Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chris's birthday!

Happy Birthday daddy!
It's amazing how drastically life can change in one year. Last year Trey and Ashley joined us for dinner to celebrate Chris's birthday and we were disappointed to have to tell them that we weren't pregnant. We were hopeful that September was going to be our month but no such luck. Little did we know that luck would be on our side and I'd be pregnant within weeks of that fun evening.

Chris's birthday September 2011
We didn't really have any specific plans for Chris's birthday this year; however, it was a very special day for all of us. Chris's birthday was on Thursday, September 6th. We got home from Charlotte on Wednesday and Chris was thrilled to finally be back home for awhile after traveling extensively for the past several weeks. He was a little disappointed to learn that the NFL kick-off game was Wednesday evening instead of Thursday because he had grand plans of introducing Carter to his favorite past time! It worked out regardless because the little man was in bed way before the football game started.

On Thursday morning we were very lazy and spent some extra time in bed snuggling up and wishing Chris a very happy birthday. He did have to go into work for a few hours which gave Carter and me some time to sneak out and pick a few things up! I haven't had the time like I'm used to in order to get my birthday shopping done.

When Chris got home from work we spent time opening presents, popped a bottle of Schramsberg and just loved on Carter every second until his bedtime. Carter did pretty well with his shopping this year. He gave Chris new UNC and NC State t-shirts, a bottle of bourbon, a picture frame with multiple pictures of the two of them, and the best gift was a picture book of their first two months together as father and son. Chris's big gift is a new subwoofer for his man cave downstairs; however, that was something that neither Carter or I felt comfortable trying to purchase so Chris is on his own to get it! But rest assured, we'll be blasting the neighbors out of their house before too long.

Carter gave his daddy a Justice League birthday card this year!

Happy Birthday daddy!

Chris's special birthday book from Carter

After we put Carter down for the evening we enjoyed grilled filets and asparagus, and mushroom risotto for dinner and for dessert, mini chocolate chip cheesecakes.

Friday evening Nana and Bo watched Carter for us so we could go out to dinner. Yes, you're catching on to the fact that we celebrated Chris's birthday all weekend long! We decided to go to a restaurant that Bon Appetit has named as one of the top ten best new restaurants in America, Little Serow. It is actually run by the same chef at Komichef Johnny Monis and his wife, Anne Marler, which is usually ranked as the number one restaurant in Washington, DC. We went to Komi about three years ago for Chris's birthday and it took quite the undertaking to get a reservation. You can make reservations exactly one month to do the date and their reservation line opens at 11:00a.m. each weekday. There are 12 tables in the entire restaurant so reservations are typically booked within the first 5 to 10 minutes. You basically need a team of people all dialing in at the same time in order to get a reservation; however, I got lucky that year....very lucky. I had been hitting redial for close to 15 minutes and was about to give up, when I decided to call one last time. I started jumping for joy when I got through and actually got a reservation. It is the best dining experience we've ever had so we knew that chef Monis's new restaurant had to be wonderful.

Little Serow is a Thai restaurant and unlike Komi, they do not take reservations. The first seating is at 6:00p.m. and folks start lining up as early as 4:30p.m. We got there at 4:20 and were the first ones in line; however, 30 seconds after we arrived a couple came in right behind us. Yes, sounds crazy but so worth the wait! It's a 7 course, preset menu and you must like spicy food because everything was HOT!

Birthday dessert
Saturday evening we went over to Trey and Ashley's to have a family birthday celebration. Carter enjoyed some time with his cousins, Witt and Walker, Aunt Ashley, Uncle Trey and of course, Nana and Bo.

On Sunday we woke up to cool temperatures so we decided to talk a walk up to the Bradlee Center for a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte and breakfast. This was Carter's first time wearing his Panther's gear! Even though it was a little big on him Chris said he had to sport the colors for the first NFL Sunday of the season. Chris has been waiting for this day and in some ways so have I! Chris told me that he plans on keeping Carter with him all day long down in the man cave to watch football. Sounds good to me! All I have to do is make an appearance when it's time for Carter to eat. They had a great day together, although I don't know how much football Carter actually watched. These days he can go for about an hour in between naps. Tough life, huh?

