Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bon's Book club: NIGHT CIRCUS

Welcome to April book club, chicas!  (All book club details can be found here.)

 (If you link up I'd love you to slap this image on your post somewhere.  Please and thank you!)

2014 Book Club Schedule:

January: The Husband's Secret by Liane Mortiary (January 30)  Discussion here.
February:  I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (February 27) Discussion here.
March: Divergent by Veronica Roth (March 27) Discussion here
April:  Night Circus by Eric Morgenstern (April 24)
May:  The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (May 29)
June:  Matilda by Roald Dahl (June 26)
July:  In Cold Blood  by Truman Capote (July 24)
August:  Brain on Fire:  My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan (August 28)
September:  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (September 25)
October:  Z by Therese Ann Fowler (October 23)
November:  Wonder by R.J. Palacio (November 20)
December: My Story by Elizabeth Smart (December 30)

You are welcome to answer any or all of these questions.  (Or none of them.  Do whatever you want, people.  I'm not your English teacher!)  I've decided to limit questions for the book to five questions each month- that way it can get our brains moving without being too overwhelming or burdensome.  I answer some of the questions below, not all of them, and I jump around and do whatever I please.  Feel free to follow suit.

+ Who is your favorite character in the novel and why?
+ What about the main romantic relationship (Celia and Marco) did you like or not like?
+ Did you like the writing style?  Why or why not?
+ What is the significance of Celia's and Marco's relationships with their father figures? (Hector and Alexander)  In what ways are these relationships healthy or unhealthy?
+ Anything else you want to say, add, admit, confess?  Now's your time to shine!

You guys I don't know what's wrong with me.  I haven't loved any of the books we have read for book club in 2014. I'm sorry! I had such high hopes for Night Circus and went in wanting so badly to like it.  But I just couldn't.  I know a lot of you love it, and I feel like I need to sincerely apologize to you for not liking it.  I am starting to feel like this book club is one big epic fail.  Let's see, I tell you all I love to read, make you all read a bunch of books with me, and then tell you why I hate every single book we read.  I'm the worst!

WRITING STYLE There were some things I did like about the book, so let's start with those.  I think Morgenstern is a terrific writer.  It definitely blew the writing in Divergent or I am Malala out of the water.  The writing was lyrical and at some points even felt like poetry.  It felt good to read something again that was truly well written.

That being said, the pace was SO slow.  While I did enjoy her writing, there were so many things she wrote about that were just totally unnecessary to me.  I felt like the reading got bogged down in these tiny details that didn't matter.  Sometimes I felt like Morgenstern was trying so hard to write beautifully that she was sacrificing plot.  The pace was terribly off... it moved so slowly with very few events actually happening.  

Sometimes I tease my students that they can't read anything if it's not more than 160 characters.  We live in a twitter universe where everything has to be condensed, shortened, easily digestible.  So part of me feels really bad for wanting this book to move quicker- like maybe I should've just slowed down and enjoyed it and just let all that beautiful imagery seep into my bones.  But I couldn't do it.  There just wasn't enough of a plot behind it to keep me really interested so I ended up skimming parts with too much detail.

BAILEY  The other part of the plot I really liked was Bailey.  Maybe he was the only part of the book I really understood?  With all the other characters I felt like I was constantly supposed to be understanding all these nuances and balancing tricks of theirs, but Bailey was just a normal kid.  I loved loved what Celia said at the end when she asks Bailey to take the circus: "You're not destined or chosen... You're in the right place at the right time, and you care enough to do what needs to be done.  Sometimes that's enough."  I guess I have grown a bit weary of books and movies where someone is "chosen" and must live up to his destiny...  I like the idea that so much about greatness is just being where you need to be and caring enough to get it done.  I suppose it takes away some of the "magic" of being great, but to me it makes it more real because it's obtainable for anyone.  It becomes more a matter of willingness and choice, not predestination.  I especially liked the bit about him caring enough to do it.  It made me think about how many great opportunities I can have and will have in my life simply by caring enough to act.

CELIA + MARCO  I suppose I'm a hopeless romantic, and I always love a good love story.  This one just didn't do it for me.  The kiss in the ballroom was stunning, but that was really the only thing that really impressed me.  The relationship didn't feel developed enough for me to care who won in the end.  It was rushed and sloppy.

