For background, the trip was in support of National Pest Management Association Legislative Day 2011. The long and short of it is our industry holds a conference each year in conjunction with folks in our industry that are going to speak to legislators about whatever bills are important to us at the time. This year had to do with the Clean Water Act of 1972 (and the Cotton case) and Bed Bugs. If anyone really wants to know the specifics then I can tell more than you ever care to know but I'll not bore you with that. We had never been to DC and wanted to see a few sites but since we were traveling sans kiddos then we tried to schedule a quick turn around based on the conference schedule. We did arrive about mid-afternoon on Saturday and thanks to a recommendation from a church friend we took a night time DC lights tour. We hit all the major memorials and monuments in addition to the Capital and the White House. It was a brisk but beautiful evening and all of the landmarks are illuminated for nighttime enjoyment. It was a whirlwind 3 hour tour and quite frankly we were exhausted at the end but it was concise and did the job for us. As we traveled to different events over the next couple of days we were able to see some of these places in the daytime as well.
The best part of the trip was on Tuesday when we had appointments on Capital hill with some of our legislators. We started out the morning at an event called "Tennessee Tuesday" where anyone from Tennessee can meet with Senators Alexander and Corker. In addition, we had scheduled appointments with some of their aides so after a few opening remarks from the Senators we got down to business. We met with Senator Alexander's aide first and he was very nice and pretty well versed on the issues. After meeting with the aide, we met and had our picture made with the Senators. We then preceded to meet with Senator Corker's staff. At this point most everyone had cleared out. There were five in us in the group (Andy and myself, as well as 2 men from Memphis and one from Sevierville). Andy and I had sort of struck up a side conversation with one of the staff (of course, it started with bed bugs) and I mentioned that we had never been to DC before. So he wanted to know what we were doing afterwards and if we had ever been to the Capital (sorry NPMA but I'll send a letter to Diane Black because I wasn't about to miss a private tour of the Capital). Of course, I could tell where this was going so I said no and since we didn't have a "scheduled appt time with Rep. Black I said "well no we don't"! So he said he had a few free hours which was unusual and he loved history so off we went. It was the most incredible behind the scenes tour and we could not believe his hospitality. (Even though mostly personal friends read this blog I'm going to reserve details for in person account. It's not like a matter of national security or anything but I don't want to get anyone in trouble here either!)
After our visit to the Capital we attended a fundraiser for Congressman Bob Dold at the Capital Hill Club. Again, just amazing. Congressman Dold is from Illinois and he and his family have been in the pest control business since the 1800s. He has a law degree and an MBA but still works in the family business. He is the most humble, down to earth, common sense and smart politician I've ran across in a while. I believe his experience as an employer and operator of a small business is going to take him far in Congress. I heard his mom Judy Dold first speak in 2005 at a NPMA conference and she is a great example of professional women working in our industry.
Our flight home didn't leave until 6:15 so we had the afternoon to squeeze in a few more things which we did by visiting the Smithsonian - Air & Space Museum and the Museum of American History. I never realized that there are many Smithsonian museums not just ONE. You always here "The Smithsonian" so I just assumed it was one big place. We especially enjoyed an exhibit featuring Abraham Lincoln and the First Ladies.
It was great to get home to our boys and now we are in the swing of our "busy" time with work. I thought we've been busy each spring but this year we are holding on for the ride. It's been incredible so far and we are just praying for wisdom in our day to day decisions and trying to take it one day at a time and I'd appreciate any extra prayers on our behalf at this time.
As a former history/political junkie I was truly amazed and thrilled of the four days we were in DC. I look forward to taking our boys one day when they can appreciate it more. Being so involved with work right now has the family balance out of whack so I pray that we can maintain the best we can for the next 3-4 months. Conner will be graduating kindergarten in May and will be starring in his first solo speaking role production of The Wizard of Oz tomorrow night. He's also progressing in karate and will be receiving another belt next week. Camren is having fun being 3 and I'm just trying to hold onto these toddler/pre-school years and embrace them as long as I can. He still goes to Mother's Day Out one day a week which might be replaced with pre-school one day a week in the fall. I'm grateful to have a sitter that helps me out at home and I know other moms have it so much worse (in terms of jobs/child care/supportive husbands, etc.) so I'm still trying to live my 2011 mantra of "Be in the Moment" and just embrace it all. Life's too short to do anything else.
P.S. On a major bummer, I have temporarily misplaced my camera with my DC pictures...I'm afraid it fell out of my bag on the plane and I'm hoping US Air will track it down for me. Thankfully I have a few on my iPhone but I'm really hoping the other one turns up!