ERtR’s 2016 Resolutions

Welcome to a bright and shiny new year! I couldn’t resist taking a crappy iphone photo of the last sunset of 2015 from my deck the other night:

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I don’t always make New Years resolutions. Sometimes I do, but rarely do I keep them up the full year. You know, like EVERYONE ELSE pretty much. I usually fall into one or two traps: either I don’t make them goal-ish enough where they’re something I can actually track, measure, and improve on, or I take on too much too soon and burn out. This year we’re going to incorporate both traps! So here is my list of reasonably vague and overwhelming resolutions for this year.

My 2016 Resolutions

1. Whole30 & Whole9 Monthly Challenge

I’m participating in the January Whole30 this month (on Day 2, woot!), and will finish this up by January 30th. I might do another one later this year depending on how things go (i.e. how off the rails I slide between now and then.

A group of folks on the Whole30 Forum proposed doing a “Whole9 Challenge” that I think is pretty cool. The Whole30 is just one aspect of a larger organization called the Whole9, which preaches nine factors for optimal health including nutrition, sleep, socialization, getting outdoors, healthy movement, and other stuff. So each month we’ll focus on improving one of these nine pillars of health. I’ll post this in more detail later.

2. Crossfit twice a week

I’m currently crossfitting twice a week, and will continue to do so. Eventually I want to boost that to at least 3 times a week, but we’ll see how time and energy will allow.

3. Blog daily and keep up with my feed

I will intend to blog daily, but y’all know how that goes when Life Stuff happens. But I’ll do my best. Some days there just isn’t much to talk about, and it’s okay to take a break now and then. What I won’t do is go on month-long hiatuses without first announcing it. Let’s be honest, usually when I don’t blog it’s because I’m not making it a priority and I’m just being lazy.

Also, I keep trying to follow my bloggy friends, but usually it’s just a quick glance from my Feedly app and I can’t always comment right then and there so I tell myself “I’ll do this later from my computer” then it doesn’t happen. So I’d like to make more of an effort to interact with the blogging community by prioritizing reading and commenting.

4. Get adequate nutrition, rest, and recovery

Now that I’m working out for realz again, I’m noticing the effect it’s having on my body. I’m sore, tired, and so. hungry. So I’m prioritizing a lot of recovery and self-care such as foam rolling, early bedtimes, and an Epsom salt bath when I feel really achy.

5. Play with the kids every day

Guilty parent moment: Squish asks me about 147 times a day to play with him, and usually 146 to 147 of those times I respond with, “I can’t, I’m working/doing chores,” “Not now,” or my personal favorite, “Sure, in a few minutes.” Total lie, a few minutes later I just move on to something else and we repeat the request-response circle until bedtime. I’m not building any credibility with him with flaking on my promises all the time, and they’re not going to be this young and eager for Mom to play with them forever, so I’d better seize my chance while I still can. Even if it’s just five minutes, I need to carve out play time. I mean, Fun and Play is another Whole9 factor, so I’m sure on that month when I’m focusing on it life will be all couch forts and super awesome train track setups!

6. Everything in it’s place, and a place for everything

When we moved from our apartment to our house in May, we didn’t have a lot of stuff since we were up-sizing so much. But the stuff we did have, I didn’t really do a good job of organizing it when we moved it. Things just got shoved onto shelves and closets and there’s no rhyme or reason. Then of course we have all this space now, so we can get more stuff! I’m sick of the clutter, and it’s hard for anyone to feel comfortable with helping me put anything away because apparently only I know where anything goes thanks to the haphazard “organization” system. I’m not sure how I’ll structure it yet, but over the year every room, closet, drawer, and shelf will by systematically cleaned out and reorganized in a way that everyone agrees on. Plus, we’ll have a routine clean-up process so every evening and weekend chores get done and clutter dealt with. And now the Gods laugh, because I am a mere mortal thinking I can make this happen.

7. Be happy. Find a system of replacing negative thoughts with loving ones

After my break since October, I’m going back to therapy. It was nice trying to ride my own bike for a bit, but I still have some areas where I need assistance. Since I’m trying to manage my depression without drugs, I need to lean on other modalities more. One of my biggest pitfalls is allowing myself to get weighed down with negative thoughts, and not bothering with trying to replace them with positive ones. It’s a practice and not something that’s easy to just “do” when you’re suffering from mental illness, but it makes a big difference if I keep up the practice.

