Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring Break: Two Days In

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I could not make this giveaway any easier

It's my spring break!  I've got a whole week off to bask in the sunshine.  That means I'm in a particularly good mood and what better way to celebrate than by giving away mulah?!?

This month's sponsors are being oh so generous and have pooled their hard earned cash together to give to one of you.  Entering the giveaway has never been easier- just enter through the links of the rafflecopter below.  BOOM BABY BOOM.

Winner will be chosen on Thursday, April 24, 2014.  All entries will be verified.  International readers may enter conditional upon having a Paypal account with which to receive the winnings.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 14, 2014

I like your bum bum bum

Let's do a poll, shall we?

What is the household product you have to replace the most in your home? Is it...

A. Dish soap
B. Laundry Detergent
C. Toilet Paper
D. Trash bags
E. Shampoo

If you said C., toilet paper, well then you are in good company.  We run out of toilet paper every week, I swear.  I restock it and next thing I know, we're out again.  I've accused Greg before of being too liberal with his tp use, but he swears he only uses a moderate amount.  We just go through it quick.  (Also, you didn't know you were going to get to know all about the bathroom habits of Greg and me today did you?  What can I say? It's your lucky day!)

Before I married Greg I always just bought the cheapest, crappiest (no pun intended) toilet paper I could find.  But then Greg cued me into a few things.  Turns out there's kind of a trick here.  If you buy higher quality toilet paper a couple of things will inevitably happen...  1.  It will not longer hurt your bum to wipe and 2.  The paper lasts longer meaning that you don't have to restock it as often.  There is this beautiful little gem called double ply toilet paper which means you don't need nearly as much!

Introducing Cottonelle Clean Care.  It's the best thing for your bum ever.  Don't worry, below you will find some totally normal pictures of me hugging toilet paper in my kitchen.  You do that too, right?

Even our dog likes it!  (Maverick ate an entire Cadbury Cream Egg today and his little bum has been going pretty much nonstop since.  So yes, a dog can very much so like toilet paper.  Also, who says I'm not ready for a baby?)

Lately I've been into not only the Cottonelle Clean Care toilet paper, but the flushable cleansing cloths as well.  Basically there's a dry toilet paper and a wet toilet paper for ALL your toilet paper needs.  We leave nothing out!  The cleansing cloths are awesome because they just leaving you feeling so much fresher and cleaner.  If you haven't tried them, you really need to.  It's going to change everything you thought you knew about going to the bathroom.  (I also take the cleansing cloths around with me in my purse- they are the most versatile things ever and good for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING... also, they break up after flushing, are alcohol free and sewer and septic safe.)  CLICK HERE FOR COUPON.

Also, because it is so awesome and slightly strange I also have to tell you that a British lady named Cherry traveled all over North America to talk about bums.  Click here to watch it.  This has officially been my weirdest and most awesome post ever.

Thank you to Cottonelle for sponsoring this post today, and to you who read my sponsored posts and help support this blog.  GRAZI!

Sunday, April 13, 2014



- I think I finally look officially pregnant.  I have had a few strangers comment on my pregnancy in the past few weeks which to me means that it is now safe to assume I am in fact pregnant and not just downing extra cupcakes.  I've popped.

-I am stilling sleeping through the night without having to get up to pee.  Success!

- Things are starting to get slightly uncomfortable in my stomach.  I can't really describe it- it doesn't feel like cramps or a stomach ache or even like gas exactly- but it feels a little bit like all of those things combined.  Like sometimes it's just really crowded and achy in there.  I feel like things are stretching and moving (You think?) and it's just kind of uncomfortable.  It's especially uncomfortable when I sit down for a long time- like everything is just pressing down on my stomach.

-I continue to try to exercise every day.  Mostly it's a 45 minute walk with Maverick, but sometimes it means tennis or a mile run.  My best friend and tennis partner is moving out of state at the end of the month so I am in the market for a new partner.  If you are in the area and like to play tennis please say you'll fill her role.  I'm not joking. I need to play at least once a week.

- Luckily I haven't had any cravings for greasy or fattening food- mostly anything that is even a little heavy sounds awful to me.  I mostly eat sandwiches and smoothies and protein shakes and I'm down to one diet coke a day.  This is honestly probably the most healthy I've ever eaten in my life. (With the exception of weekly pizza- my definite pregnancy craving!)

- I've been reading Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman.  I really like it!  Basically it's about an American woman living in France who observes the much more laid back and chill way of French parenting.  She says that French children seem to be much more patient, better eaters, better sleepers, and just generally calmer children.  The idea is that you give your children very strict parameters and boundaries but that within that, the kids have a lot of freedom.  She talks a lot about treating children as reasonable, logical people- basically that children are just mini adults.  It is very interesting.  I know a lot of people have a lot of ideas about parenting and I have never had a children so I know nothing, but the idea of calm and obedient children is certainly alluring.

- The day after my last day of school, Greg and I are flying to Germany to visit my sister.  My doc and the airline both say I can fly up until 36 weeks, but I have already had many people express their disapproval at this decision.  It is weird to be pregnant and have so many people suddenly telling you what you should or shouldn't do. My mom says I function on pure adrenaline so I should be fine.  I hope she's right.  The idea is that the backaches and extra weight and all other discomforts will be assuaged by the excitement of touring Europe.

