Guide to the Golden Circle, Deluxe Edition

What is the Golden Circle?

If you Google “Things to do in Iceland,” the Golden Circle will likely be one of your top hits. The Golden Circle is a trio of sites that can be seen in one day as you drive around in a circle. The three attractions along the Golden Circle are Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and the Gullfoss Waterfalls. The drive takes about 3 hours from Reykjavik!

Our Route

When we sat down to plan our trip around the Golden Circle, we decided to include a few more stops, that tend to be lesser known. Our route included a stop at the Kerid Crater, Faxi Falls and Friðheimar, which is a tomato greenhouse that also has a restaurant inside! If we were going to drive all day, we wanted to get the most bang for our buck! We also had Bruarfoss Waterfalls on our agenda, but the entrance was closed when we got there. Our total driving time was 3 hours and 23 minutes!

Map of Golden Circle route

Kerid Crater

The Kerid Crater was our first stop and probably the most aesthetically pleasing. The red rock contrasted with the turquoise water in an unreal way! The crater was formed from a volcanic eruption 3000 years ago. The water in the lake is pretty shallow, ranging from 7 to 14 meters! At the crater, you can take a walk around the top, then hike down to the bottom! There is an entrance fee of $3.

Kerid Crater
Bottom of Kerid Crater

Faxi Falls

We still had a bit of time before our lunch reservations so we drove over to Faxi Falls. These falls are lesser known, as evidenced by being the only car in the parking lot. There was a $5 entrance, but they do take credit card. The fall is connected to Tungufljót river and is about 80 meters wide and 7 meters tall. If you have the time, I would check it out!

Faxi Falls

Friðheimar

Finally, lunch time! I had been to Friðheimar during my last visit to Iceland with my family and remembered it being delicious. It did not disappoint! Friðheimar is a tomato greenhouse where can you also eat. Greenhouses are common in Iceland, as their weather isn’t very conducive to farming. Here, you can eat their famous tomato soup with fresh baked bread. They also offer tomato adult drinks and desserts, if you dare! The tomato soup buffet was about $20, and included unlimited tomato soup, bread and garnishes (sour cream, fresh basil you clip at the table, cucumber salsa and butter). If you don’t want to spend that much or if you know you only want one bowl, you can also order a single bowl for about $10. After lunch, you can take a stroll around and see the tomato plants they grow!

Sign at Friðheimar farms
Meal at Friðheimar
Tomatos at Friðheimar

Geysir

Next stop is the Geysers! The area has quite a few geysers! Many are dormant but one does go off every 5-10 minutes! In all honesty, this was one of the least exciting stops of the day but it’s still worth a visit! There is a large cafe and gift shop as well if you need a refreshment!

Geysir
Geysir

Gullfoss

Next stop – Gullfoss! Gullfoss means “Golden Falls” and is one of the most iconic waterfalls in Iceland. The water from the falls comes from the glacier Langjökull. There are several viewing points at this stop. You can take the stairs up and see the view from above or you can walk along the path towards the fall! Be prepared to get pretty wet!

Gullfoss Falls
Gullfoss Falls
Gullfoss Falls

Tungufljót

This wasn’t an attraction per se but as we were driving, we saw some cars parked along the side of the road and curiosity made us pull over to see what was happening! Turns out we were driving over the Tungufljót river! This river is full of salmon and trout, and very important to Icelanders for that reason.

Tunguflot

All over Iceland are these beautiful purple flowers. At the river, they were abundant as well! These are actually Alaskan lupine and were brought over to Iceland in 1945 to add nitrogen to the soil!

Alaskan lupine

Thingavellir

Our last stop of the day was Thingavellir Park. To be honest, we were pretty drained by then and didn’t want to continue to walk around so we stopped for a minute to see what it was about and got back in the car to head home. Here is the one photo of the park I got!

Thingavellir Park is a UNESCO site for it’s nature and because it is the site of the oldest parliament in the world! Iceland’s parliament existed here from the 10th to the 18th century!

