10 Things A Pregnant Lady Should Never Do

Next week I’ll be entering my third trimester (for the third time), which means I’m just reaching that awkward point of pregnancy where I start to feel very…PREGNANT. I am reminded daily of how very pregnant I am becoming as my body goes through these beautiful, often-problematic changes. Seeing as this is my third go at the whole awkward/uncomfortable/ridiculous stage of pregnancy, I’ve learned a few tricks for keeping my head up and surviving to the end. Pay attention now, because these are actual words of wisdom.

I now present: 10 Things A Pregnant Lady Should Never Do

  1. Step on a scale
    Your prenatal doctor will compel you to do this painful task at each visit, but just do yourself a favor and don’t make eye contact with the numbers on that dreadful machine. And, by all means, don’t you dare step on a scale in your free time. I have made this mistake before and, trust me, your scale will be broken. There’s simply no other explanation for the gargantuan numbers it will spew at you.
  2. Look at your naked self in a mirror
    Perhaps this is related to #1, but seriously. Don’t. Especially your backside. Just let your husband gush about how glowingly beautiful your preggo little self is, and leave it at that.
  3. Cough/sneeze/laugh
    Because you’ll pee your pants. There, I said it.
  4. Watch A Baby Story on TLC
    Or Johnson & Johnson baby ads. Or commercial featuring Sarah McLachlan (dang you, homeless animals). If you watch these emotionally-driven, hormone-inducing programs you will find yourself in a sobbing mess quicker than you can waddle to the bathroom for a box of tissues.
  5. Go shopping without a plan and a budget
    Because chances are, if you do, you’ll come home with at least a dozen new baby doo-dads that you just couldn’t resist.
  6. Shave your legs
    Unless you’re an acrobat or have monkey arms, it’s just not even worth trying.
  7. Go out for the night with non-preggos
    Because they’ll want to do all the things you can’t do: drink adult beverages, stay up late, and dance without peeing themselves.
  8. Make easily accessible: chocolate/cheeseburgers/Taco Bell tacos/pickles/ice cream/Lucky Charms/(other pregnancy craving)
    Every pregnant lady has that one (or two or three or thirty) thing(s) they just can’t get enough of. Whatever your craving-poison may be, just try to pace yourself. Maybe even make a game of it.  For instance, have your husband hide the chocolate bars and then go on a treasure hunt. I’m sure you’d burn at least 100 calories trying to find them. Exercise + chocolate treat = pregnancy win
  9. Try to wear those super-cute, super-expensive shoes you bought pre-pregnancy
    Because they won’t fit. Chances are, your feet have already grown a full size or two and trying to squeeze into those shoes will just make you feel like one of Cinderella’s step sisters. Call it like it is and invest in some nice Birkenstocks and wool socks.
  10. Leave your home without knowing the quickest route to the nearest bathroom
    You will need to pee approximately once every 5 minutes, so be diligent in your toilet-locating skills.

Now that you know what NOT to do, here is one thing you CAN do: relish your pregnancy and bask in the glory of your belly–savor the comfort of your stretchy pants and indulge in your free pass with junk food. After all, if pregnancy can’t be glamorous, at least it can be fabulous.

How To Be A Babysitter BOSS

When I was a teenager I spent quite a few evenings and summers doing what all teenage girls do: babysitting. I’d go over to so-and-so’s house and play games and eat Mac ‘n Cheese and watch movies with their overly-rambunctious children so they could go out and do whatever it was that grownups did when they left the house without their children. It was a decent gig for making extra cash, and served double-duty as birth control during my formative years.

Fast forward a couple of decades and now I’m the one with the rugrats. I have a new and profound respect/admiration/deep personal need for babysitters. One of the first things I do when we move to a new neighborhood is to start scoping out the teenage girls in the area for prospective babysitter material. And when I find one–BAM!–it’s like we’ve hit the jackpot. Because as every parent knows, a good babysitter = freedom.

