Friday, August 29, 2008

And one more for the road!

Well, happy birthday to me! Not too much pomp and circumstance this year, but Stephen did sneak off early this morning and surprised me with my favorite Starbucks coffee and pastries!!

So with a nice shot of caffeine in the arm, I figured I'd finish up with these last posts and be done just in time to pack Carter up for his first trip to Austin this weekend!!

I'm headed that way for a few fun showers honoring my friend Carrie before she and her Tennessee mountain man, Ed, tie the knot. While I'm busy with girl things, Stephen's joining his dad for a bird's-eye view of the first UT game of the season from a seat in the new section of Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium! Should be a fun weekend! As you can see, Carter's pumped (and being brain washed early :)

Carter will also be meeting two of his great-grandparents for the first time - Papa and Grandma Bootzie. We'll have Carter, Stephen, Stephen's dad (Grandpa) and Grandpa's dad (Papa) all together so stay tuned for the inevitable 'four generations of men' moment I'm psyched about capturing!

Ok, so back to blogging. First things first, I've got to get the waterbaby group picture out of the way. As you may have read from my post Conception to Birth to Baptism , I get together with a fabulous bunch of ladies and babies every week that I met in a prenatal water aerobics group back with I was pregnant. Prenatal yoga was also involved, but no one really loved downward facing dog in their third trimester, so we all tended to skip that class and go to the extra water aerobic class instead. Since we all kinda met in the water, I think it was Lauren that first started referring to our kiddos as 'waterbabies' and thus the name was born.

It's just a gathering for lunch at someone's home, but we have the best time. Some weeks it's so hard to get out of the house, but those are usually the weeks when you need it the most! It's reassuring to hear you're not alone in all the stuff you inevitably go through as a mom. And every topic is fair game - we talk about all sorts of juicy stuff that I'm sure our husbands would be mortified to know is discussed :) Needless to say, it's great!

Up until two weeks ago, we'd never had the whole group together, but finally everyone was able to make it! All nine mommies and babies piled into Lani's living room! It was a riot to see all these babies together. They are all SO different from one another too. All different shapes and sizes and personalities. It just reminded me that every baby is an individual little miracle, unique and infinitely amazing.

So here's all nine babies born so far, ages 3 months to two weeks. They are lined up by age from left to right, and yes I realize this was cruel and unusual punishment to subject these little ones to a photo session for our amusement, but they humored us :)

From left to right: Ockham, Carter, Austin, Callie, Garrett, Ethan, Alejandro, John and baby Caroline Rose :)

I should add that Rene's little baby will complete our group of 10 when he/she finally arrives -Rene, I know when you're day comes, we're all going to be so elated to have a tiny baby in our midst again, we'll be fighting each other to hold him/her! We've already said we'll have to have a big "all the babies are finally here!" barbecue to celebrate.

The second thing I've got to throw in a post before I forget is this charming little recipe my mother-in-law sent. It's called the 5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake, but the e-mail referred to it as 'the most dangerous chocolate cake recipe in the world,' and I couldn't agree more!

I have zero will power when it comes to sweets, so we don't keep any in the house. Well, as soon as I got this e-mail I immediately did a mental run-down of all the ingredients in our pantry and fridge. Darn-it, wouldn't you know we were out of milk! But, where there is a will, there is a way! I remembered we had half-n-half. :)

Here it is....


1 Coffee Mug

4 tablespoons flour(that's plain flour, not self-rising)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
Nuts (optional)
Small splash of vanilla

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla, and mix again. Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes on high**. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired. EAT!
(this can serve 2 if you want to share!)

**Note: I had to cook it for 4 minutes, and we have a pretty powerful microwave, so I'd imagine depending on wattage, you may have to cook it for 4-6 minutes.

I'll be honest, it wasn't the best cake ever, kinda rubbery, but it was cake! And I bet with ice-cream it would be a delicious - after all, what isn't delicious with ice cream?! With a little powdered sugar it was so cute. I can image with a few raspberries and a mint sprig it would look down right picture-perfect.

