Convention 2012 - what goes to Canberra stays in Canberra. Mostly...

Let's just say that this year's convention adventure started long before we got anywhere near the Canberra convention centre...

Early highlights include being locked in the back of a paddy wagon and a 5.30am mercy dash to the airport by my handsome man and two precious angels to bring me my winter coat that I had left hanging on the door of my wardrobe.  My big girl dropped it out of the car window at the drive through section of the airport, chirpier than one might usually be at such a time of the morning, with declarations of "we're staying up when we get home!"

Awesome.  Bye now!!

A stopover in Melbourne allowed us to make use of some Qantas club passes that Mini had managed to procure in the lead up to convention, so we happily sipped champagne, safe in the knowledge that now we were working on eastern time and it was most definitely after lunch...

Arrival in Canberra was mostly uneventful, despite the best efforts of the grumpy taxi rank commander in chief to make it otherwise, and we were deposited at our apartment by mid afternoon.  I had to go straight over to the convention centre to do a run through of my presentation in readiness for the next day, so we dumped our bags, quickly did an excited exploration of our 20th floor, two level, three bedroom, three bathroom with views forever apartment, then headed out for the 10 minute walk to the convention centre.

The best part of my practice run was that Shelli was just hanging around near the main stage, so while I was waiting my turn to go through my presentation, I got to have a hug and a chat without having to elbow a bevy of her admirers out of the way first.  Bonus!

After collecting our convention bags, we had the first of our sumptuous Canberra dining experiences (that place is seriously foodie heaven) at an Indian Restaurant called Blu Ginger.  Our own Cathy Pinto's knowledge of all things Indian and food related, combined with a cute and cheeky waiter made it a thoroughly enjoyable dinner with more than a handful of belly laughs thrown in.

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Convention didn't officially start until after lunch on the first day, so we had time to catch our breath before the official festivities kicked off.  I caught up with some gorgeous stampin' mates...

with-marelle

...did a spot of shopping...

memento-mall

...then headed in to the main stage area, where the delightful Shelli took to the stage and welcomed us all with her usual warmth, grace and divine style...

shelli

A couple of hours into the general session, it was my turn to don the Britney Spears microphone and head up to do my thing.  I was a large combination of excitement and nerves, but once up there, I thoroughly enjoyed sharing some scrapbooking layouts that I had completed, and some techniques I had used to put them together:

on-stage

Here are the samples I showed while I was up there:

hole-new-smile

This one is still in need of journalling (ummmaahhhhh!) but when I get around to it, it will tell the story of how my big girl lost her first front tooth in some fairly graphic and bloody circumstances that thankfully, mummy was absent for and daddy took care of in fine daddy style :-)

pretty-parasols

This next one stars both my precious ones with some gorgeous parasols that all the ladies at my handsome man's cousin's wedding received as bonbonniere back in February last year.  My lovely MIL managed to score a second one so that they had one each, and they've been delightful props for many a dress up or photography session since.

little-lady-loves-tramp

Next up is my favourite, and stars my small girl in full flight on our backyard trampoline.  She's the queen of the funny face at the best of times, but add in some serious air-time and all hell breaks loose on her precious face :-)

keepin-it-real

This last one very nearly didn't make it to Canberra, as it wasn't part of my initial planning, but came about when I revisited the trampolining photos and decided I absolutely must use it somehow.

The journalling reads:

I'll always be the first person to tell anyone prepared to listen how delightful my children are.  And they are.  But when you take 150 photos (give or take) in one session, there are bound to be one or two dodgy ones.  Like this one of Sophie, captured at the exact moment of the very bottom of a trampoline bounce, just before upwards trajectory resumed.  She's still gorgeous of course - perhaps this photo serves to illustrate just how gorgeous she'll be when she's 85...

The element that all the layouts have in common is the use of BigShot dies in unconventional ways that allows you to get more mileage out of your purchases.  I'll come back and share exactly what I did and how I did it in a separate post.

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The evening of the first day saw all Managers and above board a coach to Parliament House for the annual Managers' reception.  Despite half the group being left to freeze on the pavement for close to an hour while the coach driver took the first half on a magical mystery tour around all the embassies (me being part of the second, frozen toed group), we thawed out to the theme of an Aussie dinner under the enormous Parliament House spire and chatted further with friends and members of the Stampin' Up! staff.

with-teneale

with-teresa

with-ngaire

manager-gifts

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Day two dawned bright and early (and frosty like nobody's business for this warm blooded West Aussie) and we headed off to another day filled with inspirational classes, demonstrations and stamping sessions.

General session brought with it a winning Prize Patrol band for the second year running...

prize-patrol

...and no, sorry, I can't show it to you, but I CAN promise you that it's FABULOUS ;-)

SJ and I also took advantage of some free space in front of the convention banner for a roomie photo:

with-sj

We had our make and take session on this day, but much like most of the Stampin' Up! events that I attend, I didn't finish them as I always feel way too pressured on the day to get all the stamping done!  We got to use some super exciting new toys though, which you will see when the new catalogue comes our way in September - SO exciting :-)

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Day three is always a bit of a sad one for me, as it means it's all coming to an end (can you imagine what a sorry creature I was when convention used to be only TWO days...?!) but still the fun continued with more inspirational classes and demonstrator presentations.

And photo opportunities...

The day ended with preparations for the fabulous dinner and awards ceremony, which put us all in a whirl of frocks, shoes and make up.  I somehow didn't manage to get any decent pics of the group in our finery, but here are some badly lit phone shots that I have tried to edit so as to make them visible...

team-frocked

sj-frocks

shelli-dinner

It was a fabulous evening of food and and of celebrating the amazing achievements of so many demonstrators.  It was also the night that they announced that next year's convention will be in Brisbane and next years' Incentive Trip (now called the Grand Vacation) will be to the Stampin' Up! Home Office in Utah.  I burst into tears at this point.  It's been four years since I earned the one and only Incentive Trip that I have ever been on.  Two other years I have been within a sniff of it, but didn't quite get over the line.  Going to the Home Office of the most amazing company on earth would be a lifetime highlight, without a doubt in the world, so let's see if a whole lot of sharing what I love can get me there, shall we...?!

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The day after convention finished, we treated ourselves to a much needed sleep in, followed by a trip to the Old Bus Depot Markets in Kingston.  As well as being foodie heaven, Canberra is well and truly arty heaven too, with so many talented artisans displaying their fabulous wares for sale.

I bought a few pieces of interesting jewellery and thoroughly enjoyed just wandering the aisles ogling the amazing talent on display.  By far the highlight of the day was when we found a hat stall and heartily encouraged Cathy (otherwise lovingly known as Mrs Pinto) to try some on...

cath-hat-1

cath-hat-2

cath-hat-3

cath-hat-4

We all agreed that we weren't taking another step until Mrs Pinto had the purple hat firmly in her possession!

After tasting some of the foodie delights on offer at the markets, we headed back to town for lunch at another amazing restaurant called Cream, where we stuffed ourselves for the umpteenth time (and took more photos!)...

with-sj-lunch-blog

mini-cath

With plenty of time before we had to head back to the airport (with yet another handful of Qantas club passes!) we ambled back to our apartment, where I took the opportunity to play with some fun touristy photography ideas...

tree-reflection

boots-and-leaves

All in all, it was a fabulous trip on every imaginable level.  I had well and truly hit the wall by the time we had to board our return flight, nodding off in the Qantas club with my feet resting on my brand new convention bag :-)

I was ready to see my precious ones again, and by all accounts, they were pretty ready to have me back too...