Thursday night was the speakers' dinner. I got to meet all kinds of people I've known only online, like Shelle (the conference photographer), Lolli (sat next to her at dinner!), April, and many, many more.
Each speaker stood and introduced themselves and their blog title, and when I did, I heard a squeal on the other side of the room. (Ego stroke? You betcha.) Turns out it was the totally awesome MommyJ and InkMom, who are these lovable blogging sisters I adore from North Carolina. I was thrilled to meet them. (And they're JUST as great in person as I could have hoped.)
Motherboard, MomBabe, and Julie did a fantastic job getting everything ready and rolling. The speakers got amazing swag bags (I spent a good hour after getting home slapping my daughters' hands and saying, "No, that's MINE!")
Here I am with April Durham, who designed my Tower of Strength button (scroll down; it's still on my sidebar. I love it).
Just about everyone else got to head to the Girls' Night Out at the Hilton Garden Inn, but I went home to my kidlets, so I have no pictures of getting my toenails painted or memories of a massage.
The next day the conference began in earnest. As is to be expected, it rocked. For me, one of the highlights was having dinner with Jillybean and Amberlicious, plus several gals who looked oddly but very familiar. I see a lot of people online and at various conferences, so I assumed it was because, well, we're at a blogger conference, so of course they look familiar.
But we got talking, and turns out that nope, the familiarity wasn't due to blogging. We all went to the same high school at the same time. How weird is that? We talked about favorite teachers and goofy things that happened during those delightful and somewhat hellish years.
Then Like Swimming and I compared notes and clued in on each other's maiden names. Turns out that yes, we went to high school together, but check it: our dads are practically best friends. Or, well, they worked very closely together for many years and really liked each other. Same thing. I've heard oodles of great stories about her dad, and vice versa.
[Cue Twilight Zone music.]
I got to ride to and from dinner with Jillybean and hear all kinds of great Max stories. (I know you're jealous. If you aren't, you totally should be. It's thanks to Max that my kids are Journey fans. Seriously. Remember this post?)
That night was a great concert in the main hall, but after a spell, my head started yelling at me. DeNae and I tried talking (we'd met in passing in April at the LDStorymakers conference but never got to TALK).
But it was a little loud for that, so we headed into lobby for some quiet. Next thing we knew, we'd drawn a lot of others around for a good old blogger chat, including Crash, MommyJ and InkMom. (Apparently, in the process, we missed out on seeing Annie shaking her pregnant belly as she danced during the concert. Bummer. Although I hear you can see a video of it on Shelle's blog.)
We kept scooting around the benches and finding more chairs. It was so much fun just talking to people in real life who you've known only online.
That night my body didn't cooperate (thanks, fatigue- and noise-induced headaches and funky medication side effects!) so I didn't get to the opening of the conference Saturday morning. Everything I did see, though, from the vendors to the classes to the people, was awesome.
As you can see, I can't sit still without waving my hands about.
I'd already met the darling Annie at a previous bloggy thing, but I hadn't seen her this pregnant. She's gorgeous pregnant. Somehow, I love her anyway. I don't know what she was doing in this picture, but I have to post it, because it brought me joy. (Since I missed her dancing at the concert, this is the next best thing, right?)
I taught a class about how to get published, since so many bloggers have discovered that hey, they like this writing gig and then want to get published . . . now what? We came within a hair's breadth of disaster when the projector didn't work, but then, after Mr. Techie dude spent 10 minutes trying to figure out the functions on my laptop, he realized that the projector wasn't plugged all the way in to the wall.
Gotta love low-tech solutions. Phew.
The class went well, I think (and people left with prizes . . . so they have to be happy, right?).
Dinner was with some of my favoritest (that's a word) bloggers ever, including Shanna, Annie, Crash, DeNae, Kristina, and Amber.
(I KNOW! It's like the blogging elite or something! How did I get invited? No clue. Actually, it's because DeNae is a sweetheart and took me under her wing. I think I owe her Diet Coke for that.)
It was fun. It was exhausting. I learned a ton. I met oodles of awesome people and got their cards so I can find their blogs. I signed on to Blog Frog so I have my very own community where my readers can talk to one another. (See the widget over there? Click on it.)
For more pictures (including one of me chugging Mtn. Dew), visit Crash's post about the conference and Shelle's Flickr conference page.