Monday, December 31, 2012

Sweet Boy's Kidneys

Well, as you can gather from 2012's post, the little mini man has a name.  He'll be...

Owen Thomas Michael

We debated this a bit, he would have either been Owen Michael or Owen Thomas Michael.  When we were explaining the dilemma to my dad, he said to go ahead and give the boy three names.  My dad is one of seven kids and the only one that didn't get a middle name, which is odd because he was the third in line and my grandmother said she just didn't think of one at the time.  Since my brother is the second, he doesn't have one either so Owen will make up for that by having two names.

Owen comes from actually meeting the list of about 9,000 requirements I had for first names.  Strong, common but not too common, easy to spell if he's talking to someone on the phone, short and easy to write as a small child, etc.

Thomas is Adam's middle name which comes from his dad's brother who passed away of cancer before Adam was born.  I know the name has importance to his dad so I felt like including it was important.  Michael is after my dad (and brother) so he has a family name from my side.  This was a total non-negotiable for me.

Originally I wasn't going to tell anyone the name until he arrived but after the ultrasound, we knew he was Owen and I knew that it was only a matter of time until I slipped and told someone (my fear would have been a random co-worker) and that would have sent me into complete sadness that I'd accidentally ruined the secret.  Plus, I think I kind of hate surprises and secrets so I convinced Adam that we should probably just go ahead and start telling people.

When we had our anatomy scan at 18.5 weeks, the tech was going over everything and when she came to his kidneys, she hit the printer button and I heard a picture print out.  She didn't say anything at the time other than the doctor would go over everything with us.  My regular appointment with the doctor was right after the ultrasound and looking at my chart while the nurse checked my vitals, I saw the picture of the kidneys.  Like an idiot, I googled kidneys and ultrasound while we waited to see the doctor but luckily most of what I found wasn't alarming or overwhelming.  Apparently, kidney things are relatively common in boys.  Our doctor came in and we chatted for awhile before she brought up what was going on.  At that time, I think it was his right kidney that was showing up bigger than the left, which is what they wanted to send us to have another ultrasound for.  She didn't seem worried and said we could do the ultrasound around the same time as my next regular appointment with her.  We went ahead an scheduled that and I didn't think too much of it until I looked at the card for the doctor that they gave me and it said "High Risk".  Oy.  Due to the holidays, we ended up scheduling the follow up ultrasound for two weeks later.

My doctor was so calm about the whole thing that we really managed not to worry too much about it during the wait time.  I know now that part of this was because I was extremely stressed about other things going on in life but either way, I wasn't really losing sleep about Owen's situation.  When we went for the high risk appointment, a tech came in and did another ultrasound.  Again, as soon as she hit the kidneys, the printer started going so I was a little disappointed.  The doctor came in and did another ultrasound herself and showed us that yes, the kidneys are full of fluid right now, which causes them to show in black on the ultrasound.  I felt like it took forever to just get to the point!  What exactly does all this mean?  I was really bummed because my regular doctor seemed hopeful that it might have been that he had to pee right when my first ultrasound was done and that they may not have found anything at the high risk doctor's office and here we were with the issue still happening.  All the information is kind of overwhelming so I can't remember if I'm totally right but I think at the second appointment, the left kidney was showing up bigger than the right this time.

There are some fancy disease words for what is going on but I made a concerted effort to not remember them so I won't even have the temptation to look to Dr. Google, which the HR doctor asked me not to do.  Lots of times, this does end up resolving itself before birth.  We'll continue to have ultrasounds to monitor it every four weeks with the HR doctor and if we still see the issue at 32 weeks, they will help us find a pediatric urologist that will help with Owen's care.  Ultimate worst case scenario is that he'll need a stint put in surgically sometime after he's born.  But that is an extremely unlikely option so we'll keep proceeding as we have been just with some extra sonograms and doctors appointments.  I'm a little bummed about that because I try to avoid doctor's offices at all cost.

The worst part of the entire appointment was when she brought up Downs syndrome.  The kidney issue is considered a soft marker for Downs.  It doesn't mean that he has a chromosomal issue by any means, but it could be related.  Adam and I had been really solid in our decision to not to any of the testing and we've been offered something at every single appointment we've had.  The HR doctor mentioned a relatively new test that they could do for us now that would come back in two weeks and looks at baby's DNA via my blood.  I don't know why but in the moment I blurted out that I'd like to go ahead and do the test.  The entire reason that we didn't want to do any testing in the first place is that it won't really make any difference to us, what's done is done and Owen is Owen whether or not he has Downs syndrome or not.  I've not been as big about my faith in recent years but I do honestly believe that whatever Owen is meant to be is whatever God has planned for us as difficult a road as it may be.  In the grand scheme of things, when you look at the approximately 10 bajillion things that have to go right for us to end up with a little baby human in our arms, this is relatively small.  Even if the test comes back positive and there is a chance he has Downs, it's still not that huge of a deal when you think of all the babies and fetuses that never make it.