8. Search out a method of spirituality that resonates with me

This one is a bit personal, because everyone has strong feelings about what they believe. That’s awesome, and I think religion and spirituality is a beautiful thing and I am happy for folks that have found their path in whatever way that is. For me, I really don’t like organized religion. I tend to march to the beat of my own spiritual drum, and I don’t like others telling me what/how I should go about thinking about the universe and beyond. But I do like the community and connection that comes with bonding with others over like-minded philosophies. So I’ll do some searching and reading and find a community that shares what I feel. Worst case, I make one up myself! “Church of the Emily: Come Be Your Own Awesome.” Haha.

9. Read books and update my Goodreads list monthly

I love reading. It’s my favorite. I don’t always make time for it, but when I do I can plow through a book in one or two sittings. I’d like to do a better job of tracking what I’ve read/will read through my Goodreads account because I like to track those things and recommend stuff I’ve enjoyed to others. Recommendations are always welcome!

10. Find joy, and love hard

And then this. Find the joy in life, and love life hard. That is all.

Go make it a great year!

So Long, 2015!

I perused through some of my old posts from this time last year (I hardly ever do this!) to see if I did any sort of New Year’s resolutions or goals. I didn’t. Big surprise. But I did stumble on my journal from earlier in the year that declared my theme for 2015 to be “authenticity.” This time last year, I was still struggling to find the “new normal” from Buttercup’s arrival and feeling the loss of “baby” Squish as he pretty much turned into a little kid overnight while wrestling with postpartum depression in our tiny apartment in downtown San Francisco. Most of my friends were single, childless urban dwellers that I would occasionally be able to meet up at a bar or at a party, but there was a chasm between our life states I could never really bridge. They thought I was super cool that I was a mom twice over that could still “party.” And by party, I mean get a sitter for a couple hours so I could pretend I enjoyed the club scene. But I hated it. My body and emotional state rebelled. The weight piled on, the depression got worse, and I had no idea what it would take to feel normal again.

We moved in May to the East Bay, to a beautiful “forever home” in the perfect suburban neighborhood close to good schools and surrounded by other families with littles. Slowly things started to look up for me. I was surrounded by nature, and tried to take advantage of the nearby fire roads and hiking trails. The kids suddenly had tons of room to play and grow and make friends. Squish started preschool. I connected with some of the neighbor moms. I took on a couple of Whole30s and started to feel kind of good again. I could breathe.

All my life I’ve just sort of done what everyone around me is doing, what I’m told to do. I just wanted to be normal. But now I know that normal is painful, and you have to do what is right for you, not everyone else. That’s what this year has taught me, in a weird way. You’d think that, “Well, duh. You had a family and found out city life doesn’t work anymore. Shocking.” But it’s not just that. You have no idea how much I rebelled at the though of being a suburban mom. It seemed so cliche. I wanted to be the hip, cool lady that just happens to have kids and does all the things so effortlessly. I am not immune to the wretched no-name plague that strangles otherwise smart, confident women into thinking they are doing it all wrong, that it shouldn’t be this hard, that if they could just be more _____ (organized, smarter, calmer, focused, whatever) then everything will magically happen and you win, I don’t know, some life award or something. “Congratulations, you win at Adulting!” Ugh, worst award ever.

Whatever you’re drawn to, be open to it. It’s okay to like weird stuff. It’s also okay to like what everyone else likes. It’s all okay.

2015 kicked my ass, and I am grateful for it. I’m so pumped to see what adventures 2016 has in store!

The Level: Because Standing is Boring

Disclosure: I was provided The Level from Fluidstance for a product review. All opinions are my own.

A few weeks ago, I changed to a standing desk at work. I switched to a standing desk because I read so much internet fodder proclaiming its benefits, and I did notice some aches and pains developing that I attributed to my 12+ hours a day seated in a chair. Overall, I have really liked the switch. Sure, I can’t really wear heels to work anymore, but I never really did before anyway.

