On March 5, Allyson and I celebrated our two year anniversary. Our second year flew by! We’ve had so many ups and downs that have brought us even closer together and given us tons of great memories. We’ve traveled through Europe, moved across the county, and purchased our first home in Houston. Now here we are, happy at home, awaiting the arrival of our baby boy.

Harrison’s official arrival date is April 1, but I’ve got the over/under set for March 17. The doctor tells us he could be here any day now, and Allyson and I could not be any more ready. Tomorrow is the start of Allyson’s spring break and week 37. I’m praying she can enjoy one last week at home relaxing, and then our boy will decide to make his appearance before she has to go back to work. 

It’s an amazing feeling to know he’s almost here. We’ve got his nursery all ready and our bags are packed. I’ve even spent the last week driving around with his carseat installed in my truck. The anticipation has only brought out excitement in Allyson and me. As the due date gets closer, our anxieties melt away more and more. 

Check out Harrison’s new nursery, complete with dozens of unique touches from mom, custom stripes from dad, and lots of love from family and friends. If his room is any indication, he’s gonna be one cool dude.

  • I love this picture… this is right after we found out that “Baby A” is our son.  It’s kind of blurry, but very happy, and so is the memory of that overwhelming moment.
  • I find myself thinking about him a lot now… guessing what he might be like, hoping what we might be like as parents, wondering whose features he will get, and trying to catalogue the list of things that pop in my head that I hope to pass on to him. Big things, like "it’s important to be humble," and "change is not necessarily a scary thing."  Smaller things like "It would really make me feel like a million bucks if he thinks his momma is pretty…" (vanity, what can I say?) (also: smart, a good source of advice, and an excellent cook…if I am indulging in my wishful thinking:)
  • At our last ultrasound, he was very clearly sucking his thumb. This just made me melt. I was a thumbsucker until 1st grade or so…and seeing him sucking his thumb was like seeing the first thing I potentially passed on to him.  I wonder what quirky habits of Brian’s he will pick up.  Like how he sticks out his bottom lip when he fixes his hair, flips the brush once when he’s done, or only likes a tiny amount of milk on his cereal. Also…will he be dressing as a super hero for the first 5 years of his life?
  • I am convinced that he has some kind of deal going with the cleaning crews all over Houston.  The second he starts doing ninja moves on my bladder, they shut down the bathroom for cleaning.  EVERY TIME.
  • I love when Brian says, “I found a song for our boy!” and plays it for me.  Even if it is Conway Twitty. ….and on that note, I hope our son has my taste in music. :) kidding
  • Is it normal to already be setting very high standards for his future bride? 
  • On a more serious note, nothing can describe the fear that I felt deep in my core yesterday when I heard the awful, awful news about the elementary school in Connecticut and realized that one day, very soon, I am going to be a parent.  And I’m going to have to trust that the world will take care of my boy while he’s out there living his little life.  There are just no real guarantees that it will, but all I can do is put my faith in it.  I have a feeling the number of prayers I send up is about to increase exponentially.
  • Feeling thankful on a daily (hourly…constantly…) basis for my husband and his tolerance for the tearful moments that seem to come out of nowhere.  Like when I have to say no to ice skating at the cheesy, tiny, and overly crowded ice rink on Discovery Green.  WHY?  And on that note, I heard an interview on NPR recently with Judd Apatow that brought me to tears when he spoke about having his kids.  Judd Apatow, you’re supposed to be funny! I thought I was at least safe listening to your interview! Don’t even get me started with This American Life.
  • Lastly, Huck, you have to share the title now but you are most definitely still always “our boy.” 

Even if you try to dodge my smooches by turning your head. 

Forgive the tardiness of this post. We’ve had a lot to update everyone on since getting back to Houston, and even though we’ve been here for almost a month (thank you for the support and crash pad Jim and Kelly!) we’re just starting to feel life settling back to normal. Our two months in DC left us feeling like this:

 

Seriously though, here is a picture Allyson and I took the week before we left. Look at how tired, washed out, and weary we (re: I) look. I barely recognize us.

There will be plenty of time to catch you up on good news, but first the story of our exodus must be told. Much like our two months in DC, it is a tale fraught with the kind of misfortune and misadventure that you can only laugh at as it’s happening and be thankful for once it’s over.

