The Pregnant Science Teacher

Well, it’s been quite the school year. After two years of being out of the classroom, I returned and immediately found out I was expecting. My pregnancy is uncannily in line with the school year — about 40 weeks long, from August through the end of May. Including a couple weeks of time off before my due date, I’m only going to miss three weeks of school.

Teaching science to elementary school kids has been such a blast — definitely my favorite job thus far. The staff I work with are fabulous, my principal is super supportive, and science experiments are inherently exciting (and therefore kids are engaged without too much effort on my part!).

The kids are obsessed with my pregnancy. I have the apps The Bump, Nurture, and Ovia, all of which give me weekly updates on the size of the baby. The Bump and Nurture tell me a fruit or vegetable (for instance, at week 32, the baby is either the size of a large bok choy or summer squash); and Ovia lets me choose among a fruit or veggie, a weird-but-cute animal, a toy, or an item in a French bakery. This week, the baby is a naked-tail armadillo! Anyway, the kids get a real kick out of this.

In between 3rd-graders designing and testing parachutes, 4th-graders growing mold in plastic bags, and 1st-graders discovering that rainbows can happen even without water, I’ve been able to fit in a lot of fun stuff for myself and my husband too.

Since our New Year’s trip to Yosemite, Sean and I hosted my 15-year-old niece, Melody, for a weekend in February. We took her to San Francisco to see the Ferry Building, ride a cable car, browse the shelves at historic City Lights Bookstore, and eat gelato in North Beach. We also got to see a jazz singer perform in Oakland with Sean’s cousin and his wife and have Sunday brunch with my mom and aunt in Walnut Creek. It was a memorable weekend!

In March, my family threw me a beautiful baby shower and my little sister a beautiful bridal shower…all in the same weekend! We also fit in birthday celebrations for both my mom and mother-in-law. It was both exhausting and wonderful! Baby Bourne has everything he/she could ever need; now we just wait his/her arrival. Seven weeks to go!

The following weekend, Sean and I returned to Yosemite Valley; this time with Sean’s cousin, Steven, and Steven’s wife, Katelyn. At 31 weeks pregnant, I wasn’t quite as sprightly as I was for our New Year’s trip, but I was still able to hike to Mirror Lake and do part of the Valley Loop Trail. Sean, Steven, and Katelyn hiked to Clark Point, just beyond Vernal Falls (8 miles round-trip). The icing on the cake was Sunday brunch in the grand dining room of the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (forever known as The Ahwahnee). We’ve now seen Yosemite in winter and spring this year; the goal is to go in summer and fall too. The only difference will be that we’ll have a baby in tow!

Last weekend we went on a very speedy trip down to LA to have lunch with my dad in Santa Monica (we ate at True Food Kitchen, which was fantastic), do a 20-minute tour of UCLA (now Sean and I have seen each other’s alma maters; he attended gorgeous UBC in Vancouver), and hang out with our dear friends, Nick and Hitomi in Glendale…all on Saturday. We spent the night with Nick and Hitomi (and watched Michael Bolton’s Valentine’s Day special on Netflix…highly recommended), and then on Sunday we drove the scenic route (highway 101) back home. We stopped in San Luis Obispo for brunch at a restaurant Nick and Hitomi told us about, The Gardens of Avila. Great food in a gorgeous setting!

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Sean in SLO

Now that we’re in the final stretch of both the school year and my pregnancy, we’re hunkering down. The only mini-trip we have planned is to Petaluma to visit Aunt Becky and dog-sit for her one weekend in May. Otherwise my weeks are full of school events like the Science Fair and Open House; and our weekends are full of childbirth classes, building baby furniture, and installing car seats, and prenatal yoga…with some socializing with friends in between. Life is good.

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Irish Road Trip – Part 1

We read in Rick Steves’ tour book that 10% of all auto accidents in Ireland involve foreigners, and this became frighteningly understandable immediately upon exiting the rental car parking lot.

We rented from Dan Dooley at the Dublin Airport, and we were very happy with them…especially since they didn’t mind that we returned our little Nissan Micra with a banged up front left hubcap. Sean was the first to drive, and he did a great job getting us out of the city and into the countryside. He drove us to the Rock of Cashel, and then on to Kinsale. Because I am a control freak, I drove basically for the remainder of our trip (I was just too nervous as a passenger). While I did hit a curb, I felt better being the one in the driver’s seat. Sean was a fabulous, patient navigator (and husband, obviously).

The Rock of Cashel has too many components for me to remember, so I’ll let DiscoverIreland.ie explain it:
“A collection of medieval ecclesiastical buildings set on an outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale. The 12th-century round tower is of the oldest surviving building on the Rock, also include a high cross, and the ruins [of a] Romanesque chapel – Cormac’s Chapel is one of the earliest,and finest churches built in the Romanesque style. The 13th-century Gothic cathedral is a large cruciform Gothic church without aisles built between 1230 and 1270. Also a 15th-century castle and the Hall of the Vicars is the entry point to the ecclesiastical enclosure. The Hall houses the museum where the original Cross of St. Patrick can be found.”

It was a very cool site to see, and I’m so happy that my history-buff husband put it on our must-see list. [Some photos below are a bit small; you can click each one to enlarge it if you want!]