But aside from the usual transition period gradually building up and finding that sweet spot of standing time vs sitting time that works with my body, I discovered an unexpected side effect of my standing desk time.

Standing is boring. It just is.

And if I couple standing with some really mind-numbing work task such as spreadsheet work or data cleanup, it makes my day nearly unbearable. Normally I’m a super-geek that loves this kind of stuff, but when coupled with standing I get So. Very. Bored. I want to cry. That bored.

How is it that before I’m able to happily crank on the gangsta rap and churn away, but now when I’m standing I want to scream? Well, I’ve noticed that for me, sitting disengages a lot of sensations for me. To compensate, I’m not a passive sitter. I tap my fingers, jiggle my feet, and do other subtle and possibly cube-mate enraging fidgety movements when I’m sitting. But when I’m standing I just … stand there. This makes it harder for me to “zone out” and get to that trance-like place that work involving intensive concentration takes. Which makes me rage-y.

 

I had no solutions for this issue other than to limit my standing to email or other less brain-intense tasks. Which was lame, because I want to stand. Which is why I was stoked to try out The Level by Fluidstance*.

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Hey, matching shoes this time!

The Level is a balance board designed for standing desks, gaming stations, and pretty much anywhere you just stand around at a desk or table. It has a sand cast aluminum frame and wood finish options to match your office environment or personal taste. Think of it like a skateboard and BOSU ball had a love child, and you stand on the flat part and balance on the round-ish part.

 

(Pictures from The Level’s product page, because I know I’m a horrible photographer)

When I stand on The Level to work at my standing desk, it subtly engages my whole body to balance. I can rock, swivel, or if I’m feeling really plucky spin around in a 360. I don’t really notice that my body is working any more than standing, but according to the Fluidstance website when studied, standing on The Level showed a 15% increase in heart rate than sitting at desk which is pretty cool. But who cares about health and science when my body can swivel and surf around while my brain is working?

It also has a very elegant design in a modern office.

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And my chair has now been downgraded to Nerf dart gun holder

The Level has really upped my game at work, and has made the standing desk an entertaining perk instead of the groan-worthy accessory I insisted on for my “health” as it was starting to become for me. Hooray, work is fun again!

If you’re interested in The Level or for more information about the benefits of standing desks, check out the Fluidstance website. They also have an interesting blog I’ve been following too if you’re into that sort of thing.

I’m off to go see how many times I can spin around now. Go make it a great day!

*Note: these are not affiliate links, I just want to point you to the right info and save you a Google search!

 

Picking Up

Yesterday I picked up my Couch to 5k again and went for a run before work. I did 1.72 miles, and wished it was a bit longer. Once I get moving in the morning, I really like running. The trick is to talk myself into getting out of my warm, cozy bed when my brain still thinks it’s too early. Stop it, brain. We have things to do.

  
I’m on Day 20 of Whole30, and the past several days have been a struggle. I am having regular cheat dreams where I binge on whatever I want. Last night it was fun size candy bars on a sinking ship.  There’s a metaphor for you. I can’t make this stuff up. Anyway, this Whole30 has been easy to stick with only because I’m so doggedly determined to follow through. But I am pretty mentally exhausted from telling myself, “no, why don’t you have a can of tuna on some lettuce instead” all the time. I just want to nuke a frozen corn dog and call it good. But it’ll make me feel crappy, so I nuke a chicken apple sausage instead.

  
What do I do to feel better about food? Get new food! My Tin Star Foods ghee came, and I am now in blissful butter-flavored heaven. All the ghee. It’s stupid expensive – came out to around $16 per 1lb jar – but I am so happy for a different cooking fat other than coconut oil. Sometimes I use olive oil for variety, which contrary to other stuff I’ve read is perfectly safe to cook with. But I’m to the point where I need some variety, and ghee delivers.

  
Another way to keep it interesting when I’m feeling “meh” about a Whole30 meal is to indulge in favorites. I didn’t pack a lunch yesterday, and the thought of a tuna salad depressed me. So I threw in some almond butter, a fruit salad, and splurged on some Epic bacon bites which are a new obsession.

  
Bacon. In bite form. 100% compliant with no added sweeteners. Zghomg.

I can’t get anywhere better after that so go make it a great day!

