Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Smart Mommy.

So those of you who have been following along know that I started a new job over the summer. It's been an enormous blessing and "fills my tank" intellectually and emotionally.  One of the cool features of my new job is that I get to travel (remember Seattle?).  Over the last month, my job took me on two great adventures. Josie was less than thrilled about me "missing five bedtimes" but they all survived (and had ice cream for dinner) in my absence.  Once Lou explained that moms who travel for work always bring back souvenirs, all well right with the world again.  (Josie wanted an unicorn that said "DC" on it and a roll of mentos. And would you believe they actually had a DC-branded unicorn at the airport!? Bea got a stuffed baby eagle that says "Future President.")

To make the trips even easier to swallow, Josie learned that her best friend's mom also travels to conference for her job--earning us both the "SMART MOMMY" title from our daughters.

The first one was to Washington, DC to the White House Datapalooza event (I covered that event HERE).  It was my first time traveling solo since before the kids, which was a bit of an adjustment. (Who knew getting through security was such a breeze? Who knew sleeping alone would be so strange?)

All told, I had a great time in DC. And, it was really really cool to be at a White House event.  Here are some of my phone pics from DC.

Let's do it:

Flying solo:

Insanely long cab line:

Hotel view:

Amazing (solo) dinner:
Early AM:
Heading in to Eisenhower Office Building:


Arne Duncan:

Beautiful hallways:

Presidential Coffee (and napkins, and sugar packets...)

Outside the White House:

Homeward Bound:

Sunset as approaching Cincy:

Blur of Josie running to greet me:

And a super-pumped Baby Bea:

Last week I got to travel to New Orleans for the iNACOL Conference.  We had several sessions to execute (and I was on one panel with a Senator from Utah and two edtech leaders from California), and it was great to meet so many of the people I've only interacted with online up to this point.  As a super big bonus, all but two members of our team was also there. We had SO much fun exploring NOLA!  (Have I mentioned I seriously work with the best people on the planet?)

Here are some of my photos from NOLA.  I really did underestimate the coolness of New Orleans. If you haven't been, get your buns there - stat.

Bourbon Street:

Late night Calamari:

Alligator, Kobe Beef & Pork BBQ Sliders:

NOLA is gorgeous.

And kitschy:

The Getting Smart "Blondetourage" (ha, our waiter asked us if we were visiting from Sweden):

From our panel:

Insane Wonka-esque hotel:

Dinner at the Audubon Tea Room (NOLA Zoo):

SuperDome out our Hotel window:


Beignets & Cafe au Laits to recharge before hitting Frenchman Street:

First bar:

The best thing about New Orleans is the music. Or the food. Or the drinks. Okay, well maybe it's a three-way tie. Anyway, being able to wander bar to bar, drink in hand listening to local musicians just pop up on stage to jam together is pretty great stuff. And the horns!!!

Our own Sarah Cargill decided the occasion was perfect to come up on stage and try out the drums. (GO Sarah! Totally reminded me of a certain Robert Randolph concert, huh Kristen?)

The Maison on Frenchman was next. SO much fun. We danced and laughed and had WAY more fun than I've had on a Monday night in a long time. (And this is when I missed Louie the most. We spent the better part of our 20s in bars with live music and it totally took me back to those days together!)

And then there way a little Humpty Dance moment that took me right back to Xenia.

All in all, NOLA totally exceeded my expectations. I just had to keep reminding myself I was working. Because it seemed just a bit too much fun to actually be the case.  In all seriousness, I feel super grateful to have a job that affords me these opportunities - not just the traveling, but doing something meaningful that I am proud to explain to my kids as a compelling reason for this smart mommy to spend occasional bedtimes away from home.

Disclaimer: Trust me, I fully recognize that there are all kinds of "smart mommies" out there and I certainly don't mean to imply that the only way to earn such a moniker is through full-time employment. Are we cool?