Monday, September 29, 2014

The Evolution of a Blog (See also: An explanation of my sponsored posts)

My baby's getting faaaaaaat.
Yippee!

Yesterday I got an interesting comment on my post about a baby product I was showing off.  It was a sponsored post, meaning that I was compensated to do the post.  The commenter stated that she liked reading my blog and would continue to read it, but that she missed the days when there wasn't a sponsored post every 3-4 days.

Part of me felt really sad when I read this.  I felt like I was letting my readers down.  This isn't the first time I've felt this way.  I often have to fight the temptation to feel like a sell out or a fraud when I write sponsored posts.  There are a lot of bloggers who don't accept sponsorships or ads in any form.  They have total freedom to write what they want when they want on their blog and their readers don't tell them that they are disappointed.  Sometimes I am jealous of these bloggers.

My blog stopped being that kind of blog two years ago.  I look back on my first year of posts and they are so carefree.  I can almost smell the newness and excitement of the blog.  Everything was straight from my heart.  I had 24 years worth of thoughts and ideas and ramblings to share- the blog was practically exploding with all my weird, random thoughts.

But my blog changed.  When I read my posts now, they are so different from those first ones.  A lot of the times my posts aren't necessarily as funny or fun as they used to be, and I am okay with that. When I first started this blog I wanted to entertain people and I wanted to people think I was funny.  Now I want to connect with people and I want people to think I'm kind.

There are some things that have changed about my blog because of lessons I learned the hard way.  Online critics have made me less willing to share things that are personal to me.  Hurting the feelings of loved ones through thoughtless remarks on my blog have made me much more careful about what I say about them. I have to remind myself that this is my blog for my stories and I don't have the right to share other people's stories.

When I started accepting sponsorships, the blog experienced perhaps the biggest shift. Some posts were now scheduled.  There were days I had to get a post up no matter what.  Sometimes I had to really stretch to relate a product to my blog.  As I accepted more sponsorships and worked with more companies, my blog continued to change to accommodate.  I had to learn to say no to a lot of products and posts that I knew my readers wouldn't like, but only after saying yes first and realizing my readers could smell the insincerity.

Now I hope to have found a sponsored post balance, but comments like the one yesterday always leave me doubting.  Part of me feels like I don't have to defend my choice to allow for sponsored posts to readers, but the other part of me wants to explain to you why I continue to do this.  The truth is I owe you as my readers a great deal, and heck, if you want to know why I can't quit with the sponsored posts, I suppose you deserve to know.  (Because no, I can't quit with the sponsored posts.)

Each blog post I write serves at least one of three purposes:
1) To connect with other people, build relationships, and tell stories.
2) To help provide an income for my family
3) To grow the blog and my social media presence.

The most important purpose of the blog is the first one- I started the blog to build connections and to tell stories.  This is my favorite thing about blogging and it is what keeps me coming back day after day.  HOWEVER.  Without the second purpose, I could not justify the amount of time I put into my blog.  Especially now that I have a baby and am so busy with many different demands on my time- I just couldn't sustain a blogging "hobby" without monetary compensation.  If I am getting paid, though, this "hobby" then merges into the "job" lane, and it is easier to justify the time I put in.  I am providing for my family by doing something that I really love. (The third goal explains why I run giveaways, contests, link ups, etc.  I will always be trying to grow this blog as bigger growth allows for more connections with others and, admittedly, bigger earning potential.)

  My goal now is to keep it to one sponsored post a week.  That means there is only one giveaway, guest post, or me telling you why you should buy awesome chocolate post per week.  Ideally it means four genuine real life Bonnie posts and one "commercial" so to speak.  Of course, it doesn't always exactly pan out this way.  Sometimes all the opportunities come at once (when it rains it pours) and I will find myself with a very sponsor heavy week only to have absolutely no sponsorship obligations for the next three weeks. (This week I have three sponsored posts and two giveaways.  All of July and August I had no sponsored posts).  In the sponsor heavy times I hope that my readers give me the benefit of the doubt and realize that while there are many sponsored posts that week, they will be rewarded with lots of thoughtful, quality writing in the near future.

I am constantly seeking to find the perfect sponsored post/ non sponsored post blog balance.  Most bloggers I know who are financially compensated struggle in the same way.  The truth is, I owe you, as my readers a great deal.  It is because of my audience that I was able to go part time this year and stay at home with June the other days.  Without you as readers I would be most likely working full time and spending less time with my baby.  I would also be spending much less time blogging, as there would be no time to do it in and no financial compensation to justify the time.  It would certainly fall much lower on a list of priorities. My sponsored posts allow me the luxury of writing many more genuine and real life posts than I would otherwise be able to.

All this basically to say thank you.  It is because of my blog, my readers, and those silly little sponsored posts that I am able to simultaneously pursue three passions of mine- writing, teaching and being a mom.    So thank you thank you thank you for reading the sponsored posts.  It means everything to me.

---

And with that, I introduce a giveaway to you.  Because I absolutely love wearing red lipstick.  And again, thank you.

I have teamed up with some lovely local blogging ladies and we are each giving away our favorite lipstick in a giveaway. ONE winner takes ALL the lipstick! Read below to get to know the bloggers and why they love their lipsticks, and enter in the Rafflecopter.







a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Wrap

I am taking care of all October's sponsorship stuff today.
Email me at thelifeofbon@gmail.com if you are interested in joining in for October.
It's always a party!  (Click here for more info.)


One of the most overwhelming things about having a baby was figuring out all the stuff.  I stressed big time over what things I absolutely needed, what things would just make my life a whole lot easier, and what things were just a part of America’s obsession with spending money.

I do plan on doing a post soon that highlights all of my favorite baby things.  (I’m warning you, though, there’s not that many.  We keep it pretty simple.)  In the meantime, though, I want to highlight one of my unexpected favorite baby things- my HappyWrap.

Special thanks to Aubrey for snapping these pictures for me.



