Monday, August 31, 2015


Growing up in Dallas, I am always fascinated to hear what attracts people to the city. Whether it is why they chose to go to college here, vacation here or live here, I love to hear what the draw is. For me, it's my memories, it's home. Sometimes you have a hard time seeing outside of that as to what makes it attractive to others.

When we were in Vancouver, we had a waitress at one of our first stops who asked us where we were from. She exclaimed, "Dallas! Oh my gosh, I love everything about Dallas. I have been wanting to go!" She proceeded to ask us what made us want to come to Vancouver? In a tone that didn't seem to understand what was so great about her city.

Just like how she didn't see the value, beauty and intrigue of her own city, I had just as much disbelief in my own city. So that's when I decided, I'm going to start dating Dallas to see it through the eyes of others.

I take Dallas for granted. Yet, Dallas has a booming arts and culture district that has completely re-invented itself since the time I was little and going on field trips to see what the Big D offered. Dallas is home to restaurants and chefs that have exploded on the culinary trail. Dallas has a fashion industry that is no New York City, but it is definitely a force to reckon with. Dallas possesses history, natural beauty and FUN. We are amazing at playing tourists in the cities we visit, to get the most out of what it offers, but when it comes to where we live, we don't do that.

I went through and made a list. Obviously, if you live your life being a tourist in your own city, it's going to get a little expensive. So I'm going to choose one new restaurant to try and one experience/place/event each month. I had said in a previous post that having things to plan and look forward to are my happy. So this effort is also fulfilling on that level too, as a step on this road to healing.

If you want to join me, here's what I'm going to do next month and I have a hash tag that has not yet been used by anyone else. You can follow along via Instagram and #datemydallas. If you want to join in on it, use #datemydallas to capture your experience to help recommend to others as well!

September #datemydallas Nights
Activity: 9/3 Bishop Arts Wine Walk
This is right in my own hood and an event that I haven't been able to attend since before we moved there. You buy a wine glass for $15 and then all of the stores in Bishop Arts are open late and ready to serve. YES PLEASE. Pre-sale tickets are already gone but you can take your chance night of for a limited number of glasses.
Restaurant: Pink Magnolia
This is the new restaurant concept by Blythe Beck, the only chef who was voted for TWO terms at the incubator restaurant concept, Kitchen LTO, in Trinity Groves. The intention of Kitchen LTO is to give these chefs an opportunity to build up a clientele based on their creative menu and food. Beck is the first one to get her brick and mortar restaurant. It is taking over the former Driftwood Space on Davis near the Bishop Arts district (bonus points for being down the street from us!) and is set to open September 3. I have a reservation for Max's birthday and look forward to
her upscale southern comfort menu.

From time to time, I'm sure there will be some events that just come up, not very planned out in advance. One was the Donut and Beer Pairing at LUCK in Trinity Groves this past weekend.

I read about it a few days before and decided it was a must try. We channeled our inner Homer Simpson and went with two other couples to enjoy a unique Sunday brunch with donuts prepared for us by Glazed Donut Works and various local craft beers from Oak Highlands Brewery, Firewheel Brewing Company, Lakewood Brewery and Woodcreek Brewing Company. The tastes for each pairing could not have been a better match of the donut with its corresponding ale. My favorites were the Red Velvet Donut Holes + StrI.P.A. by Firewheel (far left) and the Pineapple/Mango Old Fashioned Donuts + Rock Ryder Wheat Ale by Lakewood (far right).

This was the sixth time for them to offer this event, so I recommend watching for the next one and trying it out for yourself!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Texi-Mexi Lettuce Cups

The base of this recipe is very versatile. You can make a big batch at the beginning of the week and use it throughout the week for various meals such as these lettuce cups, enchiladas, salad or a wrap. It can be done with ground beef, chicken or turkey. It allows you to be creative and make various types of meals from one recipe.

