The Life of Bon

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Should Students Be Allowed to Hand in Late Work?


Lately in our school district there has been some talk of switching to a standards based grading system.  Basically, a student gets good grades when she proves that she can reach the standards, not when she turns in a bunch of assignments.  This means less worksheets, less busy work, and much more emphasis on effective assessments.  If a student fails to meet the standard then she fails to pass the class.  It sounds pretty great, right?  I am all about it because it cuts out tons of little grading assignments for teachers and puts the focus back on teaching and focusing on the core standards.

Of course the idea of something and the practice of something are often two very different things.  Once we started really thinking about what it would mean to do standards based grading a few potentially sucky situations presented themselves.  They always do, those little rascals!

Potentially sucky situation #1:
Standards based grading would mean no more extra credit.  Either students can meet the standard or they can't.  Extra credit isn't going to help them either way.  While I personally wouldn't mind a bit if we axed extra credit completely, plenty of parents and students would be upset.  They rely on extra credit to get them to the grades they want and I don't know if teachers and administrators would ever hear the end of it.

Potentially sucky situation #2:
Standards based grading would mean a student can do an assignment over.  And over.  And over.  I have no problem with a student doing work until she gets it right.  I do have a problem, however, grading that student's work until she gets it right.  I have 100 students now. (And I am part time!  The full time faculty has closer to 200 students).  That's 100 essays I read.  100 research papers.  Let's say the students, on average, redo the research paper twice.  That now means that instead of reading 100 research papers (takes me about 10 hours of grading), I am now reading 300 research papers- 30 hours of grading.  Also, if students are allowed to redo an assignment over and over until they reach the standard, where does the motivation to do it well the first time come in?  Wouldn't they just hand in pure crap so that I can correct everything for them?

Potentially sucky situation #3- the suckiest of them all:
Standards based grading would mean a student is not penalized for late work.  A student could hand work in anytime during the quarter and receive full credit.  Meeting the standard and proving that she has that knowledge and ability is our priority- not when she turned something in.  We say high school is to prepare students for the "real world"; the argument has been brought forth that not allowing students to turn late work in is not like the real world at all.  In the real world I can pay my bill late, I can come to a meeting late, I can pay the mortgage late.  Therefore, not allowing students to turn work in late is actually much more severe than the real world.  Or so the argument goes.

This is the part of standards based grading that terrifies me.  If I am allowing students to redo assignments and to hand assignments in whenever they want without penalty, my workload has just intensified dramatically.  Almost of my writing assignments have rubrics- I can't imagine the end of the quarter, with countless assignments coming in from different times of the quarter and me trying to remember the criteria for all assignments and grade them accordingly.  Not to mention trying to regrade work and remember why it was docked points in the first place and how much they have improved since their last go around.

Right now my late policy is this- every day an assignment is late it is docked 10%.  The latest they can hand an assignment in is one week.  After a week they lose the opportunity to do the work.  At the end of each quarter I do give students a three day "grace period".  Students can choose any one assignment from the quarter and redo it or do it for the first time for 75% credit.  For many students, my late policy is challenging- so so many struggle to get work in on time.

My solution is to allow students to hand work in late, but to charge them $1 for every day it's late or for every paper that has to be regraded. Just like I get charged when my mortgage is late! The money from the late work is a bonus for the teachers. That way students have a non-grade based incentive to get work in on time and teachers are not upset about the extra work they have to do to grade and regrade all the assignments.  I know this would never happen in a million years in public education but gosh, I wish it would.  In college, my tests were offered for four days.  If I chose to take the test on the last day I had to pay $5.  It'd be similar to that, except that the teachers would get to keep the money to reward them for all their never ending patience, sweetness and hard work.  Or something like that.

I am interested to hear from those of you with kids in school.  Are you kids allowed to hand work in late?  And do you think they should be?  Would you prefer that there were no late policy- that students were graded simply for meeting a standard and were not penalized for when they met that standard?  What are teachers' policies that are hard for you to follow or that you don't agree with?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bon's Book Club: Unbroken


HOW IT WORKS

Every month we read a book.  On the selected day, we talk about it. (Generally the last Thursday of the month).

Join in for whatever books you can.  Read what you want and comment on what you want.  Some readers write their own review on their blog and then link up to it, others just write their thoughts in the comments- it's up to you!  If you write your own post and link up, please slap the image above on your post! Grazi!



APRIL BOOK:
UNBROKEN BY LAURA HILLENBRAND



Questions:
- What did you like about the biography?
- What didn't you like?
- Which parts of Louis' story stood out to you the most?
- What is the main message you got from Unbroken?
How do you view war in light of this book? Did you opinions about war change at all?
- If you saw the movie, how did the movie compare to the book?

My co-host this month is Emmy from Love Woke Me Up This Morning.  She is one of my favorites for talking books, and I was so excited when she said she wanted to host book club with me.  This girl knows her books!  Emmy will give you her thoughts first, and then I'll chime in with my two cents at the bottom!

Emmy:  I am ecstatic to be joining The Life of Bon for her monthly book club!  This month we read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, the biography of Louis Zamerini who became an Olympic runner then turned soldier in WWII. While on a mission in the Pacific Ocean, his plane went down and he was stranded with two other men on a raft for over 40 days... only to be captured by the Japanese and sent to a POW camp for the remainder of the war. 

