The Life of Bon

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Summer: To bucket list or not to bucket list?

It is Memorial Day weekend and suddenly I am feeling kind of desperate that we don't have more plans for the summer.  It's upon us!  It's here!  It's breathing down our necks and summer only comes once a year and we have to really live it up, dang it!

Do you guys do summer bucket lists?  I really like the idea of it, but I also have very real FOMO (fear of missing out) so I worry that creating a bucket list and not checking everything off would just make me feel like I was missing out on even more in life?  Part of me thinks that I should allow myself to do nothing this summer and just relax and spend time with my crew and that should be enough.  No need to put all this pressure on myself to say and do everything quintessentially "summer".  What say ye?  Bucket lists- healthy or unhealthy?

Here is what I know I want to do this summer FOR SURE.

1.  GO TO DISNEYLAND.  Check.  We did that last weekend. (And I WILL post about it next week!)  I would love to go back within the year with June in tow.  Maybe January? (before June turns three so I don't have to pay for her!)

2.  Go on a family vacation with Greg and June.  I feel bad that most of mine and Greg's vacations in the last year have been without June.  She is finally getting to the age where she is easier to take and where I think she would enjoy the vacation more.  Now, where to go?  I would love love love to take June to a beach vacation, but I don't know if that is in the financial cards this summer.  My dream would be to go to Maui or Kauai with Greg and June.  Maybe next summer?

My more realistic family vacation goal is to visit a national park.  Any of you have some national park recommendations?  Right now I have my eye on Olympic National Park in Washington.  There are hikes, lava hot springs, and even a lake for fishing and beaching.  We could maybe include a night or two in Seattle and it is close enough that it is driving distance for us.  I also have my eye on Yellowstone and the Redwoods.  Any pro national park-ers out there have suggestions for me?  I am all ears!



3.  Spend some time on a boat!  This is a big goal of mine because growing up I have very special memories of being out on the water.  I love wake boarding and tubing, and just love being on the water and feeling the air in my hair.  Greg and I are not in a financial position to buy a boat this summer, but one of my long term goals for my family is to have a boat and go on frequent trips to the lake.  To me it is the perfect way to spend summer, do something active and fun, and also bond with family.  I want my kids to grow up enjoying doing activities together and boating seems like the perfect way to connect.






Some boating memories from the summer I met Greg.
Also the same summer that other boys stopped unviting me to go on their boats.
How rude!

So while buying a boat definitely isn't in the cards this summer, I still want to rent a boat for a weekend with friends and enjoy some time out on the water.  I have been using this site as a tool to get started-- it has information on local boat rentals and classes and has been a great starting place for me. (I feel like the biggest dummy when trying to plan things like this and always need a safe starting place.)  And when I AM in the market for a budget, this will be where we start.  It helps you find which boat fits your lifestyle and budget.

This is a sponsored post written by me in behalf of Discover Boating.
I get paid a small amount every time you click on one of the links within this post.
Thank you so much for supporting this blog and my family.
May your summer be filled with vacations and lakes and boats!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Bon's Book Club: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

It occurred to me the other day that people who haven't read our book selection of the month probably don't care much to read the book club post in case of spoilers, or not really understanding anything that is being talked about.  So from here on out I'll do a "If you haven't read the book" book talk and a "If you have read the book" book talk.

If you want more deets on book club go here.  Every month we gather together the last Thursday of the month to talk about a book that we all read that month.  It's fun!  Next month's book is "Why Not Me?" by Mindy Kaling and the book discussion will be Thursday, June 30. (My birthday!)


Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult Book Club

The "If you haven't read the book" review:

-  The main gist of the book is that it is about a boy, Peter, who has been severely bullied since kindergarten.  He creates a video game where he wins by shooting and killing the popular kids and jocks who have bullied him.  Eventually, the bullying becomes so severe that Peter brings the video game to life and kill ten classmates and injures many others.

- The book is a very sympathetic look at killers involved in school shootings and what led them to get there.  It definitely does not place all the blame on Peter, but really the myriad of kids who severely bullied him and all of the adults who could have stepped into help, but didn't.  Teachers overlooked the bullying, saying it was "just a part of high school" and when he told his mom about it as a young boy she told him he would just have to fit in.  You can tell that Picoult really wants readers to sympathize with Peter and it makes you question your certainty of who the "victims" are in these cases.

- All in all I thought the book was very interesting.  The first 150 pages or so were sloooooow but once it got going I had a hard time putting it down.  I read the last 200 pages in 2 days.  Picoult is a great storyteller and creates very real characters- this part I loved.

- I would recommend this book to most people with the following caveats:
1.  It is heavy and sad, as can be expected from the book intro.
2.  It is quite long- 450 pages.  Picoult can be overly descriptive to the point of distraction.
3.  There are sex scenes between teenagers and some language.  I think it'd be a PG-13 or R rated movie depending on how graphic it was made.


The "If you have read the book" review:

- I found it hard to like any of the people in this book.  Alex is maybe supposed to be the protagnoist?  But to me she was a pretty cold and often selfish mother.  Josie was a liar (which I thought was pretty easy to guess from the beginning that she was lying about not knowing anything).  Peter was a killer, Peter's parents were totally unaware and uninvolved, Josie's boyfriend was abusive, etc, etc, etc.  I kind of felt like Picoult was focusing on the worst of humanity and that was hard for me.  Who am I supposed to be rooting for here?!

-I did like Patrick, the detective, but did not like it when he randomly got together with Alex.  As the only two single adults in the book, I thought it was obvious that Picoult would have them hook up.  But I didn't really buy it.  For all the detail she includes I felt like she didn't develop their relationship at all and it just felt forced.  And the random pregnancy at the end?

- I did like the twist at the end (Josie being the one who first shot Matt) but I also thought it was a little weird considering how heavily she was grieving after his death.  Again, some parts of this didn't quite make sense all the way to me.

- At some parts it was hard for me to believe all the bullying that was going on and all of the adults that were totally ignoring it.  At our book club on Tuesday I asked if others thought bullying was really this severe in our country.  Some said yes, others said no.  I went to high school and have worked in a high school for six years, and I don't think I'm naive to the stuff teenagers do and say, but I really think bullying on this extreme a level is not common.  (The pulling down his pants, stuffing him into lockers, spamming out personal emails admitting to a girl that he likes her, throwing his lunch box off of the bus, etc.)