So I'm off to pack - see some of y'all in Austin, and for the rest of y'all - Hook 'Em Horns!!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Belated Baptism

So it's late and I've been playing catch-up with blog posts, but before I signed off I had to get the Baptism post done. It was such a beautiful event, there's no way I could go another week without paying tribute to the day. I'm pretty wiped, though so if I drone on and jump around, please forgive me.

Carter was Baptized August 3rd, 2008 at Kinsmen Lutheran Church. The date worked out thanks to a lot of flexibility from our family - it was really the only one weekend everyone could make work and we squeezed it in right before my brother-in-law left and just after my parents returned from vacation. The pastor, a good family friend, rearranged his vacation schedule to perform the Baptism for us and my dad and brother drove up to New Braunfels get my sister who cut her annual summer tubing excursion short to be there.

It was just a great weekend all-around. We had a wonderful family dinner at Gringo's the night before to celebrate the Baptism, to say good-bye to my brother-in-law who was leaving for Afghanistan and to wish Carter's great-grandmommy a happy birthday. I was so stressed about that dinner - it was Carter's first time at a restaurant, but he did very well and even if he had screamed, I don't think anyone would have noticed. It was one of many 'get-over yourself' lessons I've learned as a mom in the past three months.

I wish I could say that dinner just set the mood for the next day and I didn't stress at all after that, but the next morning, even with my mom there to help us get ready I was on edge. The morning started out superbly - just like every other Sunday morning. Carter was up at 7am on the dot, ate and played like a pro and went down for his nap a tad early! What a gentleman, letting mommy get ready at a more normal pace.

Then he woke up.

First mistake I made was not giving him his antacid medicine that morning - I was so preoccupied with getting him to nap on time I totally forgot. So when he woke up from his nap, his reflux was in full swing. Debating whether to give it to him before or after he ate, Stephen and I opted for the worst possible choice - before he ate. That was the second, and pivotal mistake. Of course he choked on the medicine (which aggravates the reflux even more) and went into a tale spin getting himself so worked up he wouldn't eat. So he cried himself to sleep without eating.

I knew immediately that spelled trouble. He was going to wake up smack dab in the middle of church starving! I went into panic mode, but you can't force a kid to eat who doesn't want to eat! So I tried to resolve the problem by verbally reviewing every wort-case scenario I could think of. (Very healthy and productive don't you think?)

So we get the little guy dressed, I get dressed, and Stephen gets khaki's. Now as a disclaimer, I am not that wife who always picks out my husband's outfits. But for special occasions, I won't lie, discussion is usually involved. And while I was assuming he would don a suit for this special church-occasion, he was obviously thinking it was church attire as normal.

With no time to change, we load into the car (late, of course) and I immediately go into rant-mode where I start incessantly talking, with nary a pause to breath, about how bad the morning is going, how late we are going to be, how horrible the ceremony will be, how stupid I feel about being dressed up compared to Stephen, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc. Stephen mean-while goes into "I can't say anything right, so I won't say anything at all" silent-mode. (Two modes that don't mix well I might add.)

To make matters worse, we then get caught by a TRAIN! I'm so agitated at this point, I'm practically vibrating in my seat. And that's when I said it. I don't remember the exact sequence of words, but it went something like this:

"Do you have any idea how today is going to go?? Of course not! Because when he screams in the middle of church YOU won't have to deal with him I will! Not that it matters, because we're so late now, we'll probably miss the whole G-damn Baptism!!"

Silenced and momentarily stunned at what had just come out of my own mouth (While my vocabulary leaves a lot to be desired, I don't normally throw around 'G-damn') - I looked at Stephen in shock and he was looking back at me, and then he burst out laughing. Of course I had to laugh at myself too (and quickly ask the Lord for some forgiveness). Wow - talk about some seriously misplace priorities! I had let the superficial appearance-oriented aspects of the day become more important than the sacrament.

Of course we made it to church on-time. I was still pretty edgy. I don't like being in front of people - I get uncomfortable when I think people are looking at me, but I survived. And Carter never even had his 'I'm starving' melt-down - just a few whimpers after the Baptism ceremony, and I was able to excuse myself and feed him.