- We are going to spend a few days in Amsterdam while in Europe.  Ever since I read The Fault in our Stars I've really wanted to see the city.  I am determined to go on a bike tour while there.  Greg says I'm delusional and that at 7 1/2 months pregnant there ain't no way I'm going to be able to hop on a bike and cruise around. Whaddya think?  (Also if any of you have been to Amsterdam or Bruges send suggestions!)

-It's gotten a little bit uncomfortable to sleep.  My sides and stomach just start to ache after a couple of hours.  Someone told me to sleep with a pillow between my legs, and that is helping a bit.  Any suggestions to make my lower back not hurt so much?  For some reason it aches the most when I'm sleeping.  I'm making Greg do daily massages, but it is still so achy!

-I've had some bad allergies the bast few weeks but haven't dared take anything.  What is safe to take while pregnant?

- I figured I'm just about at the point where I need to start thinking about stretch marks.  Is there anything you can do to avoid getting them?  Any lotions you tried that you really liked?

- Greg and I are an absolute mess when it comes to names.  How do some people know so soon what they are going to name their child?  It feels like such a huge decision, and we can't agree on anything.  We want a name that is a known name and easy to spell and pronounce.  But at the same time, we want to steer away from common or trendy names. If it's on the top 100 baby names for the year it's definitely out.  With a last name like Larsen I feel like we have to give her a name that it is a bit unique to make her stand out just a little bit.

There are a few things that have made the name picking process difficult.  To start with, I teach school for a living, so that means that for every name out there I know at least three students who have forever tarnished the name in my mind.  Another thing that has made it difficult is other people.  Well- wishers always want to know what names we are thinking of and when we throw a few out we invariably get a, "Do NOT name your child that.  I hate that name," "My ex girlfriend has that name," or "That's a total slut name."  I don't know why people do this with baby names.  I never tell people my name is Bonnie and have them respond, "Ugh.  I hate that name!" but they do it all the time when I tell them what names we are considering for our child.  As if they might have some say in it.

Greg's top pick is Ellie, but it's too popular for me so I told him it's out.  I absolutely love Nora, but that's the name of a main character in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House and Greg says he absolutely refuses to be a theater guy and have his child named that. (Whatever that's supposed to mean.)  My good friend who is having a baby in August told me last week that she is planning to name her little girl the one name that Greg and I kind of seemed to agree on.  Now he says the name is out because it's obviously too common. (Someone else at our church named their baby that too.)  So we're back to the drawing board.

You guys got some suggestions?  I love the old classics- anything that is sophisticated and feminine. Eleanore is a total favorite of mine as well as Pearl and Grace.  Greg says Eleanore is too old fashioned, Pearl is ugly, and Grace is too common.  I did like Stella a lot until my brother named his dog that.

We're a wreck.  Please send help.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I see you.

Tonight I went to the temple.

Mormon temples are different than Mormon churches.  Anyone in the world can attend a church- we have church services every Sunday.  Throughout the week we have a myriad of other activities at the church- crafts, basketball, dinners, you name it.  But the temples are only for people who are ready to make serious commitments to God.  There we make promises to God and in returned are promised awesome blessings.  Church is only on Sunday, but you can go to the temple any day of the week.  (Actually, they're closed on Sunday.  For church.  Go figure.)

Everything in the temple is repetition.  It's the same words and promises every time.  There is something very beautiful about this repetition, though.  A promise that God is patient and kind, and that if I don't quite understand everything that's just fine. I can come back again and again and again until I do understand.

Tonight I really needed to feel that my Heavenly Father loves me.  I know He does, but I guess sometimes I forget.  More than anything I just wanted to feel that He is aware of my struggles, my desires, my crooked little heart.  I needed to feel that I'm not alone.

It reminds me of when Greg or I come home after we've been out a few hours and Maverick jumps all over us like a crazed pup. He leaps and paws and frantically begs for attention until we bend down and show him love.  We pet him and cuddle him and say, "I see you Maverick.  I see you.  I see you" and within a few minutes he calms right down.   Greg has often asked out loud, "Do you think when we leave that he thinks we've just abandoned him forever?  And every time we come home again it's just the hugest relief to him?"

Sometimes I feel like this with God.  I guess sometimes I do a Maverick- I start frantically worrying that God's abandoned me.  Does He see me?  Does He know me?  Does He love me?  And all I really need is for Him to bend down and show me love and say, "I see you Bonnie.  I see you.  I see you."

That was what I got tonight from the temple.  An "I see you from God" accompanied with an overwhelming sense of love.  It is such a blessing to know that God is aware of me and my struggles and difficulties.  That I am his daughter and he loves me and worries about me and wants me to be happy.

I guess sometimes little girls just need to know that their father is looking out for them.

(For more on Mormon temples go here.  You are also always welcome to ask questions in the comment section, and I will be sure to respond.  Or write an email (thelifeofbon@gmail.com) if you want it more personal.  I answer a lot of  common questions about Mormons in this post and this post.)

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

To Round a Table

Jan. roundtable: Photo courtesy of Elisabeth

April roundtable: from L to R Aubrey, Danica, Eliesa, me, Kim, Tayler

Last night I sat around my living room with five girls and talked blog for what was supposed to be an hour, but for what quickly stretched in to two.

I always feel so invigorated by these roundtables and I leave vowing that I need to do them more and be more active in my blogging pursuit.  They are an absolute powerhouse of ideas and strategies and give me hope that maybe the blog isn't dying after all (More on that later...  But I'm interested- do you think the blog is dying?)

There were a couple of things that were talked about that I would love to hear form you all on- six brains are awesome but 100 brains are even more awesome.