Now, I am no expert in procuring or utilizing babysitters, but I have learned a few tricks along the way. Here are some helpful tips for any of you who are lucky enough to call yourself a Babysitter Boss (I like this title more than Strung Out Parent Who Needs To Escape Their Children):

  1. Use references
    Ask your friends to share their favorite babysitter contacts with you. Important points to consider should be: Is she available–like, now? Can she handle the on/off switch on your TV remote?Can she dial 911 in an emergency? Sold and sold.
  2. Find a babysitter who lives close by and/or can drive herself to your house
    I learned this painful lesson early on. There is nothing–NOTHING–worse than starting your “night off” fighting traffic both ways to pick up a babysitter who lives across town or ending your special date with a late-night solo drive in the dark when all you want to do is curl up in your jammies and dream of sugar plums and that margarita you enjoyed with dinner. Find a sitter who lives within 5 minutes of your front door or–better yet–who can drive herself to your house and fight the traffic and the Z’s herself.
  3. Schedule your babysitter for an inconvenient time
    Your toddler’s nap time and after your kids’ bedtime are YOUR times. Don’t give away those precious hours to a babysitter. Choose the least convenient time of the day to get the heck out of there–say, right when your (not so) bright-eyed and bushy-tailed toddler awakes from his nap, or the witching hour leading up to dinner. Make ’em earn those $10 (or, if you live in the Bay Area, $20) per hour.
    (P.S. I’m in the wrong profession)
  4. Prep your kids
    Let your kids know how exciting a new babysitter will be. Someone will finally sit there and play Toy Story with you for an hour and read If You Give A Mouse A Cookie 36 times in a row! She will, because I’m paying her to. You’re welcome.
  5. Utilize your time away
    It’s nearly impossible to actually let loose and enjoy yourself when you know you only have 2 or 3 hours of freedom before you have to return to reality. So, when in doubt, fake it. Wear clothes that are impractical for nursing and/or covering up kid-crud stains. Listen to loud music with non-rated-G lyrics while you’re driving. Talk about things that aren’t related to eating habits/poop/sleep schedules/cute childhood antics. Drink an adult beverage. Or two. Put your cell phone away (remember, the babysitter knows about the whole 9-1-1 thing). Take small, leisurely bites at dinner and savor the hot-ness of your food. Relish in the fact that you can enter and exit your car in approximately 2 nano-seconds. Sit in silence. Ah, go all in–take a NAP.
  6. Respect thy babysitter
    Leave extra snacks in the pantry and tell her to help herself. Be punctual. After the gig, send her a thank you text with cute smiley emojis.  Let her know how much your kids LOOOOOVE her. Do whatever you can to convince her that–after what was probably a mildly-traumatic experience being left alone with your most-likely out of control children–she should definitely come back and do it again.

Now get out there and schedule that elusive date night or Mommy break. The babysitters are waiting…

The Last First Time

FullSizeRender (2)I’ve had a lot of Big Feelings this week.

David, my oldest, is turning 5 (FIVE?!?!) in a few days and I honestly can’t believe it. This little boy–my BABY–who I carried in my belly for 9 months (actually, more like 10 months, the persistent little bugger) is officially NOT a baby any more. When he was toddling around at 2 years old, I was justified in calling him a baby; when he was learning his colors and shapes and the intricacies of Angry Birds at age 3, I could get by calling him a baby–even at age 4 when he still sported the round, chubby face of a cherub could I call him a baby. But not any more.

He is tall and lean and feisty and fantastic and…FIVE. Holy moly, how did that even happen? Last week I was looking back at his baby book with him and I was recounting all of his firsts–his first smile, his first tooth, him eating his first foods, his first steps, his first word (“Mama”, obviously). I realized that in his short life that actually seems quite long, he’s had a lot of firsts. And I’ve been there for all of them, taking pictures and writing them down in his baby book (ok, I mostly just posted everything on Facebook, but that’s the modern day equivalent of a baby book, right?). So, the other day I went shopping for David’s birthday gift and I was pondering all of this–the beauty and the irony of life already moving so quickly.

Then the real kicker came. As I was walking over to the toy section, I happened to (on purpose) walk through the baby section. I hadn’t had a chance to go shopping for our new baby yet, so I decided to take advantage of my solo shopping time and do a quick browse through the baby clothes. Somehow, three of the pinkest, frilliest outfits managed to find their way into my shopping cart. And then it hit me: this was the last first time I’d shop for my new baby. I could vividly remember my first pregnancy and the thrill of shopping for David for the first time. Then, a year or so later, I had the joy of picking out sweet new things for Jacob. But now. NOW. It’s our last baby and this was my LAST first time shopping for her.

I lost it, right there in the middle of the baby section. It’s probably not the first time a pregnant lady started crying over baby clothes at Target, but I still felt like a fool. A fool who really didn’t care because COME ON–this is IT. This is the beginning of the end, and it’s bittersweet.

I am in the last few months of pregnancy…EVER. In the coming months and years, there will be a lot of last first times. I recently began to feel my baby move, for the last first time. I am carrying another human life, for the last first time. In a few short months I will hold my baby in my arms, for the last first time. And every moment with here from there on out, it will be the last first time. It’s glorious and terrifying at the same time, and I almost can’t handle it.

