Thursday, April 28, 2016

Life in Dallas

I am proud to say that we all survived my first two serious travel trips. Up until now, I've been to Austin twice - one day trip and one overnight trip. These were long enough trips to get a feel for what travel will be like once my job got busy; but short enough to not feel like I missed much at home. Well, in the last several weeks... work has gotten very busy.

Last Thursday/Friday I went to New York for a few meetings. In the 30 hours I was actually in New York, I was able to get a lot of work done, run 2.5 miles on the treadmill, meet a few familiar faces, meet a few new faces and host a couple of meetings. It was the most exhausting trip I think I've ever taken and I probably slept 4-5 hours total.

I arrived home late Friday night and 30min after I walked in the door, Jo was ready for her evening nursing session. Needless to say, I was tired but I was also so happy to be able to rock her in her chair. Saturday she woke up around 5:30am and as hard as I tried to get her to fall back asleep, she wasn't interested. I woke up pushed Brad out of bed and we all went for a 2.5 mile stroller run. We typically have swim class at noon on Saturdays.. so after a good breakfast and a few showers, we headed to that.

This past weekend was a little special because we attended Brad's work picnic on the west side of town. The park we went to also had a "beach" ... but clearly for a Floridian, I was not convinced we were near the ocean. The sand was brown and I could see the other side of the lake! Jo didn't seem to mind :)


After the beach we headed to his coworker's house for a little after party. There were other babies and children there so we felt really comfortable hanging out until it was time for dinner. He works with a really nice bunch of people who were all very welcoming. Of all of the people we've met in Dallas, they are all very much like this.

On Sundays we typically go to the first service that our church offers. We've met a few couples with children through our church so slowly but surely, the town we live in is beginning to feel like "home". We ran a few errands after church then spent the rest of the afternoon in the house before I had to fly out to Memphis for another 3 day work trip.

Brad and Jo survived both trips without me. They really have a bond that I'm almost a little jealous of. Not to mention her "words" right now are DA DA DA DA DA... DA DA DA.... and I'm sure he is enjoying that. When I'm holding Jo, she is always "looking" for her daddy. He can make her laugh so hard that I laugh too. I was so afraid that the decision we made 10 months ago to move half way across the country was going to blow up in our face once I started traveling.

I will whole heartedly admit that I missed them so much while I was gone. I had such mom guilt on Monday night and the only thing that made it better was a glass of wine and a large steak. That sounds awful but its so true. Monday night was the hardest. Jo was sitting on Brad's lap when we were FaceTiming and my heart just sunk when the conversation went from happy to cranky. She was getting tired and ready for her bath. Having to hang up the phone and not be there to help soothe her, bathe her and put her in bed just crushed my heart. But Brad and Jo did great. When Jo gets cranky and can't go back to her crib at night, snuggling seems to always calm her down.

Life in Dallas is busy. I feel like we are always go, go, go and then more go. Although we really try not to leave the house during the week after work/daycare when we get home in the evenings (except for Wednesdays, we've been going to small group with a few church couples and their kids), but that means that usually the weekends are full of activities. We are spending time together as a family and making memories - but its tiring! 

I don't really know if life in Tampa would have been so busy. And its SO HARD to imagine what life would have been like with her there. Being in Dallas has really forced us to visit new places, try new restaurants, walk/run around new parks (with the dogs!) and just overall get out. Get outside the house, get outside our town, get outside our comfort zone. We've made so many memories in the 5 months we've been here but we've also slept far less hours.

Life in Dallas is different. Sometimes you don't know what you are missing out on until you experience something drastically different than what you're used to. I was never really afraid of change (reason #25 why we jumped at the offer to move to Dallas with a baby) but something about Dallas really energizes Brad and I. The people here are fast-paced, outdoorsy and super nice. Every 5k we've run has dogs participating! So many people we've met have left everything they knew behind to take an opportunity in Dallas so although so many of us are "alone"... they are so kind to welcome you to their circle of friends.

Life in Dallas is hard. As busy and fun and different as Dallas is... it's also hard work. I travel and sometimes work after Jo goes to bed, Brad works 7days straight overnight but then gets 7 days off. Our logistical challenges are real. I always dreamed about being in Dallas and working for my company when I was young and single... but now, I couldn't imagine being here without these people... my family, my people <3


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Running Mama

Tonight I gave Jo a bath, rubbed her down with some baby lavender lotion, got her dressed in her jammies and put her to bed. We've been working on modified "sleep training" over here which just means we are trying to put her in the crib drowsy but awake in hopes that one day she won't need so much help in falling asleep. I'd do anything to get her to sleep through the night without her crying because my new-mom heart just can't handle all of the crying. So, I laid her down and talked to her softly and patted her butt until she got drowsy and started drifting off. As soon as she was out, I ran out the door.

Okay well not really.. I changed into my running SKIRT and headed outside. I cannot believe I fit into my old running skirts again! I never thought those skirts would fit again... but they do!

Tonight I ran 4 miles without stopping. They were pretty darn hard - but so is parenthood. 

I keep thinking about the days when I was never a runner and then I think about the days when I first started running and then the days where I tried to build mileage and how it was SO HARD. But the whole process was hard work. Getting from 1 mile to 3 miles to 5 to 10. Signing up for our first half marathon or even our first full marathon. And it took even more courage to sign up for my second marathon where I would run absolutely alone and I'd need to believe in myself for an entire 26.2 miles without ANYONE running by my side reminding me that I can do it. 

