Monday, September 15, 2014

Where have all the comments gone?

I have been blogging my little heart out for three years.

Three years!

I've seen a lot of things happen in those three years of blogging,  Trends have come and gone.  And here I stay.

One thing I've noticed the past year is the disappearance of comments.  Have you noticed this too?  I look back on posts that I wrote a year ago and see comments upon comments on (quite frankly) a totally stupid post.  A quality, well thought out post now doesn't rake in half the comments.  And according to blogger, my traffic is double what it was a year ago.  With half the comments.  Figure that one out for me.

If it were happening to just me I'd chalk it up to the fact that what I'm writing just isn't interesting enough to merit comments.  And maybe that does play in to it.  But it isn't happening to just me- I see it on blogs everywhere.  Even my very favorite bloggers'- bloggers who are providing an income for their entire families- are receiving a pittance of comments.

Naturally it makes me wonder what is going on.  Do you often comment on blogs?  Why or why not?  What makes you inclined to comment or inclined to just click out without saying a word?

Of course that leads me to wonder if people are even reading blogs at all anymore.  Maybe this is part of a much bigger problem.  Blogger tells me people are reading, but perhaps everyone's just skimming, looking at the pictures and then clicking out, not reading enough to justify leaving a comment.  Maybe people in general are much less interested in blogging than they were a year or two ago.  Could it be that blogging is on its way out?  Replaced by the better, faster, more efficient social media form of... instagram?  I get much more engagement on my instagram feed than on my blog, and my giveaways done on instagram are 3 or 4 times as successful as my giveaways done on my blog.  Is the ease and rapidity of instagram killing off our blogs?

These are the things I think about at 4 am when I'm feeding my baby.  I can't wait to hear what your thoughts are.  Please- comment away.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Back to school, yo!



Today was my first day back at work after my eight weeks of heaven sent maternity leave.

It didn't feel a thing like the "first day of school"-  which I think I actually like.  The kids were way past the "we're on our best behavior stage" and instead brought out their "I don't have my notebook" "I don't want to listen to you" and "I am 30 minutes late for class" behavior.  It's all the same to me.  I'd rather skip the games and trying-to-impress-you stage anyway.  It's like skipping the first month of a relationship- the gloves are off.

The hardest part of the day was, undoubtedly, leaving June at daycare.  My school has a daycare program so June gets to stay just downstairs while I teach American Literature upstairs.  It's a perfect set up and I feel so lucky to have that available to me, which is why I think it surprised me that it was still so hard to leave her.

She couldn't have cared less, obviously.  She was passed out cold at 7:00 am when Greg and I dropped her off.  (We work at the same school!  What a dream!)  The lady in charge of daycare listened to all my instructions, was nice as can be and said "okay, come down to see her any time.  We'll be just fine."  We said thank you, you're awesome, we really appreciate it, see you soon.

But still, we lingered.  Tucked the blanket around her one extra time.  Kissed her cheek.  Double and triple checked that her pacifier was in her diaper bag.  Found ways to stall.

Finally, we left.  In the hallway, surrounded by sixteen year olds on their way to class, Greg admitted it was much harder than he thought it would be to leave her.  I agreed and tried to hold back the tears.

From there on out, though, it was smooth sailing.  Ish.  I am teaching three classes of American Literature- nothing but juniors, baby.  Juniors are my jam.  I love the age group, (not as clueless as sophomores, not as bored as seniors) and I love the books we teach.  Of Mice and Men!  Great Gatsby!  Catcher in the Rye!

I had been told by my substitute that first period was quite a handful, which is unusual as far as first periods go.  Usually they are all still half asleep.  But this first period must have been totally oblivious to the fact that it was only 8 am.  They were wired and hopping.  Jumping off the walls.  There's about six class clowns who are all trying to compete with each other for title of most annoying class clown.  It was stiff competition, too, I'll tell you!  When I asked one smartie why he didn't have a notebook he replied, "You said in the disclosure that you expected us all to work as hard as you.  Well you didn't even show up the first three weeks, and so I figured I didn't have to do any work either."

"You have a doctor cut your body in half and pull a baby out of you and then you can leave your notebook at home all you want."  I replied.  It shut him up, but only momentarily.  By the time the class was over I had asked him and one other smarty pants to do the rest of their work out in the hall for the day.  That's a record for day one!

Second period was much better.  When I asked if they had any questions they asked what my daughter's name is and if I was recovering okay.  Much different from first period who asked why I had to be such a Nazi about my cell phone policy. (Their words not mine.)

Then it was lunch and a sweet reunion with many of my coworkers.  I even got to sit by Greg.  Wow, what a life, huh?  My friend asked why I got ham and potatoes leftovers for lunch and Greg got mini frozen pizzas and I said that's the way Greg prefers it.  Nothing in the world as tasty to him as good old frozen food, no matter how much I try to sway him.

After lunch it was my favorite part of the day- June time!  I snuck right on down to the daycare and rocked her in a nursing chair while I fed her.  She seemed totally oblivious to the fact I'd been gone all morning and was only interested in my offering of milk.  That's babies for you.

The bell rang and I hurried upstairs to teach my last class.  Fourth period went off without a hitch and before I knew it, the day was over, my first successful school day of the year in the books.

It was so fun to be in the classroom again.  I just love to teach.  It's in my blood, and I don't know if I'll ever be able to quit it.  And gosh I love those kids, even with their sassypants, notebook-forgetting ways.

That being said, one of the best parts of my day was knowing that the next day I would get to stay home and cuddle my baby all day.

Yo ho, yo ho, a part time life for me!


 This is how June feels about it being 4:15 and still being at the school.  I know, I know.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Decorating a Master Bedroom: A Tale of Crime and Passion. Or something.

Alrighty folks, I am stoked out of my mind for today's post.  Katy is the amazing interior designer who helped me figure out the design for my nursery in this post.  (The nursery is still in progress, but is SO close!  I can't wait to show you all how the real thing turned out compared to what Katy did for me.  Her help was vital.)

Well, I told Katy that I am here in a new house and I have all this space in the master bedroom and totally love it, but have not a clue in the world how to fill the space or decorate it.  It looks like the master bedroom of a bum right now.  I mean, come on, how do you fill the space when all you have is a bed and a measly dresser?