This bad boy is so easy to put June into and she LOVES it.  It is perfect for shopping when I don’t want to push the giant stroller around.  I also wear it around the house when June is acting fussy.  I just slip her in it and the Voila, I can do all the laundry I want!  (Every mom’s fantasy!)  I’m all about June learning to sleep and play independently, but I must admit that it is awesome to have her so close to me when I want it.  I still have her sleep in her swing or bassinet for most of her naps, but sometimes a woman just wants to feel close to her babe, you know?  (And it's pretty much a guarantee that she falls asleep in it within ten minutes.)

The wrap comes in lots of colors and designs and is one of those baby investments that is just going to make your life so much easier.  Trust me on this one.  (I am totally getting the polka dot one next.)  Right now Happy Wrap is offering 10% off to Life of Bon readers with the code BON10.

Oh, and make sure to visit them on instagram @happybabywrap.  I'm warning you though, it may make you baby hungry.  There's nothing as cute as a baby wrapped up next to you. 











And, she sleeps...  I tell you, that wrap is a bonafide baby whisperer!


Friday, September 26, 2014

It Started with Hello!

This article is sponsored by Lindt HELLO.
Thank you for supporting the companies that support my blog.

On Monday my friend, Brooke, was in town.  Brooke was one of my besties in college, but then she moved to Denver and THEN she moved to Alaska so I don't get to see her hardly ever anymore.  She was in Utah for approximately one day and I said that's perfect!  We'll hang all day!  It was on off day for me (Praise the part time life!) so basically we just ran a bunch of errands and did totally normal Monday stuff that wasn't totally normal because I was doing it with a best friend so that made it awesome.  The only thing that could make this part time gig better would be if I had someone around like Brooke to hang out with all day on my off days.  Be there any volunteers out there?

These are some pictures of Brooke and me in our college glory.  We tore up that town.







The truth is I never intended to be friends with old Brookie.  It was my senior year at college and I already had an awesome close group of friends.   I just wasn't shopping for new girls.  Well, one fall day my roommate and I wanted to go up to the canyon to play football.  We found a bunch of boys but we needed at least one more girl.  So, I walked to the apartment in front of me and knocked on the door.  A skinny girl in sweats opened the door.

"Hello,"  I said.  "I'm Bonnie.  I live in the apartment right there- you know, we share a stairwell....  Uh....a group of people are going to play football up the canyon.  Do you want to come?"  I didn't even know her name, but you know, there ain't nothing wrong with invitations to total strangers.

"Well, I should be studying..."

Total bust, I thought.

"... but that sounds like way more fun!"  And before I knew what had happened, Brooke was out the door ready to get her football on.  I knew then and there that we were going to be lifelong friends.  That kind of down-for-anything attitude will get you far, I tell you, it will get you far!  It wasn't a friendship I was expecting, or a connection I sought out, but I'll be forever grateful that it happened and that now I have Brooke in my life.

Luckily, I had football that day to break the ice and to spark a friendship with good old Brookie.  Today, though, I've got a better suggestion:  Chocolate.

Lindt HELLO is chocolate that was basically made with the purpose to help you make friends, boyfriends, and other important relationships. Start with a little hello, end it with a big fat chocolate bar, and boom baby, this sparking connections thing is a walk in the park.  I'm currently in the market for new friends- most of my college besties have long gone at this point and being a mom makes it easy to just stay home.  I want to get out and make more connections with women, my soul thrives off of those friendships.  You better believe I'm stocking up on chocolate bars and using it as the perfect ice breaker for making new friends.




I went ahead and tried all the flavors for you- I'm just nice like that.  My favorite is the caramel brownie.  It really tastes like brownie too- somehow they got that batter flavor into the chocolate- it's the best chocolate I've had since Europe!  The nougat and cookies and cream flavor are perfect if you like a little bit of a crunch.  The strawberry cheesecake is probably the most unique flavor of chocolate I have ever head.  It literally tastes just like you are eating a piece of strawberry cheesecake covered in chocolate.  If nothing else you have to try it just for the experience.  It is such an interesting mix of flavors.

Make sure you check out new episodes of the "It Started with HELLO" web series every week. Probably the cutest and most clever way I've ever seen to advertise chocolate.

Also make new connections of your own by entering the Lindt HELLO Sweet Connections Sweepstakes for a chance to win sweet experiences from Lindt Chocolate.

(I have heard some people say that the Lindt Hello chocolate can be hard to find- I got mine at Target and they had a great selection there. I've also heard you can find it at Walgreens or Wal-mart. Make sure to try it out and tell me how you like it.  Don't blame me, though, when you become addicted....)


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bon's Book Club: ELEANOR & PARK


Hello and welcome to book club!

(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.)


 (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 (August 27).  Discussion here.

September:  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell 

October:  Z by Therese Ann Fowler (October 23)
November:  Wonder by R.J. Palacio (November 20)
December: My Story by Elizabeth Smart (December 30)





The question is am I ever going to like a book that we read for book club?  I feel like there must be something seriously wrong with me that I hate every book!  I mean, I didn't hate them all, I guess.  I loved In Cold Blood, but I've already read that so it feels like that's cheating.  I just don't feel like we've read that book yet that has been a "I'M- SO- GLAD- I- READ- THIS- BOOK- IT'S- AMAZING" book yet.

I had really high hopes for eleanor & park.  It has been so popular with the young kids and it was on the ninth grade honors reading list at my school- I just thought it was going to be awesome.  It wasn't.  I was totally disappointed.

