The Life of Bon

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ten Reasons I Love Blogging

September marks four years that I have been regularly blogging.  Four years!  Four years, fifty two weeks a year, five posts a week.  That's a lot of blogging.  And a lot of writing.  I feel like the whole blogging game has changed and then changed again since I've been here and we've rolled with it, this little blog and me.  Like any pursuit in this world, blogging has its ups and downs, but in general there are a lot more ups, and as I reflect back and think on four years of this little blog I can't help but feel overwhelmingly grateful.  Blogging has given me much more than I ever would have imagined when I embarked on it. And so, without further ado...


1.  I get to meet cool friends.  One of the perks of blogging that I never in a million years thought of was all the cool new friends I would meet.  Blogging is this awesome tight knit community and I have met some of the most amazing girls through blogging.  Utah is a hot spot for bloggers so I have gotten to meet almost all of my Utah blogger friends.  We go to dinner, watch Bachelor, hit up the gym together. Who am I kidding, I never go to the gym.

Once you are married and done with college it's exponentially more difficult to make friends, and I am grateful that blogging has given me that outlet to make friends post marriage and post baby.  These are amazing girls and I am lucky to know them. (It's also awesome that we can share in the weirdness that is blogging.) (I also have blogging friends who I have never met IRL and they are equally awesome.)

Blogging Friends
Miss you Deidre!

2.  I have a record of my life.  One of the greatest things about blogging is the history that it is keeping of my life.  I still keep a journal (some stuff will always be too personal for a blog) but I love how a blog keeps track of so much of my life for me.  One of my favorite things to do on any given day is go back and see what I wrote a year ago on this date, two years ago on this date, three years ago on this date.  On June's birthday last month I went back and read all of my blog posts in the days approaching her birth and in the month or two after her birth.  They were such sweet memories and pictures to recall, and I was so grateful to have that easily accessible record.

3.  I get to make a side income for my family.  For the past two years blogging has provided a side income for us.  At this point I look at it as my job- my job that I get to do at home on the hours that I decide and in the way I want.   I still dream about making enough blogging one day that it could be a full time gig for me, but then I would have to quit teaching and, for now at least, I am not ready to leave the classroom.  So the teaching/blogging mix of a career is awesome for me and I feel so grateful for this blog.  The days that I am home I try to do all my blogging stuff while June naps and then I get to play with her the rest of the day... I make as much from my blog in two-three hours on my days home as I do in eight-nine hours at school the other days.   Pretty awesome job, right? (That being said it took a ridiculous amount of free labor to get to the point where I can consistently make money now.)

4.  I get to try all the things!  I know sponsored posts get a bad rap, but I really enjoy doing most of my sponsored campaigns. To start with, I get to try all the new cool stuff that brands are coming out with and I get the stuff for free!  Right now I am doing a campaign for this product and as weird as it seems, I have really really enjoyed it.  (The highlight was when I asked for creative uses of the product on my facebook page.  People really blew it out of the water!)  I have tried out new cleaning products, face washes, clothes, jewelry, and all sorts of foods and drinks.  Once I was even sent a robot to clean my floors!  That might have been the coolest thing that has ever happened in the history of my blog life.

5.  Blogging forces me to get out and do things.  Working at a high school and taking care of my babe sometimes doesn't leave me with a lot of spare energy.  But the cool thing about blogging is that it forces me to get out and experience life.  One Saturday Greg and I were supposed to go to the Tulip Festival here in our city. (as that was my pitch to promote TreeTop AppleSauce for this post.)  I remember that Saturday was kind of gloomy and rainy and I was unexplainably feeling kind of nauseous.  Under normal circumstances we definitely would have just bagged it and stayed in, but I was grateful that we had a reason why we HAD to go because it got us out to see the beautiful flowers and we had a great time.

6.  I get opportunities to help people.  I mentioned earlier today that my childhood friend has been suffering terribly from an auto immune disease and I shared this link where you can go to help her.  I feel so grateful to have a space like this with an audience to help share important things like this.  I am humbled and honored when people ask me to use my blog to help them.

7.  I understand myself and my experiences better through this blog.  Writing is very cathartic for me and in many ways I feel healed by my writing.  Some of the blogs that have been most important for me to write have been the posts about my dad, my posts about marriage, and my posts about motherhood.  This blog forces me to sit down and think about my experiences and in a way face and understand the things that I am going through.