Thingavellir

Tips

Overall, we had an amazing day. It’s bonkers to think that in just a few hours, you can see so many gorgeous sites! After exploring for the day, here are a few tips I would share:

  • Call ahead and make reservations for Friðheimar! I was lucky enough to be able to make reservations the night before but I know they can get packed!
  • Start early – you’ll want to take advantage of as many sites as you can! Keep in mind that some places have opening hours and some don’t so plan accordingly.
  • Be prepared for a foggy drive! If you need to, slow down while driving. The fog was unlike anything I had ever seen.
  • Use the restroom when you can! Gullfoss and Faxi did not have restrooms available.
  • Bring waterproof shoes to Gullfoss – you don’t want to have to sit in wet shoes for hours after!

Biggest tip though, is to go do the Golden Circle! It will not disappoint!

Melbourne’s Street Art Scene

When I think of Melbourne, I think of street art and coffee. When we visited last summer, it did not disappoint! Today, I want to relive one of the best tours I have ever been on – the Melbourne Street Art Tour! This was a tour that I booked through AirBnB. If you haven’t explored AirBnB’s experiences section – check it out! There are always incredible adventures to be had that are led by locals.

This tour was led by a local artist who worked with Blender Studios in Melbourne. The tour was a few hours long and led us through alleys and streets I never would have known to go down. Not only was the art incredible, but so were the stories that accompanied the art!

The tour began in downtown Melbourne and ended at the Blender Studios, which was a treat in itself. We got a tour of the studio and got to speak to the artists and owners. Not only that but there was complimentary beer, kombucha, and snacks!

Now let’s get into the art!

Hosier Lane

Hosier Lane

We began in legendary Hosier Lane. Hosier Lane is a famous street in Melbourne, known for its ever changing street art. The energy of the area was high and the smell of fresh spray paint was plentiful. Not only was there spray painted art, but there was also object art (not really sure how else to describe it). The artist leading us pointed out the concrete art that lined the streets.

Hosier Lane
Hosier Lane

The creme de la creme of Hosier Street was a piece done by Adnate. This is a 23 meter tall mural of an aboriginal boy. The detail absolutely blew me away.

Hosier Lane

Flinder’s Lane

The tour continued down to Flinder’s Lane, where I got to meet my second Banksy piece. Excited was an understatement.

Banksy on Flinder's Lane
Banksy on Flinder's Lane

There were plenty of other spectacular pieces in the area as well! The first piece stood out because it extended to the floor as well! I loved how whimsical it was. The second one was just really cool looking, IMO. Perhaps it would make for a cool tattoo?

Flinder's Lane
Flinder's Lane

Pesgrave Place

The last stop on the tour before we went to Blender Studios was Pesgrave Place. The art we saw there was unlike any street art I had seen before. Lots of it was 3D and there was a fun section where the art was all under frames, as if it were a museum.

Pesgrave Place
Pesgrave Place

Blender Studios

Last, but not least, was our stop to Blender Studios. By the end of the tour, most of the other participants had left so it was just us and our tour guide. Honestly, this was my favorite part of the tour, and I feel like the others missed out! As I mentioned earlier, they had snacks and drinks. We got to see everyone’s studio and buy pieces from them directly!

Blender Studios
Blender Studios
Blender Studios
Blender Studios

If you couldn’t tell already, I loved this tour! If you have the chance, you should book it. It’s worth every penny and it goes back to local artists! If you’re interested in other posts about street art, check out this one from my trip to New Orleans!

The Office Themed Birthday Party

June 13th, 2021 was my daughter’s first birthday. It was also the anniversary of me being in labor for 30 hours and giving birth unmedicated, in the middle of the pandemic. With that being said, her birthday party theme was 100% my choice and for my pleasure. What was this theme you ask? The Office, duh. As in the TV show.

I spent months planning for this party and I was really pleased with how it came out. The confusion of the older members of the family alone made it worth it. I hope you enjoy all the details in the Youtube video below. I attached photos of the shindig as well!