Pretty intense stuff.

What I Liked:
I found the entire story fascinating. I loved learning about Louis and his family when he was a kid. It gave me comfort for some of the preschool and teenagers who have given me headaches over the years to know they can go on to do amazing things! 

I also oddly loved the chapters about his time on the raft. As terrifying as it was, I enjoyed reading about the creative ways Louis and the men found ways to survive, have entertainment, eat, keep their minds sharp, etc. I especially loved when they talked about their mom's recipes and how much he learned to appreciate the quiet and the nature around him. I actually laughed a little when he got angry at the sharks for not staying in their own territory. 

The chapters about being a POW were rough, but good. Rough simply because it was so awful the things he went through. But I appreciated learning about it and how he was able to persevere. Also though, how as time went on Louis almost seemed to becoming more human. Before, it was almost as though he was this impossible person who never had doubts or anger and was eternally optimistic. As his time in the camp went on, and when he returned home, you saw more of his imperfect humanity. I found comfort in that because you don't have to be a perfect person to be strong and to inspire others. 

What I Didn't Like:
I felt some of the writing style was a bit dry. That could simply be because this was a biography and I'm so used to reading either novels or comedic memoirs. There were times it took a lot for me to get through it. 

The POW camp chapters were also very difficult for me. This was more of my own personal taste though, and not the writer. The things which happened were so awful I had to put the book down several times and distract myself because it was just so terrible. Again, that's more of my own issue than the books.

I also saw a little bit of my pessimistic side come through at the end. The end was WONDERFUL and inspiring. However, every once in a while I had little doubtful thoughts of "and he never relapsed... EVER?" 

Other Thoughts:
- I loved how this book seemed to focus more on the perseverance of humanity vs. getting on a "I LOVE AMERICA" high horse. I love my country - don't get me wrong. But I was worried this book was going to be obnoxious with shoving the American flag into people's faces, and it wasn't this way at all. The focus truly was on the life of Louis, his family and friends, and the human spirit no matter what country you are from.

- The ending was wonderful. I love the message of forgiveness and being able to move on from your anger and hurt. If Louis can forgive, so can we. 

- I've always loved learning about WWII. (I blame having the Molly American Girl doll as a kid.) It was interesting to read a book which focused on the Pacific vs. Europe for once though. So much of WWII history is focused on Europe, I was glad to see the other side. The book also gave some focus to those at home, and I've always had a heart for learning more about the families on the homefront waiting for their loved ones to come home.

- Reading about the atomic bombs make me feel uneasy. I never know truly my thoughts on war and atomic bombs and such. I hate how many people have to die - innocent people. Or even people who aren't innocent and need forgiveness and redemption. I never feel comfortable with war because the point is the kill people. On the other hand, how many lives were saved? What would the world look like now if these things hadn't happened? I'm not sure. 

Those are my thoughts on Unbroken and I can't wait to hear what you all have to say as well!

Bonnie:   
First off, to touch on a couple of things that Emmy said.  I also loved that the book was focused on World War II in the Pacific.  I agree that it is a viewpoint we don't read as much about.  In an interview I read of Hillenbrand's she makes a point of saying that we aren't informed enough about what was going on in the Pacific.  All of the books, movies, etc, about WWII now is centered around the war in Europe.

I understand Emmy's complaint about the "dry" writing style, but it didn't bother me at all.  I think maybe I have a different mindset when I'm reading a book like this- more of a "I'm reading a history textbook" instead of "I'm reading an entertaining book" and, well, compared to a history text book it's not dry at all.  I LOVE Laura Hillenbrand.  I devoured Seabiscuit last summer- the way she finds stories and writes about people- their passions, their mistakes, their friends- it is simply fascinating to me.  I love how she shows compassion for the bad guys and shows the weaknesses of her heroes.  There is no black and white in Hillenbrand's writing- she tries to uncover all sides of the characters.

Favorite Parts:
My favorite chapters are the raft chapters.  I know not a lot is happening, but the way that they survived and kept their minds alive was fascinating to me.  I also loved reading about the third raft mate who eventually died, Mac.  By far the most interesting part for me.

I also really enjoyed the chapters that focused on Louie's family at home.  Pretty amazing how they never gave up hope even after he was declared officially dead.  It kind of got me all choked up thinking about the power of family.

On Hillenbrand and her illness:
One of the things that was most interesting for me was an interview by Hillenbrand that was in the back of my copy of the book.  She talks about her battle with chronic fatigue syndrome and vertigo.  She suffered greatly while she was trying to write Unbroken- it was published more than two years after its originally set publication date and took altogether more than six years to write.  This is what she says about the process:

Writing books is never easy; doing it with this illness has been a tremendous challenge.  When I was working on Seabiscuit or Unbroken on my good days I'd write for hours and hours, make trips to libraries and archives to hunt down research material, and conduct matieral.  On bad days I'd sit on my porch or balcony or the side of my bathtub, my eyes closed, so as not to exacerbate the vertigo.  A fair amount of Seabiscuit was written on a pad in this manner, and because my eyes were closed, I'd scribble all over the place, writing one line on top of another, and have some difficulty sorting it all out later... Over the years I've found odd solutions to problems related to writing with my health issues.  Because tipping my head down triggered vertigo, while working on Seabiscuit I pinned my research material to a clipboard propped high on a stack of books, so my head could remain level while I read.  To avoid having to get up to fetch my hundreds of items of soucre material when checking citations, I put all my books , interviews, and other documents on the floor, arranged them in a huge circle around me, and worked there for three weeks.