My main issues with the book:

1)  I feel like it's an impossible love story- one that would never happen in real life.  My sister once told me that the formula for a successful YA novel is to have a very average, normal girl get an absolutely amazing guy.  The guy has to be more perfect and dreamy than any guy that exists in real life and he has to fall head over heels for a super average girl.  Young girls eat that stuff up because it is their fantasy- being an average girl that catches the dream guy. (Hunger Games, Twilight, Divergent).  Ever since she told me this I have been weary of books that do this.  I feel like I'm being manipulated.  eleanor & park is the story of an attractive and well liked Asian boy who falls for a poor and overweight redhead.  Rowell states multiple times that Eleanor is overweight, (To the point that it got a little tiring for me- yes, I get it.  She's heavy.) that she doesn't often shower or brush her teeth, that she has very few clothes that she wears over and over to school.  I think it is sweet that Park, who comes from a perfect middle class family, falls in love with her, but it's just never going to happen in real life.

2)  I didn't like Eleanor.  She's just an extremely unlikeable character.  She comes from a tough home, I get that, but I think Rowell went a bit overboard in making her be harsh.  She pulls away from Park all the time, is constantly making him tell her why she likes him, she is defensive and just straight up mean.  This plays into #1 a bit, I feel like no guy would sit there and chase a girl who is that mean all the time.  And Park is just unbelievably nice, it was unreal..  I needed to see a bit more sweetness in Eleanor, and it just wasn't there.

3)  NOTHING HAPPENS. The book is over 300 pages and here's the plot: Eleanor and Park meet.  Eleanor and Park fall in love (which is a very typical teenage love story- nothing special or unique about it.) Eleanor gets bullied for her weight. Eleanor runs away because her stepdad finds out about the relationship. The end. There wasn't any suspense, nor did it feel like it was ever building up to anything.  Even the part where her step dad found out about the relationship was very anticlimactic- Eleanor comes home, realizes he knows, and leaves the house immediately.  Park drives her to her uncle's house in Minnesota.  The book ends.  I had 50 pages left in the book and was not a bit curious to see how it ended- that's definitely a bad sign in my book.

4)  The book has too many f words for a YA novel.  And they're pretty pointless f words too.  I understand needing a few here and there to prove your point, but there are so many that are just in casual conversation or thought.  I suppose my problem is that I know a lot of really good kids who like to read.  Sometimes I worry that they read stuff like this and think they should act that way.  You know, if even the nerdy people in books use the f word like that, or drink, or sleep around, then they should be doing that stuff too.  I hate the way tv and movies portray high school.  Usually books do a better job, but not this one.  I know that Rowell was trying to make her characters realistic and relatable, but it makes me sad that we think our book heroes have to be using the f word right and left for teenagers to relate to them.  There's a lot more good kids out there than we give credit for.

5)  Rowell never tells us what happened between Eleanor and her stepdad that she was kicked out of the house before the book starts.  We can pretty much assume what it was, but it bugs me that she never tells readers.

6)  The end of the book says that Park gets a postcard from Eleanor with three words on it and then the book ends.  Worst ending ever.  What are the three words?  I love you?  Just tell us- stop with the guessing game already!

Things I liked about the book:
- Easy read and a fun and interesting voice.
- I loved Park's parents' relationship.  They are so in love with each other, and that part was very sweet.  He says something at one point in the book how when he would wake up scared at night he would think about how much his parents loved each other, not how much his parents loved him.  All parents love their kids, but they didn't have to love each other.  I thought that part was very sweet.

Alright, I'm ready for your thoughts!

Did you like the book?  
Did you find their ill fated relationship to be sweet?  Believable?  
Did the language bother you? 
And even if you haven't read the book-
Do you agree with me that f words in YA books are unnecessary?  
Why do you think the author chose to add the language she did?

Add your link if you wrote your own post.  Now that I have Disqus on my comments I am hoping we can have a great conversation below!

October's book is Z by Theresa Fowler.  It is about F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife, Zelda.  I am so excited for it because I love the Fitzgeralds and I love everything about the 1920s.  I hope it doesn't let me down.  Join in for the next month!

This is Marriage



A few nights ago I couldn't find my toothbrush, but Greg's toothbrush was (for whatever odd reason) lying on the bedroom floor, so I picked it up and brushed my teeth with it.  No harm no foul, right?

And then it dawned on me.  What a weird thing. To live with a boy who is sometimes smelly and always nice, and then find his toothbrush on the floor and just up and use it.  Shucks! This is what it is to be in a marriage?  To exchange knowing looks across a crowd full of people. To argue over what kind of dog to get.  To learn a new recipe because it's his favorite. To wait for him before you watch your favorite new episode on Hulu.  To stand up for him. To beg for a massage. To get so mad at him you could scream. To clean the whole house and buy decorations and wait for him to get home and notice. To wonder when you are going to have more babies. To tell him to stop spending so much. To miss him when you haven't talked for eight hours. To laugh at an inside joke. To know exactly what his hand feels like in yours.  To think of him when a song comes on the radio.  To yell at him to get into the other lane. To take a hot bath with him. To beg him to go to a wedding reception with you. To feel pride when he eats all the food you have cooked. To pray for his happiness. To watch Transformers with him even though you hate that movie.  To have a favorite restaurant together. To throw his clothes in the laundry. To ask him to pick up a diet coke for you on his way home.  To tell him to turn off the damn alarm.  To run your fingers through his hair. To plead with him not to get mad when you lose the keys. To make all big life decisions together. To put his name on all of your emergency contact forms. To feel his disappointment as your own. To laugh at his stupid jokes.  To feel safe when he is there. To swear at him when he beats you in tennis. To beg forgiveness when you hurt his feelings. To ask what he thinks of your new haircut. To record a basketball game on TV for him. To wear a dress because you know he likes the way it looks on you. To go to dinner with his parents. To know his smell. To follow him around the house arguing that you are right and he is wrong. To give him the hamburgers to throw on the grill. To know who his favorite actor is. To complain that he's hogging all the covers. To pick up his towel off the floor. To show him a clip on youtube that you know will make him laugh. To plan your life around his and his around yours. To steal quarters out of his pants pocket. To get mad at him for being late. To make him late.  To pick up his favorite candy bar at the store. To spoon in the morning. To listen to him tell stories to your niece. To go for a run together. To tell him he's the most stubborn person you've ever met. To take his last name. To painfully create a budget together. To hope he doesn't notice when you buy a new pair of shoes. To sip from his soda at the movie theater. To give love. To receive love. To always be his number one priority.