8.  I have an excuse to constantly practice writing.  One of my life's goals is to write a book.  I ain't nowhere close to this yet, but in the meantime my blog gives me practice practice practice.  I am so grateful that I am in the habit of writing regularly.  It  is beneficial to me as I teach too; I feel like I can "practice what I preach" a little bit to my students as I actively continue to read and write in my own life.  I want to be an example to them of a "life long learner" and this blog helps me to do that.

9.  I have been forced to learn some basic photography skills.  I will be the first to admit that I do not love photography and I held out for a long time on getting a DSLR or learning how to edit pictures.  I still do a minimal amount compared to most bloggers, but I am very grateful for a small knowledge of photography and cameras and mostly I am grateful that I have high quality pictures of my family, our baby, our adventures together.  This means the world to me.

10.  Blogging gives me a way to keep in touch with people.  All social media has the benefit of allowing people to stay in our lives, but blogging has allowed me to do this on an even grander scale.  I am constantly surprised by friends, neighbors, or family who ask about things I mentioned on my blog.  The way they care about my life is very touching to me.  I always love it when I see an old friend from high school or a cousin I rarely see comment on a blog post.  I feel honored and happy to have a way to connect with so many loved ones.

Book Club Dates + An Opportunity for Generosity

Hi ladies and gents!

You might notice that there is no book review today.  Some of you might be aware that on the last Thursday of the month we do book club and some might be wondering, 'hey! what the heck happened to book club?'  Book club is being postponed today.  I just couldn't quite get my August act together enough to finish the 500 page book.  On Sunday I realized I could either read like a fiend and finish the book in time or I give us all a couple more weeks and actually allow myself to enjoy the book.  If you haven't started the book is absolutely gorgeous... some of the best prose I have read for a long time.  The plot moves a bit slow so I am having a bit of trouble immersing myself 100%, but I do know that I want to savor the experience instead of hurrying through it.  So that means that book club will now be THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 10.  If you have not finished the book yet, you have a bit of extra time.  If you haven't started the book yet, start it!  It really is such a beautiful book, one I am convinced I'd be remiss if I didn't read this year.

This will affect our last two book club selections of the year as everything will be pushed back two weeks.  Here is our new schedule for the rest of the year.  I hope that eases the pressure just a little bit for some of you.

FALL 2015

September 10... All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr
October 8 ... Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
November 12... And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

For more information on how to participate on book club go here.  Anyone can join in and anytime!

I am preparing a post for later this evening on everything that blogging has taught me.  I am approaching four years that I have been blogging consistently and it has been so good to me.  I am so grateful for this space and this blog and the people who come here to read it.  Thank you for that and tune in later for the full post.

Before I sign off for the afternoon (I'm meeting my sister for a little bit of Target Time.  Part time is my wildest dreams come true.) I have one more thing to share with you.  One of the coolest things about blogging is that it provides an outlet to help people who need a big audience.  My childhood best friend, Maika, has been suffering from an auto immune disease for years.  In the past year it has continually worsened where she cannot work or go to school.  She is one the sweetest, dearest people in the world and always happy even with the problems that plague her.  If you have a few extra dollars, any donations to her account to help her pay for her medical expenses would be so appreciated.  It is a great way to give and help someone out and you have my guarantee that it will be going to someone who is very kind, appreciative, and will use the money to pay for hospital bills. 

Go here to read more about Maika's situation and to help her pay for medical expenses.  May you be blessed for your generosity and kindness.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How We Wore It// The Most Difficult Outfit to Recreate Ever

Every once in a while my blogger friends and I like to dress alike.  We all find a picture of someone looking totally fly and we do our best to mimic the outfit.  The point is to help us think outside of the box when it comes to clothes and be a little creative with our wardrobe.  Brooke heads this up because Brooke is awesome and any time I have the chance to do a little blog project with her I say yes please.

This month our picture came from Girl Meets Glam.

Before I show you my take on this outfit I need to warn you that it was an extremely tough outfit for me to mimic.  The idea is something about the textures, patterns, colors, etc motivates or inspires us. (Am I butchering this, Brooke?)  Well I've got diddly squat in my closet that looks anything like what Julia is wearing.  The only thing I kind of have is pants that have army green in them like Julia's shorts and sandals that are brown-ish like Julia's.  I tried to wear a summer type sweater like she is, but let's just say our outfits look nothing alike. (Also I will never ever be able to rock a hat like that.)  Ah well, can't say we didn't try!

Um... I have no idea where any of these clothes are from.  They're all old.  Oh, the wedges are from Target.  That much I remember.