To start, we did find our way into that new apartment in Virginia thanks to the diligence of my amazing mother-in-law who flew 1,500 miles to spend a full 18 hour day moving us in. It was in that apartment that we got the news that the job with DAG had evaporated into thin air, and it was there that this story begins – on Friday October 26 – just 5 days before our 30 day, no-penalty option expired on our lease and we were locked into living in Crystal City for a year.

We had our plan pretty well worked out by that point. We had been packing for nearly a week and planned to finish over the weekend, picking up our U-haul truck (a 21 footer this time - one advertised to hold up to 3 bedrooms) on Sunday, loading with hired help on Monday, picking up my parent’s who were flying in to help us on the drive that evening, and hitting the road (at the latest) Tuesday morning. We’d be in Houston by Thursday without rushing.

It was right about then that the city that had been trying to kick us out for 60 days began it’s all out, concerted campaign to never let us leave. 

Friday

It was Friday morning that news reports of “Frankenstorm” Sandy shifted into full on sensationalized panic. With the hurricane fast approaching from the east and a nor’easter pushing in from the west, commentators on the Weather Channel we’re literally saying “your guess is as good as ours, folks!” I called my mom and warned her to cancel their flight. Sure enough, by the time she looked online, everything for Monday and Tuesday had already been cancelled. Most parents/people would have taken the refund and avoided the prospect of moving during a hurricane altogether, but my parents are not most. They decided to take a Sunday flight instead, beat the storm, and get us out before the worst of it hit early Tuesday morning. It was a plan that was just crazy enough to work.

Saturday

Allyson and I rallied. We worked overtime to finish packing, we bumped the movers up to Monday morning, and I headed to U-haul to pick up one more round of boxes and confirm our pick up. Even though the boxes wouldn’t fit in our car, they assured me I could just pick them up with the truck the next day. Everything was working like clockwork.

Sunday

On Sunday morning we had perfect weather. Allyson and I drove to the airport to pick up my parents. When their wheels touched down, the wheels of our plan started to fall off. 

While we were waiting for my folks at baggage claim, I called U-haul. No answer. I Googled the location on my phone to double check the number. In big letters under the address I read “Closed on Sundays.” There is no way, I thought. I was just there yesterday. How could this be?

Muggs and Lee Ellen were unfazed by the news, but this one, unexpected loose thread was threatening the whole plan to unravel. We’d have to pick up the truck on Monday now, which meant the movers were going to have to be pushed back, which meant we’d have to re-coordinate a moving time with our apartment, which meant that even if everything went smoothly we wouldn’t get out of the city until late at night…the night a hurricane was scheduled to make landfall. At least that’s what we thought. By the time we got back to the apartment the Weather Channel had an updated prediction. Sandy would be arriving Monday evening. Now all the people I had to call to reschedule were calling me…to cancel. I spent most of Sunday trying to predict the best time to move during a storm that even meteorology couldn’t get a handle on. 

Monday

When we woke up early Monday morning, the rain had already started. I had been on the phone with U-haul HQ to relocate our pickup location and our truck was there waiting. The 21 footer looked suspiciously too small, but Brad at the desk assured us that he’d never heard of a two bedroom apartment not fitting into one that size. We drove it to the apartment, but with no moving help coming unitl Wednesday, we didn’t have much to do but wait for the storm. We took one last tour of the city with my folks and got back to the apartment by 5. With the time change and the clouds, it was already very dark. We watched as the storm picked up, the rain came down harder, and the winds blew it horizontally. Being from Louisiana, and having survived several hurricanes between the four of us, Sandy was not much more than a bad storm as far as Arlington, VA was concerned…but where our power grid is built to handle such occasions, their’s is not. At 7:00, we heard a transformer explode, and we lost power.

At this point the Athey’s decided to make lemon-aide out of lemons. “Miraculously” the power was only knocked out on our block…meaning that everyone else, in every direction, still had their lights on. We headed down the road to Crystal City sports pub and settled in for a hurricane party all our own.