It took us a little over two hours to get to Cashel, and then after our hour-long stop, we continued on for around 90 minutes to arrive in the ridiculously cute seaside town of Kinsale, in County Cork. Those 90 minutes were pretty stressful. The streets got super narrow, and the speed limit was 100KPH (62MPH) in areas where we felt more comfortable going 20MPH, much to the irritation of those behind us.

We made it, and we were very relieved to park our car and get settled in to our little room at Tierney’s Guesthouse. We loved the staff there – very friendly and helpful. After strolling around a bit, we ate dinner at Finns’ Table, which was magnificent! Truly a meal to remember. Julie Finn, a co-owner, was there to seat us and make sure we were well taken care of. The restaurant has only about 20 spots and specializes in fresh, local ingredients. The seafood and vegetables were fantastic, and my dessert was so decadent — chocolate-espresso mousse with Irish whisky whipped cream on top!

Stuffed and happy, we walked out to Charles Fort, and walked back as the sun was setting (at 1oPM). Being so far north was awesome because our days were gloriously long.


Before leaving town the next day, we drove as close as we could to James Fort and then walked the rest of the way.

After a quick but lovely stay in Kinsale, we headed northwest to the Dingle Peninsula. I’ve already written about Dingle. You can read about that part of our adventure here!

 

Road Trip: NYC to Asheville & Back

My little sister, Aly, lives with her boyfriend, Ryan, in Asheville, North Carolina. Last July Sean and I rented a car in Manhattan and drove for more than 13.5 hours (690 miles) to visit them!

 

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Starting out!

We loved our road trip, which spanned eight states – most of which we had never seen. We stopped in Lexington, Virginia for lunch on the way down and in Johnson City, Tennessee for coffee on the way back up, and took quick breaks in several other little towns in between.

 

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Made it!

Aly and Ryan live in a cool house in a woodsy neighborhood in Asheville.

During our stay, Sean and I got to:

  • Explore the historic and fabulous Biltmore Estate, which is just outside of town. We toured the inside and the gardens, and tried the wine made from grapes made on the property. I couldn’t take photos inside, but trust me – that place is spectacular!
  • Float down the French Broad River during an Independence Day rainstorm (not pictured, for aquatic reasons)
  • Play with Avi, Aly and Ryan’s cute pup
  • Hike in the Appalachians
  • Eat fantastic food! Those biscuits were dreamy! And Asheville is great for all the world’s cuisines, as well as excellent microbrews.
  • Hang out with the band (Ryan is in an awesome band called River Whyless, and we got to hang out with all the members. Click here for their fabulous NPR Tiny Desk Concert.).
  • Take a Pure Barre class (Aly is an instructor!).
  • Experience the Blue Mountain Parkway (the cabin you see in the slideshow is where Aly and Ryan lived when Aly first moved to Asheville)

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We had such a great time experiencing the Asheville lifestyle. We understand why Aly and Ryan love it so much!

Long Island Long Weekend

Sean and I decided to take advantage of the East End’s off-season deals during our February long weekend.

We rented a little car near LaGuardia airport and drove 113 miles through Long Island, along the south fork, all the way to the very tip to a village called Montauk. (I, probably like most of my peers NOT from the East Coast, first learned of Montauk from the awesome 2004 film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; movie clip here.)

Sean and I stopped for brunch in Sag Harbor at a Hamptons institution called Estia’s Little Kitchen.

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We arrived at the lighthouse in Montauk in the early afternoon and took a quick look around.

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Sean’s eyes froze while looking through the binoculars, so we figured it was time to get back in the car. We rolled up to the historic and majestic Montauk Manor and got settled into our little studio with a lovely ocean view.

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That afternoon we drove over to the taproom at the Montauk Brewing Company to try some local brews and mingle with some local people. One pair of locals in particular gave us a great recommendation for dinner that night. We ate at Harvest on Fort Pond and had a fabulous meal – pizza with artichokes and a perfectly cooked piece of salmon. All the plates are served family style, which meant that we had pizza for lunch the next day!

We were indoors 95% of the time we spent in Montauk because we were there during New York’s coldest day on record. We woke up on Valentine’s Day to find the ocean steaming up into the frigid winter air.

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We were so thrilled by this temperature (-19C, for my metric friends and family) that we decided we needed to truly experience it, so we bundled up and drove to Ditch Plains for a beach walk.

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Sean lasted about 20 minutes out there, a good 13 or 14 more than I did. My fingers reached a painful level of cold that actually scared me. I’d never felt like I was in physical danger just by standing outside. I headed back to the car, which never really warmed up, and waited for Sean to come back.

I’m happy I at least got a few photos before scurrying back to the car.

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We drove back to the hotel for a nice inside day. Unfortunately, Sean caught a cold (and then I ended up with it too), but we still had a relaxing afternoon watching HGTV and planning our trip to Ireland. This seagull was somehow able to hang out outside on our balcony.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Oh and it’s a good thing we brought wine! Bacchus = new favorite.

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We watched the sunset and then headed to our Valentine’s dinner at Swallow East: a nice salad with goat cheese, beets, and pistachios; a simple ravioli dish with marinara sauce; seared tuna in dashi with broccoli rabe; and sea salt dark chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

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It snowed on our way out of town, but the temperature was almost 30 degrees warmer than the day before. That makes a real difference! We stopped for tea, coffee, and a muffin at the Hampton Coffee Company and continued our journey west. It was a memorable, freezing, and romantic weekend way out at The End. 

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