All great fashion bloggers have jumping pictures, right?

Here's the other girls who did it with me.  Let's all go see if they did a better job than me.

Brooke at Silver Lining
Deidre at Deidre Emme
Jana at Bouvardian
Alexa at He and I
Aubrey at Aubrey Zaruba
Brooklyn at A Little Too Jolley
Rachel at Rachel Sayumi
Sharlee at My New Lines
Emma at Ever Emma
Kyla at FordOlogy
Kalyn at Geez Louise
Tayler at The Morrell Tale
Bonnie at Life of Bon

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Motherhood: My Sweet Surprise

Yesterday evening after a full day of classes for both of us, Greg and I took June to the local water park.  I mean, school's in session and all, but it's still 96 degrees out and we're all on the verge of dying from a slow and miserable heat stroke.  (Hashtag summer please be over now.)

June was adorable at the water park- splashing in the water, crawling in the shallow end, going down slides, pooping in the pool.  (But seriously.)  It's crazy to watch her and see how active she is, how her little personality is developing, how she is so aware of everything that is going on.  She is such a little thing but she does big things.

Then we got in the car and she passed out cold.

When we got home I tried to give her a bottle, but she couldn't drink much because she was just so stinking tired.  She would give a few sucks and then her eyes would droop and finally I just gave it up.  So instead I held her in my arms in the darkness of her nursery and rocked my baby/ almost toddler and thought over and over how much I love being this girl's mom.  I felt her little sixteen pound body against mine, her heaving chest, her growing red hair, her legs that now hang off of my lap.

I know there are many moms out there or hopeful moms who yearn mightily for babies.  They go through rounds of IVF and pray and work themselves into the ground for a baby.  And sometimes it takes years for the babies to get to their mamas.  I think about the moms and how much it must mean to those women to finally finally get to be a mother.  I think many would agree that surely the struggle, the fight, the work, the years of wanting makes the experience of becoming a mom all that much sweeter.

I did not yearn for a baby.  I didn't struggle or fight or work for my little Junebug.  My husband wanted to start a family desperately and I knew I would want kids some day and after three years of marriage I finally took a leap of faith and agreed to try to start out family.  But I was scared and still not entirely sure I wanted it.  Even when I was pregnant, I didn't count down the days until her birth, I didn't even really think about what it would be like to hold her and cuddle her and nurse her.  I didn't have a nursery prepared and I didn't wash and fold loads of tiny clothes.  The pregnancy sped by, and before I knew it my mom-less days were over and I was being wheeled in to the surgical room so they could cut open my stomach  and still I didn't yearn for a baby.

And then I met June and just like that it all changed.  

The moment June was placed in my arms and every day since I was and am dumbfounded by the absolute joy of being her mom.  I sit and rock her and I can't believe how much I love her and what a sweet experience it is to be a mom.  I don't want to put June down because maybe if I never put her down she will never stop being my baby.  I feed her and play with her and change her clothes, and over and over I am surprised by my level of enjoyment.  I didn't fight and struggle and yearn for this experience and in some ways I feel like I don't even deserve to like it this much.  Like I didn't pay the price for motherhood.  But I wonder too if I am entitled to enjoy being June's mom as much as women who do have to fight for it.  Am I allowed to love it on the same level?  Maybe for me the struggle doesn't make motherhood sweeter, but the surprise does.  Like it snuck up on me.  This beautiful life experience waiting for me all these years that I never knew, never imagined would be like this.  And then here it was just waiting for me, waiting to surprise me, waiting for me to love it with an intensity that I never imagined I could.

I really love teaching.  It is a job that is very fitting for me.  But I knew I would love it.  When I was in school and throughout my student teaching and all the classes I enrolled in and the tests I took, I was sure it was all leading up to a job that I was really going to enjoy.  And then I became a teacher and I loved it.  But I wasn't surprised that I loved it.  I loved it just like I anticipated I would.

But motherhood.  Motherhood I didn't know I was going to love.   I didn't prepare for it and I didn't take tests and in fact the truth is I imagined I probably wouldn't be much good at it at all.  Like it was for women who are kinder and more patient and less crazy and more put together.  Like it was for women who were somehow different than me.  But then motherhood came to me, without me wanting or willing it, a gift I never understood how much it would mean to have.

And I look down at my sleeping June, who is so alive and so alert and who makes every day better and I think that I could not possibly love this sweet experience any more.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Homeward Bound

Last Saturday Greg, June and I loaded up in to our car and headed for a visit of my hometown: Price, Utah.