It brings up SO many feelings in me that range from the sad fact that I throw around the word "retard" with relative frequency and what do you do when you have a baby with Downs syndrome?  Do you put their picture up on Facebook for people that I barely even know or remember to see and judge?  I wouldn't want anyone to feel sorry for Adam and me.  How do you deal with these things?  Did I really think about what it would mean if the test comes up positive?  Even if it does come back that way, it's still relatively low odds that he actually has it.  How will we proceed with the rest of the pregnancy not knowing?  Will the doctors push me to have amniocentesis done?  I promise, I don't worry about this as much as this post probably makes it seem like I do but it is ever present in the back of my mind and I have had dreams about the test results and what getting the call for that will be like.

Either way, this is a small bump in the road of life.  It's not going to be the last time in his lifetime that I have a worry about him, especially a medically related one.  He's in there kicking up a storm (Adam can even feel them now, which is so awesome) and I feel relief every morning when I wake up and he starts to move himself.  We just get to see him a lot more in utero than we thought we would so I'm looking at the bright side of having lots of extra ultrasounds.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Inspired by Jennie, who got this from Sundry...

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
tried to get pregnant; actually got pregnant; threw up more than I ever imagined I could or would (I'm sure I've regergitated thousands of dollars worth of food); went to NYC and for the first time I didn't have any desire to live there, which I think is a product of being over 30; moved into a house for the first time ever that didn't include one or both of my parents which brought on a whole new level of domesticity for Adam and I; stopped drinking in July, save 4-5 beers in August before I got pregnant, which was significantly easier than I thought it would be
2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't think I even made a New Year's to-do list for 2012 but I definitely have one for 2013 and the first thing it includes is to finish a book because I don't think I actually read a single book cover to cover in 2012 and that is horrifying and embarrassing, really.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
my cousin, lots of friends but 2013 is going to be the year of the baby in my life, 2012 was the year of pregnancy announcements
4. Did anyone close to you die?
not in 2012, so I feel very fortunate.
5. What countries did you visit?
not a ton of traveling for Adam and I in 2012, we only visited New Mexico, Chicago (twice), and then a tour of the Northeast from Boston to DC
6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you didn't have in 2012?
Owen in my arms instead of in my belly!  We're definitely getting along better lately (less sick! horray!) but I am excited to have a tangible baby and eventually a super cool little kid.