Game day!
All in all I would say that it was a wonderful birthday for Chris. We look forward to sharing many, many more over the years!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Carter's first visit to Charlotte

Once Chris returned from the Republican Convention in Tampa we turned around the very next day and headed to Charlotte for Labor Day weekend. Chris had a work event to attend at the Democratic Convention and since it was conveniently being held in Charlotte, Carter and I decided to tag along and visit with family and friends over the long weekend.

Look at this cool elephant my daddy brought me from the Republican Convention!

Look out Democratic Convention....here I come!

This was Carter's first trip to Charlotte and his first time meeting his great grandmothers and a lot of other family and friends. It was also opening weekend for college football and NC State was playing in one of Chick-fil-a's kick-off games in Atlanta, GA, so of course we had to sport our game day colors for the ride home.

Go Wolfpack!
As soon as we got home Gigi, Pops and great grandmother were all anxiously waiting to see Carter. And boy was he ready to get out of his car seat and see them too!

Meeting my great grandmother in Charlotte for the first time!

On Saturday my grandmother from Statesville came down to visit for the day. She was thrilled to meet Carter for the first time and they got to spend some quality time with one another. Chris was especially excited because it was the first Saturday of college football and he couldn't wait for Carter to join him in the fun! We stayed around the house all day, relaxed and watched football. That evening we grilled out and enjoyed a nice family dinner together.

Game Day!

I love watching football with my daddy!

Meeting my great grandmother in Statesville for the first time!

All the ladies loving on me!

Spending time with Justin and Joy.

In a serious discussion with Uncle Justin.

On Sunday we took Carter to church for the first time. While I was pregnant with Carter, Chris and I always intended on visiting different churches in our area with intentions on joining one before he was born. It was a great idea but unfortunately we didn't follow through with it. Time got away from us and then before we knew it Carter was here! My church back home in Charlotte, Myers Park United Methodist, holds a special place in my heart. Not only was this the church I was baptized in and grew up going to, Chris and I were married there. Dr. James Howell married us and he is still a minister there. He preaches a sermon like no other so I was hopeful that he would be there this particular Sunday. To our excitement he surely was and he gave the sermon at the service we attended. Right before we were seated we had the opportunity to introduce Carter to Dr. Howell, which was very special. Since our visit home we've actually planned Carter's baptism at the church with Dr. Howell for mid November.

Carter was great throughout the entire service. At the beginning the organ and trumpet scared him a little but once he became accustomed to the sound he did just fine. Of course it certainly helped that he was in Gigi's (my mom) lap the entire time!

After church my parent's took Carter home so he could go down for his nap and Chris and I went out to lunch at Cowfish. It's a new restaurant in Charlotte that is fantastic. Technically it's a burger and sushi bar. Yes, odd combination but wonderful! Their menu is several pages long and a bit overwhelming, but I don't think you could go wrong with any of their selections. We went with the spicy Thai cucumbers and the lobster spring roll as an appetizer and 4 different kinds of sushi as our entree. I will have to say that they were the biggest pieces of sushi I've ever seen! Keep that in mind if you dine there because we certainly ordered way too much. They also had fun cocktails to choose from. It was definitely the perfect lunch outing for the two of us.

Sunday afternoon my aunt Tammy and cousin, Tonya, came down from Hickory to visit with Carter for the afternoon. My grandmother in Charlotte and my aunt Vi also came over. I will have to say that Carter was a little overwhelmed at first by all the ladies loving on him! He wasn't exactly sure what to do. We were happy that he had this opportunity to meet so many of his family members that he's heard about.

Visiting with my great, great aunt Vi and cousin, Tonya.

