The road not taken

I kid. Lots of people take this road, I just didn’t know when or if I would be one of them.

baby Next week is my last week on the Hill, working for The Good Congressman. By the end of this month I will be at home full time with the little oyster and I. can. not. wait.

An old classmate who saw my announcement on Facebook sent a short note saying she and her husband are also considering what is next for their young family and asked how we arrived at this decision. Sometimes it is hard to sort through all the options, particularly when you’re in the middle of things, and someone else’s story or perspective can be helpful.

In the end, for us it came down to cost and quality of life.

This is our story:

On February 15, a friend asked if we had dressed the little oyster in a special outfit for Valentine’s Day, the day before. The sad fact was no, we hadn’t–I hadn’t even seen my daughter dressed that day. She was in pajamas when the husband and I left for work and she was in bed by the time we got home. That sucked and that day I applied for a job in Old Town Alexandria, two minutes from home.

I got that job–Director of Government Affairs–and the day the executive director was supposed to send a written offer, he instead emailed to say they were reassessing their needs and wished me the best of luck. Suddenly my raise-in-pay, closer-to-home, easier-hours work alternative was no longer on the table. Obviously God had a reason for that, although we didn’t see it in February.

That’s when our conversation began. I realized I didn’t want a new job at all, I wanted very badly to stay home with the oyster. The husband wanted that for us, too.

Easter came, and the husband, the oyster, the little sister, and I went to the old home state to see family. The husband and I both interviewed for very promising jobs while we were there and believed that either one of us getting either one of them would answer all our questions. I shushed the little voice in the back of my head that told me I would be sad to leave our little home near the Potomac so soon.

But we didn’t get either one of those jobs and then the conversation got serious. The little sister had plans to go full time at her weekend job in the spring and we would need a new care situation for the little oyster.

I called reputable day cares, near and far. The earliest anyone could get her in was next February. But who cares? The husband and I realized that we didn’t even want her in a day care. (Before she was born we had put ourselves on a Capitol Hill day care center waiting list, the shortest one we could find–we were #140.)

Next stop was a new nanny. I joined nannyshare websites and was quickly inundated with offers and pages-long biographies of women who promised to “love little child as my own, as you do, her mother.” Umm, no thank you. I removed myself from nannyshare websites.

Then one of our office interns offered to post an ad for me on her church’s listserv. Other moms at our own church who had posted ads for nannies had come up short. Alright, I figured–if the Presbyterians didn’t want the job, I’d try the Mormons.

Very quickly I had a short list of promising candidates. I emailed with them and one in particular stood out. I knew the asking price for a private nanny in this area was going to be a bitter pill to swallow. Still, this young woman seemed to be just what we were looking for. I again shushed the little voice in the back of my head that said figuring out logistics–from having enough building keys to how to pay for late days at work to how we would fit four adults, a baby, and a Rottweiler in the condo in the mornings before work–was going to be a nightmare. I also ignored the ulcer that was forming between the time I asked her required salary and the time she replied.

I shouldn’t have worried. Her answer was the last straw we needed to confirm the choice we had been leaning toward for a few weeks. Her asking price was my entire take-home pay every month. Plus some.

On top of the financial considerations was the very real feeling that our quality of life was suffering. As Congress has gained momentum this year (and they have, even if you don’t see a lot of progress back home), the number of bills on the floor increases and days in the office get later. Twice this week the husband and I have come home after the little oyster is in bed. The only reason I haven’t cried about that is because I know that starting next week it won’t happen again.

Regularly being at work late, being here physically and mentally, was bringing me down. Capitol Hill is a young woman’s job.

Such long days at work meant I haven’t been able to take care of my house and my family the way I want. I can’t keep things as clean as I would like. We eat out more often than we should. Our evenings are rushed. The laundry piles up. A simple Target trip means we don’t see the baby before she’s asleep.

Everything came together in the perfect storm and pointed us to our decision: My time and energy will be better spent full time at home. Once we decided I’d put in my notice and the husband will look for a new job that pays better, we had complete peace. And now I’m really, really excited for my retirement.

This is an expensive area of the country and we had to agree to changes in our discretionary spending but we’re confident we’ll be fine on that front–the little oyster isn’t the only frugal one in the house. There are no down payments in our near future and that’s ok for us; it’s nice that we live in a vacation spot in the meantime.