TOO VAGUE  I will be the first to admit that I have a hard time reading science fiction or fantasy novels.  I am too much of a realist, so I take all of the fun out of those books.  I can enjoy fantasy however, if it is extremely well done.  For me to enjoy fantasy, there still has to be rules within the fantasy and everything has to make sense, even in a world that is impossible.  For example, Harry Potter.  Everything in that book makes sense.  There is a system for everything.  There are spells and potions, and you have to learn the spells and there's a school you go to to learn spells.  It isn't just random, unexplained magic.  Which is what I felt like all the magic in this book was.  Why could Poppet erase Chandresh's memory at the end of the book?  Never explained it.  Why was Marco able to make some random bonfire that somehow controlled the whole circus?  Never explained it.  Why did Isobel keep the balance of the circus going- what was her role in all of it?  Never explained it.  This was beyond frustrating to me, to the point where I wanted to quit.  I don't think an author should be able to get away with making up a world that is not clearly explained to us.

Another thing that drove me crazy was how she'd use descriptors to describe people instead of their name.  "The man in the grey suit" "The girl with the red hair" "The illusionist."  For pages and pages she would do this, as if adding some great mystery by not saying their name. Mostly it just confused me as there were already a lot of names to remember and I was having a hard time keeping straight in my head who was who without having to remember their stupid descriptor phrase.

"THE GAME" I felt the same way with "the game" as I did with the book in general- just way too vague. I didn't even know what I was reading about.  There was no clearly explained moves, no clearly explained rules, etc.  I get that the game was supposed to be like that, but to me that was a weak choice on the author's part.  It didn't give readers something concrete enough to grasp on to.  The entire time I was reading I felt like I was frantically trying to grasp onto this very hazy idea, never clearly seeing or understanding where it was going.  That is a very frustrating way to read a book.

Several times during the book someone asks for an explanation of the game.  When Bailey asks Tsukiko she replies, "That is somewhat difficult to explain.  It is a long and complicated story."  I felt like this was the answer that was given for the entirety of the book!  An author can only get away with that for so long before she has to explain to readers what is going on.  I never really felt like Morgenstern did this.  Part of me wonders if she herself knows what the game is or what it actually entails.  What are the moves?  Suddenly there's an ice garden?  That's a move?  The game doesn't end until someone dies?  How is someone going to die by making ice gardens or a carousel?  And what if the two contenders just refuse to play?  It never explained why they were forced to do the game... Why couldn't they just stay in the circus as lovers and ignore it?  Couldn't they just live out their lives (Which are longer than normal lives?  They don't age?  It never explained this either.) as normal and forget about the contest?

OTHER UNEXPLAINED THINGS  What did Isobel have to do with anything?  I kept trying to figure out why she was in the story, and it never made sense to me.  She had something to do with the "balance" of the circus, but what, I have no idea.  What was Marco always writing down in his books?  Why did Celia have control of the circus at the end of the book... everything was weighing on her?  Did Celia and Marco end up as ghosts then?  Trapped inside the circus?

Okay, I am seriously sorry.  I wish I liked this book more, and I would love to hear your reasons why you enjoyed the book, or what you found enchanting or magical about it.  (It's gotten terrific reviews, so I'm clearly in the minority.)  I don't know why I can't just sit down and enjoy a book lately.  I need to shoo my inner critic away because I'm obviously way too harsh.  Either that, or I need to start making money from being a book reviewer.

Can't wait to read your comments!  Leave them below and if you wrote your own post make sure to link up!  I am looking forward to reading all the reasons why you loved this book! :)

The stuff of insanity and frenzy.

Announcement #1:  I am accepting sponsorships for May.  Here's the info on it.  
Email me at if you are interested.

Announcement #2:  Book club tomorrow!  For the how and what of book club go here.
We will be discussing The Night Circus.

Life has been a bit insane this week.

Actually.  Totally insane.

I got home from California Saturday night and ever since it has been a mad dash of run run run RUN.  Sunday we did Easter with Greg's family, Monday was big and important stuff that I can't quite talk about yet, (oh, don't you love it when bloggers are so ultra vague?!), yesterday was more important stuff in addition to the opening of Greg's show Peter Pan.  I haven't gotten to bed before midnight once, I haven't had time to grocery shop, fold laundry, or even paint my nails, oh my!

Add to this that I am back in the teaching saddle.  My student teacher finished up the day before spring break, and here I am gladly taking the reins again. I love teaching. I am so happy to be back. It is thrilling to be in front of the kids again and teach and laugh and joke.

