Viva Las Vegas

     Well friends, I have returned from my trip to the TPT Conference in Vegas, and all I can say is...
     I am linking up with the amazing ladies from The Elementary Entourage to tell you all about my Vegas journey, so get comfortable, because I have a whole lot to say!

     First, I need to begin by telling you how I even got to go to Vegas... 
I was not going. 
Not because I didn't want to go. Oh, I wanted to go! (Who wouldn't?) But financially, this just didn't seem like it was going to be the year for me. #wompwomp That was fine, (sniffle, sniffle) I was going to take it like a big girl and just save up for next year! Then... an AMAZING thing happened, round about my birthday. A FAIRY GODMOTHER, (who shall remain nameless) came to me with an envelope full of money (to cover the cost of my plane ticket to and from Vegas) and a card that said:
Believe in Miracles
By Emily Matthews
When things have gone wrong,
as they sometimes will do,
Or an obstacle suddenly pops into view,
You've got to believe
this is merely a stop
And eventually you're bound
to come out on top-
So whatever you do,
just don't quit!

You've got to keep trying,
however life goes,
For what may lie ahead of us,
nobody knows-
You've got to believe
that the good will win out
And that soon you'll have lots to be happy about-
So whatever you do,
just don't quit!

I know...Right???!!! So after many long hugs, squeals, thank you, thank you, thank yous, and tears of joy, I prepared myself for my trip to the TPT Conference in Vegas!

     (Now, you need to know I am not a traveler. My last family vacation was 5 years ago, and my last trip by airplane was 20 years ago.) This was a little bit out of my comfort zone friends! But no worries! My dear friend Emily from Polka Dots Please was going to Vegas too, so we booked our flights together and we were set!
Airport security interesting experience, but other than that, everything seemed to be on schedule and moving along fine. Except for one tiny problem...

NO EMILY!!! # wompwomp  Yep! Apparently... Emily missed the "arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled flight" by....OH, I DON"T KNOW...ONE MINUTE... and she was not allowed to board the plane! They put her on a later flight and One Giggle was flying solo! (Yes, those of you who have been keeping up, and haven't fallen asleep yet...this does mean that the girl who has not flown in 20 years now has to navigate an instantaneous, blink and you'll miss it layover in Philadelphia alone!!! #wompwomp
But, good news! Mission accomplished! 
I found another TPTer on my connecting flight, Chrissie from Undercover Classroom, and together we navigated our way to our destination!

     Now, Vegas is a BIG, FABULOUS place. But what kept striking me as fascinating, was that every other person I saw was wearing a TPT badge or an SDE badge! Friends...TEACHERS had taken over Vegas!!!! (I believe the residents of Vegas must have felt a very happy, extra creative, intelligent vibe all week...and just couldn't put their fingers on why!)
     This years TPT Conference was called Come Together Go Further, and what a perfect name! The goal was to learn more than you thought possible, and to meet people from all over the globe. I am overwhelmed with the feeling of  togetherness and possibility that I felt while I was there at the conference and that I have brought home with me! I met so many new people, and I learned so many new things! I truly feel that I can reach out to any one person that was at that TPT Conference, from Paul Edelman the Founder of TPT, to Rachel Lynette, one of TPT's top sellers, and they would help me in a minute! Before the conference, I felt overwhelmed because I had no idea what I was doing and no idea how to figure it out! Now, I am overwhelmed because I have so many ideas, and so many resources, that I don't know where to start first! (In case you aren't sure where I was going with that, overwhelmed #2 beats overwhelmed #1 any day!)
     Let me tell you a little more about the togetherness at the conference...
     These AMAZING educators are my Vegas Roomies! Can I tell you how much I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and ADMIRE them?! 
Ashley Schroeder of SCHROEDER SHENANIGANS IN 2ND is my blogging buddy from Ohio. I met her through my good friend Emily. You may recognize Ashley from all her TERRIFIC Periscope broadcasts LIVE from Vegas! Angie Olson of Lucky Little Learners is a new friend from Minnesota that I actually just met in person for the first time here in Vegas. She also is the face of the LIVE Periscope broadcasts from Vegas that became so popular, so quickly! And lastly, Emily Yerty of Polka Dots Please is my very good friend and former student teacher from Pennsylvania. I cannot even begin to tell you the fun that I had with these girls! I have not laughed so much and so hard in a long, long time!
     Ok...there were over 1000 amazing bloggers, creators, teachers, and sellers at this conference! Again...HOLY COW!!! I spent most of my time navigating the masses with my FANTABULOUS roomies, while playing a big grown up game of "Where's Waldo?" all day looking for all my TPT, blogging, and IG friends!

Here are some of the EXCITING new friendships that I made "in person" while I was there!
 Annie Moffatt from The Moffatt Girls came to our rescue on the second day when we were dying for a Starbucks coffee! She led the way and together with Aly from Just A Primary Girl, we had a great breakfast meet up!
I ran into my Ohio blogging friend Amber from Mrs. Masters Kinder Love and finally got to meet Alisha from Missing Tooth Grins and Gina from Miss Peluso's Kindergarten!
We were so excited to finally meet Colleen from Literacy Loving Gals in person, and can you believe...Vera from the Tutu Teacher???
Now I have to tell you...when I say HOLY COW!!! I mean HOLY COW!!!