Makes enough for 6 servings
  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Tabasco Chipotle sauce
  • Taco seasoning
  • Lettuce (We used a head of butter lettuce, see my issues with this below)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Sauté onions until fragrant then add your ground meat. Cook on medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, breaking up the turkey into smaller chunks. I added about 1 tsp. of taco seasoning to help give the meat more flavor. Feel free to season to your heart's desire.

Once meat is cooked through, add the bell pepper and frozen corn. Let it cook, covered, for about 5 minutes or until red bell pepper is softened. Add the black beans, followed by approximately 1 tbsp. of Chipotle sauce, or to taste.

Remove from heat, then dish out into lettuce cups and top with non-fat sour cream, shredded cheese and salsa!

Butter lettuce is very soft and delicate. It looks pretty but it is not the most reliable for this type of meal. I would recommend the more sturdy crunch of either a head of romaine, or the heart of romaine lettuce boats.


Sriracha Sweet Chili Salmon

Max and I enjoy any opportunity we can to cook together, so we've been trying to get back to that. We were without a kitchen for nearly eight weeks while ours was undergoing complete transformation. Getting back to meal planning and making our own meals has been fun for us. I wanted to share one of my new favorite salmon go-to meals. When we do salmon, typically we make it with this glaze but the Sriracha Sweet Chili recipe is tied for first place in my book. If you are looking to add something new into your rotation, I recommend trying this out!

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 3 tbsp. Tamari (gluten-free, organic soy sauce)
  • 2 tbsp. Mirin
  • 1 tbsp. Sriracha
  • 1 tbsp. Sweet Chili Paste (I use Taste of Thai)
  • 1 tbsp. Honey
Prep time: 3 minutes + *30 minutes to marinate
Cook time: 20 - 28 minutes

Whisk together and let salmon marinate skin side up, fleshy side down, in sauce for 30 minutes, refrigerated. *If you are in more of a crunch and do not have time to let it marinate, you can skip that part. Instead, heat the sauce on the stove and bring it to a simmer to allow it to thicken a bit.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a baking dish, place the salmon in and then reserve the sauce. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove and then spoon the marinade over the salmon. Bake for a remaining 5-8 minutes.

For an easy side to pair with, pictured is a super food salad. It consists of kale massaged in a mixture of olive oil (1 tbsp.), mirin (1 tsp) and tamari (2 tsp) with red pepper flakes (a pinch), tossed with a quinoa mix, topped with avocado.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Road to Healing

May the Lord bless you and keep you;
may His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
may He give you peace.
- Numbers 6:24-26

In mid-June, Max and I started looking for an opportunity to get away for a little while and take a "healing trip." We narrowed our search to the Pacific Northwest and all the stars aligned for Vancouver. With August holding the highest temperatures at home, we decided that would be a good time to escape the heat and get away before work got too busy.

Leading up to the trip, I was having a lot of inner-struggle. It started around my birthday in the beginning of August. I love to throw parties and have something to plan so every year I have done some kind of fun theme-based birthday. After last year's 30th celebration and learning I was pregnant a few months later, I swore off my own birthday parties and decided that effort would now go toward my littles from here on out. For my 31st birthday, I anticipated having a newborn and enjoying a quiet night at home with my little family and a glass of red wine. Well, life changed on us. About a week before I turned 31, I was sad. Really sad. We had just gotten through the milestone of his due date and the anger phase had hit, and it hit hard. I resented anyone who was pregnant or had a baby. That makes me a real peach, huh? I was sad, I was angry, I wanted distraction. I filled sad time with planning time and created a last minute celebration with a few friends. My husband planned a spa day for us and we had plans for the entire weekend to help distract. Throughout the whole weekend, I tried to enjoy it and live in the moment, but in the back of my mind, I had the constant thought of: I shouldn't be doing this right now. I should have a newborn. I shouldn't enjoy myself because I wouldn't be doing this if we hadn't lost Hudson. 