On the Brain Lately #1

Greetings, blog-land. Today felt like a good day to ramble about some stuff I’ve been enjoying lately. Sort of a “favorites” round-up without the link-up because I’m lazy and sort of anti-social, even in the blogosphere. But I do want to share some cool stuff with you.

This bowl. I just ordered a set of Calibowls on Amazon, and I’m loving it. True story, for the past 4 years or so we’ve been surviving with just 3 cereal bowls in our sparse little cupboard. First world problems, I know. But I had one too many moments of having to reach for a bowl with a hot or dripping something or other in my hands, and that was just unacceptable, especially if (when) I was in a less-than-rational mood. So now I can pile on the berries without spillage!

IMG_8590 Just missing some homemade whipped cream.

Next up, The Skimm: (<- kind of an affiliate link, I get a pat on the back if you use it to sign up). If you know me, you know I don’t follow the news. I just hate how it’s all just sensationalist stories and biased journalism. I do want to know what’s going on in the world good and bad, but to skim through your typical Google News and it just freaks me out and depresses me. Enter The Skimm. Just a quick and light-hearted dose of all the big stuff going on, with lots of adds guides and background info to get you caught up on, I don’t know, the Iran nuclear talks and stuff. It’s great, and the first thing I read in the morning. Yes, even before I check Instagram.

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And then there’s this article about female strength training. I think I found it from a Facebook link. The author, a guy, talks about how disappointing most of the women’s fitness media is when prescribing how women should train to look good. His stance is if you want to look like a badass, train like one. Don’t eat “rabbit food” while doing teeny muscle isolations with 3 lb dumbbells (not that there’s anything wrong with that if you do; just don’t expect physique miracles), but do whole body strength work. When you focus on strength, the rest will come. I found it very refreshing that a guy acknowledges how disappointing women’s fitness magazines and articles can be. The best line from the article:

“The nefarious old way of doing things is still the norm. And if Susan B. Anthony were alive and lifting—which I’m pretty sure she would be—she’d vomit a little in her mouth. I’m a dude and it pisses me off. I can’t imagine how angry and frustrated it makes women.”

Too much awesome there. Oh, and I totally perform and love the four strength goals he suggests. Keep it simple, kids.

Finally, PaleOMG is hosting a paleo retreat in Costa Rica. I think Juli Bower must have picked up on my “I need a tropical vacation” signals I’ve been sending to the universe. I am totally going, once I get financial approval from the Family CFO (aka Hulk). But since we bought a house and stuff, I probably have like a 9% chance of scraping the beans together to make it happen. In the meantime, I’ll just keep looking at this picture:

costa rica beach(from Pinterest)

Anyone want to come with me? Seriously, let’s do it.

Time to make the Friday magic happen. Go make it a great day, kids!

Happy Jingle Elf Holiday Randoms

Anyone else super obsessed with the holiday teas from Celestial Seasoning?

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I think my favorite is the Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland. Festive and sweet, but not too sweet.

Also, I really want to get Hulk this coffee mug for Christmas. I found it on Pinterest that took me to a broken Amazon link, so I’m not sure where to get it.

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Hoping for an Amazon Christmas miracle over here.

I just bought a Baby K’Tan for wearing around the house. Actually, I got two: both a Small and a Medium size since I have no idea what my size really is these days. All I know is that my pre-pregnancy “fat” jeans will not button. So right now the Medium fits, but I’m not sure if I will shrink out of it or not. Do I keep the small just in case? Oh, these first world decisions are killing me.

At least we still have the car seat attachment for the BOB stroller.

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I’m able to take my infant pack mule around for all of my merry jingle elf errands. One more shopping week until Christmas, and I’m starting to remember all of the little things I need to get, like stocking stuffers. There is a lot more to remember for Christmas now that I have kids than before, where I just needed to show up at a predetermined family Christmas dinner in an ugly sweater bearing a white elephant gift.

Anyone doing a white elephant exchange? Those are the best.

Make it a great day!

I’m Hooooome!

I’m hoooooome!

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I arrived safely at my sweet little abode last night. Then I had carrots and hummus for dinner with Squish, and went to bed. The end.

