Early Phases

We now have appointments set with the architect and (potential) custom builder of our future home! It’s been 5.5 years in the making… I. Can’t. Wait.

This is the day we closed on the land in March 2015.


Will post more as progress moves along!


ACL Festival – How To

I know, I know. I’m now 31 years old and should be over the music festival scene, but when it comes to live music (especially so many great bands in one location/weekend) I can’t resist! But, let’s tune out the Free People ads and Coachella recaps and be realistic, okay?

It is one month until the first day of ACL 2016! I have learned from past experiences that it’s good to be prepared for anything while jamming out to the best bands in the heat of Austin, TX. I think I was better prepared in both 2010 & 2012 because that was before “festival style” was a thing. When you’re smashed up against strangers no one is worried about what the other person is wearing anyway – everyone just wants a good view of the stage. However, I must send out a “thank you” to the girl wearing a black bra & panties under a tight ripped up orange dress with platform stripper boots for giving us a laugh! Now onto the good stuff:


In 2012 it poured on us for about 20 minutes and then let up, but I didn’t have any rain boots so my feet were soaked inside my tennis shoes. Last year there was a slight chance of rain in the forecast for Friday so I brought along my packable Hunter boots. I didn’t need them, but I’m glad I had them just in case. I’d also recommend a rain slicker or even a cheap poncho and a collapsible umbrella. If you want to roll in the mud, feel free, but you might be miserable the rest of the day. No one likes chafing, just sayin’.


This is the most important item to me. Last year was absolutely painful and ridiculous. I couldn’t walk like a normal person and my lower back was killing me from no arch support. I (stupidly) tried fitting in with the teens and 20-somethings who can stand wearing boots & gladiator sandals in 100+ degree heat. My boots started hurting so I changed into brand new sandals that gave me awful water blisters that Ben had to pop every night. Yeah, gross. And totally not worth it. I’ve learned my lesson. I’m wearing sneakers (I just bought some Nike Free RN shoes that are the most comfortable things I’ve ever put on my feet). Maybe channel the athleisure look that’s so popular now. Ha. Seriously, if you haven’t broken in your most-loved boots or sandals, DO NOT attempt wearing them from noon until 10pm for three days straight. Not gonna happen – at least not happily. Keep in mind that it’s hot & humid in Austin, even in October. Sweaty feet = blisters. Here’s a quick pic I took right before I changed into my cursed sandals. You can see where my boots rubbed against my ankles.



In the words of Baz Luhrman: “If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.” Be sure to apply it at home before putting on clothes so you have it everywhere. And reapply throughout the day. Guess what?! You can still tan while wearing 30-50 SPF! So don’t give me any of that “I want a tan” crap because I’m not listening. If you want to look like a worn leather couch by the time you’re 50, be my guest. Also, bring a hat and wear sunglasses – extra points if they’re polarized.


There are stations with hand sanitizer outside of the port-a-potties, but if you feel you need a little extra, bring your own travel size sanitizer. Also, pack toilet paper just in case they run out. Baby wipes, baby! They are great for wiping dust off your feet & legs or cleaning the sticky off your hands after a delicious snack. Maybe pack a ziplock bag or two to collect trash if you don’t want to hike to find a trash can. Keep Texas Beautiful, y’all!


Bring a Camelbak and/or refillable water bottle. It was tremendously hot on Sunday and people were dropping like flies. The lines to the water stations were long and hoards of people were sitting under the large oak trees or under umbrellas. Unfortunately, by Sunday the water at the stations was room temperature at best. Lukewarm is probably more accurate. But, it’s water and free. If you want to have your own brand of fun with alcohol, be sure to drink plenty of water, too.


It’s always good to have band-aids, aspirin, allergy meds, tums, neosporin, gauze, medical tape & sunscreen. I used all my band-aids last year on my poor feet.


If you plan to use the ACL Festival app on your phone, you’ll need to keep it charged. Or you can make a temporary tattoo out of the lineup if you’re the creative type. Bring along your portable phone charger and plug in your phone while not using it. Remember that once it gets super crowded, there’s no use trying to text friends to meet up. You will have no service, I promise. Have a meeting place and time(s) if your group splits up or bring a 12′ pole with a flag/sign on top for your friends to find you. These are some funny ones we saw last year. You’re welcome.





Even though there are amazing (and expensive) food & drink choices at the food court, the lines can get super long. Or maybe you’re waiting to watch your favorite band and don’t want to lose your spot. Granola/protein bars, crackers or dried fruit are great options for easy-to-pack food. But they don’t technically allow outside food so we hide it inside our bags. You can also bring in two factory sealed water bottles. If you’re daring enough to try it, here’s a secret.