She came to the rescue, like I knew she would...  This girl is amazing.


Hello Life of Bon readers! I'm Katy Byrne of DBK: Designs By Katy. I'm an interior designer in Denver, Colorado.

katys head

You may think you're not a fan of interior design, but think again. Interior design can provide harmony to a space, not just expensive furnishings and accessories. Most of you know Bonnie recently moved into a new home. She mentioned they have a large master bedroom that she has no idea what to do with.
Enter: DBK.
Their current layout looks like this:


Current Layout
The space is obviously large (which is my ideal master bedroom). But how should she utilize the space? After a brief study, I landed on this:
Bonnie New Layout
The first thing I noticed was the need to re-orient the bed to the larger wall. It's always better to be facing the foot of the bed when you enter the room. This makes the space look larger and feel more open. From there I added a desk to one end. There is plenty of room on the wall and now Bonnie can check her blog comments in the morning as she sips her hot tea. I also added a loveseat to the end of the bed, another master bedroom wishlist item of mine. Now she can read in the morning, have a place to slip on her heels before heading off to church, or feed the lovely June at 3am. Perfect right? Last, I added a rug underneath the bed. Adding rugs on top of carpet is absolutely allowed and a great way to add color and texture to the space. Are you with me? Here's a little inspiration image below:
DBK Life of Bon Master
Shop the post: Nightstand (similar), Lamp, Bed (similar here and here), Loveseat, Desk. Desk Chair, Mirror (similar here and here), Rug, Dresser (similar), Dresser Lamp
There you have it. Congratulations on the new home, Bonnie! Don't forget to come visit me over at DBK: Designs By Katy.

And make sure you are following Katy on pinterest and facebook for lots of inspiring interior design ideas!

Blessing Day

Sunday was June's blessing day.

I have had a few people ask me what it means to bless a baby in the LDS church, so heck, why not, let's clear it up, shall we?

One of the fundamental beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (we're often known as Mormons) is that we all enter this world free from sin.  We are perfect when we're born, and therefore, don't need to be baptized at birth.  At the age of eight, children can start to be baptized if they wish.  We believe eight to be the age of accountability- an age where children clearly know the difference between right and wrong.

Although we do not baptize our babies, we do give a formal blessing to our babies.  The purpose of the blessing is to officially give the baby a name and, well, a blessing.  It is essentially a prayer- a blessing usually of health, happiness, and love.  Our reasoning for blessings comes from this scripture: 

 “Every member of the church of Christ having children is to bring them unto the elders before the church, who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name” (D&C 20:70)

The baby is often blessed in front of the church congregation, although it can be blessed in a home, hospital, anywhere really.  A lot of parents will dress their babies in white, but again, it's not necessary- it's just a special prayer given for the baby to God, and I suspect God doesn't much care what we're wearing when we pray. (Any questions on blessings or Mormon beliefs in general I would be happy to answer in the comments.)

Greg gave June her blessing on Sunday.  June fussed right up until the moment the blessing started and you better believe I was a nervous wreck that  she was just going to scream through the whole thing.  Then, as if she sensed it were something important, she shut completely up just long enough to receive the blessing.  Four minutes of total silence from her, and then as soon as it was over, more fussing.  She threw a fit for a good five minutes, and then fell asleep hard and fast for the rest of the meeting.

Greg's parents came for the blessing as did most of my siblings, my mom, and a couple of close friends.  It was a beautiful blessing and the spirit was strong.  I felt so surrounded by love and peace.  These are the days you live for, you know?

On the way home from the blessing, Greg and I were talking about how surprised we were by the power of the blessing.  We knew it'd be a special event, but I guess the incredibly strong spirit during the blessing kind of caught us off guard.  I think we get so caught up in the day to day, the work, the groceries, the errands, the monotony of every day, and then something like this hits us and we take a step back and realize that this, THIS is what it's all about.  Everything we do in life is for moments like these.  Regardless of your personal religious beliefs, I think we can all agree that family makes life worth living.

Afterward, we celebrated at our place with lots of good food.  Because let's face it, the only thing that makes hanging out with your family that much better is a terrific meal.

And now, pictures.



^^ My newlywed cousins waiting for dinner.  Texting each other?

^^ As close as we could get to the whole gang.  Don't mind the water jug front and center.

^^ Greg's folks.


^^ We are currently couchless.  It worked out nicely for Sunday- all we had to do was move tables in and we had our own little restaurant going.  It was perfect for that day, but I'd like my couches now, thanks.

^^Selfies.  June is already a million times more photogenic than me.


^^ Please don't mind the book shelf and pictures all over the floor.  We are obviously still not entirely moved in.  One day at a time, people.

^^ Big stretch.


^^ Have you ever seen anything so great as June's face in this picture?

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Book Talk


Let's talk books, shall we?  I was recently tagged by sister in law to list ten books that have had a profound impact on my life.  I was going to reply on facebook, but I thought I'd open it up to my blog to see what you all say are the books that have most influenced you.  I love nerdy book talk and besides that, I have way more time to read lately since I am only working part time and since I breastfeed six hours a day.  This is the perfect time to stack up my "To read" list.

Without further ado, here's my list: (In no particular order and excluding scripture)

1. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
2. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
3. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
4. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
5. My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
6. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
7. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
8. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
9. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Honorable Mentions:  A Thousand Splendid Suns, Their Eyes Were Watching God, East of Eden, Harry Potter, Great Gatsby

I'd love to hear what ten books have had the biggest influence on your life.  If you don't feel like listing ten, at least answer me these two questions-

1.  What one book do you think every single person should read sometime in their life? and
2.  What is the best book you have read this year?

My answers are:
1) Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (Seriously, there is not a person in this world who I don't think would enjoy this book.)
2) Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

Comment it up!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

June Rebecca Larsen: A Birth Story (Part 2)

We drove to the hospital in the dark.

We were told to be there at 5 am.  The nurses weren't doing much when we walked ourselves into the labor and delivery unit a few minutes past 5:00.  "I'm here for an inversion." I said.  I didn't want to say "slash-possible-c-section" like the nurse had kept saying on the phone the day before.  The inversion was going to work, dang it.

