Sunday, August 31, 2008

Adventures in Preemie Outings #4 - LEGO Mania

On Saturday morning we decided that we need to get out of the house yet again and are feeling particularly brave. My husband is still in love with LEGOS and has read in the paper that there is a LEGO BrickFair about an hour and a half away in Northern VA. It's in a Sheraton hotel and we thought it would be nice get out and see some stuff besides the mall. Here's the link so you can see what we went to:

We weren't sure what to expect, a big convention in the grand ball room or a small local dork fest in the basement. Either way it would be nice to stroll around looking at people's LEGO creations and marvel at the many hours spent staring at little plastic cubes.

We had a mission, a plan of attack and were ready to face the world. Our main concern was pushing the long-hauler mack truck stroller through a room full of tables with precariously positioned LEGOmania. In a stroke of brilliance Drew says we need a baby carrier! Off to Once Upon A Child consignment to pick up a cheap baby carrier. Out of the dozens of different ones to choose from we got a perfectly good though slightly worn Baby Bjorn for only $25. A far better deal than paying the full $80 to $130 at the store. I already had a Moby Wrap that I'd picked up at Target on a whim and because I had read it was good for preemies and reflux. This would be perfect: Drew can carry the chunky monkey with all his gear (oxygen, apnea monitor) as Cameron's now above the weight limit for a Bjorn carrier. I will deftly bundle tiny Evan to my chest in the as yet only tested once Moby Wrap and carry the diaper backpack. Now we could maneuver without making the customary beep-beep-beep of the reversing and turning of our extra long stroller.

We "throw" the kids in the mom-mobile and off we go. The car ride was uneventful except to say that the Volkswagen commercial has a wise parent on their marketing team. Just like in the commercial at every light we came to someone in the back seat started to fuss. As soon as the car hit 55mph they would settle right down. Future race car drivers! But there were moments when even mom's wicked radical driving skillz couldn't entertain the boys and they would begin their version of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" which sounds nothing like the version I know. I must be getting old. Their version has a lot more flats and sharps and can really hit some pitches, though the boys know how to do rounds pretty well and can harmonize nicely if they time it. Anyway, a note to new parents: There is a purpose for your AM radio besides baseball. That static is intentionally played so that parents can turn it on very loud and the babies in the car will fall right asleep. Works almost every time!

Upon arrival to the BrickFest hotel we realize we underestimated the magnitude of the event. This was not just your local Days Inn, this was THE SHERATON of Tysons Corners VA. Swanky nice place. And this was not your average Dork Fest as we had thought it might be. This was the Mother of All that is Holy and LEGO. And it was jam packed with parents, grandparents, and tons of KIDS!!! Germy, loud, oblivious to others Kids.
This is a great place to bring preemies! The line for tickets was out the door and down the hotel driveway. Parking was full so we drove two blocks and realized that we'd prefer to take the stroller because of the distance we had to park.

Getting into the very noisy lobby was a mess and Drew waited in line to get the tickets while I took eht boys to get freshened up and look for a place to sit and feed them before going into the convention hall. Finding the bathroom for the diaper change was tricky because the elevators to the restrooms were so packed with people by the time they were empty for us to get on the doors would close. And no one thought to lend a hand and hold the doors so they wouldn't slam on the stroller. Oh nooooo... That would be too thoughtful. DON'T YOU PARENTS REMEMBER THOSE DAYS!?!?!?! Finally made it to the diaper change and headed back to the lobby and both of us noticed there were several parents with double side by side strollers looking m-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e and we decided that the carriers were the best thing.

Drew ran the stroller back to the car, moved the van to a much closer spot and dashed back. We fed the boys and during that time had a nice mom of twin 3 year old girls come up and ask permission to see the babies. Very thoughtfully she explained to the girls how they shouldn't get close, no touching, use soft voices for babies. It was refreshing to see someone who understood. And then we geared up for battle, I mean LEGO viewing chaos.

