Entries Tagged 'Blog love' ↓

Tampa WTSP A-List: Best Local Blogger

All I can offer here are lots of words, a few amateur photos and some attempt at connection. But I have a whole lot of faith in words and connection. And, it seems, some readers have some faith in me, too.

I’m very honored to share that I have been voted “Best Local Blogger” for a Tampa A-list contest on WTSP DealChicken.com.

Thank you.

No, really.

I don’t do this for anything other than fun and, like I said, connection. My only reward is that amazing feeling of satisfaction when I have WRITTEN… and someone kind of liking what I have to say.

I feel like I just got a HUGE payout. Your vote of confidence means that much.

Again, my humble thanks.

And I hope to keep seeing you around these parts.

- Caroline

Tampa BlogHer: Blogs, Beer, Men in Kilts

I haven’t stuck with blogging all these years because I like the sound of my own voice. On the contrary, I like people a whole lot more than yacking ceaselessly in my own plotted out space on the Internet. And people, many many people, with their own plotted space on the Internet, are actually behind all of these blogs. Blogs discussing side by side, leading to real interaction, leading to community. What you say matters, affects another, they respond, you connect, you have found someone like you and conversation and change and all kinds of crap you never expected would ever happen, HAPPENS. And you never even have to leave the house while your child naps in the other room, either.

So, knowing that community is what this blogging beast is really all about, I took my blog out of the house to meet some people behind the online connections last Saturday. I met a group of folks down at The Pub for Tampa BlogHer.

It’s an amazing thing, this blogging social media world. Because, while I had only met a few of those folks “in real life” before, I was greeted with hugs and familiarity and comfort. I know these people. We’ve known each other for years. Through this community we’ve built.

I’m excited because we’re going to really work on building up our local Tampa blogging community more. Another get-together is being planned for March. There is chatter of a Facebook page for local area bloggers — a place to keep networking, reaching out, making sure one has another’s back, maybe passing on event updates and tweet-up info. or which conferences are good or maybe some suggestions for reviews.

I love blogging. But I love people even more. I love media and words and information, but I love being social about it even more. When I can, I want to keep prioritizing the community part of this blogging beast. It’s important. It’s networking with heart. It reaches places I never expected it could.

I had a fantastic time seeing everyone that night. Tampa has a wonderful core of real and talented bloggers and writers. I can’t wait to see everyone again. But, really? I can’t wait to see what we’ll do next.

Oh wait. I forgot to talk about the men in kilts. So. There were very nice men who worked there dressed in kilts. And before I say something very double standard-ish and contrary to my usual non-objectifying tendencies… just make your way to The Pub yourself and come to your own conclusions about why I felt the need to give “men in kilts” the honor of being in the title of this blog post.

Picture courtesy of our host, Denise of @denisermt. Read her great wrap-up post here.

Others there?

Erika of Southern Fried Lives

Angel of Cheeky Sweetie

Maria of Mommy Melee

Raffi of Betty Running

Brian of Digital Running

Kirsten of Gone Bananas

Karen of If I Could Escape

Susie of Hide and Go Scrap

Clarissa at TBO

Type A Mom Conference 2010: Stating the Obvious

Thanks to deadlines, general parenting blah blah blah and a sick husband, this post has been late coming. In fact it was a week ago today that I took off for Asheville. But I suppose it has given me some time to let all of it settle in my mind and collect itself into a post.

So how would I describe my weekend at the Type A Moms Conference?

Well, I may have to state the obvious. And state it quite a few times, in fact. You see, this conference gave me a chance to look in the mirror a bit and consider some things that I really should know already. I shouldn’t have been so surprised. I should get this and own it and rock it all by now. But it seems I don’t, not yet.

(Uh-oh, I’m should-ing on myself…)

Let me explain. Here are some obvious bits of brilliance that you might already know but I am clearly needing a little review lesson on.