+ Blogging vs. Wordpress... Danica told us that she has switched over to Wordpress and likes it a lot more.  For an internet dummy like myself who can barely code her own button and crop her own picture, is Wordpress the way to go?  I just know that it's much less user friendly.  However I have heard that traffic is better on a Wordpress blog.

+ PINTEREST!  I think I was finally convinced last night that I need to engage is Pinterest more.  It is definitely my resource that I use the least when it comes to blogging, mostly because it is overwhelming for me and I'm not sure I totally understand it.  Also, I don't feel like my posts necessarily lend themselves that well to pinterest.  But the girls convinced me last night that there are many posts that are very easily pinnable.   What do you all say?  Do you get a lot of traffic from pinterest?  Do you find blogs that you follow through pinterest?

+ Someone asked about replying to comments... if it is better to respond to comments through email or right on the comment section of the blog post.  I lean more toward commenting on the post itself because I feel like that lends itself more to a discussion, but then I know there is a good chance that people won't see my response to them.  Which do you prefer?

+ We talked about pictures and what to do when your post just doesn't have a great picture that goes along with it.  I really don't enjoy always having to throw up pictures on my blog posts and I am not good at taking pictures, but I have learned it is kind of a "necessary evil" of blogging.  If I want to write on a blogging platform I need to understand that blogging is visual and peeps want their pics.  The two best things I have done for my blog photography wise are: 1) invest in a DSLR and 2) have Aubrey take "fashion" pictures of me every couple of weeks or so.  Let's face it, Greg got quickly bored of the whole fashion blogging hoax and it was all I could do to get him to snap three pictures of me before he was ready to throw in the towel on my whole blog.  It's much better to "swap" pictures with somebody- find a location, dress cute, take pictures for 15 minutes, you're done.  It also helps to practice photography although let's be honest, I still haven't put that bad boy off of auto.  Any quick and easy photography tips you have learned?

+Using facebook.  A couple of girls mentioned they weren't too keen on getting a facebook page for their blog as they already post on their personal facebook and it just seemed repetitive.  I will say that besides bloglovin and google, facebook is my main source of traffic.  So get a facebook page.

+ What is the best way to make sponsorship seem authentic?  I am looking at changing a lot of my sponsorship options in the next few months and several girls had questions too on how to start a sponsorship program or make it successful.  What makes you want to read a sponsored post?  Or does the very idea that it is sponsored turn you off to the post completely?

+ Bloglovin vs. GFC... basically we just want to know... do people still use GFC?!??!

Comment up, folks!  I am hoping for a great discussion today... I will be responding to all comments.

Friends in low places part 2.

A week ago today I flew down to Phoenix and spent the following three straight days with my college besties and roommates.  I lived with all of these girls at one point, but we never all six lived together at the same time.  There was always someone coming or going, but the core remained the same.  They wrote me while I was on my 18 month mission in Argentina, promising to "wait for me" and not to marry before I got back. (And they all kept their promise!  Well, Nessy got married the day I got home, but still... it counts.)

I have always felt that God has blessed me more than my fair share with my friendships.  I am spoiled when it comes to friends.  I don't deserve the friends I have, and I know that.  These girls are more like sisters to me-  they know me better than almost anyone.  They are friends with me me in spite of my weakenesses- they know that I can be mean or sassy or annoying or bossy or competitive... and yet they still give me love.

My brother told me once that friendship is a matter of convenience and I have never forgotten that.  We are friends with who it is convenient to be friends with- people who work in the same place we do, live next door to us, people who are readily available.  So I guess this is where my relationship with these girls transcends friendship.  It is no longer convenient.  We made great sacrifices to all gather in Phoenix this weekend- we came from five different states and all but one had to fly in.  We took off work, we left husbands and children, we paid hundreds of dollars for plane tickets to see each other.

These girls have been here for me in the worst of times and the best of times.  We spent lots of the weekend laughing and reminiscing about old times- the all nighters, the boyfriend swapping, the endless Office marathons.  We spent a lot of the weekend listening to each other- telling of our life difficulties now, our struggles, our joys.  (Anything I didn't know about pushing a child out of me I now know.) We did our best to be there for our friend who had a second trimester miscarriage only two days earlier.  We laughed and cried and more than anything I just felt so extremely blessed for a Heavenly Father who put these women in my life.

(Also I forgot my camera.  Boo.  Camera phone to the rescue!  Forgive me for not having the uber quality pictures you are so accustomed to with this blog.  Like Mandy says, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit.")

^^ We are both having baby girls within a month of each other.  We might even have the same name picked out.  Great minds. (Amy told us to kiss while she was taking our picture.  Naturally, we both obeyed.)

^^$20 pedicures.  One thing I learned about Arizona is that the cost of living is CHEAP.

^^ Even got a visit from one of my best friends on the mission, Ashley.  She had a baby three months ago so naturally she filled me in on what I have to look forward to in four months.  If I hadn't already been pregnant before this trip, it might not have ever happened.

^^ Tennis every day.

^^ No girls' trip would be complete without a trip to Cafe Rio.  Mandy and Courtney are Cafe Rio's freaks, but there is no Cafe Rio in New Mexico or Texas where they live.  This means every time we get together we have to hit up the Rio at least once.  We made the 30 minute drive to get these girls their sweet pork burritios. (Cafe Rio- are you listening?  Build a Cafe Rio in Albuquerque!  Courtney would single handedly keep you in business!)

^^ Eating pazookies in our swimsuits.  Why not?!?

That's a wrap.  Until next year, girls!