7. What dates from 2012 will be etched upon your memory, and why?
August 24th, I woke up and took a pregnancy test that came up with the digital word "Pregnant" and even though it was 4:30, I got Adam up and it felt like the beginning of the rest of our lives.  December 5th and 21st will probably always be big in my mind.  We found out on the 5th (also my 31st birthday) that Owen is a little mini-man in there and that he's got something going on with his kidneys.  The 21st was our first appointment with the high risk doctor and we found out then that the problem hadn't corrected itself then and set ourselves up for monthly high risk appointments and ultrasounds.  I'll definitely write a full post on this later, if anyone reads this old thing :)
8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
I don't consider getting pregnant to be an achievement but for me, the achievement was in waking up one morning and deciding it was time to at least try and become a mother.
9. What was your biggest failure?
There were definitely some personal epic fails this year.  See question 36 for slightly more detail.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I continued my super healthy streak right up until the 5th week of pregnancy.  I then spent weeks 5-21 being best friends with the toilet.  When I think back to the first trimester, my gosh I never thought I'd get here to this point of feeling nearly human again!
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Frye boots, although technically Adam bought them for me for our anniversary.  I've been wanting a great pair of riding boots for ages and I'm happy to have a pair that should last me until the end of time.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Hands down, Adam for putting up with a sick and miserable wife for basically 5 months.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
This question sucks mostly because I have an answer I'd love to give but don't want to get into.
14. Where did most your money go?
Savings, bills, all the things I really want and know I won't be buying after baby gets here, our trip to the Northeast turned out to be rather expensive.  I forgot how much it costs to live up there!
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Finding out whether or not Baby Bernardi was a boy or girl.  It was such a fun mind game to play.  My first intuition was boy all the way but then I let everyone get in my head about the old wive's tale about being sick meaning a girl.  I was shocked when the ultrasound tech said boy but I imagine I would have been just as shocked had she said girl.
16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
There's too many to count but probably that Phillip Phillips or whatever his name is song that I like because they used it for the gymnastics team in the Olympics and I heard it approximately 10 billion times.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
a) probably about the same, my stress level is higher now but I'm overall happy with life
b) ha, ha, hahahahahahaha!  Definitely fatter but before baby?  Much thinner since I quit drinking for the big portion of the summer during baby trying time.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Made healthier choices even though I was constantly throwing everything up.  I used that as an excuse to eat basically crap for months on end, which Smug Pre-pregnancy Me said I'd never do.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Barf.  Cry.  Be anti-social for the entire fall season feeling crappy.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
Actual Christmas we spent most of driving back from San Antonio, which was and is kind of depressing.  But we had a really nice Christmas Eve and a very quiet Christmas night just the two of us and Higgins when we got back to Dallas.  Driving back and hitting pretty snow (like the kind that isn't on the streets and sidewalks) when we got back into town that night was such a nice way to end the day.  We had Christmas #2 with my in-laws on the day after, so overall, the three day package as a whole was lovely and perfect for us this year.  2013 will be the start of our new family traditions and I spent this year looking forward to that.
21. Did you fall in love in 2012?
I think so, although our relationship is contentious at times, I already feel so much for my baby and I just want him to be here and healthy.
22. What was your favorite TV program?
I've found myself drifting further and further from TV, other than House People (which is what I call all the home shows on HGTV).  In 2013, my goal is to capitalize on that and put my damn phone down in favor of books.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Not really, I'm not really down with the use of the word hate in reference to people.  I prefer it used in the context of "I hate raw onions."  But I also hated most of the moments when people got judgy or gave stupid pregnancy "advice".
24. What was the best book you read?
I can't answer this one and that kind of makes me want to cry.  I didn't even read books on vacation.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?I've been using a lot more Pandora this year and really loving having it on when I'm working in the kitchen or hanging in the yard.
26. What did you want and get?
Too many things to count.  I feel really spoiled this year.
27. What did you want and not get?
Not too much but one could always use more massages and mani/pedis, if I had to answer this question.
28. What was your favorite film of 2012?
I suck so hard at watching movies!  I don't think I went to the theaters one time.  So sad.
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 31 and it was a great day.  Woke up, went and got a mani/pedi.  Had our big middle-of-pregnancy ultrasound and found out that Owen is Owen and not Tessa.  Got a haircut and because I was early to my appointment, I got a 10 minute scalp massage and treatment that was hands down one of the best things ever.  Went to a kick ass dinner at Hibiscus and the waiter made me a funny mocktail.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
probably more money, enough to have just bought out the condo and gotten rid of the 2 year ordeal that is the never ending short sale/foreclosure drama
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2012?
my $21.49 (with shipping!!!) Seven maternity full-panel jeans that I won on eBay.  I may never give them up, they are that glorious.
32. What kept you sane?
running, since it's one of the only things I've been able to do without feeling terrible about myself; Adam being the consistent rock that he always is; my friends who have been so supportive and non-judgmental about me being sick; my doctors for being accepting of me, seeing my primary care doctor at 14 weeks was a big turning point for me mentally
33. What political issue stirred you the most?
Seriously?  I have a list but most of it can be attributed to so-called "Christians" who use their "religion" to judge other people for their actions.
-Men who talk about abortion.  My thoughts are as such:  You have no uterus, you have no say.  I also don't understand why America constantly needs to argue an issue that is between a woman, her doctor, her beliefs and potentially her sexual partner.
-Anyone who is against gay marriage.  What harm does it cause to you?  Live and let live.
-Assault weapons.  I have yet to hear a good argument about why anyone needs one of these other than maybe our military.  Deer don't need to be shot with a semi-automatic rifle.
I need to be done now but basically anything that is a social/political issue usually ends up pissing me off because we have way bigger things to worry about as a nation than what everyone else does behind closed doors (except the guns thing, because why do we need war guns at all?). 34. Who did you miss?
Lots of people, I missed social interaction with most of my friends during the months where I was attached to the toilets in my house.
35. Who was the best new person you met?
I have two really great work friends, one that I technically met in 2011 but really got to know in 2012.  They were so supportive during everything this year.  There have been times when I've been completely stressed out and commiserating with them has been just what I needed.
36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
I don't know if it's because we've only been married for 2 years now but I feel like every year, I learn a valuable lesson about how to build a successful marriage.  I learned a really hard lesson this year about communication with Adam and always putting him first, no matter what is happening.
37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

From the above mentioned Phillip Phillips song.  Even though it was a little teeny bopper-ish, it's a good one.  


Monday, October 22, 2012

Things I thought I knew...

Being pregnant has been more humbling (and at times way more humiliating) than I ever could have imagined.  So far, it's mostly taught me that I'm naive and not as smart as I think I am most of the time.  There's nothing quite like the complete rebellion of what you know as your own body to bring you back down to earth.

  • I expected this to be easy since I was in pretty good physical shape when we started this process. HA.  HA.  HA.  The joke's been on me.
  • I had no idea how much of a connection I would feel to my own mother from the moment I found out I was on this journey to become someone's mom.  
  • Just because you don't get a pregnancy symptom "on time" (and I say on time as dictated by the 5 weekly emails I get that tell me how I should be feeling each week) doesn't mean it isn't waiting in the wings ready to erupt.  I was lucky to not get the weepy hormones until later in the process but when they came, they came with a huge vengeance.  
  • Traveling while in the first trimester is not the world's best idea.  Too bad they waited until 2 weeks before a trip we'd had planned for months to tell me this at the doctor's office.  
  • Actually getting pregnant- turns out it's not so easy!!  Makes you wonder how so many people manage to do this accidentally all the time.  That one is a head scratcher.  
  • I thought I knew how much this would change my life but I really had no idea.  I had no idea that I'd have no energy to do anything beyond go to work and that I'd want to get all of my yoga classes covered so I didn't get sick while teaching.  I just didn't realize that the first trimester would completely sideline me in the way that it has.  
  • I also thought that I'd feel differently but mostly I have just felt depressed.  All of the things that I normally like to do are suddenly difficult and it's been hard feeling like I am just tolerating life instead of actually living it.  
  • I thought I'd be one of those people that would take weekly "bump" photos and make an amazing pregnancy diary but I struggle with writing anything that isn't "I barfed everything I ate last week".  All of the unfortunate side effects that I'm dealing with such as the worse-than-a-teenager acne and bloat make me want to stay about a hundred miles from any camera.  
Depending on which source you use, I am either just starting or on the brink of the second trimester, which most people find to be the most comfortable and "fun" part of pregnancy.  I'm just hoping that the baby and I find a way to make this a better process for both of us!  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Today has been a pretty craptastic day but it was not completely unexpected as it involved two American Airlines flights (which are NEVER pleasant even when you aren't 12 weeks pregnant, still sick and miserable) and a drive from San Antonio to Dallas.  Let's just sum it up by saying that I ended up crying after I threw up in a grocery store bag in the front seat of the car as we were driving into Dallas.

