Monday, August 6, 2007

Post-Conference Blues

It's always hard to get back to your mundane boring life after a vacation. This is even more true following a great one like our trip to the conference. I had to work the very next day after returning, and I was pretty much useless :)

The second week was a little better, and I think I can get a full week's worth of work done now. Updating the blog has really made me reflect on what a good time we had and appreciate all the work that must have gone into putting that on. I can't imagine how many volunteer hours we took advantage of between the chance to dance and the kid's play room. I'm glad we could pay a little back in the form of our blog, albeit a little late :(

My understanding is there are no current plans for the next LLLI conference, and I feel saddened by that. I'm sure Cheri got much more out of this conference then I did, but I still loved the experience. Seeing all those kids just doing great being flung into a strange environment makes me appreciate our parenting style and choices better. Meeting so many people who share our parenting philosophies is also reassuring. And of course, celebrating the magic that is LLL is very uplifting. I know it takes a LOT of work, but it means so much to so many people that I hope we can do this again.

We've already decided we need to return to Milwaukee every other year, so then next time it's in Chicago, we'll definitely be there!

I've also really enjoyed reflecting on our trip via this blog. Not sure if anyone else is reading it or cares about how many time we hit the pool, but it has helped me realize the magic of this trip. My kids are still talking about things we did.

Thanks and take care.

The last day

Well, we usually try to leave early in the day, so the last day doesn't have much fun in it. This trip we had a late plane out, so we asked each of the kids what they wanted to do on their last day. Fiona wanted to go swimming and Kieran wanted to ride the subway. I know why the pool, but wasn't sure how the subway made the list of highlights, but so be it!

So, we started the day with a VERY cold dip into the pool. I ended up spending most of the time in the hot tubs, which seemed to be back to there expected use, so they where doing better. Kieran and Fiona bounced back and forth between tub and pool. Then we said our fond farewells to the pool area. Meanwhile, Cheri and managed to get our packing finished up, so we sent out bags to storage and headed out to the city one last time. Cheri and Fiona hit the Chicago Art Institute, where they seemed to have a good time. Kieran and I rode the Red line North (subway) and took the Brown Line through the downtown loop (elevated rail). Pretty cool for both of us. Then we returned to the Red line to the Chicago Ave. stop where where hiked over to the Hancock Observatory. Kieran wasn't all that keen on it until we got to the 94th floor, then he raised his opinion of the stop! What a view! While we looked down on the windy city, Kieran spotted a beach to the north of the building and asked if we could go to it.

"Sorry, but that's in the wrong direction Kieran. But we can walk back along the water way if you'd like".

"Well," said Kieran, "how about that one?" http://local.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&cp=41.893355~-87.613165&style=a&lvl=19&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000&scene=11385824&encType=1

Well, I can't argue against that one, as it's kinda along our way. So we headed over and wading into Lake Michigan, daddy up to his ankles and Kieran up to the bottom of his shorts. Played there for about an hour then started heading back. After trying to walk south past the Chicago River (no good pedestrian walkways) we ended heading back to the Red line for one last subway ride back to the hotel.

Then we grabbed out bags, met our shuttle and head back to Midway Airport. Our flight was delayed by an hour and a half, so I was glad we had games we could play on the gate's floor. It was very crowed at the gate and people began lining up close to an hour before our SCHEDULED departure! People, that's really not necessary. We ended up being trampled, so we moved and where glad to hear pre-boarding included families with children under 8. We'll take that! It was a later flight, so we got a little shut eye on the ride home. Note to self, don't take the back aisle seats as they don't recline because of the bulkhead behind them! So much for taking advantage of pre-boarding!

After events

So Tuesday was our first day to be together again. So, we headed off to the Museum of Science and Industry. VERY COOL. We saw an Omnimax presentation about the Egyptian Mummy's which the kids where luke warm about, but Kieran got a lot more out of as we'll see later. Right outside the theatre we saw an actual Apollo command module and a practice mock up of the Lunar Lander, which Kieran just LOVED after spending the last 3 days playing with his Apollo model! Another of Kieran's favorites was the U-505 exhibit, which is the actual sub capture during WWII. We spent the extra $5 per person to walk through it, and it was worth every penny. I think this was the highlight of Kieran's trip besides seeing great-grandma before hitting Chicago. Also got to go through a mock-up of a coal mine, which was interesting and depressing. Glad we don't have that job.