(For those of you interested, this article in the NY Times entitled The Unbreakable Laura Hillenbrand was gives more insight into Hillenbrand's writing, life and illness.)

The movie vs. the book
I first read this book three years ago, and it has since been a book I recommend to nearly everybody.  I was so excited when I heard they were making a movie, but then the movie didn't get that good of reviews and several people told me that they didn't like it- that it was too intense and didn't have the underlying feeling of hope and survival that the book has.  So I have held off on seeing it.  Those of you who have read the book and seen the movie, should I see the movie?  Or will it spoil the book for me?  Reading about all that hardship and suffering is one thing, but seeing it is often harder for me.  I don't know if I have the stomach for it.

LASTLY...
My dad passed away in November of 2009.  Unbroken was published in November of 2010.  My dad loved war books and he loved nonfiction.  He also always had a soft spot in his heart for the underdog, and Seabiscuit was a favorite book of his. As I read Unbroken this past month, I thought countless times about how much my dad would've enjoyed the book and how much I would've enjoyed discussing it with him.  I always feel close to my dad when I am doing things that he enjoyed doing- waking up early to make breakfast, working in the yard, looking at stars.  I felt that closeness so strongly this past month as I read this book, as if he were right there reading it with me.  Unbroken will always have a special place in my heart because of that. I don't know a lot about what heaven must be like, but I have to think that God lets my dad sit down and read a great war story.

Alright, I've said enough. I can't wait to hear your thoughts.  You can leave a comment or link up your post below.  Emmy and I will be doing our best today to respond to all comments and get a lively discussion going.

FYI:  May's book is Interpreter of Maladies, a beautiful collection of Indian short stories.  I promise you will love them.  Discussion is the last Thursday of the month-  May 29.  Be there.

How We Wore It// Can Nursing Moms Still Wear their Favorite Shirts?!

Alright ladies and gents, are you ready for another "How we Wore it?" installment?  A few months ago Brooke emailed me wondering if I would ever want to participate in this fashion collaboration.  I said I ain't no fashion blogger, but yes!  (Our first post is here.)  I had so much fun the first go around that when Brooke invited me again I was like yah no duh.

The idea is several bloggers take a picture of a fashion blogger and we create our own look based off of that.  It doesn't need to mimic it- rather needs to show how we are inspired by the colors, patterns, textures, etc.  Also, inspired is a weird word to use for clothes.  But whatev.

This month's inspiration comes from Little Miss Fearless.  Ain't she purty?


And here's what I did with it...








Special thanks to Aubrey for snapping these pics.

Ummm... it was really windy if you couldn't tell that already.  And my shirt was mighty clingy.  And any time I do "fashion pics" I feel like a big doofus.  Okay I think that's all my disclaimers.

My favorite part about this month's outfit was the shoes.  Strappy sandal wedges are my shoe heaven.  I struggled a little bit with the floral part of it- I didn't know this, but turns out I have not one floral piece in my closet.  I guess I don't like no flowers.

If I'm being honest, I pretty much never wear the shirt I am wearing in this picture anymore.  That's because the neck is too high and it makes it a royal pain in the butt to nurse while I'm wearing that bad boy.  I have felt in a serious fashion rut since I had June and I think that might be part of the issue- I wear basically the same six shirts over and over because they make it convenient to nurse.  When I am at work I nurse in the daycare where there are student aids, so my nursing apparel needs pretty much be ninja style.  I know some people nurse up, meaning they pull their shirt up to nurse, but to me it is so much easier to pull down and just stick a blanket over your chest.  Which basically means I am wearing low cut, cleavage showing shirts every day.  I'm kind of over it.  Any of you nursing women out there figure out how to still wear all your favorite clothes while nursing your babes?

Here are the other ladies that joined in on this month's challenge.  Make sure to check them out and see how they styled the look.

Brooke at Silver Lining
Brooklyn at A Little Too Jolley
Laura at Sincerely, Laura
Kyla at FordOlogy
Kaycie at Redhead Memories 
Deidre at Deidre Emme

Monday, April 27, 2015

There was a Festival. And there were Tulips.

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Tree Top, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #TreeTopInc #raisinggoodapples http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV


This spring I have been trying to get my family out to do more activities. Utah is a gorgeous state and has so much to offer in terms of outdoors activities. So my goal for this spring and summer is to do one new activity each week. Things we've never tried, places we've never been, mountains we've never climbed. Let's do this!

New Adventure #1:  
THE TULIP FESTIVAL.