(Last year's girls' trip can be found here... Nessy was two weeks away from delivering a baby so she didn't quite make it out last year...)

Monday, April 07, 2014

Friends in low places

I left my camera at home so all pictures are taken with my crappy camera phone.  
I'm not happy about it.

Well, folks, I was in Arizona for four glorious days, soaking up the 80 degree weather, hitting the pool every afternoon and getting my daily tennis fix in.  Not to mention that I was hanging out 24/7 with my five best college friends from Wednesday night until Sunday morning.  It was heaven on earth and now all of a sudden I'm home, and today I worked and went grocery shopping, and all of a sudden it's just back to the grind.  Like it never even happened.

When I got home, Greg was running the vacuum and had chicken thawing for dinner.  As it should be!  I sat at the bar stool and told him about my adventures while he grilled me up some chicken pesto, and suddenly I was overwhelmed by how great the people are in my life.  I watched him cook and thought to myself that somewhere along the line I must be doing something right because life is pretty dang good.

I'll catch you all up on the great weekend, but part of the weekend involved staying up way too late multiple nights in a row so I've been fighting sleep all day long.  That means it's early to bed for this preggers camper.

Oh, on a separate note, a student saw me walking down the hall today and yelled out, "It's Mrs. Larsen and she's large and in charge!"  So I guess I can stop wondering if I look pregnant yet.  I do.  I definitely do.  Thank you for that, Steven.

Today I've got Talisha (http://www.reupenahousehold.com/) and her three adorable children to adore you.  Seriously, look at the dark, luscious curls on those children.  That stuff is gold, I swear.  Talisha recently lost 50 pounds and is inspiring everyone in her wake to get fit.  She's adorable and super relatable and feels just like the girl next door.  I hope you like her as much as I do.

Hello everyone, I am Talisha.

I blog...well not lately but I blog over at Reupena Household.
Yes to answer your question, those are bags under my tired eyes.
What better way to start up blogging again than to do a guest post for one of my favorite bloggers?
I am a mom of boys so hopefully Bonnie and I can arrange for that sweet baby girl of hers to marry one of my boys. 
I need a fun-loving daughter in-law.
No? Too soon?
That may be too soon to think of but time flies so just stick that in your back pocket Bon!!
I am a mother of three crazy, wild boys, a wife to an amazing, aspiring hip-hop artist, a fitness coach, runner, full time employee outside of the home and one of those "We Believe" bloggers.
Our life gets hectic but we always make time for what's most important.
We have a very different life situation and I like to be the example of what NOT to do.
I used to be as big as a house but got tired of breathing heavily and my knees couldn't handle my upper body so I decided to make a change for the better.
I lost over 50 lbs and now I help others start fitness journeys of their own.
 If you're interested in what not to do, check out my blog.
I LOVE new visitors and new friends!

Eating cake: Also known as To Work or not To Work.

One of the first questions people started asking me when I announced my pregnancy was, "So are you going to quit your job?"

Am I going to quit my job?

What a weird question, don't you think?

Part of me thinks why in the world would I quit my job?  I sweated and stressed through years of college for this job, I've been eating breathing and sleeping this job for the past four years, why would I quit?  This is my passion, my love, a great source of satisfaction and fulfillment in my life.  Why would I just up and quit something that means so much to me?

The other part of me thinks, Of course I'll quit!  I'm going to have a totally helpless newborn attached to me!  A human being who doesn't even know the absolute basics of life.  I have to teach her how to sleep, how to eat, how to navigate this great big world around her.  When in the world will I have time to do anything but keep this kid alive?

I am jealous of parents who seem to know it all immediately.  You know, the parents who have a name picked out the moment the sperm hits the egg, parents who know how they're going to deliver, how they're going to feed, how they're going to sleep train.  Parents who are parents long before they are parents.

I know a lot of people who have seemed to know as soon as they got pregnant what they will do about work.  Their mind is made up before pregnancy.  It is easy to decide to quit their job or continue with their job because that was always the plan.

About the only plan I've ever had is that there is no plan.

Greg has been extremely supportive of whatever I have decided to do.  "You wanna stay home with the baby?  That's great, Bon."  "You wanna work every day?  That's great, Bon."  "You want to do both and have your cake and eat it too?  That's great too!"

As it turns out, having cake and eating it sounds very tempting to me.

I juggled with the decision for months.  As soon as I got pregnant, my mind was a constant swirl of conflict and confusion on the issue of work.  So many factors played into it- our financial situation, my energy level and need for constant interaction, my love for teaching, what would be best for the child, the worry that it would be impossible to leave a little baby behind while I jived with hormonal teenagers all day.  A decision would seem to form in my mind only to be erased the next day by a whole new set of ideas.

This is not to mention the silent (and sometimes not so silent) war that is waged between working and SAHMs.  Each side sticks to their decision faithfully, zealously defending their right to work or not work, the decision that they determined is "best" for their child.  Not even a mother yet, I found myself offended by almost anything that was said on the issue by either side, as if I wasn't good enough for either side because I didn't know what I was going to do.  I don't know if there is a "mommy" issue as sensitive or defended as this one. (Unless you want to go into the whole debate of breastfeeding and we all know that we do not want to touch that today for fear of moms everywhere raising their breast pumps in arms against us.  Yes, let's leave the breastfeeding battle alone for today.)

Two weeks ago, my time was up.  My principal was arranging the classes for next year, deciding who he needed to hire, what teacher was going to teach what classes.  My window was quickly closing.

