Saturday, September 16, 2006

Better Late than Never

Given that we returned home from the conference last Tuesday and that I am only now blogging about it, you have some idea of what an intense adventure it was! A bit of recovery was in order and some processing of the experience, too, before I could share it with you all. Not that my memory will be so good at this point, hence the post title.

We left on Monday and drove to Flagstaff, AZ for the night. Some of our friends had the same plan so we met up with them that night at the hotel and swam in the pool together. The next day we went into the old historic area of town to help our friends find a couple letterboxes. They were both down by the train station. The girls enjoyed watching the trains rush by and we even put some pennies on the tracks to squish them.

After we did that we all drove down towards Sedona, stopping at Slide Rock State Park to explore for a bit. There was a spot where the Oak Creek cut through sandstone and made all these cool channels. The rock was covered with some slippery algae and you could sit in the water and slide. We did not have our bathingsuits, but the girls got in anyway and had a blast. A kept saying, "I'm having the time of my life! Aren't you having the time of your life!?" to her friend S. It was hilarious! I just enjoyed sitting and looking at the beautiful scenery, with my feet in the cool water.

We spent the rest of the day shopping in Sedona in all these cool little shops. I got the girls some dreamcatchers and they bought some rocks with their money. We had dinner there and headed back to Flagstaff for the night. The plan was to go swimming in the pool, but neither family had the energy and so we crashed for the night.

Wednesday we drove into Albuquerque, NM. When we arrived at the hotel, all our other friends were there hanging out in the lobby. It was quite the reunion! The girls were so excited to see their friend M again. We all went to the Ice Cream Social and then made plans to head into Old Town for dinner. There were four families and we found a Mexican restaurant that would seat us all together. They actually stuck us off in a private group area, so it was perfect. We were all heady from the excitement of being together for the conference.

Thursday was the first day of funshops and talks. I can't really report too well on what the girls did, as C was there to support them and I got to attend the talks I was interested in. I listened to Sandra Dodd and Diana Jenner talk that morning while C and the girls went around to various funshops. That afternoon, we had the Entrepreneur funshop where the girls and I were going to sell things we had made. I had my eyemasks and A had some bead jewelry and bead "wormies". E had only two pieces of jewelry to sell. A made quite a few sales, and E sold one necklace. She was not too happy with that, but she learned that you need a big inventory to get a lot of sales. I sold a few eyemasks. I was a bit distracted since my fireside chat was next. I did not feel prepared, but it went well. Not as I had thought it would, but good just the same. I knew that Kelly had planted someone in there to see how I did, and she confirmed later that she had. I told her I could see myself talking for an hour next year... We'll see.

That night was the first of two talent shows. E and her two girlfriends were going to do a hulahoop act, but not until the next night. We watched the show and afterward, since it was still early, the girls all practiced on the stage and then in the hallway when the main room was shut down for the night. They picked out the music: I Like To Move it, off a mix my brother made for A for her second birthday. They were really getting into it, doing all kinds of tricks like turning around or jumping or moving sideways while hulahooping. It was great fun to watch!

Friday was more relaxed for me especially since I was done with my big commitments. I am not sure what happened that day other than the Artist Trading Card funshop. That was way cool! The girls had fun, I had fun, and I even traded all my cards, all three I made there, for some pretty cool art! After dinner the big talent show was going to happen. The girls were excited and a bit nervous. It was killing A to not be doing something, so she ended up agreeing to go up on stage to help with her friend M's magic card trick. Before the show started, the girls and I went into the ladies bathroom next to the main room where the show was held to do the girls makeup. They had this cool area with vanities and a big mirror and a comfy couch. The first picture is of the bunch of them hanging out there. Then the next shot is E up on stage doing her thing for the talent show with her friends. I could not have been prouder! She kept that hoop going for the whole entire duration of the song. They were one of the first acts up, so the audience was quite peppy and clapped along with the music. They, of course, got big applause when they were done. It was quite a while before M got called up for her trick. I was proud of A for going up on stage, even if she did not do anything but point to rows of cards and confirm the selected card was hers. She was disappointed later that she had not done anything "more", but she did not know what that more could be. Even though she is a beautiful singer and dancer, she says she can't do that. So the search is on for another talent for A. It was late when they got done, so we headed for bed.