Price has a whopping population of about 8,000 people.  It is two canyons away from any major city.  Growing up, I didn't love my small town roots.  I hated how secluded I felt from the "real world", I dreamed of what it would be like to eat at Olive Garden whenever I felt like, to not have to drive an hour and a half to go to the mall.  I couldn't wait to get out and move to the big city and as soon as I graduated high school I booked it out.

In college I visited on holidays or a week or two in the summer.  But since my dad died I haven't been back to Price much at all.  The last time I was there was for my little sister's wedding open house nearly two years ago, and even that was just a couple hours and then we we were right back on our way out of there.  Greg has only been to Price a very small number of times, mostly because I haven't ever expressed much interest in going there.  The truth is that since my dad died and since my mom moved from Price it has mostly been painful to think of going back.  To remember all those times with my dad, all the places and people that remind me of him, everything that was changed after his death.  If I don't have constant reminders, the grief is more bearable, right?

Now, eleven years after living in Price and nearly six years from my dad's death, I strangely have a lot of interest in going to Price.  I  don't know why, but this summer it seized me.  I need to visit Price.  I need to take Greg and I need to take June and I need to show them my house, my high school, the burger bar that I worked at in high school.  I guess I kind of felt like I was losing a part of myself by not recognizing my roots.  There is a whole side of me, a whole 18 years of my life, that my new little family is totally unacquainted with.

So Saturday we bit the bullet and went to Price.  Two hours, two canyons and we were in my hometown.

First stop: Grogg's.  The best (and one of only a handful) little restaurant in town.

^^ Every time I look at this picture I want to cry at the grown-upness of my baby.

Greg ordered a coke and a club sandwich, I got my old time favorite, a Hawaiian Burger.  Greg was shocked at how good the food was.  The best coke he's ever had, he declared!  The restaurant had a handful of people in it, we were served quickly and kindly and it was all that good hometown stuff I've been missing that I didn't know I was missing. 

Next stop, the street I lived on, and the house I grew up in.

^^ My street.  The tree on the right was where I would wait for the bus stop every morning with the other kids on my street.

^^ The house I grew up in.  The garage door was open and it almost felt like I could go right in, turn left and throw my clothes in the laundry room, go right and grab a snack out of the fridge.

I knew it would be emotional to see my house, and it was.  The ultimate symbol of family and love and safety and protection is that house.  It was not easy when my mom sold it.  I wrote on my instagram account about seeing the house again, "I rarely rarely visit Price because I miss my dad so darn much, but I feel like my baby needs to know about her mama's roots.  This is the house I grew up in.  I started crying when I saw it, but they were happy tears because relationships carry on and family never ends."

Next up, my alma mater, Carbon High School.  Home of the only dinos in the country!

Next up: The Desert Wave Pool, where I spent many many many summer days.  It was the last Saturday before school started up, but the pool wasn't crowded at all, a stark contrast to all the pools we have visited this summer.  And that tube I am riding?  It cost $1 to rent for the whole day.  ONE DOLLAR.

A word about the wave pool in Price.  It is the ultimate wave pool.  It puts every other wave pool to shame.  The waves are big, powerful, and unforgiving.  If you're not looking you'll get flipped right off your tube.  If you hit a wave just right it can carry you in all the way to the shore.  Also, there are many band aids in the Price Wave Pool.


Our last stop before we headed home was Sherald's Drive-In where I was a car hop during high school.  I made cokes and malts for the cars that drove in, and when I made $60 in tips one night I thought I had died and gone to heaven with all that money.  (I mean, that can buy 60 tubes at the wave pool!)

Greg got a chocolate malt and a fresh lime.  I got a caramel banana malt.  We declared it every bit as good as Grogg's and Greg said he was beyond pleased with how good all the food was that we had eaten.  He was also surprised with how pretty all the girls from Price were and I was like well duh, look at your wife.

After a full day, we headed home.  We ran into a horrible accident in the canyon, and traffic was stopped for over an hour.  Some people drive like idiots in this canyon, and it seems like there's always an accident.

It's kind of a weird thing visiting home.  The little town felt exactly the same to me, but in the same vein different in every possible way.  I think it lost its edge.  Or maybe I did.  Things that used to bother me- the slowness, the way nothing was ever crowded, the lack of restaurants- were endearing to me now.  I loved how inexpensive everything was, how it took four minutes to drive across town, how a stop light was never more than a fifteen second delay. Everything about my little town seemed sweet and kind to me.

