Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas in Dallas

Good morning! I hope you all had a Merry Christmas! Our Christmas was nice, although a few things did not go according to plan.

Except cookies...cookies always go according to plan!

Our original Christmas Eve plans were to order Chinese food and watch Christmas movies all night. Unfortunately, there were only two Chinese restaurants nearby that were open. One of which we had already tried and didn't like--the crab rangoon were tiny...who does that?! The other one had soy in the only Chinese dish I like to order (sesame chicken). So that one was out. We decided to be flexible--we could have Mexican instead. There were plenty of semi-fast-food Mexican places around. And they all happened to be closed by the time we drove around looking for dinner. We parked and walked down the street to a Mexican restaurant we had been wanting to try and they were open.

Copper waiting for Santa Paws!
I had never planned on having dinner in a restaurant on Christmas Eve (pretty sure I was wearing sweat pants). But that's where we ended up. So I ordered a margarita and Chris ordered a Corona-rita, which the waiter proceeded to drop and spill all over our table and the floor. We moved tables, Chris got another Corona-rita and we snacked on chips and salsa, which were really good. I was amazed by how many large groups of people/families were there for dinner. Up until now, I've never eaten out on Christmas Eve--we always have dinner and do gifts with my dad's family.

Margarita and chips and salsa for Christmas Eve dinner
All in all, the food was just average. It wasn't anything spectacular, and they brought me a beef tamale instead of chicken, so I had to send it back. In spite of all that, I made sure that we tipped our waiter well because it was Christmas and I felt extremely bad about being in a restaurant on Christmas Eve (and the kid was clearly having a rough night).

We went home and I was no longer in the mood to watch Christmas movies, so we watched the last three episodes of the first season of How to Get Away With Murder on Netflix. That show is incredible. We also drank a six-pack of Schlafly's Christmas Ale and I learned that I get drunk/hungover pretty quick these days on a margarita and three beers. Oops.

It's just not Christmas without Schlafly.
Chris also gave me my gift on Christmas Eve (he already had his from when we went shopping--Christmas gets pretty boring as an adult). He got me a yoga membership! I was so excited about it that I stayed up practically all night looking at their website and the classes they offer (I also had a headache and couldn't sleep...thanks beer). The membership is a little pricier than what I'm used to paying.

When I was doing yoga at the Civic Center in Florissant, it worked out to be $3-4 per class which is cheap. Another studio in Ferguson/Florissant charged about $10 per class. Chris did the math for the membership for this studio (Dallas Yoga Center) and it works out to be about $11 per class if I go three times a week. It's definitely more than what I'm used to paying, but not as expensive as other studios I had seen in the area. He also drove up there from the apartment to see exactly how far of a walk it would be for me (I'm only car-less for a few more days, but I like being able to walk when I can).  I went to my first class yesterday and it was fantastic. It was a Vinyasa flow class and it was a great workout! I'm planning on going to another class today as long as it's not raining too hard!

On Christmas morning we woke up and walked down the street to get some Starbucks and then took the dog for a walk. When we got back we didn't have much to do. We sat around watching Back to the Future on tv for a while. Eventually we got motivated and got some more boxes unpacked and got some more pictures hung up. (Almost ready to post pictures!) Later that day we went over to my cousin's house for dinner. It was so nice to have a place to go for Christmas dinner (because we obviously weren't gonna be able to have Chinese). The food was delicious and we had a great time spending the evening with them and their friends. We came home that night and took Copper for a walk. It was still above 70 degrees and I was wearing sandals! The weather was absolutely beautiful!

As for exercise, in addition to the yoga class I took on Saturday, I walked roughly 30 miles last week. That's about 9 miles more than what I did the week before. I've really been enjoying walking just about everywhere. Hopefully I don't get too lazy once I have my car back.

Chris's parents are driving my car down from St. Louis tomorrow and they'll be down here with us for Chris's birthday (NYE) and New Year's Day. I'm looking forward to seeing them, but I've got a lot of cleaning up to do before they get here!

Tonight we're going to see the Blues play the Stars (Blues won last night in a 9-round shootout!).

I wanted to take a family picture for Christmas...this was the best we could do.  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Taco Tuesday

We've been in Dallas for a little over a week now. I think Dallas and I are getting along pretty well. Between walking the dog 2 to 3 times a day and walking to restaurants for dinners and occasionally up to the grocery store to pick up a few things, I walked 21 miles last week!