1. I need to be strategic about what I do. The wonderful and brilliant (and I could literally sit criss-cross applesauce at her feet for hours while she schooled me with her crazy smartness and to the core goodness) Deb Rox led a panel about being strategic about your blog. She asked us to think about what we’re doing, own what we’re really good at, and carefully consider how to make it work for us. She encouraged us not to trip up on our own limitations. Because our limitations can actually push us forward to learn more and BE more.

Of course I need to think strategically about what I am doing with myself and my blog. Of course I need to focus on how I can really fan the smoldering bits of this writing career. But have I been? Not really.

I also need to tack up over my desk a little reminder she gave us during the panel: In all that you do, make sure that it is always smart, fun or kind. Yes.

2. Companies are paying attention. My dear friend Ilina hosted a panel about the interesting way brands connect with consumers both online and off. Some do it well, some not so much. And I guess I knew this. But within hours of her panel, her points were clearly illustrated through a little licorice smack-down. You see Ilina and Deb both started a friendly debate over which were better: Twizzlers or Red Vines. And camps began to form, discussions over texture ensued and people whipped out their stashes of each. Twitter was involved (of course), twit pics were posted and before we knew it, @redvines was overnighting a fresh case of Red Vines to the conference. But Twizzlers weren’t on Twitter (silly people) so how were they supposed to know about this friendly rivalry? Well, a few women got on Facebook (of course) and the next day an enormous shipment of Twizzlers arrived in Asheville (it filled an entire closet, I’m not even kidding). WE ARE BEING HEARD. And it took a whole lot of licorice to tell me that.

3. Bloggers make for fantastic conversationalists – and friends. This fact doesn’t surprise me any longer, I just take it for granted I think. An online world is one I can power on and power off. But walking down the streets of Asheville truly connecting with women I’ve only just met or debating the future of blogging over local beer with brilliant minds late night only reminds me that YES, these women are real and affecting a world that I am very much apart of. I am honored to know each of them.

4. Twittertinis are blue. Talk about stating the obvious. Of COURSE they are blue. (Except when they run out of ingredients 10 minutes before the free drink cut-off and so to keep bloggers from turning into rioters they combine some other something to make them a lovely bluey-purple color but just as delish.)

5. One mom blogger is not like the other. I decided to attend a session about non-traditional moms who blog – but I went in unsure whether I even fit into this category really (yes, yes ironic, I know). On the way in, Kelby said “Yeah, you’re not traditional” and I said “Exactly, I’m totally not…” but walked in still questioning what side of “traditional” I fell. It was a great session. But I sat there thinking about how the rest of the world views mom bloggers. How do they know – or how do we know, really – what a “traditional” mom blogger is? Would that be the Betty Crocker, Soccer Mommy, Susie Homemaker, super reviewers chattering on about their baby’s full diaper? Sure. Go for it. But can we be so many other things too? And still fit some category of “Mom Blogger”? I don’t want to be pigeon-holed or limited with what I do or what I am expected to write about. But who does? The more we can push the envelope of what is “traditional”, the more that will be expected of all of us.

6. We are trail blazers. Blogging is evolving and changing in a way no one could have foreseen. And at the speed things change around here, we certainly can’t assume we know where it will go either. But Laurie Smithwick (who someone  described on Twitter as the “Mr. Miagi” of blogging women – and I wholeheartedly agree) used an analogy in her panel about Community vs. Competition that made me sit up straight. She described blogging as a road we are currently creating. As we put our feet down and decide the direction we want to head, we are determining the future of this medium. And if we make some wrong turns or set up negative expectations for those following, blogging will suffer. We need to be very smart about how we do this thing we’re doing. It’s our road after all.

7. Be constructive about controversy. As Jennifer James so wisely put it while she discussed controversy online, “Unless it’s something that will shape our community in a positive manner, let it pass like the clouds”. Because really, will all the hub-bub over whatever it is even matter next year? And if controversy is not helpful, if it will ultimately only tear us down, stop giving it a platform. Let’s be constructive and keep our focus on the bigger picture.