On Monday my childhood best friend, Erin Hinson Banker, came over to visit with her newborn son, Mason. Erin and I went to elementary school together and were connected at the hip for 6 years. After the 5th grade I left private school and went to public school so unfortunately we lost touch with one another. However, thanks to Facebook we reconnected over the past year and it's been great. The funniest thing is we both married Chris's and we got pregnant with our first child just within months of each other and both had precious baby boys! It was great catching up with her and comparing baby stories. Little Carter and Mason enjoyed each other's company as well and we hope that they'll become friends as they grow older.

The Erin's and their precious baby boys!

Carter and Mason
On Monday evening my mom and grandmother babysat Carter while Chris and I went to the movies to see The Dark Knight Rises. We hadn't been to the movies since before Carter was born so we were very excited to go!
I love to have my hair brushed!

On Tuesday my best friend from college, Sarah, came over to visit with Carter. I hadn't had a chance to catch up with Sarah since Carter was born so we had a lot to talk about it! She also got some great quality time with Carter which meant a lot to me. Hopefully she'll have a little one of her own before too terribly long!

Tuesday evening Chris went to the reception he had to attend for work and my mom and I took the little man with us to Mellow Mushroom for dinner. Mellow Mushroom is my absolute favorite place to get pizza so we had to make a trip there before we headed back to DC. I had to teach my mom the tricks of the trade when dining out with a 10 week old. As soon as we were seated we placed our food order with our drink order. Once they brought our food to the table I handed the waitress my debit card and told her to go ahead and bring us the bill and a to go box. That way we were fully prepared to walk at the door at a moment's notice. And sure enough it was necessary. The funny thing about Carter is he can go from smiles to tears in a split second. He surely did this and we were able to grab our things and walk out the door without any problems. It's funny how such a little person can completely change your life!

Hanging with Gigi at Mellow Mushroom

Wednesday morning we loaded the car and hit the road to head back to DC. We had a wonderful visit with our family and friends and look forward to seeing everyone again around the holidays.

Whew, Charlotte wore me out! Until next time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Going back to work

Yesterday was my first trip back to the hill since Thursday, June 22nd. I went back for a job interview that went really well; however, as soon as I got in the car to come home I started crying uncontrollably. Yesterday's situation was very unique because I had Carter with me. Yes, you read that correctly, I took Carter with me to a job interview. To make a long story short, I was basically told to bring him along and I got the impression that the folks I met with would have been disappointed had I not brought him.

I got up early yesterday morning and showered so I would be ready to go after Carter's morning nap. Of course he didn't take his full morning nap so that worried me. But I got him up anyways, fed and dressed him in his Tiny Republican onesie and off we went to the hill. My second worry was the fact that he hadn't had a dirty diaper. He usually does one after his morning feeding but of course he didn't this morning, which only meant one thing. He would have it at some point while I was on the hill. Of course as soon as we pulled into the garage I could smell it. I had about 10 minutes to spare so we changed it quickly in the car and off we went.
For all my DC friends, this onesie came from Dawn Price Baby. They have great political onesies if you're looking for one.

As soon as we arrived at the interview Carter was just as happy as could be. He was smiling and talking to everyone. I was SO happy! Then we went into the interview. We had a slight delay at the beginning because one of the people I was meeting with had to take a phone call. Within 5 minutes of waiting on him to return the meltdown began. Oh yeah, Carter had a meltdown. Full blown screaming and tears. I tried to get him to settle down but I think he could sense my frustration and nervousness so things weren't going well. I gave him about 5 minutes and then I called Chris. Thankfully he was on the hill and headed to lunch with a friend of ours so he was able to come and get Carter. So I learned a valuable and obvious lesson, never take a 12 week old to an interview. No matter how badly people say they want to see the cute little baby!

The best party of the story is the fact that my interview lasted two hours. The entire time I couldn't help but think that Chris was probably making laps around the building trying to keep Carter calm. I also didn't bring a bottle with me because I never dreamed I would be in the interview that long. When we finally finished I quickly called Chris to find out where he was and how he was doing. Come to find out Carter was a little angel the entire time and met several of our friends while dining at the Capitol Hill Club. Funny how things work out!