I don't even know if I can classify the tulip festival as an "adventure" since it is literally a mile from where we live and involved a very leisurely stroll. But it is something I've been wanting to do for a few years and every spring it manages to come and go without us ever getting out to see it. So this year I was determined. I was puking that morning (not pregnant!) and it was windy and threatening rain, but gosh I was stubborn about seeing those tulips. And we did! We tuliped the crap out of that festival.



^^^ Might just be my favorite picture of all time.  Greg is getting quite good behind the lens.

^^ Greg said I can't wear these jeans anymore because they show my Mormon undies (actually known as garments- information is here if you wanna know) so now I just wear leggings underneath and the problem is solved!  They're still pretty grungy, but gosh the and comfort level just can't be beat.



I am very wise in my old age in that I have learned to never go anywhere without food for June.  And now that she is a bit older it doesn't mean she has to be attached to my chest every moment.  It's amazing!

For our Tulip Festival outing I brought along some Tree Top applesauce in little pouches.  It is perfect for on the go adventures, is delicious (June scarfs it down) and is still healthy as can be.  (No sugar in the plain apple variety, made with wholesome ingredients and real fruit.)  I love that June can (almost kinda sorta) feed herself with these bad boys.







A little bit about the company- located in the heart of Washington’s apple country, Tree Top is a grower-owned co-op, deeply rooted in the communities where we work and live. For more than 50 years, Tree Top has been a trusted brand dedicated to delivering top-quality products and premium ingredients such as juices, smoothies and sauces. Check their site out here.

For those of you who have young babes, the Tree Top applesauce pouches are AWESOME because they are half the price of regular baby food pouches. I pay over $1 for every little baby food pouch I get for June and the Tree Top applesauce pouches were $2 for a pack of four. The trick is to look in the applesauce section, not the baby food section. I picked mine up at the Smith's in Lehi. (Also they have lots of flavors like mango applesauce, cinnamon applesauce, mixed berries applesauce, etc.)

They're not just for babies, either. It's just applesauce, so a person of any age can enjoy the convenient treat.

And they give back! In an effort to bring awareness to “Raising Good Apples”, Tree Top is partnering with the National Gardening Association’s KidsGardening.org to help educate kids on gardening. For every box of Tree Top Apple Sauce Pouches purchased through 5/31 Tree Top will donate $1 to help KidsGardening.org to help build and grow youth gardens. For more information go here.

LASTLY... there's a giveaway!  Because why not?  Tree Top is giving away one “Kid’s Gardening Kit” to one of my readers. The giveaway kit will consist of: “My Gardening Journal”, Red Tubrug pail, Kids gardening gloves, Watering can, Soft touch hand tool set, Favorite Five Sprouting seeds, and Tree Top Apple Sauce Pouches. The giveaway will go today through Monday, May 4th.

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment telling me what spring outing you would take with your family and your Tree Top applesauce pouches!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Saturday Takeover: Happiest Camper

Interested in the Saturday Takeover advertising option?
 Email me at thelifeofbon@gmail.com

Hello, Friends of Bonnie! Have you seen those popular television shows and documentaries that glorify tiny living? The ones where couples or families live in 300 square feet debt free with the world at their doorstep? Yeah, we watch them too and think those people found the key to simplicity and real happiness, so we tried it for ourselves. How do you think that's going? When we were faced with making our next domicile move back in January 2015, we carefully weighed the pros and cons of buying a traditional home, continuing to rent a house or apartment, or hitting the road. As a couple of thirty-somethings without kids and some employment flexibility, we decided it was a good time to give full-time RV living a whirl. Don't we look happy?
Full Time RV Family

Within six weeks we gave away our cat and chickens, sold a vehicle and bought a truck, moved the vast majority of our belongings into storage, and purchased a 1987 Kountry Aire 5th Wheel RV, our new-to-us home, which needed a mile-long list of renovations. My husband, Dave (a handsome ginger), is a handy guy who welds and fixes just about anything himself. I love to decorate and sew,
so renovating a tiny space appealed to us...for the first week.

1987 Kountry AIre 5th Wheel RV Camper Interior

RV Camper RenovationWe gutted the entire camper that was covered in 80's fabulous rose-colored carpet and flowers. Thinking about the smell still makes me gag a little.

Dave LSU Paint Roller RV Renovation

Every inch of the space was covered in primer and three coats of paint just before the clock ran out on our lease, and it was time to Move. That. Bus! (I've always wanted to say that.) Initially, we only moved 5 miles, but they weren't easy! You can read about that night here.

1987 Kountry Aire Vintage 5th Wheel

Three months later, we are still working out A LOT of kinks and adjusting to tiny living. The flooring is not installed. I have no idea where to put our shoes, and the dogs have yet to learn that cacti are inedible. (We're in Arizona.)

Puppy Eating Cactus

I received the following text message from Dave while writing this post: "Our house smells like a nursing home. We have a toilet situation." Ugh.

Full Time RV Life

In spite of all the downsides, we named our blog Happiest Camper for a reason; We seek the positive in every situation. In the last three months we have met the nicest people, both virtually and in real life, who have extraordinary stories. We have seen beautiful, unique places, and wake up to stunning views each morning. Our relationship has grown closer despite the limited space. That was a real concern for this introvert who MUST have alone time on a regular basis. Of course there have been disagreements. It is a marriage, after all.