I waited until the last possible minute and then I wandered into his office after lunch one day to talk with him about it- still not totally sure what my answer was.

I sat down in a comfortable chair across his desk and waited quietly for him to finish an email.  He finished, and turned to me while interlocking his fingers.

"What can I do for you, Bonnie?"

"Well... I told you in December that I was pregnant..."

"Yes.  Yes.  I think I recall."  (I always feel a need to remind men that I'm pregnant.  I don't know why.)

"So I'm just thinking about what I want to do for next year... is part time an option for me?"  I asked.  Some schools are really good about letting their teachers go part time, for other schools it is difficult and inconvenient.

"I think we could make that work," he said.  Just like that.

"I'd teach every other day?  Three classes?"  I didn't think it would be this easy.

He stared at a spreadsheet on his computer of all the English classes and all the English teachers.  He clicked a few boxes and scratched his goatee the way bosses do.

"We'd have to get rid of a few classes and combine here and there, but yes, we could let you go part time."

"That's what I want to do." I said quickly, as if the option were going to vanish into thin air if I didn't commit right this second.

"Fair enough.  I'll put you down as part time."

And that was it.  A decision I stressed about for five months, resolved in less than three minutes flat.  It's weird how the decision came together- like I was trying to form it on my own for so long, and then it just up and formed itself in that principal's office.  Decided on its own what it wanted to do.  I never came to a decision, the decision came to me.

As I left the principal's office I couldn't help feel incredible excitement and joy. I was at once stoked out of my mind and extremely calm.  I felt joy and I felt peace- emotions that I have learned to mean that I have made the right choice.  I no longer felt conflicted, I no longer felt angst.  Everything felt very clear and unmuddied to me. I texted Greg immediately, "I'm doing part time next year- it's a done deal!"

And so, the die has been cast, the decision made.  Starting in September you can find me every other day in my classroom, teaching Hamlet and thesis statements and The American Dream to rowdy high school seniors.  On the other days you can find me with my baby girl, taking long morning naps or going on walks to the park or meeting my mom for lunch.  Maybe, if you're lucky, I'll invite you over one lazy afternoon and we can have some cake.  And eat it too.

(P.S.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on working/ not working and how you made the choice (or intend to make the choice) to stay at home with your child or continue in the work place. Brooke and Tayler, two bloggy friends of mine who are both teachers and expecting their first babies this summer have written on the same topic. Come link up!)

Oh, and Tayler is beyond nice and is giving away $15 to Babies R Us for all you mommies to be.  Enter the giveaway below!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Do you love blogging?

Hello!  And welcome!  There are some new faces around here so please, allow me to give you a quick rundown:

My name is Bonnie. Those who feel affectionately toward me call me Bon Bon and those who hate me call me Bonarrhea. Whatever works. I am obsessed with straight, white teeth and trashy reality TV.  My worst habit is biting my nails down to the stubs and being overly sarcastic with my students.  Oh yah.  I'm a teacher. Of sorts. I try to drill grammar into the heads of hormonal teenagers, so call that what you will. Some days it works, some days it doesn't.  I'm married to the finest ginger on the block who will do a mad Native American chief accent if you catch him at the right moment.  Yes, I am very lucky.  Oh, and you can find me all over this freaking internet most often on facebooktwitter and instagram.

We friends now?

I've been thinking a lot about this blog lately.  And about what it's purpose is and why I do it and why people blog in general.  The other day I came home from work, flung myself dramatically on the bed and yelled to Greg, "But I don't want to do a blog post!  I'm too tired!  I don't want to write anything!"

And Greg laughed and said, "Bon, isn't that what you want to do with your life?  Write?"
And I said, "Yes!  But I just don't feeeeeeeeel like it!"  Emphasis on the feel.
He gave me one of those looks that let me know we were going to go real deep and then he said slowly, "Bonnie, do you love blogging?"
And I looked back at him and said, "I don't know."
And then I said, "I'm going to walk the dog now."
And I left.

And don't you love how many sentences I've started with and?!?

I thought about the question on my walk, "Do I love blogging?"   The question isn't simple- in fact, it's weirdly convoluted and complicated.

I love writing, I love making friends, I love being part of a community. Blogging gives me all those things.

I hate people being insincere or dishonest, I hate nasty comments, I hate how easy it is to feel not pretty/funny/rich/popular enough. I hate nameless stranger on the internet saying that I'm not smart enough to understand the true meaning of The Great Gatsby and that I should obviously be teaching elementary school.  Blogging also gives me all of those things.

So the truth is I don't think I love blogging. And I don't know if I ever will.

But.  What I do love is writing.  Pure, unadulterated writing.  I love telling stories, I love listening to stories, I love sharing human experiences.  I love reading something and thinking, "I have felt that exact same thing that this person is describing.  I have never met this person and I probably never will.  We will never live in the same place or maybe even the same year, and yet we experience the same thing."  To me, blogging is all about the human experience and sharing whatever that human experience entails- from the day you fell in love with a redhead, to wading through the enormous grief of losing a father, to sharing with the world the terrifying and exciting news that you are pregnant.  Blogging has allowed me to share my stories and connect with others through their stories, be them similar or vastly different from mine, and that is something I don't know if I'll ever be able to leave behind.

I am so grateful to be part of a greater blogging community where stories are welcomed and shared and commented on and read and passed along.  Because when it comes down to it, all we have is our stories.

Sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever.  That's what stories are for.  Stories are for joining the past to the future.  Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are.  Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.