We were shown to a room where I changed my clothes and propped myself onto a bed.  We were tired.  It was the middle of July, but the room seemed cold.  Cold and big.  Greg sat down on the chair next to me and we twiddled our thumbs while people came in and out with paper work and hospital gowns and who knows what else.  Someone would be right in to get the iv going said the girl who showed us to the room as she headed out.

"She hates needles," Greg warned her.

"Well, my veins are just really small," I added, not wanting to seem a total sissy.  The truth is I don't hate needles that much,  it's just that I have these totally worthless veins and there has been exactly one time in my entire life when a nurse has gotten a good stick on the first try.  Getting stuck with a needle isn't that terrible, but having someone play with a needle inside your skin while searching for a hidden vein is.

"I'll send in our iv pro," said the lady.

After some waiting, the "iv pro" came in.  She tried twice.  Both veins burst and were quickly turning into gnarly bruises.   "I'll go get Ashely.  She's like a vampire.  She really is the best."

This was all happening around 6 am- shift change.  It meant that there was a lot of shuffling and a lot of nurses in and out.

We waited and waited.  Ashley came in.  Ashley told some jokes while she tried to find a good vein on me.  (Spoiler alert, Ashley, you ain't gonna find one!)  One spot on my arm, one spot on my hand, two needles wiggling around in my skin, two more burst veins.  Hot tears ran down my cheek because sheesh, four sticks and not a thing to show for it and this is supposed to be the easy part and ouch.

Ashley told us she would have to go find someone else because the rule was that a nurse could only try to do an iv twice.  I wasn't exactly keen on Ashley continuing with her comedy routine in search of a good vein anyway, so there was no broken heart for me.

"I'm going to get the best nurse in the whole hospital.  Seriously, this lady is amazing," she assured us on her way out.  I wanted to believe her, but it was starting to feel like the nurses were just passing me and my horrible veins off on whatever poor, unsuspecting nurse they happened upon.  "Hey, you got a minute?  Can you insert a quick iv for me?"  No nurse seemed any more talented in the apparently lost art of vein sticking than the previous nurse.

At some point in the middle of all this, our doctor came in.  He was anxious to get the iv in so that we could get the pain killer in so that we could try the inversion so that we could have a baby!  The reason we were here, remember?  I don't know how long we had been trying for a successful stick, but it must have been close to 7 because that was the time that the inversion slash possible c section was scheduled for and the doctor was already here, ready to get the show on the row.

Our doctor was absolutely fabulous and had the most calming bedside manner.  In the middle of a stormy sea of nurses trying to stick my arm with an iv, he was like the clam, steady boat.  Slow, even, not stressed or anxious.  I get that this is his job and so why would he be stressed, this is just work.  But for me it was everything to have him so calm.

Our doctor explained that in the early days of his practice he delivered lots of breech babies.  He knows how, he is skilled at it, has had lots of practice.  But, he said, it only takes one baby dying during delivery for a doctor to decide to never ever take that risk again.  He never had a breech baby die, but one of his close friends and colleagues did, and after that he made the decision- no more vaginal delivery of breech babies.

Fair enough.

He also explained what the inversion process would be like.  Basically with his bare hands on the outside of my stomach he would try to manually turn the baby around.  It can be stressful on the baby, so docs usually only try once or twice to get the baby to turn.  It can be quite painful for the mother, but since I had elected to get an epidural, I wouldn't feel much.  He said it is often successful, but our odds weren't real good since it was our first baby and first baby = uterus not stretched out enough.  Also, my fluid levels were not real high- another strike against us.  Still, he said, he would try his darndest to turn that little baby in my tummy and turn her good.  He successfully turned his own kid, why not my kid?!

The plan was this.  If the baby turned we would induce right away. (We don't want her to turn back, and also the stress of the turning on the baby means it is much safer to just get her out.)  If the baby didn't turn, we'd head on into the operating room for a c-section.

But first, the iv...

Our doc went to deliver twins in the room next door while we waited for the next nurse to come in and try with the iv.  Nurse #3 finally came in.  Nurse #3 tried twice.  Nurse #3 failed twice.

"I'm going to have to go get someone else.  I'll bring the best." She said meekly and tiptoed out of the room.  She was probably definitely scared of us.  It didn't take a genius to figure out that we were at our wits end with the whole iv business and were this close to taking it out on the next thing that moved.  Surely there must have been somebody in this forsaken hospital who could successfully insert an iv?!  Greg was about to go ape on someone, "If they tell me one more time that they are going to go get "the best" person at sticking an iv, I am going to freak out.  Every person has supposedly been the best and they all suck!  This is a basic function of your job!  Put a needle in a patient!  She told you she had bad veins so get someone who is good at it, don't just pretend to find the pro!"  He was venting to me and me only, but somehow it helped.

A few minutes later, the doctor stuck his head in.  "We got that epidural going yet?"  He asked.  Nope.  Still waiting for the iv.

A few minutes after that, a man came strutting into the room.  "I hear we've got some tricky veins in here," he said confidently.  I am going to absolutely get this iv in you, okay?

"Are you the pro?"  I asked

"Umm... well, I'm a nurse anesthetist so kind of, yah..."

He looked at all my veins, surveyed my arms and hands up and down. (Which is something none of the other nurses did- they all just stuck whatever vein they saw first.)  He took his time, made me pump a couple times, double checked the vein.

"Yep, this one's it," he said as he swabbed my right hand with alcohol.  "This one's our winner."

He prepped the area, stuck it hard and fast before I knew what was going on, and just like that, the whole thing was over.  No wiggling, no room for doubt, the blasted iv was in.  He left the room as quickly as he came in and the nightmare was over.

"Next time we ask for that guy first," Greg said.  I agreed.

The worst was over.  And that's the truth.  I've said it once, I'll say it a million times- the absolute hardest part of having a baby was getting that damn iv in.

Next came in the anesthesiologist for the epidural.  Lean forward, don't move, hold Greg's hand, needle goes in and just like that it was over.  Piece of cake.