With a huge sigh of relief that my child was now fed and successfully Baptized, we went back into church, and for the first time I really looked around at everyone that had come for this special day. Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Friends, Grandparents and Great-Grandparents. There was so many people in that sanctuary that had come to act as Christian witnesses for our little son, I was overwhelmed.

Lunch afterward was beautiful - we had so much fun visiting with everyone, and our pastor was kind enough to host the event at his lovely home. It was fantastic.

That night as we watched Carter sleep Stephen and I talked about how the day had reinforced that he was a member of a very loving earthly family, but so much more importantly, it honored his status as a member of God's family. We were faced with a very big responsibility - to hold his hand and guide him down what might be a difficult path towards figuring out what God wants for his future.

I couldn't help but think of that scripture about the seeds the farmer sows - the ones on rocky soil, the ones on the path, the one's among the thorns, and finally the ones in the rich soil that grow to bear great fruit. I know the parable is meant to show the condition of one's heart when hearing the Word, but I couldn't help but think that night of all the family around Carter as his 'rich soil'. He has a deep network of people around him, especially his amazing sponsors my sister and brother-in-law that will be there for him to nurture and guide him in God's truth. What a blessing to feel like we're not alone in that responsibility!

So with that, I'm signing off. I'll regret staying up this late in the morning, but I just had to say 'thank-you' to all the people that came to that wonderful event and to our family for teaching us and raising us in the Christian faith and for helping us raise Carter in that same faith.

Titan Up

Well, we are officially truck owners! Stephen's '97 Ford Expedition will be leaving our little family for greener pastures (anyone need a new car??). After many many many many miles, it is time to say goodbye to the faithful gas-guzzler and welcome in a newer, shinier fuel-inefficient car! A very pretty, very nice, very large Nissan Titan!

I knew this day was coming - back when my Honda Civic bit the dust (it was unlucky number 3 in a 4 car pile-up - thank you Houston traffic), Stephen and I were scrambling around in the whopping five days the insurance company gave us with a rent car to find a new vehicle, and in those five days we had several lengthy discussions about what kind of car I should get.

The wreck was bad timing all around because we had just decided to replace Stephen's car with a smaller, more fuel-efficient SUV and drive the wheels off the aging, but still lively and fuel-efficient little civic. The wreck threw a wrench in things. The settlement wasn't enough to get a new Civic let alone the SUV we were hoping to get to replace the Expedition. With kids on the horizon (yes we were thinking kids back then :), we decided to bite the bullet and get a new car with new safety features. So, in August of '07 we bought my then-new fully unloaded RAv4. I love love LOVE my little SUV wanna-be. It's absolutely perfect for me and Carter.

With the SUV hole filled, it left Stephen wide open to get his dream car - a really big, Gina-will-never-drive-it-anywhere-because-she-can't-park-it-to-save-her-life Bubba truck.

I have tried to talk Stephen out of a truck so many times. I just can't imagine what on earth we need a truck for, but he had his mind made up. Luckily we got a great deal through a close business associate/father-in-law who seems to have a knack for putting people and vehicles together these days :) Anyway, our new truck has an extended cab, so as long as there's room for the car-seat up front, I can deal with the fact that there is a truck bed in back.

And for those of you who are curious, no, it does not fit in the garage. Anyone need help moving??

Monday, August 25, 2008

10 Years and 100 Days

This past weekend I had the privilege of accompanying my husband to his 10 year high school reunion, and today, well today is Carter's 100th day of life! At first I thought I would simply be rolling two posts into one, but after giving it some thought, the two topics really go hand-in-hand.

In Korea, on the 100th day after a child's birth, a small feast is prepared to celebrate the child's having survived this difficult period.

My aunt is Korean, but I'd never really heard of the 100 day celebration before I came across it on a TV show I saw back when I was pregnant and actually watched TV. The thought of celebrating a milestone in days as opposed to weeks, months or years made me laugh because Stephen has a good friend who actually calculated (and if I'm not mistaken tried to throw a party for) his 10,000th day of life. This particular friend is an actuary - surprised? Yea, me neither. Anyway, if Brian can celebrate his 10,000th day, I decided we can celebrate Carter's 100th.