Wednesday we headed off to the Field Museum. Kids are definitely getting input fatigue as they did not do so well here. They like seeing Sue, the worlds largest and most complete T-Rex (especially since we'd seen "Night at the Museum" the week before). Both also enjoyed the underground adventure, we you are "shrunk" to half an inch and explore what the soil looks like from that height. Kieran also enjoyed the Egyptian section, especially being about to be inches from an actual mummy. Turns out he got a lot more from the Omnimax movie then I thought. Cheri and I ended up taking turns in the museum while the kids played outside. The museum campus is so well done that kids can spend hours on it without every entering the museums there! I ended up taking the kids back toward the hotel where they played amongst one of the art works nearby (http://local.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&cp=41.868205~-87.62318&style=a&lvl=19&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000&scene=11386172&encType=1), photo does not do it justice. Then, back to the pool!

Tomorrow we pack and head home, but not until we have one last chance to do stuff. More on that soon.

Day 4, Monday

You might have guessed that we are not doing a great job of posting while at the conference. Especially as these are being posted 2 weeks after it! That's not from not wanting to post, but rather there just being to much great stuff to do here. About the only way I could have posted more at the conference was if the tech room had extended hours (like 10-midnight after the kids go to bed) or I had my laptop. I hate flying with laptops (worrying about someone walking off with it) and the hotel is a little outrageous with daily connection fees, so that's not an option. I'm up anyways reading Harry Potter, but I couldn't imagine asking the conference hosts to put more effort forward. This conference has been great, and except for the food and temperature, I think Cheri would agree!

So, today we played some more in the kids room (last chance before it closes), spent more time in the pool, and I attended my second session. Gosh, I think I need to do better with that area! I'm usual not good about talking to strangers, especially other guys, but that becomes a lot easier when the other men are LLL dads. Hence the good feeling coming out of the "Fathering Open Space" session. We had some international representative from WABA. Really nice to have your thoughts and experiences reflected in the stories of others. We agreed we should continue this idea post conference, so I just joined the LLL Dads yahoo group. It's an open invite, so take a look at it if you're interested.

It was sad attending the closing ceremonies. Food seemed better this time, but just because I asked for the meat plate doesn't mean I don't like at least a little bit of vegetable matter! Turns out some folks have been getting sick following there visit to the conference, but we've managed not to get anything. Guess it helps to do more meals in the rooms!

Day 3, Sunday

Well, managed to get to my first session this morning! I'd had others I'd thought about the last 2 days, but it just didn't seem to work out. Got up, took Fiona to her chance to dance practice and sent Kieran off to mommy's session and went to "Philosophy of Advertising and Brain Development of Children" by Douglas Gentile, PhD. Very nice presentation. Speaker was funny and engaging while still scary the heck out of parents. Very glad our kids don't watch much broadcast TV. Now I just have to convince the grandparents about that!

Then it was lunch time and Fiona's chance to dance in front of 2000 people. I may be a little bias, but I think she did a great job! Cheri reminded me why the kids had to sit on our laps ($30/kid), so I let that one go and enjoyed lunch with a head in my face.

After lunch it was off to the play area where Kieran played matchbox cars and Fiona got her face painted twice along with an arm painting. The woman doing body painting was very talented and patient. More Kudos to the play room folks. Meanwhile, dad was being a bad dad by reading more Harry Potter. I can't help it, I'm an addict and that was my last chance for a fix. Must say I'm enjoying this book!

After that, it was off to the pool for a couple of more hours (seeing a theme yet?). Just one more day of the confernce left!