But. My teaching stamina isn't up.  I've been used to a work schedule that consisted of hours of leisurely reading and writing in the teacher's lounge, observing someone else teach, milling about the hallways, and making frequent stops in the main office to make sure the secretaries are all alive and well.  All of a sudden I'm back to the crazy and frantic pace of teaching- preparing lessons for 90 minute class periods, negotiating with students over grades, putting on a constant horse and pony show to try to keep all forty kiddos in a class period engaged.  I feel like it's the first week of school again and I'm totally exhausted.

Oh!  And then there's this. Friday is a writing conference I am trying desperately to get a manuscript together for.  It's Greg's story idea and it's a brilliant plot, I just don't know if my writing does it justice.  Writing is an arduous and tedious process.  I've got about 55,000 words, but the story is nowhere close to finished or edited.  It's a hot mess and right now I don't want to touch it with a ten foot pole.

And where does this little blog fit into this crazy scheme of things?  It doesn't really.  It has gotten totally pushed to the wayside- I'm barely pushing out mediocre posts, stamping publish on them, and then continuing my sprint toward some unknown destination.  Emails are going unanswered in my inbox!  I keep forgetting to Instagram selfies!  Sometimes when big things are going on in my life, I just have to be quiet on the internet.  Let myself figure it out first before I throw it to a pack of internet wolves.  (Wow!  I just called y'all wolves!  How do you feel about that?!?)

I guess I just wanted to thank you for being patient with me while my life gets crazy around me.  It's a good crazy, it's a happy crazy, but it is crazy.  Thanks for continuing to read, for slogging through mediocre posts, waiting for a good one.  Thanks for showing up here day after day.  It means more to me than you know.  And there are more good posts to come.  I promise you that.

Now.  I've got to finish planning a lesson and make some copies.   Here are two other ladies you should be reading in the meantime. (P.S.  I am trying to make my group posts as "readable" as possible.  Please let me know in the comments if the new format of the posts makes you more or less likely to read.  Thanks!)

Blog strengths (according to her):  Blogs consistently, makes friends and connections through blogging

Why I love her: Aubrey is right on the connections thing- she is the queen of quality blog relationships.  She knows everybody!  She is a good friend of mine, (met through blogging!) and she constantly pushes me to get out of my blogging shell and meet more people.  Stop over at her blog to say hi and before you know it, you'll have yourself a lifetime friend.

Don't miss these posts:  Is Online Dating the same as making friends from blogging?, "Do you ever want to get married?", What would you do with a yard of fabric?

Also found here:  Bloglovin// Twitter

Blog strengths (according to her): Finding humor in all situations, sharing things that make her laugh, contributing to the blogging community, having a space of constant joy 

Why I love her: Erica is a fellow high school English teacher so of course, I already feel a kinship with her.  Her posts are high quality- I never get that awful feeling that she just threw some post up without thinking much about it.  She is hilarious and creative and you can tell puts a lot of time and effort into making her blog such a positive place on the internet.

Also found here: Twitter// Instagram

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Popsicles and Beaches- in other words how to make a great big mess.

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Wet-Nap but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #showusyourmess

One of my favorite parts about visiting Akasha in California was hanging out with her kids.  They're seriously adorable.  And they let me hold them!  Most kids nowadays are very picky with who they will let hold them- even some of my nieces and nephews make me pretty much do backflips before they'll give me the time of day or sit in my lap.  But Akasha's kids seemed to give me a couple of glances, shrug their shoulders and say, "Yah.  She'll do."  I had so much fun playing with them and laughing with them and cuddling them.  It definitely made me excited for my own little girl to get here.

Wednesday was filled with angst and stress over the car accident.  Thursday was waiting around for a rental car and a cloudy day.  But Friday!  Friday was perfect!  Sunny and beautiful and we were determined to spend the whole darn afternoon with the kids at the beach.  Who can resist a Friday at the beach?  (Also this beach does this amazing thing to the kids where it entertained them for HOURS.  No complaining, no whining, just happy kiddos playing in the sand and water. It was magical!)

We knew we'd be spending a bit of time at the beach on Friday, so we decided to grab some treats beforehand.  Our treat of choice- Popsicles of course! It was hot and sunny, and what sounds better at the beach than Popsicles?  We made a quick stop at Wal-mart for the cold treat and some Wet-Nap wipes too because something told us the Popsicles could make a mess...  

As you can see, the mess was pretty much inevitable.  ENTER:  Super hero, Wet-Nap!