Now I have no doubt that the 100 day celebration originated from the fact that the infant mortality rate drops significantly around this time - even in this modern day and age of advanced medicine and pediatric care, eight weeks marks a significant point in a child's immune development and 12 weeks marks a significant point in their mental and emotional development.

Ten years out of high school really is a milestone too. Much like it's incredibly hard to believe Carter is already 100 days old, it's equally hard to believe it's been 10 years since we graduated!

Contrary to what my younger sister (who is currently starting her junior year) would believe about me, I am still young! High school feels like it was yesterday!! But, when I sit down and realy think about what all Stephen and I have accomplished and what all we've been through in the past 10 years - it's a lot. I'd venture to say it's almost as remarkable as what Carter has accomplished in the past 100 days.

I guess it just goes to show, whether it's 10 years or 100 days, time truly does fly when you are having fun! :)

A special 'thank you' has to go to Stephen's parents and friends for making this weekend so memorable. Stephen's parents made Carter's first overnight trip very special (and very easy on mom and dad). They watched Carter for us during events, and they even watched him when we didn't have anything going on so we could get a little extra sleep. And the get-togethers were a great - I had a blast and I know Stephen did too. Stephen's graduating class is just the best group of people you could possibly imagine - so genuine and fun-loving. For a graduating class that has seen their unfair share of tragedy, I think they have come out closer for it. And oh my gosh did they celebrated in style - Victoria style! Of course, we forgot our camera for the big event Saturday night, but here's one from the weekend of Stephen's good friend Megan and her little girl Avery who is 1 day older than Carter (so happy 101th b-day to her :)!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What I didn't do today.

Today I didn't finish the laundry. Today I didn't do a single dish. Today I didn't do the grocery shopping that needs to be done. Today I didn't vacuum, take out the trash or sweep.
Instead I cuddled with my baby boy when he woke up. Then I took him to the doctor because his tummy is hurting yet again. Then I took him to visit his daddy, my amazing husband. Then I watched his little eyes take in the world while we took a walk on the first cool evening in a long long time. Then I gave him a bath and rocked him to sleep. And when his tummy started hurting and he woke up crying, I had the privilege of rocking him to sleep a second time.
So I'm off to bed, and the house is a mess. There is a sink full of dishes and a pile of unfolded laundry on the couch that will probably need to be rewashed after the cats spend all night sleeping on it. But I am very grateful for what I didn't do today because it gave me the opportunity to do what I did instead.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Mommydo

What is the "mommydo" you may ask? The mommydo is the short hairdo many new moms seem to adopt within a few months after they give birth.

Before now, I just didn't understand the epidemic of short hair plaguing mothers the world-over. I mean, what is it about having children that makes you want to cut all your hair off?? Well, I'll tell you!

You see, being pregnant is GREAT for your hair - thanks to a beautiful hormone concoction conducive to growth and daily prenatal vitamins packed with folic acid, your hair becomes gloriously long, thick and lustrous. HAVING a baby, on the other hand, is horrible for your hair. Your body eventually catches on that it doesn't need to be quite as productive, and decides to make up for lost shedding-time. Before you know it, there are handfuls (and I do mean handfuls) of hair in the drain, on the floor, in your hairbrush, and on your pillow. It's disgusting, and the longer your hair, the more dramatic (and alarming) the effect.

On top of the shedding, long hair is time-consuming to maintain and style. I found myself in a pony tail day-in and day-out. Even on those rare occasions when I would take the time to style my hair, spit-up or little sticky fingers would immediately find their way into my stringy locks, and back up into a pony-tail it would go. So, I did it - yesterday I chopped it all off!

I have never had my hair this short in my life! I couldn't be happier with the length, but I'll admit the style leaves something to be desired. Somehow (as there ALWAYS is when you are making a big change) there was a miscommunication with the hairdresser - something about "a bob with no layers in the front" along with TWO pictures didn't translate. C'est la vive. It's hair, it will grow, and in the mean time it takes me all of 3 (yes THREE) minutes to wash and condition plus a whopping 10 to blow dry AND style! Woo who!