I want to be home with the little oyster. I like my job but I love being in the company of my little girl. Today The Good Congressman, in telling me goodbye and good luck, said that my analysis of today’s votes was further proof of his opinion that policy is my niche, I have hit my stride, and I will be missed. I told him thank you, it’s nice to leave on a high note.

Leaving the Hill to be home with our daughter was an easy decision for us to make and I’m ready for next week’s retirement. My recent diagnosis of sciatica, about which my doctor said the worst thing I can do is sit all day at a desk job, is, I think, God’s way of confirming we’ve made the best choice for our family. Recommended treatment for this sciatica? Walking and swimming. Our pool opens this weekend and the little oyster already has her suit. Bring it, future. We’re pumped.

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How to ride an elevator

Working for the United States House of Representatives can make one an expert in any number of areas. Save the jokes about being an expert in spending money that isn’t yours, I’ve heard them all before. Har har.

At this point in my career I would like to consider myself an expert observer and if I can’t be the Word Police, I’ll settle for waxing eloquent about how to conduct oneself in an elevator. My keen powers of observation, sharpened to a fine point while working on the Hill, have taught me most people don’t know how to do this.

Here, I’ll help.

1. Don’t (try to) get on the elevator before everyone in it has exited.

Sometimes when an elevator opens there are people inside. In fact, expect people to be inside. Don’t charge into an opening elevator before anyone in it has had the chance to exit. Just wait. Just wait for .2 seconds and if there are people in the elevator, stand aside and let them leave before you try to stuff yourself in. Just. Wait. I’m shocked at the range of people who don’t observe this basic courtesy. There will come a day when I carry a TASER and hold it in front of me as a greeting to those who don’t allow riders to exit before plowing into an opening elevator as if the bulls of Pamplona are in pursuit. And when that day comes, and you walk into my rage and my TASER, you’ll wish it had only been the bulls behind you.

 2. Make like a gas and fill the space.

This is not an invitation to cram 15 people on an elevator built for 7 (real life story—if my arms weren’t pinned to my sides, I would shake a fist at you, tourists). What I mean is when you and your fellow riders are packed in to allow everyone to fit and then someone exits, move into the space now available. Not doing so is bad manners. And awkward. Make like a gas and fill the space. Now, speaking of gas…

 3. Don’t.

This should be a given, but sad experience has taught me that it is not. Hold it, either end. A silent burp is as offensive as a silent anything-else. Elevators are small, enclosed spaces with very little air flow. And while you think no one can tell where that pungent secondhand odor of food truck falafel is coming from, the rest of us know it’s you. Oh, we know.

4. Don’t talk about other elevator riders once they get out.

Last week I got on the elevator on the 5th floor. Others followed me in. We stopped on the 1st floor to let all but two of us out. Before the doors could close, two young ladies wearing flip flops (personal pet peeve, flip flops in Congress, even after hours) hemmed and hawed about whether this was the right elevator, literally stepping on and off twice before finally getting in, blathering all the while. The elevator stopped at the next floor down and the other rider from the 5th floor left. As soon as the doors closed, these two talked about how it’s “so dumb when people take the elevator for only one floor” and neither one of them ever wants to be the person who does that because “OMG how embarrassing, just take the stairs.” Part of me wants to feel bad for such clueless ninnies but that’s for another day. Besides the fact that there ARE no stairs between those two floors, that other girl had been on for many floors (I, as you’ll remember, have been on the elevator for 100 years at this point) and what’s it to you anyway? Now you’ve displayed in public that you’re indecisive and inconsiderate. Where’s my TASER when I need it?

5. Don’t repeatedly and frantically push the Door Close button.

Allow me to use another example from my own life. Today I got on the elevator in the basement. Five other people got on, too. I pressed 5. Others pressed 1, 2, and 4. As we stopped at those floors to let these people out, the other rider going to 5 pressed the Door Close button frantically each time. As the floor 4 riders left, he announced to me that “no riding the elevator if you’re going to the fourth floor or lower” was his “new rule.” Want to hear my new rule? “No spastically pounding on the Door Close button because it doesn’t do anything except annoy your fellow riders and also, your fly is down.”

6. No jokes.

Oh come on, redwhiteandnew, who tells jokes in an elevator? Tourists and old man lobbyists who think they’re funny and are the first person ever to look at a full elevator and say, “We’re skinny, we’ll fit, hahaha” when really it’s the fifteenth time I and any other staffer crammed in the back of the lift has heard that “joke” today and, by the way, if you have to wonder if you’ll fit and then make a skinny joke about it, newsflash: You can’t fit. And you’re not funny. Now go away. That’s who.

