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Bathing, Debating, and Education Blogging in Washington D.C.

A Capitol Hill aide reads my blog, and last Thursday we discussed education policy while sipping coffee in a Congressional office building. I spent the next day at the feet of a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and other successful writers, learning how to better my blogging skills. I ended my trip to Washington D.C. having Saturday brunch and taking a tour of the city with my editor at Education Week Teacher.

And I took a bath. I took a bath! I took a bath two nights in a row, actually. It was the highlight of my trip. No kids. No husband. No school. No blog. No sound, except the splish-splash of hot water flicking off my big toe, an auditory pinch to prove I wasn't dreaming. I love baths. But with my schedule as a wife-mother-sister-teacher-blogger-missionary-friend, I've become a shower person and I don't much like showers. I'm always moving, always busy. Too rushed, over-extended, exhausted. I fell asleep in the tub. It was like the kind of sweet sleep you experience after you've had ... you know ... (my mother's reading). When I got out of the tub 20 minutes later, I slipped into a thick terrycloth bathrobe and slippers, compliments of the luxurious downtown Sofitel hotel. I saw that I had two missed calls.

I came to D.C. for the Better Blogging seminar put on by Bellwether Education Partners, led by "School of Thought" TIME columnist Andy Rotherham and featuring advice from veteran newsman Carl Cannon and Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein. Some attendees engaged in spirited but respectful debates about the state of education policy in America. But of all the education bloggers who attended, only three or four were teachers. I know why: I almost had to donate a kidney to get there.

My science progress reports—all 110—were due two days early because I was leaving town. My weekly blog post: due. My application for a teacher award/grant: due. Two days worth of quality lesson plans for my sub: due. My flight was leaving at six a.m., which meant I had to be up by three-thirty and I hadn't had time to fully pack the night before. Both my kids were sad and whiny because I was going out of town without them. I don't drink alcohol, so I really needed that bath!

Marilyn at White House.jpgGetting to D.C. was hard, but things worked out in the end. My amazing husband happily took two days off work to be Mr. Mom. My principal released me with two PD days so I wouldn't have to use up my personal days. The blogging seminar was fantastic. (Look out for a post about better blogging tips!) The Capitol Hill aide I met with was smart, unintimidating, and really interested in pushing education policy that makes sense for students and teachers. I got to visit the awe-inspiring King and Lincoln Memorials. I even got hit on a couple of times by handsome men, which was a little flattering to a working mom who rarely has time to apply make-up.

Did I mention that I took a long, soothing, uninterrupted bath?

What I realized was that I really love my life. It's dynamic and rich. Eating crab cakes at Old Ebbitt Grill—though it is a historic restaurant and right across the street from the White House—is no fun when you're alone on business. My husband, my kids, my school, my students, my blog, my church, my family, my friends, my Chicago—my life is wonderful, even though I am forced to live it in between showers.

*Photo of Marilyn Rhames in front of the White House; added three hours after posting the blog.

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