A Not-So-Smooth Transition

Last month, I turned off the television, took out my curlers, and put the chocolate candy back in the pantry (along with all the other outdated stay-at-home-mom stereotypes) and jumped feet first back into the employment pond. An opportunity presented itself that was just too good to pass up. So now I find myself working from home in a field that I studied in graduate school and  actually get paid for my expertise. And it feels great to be working again.

Not that my transition hasn’t been met with some growing pains – I’m slowly finding my groove, which explains my radio silence on here for the past month. And probably why we can’t eat off our floors (side note – I am seriously considering a Roomba…any thoughts?). Because my work is project-based, I am still figuring out the best way to work from home and not feel guilty when I am not working. And now that we are mere days away from summer vacation, I am trying to schedule my days so I can meet deadlines, not ignore my children, and still do all the summer activities that makes the break from school oh so special. Not that I am putting pressure on myself or anything. Of course not. It’s fine. IT’S FINE!

 

But enough about my shortcomings of juggling it all. So what have we been up to for the past month?

We learned our children have become lightweights. One morning when it was in the mid-50s, the kids insisted on wearing winter gear when playing in the backyard. Safe to say, they’ve adjusted to Texas just fine. Meanwhile, Clay and I are dreaming of colder climates.

We’ve spent time exploring the Guadelupe River.

River hiking is quickly becoming one of my new favorite activities.

Our neighborhood pool has been open since March

I suppose that is one perk of living in central Texas.

We attended a Military Ball along the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio.

We frequented the new In & Out Burger that opened near our house more times than I care to admit. And while I do love me some In & Out, I like Shake Shack better. #eastcoastforever

Baby girl finished her inaugural t-ball season.

And the little guy finished his fourth soccer season.

We’re taking advantage of the longer days. After we put the kids to bed, Clay and I find ourselves enjoying cocktails on the back deck. We watch the sun set and discuss important affairs such as Russia, healthcare, and where is Scott Bakula?!?

This almost-12-year-old girl gave us quite the scare a couple of weeks ago and we prepared ourselves for the worst. But we are ecstatic to report that Lucy is doing well and recovered from a severe case of heat stroke.

Okay, so I think now we’re all caught up. I hope to be writing more frequently again…I sure do have a lot to say! Until then….

Okay. One more…

30 Hours in Austin, Texas

When Clay’s sister and family made plans to fly out to Texas for a week-long visit, we advised them to fly into Austin rather than San Antonio because rates tend to be more reasonable and we all could spend a night or two in Austin before saying our goodbyes at the Bergstrom International Airport. We looked forward to our return getaway to the state capital (fun fact – it’s the second-most populous state capital in the nation) and after a packed-full week of San Antonio adventures, the seven of us (four adults and three kids) piled into the 4Runner and made our way to Austin, Texas.

We took the scenic route through Hill Country – stopping in Driftwood, Texas for lunch at The Salt Lick, a favorite spot of ours to take out-of-town guests. At The Salt Lick, you can experience a winery, an outdoor playground, delicious BBQ, and the quintessential hill country Texas vibe. It’s extremely kid-friendly and despite feeding thousands of people throughout the week, it is very efficient and well-run.

From The Salt Lick, it is just a quick 20-minute drive into downtown Austin. We checked into our hotel, The Embassy Suites Austin Downtown Town Lake, and let the kids run back and forth between our rooms while the adults enjoyed a cocktail. The hotel is perfectly situated between the Texas Capitol Building, University of Texas at Austin campus, 6th Street, and South Congress Avenue so we were able to walk almost everywhere, which is our favorite way to explore a city!

Violet would.not.stop.singing How Far I’ll Go from Moana.

We totally experienced 6th Street just the way it’s meant to be experienced…

…during the day with kids!

For an afternoon snack, we went to Voodoo Doughnut and found ourselves disappointed. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by artisan donuts throughout our travels but these just weren’t that good. Furthermore, the ordering process is insanely frustrating and completely inefficient and the person who took our order embodied every single stereotype of the millennial generation. If you find yourself in Austin craving donuts, skip Voodoo and head over to Gourdough’s Big. Fat. Donuts. We wish we did! Oh and in case you’re wondering what our picks for best donuts ever? Sugar Shack in Alexandria, Virginia and Condon’s Doughnuts in Wells, Maine. You’re welcome.

