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Friday, March 18, 2016

Fun at the Blogger Retreat

Oh, boy, did we have fun!



I was at the Spring Teacher/Blogger Retreat in French Lick, Indiana, this past weekend.



It is a six hour drive, each way, so my DH (truly a dear) Jonathan went along with me. And a Grand Adventure it was. Thanks to Kacey's Five for Friday so I can share all about it with lots of pics!

1.   Before we left the house, I went to Google Maps and printed up the directions for the best route. I have an iPhone with GPS, but I am old fashioned enough to want a hard copy in hand when heading off to the wild blue yonder, just in case.

We went along fine for most of the trip. Then in the last hour I turned on Google Maps GPS so we could search for some McDonald's good food in Bloomington, and we kept it on after that. In theory the best route via Google Maps on paper should have matched the best route via the GPS, right? Well, it wasn't long before our little GPS navigator, we call her Marjorie, was taking us down a different route all together. We were going in all sorts of directions on simple, two lane... barely two lane...  roads. At least they were paved.

I remembered that retreat packet said the resort was "out in the middle of nowhere" and we were certainly driving through nowhere. We were on county roads that had numbers for names according to Marjorie, but they were certainly not marked in any way as we zoomed past. We were going just a few feet on some of them before turning on to another one, in yet another direction. I'm sure we passed the same clump of trees several times over.

Up hill and down, around, over and through... quite a bit like a Sesame Street song. Jonathan and I were arguing... with Margery... about how she was wrong, wrong, WRONG. There was NO WAY anything worth getting to was down this route. Jonathan felt more confident after we saw this sign pointing us to the teachers...


Snort.

In an effort to "get there" and "be done" Jonathan was driving TOO FAST not slow, so it was like a carnival ride for me.


Oh, neat... wavey  roaDS



No, we didn't crash into those trees... there was a severe CURVE at the bottom of the hill!


Yes, skid marks. Not ours. We weren't the only ones who had road adventures.


Uh-huh, lots of zigs and zags, to say nothing of roadsides that dropped off like ski jumps... not that I've ever been on a ski jump... or a ski hill... or even ski boots. Well, come to think of it, I have gone cross country, but this countryside was definite Alpine skiing.

After several hundred miles of chugging up hills with no top in sight, zooming down ravines, and careening around curves– roads with hills AND curves at the same time, mind you– we came to this sign.


NOW? Are you kidding me? After all the miles and miles of danger on all those hills BACK THERE?? Now you tell us to use caution??  Well, I lost it. I laughed and laughed and laughed some more. Tears were streaming. And then I saw THIS sign...


Again, are you KIDDING me?? The poor bus driver! After coming through all those dips and vales to get this far, he was now told to TURN AROUND???  It. was. hysterical... well, maybe it was just I who was hysterical. I became NO help to Jonathan as I was crowing louder than Margery could speak, and now HE was nervous that we were going to miss some directions and be stuck in the National Forest forever... I forgot to mention that we were in a National Forest. Shouldn't we have seen a Mountie or something... or is that only in Canada? We weren't in Canada. Well, I don't THINK we were in Canada.

We did FINALLY find our way into French Lick. What was the first sign we saw???


And what did Jonathan say? "I'll do a little go-carting while you are at this conference." WHAT the heck was all that driving back there? I have a Smart car, so it really WAS go-carting. Men!! I was still laughing as we pulled up to the hotel. Anything that took place at the retreat was going to pale to the adventure of getting there!

The day was damp and foggy with temps in the sixties– very springlike. As we unpacked the car we could see the little town stretching up, as it was built on a hill. Jonathan started grinning and said, "So that is where it comes from?" I followed his line of vision, and sure enough, this is what we saw...





Fog was pumping right out of the building! So THIS is where fog comes from!! A regular fog factory. Who knew French Lick's real industry!

