Two days after I snuggled my family back up again after the motherhood retreat I packed up and left one more time…to Washington D.C. this time for the American Mothers National Convention. (For more about what that is, click here.)

And of course I couldn’t resist snapping a bazillion pictures out that airplane window.  Seriously, the people next to me in airplanes must think I’m completely bonkers with that little point-and-shoot camera of mine snapping away.  Every once in a while I wonder if I will cause trouble with my “electronic” turned on but man alive, when you see carpets of clouds basked in the sun below you you cannot not take a picture of them.
I love flying into Reagan National Airport.  
Especially if you’re on the side of the plane where you can see this view:

We lived in D.C. for six years before we moved to back west to the desert.  (Ok, we really lived in the suburbs, but we called it D.C.)
We loved it there.
That’s where I had my first three babies.  
That’s where we made life-long friends we are endeared to forever.

That’s where we hosted guests practically every single weekend and knew that city like the backs of our hands (but still managed to get lost all the time because I’m telling you what, those street signs in D.C. leave some serious things to be desired).

My brother Eli and his wife are living right on Capital Hill and it was so fun to have him pick me up at the airport and hang out together before the board meetings started the next morning (his wife, sadly for me, was out of town that weekend…missed you Julie!).  
We went out for Thai food and dissected our growing-up family-life and life in general.
I love when people will eat Thai food with me.
Eli is really good at knowing cool things to see.  Before I checked into my hotel he told me the National Geographic offices were right across the street so we walked around the exterior (it was super late) to see all the amazing images they have plastered as gorgeous displays.
We both love photography so it was fun to bask in the beauty of these photos.
We had a great chat and he left me to get some sleep and mingle with all the nice ladies the next few days.
The reason I was at this convention I explained back here.  When you become a “national mother” you are automatically part of the national board for a year.  I wish I had a picture of our board meeting.  But here’s one of almost all the ladies that they took later:
It has been such a neat year getting to know these women.  I have learned so much from their examples.
From the board meeting we went to meet all the new “Mothers of the Year” and “Young Mothers of the Year” who had arrived by then.  The YMOY from California happens to be one of my good friends who used to live right here in my neighborhood.  
Talk about a small, small world.
That evening buses took us up for a little tour of the Capital building.
I adore that building.
…and those sweet girls.  In the purple above is Tina who was the YMOY from California last year.  It was so fun to catch up and hang with her.
That night they had a little “pampering” get-to-know-you party deal where they did back massages, painted fingernails and did hair-dos.  These ladies in black experimented with Tina and my hair and this was the result:
I’m always in search of new hairstyle ideas.
The next morning we heard all the Young Mother speeches.  It was so nice not to have to give one and just to bask in the goodness of their words.
Some of the Young Mothers.  
All such exceptional ladies doing good things.

That night the buses took us to Georgetown.  I love that place.
We walked around the bay/wharf area…
…and I somehow talked us into Thai food again 🙂
Then they took us on an evening tour of the monuments.  
Dave’s flight came in around then so he took a cab to come meet up with us.
He felt sad he missed all the hoopla last year and was determined to make it at least for part of things this year.  It was sooooooo nice to have him with me.
We loved the new Martin Luther King memorial we hadn’t seen before.
The next day I did indeed meet Ree (the Pioneer Woman).  (I talked about how excited I was to meet her and speak with her back here🙂 
We quickly became bosom buddies and she invited me to the ranch to ride horses in the sunset.
I’m very kidding about that…that picture is just one I happened to get amidst the other fans crowded around her after her speech (which was very entertaining by the way…she even sang).  
Eli came to meet up with Dave while I got to sit at the head table at the following lunch with Alison Sweeney (I made them come in for a picture when we were done).
It was fun to meet her and hear some of her neat stories from her time hosting The Biggest Loser but I did feel kind of bad I had never seen the show. 
Then I did my speaking schpeal.  I spoke for about 20 minutes on motherhood and wove in some of the beautiful points Liz spoke about back at our motherhood retreat the week before.  I showed this video at the end.  I think I could have just shown that video and sat down, it is so good.
Eli, Dave and I took a little walk after that.
Eli took this picture below claiming that maybe the presence of a moving truck in front of the White House was a foreshadowing of the events coming in the Fall??
We visited our old stomping grounds (where Dave and I both used to work when we lived in D.C.). 
This building right by the White House used to be used for The Points of Light Foundation, a non-profit organization that honored individuals and groups who did outstanding works of volunteer service in their communities. 
We both sure learned a bunch at that place.
D.C. was in beautiful bloom.
That night was the Gala dinner where the new Mother of the Year and Young Mother of the Year were announced. 
It was a fancy affair.
Luckily I have a friend who has formal stuff.  I was at her house at 11:30 the night before I left trying on stuff.  Is that nice to have a friend like that or what??
Here we are with the Mother of the Year and her husband.  I’m sad I didn’t get to spend more time with her this year.  She went to the board meeting I missed, and I went to the one she missed. 
She is quite a lady.
We both had the opportunity to give a speech before they announced the new national mothers.  I was so happy to have Dave up there at the head table with me giving me a little pep talk.  I sure love that guy.  I talked about how I had stood up there the year before like a deer in the headlights wondering how in the world they could pick a mom for the national young mother of the year who slammed doors and forgot to pick up her kids from extracurricular activities here and there.  Then I went into how every mother, in her own way, is the mother of the year for her family.  We have so much power as mothers when we are deliberate and take our career seriously.  And we have so much joy when we celebrate the wonders that motherhood brings to our lives through the moments.  
The new Young Mother of the Year is from Oklahoma and she is a sweetheart.  She’s the one in purple below (along with other past National Young Mothers including Connell who is the national president of AMI now).
These ladies, (along with one more who I somehow did not capture on my camera), were the ones behind all the planning of this event. 
Man alive, they are amazing mothers and organizers.
Before we left the next day we went to church with my brother Eli and hung out with him in his “hood.”  This is the view from his balcony.  I could get used to seeing the capital like that.
…and above is the river-walk close to his house.
Yeah, he lives in a cool place.
I sure like that kid.

