Friday, July 10, 2015

What Happens in Vegas...

Well, for me- what happens in Vegas is my Five for Friday!  Thank  you, Kacey, for hosting!

Of course, it's me. I wasn't the lady being escorted by  a different  man holding her up under each arm on the elevator at 4:30 AM when we left on Wednesday... so my trip was pretty G rated, don't worry. It's fine. It's better than fine. It was amazing, and I will remember the details forever. I'll try to condense it - plus I was only there for two days, so I should be able to make it short and sweet.

My wonderful husband Jeff went with me on the trip even though he had a big conference this week, and missed three days of that conference - because 1. He knew I wouldn't go alone. (which was confirmed time and time again as I kept saying, "See, I'd never do this alone.  See, trying to get a cab- I'd never do this alone."  And so on...)  and 2.  I talked about this conference and meeting my friends forEVER  and  3. He got to play some Black Jack (We set a limit. We won't discuss the outcome.  It wasn't as pretty as we hoped.) and read and relax.  4. He loves me.  Thank GOODNESS                                                                  

The Flight

First of all, the flight.  Perfect.  We drove to Philadelphia and left from there since that was a straight flight to Las Vegas.  I felt like I was scanning for kindergarten teachers the entire trip... I didn't see any in Philadelphia.   We did buy some water and a magazine.  It was $10.30, and I gave the girl $10,  a quarter, and a Canadian nickel, to which she replied, "Honey, that ain't no nickel."

Apparently, "that ain't no nickel."  Sorry, Susanna... 

I immediately thought of my sweet Canadian friends who would disagree but...  I got her a "real" nickel and was on my way.

The Hotel, The Food

Again- perfect. I sound like I am straight out of Green Acres, but 3 flat screen TVs in the room. Come ON.  Well, two in the room, one in the bathroom, excuse me. Everything was gorgeous and elegant and special.  Even the bottles of $6 water.  It's funny how worth it those $6 bottles of water seem when you have none!  Although, Jeff poured some into the iron to iron a shirt, and it was like he was pouring pure gold into that iron.  I freaked out a little  calmly explained that tap water would be just fine for that...

The Venetian and Palazzo have about 7000 rooms together. I think the Venetian is "smaller" with about 3000.  It felt cozy like that.  Luckily, there are signs in the lobby/casino/conference area all over telling you where to go.  That's where "Reading for Information" really comes into play, kids. Otherwise, you could wander miles.

Side note... Speaking of "Reading for Information,"  I MAY have accidentally signed myself up for the huge Martial Arts Super Show that was also going on at the same time.  The sweet lady signing me in was nice as could be.  She could not find my name (DUH- cause I was supposed to be at the SDE Conference ) but she made me a badge anyway.  I probably do look like some sort of black belt, I  am thinking.  Finally, after I was probably a little too much or she looked at me more closely and saw how not karate-like I was, she said, "Are you a teacher?"

 I did take karate for 6 weeks with my kids when they were small.  The instructor told me to get down lower in a squat- and I was pretty much done.  I just wanted to say, "No,  you can't tell me what to do,"  and then I realized that I was not good at taking direction.

My nephew,Tim, is AWESOME and has his own karate school in Naples, Florida.  He would have been proud of me for trying to crash that conference.  (That's Tim below,  not me...)

These gondolas were so much fun to watch.  One was inside and one was outside.  The inside one made me feel like I was in The Truman Show because the ceiling was the sky.  I couldn't get over it.


We did go to the pool which was  huge- surprise, surprise.  We finally found two chairs because this sweet couple was leaving.  It was a gift they gave us as we walked by.  We laid out, and I loved feeling that Las Vegas sunshine just soaking in.  It was like 110 degrees, but Jeff and I must have said, "Yeah, but it's a dry heat," a hundred times because we thought we were funny. You know my hair has I have an aversion to humidity.  We only felt the 110 degrees for like half an hour when we were outside by the pool. Otherwise, it was perfect inside all the time. The temperature... not my hair.

After we had all we could take of the heat, we saw a sweet dad and his two daughters walking by, so we could give them our seats (there was one more by us), and he said we had a special place in heaven for doing that.  I literally could have done that all day- had seats and then given them to people to make them happy. It was packed by the pool, needless to say.  This isn't my picture but it is the actual pool.

The restaurants were ...  crazy amazing- crazmazing.  How do you even choose?  I think there were about 20 gorgeous ones in our hotel. Looking around anywhere in that hotel, or Vegas in general, should tell you not to gamble, because somehow the "house" does okay and comes out with some money.. for example...

Well I did get a fish sandwich from B&B  twice- because it was so fabulous I needed it again.  (My friend, Amy, most likely expected me to get a fish sandwich every meal, but I branched out, Amy.)

It was like Mario was saying, "Come on, get fish again..."  (He wasn't really there- and he didn't really say that.  I just like fish sandwiches and  am trying to justify it.)

I ate classy food, too.  My favorite restaurant was The Grand Lux Cafe.  I liked it because it was nice, but comfortable, and we had great seats- and great food.