So, this week I’m going to pull up my big girl panties (no, seriously, pregnancy panties are preeeeeeetty big) and I’m going to celebrate my baby-who’s-not-a-baby-anymore. I’m going to relish in his firsts–of past, present, and future–as he blows out those five flickering candles. I’m going to remember the first time he smashed a (homemade organic baked from scratch with no refined sugars) birthday cake and I’m going to smile because he’s come a long way, baby. And I’ll probably dream about the day that my other children will reach these milestones, these firsts, in their time.

And then I’ll probably (definitely) cry. Because that’s what I do.

A Week In The Life of Our Homeschool

If you would have asked me last year what I thought I would be doing RIGHT NOW, the answer would have been: NOT homeschooling my kids. And yet, here I am…homeschooling my kids…and I actually kind of love it. No, I really love it. I love watching my kids learn–and learning along with them. I love playing teacher again. I love the way our boys’ relationships with each other and with us have strengthened. Homeschool has been a good move for our family, and I’m glad we made it.

We are still very new to this whole homeschooling thing, though, and I get a lot of questions from people about it.

How is school going?
Overall great, with plenty of hiccups and meltdowns along the way.

Are you exhausted yet?

What do you do all day?
Stuff…I call it “playing with a purpose”.

Our days are surprisingly packed and the weeks have been flying by. In order to give you a better picture of what school looks like for us, I’ve put together a little tour through our week. So pack your bags and come along with us for your first week enrolled at the Peterson Learning Academy!

Day 1
On Mondays I introduce our weekly themes: our book (with our curriculum, Five In A Row, we have a new children’s book each week. We read the book every day of that week and base our activities around the themes found in the book), letter of the week, and Bible verse.

This week’s book is Ask Mr. Bear by Marjorie Flack, a classic book that has been enjoyed by four generations of children. The book is about a little boy who is trying to find the perfect birthday gift for his mother, so he asks all of the animals he meets if they have a gift for him. The main themes from the book that  we focused on this week were farm animals, forests, and birthdays (mostly because I wanted an excuse to eat more cake).


After reading the book through one time we jumped right into our farm animal theme. We started with a matching game where the boys had to match animals with their products.

Then we went outside to “milk” our “cows”.IMG_6854

Even though our cow udders were actually latex gloves and our milk was actually water, we still had a lot of fun (and we all agreed that we would not want to wake up early every morning to complete this chore).IMG_6856

Once our cows had been properly milked we measured how much water…er…milk…made it into our buckets. Despite a significant amount of liquid being lost to squirting themselves and each other, we did manage to pour enough into measuring cups to complete the activity.

All that milking made us hungry, so we headed back inside to make a snack–farm style! We made our own butter by pouring heavy cream and a pinch of salt into a jar…IMG_6864

…and shaking, shaking, shaking like crazy!IMG_6867

Just when we thought our arms would fall off from exhaustion, the butter came together and we were able to enjoy some toast with VERY fresh butter.

With tummies full of butter we were ready to move on to Messy Time (I have boys, so “messy time” is a suitable term for our artistic endeavors). Today we made “cow udder art” (ok, I’ve gotta think of a better name for that one…). We filled some more latex gloves with paint, poked holes in the ends of the fingers, and squirted away. They are very modern. I think I’ll sell the completed pieces to an art gallery and add the money to the boys’ college funds.

After messy time we did a little work with our letter of the week, “o”. The boys love using their “dibble dots” (Bingo stampers), so we did a dibble dot letter tracing page to work on fine motor skills.IMG_6846

Monday happened to be a school holiday for the other kids in our neighborhood (Darn! We almost forgot to celebrate Columbus Day!). In the afternoon we met up with a bunch of the kids to go for a creek walk in our neighborhood. IMG_6876

Day 2
This was our “forest day”. After doing calendar time and reading our book again, we packed up and headed out for a day exploring the woods where Mr. Bear lives. There are several great hiking trails within a few minutes of our house, so we didn’t have to go too far to find a good forest. 

The boys wanted to climb every tree we came to. Sometimes that’s easier said than done.IMG_6893

We hiked (and by “hiked”, I mean I hiked and they walked for short spurts between rides in the jogging stroller) a little over a mile to a small lake.

The boys went “fishing” with poles we’d made that morning at home (they caught lots of little green plants and muck on their lines but, sadly for them, no fish).