Bartlett Lake


If you are looking for a blog that is all sunshine and rainbows with Pinterest perfect photos, Happiest Camper isn't it. I share real life experiences including the good, the bad and the ugly because all three exist in any chosen lifestyle. We have big plans for posting DIY projects, sewing patterns, travel reviews, camper modifications, adorable dog photos and more. We hope you'll join us on our bumpy, yet entertaining, ride. Stay connected by signing up for our mailing list or following on Instagram (@HappiestCamperH). Facebook and Twitter links are available, but truthfully we don't use them much. Keeping it real!

Make it a Great Day  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

One Word

Guys.

I just spent an hour writing, editing and linking up a post for this month's discussion on Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  I was all set to publish when something dinged in my head.

Isn't book club the last Thursday of the month?

Yes.  Yes it is.

And isn't today only April 22?

Yes. Yes it is.

So wouldn't that mean that this post shouldn't go up until next Thursday, April 30?

Yes.  Yes, Bonnie.  That's what that means.

So I wasted all my time and energy on that post and now it is 12:02 am and I've got no blog post.

The good news is that next week's discussion on Unbroken is going to be killer.  You have one week to finish the book if you haven't already.  ONE WEEK.

Now that I'm here writing the blog post that isn't, I feel like I should say something to you all.  I mean, as long as I've got your attention and all.  There are seven weeks left of school.  The finish line is in sight and then it's SUMMMMMMMMMMMER Olaf style.  I have never had two and a half months where both my husband and I didn't have to work.  This could go one of two ways:

1) Absolutely amazing, pure family bliss.  We spend the summer swimming, camping out, going on vacation, barbecuing, sleeping in, and enjoying all of the best things in life together.  It is a summer of pure heaven and with no responsibilities, demands, or pressures on our family we flourish in perfect three person family harmony.

OR

2) We go crazy with so much time together and kill each other.

Only time will tell, friends.

On another note, I'm having trouble with my fourth period class.  I mean, not capital trouble.  Just lowercase trouble.  They are all such good kids and sweet as can be, but they just don't participate for nothing.  I ask them to share their prompt with me.  Nothing back.  I ask them to share their thoughts on a quote from the book.  Blank stares.  I tell them I was kidnapped, beaten and left for dead in the Sahara desert and they just look at me with big lamb eyes.  No reaction whatsoever. It's almost kind of awkward because everyone is just so silent all the time.  Every class day I have to get myself all pumped up to teach the class and I build all this energy for them, and then within 20 minutes we're all just kind of in there wilting away, like flowers on a 100 degree day.  I can't keep putting on the teacher Bonnie show when they all just sit there and stare.  Suggestions por favor?!

In other news, Greg popped in the last five minutes of class today to demand what one word I thought most accurately described him.  Yes, working at the same school as my husband is the best thing that ever happened to me.  I thought about it for a minute and then replied, "passionate."

He was disappointed that I hadn't chosen "clever."  Apparently my husband wants to be clever more than anything else in the world?  We all have our dreams.

I asked him for one word to describe me and he said without a second's hesitancy, "sexy."  So I guess that's a compliment?

I kept thinking about it this afternoon and tonight that because I'm the type that thinks about stupid things for way too long.  I decided that I stick to my decision to call my husband passionate above all else. That man is passionate about everything- even my decision to call him passionate.  The word I would choose for myself is determined.  Basically a nicer way of saying I'm a stubborn son of a gun.  One day I hope that word is changed to kind, but I'm not there yet.

What word would you choose for yourself?  Is it the same word that your significant other or closest friend would choose for you?  And what word do you want for yourself?

And how about that?  I didn't have a blog post for today and now I do.  The time is now 12:20 and I'm going to bed because June is the alarm clock that never snoozes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

June Bug: Nine Months



I have constant internal debates with myself when it comes to posting "updates" about June.  Do people really care what small toy my child is attempting to put in her mouth today?  Do folks really want to know how much she sleeps at night?  And who in their right mind actually cares if my daughter likes broccoli or not? (She doesn't!)

But then I feel like I would miss it if I didn't post the appropriate important month updates.  You know, how some months are important and some aren't?  Like nine months feels really important, but ten months does not.  So I'll post a nine month update.  And if it bores you to know that my little baby hates broccoli (she does!) or that she sticks her tongue out all day long, I completely understand and I do not hold it against you.  Be free, blog readers, be free!  Ain't nobody gonna force you to read this!

For those of you who are still hanging around, let's update the crap out of this baby!

At nine months old, June is still barely 14 pounds.  (She'll have her official weigh in next week.)  She wears six month clothes and even some 3-6 months, and only if we're feeling very brave to we venture in to the nine month clothes.  The romper she is wearing in these pictures is nine months and you can see that it just about drowns her. She wears size two diapers and size one shoe because she just ain't very big and that's alright!