The Birthday Girl

Dwight
Of course we had to dress her as Dwight
Smash cake
Smash cake success

The Environment

More details can be seen in the video, but here’s a few photos I took before the party got started!

Smash cake set up
Party favors!
Serenity by Jan
Serenity by Jan
Party food

The Food

What’s a party without food? It may not have been classy, but I was able to incorporate quite a few of The Office jokes into the cuisine of the day! My favorite was probably the birthday cake!

Kelly's birthday cake
Michael's homemade potato salad
Stanley and Dwight's meatballs
Michael's cheese puffs
Big Tuna Fish
Andy's kit kats
Nard dogs
Failure of stapler jello
I failed at making the stapler jello.

The Aftermath

While Luna may not have understood the party, I think she had a pretty great time. Now to get ready for next year’s party. Shall we do Handmaids Tale or Dave as the theme?!

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Uncategorized

1 in 4: My Miscarriage Story

Preface: Hello, lovelies. I wrote this post originally in April of 2019. It’s been sitting in my drafts since then, but I feel like I should press publish and release it into the world. I hope that it helps someone feel less alone. After this happened, I ended up having an ectopic pregnancy, which will be a story for another time. I now have a one year old daughter, so for anyone going through this, don’t lose hope. Hugs to you all.

Up until 7:12 this morning, I was pregnant. At 7:12, my doctor called. I picked up, hopeful. Maybe he was calling to tell me great news. Maybe the HCG levels that I had worried myself sick about had suddenly gone up over night, and my baby was safe.

In my experience, doctors don’t call for great news. This morning was no different. My HCG level had dropped from 86 on Monday to 32 on Wednesday. I tried to keep it together on the phone, but I know my doctor could tell I had already begun to cry. My heart had sunk and I felt sick. I pulled to the side of the road and fell apart.

Today, I would have been 5 weeks pregnant. I had done my research. If I could have made it through this week to 6 weeks and 2 days, my baby would have had a heartbeat. We would have been good, and our family would be growing.

When I took that first pregnancy test and saw the faintest of lines, my heart skipped a beat. As all neurotic people do, I proceeded to pee on more sticks. The lines kept getting darker. I peed on more sticks, you know, just to be extra sure. From all the articles I’d read, this was a good sign. This little bean was going to stick. I was going to be a mom.

I found out I was pregnant 8 days ago. In those 8 days, I had built a life up for this baby in my head. I imagined carrying him for the next 9 months. I imagined how it would feel to hold him in my arms for the first time. I imagined making funny little purees for him out of kale and strawberries. I imagined walking him to kindergarten and then waving him off on his first date. I imagined driving him to college – how excited he would be about decorating his dorm room!

I imagined all of this, although I knew I shouldn’t have. I knew that up until the second trimester everything was up in the air. I know now, despite the blame that I put on myself, that there was a 20% chance that this would have happened. I know I will try again, and that one day, I will have a baby. Maybe two.

I’m hurting. I didn’t think it would hurt this much but it does. As of 7:12am, I am no longer expecting a baby. I am now expecting blood, to remind me of what could have been. I hope this part comes soon, and leaves quickly. As much as I hurt, I know that I need to hurt in order to heal, and to try again.

For something that happens so often, it’s a shame that it’s so taboo. If I am hurting, I imagine every woman and couple who has gone through this has hurt as well. I am now one in four women who will suffer from a miscarriage. That’s a lot of hurt to keep bottled up. So I’m not going to. I’m writing it out, for the whole damn world to see. This hurts, and that’s okay. I’ll be okay too.

My pregnancy tests after the news of the miscarriage

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Five Thangs Friday Life Lately

Five Thangs Friday

Wowwee! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted on this corner of the internet, but I’ve been itching to write/create/speak so cheers to me bringing PseudoMidlifeCrisis back! The last year I’ve learned so much and one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is how therapeutic words can be. SO even if no one reads this, I know I’m healing myself a lil with each post.

Enough of that. I want to start light so here are five things this week that humored/amused me.