Day 2, Saturday

So, continuing the "my first day" theme, Fiona got to choose our events today. She started by going to the "Chance to Dance" event. Turned out to be a practice for an actual performance during Sunday's lunch. She loved it. Needless to say, she tends toward extrovert! While she was off doing that, Kieran and I got our first chance at the play room. Whoever is in charge of that needs some Kudos! Lots of cool play areas/stations (kitchen, house, construction, castles, art, camping, karaoke, toddlers, etc). Kieran spent his time in the castle play area where someone had loaned a really cool wooden castle with a ton of playmobile and bendable wooden figures.

After practice, it was off to the pools for 2+ hours. You might notice a re-occurring theme with the pool. Hotel's pool was a tad on the cold side for us. They also seemed to have problems keeping the 2 hot-tubs in working order. They where either too hot, too cold, or empty. I don't think they are used to 30+ kids getting in for 5 minutes then getting out again, carrying a ton of water with them.

After a brief stop in the room for food - did I mention we picked up a toaster oven so we can heat up food/make toast/toast bagels/make grilled cheese sandwiches in the room. Good tip for going cheap when you have kids that may eat 1 bite or chow down and you don't want to take the chance on 1 bite with an expensive restaurant. Anyways, after lunch we walked over to the Adler Planetarium. VERY cool. Kids had been to another planetarium near our house, but it was nothing like this. They got to pilot a shuttle around Mars, play with venting gas in a moon like environments, see a planetarium show, visit an early version of star gazing (Atwood sphere), and of course the store. Atwood sphere was a highlight with the kids. Basically it's a giant steel sphere constructed in 1913. You ride a small platform into the sphere, then it rotates like the night sky. It has wholes drilled into it where stars would be, so the light from outside the sphere allows you to imagine you where seeing the night sky. For my part, the store was the best part because I got Kieran to let go of the previous day's must have in lieu of a nicely made model of the Apollo spacecraft complete with detaching rockets, lunar lander, command module, and free-standing astronauts. He was really happy he waited and spent his money on that.

Then it was back to the hotel where I past the kids back to Cheri for dinner while I headed off to Borders to pick up Harry Potter 7. Also met with my area's conference reg chair so we could discuss the website for upcoming conference. Not sure I'm ready for another conference!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Here and BUSY!

Oh, my! I'm clearly bad at blogging. We flew in on Tuesday, drove to Milwaukee, and were back in Chicago on Thursday. Now it's the last day of the conference and I'm finally at a computer. The conference is wonderful, exciting, stimulating. . . also exhausting and overwhelming, especially with two 5 year olds who are doing a great job letting Mommy and Daddy participate, but really need more activity and room to run.

I've been attending mostly CE sessions and I promise to review them, but probaby when we get home. I signed up for sessions based on speaker names - oh, I know THAT name, I want to hear that person speak. So far I've been pleased with my sessions but I am starting to hit brain overload. I am going to do one last exhibit hall run before it closes (there aren't enough exhibit hall hours!).

The conference rooms are cold, cold, cold. I am carrying 2 sweaters and wool socks to put on during my sessons. I look like I'm bundled up for winter, not July in Chicago.

It's been wonderful to meet Leaders from all over the world. I've especially appreciated putting faces to names that I only know from the Community Network. No one ever looks the way I picture them.

Off to the bookstore and to enjoy my last day!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Day 1, Friday July 20th

Cheri has a bit of a problem with insomnia. This gets worse when we travel, stay in strange beds, or gets excited about an upcoming LLL conference. Needless to say, she was up WAY earlier then the rest of us. That gave her a chance to find a grocery store only 2 blocks away, hit it, and return so we could awaken to fresh OJ and cold milk on our cereal. HURRAY for mommy.

So, after eating and dressing, something we don't do quick, she headed off to a tour of nursing related art work at the Chicago Institute of Art. That left me and the kids to find our way. Several years ago we started sharing family choices by having something called "X's first day". We spend more time on this when the kids are stressed or excited (which they just happen to be right now), so we're sticking to it. Fiona has odd days and Kieran get even (by the way, she tries to change whether she's odd or even depending on which is most advantageous; dad was the slowest to catch on, but it's now official and published on the internet, so don't let her tell you otherwise). Kieran then got to pick what we did...and he already knew what that was. He wanted to go to the Shedd Aquarium.

