Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Afterthoughts

Well, tomorrow is my first meeting since the conference and am anxious to share some things I've learned with my Group without taking over the entire meeting. I thought the conference would energize me, and it did to a point, but I'm tired! Being a lone Leader can be kind of exhausting at times, especially when you already have too many things on your plate.

Anyhow, today as I was prepping for the meeting, I went through my "Mother to Mother, Generation to Generation" bag that had all the paper stuff I picked up at the conference, and I'm glad I did. I have some "babies were born to be breastfed" stickers and some flyers for the new helpline to share with my Group gals. I also just received my first order from the new LLL clothing store (I saw some displays at the conference), and I am eager to try them out and let my group know how they are--I think I'll dress Lily in one of the cute yellow onsies I ordered for the meeting, just as a display and a plug for LLLI.

Well, this probably be my last conference post. The conference was definitely an enriching experience, and I am glad I got the opportunity to attend.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Conference Notes

The conference was very enjoyable but ended up being a complicated affair. Their were lots of good points and a few not-so-good ones. Here's a run-down:

The best:
  • Chats with my roommate and with Leaders that I'd only previously met online.
  • The chance to eat some tasty food that I don't get often, like sushi!
  • Enjoyable sessions: I really enjoyed the sessions on newborn self-attachment (Kitty Franz) and simplicity parenting (Kim John Payne). The first was just amazing, and I look forward to sharing what I learned. The second reinforced things I already knew about my own children.
  • The awe-inspiring Parade of Nations and the chance to see the founders. Seeing all these Leaders from around the world was amazing. It showed me how we can all be so different and still be the same!
  • Great shopping! I'm still waiting for my husband to fall over when he sees how much I spent :) There were some great things and good deals there, although I would have liked to see more baby toys and nursing wear.
  • I got to visit with an old friend from college, whom I hadn't seen in years. We had a great time catching up!
Some not-so-good things (most of which could not be helped):
  • My dear Aunt Velma, who lived in Cleveland, passed away from cancer during the conference. Because of this, planned visits with my mother and sister, who live in Illinois, were cancelled.
  • Lily and I both ended up sick by the end of the conference.
  • I never got enough sleep!
  • All the blogs in my head that were lost to my faulty memory! I had expected the Wireless Internet to be free at the hotel so I could blog from my room after Lily was asleep, but it was far from free, so I had to wait until I got home!
  • And, of course, missing my husband and son A.J. It was so quiet without my little guy!

Ending

Lily and I really enjoyed the conference, which lasted until Monday night. After a semistressful lunch on Monday afternoon (young eater and grabby hands!), we skipped out on the Gala Dinner, and I picked up a Subway sandwich instead.

I was wondering if I let my sandwich sit too long because I was hoping Lily would go to sleep. When it became obvious she wouldn't be going to bed soon, I ate my sandwich and watched a little T.V. (for the first time since we'd arrived).

Later that night, with Lily sleeping, I lay tucked in the bed reading Harry Potter when I started to feel queasy. I thought it was either the sandwich or perhaps not enough sleep. However, when I got sick a bit later, I knew it was something more: either food poisoning or a stomach virus. It wasn't until I was home and catching up on emails on Thursday that I found out I wasn't the only one sick!

So, Tuesday, which was originally supposed to be a day for family visits, ended up being a day to hang out at the hotel, rest, pack for our Wednesday flight, and finish Harry Potter. Needless to say, I didn't eat much. It took me a few days to really get back on track.

Lily was also starting to seem a bit fussy at the conference, and by Thursday morning, she had a full-blown cold. She passed it on to A.J. by Friday. We're not getting too much sleep around here lately, but I'm sure it will pass soon.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Finding My Tribe


Sunday, July 22, 2007, 6:44 p.m.

Early Friday morning, eight-month-old DD, Lily, and I left to travel to the 50th anniversary LLL conference, my first LLLI conference. We flew via plane with a transfer in the middle. As I sat with her on one of these planes, filled with excitement and thinking about the upcoming conference and sessions, I realized that I was on my way to find my tribe. In almost any LLL setting, I have almost always felt right at home. Knowing that you share such a deep-seated passion with another woman and mother creates a wonderful, almost instant connection.

Later, upon arriving at the hotel, I admit, there was a brief moment of panic, since I didn't actually know many people, at least not by face. Was I here, lost and alone, at this huge gathering?