-Josie's abusive relationship with Matt was very interesting to me.  That was probably the most interested/ invested I was in the book.

Alright, tell me your thoughts!  I am toying with the idea of reading another Picoult book because I did enjoy this one for the most part.  Those of you who are huge Picoult fans, what do you recommend?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bachelorette Recap: The Premiere

It's been a whirlwind few days over here and there is lots to say!  We drove to California and went to the beach and an Angels game and Disneyland and drove ten hours home and did the whole thing in 72 hours.  It was wild!  I was going to tell you all about it but then last night was The Bachelorette premiere and now I want to talk about The Bachelorette instead!  I'll tell you what, when you have to decide if your blog post should be about The Bachelorette or Disneyland you know you've really had a good week.

I'll tell you about Disneyland tomorrow because The Bachelorette waits for no one!



First off, a disclaimer.  We didn't start Bachelorette until 10:30 last night.  And I fell asleep during the rose ceremony.  WHILE TAKING NOTES.  So my thoughts are probably not the most coherent in the world and if I start talking about someone who wasn't even on The Bachelorette last night, well, now you know why.

The season starts off in usual fashion- Jojo waiting on the driveway with Chris Harrison and his spiffy new haircut.  (Don't think we didn't notice, Chris!)  Jojo says she's nervous and Chris Harrison says in genuine surprise, "Really?"  So obviously Chris has no idea what's going on.

Jojo is looking absolutely gorgeous- I love the nude sparkly gown.  Is Jojo the prettiest Bachelorette ever?  I say yes!



The men pull up and first out the door is Aaron Rodgers' little brother, Jordan!  Now, I know nothing about football but I know alot about the Bachelorette and whoever comes out of the limo very first is a guy who Bachelor producers have decided (after numerous interviews) is likely a front runner.  So keep your eye on Jordan!
Lots more men follow.  Some are well dressed.  Some are dressed like Santa.  Some have very bushy eyebrows.  Some tell inappropriate jokes.  It's a circus on the driveway.

We're not going to go over every man's introduction because ain't nobody got time for that; instead I will do some First Impression awards.

Best dressed:  Jordan OR Pete (who got sent home.)  Pete wore the tan suit and I LOVE tan suits.  Jojo obviously doesn't because he got the curb the first week.

Worst dressed:  James F. with the red tie, black shirt, black suit.  My eyes!

Cheesiest/ most cliche intro:  Chase with "I moustache ask you a question."  Listen, Chase, even in its prime that joke sucked, and two years later it's not getting any better!

Joke that fell the hardest:  Daniel with "Damn Jojo!"  Yes, we've all seen Damn Daniel (Er, at least anyone who works in a high school has?  I can't get away from that thing) but obviously Jojo hasn't.  The joke wouldn't have been so bad if he didn't insist on painfully explaining the joke to Jojo later.  Listen, Daniel, something I learned when I was 11 years old is if you have to explain the joke it's not a good joke.  Give it up!

Sweetest intro:  Derek.  He was the second out of the limo and said something very sweet/ sincere about how grateful he was to meet Jojo.  Later in the night he made fun of himself, saying he had a nerdy vibe and that when he was young he looked like Harry Potter.  My heart = melted.  Something about those nerdy ones always calls to me.

Funniest/ cutest:  James, Bachelor superfan.  His intro to Jojo wasn't anything too special, but I loved his intro video and the later stint he did with Chris Harrison during the credits.  (Chris: So you know everything about The Bachelor?  James: (totally serious) More or less.  HAHAHA)   How can you not love a guy who does Bachelor brackets at home with his mom and sisters?  Also, it's obvious he doesn't take himself too seriously and I always love that in a guy.



Most intense intro:  Chad.  He pretty much mauled Jojo when he introduced himself.  Way too strong there, Buddy, that is personal space you're invading!  I was uncomfortable just watching him.  After last night and the previews for what's to come I think we can all agree that he will smoothly slide into the Bachelor villian role.  I mean, hey, villians gotta vill right.



Most awkward intro:  Will with the cards falling.  Who coaches these guys on their intros?  His awkwardness continued later in the night when he "predicted" that he was going to kiss Jojo and then she gave him a little peck.  That was horrible.  You pretty much have to shield your eyes from that stuff because it is just painful to watch.

Most inappropriate intro:  Sal with the blue balls.  Why, Sal, why?!?

Most snazzy/impressive intro: Wells with the barbershap quartet gig he had going on.  Super cute.  But then he kept them around later to serenade again while talking to Jojo?  Too much, Wells!  You gotta let those guys go free!



Best overall intro:  Luke with the unicorn!  Playing off of Jojo's original awkward in a cute way was the most clever, stand-out-without-being-weird-or-creepy intro out there.  Luke is the Texan heartthrob as has been pretty understated in this first episode which I think makes him very likely as the winner.  Also, how cute is it that he brought a pair of cowboy boots for Jojo?  This guy has got it figured out.



Once the intros are over it's a free for all of alcohol and cologne and insecurity in the mansion.  Alex, who is short, takes Jojo away first.  The men make fun of his height because we're all very mature here.  A few men have entirely way too much to drink.  Daniel strips down to his underwear and swims in the pool because this is a first night Bachelor requirement and someone's gotta do it and we're all lucky Daniel volunteered as tribute.

All the men are really nervous and Jojo says she doesn't feel an instant connection with any of them.  Until, of course, Jordan sweeps her off his feet.  I don't know if his my-brother-is-Aaron-Rodgers is going to end up hurting or helping him overall, but I will say that brother's fame aside, the guy has got a lot of confidence.  He seems completely comfortable, fits in well with the other men, and so far hasn't said anything totally rude.  He gets the first kiss, because of course he does, which later leads to the first impression rose because of course it does.



And then there's Santa.  I have to admit, I thought Jojo was really sweet to him even though he had made a weird and unconventional choice.  And why does he keep wearing the Santa suit all night long?  It showed in the bloopers that he had a suit on under that.  I mean, do the Santa gig for an hour and then just wear your normal suit!  Given that the cocktail parties often go until 8 am, I feel so bad for him that he is literally wearing that all night long.  No wonder he was sweating his brains out.  My guess is the producers made him keep the suit on.  (But why does he keep saying, "Jo jo jo jo!"  I can almost excuse the Santa suit if not for this.)



