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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The City with Jake

Right before moving up to Vancouver, Sean and I had the chance to show our dear friend, Jake, around the big city I call mine — and one of Sean’s favourites — San Francisco!

“When I was a child growing up in Salinas we called San Francisco ‘the City’…A strange and exclusive word is ‘city’. Besides San Francisco only small sections of London and Rome stay in mind as the City. New Yorkers say they are going to town. Paris has no title but Paris. Mexico City is the Capital.”
-John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

Jake is originally from Australia, but now he lives in Bangkok (where we met him) with his lovely girlfriend, Pear. Pear went to visit some friends on the East Coast while Jake had one day to see The City.

The three of us drove into San Francisco and parked in the Mission. We walked a couple blocks in this interesting and diverse neighbourhood that is being gentrified as we speak. There are literally hundreds of fantastic restaurants in San Francisco, and I’ve only sampled a handful, but my favourite one is definitely Gracias Madre. They’re all about organic local vegan Mexican food, and they do a damn good job!

We then decided to drive over to Hayes Valley for some ice cream at my friend Alison’s favourite place — Smitten. Their handmade ice cream, made right on the spot with liquid nitrogen, is simply miraculous. It’s creamy in a way that makes you thank the universe for your very existence.

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After window shopping on Hayes, we decided to walk all the way to the Ferry Building at the Embarcadero (about four kilometres). It was closing for a special, private event (lame), but we were still able to show Jake the awesome stalls and get him some famous Blue Bottle Coffee (I think it’s as good as its hype would lead one to believe). We strolled along the pier there, basked in the sunshine, and then took a bus back to Hayes Valley.

We had to part with Jake at SFO, and it was sad to say goodbye again, but we’re pretty sure that our little tour of SF was enough to make him want to come back to the West Coast one day! (With Pear too!)

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Art and Salads in The City

My great friend, Jessica, is an art conservationist at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Earlier this week, I perused the galleries of the de Young while Jessica worked in the morning, and then we met up for tasty salads at the museum’s cafe during her lunch break.

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After lunch, I headed over to the Legion of Honor, where one’s ticket to the de Young is also valid. My favorite exhibits were the Matisse and Monet.

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On my way back to the North Bay, I stopped to admire the Golden Gate Bridge. No matter how many times I’ve seen the bridge — or driven over it or walked or run over it — I still find myself in awe. It’s just so majestic, and it is also an emblem of the area of California that I love so dearly.

It was another beautiful day in San Francisco, and it was wonderful seeing Jessica before we both get married and move away (she’s getting married in August and then starting a Master’s program on the East Coast!).

Four Birds, a Bay, and Some Breakers

Last Sunday, the third Sunday in May, was the day of the big annual Bay to Breakers footrace in San Francisco. This was the race’s 103rd running, and I got to run it with three fabulous birds…I mean athletes.

Bay to Breakers is oh so much more than your typical 12K race. While it is not required, it is custom to wear a costume. While it is not legal, many participants consume alcohol along the route. And while it is generally not a pleasing sight, nudity is rampant, particularly among older men. It’s a race, it’s a party, it’s a spectacle, and it is so San Francisco!

“Oh you actually run it?” is the response we runners tend to get from other participants. Actually, many people run the race, but we run it much earlier and finish much sooner than the partiers and the walkers. This year was my 5th time completing the course, my 4th time running it, and it was one of the best. It was an absolutely pristine SF day with some patchy fog opening up to reveal a spectacular blue sky. Due to some timing issues, my three fellow birds and I showed up a little too late to get into the correct place in our corral to start the race ahead of the slower participants. This actually turned out to be super fun because we saw more of the outrageousness that defines Bay to Breakers — naked people, drunk people, elaborate costumes (my all-time favorite being the pair who gallop the entire 7.4 miles each year, one as the King of England and the other as his loyal coconut-clapping horseman, a la Monty Python!), and the block parties and bands along the course. Oh and who could forget the salmon?! A rather large group of salmon run part of the race backwards, or upstream, yelling, “Spawn, spawn!” It’s a riot.

The most spirited neighborhood this year was definitely Hayes Valley, and the best part of the race is usually the Hayes Street Hill. The Hill is notorious for being the toughest section of the course, so runners and walkers all appreciate the fanfare and encouragement as they ascend.

The race, which begins at the Embarcadero (the Bay), ends at the coast (the breaking waves = the “breakers”) after a pretty stint through Golden Gate Park, where we see bison, a waterfall, and a windmill. The scene at the finish line was pretty hectic, but it was worth fighting the crowds to get a nice shirt, a medal, and some free snacks.

It was so much fun running with the other birds. Thanks to Elisabeth for the costume idea and for gathering all the supplies for a fun arts and crafts session the night before the race!