At some point, my mom arrived.  I had asked her to be there for whatever type of delivery I ended up having.  It's funny because leading up to June's birth I kept thinking I'd probably just want Greg there with me.  But the week earlier when we had found out there could be a few complications, all I could think was "I want my mom, I want my mom."  I called my mom on the way home from that doctor's office and asked her if she'd be with me when I delivered.  She said yes, of course, I'd love to.  Isn't it crazy no matter how old we may be, the first person we want when we are scared or hurt is our moms?

The doctor came in a little after 8:00.  We were supposed to do the inversion at 7:00, but you know, the whole iv debacle.  My mom sat in the chair in the room and Greg was by my side as the doctor lathered up my stomach with gel.  It was go time.

The doctor placed his hands on my stomach and slowly started feeling for the baby.  He located her head, right smack at the top of my stomach exactly where it wasn't supposed to he.  He gently started pushing and massaging, trying to move her spine, her head, her legs. Greg and my mom looked horrified as they watched, Greg later telling me that it was one of the most insane looking things he'd ever seen- the way he could see the shape of the baby in my stomach and the way the doctor was manhandling her.  He was sure it must have been painful for me, but thanks to the epidural, the inversion didn't hurt at all- it felt like one massive stomach massage.

"She's close to turning- I can get her about 75% of the way and then she just flips back where she was," said the doctor.  We were monitoring the baby's heart rate, and she was taking the stress well, so he tried again.

Turning.  Pushing. Prodding.  "We are so close!" he said quietly.  But just like the first time, she turned right back to where she was.

"I don't usually try a third time, but she is handling it so well and we are so close, that I want to try one more time," he told us. I was ecstatic.  I felt so much hope.  I wanted her to turn so badly, and we were so dang close.

One last time, the doctor put his hands on my stomach and began to maneuver.  He watched the monitor that showed the baby's heart rate as he molded her, folded her, tried to get her into the right position.  We were so so close.

And then, just like the previous two times, the baby turned right back to her previous position.

The doctor started to wipe off his hands and said in the most calming, reassuring voice.  "She just doesn't have enough room in there to flip.  But that's okay.  We are going to have a birthday party for this little girl.  We wanted to have it one way, but she said she wants it another way, so looks like the party is in the operating room.  That's fine.  You're going to be just fine."

I started to cry at this point.  The doctor was so nice, and he had been so close to turning her but now we had to have a c section, and I felt so nervous and hopeless and a little mad that the baby had to be so dang stubborn.  I remember looking at my mom.  She was crying because I was crying and mostly I was just so so scared.

Luckily, there wasn't a lot of time to dwell on it.  As soon as the doc said the words "operating room" there were people coming in, getting ready, we were doing this STAT.  Suddenly the room was filled with hospital workers, and I couldn't hardly say a word before they were wheeling me down the hall, on the way to surgery.  It was time to meet my baby.  

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Details






I have heard that the enjoyment of life is found in the details.

There are so many details to our newborn lives now.  Things you notice without noticing.  Things I hope I will never forget about these days.  Things I know I will if I don't write them down.

The way June gulps when she is first eating, taking huge, frantic swallows.  It almost sounds like she is drowning, trying desperately to reach the surface, to get some air.  Gasp.  Gasp.  Gasp.  She soon realizes that the food is not going anywhere and she settles down, but those first moments of intense gulping...  Those are the details.

Greg's high pitched voice when he tries to calm her down, "You're okay!  You're okay!  What you crying for?  You're okay!"

Her sneeze-farts.  She lifts her legs and exerts so much effort getting that big sneeze out that oops! Out comes something else, too.

How alive she is when she's awake.  She opens her eyes so big, as if testing anyone to question that whether or not she's aware of what's going on.  When she's awake, she's so absolutely awake- constantly looking around, figuring out her new surroundings, checking out the ceiling fan.  She moves her arms, makes tiny fists, tries to put her hand up to her mouth to keep her pacifier in place.  She makes noises with her mouth.  It's like she's saying, "This is my body, now what exactly can I do with it?"  She is so busy figuring it all out, and then just like that she is asleep- exhausted from the hard work of figuring out how to be a person.

How much she loves taking warm showers with Greg.  She snuggles right up against his chest and just lets that warm water drip down on her.  She'd stay in there all day if we let her.

The way Maverick looks when she starts crying.  He goes right up to her without touching her and stares at her.  Then he looks at me.  Then at her.  Then back at me.  I imagine if he could talk he'd be saying, "Hey, lady, you gonna do something about this crying baby?  I mean, come on, feed her already!"

How calm she is when she spits up.  She just kind of spits it all out of her mouth and then sits there, like it's nothing, doesn't even care if I wipe it off or clean her up.  "Yah, I didn't like the milk, mom, but don't worry about it- it's fine, I can just leave it here all over my face.  Don't want to inconvenience you or anything..."





Tuesday, September 02, 2014

August + September goals (+ I'm losing my mind)



I was just about to take pictures of my messy house and post them on this blog so that you can all see how in over my head I am around here.  But then the battery was dead on my camera, and I am pretty sure that is the camera's way of telling me to clean the house first and THEN post the pictures.  Fair enough, camera.  Instead I"ll post an adorable picture of my baby that makes it seem like I've got my life together.  Perfect!

In many ways I feel like I have never totally recovered from June's early arrival.  I'm still scrambling, the house is still unpacked, none of the "projects" completed that I wanted to do before I go back to work next week. (Next week!) I just can't seem to get my head on straight, can't get everything (or anything!) done.  I feel like I've totally neglected the house, the blog, the dog. (Last week Maverick managed to eat both my breast bump valves and a breast pad.  He's got a thing for breast milk, apparently.) BUT the baby's well fed and cared for, though, so I guess that's all that matters?

The house in particular stresses me out.  It used to be relatively easy to keep our one bedroom apartment clean.  It was one bedroom, two adults. (One adult slightly messier than the other adult, I'll let you guess who's who.)  I didn't realize that when we moved into a bigger space, it would be exponentially harder to keep it clean.  The mess that was once easily contained to a 500 square feet radius now seems to multiply and replenish itself almost instantaneously times while my back is turned.  Things show up places where they have no business being. Laundry in the guest bathroom.  Diapers in the kitchen.  Diet coke in the bedroom.  Nothing stays put away, nothing stays clean, and you can pretty much forget about ever EVER unpacking the box of coats that's been sitting in the front hallway for a month.