So, joining my cousin Reagan, my friend Lindy and even celebrity moms like Katie Holmes, I, along with mommies the world-over, now proudly sport the stylish and sophisticated mommydo :)

P.S. Speaking of "do's," Carter's finally getting some hair on the top of his head. He's had a little peach fuzz since day one, but we're beginning to see wisps of light brown sticking straight up on his little head. It's so cute. I don't know how well the picture captures it, but here's a shot of the hair!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Baby Olympics

In the spirit of the '08 Summer Olympics, I thought it best to do an ode to our own version of the Olympics - the Baby Olympics!

Ok, so definitely no world records broken, unless of course there is one out there for volume of spit-up in a single burp or better yet, distance of spit-up in a single burp (note the residual spit-up even in these photos). None the less, we are extremely proud :)

First event - "Sitting"

With skill and ease, he is pulled up into the sitting position by a team-mate (usually mommy).

Second event - "Standing"

This move can be done in two ways, team-mate mommy will spot him in "Standing" from the "Sitting" position, OR, he can go directly from lying down to the "Standing" pose. Note the form here - excellent!

Third and final event - "Rolling"

Yes, that's right, rolling! The complete 180 degree front-to-back roll is a recent addition to his floor routine, and a difficult move to tackle. The less challenging, but still impressive "side to back" and "side to front" rolls are pretty common floor exercises and seen often during warm up. We've gone from front to side twice now, and we are very good at that as well.
(Unfortunately the complete 180 degree front-to-back roll has proved to be a difficult move to capture on film, but stay tuned for an actual video. In the mean time, here are a few training videos.)

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Bumbo Milestone

In the lengthy list of physical milestones infants wiz through these days, there is a recent addition - the ability to sit in the Bumbo chair! It happens anywhere from 2-4 months, at that stage when your child can hold their head up and "sit" (with a little help).

It is a fantastic little invention - according to their website "The Bumbo Baby Sitter is a revolutionary new concept in baby seats. It is uniquely designed to fit a baby’s posture. The Bumbo seat enables babies to sit up independently..."

Independent? Did I hear someone say 'independent'? Sign me up!

You see, Carter loves to hold his head up all the time these days, but he HATES 'tummy time' and because my back can only take propping him up on my shoulder for so many hours each day, a few weeks ago I decided it was time to prop him up in the Bumbo to see how he fared.

The first few attempts were only marginally successful - he didn't quite have the stamina he needed to control his head so he'd start out strong but end up slumped over. Periodically we would give it another go, though (usually when my back was about to give out!), and today was one of those days.

At first I thought it was going to be more of the same because he immediately hunched over, but as I was about to pick him up, I realized he was hunched over because he was studying his feet! The Bumbo gave him the perfect view of his little piggies! :)

So, I guess it's time to check yet another milestone off the list - the Bumbo milestone! :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Conception to Birth to Baptism - remembering a crazy year!

No sooner had we announced we were pregnant than my friend Jessica started speculating about the conception date - it seems it's a hobby of hers to figure this out - and at least for us, she was right on the money :) As for the rest of you who never did the math, Carter was conceived one year ago this month. Stephen and I constantly remark on how life 'BC' (before Carter) seems like it was a zillion years ago. It's hard to remember a time when he wasn't the center of our tiny universe. The range of emotions we have felt and the growing he's done, not to mention the growing we've done, is just phenomenal and indescribable. To imagine one year ago today not a cell in his body existed is mind boggling. If we didn't firmly believe in God's awesome power and depth before this experience, we certainly do now.

Pregnancy was a wild and crazy journey - The entire first trimester, we were so scared our little bean wouldn't "stick." I must have taken about 20 pregnancy tests and I know my amazing mother spent many a precious moment in the St. Michael's chapel praying for us and the little life inside me. Despite all my worries and fears, he was busy growing and making his momma sick as a dog!

It got pretty ugly there for a while, and I do mean ugly. I lost a ton of weight, my hair was falling out, the toilet was constantly getting cleaned, and to this day I have a strange aversion to anything mint flavored. It got so bad at one point that I had to cut back to part time at work (thank goodness for an understanding boss!).