I'm attempting for what seems like the millionth time to eat and trying to catch up on blog posts that I missed during our whirlwind 11 days in Chicago, Boston, NYC and DC.  As usual, my friend Jennie had some kick ass writing and it made me think of a funny memory from our trip.  It's crazy how the human mind work and the sheer volume of things that we store in our noggins only to be triggered by smells, sights or sounds.

In New York, we arrived and left via Amtrak so we stayed in a hotel just steps from the terminal at Penn Station.  I've taken the train from Boston to NY a couple of times so I am vaguely familiar with the facility in the way that my brain retains information about almost every place that I've ever been with enough clarity to get me around anytime I return.  We were getting ready to leave but I woke up with hunger that needed to be satisfied before boarding the train so Adam and I walked over to the station because the nearest Duane Reade was inside.  We walked around checking out our options (what I really wanted was Auntie Anne's pretzel sticks but they were out, which is neither here nor there but I cannot get enough soft pretzels during this crazy pregnancy taste bud journey).  Adam spotted the Krispy Kreme and decided he wanted to try their coffee for the first time so off we went.  As soon as we walked up to the case and I saw the blueberry cake donuts, a memory of this Krispy Kreme in this very station came over me.

I was in high school and it was my second trip to Boston.  My grandmother had taken my cousin and I and I think we were there for almost two weeks.  Another cousin of ours was living in NY at the time so we arranged to take the train down to see her for a day.  It was a whirlwind since we really only had about 8 hours in Manhattan but I remember that we went on a double decker trolley tour and it was the only time I ever saw the Twin Towers standing.  It was just enough to give two girls from the relative country (San Antonio and Oklahoma) a taste of what the big city had to offer.  We went back to Penn Station to catch our train "home" to my Auntie's in Boston and stopped at Krispy Kreme on the way back.  The only fuzzy part of this memory for me is why we were there but I think it was because either my cousin Marybeth (who lived in the city) had told us about them or my Auntie had made a special request.  This was well before Krispy Kreme was a common sight everywhere and I think they might have only had locations in New York.  As part of the dozen, my request was a blueberry cake donut.  I still remember how good it tasted as I ate it in the dark on the train ride home.  This was no ordinary trip, as the power on our train went out for most of the four hour trip to Boston and we ended up being hours late getting in.

I don't think I've thought about that part of the day in the station since then but every detail came rushing back to me. Penn Station hasn't changed a great deal since then and it was 15 years ago.  I've lived another half of my life since that day and that trip, which is kind of stunning to realize.  I've been thinking about my Grandmother a lot lately, probably due to several factors including but not limited to my hormones, lots of big news in our family and finally getting our memorial cookbook published.  I'm thankful that I've reached the point in this journey where most of my memories of her aren't accompanied by tears but smiles and laughter.  Despite not feeling at my best, our trip was better than I thought it would be.  We saw family and friends at every stop we made and I got to relive lots of old memories and feelings.  As I was telling Adam the Krispy Kreme story, I was amazed that I could remember everything in such detail by simply looking at one donut, when half the time I can't tell you what I ate for lunch the same day.

At a time when I'm constantly feeling rushed and hurried, it was nice to have a poignant reminder to stop and smell the roses, or in my case, the donuts.  You never know what distant memory is waiting to be called up from the recesses of your mind.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


*um, oops.  Somehow this never got posted...*

Looks like the obligatory year-in-review post is the 100th post here.  I can't take credit for all of them since Adam did write about four posts at the beginning of the year.  2011 has been a long year in some aspects and yet, the time passed impossibly fast in so many ways.

Last January, I was job hunting, about 15-20 lbs heavier and just downright unhappy.  Unfortunately, it took me until May to start hashing all that out and find a place where I could be happier in Chicago but I did eventually get there and make peace with everything, right before Adam got his job offer here in Dallas (funny how things always work that way...).  To tell you more about that month, I only have one photo in my iPhoto library from that month.

I took this from my phone one of the mornings I was opening the gym I worked at.  From January until April, I was the opening manager and I had to be there at 4:45.  I still can't believe I did that and thought it would be a good idea.  It pretty much explains why I was a megabeast of a person for the first part of the year.  Tired Jen = Very Unhappy Jen.  But how pretty was the Chicago River that day, completely devoid of people?

