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Butter ducks, Starbucks,, shucks!

I'm explaining to my 8-year-old why I must fly to Little Rock, Arkansas. "I have to go for work," I tell him as I try to shove a coffee press into my carry-on. "But you work at home," he points out suspiciously, one eye on my stretched-out yoga pants and disturbingly shabby slippers. Who will transport him from school to Tae Kwon Do? Who will turn the key in his expander? Who else knows the secret code for packing the lunches?

A few hours later, I'm winging it to that famous southern nest-o-Clintons. What I didn't tell my kids is what a good time I'm intending to have. Flying with me are Alayne Sulkin, ParentMap's publisher and crazy-wise and kinetic spiritual leader, and Emily Johnson, deeply serene, our intensely gifted art director whose mantle creaks under the weight of her multiple awards. We're heading to the Parenting Publications of America conference, where we'll network, workshop, work out, and work that red carpet at the awards banquet on Saturday night.

And work it, we did.

After a day spent in seminars and the blatantly obsessive search for decent coffee (Starbucks? A 10-block walk. Don't think we didn't make it), we were primed for high silliness. Our hotel, the Peabody, is WAY too into ducks, marching a flock through the lobby each day to plop listlessly into the lobby pond. We knew the evening was promising when we saw the banquet tables - complete with butter ducks.

There's a problem with encouraging crazies - they tend to lean into it. As we took turns sauntering up to accept awards, our various personality disorders intensified. I practically boinged up to the podium, giggling insanely. Emily and Alayne managed a little more decorum, but by the end of the evening we were all struggling to find the line between humility and...well damn!...high excitement. We set a record that night - 24 awards. More than we dreamed, more than we came for, but there it is.

Just enough encouragement to be dangerous.

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