Saturday, I got up and got myself to one of the talks I was interested in, Danielle Conger. It was great and I chatted with her afterward until C came to check on me. We swapped out so he could listen to the next talk while I went to the Barbie skirt funshop with the girls. It was good to be there helping my girls and being with them. We went to lunch with M and her mom. That was nice to catch up a bit, as I had not seen much of them, with all of us going different directions. C and I got to sit in on a fireside chat together that afternoon. Afterwards, I was pretty wiped out so I went back to the room to rest and ended up watching a movie. I needed to save up my energy for the dance that night. We had such a nice time dancing together as a family, after we got E feeling better about the loudness (a little food does wonders). It was fun to watch the kids and teens and parents, and even some grandparents, all dancing together. Not something you see everyday, but oh so wonderful. I think that was my favorite part of the conference.

Sunday morning was Sandra's other talk, but first we went to the fairy flower crown funshop because I needed one for the picnic that afternoon. The girls showed me how to do it, since they had already made theirs earlier. We ended up having to say goodbye to all our friends before lunch because they all needed to head for home and were not staying for the picnic. That was a bit of a bummer, but we made the best of it. Lunch was out at this awesome pizza place and then we went to Old Town to visit the Rattlesnake Museum. That was cool, even if A had to avoid the tarantulas. I was feeling so happy from the whole conference I even bought the girls stuff in the gift shop without making them use their allowance. That and I had sold another 8 eyemasks that morning!

The picnic was in a park just down the road a block from the hotel. One of the dads had arranged to make ice cream using liquid nitrogen at the picnic. That was way cool! You would think with how fast it froze, that it would be grainy or something, but it was very smooth and creamy. The fog of nitrogen as he mixed up the icecream was straight out of a mad scientists lab. Very cool. The girls were without their friend's and had not made any new friends really, so I was enlisted to come and play with them. The play structures at the park were pretty neat. It had this pyramid shaped thing that was very smooth so the kids could slide down it. They figured out that you could climb up it if you stayed to the ridge, as in the picture here. They tagged along after Holly Dodd, Sandra's daughter, for a while, and she played with them. I was talking with Sandra and she asked if I wanted to see her house. She said she had been to my house twice and thought she owed me a tour. I said sure, so we arranged to take Holly home for a pitstop after the picnic and she would show us around. I think the girls enjoyed that the most, because they had been excited to see Holly again and they finally had her full attention! Sandra was there showing another friend when we arrived, so we got the grand tour. After seeing Holly's Barbie closet under the stairs, we now have to plan one of those into our next house!

We took Holly back to the hotel and made plans to go down to the hot tub before it closed for one last dip. Holly joined us and we had a nice time chatting with the familes that were there. We met two from Alabama. C was quite pleased to know that even Alabamians unschool their kids! I think he needed to know that he was not the only one!

Monday morning it was time to head for home. It was hard for me to leave the conference. I had had such a great time, but I also felt it went by too quickly and that I did not get to do half of what I had planned to do. The girls were sad as well. They had had a wonderful time. Even C was talking about next year! We will be there for sure!

We drove to Flagstaff that day, stopping to see the petrified wood and dinosaurs along the way. The girls enjoyed all the dino statues and I got a kick out of all the "woodchips" being actual stone. There was petrified wood everywhere. The rockhound in me was pleased. I loved this shot of the girls with one of the dinos, under the big, big sky. Gotta love those puffy white clouds.

Tuesday we made the final drive home and our trip was over. Boo hoo. Until next year...


sissi said...

Finally! I have been waiting for this post for a week! Sounds like it was a great conference.

Kristin said...

I just came across your blog somehow, but I wanted to tell you that we were at the conference too. I'm enjoying reading your blog and that portrait of your mom is amazing! What talent. Will you try to get to a NW conference if they have one?