Ten hours later, it's time for the rose ceremony.  Of course, before Jojo can really begin, Jake Pavelka, widely known as being the worst Bachelor of all time, drops on by in a suit.  As one does at 5 am at a mansion in LA.  The men all start to worry.  "Who's that?"  "It's Jake Pavelka" identifies James, bachelor superfan,  (There are THREE James on this season.  How are we ever going to keep track of them all?)   Bachelor producers love to get a little drama going so they all make us thing Jake has stopped by because he's really in love with Jojo and wants to be on the Bachelor too.  Twist!  All Jake really he says is, "follow your gut, kid" and leaves.  Oh Bachelor producers, you get us every time.



Now we're finally rose ceremony-ing it.  Here's the secret to successful rose ceremony prediction in the first few weeks:  Identify the ten guys who Jojo seems to have had any kind of even remote connection with.  Then idenitfy the ten guys who are just absolutely crazy and whom you would never in a million years date.  If you are not in one of those two groups, you are going home.  All the front runners stay, Santa stays, the drunks stay, Damn Daniel stays.  All the men act very surprised that Jojo has chosen men who behaved so poorly on the first night even though we all know at home that this is the doing of the evil Bachelor producers.

Three guys go home whom we literally know nothing about.  We're not surprised!  (Only three though?  That seems low to me for the first night.)

Before the show can wrap up we get a little preview of the season ahead.  Chad promises to be a villian to rival any previous vill.  There's going to be some tension with Jordan- looks like the men don't like former pro athletes dating the girl they like.  Shocker.  And Jojo makes out with a lot of beautiful men in beautiful places all around the world. 

WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE ABOUT THIS SHOW?!?!

MY TOP FIVE PREDICTIONS:

1.  Luke
2.  Jordan
3.  Wells
4.  Graham
5.  Alex

Tell me your thoughts and I will be responding to all comments on this post.  Let's get a good Bachelor discussion going on!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Four more days of teaching. But who's counting?

Closing night of Peter and the Starcatcher.
Those suspenders get me.

It’s the end of the school year as we know it.  And I feel fine.

May is typically a really crazy month.  Sometimes I can’t handle the pressure of school ending and standardized testing and pop up assemblies and it makes crazy Bonnie emerge in all her glory and sometimes May ends in me crying stressed out frantic tears.  (See this post and this post and this post.)

This May has felt a lot less stressful.  May has been good.  May feels like  a lot of things are wrapping up and new good things are starting.  I can get used to the new May.

That’s not to speak of April.  April was nuts.

April was:
  •           four jewelry markets on four consecutive weekends
  •           Mother’s day sale and all accompanying orders and jewelry craziness
  •          Greg’s run of Peter and the Starcatcher which ended last night.  The run was five weeks            long and he performed over 30 shows.  It was wild.
  •      Preparing students for the AP test that they took on May 4.  The school days leading up to          this test were full of pressure and stress because I just can’t relax about stuff like this.

And we survived it all!  Last weekend was our last market, last night was Greg’s last show and now today after I get home from work we’re going to Disneyland!

But really!

We decided last weekend we needed a little break so we found some friends and as soon as I get home from work today we’re looking at a 10 hour drive.  Ain’t no thing!  June gets to stay home and play with grandmas because a four day trip including 20 hours of driving didn’t seem like the best thing for an almost two year old.  She has informed us she would like to come next time and we said yes, June, of course.

But this post wasn’t supposed to be about Disneyland!  It’s supposed to be about school!  And the end of school .  The end of the school year always ends up making me feel kind of nostalgic and sad.  I think it’s the closing doors and the moving on.  This year will be my sixth graduation watching those seniors get their diplomas.  But it still feels sad.  High school is over so soon, isn’t it?  I mean I think we can all agree that while we’re in it it’s pretty horrible.  Not many love high school.  But it’s still sad when it’s done.  

So what are we doing these last days?   Now that the AP test is over, my AP kids are working on scene project.   They have to choose a scene from any of those books that we read this year and perform it.  They are responsible for cutting the text, blocking, memorizing, costumes, set, etc.   Scenes can be anywhere from 7-10 minutes long.  This means that during class I have students reciting Pride and Prejudice in my room while others choreograph a duel from Hamlet on the lawn and a handful of students sit in the library and try to figure out how to act out the tralfamadorians from Slaughter House Five.  I mostly supervise and smile and drink diet coke.  It’s a good gig.

My juniors are reading The Things They Carried.  This miiiiiiight be my favorite book of the year to teach my regular classes.  They really invest in it in a way that they don’t with other books.  I always save it for the end of the year because I need something to really get me excited these last days.  I’ll tell you this now, if I left The Crucible for the end of the year I’d just give up at this point and start showing Office reruns instead. 

The first chapter of TTC is about all the weight that the soldiers in the Vietnam war carry- both figuratively and literally.  The day that I introduced the book I had students empty out their back packs on to their desks.  They wrote down every single they were carrying, both in their bags, on their person, etc.  Anything they had carried with them into the classroom.  They shared their answers and I got the expected answers (wallets, notebooks, cell phones) as well as the unexpected answers (floss, safety goggles, stuffed animals.) 

Then I had them write down anything else they were carrying with them that were not visible- things that were not tangible, but still had a weight to them.   Memories, culture, religious experiences, stress, anxiety.  It led to a great discussion of all the things we continually carry around with us and I kind of wanted to just hug them all and not let them out into the great big world quite yet.

If you’ve never read Things They Carried, I encourage you to.  Tim O’brien is a storyteller to rival any other.  There is some violence and language (probably at least a dozen f words) so if you’re sensitive to that, you might want to avoid it, but if you can handle it, I think you should read it.  It’s the most beautifully written war book I’ve ever read.   GO READ IT.

Speaking of reading, I just finished Where’d You Go, Bernadette.  I need to talk to someone else who has read it.  I have feeeeeelings about it!