I don't know how people take the time to take pictures of food because I was so hungry I didn't even think of it. We split a brownie sundae that was delicious.  I found a picture of it online, of course (Thank  you, Google...)  I think ours was bigger.

My favorite meal, though, may have been going to the coffee shop with my friends...

My Friends

I knew I was only going to be at the conference for two days so I had to stalk my friends to be sure I met them  make the most of it. I got to meet so many of my sweet friends.  Some were coming for the TPT conference later, and I didn't get to see a couple sweet people I had wanted to meet, but maybe next year I will be able stay one more day.

To begin with, I was by myself for the conference.  It sounds lonely and sad, I know.  BUT there were 6600 teachers there, so, if you are lonely and sad, that's on you.

Being an introvert, though, I do have to say that when I went into the first session and Jayne Gammons said, "Be sure you have a partner!" I wanted to turn around and walk out.  I pretended I didn't hear it.  Then she said it again.  A sweet, sweet, girl named Kari turned around and was my new friend/partner.  She teaches in Washington state and BAM- our kids are now penpals!

I got to hug Deedee Wills finally.  She told the people behind us that I was her "tribe" and that made my day.  She makes me laugh and is just awesome.  Her sessions were great, as you would expect. Since I have gotten home, she has also shared her hair product tips with me, so I can buy what she uses because her hair was so pretty ... Next year, she should have a session on that.

I knew it would be hard to find Heidi Butkus, but I kept stalking her texting her until I tracked her down.  She is the sweetest and so humble.  If I were her, I would want to walk around with a boom-box blasting my songs so everyone knew how talented I was... her songs are such a fabulous teaching tool.  Kids remember them, sing them all the time, and learn from them!

The best part was that we actually got to talk for a while.   Now when we sing her songs, like we do ALL the time, and I say she is my friend, I can really know I finally met her in real, live person!

Susanna pointed out that it does, indeed, say "asses" over our heads.  Heidi will tell you we were chatting at  ESGI and it says "assessments" made easy.  I may need photography lessons on placement.

I also got to meet Melinda from ESGI.  We have emailed and facebooked for so long, and she is just so adorable and wonderful in real life.

My heart was beating, beating, beating, as I went to the 5th floor to see the vendors and to see my Sandy.  Sandy Welch, Susanna Westby, and I all met  started blogging the same time about two years ago, and just knew we were meant to be together, except for some reason, Sandy lives in California, Susanna in British Columbia, and I am in NY.

The vendors hadn't set up  yet, but as I went to go to the bathroom, I saw a vision- and it was SANDY!  That explains the picture by the bathroom.  It was the moment I needed to remember!  I didn't care where it was.

Sandy had a booth to sell her Show and Tell Aprons.  They are the most precious and clever teaching tool for any and EVERYthing.  This is Deanna's picture of Sandy's booth.  You can see her aprons and order one from her TPT store HERE!

Her booth was packed.  She's a star.  No one- NO ONE- deserves it more. I was telling her that at sessions I went to, they did giveaways with her apron, and just referred to her as "Sandy."  She's like Oprah, Beyonce, Cher, or Celine... she only needs one name.

I got to meet her wonderful husband, too, who was selling those aprons like a boss!  Because Sandy and I are not THEE most techy people in the world, I am constantly emailing her husband by accident may have emailed her husband once or twice with some exuberant rant to Sandy, so he knows me pretty well...

I also got to meet Fran Kramer who was helping Sandy at the time (cause Sandy was busy, busy, busy!)- and Fran was just darling!  SO energetic and happy, and sweet and kind.  I could have listened to her all day long.  She's so full of life.

Right next to Sandy's booth was Greg Smedley, so that was perfect. I got to go chat with him for a while!  He's adorable, too, as you know.  Jason was right there ringing up the goods for everyone.

Then, on Tuesday, it was the perfect trifecta- and even better, a quadfecta (that's a real thing I made up.) Susanna was GOING to arrive on Wednesday- but God knew I needed to meet her- so He changed her plans, and she got to come on Tuesday for me.   Phew!   We met at Sandy's booth, because that was the place to be.  AHHHH!  It was fabulous!  I also got to meet Susanna's husband. Now we are pretty much all family.

Sandy had jobs to finish up, because she was busy selling and delivering aprons, so we let her work for a LITTLE WHILE until she could meet us.

Fran, Susanna (and her great husband!), and I went to get coffee.  This was my very favorite session of the trip.  Luckily, it wasn't on the list- or it would have been sold out/packed/ very expensive to take.  Ever since I met Susanna, she has been disgusted that I use Word to make things (which I don't do well) an don't know PowerPoint. I don't.  She has sent me tutorials... because she's great like that- but I need someone to SHOW me.  So, she gave me a PowerPoint lesson right then and there.

My very own lesson from Susanna Westby.  Heavenly.  I'm putting it on my resume for the rest of my life.  Fran was giving pointers, too, and was schooling us both on life lessons.  She is the one you want in your corner teaching you how to be brave and smart.

I think here Susanna is probably threatening me if I EVER try to use Word again...   