I am pretty proud of that, and I've already walked 7 miles so far this week, although I think that number is a little low. I use the RunKeeper app, and it tracks any walks over 15 minutes without me having to open the app to do an "official workout". Up until yesterday, it was working great. Yesterday, however, it tracked my afternoon walk with Copper as only lasting 20 minutes and 0.82 miles. In reality we walked roughly 2 miles. The app isn't perfect, but it gets the job done. I may try doing our walks as official workouts so that the data is more accurate. We'll see.

It's probably no surprise that we've been down here just a week and I've already injured myself. Twice yesterday. First, I put a bookcase together and managed to cut my leg on one of the shelves. Not serious, but it hurt! Then, last night after dinner, Chris and I took Copper for a short walk because she hadn't been on a walk since the early afternoon. We walked a little over a half mile, just around the block really. As we were getting ready to cross the street back to our apartment, I stepped off the curb and must have landed on an uneven part of the street and twisted my ankle. The immediate pain was pretty bad and eventually I was able to get up and limp across the street and up the stairs. I propped my ankle up the rest of the evening while we watched Netflix. This morning it seems to be doing fine, so we'll see how our walks today go.

Our apartment is finally starting to feel more like home. We only have a few boxes left lying around and that's mostly because we've run out of space to put things. We've got pictures hanging on the walls and my books on shelves. I'm hoping by this weekend we won't have any more boxes cluttering the living room and I can finally take some pictures.

Copper and I are getting into a routine and are getting acquainted with our new city. We've walked through some really nice areas and neighborhoods and some that made me glad we were walking in the middle of the day. Sometimes I plan our route in advance and sometimes I just wing it. We haven't gotten lost yet, but I have checked GPS once or twice just to make sure we were headed in the right direction.

Chris will be working Christmas Eve and we're planning on ordering Chinese for dinner and eating some of the cookies I plan to bake (hoping to start on those today). Since I don't have a car here right now, we did our Christmas shopping together on Sunday in what was probably the biggest and most overwhelming mall I've ever been in. Chris basically picked out his gifts, so unfortunately he's not getting any surprises (and therefore I'm not wrapping them!). The weather this week will be beautiful, so Copper will get a couple Christmas Day walks before we head over to my cousin's house for Christmas dinner. He was so nice and helped us unload the U-Haul (because there was no way I was going to be able to help Chris carry a couch up a flight of stairs!) and he invited us to have Christmas dinner with him and his family.

It will certainly be weird not seeing our families on Christmas Eve/Day, but I think it's a little romantic to spend our first Christmas Eve as a married couple on our own. And I'm grateful that we won't be spending Christmas Day completely alone.

I'll be spending the rest of my day walking the dog and getting a few groceries and hopefully starting to bake this afternoon while I anxiously wait for Chris to get home so we can head down the street for dinner because it's Taco Tuesday at Tacos y Mas! We went there for dinner one night last week and they had amazing street tacos, so we decided we would go back tonight for Taco Tuesday. I'm loving the food down here so far, and loving that we have so many places to go within walking distance!

Hopefully next time I post I'll have pictures of the apartment to share. It's the first day of winter and the high today in Dallas will be 72, so I'm gonna get out there and enjoy it!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Our Big Move!

I know, I know, it's be a while. I promised after the wedding/honeymoon I would write more. And I just haven't. It's really just pure laziness on my part. But also enjoying married life and time with family and friends. Because just a few days ago, we moved from St. Louis to Dallas, Texas!

It all happened really fast. It wasn't a huge surprise, at least not for me. Chris had several job offers in a couple different states, so it was really just a matter of time before we moved. We just weren't sure when or where it would be. It turned out that Texas offered Chris the best opportunity for further advancement. So we made our decision and then told our families...on Thanksgiving. It was not well received by everyone. Especially since we would be moving in just two short weeks from that day and would not be home for Christmas. A couple people even thought we were going to announce that we were pregnant--HA.

I think eventually everyone came around to the idea and we all started to get excited, and I started to get extremely stressed. Up until a couple days before we actually moved, we still hadn't nailed down a place to live. I was so stressed that I ended up having to go see my dentist because I had been having severe jaw pain. He said it was definitely just stress and prescribed me a muscle relaxer. He called a couple days later to see how I was doing--better, but still sore. He said normally once his patients start feeling relief, he takes them off the muscle relaxer, but given the amount of stress I was under, and would be under for at least another week or so, he advised me to take it for the full two weeks.