P.S.  Thanks so much for all your suggestions for our home on the last post.  I am excited to use a lot of those ideas and I’ll keep you updated on the progress.  I have to admit I laughed out loud at the comment  “It's going to be very hard to make your couches look attractive” about the only piece of furniture that both Greg and I really like and want to keep.  HA!

P.P.S. Are you reading Nineteen Minutes?  Or have you read it?  Come to book club next Tuesday.  Email me at thelifeofbon@gmail.com for directions if you want to come.

Monday, May 16, 2016

I need some help decorating and YOU are going to help me!

Summer is close.  I can feel it.  The kids can feel it.  We can about dang near taste the thing.  And it tastes real goooood.

I've got two more weeks of teaching and then it's yearbook parties and assemblies and graduation and three months of 90 degree bliss.  I've said it again and again, the best thing about teaching is the summers!

This summer I've got three main goals:

1.  Grow our business
2.  Play with June
3.  Make my house a home!

This post is dedicated to point #3 on that list.  House ----- > Home!  There's a few things that will go into this process.  One is to organize all the crapola in the basement.  The other is to purge ourselves of a lot of stuff.  (See this post.  I want to go through all of our cupboards and closets and get rid of anything that is not either a) useful or b) beautiful).  Annnnnd the last thing is to decorate our home!

Yes, decorate!  We've lived here for two years.  And we are still not fully decorated, furnished, moved in.  But the things is I suck at interior design. (See: lime green walls.)  I get overwhelmed by the enormity of decorating and furnishing a home and then don't do anything.  I also tend to be very cheap and I don't like to spend money.  But we've actually got a little money in our budget (key word: little) so I'm hoping to make some improvements around here. The only room in the house that I consider finished is June's room.  She gets all the good stuff.

This is what I did with June's room a few months after we moved in.  Full post is here.



If you feel like you've seen this picture a lot, you probably have.  It's the only decorating/ homey thing that I have ever done that I am proud of!  So I flaunt the picture nonstop, baby!

This summer I want to work on the master bedroom and our main living/ kitchen area.  I am going for overall clean, white, minimalist feel.  I think?  I feel like every living space in the world right now is white and grays so part of me hesitates... is this style going to go out in five years and then will I be tired of my home?  My mom advised me to try to ignore trends and just go with what my eye has always been naturally attracted to.  So I'm trying really hard to figure that out.  And I think my eye is naturally attracted to whites, grays, blues, and soft yellows.  I like a lot of light.  I don't like dark spaces.  So that's what I'm going with.  (I've also in the past had lots of darks- dark couches, dark headboard, dark cabinets, dark car.  I know for sure I want to steer away from that.)

Naturally, as an interior design idiot, I would like your help.  I'm going to show you some pictures of our current spaces and let you make suggestions.

MASTER BEDROOM






What I want: A light room free of clutter that makes me feel relaxed.  I also need a room that is convenient to keep clean.  Both Greg and I tend to be on the lazy side when it comes to undressing and going from our bedroom through the bathroom to get to the closet to put away clothes.  It's ten steps too many, and as a result our clothes mostly end up all over the floor by our bed.  I would like drawer space and hampers close to the bed.

Help:

  • What do I do with the space above the bed?  It feels awkward to me.  (The ceilings in this room are high and slanted.)
  • There is dead space right when you enter the room.  Not quite big enough for a dresser or desk, but big enough that it feels weird with nothing there.  
  • I want a pretty all white duvet cover that (maybe?) has some kind of design, but not much.  I do like the classic pintuck, but I'm afraid I'd get sick of it quickly and it's not Greg's favorite.  Any suggestions?
  • Matching lamps and nightstands!


LIVING AREA




What I want: A cohesive room that looks light, relaxing and inviting, but is very functional.  I feel like June's toys are constantly all over the front room- I'd love a way to put them away that doesn't involve stupid baskets all over the place.  The end goal is to have my home be an oasis- a clean, beautiful, relaxing place to be.  (I also want like four more kids, so good luck!)  We definitely have to work around the couches in this room as they are the most comfortable things ever and Greg would never forgive me if I upgraded them to something more sleek and stylish.  When it comes to couches, comfort wins.

Help:

  • LONG WALL!!!! Because we are in an attached townhome there is no window, no variety on that weird, long wall.  I have considered adding in shelving but the wall feels so long that even shelves on either side of an entertainment center don't feel like they would quite do it.  And what do I put on the wall?  I have considered three large family pictures in a row but don't want to be family picture overkill.
  • I don't love the way the couch separates the kitchen and living area.  But I don't really know how else to put two couches in that space.  It is kind of an awkward space because it is very long and not very wide.
  • How do you keep your main rooms functional, but still pretty?


Annnnnnnd................ just in case you didn't believe me that I need some serious help, here are the lime green walls I painted in our year of marriage:


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Baby Animal Days with my Baby

The best thing about having a kid is that you get to do all the kid things with your kid that you couldn't do before you had kids.  You still with me?  I always kind of feel like I have an 11 year old boy trapped inside of me so having children means I get to do more of the 11 year old boy things that I always want to do.  There's only so many times a reasonable adult can push to go to an amusement park or the swimming pool or a fair.  But with kids you can go every day!  (Which is probably why I went to the tulip festival three times with June this year!  She never turns me down for a fun time!) Three cheers for kids!


Last weekend June and my mother in law and I went to the baby animal days in Kaysville. (Greg's hometown)  It should be noted that I struck the mother in law jackpot.  Becky is always down for any activity June and I have up our sleeve and there couldn't be a grandma who adores her grandchildren more.  When I decided the night before that I wanted to go (because I saw it on the 10:00 news) I knew Becky would be down to join us.  And she was!  Mother in laws for the win!

The day was a little bit cold and rainy which ended up being perfect because it chased the crowds away.  I love going out on perfect sunny 72 degree days as much as anyone, but the problem is, well, everyone loves it!  So everyone is there!  I'd take a less crowded cloudy day any day of the week.

We got to hold baby chicks and baby rabbits and we got to feed horses and watch little piggies.  It was awesome.  There was even a train ride and a horse ride that came with admission, but waiting in line for more than 10 minutes wasn't going to happen with our wily girl.  (AND WHEN DID SHE GET SO WILY?)  So we pet all the animals, we fed the horses some nice, green grass and called it a day.  And it was perfect!

dem baby chicks with grandma ^^^

cheering for the bunny rabbits ^^^


She was all about the bunny rabbits until I got one on lap and then she totally panicked. ^^^

More panicking ^^^

My favorite part was feeding the horse with her.  She had no fear.  She stuck her hand right in there for him to nibble on him.  We've got an animal lover here, that's for sure.