The old “Haha, I’ll just hold my breath!” is a close second. Shut it.

To summarize:

Let people exit the elevator before you try to get on it. Once on it, maintain your integrity and that of those around you by respecting personal space, riding quietly, and not passing gas of any sort. If you have to wonder if you’ll fit, you won’t. Press the button to your floor only once. You’ll get there, I promise.

Helpful tips:

When to hold the door: If someone is running or reaching toward the elevator and you make eye contact. I saw a friendly looking man lunge not-too-gracefully toward the closing elevator a few weeks ago and my arm shot out of its own volition to keep the door open. I tend to err on the side of every-man-for-himself when it comes to getting to one’s office but I held the door because he made eye contact. Turns out he’s a Congressman.

When to talk: To strangers, almost never. A friendly “Have a good day!” as you leave often catches people pleasantly by surprise but discussion beyond that isn’t usually appreciated. If you’re riding with Hill staffers, an elevator ride is usually the only time they don’t have to make nice with others so please allow us 18 seconds of quiet respite.

When to press the button to your floor: When it hasn’t been pressed. If the little light in or around your floor button is lit, then someone else is already going to that floor. You don’t need to register your presence with the elevator gods by pressing 5 again. I kid you not, three men followed me into the elevator the other day and each. one. pressed the button that was already highlighted. Hey, maybe that’s what’s wrong with Congress.

By employing some simple powers of observation you, too, can ride an elevator with confidence and panache while avoiding an anonymous appearance on my blog.

The Reading Room

Library of Congress

Me: I have an all-day training session at the Library of Congress.
The husband: Oh, that will be fun for you.
Me: It’s in the Madison Building though.
The husband: You should go for half of it and then spend the rest of the day in the Main Reading Room. Take a page from my book on attending teacher training conferences.
Me: Hahaha. But hmmm. I have never been to the Reading Room. Can I get in there?
The husband: Your badge will get you in.
Me: It will? I’ve never tried. I can get into the main part where all the people are researching and all the tourists look down on them from the glass cage up above, like specimens?
The husband: Yeah. You should check it out, you’d love it.
Me: They’ll really let me in?
The husband: Yes. And then you can dance around like Belle.

That’s what sold me. Taking a lunch hour to be in the largest library in the world, a place with limited access and practically unlimited volumes of knowledge and wisdom (and Harry Potter!) was really an opportunity it would have been silly to ignore.

So after the husband and I ate our leftovers on the Library of Congress patio (Madison Building) I strolled over to the Jefferson Building (there are four Library of Congress buildings, btw. The Jefferson Building is the main one, the one people picture when they picture the LoC.) and tucked in through the carriage entrance.

I told the kindly gentleman at the information counter that I was there for the Reading Room and showed my Congressional staff ID. Amazing what that little bugger can do for you! He directed me through the winding halls of the building and soon I was at the entrance to the Reading Room. The kind but no-nonsense security guard told me I was supposed to have checked my bag in the cloakroom downstairs, since I wasn’t there on official business. I asked him what would constitute official business and maybe I could make an argument for it, but I was just a staffer there on my lunch hour. Congressional staff? Do you have your badge? Go ahead.

Go ahead I did. With a kid-in-a-candy-store grin on my face, I floated as if on a cloud walked through the “mountains of books, cascades of books!” I even took some of the winding secret staircases I came across.

Bliss.

With no direction but feeling like I should pull at least one book from its shelf, I wandered until finally, there it was. Who’s Who in 20th Century Great Britain. Baroness Margaret Thatcher had passed away just that morning. The husband and I had (middle) named the little oyster after her, and it seemed only fitting to pay a small tribute to her in this way. I pulled the book from the shelf, searched for Thatcher, and read the small blurb that, of course, as yet only included her birth date and marriage dates. I left the large volume open on the research table and went back to work.

reading room

Enraptured though I was, I did not, in fact, dance around like Belle. Maybe next time.

belle

Dogblog: A hard day’s work

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Well, there I am, ready for a big day in the office! (I’m not wearing a tie like I sometimes do because I was going to my mom’s office for most of the day and they are relaxed about that.) Sometimes when the House is in recess I get to go to work with my mom and my dad, and Thursday was one of those days! I hadn’t been to their working buildings in such a very long time, and I was excited to be back. As always, I used my best manners and made my mom and my dad very proud of me.