Fast forward two weeks. It's trip time. I love to travel with Max and explore new places with him. I was excited for the trip but also melancholy, knowing there was a reason we were going and that reason was because we don't have our son with us. The morning of, I was happy. I was excited. We got the airport and were waiting in the security line when the cries of an infant started bellowing. I look behind me and see a mother, trying to coddle and soothe her teeny tiny baby. She was talking to him out loud, telling him she's sorry, she knows he's hungry, it won't be long. Then I overhear her talking to the TSA agent about how she is there to pick up her other two kids flying in. She drove from Ft. Hood that morning to get them and meet them at the gate. The baby is crying louder and she starts to breastfeed him in line. Tears are just rolling down my face, I'm biting my lip as hard as I can to try to keep from crying. Max squeezes my hand and gets me through so I can be as far removed as possible.

I sat on the plane and stared out the window. In my head, I talked to him. I told him how much we love him and miss him. How we are trying to get through this life and if he could just give us a little sign, something to know that he's watching over us, I could really use that right now. I kept looking out the window for something. A cloud formation, a ray of light, a rainbow. Anything. I closed my window for a little bit to read. I opened the window again a little while later to see the Grand Tetons coming up out of the clouds and then Mount Rainer followed. In my mind, the song ain't no mountain high enough, nothing can keep me, keep me from you.

We landed and as we navigated through the line in customs, there are pregnant women and babies EVERYWHERE. Didn't matter what direction I looked in, there they were, staring me in the face for 35 minutes as we snaked through the line. A reminder that we didn't have our baby and I wasn't pregnant, tears streaming down my face again.

We got to our hotel around 1:30 pm and started to explore the city shortly thereafter. As we walked around, we were in an area of town that had souvenir shops and decided to look for some sussies so we went in shop after shop, looking for our traditional trip Christmas ornament and a t-shirt. After four stores, I thought we may need to go to a different area, these all have the same things and not what we are looking for. But then I looked up and saw a sign for Hudson House Trading Company. Instead of making me sad, it made my heart smile and that was my little boy saying - I'm here mommy, I'm with you. Sure enough, that was the only store with a selection of ornaments and Max found the shirt he wanted.

The next day we went to the top of a mountain. It was covered in a thick fog and you couldn't see any views above or below you. Every now and then, little beams would shine down through the thick fog and it warmed my heart. As if it were another little hello from our angel baby, playing peek-a-boo in the fog. 

Two days later, we went to Victoria. Before experiencing high tea at the famed Empress Hotel, we took this picture and I got goose bumps. Maybe it's just in my head, or the need to look for a sign in everything, but I noticed the rainbow beam of light in the picture that looks like it is shooting out of my belly and up to the left.

 Later, we were enjoying a leisurely afternoon, walking the streets and listening to a great little band playing in a park space. I look up to see a building that read Hudson's Bay. It was a little hug to the heart, like he was saying here I am!

The trip allowed us the opportunity to reflect on our wants and dreams. It was a chance for us to touch base with one another's hearts. This loss has made us realize that we have more love to give than we could have imagined. When I was pregnant with Hudson, I wanted two children, maybe three. During my pregnancy I had a number of people tell me that their biggest regret in life was not having more children. This loss has given both of us the heart to have as many babies as possible. I told Max I want more, he said how about four, or five? We talked about adopting another dog at some point. We discussed future travels and dreams of experiences there. We decided to learn German next year so we can practice with my Grandfather while we still can, then French the year after. Together. One night a week we would make a German or French meal and we are only allowed to speak to each other in that language for the night. We discussed our careers and where we now see ourselves going. It was a check point on our road map of healing.

The whole trip we said "yes" to everything. Any experience we wanted to try, we did it. Any food that maybe looked a little odd, I didn't have any "allergies" to this time. I can't say that I'm necessarily afraid of heights, I'm more afraid of bad things happening and heights can reinforce that. I welcomed them. We did suspension bridges, mountain hikes, seaplanes (that terrified me actually), and rode bikes all over (that's kind of a big deal for me, I haven't touched a non-stationary bike since junior high and let's just say remembering how to turn was lost on me). We walked everywhere, we didn't hurry, we went at our own pace throughout the day. We were carefree, we were the "us" we were a year ago when traveling together through Spain, the "us" that didn't know devastation and pain.

