July 12, 2016

{Boston} LPA National Conference 2016

As in years past, Caden was super excited for this years Nationals.  I found this in his planner from school ...
He woke up at 5:45 Thursday morning.  His first words were, "I woke up and my body was like yeah" ....then he continued on with, " It's like Christmas or something, I get butterflies in my stomach".  We were loaded up and heading to the airport a few hours later.
... but not before our adorable neighbors said goodbye.
We flew out of Wenatchee this year. It was a little bit more money, but also meant that Dan missed two less days of work. Caden was stoked to show Pa-Pa that we got the Husky plane.
We were supposed to have a four hour layover in Seattle, but our flight out of Wenatchee was delayed due to heavy air traffic in Seattle. So, we only ended up having three hours to kill in Seattle.  It wasn't that bad ... before we knew it, we were on our way to Boston, with a nine year old who hadn't stopped talking since he awoke six hours earlier {sigh}.
Caden enjoyed his "snack pack" that he eagerly waits for each year, and the boys watched Pirates of the Caribbean {again}.
We arrived at midnight Boston time ... with a kid who stayed awake the entire flight ... of course.
We scored an awesome view room and paid a little bit more for a junior suite. The more room for the three of us, the better. A week is a long time altogether ;-)
We slept in Friday morning, then hit the streets to explore the city. I instantly fell in love. Often conference locations, are in downtown cores, with not much around.  However in Boston, we had everything and then some. Tons of old buildings, a very clean city, plenty of places to eat, a shopping mall connected to the hotel, and we found a Trader Joes. Perfect for on the go breakfasts. Eating out three times a day adds up.
This fire station and police station were the first paid police and fire stations in the country.
We found our favorite family, and the shenanigans instantly started.  The attempt was to get a pic of the kids by the sign, however, Madelyn was refusing to smile, Caden flings his arm, Madelyn flings hers and the sign goes falling. The snap of this picture was perfect, Caden with palm to forehead and Madelyn with an innocent, Charlie Brown smile. The first of many laughs of the week and Dan telling me to, "be a parent". .... but seriously, sometimes with these two, its easier to laugh then to discipline :-)
The boys officially met Marty, from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and Caden was thrilled.
... hotel time ...
Friday night we went to the Red Sox Game.  So much fun seeing Fenway. So much history and the crowd was so spirited.  A classic stadium, indeed.
... no idea where Caden gets his silly faces from {dad} ...
It was fun to be at a MLB game. It had been years, but unfortunately our fun was cut short at the bottom of the 5th. It began to pour rain ... rats.
Saturday morning we ventured out for the Old Town Trolley Tour. This ended up being an all day event, but was worth it.
The top of the State House is made with real gold.
The tour stopped at the Boston Tea Party Museum.
Kaylyn, Madelyn's older sister, loves to spoil C. Piggy back rides galore.
... dumping the tea ...
.... who is this kid?! ...
... so much cool architecture ...
... several of the first settlers {Sam Adams, John Hancock, etc}, were buried in these cemeteries ...
We arrived back at the hotel Saturday evening and immediately found Preston. Big 'ol hugs
These Ghostbuster cars were every where in Boston, I finally asked one of the drivers what they were all about, and they were from Lyft. Funny Stuff.
I'm so thankful we brought the scooter this year.  It helped tremendously with all the walking we do while at convention. The trick was getting them to use the scooters as accessibility devices and not as toys to see who could do the best tricks {sigh}.
Sunday morning, was the day the boys had been waiting for. While we are only three hours east of Seattle, and should be die hard Seahawks fans, Dan has always been a Brady lover.  Sadly, this love has worn off on his son.  We rented a car and drove out to Foxborough. 
Yes, I'm sure these will end up framed somewhere in our house.
... the Hall, which was the museum had all kinds of fun stuff in it ...
The boys spent forever in the pro shop, and between the two of them spent over $400.00. I sure hope Caden still has friends at school, when he arrives in his Brady attire {he's crazy}. The guys working at the pro shop loved it when we told them we were from Seattle.
... a kid in a candy store ...
The owner of the Patriots is quite intuitive. He has built a gorgeous stadium in the middle of nowhere, then within the same acreage, parking lot, you turn around and there are steps leading up to a large shopping center with tons of retail and eateries.  
Madelyn took this picture of the Griswolds :-)  We love spending conventions with the Roxburgh's. We joke, laugh, be silly, our kids fight, bicker and be silly... It's fun ... and Pam and I both get told by our spouses to, "be a parent" ... it's perfection!
... Sunday night we attended Family Fun Night and then ventured back out into the city ...
We waited over an hour to eat at Cheers, but I was quite disappointed when nobody knew my name ;-) The food was nothing spectacular, and the bar didn't look like it did in the TV series. 
The apartments/condos, they call them Brownstones, are beautiful in Boston.  This one had the cutest curb appeal, sadly the picture didn't come out well. The landscaping they had done in such a small space was spectacular.
Monday morning Caden had his medical appointment. Sadly, Dr. Pauli has come closer to retirement and is no longer seeing patients at convention.  We saw Dr. Hoover-Fong, also a highly experienced Skeletal Dysplasia Geneticist. She had no concerns about Caden {neither did we}.  She was impressed Caden has continually worn his CPAP the past four years {he rocks}.

The city was packed Monday, because of the Fourth of July. We talked to other families who were getting back from tourist activities and learned several things were sold out and or super crowded. We hung out at the hotel, which often times turns out to be the funnest times for Caden.
After dinner, we had a few families up to our room, to watch the fireworks. We couldn't have asked for a better view.
Tuesday morning, we headed North to Hull, Massachusetts, to visit Dan's Uncle Ron. I immediately saw the resemblance between Ron and Dan's Dad.  Dan had not seen Ron for at least 30 years.  Ron and his wife Linda were very gracious and welcoming. It was fun to hear stories and see pictures of Ron and David in their younger years. 
... the most adorable fire station in the little town of Hull ...
On the way back from the visit we found an adorable, trendy, marina in Hingham.
Which also included a Wahlburgers {think, New Kids on the Block}. Great food and fun atmosphere. 
Sadly, Tuesday night was our last evening of fun at the Hotel. The kids ran around, in and out of the dance, and became sweaty little monsters.
Wednesday morning, we went on the duck tour.  For a brief period there was an awfully small, but mighty captain of the boat ;-) Yes, C drove us for a few.
... love this super old church ...
... back at the hotel ...
... attempting to teach C how to play chess ...
... it was all fun and games, until the pieces went flying ...
... and it was time to say our goodbyes ...
Waiting for our flight back to Seattle.  Instead of chatty, clingy Caden, we had quiet distant Caden ... I'm sure he was reflecting on his super fun week.
When we arrived home, at 2am, Caden walked into his room and said, "now back to my regular room, and back to saying, next year" ... 

Dan and I both agree there is NO way to describe a Little People of America National Conference. You truly have to live it to understand it.  

This years conference had over 2,300 attendees. There were several families there this year, that we know from social media, but never connected with during our week. It was that big.  I also found out this year, that hotel management for future years conventions will visit the current year convention to see how the conference lays out.  Apparently, there are no other types of conferences that take over the hotels, as do we.

For one week, Caden gets to just "be".  He runs with kids his size, he doesn't have to explain anything, the connections he has made over the years, are connections that he will have for life. It saden's me when I hear teen and adult LP's express that, "this is their first conference". Caden is one lucky kid! I truly believe he has never questioned why he is small because of his lifelong involvement with LPA ... we will continue to make these yearly trips a must!