In February, we went skiing with both of our families.  I enjoyed skiing so much more than I ever have and I felt awesome and comfortable and didn't feel even a twinge of pain in my knees.  I credit a lot of that to being a lot more flexible and in shape from my yoga practice.  Feeling good made a huge difference in my confidence level on the mountain and I did quite a few of the easier black diamond runs with my brother.  I had a good time riding the lifts with him as he took swigs from his flask.  He's a special character.

We also survived one of the biggest blizzards in Chicago history.  And both of us got to get up the next morning, throw on our ski gear and wade through the snow drifts to go to work because the trains were still running.  That was the beginning of the real end for us and we started making appointments with the realtor to put the condo on the market.

I feel like we spent most of March just preparing the condo for sale.  I don't have a single picture from that month at all.  (Can't you tell?  Living with me during the first quarter of 2011 must have been a real peach).  I can pretty much bet that we spent a lot of time hanging out in bars and watching Blackhawks and Bulls games with our friends.

April was looking up.  We ran the Shamrock Shuffle and it was actually warm this year!  We had friends come to visit from Texas and I went to the only Cubs game of last season.  They were really bad, I didn't miss much.  I changed hours at work and immediately felt this immense relief that comes from sleeping normal hours.  I think it was around this time that my family had their little intervention with me and told me to get some therapy for my grief.  It was the beginning of my search to try to find myself this past year.

I think this was Mike's plate after some Total Domination at Tango Sur.  MAN, I miss that place.

My friend got married in San Antonio, which was a great excuse for two trips to home and lots of times with friends and family.

I feel like I made some of my biggest strides in May for the whole year and for my life in general.  I started going to therapy, which helped me to understand why I was holding on to grief and pain for years and for other people.  Talking through it with someone helped me to start to let go.  I decided to enroll in a yoga teacher training program, which was an idea I'd been playing around with for more than a year and constantly telling myself that I'm not good enough/thin enough/strong enough.  I'm glad that Adam, my family and my therapist finally helped me to see that right then, I was plenty more than enough.  Even though my program started in June, I was allowed to start accruing my hours in May and I threw myself into my yoga practice even more so.

My dad and his girlfriend came to visit and we got to play tourist all around town for one of what we didn't know at the time would be our last times to do so.

In June, we kicked off the month with a trip to San Diego for the epic wedding of my friend Amy, who introduced Adam and I, to Adam's friend, Brian.  Both sets of our parents were there and it was a great time.  We got to play tourist a little bit in San Diego and enjoyed some fantastic weather.  I think the June Gloom the SD natives speak of is a bunch of B.S.

I started feverishly working on my teacher certification when we got back home and between that and working full-time, I feel like my June was a blur of bike riding and train riding all over the city with a yoga mat strapped to my back at all times.  It was just crazy but Adam was amazing around the house while I was in class all weekend and we used the opportunity to just settle down and simplify our lives a little bit.  I also chopped my hair off in anticipation of being in a super hot yoga studio all summer (AND IT WAS SO INTENSELY HOT).

July was a big month.  We found out just before the 4th of July weekend that Adam got the job offer he'd been waiting for and we'd be moving to Texas in September.  We did a lot of celebrating!

We went to a great wedding, started a Chicago Bucket List and started checking items off one by one, including the above outdoor yoga practice we attended.

In August, we visited Dallas for our apartment hunting trip.  True to both our natures, we'd done a ton of research and had a binder of places to visit but we fell in love with the first place we saw and signed our lease.  I had an impromptu first interview at lululemon after visiting the store and randomly talking to one of the managers and we scouted yoga studios for me to potentially teach at.  I finished my teacher training program, which was so bittersweet!  I ended up having SO MUCH FUN with it and I miss the community of friends that I had during those hot summer months in the un-airconditioned studio all day just sweating our faces off.  (Told you, it was really hot.)  I subbed for a couple of classes at the gym I worked at, which gave me some great experience.  We had our going away party at Higgins Tavern, which was an amazingly good time.  The movers came at the very end of the month, making everything even more real.

Over Labor Day weekend, Adam went to Cabo San Lucas for a wedding and on that Monday we left for Texas.  We stepped off the plane to the best weather Dallas had seen in months (mainly, it was the first day it wasn't 100+ degrees since pretty much May.  You're welcome, DFW.  We brought it with us, it was COLD in Chicago on Labor Day).  I started teaching at the studio that is 4 blocks from our apartment and Adam started his job with a week-long trip to training in Tyler, TX.  I had a couple more job interviews and started Bikram yoga in the hopes of healing my low back, which started bugging me in July.

The biggest changes were buying two cars and adopting Higgins.  We took on a lot of big changes in September but all of them were fantastic.  At the end of the month, we ran our first 5K in ages with our run group.

October brought some cooler weather, a lot more running with our group and Adam's company team, biking all over town and a switch from chiropractic therapy to physical therapy for me.  Adam and I celebrated our first anniversary in Houston and Galveston and Higgins went to Doggie Camp for the first time.  We spent time getting to know Dallas better, hosting out of towners and I got a job offer from lululemon, which was a long-time goal of mine.  As native Texans, it was pretty sad that neither of us had ever been to the State Fair and we had to change that.  I also set a 5K PR, which sadly, I can't remember the exact time anymore so I'll have to try to beat it in 2012.