The first time I ever went to the work with my dad, he made me go up the escalator with him. That was kind of scary because I didn’t get it. It was sorta like this (you have to click on it):

elf-escalator-scene-o

But anyway, now when I go to work my dad and I run up the stairs together. And then I ride on the elevator up to my mom’s office because I’m always allowed in there and only sometimes in my dad’s office. Before my mom and I get on the elevator with other people, she always asks if they mind dogs, because I do kind of take up a lot of space and she says sometimes people don’t like to be so close to handsome dogs like me when they are at work.

On Thursday we rode the freight elevator up to her office. It was a little scary as elevators go because it was big and loud not nice and carpeted like the ones we usually ride up in. When we got out, I knew just where to go! I remembered! All the interns in my mom’s office were SO excited to see me. They are really far away from their families and their own dogs so I got lots of scratches and pets and everyone was happy.

So happy, in fact, that I was worn out pretty quick and had to lay next to my mom’s chair to rest.

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See that ball? I get to bring one toy to the office with me. I picked one of my new blue tennis balls from my nana. When I wasn’t napping or flirting with the interns, I was chewing quietly on it.

But then I had work to do, see? I was helping my mom with her foreign affairs research.

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And then I went to play with my new girlfriends in the front part of the office, and decided I would snooze out there with them for a while, like this:

photo(15)Usually I stay in the back by my mom’s desk just in case people are scared of handsome dogs like me when they come into the office. But on Thursday I greeted visitors and everyone was so surprised and happy to see me and I got so many pets! And what’s so funny is that they thought I was just a normal handsome dog, they didn’t even know I’m the Cutest Pet on Capitol Hill!

My mom and my dad got lunch from one of the bright colored food trucks that come to Capitol Hill. I waited in line with them so patiently and my mom told the people in front of us that I am famous. I thought that was an invitation to beg the nice lady in front of us for some of her fries and then my mom told me that was rude so I laid down and pretended I didn’t care if she shared her fries with me or not. My mom and dad got their hummus sandwiches and ate on one of the big patios by their buildings. All the tourists who walked by thought it was so funny to see a dog having lunch with his people.

After lunch and a good long afternoon walk, I snoozed some more but this time in my dad’s office. And after all my hard work of minding my manners and being cute and playing nice with my blue tennis ball and the nice interns in my mom’s office, it was time to go home.

All in a day’s work!

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Excuse me, but you put my husband’s name on that yard sign

Dear readers,

I wrote this piece before we moved to DC. In fact, I wrote it before we moved to the carriage house. The facts (e.g., our jobs, which book club I belong to) are outdated but the principle still holds. I pitched it to a political commentary magazine at some point but it wasn’t picked up. So now I’m posting it on my own blog because I still like what I have to say, publicity be damned. 🙂

Excuse me, but you put my husband’s name on that yard sign

When cleaning out a closet not long ago, I found a disposable camera that I had never developed. The camera contained photos from rallies and events during the 2008 presidential campaign, to which I, as a political junkie, holder of a political science degree, and someone with the right friends, had many a front-row seat. I took the camera to a well-known big box store and was told they no longer develop film and I would have to take the little disposable to a specialty camera shop on the other side of town.

My party lost key seats in that election and I wasn’t particularly fond of the candidates whose likenesses were stored in the camera, so I pitched it on my way out of the store. In recounting the tale to a casual acquaintance at a wedding that had a disposable camera on each table, she interrupted me to rib, “Ah! ‘The ’08 campaign…’ spoken like a true political wife!”

It’s true, my husband is in politics. But so am I. He works for an individual congressman, doing policy research and having the time of his life. I work for the Republican caucus in the state House of Representatives, managing communications for a dozen lawmakers. He went to school to be a high school history teacher, and stumbled into his current work when the planets aligned one day. I went to school for my political science degree, confident from sixth grade that politics is where I wanted to be; my current job is my dream job.

Earlier that week my husband and I fell into conversation with a fellow dog owner while our pups played at the local dog park. Our new acquaintance asked what we did for a living, and I responded that we’re both in politics; my husband works for a congressman doing policy and event coordination and I work for the state House of Representatives, managing communications for a dozen lawmakers.

“So, are you planning to run for office someday?” asked the fellow dog owner.

Having considered what running would be like, I have a response to that question. But he wasn’t asking me. When I returned from my brief mental victory party, the fellow dog owner was looking at my husband.