#1 This Kid

Real talk – she will probably always and forever be my #1 for any list, even 5 thangs Friday. But let me explain this picture. This here is my daughter, the thief. You see that chocolate on her face? She stole that out of my purse. This was her face when she got caught. Cutest thief ever.

#2 Goghing on a Date Night

Pun TOTALLY intended. My husband and I finally got out of the house after what felt like five million years to go on a date. We had tickets to see the immersive Van Gogh exhibit. Overall, it was super fun! The music and the animation of the paintings were beautifully done. Of course, the creme de la creme was the abundance of “Gogh” puns scattered throughout.

#3 A Potential New Hobby

School is officially out for the summer so that means I have more time for hobbies, like crafting. A girl I know posted an instagram photo of yarn art and I was immediately enthralled. *cue trip to Michaels* I tried my hand at it the other day, but it didn’t come out to my liking. I’ll be playing around with it more and hopefully, by next Friday, I have results to share.

#4 Good Ole Thrift Shopping

Nothing puts me in a better mood than a good deal! Today, I found I had some spare time so I hit up a Salvation Army. I recently got rid of the majority of my clothes because they didn’t bring me joy (or more likely they didn’t fit as I would have liked) so I have space in my closet that obviously must be filled. I found a few super cute pieces today! Score of the day was deffo the brand new Lululemon windbreaker that I scored for $4.

#5 My New Job!

Last but not least, I found out I secured my dream teaching job this week. Starting in August, I’ll be starting a new cluster program for students with moderate disabilities. It is my dream to start from scratch and to have complete autonomy over the program and I AM FLIPPING JAZZED!

So that rounds out my five thangs for Friday. After writing it all out, I have to say I had a pretty great week. On the downside, I am on my final taper of Lexapro so my brain feels like mush and my face is number, but things could be worse! I’m excited to be back in this space and hopefully you cannot wait for more word vomit from yours truly. XOXO.

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Life Lately PostPartum

The Bookshelf

A few months ago, we put an order in on the Ikea website. A few months later, the pieces arrives. Two cowhide rugs, a few bookcases for our daughter’s room and a bookshelf for my office. For the last few weeks, the bookshelf had been in my office, in it’s box, leaned up against the window sill. Every time I walked in and saw it, I felt a sense of shame.

Hear me out.

I hadn’t attempted to build the bookshelf. It just sat there, waiting for the day my husband would assemble it. The thought had crossed my mind that maybe I should assemble it, but I ignored that thought. I had tried to put together a bookshelf a few years ago. My husband and I had purchased his and hers matching bookshelves from Target to put into our bedroom. We decided to have a competition to see who could assemble theirs faster. I thought I would actually win. Except I didn’t. In the time it took him to assemble the whole bookshelf, I had assembled nothing. Not a piece. It’s embarrassing to admit but my ego was bruised. I labeled myself as someone who couldn’t assemble furniture. I promised myself I would never feel that embarrassment again.

For years, I didn’t assemble a thing. If a screwdriver was required, I was out. I know it frustrated my husband – he singlehandedly assembled our entire home when we moved.

And so this bookshelf sat in my office. And one day, I decided that I was going to get over my fear and put the damn shelf together on my own. I realized that I avoided doing things that I might fail at and this was one of them.

The hardest part was just opening the box. Opening the box meant I was committing myself to either assemble the bookshelf or attempt to and admit failure.

Building the actual bookshelf was not difficult. I had the instructions, I had the screwdriver and I had the pieces. I had my own motivation to assemble it and I did it.

I was proud as hell of myself. It may be just a simple bookshelf to some, but in my office, it’s a reminder that I can fail and then succeed. Now the only issue is that it’s a mounted bookshelf. I’ll leave that part to my husband.

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PostPartum

Life, Lately

This last month has been rough for me, and for my entire family. I broke down. I cracked. I have a clue as to what triggered it, but I think it was a long time coming. The lack of sleep for the last three months, coupled with my anxious tendencies, mixed with postpartum blues. I wonder often why I couldn’t handle it. Where did I go wrong and what could I have done differently? I knew early into postpartum that something was wrong. I knew it was more than the postpartum blues but I figured that if I was able to function, I was alright. I was alright, until I wasn’t.