In November, I started working full-time and teaching an additional class at the YMCA.  Things got really busy and Higgins took on his status as "Most Spoiled Dog in America" by getting to go to doggie daycare 1-2 days a week instead of being crated for 8+ hours a day.  Lucky little guy!  We hosted my mom and cousin on Thanksgiving weekend and everyone (including Higg Man) did the Turkey Trot that morning.

December brought cooler temperatures and a big 30th birthday for me.  Adam took me to a super poshy dinner at Fearing's at the Ritz Carlton.  It was LOVELY from start to finish, which made up for the fact that the weather on my birthday was probably the worst weather we had in Dallas all winter.  We celebrated Christmas in San Antonio with some of Adam's family too.  It was surreal to be able to drive there and not deal with the stress of holiday plane travel.  Work continued to get busier for both of us but we continued to run weekly and started training for the half marathons we had planned for 2012.   On the 29th, we celebrated Higgins' 3rd birthday and his first one with us by heading up to In N Out Burger.  He LOVED his burger and little birthday party.  Looking back on the year, so many things changed but almost all for the better!

Busy Bees

From the looks of my Facebook feed, I'm not the only person who feels like time is flying by right now.  Several people were commenting on the CRAZY fact that it's now the month of May and it got me to pondering... how has this happened?  It's almost summer.  We have our 150 mile bike ride in 4 days (FOUR DAYS!).  It hit me this morning that at this time last year, I was just starting the process of so many life changes.  According to this here blogging record, May 1st last year was when my dad and Adam had a big talk about me needing to seek out some therapy and snap out of my winter funk/grief depression.  It blows my mind to remember just how unhappy I was at the time.  May was a big month for me in 2011, I started seeing my therapist and signed up for yoga school.  I started logging every yoga practice I went to and became the slave to my hours spreadsheet for the 200 hour certification.  Oh, the many hours I spent pouring over that spreadsheet and preparing my schedule!  

This year, I have a great job that I love, three regular yoga classes with students that inspire me and Higgins is the little ray of sunshine every time Adam and I walk in the door to our apartment, which we love.  We went to dinner on Sunday night and found our selves getting a little big retrospective about how good we have it right now.  We're challenged and happy in our work, love exploring Dallas and the surrounding areas and we're steadily making more friends and finding our place here.  We did our first bike rally last weekend (that was another benefit of working for Adam's company) in Muenster, which is about 86 miles north of Dallas.  Riding on the hilly country roads was beautiful, I only wish my pictures had saved.  I tried to remember to savor the views of the wildflowers when I was either slowly making my way up a hill or flying on the downhills.  It was incredible and to think, I used to be horrified of ever getting on a road bike!  After the 40 mile ride, we were also given admission passes and beer tickets to Muenster's Germanfest.  There hasn't been a single day that I've ever regretted this big move and all the changes that have come with it, but a few days stick out in my mind as reminding me just how lucky I am that it came together this way.  Walking around Germanfest, mingling with random townspeople and Adam's co-workers, I was just struck by how much it reminded me of my own childhood.  It wasn't quite the same as walking a few blocks to a local street festival in Chicago, but these little country fairs in the middle of nowhere are what I grew up with and I'm thankful that our kid will one day have the same types of experiences.  I'm already researching more rides like that one that end near fairgrounds and festivals, it was a great experience.  

I spent most of today booking our big trip for 2012, which will be a big jog down the East Coast from Boston to DC by way of New York City.  We're tacking this on to a wedding in Chicago so it will be 4 cities in 10 days and we'll get to see quite a few family and friends.  I'm thankful that my teaching has afforded us the opportunity to take great trips and make the most of our vacation time.  True to form, I spent hours researching the best possible deals and I'm stoked with what we ended up with.  

Life is good and I'm thankful to have had a few moments to stop and smell the roses lately.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I don't know how to tell you this, but I am not running the Big D full marathon in 2 weeks.  I'll just be doing the half.  I started out so gung-ho about tackling 26.2 again, I honestly gave it the old college try.  In January, things were so busy that training kept taking a back seat to life and Adam and I went to run our first loop around White Rock on the same day that our friends that were training for a different full (the Cowtown in Feb) were doing 2 laps.  We saw them around 11 miles in and again when they were almost done.  Between watching that and having my own internal struggles for the 9 miles I was doing, I remembered just how time consuming and hard that training for a full is.  I've said it many times but I'm just happy doing half marathons.  I don't have to put in a ton of time training since my fitness level always stays pretty high and I know that running a full will almost certainly set me back from my goal to break 2 hours in the half by October.  When your lung capacity is handicapped, breaking 2 hours is a HUGE DEAL and I really want to do it.

I came close in January.  We ran the 3M Half in Austin at the end of the month and I finished in 2:05:58.  I wasn't setting out to break two there, I mostly wanted to get a new PR.  I did, by a lot!  My previous best was 2:22:00 at Virginia Beach in 2009 and my last 3M was 2:35.  I was happy to have knocked so much time off but I still have to figure out how to get rid of those last 5 minutes and 59 seconds.