Maybe it's time for us to move to a small town?

Friday, August 21, 2015

First Day of School to prove that I am not a fool

Greg, June, and I are officially back to school.  Summer, what's that?  It's long gone by this point.  Greg and I had meetings Friday, Monday and Tuesday and then Wednesday was the first official day.  June and I got to stay home on Wednesday, but yesterday we were back in action. 

June's jumper is from Carter's.  My dress is from H & M, my booties are from Old Navy.

The day started off at Kinderbeets (the daycare) downstairs at the school where we dropped June off.  I had been kind of nervous about leaving her as she has been especially clingy since we got home from our cruise.  It was funny though, it was like June hadn't forgotten kinderbeets at all in her ten week absence.  She looked around, looked at the day care leaders, and was like "yah, I love this place."  She happily played with the toys, played with the other kids, and sat at the big table with the big girls like a total champ.  I went in to visit her during lunch to make sure everything was okay and it was kind of like, "mom, can you go now?  I'm chilling with my friends."  Sheesh.  They grow up fast, don't they?  (Also she spilled all over her cute back to school jumper within ten minutes and spent the rest of the day wearing a striped boys football onesie.  You win some you lose some.)

In the mean time, I darted off to my classroom to get seating charts ready for first period.  I have no prep period this year.  It really isn't too bad teaching four classes in a row, but the hard part is having everything ready to teach four classes in a row.  First period wandered in... regular eleventh grade English.  I love teaching eleventh grade.  I've told you guys before, but 11th grade is the sweet spot of high school.  They totally know the system, the rules, the school, but they are not so antsy to get out of there as seniors.  And I LOVE teaching American Literature, so juniors are everything I ever hope to get out of my teaching career.  Seriously, give me juniors until the day I diiiiiiiiiiiiie.

First period students were sweet as can be.  I was shocked that 45 minutes into the classroom not one kid had gotten his cell phone out.  Usually I see a phone in the first three minutes.  They seemed immediately comfortable with each other and with me and were so respectful and kind.  We did introductions, went over rules, had a short quiz, and boom the class was over.

Next came second period- AP Literature.  The great thing about AP is you don't have to spend a lot of time going over rules and other first day hoops.  We spent ten minutes going over rules, and then I had them do something that the presenter did at the AP Lit conference I went to this summer.  I had them all share their name and a piece of literature that is important to them in some way.  It was so fun to hear their answers and such a cool way to start the year, with everyone celebrating reading and learning.  Several kids mentioned they don't have big enough book shelves or they can't choose just one book to share.  These kids are speaking my love language, and I love that there is a safe place in the school for them to really revel in their inner book nerd. 

After that we dove right in to Lord of the Flies.  No time to spare!  We started the first ten pages together.  I always love showing the characters in that book, how Golding initially refers to Ralph only as "the fair boy" and Piggy only as "the fat boy" and we talked about his purpose in doing so.  Why are the physical descriptors the first thing the author tells us, even before the names?  It was fun to see kids wrestle with this, and those kids are smart, I tell you.  I had to do hardly any prompting at all before they were saying all the right things, "He's establishing a hierarchy from the beginning" "He wants us to know that the way these boys look will determine what happens to them much more than their names"  "He wants us to see the uneven playing field in the jungle."  YES YES YES.

Second period was over before I knew it had begun and Greg was in my room ready to go to lunch with me.  There is nothing better than sharing a lunch with your husband and I will savor it as long as I can.  We ate and joked with other teachers before running down to say hi to June, but as you already know, she didn't give us the time of day.

Third period was AP Lit again, this time a smaller and somewhat quieter group.  That's okay though, most of the time the quietest ones are saving all their brilliance to surprise you with later.  I was kind of discouraged when a favorite student wasn't in the class even though I knew he had signed up last year.  I asked his friend and she said he had dropped because he was afraid it was going to be too much work.  That made me sad, but it is not uncommon.  I talked to the kids a little bit about the class and the expectations of it.  "This class is definitely work," I told them, "I would be lying to you if I said it was going to be easy all the time.  But I am not afraid of work.  And I hope you aren't either.  All the best things in my life are work.  This job is work, my marriage is work, being a mom is work, taking care of my home and family is work.  But these are the things that bring the most amount of joy in my life, and I know it is worth the work.  This class is work, and it will be worth the work.  On test day you'll look back and think 'Man, that was a lot of work',  but you are going to learn and grow so much because of it, and the things you'll learn in this class will affect the rest of your life.  Don't quit because someone says it's going to be work. Do not be afraid of work!"