     I almost jumped out of my skin when I met Maribel from Learning in Wonderland! I own so much of her stuff, and my roommates are still laughing about my wild reaction when I met her! (Picture all that old footage you see of how people used to react when Elvis would perform...this is Vegas after all...) But in my defense, her stuff makes me SO HAPPY! Her friend Jennifer from Jennuine Teaching was an absolute sweetheart and Lisa and Amy from All Y'All Need quickly became two of our favorite faces at the conference!

As for the possibility that this conference provided...
By going to this conference, I had the opportunity to meet some of the people who have been inspirational to me, and who have influenced my journey as a teacher, a blogger, and a TPTer.
What a FABULOUS opportunity! FABULOUS, because I was able to tell them just how much their hard work, talent, and dedication has impacted my students and I over the years! (Come Together Go Further ??!! I think so TPT!) So in case you don't know these RIDICULOUSLY TALENTED people:
Nikki Casassa of Melonheadz Illustrating is the artist behind all those darling kids that I use in my products! She even made the Sick Kidlettes Bundle specifically by my request when I was making
my social story Careful Kids Don't Share Germs. 

I love to draw, and would love to make clipart myself someday. When I met Nikki, I reminded her that she made me a personalized Melonhead:
  And she said:"OH! I remember doing that one because I had so much fun making your hair!"

Maria Manore Gavin is from Kinder Craze and hers is one of the first blogs I ever followed many years ago! She is a kindergarten teacher that I greatly admire...even more so now after meeting and talking with her in person!
Jennifer White of First Grade Blue Skies is one of my FAVORITE bloggers! She is a first grade teacher that has a style and personality very much like my own!

Not all of my inspirations at the Vegas conference were strangers to me however...

This is Emily...of missed the flight so now I have to fly solo, Emily! Emily and I have a story to tell. 11 years ago, Emily was my field student, and then 10 years ago she became my student teacher. We were a PERFECT MATCH from DAY 1! We hit the floor running and we have never looked back! We collaborate, we giggle, we brainstorm, we create, we change lives! (We get confused, make mistakes, get lost, and lose things quite a bit too...but we will talk about that later in the post!)
Emily is an inspiration to me, and I am so glad that I was able to share this Vegas journey with her!

The sessions offered at the TPT Conference were AMAZING!!! It was so hard to choose which ones to go to! I wanted to go to all of them! The ones I did end up going to provided me with many Ah-Ha Moments...

  Then there were these that I will be hanging up in my classroom to remind myself daily of what my head and my heart need to do:

Now friends...Jennifer White of First Grade Blue Skies talked a whole lot about a topic we ALL need to focus on!
  • Taking breaks
  • Setting reasonable goals
And I have to say, I really think she is on to something!

For instance...If I had been focused and not multitasking my first night in Vegas, I would have paid attention to these cute little labels I put on these bottles BEFORE I washed my face! That way, I would not have washed my ENTIRE FACE in hair gel! #wompwomp

Or...had I been focused and not multitasking at dinner in Vegas on night two, I would not have taken 100 selfies without even knowing it (some with accompanying video footage) #wompwomp #icedteaglassfilter personal favorite...had I been focused and not multitasking when I got home from Vegas and was trying to cook dinner for my sons, check Instagram, reread my session notes, and watch Bar Rescue, these french fries would have been edible and my son would not have asked me, "Mom, what are you making? Slim Jims?" #wompwomp #nofrenchfriestonight #donttelldaddy

So these #wompwomps bring me to my next point...

The things we saw in Vegas!!!!! Now I am not talking about at the conference. I am talking about when we left the conference and ventured out. I am talking about the nighttime Vegas!!!

I always thought I understood the saying "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas". But NOW...I get it!!!!! There are NO words for most of the things I saw!!! I so needed another whole day just to people watch.

So what did I learn about myself on this AMAZING Vegas journey?  
  • I am braver than I thought...If you asked me a week ago could I travel alone...ANYWHERE...the answer would have been ARE YOU KIDDING ME???
  • I have renewed energy! Thanks to the TPT Conference 2015 I have so many new ideas and plans to go along with my brand and my magic ingredient! 
  • I am inspired by all the stories I heard while at the TPT Conference. I can do this! 
  • I have a love for traveling! Who knew!? I sure didn't...because I never go anywhere! (I need to change that!)
  • I am forever grateful that I had this opportunity to experience all that knowledge, excitement, and innovation with so many wonderful new friends!
  • I am fortunate that I have found TPT, because it has helped me to grow as an educator in so many ways! I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR! #findyourtribe
What else did I learn?
  • Left to our own devises, Emily and I cannot find our way out of a paper bag...(Thanks Venetian for having the absolutely most complicated floor plan EVER! We even had to ask a pool boy to help us find the pool! His answer:"this is the Venetian pool.") #wompwomp
  • Obviously I lead a very sheltered life...because I still don't know why people were giving money to a man painted silver, doing a straddle, on the sidewalk, on the Vegas strip...WHY??? (Please leave a comment if you can help me wrap my head around that one!) #silvermannightmares
  • My family was telling the truth when they said I shout out in my sleep...QUITE OFTEN. (Apparently I wanted to keep somebody named Jason from doing something on my first night my roommates were all awakened in the middle of the night to me shouting "NO JASON!" at the top of my lungs!) #probablylookingfornewroomiesfor2016

 If you are fortunate enough to get the opportunity to go to Vegas for the TPT Conference in 2016 or ever....GO! It is definitely worth it! Thanks for reading!

If you have any #wompwomp Vegas moments Emily and I would love to hear them! Leave me a comment and hop over to Polka Dots Please to share with Emily as well!

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