I have to tell you first that using a Moby Wrap is not for the feint of heart. The thing is 30 feet of quality cotton that you fold in half and pretzel twist around your body then insert hot stuffy baby. Once it's on it is soooo nice. Except that it's very hot. Sauna hot. I was really worried that I'd over heat Evan. But he instantly fell asleep which apparently, according to the instruction book, is the sign that you put it on right. Drew hooked up our brand new-ish Baby Bjorn and inserted Cameron who instantly started to wail. It never occurred to us that his inguinal hernia would not appreciate this contraption but in hindsight we probably won't be doing this until after we see the pediatric urologist. He did settle down and fall asleep. Drew then used his Camel Back water bag for hiking to hold the oxygen tank (fits perfectly) and then hung the apnea monitor over one shoulder. Here we go!

The convention was awesome and huge. There were over 12,000 square feet of space filled with tiny and massive LEGO creations, some from pre-designed kits but most from the imaginations of the Brick Builders (that's LEGO construction nerds call them selves). I'll post a few of the pics at the end of this posting. There were independently made stop animation LEGO movies being presented for viewing. There were huge LEGO cranes lifting banners. There were huge train sets, towns, chess sets and robots even a large cut away replica of the Nebeconezer from The Matrix. My husband was in dork heaven. I loved the castles with moving people, the working lit up carousel, the miniature city and town scapes, the dioramas of movies like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, and the giant replica of he apartment high rise from The Jettsons cartoon. We couldn't fit in the Great Ball room where they had motorized sets moving objects like raquet balls, steal ball bearings and marbles around the room.

The whole place was very hot and very very crowded with germy people, kids everywhere. There were a few times where it was wall to wall people around us and visions of, of losing my balance or of sick babies were running through my mind. What were we thinking??? I had assumed that it would be big open aisles and lots of space but hadn't thought how crowded it would be. And being double wide with a baby in the front and gear on the back we both were anxious the whole time. We got lots of looks, and a couple of twin parents of teenagers assured us with knowing smiles the it gets better. I made them pinkie swear on it.

The boys slept through all of it. Eventually we made it down stairs to the area where they were playing the movies and it was much cooler. We changed the boys diapers and Evan was soaked both from sweat from him and I and from peeing out his diaper. (The fifth one in a row, time to go up a size I think). Cameron was happy to stretch out and be off of Daddy's sweaty chest. After we cooled off and freshened up it was time to go home.

There was another more enthusiastic round of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" from the babies most of the way home. It was a relief to be home. The boys thought so too and gave us hell about dragging them to NerdFest. Upon our return home it was their early dinner and they wanted nothing to do with it. They screamed inconsolably for over two hours and barely ate anything at all. Finally they were spent and fell asleep so hard that they used their amazing superhero Sleep While Eating abilities for their late dinner and barely woke up for the Midnight Meal. It's now 8am Sunday morning and they are still fussy but napping after a decent breakfast at 4am. Hopefully we'll get back on track this next bottle.

There is an extra price to pay for an outing like this... Overstimulated, over tired, over cranky babies. I only hope they didn't bring home any souvenirs like the flu or a cold, but we were as careful as could be and can't live in a bubble as much as I think we should. Besides once RSV comes there won't be trips to anywhere for a long time. Crossing my fingers.... I didn't think we could, but maybe we'll tackle our annual trip to our local Maryland Renn Fest this year after all.


Anonymous said...

Good for you guys! You did something that was just for you and let the boys know that mommy and daddy will have lives and they will just have to learn to live with it! =)
Sounds like a rough day...but you got through it!!
Considering they slept through the whole thing, guess Drew's hope of raising mini-dorks may bot be as good as he thought. You'd think they would have liked the bright colors of the LEGO's. Oh well...there's always action figures, WOW, the 360 and D&D. (why does nerd stuff always have sounds like code)
I'm glad everyone made it out of nerddom alive and with all 40 fingers and toes are still in place. Guess there's hope for the beach next year after all!!! (we're REALLY going to miss you guys this year)

Kim said...

Truly amazing babies you have. I can't even imagine the planning it takes to go out as a family with them ! Our twins were full term and it was still a huge deal to pack up everyone and do anything.
Your babies are adorable and I'll pray that RSV gets no where near your family.
Kim - editor

Jennifer said...

And to think we almost went to Dragoncon in Atlanta. Well, we briefly talked about how fun it would be to see the storm trooper parade. I'm glad you were able to go to a big, dorky event- we can live through you and Drew!