Baby pigs. ^^^

LOVES her grandma ^^^

She clearly has no idea how these things work.


Monday, May 09, 2016

Tulip Festival: Three times in a year--- is that enough?







Because we live within a few miles of Thanksgiving Point in Utah we forked over the big bucks for a season pass.  This means that we get access to the kids' museum, farm country (love those pony rides!) and the best part- TULIP FESTIVAL!  Last year we paid $30 to go to tulip festival alone, so paying $75 for the yearly pass was really a no brainer.

Well obviously I couldn't get enough of dem tulips because June and I went three times to see the tulips this year.  We got some great pictures when Greg, June and I went one quiet evening but that SD card has the mind of Satan and is not allowing me to download the pictures on the computer.  So right now you get the pictures of the tulips with June's cousin and friend.  When my other SD card finally decides to cooperate I will share the pictures of our little family at the tulip festival.  (Strangely enough all of our pictures are with different tulips?)  And if you're thinking, "Listen, Bonnie, I've seen these tulips, I get the idea, I don't need to see more pictures of tulips",  TOO BAD.  I will show you more tulip pictures and you will like it damnit!

(We're preparing for our fourth jewelry market in four weeks.  And we had a huge mother's day sale.  And my students took the AP test last week.  I'm obviously coping with the stress really well!)

P.S.  June was being such a stinker with that ball, freaking out any time the other kids tried to play with it.  When do you teach kids how to share?  And how?  I try to tell her and then it's just melt down city.  But she is seriously the worst little girl at sharing and IT IS EMBARRASSING TO US ALL, JUNE!  Send your suggestions my way!

P.P.S.  While we're talking about weird June things, she is doing this thing lately where she takes her diaper off probably 4-5 times a day.  It's always off when we go to get her in her crib, and often she takes it off and THEN goes pee.  (or worse!)  Does this mean she's ready to potty train?  Or that she's just learning about her body?  Or that she will some day live in a nudist colony?  Tell me your answers, oh wise internet!

Friday, May 06, 2016

AP LITERATURE: THE TEST IS OVER!

I'm starting this blog post at 1:09 am.  ONE OH NINE!

Tomorrow is Friday already, and I haven't written on this blog since Sunday so I am making myself write tonight even if only to prove myself that I can still write.  So here I am!  Still writing!

My students took the AP Literature test yesterday.  It's over!  They're done!  We're all free!

I was a bag of nerves, as per usual.  The test was set for Wednesday at 8 am.  My work days this week were Tuesday and Thursday.  Tuesday in class I asked my class if they wanted to do a breakfast Wednesday morning before test or if they would rather celebrate Thursday after the test with pizza.  They voted pizza.  Wise little souls.

Because of our pizza plan, I wasn't planning on seeing them Wednesday before the test.  It wasn't a work day for me- no need to go in.  I went to bed Tuesday night and was afflicted with a myriad of AP nightmares.  In one nightmare I was in the testing room with my students and only 17 of the 35 scheduled to test showed up.  The other 18 had gone awol on me.  In my dream I was running around sobbing and yelling, "Where's Chris Lilly?!  Where's Michael Jones?!  Has anyone seen Catherine Wang?!?"

I woke up at 7 am Wednesday morning from said nightmare in a dead panic.  My students were taking their test in an hour!  Would they wake up in time?  Were they nervous?  Would they be okay without me to lead them into the testing center?  (NO I WILL NOT BE CRAZY OVER PROTECTIVE MOTHER, WHY DO YOU ASK?!)

I tossed in bed for about an hour before I realized I just couldn't leave alone.  I grabbed June, who was just stirring in her crib, and we went to pick up some donuts.  The kids have one ten minute break in their test, exactly one hour in.  I stood outside their testing room like a damn fool (several teachers saw me, "Mrs. Larsen?  Why are you in sweats and a baseball cap?") with June in her footed jammies and as soon as the kids emerged for their bathroom break I whispered violently, "Go upstairs to my room!  There's donuts!"

They inhaled the donuts in record time and returned to their testing room abyss for a two hour/three essay marathon.  I was left by my lonesome in my classroom with June.  So I gathered up my baby in my arms and we went home, leaving my other 35 babies alone in the testing center.

I don't really know why I tell you all this except for that the morning of the AP test always feels really momentous and significant to me and I like to remember it.  It's like Christmas morning.  Only more stressful.  And less wrapping paper.  You prepare for it and think about it and work on it and hope for it and get excited for it and nervous for it and then all of  a sudden it's here.

Today in class my students told me they felt really good about the test.  Most said they thought the test was easier than they anticipated.  One student said almost accusingly, "Mrs. Larsen, you over prepared us!"  I was happy though because I'd rather have over prepared students any day than under prepared and having students emerge from a test confident and excited is one of the best teaching rewards there is.

Not all my students took the test.  I had eight students who didn't take it.  They were scared and didn't feel confident they could pass and didn't want to put themselves through $96 three hour torture.

Not all my students who did take the test will pass the test.  When the scores come back in July there will inevitably be some who are disappointed in a non passing score.

BUT.

I'm really proud of all my little AP students.  They have worked their tails off all year for me.  We read seven books from September- May.  They wrote countless essays.  We annotated and analyzed until we were blue in the face.  I know there were times when they were frustrated and tired and didn't want to read 50 pages over the weekend.  But they did and they kept going and they pressed through.  They chose to take a more difficult class and get a B than the easier class and get an A.  They chose to grow and stretch and force themselves out of what is comfortable for them.  They chose a harder path without any guarantee of reward.  I don't think it's every day you meet 17 year olds who are willingly seeking out challenging paths and voluntarily doing extra work.  They are smart and funny and the sweetest gaggle of kids I swear I've ever met.

So yah.  I'm really proud.

In case you are interested, the seven texts we studied this year:

Lord of the Flies
Hamlet
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Catcher in the Rye
Pride and Prejudice
Othello
Slaughterhouse- Five

(The post I wrote last time my students took the AP Lit test is here.)