June rolls and scoots all over the carpet, having mastered the oh-so-important army crawl.  Every day we say, "Oh my gosh, she's going to start crawling any minute!"  But she doesn't.  She also does not pull herself up or sit up from a laying position.  Part of me worries that she's behind physically but then I remember something my favorite teacher at my school told me, "Don't borrow trouble."  So I won't borrow no trouble and I'll trust that my petite little baby will hit all her milestones in due time.  The fact that she can't crawl yet is actually awesome. That little girl can sit on her blanket and play with her toys all day long, and I don't much have to worry about what she's getting in to.

June LOVES being outside.  She can be cranky in the car, cranky inside, fussing like a crazy banshee and then the second we walk outside, she just calms right down.  She loved going to the beach last month and playing in the sand.  She just sat there and held onto those little grain sands with all the energy in her fourteen pound body.

June also loves people!  Her favorite people are: (in this order) mama, dada, other babies, kids, adults.  She will watch anyone for hours.  When we were at the beach in California she went all day long without her naps because she was just so darn happy being outside and so busy watching all the people come and go.  She was especially happy to be surrounded by my friends' children.  The four kids absolutely adored June and she basked in the awesomeness of being surrounded by four little people all day.




Generally June takes two naps- one in the morning around 10 and one in the afternoon around 2.  Her naps range anywhere from an hour to three hours.  If she has a long nap, generally the second nap is much shorter.  If it gets past 4:00 pm there ain't no hope in the world of June taking an afternoon nap and we have to just power through to bedtime.  Bedtime is at 7, and with the aid of her magic sleep suit, June generally sleeps through the night.  Also, "through the night" is kind of a relative term, but basically she sleeps until 5 or 6 in the morning when I pull her in to bed with me and feed her while we both fall back asleep.  Days when we don't have to go to work she wakes up for good anywhere between 7:30 - 9:00 am.  Days where I have to work she's up by 6:30.

This past month June has been eating all sorts of new foods.  My friend gave me a baby bullet and I LOVE it!  I also read French Kids Eat Everything and am now on a mission to introduce June to as many types of foods as possible before it's too late.  She loves pretty much all fruit, with a special place in her heart for oranges.  She tolerates vegetables, but they are more than anything a necessary evil- something that must be eaten in order to get to her precious fruits.  She also loves oatmeal and chicken.  She does not like broccoli.  REPEAT.  MY CHILD DOES NOT LIKE BROCCOLI.  IS ANYONE OUT THERE CONFUSED ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT BY CHILD LIKE BROCCOLI?!?  She still nurses three or four times a day- generally at breakfast, lunch, dinner and before bed.  Homegirl loves her milk straight from the source.

June has no teeth yet, but a very adorable gummy smile.  She throws her head back and flashes her gums like, "Hey!  Don't I have beautiful pearly white gums?!  Admire me!"  And so, of course, we admire her.  What else are a couple of smitten parents to do?

June is the absolute light of our lives.  Nothing has ever made us so happy or made us so grateful to be alive.  I know most parents are stupidly crazy about their children and it's very cliche to say we had no idea how our lives would change for the better when this little five pound bomb came exploding on to the scene.  I know it's also cliche to say I never knew I could love someone like this, never understood how my heart would grow and expand, or be so absolutely amazed by her every little action.  You've heard it all before, so I won't say any of that.

Just know that it's all true.  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Making the Hard Decision


Five months ago, we took a foreign exchange student, Agathe, into our home. (See post here.)

On Wednesday, I drove Agathe and her suitcases to a new home for the remaining two months of the foreign exchange year.  It is a fabulous family with five daughters and a beautiful, big home.  Agathe, lucky duck, will have the whole basement to herself.

It was not an easy decision to make, to have Agathe live with another family.  We wrestled with it and prayed over it and stressed about it for weeks.

But in the end, it was the right decision.  A hard decision, but the right one.

We just didn't have the strength to keep up with everything in our lives. Greg and I took on too many responsibilities this year.  We were unrealistic about our own strengths and our own abilities.  We went from having no children to having two children in the blink of an eye.  We said yes to everything, and then we were surprised when we couldn't do everything.  We were going 100 mph all day every day, and that left no time or energy for the things that are most important to us- our marriage and our family.

Part of me feels like a failure.  Like we should have been able to stick it out, to do it for just two more months.  But we couldn't.  At an AP Literature conference I attended a year ago, the presenter encouraged us, as teachers, to strongly encourage all students to take the AP test at the end of the year, even if we knew certain kids were going to fail. The rationale behind that is that colleges are more impressed if a student takes an AP class, takes the AP test, and fails the AP test then if the student takes the class for a year and doesn't even attempt the AP test.  To attempt the test, even when the student feels unprepared or inadequate shows character.  It shows that the student is a fighter, that the student is tenacious, that the student is not afraid to do hard things- regardless of the likelihood of failure.  To take an AP test and fail it is really not failure at all, it is a manifestation of strength and determination. This past week whenever I have felt disappointed in myself for not being able to host Agathe until June I have remembered that AP presenter's speech.  I hope that maybe I am like that unprepared AP student- someone who has absolutely no business taking the AP test, but gosh darn it, attempted it anyway.