And I only have one kid.  How do people do it that have three?

Another issue with moving into a bigger space is that we don't have a lot of furniture to fill it up nor do I have any idea how to decorate.  (Past attempts to decorate included a lime green disaster and a burnt orange debacle.  Poor Greg.)  The place looks totally empty.  Actually, it looks like a couple of bums broke into a new home and threw their crap all over it.  So it's messy and empty- a real feat!

On Friday I decided to put our couches and ottoman up for sale.  The couches I bought from an apartment building that was getting rid of all old furniture for $10.  We threw couch covers over them and have called it good for the last three and a half years.  Well, I now hate the black couch covers, I think it makes our house look dark and ghetto, and I've long been dreaming of a new living room set.  Thursday night I figured I'd just see if there was any interest in our used couches.  I listed them on KSL for $350 and first thing Friday morning I had a newlywed couple holding hands on my porch, willing to pay the full price.

It's awesome!  Except for that now we have no couches!

We tried to hit the Labor Day sales yesterday, but of course, we couldn't agree on anything, (Greg wants brown or black leather.  I want light grey or blue and NO leather) the decision seemed so much bigger than it probably is, and for the next little while it looks like we're sitting on lawn chairs.  I told you we were a couple of bums.

THINGS I NEED TO DO THIS WEEK:
- Buy couches (!!!)
- Paint the wall in the nursery (I have a grand vision for this.  We'll see if it plays out anything like I want.  Personally, I wouldn't bet on it.)
- Put sod in the backyard
- Finish writing June's birth story.  (Part 1 is here.  I am absolutely mortified that I haven't even attempted to finish writing this.  I'm hoping tomorrow, but I make no promises.)
- Write thank you cards.

My August goal was to relax.  As you can see, I'm totally nailing that one.  I mean, if this post doesn't have relax written all over it, I don't know what does. I just don't know how to turn my energy off (or down, for that matter), so a stressed out, maniacal post is what you get.  I find it cruel and sad that out of all my monthly goals, the one I did the most horrible on was to "relax."  I'm not cut out for taking it easy, I suppose.  I'll be an over excited control freak until the day I die, thanks!  Next time I set monthly goals I'm not going to try to pretend like I can "relax" the month that I move into a new home and have a new baby and my husband starts a new job.  Too much.

I guess that takes us to September goals.  I failed so miserably for August that I almost don't even want to attempt September, but here goes anyway.

SEPTEMBER GOAL:  TAKE CARE OF MY BODY
My body does a lot for me without asking too much in return.  Time to give back.

Sub goals:
- Exercise 30-60 minutes a day.
- Eat more raw fruits and vegetables.
- Only one sweet thing a day.
- Drink more water.
- Spend time outside every day.


I'm just going to put this disclaimer out there right now- I'm not real committed to the "only one sweet thing a day" sub goal.  The rest I am really going to try hard on.

And now, time to clean the house!  And eat some vegetables!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sponsorships: The Customer is Always Right?



About a year ago I wrote this post on sponsoring blogs.  I had been sponsoring for about six months and I had figured out a thing or two.  Now, with another year of sponsoring under my belt I have learned even more.  Unfortunately, a lot that I have learned about how to be a good blog to sponsor I have learned through negative experiences sponsoring other blogs.  I figure now would be a good time to share it with y'all so that A. it doesn't happen to you and B. you yourself don't do these things.  Ready?

A GOOD BLOG TO SPONSOR DOES THE FOLLOWING:

1.  A good blog to sponsor treats their blog like a business.  This means if they say they are going to post five times a week, they have to post five times a week.  If they tell you a post is going up on a certain day, it needs to go up on that day.  If there are changes, they need to let sponsors know.  I map out the beginning of my month all my sponsored post.  I know what days are the guest posts, what days are the giveaways and what days are the group posts.  Then I email all my sponsors and let them know.  If I have to make changes to the calendar, I email all sponsors before the change happens.  It's a business and the people sponsoring my blogs are my customers.

2. A good blog to sponsor offers refunds.  Some may disagree with me on this one and I'm interested to hear what you think.  If you are extremely disappointed with a blog sponsorship would you ask for a refund?  What if you weren't given everything in the package that you were promised?  If your button wasn't put up on time, if the post wasn't put up the day it was promised, if you felt you had been lied to about numbers?  What constitutes for asking for a refund?

To me, asking for a refund is nothing.  I take lots of things back to the store.  The watermelon wasn't ripe, the toy broke after two days, the hemline on the skirt was shoddy.  Take it back!  Exchange it.  If the whole store is pot, just get my money back and be done with it! I think this should be the same with sponsorships.  If you are going to offer ad space and accept money for it on your blog, than you need to accept responsibility if people are unhappy and be accountable when you mess up.

Out of the 30+ blogs I have sponsored, there have been two times when I have asked for a refund.  One time I felt that I was purposely lied to about the numbers.  The day my guest post went up I got 26 hits from that blog even though I had been told that the blogger's traffic was up to 100,000 pageviews a month.  I felt that the blogger had been dishonest about pageviews so I asked for a 50% refund.  She said no. I dropped it.

Another time the giveaway I was participating in didn't go up the day the blogged had said.  I was counting on the giveaway for traffic and posted something special that day to catch new traffic.  The post didn't go up and no word from the blogger.  A few days later, when I had a guest post on my blog, the giveaway randomly went up.  I felt that I couldn't take full advantage of the giveaway because I didn't know the day it went up.  In addition to this, traffic from the blogger's site was extremely low as the blogger didn't post as frequently as normal because it was a very busy that month and there were many stressful things going on with her family.  While I certainly am sympathetic to the situation, I didn't believe I should have to pay full price if she wasn't able to give the sponsorship her full attention.  I told her my concerns and asked for a 50% refund.  She complied, but followed it up with a rude email saying that I had walked all over her.