This is marriage.

This post was originally published October 8, 2013.
It's one of my all time favorites and I was feeling sentimental and lovey and gooey, so I reposted it.
Happy Hump Day!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Your Experience Is Not My Experience



One of the biggest surprises about having a baby is how much I... well....liked it.

Isn't that weird that I didn't expect to like it?  At least not at first.  I thought it would be so hard, I thought I would never sleep, I thought I would hate my husband and never leave the house.  Before I had June I had built up in my head the most depressing and miserable view of motherhood.  Is it any surprise I was reluctant to start a family?  Who wants to sign up for depression and misery?

I didn't expect to like motherhood because of the experiences I had heard from so many other people.  I assumed every difficulty they experienced would also be a difficulty I would experience.

This hasn't only happened with motherhood.  It happened when I got married.  My expectations for marriage were totally eschew.  I listened to everybody else's experiences and assumed mine would be the same. Some things were much better than people had told me, other things were harder. Greg and I are both stubborn people and when we argued and fought our first year of marriage I thought we were headed straight for divorce.  I compared my experiences to the others' experiences and assumed erroneously that because nobody else's marriage seemed to be like ours, that ours was the one that wasn't doing it right.  It took me a few years to realize that if my marriage isn't like everybody else's it's okay.

It also happened when I decided to go into teaching.  My experiences weren't what others' experiences were at all.  I remember when I was a sophomore in college I told a friend that I was going into teaching.  She had started teaching the year before, and by Christmas she had quit.  She told me it was the hardest and most underpaid job in the country- not even close to worth it.  She warned me of how awful kids were these days, how you get no respect, how she worked 65 hours a week.  She about dang near convinced me to quit right then and there.  Now, after five years of teaching I can confidently say that her experiences are not my experiences.  I've never worked close to 65 hours a week, I get nights, weekends, and summers off, and I get to hang out with young, energetic people every day.  I love it and count my lucky stars that she didn't convince me right then and there to throw in the towel.

I share this all because I think there may be some danger in our constantly sharing our life stories.  Mostly, I think it is good- I love the friendship and camaraderie that comes from a pursuit such as blogging.  I think as a whole the human race thrives off of sharing experiences.  I often read posts and think, "Yes!  I understand!  I relate completely to this!"

But.  I also think it's okay if we don't relate.  There is no one universal life experience.  When we tell our stories, I think we must be careful to emphasize that this is our experiences, and others may have totally different experiences.  There is danger in the constant comparison of stories- marriage wasn't as easy for me as it was for others.  Is there something wrong with me?  I like teaching much more than my friend.  What if she had convinced me to quit?  Would I have ever gotten pregnant if I continued to listen to the many difficult experiences of motherhood?  I almost feel like every story shared, every blog post written should come with a huge disclaimer at the bottom:  THIS WAS MY EXPERIENCE.  MY EXPERIENCE IS NOT YOUR EXPERIENCE.

All of these ideas started swirling around in my head last week after I read this post on motherhood.  It is entitled New Motherhood is Hard Enough: Say No to Visitors.  The title is negative and bossy.  In one sentence it manages to tell new and expectant mothers that 1) motherhood sucks and 2) don't let anyone visit you.  (For the record, I LOVED having visitors the first weeks after June's birth.  It made me feel very loved and cared for and like many people wanted to share in the joy of June's birth with me.)  I wouldn't have minded the article so much if the author had merely explained why motherhood was hard for her, but instead she acts as if this is and will be the experience for every new mother.  There is no other way.  She opens the post by stating: 

Until I had my son, it had never occurred to me that the first days, weeks, and months of being new parents would be sheer hell. I mean it. I don't envy any of you who are currently trying make it through the first two months of parenthood. It's difficult. Don't believe anyone who says otherwise. They're lying. It's beyond difficult. 

I respect and sympathize with the author's experiences- because of issues breastfeeding it does sound like it was an extremely difficult couple of months.  But I don't think it's fair that she asserts that because the experience was "sheer hell" for her, it will be for everyone else too.  I can say confidently and truthfully that her experience is not my experience.

The past two months of my life have not been beyond difficult.  They have not been sheer hell.  Not every baby has trouble breastfeeding and not ever baby has colic.  Not every baby cries inconsolably for hours.  Not every woman has to pump every two hours to keep her milk supply up.  I would even dare to say that these are exceptions to motherhood, not the rule.

These thoughts have been weighing heavy on my mind for a few days because I know a lot of people who are pregnant or who are thinking of becoming pregnant. (Elisabeth! April! Danica!)  When they ask me how motherhood is, I see the absolute relief in their eyes when I tell them how much I love it.  It's like they brace themselves for the bad and are surprised when I am so positive about the experience.  I don't know why we hear so many of the bad experiences and so few of the good experiences, but I do have a couple of theories.  

1) I think people enjoy sharing their horror stories.  Maybe it's a point of pride for them to some extent to show what they have endured.  Maybe they are seeking sympathy or assurance or love.  "I was up with my child for four hours last night.  You don't know how tired I am.  He would not stop crying!"  or "I haven't showered for days.  I don't remember what it feels like to get dressed before noon."  I think people share these things innocently enough, seeking attention and love and perhaps much needed help, but they don't realize how negative it sounds or how much it can impact those people who haven't experienced their experiences yet.