I’m not going to act like I don’t care how I look or feel while melting in the heat. If you’re brave enough to forego makeup altogether, brava to you! But if you’re vain like me, you’ll want to wear something to feel human. I plan to wear moisturizer (with SPF), minimal foundation (if any), mascara and tinted lip balm. I’ll also pack oil absorbing sheets to help tame the shine. Be sure to pack extra hair ties, bobby pins, deodorant, cinnamon gum (freshens breath better than mint), floss picks, chapstick and brush/comb.


You’ll want to put all of your goodies in something practical like a backpack or cross-body bag. I carried a purse I got in El Salvador and got a couple of comments about it. One guy even chased after me to ask if I was from El Salvador! It was nice to have a small bag, but I think I’ll bring a real backpack this time. Especially if it’s fun.


The REAL reason I wrote this post; the REAL reason we put ourselves through the misery of heat stroke, blisters & back pain: to see the fabulous bands we love. Planning ahead means more fun times! Enjoy!

Best in Music Vol. 1

This weekend I’m bringing together some Abilene & Austin friends for a fantastic girls weekend and I. can’t. wait! I’m bummed we won’t get to go paddle boarding since my arms are still too weak, but walking around Lady Bird Lake (will always be Town Lake to me) and chilling on the shores of Barton Springs will make up for it. I’ll be jamming out to this playlist all weekend:



Best in Music Vol. 1

Music has been a part of my life since before I was born. My parents said I moved in the womb when they’d play music or when they sang at church. That’s probably why I danced for 18 years. Apart from the obvious ways to wind down (bath, working out, massage, cup of tea) music is my #1 go-to. When I travel for work and I have a hotel room by myself, I never turn on the television. I usually choose to read and listen to music.

You can access my Unwind playlist here:

Worth Reading Vol. 1

My job is pretty busy during the school year so I have been catching up on my reading this summer. Here are some books I’ve read lately that I’d highly recommend.

Canada by Richard Ford

Del Parsons’ life changes drastically when his parents rob a bank. Despite the immediate giveaway of what becomes of his parents, the development of characters and detail of their lives leading up to the incident of the robbery is refreshing. It takes a while to even get to the part where he escapes to Canada. It wasn’t the most suspenseful book, but it kept my attention long enough to want to know whatever becomes of Del & his twin sister.

The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly

This book was hard to put down. I couldn’t understand Karen’s obsession with her friend, Biba, but it added intensity to the story line. There’s enough foreshadowing to keep you wanting more. The ending was completely unexpected!

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

This was unlike any book I’ve read before. Honestly, if I had tried to read this 10 years ago, I probably would have lost interest. The older I get the more I’m fascinated by history and different religions. This is a fictional story about a sacred Jewish book called the Haggadah and each chapter visits a different time, place and people who have had access to this book. Honing in on certain characters brings back the humanity. There are some hard parts to swallow that open your eyes to the violence & hate that have affected our world from now back to the 14th century.

Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard by Laura Bates

My mom gave me this book to read while I was home bound with rhabdo. I read it in two days. It’s a real life account of a Shakespeare professor who introduces prisoners to works like Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet and Macbeth. Through Shakespeare’s words they start to reflect on their own lives and even while in solitary confinement are able to find a sense of purpose. It is a story filled with hope and optimism. This is a must-read!


My Dance with Rhabdo

Because I can’t seem to find any information about what to do about rhabdo once you have it, I’m documenting my experience to maybe help someone else.

In April I started attending a local gym that offers Cross Fit-like workouts without the pressure of competition. I had been going at least once a week and supplementing with BodyFlow, BodyPump, BodyJam and running. I liked seeing the quick changes my body was making along with a new type of workout that was challenging and making me stronger. I quickly learned that in order to finish the WOD I had to use mind-over-matter techniques. My friend who had come with me a few times would make comments about how impressed she was with my endurance.

However, in June, I hadn’t been sticking with my diet or exercise plan very well so after yet another weekend of indulgence (LOTS of sugar) I was looking forward to a good workout. Last Tuesday, July 5th after we finished the workout, the first activity was 5 pull-ups on the minute for 10 minutes. Do the math. That’s 50 pull-ups. We weren’t “allowed” to use the rubber bands which is what I had been depending on to help with my pull-ups in the past. This time I was instructed to modify by kneeling on a box and pushing up off the top of my feet while pulling up. After the first two sets I remember my arms feeling especially tight around the biceps and I was having a hard time straightening my arms. I would stretch them out after each set and keep going. When we were done with the 50 pull-ups we went on to 5 rounds of the rowing machine (15 calories), 21 wall balls and 9 toe-to-bars.

When I got home I was still having a hard time straightening my arms, but I didn’t think much of it. The next day, I traveled to Dallas for work and by 8pm, my left arm was swollen around the elbow and looked almost disfigured. The next morning I awoke to my right arm also swollen. I was taking ibuprofen (HUGE no no – only take Tylenol) and not drinking much water (another huge no no). My husband asked the owners of the gym if they knew why I was swelling. They asked if my urine was dark (no, it was clear) and they were relieved that they didn’t think I had rhabdomyolsis. That was the first time I had ever heard of it.