The two events reminded me of an email I received over the summer. The night before, my husband and I had been out for drinks with our county GOP leadership. In close proximity to the only woman on the executive board, she and I talked quite a bit. We also overheard one another’s conversations with various supporters. The next day she sent me an email, saying what a nice change it was to meet a normal, intelligent, competent woman in conservative politics.

Having now twice been assumed the supporting actress for my husband’s unintended political career and being praised for the anomaly that I am by another creature of the same breed, I can’t help but wonder what gives? Why are people, and especially those of my own generation, so quick to assume that if our last name is ever on a yard sign, it will be preceded by my husband’s initials?

Maybe the high-profile women currently carrying the conservative torch shoot the credibility of the rest of us in the foot. Reality shows, hair too long for their age, and ill-fitting “Jesus Saves-Go USA” shirts at 4th of July parades have done plenty to damage the reputation of the rest of us before we even arrive at the party (headquarters).

My senior thesis in college explored the question of why we have never had a female president. My conclusion included nods to military experience,  block voters, a good ol’ boys mentality, and the typical pool of candidates from which we choose a president. Since my college days, two Republican women have launched serious campaigns for one of the two highest offices in the land and neither has been elected.

Fine, so there are no female American presidents yet. But how come a girlfriend from my book club is the only woman on our county commission? It’s hardly the presidency, and this constituency is about as red as you’ll find anywhere. When your own people won’t let you in, the vicious cycle continues.

Let’s face it. Liberals love it when conservative pundits open their mouths because whatever comes out gives the liberals something to eat for the rest of the day. It’s the conservatives who wish rhetoric within our own movement would be toned down.

So do I roll my eyes and later vent my frustrations to my husband when people assume I’m not someone to be taken seriously? Do I pity the ignorance and lack of thought behind titles such as “true political wife”?

Maybe conservative women in American politics will go the way of the disposable camera, although even those continue to make appearances at special occasions. I’m too much of a free market conservative to advocate for women-in-office movements; if there aren’t women in office or in leadership, it’s for a reason. That reason could be that the few that sneak in ruin it for the rest of us. It could be that, facing discouraging assumptions at the earliest stages, we don’t have interest in developing further. But I’m pretty sure the fault is within our own party.

And then I look at my own daughter

Today in Newtown, Connecticut 20 children and six adults were killed in a sickening display of violence that assaults one of the only universally held taboos in our society–violence against children.

You don’t have to be a parent for your stomach to roll at the news coverage. School shootings and other public massacres are far too common in our day and age, but the perpetrators and victims are often peers. Students turning on fellow students, troubled young adults targeting other grown ups. When the banner with the breaking news first appeared across the bottom of the TV on my desk this morning, I assumed it was a disgruntled ex-teacher, maybe a domestic dispute, a divorce going poorly compounded with the stress of the holidays.

When I came back from lunch with my coworkers, the breaking news banner had changed: “CT POLICE: 20 CHILDREN, 6 ADULTS KILLED AT SCHOOL.” 20 children? The school is only a K-4, students are only 5-10 years old.

And then the news reports confirmed that the shooter’s mother, killed today, was a kindergarten teacher and the majority of the victims were her students. Kindergarteners?

The police haven’t confirmed the age of the shooter, but reports put him at 20 or 24 years old. What’s certain is that he wasn’t a peer of the children he murdered.

Kindergarteners are five and six years old. Children. Babies. Kindergarteners still wear footie pajamas, sit in car seats, have chubby knees, and need help tying their shoes.

With the updates in news coverage, the importance of having a statement for The Good Congressman became apt. As the press secretary, writing and distributing such a statement is my job. My job. The brand new mom with the most precious, amazing little girl at home. She’s not in school–she’s not even sitting up on her own yet–but the thought of what those Connecticut parents are dealing with right now absolutely leveled me.

The Good Congressman has children of his own and did not want to talk to any press today. When that happens, it’s the press secretary’s job to talk to them. Fortunately for me and for the media outlets calling today, his statement was short and sweet and so were my conversations with interested parties. But as a press secretary, the horrifying story that just kept developing wasn’t something I could shut out and ignore, it was something I had to follow as my job.

I watched the coverage today hoping it was wrong, hoping they miscounted, misunderstood, misspoke, anything. But the tragic fact is that 20 children will not be opening Christmas gifts next week. How many of them had already written to Santa this year? How many of them were in their church Christmas pageants last week, singing the loudest?