We flew out past the Penatgon…see it below on the right?
…and waved goodbye to that beautiful city until we get there again.

We were so excited to get back home…back to another one of my brothers (and his wife and new baby) who happened to be in the desert from NYC and were willing to hang out with our kids while Dave joined me in D.C.  Is that nice or what?

More about that later.

I’m so grateful for the American Mothers Inc. and the opportunities they have given me this last year.  I have been so humbled over and over and over again to get to be in their midst.  And now I’m SO happy someone else has that chance, and I get to be fully submerged back here in the midst of my family.  It’s been a year I will never forget.


  1. It's been a year?? Where did that time go? Jee wizz. What a fun trip, and i loved that Dave got to join you too.

    so, i'm sure i'm not the only one, but i loved every thing you wore in every picture!!!i think we need to know where you bought your clothes!!!!

    Yeah for Mothers, and weekends away!

  2. I wish I had know you would be in D.C. I would have loved to meet up and thank you in person. I love reading your blog! It makes me anxious to be a mother but I feel so prepared now that I know all of your tips and tricks!

  3. I love small world stories. 🙂 I know you don't know me (I sat by you at a retreat once at your mom's house) but I follow your blog and I also know the YMOY from CA. So fun to see you both as friends in a picture.

  4. what a special time away AND you got to meet pioneer woman herself! I love that:)

    beautiful pictures and how lovely your hubby could join you too!

    oh and your brother looks so much like your dad!


  5. Great post Shawni! It was so much fun to be with you for a few days! I loved hearing you speak–you were such a great YMOY!! And I love that video. I've shared it with my family and friends. I hope you have recovered and are enjoying time with your family! Darcy in CA
    P.S. Great pics too! Even with your point and shoot, you're still a pro!

  6. True story: My friend and I tried so hard to come to DC for the AMI events, but we just weren't able to get away with little babies still at home! We supported you all in spirit!

  7. Shawni,
    It was an honor to meet you at AMI and your speeches were inspiring. I'm grateful for women in the world like you. You are a force for good and encourage all mothers to be a little better. Thank you for your example. I hope you don't mind if I link this blog post to my fb?

  8. I don't know how you do it all either. I'm im awe. But as I commented on a previous post – if you feel overwhelmed and that you are not being the wife, mother, etc that you know you can be – why don't you stop going to all these things for a while. Your life cannot help but be turned upside down with the revolving door to all these trips you and your husband go on. I'm not saying it's a bad thing in general, but it is surely not helping your health and your feeling of disorganization.

  9. I adore you, Shawni! It's so fun to see the DC trip from your perspective. Everyone there was pretty stellar, I have to agree. Thanks again for being so sweet & real. You've sacrificed a lot to inspire others of us, and we're so appreciative! xo Rachel

  10. p.s. I still laugh remembering the tour bus pulling away from the Capitol, leaving you & Dave and Amanda & I behind. My feet were HURTING at that point (wrong shoes) so it took all I could do to chase it down!!

  11. Somehow with all this crazy traveling I missed this post. I LOVED seeing all the details of this wild and wonderful weekend. I'm SO glad that Dave and Eli were there to support you! I might be just a bit prejudiced but I do think you must have been the best National Young Mother of all time!

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