- Tim O'Brien, "The Things They Carried."

I have this hanging in my classroom.
It is beautiful.
And  true.

What do you love about blogging?  And is there any way to have all the positives of blogging without the negatives or should I just accept that it is a package deal?

Excerpts of this post originally published on February 14, 2013.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

How to make a blog button (easy)

I do my sponsorships the old fashioned way, which means that I have sponsors email me the html of their button.  There's a few reasons why I haven't switched over to passionfruit yet- the main one being that I hate that the human interaction can be taken out of the whole thing completely.  It's kind of like a self check out line.  It just feels too fast and inauthentic and inhuman for me.  I don't mind at all when other people use passionfruit, but for me, I want to connect with my sponsors and the emails back and forth about sponsorship are one way I do that.

So for now, at least, I'm sticking with the old school "send me your button code."  Unfortunately, as more and more people switch over to passionfruit, I find that less of my sponsors know how to make their own button.  This often presents a problem for sponsors and I find myself answering many emails on how to make a button.  The good news is it's easy!  I have seen a million different tutorials to make a button and they all seem to make it unnecessarily complicated so I end up responding to sponsors with button questions with my easiest explanation possible.  I decided once and for all to give that explanation to the whole entire internet.

(If you already have the image you want to use, you can skip steps 1-3!)

1.  Decide a picture you want to use.  If you want to edit the picture, mess with dimensions, add text, etc (which you probably do) you can easily do all that on picmonkey.com, a free photo editing site.  Just upload your picture and go from there.  For my button I am doing today, I chose a background of tulips.  All I did was save the image to my computer and then upload it to picmonkey.  Now I want to change my dimensions.  I want a square button and the person I am sponsoring has told me to make it 200 x 200 (most sidebars are around 200).  Click the crop on the left side bar and then change the actual size dimensions to the ones you want. After you have your numbers entered, click apply.

2.  Now you have an image that is the right size.  This is where you add any text or shapes that you want.  For mine, I am going to add a shaded circle so that I can put text on top of that.  To do that I click the butterfly shape all the way on the left that says "Overlays" and then I click the first option available to me, "Geometric."  This is where I can make a circle.  I click on the circle and then move it over to my box.  The circle will be black, but you can change the color in the color box that pops up.  I usually do a white circle and then move the "fade" option so that I can still see the picture in the background, but can easily write over it.

3.  Next click the Tt on the left hand side and you can add your text to the button.  Usually this would be the name of your blog.

4.  There are a lot more things you could do to your button on picmonkey, but I'm just showing the basics.  Once you are done with your button, go ahead and save that bad boy and then upload it to photobucket.  To do this, go to photobucket.com and then click the orange "Upload" button at the top of the page.  Next select the file you want to upload- in this case, your newly made button.  (If you don't have a photobucket account, it's super easy to sign up.  Basically it's just a place to save and send all your photos on the internet.)   

5.  Click on your image and on the right of your computer screen you will see a box that says "Links to share this photo."  I always use the direct link.  Just click on the link and it will copy it for you.

6.  Now is the easiest part of the whole dang thing, the coding. (For real!  It's so much easier than you think!)  All you need to do is copy a couple of things into an html code.  Use the code below as a starting point.

In place of the first blue text (after the a href=) you are going to put your own blog address.

In place of the second blue text (after the src=) you are going to put the direct link that you just took from your photobucket.

That's it!  Super easy, right?

P.S.  You can also tweak the size of your photo if you want.  You add the measurements right after the jpg.   Let's say that someone wanted me to send them a button that was 300 w by 200 h.  I could easily add that into my button code like this:

<center><a href="http://bonnielouisa.blogspot.com/"><img border="0" src="http://i1023.photobucket.com/albums/af354/lilndzy/BonbutRRED.jpg" width="300" height="200" /></a></center>

Make sure to add every quotation mark- those things are worth a million bucks when it comes to coding.  And also, just know that you if you decide to change your dimensions and make a square button very tall, then it will mess with the proportions and make it look all stretched out.  

P.S.  I know next to nothing about Pinterest but if you have a board on pinterest for blogging stuff, I would love you to pin this so that more people can see it.  Thank you!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Happy Post April day, you fools!

Well, folks the sun is setting on another glorious April Fool's.

My main prank was on my junior class.  They deserved it.  They all took the ACT the first week of March so I told them that there was a glitch in the scores and none of the scores they received back were correct.  They would all have to retake the test a week from today, April 8.

They took the bait hook line and sinker.  Naturally, they all freaked out.  There was about two minutes of just raw panic in the room.  Ah, puddy in my hands, the young tikes.

Greg is tricky to get for April Fool's Day.  You see, when we got married there were a few "conditions."  A kind of pre-nup, if you will.  One of the conditions of our marriage was that I do not play April Fool's pranks on him.  I reluctantly agreed to his condition if he would satisfy my condition that we would go on a vacation every year.  He said yes.  You win some you lose some I guess.

Little does Greg know that I get him every year.  You see, every April Fool's Day I tell him that I am going to get him, and that I have a prank planned.  He then spends the entire day in paranoia of what may be coming.  He's convinced that a horrible prank lies in wait around each and every corner.  I never have anything planned, but he worries about it all day anyway.  Easiest prank ever.

Also I feel like now would be a good time to brag that my brother got on the radio this morning by recounting all of the April Fool's days tricks I've ever done on him.  Now THAT, my friends, is how you know you've really made a difference with your life.  (For a whole history of the April Fools madness check out this post.)