Little Hudson, you have no idea how loved you are and how much of an impact you made on us. We are hurting yet healing and it will continue to take time. We enjoyed this "family trip" with traces of you sprinkled throughout as a reminder that you are always with us.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Letter to Expecting Mamas and Newborn Mamas

Dear Friend Who is Expecting or Friend with a Newborn,

I miss you. I miss our talks, our texts, our emails of baby stuff back and forth. I miss asking you questions, planning future play dates and looking forward to going through mommy-hood with you.

Over the last few months, I have distanced myself from you and for that, I'm sorry. I have to plead for your understanding. My world stopped, but yours kept going and that is so hard for me to deal with sometimes. Pregnant friends, it hurts to watch as your bump continues to grow because I miss mine. It is hard to see you because you represent who I was, who I would give anything to go back to. Seeing you makes me hurt. As I watch you come up on 33 weeks and then surpass it, it makes me sad I didn't get to that part myself. Those with newborns, you are who I should be right now. Watching as you brought your child into the world and receive the title of the most coveted role, mommy, is filled with nothing but joy to you but it breaks my heart. It's so selfish, I know, I hate this.

I'm jealous of you. I want what you have. You get to have a completely blissful pregnancy, in happy anticipation of the end result. I had that for 32 weeks and 6 days but that is something I will never have again. Whenever I am blessed with another pregnancy, it will be anxiety ridden. It will be terrifying. It will be filled with stress and worry that something terrible could happen again. It will be my PTSD. You get the joy, but I know the pain. You hear your baby cry for you, watch them open their eyes, smile and coo at you, grasp your finger, feed them, rock them, bathe them - all things I should be doing right now but it was taken away from me.

I am sorry that I will not attend your baby shower. I can't do it. You see, I was just 4 days from mine when we discovered Hudson no longer had a heartbeat. On the day and time that I should have had a shower to celebrate his pending arrival, we had his funeral instead. If I attended yours, I would be fighting tears the entire time or have a spontaneous breakdown moment (which that happens now, that's this life post-loss, you can't control it) and that isn't fair to you and your happy occasion.

I'm asking a lot of you. I'm asking you to love me through a period of time where I can't be a very good friend to you. The happiest time of your life is the darkest in mine. I'm asking you to understand my withdrawal with promise that I'll get to a point that I can be present for you again. There are seasons for everything and right now I am "having a season." I hope that you can love me through it. I wish I could put a time frame on this part so I can tell you that by a certain date, I will be all better and ready to see you, laugh with you, snuggle your baby, talk about mom things. I just don't know when that might be. It may change when I'm pregnant again, it may not be until I have my own baby in my arms someday, I just don't know and simply put, it sucks. I have to put on a charade every day to try to be a semblance of what once was, hiding my now fragmented self.

I ask for your forgiveness. I've probably removed your from my social media visibility. Baby posts are gut wrenching and in an effort to be kind to my head and my heart, I began to unfollow people that posted bump pictures, any status update that had to do with being pregnant, or pictures of their baby. I know, that's a terrible friend-thing for me to do and I am so sorry. I know there is more to your life than that, but that's all I can see right now and it hurts too bad. Please remember how lucky you are to have what you have.

I am asking for your grace as I learn how to have that with others. My resentment isn't fair to you. You did nothing to deserve my abandonment. This is just where I am right now.

While I can't be a good friend to you now, know that I can be again some day. Know that in the future I will be able to celebrate with you, go on double dates or girls nights again, chit chat about whatever and not have to force a smile. More importantly, if you ever experience a trial in life, know that someday I am here to hold your hand, if and when you ever need it. If you are ever struggling with something, know that I'm your girl. I wasn't good at that before, but now that I understand grief, loss, true sadness and emptiness, if at any time through your life journey you find yourself enduring those things, I can be your person. That's a promise.

I wish you continued happiness, many blessings, a safe delivery and a healthy baby. I look forward to a time I can hug your neck again. Know that I love you, it's just hard to show it right now.

Thank you for your understanding, don't give up on me.