Thankfully, two days after the move, my jaw pain is completely gone. All my stress now is about where to put all our stuff. Most of our big furniture (stuff that we may want later on down the road) is in a storage unit back home. But we ambitiously brought quite a bit with us. And although our apartment is a 2-bedroom, we really have less space than we thought we would (that's what happens when you have to lease an apartment sight-unseen).

Overall, I think we ended up in a good location. We're just a couple miles from Parkland Memorial Hospital (because we all know how accident-prone I am) and we're very, very close to Love Field airport. So it's LOUD. It's definitely been an adjustment for all of us. I think Copper is enjoying all the walks she gets to go on now, and I'm enjoying the exercise!

We've still got some unpacking to do--mostly decorations and such that will need to be hung on the walls somewhere. Once we get some more of these boxes out of here, I'll post pictures! :)

Friday, October 23, 2015

On Taking Sick Days

I was reminded of this after reading an article on NPR the other day. The article was about how people working in the food industry often come to work sick and don’t take sick days because they typically don’t get paid sick days. And if they can afford to take a day without pay (which most can’t), they’re often quickly replaced. The issue of people not getting paid sick days in the first place is one that I’m not going to tackle today. I did comment on the article though, saying that people coming to work while sick is an issue in almost every industry, even those that do provide paid sick leave. I also commented that I had a manager earlier this year who was baffled that I left the office because I wasn’t feeling well. She made a comment to a coworker that she was once “throwing up at her desk and managed to make it through the day”.

Not too long ago, a woman retired from her job at the bank I work at. Aside from taking maternity leave, she only ever took 2 sick days in the many, many years she worked there. She was proud of this fact, and several people praised her for it, hinting that younger generations are more prone to taking sick days and should try harder to follow her example instead. 

I used to think perfect attendance was important. I often put schoolwork and other priorities way before my physical or mental health. After years of struggling through school or work while sick (I’ve taken finals with a concussion, with a freshly torn-off toenail, etc.), I finally started making my health a priority.

I take sick days now. Sometimes even when I'm not physically ill. Because I [now] believe in taking care of myself. After 26 years, I know my limits. I know when I'm sick enough to need a day or two to rest completely. I'm also courteous enough to stay home when I'm contagious to prevent coworkers and others from getting sick as well. And I appreciate when coworkers do the same. 

Sometimes I'm not physically ill. Sometimes I'm just exhausted and burnt out. Sometimes I need a break to recharge. Because when I burn myself out, I give far less than 100%. And my employer, coworkers, and customers deserve 100%. And I deserve to be capable of giving it. So yes, I've taken a day off here and there to sleep or watch Netflix all day. Because sometimes even the weekends are so busy that I don't ever really get to truly rest. And, as with my current job at the bank, I work some weekends, and that plays a big role in burnout. 

Sure, having a great attendance record is important. Getting all of your work done and meeting deadlines is important. But physical and mental health should come first. And if that means taking a sick day every now and then, so be it.  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My Experiment

As I mentioned in a previous post, we did a lot of walking on our honeymoon, especially after meals. We’d eat breakfast then head over to the beach. We’d eat lunch or dinner on the board walk and then walk around for a while before heading back to the condo. I felt pretty great the whole time we were down there. Sure, there were a couple times where I probably just ate the wrong thing and I paid for it. But for the most part, I felt good, and that was a really nice change from how I had felt in the months and weeks leading up to the wedding. 

I do think stress plays a pretty large role in my IBS, and wedding planning is about as stressful as it gets (I hope). So I’m a lot less stressed now and I’m sure that’s making a difference in how I’m feeling. But I’m also making an effort to walk after as many meals as possible, even if it’s a short walk. 

Right now, I’m walking after breakfast 2-3 days a week and just about every day after lunch. Walking after lunch is a little tricky because I only get 30 minutes for lunch. So to make sure I have enough time for a decent walk, I only have about 15 minutes to eat. I’ve been averaging close to half a mile each day after lunch. Then, on the days I don’t have yoga, I try to take Copper for a walk after dinner. 