Both experiences with these bloggers bothered me a bit.  They both replied to me that low traffic was not their fault, and that I take a "risk" when I sponsor a blog and basically I need to deal with the consequences.  While I certainly agree that what traffic comes to my site isn't completely their responsibility, they have made it partly their responsibility by accepting my money.  The blog is now a business, and part of that should be keeping me happy, right?

I suppose this is where I have a bit of a problem doing business with bloggers and small business owners (i.e. Etsy).  You ask for a refund and the way they react you'd think you threatened to kill their whole family.  They can get so defensive and mean.  I feel like yelling to them, "Hey!  It's not that big of a deal, girl.  I still like you!  It's just you sold me a product, I was not satisfied with the product, and now I would like some of the money back that I gave you.  No biggie!"  Businesses understand this.  Wal-mart certainly doesn't get all up in arms when I take back their pants that don't fit.  Neither should a blogger.

I have had a handful of times when sponsors have told me they weren't happy with sponsorship.  In July, I completely spaced putting Jenn's name down as my feature sponsor.  Consequently, I didn't put her ad up.  Halfway into the month she asked me where her sidebar ad was.  When I realized what I had done, I apologized and said I would put it right up.  She said she wanted a refund and I should take better care of her money. I agreed and said I would be happy to give her 100% refund or two months of free ad space, whichever she preferred.  She was much kinder to me in the next email, we worked out a compromise that made us both happy, and we are on great "blogging terms" now.  Anytime a sponsor has complained to me I have offered a refund or free ads.  To me that's just good business.  No need to get offended or defensive, just admit wrong and try to fix the situation.

This month I had one of the best sponsoring experiences with Heather from Just Love.ly.  She has a huge readership, but I wasn't getting views from her site.  She told me straight up how many people were clicking over to my blog versus how many people normally click over on the blogs.  My number was very low.  She explained to me that she didn't think our styles match up. She focuses on DIY and beautiful homes and recipes.  I focus mainly on making fun of seventeen year old hoodlums.  We didn't match.

I was floored when she apologized for the traffic and told me she would offer me a 75% refund.  I didn't even ask her, she just offered it.  To me, this is excellent business.  Not only was I happy, but now I am eager to recommend her blog to others and will certainly recommend sponsoring her to those who have similar blogs to hers.  This is a woman you want to do business with.

3.  A good blog to sponsor tells you their monthly pageviews.  When it all comes down to it, this is the only number that matters.  Twitter followers, GFC followers, Bloglovin, etc is all useful only in that it should contribute to your monthly pageviews.  Some tell you their pageviews right out on their sponsor page,  but some don't.  If they don't, I ask them straight up.  You'd be surprised how many bloggers have 4,000+ GFC followers but aren't even getting 20,000 monthly pageviews. The big giveaways that took over our blogosphere there for a minute greatly inflated "follower" numbers and quite frankly, now they can't be trusted.  Ask monthly pageviews to really get a good idea of how many eyes will see your post.

4.  A good blog to sponsor tells you the day your post is going to go up.  As soon as I have paid my money, I want to know what date the guest post or giveaway will be.  I have had sponsors tell me before just to send the post and then they'll fit it in whenever works for them.  Nope.  Give me a date and I will send the post before the deadline.  I like to know when the post will go up and know that that day has been set aside for me.

5.  A good blog to sponsor is not shady.  I suppose this could go a lot of different ways.  I get that the term "shady" is totally vague, but I can't think of a better word.  Just be upfront.  Don't lie.  Return emails on time.  Explain exactly what a sponsor is getting.  If you say "social media love" then what does that mean?  Do you #ff them with a group of a bunch of other bloggers?  Or do you link to a specific post of theirs three times a month?  Because those are very different things.  I feel like with sponsorship, the vaguer a blogger is, the shadier a blogger is.  What time will the post go up?  Don't post a guest post at 3 in the afternoon.  Post it early in the morning.  I was pretty frustrated this spring when I paid for a guest post and waited all morning to see traffic coming from that blog.  It didn't come and it didn't come and it didn't come.  Finally, at noon, the blogger put my guest post up.  At 2:00, there was another sponsored post up.  She gave me two measly hours and I paid for a full priced sponsorship.

I would say that most people when they are doing a guest post on your blog expect the post to be up for 24 hours or close to that.  This month I have been emailing Jenni about doing a guest post.  She said she would be happy to let me BUT there would be a high possibility that there would be two posts that day.  She couldn't guarantee me 24 hours.  I respect this so much.  Instead of just taking my money and then posting two or three sponsored posts that day without letting me know, Jenni was upfront about it and told me exactly what the jig would be.

As I'm finishing this post, I realize it sounds a bit more bitter and negative than I meant it to. I'm sorry. This wasn't my intention. I just think that bloggers who operate this way with their sponsorship need to stop.  I think they need to be called out on it.  Sadly, there are  bloggers out there who are just all about making a buck.  They have discovered the wonderful fact that their "little corner of the web" can bring them in a pretty penny and their minds start racing.  I don't think they're evil in their intentions, I just think they get a bit carried away when they realize how much money they can make and I think us, as fellow bloggers, need to tell them to cut it out and treat the customer right!

And wow.  What a rant!  Excuse me, it's my grumpy time of month.

Peace.  Love.  Sleep.

Originally published August 11, 2013

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bon's Book Club: BRAIN ON FIRE

I still have a few spots open for September sponsorship.  
Email me thelifeofbon@gmail.com in August to receive 25% off.

Book club time! BOO YAH!

(If you are new around here and want to join in for book club, it's super easy!  Just read the book and then come back here on the last Thursday of the month to discuss.  Full details are here.)

SIDE NOTE: Make sure you pick up a copy of Eleanor and Park for September's book discussion on September 25.  It's all the rage with the young kids nowdays.  I have heard so many things about this book and I'm anxious to dig in.  (Parents at my school were up in arms after it was assigned for summer reading in a ninth grade honors class- can't wait to see what all the fuss is about!)  In fact, I am totally stoked for the four remaining books in the year- all four are ones I have heard great things about and have been excited to read.  If you haven't joined in book club yet or got too busy over the summer, it's okay!  Jump back in for the fall- there are some fantastic books lined up!