2.  The place was gorgeous. I LOVE elegant old hotels and both of the hotels that are part of the French Lick Resort were lovely. You felt like you were on vacation as soon as you walked in– good thing as we were barely there for 24 hours. Here are some shots. Most of these were taken Saturday evening as I was too busy during the day. It was still very balmy with the smell of spring in the air. A light drizzle gave the cobblestones a romantic sheen. Quite lovely.






There is a gorgeous, early turn of the century, restored trolley that makes a regular ten minute run between the two hotels.








You could think Paris, spring time, 1920. I was surprised to find this in modern day Indiana, but I much appreciated the mood and change of scene from Michigan.

When we got back we had a lovely dinner at one of the resort restaurants, The Power Plant. We had the house speciality– fall apart, melt in your mouth, swiss steak with mushroom demi-glace. I actually thought to take a picture... well, after just one bite.



3.  But Kathleen, you were at a bloggers retreat! Where is the blogger part?

Here's how I spent the day. I had no idea what to expect really, but there was a lot of networking, tons of prizes given away, and mini roundtable discussions on many topics. I went to several sessions– TPT, Pinterest, Silhouette, and alternative classroom seating. It was a good opportunity to meet other bloggers and hear from those who have been particularly successful.

The retreat's theme
The theme came from the 1980s movie, Flashdance– appropriate on many levels, given the enthusiastic crowd and the fact that there was a 1980s theme party for us on Saturday night.

Greg from The Kindergarten Smorgasboard was someone who I bumped into several times... quite literally as we sat back to back at our respective tables. He gave the session I attended on kindergarten seating and I also managed to end up with his item at the teacher gift exchange.

Funny story- when we were on the way to the retreat I told Jonathan that there was reportedly a lot of loot to be had at this event. When the musical chairs-style gift exchange dropped Greg's gift in my lap, I could see right away what it was- Greg might be into glitter but he's not into gift tissue...


I got his infamous glue sponges, made by his very own busy little hands. It's lucky I had only thought about making these, but had never got around to it.


Anyway, I was sure if Jonathan doubted I was actually with kindergarten teachers all day, he would know for sure when I got back to the room with this booty. What I didn't expect when I pulled them out of the bag was for him to say, "Oh, good, pink Krispy Treats!" The man sees cookies everywhere.

It was great meeting Greg, even if just over glue sponges.


Here are some of my tablemates and new teacher friends from Tennessee, incognito.


They are Tiffany, Holly, Alysia, and Rayann and you can check out their Teacher Talk 4 channel here. They do really fun stuff and have an enviable friendship.

Here I am with a couple of famous-to-some TPT staffers, Nicole and Amy... I felt a little foolish taking this picture. I am probably one of TPT's smallest accounts, with most of my stuff being free– teachers do indeed download it though, so you should check it out here.  I agreed to the photo shoot so I'm ready for the day when I DO make my millions. snort.


4.  And as for my night? Well, after we got back from my trolley ride and dinner I headed down to the 80s party. It was fun planning what I would wear before I left home. I don't know if I should be so honest as to admit that I didn't have to buy a thing to put together my outfit. I was young and with-it in the 80s, thank you very much. I did have to dig deep into my second wardrobe, granted, but my packrat self throws very little away. And I was grateful that feet don't grow as much as the rest of you does, and that I have always enjoyed stretchy waistbands, because they allowed things to still fit. Here I am complete with Esprit sneaks, lace bottomed leggins, polkadot skirt, ripped sweatshirt, Madonna lace gloves and Boy-George-Debbie-Gibson hat. I also am wearing my big neon dangle earrings and old Mickey Mouse watch.

80s Style was not a problem


Greg was the hit of the party as he channeled Richard Simmons.


And I managed to capture him and Chad from Male Kindergarten Teacher as they flashdanced the night away.




I have definite shoe envy of those light-ups on Chad's feet. I am one kindergarten teacher who could seriously use those shoes... I could alternate them with my sequined Hello Kitty mary janes.

If you want to see what Greg and Chad are all about, and it's not just dancing, click below.





