Mrs. Dulli goes to Washington.

You know where the term “mom blogger” isn’t met with derision?
The White House.

But we will get to that.

(waiting to go into the EEOB)

Even though I didn’t wear the red shoes to the White House, it was indeed a bit like I got dropped into Oz. Not the creepy apple throwing trees part, but the can you even dye my eyes to match my dress (yes!) part.

We were greeted by a lovely White House staffer who said “Stephanie? I recognize you from your blog!” Squee! And also….duuuuuuude. Every one we met there was kind, pleasant and treated us with the utmost respect. The whole check in process was very smooth. They checked our ID’s and issued our badges while we were all “yeah, we’re at the White House for the State of the Union. No biggie” But inside we were all mentally doing the Roger Rabbit and imagining our own walk and talk ala The West Wing. (They call me the jackal)

We met with White House social media man extraordinaire Macon Phillips  and then settled in for the SOTU. First bummer of the night, President Obama did not begin with a song. I was hoping for a little I’m a Survivor by Christina Aguilerra. “I’m a survivor, I’m not gonna give up, I’m gonna work harder” Personally I think even Simon Cowell would give him a golden ticket. Okay, enough with the kidding. The State of the Union is serious business and  the air inside the room was electric and  we all hung on every word. A room full of democrats, republicans and independents all watching together.

(Emily Davis, Zach and I tweeting furiously during the SOTU- photo by Neil Davis)

If you ever have the chance to do this…SEIZE it! It was so awesome. Sometimes the room erupted in cheers, in a groan (spilled milk; I’m looking at you) and laughter or applause. The energy was infectious and it all culminated in the Q&A with staff after it was over. I loved being able to watch with all of you while I was there. It was amazing to be able to chat with you guy and hear your thoughts and your questions as it was happening. Man, you guys had some AMAZING questions. From marriage equality to health insurance to teaching to the test. Mind puzzlers from both sides of the aisle.I wish I had gotten to ask every question you posed. I want answers as well.

 

I thought President Obama rocked the house (hehe) during the SOTU. This speech was beautifully crafted and air tight on most issues. He was so confident. I feel like the first 18 months of his administration he was busy being polite and behind the scenes kicking butt and taking names (bye Bin Laden, don’t let the door and all that) but most of the American people didn’t know what he was doing because it wasn’t out there. He didn’t have the PR force that a Republican administration did. President Bush signed a birthday card and it was out there for him to be congratulated on. President Obama was getting stuff done but not making sure we all knew. He seems to have decided that is not the way to go anymore. Forget being a gentleman and just assuming that getting things done is enough. I thought he was extremely presidential, strong, elegant, charismatic and of course an inspirational speaker. But this SOTU was a call to arms. And an old school, genteel one at that. There was no mistaking his message. Let’s stop all this BS and get some work done. He also laid some serious truth fact bombs. BOOM. Twitter registered over 14,000 tweets per minute during the SOTU and the number one thing people were tweeting about was education.

And this is where the highlight of the night was for me. We talked a lot about higher education. But I have a 7 month old and a 3 year old. I am worried about elementary education. I read your blogs and see how your kids have no recess, no music or art- all of which stimulates the brain and helps with learning. I see how your second graders are struggling with two hours of homework. Algebra for pete’s sake and yet they aren’t being taught geography or freeze tag! Remember freeze tag? Good times.

Halfway through the Q&A Secretary of Education Arne Duncan came in to chat with us and answer our education questions. He started off by saying how he still was in awe that he got to be on Capitol Hill and work at the White House, fighting for our children. This put all of us at ease because we may have looked as cool as the Fonze but we were freaking like Ralph Mouth.(that’s a Happy Days reference in case you grew up when Nick at Night had already moved on to Full House) I didn’t get to ask a question during the organized session but after it was over Zach and I went down to meet him. I am so glad we did. He and Zach talked for a while and then he turned his attention to me and I introduced myself adding “I’m the mom blogger” I don’t know why I said it, but I am so glad I did. His eyes lit up and he said “I want to talk to you” I laid out my question. Why are our young children being forced to work longer hours learning harder subjects earlier without valuing play or even being allowed to burn off energy that will let them sit and concentrate on *gulp* algebra at age seven! This clearly isn’t working as the Secretary himself had stated that we are having kids burn out and drop out at a higher rate, so what is the plan?

He said he knew as a kid he needed to run around and that this was something they were very concerned with. I wish I had a final answer to give you, but he told me he was going to track me down to talk more. He said mothers, and social media mothers are such a valuable resource and he wants to hear from me. From US.

From there we walked over to thank Macon Phillips for having us, upon hearing I was a “Mom blogger” he too, lit up. Brands may not take us seriously. The press at large may not. But the White House sure does. We are covering new ground for them. This is new, and people we are blowing their minds. Here’s the thing. One of us right now at this very minute may be potty training a future president. (between my two I’ve got my money on Boss because he is you know, the Boss and he lays out a plan step by step of how things need to be) Of all the things I learned last night, and I learned a lot, the most important one is that we are not going unnoticed, the term mom blogger to them means something wonderful. Something POWERFUL. We are literate. We are involved. We are opinionated. And they are listening.

The White House talk back is going on all this week. You can pose questions on their Facebook page or tweet them using #WHChat #SOTU (and @minkymoo because I want to hear your questions too!) (also I am seriously thinking it’s time to change the old name. I mean, if the White House is listening…maybe I need a more respectable name.)