We love Agathe and will continue to love her and see her often. I will still be her teacher. Tomorrow, in fact, I'll pick her up to play tennis after school. We want our relationship to continue, in spite of her not living with us. The truth is I think it will be much easier for me to be her best friend than her mom.  She was sad when we told her that we couldn't keep her until June, but she is a smart and mature teenager, as well as a very sensitive and kind person.  She understood.

Sometimes I wonder if we were stupid to say yes to hosting Agathe in the first place.  We probably were.  But I'm proud of us for trying our hardest, for loving that girl with everything we had, for attempting to do something that we clearly had no business doing.  When we had Agathe move in with us I felt strongly that it was the right decision for us.  And then when we decided last week to have her live in a different home, I felt very strongly that that was the right decision too.  I don't know the answer to everything, and I don't know why we needed to have her in our home for that period of time, but I trust that there was a reason, and I trust that all of our lives are better because of it.

If not, well... then we're just a couple of idiots.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Cling


Greg and I are beside ourselves.

Ya see, our independent, will-go-to-anyone, always- happy baby has turned clingy.  And maybe a little fussy?  Tell me how did this happen, internet friends?!

I suspect it had something to do with the four straights days she spent with me in California.  I never left her side.  I held her all the time.  She was literally attached to my hip.

LITERALLY.

Well, not literally.

 But you catch my drift.

Now, after a week back at home, she cries when we set her down, cries when I walk out of the room, cries when I pass her off to someone else.  June, this ain't cool.

It has always been really important to me to have a baby who is willing to go to other people- who shares herself, (And by always, I mean the nine months that June's been alive.  But always sounds so much more dramatic.)  I will love my baby no matter what, but it's important to me that other people love my baby, too. And that happens when she allows others to hold her, to love her to play with her. I want her to have lots of time with all sorts of people.

Up until last week, I'd say we were doing pretty good with it.  But four days of no one but mom and it looks like we've ruined all of our non-clingy hard work.

Sunday at church I sat next to one of my good friends, Latisha.  She wanted to hold June, and I gladly plopped June down in her lap.  June started to immediately cry and so Latisha gave her right back to me.  I don't blame her.  Most people don't enjoy holding crying babies.  I was determined, though, to get June to sit happily with Latisha.  I distracted June with a book and then quickly whispered to Latisha, "Here.  Let's try again!" before sneakily sliding June over to her lap. This is where the weird circus act began.  I tried to hide behind Latisha so June couldn't see me, I stupidly tried to wave books and toys in front of June's face to distract her, I stubbornly believed that if I willed it hard enough I could make June not want me to hold her.

And guess what?  It kind of worked.

For about two minutes.

She started fussing again and as Sunday school isn't really the best place for baby training so I took her back.  She sat on my lap for the remainder of the lesson, happy as a lark in a meadow- just as long as I wasn't trying to pass her off on anyone.

I realize that a lot of this might just be the age, but tell me oh wise internet friends, is there anyway to uncling a baby?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spring Break 2015: California Style.

Last week was spring break and I flew the coup and headed to California for four days to hang with two of my best friends.  (They live a mile away from each other and minutes from the beach.  This is the part where I try my best to not get stupidly jealous.)  Originally I was supposed to drive out with Greg, but then plans changed last minute.  I found a relatively inexpensive flight at the eleventh hour, and so it was Junebug, Agathe and me on our way to sunny California.  

I was a little worried about how much Agathe would enjoy the break.  She was to spend the first couple days with me and then she was going to stay with a family friend in the same area starting Wednesday. I warned her that hanging with three women (two of whom are pregnant, one who is nursing) and their combined five kids might not exactly be the "spring break" a seventeen year old French girl envisions.  She said she was fine with it, though, so she came along for the madness. We basked in the sun for four straight days, skipped naps any time we could, and played for hours on the beach.  At the end of the two days I asked Agathe if she was bored with all the kid stuff/ mommy conversation.  She replied she enjoyed it all except for the conversations about childbirth, which absolutely terrified her.  OOPS.

And now, a bajazillion pictures.  I shall narrate as we go, whaddya say?

DAY ONE:  RELAXED BEACH DAY.  I stayed most of the time with Akasha.  She has three (going on four) kids.  The kiddos adored June and June adored them right back.  It became alarmingly clear to me that June needs siblings stat.   Here are Akasha's kids entertaining June with the best, biggest baby toy they could find.  Naturally, June did not oppose.  I mean, who would?!


Yes, we are quite the crew!  We went to the beach three days in a row (including a day of surfing) with all five kids (ages six and under) and no men around.  I'm right proud of us. NO excuses for missing out.


This is Amy- expecting her baby in June.  She has more confidence than the rest of the world combined.  I love her with all my soul.





June LOVED the beach.  Blew right through her nap time like it was nothing.  She watched the other kids play (I hate to tell Greg, but he's got another hardcore extrovert/ wants to be outside all the time family member on his hands) and dug her hands in the sand over and over and over.

Day 2:  SURFING.  Agathe had never tried it so we pretty much forced her into the wet suit and out to sea.  16 week pregnant Akasha showed her the ropes while Amy and I manned the army of children on the beach.  Also, children are SO easy to watch on the beach.  I think if I lived close the beach like Amy and Akasha I would go every darn day because the kids just entertain themselves.  For hours!  They are so content.  No screaming no fighting no crying- they just want to play in the sand and water.  I am investigating a theory that the key to successful child rearing is living close to the beach.