The families crushed by this violence never saw it coming. They won’t heal, they won’t recover, and Christmas will come each year as a reminder of what was taken from them so cruelly and needlessly.

And then I look at my own daughter. Even though she’s not in school; even though I believe she will probably never suffer this kind of fear and tragedy firsthand; even though the children who were killed leave kindergartner-sized holes in their families’ lives; even though having a child you love and  treasure so much, so beyond words, means you are vulnerable to such a crushing loss, having a child you love and treasure so much means that despite the horror that is in this world, there is yet a reason to live.

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It’s hard work being the winner

Last night Dietrich won the general election and was elected Cutest Pet on Capitol Hill! He got a poster with his picture and blue ribbons and patriotic froufrou and everything. We couldn’t be prouder.

The Animal Health Institute, which hosted the contest, had the three candidates’ campaign posters up at the reception they threw on the Hill. Dietrich’s was front and center. (The reception was not just for the contest, it was for the Healthy People. Healthy Animals. Healthy Planet. initiative. The cute pets were part of that.)

Delicious cookies shaped like dogs and cats were party swag and I only wished that the husband had taken his cookie bag, too, so I could have helped him with it.

The candidate himself was also quite proud.

We put his poster up in his room but he soon decided that fame is tiring and called it a night. So did we.

He’s famous!

Last week I entered Dietrich as a candidate in the 4th Annual Cutest Pet on Capitol Hill contest, put on by the Animal Health Institute.

This week he was nominated as the candidate representing the Dog Party! 😀

My esteemed readers, please feel free to vote for this adorable candidate here.

The husband talked to his dad briefly today and when I heard him mention Dietrich’s ‘primary’ victory and that the race is now Dietrich against a kitten and a turtle, I laughed out loud. A kitten and a turtle are the competition? Does life get cuter?

Anyway, Dietrich was very excited to hear about his primary victory and smiled at passing cars all the way home. Voting for the election to Cutest Pet on Capitol Hill goes through Wednesday evening. Regardless of the outcome in the general election, the husband and I are proud to say we own the cutest dog on Capitol Hill!

This guy!

Home stretch

Today makes the little oyster 38 weeks old! If I could sleep through the night before she arrives I would just love it. It would be a present for me (be)fore her birthday.

Speaking of birthdays, this week the family placed bets on when the oyster will arrive, how long she’ll be, and how much she’ll weigh. An interesting pattern was that the older sisters and their husbands–who are brothers–all guessed well over 8 lbs. for the little lady. Of course, the sisters have delivered all boys with similar genetic material. My favorite guess was the dad’s, at 6 lbs. 12 oz. I think she’ll be a little bigger than that but I’m counting on the husband’s genetics and the fact that the oyster is a girl to bring her in (out?) under the 8 lb. mark.

On Friday, I wore socks and running shoes to work, hoping that having tie shoes on would keep the swelling in my feet down. Unfortunately as soon as we got to work I realized that it just meant I had more weight to haul around on my bad self all day. I was disappointed in my choice before 9 a.m.

This week the House is back in session and has had votes every day. This means the days are long and Dietrich is at his sitter’s house each day and absolutely pooped when we get to pick him up. It also means I am pooped at the end of the day but too pregnant to sleep through the night. Alas.

Soon and very soon though! Yesterday I pointed out to the husband that we’ll have a baby before we have our next paychecks. (Federal employees are paid once a month, on the last day of the month. Yeah, be jealous. It’s “awesome.”)

Touch down!

The solo flight week is over!

The office is still not only clipping along but key surfaces have been Lysol-wiped and the constituent response cards that need to be entered into our system are stacked somewhat neatly all together and out of the way.

Imagine my surprise and temptation to panic when most of these arrived on the same day. Even the mail lady couldn’t believe the pile she dropped off with the morning delivery. There are well over 1,500 postcards here and each one will be entered into our system and receive a response.

FYI, to those of you who write to your representatives, the letters do get to their offices, but mail services opens them first. That’s mostly for the safety of reps and staffers, so that we don’t get anthraxed. When your letter arrives in our office it has a white sticker over the part of the envelope that has been sliced open, holding the contents inside.

And so five days, a gazillion postcards, a hundred phone calls, 10 media requests, one press release and a few gallons of water (I kept track on the water cooler counter) later, the solo flight has touch down.

I missed my office friends and I missed being able to run to the bathroom without locking the door behind me. Looking forward to next week!