But back to the point of this post. After leaving the hill the reality of going back to work really hit home. I've enjoyed every second of my maternity leave and I have tried not to think about going to work. I guess I've done a good job of it because after being there today and talking extensively about my job it really made me upset. The current member of Congress I work for is retiring at the end of the year; therefore, everyone on staff is currently looking for a new job. It's definitely a little bittersweet because I enjoy the member I work for and I like my co-workers. All of this does come at a difficult time with elections just around the corner and coming off three months of maternity leave. I would rather not have to stress about my work situation, but I certainly can't change the circumstances.

I would love nothing more in this world than to stay home with Carter. I'd like a few extra months, weeks, days, you name it. I realize that if my wish was granted I'd be in the same position once that time passed, but I just don't know how mom's do it. I love our days together. I love going to get him first thing in the morning and spending a few extra minutes snuggling in the bed with Chris before he has to get up and get ready for work.

I love feeding him in the bed while watching Good Morning America and The Today Show and then reading stories and doing tummy time before it's time for his morning nap. I love enjoying the peace and quiet in the house when he takes his morning nap so I can enjoy some coffee and catch up on emails.

 I love our walks around the neighborhood.

I love having him just sit in my lap and smile and coo at me.

I love rocking him to sleep. I love lying beside him on the floor while we play with his toys. I love how he'll stop nursing for a second or two just to give me a great big smile. I love going into his room to get him up from his nap and how he'll just stare at me with those big blue eyes.

I love unswaddling him after a nap and watching him stretch his arms way above his head. I love how he gets excited when lying on our bed and watching the ceiling fan. I love taking him to the non-mobile playgroup. I love organizing play dates with friends who have children his age.

I love every single minute of everyday that I have with him.

How am I supposed to leave for 9 hours of the day while someone else gets to take care of him? How am I supposed to be OK with someone else witnessing his firsts and telling me about it? I want to hear his first laugh and see him roll over for the first time. I want to see him take his first steps. Yes, there are pictures and video but it isn't the same. I want to be here to witness it myself and give him a big kiss and hug when he reaches those milestones. Not someone else.

I recognize his different cries and know how he likes to be held. I want to nurse him throughout the day and have him look at me with those big blue eyes. I know his schedule and how he likes to stick to it. I'm his mom and I'm supposed to be the one with him day in and day out. We haven't had a day apart since the day he was born and there are even times when I miss being pregnant with him. From time to time I'll think I feel in a kick in my stomach and I miss having him there.

I realize women struggle with their roles as mothers and their careers every single day. It does scare me to think about leaving the working world for too long and not being able to get back into it without being judged or penalized. I guess no one understands the struggle until they have to face it themselves. All I know is that there is no job in this entire world that is more important to me than being Carter's mom. I just wish it could be my one and only job for the time being. This age is so special and it surely doesn't last long so I have to cherish every second of it while it lasts. I'm in shock that he's already three months old. I have no idea where the time has gone, but it's no joke that times goes by faster once you have a child. I can only imagine how quickly it will pass once I'm working again.

Chris has been very supportive through all of this and continues to tell me it will be OK. He points out that he never had the time home with Carter that I've enjoyed. I certainly realize that and hope I don't sound selfish through my tears and complaining. I know it has been hard for him to leave for work every morning knowing that Carter and I get to stay home and enjoy our day with one another. I don't know if father's out there get enough credit for what they have to go through themselves, because I know it can't be easy. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all just stay home together as a family and not have to worry about anything else?

I guess all I can do now is pray that I have the strength to get through this transition whether I like it or not. I'm trying to cherish every minute of these last few days I have home but I get upset at the end of each day just because I know it's one more down. Yesterday as I was crying while changing Carter's diaper I noticed he was staring intently at me. I stopped for a second to wipe the tears that were falling down on him and he looked at me with a great big smile on his face. I felt like he was telling me it was going to be OK and he loves me no matter what!