Sunday, May 01, 2016

On Religion



Hi.

I don't know if I will even publish this post, but there are so many thoughts on religion swirling around in my head and they need to rest somewhere.  Earlier this week Tyler Glenn of The Neon Trees released a music video expressing hurt and anger toward the LDS church.  It mocked things that are sacred to LDS members. I didn't want to watch it, but I did, because I have no self control.  It left me feeling sad and hurt and angry, precisely all the things that Glenn is feeling and, I assume, is hoping that others feel too.

I have told this blog many times that I am Mormon.  I have slowed down considerably on the religious posts lately because it is kind of a confusing, hard time to be LDS.  There is a lot of doubt and a lot of confusion.  In November the LDS church came out with a policy that said that children of gay couples are not to be baptized until they are 18.  This was very hurtful to many people.  I felt like facebook was such a hate filled place to be in those days following the announcement of policy change.  A lot of people condemned the church and the policy, a lot of people defended the policy.  There were horrible things said on both "sides".  I didn't feel like I was on either side.  I felt on the sad and confused side.  I even had a blog reader email me, "What do you think of the policy?  I'd love to hear your thoughts."  I couldn't reply.  My thoughts were too confusing even to me.

Watching the Tyler Glenn video this weekend I had the same feeling of sorrow and hopelessness that I did after the news of the policy broke in November.   I feel like the LDS religion is being hammered to death lately. (Or doing the hammering?)  Sometimes I feel like I haven't even caught my breath from the last big news story before I have to get ready for the next one.  A lot of people are mad at the church and I understand that.  A lot of people defend the church, and I understand that too.  I don't understand the church policy released in November, no matter how many times the most stalwart and faithful of Mormons try to explain it to me.  It just doesn't make sense in my mind and I have accepted that it probably never will.

There are people I love and care about deeply who have stepped away from the LDS church, largely in part to some of these huge issues that have been going on.  I understand their reasons for needing to step away.  I know that they are hurting and I know it is incredibly difficult to leave a religion.  I also think it should be noted, though, that people who have chosen to stay in the religion are also hurting.  It's not easy to leave and it's not easy to stay.

There is a scripture that says "by their fruits you will know them" and I cling to that now. (Matthew 7:16)  I will know if this religion is working for me by the fruits- the way I feel, the things it leads me to do, the desires the teaching of the church give me.

I get frustrated by the things that are reported about Mormons on social media and news outlets.  Yes, there is confusion and doubt, and yes there are people hurting.  No, I don't understand why the LDS church has to be so strict on their policies toward gay people.  No I don't understand why BYU culture thinks we need to report a girl to the honor code office if she has been raped and was simultaneously breaking honor code.  There is so much I don't understand and I hurt over it.  I am hoping and praying for a lot of answers on these issues.

BUT.

There is so much good in the religion that is being totally overshadowed by all the big news stories.  I have been a member for 21 years, I dedicated 18 months to learning and teaching this gospel in Argentina, I have sat through more hours of church meetings than I could possibly count.  I KNOW this church.  And I know there is good.  The New York Times doesn't report on the families who make dinner for new babies in the neighborhood, or the youth programs that give teenagers a safe place to go and make friends every week.  Buzzfeed doesn't care about the millions of dollars the LDS church donates for humanitarian purposes all over the world or the talk in general conference about helping refugees.  There are not a lot of news stories about neighbors who help each other move or who volunteer hours of their time to teach teenagers and children or who show up to someone's house to give a blessing when a baby is sick.  These are the fruits of the LDS church and this is why I am proud to be a part of it.  This is what will not change.  The LDS church to me is a place to go to become better people, to serve each other, to teach our children about love and kindness.

I can't understand or defend all the choices that have been made by LDS leaders.  I do think they are inspired but I also think they are people who make mistakes.  But I do know that I see a lot more good in this religion than out of it.  And at the end of the day, the Mormon church encompasses all of the things that I want my children to know growing up- hope, peace, love, kindness, safety, JOY.  I want my children to know that they are loved by their Heavenly Father.  I want them to know that they matter.  That they have infinite capabilities and talents.  I want them to feel the divinity within them that enables them to be nice when they want to be mean, to have faith when it's easier to give up, to be patient when they are tired of waiting.

Questions, comments, concerns?  Fire away.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bon's Book Club: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell


First things first- this post was supposed to be up this morning but IT IS A FREAKING MAD HOUSE around here.  There is no more control around here.  There is no more pretending like there is any kind of control.  It's just chaos.  So I'm running with it!

We had our big mother's day sale yesterday and today and the response blew me away.  And I'm not saying that just to say that and to be all weird humble.  I thought we'd maybe have an extra ten orders.  Nope! 60 orders in 2 days!  People are awesome, that's all I have to say.  (Also, people like jewelry.)

On top of this we have a big market/craft show going on in Salt Lake that we had to set up for Tuesday night and for which we will have to restock tomorrow.  It's wild!  So wild! So many earrings!  But we are happy and grateful and loving this crazy life we've made for ourselves!

AND to throw one more kink in their my AP kids take their AP test in 6 days.  So I'm a nervous wreck/ chicken with its head cut off when it comes to school.  I feel like more of my attention and focus is required at school then ever and they when I get home I just totally switch gears to jewelry/ business/ orders.


But THAT'S WHY this blog has gotten the shaft.  I love you, blog!  But I don't have time for you anymore!  But I'll never desert you!  But you might have to wait around for me sometimes!  Sounds like any healthy relationship, right!?

In any case, today (Thursday) was supposed to be book club post!  For Bon's Book Club.  And while I'm talking candidly with you here, can I just say that I hate the name "Bon's Book Club"?  I feel so lame whenever I say it.  Like I think I'm Oprah or something.  I don't think I'm Oprah.  And I'm open to suggestions for name improvements.  Fire them at me!




April's book was Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.  Going in I had VERY low expectations because I really really didn't like Eleanor and Park which is another book that she wrote.  We read that book last year for book club and it was whiny, angsty teenagers and I kind of felt like, "duuuuude, I get enough of this at the high school k bye."  That was mostly why I didn't like it.  Also very slow/ no plot.  Here's the whole review if you care.  Mostly you just need to know I didn't like it.