Well, that meant a short (~30 minutes with stops and climbing on things) walk and we got to a HUGE line waiting to get into the museum. After some trepidation, I overheard one of the workers asking if anyone was in line and wanting to do the "City Pass". Well, we'd already decided we wanted to get in on that, so after a brief filing of a slip of paper, we where in the museums buying our tickets. This will eventually get us into the Shedd Aquarium, Alder Planetarium, Field Museum, Hancock Observatory, and Museum of (technology and industry?), all while skipping lines and for a cheap price. Definitely worth it for our family.

Once in the Shedd, the kids demonstrated an amazing amount of cooperation, sticking to the Kieran first day principle as well as helping each other find cool things to see. We spent about 4 hours by the time Cheri showed up and pointed out that even though we'd had a great time, we'd missed the best parts. So with her accompanying us, we headed off to the Oceanarium and the Wild reef seeing Beluga whales, dolphins, and lots of sharks and rays. Very cool. We are members of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and this was different enough to make it a great day.

About the only problem we had was Kieran became fixated on buying these cheap plastic scuba/sub set that neither Cheri nor I wanted him to get. We had them save their allowance for the past 4 weeks so they had money, but we just didn't want him to get that item. This resulted in total thermal meltdown in the gift shop, and several escalating blow ups on the walk back. We managed to get him calmed down, but he was dead set on returning then next day to get the set.

Saturday would be Fiona's first day, so he started a campaign of talking her into going to the Planetarium, which placed the Aquarium gift shop on our path. More on that soon :)

Fiona says "The turtles were really neat"
Kieran says "The gold colored fish were my favorite"

Day "0": Thurday July 19th

Well, despite the date of this post, I wanted to back track a little and tell you about our first day in the windy city.

We drove down from Milwaukee with what we thought was plenty of time. We left at a little after 11 am for a TWO HOUR TOUR (with cheesy Gilligan's island theme)...I mean drive. Now, we while we don't live in the LA basin, we have visited it occasionally. LA has nothing compared to downtown Chicago. We drove to the heart and was averaging some awfully slow speed. At least in LA they have carpool and express lanes for traffic not getting on and off anytime soon. Not so in here. It's slow in every lane, and it doesn't get better anywhere.

Once we got to the hotel, I returned to Midway airport to return the rental car, something our GPS thought ought to take 15 minutes, but really got me to the airport barely in time to avoid extra charges. The Metra trip back to the hotel was very pleasant in comparison. Note to self: don't drive in Chicago anymore.

By the time I got back, 2 hours had past. 2 hours in which the kids had already unpacked and hit the pool...got to love that enthusiasm!!! They where definitely ready for an extended hotel stay.

We'd asked for a refrigerator, which the hotel had limited numbers. We managed to snag one, which made me reconsider the 2 portable coolers we had picked up. However, by the time we got up Friday morning, it was warmer in the fridge then outside of it. Back to plan A for keeping our milk, cheese, and lunch meat cold. Course, took the hotel another 36 hours to actually come and take the defective appliance away, but that's efficiency for you. We ended up showing up with 2 full coolers after my grandmother got done giving us food galore. Now we just have to empty the ice machine twice a day!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Big list of Things!

As promised here is a big list of things we've gathered from email lists, blogs, and websites in no particular order.

Museums

Art Institute Art museum that is a short walk from the hotel. Huge selection of art from different periods. Something for every art lover.
Shedd Aquarium A long-ish walk from the hotel.
Adler Planetarium A long-ish walk from the hotel.
Museum of Science and Industry Bus or cab ride needed.
Field Museum of Natural History. A long-ish walk from the hotel.
Chicago Children's Museum Bus or cab ride needed.
Terra Foundation for American Art
Museum of Contemporary Art
DuSable Museum of African American History
Peace Museum
Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum
Spertus Museum exploring Jewish learning and culture. Short walk from the hotel.

