For the last ten years, I’ve been dreaming of the day that I would get to fly to California and attend the Craft & Hobby Association’s annual convention. I had first heard about CHA when my rubber stamping friends would start to ask “Who’s going, who’s going?!” every six months. I wanted to raise my hand!
Then when I embarked on my digi adventure, I wanted to go even more! See all the new pretty things? Meet up with other digital designers? Heck, yeah! Sign me up!
But it wasn’t until this year that everything was perfectly lined up and I was able to go… and now that I’m home, can I just say: Let’s do this every year, ladies! Every momma needs a trip away with her friends, am I right?! It was so much fun.
So, here’s a post all about what we did and what we saw.
DAY 1 – ARRIVING IN CALIFORNIA
My family and I all woke up super early on Friday morning to drive an hour to the Tampa airport. It was chilly that morning and funny enough, it was warmer in California when I landed than it was in Florida that day. Go figure!
After an hour delay in Houston, I landed in California at about 2:00 p.m. Kelleigh was there to meet me at the gate, which was so much fun! When is the last time you were able to actually meet someone at the gate? I remember the last time I did that—it was way back in early 2001!
Laura and Danielle were downstairs, trying to figure out which rental car company Laura had a reservation with (her e-mail wasn’t working!). We hugged and said hello, then hiked all through the parking garage to pick up our car. We stopped at the hotel, where we picked up Shannon and then headed to Downtown Disney for a snack and a drink.
It was such a surreal feeling, sitting around a table and getting to see everyone face to face. I’ve been friends with these girls for so long—some of them I’ve know for over six years now! I’ve worked with them everyday, and there was even a time when they called me their boss! (All except Shannon—she lucked out.) We always said that we had an atmosphere of family when we were at The Digichick. It was beautiful to discover how true that is. These girls are my peeps! I love them to pieces.
We walked around for a bit and even shopped a pinch. It was so surreal to be in California and know that I was not in my own version of Downtown Disney… yet it felt SO much the same! At night, when the lights came on, I had a hard time believing that I wasn’t actually in Orlando. Just a two hour drive home, right? No…
We left Downtown Disney to pick up Mari from the train station, which was an adventure all it’s own…
On the way to King’s Fish House, Danielle and I spotted this giant pink building, all lit up in the dark. We asked what it was, but no one seemed to know.
We dropped off Kelleigh and Shannon, so that they could grab a table and Laura, Danielle and I went off to get Mari. Dani and I had not had a change to meet Mari in person yet!
Siri led us astray, however… she told us to turn left when we should have turned right.
After 5 minutes of feeling pretty darn sure that we were going the wrong way, we followed Laura’s gut instincts and turned around. We passed by King’s Fish House again… and ended up at the big pink building!! It was the train station—sitting right there, glowing in the dark the whole time.
We met up with the girls at King’s Fish House and had a yummy dinner together. But one thing we had not thought about on the way over: we now had six people… and a car that fit only five. Getting back to the hotel was a rather hilarious endeavor! We got cozy. It was good times.
Once we were back in our rooms, we all changed into pjs and took a picture of ourselves in our Digital Press tee shirts!
Leah had insisted on it; Her wish was our command.
(I love the “Crazy Laura” pose here. It’s perfection.)
Real life had kept me from having a spare minute to run out to the store for travel sized things before I left home, but I knew that there was a CVS right in our hotel. I was rooming with Shannon and Laura, and before we turned in for the night, I asked the girls if they wanted to run down to the CVS with me.
I was assuming that this CVS was some sort of little convenience store-sized shop. I even thought that they probably had a door that was inside the hotel… but no! We ended up walking outside and around the corner, right into a full blown CVS… in our jammies. Oh, my word! I never wear my jammies out in public, but I rolled with it. I was cracking up about it!
DAY 2 – WALKING THE FLOOR AT CHA
The next morning after breakfast, we walked over to the convention center. When we first got there, we discovered that Karla was already there and waiting for us! We totally overwhelmed her with a ton of hugs.
Then the lovely girls from Echo Park came out to meet us, give us our badges, and show us where the booth was.