So my expectations were low going into Attachments which I have found to be the secret to enjoying anything in life.  HAVE LOW EXPECTATIONS!  Dash your hopes and then dash them again and suddenly everything good in life is a bonus.  This book was definitely a bonus for me.

The book is written via "attachments" to emails.  It's two women at work who write each other at their boring jobs and talk about life, work, boyfriends, etc.  They don't know that their emails are being "flagged" and some guy downstairs is reading them monitoring for inappropriate content.  Well, he kind of falls for one of the girls but doesn't dare ever talk to her or meet her because of crippling anxiety and shyness.  Until he does talk to her.  And then they make out in a movie theater.

That's the very short synopsis.  Going into the book I thought the book would be mostly about the two girls emailing back and forth, but turns out it was more about the boy, Lincoln.  Which was kind of a nice surprise.  Here's the condensed likes/ dislikes of the book:

LIKES:
+ Emails between the two girls.  Very funny and very witty.  I could read those all day and be entertained as can be.  I normally am not too fast of a reader (I tend to get distracted by everything in the world around me.  I'm working on it.) but I read this book in two days.  This is VERY unusual for me- probably happens once a year.  Usually it takes me at least a week or two to read a book.  Attachments was such an easy read, though, and so fun and clever that I just flew through it.
+ I thought the character of the main guy, Lincoln, was shyly adorable, very unassuming, and just overall sweet, quiet guy.  Not like most of the leads in books which was kind of nice.
+ I really enjoyed the character of Lincoln's mom.  A lot of the girls in our IRL book club didn't like her because she was overbearing, protective, couldn't let go of him, clingy, etc.  I liked her though.  I thought she was out of control and hilarious and way too involved in her son's life, AS MOMS ARE.  So I really appreciated that character.
+ Just an overall very fun book for me to read.  This is a perfect summer/ beach/ vacation read.  You don't have to focus or remember a lot of plot points or characters.  PERFECT.  It's like watching a cute little chick flick, but you're reading it.

DISLIKES:
+ As was brought up in our IRL book discussion, I wished there was more physical description of the characters.  It wasn't until halfway through the book that Lincoln is referred to as "my cute guy" and I was like, "WHAT?!?  He's cute?!?  This changes everything!!!"  I also didn't feel like with Beth and Jennifer we got much physical description either.  Of course, everything we learned about them was through email, so it makes sense.
+ Sometimes I felt like Rowell was just making up "fake problems" to get in the way of Beth and Lincoln being together.  There didn't seem to be any real hurdles and so it was frustrating when chapter after chapter they weren't together because Lincoln was quiet or because Beth was talking about her boyfriend again whom she didn't like.  I dunno.  I kind of needed a little more conflict.
+ It took so long for Beth and Lincoln to finally hook up and then when they did, the book was over.  I hate it when books and movies do that to me.  I invest a lot into watching these two get together, now I would like to see what it is like when they are together a little more!  Give me a few chapters of lovey/ dovey adorableness.  Don't do me wrong!

Overall I give the book 4.5 stars out of 5.  Very cute, fun read.  You're not going to be up all night thinking about it, but it is great for an entertaining read.  Also a great book to give someone who is a reluctant reader.  Read it this summer!

And for those of you who read it, tell me what you thought?  Anybody else read a lot of Rainbow Rowell's book and have suggestions for which ones I should try?  (I heard Fangirl is not too great?)  And for May we are reading Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes so get ready for drama because you know how Jodi Picoult likes to do us.  Discussion will be the last Thursday of the month (May 26) and IRL book meet up will be that Tuesday, May 24.  See you then, suckers!


Book club is my favorite night of the week.  I love it soooooo much.  Come join us!
Email me thelifeofbon@gmail.com for details and such.
Or click here for 2016's reading schedule.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Mother's Day Sale Woop Woop


Our two biggest sales of the year are Black Friday and Mother's Day and tomorrow (today?  What day is it!?!) is our mother's day sale!

If you've been waiting to get something for your mama (or waiting for your husband to get something for you!) here's you chance.  AND we've marked down adding extra birthstoes to necklaces from $10 to $7  $7 extra stones + extra discount on top of that should make it super affordable  to get mom a necklace with all her kids' birthstones on it!  All orders places Wednesday and Thursday will have guaranteed mother's day delivery.  You all need to tag your kids tag your wives and tag your husbands cuz we're selling everything up in here.  (And if you haven't watched the Antoine Dodson news story in awhile, please do,  Always good for a laugh!)

Let me know if you have any questions.  Let the jewelry madness begin.  And as always, thanks so much for your business and your orders and your support and your general good juju.  This jewelry business has meant everything to us the past 6 months and has been our saving grace.  We know anys success we've had has been because of this amazing blogging community of friends and overall awesome people.  So thank you!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Blogging Crossroads

I'm at a weird place with this blog.  15 months ago I went from five posts a week to three posts a week.  I did this mostly because I was on survival mode at the time.  I couldn't keep up.  Now I feel like I can barely even eek out the three.  For a long time I felt like I had everything in the world to say and all the time to say it in.  Now I feel like I have nothing to say and no time to say it in.

Of course, having nothing to say didn't really stop me in the past.  For years I wrote daily about anything in the world, I didn't care if I had "something to say" or not.  But I am struggling to write about non important stuff like my fingernails or my spring must haves or whatever else. I'm also kind of weirdly not into stuff lately, which is basically 99% of blogging.  I've been gutting my house and every extra shirt, extra bottle of lotion, every extra pair of high heels that I never wear is causing me weird guilt and stress.  I want rid of it all. (So basically what I'm trying to say is that today I will not be sharing my five must have spring buys with you all.)

I suppose the thing that would make the most sense, then, is to quit the blog.  But I really enjoy writing on the blog for the most part.  (Writing when I have time to write and when there is no pressure to get a post out by a certain time.)  I enjoy the blogging community and feel grateful for the support and friendship I have found online.  I also feel like writing on a forum like this helps me to process a lot of my life experiences.  So I can't quit.

Someone send a life planner out to me.  I need to find a direction for this blog.  It's a confused, weird online space right now.