8. Bloggers can be writers too. I got to spend some time with Rita Arens. She’s a blogger. And she can write her ass off. And now she’s working on her second book. Enough said.

9. There’s no such thing as a parent-work balance. I plunked my self right up front for a panel about mommy guilt and trying to make it all work. Hello, someone tell me how to make it happen. Tell me how to do it all without feeling like I am letting anything slip. Tell me how to be better at it and make more money doing it. Well. Not so fast. Turns out the balance will always tip one way or the other. It won’t be still or “just so” in any perfect little way. And I will always be disappointed with myself. But usually those are only my disappointments. So I need to check myself before I wreck myself before I make myself insane over it. As one panelist noted (and this one needs to get tacked up over my desk too): We all need to stop should-ing on ourselves. Because I’m sure we should have done whatever the hell it was, but we didn’t, so be kind to yourself and move on.

10. Biltmore Wine is fantastic. Especially when it comes in many glasses all lined up for your tasting pleasure. Yes please, delicious and thank you.

11. Dad bloggers are part of this community. I have always said I need to connect with more of these guys at conferences. Luckily, my group of friends and I had the chance to get to know a few out to dinner one night. We discussed moving from blogging to paid writing over pitchers of local beer. We swapped pictures of our kids. We made social media jokes. We shared french fries. We connected as bloggers and friends. Dad bloggers are awesome and duh.

(Wait. Stop everything. You need to read this post written by one of the dads I met over dinner. It’s about his experience at Type A Moms. BRILLIANT. Hysterical. Loved it. Ok, carry on…)

12. Asheville is beautiful. I love that city. I love the vibe it has, the mountains surrounding it, the beer it makes, the art it creates, the graffiti on its walls, the food it serves, the music in the air and the people walking its streets.

The conference was fantastic. The friends I made and reconnected with had my back, lifted me up, and pushed me to be more. But the lessons I learned – no matter how well I should have known them already – were the kind I will carry with me for many many years. Or at least until I need another reminder, and back I go again…

Type A Mom Conference Bound and Sponsored

I got pretty lucky this fall.

Rewind to about a year ago when I ventured off to Asheville for last year’s Type A Mom Conference. It was an incredible experience. While not quite the same hustle and bustle of BlogHer conferences, TAM attendees have the luxury of really getting to know one another. A lot of learning and connecting happened. I left inspired and proud to do what I do, even if it’s for peanuts (sometimes literally).

This year I figured out how to scrape it together and negotiate childcare to make it to BlogHer10. I had an amazing experience and I was beyond grateful. But I assumed one conference a year was about all I could ask for. So I put Type A Mom aside, sighing wistfully, bidding my blog friends adieu as we parted ways and they planned for Asheville.

And that’s when the fantastic people at Dr. Smith’s Ointment stepped in. I’ve mentioned here that I’m writing for them now, and it’s been a lot of fun. They are good people, with a quality family friendly product, so it’s a nice set up. Well it turns out they are blogger friendly too because a couple weeks ago they offered to sponsor me at this year’s Type A Mom conference.

*tap dancing across my kitchen, past my kids’ unfinished cereal bowls*

*tap dancing back across my kitchen, past my kid’s unfinished cereal bowls*

So I’m going!!!!

Dr. Smiths have also put together a set of t-shirts for me to wear while I’m there. I cracked up when I saw the designs. For example, one asks “Is your baby living in (R)asheville?” Ha! Love it.

Anyway, you’ll be able to follow my Type A Mom escapades on twitter of course. And you may even see my pic posted on the Dr. Smiths Facebook page at some point. Oh and if you have a baby, and like home grown family friendly baby products, consider following them here or here too.

A huge HUGE shout out goes to my husband and the four – yes, four – friends of mine here who have coordinated their schedules to watch my kids while I am away. Child care is as big a deal as affording to go anywhere in the first place – so I am forever grateful.

Also  many*cheers* and *whoops* and *hollers* for companies like Dr. Smiths who support pathetically paid bloggers like moi just trying to get a little professional development where ever and when ever they can.