Having Wet-Nap hand wipes on hand took all of the stress away from snack time.  We didn't care at all if the kids had Popsicle juice running down their arms (and they did!) because we knew it'd be such easy clean up.  I especially loved it because we could just give the wipes to the kids, and they cleaned themselves up (I'm all about self sufficiency here, people.)  Even Madi, who's not yet two, could clean off her own little hands and mouth.  There could not have been or easier or simpler way to do treats at the beach.  No stress, no mess.

Wet-Nap hand wipes come in a canister to carry with you in your car or stroller, or if you want to just throw a few individually wrapped wipes in your purse, you can get the packettes.  Like I said, it could not be easier to keep kids cleaned up!  Right now, Wal-mart has a coupon too, for any Wet-Nap hand wipes while supplies last.  (They only cost $2 to begin with, and with the coupon for $.55 off- you are getting a steal!  Espeically if you double your coupon on Tuesdays... does your Wal-mart do that too?)  CLICK HERE FOR COUPON!

Thank you so much to Pollinate and Wet-Nap for sponsoring this post and allowing me a stress free and guilt free afternoon at the beach.  Life is good!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Freeing myself from clutter- creating a healthy home!

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for #CollectiveBias and its advertiser. #WalgreensOlogy

I came home from California Saturday night, took one look around my apartment and declared the jig was up! No more cluttered shelves, no more cupboards haphazardly crammed with tupperware, no more socks in my pajama drawer. It was time to clean up, organize, get myself a healthy home.

I've been feeling this way for a few months. I've heard it described as this really weird term, "nesting." I'm not exactly sure what that term means and I know nothing about nests, but I do know that the clutter and random stuff everywhere is slowly driving my descent into madness.

And so, starting this week, it's project "Free Yourself" at my apartment- freeing myself from clutter and junk and the stress that comes with it. Am I the only one that gets majorly stressed out when my home isn't in order? I blame my mom for this one, who never let us leave anywhere unless the house was clean.

I'm tackling one project a day- starting with the laundry room shelves today. I will also tackle the fridge, the pantry, Greg's side of the closet, then my side of the closet (two days for closet!), my bedroom drawers, the bins we have set aside for all things baby. All things must be organized! Wiped down! Cleaned out! Spring cleaning here we come!

How weird is it that I am totally stoked to do this... genuinely looking forward to coming home from work each day, throwing on my sweats, and going to town on the clutter in my apartment?

The first stop for my "free myself" from clutter project was Walgreens, naturally. Walgreens is my go to stop when I don't want to become overwhelmed. The store is small enough that I can easily walk through and grab anything I need without becoming too overwhelmed, while at the same time giving me a great selection.

I was excited to try out Walgreens' new line, Ology. Next time you're at Walgreens, be sure to pick up some of their products. They are free from harmful chemicals and the paper products (toilet paper and paper towels) are 100% tree free. I always want to buy products that are better for me and for the environment without all the harmful chemicals, but usually I'm deterred by the price. I was so surprised and pleased to see that the Ology brand was still totally affordable while at the same time is friendly for our environment.

^^ Easy to find on the shelf, and easy to spot the brand.

^^ Like I said, the prices on all products were totally comparable with the normal products I buy. I got the above haul for $40.  Paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, bathroom cleaner, all purpose cleaner, dish liquid, shampoo AND conditioner for only $40.  No more excuses for me to not use safer products!

^^For the laundry room.

^^ For cleaning my bathroom.

^^ For cleaning my kitchen.

^^ For cleaning myself- I just had to treat myself to new shampoo and conditioner!

For more on the Ology brand (available only at Walgreens) and why it is important to have not only a clean home, but a healthy home, click on this video.

Thanks to #WalgreensOlogy and #CollectiveBias for sponsoring today's discussion.  Now it's time to get cleaning!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Beach it up

Is there anyone in the world who doesn't like to visit California?

Here's the thing about California.  The state is pretty much perfect.  Yes, the traffic is miserable and the economy's got some serious issues but the weather! the beach! the endless sunshine!

I've always been kind of confused by Californians and how weirdly defensive they are of their state.  Have you ever noticed that?  Like they don't want anyone else to enjoy it.  They don't share very well and anytime I tell a born and raised Californian how much I love their state I feel like they get mad at me.  Like I have no right to love their state or I am trying to steal something away from them.  Listen California peeps- your state is gorgeous.  The weather is perfect all year round.  Every time I go there I love it and I want to stay longer.  What do you expect?