What did you think about the speech? Love it? Hate it? What was your favorite part? I loved when he quoted President Lincoln “Government should do for people only what they cannot do for themselves and no more”

Is it totally uncool to say my experience was totally amazeballs? Because it was. Yup. Amazeballs is the best word. And that right there is why we need to work on education. Ha! Amazeballs.

Sigh. They’re not going to invite me back are they?

You can watch the SOTU and ask questions here as well. Do you think Boehner’s teeth glow in the dark like Ross on Friends? I do.

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25 thoughts on “Mrs. Dulli goes to Washington.

  1. Oh wow! That is such a great post! I’m so glad to hear that we have the ear of the freaking White House! Thank you for representing us so well and letting us know about your experience. I am inspired.

  2. It was fun watching you and a few others tweet so actively last night while I watched the enhanced version from whitehouse.gov

    Great write up here as well summing up the experience.

    As for your questions about the speech. I liked it well enough. It was good seeing a stronger tone in Obama’s voice, but I feel it’s 2 years too late. My favorite part was when he said “(about America’s standing abroad being broken) doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”

    I think our military has continued to be a little heavy handed, but we’ve helped where we could and done so successfully. Plus I think we’ve stayed out of more issues (like the European debt crisis) in a more thoughtful manner than previous decades.

    Now if only Congress wasn’t useless.

  3. I’m so thrilled that you were there, and made the most of the opportunity you were given by asking questions, and it’s great that Secretary Duncan is going to follow up with you.

    As a mom I feel like government isn’t listening to me, but having you there was definitely a step in the right direction!

  4. Very interesting read. BTW it’s genteel, not gentile (which means not Jewish) which while it also applies to him is not what you meant. I figured you would want to know.

  5. I was enthralled in your recaps of the SOTU last night! The cool part for me, was since I “know” you, I got legit responses to what was really going on. Unfortunately, depending on what media channel you are watching, you miss so much of what the atmosphere and responses are by the attendees. Save for a few pans to Boehner’s face (which makes me think of one of my favorite movies, “Where’s your happpyyyyy face?”), you couldn’t get the chills, thrills and groans like you do in person. Knowing that the “every day” people were representing up in there was so cool. You did a fantastic job. I personally think you should be a permanent fixture there!!

    What an amazing experience!!

    You are just so freaking awesome.

  6. Such an awesome post and thank you so much for asking the questions I wanted asked to sec Duncan loved reading your tweets during #SOTU and so appreciate you bringing me along on your excellent adventure!! Also keep the name it is u = amazeballs!!!

  7. Steph when he quoted Lincoln I was thinking of you AT.THAT.EXACT.MOMENT. and how cool it was that you were representing all of us moms.

    I’m seriously in awe. And jealous.

    Great job! (and I for one think you should keep @MinkyMoo – I don’t know if I would ever recognize you without thinking of Minky 🙂 )

  8. That is so amazing!! What a great experience and I am so proud of you (and that I even know you, actually)!

    Great job tweeting last night, I was following along for almost the whole thing.

  9. Steph! What a wonderful experience! I loved watching the SOTU last night and actually kept it on the whole time (trust me…this is a huge deal). Education is HUGE for me. Now that A is in public school I’m seeing first hand the amount of work these kids are doing and the teachers are only teaching for the NCLB tests. There’s no creativity left in schools 😦

    As for college..with all of the credits etc Obama has put into action when he took office to help out during the rebuilding of the economy, I’m proud to say I’m finally graduating in May. I wouldn’t have been able to if he didn’t take the steps to help us out.

  10. I LOVED having you there, it felt like I was there with you, cheering on our president, even having the appearance of being able to hold him accountable for things like physical education and the arts and environmental stewardship. These are things that WE care about. As mom bloggers, we talk about it ALL THE TIME, and it’s sooo comforting to hear they’re listening, and if they’re going to hear it from any of us, I am glad they’re hearing it from you.

  11. Thank you so much for the live tweets during the SOTU. I felt so much more connected following along with you knowing we have the same hopes and dreams for our children. Represent!!

  12. As you probably know, one of my big pushes when it comes to education is STEM, which is probably odd coming from someone who was a journalism major. I’m encouraged to hear that the White House is interested in hearing from bloggers, but in particular from MOTHERS. Regardless of which political party is in power, it’s time for Capitol Hill to talk to people who have real-life experience with the school system TODAY — not 10-30 years ago. The power of involving bloggers is that, as past campaigns have shown, we have the ability to galvanize people and organizations into action. As long as you have their ear, keep bending it and bending it!

  13. 1) How amazing that you were there! I think I would have been a bowl of jell-o. Too shaky and nervous to make my fingers work the keys.
    2) love this…”One of us right now at this very minute may be potty training a future president” I”m going to think of that next time I give my little guy a high five for going pee pee in the potty
    3) I really love that the White House is taking note of mom bloggers. Go us!

  14. Wow! What an opportunity. A friend of mine once went to the White House to meet with someone and the first thing I asked was, “what did you wear??”. Also, do you, like, take a cab? Or walk over from the metro?

    That is one working parent and home office tour I would love to feature on my blog!

    Lucky you!

  15. A huge congrats on being invited to attend and representing “Mom Bloggers!” and a huge congrats to the WH for being savvy enough to include the influential and important voices of mom bloggers in this night. I absolutely love the question you asked about education and am so appreciative of it as the mom of a Kindergartener who I think gets tested far too much at such a young age in Montgomery County. And for the record, I would have gone with the red shoes.

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