Like I said, I got pretty lucky this fall.

My Peers Like Me

Apparently I’ve been nominated by my peers under the category “Blog You’ve Learned the Most From”. Which implies brilliant people whom I adore and respect and read regularly and who do fantastic things in bigger ways than you probably even know have learned something. From me.

Huh.

To say I am honored would be an understatement. I mean, have you seen the company I’m keeping on that list? Sheeeeesh. Come ON now. I’m grateful simply to be nominated. And blushing. And muttering “aw shucks” and kicking imaginary stones at my feet. Really.

But you can vote for me (once a day until July 12 which happens to be my birthday so no guilt about maybe helping me get a really nice birthday present, you know, for something I adore and give to from deep down in my soul).

But only if you want to. Of course.

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Tampa’s Better-Than-A-Picnic Picnic

If you live in the Tampa Bay area, tell me you have already saved the date, right? Yep, Saturday, June 26th is coming up and The Motherhood, Hebrew National and all of the blogger co-hosts have a very fun picnic planned for that day. And we really reeeeally want you and your family to come.

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And why should you? Well, here are my top five reasons WHY you MUST come.

1) Get your grub on. Who wants to think up lunch for the whole family when it’s already there waiting for you? With fun and games too. It’s a lunch no brainer.

2) Be one with nature. E. G. Simmons Park is located in Ruskin on Tampa Bay. You’ll enjoy all that is beautiful about our local environs. Our coastline is so damn beautiful it will make you weepy – and you know it. Don’t forget the camera!

3) Watch me wrangle three boys. They aren’t all mine but I will be parenting them that day. And they like to fight. You might want to grab food from reason #1, park yourself on a bench and watch them have at it. I promise to try and keep my scolding G rated. It’s a family event after all.

4) The Mechanical bull. Ride ‘em cowboy. And you think I’m kidding? Check out the video taken by Mommy Words at her local Hebrew National picnic!

5) The Oil Spill. That’s right, here’s your chance to DO SOMETHING. A representative from the National Wildlife Federation will be there to answer questions. And we will be hosting a service activity aimed at giving children a chance to assist with the oil spill. We will also be collecting donated items which can help oil spill relief. The organizations we are supporting have donation lists here:

National Wildlife Federation Donation List

Save Our Seabirds Donation List

Some useful items to bring could be:

  • Dawn dishsoap
  • Backpacks
  • Clipboards
  • Hats
  • Sunscreen
  • Bleach
  • Wire or bolt cutters
  • Paper towels
  • Towels
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sand paper
  • Bungee cords
  • Work gloves (medium. large, extra large)

WHO:

The other blog hosts will be (drum roll please because they are fab)…

Connie Roberts from Brain Foggles

Tracey Henry from Suburban Diva

Janet Dean from Green Mom Review

UPDATE: And we just found out one other very special guest will be there too…. ELMO!!!

WHEN: Saturday, June 26th from 11:30 AM – 3:30 PM

WHERE:

E. G. Simmons Park
2401 19th Avenue, N.W.
Ruskin, FL 33570
Shelter 17
(Off U.S. 41 in South Hillsborough County)

Important update: Be sure to mention at the park’s entrance that you are there for the “Hebrew National Picnic” to receive free admission!

The event is on Facebook too!

Please come!

FTC Disclaimer: The Motherhood and Hebrew National are compensating me to host and promote this event.

Love the Gulf

Over the past month, I have awoken to updates about the oil spill on the Gulf. While clearing my cobwebs over a bowl of Cheerios and some quick news, without fail I see the same thing: footage of gallons and gallons of oil bubbling up from the bottom of the sea.

This oil will ooze and spread and affect hundreds of thousands of lives – animal and person alike. It will have an enormous potentially unprecedented economic and environmental impact. Although, we have no idea to what extent yet. We have no idea how many eco-systems will be interrupted, or how many fishing businesses will go under, or how many beaches will be unswimmable making Florida not quite the vacation spot it used to be. But the oil keeps coming and those living in the Gulf’s coastal communities have no choice but to wait and see how all of this will unfold over the months and years to come.