My best friend and her family live in California for going on two years now.  She's got three little children and they are pretty much living in paradise.  They go to the beach constantly and spend even our dreaded months of January and February soaking in the sun.  It ain't fair, I tell you!  It ain't fair!

The plan was for Greg and I to go out over my spring break to visit Geoff and Akasha for three or four days.  Then Greg decided to be in a show that is opening this week which means he would be spending eight hours a day in rehearsal.

So I went anyway.  I kind of hate leaving Greg, but I also hate sitting at home with nothing to do on my days off.  I've got itchy feet syndrome.  So a visit to Akasha it was!

Of course, it was almost ruined by the car accident (here) but we recovered well and were able to spend a few awesome days at the beach.  We almost forgot that the accident ever happened! (Except for the pictures where Akasha was on the phone.  There were constant insurance people to talk to and lawyers and yada yada yada.  Accidents are messy and very inconvenient.)  Akasha tried to teach me how to use my camera a little bit, I got terrifically sunburned, and we ate popsicles to our hearts' content!

Akasha might be the easiest person in this world to get along with.  We were best friends in high school and I am starting to suspect that she was one of the few people who could put up with my bossy attitude.  Whatever it was, I consider myself beyond lucky that she decided to be my friend and has continued to be my friend all these years.  I adore her.  

The only person in the world who might be easier to get along with than Akasha is her husband, Geoff.  Together they are seriously the perfect couple- down for anything, totally nice, and never annoyed or frustrated.  Even with the accident, it still felt like a total vacation- three days of stress free living and beach going.  (And with three kids!  Stress free!  I seriously don't know how she does it!)

^^ Getting friendly with an insurance agent.

^^ This was the day I didn't think I needed sunscreen.  Yes, because it's not sunny at all, is it?

^^ Another insurance agent.  Aspen waiting patiently for someone to take her to the bathroom.

^^ Don't we look like a happy little modern family?  Sorry, Geoff, I guess I took your spot.

I guess that means spring break is officially over.  Boo.  Six weeks of work and I'm off for the summer.  Man, this teacher gig is rough!

Friday, April 18, 2014

On the Case: Frozen

I've never said anything on my blog about Frozen before.  I have remained quiet on the subject for months and months.

Well, my friends.  The time for silence is past.  It's time to speak up.

I am launching an investigation today.  I just figured that once and for all I get to the bottom of the mystery of Frozen.  Greg and I saw the movies a few months after it came out- at the beginning of January.  There was a lot of hype about the show.  A lot!

I thought it was a pretty standard Disney movie.  Perhaps because I had heard so much about it before I saw it, I was honestly a little bit let down.  I liked Disney’s recent Tangled just as much, if not more, than Frozen, and I didn’t think it held a candle to the Disney classics like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Lion King.

But the Frozen rage has continued.  I can’t open up facebook without seeing a shared Frozen parody or Let it Go cover or an article debating the political nuances within the film.  What is it about the film that has made us all go mad?

I know a lot of you will say it’s revolutionary because it has two women as protagonists, because its central theme isn’t the classic love story of a man and a woman, etc, etc, etc.  But this doesn’t explain why kids are so bonkers over the movie.  And they are.  Every kid I know loses their crap when it comes to Frozen.  They want to watch it every day.  Listen to the soundtrack on repeat.  They're desperately trying to convert their lives to Frozen.

In March, Frozen joined a very elite club of movies that have grossed over a billion dollars.  That makes it the first animated movie in history to making a billion bucks.  The most successful animated movie of all time.  I just want to know why.  Explain it to me people.  I know all of your kids are obsessed with the movie and I know you've probably shared an article on the movie on your facebook page.  I need an explanation.

In the meantime, I want to introduce you to Charlotte.  She's a fellow book lover (her twitterature post is brilliant) and obsessed with punctuation.  My kind of girl! (For grammar Nazis out there, make sure you check out her post "Why Punctuation matters")

Hello, Life of Bon readers! I'm excited to be here. I'm sitting here feeling a little awkward about typing this, because I feel like I'm crashing some super cool party that I invited myself to. I racked my brains for a few weeks deciding what to write about, but I didn't feel like I could just write a normal post for my blog, because you guys don't even know me! And I feel like I need to introduce myself a bit so you know what you're getting into when you jump over to my space.