And then six kids dropped the class.

I kid I kid. (I hope.)

Fourth period was the last group to fill the seats.  They are regular eleventh grade English so we did the same drill as we did first period.  Lots of boys in the class, and lots of kids who don't speak English as their first language.  Every year I have more and more students who are English Language Learners.  I feel for them because being in a different country and learning a whole new language is so hard and so taxing.  There was also a sweet little foreign exchange student from Taiwan and I missed our sweet Agathe.

And that's a wrap!  First day of school in the books before I had realized it had begun.  Not having a prep is definitely challenging, but there was something I actually liked about it, the day seemed shorter than my days with a prep.  It's always hard for me to start up work again once I've taken a break, so I kind of liked the go go go, now you're done.  Again, the planning and grading will be difficult, but I'll just have to find a system that works for me.

2015-2016 school year, you are hereby commenced!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

2015-16 School Year Goals

From earlier this summer- hiking with my sisters in law and their babes.

Hi guys!

I'm back from a long and crazy sponsorship break.  You know when you are watching tv and it's a commercial break?  Sometimes you read my blog and then we have sponsorship breaks.  Six sponsored posts in a row was absolutely nuts, and it is not something I ever ever plan on doing again.  Somewhere in the world there has to be the perfect sponsored posts/ nonsponsored posts balance, right? TELL ME BLOG GODS, IS THERE A BALANCE?

I know that sponsored posts can be really annoying, and I appreciate you for reading and still tuning in.  I explained a little bit the reasoning behind the crazy amounts of multiple sponsored posts in a row on this post and you were all really nice about it in the comments.  You guys are the greatest.  One reader even commented, "You don't have to explain your sponsored posts to us.  It's your blog! Do what you want!"  I think that's really nice of someone to say, but to me I do have to explain my sponsored posts.  It is "my blog", yes, but you are my audience and without my audience I wouldn't be able to devote as much time as I do to this blog.  I definitely wouldn't be able to write five times a week. I wouldn't be eligible for sponsored posts, I wouldn't be able to help my family with the income that those posts generate, and I might not be able to feasibly work just part time at the school.  So while it is "my blog", if you are a faithful reader it is "your blog" too, and I think you deserve an explanation when there are randomly six sponsored posts in a row.  I know that I would want the same courtesy.

That being said we have a bit of a sponsor break for a couple of weeks now which is AWESOME.  That means that I can focus on writing all the stuff I really really love.  That's not to say that I don't love the sponsored posts I write.  I really enjoyed sharing with you guys my tips on getting more out of your fiction reading and I loved the post on books for your babies and toddlers.  Believe it or not, there is real and useful information in sponsored posts!

Today is the first day of school.  I am not there because this year I work B days instead of A days.  I wisened up to the fact last year that B days were where it was at.  All my part time friends were working B days instead of A days, there are more assemblies and activities on B days, and the flowers smell better on B days, too.  Really it's probably all in my head, but when my VP said I could teach B days instead of A days this year, I was all for it.  Long live B days!

I also had to do a bit of fanagling with my lunch.  I was assigned the later lunch, while Greg and all of my buddies were assigned the earlier lunch.  I felt very high school indeed emailing my VP asking him if I could get switched to the earlier lunch so I could eat with my friends.  Maybe those 17 year olds are rubbing off on me more than I think.  In any case, I got my lunch switched with a teacher who preferred the later lunch and now I can continue in marital faculty lunchtime bliss.  All is well!

The end of summer is always kind of disappointing, but the older I get, the more resigned I am to it.  I really do love my job, and after ten weeks off I feel ready to get back in to the teaching action.  Also, summer is just too hot.  This year Utah had a sweltering June- days in a row over 100 degrees and all of a sudden I was just like someone save me from this heat!!!  I was missing our family cabin more than even this summer- our escape to the cool mountains.  (First world problems, I know.)  Maybe if we owned a boat I could love summer forever?  Now that school is back in I am 100% okay with the weather turning cooler.  And let's face it, knowing October is in your immediate future is always a good feeling. Hashtag Halloween. Hashtag pumpkins. Hashtag boots.