They also had fun exploring this exciting “tunnel” we found near the lake (and my, how it echoed!).IMG_6913

During our walk we made a nature board. I had painted several colors along one edge of the board and the boys worked together to find nature treasures of every color that we then taped on to the board. Their favorite finds were an acorn, multi-colored leaves…and an orange peel that someone had left on the side of the trail.

When we returned home we made a page for our memory books (3-ring binders that we’re adding to all year). Today’s page was on the colors of Autumn and we used our color nature board to help us complete a poem about the different colors we see in nature at this time of year.

Day 3
Our day started with the boys “reading” books to our dog, Bota, while I made breakfast.IMG_7011
Wednesday mornings are usually spent at our church doing either Playhouse (a fantastic morning just for preschoolers–they have open gym time with bounce houses, ride-on toys, gymnastics equipment, climbers, Play-doh, puzzles, crafts, stories, and circle time) or MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers). This was a MOPs week, so the boys went to their Moppetts group where they do a little Bible lesson, craft and games with other children their age. Meanwhile, Mommy went to her “class” where I learned how to take stunning iPhone photos while noshing on an uninterrupted hot breakfast and chatting with my friends.

Moppetts wore out little Jacob and he fell asleep in the car on the way home. While Jacob was napping, I took advantage of the quiet to work one-on-one with David. David has his own handwriting book that we are going through this year and he completed the “o” page for our letter of the week.IMG_6998

Then David did a letter building game, working with our letters of the week from this week and last week.IMG_7004

We had just enough time to do our “writing project”–thank you notes for his birthday party that we had last weekend!IMG_7007
After Jacob’s nap the boys worked on some animal puzzles together.IMG_7023

Then it was calendar time (a group activity where we go through the days of the week, counting, patterns, and graphing using our daily calendar). I’ve also been incorporating a song or poem each week that goes along with our theme, and this week’s poem is about farm animals. The boys used our farm puppets to help act out the poem.

Next, we caught up on an activity that we ran out of time for last week when we were studying Corduroy. We made a page for our memory books that involved measuring and weighing their teddy bears.IMG_7030

Finally, we had Bible time. We’ve been using our Awana Cubbies book for a lot of our Bible time activities, and today’s story was about God creating the animals (quite fitting since we’ve been learning so much about animals lately!).IMG_7033 

Day 4
Now that we had heard our story several times and were getting quite familiar with it, I gave the boys some time for dramatic play. We started by talking about setting and we looked through several of our favorite books so we could identify the setting of each story. Then we got out the butcher paper (thank you, Melodie!) to draw a mural of the setting in Ask Mr. Bear.


After our setting was complete, we hung it up and set up a “stage” so we could re-enact the story with puppets. The boys had a great time making their puppets move and talk just like the characters in the story.

After several versions of the puppet show we worked on a letter-o craft project (they made an o-shaped octopus with Cheeri-o suckers on the tentacles…the vast majority of the “suckers” ended up in their mouths, though, so we counted this as snack time. Bam. Double-duty art project.)

While they were content at the table with bowls full of Cheeri-o’s I had them color a mini farm animal book. The pattern of the text is so simple that they can “read” their own books–they really enjoyed getting to read to me for a change!IMG_7048
Day 5
Friday fun day! Since the plot of our book this week centered around a little boy trying to find the perfect birthday gift for his mother, I thought it would be fitting to have our own birthday celebration (note: Friday fun day also apparently implies that we got to wear pajamas and/or Halloween costumes all day. Homeschool for the win.)

I try to do at least one cooking project with the boys every week, so we headed into the kitchen to make birthday cupcakes (shhh…they were actually banana muffins, but don’t tell the un-birthday boys).IMG_7052

While our muffin cupcakes were baking we made a collaborative book. On each page they dictated while I wrote who they would like to give a gift to and what it would be. Then they drew a picture of the gift in the “gift box” at the bottom of the page and taped a piece of wrapping paper along the top edge of the gift box. It’s a really fun book similar to a lift-the-flap book that I’m sure they’ll enjoy reading and re-reading.