My name is Charlotte, and I'm a writer, editor, and stay-at-home mom. (PS I'm so excited for Bon and Greg and their babe, and I was also so excited to read about her decision to work part-time!) I'm a certain introvert and relish time alone. Many of my friends are extroverts, and those relationships are some of my favorite ones.

I like to sew and read and bake anything with gluten and preferably chocolate. I love Diet Pepsi, and if I were stuck on an island with only one dessert, it would have to be chocolate cream pie. I can't pick a favorite book, but These Is My Words (Nancy E. Turner), East of Eden (John Steinbeck), and The Road  (Cormac McCarthy) make the top five. On my blog you'll discover some of my quirks like how much I love TV, my complicated relationship with exercise, and how much I care about punctuation. I often blog in lists, which is either refreshing or lazy. Or both. I can't decide.

My blog started out in 2006 as nothing more than a personal writing endeavor. I guess in many respects, it's still just my space to write, and the relationships I develop with my readers are a lovely and rewarding fringe benefit. (I even drove to Seattle once to meet a blog friend, and I'm lucky she didn't turn out to be a serial killer) Sometimes I blog about silly things like TV and cake, and other days I'll write about subjects like sorrowlosingloving, and believingOne time I even wrote for 31 straight days, and I loved it (even though it about did me in). I try to keep my blog authentic and real. I write about lots of happy things, and I'm not afraid to be serious. I care about being genuine, both online and in my real life.

I'm so grateful to Bonnie for giving me space on her blog today, and I hope you find a minute to stop by my site to say hi!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I'm posting late because....

Welp, folks.  I didn't get my post up last night.  I have a good reason, though.  Really I do!  I was at the hospital until midnight and by the time I got home there wasn't no way I was cranking out a post for you all.  Forgive me.

I'm sitting in beautiful Southern California with my high school bestie, Akasha.  Greg had crazy rehearsals this weekend and I was off for spring break so I figured it made sense to fit the visit in while I could.  I have this fear that as soon as baby gets here I am going to be totally immobilized and not be able to see anyone or go anywhere.  Naturally, I'm trying to get all my partying out now.

Akasha and her three kids picked me up from the airport and we went straight to Newport for some Balboa bars and a stroll along the beach.  On the way back, Akasha told me we'd take Pacific Coast Highway so we could see California in all of her splendor and beauty.  No complaints here!

We were coming around a corner and headed down a hill when Akasha suddenly blared her horn.  There was a car coming the other way that had crossed over into our lane and was coming at us head on.  I didn't even have time to realize what was going on by the time it was all over.  Akasha honked and swerved to avoid the head on, but the guy still nailed the driver's side.

There was a huge crash and what felt like a total explosion in the car and a lot of crying kids.  We pulled off and called 911 immediately and luckily everyone seemed okay, although very shaken up.

The accident happened about 5:00.  We didn't get away from the accident scene until close to 7:00.  Tow trucks and fireman and policeman, wow, what a circus.  I can't even imagine how bad we held up traffic.

The rest of the night we spent at the hospital.  Akasha's neck, arm, and shoulder were incredibly sore and she thought her arm might have been fractured.  The fire man told me I needed to go to the hospital to make sure the baby was okay...  there wasn't a hard hit on my abdomen, but there was enough of a jolt in the car that he said I should get it checked out.  The main concern was that the placenta could become unattached from the uterus and cause hemorrhaging or miscarriage.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the doctor said everything looked totally normal with the baby.

I am feeling so grateful that it wasn't worse that it was and that Akasha was able to react as quickly as she did.  It could have been so much worse if we hit that car head on.  Akasha's got some freaking quick reactive driving skills, that's all I know for sure.

Oh, and because I'm in the mood we're giving away $350 big ones to follow some accounts on twitter.  Easy as can be.  All you gotta do is click some follow buttons and bam, you're entered.  I'm all about making this easy for you.


*This giveaway ends on April 21st, 2014. The winning entry will be selected via Rafflecopter and will be verified. This giveaway is open internationally to anyone with a PayPal account. Good luck!*

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring Break: Two Days In

Well guys, I officially hit my wall.  My "I no longer have quite the same amount of energy I used to and I am indeed feeling tired and achy and I can't pretend I'm not pregnant anymore" wall.  It happened at 8:34 when I was on my way home a long and busy day.  I realized I was absolutely one hundred percent exhausted.  At 8:30.  Usually I can hold out until at least 10:00.  I had big plans for all the writing I was going to do tonight, the emails I was going to answer, the laundry I was going to fold, the trip I need to pack for.  Now I'm looking for a way out of all of it.  Greg can fold the laundry, I can pack in the morning, emails can wait.  As long as I can throw a post up here tonight then I can take a bath and read my book for the rest of the night.  Just one post.