2)  I think in general we tend to share negative experiences over positive experiences.  Our brains react stronger to negative emotions, so I think this plays into it.  I also think there may be a certain amount of guilt associated with positive experiences.  Maybe I shouldn't share how good my baby is because it will sound like I'm bragging?  Maybe people with difficult babies will think that I am rubbing it in their faces?  Last week June slept through the night four times.  The other three nights she woke up around 4:00 am, ate, and went right back to bed.  When she eats I pull her into bed with me and I pretty much sleep through the whole feeding.  It is usually a pretty easy process.  I don't lose that much sleep at night- it certainly isn't the up four or fives times in the night that I was expecting.  The first night she slept through the night I wanted to shout it from the mountain tops, share it all over social media, call my friends and tell them the good news.  But I worried that people would be bugged by me.  How dare I share that a baby can be easy and fun and that someone who gave birth nine weeks ago can still be getting a good night's rest?  I haven't even earned motherhood if it's that easy for me!

And so, for these reasons, I didn't share it.  I didn't tell anyone besides my mom that June had slept through the night.

But then I started thinking about it.  What about my cousins and friends who are expecting babies?  What about my best friend who had an extremely difficult first baby and now assumes all future babies will be as difficult?  Don't they deserve to hear some of the good experiences?  It isn't guaranteed to be their future experience, but they at least deserve that those good experiences are possible.

And so, I share my experience, braggy parts and all:
- June eats passionately and heartily every three to four hours.  She latches great and takes from a bottle when I need to pump.
- Sometimes she gets fussy at night- usually between 7 and 9 pm.
- In the mornings and afternoons she usually takes big, long naps- between two and three hours.  I am able to get lots of stuff while she sleeps- blogging, cleaning the house, and even sometimes a nap for myself.
- It is absolutely amazing to watch Greg be a dad and I feel like our relationship is stronger than ever as we both ooo and ahhhh over our baby together.
- Greg and I still get out and do lots of activities- we are not at all stuck at home. If anything, having a baby makes us more inclined to get out.  We go on walks, go to the park, go to the fair, go camping.
- At its very worst, I was getting up in the night twice to feed June.  At its best, she sleeps from 9pm until 5am and I sleep right along with her- eight or nine hours of solid sleep.
- June goes everywhere with me- she's my little right hand man who helps me do errands, takes the dog for a walk with me, and even supervises from the swing while I make dinner.  It's fun having a companion for everything.  
- Every other day I go to work and she stays in the daycare.  I do miss her, but am so thankful to be able to continue teaching and I cherish my relationships with students and other teachers.  I still get plenty of adult interaction.
- June is almost always happy, and is a very easy baby.  She likes to be held, but doesn't demand it except for at night when putting pressure on her tummy helps her to calm down and fall asleep.  She does get gassy at night and I have gone almost completely off caffeine to help with the fussy evenings.  It is much easier now and I'm now the not-so-proud drinker of caffeine free diet coke.
- She loves baths and showers and could sit in the warm water all day.
- Every time she gets in the car or the stroller, she falls asleep.
-  I love to share June with other people and think it is very sweet when friends and family want to hold her.  She goes to anyone and stares right at them with her big googly eyes, and I swear she could make any child hater absolutely baby hungry.
- Aside from the first two weeks of June's life when I was recovering from the C section, I have never gone the day without showering or getting dressed.
- Having June has been the most amazing experience of my life- her presence enhances every part of my life.  Everything is more fun with June, and I am absolutely amazed by how much joy I get from being her mom.  I wish every person in the world could experience what this is like.

That is my experience.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

What Would You Do: Shopping Edition



On Saturday afternoon Greg, Greg's mom, and I took June and hit the stores to do a bit of shopping.  They waited patiently for me at H&M as I tried on several items and then tried them all on again in the next biggest size.  It was the first time I have been shopping post pregnancy, and nothing was fitting in my pre-pregnancy size.  Because of this, it took me FOREVER to find the right sizes and items I wanted.  Poor Greg and his mom waited and waited for me while June Bug did her usual thing of sleeping through everything.

By the time we got to the register, Greg's patience was wearing thin. I knew I shouldn't push my luck, but I wanted to check out a sweater that had caught my eye on the way to the register.  "Pay for these items, I'll be right back," I said as I ran off to look at the sweater.  It took me all of three seconds to realize I would never wear the sweater so I headed back to join Greg.

The man at the register was slowly taking off the security ink tags when I got back.  "Hey, isn't there a number you can text to get 10% off your purchase?"  I asked.

"Yes," said the clerk, pointing to a sign above me.  "That's what you have to text."  I could tell this man wasn't exactly digging on me.  You know when people act like your very presence is a nuisance? That's how this clerk acted.

I texted the number and got the code just as he was putting the last of the clothes in the bag.  "Here's my code."  I said.

"Oh, it's too late," he replied quickly, avoiding my eyes. "You had to show that to me before I started the transaction."  He handed a receipt for $159 over to Greg to sign.  Apparently he had rung all the clothes up and swiped the credit card while I was looking at the sweater and THEN removed the ink tags and folded the shirts?

I was bugged- $16 we should have saved on that purchase!  I glanced up at the sign again.  I read the fine print.  It said nothing about having to show the text before the transaction and I suspected this man was lying, anxious to get rid of a pesky customer.  He was not about to go out of his way to help us out  Greg was quickly signing the receipt, obviously wanting to get away from the situation.  We had already been there far too long for his liking and he hates confrontation.  He always gets a bit frustrated or embarrassed when I make a big deal out of things- he would always prefer to pay the extra money just to avoid the hassle and uncomfortable situation.

"Why did you tell me I could text that number for 10% off if you had already finished ringing me up and knew I wouldn't qualify for it?"  I challenged.  He shrugged his shoulders.

I briefly considered asking the man to return everything I had just bought and then ring it all back up again this time with the code, but I could hear Greg's tired "Come on, Bon" behind me.  I knew I had already pushed him by making him wait so long for me. Out of respect for Greg more than anything, I let it go and walked out of the store with no discount.

I was grumpy on the car ride home.  I felt taken advantage of.  It was such a simple code to get, and the clerk could have made it happen so easily, but he just didn't want to.  I thought of my friend, Amy, who never lets anyone rip her off anywhere.  I needed her here to stand up for me.