It has filled me with such anger, fear and sadness.

But most of all? I am left feeling horribly helpless.

What can I do??

Well, I can write the hell out of this. And so can you.

The utterly fabulous Deb on the Rocks had an idea the other day. And my dear friend Maria and I jumped right on in. We would like to host a Love the Gulf Blog Carnival. And anyone else feeling as helpless as we are is welcome to come join the party.

Here’s the deal.

1. Write. Write how much you love the Gulf. Or about your memories of splashing on its shores as a child. Or maybe you need a place to vent your anger about what could happen. Or maybe you know a family whose livelihood is being deeply affected by this. Or maybe you have some breath-taking and beautiful pictures of the Gulf that must be shared. Bring it here, link it up, let’s collect our mutual love for the Gulf and make lots and lots of noise about it.

2. Post your link using the Mr. Linky widget here. Or post it on Maria’s blog Mommy Melee or Deb’s at Deb on the Rocks.

3. Pick up a Love the Gulf badge to put in your post or on your blog.

4. Spread the word. Share the Gulf love. Tell folks to come join this carnival on twitter (we’re using #lovethegulf over there), facebook or in the coffee line at Dunkin Donuts. Whatever. Just tell people to come and write. All are welcome.

5. Consider donating, signing up to volunteer or sharing links about where you can help such as: Earthshare, Network for Good, Oxfam, Serve.gov or the Florida Audubon.

And finally, thank you. Thanks for directing your attention towards the Gulf. And thanks for recognizing the collective power of words.


Join Team Anissa. Now.

So raise your hand if you are up to your eyeballs in Christmas shopping. Yeah, me too.

But I was hoping maybe I could ask you to set aside $30.oo for an important cause.

My blogging friend Anissa is still struggling to recover from a life shattering brain bleed a few weeks back. While she’s been in the ICU trying simply to respond to those asking her questions, her husband has been doing all that he can to take care of their three children on his own. How is he doing this? You can check up on them here.

But he’s doing all of this, and also thinking about his children’s Christmas without their mother, while facing hospital bills and costs they never ever dreamed of. Well, maybe they have. Since Peyton, their youngest daughter, has spent plenty of time in hospitals already. But I’m betting they never dreamed they’d be facing these sorts of hospital bills with one parent being the one in need of care.

So, Melissa Wardy at Pigtail Pals, has created these T-shirts for Anissa. 100% of the proceeds go to support her family.

team-anissa

And what’s with the “Team Anissa” thing? If you know Anissa, you KNOW she loves Twilight. And Edward.

(On a quick sidebar, I keep thinking she NEEDS to see “New Moon“. I have these wild ideas about writing the movie production peeps and seeing if they could give her a private screening in her room somehow. I know she’d hear it. I know she’d love it. I KNOW she’d respond. And probably cat-call too.)

But, regardless of any fictional Twilight hotties, I am Team Anissa. Because Anissa is real and has done stuff and has been a frigging rock star mother and is doing everything in her power to communicate again and has a family who needs help right now and is also simply a friend. $30 to help my friend is nothing.

Merry Christmas to me. Santa has a Team Anissa shirt on the way.

Please go here to order one for yourself.

Update:

Here’s mine!

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Bending in the Wind for Anissa

Last night, I read a message from a husband telling his wife’s friends that she has had a stroke. Anissa Mayhew was in the ICU and we had no further information.

A stroke. A mother, a blogger, a friend, my age, infatuated with Edward Cullen and looking forward to a Disney Cruise planned for tomorrow, had a stroke and is now unresponsive.