Flashback: When I was a sophomore in college (Fall 2004) I was in a strength training class and on a day I didn’t feel well I decided to do a bunch of calf raises. I don’t remember how many in each ballet position I did, but I guess I did a ton because that weekend when I went home to visit, I could barely walk. The backs of my knees swelled and I couldn’t straighten my legs. My Mimi rubbed tiger balm on them and I soaked in an apple cider vinegar bath. Knowing what I know now, I wonder if I had rhabdo and didn’t know it was a condition to look out for.

Back to the present: I returned home Thursday, July 7th and tried taking an Epsom salt bath which made my arms swell even more. While I soaked, I read an account from another person saying her urine had been clear the entire time, but still had rhabdo. So I went to the ER to get checked out. Here’s what my right arm looked like before I went to the ER. You can see the swelling below the elbow.


At the ER they took my blood pressure (higher than normal) and had to wrap the cuff around my forearm since I had so much swelling. When the nurse was about to draw my blood I said, “I hope you can find the vein with all this swelling. Usually nurses love my veins since they’re so big.” He laughed and I had met my goal of cheering up the poor late night ER nurses 🙂

Pretty soon they got me into a room where I put on a gown and they hooked me up to the machine to measure my blood pressure and oxygen levels. It was pretty uncomfortable every minute when the cuff would tighten around my huge arms. I waited for about 2 hours for blood results and before I even got a chance to see the doctor, the nurse came in and put an IV in my hand for fluids. Shudder. It was a fast-drip and was gone by the time the doctor came in to tell me I indeed did have rhabdo, but no kidney damage. Hoorah! – kinda. My CK levels were at 3,300 when normal is 400-500. I was shocked! Sidenote: I’ve since read other accounts of people having levels up to 40,000 so 3,300 doesn’t sound so bad!

My orders were to drink lots of fluids and make an appointment with my primary doctor within 48 hours. This was a Thursday night. I was worried I wouldn’t get in on a Friday. Luckily, my doctor is only about 5 years older than me so he’s living within the times and has an online portal where patients can request appointments. He had an opening for 2pm the next day and I took it. When I went in he told me about his friend who had done P90X for the first time ever and got rhabdo all over his body and couldn’t move for 3 weeks! Yikes. I was miserable with just my arms. I couldn’t imagine having it all over my body! They took a urine sample and I heard back hours later telling me there was a little blood so they wanted me to come back on Monday for blood work.

When I went back in on Monday, my doctor peeked his head in to check on my swelling. There had been no improvement, my arms were now super tight and I was nervous to move my arms. He said it was good to move my arms and use fish oil supplements to help with inflammation. As soon as I got home I took two capsules of fish oil and started trying to use my arms more. They were very stiff at first and protested when I’d try to straighten them, but from Monday to Wednesday, my arms were significantly less swollen and more flexible. In fact, I was finally able to bathe myself (carefully, slowly) Wednesday morning! I had found out that ice or hot water made the swelling worse, only supposed to take Tylenol for any pain, elevating the arms doesn’t seem to help much, but moving and using fish oil do make a big difference in reducing swelling.

My urine results from Monday were clear, but my CK levels in my blood had spiked to 9,908! My doctor ordered me to come back on Wednesday morning for more blood work. I was notified this morning that my CK levels are back down to 3,000 and my urine is still clear so my doctor told me I look like I’m on the mend.

After asking what the timeline will be to get back to exercise, my doctor said, “At this point I’d say you should be able to do light exercise, but no more pull-up challenges until you feel like you’re back to 100%.” HA.

I’m back at work today and all this typing fatigues my still slightly swollen arms. They jiggle when I walk which is discouraging (not to mention gross) and I’m drinking a bottle of water every hour to stay hydrated. I’m so used to seeing results very quickly so the fact that the swelling is still here over a week later feels like there will be no end and my arms will never get back to normal.

Update: I woke up this morning (Friday, July 15th) with hardly any swelling in my right arm and I was able to straighten it completely! My left arm was still slightly swollen and unable to straighten all the way, but I’m working on it. They both swelled a little more throughout the day, but not much. Luckily, there’s still some tone on my biceps, but I have noticed that they are smaller than before. I don’t know if it has anything to do with how weak they are so I can’t actually flex, or if I have actually lost muscle (which I think is the case). It’s so sad!

Second update: It’s Tuesday, July 19th (two weeks from the day I injured myself) and I can finally straighten my arms all the way! I have no swelling in my right arm and my left still has a tiny bit of swelling, but not enough for anyone else to notice. I’m still avoiding alcohol and caffeine so my muscles can fully heal before I start trying to build them up again. Yesterday I was able to complete this leg exercise and it felt great to get my heart rate up again! I plan to take it slowly on the arms, but I’m eager to get back to some kind of movement.