Tuesday

Tuesday sucked so bad that I don’t recall any significant details. The storm had passed in the night and apart from a few sprinkles and cold wind we were in the clear. But the power stayed off. If you looked at Arlington from an arial view you would have seen a city going about a normal Tuesday with one tiny block in the middle cast back into the blackness of the dark ages. 

 

And because our power stayed off we had no freight elevator. And because we had no freight elevator our move from the third story was all but impossible. I debated all day whether or not to cancel the movers who were now scheduled to show Wednesday morning. Finally, at 6:00 the lights flickered back on…then immediately sparked back off. The hits were coming so spitefully and frequently at this point that we had given up being frustrated. At 8:00, our happy attitudes paid off and the lights came on and stayed on.

Wednesday

The move on Wednesday morning went quickly, but just as we suspected the 21 foot truck was too small. Despite the best efforts of our movers, we just couldn’t get everything to fit. We drove back to Brad who, despite his disbelief, hooked us up with a 6x10 trailer to drag. Dad and I put another hour into packing and we finally pulled away from the apartment at 5:00. So long DC!

For night one, we drove as far as Roanoke, VA and stopped at a Holiday Inn Express. The hotel did not allow dogs, so we had to smuggle Huck in disguised as a tote bag. 

Thursday

On day two, we crossed through VA and into TN. Allyson and I were driving our car, following dad, mom, and Huck in the Uhaul. We were making great time and passing the hours watching season 1 of Homeland (a phenomenon that we had somehow missed out on until then). Things were going smoothly. And on this trip, you should know by now what happens when things are going smoothly for the Atheys. About a half hour past Knoxville, I watched a chunk of rubber fly out from under the Uhaul in front of us, my dad put his hazards on and pulled over. The truck had blown a tire!

We got off the road and parked in a 18 wheeler repair lot in the middle of no-where TN. Allyson got on the phone with Uhaul dispatch, who projected a wait time of about 2 hours. And so we waited…

and waited…

and waited a little up the hill…

until a pro with a compression jack finally showed up. An hour and forty five minutes wait time and the guy changed the tire in 15 minutes flat.

We got as far a Meridian, MS until we were finally beat. We spent the night in a ramshackle LaQuinta, refueled with a Waffle House breakfast and were back on the road for the last leg…and a turn behind the Uhaul wheel.

Friday

 

We got to Bossier Friday afternoon and decided to go no further. We relaxed, got to see Matt and Caroline and Rick and Lori who all happened to be in town, and praised the heavens to be back in a familiar house in a familiar bed. We held our breath that the chaos was finally coming to an end and didn’t let it out until we were safely home in Houston on Saturday evening (just in time to see LSU almost beat Bama).

All in all it was a tumultuous end to a very trying time. Now that we’re back home it is already clear to see how all the hardship was the universe pointing us back to where we were supposed to be. Allyson and I are both so incredibly grateful for the love and support of all our family and friends. You kept us going when we were at our lowest. Thank you for being there. We’re very thankful for you this holiday season. 

You…and this little one. 

More to come about that in the next post :)

Allyson and I are both incredibly thankful and are so humbled by all the encouragement we’ve received over the past week. We are so thankful for the outpouring of love and support. 

Since the DAG news, I’ve been pounding the pavement here in DC. I’ve had some awesome opportunities come up, and I’m happy to have talked with so many great, uplifting folks interested in helping us make the next step.

The story that I want to tell is this one. Since way back before the Europe trip, my buddies at Always Creative in Houston have provided a safe haven and creative environment for me. I’ve been bragging about them since I got to the District. When the unexpected happened last week they were the first to step up and make an offer, no matter the circumstance, to make sure Allyson and I (and the baby) had health insurance moving forward. The offer eliminated the urgency from our situation. In my book that says an incredible amount about the company and the character of the guys running it. If you agree, check out their website at www.alwayscreative.net and feel free send the team a note through roby@alwayscreative.net

Above all else, we knew we wanted an opportunity to get back to familiar, familial territory.  It just so happened that the stars aligned for us to make that happen. Roby, Jeff, Corben, and Jeremy at Always Creative extended an offer to join the team full time and Allyson coordinated with her supervisor to rejoin the HISD LSSP team. The Athey family is able to head home to Houston. We’re in a mad dash to pack up and move again (for the third time in two months), but we are looking forward to being home and settled for the holidays. Keep us in your prayers as we hit the reset button, make the move, and get back on track in Houston. 