I'm two days into spring break here.  So far it's been an absolute dream.  Greg's day off is Mondays so yesterday we slept in, and then went to a doctor's appointment for our baby.  They had to do an ultrasound again because last time there were many measurements they couldn't get.  Yesterday was the first time we really got a clear shot of her.  I felt like I was seeing my baby girl for the first time.  She spread her little legs for us to erase any doubt we had that she was indeed, a girl.  We saw a perfect outline of her profile.  It was absolutely breathtaking to see that little face in there- to see her forehead, her nose, her little lips.  Greg says she has my nose, small and a bit upturned.  She was moving her lips during the ultrasound- as if she were sucking on some imaginary bottle.  Tears ran down my cheeks.

Then it was lunch at Olive Garden and a few hours of snuggling, relaxing, and Mario.  (We invested in a Wii about a month ago.  It has entertained us for hours.)  Greg scurried off to rehearsal, and I read on our balcony and just let the spring sunshine pour on me.  Maverick insisted on a walk, as dogs do.  We got home in time for Jeopardy and all was right in the world.

Greg got home close to midnight (the week before a show opens is CRAZY!) and we stayed up until 1 am to watch the lunar eclipse- something I'd never be able to do on a school night.  My dad loved everything about the stars, the moon, the heavens, so I always feel extra close to him when I look at the sky. Greg and I snuggled in his double sleeping bag, and by golly, it almost felt like we were dating again.  (Except for instead of making out, I fell asleep.  You know.  Totally the same as dating.)

Today my friend, Charlotte, and I decided to head back to Copper Hills to say hi to our people there.  Charlotte taught French at CHHS and we left the same year, both finding other jobs closer to home.  CHHS doesn't have spring break until Thursday so we felt like if we were going to say hi to everyone, it was now or ever.

I felt a little nervous walking into the school again, after almost a year's absence.  "Hey guys.  Remember me?  I used to teach English here... "  It took all of about 90 seconds before I felt right back at home.  We ate lunch with our old lunch crew, stopped into say hi to the principal, and ran into several old students in the halls.  It felt like home.

I felt sad for a part of the morning.  I think you always do when you revisit an old place- you know you can never quite go back, and yet part of you yearns to.  Mostly, though, I felt extremely blessed.  Blessed to have had three years at Copper Hills, to have made the friends I did, to feel so loved and accepted there.  I also felt grateful for my  new school, and the new relationships I've made there.  For the opportunity to learn and grow and progress, even though that sometimes involves goodbye to people and places.

When I was leaving on my mission, my church leader told me not to feel sad about saying goodbye to my family and friends because my love for them would stay the same. But he promised me that the amazing thing I would discover is that as much love as I had in my heart for all of the people at home, my heart still had room to love so many more people.  The heart grows, it expands.  It never maxes out on amount of love it can have.  He told me that I would grow to love so many people on my mission, and when I came home I'd find that I still loved all the people at home the same- my heart just had more people in it.

I think about that a lot.  There is no limit on the amount of people that can be let into my heart.  If I want to let more people in, my heart will accommodate it.  When I married Greg I remember thinking, "How is there even room in my heart to love someone this much?"  I had felt like I already had a full heart before I met him, and now here I was, trying to throw an extra giant love in what seemed like an already crowded heart.  It's silly, but sometimes I wonder how I can love my dog so much.  Where did that space in my heart come from? What was there before he filled it? How will I be able to love a baby?  My life is already so full!

I guess that's the beauty of the human heart.  It loves and loves and loves.  I have so much love for those people at Copper Hills, you'd think I couldn't love people at a new school the same, but I do. There's room in there for everyone. I think about all the different circles I've been in in my life, and how there are so many people who have crept their way into my hearts.  They don't ever leave, but more people constantly enter.  The heart is an amazing thing- a giant room that always feels full to the brim, but never is.

I can't help but think about what my heart will look like at the end of my life.  All of the people that are in there now will still be there, but there will also be children and grandchildren, future students, future friends.  There will be so many more people who will find their way in, and the beauty is that my heart will never tell me that it's filled.  There will always be room for one more.