I don’t claim to be Anissa’s BFF. By no means. And I won’t get all freaky and make this tragedy all my own. But my heart has broken regardless. If you know Anissa even in passing, or from reading her blog, you will understand this. Anissa’s reach extends far beyond her immediate friends or family in Atlanta. And I am having a very hard time expressing all that she has done for everyone else… Really, just go and read about her. I know I just won’t do her one stick of justice.

anissamarch5So, I’m far from her BFF but I know her. We’ve met a few times and I consider her a friend. We shared a stroller at the March of Dimes walk this year. (By the way, she organized that group. Local Tampa bloggers came together – see pic here – to walk for Maddie because she organized it. It’s just how she rolls.) Our kids have played together. She promised me vodka at the Type A Moms conference. When my friend’s baby passed away, I found myself immediately typing an email to her. HELP. What do I do? She told me to BE THERE for her, don’t back away. Did you know that she went to 9 funerals for children this year? She has seen loss, she knows it well, SHE has been the rock that so many people have depended on. She told me she hated being considered some expert on the subject, who would? But she sure as shit knows how to love her friends. And she gave me advice about how to love better during tragedy and pain. She gives and gives and gives.

So now she is experiencing a horrible tragedy. Her brain bled. And she hasn’t woken up.

Did you know she happened to be on a segment on the Today Show this morning? It was about spanking children. Do you know how she suggested we punish our children? Have them sit on the floor, face each other and hug for ten minutes. I laughed hard.

And then the tweet I cracked up at yesterday and had to retweet:

RT @AnissaMayhew Don’t tell anyone, but I made $326K from blogging last year but I blew it on bacon and the Jonas Bro fan club.

If you’ve heard about all the recent drama regarding bloggers deserving to be paid, I assume you are laughing and loving it just as much as I did.

So anyway. Not long after that tweet  (hours?) she collapsed. And is now laying in an ICU. Unresponsive.

Life has plodded on today despite this news, as it always seems to.

But then I was driving home from my 3yo’s school today and Ani came on my MP3 player. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t help but think of her.

buildings and bridges
are made to bend in the wind
to withstand the
world,
that’s what it takes
all that steel and stone
is no match for
the air, my friend
what doesn’t bend breaks
what doesn’t bend
breaks

She  knows how to bend, to make room for it all, she has withstood so much. She bends and moves and works against it and surives it all with laughter and love and the purest kind of charity.

we are made to bleed
and scab and heal and bleed again
and
turn every scar into a joke
we are made to fight
and fuck and talk and
fight again
and sit around and laugh until we choke

Anissa is a really funny woman. Really funny. Wit and humor weaves its way through every post, every conversation, every experience. She turns every scar into a joke. And those in pain around her find that they can breathe again when they laugh.

Whether she likes it or not, she has become an example to so many. She is familiar with death. She knows a parent’s purest kind of fear. So many have looked to her. What do we do? How do we do it?

So Anissa, now its you. Our hearts are gripped with fear but we don’t have you to ask what we should do. But I know your example has already put the wheels of charity and support in motion. If there is one small bit of gratitude I have right now, it would be that I am comforted knowing you are getting all the love you’ve given back right now. Karma is your bitch, she owes you BIIIIIG. The love is coming – for you, for your family, for the community you’ve created, and have left waiting for your return.

Wake up Anissa, fight back again. So you can turn this scar into one more joke. You, of all people, can do this.

For any and all information regarding Anissa, please visit the Aiming Low website where her family is posting updates. Also, please be careful about the information you share and be sure it only comes directly from Aiming Low. Finally, please respect their privacy at this very difficult time. Thank you.

The Five Moms and Dr. Drew Take Cough Medicine Abuse to Capitol Hill

100_7073-copyI had no idea. But I guess I shouldn’t blame myself for being so naive. It seems that many parents don’t have any idea either. We generally assume that the drugs we need to worry about our children abusing are such party favorites as alcohol, ecstasy, pot, cocaine or even heroin. I never thought a popular drug of choice these days was dextromethorphan – a key component in cough medicine.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a firm representing the CHPA (Consumer Healthcare Products Association) and asked to attend a two day event in Washington DC covering the Five Moms. (Three of the Five Moms are pictured to the right.)