The feeling didn't last long, however. Soon, waiting to meet with other Ripplewood Scholarship recipients and with the arrival of my roommate (a friend and Leader from a nearby town), I began to feel right at home again. I have been able to put faces to a few names I have known only in the virtual world. I've also been able to meet some women from my very own VA/WV area, as we briefly met this morning to touch base and meet our new ACL.

The conference has been very exciting so far, even though I haven't even been able to sit through a full-session with Lily. I'm purchasing the conference library with some other Leaders, so I'll have plenty of time to continue “experiencing” the conference and its materials for months to come. The irreplaceable experiences are the smiles in the elevators, from mothers and babies, the chats in the hall, the one-on-one quiet time in my room with Miss Lily, and of course, the shopping ;)

It's been a great experience so far, and I'm so glad I came!

We're Home

We're home, but I'll probably be slow getting my thoughts down about the conference. Lily is sick right now and constantly latched on. I do have one post that I can cut and paste...I'll do that next.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Almost Time....

Less than a week to go, and I'm getting a little anxious because I don't know how I'll possibly be ready by Friday morning. DS (6 yo) is taking swim lessons (another adventure in itself) every evening this week and requires my presence (in the water). I have to pack and try to fit all my stuff in bags that I can haul around with DD. I'm also physically starting to miss DS already and wonder how I'll deal with 8 mo DD all by myself for almost a week! And will the guys want to pull each other's hair out (or whatever males do) by the time us gals return?

As for the conference itself, after reading another conference blog, I think I'll make myself a schedule for the conference time so I'll know what's going on when. Too much to do!

I hope it goes well, but I also hope it's over quickly (imagine that) so I can get back home to DD and DH! I miss them already!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Night Crawler

Oh, dear. One of the threads on the LLLIConf lists has been talking about ways to keep little ones from falling out of bed in the hotel room. I think I might have to take up one of the suggestions and throw the mattress on the floor if I can, even though I bought a portable bed rail for just that purpose.

The problem is DD has been crawling for a couple weeks now and in the past few days has gotten in the habit of starting to crawl somewhere as soon as she is awake if she's not in my lap. Here, our bed is on the floor, so the worst is a little bump onto the hardwood (tonight, I put blankets around the end of the bed in case she makes it all the way to the floor). Not so from a high hotel bed!

We'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Helpful Lists, Etc.

If you're a Leader and you haven't found them yet, there are some great discussions going on on the LLLI CN. I'm subscribed to a couple of them, keeping tabs on the conference in general, on the LLLIConf discussion (http://community.llli.org/group.htm?igid=14233) and the Harry Potter plans on the Harry Potter Party discussion (http://community.llli.org/profile.htm?mode=vp&pid=27812). I know there are more, including one discussing the World's Faire.

The LLLIConf discussion has covered everything from the airport shuttle to babysitting rates at the conference. It's definitely helping me to feel more prepared and to feel like I'm already connecting with other Leaders going to the conference.

As far as the Harry Potter discussion, I think it's so awesome that the Leaders have found a way for us addicts to get our HP fix without leaving the hotel! I doubt I'll have much time to read, but maybe if DD falls asleep on the plane on the way home, I can get started...I just have to resist the urge to turn to the last page early. I don't want Harry to die!!!

Oh, it also looks like I have a roommate for the conference days, Friday through Monday. A friend and Leader from a nearby town will probably share my room. That will be a great way to have some adult company (if we're ever in the room at the same time) and also a way to save a little money!

My mother and sister are coming up Monday from central Illinois to visit after the conference is officially over and will stay two nights with me. We're thinking about visiting the Shedd Aquarium Tuesday after the conference. I feel almost guilty for going without my 6 yo DS, but if it's really cool, maybe we'll plan a trip there sometime when we're visiting family in Illinois in the future.

I'm also making plans to visit with a friend who lives in Chicago. I haven't seen her in at least 7 years. We went to college together and were pretty close, so it's great to have this chance to see her again.

I can't believe it's only 2 1/2 more weeks to go! How will I ever get everything done!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Word on Global Session and Dress!

I finally heard back that my abstract for a Global Session at the conference was not accepted. It's a bit disappointing, as I believe the topic--supporting mothers nursing to 3 and beyond--does not receive enough coverage at LLL events. I hope that the book I am working on will do something to remedy this, but that's a story for another time...