We ran Cowtown in February and my training wasn't where I'd like it to be, but Cowtown is not going to be my PR race.  It's hillier in the last few miles and it was a pretty tough course.  I think my time was around 2:08-2:09 but I didn't pay that close of attention since it wasn't anywhere near my PR.  There's a long hill up to downtown Fort Worth at Mile 9 and it took me most of Mile 10 to get my breathing back under control.  I did see the lululemon cheering station and some of my pals during that time and it was at a point in the race where I really needed some smiling faces.

Big D is in two weeks and it might be our last half until the 13.1 in October, which is my A race for trying to go sub-2:00.  If I'm not able to do it then, I will probably look for a half in November and run White Rock in December.  The cooler it gets, the better my chances are.

Running hasn't been a big focus for me lately.  I've been busy re-tooling my yoga teaching schedule, adding and dropping some classes to make things work for my schedule and Adam's.  I had a moment when I realized that I wasn't devoting as much time to my own personal yoga practice that I'd like to so I've been going to quite a few more classes.  I have been doing cardio Pilates on the reformers an average of once a week and in February I started getting into spin.  In a perfect week, I'd have a good run, a good bike ride, 2-3 yoga classes and 2-3 other classes.  It's something I've been working toward, anyway.

We have the MS 150 ride coming up in May so I'm trying to spend more time on the bike.  I finally broke down and got a real road bike in February and it's changed my ride.  Through trial and error, I think I've come to the conclusion that clipping into the pedals is not going to work for my body.  If the shoes bother me in a 50 minute spin class, I don't think they'll work for 8 hours on the bike, two days in a row.  I just hit my fundraising goal on Monday, which was pretty exciting.  Now I just need to get my bike inspected and log some more hours in the saddle.  More on that for the next post.

Both of us have been busy trying to find a good work/life balance.  Adam is in his busy time at work and we're both striving to take on more tasks and leadership in our respective jobs.  He's been great helping my dad and me with our therapy cookbook project for Grandmother, which hopefully we'll be finishing up soon.

Higgins is still crazy.  We had his best friend, Dog, over a couple of weeks ago and left the two of them home together in our bedroom to see if Higgins would be ok without humans around.  He ended up digging/eating some holes in the carpet in our bedroom.  At first I was pretty mad at him but by the end of the night, I was mostly just upset that he doesn't seem to find comfort in having another dog around when we aren't at home.  He'll just have to continue being crated and going to day care for long days.  I think in my mind, I thought getting a second dog would be a band-aid for his issues.  It's hard because we have no idea why he has such severe separation anxiety and no real way to fix the problem.  He has a pretty great trick routine down since our vet recommended working on tricks and obedience training with him on our last visit.  It's made him a lot calmer about being crated and he very rarely cries when we put him in anymore.

Hopefully it won't be three months until I write in this space again!  This also reminds me that I probably should consider taking a few more pictures to document our current adventures.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

round 2

So... I'm going to do another marathon.

I swore up and down that I'd be a one and done person but the woman's pain forgettal clause* has gotten to me and thoughts of running 26.2 again have crept up in my mind for awhile now.

*The woman's pain forgettal clause is the thing that automatically represses a woman's memories of pain.  We have to have it or else every woman would probably just have one kid.  Unless of course you are one of those people that sits down on the toilet to go and has an unexpected baby, like on that freaky TLC show.  Either way, the forgettal clause has allowed me to forget that the marathon and training were pretty darn painful.

Also, I'm stubborn and now that I am in better shape (dare I say the best shape of my life at 30?), I'd like to actually run the marathon instead of tooting along at my previously snail's pace.  Ideally, I'd like to shave about 45 minutes off of my previous PR (5:44:00) to end up finishing in under 5 hours.

One of my co-workers signed up and Adam's company is paying for it so there is really no time like the present, amiright?

If you're down, there will be copious brunch eating and drinking after the race on April 15th here in Dallas.  It might not be as scenic as Chicago but I don't think I have it in me to travel for a marathon.  There's something comforting about being able to sleep the night before in your own bed and take the epic post-race nap in the same spot.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

the Sundry meme

This year-end recap quiz is pretty much an internet staple.  I'm tackling it for the first time.  Here goes nothing:

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

Moved back to Texas, which I've done before but this move was so much more complicated because it involved moving another person.  Related:  had paid movers for the first time.  On the awesome side of things, we adopted a dog, I was a matron of honor in a wedding, I saw a therapist and did yoga teacher training.  On the decidedly crappier side of things, we listed the condo, fired a realtor and worked with a relocation company to re-list it (and it's still, sadly, on the market).

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn't make resolutions but I did make more of a to-do list.  The one that sticks out to me the most was that I had written down "Start looking into yoga school and possibly start training".  I never imagined that life would take me to the point of registering in May.

This year, I have a lot of lofty goals that include being in a management position by March and having 3 permanent classes at 3 different/gyms and studios.  I'm well on my way to both of those things.  I'm also going to PR a full marathon and knock 22 minutes off my Half Marathon PR to finish in under two hours.  I have some fundraising goals related to the MS 150 that we're riding in May.  It's going to be a busy Spring.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes and no.  I mean, no one that we see on a fairly regular basis but two of my old friends had babies this year.  Congrats Sheila and Mary Emma!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Adam's grandma passed away in November, which was pretty sad because the funeral was at a time when I couldn't go.