An ER trip, an anti-depressant prescription and a leave from work later, here I am. I got to a bad place. I felt unreal and empty and so damn sad. I’m trying to move forward and do what I need to do to heal. I started going to see my therapist twice a week. I entered an intensive therapy treatment program that involves 3 hours of group therapy per day. I’m reading and writing more. I got a membership to the arboretum to spend more time outside. I deleted social media from my phone and I’ve been taking my medicine. I’m trying to eat more. I’m trying.

I want to be the mother, wife and friend that is there for the people she loves. I am so grateful that the people who love me were there for me. While it’s been a crap month, at least I can say I have a bomb support group. I could not imagine doing it alone.

I’m seeing improvements. I’m feeling more joy when I am with my daughter. When I take walks, I’m noticing the colors of the flowers. I’m able to calm myself down sometimes. I don’t know if it’s because of the medicine, or because of my own efforts but I am so thankful to be seeing some changes. I know I have a long way to go still, but I am just glad to not be at the very bottom anymore.

No one talks about how lonely motherhood can be. I anticipated that I would be tired, but I never imagined it meant not sleeping more than three hours at a time for months. I wish we talked about it more. I wish it wasn’t painted to be rainbows and butterflies and smiles. Sometimes it is – when your kid does something for the first time and they smile. A lot of times (at least for me) it wasn’t and I’m trying to acknowledge that that is perfectly okay too.

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Life Lately

Where I’m Rushing To

If I could figure that out, it would make life a lot easier to understand.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve rushed. I rush through tasks, I rush through stages of life, I rush through damn near everything.

I rush through fun stuff… in anticipation of the next chore I need to tackle. I rush through chores to get through the fun stuff. It’s a disgusting circle. I want to slow down. I want to be the type of person who can stop and smell the roses. I want to stop and appreciate what’s in front of me.

Why do I do this? Why do I rush? Is it just a product of the times – the fast paced, go-go-go lifestyle that we live? Am I rushing so I don’t have to think about what’s on my mind?

It’s hard for me to sit and be. Movies are hard for me to watch – they require me to be idle for far too long. I wish I could just watch a movie and not think about what’s next but I can’t.

I can’t for now… at least. I’m going to learn to slow the hell down. I’ve lived the first 26 years of my life rushing it away and I’m not going to rush away the next 26 years. I’m going to figure out how to breathe and appreciate. I want to remember every detail of my daughter as a baby. I want to remember sweet moments between my husband and I.

I’ve started using a meditation app while I sit in the sauna. I’ve started breathing when I find my mind rushing to the next thing. I’ve started to stop and think.

I have a lot of unpacking to do mentally. I have a lot of repressed thoughts and memories that have been brewing somewhere deep within me for years and only after having my daughter have they surfaced. I need to unpack them, hold them in my hand, sift them through my fingers. I need to then let them go.

Maybe then I’ll be able to stop rushing.

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PostPartum

This is Postpartum

So… you’ve pushed your bundle of joy out so the hard part must be over right? Wrong. Welcome to postpartum, my friend!

Postpartum doesn’t look at all like in the movies. It’s not glamorous by any means. There’s a lot of joy, but there’s also a lot of other feelings – sadness, jealousy, longing for the past. It’s hard as hell.

Motherhood is hard as hell on your body. You’ll feel like a ghost of who you were. A bloated, heavy ghost. You leak… everywhere. Your chest goes crazy. You have the longest, strongest period of your life. Your eyes are red from constant tears. You’re sore in places you never thought you’d be sore. You might have pushed so hard that blood vessels all over your body have broken. Remember the nights of 8 hours of sleep? Those are long gone. You’ll find a 5 hour night “refreshing” now. You can’t think straight anymore – you’ll reread e-mails you sent and hope people overlook your lack of grammar. Also… no one warns you about post-labor contractions. Those hurt like a mofo. You’ve given yourself to your baby for the last nine months, but it’s not over. You are now responsible for sustaining them with mother’s milk.