We also played some balloon games. The first game involved rolling dice and bouncing the balloon the same number of times as the number they rolled. Once they got the hang of this we added a second dice and they had to add the numbers together (David could do this on his own, but Jacob still needed some help counting and adding the larger numbers).IMG_7064

We also did an experiment with balloons and FIRE (this one definitely had the wow factor going for it!). I blew up two balloons—one with just air, and the other with air and about 1/4 cup of cold water. We made predictions about what we thought would happen when the flame touched each balloon and then tested out our theories (the air balloon popped right away and the water-filled balloon lasted awhile longer before exploding). We talked about how heat changes things and they gave me examples of things they have seen changed by heat. Then we went back into the kitchen to check on our muffins in the oven to see how heat had changed THEM!IMG_7071

The boys decorated their birthday muffins with some frosting and sprinkles (eh, why not…) and I gave them each a birthday candle. We sang “Happy Un-Birthday To You” and they each made a wish before blowing out their candles. Then they licked their plates (and fingers, and table) clean.IMG_7072

While they were eating their cupcakes I got out their baby books and showed them the only completed sections in the books–their very first birthdays. We compared the size of their baby footprints to their giant boy feet and the size of their newborn ID bracelets to their giant boy hands. We looked at pictures of their tiny little selves and Mommy gushed about how stinkin’ adorable they were. Mommy may have also cried. Just a little.IMG_7079

After our snack we went back to our book and found all of the gifts that the animals suggested Danny give his mother for his birthday. We listed each gift on a whiteboard and then came up with rhyming words for each gift. I have a little rhyming song that we like to sing any time we rhyme, so we sang several verses using our gift rhymes.IMG_7084And thus concluded our week of Ask Mr. Bear (and with it, our unit on bears). This afternoon we’ll go to the library to return all of our bear books and check out some new books for next week’s study of pumpkins!

I hope you enjoyed coming along with us on our week of learning. Until next time!

XxX Allison

The Beam


So, there’s this book.

It’s called For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards, and I’m so in love with it. If you haven’t read For the Love yet, then do yourself a favor and go out and buy it. Right now. (You can thank me later.) This book is so good that you’ll actually want to skip watching So You Think You Can Dance after the kids’ bedtime just so you can soak in more of those wonderful words. If For the Love were a food instead of a book, it would be dark chocolate cake smothered in cream cheese frosting. I dare you to take just a bite, but guaranteed you’ll devour the whole thing in one sitting.

I may be a bit biased because the book is written by my blogger idol, Jen Hatmaker. She is perhaps the wittiest, most honest writer/speaker/liver of life that I’ve ever met (ok, I haven’t actually met her…not in the physical sense…but I cyber-stalk her and kind of want to be her when I grow up and a friend of mine once sat by her on a plane …so that all has to count for something, right?).

The book covers the hilarious (there’s a whole chapter on the appropriate-ness of leggings, tights, and yoga pants. She speaks straight to my heart.) to the more practical issues we all deal with in life. One topic in the book really got under my skin, in a good way. It made me take a critical look at my own life and make some actual changes. So what is this powerful topic of personal change? A gymnastics balance beam.

The balance beam is a metaphor for the balance in our own lives–particularly the lives of busy modern-day moms. As Hatmaker observes:

Here is the problem, girls: we’ve been sold a bill of goods. Back in the day, women didn’t run themselves ragged trying to achieve some impressively developed life in eight different categories. No one constructed fairy-tale childhoods for their spawn, developed an innate set of personal talents, fostered a stimulating and world-changing career, created stunning homes and yardscapes, provided homemade food for every meal (locally sourced, of course), kept all marriage fires burning, sustained meaningful relationships in various environments, carved out plenty of time for “self-care”, served neighbors/church/world, and maintained a fulfilling, active relationship with Jesus our Lord and Savior.

You can’t balance that job description.

Amen! Hallelujah! It’s so true. We are constantly shown the best side of people–on social media (When’s the last time you updated your profile picture to how you look RIGHT NOW? ), on TV (I’m pretty sure most celebrities don’t forget to take a shower for 3 or 4 days in a row), and even face to face (I put on “real clothes” and “makeup” when I know I’m going somewhere where people might recognize me).

What we don’t see is the other 99% of peoples’ lives that are happening outside of the glimpses we catch of their highlight reel. Those times when they lose it with their kids and/or spouse. Those times when they stuffed a Lunchable into their kid’s lunchbox and called it a day. That week when she didn’t touch a broom or a vaccuum or a toilet bowl brush because she just didn’t care. That time she looked jealously at the working mom and felt she wasn’t doing enough. That time she looked at the stay at home mom and felt she wasn’t doing enough.

And isn’t that the truth? We set expectations for ourselves based on what we think the perfect life should be, and we see how much other people are just killing it…and it’s slowly killing us. We often see the best in people but fail to see that perfection simply doesn’t exist. We are striving toward a goal that is unreachable, and we are destined to fail. You can’t be the Pinterest mom AND the CEO mom AND the Martha Stewart mom AND the PTA mom AND the marathon mom AND the…you get the picture. You can’t and I can’t and nobody is.

So where do we go from here?