Well, I had my last hotel breakfast first,

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Eggs, fruit, and sausage FTW. And pumpkin spice coffee. I was early enough to the buffet to get some this time before it was all gone!

Then snacked on the plane with a couple of roast beef sliders and chips.

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Then my phone died on the plane so I took most of the night off from technology. Not a horrible thing.

In other news, I found this article about how to stay positive while injured that interested me. I’ve been totally slacking in the gym department lately because doing simple daily things like going grocery shopping and vacuuming seem to wipe me out enough as it is, and I don’t feel like compounding my fatigue with working out. I waffle between “I’m pregnant, so it’s okay to give myself some slack; there’s plenty of time later to pick it up when I feel good again,” to “OMG I am so out of shape I am never digging myself out of this Hole of Cream Puff.” The article inspired me to look on the bright side of things, still feel my feels *sniff*, and focus on what I can rather than what I can’t. Always sound advice.

Also, big plans for the weekend! I’m going to the San Francisco Women’s Expo, courtesy of Massage Envy! I’ll be tweeting and blogging about the experience, so check out Monday’s post. I haven’t been to an expo like this before, so hooray for new experiences!

That’s it for me, go make it a great day and have a fantastic weekend!

The Last Travel Week

Hello! I’m pretty pumped and saddened by this week’s activities. It’s my last travel week until after Baby v2.0 is here. It’s nice to think that this is another milestone to “the new normal,” but I’m also a little sad because I really do love traveling for work. It’s just a nice way to shake things up every couple weeks. Of course, come November I’ll have enough new things going on to shake it up!

This weekend I had some heavenly girl time with some besties. My friend Mariko is getting married, so we had an impromptu bachelorette get-together with a few of us in the city. Saturday night we gussied up and headed to the Bubble Lounge for champagne and a small plates dinner.

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We clean up well.

Bubble Lounge was really fun. It was a great night for people watching, as there were several large groups there getting their party on, including another, huge bachelorette party. The girls split a bottle of bubbly and I was pleased to find alcohol-free menu options so I had a “classic” mint mojoto.

Sunday morning I met the girls up after brunch and we headed to Kabuki Springs and Spa in Japantown for a spa day. Oh. My. Word. That is an amazing place. Is never been to a bath house before, and I was not disappointed. First, the whole place smells amazing. Sort of a cucumber-lavender-lemony aroma that none of us could really place. The bath area was dark, tranquil, and HUGE. There was a sauna, steam room, cold pool, and hot pool. I think you’re supposed to progress through everything in some order to properly “cleanse,” but we just soaked in the hot tub for the most part. In the steam room they offer little bowls of salt scrub so you can give yourself a good skin exfoliation while you steam. I did take great care to drink a ton of the iced water and to take breaks when I felt too hot, but it was amazing nonetheless. Along with plentiful water infused with lemon and cucumber, they also offered ice-cold washcloths and a wonderful hot teal that was some sort of fruity floral green tea. I drank my fair share of to too, my teeth were chattering with the caffeine by the end of the stay!

The best part was the massage. I had a half-session prenatal massage that was sooooo good. I wish it was a longer session, but we booked kind of late and that was all the time available. They didn’t have a prenatal table, so I laid on my side with a body pillow, and it was surprisingly relaxing and comfortable. My therapist did a wonderful job hitting all of my “problem” spots in the short time we had, and I floated out of there.

I am totally going back to Kabuki, if not for the spa services than just for the bath house experience. Totally worth it!

After getting blissed out, we continued our adventures in Japantown with some ramen at the center. I had the wonton ramen, which spoke to my soul. Nothing like a good bowl of ramen!

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And then I went home and took a nap. The end.

Time to board yet another plane. See you on the other side!

I Made a Recipe I Pinned on Pinterest

I forgot to mention the best “healthy” chocolate pudding recipe ever. I stumbled across the Avocado Chocolate Chia Pudding recipe from The Fitnessista last week and, realizing that my avocados were dying a slow neglected death in the fruit bowl, pinned the recipe to try out. And get this, kids: I actually made a recipe I pinned on Pinterest. I know, right? I’ll let you marvel at that wonder while I tell you about this pudding.