Motherhood is hard as hell on your emotions. You find yourself going through every emotion in the book within minutes. You’ll question if you’re a good mother. You’ll second guess everything you do. You might get down, for an extended period of time, and wonder if something is seriously wrong with you. You’ll feel alone and lonely. You’ll then feel guilty about those feelings. It’s a cycle that hurts your heart.

Motherhood is hard as hell on your relationships. If you’re like me, and you don’t have many friends who have kids… you might feel isolated. You might feel left out and long for your “old” life. You’ll see your husband in passing and have energy only for a head nod. You’ll miss them… a lot. You’ll wonder if you’ll ever sleep in the same bed, or share a laugh together again. You’ll bicker about small things that don’t matter.

Motherhood is hard as hell, and so is the postpartum period. Pregnancy takes a toll on your body. Childbirth does too. But it’ll all be worth it. You’ll look down at your baby, and your baby will look back up at you and you’ll know it’s worth it. It’s worth the tears and the pain and the loneliness. You’ll realize that these moments are precious and that your baby will never be this little again. One day, they’ll grow up and not need you and you’ll long for the newborn days.

My newborn and I, embracing the postpartum experience.

Emetophobia and Pregnancy

Vomiting scares the hell out of me.

“Okay Jeanette, no one likes throwing up – stop being dramatic.” I’ve heard it over and over growing up. Here’s the thing. It’s not just not “liking” vomiting. It’s a constant anxiety. It’s panic attack inducing. It’s something that changes the way I live.

Emetophobia is the phobia of vomiting. I’ve had this deep fear since childhood. I have no clue where it stems from, but I recall when my younger brother or sister would get sick, my parents would have to comfort me. Personally, I haven’t thrown up since I was about 5 or 6. It’s been a solid 2 decades.

How has emetophobia changed my life? I never drink to excess out of fear of being ill. I wouldn’t go to parties as a teenager. I avoid public transportation as much as possible. If I am on public transportation, I am constantly scanning others for signs of possible sickness. If someone coughs, my heart starts beating faster. I’m very cautious about food and how it’s prepared. I keep Zofran in my purse.

What happens when I feel nauseous or someone around me is ill? I freak the hell out, to put it simply. I caught some type of bug when I was in Israel a few summers ago and I remember crying on the phone to my husband about how scared I was to throw up. I appear heartless to those who are sick, because I simply cannot be around it. Physically, my heart starts to beat faster when someone even mentions being sick. My anxiety goes through the roof. I start thinking of escape plans. I get as far as humanly possible from that person. If it’s me who is nauseous, I typically take Zofran, rub mint oil all over and chew gum in an effort to keep it at bay. I’ll probably cry as well.

How has it been with pregnancy? Honestly, a million times smoother than I thought it would be. I have had bouts of nausea throughout my first and third trimester, but never came close to actually throwing up. It was a huge concern of mine prior to getting pregnant, but my wonderful husband made sure I was always stocked up on ginger candy, tea and sparkling waters to help keep it from becoming actual sickness. I am far more concerned about how my emetophobia will pan out when baby is actually here. Kids get sick – I know this. I’m trying to rationalize it in my head that it’s just a natural thing that happens but I can’t. When I taught elementary, when the kids got ill, I could not help them at all. I often couldn’t stay in the room with them. I’m nervous that my daughter will see me as a heartless creature for not being able to comfort her when she’s ill. I’m starting to get nervous about how the bathroom upstairs is connected to both her room and our room. The thought of her being sick in the middle of the night terrifies me. I have discussed this with my husband, and he is very understanding, and is okay with dealing with that part of parenthood, but at some point, I will likely have to deal with it.

I’m not quite sure why I wrote this all out there. Emetophobia has played a big role in my life thus far, and I expect it to continue to as I set forth on this new chapter. I know it’s not an especially common phobia, but it’s there and I have it. I hope that one day I will be able to overcome it, but I know there’s a good chance I can’t. I’ve come to terms with that.