"Bon, just let it go.  It's not a big deal."
"It is a big deal.  It's $16 and that clerk treated us like crap."
"If you wanted the discount you should have been there the whole time.  But you weren't there when the transaction started."
"That's not even a rule!  He just made that up because it would be more work for him and he didn't want to bother."
Greg sighed, "Even if that's  true, is it really worth being mad over?"

It wasn't.  But I couldn't help it.  I stayed mad for half the afternoon anyway.

Now you tell me what you would do.  Would you have made the clerk give you the discount or would you have given in as easily as I did?  Would you have challenged him and his pretend "start of transaction" rule?  Would you have been frustrated or are you the type that doesn't allow your entire Saturday to be ruined over $16? (If so, good for you!  Maybe you could teach me some lessons?)  Am I totally ridiculous for even being upset by that?!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How to Get the Most Out of Your Tailgating Experience

Thank you to Sam’s Club for sponsoring today’s post 
and helping me get ready for tailgating this Football Season.


Welp, folks.  It's football season!  

When I was a senior at BYU I somehow landed front row tickets to the big game against our number one rivals.  It was the end of November and absolutely freezing, but it was more than worth it to see my team up close and personal battling it out on the field.  BYU won in a nail biter right at the buzzer and BYU fans rushed the field in a frenzy of excitement.  It is one of my sweetest college memories.
   

Those are the types of experiences that get me pumped up for football every year.  I will admit that unless we have a stellar team, I tend to not always 100% interested in the game.  I'll tell you what I am interested in, though- hanging out with my friends.  Before the game, during the game, after.  I love the spirit of friendship and camaraderie that football brings.

Which brings me to one of the greatest things ever invented- tailgating!  I don't think there exists a greater idea in the whole world than that of showing up early to a game, hanging out with your buddies, and stuffing your face with every delicious food possible.  It is all my favorite things in life combined together.

The only problem with tailgating is being able to afford food for such large groups of people.  I love to host and whether it's in the parking lot of the stadium or in my own home, I enjoy throwing a party and feeding food to people.  Sam's Club has got the hook up for great prices on all of your tailgating essentials.  It is so much cheaper than a regular grocery store and there's enough food to feed, well... a football team.

Let's play the price is right Sam's Club Edition.  You predict how much each of the below items costs and then click on the link to see how much it really costs.  I promise you the price will blow you away.  Of the food items, which one do you predict costs the most?  I was shocked, myself.  (Also I want to see how good you are at predicting prices for food in bulk- I need to meet the man who knows who much 54 ounces of Skittles is going for nowadays!)

Wolfgang Puck 10-Cup Digital Multi cooker// 2 Pack Hidden Valley Ranch// 

Skittles Original Flavor 54 Oz Bag// 2 pack Kraft Velveeta Cheese// 

Hormel Chilli No Beans// 65" Samsung LED 1080p 3D Smart HDTV

And as always, I thank YOU for reading my sponsored posts, clicking on the links, and helping support my family.  Because of the support I have from such terrific readers I am able to stay at home part time with my baby- you don't know how much it means to me.

AND NOW, WEEKEND!  I'm spending Friday night at the high school to watch our football boys win another game.  They're undefeated so far... is a state championship in the air?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Two Month Update: We've Got a Little One!



two week appointment:

weight:  5 lbs 15 oz
length: 20.5 in
weight percentile: 1%

***

two month appointment:

weight: 8 lbs 5 oz
length 21.25 in
weight percentile: 1%

Today June had her two month appointment.

I have been very curious to know exactly how much weight she's put on.  She's certainly no sumo wrestler, but I have started to see some fat on her little tummy, some rolls on her thighs, and maybe, even maybe, a double chin?

Turns out she hasn't been gaining the weight I had hoped.  She IS gaining and her progress is steady, but she's not doing the catching up that she's supposed to be doing.

"Her growth is good considering how little she was to start with.  She just remains steadily behind.  She's not gaining or losing.  Just behind," said the doctor today.  It sounded exactly like what my doctors would say when she was in the womb- always two or three weeks behind.  Never falling more behind than that, just steadily behind.

I have to admit that it is frustrating to go to doctor's appointments, both when I was pregnant and now, and hear over and over again how little June is without knowing if it's a real problem (versus if she is just naturally a small person) or knowing any real solutions.  I felt like today was a rerun of a script I have heard so many times:  She's small.  She's growing.  But she's not catching up.  We don't know what to do about it.  We'll keep an eye on her.

"Keeping an eye" on a baby essentially means nothing, and I'm kind of starting to think that June will never "catch up."  And that maybe that's ok?  I was a puny little kid.  In elementary school my friends dubbed me "Scrawny Bonnie."  In seventh and eighth grade I got cut from the volleyball team because I couldn't come close to getting an overhand serve over the net.  I had these skinny little arms that just had no power in them.  Greg was no giant himself.  I don't think he even hit puberty until after he'd graduated from high school.  Maybe we just got together and made ourselves a very small human?  I mean, someone's gotta be in the first percentile, right?!?  Why not June?

I suppose what is most frustrating is that I don't feel like June is unhealthy at all.  Until I go to the doctor.  Then all of a sudden I get put into panic mode.  She eats every three to four hours like clockwork with the exception of night time when she will go six to eight hours.  She guzzles her milk with passion.  She acts full and satisfied when she is done.  Her belches would give any twelve pound baby a run for his money.  She is pleasant and content almost all day long and rarely fusses.  She takes two to three hour naps three times a day.  You can't say those are signs of a malnourished or unhealthy baby.  And yet every time I go to the doctor there is this worry put on me.   All I know for certain is that I have seen and known lots of babies with plenty of extra poundage that don't act nearly as happy to be living in this world as June is.

I leave you with a fist pump.  Because seriously.  My baby fist pumps in her sleep.




5 Things You Should Change About Your Husband

I passed out cold on my bed around 9 pm.

