Zen and the Art of Blueberry Peace

I woke up today with an immensely odd craving for blueberry pancakes. You see, I’m more of a breakfast burrito kind of gal; bacon, potatoes, burn your taste buds right off hot sauce. Savory’s my game. And until now, my pregnancy has lacked the thrilling side effects Hollywood’s most notoriously appetite-less women would have you believe are normal. I stared at the ceiling in our bedroom contemplating how in the world it’s possible that I have never in my life made pancakes. How absurd.

Equipped with a fancy from-scratch recipe, I progressed slow and determined through the isles of our tiny grocery store. Still bleary-eyed with interrupted sleep I nearly missed the familiar package of Krusteaz pancake mix my mom always used. Studying the simple instructions on the back of the bag I chuckled at the realization that we do not even own a whisk, the one of three necessary items to get this done the easy way. So long cake flour, almond extract, and baking soda, Krusteaz and Mrs. Butterworth never let my own mother down, why mess with success?

9 Months Pregnant + 30 Years Old = Powdered Sugar AND Syrup

9 Months Pregnant + 30 Years Old = Powdered Sugar AND Syrup

Unburdened with what was sure to be a hopeless effort, I picked up some Visine and made my way through the checkout line. My eyes are still a little puffy and red from last night’s major meltdown. Infuriatingly typical, at nine months pregnant and only a few hours from the dreaded 3-0, I completely lost my cool. I was hit hard by the big questions: What if I can’t let go of selfishness? How will my marriage suffer? What if I’m a bad mother? What’s left to look forward to? And the smaller questions: What if I’m never fun again? What if I can’t eliminate Nutella from my daily diet? Why oh why didn’t I plan for a birth not immediately preceding swimsuit season?

Some answers are easier to journey toward than others but my first taste of blueberry flapjack had a zen-like effect. There is no need to over-complicate an already complex life, go with your gut, learn and grow together, as a family. On my 30th birthday, when I think the world has no surprises left for me, our little lady showed me sometimes it’s nice to wake up and find out you’re wrong.

Smooch

Mushaboom Brain

My brain is in so many places at once, I’m pretty sure I deserve a gold medal for the mental acrobatics I’m constantly performing. I have never attempted more fervently to pay attention, make eye contact, concentrate on the words being spoken to me. In the midst of extreme focus she’ll  kick and, to be specific, it feels like she’s somehow memorized the moves from the Kriss Kross Jump video. And just like that I’m suddenly wondering what happened to wearing whitewashed jeans backwards and the sweet neon innocence of 90s hip hop and … What was I saying? What month is it? October?

When she’s not breakdancing I’m compiling mental lists of why she might be feeling mellow. Did I eat something I shouldn’t have? I’m probably juggling work and a side conversation but I’m also thinking of pregnancy week one, when I ate both Caesar salad and béarnaise sauce in one meal. I spent the following week and a half feeling more remorseful and guilty than that time I crashed the family Volvo into the garage (sorry Mom). And then my phone rings and I’m back in the present where I realize, oh hell, we’ll have a daughter crashing into our garage soon. If I’m looking at you like you’re lime green, this is why.

-4

I feel the need to write lengthy apology notes to all the poor souls duped into conversation with me, I am miles away with no intention of mapping my way back. The slightest trigger and I’m transported back to college, an olive green kitchen where I sat on the counter with Socrates and a glass of wine and repeatedly made a mockery of pasta alfredo. Tapping my toes to Mushaboom I remember the exact moment I considered the future I live today. Back then it seemed like a dreamy little fairy tale, married, settling down, and starting a family, that’s crazy I thought. I got the crazy part right, but it’s been much dreamier than I could have possibly imagined.

Love

 

The Sweetest Thing

Approximately three days and 17 searches: the amount of nail-biting time and hysterical googling it took for this lady to swear off all prenatal reading material.  Should you ever feel the odd desire for slick palms, heart palpitations, and dizzying anxiety just google “first trimester back pain.” At 18 weeks, each day is a surprise for me. I learn as a I go and like to think I’m bringing a hip vintage edge to my pregnancy rather than the reality, the perhaps misguided efforts of a determined ignorance.

Luckily I have a husband who instantly became an enthusiastic reader the moment he laid eyes on the pink plus sign. He keeps me up to date on our tiny progeny and sometimes makes me swoon with his sweet absurdity. When he told me I shouldn’t go to the annual haunted corn maze due to my delicate condition, I was sure he was joking. But when he repeated the statement to his own mother, appalled that she would even presume to think we would attend, I started to wonder where he was getting his daddy-to-be information.

Despite my love of screaming like a sugar-frenzied tween and sprinting through a dark, confusing, freezing-cold corn maze chased by our neighbors dressed in gorilla suits wielding chain saws, I acquiesced and we stayed home. Not because I believed his firm notion that pregnant women ought not to be overly frightened, but because, come on, that’s just the sweetest thing. To this day he defends himself, “Oh sure, you laugh now, but just think if something had gone wrong, the headline the next day would’ve been, ‘Idiot husband brings pregnant wife to late night, unlit, corn maze full of drunk people’ and the whole town would rally for my immediate incarceration.” Alright, so maybe he has a point.

 

The Dark Continent

For Logan and me, the future has always felt certain: a life of ranching in rural Nebraska, eventually. It’s the now that has been in constant flux for the past few years. We can’t seem to contain the scope of our dreams and since our bags are always packed anyway, we’ve decided to keep moving. After our season in Aspen we felt the urge to stretch out a bit further than previously planned.

Come Monday we’ll be on our way to Africa. In a rented 4×4 Toyota Hilux with a rooftop tent we’ll self-safari Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa over six weeks. We have a few other domestic jaunts mapped out this summer but until then, take a look and fire away with tips and suggestions.

The Best of the West

We’ve been stationary for six months, nostalgic for the road. Over 25 days we’ll hit 2 countries  10 states, and 4000 miles to hob nob around our old haunts and catch some surf before the snow. San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Baja California, Arches, and Zion are  a few of the highlights. Check out our route below and feel free to comment, we love suggestions.