Just when I didn't think I could take it anymore and was questioning if it was all worth it, I remember laying in bed one night after a particularly bad 'episode' and feeling the faintest of flutters. My heart stopped and I held my breath - and then to my astonishment, I felt it again! My life changed in that instant, and I knew I could take whatever was to come.

Of course by the time the second trimester rolled around I was feeling MUCH better, and before long, we were ready to tell the world. Many of you may remember this photo f/ our Christmas card :)

I was exactly 14 weeks here and just starting to get my energy back. Boy was I skinny! But not in a good way - 14 weeks on a B.R.A.T. (bananas, rice, apples, toast) diet will make anyone a little slimmer, but I was more than ready to have some real food and start making up for lost nutrition!

At 20 weeks, we were blessed with another incredible joy - the anatomy ultrasound. Going into it, I was so eager to see our little baby and receive some reassurance he was ok, and of course find out if we were having a boy or a girl! Once I got over the initial shock that we were having a boy (I just knew it was a girl - so much for mother's intuition!), the experience was amazing - we saw the four tiny chambers of his heart beating in perfect harmony. The ultrasound tech pointed out the two halves of his perfectly formed brain, kidneys, a liver, bladder, stomach, and other indecipherable organs. And of course we saw his perfect little hands and feet, not to mention his precious face, but more than anything we saw a tiny miracle. Stephen and I were both bawling and we practically floated out of radiology on cloud 9 - we were so thankful our little 'sea monkey' (couldn't call him 'the bean' anymore) was healthy.

The third trimester brought new challenges. Work was getting more stressful by the minute as the home building industry took one hit after another. I managed to survive several rounds of layoffs only to have my workload increase three-fold. But despite the demands of work, I found time to get involved with an amazing program called 'fit for two' through our local YMCA. Prenatal yoga and water aerobics were only part of the fun - connecting with a whole group of young first-time moms-to-be was the best part of the program. In fact, we still get together weekly with all of our babies! Having these woman to share this journey with has been a highlight of the past year. Here's a shot of a few of us at one of our recent lunches (it's not a complete picture, though - babies Caroline, Callie and John were either absent our hadn't make their debut yet!)

As the third trimester came to a close, Stephen and I took some time out from our busy work schedules and paused between items of our lengthy 'to-do-before-Carter-comes' checklist to capture the moment. Here we are at 32 weeks. I look at these pictures and just think "suckers - enjoy your sleep now because you have NO idea what your are in for!" :)

The last eight weeks seemed to drag on worse that this post! We had a ton to do, but I was so ready to be done with work and to meet our son, not to mention the heart-burn, discomfort of hauling another human around, braxton hicks contractions, and difficulty sleeping were starting to wear on me.

As I went into hyper-nesting mode, Stephen was fantastic about putting up with all my grumpiness and neurotic "we're not going to get everything done in time!" melt-downs. He had a handy-man over to finish some lingering honey-do's. My mom and sister came up to help me clean. Stephen's parent's helped us put the finishing touches on the nursery, and my cousin Sarah even came up to help me clean some more!

Thanks to my incredible husband and family, we got it all done. In fact we were so efficient, I ended up with a whole week off of work with no job, no baby and not much left to do. I almost went crazy that week - at one point I actually caught myself lint-rolling the cats.

I decided I needed to get out of the house so I scheduled a pedicure for the Saturday before my Monday due-date. Of course that would do it - I started having contractions the morning my pedicure was scheduled, but by God, I wasn't going into labor with unpolished toes, so I kept my appointment. :)

Once I got home from my appointment, we had dinner and watched some TV, and then I got in the shower, still not 100% convinced this was it. After a few knee-buckling contractions mid-shower I figured it was time to start timing them. Sure enough they were about 7-10 minutes apart. I called the on-call Dr. and she told us to come on in!

Poor Stephen had been spread out on the dining room table trying to get some last-minute work done so he could take two full days off to be with me in the hospital, and when he heard me make the call, he packed up his stuff. We got checked in and I continued to labor while he finished up his work (thank goodness for Wi-fi).

I initially wanted to try with no drugs so I toughed it out to 7cm, before I cried 'uncle' and got the epidural. Holy cow that is a wonderful invention! I went from blinding pain to asking the L&D nurse "am I still having contractions??" It wasn't much longer and it was time to push. Still pretty numb, it was a very surreal experience, but after thirty minutes, he was out!