This Monday, I arrived at the lovely, historic Hotel Lombardy curious about what the next two days would bring me. While I settled down in my room over-looking Pennsylvania Avenue, I reviewed the materials that were left for me.

The Problem

A study from the Partnership for a Drug Free America has shown that about one in ten teens (roughly 2.4 million kids) ages 12-17  have reported to have intentionally abused over the counter cough medicine. And about 28% of teens know someone who has abused it. But only 4% of parents believe their children would actually abuse cough medicine. The Partnership for Drug Free America also reports that “41 percent of teens mistakenly believe that abuse of medicines is less dangerous than abuse of illegal street drugs.” And when teens do abuse dextromethorphan, it has been found that they take 20 – 50 times the recommended dosage which equates to consuming multiple bottles of cough medicine at one time.

The Five Moms

On behalf of StopMedicineAbuse.org, five dynamic mothers have currently become the faces of cough medicine abuse. And this week they arrived in Washington DC with the CHPA to meet with Congress people on Capitol Hill to lobby for their support. They had three goals:

  1. Urge the importance of parental education about cough medicine abuse by promoting the StopMedicineAbuse.org site. The Five Moms believe education about the abuse of this common place medication will do more to curb it’s use rather than simply restricting purchase since these medications are found in every home. As one of the Five Moms noted during our meetings on Capitol Hill, “You can’t protect your family from something you don’t know about.”
  2. Gain support for the dextromethorphan Abuse Prevention Act of 2009 (s. 1383) which would amend the Controlled Substances Act and prevent the sale of cough medicine (or any products with dextromethorphan) to those under 18 years of age.
  3. Gain support for the dextromethorphan Distribution Act of 2009 (H.R. 1259) which if enacted would limit who may purchase bulk amounts of raw dextromethorphan. There are no current limits at this time.

During our time in DC, I got to know four of these mothers (the fifth wasn’t able to come due to an illness in the family) and was truly touched by their stories. Misty Fetko shares a powerful and upsetting story about her son Carl who passed away due to a lethal mix and overdose of drugs including dextromethorphan.  Blaise Brooks, a strong mother, speaker and mentor, educates her community about over the counter medication abuse. Hilda Morales-Roybal took on this cause after becoming informed about the abuse of over the counter medication in her own community. And finally Cristy Crandell currently has a son serving a 13 year prison sentence for crimes he committed while under the influence of dextromethorphan. Each amazing, each examples, each changing lives in their communities and now each delivering their message to Capitol Hill.

Dr. Drew

And so now you’re probably wondering how Dr. Drew fit in to all of this. Well, the night before we all went to Capitol Hill, we sat down to a lovely dinner with the Five Moms, the CHPA, the PR firm who organized all of our comings and goings, and we bloggers: Jenn, Janice and myself. While chatting with the mothers and considering our menus, an announcement was made that we would have another guest. Dr. Drew Pinsky was able to come to DC also to support this entire initiative and he would be joining us for dinner in a few minutes as well as coming to Capitol Hill with us the following day. After a few blogger (ahem) gasps (to put it subtly), Dr. Drew arrived soon there after and ate a delicious meal with us.

(And in case you’ve been living under a rock, here is where you might find Dr. Drew.)

Let me add a quick sidebar here to share something about Dr. Drew. He sat down at our table and graciously, patiently, wonderfully took question after question about addiction, abuse and even discussed our own personal stories. He didn’t have to do that. But he did. He truly cares about the work he is doing and obviously goes above and beyond to help others on a daily basis. I would like to extend a very heartfelt thank you to Dr. Drew for a fascinating dinner discussion.

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CHPA

I have mentioned the CHPA before but should do so again now. Who are they? The Consumer Healthcare Products Association is a non for profit group representing the makers of over the counter medications. And yes, they brought me to this event because they wanted their message heard here. But during my brief time with the CHPA folks, I was impressed by and truly connected with this very committed group of people. And then we were lucky enough to have Alan, a CHPA representative and our valiant leader on the Hill, as part of our group too. With two children of his own and a clear dedication to this message, he fearlessly guided us through our day with humor and tact.