5.  Now here is a bit on teacher stuff! My stars were not aligned well in the prize department actually. I was the ONLY one from my table of six that did not win a raffle prize. They walked away with jewelry, props (as seen in the picture above), pencil sharpeners, and even free registration to a conference. I was really miffed fine with that, though, because we all got a nice bag of loot... even me!



A Vera Bradley bag, an ABC Mouse tote, and a variety of paper stuff and coupons for downloading, even Udderly Smooth cream. I was most excited by the Kwik Stix paints– have you seen those yet? Paint in a glue stick crayon form that dries in 90 seconds. Dying to try them.

I was also surprisingly happy to get those little purple umbrella cut-outs used for calendar numbers. Years ago I had them on my calendar when the cleaning crew came in at spring break. They shampood my carpet... right over a couple of umbrellas that had fallen off the calendar board. I will finally be able to replace them with nice looking ones.

Here is the whole list of sponsors for the retreat:



  








  
  

 
AND...

The Pencil Grip, Scentsy, Origami Owl, Younique, Silly McGilly, Stella and Dot, DoTerra Oils, Coker Mugs, Doodle Bugs Paper, Twinkle Twinkle Little Jar, Udderly Smooth and more!

I thank each one for all the goodies they provided to us!

I was very happy to see the HUE camera animation kit as a raffle prize. It's been on my wishlist for a while. I have a document camera at school, but what I really want to do is stop-motion animation, which HUE's Animation Kit, along with the HUE camera, is great for. You can see some examples here. We were given five raffle tickets to use for prizes and I put all five of mine in the HUE basket. I didn't win, as I said earlier, but something else pretty wonderful happened. I can HAVE an animation kit if I do a review, and I can have another one to GIVE AWAY!! As in, give to YOU! The HUE company is wonderful to offer these things and I so appreciate it.

And that's not all. I have the camera AND two different neat books, one from Flashlight Press and one from Usborne, that are also going to be in upcoming give-aways! Yep, my first ever give-aways– three in the next six weeks. My goal is to increase readership. Any followers will be able to put their name in the virtual hat. My current small numbers of readers is good news for you, actually, because you'll have a better chance of winning. You can sign up right now, either via email or Bloglovin, so you'll hear about the upcoming giveaways as I post them. Keep your eyes peeled! Somebody's gotta win, so why not you?

Whew, a lot going on, eh? Hope this post gave you some idea of what can happen at a blogger retreat, and some idea of what I've been up to. Anyone can come to a retreat- you don't have to be a blogger, just a blog stalker and I hope you'll consider coming to next year's retreat. MUCH thanks goes to Holly at Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Connections. She was the VERY busy person who organized the wonderful event. Visit her blog here to read more.

Thanks for stopping by! Click on back to Five for Friday for more!


See you soon!






6 comments:

  1. You are hilarious and it sounds like you had an amazing time. Maybe I'll make it there next year. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whew. Met the mark. Heaven forbid anyone takes me too seriously... I mean, how could I teach science if I believed there was a fog factory :P I hope you do go next year– give me a holler. Thanks for stopping by! Kathleen

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  2. This post was fabulous! I laughed through all of it! I will have to make sure I attend next year's event! When our kids were very little we used to go to French Lick every winter. We skied at a little resort near there called Paoli Peaks, but we always stayed in French Lick! And we always got lost!
    Carol
    Teachers Are Terrific!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is a little stand-up comic inside me just dying to come out, and she is very happy :) I can easily believe there is skiing nearby- downhill racing! It really would be a lovely drive if you knew you were going to come out where you wanted to in the end :) If you go next year, do give a holler! Thanks for stopping by! Kathleen

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  3. Looks like you had a fabulous time! I loved your commentary of the road trip there, you are so funny, I was cracking up. Your 80's outfit was spot on, you looked so cute. I would love to go one year, but it is a bit far for me. Thanks for sharing all about your adventure!

    ~Laura
    Luv My Kinders

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Laura! Yes it was a great weekend break. Glad you stopped by. See ya, Kathleen

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