 (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) Discussion here.
May:  The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (May 29). Discussion here.
June:  Matilda by Roald Dahl (June 26). Discussion here.
July:  In Cold Blood  by Truman Capote (July 31).  Discussion here.

August:  Brain on Fire: by Susannah Cahalan 

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)




Brain on Fire is the true account of Susannah Cahalan and "her month of madness."  She essentially goes crazy.  I have to admit, I was a little skeptical of this book, and half way through I wanted to quit entirely, but I am so glad I stuck it out.  The last third of the book is extremely rewarding.  At the end of the day, it is a story of redemption.  (It also makes me grateful for this book club- it is a book I never would have picked up and read on my own.)

A brief summary- in February of 2009 (2008?) Cahalan, a reporter at the New York Post starts to go mad.  She hears voices, imagines people are stalking her, and suffers from seizures.  After a month in the hospital with her condition getting worse and no diagnosis whatsoever, the miracle doctor, Dr. Najaar, figures out that she has an autoimmune disease- her brain is swelling and is under attack from her own body.  After she is successfully diagnosed (she has to undergo a brain biopsy to confirm the suspected diagnosis) she is able to get treatment (which involves steroids, plasma transfusions, and something else I can't remember) and within time returns to her normal self.

The first 2/3rds of the book was really tough on me.  The first third is all about her descent into madness.  I struggled with it mostly because I felt like it was the same thing over and over.  "I heard voices.  Someone was following me.  I had a seizure.  The hospital didn't know what was wrong with me."  I understand that for her each detail was important, but to me it just got very repetitive.  And I also started to feel like I was going mad.

The second third of the book is about her month in the hospital and the attempts to find a diagnosis and cure.  This is where I really almost quit on the book because it got so technical.  I am not a medical student, nor am I terribly interested in the nitty gritty details of how the brain works, what diseases mean what, what each test does and measures.  I got lost in the technicalities, and I felt like the actual story telling suffered as a result. Most of this month Cahalan has no memory of it, so it was a lot of "the doctors said this" "my dad told me that this happened", etc. I was reading a second hand account of the events, and I didn't love it.  I ended up doing a lot of skimming during this part of the book.

The last third of the book talks about Susanah's recovery and her journey back to full health.  She also talks about how she has been able to help others, how she has raised awareness, and the good that has come from this terrible experience.  This was the most interesting and rewarding part of the book to me.  The last lines of the book read,

"Someone once asked, "If you could take it all back, would you?"  At the time I didn't know.  Now I do.  I wouldn't take that terrible experience back for anything in the world.  Too much light has come out of my darkness."

What stuck out to me throughout the entire course of the book is the support that Cahalan had from her family and boyfriend.  If anything, I thought the book was a testament to the power of family and relationships.  Her dad was with her all day every day in the hospital and her mom visited every day after work.  Her parents came together for their daughter despite a history of avoidance due to a rocky divorce.  Cahalan talks a lot about the toll that her disease had on her family and it was fascinating for me to read how each of them dealt with the trial.  Her boyfriend, whom she had only been dating a few months at the time that she contracted the disease, came to the hospital every night to watch tv with her and essentially functioned as a caregiver to her.  What a guy, huh?

At times the writing was a little tough for me.  Cahalan is a reporter and the book often reads like, well, a report.  I wanted it to have a little more storytelling quality to it, not so much just a presentation of facts.

One of the most interesting parts about the book was its explanation of memories and how are memories are made, preserved, changed, etc.  This is an interesting explanation as to how two people can remember the same event differently.

"When a memory is recalled, it's essentially remade, allowing new (and sometimes wrong) information to filter in.  This is normally useful because we need to be able to update our past experiences to reflect present information, but it sometimes creates devious inaccuracies."

 I also loved this explanation for how we retrieve memories:

"When the brain is working to remember something, similar patterns of neurons fire as they did during the perception of the original event.  These networks are linked, and each time we revisit them, they become stronger and more associated.  But they need the proper retrieval cues- words, smells, images- for them to be brought back as memories."

So when we remember something, we are, in essence, reliving it because similar patterns of neurons fire as they did during the actual event.  I think this is why I like writing so much- I have always felt like it allowed me to experience things twice, and turns out it really does!

I also loved Cahalan's take on our bodies, how fragile they all are, how we are essentially prisoners to the bodies we live in:

"The girl in the video is a reminder about how fragile our hold on sanity and health is and how much we are at the utter whim of our Brutus bodies, which will inevitably, one day, turn on us for good.  I am a prisoner, as we all are.  And with that realization comes an aching sense of vulnerability."

I can't wait to hear what you all thought of the book.  Was it too "technical" for you?  Did it scare you?  What people in the book did you most identify with?  Leave your comments and/or links to your own post on the book and let's get talking!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Newborn pictures

I have revamped my advertising options a bit. For new rates and options go here.  
To kick off the new system, I am giving 25% all ads bought through August. 
Email me at thelifeofbon@gmail.com if you are interested.


This weekend we took some family and newborn pictures.  I cried when I saw them. My little family means everything in the world to me.

Enjoy.






















June Rebecca Larsen: A Birth Story (Part 1)



Tomorrow will be six weeks since little June came bursting into our world.  Six weeks of cuddles and kisses and 4 am feedings.

It hasn't been much of a six weeks of blogging.  I have taken more time "off" from my blog, than I ever have before.  I have tried to post consistently, but there have been many days when I just haven't gotten around to it.  Thank you all for being patient as I try to figure out our new routine around here.

That being said, I would never forgive myself if I let this phase pass without taking the time to write down the events leading up to and surrounding June's birth.  I want to record the story for history's sake, for her, for me.

And so, this is June's birth story.

It really started with our doctor's appointment on July 8.  For the past three weeks I had been having weekly non stress tests, and now the doctor wanted to do a growth ultrasound to check up on the baby since she had been measuring consistently small the entire pregnancy.  The ultrasound, at 37 weeks pregnant, estimated the baby at four pounds, seven ounces.