This year will feel a bit different at the school than last year.  While I'm still only going in every other day, I'm teaching four classes instead of the three I taught last year.  No prep period.  I think I can handle it, but it wouldn't be the first time in my life I thought I could handle something I couldn't.  The extra money will be helpful, and I guess I figure that as long as I am at the school and paying for daycare I might as well be earning as much money as I can.  I am hoping this doesn't mean that my days at home are overtaken by grading and lesson planning.  It will also feel different because I won't be sneaking away to a coat closet to pump at 9 am, or darting down to daycare at noon to feed.  My little Junie is growing up on me, darn it.

With my first day of school being tomorrow, I've got a few goals I've made.  Last year was kind of adjustment year for me- adjusting to being a mom, adjusting to going part time, adjusting to Greg's new work schedule.  Teaching got put on the back burner and I went on auto pilot mode.  This year I am hoping to step up my game a little bit this year and devote more time, love, and energy to my students.  They deserve it.


Visiting my alma mater this weekend in Price.

1.  Get to KNOW more of my students.  Ask them about their lives, their jobs, etc.  Stand outside door before class and say hi to students as they enter in.

2.  Have all work graded, put in computer, and back to students within a week.

3.  Be better about being accessible to my students- be in classroom every (B day) morning at 7 am and stay until 3 or 3:30 so they can reach me when they need to.

4.  Make my classroom a place where all students, regardless of religion, gender, sexuality, race, or economic status, feel comfortable and safe.

5.  Have open and honest communication with students so that they feel comfortable coming to me with problems.

Let's do this, school year!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tomato and Basil Mozzarella Bites

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. 
All opinions are mine alone. #BackYourSnack #CollectiveBias

Tomato and Basil Mozzarella Bites

I'm not the best cook in the world, but I have learned a few tricks to turn my fast and easy frozen snacks into something totally special, fresh, and nutritious.  Adding fresh produce to snacks is key.  It's so easy anyone can do it and you will fool all your guests into thinking you are a pro cook.  And if you have a little creative cooking juice in your body, Farm Rich is hosting a huge contest- you could win $10,000. Chump change, right?  Here's my recipe:

Tomato and Basil Mozzarella Bites

Preparation time: 12- 15 minutes
Farm Rich Mozzarella Bites
Fresh tomatoes
Fresh Basil
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinaigrette (optional)

1.  Buy Farm Rich Mozzarella bites at your local Walmart.
2.  Follow cooking instructions on box.  (I cooked mine in the oven- 9-10 minutes at 350 degrees).
3.  While mozzarella bites are cooking, cut up fresh basil and tomatoes.
4.  When mozzarella bites are done, put a small amount of basil on top of bite, topped with half a slice of tomato.
5.  Drizzle olive oil (and Balsamic Vinaigrette if desired) on top.

(I love the balsamic vinaigrette on top- it gives it such a sweet and yummy taste.)

The plate on the right has the balsamic vinaigrette on it, the other two plates have just olive oil.  Both delicious!

As I mentioned earlier, you can create your own snack hack with Farm Rich products and enter to win $10,000.  Here's some info on the contest.
  • Contestants MUST use at least one Farm Rich product and one Walmart fresh item, plus any special ingredients (up to 6 ingredients total) you want to include to create snack hacks between 8/1 and 8/23.
  • The winner will receive $10,000.
  • Enter the contest on the Back Your Snack contest submission page. Create their own snack hack. Get your recipe ready!  (Seriously, nothing in this world would be as awesome as someone from my blog entering this contest and winning $10,000.  Of course, you'd owe me a 10% commission.)  (Kidding.)  (Or am I?)
  • Please note that the main focus for judging criteria is quality of recipe and use of require ingredients, not quality of imagery submitted.
  • For full contest rules, check out the rule book here.

You can find Farm Rich products in the freezer department at Walmart.  Here is a list of stores where you can find the upcoming demos of the semi- finalists on 9/19 and 9/20, and the finalists on 10/9 and 10/11.

The best books for your one year old (+ an amazing offer)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. 
All opinions are mine alone. #Back2SchoolStockUp #CollectiveBias

Yesterday we talked about how to help teenagers and adults become better readers; today I want to talk about fostering that love of reading in your children.  You guys notice a theme yet?  It's back to school week, folks, and I want to talk about books!

One thing that has surprised me is how much June already enjoys reading.  I kind of thought it would take a child until two or three years old to really like books, but June loves them already.  She probably doesn't understand a lot of what is being said when we read, but I think reading represents comfort, peace, and safety for her.  June is only one so a lot of books don't do it for her, but we have found a few books that are absolute winners.  Here's what we look for in books for our one year old:

- Something to flip.  June loves to turn the pages, but for some reason it's so much more fun for her to flip and find something behind the flap.  Why does this entertain children for hours?  The world does not know.  June's very favorite for this is Baby Faces. 