All the kids were CRAZY about June in the most adorable way.


After Agathe and Akasha came back from surfing it was mine and Amy's turn to give it a go.  Amy is 28 weeks pregnant but she doesn't believe in slowing down for fetuses so she took me on out.  I am kind of a whoos/ terribly uncoordinated so I didn't have a lot of hope in myself. (SIDENOTE:  HOW DO YOU SPELL WHOOS?  WOOS?)  Plus I have tried surfing several times and I always biff it for every time I try it.  But Amy was bound and determined to get me up on a board so out we went.  First we had to pose, because you know, if you went surfing but didn't take pictures did you even go surfing at all?!?



I lasted about twenty minutes out on the surfboard.  June was crying back at shore and I couldn't quite enjoy myself knowing that my baby wanted her milk/ needed her nap.  So I went in early and Amy took Aspen out for a minute.  Yes, Aspen is six, and yes Aspen likes to surf.  (Notice all the A names in our crew?  Akasha Amy Aspen Agathe.  It's madness!)

After surfing I promptly took a nap.


And so did June.


She then woke up from her nap NOT PLEASED.  June's crying face is about as cute as it gets.

"ALL HOPE IS LOST" says Baby June.  It's rough being a baby.

Of course, it seemed fitting that we take some jumping pictures.  The "almost jumping" pictures are always better than the successful jumping pictures, dontcha think?

ALMOST.

Success!

Not pictured Day two activities:  The best fish and shrimp tacos I've ever eaten.  I could live on a straight diet of shrimp tacos and die a happy woman


DAY THREE:  HUNTINGTON BEACH.  I was the one that suggested we give Huntington Beach a shot even though Amy and Akasha warned me that it is way too touristy and kind of a drive.  They were gracious enough to take me anyway and we found it to be... well, way too touristy and kind of a drive.  It was also windy and a tad bit cold (cold in California = 65 degrees.)  Also, I think two straight days of no schedule and weird naps had June acting fussy and me acting a bit fussy too.  So it was awesome, but not as awesome as day 1 + day 2.  Not everything can be perfect all the time, guys, and that's okay.


At night we went to watch the sunset over the ocean.  You know, typical Wednesday night stuff.  I swear, these two girls live on vacation!



DAY FOUR:  
Time for me to head home.  But first we hit up the park in the morning and played a round of cards before Amy took me to the airport at 2:00 to catch my 4:00 flight. (Poor Akasha was stuck teaching preschool.)  By now I had said goodbye to Agathe and was embarking on the flight by myself with June.  I'm not usually that scared of doing things by myself, but flying with June without another adult had me shaking in my britches.  What if I need help!?!?  We had a layover in Las Vegas and the Vegas flight was delayed five hours, so instead we went to Phoenix in a futile attempt to get home a little bit sooner.  But the Phoenix flight was also delayed and by the time we were home in our own beds in Utah it was 2 am.  Twelve hours in airports and planes.  I would've been faster to just drive home, sheesh!  Luckily, June pulled out her best baby behavior and the twelve hours was pretty seamless.  Sometimes I think this child really gets me.  Like she knows when I really need her to just be chill and so she chills.  I swear, she senses my stress and anxiety and turns into an angel baby.  Where did this child come from and how is she mine?!

Airport chilling.


I attempted to get some reading done for Bon's book club that is coming up next week.  I am about 200 pages into Unbroken.  This is my second time reading it and I love it just as much as the first.  (Although I might add that my best idea was not to read about planes crashing while waiting to board a plane.) Hillenbrand's attention to detail and to getting the story "right" is unsurpassed.  My fingers are crossed that she will write another book.  (Her other book that I absolutely loved is Seabiscuit).

My best travel buddy.

Wendy's picnic in the Phoenix airport.

Other California things that were not pictured:
+ The most amazing maple bacon donut I have ever had at a little donut shop in Newport.  It was $4 for that donut and I declare it was the best $4 I have ever spent.
+ Swimming and hot tubbing- Akasha lives ACROSS THE STREET from a pool and hot tub and Amy has one in her apartment complex.  There is so much that is unfair about this whole set up.
+ Akasha made me the most killer orange smoothie I have ever had in my life.  She dropped an orange right in the blender, threw in some concentrate and ice, and voila, it was absolute perfection.  I need to get a better blender.  Anyone want to spot me $500?
+ We played a rousing game of Bang! one night.  I love playing that game so much, but gosh it brings out competetive, mean Bonnie. KILL THE SHERIFF.

Alright, that's a wrap.  It sure was good to get home to Greg.  It was good to be away and good to come home.  Sometimes I think relationships need oxygen, and whenever I spend a few days without Greg I am always giddily excited to see him again.  Friday we were both still off for spring break and we relaxed and cuddled our sweet baby and soaked up that time together.  Spring break always goes too fast, doesn't it?  Also I know a lot of teachers complain about low pay, ungrateful students, ever changing curriculum, ETC, but after a week in California in the middle of April I have to think to myself, geez oh man, I chose the right profession.

Over and out.