However, in another way, it is a relief that I won't be leading a session. I was wondering how I was going to deal with then 8 1/2 month old DD if I was actually in charge of facilitating a roundtable discussion. I mean, I will be attending all my sessions with her, but if she is restless, I can always leave and catch it later via podcast or tape. And as one person pointed out to me, those encounters outside sessions with other Leaders and mothers from around the world can be the most valuable experiences from the conference. I'm also glad I won't be missing one of the sessions I signed up for because I have to lead one.

It's a mixed bag, but I'm sure the conference will be enriching nonetheless!

***

On a completely different note, I ordered a nursing dress for the Gala online last night. I don't currently own a nursing dress since I'm such a casual dresser, and there are no actual physical stores nearby that carry things like that in my area. Hope it fits and looks all right. I have no idea how formal the Gala will be, so I just hope it's enough! :)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Balancing motherhood and leadership at the conference

As I mentioned before, I'm really looking forward to this conference, but I'm wondering about the challenges of attending with a then 8-1/2-month-old baby girl. She's 6 1/2 months old now, sitting up nicely and just gearing up to crawl. She hardly stays sitting up for long before she reaches forward to grab something and starts that airplane move on her belly--let's go! I'll be surprised if she isn't crawling by conference time. My schedule is full up, but I imagine I'll be ducking out of sessions early and skipping some altogether, depending on her moods and patience.

Too bad about airline space restrictions or else I'd be hauling my Boppy to the conference. At least then, naptime wouldn't be a big deal. I guess it'll be time for the sling or mei tai instead. I hope presenters don't mind my pacing at the back of the room while she sleeps or falls asleep. Actually, I'd be surprised if I wasn't the only one! It is LLL after all.

Maybe it wasn't such a great idea, but I also decided last week to try a new thing, which may present challenges at the conference: elimination communication, also known as natural infant hygiene or infant potty training. After a week at it, I've pretty much decided to only do it part-time with diaper backups. That should make it easier at the conference. It's just with so much naked baby time, I was actually doing twice as much laundry, using cloth diapers to clean up misses and then cleaning whatever DD had peed on! :) She doesn't really give me signals, so it's all timing. I figure that exposing her to the potty at this age together with cloth diapers will make it something familiar and maybe preferable to going in her diaper by the time she gets to the age that she can take herself to the potty.

Potty training was just such a hassle with DS (now 6 1/2 and still night wetting). I know I went about it the wrong way (for us anyhow). The rewards didn't really work, and it was too easy to get frustrated with him, thinking he should know how to do it. I never thought that maybe we had "trained" him all that time to go in his diaper. I don't know for sure, but I'm hoping this will make things a bit easier for DD. I'm just treating the potty as an option with no pressure. It's much harder to get frustrated with a 6 month old than it is with a 3 year old.

Back to the conference, I'll probably bring a mix of cloth and disposables with me and give her the option of using the potty when I am able and just try to be laid back about it. I'm sure it won't be my only challenge, but hopefully, it will all be worth the opportunity to meet other mothers and Leaders from around the world and hear sessions from some of my parenting "idols."

P.S. A little late in the game, I know, but I just learned today, while making a Group book order through Amazon, that LLL was founded by seven Catholic women. Nothing against the founders or Catholocism--I just found it interesting that I've been a Leader for over 4 years and didn't know this or how it has affected the founding or mission of LLL. So, I added Seven Voices, One Dream to my shopping cart. Guess it's time to learn!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Three Months to Go

I'm really excited about attending the LLLI conference this year in Chicago. I am going thanks to a Ripplewood Scholarship and am grateful, but who knew how much work it would be even months ahead of time?

There's so much to decide and so much to do. The first big decision for me was who should go with me. The whole family (DH, 6 yo DS, and 5 mo DD)? Or just me and DD? After much debate, it's just going to be me and DD. I bought my tickets this week. We're going to fly out (only 1 airline ticket needed), and DS and DH are going to stay at home. It's a lot less complicated that way, although I'm not really looking forward to navigating two airports and worrying about transporting luggage and a carseat by myself.

It will be the first time I've been away from DS that long, and I miss him already. He doesn't really want me to go without him, but DH was not into going (which would have meant driving 2 days each way with 2 kids and boarding 4 pets at our vet at home while we were gone), and people keep telling me it will be good for them! It's hard to let go sometimes.

On another conference note, I've also submitted an abstract for a global session and am waiting to hear if it was accepted. It has to do with nursing the "older child" (3 or above) and how we as Leaders can support mothers who chose to do so. I am working on a book of this same topic and thought it would be wonderful to see this covered at the conference. It was an obvious lack to me as I looked at the conference schedule. Hopefully, I will know by next week.