The balance beam! As Hatmaker points out, “We need to quit trying to be awesome and instead be wise.” Just as you can’t possibly make it across a balance beam if it’s too crowded with STUFF, we can’t possibly make it through life if it’s too overrun by the unnecessary (I was in gymnastics for 6 years and I could hardly make it across that dang beam with NOTHING in my way). Some things we do for all of the wrong reasons–they need to go off the beam. In some areas we are sacrificing a Good for a Best–they need to find room on the beam.

Wow. Seriously, easier said than done. This idea of taking things on and off my beam got me thinking. I looked at my own crowded beam and I knew that there were some things that had to change. Here are a few of the things I pushed off my beam, and some that I pulled back on:

Off the beam: 
-Extra volunteering/leadership. I’m usually one of the first to raise my hand when they need someone to help out and, honestly, I love doing it. But I can’t do it all. And maybe someone else can even do it better. I’ve chosen a few areas where I will consistently serve, and I’m saying no to the rest.
-Late nights. As much as I love the moments in my day that are just my own, and even though my husband is the living definition of a night owl, Mama needs her sleep.
-The kids’ school. This was absolutely my hardest off the beam decision, and it took us nearly a year to make it. Traditional school wasn’t working well for David or our family during this season, and we had to take it off the beam (Goodbye mornings to myself! Goodbye lovely teachers whom we adore! Goodbye “normal”). Which brings me to…

On the beam:
-Homeschool. Hands-down the most rewarding–and exhausting–thing we’ve put on the beam this year. A total lifestyle switch, and it’s taking up a lot of room on my beam.
-The gym. I hadn’t joined a gym in about 6 years, but I needed some scheduled exercise breaks during the week…without my kids. The gym gives me 90 minutes of kid-free exercise every day I can manage to drag us out the door–enough time for a barre class and a solo shower: win-win!
-Writing. I enjoy writing, both here on the blog and for my own self, so I’m carving out specific time during the week where I can make that happen.

There are other things I’m still working on moving on or off my beam, but change takes time. One step at a time, I will make it across this balance beam called life. Even if I do fall every now and then.

Now it’s your turn, friend–what are you pulling on or pushing off your beam?

The Very Hungry Pregnant Lady: A Parody


The other day I was reading to the boys (for the gajillionth time) one of their favorite books: Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. For those of you who may not be as intimately familiar with the story as I am, it follows a tiny caterpillar from the day he hatches from his little white egg through his journey as he eats different foods every day getting nice and fat for his grand finale: building a cocoon and finally emerging as a beautiful butterfly. It’s a classic story, and one that I find myself relating more and more to now that I have my condition (condition = pregnancy).

I feel for the poor little caterpillar–he’s just hungry all the time and it is his JOB to eat and grow so he might become more beautiful. As such, I’ve decided to adopt the Very Hungry Caterpillar’s mantra: I, too, have dedicated myself to eating and growing so that I might become more beautiful (or produce a more beautiful baby?). You see, I take the whole “eating for two” thing very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that you might mistake my food consumption for that of two competing sumo wrestlers rather than that of an average sized woman and a nearly-1-pound baby. Not to brag, but some might call me a professional double-eater.

As an illustration, here is my own version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar–tweaked a bit to mark my own glorious transformation. I now present:

The Very Hungry Pregnant Lady

In the light of the moon a tiny baby was formed in her mother’s womb.IMG_6600

One Sunday morning the warm sun came up and–pop!–out stuck the mother’s belly as the tiny baby began to grow.11953069_10101444379903150_5148467840828573354_n

Growing a baby is hard work, so the pregnant lady started to look for some food.

On Monday she ate through one piece of apple pie à la mode. But she was still hungry.

On Tuesday she ate through two brownies, but she was still hungry.IMG_6558

On Wednesday, she ate through three slices of pizza, but she was still hungry.FullSizeRender (2)

On Thursday she ate through four graham crackers smothered in Funfetti frosting, but she was still hungry.IMG_6522

On Friday she ate through five pieces of deli meat (microwaved to steaming, first, to remove the possibility of Listeria poisoning), but she was still hungry.FullSizeRender (3)

On Saturday she was a good girl and she ate through six tangerines, but she was still hungry.IMG_6557

On Saturday she ate for dinner: one chocolate pudding cup, one heaping scoop of Nutella, one salami, one plate of spaghetti, one bag of popcorn, one buttery croissant, and one bottle of sparkling mineral water.

That night she had a stomachache!FullSizeRender (4)

The next day the pregnant lady ate salad. After that she felt much better.