Then, after our session, Sandy came which made it even more PERFECT.   This was my moment.

At one point we were laughing a little too loudly, and Susanna's husband said to the table behind us, "I'm sorry if they are a little loud. They haven't seen each other in a long time- well, EVER!"

Sessions and Shopping

Oh yeah, I was there for a conference.  Only kidding- the sessions were great. SDE can put on a conference, that's for sure.  It was so well organized.  I cannot imagine the work that went into all of it.  I learned so much from the presenters I saw.  Of course there were always about three at the same time I somehow wanted to see.  I did get to see Jayne Gammons, Kim Jordano, Kim Adsit, Deedee Wills, and Lynn Ecenbarger. I am busy making some activities to go with what I learned that I will share here  next Friday!

The presenters were all fabulous.  I have stacks of handouts and pages of great ideas to use this year.  I can't wait!

This is one of the floors the conference was on.  Hallways go off in both directions.


Since our suitcase was 5 lbs heavy on the way out, I told myself it was a good thing because I wouldn't buy anything... oops.  Jeff didn't have a carry on bag, so he went home carrying a Kindergarten Conference bag full of goodies.  I love him.

The other part of shopping was gawking at the amazing stores. Let me tell you that we NEVER even left the hotel.  Never.  It's a city in there.  The second floor mall with the gondolas and Truman Show feeling was amazing.

I have never seen so many expensive jewelry shops in my life in one place. As we were leaving Wednesday morning at 4:30AM, one of the jewelry shops was open.  I said to Jeff that I wondered how many people were actually buying expensive jewelry there ever, let alone at 4:30 AM... then I started thinking that MAYBE that's when they might be most busy- after a night of mistakes and regrets.  Just a thought... a sad thought, but... maybe. ( I'd much rather not have the 4:30 AM jewelry! Give me Walmart jewelry and don't make mistakes...  How's that?!)


Seeing Dr. Jean's and my book on the first display as we went into the book room made my day again and again.

Then, seeing people flipping through and actually taking it to the checkout to buy it- made it even BETTER.

 Once when I was stalking the area  waiting for a conference to start, I saw two women looking at the book, and the one said, "Oh this is the book that someone said every kindergarten teacher should have!"  Well, THAT was awesome.  So I actually told her that she made my day and that I was the "other" one of the authors- and she said, "Oh, that's you? Can I take my picture with you to show my class?"  AWWW.   I may have texted Jean right away on that one.  Jean is so amazing and gracious and everything else you think she is.  She really is.  She is the real, true thing. I love her.

I finally got to meet Tom, my editor, and Kim and Debbie, whom I also got to work with on the book. Everyone at SDE is so genuine and kind.  I am so beyond thrilled to be a tiny part of working with them.

Our book sold out by Tuesday night!  WOOT! WOOT!  It was just amazing.


We are busy, busy, busy writing our Math Recipes this summer.  Now I can't wait to get back to that.

Thank you for sharing my trip with me.  I hope you all can come next year if you want!  It's such a fabulous experience that I will remember forever.


  1. This looks like an amazing experience! Hope I can go next year. :) Congratulations on your book success!

  2. What a wonderful recap! I went to I Teach K last year & you definitely captured the excitement of the Vegas experience! Your photos are exactly how it looked...not the ones where everything is perfectly placed & staged! Thanks for sharing!

    Learning at the Teacher Table

  3. Wow - your trip sounds amazing!!! I'm so glad you got to go and meet all your new friends. I am going to send the link to Tim so he can see himself in your blog!!

  4. You are absolutely delightful and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your Vegas recap! Reading Recipes is a phenomenal resource for any early childhood teacher and I'm excited that Math Recipes is in the works.

  5. Your trip looks fabulous! I so wish I could have seen you there. I have been such a bad blogger lately I didn't know you were going to be in Vegas. I saw the picture Heidi posted on IG, you need to get on there, lol. So then I was looking to see if I could see you in all of my sessions. Congrats on the book, that is awesome! Looking forward to the Math Recipes when it comes out. Next year you have to go, and if hubby can't make it we could just be roomies so neither one of us would be alone. So glad you were able to meet your friends and have such a wonderful trip!

    Luv My Kinders

  6. Carolyn!! I was there at I teach First and so wish I could have met you in person!! Congrats on the success of your book, that is amazing and you deserve it. My friend and I both bought aprons from Sandy and also learned a lot. Thanks for taking such great pictures, I didn't so I am using yours to show my husband how beautiful the Venetian and Palazzo was. Jodi

  7. What a wonderful week it was! I LOVED meeting you! Thank you so much for including me in your blog- it was even MORE fun now that I saw the whole week through your eyes! Love that!
    :) Hugs,
    Heidi Butkus

  8. You were one of the highlights of my trip! I was so happy to meet my famous TEACHER AUTHOR friend. The book is amazing and I really loved it (not even lying to kiss up to famous author) and I had such a wonderful time chatting with you. Now you are stuck with me. Susanna, Sandy, and I are now your conference "people" and I am already counting down the days until next year! Much love to you and start writing! Woohoo!
    Love, Fran

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