Cater Stephen Childress was born May 18th, 2008 (the day before his due date) at 6:58am. I wouldn't say it was love at first sight so much as shock - he was huge! Not gargantuan or anything, but at 8lbs 7.9oz, he was a lot heftier than the 7lbs my Ob-gyn kept estimating.

The next two days in the hospital were a blur - nights and days blended together as we rested, recovered, and saw visitors (including my sister in law who drove all the way from Austin!). One moment will forever stick out in my mind, though - it was late, all the visitors had left and Stephen was sleeping. Carter was all bundled up in the plastic bassinet next to my bed in true baby-burrito fashion (as only a hospital nurse can do). I peered over at him in awe and laid my hand on his chest to feel him breath. Just at that moment he got the hiccups - something he had done dozens of times in the womb. As I felt the familiar rhythm under my palm, I closed my eyes and cried. I realized at that moment that he would never be inside me and a part of me again - that chapter of our lives had ended, and a very new and exciting one was beginning.

We left the hospital and Stephen carefully navigated nail-biting Houston traffic to get our little family home safe and sound on May 20th. My mom was there to help us get settled in. It was a rough few days - Carter had his days and nights backward and even though sleep had been difficult during that last trimester, it had at least been possible. That was no longer the case and the transition took some getting used to. In no time, though, we hit our stride and really started to feel like a family.

These past few months have had their ups and downs and have truly flown by. We've been blessed with many visitors, including one very wonderful lactation consultant that has helped me through the adventures of breast-feeding (worthy of a whole post all its own). But more than anything else, we're just enjoying being a family.

Carter's baptism provided the perfect book-end to this unbelievable year. Last weekend we celebrated the sacrament with his aunt and uncle (his sponsors), friends and family. It was so touching to see so many people gather to show their love and support that it deserves a post all its own, so stay tuned for that.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and since it's late and I've already written a novella, I'll let our pictures do the rest of the typing.

Note: If the slide show has ended, select "View All Images" to see it in a new window.

Day 1-3: Birth, Hospital and Home

May 21-31, 2008

Carter's 2 week portraits

June 2008

July 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

Kung Fu Hamster (no 'p' - now I know)

Ok, so I'm following-the-leader and starting a blog. I need another reason to stay up late like I need a hole in my head, but what can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment (not-to-mention a true night owl). Anywho, I needed a forum besides facebook to post pics and videos of the new rug-rat for the grandparents and this seemed like the place.

As for the url I chose, after about half an hour of trying the traditional options like 'Childresses'; 'The Childresses'; 'Childress Family; 'The Childress Family', etc. etc. etc. all to no avail, I typed in the current url out of frustration (inspired by the little toy sitting next to our computer) and viola! Availability!

Now I wish I could say I immediately figured out I misspelled "hamster", but I didn't (which should come as no surprise to any of you that have known me for any length of time - I am truly a child of the spell-check generation). And of course the correct spelling wasn't available, and by that time I just didn't want to mess with changing it. So here's the blog, misspelling and all.

Because it was the inspiration for the website name, even though I botched the spelling, I feel I should pay tribute to the little guy. It's really a cool little toy and never fails to make me smile if I'm having a bad day. The first time we came across this hamster was back in college when my now-husband and I were on a road trip to Colorado with my family. We stopped in some random gas station/gift shop to change a tire and this thing was sitting next to the register with the beckoning "press here" sticker on it's paw. Not being able to resist, we bit, and were thoroughly entranced for the next minute. It was the funniest thing we'd ever seen and heard. Something about a toy rodent singing anything in a falsetto voice is just hilarious. Soooo, a year later when Stephen and I were doing the long-distance thing, I found this little guy on the Internet and had him shipped to my man to put a smile on his face. Since then, we've come across lots of little dancing hamsters - the bride hamster that sings "Going to the Chapel," the lounge singer hamster that dons a 70's suit and sings "It's Not Unusual to be Loved by Anyone," and even a little rapper hamster, but none make me smile as much as our Kung Fu Hamster. :)