Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The countdown is on!

Two weeks, two days until I leave for Chicago! I can hardly believe it's coming up already.

I bought plane tickets last week. My hotel room was reserved back in January, but even back then not all room options were available so that was sort of a disappointment. I think I'm going to take the train from O'Hare to the Hilton, because I'll be traveling alone and I'm not in a big hurry.

I get giddy when I think about all the sessions I'm signed up for. I can't even decide which will be my favorite, I'm sure I'm going to just love them all! I have other plans, too...I get to see my former co-Leader, who moved away just a month ago. I'm still in denial that she's gone (we haven't had a Series meeting yet since she left), so I'm really looking forward to spending some time with her in Chicago. I'm also hoping to meet, in person for the first time, a friend from an online buddy group I've been part of for over 4 years, before I became a LLL Leader. She's from Louisiana and may be attending the conference. I get almost teary-eyed when I imagine that I might get to actually be in the same room as her -- she's been so incredibly supportive during my motherhood journey.

My current stand partner did his graduate work at Northwestern, and is a fellow "foodie." I shared with him some farm-fresh broccoli rabe and garlic scapes a few weeks ago; in return, he's going to give me a list of fabulous restaurants in downtown Chicago. He's never led me astray with a restaurant recommendation!

I'm also really looking forward to meeting my fellow La Leche League Helpline operators. We've gotten to know each other over the last several weeks since the Helpline kicked off on June 1st, and it will be great fun to put faces to names. What? You didn't know La Leche League has a Helpline? We need volunteers to take shifts. You can do 2 hours a month or 20 hours a week...whatever you have time for. I've enjoyed my shifts immensely both for the opportunity to feel like I'm making a big difference (the families who call are very thankful to have someone at their disposal, 24 hours a day) and the chance to improve my phone helping skills and breastfeeding knowledge. I'll be sitting at the Helpline table in the Alumni room on Friday evening, so please stop by and say hello.

Of course, there is a great contingent from my Area, New York-East, that is traveling to Chicago. I've had a few conference experiences with these women, and the only worry I have is that I won't hold myself to a reasonable curfew! I have so much fun with my LLL friends that it's hard to discipline myself to get enough rest. Since I'm pregnant, and this will be my first (and probably only) chance in nearly 5 years to sleep alone (therefore sleeping well), I'm going to have to set a limit on how much evening fun I can really have.

Since I'm traveling alone (which I LOVE and really miss about my former life as a single woman), I'm hoping to fit in some time for walks, people-watching, and a little bit of quiet. My family will be joining me on Monday, and we'll begin our family vacation in Chicago on Tuesday (traveling to see my husband's family in Iowa that week, as well as friends in Michigan). It's also the first time in 5 years that I'll be taking an actual extended leave from work...I usually save my vacation days to add to the 6-week maternity leave I'm allowed to take. This pregnancy, I am maxxed out on vacation days so at this point, I can use them or lose them. It's a great position to be in, and I'll still have plenty to take after the baby comes.

This is my first international conference, and I'm obviously aspiring to "do it all." For those of you who've attended before, what do you recommend as "don't miss" activities?

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