5. What countries did you visit?
Unbelievably, this is the first year since 2007 when I don't have anything to add to the list.  The last time I left the US was in November 2010.  Bummer.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

I already feel like I'm on the way to having the stability that my 2011 so completely lacked.  It's only January 5th, so that is fabulous.  I feel like I spent the first 9 months of the year being stressed about our eventual move to Texas and then the last 3 months with a lot of job insecurity.  Things are looking up!

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

September 5th.  The day we moved here.  September 6th, when Adam and I walked into a car dealership and walked out with a brand new car, which we then drove to the pound and met Higgins for the first time.  Everything else this year is almost trivial to those two life-changing days.  I'll always remember this as a good Christmas though.  It was just good and peaceful.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

The biggest achievement of this year was probably Adam's.  He got a great job here in Dallas after a long search and a few interviews/offers that just didn't pan out.  He rolled with the disappointments and grew as a person from the entire experience.  For me, it was definitely August 7th, when I passed my tests and officially became a 200-HR registered yoga teacher.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I definitely sucked as a person for pretty much the first four months of the year.  I was either unemployed or totally miserable in my job and mired in some pretty deep grief that I didn't know how to get out of.  I'm thankful that my family was supportive and eventually pushed me toward therapy.  It was huge.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I almost waxed on about how I've been relatively healthy except for a freak summer sinus infection, except then I remembered that I had the bulging discs from hell in my lumbar spine and was pretty much sidelined for a few months from my normal routine.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Well, we did have to pay for his adoption fee and then we spend money on the little sucker all the time so the winner is, obviously, HIGGINS.  He's been the best swipe of the ole credit card of 2011.  Runner up is definitely the Santa Fe.  I never thought I'd be able to drive a brand new car in my life, it was just really exciting.  I love that car, despite the recent NorthPark parking garage run in where I injured her.

12. Where did most of your money go?

The mortgage/related fees, moving (although we did get help with a lot of that), Higgins, rent, car payments, teacher training and related yoga memberships and now my lululemon wardrobe is currently the main money suck.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Moving, teaching yoga, my job, running with our awesome running group.

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Probably anything by Adele, Mumford and Sons and LMFAO.  I'm obsessed with Party Rock Anthem and I'm Sexy and I Know It.  Don't hate.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? um.  Dumb question.  Obviously, exponentially happier.
– thinner or fatter?  Just a titchy-poo thinner.  Only because I was a real fatass at this time last year.
– richer or poorer?  Depending on how you look at things, both richer and poorer.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Travel.  We sucked at that this year.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Being sad and/or stressed about things I can't change.  Watching TV.  Being unemployed (almost 3 months-ish in 2011).  Putting things off instead of just living life- I think the stability thing will help with that this year.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

In San Antonio for two whirlwind days.  I'll have to plan a little bit better for next year.  It was good though, I had all the food I could handle, tons of great family time and I got everything I wanted and a little bit more.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Probably the Today Show, sadly.  I love drinking my coffee and hanging out with Matt, Ann, Al and Natalie.  And also making fun of the stories they do on Twitter.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

I sucked at reading this year.  It was on my to-do list and I really dropped the ball.  My favorite book was definitely Yoga and the Path of the Urban Mystic, which was one of the required texts for teacher training.  I started reading it at a time when I had just been going to therapy and figuring out that I was holding on to all of these attachments to feelings and things in my life for really obnoxious amounts of time.  There were parts when it was really yoga-spiritually and kind of overwhelming but mostly it was easy to understand and grasp the concepts and then actually apply them to the things I was going through in life.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

I'm a total tool but I love having XM in the Santa Fe.  I love cranking up BPM (the techno-ish gay club music channel) when I'm driving around in Dallas insanity.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

I always suck about movies, I just don't have the patience but Adam and I did go and see Moneyball at the theater together, which I really liked.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 30 this year.  Adam took me to a fabulous night before dinner at Fearing's at the Ritz Carlton, where we pretended we totally belonged instead of being the crazy misfits that we were.  We both took the actual day off and spent it Christmas shopping, which turned out to be really fun.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

The obvious answer would have been moving back to Texas at the first of the year, instead of being in Chicago for another totally craptastic winter (complete with a fabulous-while-it-happened-but-the-aftermath-was-awful blizzard).  But I can't say I'd change anything that happened this year.  Looking back on it now, everything happened exactly the way it was supposed to.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Yoga clothes 24/7.  It's comfortable and I LOVE IT.  I'm a yoga teacher, it works for me.

26. What kept you sane?

Twitter-  I started using right at the first of the year during a big weight loss challenge started by my fabulous friend, Jennie (which holycrap I totally needed at the time).  The people I follow range from celebrities to fellow weight-loss people that I've never even met and it's been a constant source of laughter, venting, etc.  It's kind of like Facebook without all the sugar-coating that people do over there.
 27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

I learned how to get over my sadness when the bad things in life happen.  I think it finally hit me that things do just happen to people, good things, sucky things, all kinds of things.  I had to learn that there are lots of things in life that I can control, but the most important thing is controlling my attitude toward all the things that happen.  It was a lesson in letting go of all of the attachments that I had to various events and emotions, something that I probably already knew but I needed a big reminder of that this year.