I’m not doing a Whole30 right now. In fact, I’m still kind of ignoring my “sensitivities”. I’ve been eating gluten and dairy almost daily (and yes, sometimes I’m eating way too much of it), and I can honestly say I have felt better in the last month than I have in the past year, even with all the Whole30’s I’ve done. I’m sure if I were doing a Whole30 right now, I might feel even better. But for now, my stomach hurts a lot less and I’m spending less time in the bathroom and that’s a huge deal for me. 

I’m going to continue to eat what I want for the most part and continue walking after as many meals as possible to see if this keeps working for me. So far, I’m very happy with the results!  

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Wedding & Honeymoon

One month ago today we said "I do"! It was a crazy busy weekend, but everything turned out amazing.

The day of started bright and early with some very un-fun stomach issues and terrible allergies (constant sneezing, runny nose, etc.). Not exactly how you want to start your wedding day. Luckily, after a pretty bland breakfast and a lot of immodium, my stomach issues subsided and by the time we got to the hall, I was done sneezing.

We had a beautiful, slightly-chilly, overcast day which explains the allergies. Our pictures really turned out amazing though, and it was better than being over 100 degrees!
Photo by my beautiful sister

My beautiful sister. Taken by our photographer on my sister's phone 

My daddy walking me down the aisle <3 Photo by Amy Rush

My aunts decorated the gazebo for us and it looked so beautiful! Photo by Amy Rush

Yay we're married! Photo by Amy Rush

Cheers! We drank whiskey instead of champagne ;) Photo by Amy Rush

First dance. Photo by Amy Rush
The next day we opened our gifts and then drove 12-ish hours to Pensacola, Florida for our honeymoon. It was a very long and exhausting drive...we didn't get there until around 2am. But man, when we woke up the next morning and looked out our balcony, it was totally worth it:
View of the bay from our balcony.

Another view from our balcony.

Down at the board walk

On the beach <3
We went to the beach every day while we were down there and we took a nap every afternoon. That's the life, my friends. We had such a relaxing week and we're so grateful that we were able to go.

Dinner at Casino Beach Bar & Grille--fish tacos with plantain chips! So delicious! 

Yes, I read Anna Karenina on the beach.

Sunset from our balcony <3

McGuire's is just the best.

I didn't worry too much about my food sensitivities while we were down there--I just wanted to enjoy myself. So I ate gluten and dairy basically whenever I felt like it. And I actually felt pretty good all week long. I think travel has a pretty big affect on my digestion (in a good way!), so that helped too. But more on that later.

Boxties! They were so delicious!

We wrote on a dollar and hung it up, so he had to kiss the moose! Which of course I couldn't get a picture of. :(

Our dollar is now hanging in McGuire's.

So we accidentally ordered crabs instead of crab legs. Those are whole crabs...eyes and all. Creepy. But delicious. Also not worth all the extra work. 

Footprints in the sand <3

I tried oysters for the first time! I won't do raw ones...those totally gross me out. But these were pretty damn good! 

We ate at a restaurant on the beach called Hemingway's. It was awesome (I had red snapper and it was delicious) and they had lots of cool stuff in there and, naturally, I bought a t-shirt from them.

We woke up super early Saturday morning to make the 13-hour drive up to Chicago to see the game on Sunday. Another long drive. We attempted to listen to an audio book, but it made me really sleepy, so we listened to my awesome road trip playlist instead. :)

On our way to the Cards-Cubs game in Chicago!

Oh yeah, we won! The only game the Cards won that weekend and we got to be there to see it!

We can't go to Chicago without stopping for pizza! Giordano's is our absolute favorite! Plus they have chicken sausage so yay for me!

On Monday we made our way back home after driving up to Wisconsin to buy beer (Spotted Cow is delicious guys). I was sad our trip was over. I went an entire week without being stressed, without having constant stomach issues, and without worrying about our financial situation. It was incredible.

While we were on our honeymoon, we did a ton of walking. Pretty much after every meal we did at least a small amount of walking. And I think that, combined with the travel, really helped my digestion. So I've been experimenting with that since I got home. I'll do a full post on that later. 

Since we've been back, we've been busy writing thank you notes, getting our house back in order, and putting away wedding gifts. We've still got a few sitting around that we have to make room for, but we're almost done! Things are starting to get back to normal and it's extremely nice to not have the stress of wedding planning. 

It's good to be back!