Now she wasn’t hungry any more–and she wasn’t a little lady any more. She was a big, fat pregnant lady. She crawled inside her cocoon-of-a-bed and read celebrity gossip magazines while her devoted husband rubbed her swollen feet. She grew that baby for nine whole months. Then she went to the hospital, got an epidural, and pushed out…

…a beautiful baby!76245_689686136550_5492270_n

Now she wasn’t a Very Hungry Pregnant Lady any more. She was a Very Blessed Mommy.

The end.

A Photo Tour Through Our California “Mountain” Home


Ah, home sweet home. This week marks one month since we moved into the house we now affectionately refer to as River House (even though the “river” that supposedly runs behind our house is currently only a dry creek bed. I’m sure the massive El Niño they’re predicting for this winter will take care of that in no time, though).

It was a bit of a gamble moving out here–we’re getting a steal of a deal on the rent (by Bay Area standards, not by normal human standards), but the house is in the “mountains” (Californian for tree-covered hills). Even though it is physically quite close to civilization, there is an absolute feeling of remoteness. Though only two miles separate River House from town and the rest of Silicon Valley, the two places sometimes feel like they are worlds apart: Mountain people drive trucks instead of Ferraris; in the mountains you hear crickets and cougars (yes, large wild cats share our property) instead of The 101 or 85; in the mountains your gardener is Jesus, not Jesús from Ramirez Brothers Landscaping. And even though we’ve only been here for a month, I kind of love it.

I know you’ve all been curious to see what life is like out here in the boonies, so here’s a peek inside our little mountain life.

We are probably the only house in the mountains (or anywhere, for that matter) that has a large cement goose wearing a dress and an Irish welcome plaque at the front door. You really can’t miss us.

Once inside the threshold you enter the Great Room. Turning left you’ll see our living room and school corner. My favorite part of this room is the massive vaulted cedar ceilings and the river rock fireplace (we’ll talk more about the necessity of that fireplace in a moment).IMG_6503

To the right of the living room is the area we’ve set up as the dining room and, beyond that, the kitchen.

I love our kitchen at this house! It’s spacious and bright and, as of last week, fully functional. See our brand new fridge? This was a gift from our landlords two weeks after we moved in…after our old fridge died. We went 4 days with no working fridge which made storing food and eating fresh food a bit of a challenge. The ordeal gave me a greater appreciation for my pioneer ancestors. With the help of our generous neighbors offering us space in their fridge and a chest freezer in our garage, however, we persevered and survived the Great Fridge-pocalypse of 2015.

The kitchen is so spacious that I actually have empty drawers and cabinets–and that’s saying something considering we own such obscure kitchen gadgets as an apple-peeler-corer-slicer and a Turkish coffee station.IMG_6519

Remember how we’re living in the mountains, and it’s full of wonderful surprises? Well, no tour of our kitchen would be complete without the inclusion of our little kitchen friends, the ants. And the gnats, but they’re too small and too fast to snap a photo of.IMG_6518

Off the kitchen is one of our five decks. This one is currently housing our BBQ…and a drying rack with our swim gear.IMG_6512

Speaking of the decks, we spend quite a bit of time out on them. This is Bota’s deck (she allowed a guest for the photo op):IMG_6514

And the boys’ play deck:IMG_6130

Back inside the house, we’ll finish the tour of the top floor of the house. Just off of the Great Room/Kitchen set up is the master bedroom (or, if you ask the boys, The Boys’ Second Bedroom):

IMG_6471Notice the utter lack of grown-up bedroom furniture. We had sold half of our bedroom furniture before we moved to Ireland, and then we sold the rest of it this summer so we wouldn’t have to move it. This was before we realized that we actually need bedroom furniture for absurd purposes like HAVING FURNITURE TO USE. Our mattress is currently sitting on the floor, I’m using a Rubbermaid container as a night stand, and I literally found Jon’s nightstand in a dumpster. It’s actually pretty cool, because we feel like we’re in college again. Not to worry, though, because our real Grown Up furniture has been ordered and is en route as we speak (!).