I put little June down, sat on my bed to look at instagram for half a second, and the next thing I knew I woke up and it was 11:49.  This teaching part time and blogging part time and mothering full time is giving me a run for my money, I'll tell you that much.  I love it so much- I feel so blessed to have the option to work part time and I receive so much joy from this blog and from all of you that read here.  Thank you for supporting me in this blogging pursuit and for supporting my sponsors and those companies and brands that I collaborate with.  Because of that I can justify the time I put into blog and continue to do it for years to come. (YEARS?!)

That being said, it is rocking me.  I'm tired.  And I hope that last paragraph was coherent.  I make no guarantees.

My sponsor today is one of my best blogging buddies, Elisabeth.  We have met and worked together several times.  Elisabeth is one of those people who "gets" blogging- I could go to her with any question in the world about blogging and she will have a million ideas and then we'll end up sitting and talking blog for hours.  She is also the one who motivated me to figure out how to use a camera as she is a self taught bonafide photographer!  While she lived in Utah we enjoyed doing several roundtables together and now she is offering her peeps their very own blog consultations.  I would seriously get in on that if I were you- anytime I have the chance to pick her brain I end up with a million suggestions for how to improve, grow, and love my blog even more.  (Read her guest post and you will begin to understand the blogging genius that is Elisabeth).

Elisabeth.  I turn the time over to you...



Oh hi friend (we can be friends, right?), today I'm talking about two things I'm pretty passionate about: change and marriage. Over on my blog, Bella, you'll find a bit of both mixed in with way too many pictures of a growing baby bump, my favorite recipes, and life in the middle of nowhere. I'm a firm believer in choosing happy even when its hard, and eating lots of chocolate. 


Since I got married three years ago I've really started paying attention to what society tells us about marriage. It seems they want us to believe that loving someone means accepting who they are, loving all of their faults, and not expecting them to change. We just are who we are, right?

WRONG. I think its a bunch of crap (a word my mother taught me not to say). Yes of course you should accept someone you love for who they are ...but does that mean you have to love their weaknesses, does it mean you can't expect them to ever change?

When Ben and I got married, we had fallen in love not just with who we were then, but who we could be. We talked about our expectations for change. I EXPECT my husband to change. I expect him to be kinder, more patient, and more selfless the older we get. Likewise, he expects I’ll continue to grow up and with that, work on being less selfish and less petty. For us, marriage wasn’t saying “this relationship with this person right now is what I want forever” it was saying “this human is the one I want to grow and change with along this journey of life.”

I don’t think Ben and I are that unique...but I don’t think many people articulate this expectation for change. We aren't just who we are...we are who we choose to be, we are what we do, in some ways, we are who we want to become. So when I share five things you SHOULD change about your husband … I’m not saying my husband is a bad guy (although I certainly hope he’s better in a few years than he is now or else neither of us will have done a very good job at this progress thing). 

Here’s the first thing...click over to my blog to read the rest:

  1. His view of marriage: Each marriage is unique. Each couple brings different things to the table. My goal is to have Ben’s views of marriage be better than they ever were … and also for him to ditch any stereotypes he had about what a marriage should look like. Ours will be different, it is different.

That said, there are HUGE benefits for having models of strong successful marriages. I needed to realize that our relationship wouldn’t be my parents, but that didn’t mean I shouldn’t strive to treat Ben with as much respect, love, and service as my parents do.


Hop over to BELLA to read the other four things you change about your husband :) 


Monday, September 15, 2014

June Rebecca Larsen: A Birth Story (Part 3)


I never intended for this story to have three parts.  I intended to sit down and write it all out in one sitting.  I intended to have in one place June's birth story in all its glory.

But then it took so much longer than I thought it would to write.  I wanted to remember all the details.  Life with a newborn is busy, and time to write is sandwiched in between feedings and burpings and rocking to sleep.  When I did have a good chunk to sit and write down June's birth story it took way more time and energy than I realized, and instead of writing it all, I wrote only the events leading up to her birth.  I called it part 1.  When I sat down to finish her birth story, I wrote only about the iv debacle and the decision to have a c section.  So I called it part 2 and promised to finish another day.

I am hoping today to make good on my promise to myself to FINISH June's birth story.  If there has to be a part 4 to this series, I might just drive myself insane.  So here we are, the conclusion of June's birth story.

As soon as the doctor declared that my stubborn breech baby wouldn't turn, and that a C section was in order, there was no time to think, no time to breathe.  I was wheeled down to the operating room immediately.  In the hallway I saw Greg's mom, his brother, and his brother's wife.  I remember feeling so much support, but strangely enough feeling like an idiot because I was being pushed around in a bed.  Vanity is a strong thing, I suppose.

This was the hardest part because I was without Greg.  They had told Greg to stay behind, get his scrubs on, and they would call for him when they were ready.  In the operating room, the anesthesiologist poured cold gel up my stomach.  "Can you feel it here?  Can you feel it here?  How about here?"  I knew he was gauging the strength of my epidural and if I'd had half a brain I would have shouted "I can feel it all over! Up the dosage, sir!"  But instead I hesitated a little bit, said no, I couldn't feel it even when I could feel it a little bit.  I don't know why I did that.  Not every action has a logical reason, I suppose.

This part is all kind of hazy to me. (I suppose this is punishment for waiting two months to finish the birth story.  Had I written it a week after her birth I would've remembered every detail.)  I know a bunch of people had to move me from the hospital bed to the operating table.  They were doing this whole complicated procedure like "One, two, three, lift and roll!"  It made me feel like a real whale until somebody said, "Yah, we probably didn't need to do all that.  She isn't too heavy."  Thank you, whatever random person in the operating room said that.

I remember feeling naked but not knowing if I was naked.  Was I?  Was my whole lower half just totally exposed for the whole world to see?  Maybe I will never know and maybe it's better that way.