100_7071-copyMoms Storm Capitol Hill

On Tuesday morning, the Five Moms, the bloggers, the CHPA folks, and PR peeps piled into cabs and found ourselves on Capitol Hill. Where was was Dr. Drew? He and Misty had already been up taping 39 segments for local television that morning to support this cause and we would meet up with them later. Check one of the segments out here:

However for the rest of us, our first stop that morning was the Rayburn building, home to Representative offices located directly across from the Capitol building. As we filed out of the cab, we stared up at this building’s grandeur considering what our day had in store for us. But we only took a moment and then continued up the steps. There was work to be done.100_7064-copy

We met a lot of people that day. A lot. We criss-crossed Capitol Hill, tromped up and down the steps into and out of both the Rayburn Building and the Hart Building (where most Senator offices are located). While our fancy shoes silently tortured us with every step we hardly noticed because we were lucky enough to have appointments with:

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA)
Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX)
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

five-moms-dc-and-dr-drew-pics-028-copyWe didn’t meet every congress person. In fact, my group usually met with Legislative Assistants. But Dr. Drew and Misty, along with the President and CEO of the Partnership for a Drug Free America, arrived in time for our face to face meetings with both Rep. Fred Upton and Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Every office was welcoming and wholeheartedly interested in the Five Mom’s message. They listened, they gave us time, and they promised further consideration. And as Hilda Morales-Roybal so correctly put forward to each member of her audience: “we are simply asking for you to support common sense”.

Common sense. Yep, that is exactly it. So it would seem these bills are obvious shoe-ins, something every member of congress could get behind – wouldn’t you think? Not so fast. I came to realize that while open to the Five Moms’ message, even the most straight forward, bi-partisan issues won’t be immediately resolved without some behind the scenes work. Call it horse-trading, call it prioritizing, call it plain old politics but these bills have run into a couple brick walls in the Senate. I know, I don’t get it either, but they have.

What Can You Do?

First of all, every parent should educate themselves. Go to StopMedicineAbuse.org to learn more about the risks, the facts, how dextromethorphan is abused and what signs to look for.

Secondly (and probably MOST importantly) you need to discuss this drug and its risks with your teens. Don’t find yourself assuming your sweet innocent child would never do this. Don’t find yourself dealing with a future overdose just like Misty Fetko did.

smaicon_resizeThirdly, read medicine labels, look for the educational icon (see at right) and keep careful tabs on what you have in your medicine cabinets. If you see this icon on a medicine label, you should be aware that it has the potential to be abused and may contain dextromethorphan.

Finally, email or write your Representatives and Senators about this issue. Because you know what? They asked me to tell you that. In fact, Senator Grassley had statistics right at his fingertips about how many letters or emails his office receives and how many they respond to. And then after our meeting, his assistant came up to the bloggers and urged us to tell our readers the same. WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS. Because they are listening and they will support what you feel strongly about. No really, they will.

My Afterglow

And so, readers of mine, I will wrap up this lengthy post to say that I was officially blown away by my Capitol Hill experience. You see, I got to experience first hand the influence that moms have on their communities and country at large. And it has left me awed and inspired. Because I often flashback a few years to when my children were very young, when I thought I had no affect on very much any longer apart from raising my boys. I was simply a mom not doing too much of consequence apart from wiping bums, washing bottles and watching Ellen from time to time. No no. Actually, we have a voice. An important one. One that is heard on Capitol Hill – whether it be in face to face meetings or via letters and blog posts. We can make an important difference if we get busy, get talking, get writing and get organizing. Don’t forget what we have the potential to accomplish. Thanks to my time with the Five Moms, I know I never will.

Disclosure note: While my trip and hotel expenses were covered by the CHPA, the opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. This is an extremely important initiative and I was proud to be there to offer my support.