I loved that it only has a few ingredients: avocado, chia seeds, cocoa powder, almond milk, honey (or your favorite sweetener), cinnamon, and love. I swapped the almond milk with our disgusting antibiotic-ridden conventional cow’s milk because that’s what we buy. I made the first “test batch” Friday night when Squish and I were feeling snacky. It’s totally enough for one grownup-size serving and one Squishy-size serving. With the avocado it gets really rich, so even though it’s marketed as a “dessert for one” I would recommend finding a friend. Or a small friend if you’re greedy and want the larger portion, as I do.

Anyway, here’s Squish’s bowl. I topped it with crushed nuts and coconut because it’s fancy and I like the crunch.

Yeah, Gina’s pictures are way better than mine. When I have a late-night chocolate craving and a toddler by my side jumping around yelling, “pudding! Pudding!” I have no patience to even fake good photography. You should just go to her site and check it out.

Other news on the food front, yesterday I had a pumpkin cream cheese muffin on the train for breakfast. It got a little smooshed in my backpack. It was more like a pumpkin cream cheese muffin puck.

At work I had second breakfast of an english muffin with peanut butter and jelly, and an orange.

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We’ve had those oranges in the employee kitchen for a couple of weeks now. Oranges just don’t die.

Lunch was unusual. I wasn’t particularly craving anything, so I opted for lazy and went to the deli downstairs. My new rule if I don’t crave a certain thing is to choose the healthiest option available, so I grabbed a salad. And I found out they have kombucha for sale. This, I tell you, is a life-changer and I am going to spend so much money on kombucha.

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I’d never had the Mystic Mango flavor of GT’s kombucha before, and although it was tasty there was a lot of mango puree that sort of got sludgy. I probably won’t buy it again for texture alone.

Then I saw that they had loaded baked potatoes, and went for it. Potato craving satisfied.

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My feet were getting rather puffy and swollen after work, and I was feeling sort of blah. So I skipped walking to the train station and took the shuttle instead. Which ended up being a fabulous idea. While I waited on the bench for the shuttle, I stuck my feet in the grass. It’s good to stay grounded when you can.

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Ohh, puffy preggo legs.

Another exciting development, I made dinner! I was actually conscious and on my feet long enough when I returned home from work to make dinner. All I did was throw some Aidells chicken apple sausage, bell peppers, and onions in a pan with some butter. Then I ate it at the computer with Squish in my lap. Because that’s how we do it around here. And then I went to bed.

Have you ever successfully made a recipe or craft from Pinterest? Or is Pinterest dumb and not your thing?

 

 

 

 

Over the Weekend

Good morning!

I prepared a baby update over the weekend, but I haven’t finished it yet. I hope I can knock it off before the baby comes. Ha.

Over the weekend, Squish learned how to steam milk with the frother. We now have another latte addict in the family.

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Bringing back the milk ‘stache.

Over the weekend Hulk and I went to some open houses to start getting a feel for the housing market in SF. We saw a couple of cute ones, but none that won us over. I remember that house hunting took nearly a year the first time we bought a house, so I’m just enjoying the process of looking and dreaming. Our lease is up in December, so we’ll probably move to a cheaper apartment in the city while we continue to house hunt. Of course, the lease is up AFTER my due date. You know, because nothing is more practical or fun than moving with an infant.

Over the weekend we went to a cool new brunch spot that just opened in SOMA called The Pink Elephant. Their deal is a do-it-yourself bottomless mimosa bar. They had an assortment of freshly squeezed juices like watermelon, mango, honeydew, and raspberry lemonade. The food was pretty good and the service really friendly and accommodating. The best part was the ambiance and vibe. It had a real hipster-y, alternative feel with great music and decor, fitting to start off some Sunday Funday action. The pricing was a bit more than I would be comfortable with to go there as a habit ($15 for entrees, $19 for the mimosa bar) but I can see us going back with friends visiting from out of town or special occasions that require more than one mimosa.

Over the weekend, I also took naps. All the naps #bringingnapback. Hulk would bring Squish down to the pool and I would pass out in the sweet relief of having the apartment to myself for a couple hours. Pregnancy + full time job with commute + toddler mommy is exhausting.

What did you do over the weekend?