They threw up a sheet, I couldn't see a thing, and in a matter of minutes, the doctor was ready.  Greg was nowhere to be found.  The doctor yelled out, "Her husband?!  Where's the husband?  Somebody go grab the husband!"  and in a few seconds Greg was by my side. (Or, more accurately by my head...)  They about dang near forgot poor Greg in the waiting room.

I was mostly numb, but not one hundred percent, so I could feel when the surgery started.  I looked up at Greg who was looking over the sheet at my stomach.  As I felt the scalpel on my skin, I saw Greg's eyes grow wide and scared.  Greg looked away quickly and exclaimed he couldn't watch it anymore. I moaned.  (I hate the word moan, but I can't think of a better word.  I wasn't screaming, but I was definitely making noise.  I could feel some pain.  It hurt. It was wildly uncomfortable.  My body made sounds in response.)  There was pulling and stretching- that I could definitely identify.  I wanted so badly to see what was going on, but knew that if I saw even a drop of blood I would make myself sick.

It was over before I had realized it begun.
"She's out!"  Greg said.
"Can you see her?"  I asked through moans.  I didn't know what they were doing, but I still felt pain.

The anesthesiologist came over to me and messed with my mask.  "Bonnie, I'm going to fix your oxygen okay..."

The next thing I knew I was waking up.  I had been so uncomfortable that the anesthesiologist had taken it upon himself to knock me out completely.  I've never been so grateful to anyone in my whole life.  Forty five minutes of stitches, and the blessed saint knocked me out for all of it.

Greg was still at my side, but the baby was nowhere to be found.  Greg told me that she had been taken to the NICU because of a few problems breathing when she first came out, but that she was going to be just fine.  I wanted to see my baby, yes, but mostly I felt so grateful that I was healthy, that she was healthy, and that the whole thing was over.

I was still coming to, so a lot of it is blurry for me.  Somehow I must have gotten from the operating room back to the delivery room, but I'm not sure how.  I just remember being in the delivery room with my mom.  Greg had gone to the NICU to see the baby.  He came back with his mom and brother and sister to show me pictures and that was when I first saw my June bug- on Greg's phone.  Her legs were totally sticking out (byproduct of being a breech baby) and she was bald as an eagle.  I remember saying something like "Well, I guess the mystery is solved of whether you can think your own baby is ugly- you can!"  Greg was shocked and my in laws laughed.  I blame the drugs.



^^A few of the first pictures I saw of June.

Everybody was in and out of the NICU to see the baby except me.  I didn't feel jealous even though I was anxious to see my baby.  Mostly I was just so grateful that she was healthy.

I have no idea how much time passed before Greg wheeled little June bug right on into the room.  An hour?  I know I met her about two hours after she was delivered, I just don't know exactly how the succession of time went.  She was swaddled up tight and had on a cute little hat and looked exactly like a newborn baby should look like.

On this post I explained a little bit my feelings when I met June. I still feel that I didn't do it justice, and the truth is it is almost impossible to describe the feelings that wash over you when you meet your own baby.  I was so overjoyed to see her, so delighted that she was here safe, so absolutely taken away with her beauty and health and perfection.  I remember holding her and thinking, "Oh my gosh. She's so beautiful.  She's so beautiful."  I started to cry the minute I held her.  It felt like I was reconnecting with a long lost friend.  Like I had always known her.  It seemed more of a reunion than a meeting.  I felt so connected to all of my family in that moment- to my husband by my side, to my mom who was right there in the room with me, to my dad who died five years ago, to Greg's family, to my siblings spread all over the state.  It was a powerful testament to the strength of families. It was like this little baby was bringing all the families together.

The spirit was so strong and there was so much love in that room. How can you look at a brand new perfect little baby and not feel that insane spirit?  I have joked around that I can't wait to have another baby, but in all seriousness it is because of that moment right there.  The moment when you meet your baby has to be one of the most sweet and sublime moments in our existence.  I'd do it over and over and over if I could.


^^ Our "reunion"

Our families wanted to know what we were naming her. I looked at Greg.
"June?"  I asked, wondering if he had changed his mind since last night.
"June?"  He asked- was I still on board?
"June."  We decided.
"Hi June..."  I tried the name out on my sleeping swaddled bundle. It fit.

Our doctor came in the next day to see how I was recovering and how June was holding up.  When I saw him I was overwhelmed with gratitude for him and his specific set of skills that had allowed us to get June here safely.  Getting June out of my body took him an entirety of six minutes.  What would we have done without doctors who know what they're doing- who can safely cut open my body, pull a baby out from it, and stitch me back up?

I won't lie- a part of me mourned that I couldn't have June vaginally.  That was what I wanted and what I thought was best.  There is a part of me that is still sad that I didn't experience so many of the parts of having a baby- I didn't go into labor, my water didn't break, I never felt a contraction.  It's almost like I have been left out of part of the universal experience of being a mother.  I remember one night walking laps around the hospital with Greg and little June and feeling like I had missed so much of the experience of giving birth.

There have even been some well meaning, but perhaps slightly hurtful comments made by people who love and care for me about June's C section.  When I have told people that I had a C section a few have seemed disappointed or acted as if it were in someway a lesser choice.  A few people have said things along the lines of, "I hope you get to experience a vaginal birth because it is such an amazing experience."  Initially I was hurt by that and definitely a little jealous- jealous that I had missed out on that "amazing birthing experience."

BUT. When I came to my senses, I realized how blessed I am to have June here safely, no matter her mode of entrance into this world.  Her birth was a profoundly spiritual and connecting experience for me and for my entire family and it would have been whether she came vaginally, via C section, or courtesy of a bright yellow school bus.  Afterall, the important thing is that she arrived, not how she arrived.

I felt so much love and so much protection from those who were there to share the experience with me on June's birth day.  I felt overwhelming love for June, a total bond with my husband, and absolute gratitude and admiration for the doctors who got her here safely.  It is a day I want to relive in my head over and over and an experience I hope I get to repeat.

Our lives, as they say, will never be the same.