We are so thankful to everyone that has reached out and offered support over the last few days. We have been better through it knowing we’ve had family and friends on our side. Much love and God bless to all.

- Brian and Allyson

Well family and friends, unfortunately this update is not so fun. If you’ve been following our blog, you know Allyson and I have put a few crazy months under our belts. Here’s a recap:

  • We accepted a new job at DAG in June, traveled all over Europe, cruised to Alaska, and found out we have a baby on the way.
  • We packed for a cross country move, spent 20 days apart, heard the heartbeat for the first time together, and drove 1,400 miles from Houston to DC.
  • We paid an armload to move our stuff into an old row house, I struggled to learn the dynamic at a new job, Allyson dealt with a scary neighborhood, and DC found ways to lift us up and knock us down from one day to the next.
  • We decided to move to Virginia, momma Kelly came to marathon move our stuff (again), and momma Lee Ellen and Katie came to help us set up.
  • Work hours got way too long, my job took an enormous turn for the better when David came to town, and took a turn back for the much worse when he left. 

It looks pretty intense when it’s all written out, but even when we found ourselves exhausted, we felt blessed and happy with the adventure that life has been for us. The move to DC has been fraught with pitfalls and missteps, but it seemed like an investment that would pay dividends if we just stuck it out.

Well, here comes the no fun part. This Monday I found out that my last paycheck from the David All Group had been issued, and Tuesday came with official word from David that the company was closing for good. With no notice, no explanation, and no contingency plan, Allyson and I very abruptly found ourselves in a worst case scenario. No job, no money, and 16 weeks pregnant with no benefits. Our lives have become one of the campaign commercials we see playing incessantly on VA TV.  

Shocked at this news? Confused? Frustrated? Join the club.

And so I’ll say a few words about DAG. When the opportunity came along to join the team as Director of Creative Strategy back in June, there was no way to predict that the company was in it’s last few months. Everyone involved in the interview process was enthusiastic and confident. They even flew me to San Francisco to meet with David in person – footing the bill for a last minute, cross country flight for a 3 hour conversation. The client list was strong and company growth was impressively steady.

By the time I actually showed up for work in August though, something already seemed a little off. The job description was still awesome and the clients were exciting, but the actual work and the morale of the people doing them seemed stretched thin. I was reminded that the team was in transition and everyone was covering extra bases, but as the days went on (and got longer and longer) I started to wonder if the culture touted in the interview was actually embraced by the staff doing the work in the DC office. How DAG came to close its doors hasn’t been made clear to any of the employees that lost their jobs on Tuesday morning, but conspiracy theories will surely abound. After talking to David at length yesterday, I do know this. DAG had some impressive clients and did some great work, but it’s prime had come and gone. The company needed to be revitalized or extinguished and by the time I showed up it was too late to do anything but the latter. 

So what do you do when you spend all your money on magic beans and find out they’re never going to grow? If you’re like us you take comfort in each other, rally with your family, and try to appreciate the silver linings. We haven’t figured out our next move yet but thankfully we have options. Allyson and I have already found opportunities for new work (both in DC and Houston) and, if need be, are still in the 30 day window to leave our apartment without penalty. We’ve got a healthy baby on the way who we might be able to get closer to our family and Allyson’s doctor. And our family and friends have stepped up to support us in ways that have been overwhelmingly heartening. 

We were sitting at dinner just this past weekend talking about faith and the paths God lays out before us in life. I was commenting that in nearly 30 years, I’ve never been confronted with so many obstacles and issues when I was trying to accomplish something I had set my mind to succeeding in. Since we’ve decided to come here, we’ve had sign after sign telling us to reconsider. In a way, I can say I didn’t see this coming, but in hindsight it could have been predicted. God literally closed a door on us this week. Now we will refocus on our path and find our window. 

I’m sure that pretty much everyone that reads this blog already knows about our news, but it’s true! Baby A is scheduled to arrive sometime around April 1, 2013 (yes….April Fools Day)!  