Thursday, August 13, 2015


In this life after loss, fears can consume every fiber of your being. Insecurities you had beforehand that you may have outgrown with experience and maturity come back in full force, rearing a very ugly head. You are a big ball of angst, fear, self-deprecation and jealousy. Paints a pretty picture, doesn't it? 

I remember it starting in the hospital as I filled out the Labor and Delivery admittance paperwork in a fog, going through the motions still trying to process what was happening. Though plenty of other emotions had been experienced in that hour, the first time the emotion of fear crept in is when I heard my dad say that one of my parents' closest friends was heading to the hospital to sit with them, to pray with them. At that moment, I realized that our loss was now out there. It was outside of Max and me, it had moved beyond our immediate family, it was being communicated to the outside world which meant it was real. The ugly insecurity of: what are people going to think of us?! How are we going to be perceived now? Will they talk about us and speculate it was somehow our fault? Will they be afraid to be around us not knowing what to do or say? Will we be alienated and labeled as fragile? Are we now "that couple that lost their baby?" Will we be different now and never the same? In the last 11 weeks, the answer to all of these questions at one point in time has been yes. But we are still here. We have more love for each other than ever before. We are okay.

Coming home, I didn't know what I was more afraid of: when Max went back to work and I was home alone all day, or when I would go back to work and have to face people. Both thoughts terrified me and I got very worked up over it. The night before he went back to work, I didn't sleep. I cried and cried in anticipation. Then, the morning came and I tried to be brave. Max is a doer, he needs to be busy, so he needed to get back to work. I didn't want to hold him back from obtaining what he needed in his grief process. However, I couldn't fathom being alone in the house. It was like I was on maternity leave without a baby. My body going through the same things and recovering in the way that anyone's does after they have a baby, I just didn't have mine with me anymore. I laid in bed as he got ready. I held it together and told him that I wanted him to go and I was okay. Then, as soon as the back door to the garage closed, I let go of everything I was holding in. I had so much fear but also knew, I needed to face it. Those first few days, I had emotional moments that scared me because I had never felt sadness that deep before. I knew that what I was experiencing was grief and mourning, something completely foreign to me. I had been working through that process with Max, but at that time, I needed to work through those emotions on my own. I needed to be okay with myself. After those first few days, my fear of being alone was gone. In those moments that I was alone and feeling the pit of despair was where I felt closest to God and to Hudson, so I was okay with going there. I needed to go there. I conquered that fear. When the time came to face my fear of being alone, I found that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

I was getting very comfortable with being alone. The only people I could stomach to be around were Max and my mom. That was my comfort zone and anything else made me panic. I call Panic the little sister of fear, and Anxiety the red-headed-step-child. I sat down to block time of what to do while I was alone so that if I needed a distraction, it was there to help me through. I thought trying to set lunch dates would be a good thing. I made it out of the house one day and had a good lunch with two friends. Then, the next day when I tried to do another lunch date, I sat in my car crying, unable to back out of the driveway. I did not want to see the world or for the world to see me - the new damaged, broken version of me. I had so much anxiety of running into someone I knew or worse, that didn't know what had happened. You forget the many people you interface with on a daily basis, and in this case the many people that saw you throughout a pregnancy. Everyone from your normal clerk at the grocery store checkout counter, to your nail salon, to a random family friend from church or someone you used to volunteer with. I avoided public places for a while because of this fear. I had to take it day by day. Some days I could do it, others, I just couldn't. I needed to go somewhere WITH someone so I had a crutch, so I wasn't alone in public, so I had someone to protect me if I needed it.  

Going back to work was terrifying. I had conquered my fear of being alone, I was getting better at getting out of the house, but now couldn't bring myself to be surrounded by people. With the exception of a few, I hadn't seen my coworkers since before our loss. The last time they saw me, I was blissfully happy and pregnant. Having to have the same confrontation every time I saw someone was daunting. Knowing that I was going to receive "that look" - the look I'm sure I have given hundreds of time. The look given to someone grieving. One that is meant to convey "I am so sorry, I am here for you, I care" but instead, when you are on the receiving side, it is a trigger of tears and the agonizing feeling that they think of you now as a different person, a fragile person. Which you are, you know you are, but you don't want to come to grips with that. My work family took every precaution possible to help make my transition back to work as uplifting and helpful as they could. While it was difficult to look people in the eye and force a smile, as each week went by, it got a little better and a little easier. My first day/week/month back was difficult, but it wasn't as tough as I had worked it up to be in my head.