(Also, since I have married Greg I have been laying low on my April Fools pranks.  Part of it is due to his hatred for the day.  The other part is because I am trying to lull him and everyone close to me into a false sense of security.  And of course, I'm building my army- give me ten years and I'll have a gang full of kids whom I will train in my prankster ways.)

Now, on a separate (and much nicer) note, I have Erin here for you to tell you all what men are thinking when they are at Target.  Erin has posted for me a few times on this blog and she always totally nails it.  I found myself nodding in agreement to almost all of the reasons below as to why men HATE Target.  Brilliant!

I'm Erin and I blog over at Love, The Campbells where I write about family, recipes, life, love, our new baby girl and all things in between.  But I'm not here to talk about any of those things today.  I'm here to talk about Target because, let's be honest, that store is every woman's dream come true and every man's nightmare.

After reading Taylor's post a few weeks ago of Inside a Woman's Mind at Target, I got to thinking about how it's like for men at Target, specifically my husband.  Here are a few reasons why my husband hates Target.  Although I'm sure this list could go on much MUCH longer.

1)  The minute I walk in the store, I fall into a trance.  I hear nothing the man says, avoid him steering me clear of select aisles (namely the $1 section) and purposely loose him in the store so I can get lost in all the Target glory.
2)  Like most women I know, I have a routine when I go to Target.  There are departments that must be seen on every visit, even if I know absolutely nothing has changed.  These areas include the book section, the office supplies, and shampoo/lotion aisles.  This gets old quick for him.  And he pitches a fit every time I go to these aisles.  But alas, they are a Target requirement.
3)  Ever so often, Target partners up with big names or carries limited editions of certain things like the Neiman Marcus collection or the Oh Joy! party collection.  The day I gave birth the Peter Pilotto collection came out; two days later I bought a bikini.  Why?  Duh...because it was a Target limited edition!  I wouldn't be caught dead in a bikini though right now.  Hopefully by summer.  Later summer.  Of 2015.
4)  I go there for travel size toothpaste and shampoo for a trip and come out with toothpaste, shampoo, a new toothbrush, colorful pens, a new notebook, a big purse to use as a carry on, some snacks for the trip, two new books, a cd (cd's always look more appealing in that store than they do when you get them home), a $50+ receipt and a giant smile on my stupid face.  Only to be greeted with another disappointed look on my husband's face.
5)  This happens.  Need I explain more?

To see 15 more reasons why my husband hates Target, stop by my blog!  I'd love to see your pretty faces there!

Monday, March 31, 2014

When disappointment, grief and fear are gone

Today I heard from a good friend friend of mine that she miscarried her baby this morning. She was safely in her second trimester, out of the "danger zone" so to speak.  I was at school when I heard the news- the last bell of the day had just rung at school, I was busy trying to fill out a reimbursement form for a set of Catcher in the Rye books, and bam, there was the text.  Tears sprung to my eyes instantly as I imagined her pain, heartbreak and disappointment on an afternoon like this one. 

I have been reflecting a lot lately on God and death and the purpose of trials and disappointments and why it is that this life can seem so damn hard sometimes.  And it seems like no one is spared. Last week Greg and I heard the devastating news that a friend's brother had committed suicide.  At Christmas an old roommate of mine lost her little sister.  A former student tragically fell to her death in a rappelling accident this fall.

One thing I learned when my dad died is that there are two categories of things you can say to someone who is suffering loss.  1.Things that help a little bit and 2. Things that don't help at all.  There is no category of things that help a lot.  Only time brings that, I suppose.  At the end of the day it is still suffering, it is still grief, it is heartache.  No words take the grief away.  Grief is interesting in the way that it refuses to be seen out the door.  It is one emotion that absolutely will not leave until it feels like it has good and had its turn, no matter how many times you think you have successfully shooed it away.  Grief is an insistent guest that leaves only on His time, and never at your invitation.

But still.  There ARE things to say that help a little.

These are the things that people said to me that helped me most:
- I love you.
- God loves you.
- I am praying for you.
- I am thinking about you.
- You are an incredible person.
- I am here for you.
- You can call any day, any time.

Interestingly enough, I hated being told I was "strong" because I didn't want to be strong.  I wanted to be weak and I wanted to cry.  The worst was "I can't even imagine how hard this must be for you."  That only made it harder.

I don't understand a lot about God.  I don't even understand a little about God, if I'm being truthful- I've pretty much got a notebook full of questions for the man when I meet him again.  There is so much about this life that is unfair and unkind.  I don't know why he doesn't give a loving, secure couple a baby when they want it more than anything.  I don't know why he takes away someone's dad right before he was about to serve a three year mission for God.  I don't know why he makes some people gay and some people straight; I don't know why some of my 16 year old students have known divorce and broken families and terrible abuse; I don't know why I have a warm home and a great job but the 27 year old in Goya, Argentina has four children and doesn't know how to read.  I don't know.

One of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon says this: "I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things."  (1 Nephi 11:17)   Sometimes this scripture is the only thing that offers me comfort when I'm frustrated with these big questions.  There is so much I don't understand or don't know the meaning of, but the one thing I do know without a doubt is that God loves His children.