Zoos

Lincoln Park Zoo Bus or cab ride needed.
Brookfield Zoo Train or cab ride needed.

Tourism and Transit

Chicago Transit Authority This link provides lots of information about traveling via public transportation in the Chicago area, including a trip planner that will help you plan your trip to the hotel from airport, train station or other location. Whether you travel by subway (we call it the "El" in Chicago), bus or train, this is the place to find information. The hotel is accessible by El from both Midway and OHare airports.
Borders Books & Music 150 N. State St., Chicago, IL 60601, (312) 606-0750 For those interested in the new Harry Potter or other books not available in the Conference bookstore.
Chicago Office of Tourism
Chicago Park District Provides information about park activities and facilities available in the Chicago area.
Top Chicago Attractions An overview.
All Day Weekend Family Metra PassUnlimited Travel$5.00All day Saturday & Sunday*Not applicable on the Chicago South Shore & South Bend 3 children free per fare paying adult. CTA Visitor Pass The CTA 1-day Visitor Pass is just $5.00, and allows unlimited rides on all CTA buses and trains from time of first use. Additional savings on 2, 3 and 5 day passes. Passes can be purchased online at www.transitchicago.com Union Station (Amtrak ticket counter), Sears Tower, RTA office at 11 S. Wells (weekdays), Navy Pier, Hot Tix booths and other locations.

When taking public transportation from Midway Airport to the Hilton Chicago Take CTA ORANGE LINE TRAIN (ORANGE LINE - CLOCKWISE)to STATE/VAN BUREN CTA (BRN/ORNG/PRPL). Take CTA BUS # 62 ARCHER SOUTHBOUND from VAN BUREN & STATE. Arrive: BALBO & STATE. Walk 0.2 mile E to 720 S MICHIGAN AVE.

Stuff to Do

Hilton Chicago on Michigan Avenue you can walk easily to the Lake front. It's a bit too far for an easy walk to Museum Row or to Navy Pier or to Water Tower Place.


DANCE IN THE PARKcommunity event, dancing under the stars, during summer only a few blocks south of the Hilton Congress & MichiganJust south of Congress hotel on Lake side of Michigan Ave.Every Thursday, Fri. & Saturday evenings during summer and Sunday afternoons too.

Millennuim Park is walking distance (just go north) of the hotel and has great free music all summer. The lineup during the Conference:
First I'll mention for all you getting there early, that a band my son is in (the Friday, July 20, 6:30 pm and Saturday, July 21, 7:30 pm -- Bernstein's Broadway--the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus celebrate the music of Leonard Bernstein
Check out www.millenniumpark.org and www.grantparkmusicfestivalcom for more info. SEE below for free “Wait Wait Don’t tell me” show.
For the concerts, there is some seating and then there is a huge lawn area where people bring blankets and picnic while listening to the concert. You can come and bring food and the kids can run around.

The family fun festival is actually a summer long event. The show I mentioned on the 17th is about an hour. But there are performances every day at 2:00 pm—mostly music but storytelling on Thursday. On Wed., Fri., and Sat. there are repeat shows at 4:00 pm. And every day there is Wiggleworms at 10 am –a local music school leads activities for babies and toddlers,including songs, finger games and circle dances.

Quest Days – New! •July 21, 11 am - 1 pm •Northerly Island - on the Museum Campus, 1400 S. Lynn White Drive •Free Is your family ready for a challenge? If so, we recommend the 2007 Park Quest. The Park Quest is a little Treasure Hunt, a little Amazing Race, and a lot of fun! During these programs you will find clues, solve problems and discover what is unique about the nature in your local park. You may have to read a map, use a compass and solve riddles about the natural areas in the parks listed below. Complete more that two Quests this year and receive a Nature Oasis patch. Families are encouraged to pack lunches and enjoy a picnic in the park. No registration is required.

For those arriving early - NPR's news quiz show "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me" is taping at Millennium Park in Chicago on Thursday evening, July 19. The show is free. I don't know any other details yet, but my family and I plan to go! See http://www.npr.org/programs/waitwait and look under "other live appearances."