- Something to feel.  June loves all the different textures in books.  Any book that allows her to feel a furry bear's belly, a slick rain boot, a glittery rainbow, just does it for her. 

- Something to touch.  Much like flipping, June loves to be touching and "working" the books.  Our favorite for this one is The Robot Book. It has wheels that she can turn, screws that move up down, wheels that she can turn.  June never gets tired of this bad boy.

- Books with baby pictures.  June is obsessed with books that have real life baby faces.  She stares and stares at those little baby pictures.  "Is that me?" she wonders.  "No...  But it looks like me, right?  Who are these other little people?"  It is absolutely adorable.

- Books with animals.  Thanks to little Mavvy, June loves dogs and is generally just fascinated by animals.  The books that have real pictures of animals speak to little June Bug's soul.

- Colorful books.  The more colors the more interesting the book for June.

 - A book that is interesting for mama/ has clever text.  One thing I've learned as I've read books to June is that some baby books are really thin on the plot!  I mean, that's okay for a one year old, but for the 29 year old who is reading the book over and over it is not okay.  If a book says "chocolate" next page "juice" next page "lady bug" you can pretty much guarantee that we will not be reading that book much.  The books that become classics for us are the ones with clever text, cute rhymes, silly little stories.  June might like books, but I'm the one actually doing the reading, so the book needs to entertain me as well.  One of my favorite series is the "Olivia" series.  Seriously cute pictures and adorable little story lines.

What books does your little one love?  I am always on the hunt for great books for our personal little library.

Of course, growing a personal library for your little bug can take a lot of money (Board books are like $15 a pop).  I have a couple of suggestions for you to help with this.

Suggestion #1: Get most of your books at the library.  For every ten books that we read with June, we maybe buy one of them.  Our library lets us check out up to 50 books at a time so we check out a basketful and keep them for three or six weeks until we're ready for a new batch.  The books June loves loves loves, we buy.

Suggestion #2: Get your books for free!  Right now Kellogg's is behind one of the coolest offers to ever see the face of cereal boxes.  When you buy specially marked boxes of Kellogg's products (poptarts, cereal, fruit snacks, granola bars, cheeze-its, etc.) Kellogg's will give away two Scholastic books.  One book is sent to you in your home and one book is donated to a school in need.  So basically you spend $6 for pop tarts and you get pop tarts, a book for you, and a book for a school that needs it.  Has there ever been a better or more generous offer in the history of cereal?  You can build your child's personal library just by eating breakfast. (This is where you can check out what books are available.)

Go to Sam's Club to get this great offer.  Make sure the packaging has the special logo mentioning 1 Box=2 Books.  It looks like this:

Check out this list of Sam's Clubs with demos to find one near you on 8/22/15 and 8/23/15! 

If you are not a member of Sam's Club then click this link and Bring this invitation printed out to the Member Services Desk at your local Sam's Club for a pass to shop for the day. A 10% service fee applies on all non-member purchases when shopping with this One-Day Pass (not applicable in CA, SC or Elmsford, NY). The 10% service fee does not apply if the non-member decides to join the Club at the time of purchase."


-  Buy any one of 13 specially marked Kellogg's products at Sam's Club
-  Go to this site
-  Click on "ENTER CODE NOW"
-  Click on "GET STARTED" to redeem without signing into Kellogg's Family Rewards OR click "LOG IN" to redeem through your Kellogg's Family Rewards account
-  After clicking "GET STARTED", complete the blanks to create your user name and password, provide your birth date, read and accept the privacy policy
-  Enter the address where you'd like your book to be mailed
-  Enter the 16 digit code found inside your package
-  On the "Thanks" page, click "redeem page" to go to the book redemption page
-  Click on "ORDER NOW" to browse through the selection of over 80 books
-  Click on the book you'd like to order
-  Click on "Add to Cart"
-  Review your order on the Shopping Cart page
-  Click on "Continue to checkout"
-  Check the point deduction authorization statement
-  Click on "Continue to checkout" again
-  Review your contact info for accuracy
-  Click on "Place my order"
-  You're done! And now your book will arrive in the mail in no more than 8 weeks!

Let me know if you have any questions about redeeming your book and please tell me your little one's favorite book!  I am all ears.