I’m baaaack! And exhausted. And exhilarated. And so happy I went!
I wrote up a sort of generic, official version of the retreat—click here to read it. It’s semi-generic because sometimes people end up sharing retreat posts, and I wanted to keep it pretty general in case anyone did.
That said, you want the real story?! Well, here’s where you’ll get it! Ha ha.
Seriously, the generic version tells you all of what went on officially, but I had some other fun and shenanigans in addition to the general retreat activities.
First of all, I went a day early so I could meet up with my friend Sarah, who I have not seen in nearly twenty years! She treated me to a genuine Chicago dog, which was on my must-try list. (I make it a point to try regional specialties whenever I travel to a new place.) It was lacking neon relish, which made me a bit sad, but it was very tasty! (That neon relish fascinates me. The color does not appear in nature!) I also learned that you do not order ketchup on a Chicago dog. Who knew?!
We had such a fun night catching up. It’s been far too long since I’ve seen her. She offered us a place to stay if we come through Chicago on our road trip next year, proving that either (a) she doesn’t value quiet, or (b) she doesn’t believe just how LOUD my children are. 😉
Thursday, I had several hours to kill before a board meeting for the retreat, so I went down to Chicago with some of the other Rockin’ Moms who were in early. (The retreat was held about 40 minutes north of the city.) We didn’t have a whole lot of time, but we had long enough to have some deep-dish pizza from Giordano’s and to see the famous Bean. The Bean was awesome! My pictures definitely don’t do it justice….
Chicago is such a neat city! I was surprised by how clean it is. As much as I enjoy San Francisco, “clean” is not a word I’d use to describe it. The Chicago streets were largely free of garbage. I mention this because I have another friend visiting there right now, and I said, “Isn’t it a neat city?” and she replied, “Yes, it’s so CLEAN!” Go figure.
I love the Chicago River running right through downtown. So pretty! It’s kind of marred by this one building, which isn’t a bad building except for the name on it. 😉
My friends, who know very well how much Theo detests the current administration, said I had to take a picture in front of it for him. So I texted him this, which highly amused him.
I had a board meeting at dinnertime on Thursday, but then the evening was free, so I went out dancing with some of the moms who were already in town. So…much…fun!
True story: I was such a wallflower, non-partier in my younger days, and I used to joke that when I hit 50 or so, I’d probably suddenly develop a taste for partying. Well, I’m not 50. But I’ll tell you what: Once a year I like to go out and just really let my hair down and DANCE! The retreat is that place for me, because I’m in a safe group of women that I can relax and have fun with. Because here’s the thing about partying moms: No matter how tipsy we might get, we still look out for each other every time. If one mom so much as goes to the bathroom, you can guarantee that some other mom will jump in and say, “Where’s so-and-so? She can’t go alone!” and hurry after her to ensure she’s never unattended. It’s a pretty cool thing, really. I don’t know if twentysomethings and teenagers do that, but moms sure do. It’s like we can’t get the caretaking/mom part of us to go away, even if we’ve had a few shots of Fireball. (Um, not that I would know anything about that…or lemon drops…or margaritas…)
So anyway, DANCING! I love dancing. I look like a fool doing it, though, so it only happens in my little safe space. And I definitely made the most of it! I’m pretty sure there’s video floating around of me dancing to the great butt anthem of the 1990s, Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.” Dear lord…
After a whopping two and a half hours of sleep, I got up and headed downstairs to meet a Rockin’ Mom friend who had a very early flight in. Soooo good to see her! We had breakfast together and hung out before I headed out to go indoor skydiving with five other Rockin’ Moms.
Clearly I don’t go to the retreat to sleep…
Seriously, indoor skydiving?! So much fun!! I will never jump out of a real plane, but skydiving in a protected space is incredibly fun! There’s a place not too far from here where you can do it. I think that might be a good Christmas present for Theo—a mom/son trip to go indoor skydiving. Kids as young as three can do it, so I know he’d be fine and totally dig it! Shhhh…don’t tell him. Santa might just have to get that for him for Christmas. He’s so darn hard to buy for, and I think he’d have a blast!
That’s me in the blue, flying!
Then it was back to the hotel, where I worked the T-shirt sales table during retreat registration. Three hundred women descending on registration/sales at one time? Insanity, I tell you. But it was a great way to meet a lot of new moms, because many of them I hadn’t met before.
I talked about our keynote speaker in my more official retreat post—she was really a terrific speaker. Very engaging and inspiring!
Friday night we went out to the famous Sugar Factory, a candy store and restaurant known for their decadent milkshakes and mixed drinks.
Having had my share of margaritas the night before, I opted for a nonalcoholic Fluffernutter milkshake. Yum! Peanut butter and chocolate is pretty much the best combo ever.
My friend got this fancy concoction, though. So fun!
Saturday was retreat day, all day. We had a few glitches with little things here and there, but overall I think it was an amazing success! Lord, running the AV part of the retreat is the bane of my existence, though. I had to balance microphones, soundtracks, and a PowerPoint presentation, and let’s just say it was not my strong point. Thank god for forgiving audiences! I’m much better at T-shirt sales, I think.
Saturday night was the comedy show and then the option to head back to the hotel for board games or to stay for the ‘80s hair band concert. I had originally thought I’d do board games, but then the lure of dancing proved too great, so I stayed for the concert. So…much…fun!! I do love ‘80s hair bands, and when the band kicked off with Theo’s all-time favorite song, AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” I knew I’d made the right call. I knew almost all of the songs, and it was so much fun to sing and dance along! And I’m pretty sure my dance moves only got more AMAZING after some drinks. 😉 Thank heavens there’s no video…
Let me just say how nice it is to have a place where you can just let your hair down and laugh at yourself, and no one judges you. Gosh, if it isn’t the most fun, I don’t know what is!
More pix, for anyone interested. I tried to make a fun slideshow, but I spent hours and couldn’t get it to work. So you just get pix. But will you look at all those happy faces? Tells you something about our lives, doesn’t it? We really are the lucky few.
It seemed like a great idea to take selfies with the police cars parked outside our hotel at 2:00am! 😉