morning Dan went golfing {he got paired up with a couple guys from Boston, perfect for the Brady lover} and Caden and I took a much needed break.  This was day 8 and Caden was exhausted.
We stayed at the Old Key West Resort and rented a one bedroom villa.  It was perfect!  It had two couches, a fold out chair, a full kitchen, master bedroom and bath, ceiling fans, a good HVAC system and a washer and dryer.  The washer and dryer in the room was golden! I was able to throw in a load of laundry before bed or before we left and swap it in the morning or when we got back to the room. Having the villa room and the washer and dryer made the trip manageable! It was definitely worth the extra money. I ordered grocery delivery our first night from Publix, and was able to make breakfast in our room most mornings ... and the king and prince scored good breakfasts {unfortunately, I wasn't totally on vacation ;-)}
{Upon check in the toilet seat was broke, our internet didn't work {it was never fixed} and the kitchen sink didn't drain ... after each phone call to complain, the agent ended the call with, "have a magical day" ... I'm thinking there is nothing magical about this, it almost became comical ... however once we returned home, I did email with my frustrations and they ended up refunding us 25% of our room rate ...made it a little more magical}
...the prince and his breakfast ... dropping a few post cards in the mail 
After Dan returned from golfing, we ventured out to Hollywood Studios ...
... Star Wars galore ... Caden made his own light saber 
... the finished product ...
... the clean up crew, "paints" images on the street with their mop buckets ... too cute.
We didn't make it to Toy Story Land until after dinner ... I wish we would have went there first and did Star Wars after, but all well, we didn't know what to expect. ... It was probably my favorite part of all of Disney World. So super cute!
Everything is built "big" in Toy Story Land to give you, the human, the feeling of being a toy. The huge Christmas lights strung across the streets were super cute!
... a cute little diner
.. You exhausted yet?! We were!  Sunday morning we went to Disney Springs. Disney Springs is a shopping center ... and of course the boys found a Lego Store {insert facepalm}.
... Old Key West ...
Sadly, we never made it to the pool at our resort ... there just wasn't time was all super cute!
Sunday, late afternoon we went to Epcot. We had a good dinner, and ended up having a fabulous view of the firework show from our dinner table.  We didn't get to see all of Epcot. They closed at 9:00, we weren't sure why so early .... but it was ok, we didn't have much energy left.
Our final day. Monday morning we went back to the Magic Kingdom.
The look on Caden's face in this picture is a true representation of how we were all feeling. It was so humid. Just disgusting ...
... and then a huge rain squall came through.  The one day I didn't bring the umbrella's or ponchos, we hadn't needed them prior.  One would think the rain would cool things down ... oh no, it just made it worst ... more humidity!
Caden liked the Hall of Presidents ... he's such a little history buff. He definitely knows more then me.
Our flight left Orlando at 7pm, Orlando time. Our flight was delayed out of Seattle ... we landed in Wenatchee about 1:30am {4:30 Florida time}.  Tired! ... but don't worry, the prince was well taken care of on the flight, his iPad, the window seat, and the Alaska Air kids snack pack ... what more does he need?!
Eleven Days was a super long time to be away from home. Each of us loves where we live ... and we were each ready to be home.

... but the convention?! So worth it!  In talking with Yale's Mom {who is also little}, she shared that she has been going to the conventions since she was a young child {i think 4}. She said that one week out of the entire year was always so important for her ... it filled her soul up for the year. So refreshing to hear that, it helps me to know that we are making the right choices for Caden!

As always, a huge thank you to our family who gifts Caden with money for this yearly trip, it truly is the best present for him!

Next Year ... San Francisco ... we're already saving!