I can’t believe how crazy this summer has been for us!  We can’t help but laugh at the way things have turned out.  Last spring we were itching for an adventure so we booked our trip to Europe thinking it would be our last big blowout before settling down, looking for a house, thinking about kids, etc.  Then Brian accepted a position in DC from the airport on the way to Amsterdam and we thought “OH! Silly us. The MOVE was going to be our big adventure.”  THEN two weeks before our move we find out that our biggest adventure yet is on the way.  I guess God definitely heard us asking for something big.  We just didn’t realize we were going to get everything at once :)

So now that we have finally handled our move to the DC area we are really starting to get excited.  Thought I would share some fun facts about this crazy adventure so far…(keep in mind that Baby A has experienced all of this before graduating to the size of an apple):

# of photo-ops: 3 – We have seen baby a go from an unidentifiable blob, to a gummi bear, to something resembling an actual baby on ultrasound

# of doctors met: 3

# of apartments Baby A has already “lived in”: 3

Countries/states Baby A has already “visited”: paris france, victoria b.c., alaska, texas, cross country to washington dc, virginia

                                                              +

                                                         = parenthood

Things Baby A likes to eat (that mom would never have eaten 4 months ago): Wendy’s cheeseburgers, strawberry cream cheese (ok I probably would have eaten this 4 months ago), spaghetti-o’s (shame)

Things Baby A hates to eat (that mom loved 4 months ago): arugula, avocado:(

Books read in preparation for Baby A: 1—Brian immediately read “Dude You’re Gonna Be A Dad” in one sitting when we first found out.  I was too overwhelmed to purchase anything from barnes and noble at the time ;) However, an Amazon order is now on it’s way to educate me!

Names Baby A might have: 2. we’ve already decided on our winning boy and girl name…just gotta find out which it will be :) counting down to Thanksgiving when we will use all our willpower to wait an extra 3 weeks so that we can find out in person with our families!

Pregnancy tests taken to confirm that Baby A does in fact exist: 3 (tmi?)

Range of emotions mom & dad have felt in response to this news (and everything else we’ve had going on in the past 2 months): full spectrum (just being honest, baby:)

And now, just for fun, here is a picture of Brian practicing his baby-book reading skills.

Love to everyone!

It’s been almost a month since we left our Houston life in the rearview and made the 1400 mile drive to a new chapter in DC. 

We broke up the drive in Birmingham, where the Small had a luxurious stay at the Aloft for a night and got to sprawl out on his own bed. 

On Sunday night before Labor Day, we had every intention of pulling up to our new digs off the U Street corridor in DC.  Unfortunately the remnants of Hurricane Isaac were chasing us across I 66 between Strasbourg VA and DC around 11:00 pm (awesome road trip time management) and we were on our last few miles of gas (awesome road trip management in general). Desperately hoping for a gas station, we plodded along at 15 miles per hour with our hazards on like the rest of the fools on the road. You wouldn’t believe how rural the area outside of DC on I 66 is. Let me tell you. After exiting where our iphone maps told us there would be a gas station, we found ourselves on an unlit road that quickly turned to dirt with the very real possibility of running out of gas in the backwoods in the rain at midnight. We did come across that gas station to find it closed.  CLOSED.  Do gas stations close anymore?? Cue frenzied argument about whether to stay or go. Cue chinese fire drill in the rain a few times while arguing over who would have the privilege of driving us through our nightmare.  Brian won.  We went to the next station, which was also CLOSED, but tried our luck anyway and were able to pump gas. PTL.  Stayed in Manassas that night because we were just over it.

New start: Labor Day and onto our new place! We set up the air mattress for our next few days before our stuff arrived and prepared to camp out.  Picked up some groceries to make a pot of spaghetti and Brian sat back against the wall to talk to me while I cooked in the kitchen.  As he leaned back, he sunk into the wall creating a Brian-sized imprint. Our new place is made out of wet cardboard?? Hm. Ok, let’s overlook that. What else did we choose to overlook? The plethora of dead (and some living) bugs littering the floor, the mosquitos buzzing around inside the house, and the genius bars on our door that could be opened by a simple flip of the lock (yay security!).  Ok we can handle this.  Everything will be better when we get our stuff and can make this place feel more like “ours.”