I could tell something was wrong when he was doing the ultrasound because he didn't say anything.  Usually they talk your ear off, tell you everything looks normal, say how healthy your baby is going to be.  There weren't any reassurances and when he left the room without a word, I looked at Greg with a pit in my stomach.  Something was up.

He came back in the room a few minutes later and laid it all out on the tableThere were two main problems with the babe:

1) She did not seem to be growing in my stomach at a very healthy rate.  Throughout the entire pregnancy she was consistently measuring two weeks behind schedule and was not catching up.  (Like a fool, I took this to mean that she would come two weeks late.  Nada que ver.)

2) She was breech.

"From here, our best option is to deliver the baby sooner rather than later," explained the doctor.  "We need to try to turn her, and the bigger she gets, the harder it is to turn her- the less space she has.  In addition, at this point she is far along enough and healthy enough that we can deliver at any time.  It may be better to deliver now and then monitor her nourishment outside the womb, that way we can ensure she is getting all the nourishment she needs, instead of not knowing for sure while she's still inside.  We need to deliver by next week."

As you can imagine, it was quite a shock to us.  I was literally planning on being pregnant into August- another month for sure, and the doctor was telling us we had less than week.

The doctor scheduled us another visit with the perinatologist (the ultrasound specialist) to confirm what the doctor thought.  The next day, the perinatologist confirmed.  

On Monday, July 14, Greg and I went to our last doctor's appointment to make a plan for delivery.  We were eleven days away from her due date.  The doctor looked at the results from the perinatologist and declared that the baby needed to arrive asap.

The doctor laid out the plan.  We would schedule to go to the hospital within the next three days- the earlier the better.  The first thing we would do in the hospital is try to turn the baby.  If the baby turned, I would be induced.  (Once a baby is successfully turned they go right into labor because it puts so much stress on the baby.  It's safer to get the baby out as early as possible.)  If the baby wouldn't turn, we would do a C section.  Easy enough, right?

We talked to the scheduling nurse.  She called the hospital to see if we could go in the next day.  My head was in an absolute spinning frenzy trying to wrap my mind around the idea that we could be having this baby TOMORROW.  Greg was nervous, but was much more calm than I was about delivering immediately.  He wanted the baby here as safe and as soon as possible.  (It made it extra sweet that the next day, July 15, was Greg's birthday.  "Having a baby tomorrow would be the best birthday present you could ever give me," he said.)

The hospital, however, had scheduling conflicts for the next day.  So it would have to be the day after, Wednesday, July 16.

One of the most stressful parts of this was that we were not in our new home like we had anticipated.  Instead, we would be welcoming our baby girl in our little half packed up, one bedroom apartment.  As soon as we got home we set to work getting everything ready for our baby who would be here in less than 48 hours.  We scrubbed, we disinfected, we got the bassinet ready, the diapers set out, etc, etc, etc.  My goal was to get everything done that day, so that the next day we could relax and celebrate Greg's birthday in style.  There's no such thing as relaxing the day before you know you are having a baby.

The weekend before, setting up the stroller.

Attempting to organize the baby's clothes.


We tried our best to celebrate Greg's birthday the next day, we did, but gosh darn it, we were just so distracted I don't know that we gave the day the Umph it deserved.  I booked a massage for him in the morning and while he did that I went and got my nails done.  (My advice to anyone having a baby- get dolled up before you go!  The best thing I did before I had my baby was get my eyelashes done and my nails done.  I felt feminine and pretty in the hospital, and in the hours and days after June's birth.  I know it's weird, but I swear someone should do a psychological study on the effects of feeling beautiful on women giving birth.) (Trent, you listening?!)

We went to the movie in the afternoon, and met Greg's family for dinner that night.  Even now, only six weeks later, the whole day kind of seems like a blurry dream.  We did our best to go through the birthday motions, but our minds were elsewhere, already at the hospital, already having a baby.

On the eve of parenthood, Greg's 26th birthday.

Last pregnant picture, taken after Greg's birthday dinner.

The hospital had told us that they would try to turn the baby at 7:00 and then either induce or go into a C section from there, so we were already preparing ourselves for an early morning.  On the way home from dinner, though, the hospital called to give us extra details.  "You will need to be here at 5 am" the lady said.  I remember looking at the clock in the car- seeing that it was already almost 9:00 pm.  Oh my gosh, I thought.  This is going down in eight hours.

We tried to go to bed as soon as we got home, but I think we were both so nervous and excited and anxious that we kind of just farted around the house pretending to get stuff done, but really just filling the apartment with nervous energy.  I painted my toenails.  Greg took out the trash and dinked around on the computer.  (I think he was making a playlist?  Very important stuff to do hours before your baby comes, you know.)  I packed the hospital bag.  (Procrastinators for the win!)  Sent an email to my sponsors saying there was no way in hell I could get the giveaway up for tomorrow, please understand. (They did.)

And then we lay on the bed.  It was almost 1:00, I remember, and we both kept saying that we should be asleep.  But you can't sleep when in the morning you are having a baby and when your whole life is about to get turned upside down.  I knew I wouldn't see an entire night's sleep for months and I should take advantage of this one last night of sleep interrupted.  But I couldn't.

As we lay there wasting the precious minutes we should be sleeping, Greg asked me, "Bon.  What are we going to name her?"  We still hadn't agreed on a name for our little baby, and the time to decide was quickly approaching.  

"I don't know.  How are you feeling about June?"  June had been a name that we had both thrown around since the beginning.  It had always been an option for both of us, and as other names came and went, June just kind of hung around in the background.

Greg looked over at me.  "Yah.  I think that's it."

"Really?"  We had sweated over this decision so long, certainly it couldn't come that easily.

"I just can't see her with any other name.  What do you think?"

I thought about all the names we had tossed around for months and the truth was, it felt like I was trying to choose a new name for someone I had always known by a different name. Her name cemented itself in my mind so easily in that moment, so clearly.  June.

We crawled into bed, exhausted and terrified, anxious and excited.  I thought sleep would never come to me, but the moment I curled myself up in the blankets, I was gone, off for one last night of parent-less sleep, ready to welcome June in the morning.

Three hours later, the alarm rang.