Food Leads

Giordano's Pizza. You're about 1/2 mile from either 135 E. Lake or 225 W. Jackson. The walk to the Lake St. location is very pleasant. Just stroll North on Michigan Avenue, turn right (east) on Lake and go about 1 block and you will see our location. The other location is in the West loop, right by the Sears Tower if you want to go see that. Head north on Michigan again, turn left (west) on Jackson and go about 6 blocks.

They both open at 7 am:
Printer's Row Farmer's MarketLocation: Dearborn and Polk (36 W – 800 S)Saturdays-------this is by far the closest to the hotel, less than half a mile
Federal Plaza Farmer's MarketAdams & Dearborn (230 S - 50 W)
Tuesdays------------a little over half a mile

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Count-down

Between end of preschool (yippee! That's ANOTHER volunteer job finished for me!), beginning of summer, our local NCa/HI conference planning, and the recent severe illness and death of our dog, this blog has been sadly ignored.

And now somehow it's less than a week before we leave and I'M NOT READY!

I'm a list-maker. And I tend to enjoy making the lists more than doing what's on them. Currently, I have about 4 different conference lists, from what to pack, to what to do in Chicago and what I need to get done before leaving. Actually, there are a couple of "what to get done first" lists and I'm adding to them faster than I can check things off. I'm on the LLL Community Network Conference list, which has been amazingly busy the last couple of weeks. From that, I have a list of restaurants, grocery stores, museums, and activities near the hotel (I'll post it here in the next day or two). I've also got our long packing list printed out and ready to start.

I really hate packing, even more so with children since I'm now packing for 3 people (James can fend for himself!). I don't want to spend my time in Chicago doing laundry, so I'm trying to figure out how to take the minimum # of suitcases and still have enough clothing for us for 10 days. At least I know what to expect at the conference - over-airconditioned rooms, so I'll want slacks and sweaters. And when we're out and about, we'll need light-weight clothes and sun protection. My daughter has been telling me daily what needs to come with her. For a five-year old girl, those items tend to run towards notebooks, pens, dolls, multiple hair ribbons, makeup, and way more clothing than she'll need. We'll be paring down tremendously! My son will be happy with some Legos and his cowboy boots.

What I'm looking forward to:
meeting Leaders from all over the world
putting faces to names I only see on emails
the bookstore (James, don't read this. . . I hope to need an extra suitcase for my purchases)
the exhibit hall
all the CE sessions

Off to start gathering suitcases!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Side Treks

So, another great way we are planning on using this conference is to visit family. We live in California and don't get to see my grandmother very often in Milwaukee. With the price of trying to fly four people half way across the county, we just can't make that trip.

Chicago is a mere 2 hour drive from her house. So, we're going to leave for the conference a few days early, rent a car, and drive up north. The kids don't remember ever seeing their great grandmother, so we are definitely guilty of being bad parents on that front! We are also having other relatives from near by swinging by Milwaukee while we are there, so we are getting more bang for our buck.

All thanks to LLLI!

James

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Travel tips

In the last 2 years, we've taken several long (5+ hour) plane rides with the kids. For anyone who's done this, you know it can be very taxing on all involved: Getting packed, delivered to the airport, passed through security, and onto the plane is stressing for adults, and more so for kids. Add on top of that the excitement of doing something different. Then top it off with the changes to the ability to stand up in a plane and stretch your legs in post-911 plane rides with less food/drink service and you're in for it.

We got a tip from somewhere to take presents on the plane, then slowly dole them out through out the trip. The presents need to be small for portability and usable in cramped airline seats, but still able to hold a child's attention for an extended period. We found that a large collection of toys from your local dollar store works well. We also peruse garage sales for months ahead of time looking for small trinkets. We sometime also get hand-me-down bags of "miscellaneous" toys, especially for little boys. Rather them pass them onto our kids, we hoard them for use on the plane ride.

Course, you need to make sure you wrap them in non-foil wrapping to get past security. You should also wrap in such a way that an adult could open and re-seal in case you get closer inspection at the airport. I suppose you could skip the wrapping, but that's part of the fun!