I still had not experienced the awkward encounter of running into someone out in public but my anxiety was at an all time high in anticipation. One Thursday, a member of my team had the idea to get away for lunch. I welcomed the idea because I needed that time out of the office for a bit. We went down the street and as we ate, a woman approached our table, she was a family friend of my coworker. When she walked up, I realized that I knew her, she was the aunt of one of my childhood friends and growing up, I knew her as "Aunt Cory" (changing the name here, just in case). As my coworker introduced us, I told her that it had been several years, but we had actually met before. I was Ann and Mike's daughter, we lived down the street from her brother and I grew up with her nieces and nephews. And then she said "oh! yes, I remember you. You just lost your baby didn't you?" It was in the tone of someone asking you a question such as "did you just move," or "did you just get a new job?" My coworker nearly dropped her glass and I just stared at this woman. She continued on saying that she read about it on the internet or something [Facebook] and that it is just awful (complete with the one handed flap motion). She continued talking and I continued staring at her, hoping my jaw had not hit the ground completely yet as she felt the need to say things like, "I just can't imagine. I mean, I have four children, and I just couldn't imagine," and "you know, you should talk to so and so. They lost their baby at 8 months pregnant. I'm leaving to go out of town in a few days, but I'll see if someone else can make that introduction for you." Then, as another woman approached the table, she had to let that woman know that I had just lost my baby. Finally, she returned to her table two down from ours to let the rest of those women know that the girl over there that she was talking to, she just lost her baby. This is definitely the cliffs notes version. The entire episode went on for probably close to 15 minutes.

It was an atrocious situation. Somehow, I responded with dignity. I used my yes ma'ams and no ma'ams. I bit my tongue and held myself together. Once she walked away, my sweet coworker was ready to rush me out of there, to do something to undo what had just happened. But I was okay, I didn't even cry. I felt more sorry for that woman who doesn't possess any tact. I called my mom that day on my way home and shared the story. WE LAUGHED. Yes, we laughed about it and she said - well honey, you made it through the worst possible scenario of that kind of encounter that you were afraid of. Look how you handled it! You got through it and while it was bad, it wasn't as hard on your heart as you thought it would be.

One of my biggest fears was getting through his due date. The week was approaching and again, red-headed-step-child Anxiety was taking over my heart and mind. We chose to intern his ashes on Saturday, July 18 (the original due date given) as a way to honor him and feel close to him. I couldn't sleep all week. I had so much anxiety about how I would feel, how my husband would feel, how we were going to get through this milestone. The night before was rough and I was a mess. The morning came and it was a beautiful day. On the way out the door, we decided to bring our pup, George, to see his brother. We arrived at the church and stood in the beautiful columbarium garden, seeing his plaque with his beautiful name for the first time. Receiving the ashes we had requested for the first time. Our pastor lead a brief ceremony and prayed with us, then left Max, George and me to have time on our own. The rest of the day was beautiful as we enjoyed time relaxing with one another. We made it through and the day was not as terrible as I had let my mind believe it to be.

I am sitting at 11 weeks out from the day we lost Hudson. These are just a few of the 234,873 fears that have entered my being in that time and have made me anxious. I still have fears of upcoming life situations and sometimes they are all that consume my thoughts. I work myself up with anxiety in anticipation for something I don't feel like I can do. And then it happens. We make it through, we survived it and it gives us just a little ounce of additional strength to help keep building on. Some of my fears I can't help but conquer because a situation arises that you can't run from. Others, I can be in control of and I need to take my time to get there. At some point though, I will fully conquer this thing called fear and stifle the anxiety that comes with it.