I got to chat with Lori Whitlock for a while, which was fun! I’ve admired her work for a long time and it was so nice to meet her.
The Echo Park booth was absolutely gorgeous. There are so many beautiful lines coming out this year! I can’t believe that I get to be a small part of that.
Laura and I kept staring at the Happy Easter side of our line, as if we didn’t know how it came to be there… or like we couldn’t believe that we had actually pulled it off.
You may recognize that the Sunny Days Ahead side of our line is our collab, Flowers After the Rain. But we created new art and papers for the Easter side. We never set out to make a themed Easter kit, so I think we are a little impressed that we made it look like it belonged together all along. We literally kept petting the papers and sticker sheets. LOL!
This picture right here captures my most favorite moment:
It was epic.
It’s pretty darn amazing to see your designs come to life. It’s exciting to see that all your hard work and worries were worth it because things look better than you thought they might. But to turn around and see that you are surrounded by friends who are just as excited about it all as you are…
Yes—I cried a little.
But there was so much more to see!
Next we moved over to Heidi Swapp’s pretty booth. We just barely got a chance to meet her. She was on her way to film something, but I practically pushed Karla up so that she could get a photo with Heidi before she had to run off! Hee hee!
Then we visited the Pink Paislee booth to admire everything that Mari had designed for them this year.
All the lines were so amazing! I had to stop and pet some of the pretty papers that I’ve used digitally in my albums. They were even more amazing in real life.
I am so proud of my Mari! I know she’s worked so hard this past year and pushed herself to amazing new heights because of it.
Around the corner from all these wonderful booths was one that I was super excited to see… The Project Life booth!
We even made it up on Becky’s FB page:
This was the point of the day where I started to feel like we should be called “The Crazy Ladies of The Digital Press.” We just wandered from booth to booth, chatting with people, laughing and accidentally sticking our fingers in their display cakes. Eep! (So sorry about that, Becky!)
I have heard it said before that Becky is a warm and friendly person, and oh, my word—that is the truth! We spent a long time in Becky’s booth admiring the lovely new collections and chatting with her and her awesome team members.
Becky even showed Danielle how she could use the new Project Life app to save even more time by putting Siri to work. Because, yes… some of us need that much help just to get it done! LOL!
After we said goodbye to Becky and her team, we poked around looking at things that other friends had designed. I saw beautiful samples from digital creative team girls I know who’ve turned to paper. We saw Karla’s designs in the Silhouette booth. And we saw stamps designed by our own Miss Tiina! We roamed as one giant pack, meeting lots of wonderful people.
After lunch, I had one of more embarrassing moments of my life…
While trying to get some sugar for my coffee at the Plaid booth, I knocked over this trash can… on to this white carpet…
It had been full of open coffee and tea cups that people had tossed!
I about died.
The basket was in the worst possible spot. I never even saw it. I just thought “What just tapped my leg?” and then boom. Coffee… everywhere.
While I was turning several shades of red, Laura had to take a picture. So, I like to call this shot a “From Where I Stand… Fail.”
Aren’t my shoes cute?!
The people at the Plaid booth were so nice and understanding. I tried to mop up the mess, but they told me not to worry about it. A mess like this… and they said that. Thank you, lovely lady at the Plaid booth. You are a peach.
After wandering around on the other side of the hall, we left the convention center for the day and went to Cheesecake Factory.
We ordered our cheesecake to go, though… and we went back to the hotel to get cozy, hang out with Karla and play Cards Against Humanity.
I have to say… it’s funny, but not exactly my favorite game. But I have never seen Laura laugh so hard in my life—so that was totally worth it! (Well, to be honest, I’ve only heard her laugh on the phone before… so I guess I should say that I never heard her laugh so hard in all my life.) It seemed like every time it was her turn, I won the round with something just witty enough to crack her up and make her lose it. It helps when you share a similar sense of humor!
DAY 3 – DISNEYLAND
I’ve lived on the East Coast my whole life. I grew up having an annual pass to Disney World. I went to Hollywood Studios when it first opened (and it was called MGM—can’t get that out of my head, actually!). I skipped classes in college and went to Animal Kingdom for the day when it was only half finished. Now, I’ve been to California several times in my life. But this was my FIRST trip to Disneyland… and my first trip with girlfriends (and no kids!).