The pup has been spending most of his time in the familiarity of his kennel.

We spent a couple of apprehensive days not wanting to say out loud to each other that something just didn’t feel like home about this place, when our stuff finally did arrive.  We unloaded most of our things but still found ourselves swimming in boxes and packing paper…the boxes and paper that our movers used so liberally and what probably wound up accounting for TWICE the estimated weight (and price) of what the moving company originally quoted us for our move.  But HEY, at least our lampshades (and many other trivial items) each got their own box tightly stuffed with paper!  Otherwise our lampshades might have broken.  Are you sensing the cynicism that was starting to creep into our moods at this point? ;)

I wish I could say that things quickly improved, but the truth is that the last few weeks in DC have been a very difficult transition for us.  Shortly after unpacking our things, we made the decision to pack everything back up and look for another place.  Our initial gut-instinct feelings about our new house not feeling quite right quickly turned into our feelings about the whole neighborhood after we had a middle of the night police raid across the street and an angry mob broken up by the cops in the intersection in front of our house.  The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I got a very uncomfortable peep show from a creepy man on the sidewalk in front of our house after walking Huck through the neighborhood in the middle of the afternoon. Thanks. Peace out.

Our neighbor…the fallout shelter. Bring it on Mayan 2012 prophecy.

The next saga has been the search for our new place, which is seriously no easy task when you want to minimize your commute into downtown, maintain a  half decent not at all decent, seriously DC HALF the space TWICE the rent as the middle of Houston?? rent budget, and bring a little dog into your new place.  What does this city have against dogs? I see people walking them all over the city but where do they live?? Cats, snakes, birds, everything else, OK! Dogs: “Strict no dog policy.” But, but…look at this face!! Don’t you want him to have the fun life of a city dog?? No? Ok.  I guess we’ll be going then.  

I’ve been taking the DC (Bethesda, Arlington, Rosslyn, Silver Spring….) apartment viewing scene by storm while Brian is at work all week.  It’s been a little harder than expected for this selfish wife to give up so much time with my husband.  However, that is probably normal considering I had it really good back in Houston where Brian set his own schedule and was working more like 12 hour weeks rather than 10 hour days.  Expectations vs. reality can be such a hard lesson.  

I know this is kind of a downer of a post, but it’s our life and I know our friends and families have been wanting an update.  Just being honest :)  We truly feel like the adjustment period will come to an end (eventually…) and things will normalize a little bit, but in the meantime we wouldn’t turn down any thoughts, prayers, or positive vibes (whatever is your thing) thrown our way!  We love y’all!

Ok so I’m not going to end on a pity party.  Here’s some of the fun things we’ve done in the past month :)

Cheering on Liz after her half-marathon!! Followed by delicious eggs chesapeake from Old Ebbitt Grill.  

Hanging on Todd’s new rooftop deck.  That he OWNS.  We had some homeowner envy fo sho.

Taking our small to the Mall aka Huck Heaven.

Biking around the city and making a stop in front of the White House.  Shout out to the Obamas!

Finding amazingly delicious new favorites around town…

Hill Country BBQ

Blind Dog Cafe

Establishing my “Tourist Friday” routine—lunch with Brian (when available) and then doing something DC touristy. So far I’ve hit the National Archives and next up is Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  (Sidenote—thank you Smithsonians and lots of other museums for not jumping on the general DC bandwagon and charging outrageous entrance fees.  TOTALLY BUYING SOMETHING IN YOUR GIFTSHOP.)

And yes—FINDING AN APARTMENT!  We took the plunge and committed ourselves to a year here yesterday by signing a lease on a wonderful 2 br place in Arlington.  It’s not technically in the city, which makes us sad, but we are getting everything else we want!  Now I will look forward to: cool weather, the orange foliage that I find so fascinating (since trees go from green to bare in Houston), Christmas decorations in DC, going HOME for Christmas, possibility of snow!, inauguration hoopla in January, visits from our families (two scheduled already! both our moms and Katie are coming soon! can’t wait), cherry blossoms,  and maybe sneaking off for a weekend in New York or San Francisco at some point. And of course I look forward to everyday when Brian comes home from work. I always pray it’s been a good day for him!  And I hope you will too. XO