Another favorite Book of Mormon scripture of mine is found in Mosiah 18:8-9.  The prophet says that those who follow Christ are "willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light; yea and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort."  It's interesting that he doesn't mention anything about being there for each other in good times, being willing to celebrate, being willing to party.  A true disciple is willing to "mourn with those that mourn."  I know that I will always remember the sacrifices that friends and family made the weeks and months surrounding my dad's death to be there for me and to mourn with me.  I can't forget the efforts to be at the funeral, the long late night talks in my apartment, the lunches loved ones spent with me while I was a muddle of tears.  Those were people who were willing to mourn with me, and I have a special place in my heart filled with gratitude and love for them.

I'll just leave with this before I sign off for the night.  One of my favorite hymns is "Be Still my Soul."  The year that my dad died I repeated the last verse to myself over and over and over and found great comfort in those healing words.  I pasted the lyrics below and bolded the phrases that mean the most to me.  My very favorite is the line in the last verse- "When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone."  What an absolutely beautiful promise.  If nothing else, I guess I will hold strong to that.

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.

Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.

Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last.

I would love to know the scriptures, quotes, and songs that help you the most when you are struggling with "disappointment, grief and fear."  Please, use the comment section today to "mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort."


March + April Goals

23 weeks
Dress:  c/o Shabby Apple
Earrings: c/o JeweShop
Shoes: Thrifted
Photo cred: Aubrey Zaruba

If you haven't ever owned a dress from Shabby Apple, you need to.  Their selection for classy dresses is unbeatable, and they are comfortable and totally wearable.  I love the dress I am wearing because it is so versatile- I can wear it to school, to church, or just out and about.  Also, it isn't a maternity dress, but is the perfect cut and material to accommodate my growing belly.  I am saving up my money for this one next- I absolutely love white dresses in the summer.

It's March 31 which means it's time to examine my monthly goals.  If you haven't been following along, at the beginning of 2014 instead of setting resolutions, I set one monthly goal for every month of the year.  I figured by focusing on one thing at a time I would be more successful.  Here are my post evaluations of my January goals and my February goals as well.  Ah, yah!

Sometimes I just think Greg deserves a kinder, happier, less insane woman.  That's all.

Sub goals:
- No nagging.
- Do an act of service daily for Greg.
- Say thank you more often.
- Be more willing to do "his activities" and less pouty when we don't do "my activities."
- Tell him I love him and compliment him every day.

The first half of the month was a total success, whereas the past week or so I have kind of slacked with the acts of service, especially.  I was focused and in the groove and it was easy to remember to do something extra nice for Greg in the beginning, but then I suppose I just got a bit lazy.  I picked him up sodas on my way from school, left him notes, gave him back massages, put a towel in the dryer when he was showering so it was extra warm when it came out, etc.  I noticed something interesting which was that the more I focused on finding ways to serve Greg the more I noticed that he was constantly doing the same for me.  My guess is that Greg is always doing these extra little acts of service for me, but perhaps because that wasn't where my focus was I didn't notice.  He'd make a snack for me when we were watching a movie, or offer me a back massage (lots of those these days- my lower back is killing me!) or bring me home a treat from the grocery store.  It actually made me a little embarrassed to realize how good Greg is naturally at this while I had to make a more concentrated effort.

Along with the act of the service, there were three things I tried hard to do every single day:
1.  Thank Greg
2. Compliment Greg
3. Tell Greg I love him

 Greg's love language is words of affirmation, so I found that he seemed to appreciate me saying those three things every day more than my acts of service  They seem pretty basic, and by keeping it to three I could remember really easily what I was supposed to be doing every day.  Also, turns out it was really easy to do this, usually just a sentence or two in my daily speech and Greg always reacted extremely well to it.  For example "Thanks so much for going to dinner with me at my mom's tonight. (Thank him).  I really appreciate you being there and you are always so sweet and pleasant with my family. (Compliment Greg)  I love you. (Say I love you)."  

I also tried to be "less insane" which basically means no random emotional outbursts.  I think I only had one for the month, so I consider that a whopping success, all things considered!

Now, on to April!  


I try to make God a part of my daily life, but sometimes it all just gets so hustley and bustley that I feel like He about dang near gets crowded out completely.  In April I want to spend more time contemplating the spiritual and developing deeper connections with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Sub goals:
- 30 minutes of "quiet time" a day- time to read scriptures, ponder, and write down spiritual impressions.  Tell Greg my plan so he is not trying to distract me while I am working on this.
- Attend the temple every week in April.
- Deeper focus during prayers.
- Be patient and loving.  Pray for help throughout the day when I feel like I am lacking.

I am so excited for this goal.  The past six weeks or so have really rocked me in a lot of different ways of my life, and I feel like I need to focus on what really matters.  I feel my dependence on my Heavenly Father more than ever and my need for Him.  I am so excited to try to prioritize everything else accordingly and really focus on the spiritual this month.

January's goal was to be better at blogging- I have continued to try to be better at responding to blog comments, at least responding to the comments on one post per week.  I have felt like I've done better at promoting Bon's Book Club (71 comments on Thursday's discussion on Divergent.  WAHOO!  I hope you are all reading for April The Night Circus- discussion is on April 24) and I have maintained a steady flow of traffic for my blog.  I am still trying to figure out ways to continue grow my blog and at this point I don't have a ton of ideas.  I am kind of over sponsoring. Ideas???

February's goal was to write a book.  In February, I wrote about 13,000 words in my novel, which wasn't great at all, and I was disappointed in myself.  In March, I wrote 34,000 words in my novel- much better!  I'm at 54,000 words now, about 200 pages.  Wowzers!  My goal is to have 75,000 words and very close to finished (if not finished) by the time I go to a writing conference at the end of April.  It is all very excited and very terrifying.

That's a wrap, folks!