So, the next morning, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Kelleigh and I headed off to Disneyland—in the rain—to make it to the Rope Drop. With four kids in our family, we’ve never made it out the door in time to make a Rope Drop! Those little people always seem to want breakfast first.
Because of the rain, crowds were super light. We walked right up to the gate in our ponchos and waited for the magical moment to begin!
Everyone else was busy being sensible and having a real breakfast at Downtown Disney. Meanwhile, Kelleigh and I were running from Peter Pan to Space Mountain to Star Tours like giddy little kids.
We met up with everyone not long after that and roamed the park together (with rain still coming down upon our heads the whole time). We didn’t let it stop us, though! We still had a blast seeing everything. Lines were short and we got to go on tons of rides. I was having so much fun with the confusion of it all… things like Thunder Mountain being on the wrong side of Tom Sawyer Island… and Indiana Jones being a ride, instead of a stunt show… and the Hunted Mansion being an actual mansion, totally transformed by The Nightmare Before Christmas!
I started to get a little jealous. I kinda liked Disneyland more than my own precious Disney World!
Some time around 3:00 the rain began to taper off and we could live without ponchos. We walked over to California Adventure ( ::cough:: Hollywood Studios ::cough:: ) and went on Midway Mania. I loved the big roller coaster, too! I totally lost what was left of my voice right there.
We stopped for some ice cream and I tried to take a selfie in my Minnie ears. Darn photobombers!
After that, we went to Cars Land. That place is amazing… and we were right there at the time they turned all the neon lights on and played “Life Could be a Dream.” There were cast members dancing down the street in a conga line, and of course The Crazy Ladies of The Digital Press were all over that. I think we might have been the only ones to join in the fun. That was an awesome moment!
Now, up until this point in the trip, I hadn’t actually told my kids that I was at Disneyland. I thought it would be too mean. But I had been texting with my hubby all day and he ended up telling them that night. I thought the guilt and the pressure was off, because now I didn’t have to go home and tell them myself. But then we when on Radiator Springs Racers…
If you haven’t been, it’s an amazing ride that’s half scenic and half roller coaster. But the thing that had me all choked up was how real it made the characters from Cars. I have a little four year old guy who is totally obsessed with Cars… all I could think of was how he would just die from delight to be on that ride. When we got off, it was all I could do not to bawl my eyes out with Mommy Guilt. The girls were all “Did you love it?” and I was all “Nooooo! My baby!!!” It was hard. I felt like such a bad mommy! I only hope that they can make that magic happen in Florida, because I don’t know that we will ever all be able to fly to California and visit Cars Land. Sigh.
After dark, we headed back to Disneyland to see the pretty lights and (finally!) go on it’s a small world.
We stopped in a hat shop where these two hams were trying to make duck faces and take selfies. Oh, my word… love these girls so, so much!
We went on several other rides, but no tea cups for us this year. The rain had shut things down.
Some of the girls were ready to go back to the hotel and we had to also say goodbye to Karla… and try not to cry about it.
Then Kelleigh and I ended up staying with Danielle and Mari to close the park down at 11:00 p.m. Apparently, we are very committed Disney Nuts.
But when you can be there to your heart’s content, of course you are going to be there for every second you can!
DAY 4 – TRAVELING HOME
While I was away, my husband told me that my oldest son told my daughter, “Don’t worry, Penny. Mommy is coming home tomorrow… whether she wants to or not.” And he was right…
We said goodbye to Mari early in the morning …and again we all tried not to cry about it. Then we had to say goodbye to Shannon… and try not to cry once again.
We headed off to the airport, where Dani and I said goodbye to Kelleigh and Laura. Then Dani and I looked at catalogs and chatted until suddenly I had to say goodbye to her, too. I was all alone after talking non-stop for days… and it was so strange. We totally needed one more day. Or to do this once a month—that would work for me!
After one long day of flying against the time zones, I made it home at 10:00 p.m. to see four happy kids and one ecstatic husband. And that made going home totally okay with me.
It was the trip of a lifetime.
Can I do it again next year?!