Depending on your child, this tip might also come in handy during the conference. If you're at a session you really want to make sure you can stay/pay full attention to but you have your child with you, pop out the gift for some instant sanity. Course, at every conference we've been to, there was something in the exhibitor hall that our children coveted, so you can use that as well.

This reads to me like we have very material children, but that's not the case. They just really get into "new" stuff, even when it's not. For younger children, you can use the same trick by stashing away toys they already have and reproducing them at key times, though some might call that cheating :)

James

Why are we going?!!?

Way back in 2003 when we attended the International Conference in San Francisco, I went to it basically as a baby sitter. The twins where not quite ready to separate from mom for long periods of time, and it just seemed easier to attend then commit to the 4 hour round trip to SF each day driving would require. I figured we'd leisurely get up each day, go find something in the city to do, wonder back, do dinner and go to bed. I saw my role as keeping the kids busy so Cheri could do her thing.

Well, there are only so many things a 2 year old will enjoy (Zoo...hmm, that's about all I could find), and it was interesting hearing what Cheri was learning. So by day two, I was thinking mayyyyybeeee I ought to go to the sessions I'd signed up for (read Cheri told me to go since she couldn't attend 2 sessions at once). Turns out there where things here for people who weren't lactating (a feat I'm unlikely to accomplish). I learned more about this attachment parenting Cheri was always going on about, and saw how great all the kids where doing at the conference. I met a couple of other dads who where in the same boat as I was. We played in the various rooms set-up for kids and their caregivers. We had some lunches and dinners with the chance to meet some really great people.

Turns out this conference thing was a blast, which I was not expecting. Cheri is normally an extreme introvert, though if you meet her in July, you'd never know it. She just walks up to strangers and start talking away. I'm normally an extrovert, though in a large setting with lots of strangers, I clam up (something my coworkers find hard to believe!). But for whatever reason, I get along well with the LLLI crowd. At other conferences, I don't look forward to the meals; sitting around a table with a bunch of people that I don't know and don't share anything in common. That doesn't happen to me at LLL.

So, when Cheri mentioned the upcoming conference (back in 2005!!!!!), I was all for it.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Hello from Cheri

Well, James beat me to it! I'm very excited about this conference. We've been planning for this since 2005 and it's almost here! This is my first blog, so be patient with me! I'm already in trouble with my husband for commenting on his spelling.

As James already mentioned, I've been a Leader for 3 years. In addition to my "regular" Leader activities, I also help out the area by tabulating the Leader Activity reports and working on our Area Conference Events Team ("Nurture a Child Heart, Mind, and Body: Breastfeed!" October 12-14 2007 at the Sacramento Radisson. . . you're all invited). Can you tell I'm a conference junkie?

We have 5-year old twins who are also excited about the conference, although their excitement stems from the promise of an airplane ride (which will last until about 30 minutes after the plane takes off, with 4 1/2 hours to go) and getting to visit their great-Grandma. James' grandmother lives in Wisconsin, so our plan is to fly to Chicago a few days early, spend some time with Grandma, then back to Chicago for the Conference.

Bedtime here, so I'd better go stop the escalating wildness before it gets out of control.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Intros

Hello all and welcome to Cheri and James' LLLI Conference blog.

I thought I'd start with some intros. Cheri and James will both be posting from time to time. This first post is from James. I'm a computer programmer with the University of California. I volunteer with the NorCal/HI chapter and am currently trying to build a conference registration database and website for our upcoming conference in October 2007.

Cheri is a LLL Leader since 2004, though it feels longer then that at times! She works part time at a local vet clinic and full time at home raising our 5 year old twins, Kieran and Fiona.

This will be James and the twins' second international conference (we attending 2003 San Francisco) and Cheri's third (she also attended the 2005 D.C. conference). It was at the 2003 conference that I finally "got" the full spectrum of how great my wife's parenting style was. It was really neat to see so many kids in a very strange place with lots of strange people and they just went with it. After that, I stopped fighting the attachment parenting style and haven't looked back since.