From the bed you can see our two private decks and gas fireplace–once you look past the Rubbermaid nightstands, it’s quite the retreat. IMG_6469

The white door you can see to the left of the fireplace is our closet. It’s a massive closet with ample storage for our clothing (and our full suitcases and boxes full of clothing, because it turns out bedroom furniture like dressers are actually useful for things like holding your clothes).IMG_6473Continuing on through the master suite you come to the master bath. The soaking tub is so inviting to my achy pregnant body but, unfortunately, I can’t use it. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but California is in a DROUGHT, which means there are water restrictions in place. And by water restrictions, I mean our mountain home is basically siphoning water from the city through a straw and if we go over our allotted amount, the water police will come knock down our front door. And they’ll fine us thousands of dollars, but whatever. Alas, the soaking tub will have to wait.
Finishing up the tour of the master suite is our…office corner? I don’t even know what to call it. We have a dresser, filing cabinets, boxes of crap we don’t want to unpack, a bookshelf, school stuff, and a random office chair (with no desk) crammed in there.At least there’s a pretty little deck to go stand on if you want to get out of the mess!
IMG_6472This is also where we house our modem (for the world’s slowest internet) and our landline telephone (because we don’t get cell phone reception at the house). See, it really is like we’re in college again.

That wraps up the top floor of the house! Now, down to the first floor.

The boys’ bedroom is the first room you come to at the bottom of the stairs. We have their bunkbed set up so they can practice their climbing and diving skills from more precarious heights.

Opposite the bunk bed is the boys’ dresser and reading corner. Pay special attention to the most important addition we’ve made to the bedroom: our eye in the sky camera.IMG_6496

Since the boys are now residing on a different level of the house from the parents, we considered it prudent to install surveillance apparatus. The camera allows us to capture all of the bedtime moments when the boys are anywhere but in their beds.IMG_6425

Next door to the boys’ room is the nursery/storage room/guest room/play room (don’t ever let me be your interior designer). This is the nursery side of the room (Yes, we are 4 months early, but it was just easier to set everything up than store it):IMG_6475

The closet in this room is stacked floor to ceiling with baby paraphernalia: IMG_6477

The opposite side of the room is currently acting as the boys’ play room (because this room has a door that locks, thus containing the mess and the temptations).

(Not pictured: the center of the room, the “guest room”, where we will set up our blow-up air mattress for anyone who wants to brave a visit).

Also downstairs is the boys’ bathroom. It’s cute, but it smells like pee, so I try not to go in there.IMG_6474

We also have a lovely laundry room downstairs with a utility sink (an absolute necessity with children, I’ve decided).IMG_6479

One whole wall of the laundry room is lined with floor-to-ceiling cabinets. The cabinets are chock-full of electronics equipment (What, that’s not what you store in your laundry room?)IMG_6480

Outside of the laundry room is a linen closet and our game closet. We rarely play games, so I find it absurd that we own this many. Anyone want to come over for a game night soon?

If you go down the hallway past the laundry room you come to our garage. It’s pretty well organized with storage along the walls, infinity toys on one side, and a narrow sliver of empty space down the other side where Jon can maneuver his car inside to park (it’s a very shallow garage, so it’s quite amusing to watch this transaction take place).IMG_6494

Outside the garage we have our yard. Yup, that’s it. Our property line extends 6 feet on either side of the house and is backed by the (dry) creek and a canyon wall, so this is the entirety of our outside space.IMG_6488

You may have noticed a wooden fence in front of the house (see the photo at the top of this post if you need a refresher), and you may have thought that was a nice little fenced-in yard. You would be wrong. What that is, my friends, is the propane tank enclosure. Because we live off the grid in the mountains, our main heat source for the house is propane gas (what?!?!). Since moving here, I have had to endure propane safety lessons with the gas company and join a propane users support group. True story. Thankfully it’s still FREAKING 100 DEGREES EVERY DAY HERE, so we haven’t had to try out the whole propane gas heat thing yet.IMG_6482

Now, I mentioned earlier that the fireplaces were important, and now you know why. With propane being our main source for heat, and propane being VERY EXPENSIVE, we are told that we will be relying on those fireplaces more and more as the seasons change. As such, we are stockpiling wood scraps and collecting them in aesthetically-pleasing boxes around the outside of our house. You’re welcome, neighbors.IMG_6483

Now, with all drawbacks (bugs, propane, water restrictions, slow internet, no cell service, no yard) aside, River House really does suit us well. Every time we walk out our door we are greeted with nature’s playground:IMG_6493

We have woods and canyons and creeks to explore. It feels very much like the Northwest, and very much like home.IMG_6441

And, though you can’t see the houses or the people very well in this photo, we have incredible neighbors. Neighbors who invite us over for dinner and let us borrow their fridge when our fridge dies and who invite us over for bonfires and s’mores and whose kids have Power Wheels drag races with our kids in the street. The neighborhood is teeming with children the same ages as our boys and we’ve all made fast friends. It’s a wonderful tight-knit community, and we feel lucky to live here.IMG_6486

I hope you’ve enjoyed your tour through our mountain home, and let us know when you’re ready for a visit! I’ll even blow up the air mattress for you.