Last week, I got an email from Cafe Mom inviting me to the White House. After reading it five times and emailing Cafe Mom back to determine if this was indeed a real thing and not someone playing an elaborate prank on me in order to get my security information, I realized I had just received one of the most exciting opportunities since I started blogging.
Let’s just say, when I told Mike the news, he was genuinely impressed with what I do for perhaps the first time ever.
Then I got an email from my friend Seri who had been invited by PopSugar Moms.
“IS THIS REAL???”
“I think it’s real.”
“Holy crap. We’re going to the White House.”
We took a train down to DC on Monday afternoon.
Wait. I forgot the part where we ditched our husbands and our children on Sunday to go shopping for something to wear. No way was I wearing anything that already existed in my closet. Especially since most of it has some sort of snot or juice stain.
When I returned from shopping, Mike spent the better part of an hour trying to convince me that I could go to DC with nothing but a small tote bag. “You will only be there one night,” he said. Sure, seems logical. FOR A GUY. For a moment, I stood staring at my clothes and shoes and hair appliances before determining that there was absolutely no way I could go down there with anything but a rolling suitcase.
“You have to drop off Mazzy at school on Monday morning. Are you going to take the suitcase with you on the bus?” Mike challenged.
“It’s supposed to rain tomorrow.”
“I will figure it out.”
When we arrived in DC and I saw Seri spread out her various clothing items, jewelry and shoe options, I knew I had made the right choice.
Before I continue, I must talk for a moment about the lighting in the hotel bathroom. Have you heard of Kylie Jenner’s selfie mirror that she uses for Instagram pictures? It was just like that, but bigger. It was the most magnificent lighting ever shined upon me.
After we finished taking bathroom selfies (which went on for way longer than I should probably admit), we went out to dinner, toasting the fact that we could both snapchat to our hearts content without annoying our husbands.
On Tuesday morning, we work up bright and early to get dressed, finally settling on our outfits.
The invite said to wear comfortable shoes because part of the day would be spent touring the White House kitchen garden, but both Seri and I boldly ignored that recommendation.
We were emailed maps of the White House grounds to show us where to enter and then went through security before we were allowed inside. We debated asking the security guards to take a picture with us, but ultimately decided against it.
Yes, I know there a lot of photos of me in this post! I had no children to focus on.
Before the conference started, we were allowed to walk through a few rooms and hallways of the White House, amongst portraits of past presidents and first ladies.
I couldn’t find Melly Grant or Claire Underwood anywhere, but I did stumble upon Jackie Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt and a very fabulous looking Grace Coolidge.
Also, let me just say how great it was to be there with one of my best friends. Not because one of us had taken the other as our +1, but because we had both earned the right to be there on our own.
I also took some #pinkinthewhitehouse pics because— HOW COULD I NOT?
I got to drink a very fancy cup of coffee in White House china.
We stood underneath the presidential seal. (I swear it’s there above the doorway, even though it got cropped out of the picture.)
And (because there were no soaps in the bathroom), I stole some presidential paper towels.
About 150 parenting bloggers and vloggers had been invited to the event to hear Michelle Obama talk about her Let’s Move campaign, which encourages healthy eating and exercise in our schools and communities.
Other speakers included directors of the USDA and Dominque Dawes, the three-time Olympic gymnast, who is now a co-chair on the President’s Council for Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. They talked about the goals of Let’s Move, which include putting a salad bar in every school across the country (so far 4000 schools have done it) and the accomplishments like offering incentives for schools to make healthy eating education a part of their curriculum and encouraging schools to devote one hour a day to physical activity.
Before FLOTUS took the stage, the anticipation in the room was pretty intense.
Unfortunately, Seri and I had spent a little too long exploring so we arrived in the room late and had to sit towards the back, making my photos of Michelle Obama pretty unremarkable.
Did I mention that I forgot to take my real camera on my one opportunity to visit the White House? My bad. All photos were taken with my iPhone.
Michelle talked about her personal experience of bringing her kids to the doctor when they were little and being told she needed to introduce a healthier diet. She overhauled their meals, included more fruits and vegetables and switched dessert from being “a basic human right” to “only on the weekends.”
My favorite quote from Michelle was that “parents’ efforts to instill heathy eating habits at home should not be undermined in the school lunchroom.” That might not be the quote exactly but it’s hard to watch someone speak, take photos, snapchat and write down their words verbatim at the same time!
When I mentioned her stance on Instagram, a few people responded with some pretty horrific examples of what goes on at their kids’ schools in regards to the foods they serve and denying kids nutrition who don’t have the funds.
I think the point of this event was to encourage parents to advocate in their schools to get them to adopt the Let’s Move initiatives. You can see everything they are doing and how schools can get involved here. If anyone has any questions or comments or concerns about your particular school, you should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the event, it seems great strides are being made in promoting good nutrition and Michelle reported that for the first time in years, childhood obesity is actually dropping. But the work is far from finished and Michelle made it clear that she will continue to be committed to this cause even after she leaves the White House.
After Michelle’s speech was over, we were invited to walk out onto the South Lawn and tour the White House Kitchen Garden.
This was the part of the program that would have been easier in flats, but what’s a little mud on your heels amongst presidential vegetables?
We also passed the fountain which is currently green for St. Patrick’s Day.
Then it was time to say goodbye and head home.
Thank you to Cafe Mom for inviting me to the event and a huge thank you to the current administration for continuing to recognize the value of bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers when it comes to getting your message out.
This trip was extremely validating and a great honor.
If you didn’t see my day on Snapchat, you might be able to catch it for a limited time! My username is ilanawiles.