And then I remember that it took A LOT of dedication and persistence to become a runner. Those are qualities I just didn't fully have before I fell in love with it all. But it didn't happen over night. And even at my peak of training and PRing and having so much fun... there are days that I still didn't believe in myself. Days that I still didn't believe that I... ME could run for 4.5 hours straight.

And as I think about how hard running is and compare it to how hard parenting is... they have more than just that in common. They both continuously show me that I can do anything I put my mind to. That sounds so silly because I'm supposed to be an adult and I'm not supposed to need pep talks. But for someone like me, it took me a long time to realize that it does not matter how hard something is - IF I want to do it... I can do it (well except for mathematics ..but maybe I just DON'T want to do math.. ha). It doesn't matter how old we are, sometimes we just need to find something that inspires us to be stronger, better people.

Anyways, I ran 4 miles. And when I wanted to stop at 3 I told myself, how am I ever going to run a 10k or a half marathon or a FULL marathon again if I don't push through the hardness. How am I ever going to show Joanna that you can do anything you want when you believe in yourself ...if I don't push through and believe in myself? I'm going to do it through persistence and dedication... thats how. And its going to be hard work to be a running mama but if I believe that I can do it.... I can do it!

And this guy right here... the one who pushes the stroller during all of our races and the one who believes in me and all of my crazy ideas.. he reminds me that I can do whatever I set my mind to. But, he also reminds me that it's going to be hard work.

Last weekend's 5k, Brad was the first stroller finisher
Running Mama Stephanie

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Greek Yogurt Pumpkin Banana Bread

Life seems like a whirlwind since we got back from Florida two weeks ago. We got back on a Sunday and on Monday 12pm, I went straight to Austin for work, Jo turned 6 months old, we semi-celebrated our 2 year wedding anniversary and ran a 5k all in the same week. Last week we really tried to slow down and just enjoy the evenings and weekend together without going here, going there and rushing around town. This was absolute bliss... we need more of this!

ITS BEEN TWO WEEKS and I think it has all finally caught up to me. Granted, my first project went live last Friday and my newest project has been a time-suck (my new word = keeping me really busy at the office and even some evenings). I haven't baked since Christmas time but I thought my kick-ass project team deserved some baked goods for all their hard work over the last 2 months (and continued hard work while they support the go-live). I learned pretty early on in my "career" [am I allowed to use that word yet?] that baking food for people makes them happy and feel kinda special - maybe even just a little appreciated.

So tonight I gave Jo a bath, put her to bed and poured myself a glass of wine. She has two little, tiny, cute, baby teeth at the bottom and we've just upgraded from wash-cloth gum brushing to a baby toothbrush! 

Did I mention that we've started sleeping training too? My heart can't handle the whole cry-it-out (CIO) method but a little crying has been happening in this house in order to get her back to her crib at night. That's a topic for another post, back to the wine. Accompanying my wine was 5 chocolate chip cookies that I put in the oven (batter was pre-made from the holidays so I just popped them straight from the freezer to the oven to my mouth). 

I ate all 5 cookies and drank that whole glass of wine. Because thats how hard adulting has felt this week... and its only Tuesday! We still have 3 more days to go! So I started baking. My coworkers are all very funny men in the IT world who have had much patience with my learning curve for billing processes and have taught me SO MUCH these past 3 months. I drank my wine and mixed my dry ingredients. I ate my cookies and let the kitchen aid do the hard work. 

I had a last minute conference call scheduled at the same time I was planning on leaving work to pick up Jo from school. Needless to say I was still participating listening in while I walked into her infant room. Picture this, saying hello to my baby with all sorts of excitement and kisses... while still trying to keep up with the work conversation going on in my headphones. Did I mention adulting was hard today? I totally deserved those FIVE cookies and that glass of wine. And yes, I let the kitchen aid do all of the work.

And just like that.. between all of my complaining to my hubby (and now to you guys about how hard adulting has been this week), my ingredients mixing and the act of baking... my bread is done. It's 10pm and my bread is ready for work tomorrow. Me? I'm ready for bed! But I'll leave you with the lovely recipe and a cute little picture of the finished product.

Can you believe that I didn't even cut into it? :)

Greek Yogurt Pumpkin Banana Bread (borrowed from here)

   1½ cups all-purpose flour*
   1 tsp. baking powder
   1/2 tsp. baking soda
   1 tsp. cinnamon
   1/2 tsp. ground ginger
   1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
   ½ tsp. sea salt
   2 eggs, lightly beaten
   1 large, ripe banana (~1/2 cup mashed)
   1/2 cup pumpkin puree
   ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
   ¼ cup maple syrup
   ¼ cup brown sugar
   1 tsp. vanilla extract
Optional add-ins: ½ cup chocolate chips/raisins/nuts/etc.

   Preheat your oven to 350ºF, and lightly grease a 9 x 5 bread pan. Set aside.
   In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Stir until well combined and set aside.
   Lightly beat the eggs in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add mashed bananas, pumpkin, Greek yogurt, maple syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla. Stir until well combined.
   Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir gently. Do not over mix. Fold in any add-ins you wish to include.
   Pour the batter into the loaf pan, spreading it out evenly, and bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. After 45 minutes, you may wish to cover with a sheet of tin foil to prevent the top from getting too brown.
   Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

PS - I added chocolate chips to mine :)