Saturday, July 20, 2013

Gone With The Wind

I’m in Atlanta this weekend for the Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Conference. Now, I know what you are thinking: Gone with the Wind.

But I write WWII medical romance aimed at the inspirational market.  So I envisioned my time here as a bunch of women in 1940s suits and bottles of coke.

It's been lovely to see some of the contributors to Yankee-Belle and other writers I know.  I am taking some great classes and meeting with friends who live in the area.  It’s a good time to be in Hotlanta.  The weather has finally turned back to good old Southern heat and humidity.  But the hotel is really cold.

Yep, this is what it feels like in my hotel. I am glad I painted my toenails. Otherwise, they would look blue.
Trying to figure out what I can eat with my allergies is always difficult at conference events.  I pack emergency supplies of almonds, eat a lot of salads, and drink plenty of water.  You can only live on so much plain chicken, the main conference food group.  Gluten free was not a choice. Sigh. I'll need to talk to someone about that.

But the major issue for a lot of conference attendees isn’t what they eat but what their families will eat while they are gone.  You can't enjoy yourself in a workshop entitled "Making a Lasting Impression Writing A First Kiss" if your spouse is texting, "We're starving. Middle child is about to eat the baby." Telling him to get a bag of Hershey's Kisses, enthralled as you are in the workshop topic, is not an acceptable answer.

Now some spouses, like Man O, are thrilled to be on their own with no nutrition police around.  He heads off to the ballpark for hotdogs, ice cream and a Triple A baseball game.  I try not to think about Man O's cholesterol levels in my absence.

But those with tiny tots and growing teens often are not so fortunate. Panic ensues if Mom/Dad isn't around to cook. So instead of packing suitcases, days before conferences are spent making meals to stock in the freezer.  Pantries are filled to overflowing. Extra treats are bought due to mommy guilt. I remember those days. I feared the house catching on fire and burning like the torching of Atlanta if the family cooked something complicated.

Here was my go to list of "Mom's away" items:
  • Stouffer's Lasagna
  • Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (yes, in the blue box. Don't judge me because my kids ate the neon orange stuff.) 
  • Baby carrots, grapes and bananas
  • Sandwich fixings including peanut butter to go with the bananas
  • Spaghetti fixings with the ground beef pre-cooked and put in the freezer
  • Coupons for pizza delivery (I was trying to be realistic) 
The list actually kind of makes me shudder now. But the kids and Man O survived and greeted my return with loud trumpets, applause...and requests for real food.  After making me think they barely survived on the land, had to make their clothing out of curtains and...oh, that's Gone With The Wind. 

So, what do you fix in advance for family if you are "gone with the wind" and away from home for work or other reasons? Or do you leave them to their own devices? And if you are like me, how do you make do at work functions where the food isn't quite in line with your diet?


  1. The food I made ran out on Thursday, so they had to microwave frozen chicken tenders. Dh brought a chicken from the store for Friday night. I have no idea what is for dinner tonight......:)

  2. This is one weekend you should leave them to their own devices. Yay, Miss Golden Heart finalist.

  3. I can't believe you are even thinking about what people back home are eating!!! You're in Atlanta!!! Woohooo, enjoy every second of it! Too bad they aren't gluten free savvy though.

    1. Lots of us have conference guilt! There is a model train convention here too. I miss ManO!

    2. Kav, I'm with you. I worried the first time... and then I realized that in a house of half adults, they weren't about to starve!

      But Julie, good points, and why would you eat conference food, darling? Imagine a chef cooking for 2k people.

      It cannot be good.

      I love ducking out to restaurants and getting a taste of local food. That is so much fun! Not all conference hotels are within walking distance of restaurants, but a lot of them have great shuttle services to get you places. That's clutch! In Nashville, the Music City Sheraton had "Nolan" the coolest guy in the world. He took us all over to fancy steak houses, to Walmart for shampoo and PANTYHOSE!!!... and wherever we needed to go, we'd hop in his shuttle and he'd take us. He made our ACFW Nashville conference about the most fun of all.

  4. When I went to RWA conferences when the family was young, I would make casseroles and freeze them. Tater Tot Casserole, Enchilada Casserole, Cheap Lasagna (really pasta with sauce and mozzarella on top). And I never, ever called home. They could reach me in an emergency but it would be crazy to call home and be sucked into the guilt vortex.

    1. The guilt vortex.

      YES. That is exactly what it is!!!!


  5. Always lost weight at conference. Conference food sucks. Do a Julie and pack snacks. Lots of snacks. By the time conference is over you would kill for fruit.

  6. Julie, you know, Kraft Mac N Cheese falls into the realm of comfort food. So long as it's fresh. Definitely not as good the next day.

    I try to stock the pantry and fridge with everybody's favorites before I head away. #2 son could live off of cereal, so that's a must. #1 son must have Ovaltine (he made it through four years of high school with only a big glass of Ovaltine chocolate milk every stinkin' morning) and Red Baron Pizzas. Hubby's gotta have sharp cheddar, tortilla chips, and jalapenos. Unlike the boys, though, he enjoys a good salad too.

    Have fun in Atlanta!

  7. I love these thoughts on conference stuff.

    Women carry such guilt. All the young dads that I know, the ones who have to travel for their jobs, including my oldest boy?????

    They have wives.

    This is what we need when we go away.

    We need a wife.

    'Sall I'm sayin'....

    1. Ruthy, can't wait to get back and cook. I will be your wife. Name the date.

  8. I've always thought I needed a wife...or a maid.

    My first ACFW conference wasn't my first time to leave the family - ten years of BSF leader's retreats gave me a lot of practice.

    My prep? Money. I give them money, tell them to go buy groceries. Make the money last 'til I get back.

    And my husband eats at work.

    And no one starves. In fact, sometimes I think they're disappointed when I get home.

    Another thing: never call while you're at conference. Call when you get there to tell them you're safe, and call when you're on the way home. They can call you if there's an emergency.

    Maybe I need to go to another conference....

  9. Love the Gone with the Wind poster. I was just writing about the movie this morning for a guest post. How funny! And, of course, I am enjoying the chronicles of your RWA adventures.

  10. I've been away and didn't take my computer!! I'm sorry I've missed out the last few days! I'll catch up as I can.

    I have no idea what hubby ate! I bought groceries and left him to his own devices. :) (kids were out of the country).