We walked along Lady Bird Lake back to our hotel to take advantage of the manager’s reception (free drinks!) before heading back out at dusk to see the world famous bats.

The largest urban bat colony in North America lives underneath the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. During ‘bat season’ (April – November), the bats leave the bridge nightly, which results in quite the spectacle that can last up to 2-3 hours.

We walked to the Austin-American Statesman park and waited for about 30 minutes for the first bat to emerge. And before long, we were treated to a wave of bats.

Hard to believe but there are thousands of bats in this picture. We all commented on how awesome it would be to see the bats from the water. There were a lot of kayakers and a couple of river cruises on the water and they definitely had the best seats in the house – next time we’ll do that, for sure!

The next morning, we checked-out of the hotel after breakfast and walked down South Congress Avenue to experience the iconic Austin street scattered with shops, restaurants, and bars.

Our Lady at 1500 S Congress

I’m certainly not alone in my love for all the public art throughout Austin.

One of my favorites – Big Eye on South Congress

1720 S 1st Sreet

I mean – you can’t go to Austin and not take a picture with this mural, right? Located on the wall of Jo’s Coffee (absolutely delicious coffee!), it had been vandalized (again) since we were there last summer…the lettering is thicker this time around.

After getting our fill of South Congress Avenue, we drove to Covert Park at Mount Bonell, a famous area alongside the Lake Austin portion of the Colorado River (not the Colorado River…Texas has their own Colorado River…because that makes sense).

We then headed to the University of Texas campus for lunch. We ended up at Gabriel’s Cafe and enjoyed Texas beer and traditional lunch-fare. The building was hosting an MBA graduation ceremony so we definitely felt like we were on a college campus, complete with gowns and caps.

University of Texas at Austin is no Clemson University but we could certainly see why so many people like it! 🙂

We had just enough time to swing by the State Capitol Building before heading to the airport.

The Texas State Capitol Building is such a cool place to visit – it’s open to the public and is gorgeous inside! Surprisingly, it isn’t the tallest state capitol building in the United States (that honor belongs to Louisiana) so I guess not everything is bigger here. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to explore all the halls and chambers like we did last summer but there is always next time.

And before we knew it, we were saying goodbye to Meredith, Harry, and Alaina. We are so thankful they chose to spend their Spring Break with us here in Texas. Who knows where the Army will send us next, but wherever it may be – we can’t wait to share it with our family and friends.

No Longer the Diet Coke of Karen

It’s not secret that I haven’t felt like I’m operating at my best since moving to Texas last summer – still functioning but certainly not at 100%. Maybe it’s the cedar fever. Maybe it’s because we left an amazing atmosphere at our previous duty station. Or maybe I’m not just meant to live below the 30th parallel north. Whatever the reason – I had felt like the Diet Coke of Karen soon after arriving to the Lone Star state. Perhaps was isn’t even the fault of Texas and I’d been unfairly placing blame on the second-most populated state in the union. After all, many people love it here. Maybe it was me the entire time. But you know what? I think I am finally starting to emerge from the fog. It’s lifting. Could I actually be beginning to bloom here?

To call what I went through depression is a disservice to those who have been diagnosed with the often-debilitating disease. Failure to bloom isn’t in the DSM-5 and to be honest, it feels a bit icky to be writing about it when so many people are truly suffering around the world. To complain about not feeling totally like myself at a place the government paid to move my family seems unnecessary. And I’m sure I’ve rolled my eyes many times over the years in regards to someone lamenting about their struggle to adapt to a new location. I probably sighed too because I tend to be a big sigh-er. Needless to say, I’m not exactly known for my empathy. But I’m working on it, though. I promise!

No make-up, hair not brushed, and one of my happiest moments so far this year.

Something has shifted over the past few weeks. I’m walking taller. I’m 10 pounds lighter (literally and figuratively). And I’m smiling more. I’m not going to lie – it feels freakin’ amazing. Admittedly, there are a handful of external forces that have contributed to my blooming that I’ll discuss at later time but I finally feel like Karen again. Hi guys! <waves enthusiastically> It’s been awhile.

Clay’s sister and her family are in town visiting us from the east coast for their Spring Break. We’ve been having a great time showing them around the San Antonio. It really is a cool city rich in history, culture, and food. Now that I am no longer the Diet Coke of Karen, I am appreciating San Antonio quite a bit more. And you know what? That’s pretty damn cool.