Because I don't have much to say today, I will direct you to some people who DO have something to say.  These are three things that I read on the internet this week that really struck a chord with me:

+ I saw this article about raising small children floating around the internet like crazy this weekend.  Usually I dislike articles like these because I find them so negative, but this one was very truthful about this stage of life while also being positive.  It made me feel so grateful,

+ Greg's college theater teacher, director, mentor, and friend, Chris Clark, was diagnosed with ALS a few weeks ago.  It felt like the wind had been knocked out of us when we heard.  He is the guy everyone always wants to be around.  Chris's sister is one of my favorite bloggers in the world and she wrote this blog post about it that made us cry silent, sad tears.

+ My friend, Stephanie, is a role model for me in all things equal rights, feminism, and overall "take good care of people"-ness.  She wrote this article in the Salt Lake Tribune this weekend about the rape culture at BYU.  If you live in Utah, you've probably been well aware of the BYU/rape/honor code debacle.  I always enjoy hearing Stephanie's thoughts on matters such as these.  (And the comments on this article are absolutely insane.  I do not understand people.)


AND one announcement... we are discussing Rainbow Rowell's Attachments at book club tomorrow at 7 pm. (Tuesday, April 26)  We would love to have you come even if you don' know anyone/ are afraid of showing up to a weird blogger thing alone.  I promise we'll make you feel safe and comfortable and I am making my favorite cookie with chocolate and cream cheese so you know that's tempting you.  The friends and the conversation can't be beat- it's always one of my favorite nights of the month.  If you would like to join send me an email at bonnie.louisa@gmail.com and I'll give you address and directions.  The IRL discussion of Attachments will be Thursday on this blog so be there!


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Some days I work at a school



There was a time where I wrote a lot about teaching and I wrote a lot about my students on this blog.  I don't write about my students as much anymore because now I have June and she's a lot cuter than 17 year olds.  She also doesn't talk back to me.  Yet.

In actuality, blogging on a public forum about students and their personal education is tough.  I would like to find a way to talk about my profession again on this blog because it's something I care about and that I'm very passionate about. It's a fine line, though.  It's tricky when the students you are writing about are real people with real lives and it's hard when you disagree with a lot of the things your district is doing but you really like your job and want to keep it.  It's hard when you see a lot of flaws in common core and  standardized testing so you want to fight the man but you love your principal so you decide to just shut up and do your job.

The best part of my job is the students  My students this year are so sweet.  Like vanilla syrup and cinnamon with marshmallow sauce.  I love them fiercely.  I also don't feel like I am at odds with them as much this year.  Part of this is because I eased up considerably on my late policy.  This happened at the urging of my principal, who has asked all teachers to think about doing away with late penalties completely.  This is an entirely different subject for another day, but I decided I would give it a try third quarter.  I didn't make an announcement, but if a student tried to hand in work late, I let him.  I stopped insisting the work be in by a certain date and I even let kids redo tests.  The results were that the same kids got As, the same kids got Cs, and the same kids got Fs.  My unofficial conclusion, therefore, is that it makes no difference at all on a student's grade if you accept her late work.  The upside, that I wasn't expecting, is that I stopped feeling like I was constantly going to battle with my student over their stupid late essays.  The energy I was putting into enforcing deadlines, calculating late penalties and keeping track of if a student's absence was excused or not can now be put into other, more important tasks.  It's easier to be a teacher.  Just let the kid hand that dumb review in.  Stop feeling like kids are trying to manipulate me all the time.  Give them their 10 points. It feels like the classroom is an easier, less tense place to be this year. I like it.

Sometimes I wish I could tell the world more about the kids I teach.  They are funny and smart and sassy and sometimes they say the most inappropriate things at the most opportune time and I have bite my lip not to laugh.  A lot of them do their homework.  A lot of them don't do their homework.  Most of my students work jobs after school- many of my students working 40 hour a week jobs.  For many of them, homework just isn't the priority- they help their family financially and they don't have the luxury of five hour homework sessions.  Last week I felt very frustrated when 3 out of a class of 26 had done their homework.  I asked them all to write me a note explaining why they hadn't bothered to do their work that weekend.  I said it with an edge.  I was fed up.  Then I read their notes and one student replied, "I was a pile of blankets and sadness all weekend.  I still kinda am."  Another student replied, "I didn't do the homework because my friend's mom is in the hospital with cancer so I was at the hospital with him all weekend.  My dad died of cancer in October and I felt very alone during that time so I wanted to help my friend not feel so alone."  So, no.  They don't all do their homework.  And I am starting to think that that isn't the most important thing.

And then there's the huge topic of standardized testing. This week my juniors are taking the SAGE- a massive English, Reading, Writing, and Science test in the state of Utah.  It takes 3-4 hours per section.   It is a beast.  Supposedly this test will be used down the road to evaluate teacher effectiveness and there are even looming threats that at one point teachers' pay will be tied into the SAGE scores.   I do not support this test nor do I think it is a measure of what our students can do or what our teachers can teach.  The kids take the SAGE every spring, BUT it doesn't count on their grade.  Turns out this is a pretty big but.  It's just a test they take for the state.  As it has no effect of their grade, the students could not possibly care less about how they do.  There is zero motivation for them.  They don't try.  They don't care.  Some kids guess all the way through just to be done with it.   It is hard for me as a teacher to get them to "buy in" to the SAGE.  (Especially when I am not bought in, either.)   What am I supposed to say to them, "Hey guys!  If you all score really well on this test it looks like I'm a great teacher and if you all score really low then it looks like I suck at my job, so please, for my sake, spend four  hours stressing over and working on this test!  I need you to do well!"  

Yesterday right before they started their test, a girl raised her hand.  "So this doesn't count on our grade at all then, right?"  "No." I answered point blank.  It felt wrong to try to pretend like the test was anything different than it is.  "So what's the point?" she countered.

What's the point?
What's the point?
What's the point?

Good question.  Ask the state of Utah, because your teacher doesn't know.

When she was done with her 57 question test in 9 minutes I was only mildly annoyed.  Would 17 year old Bonnie have really tried to answer those questions?  Probably not.  29 year old Bonnie probably wouldn't either, if we're being real honest here.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Girls Trip 2016

Once upon a time if I went on vacation I would write blog posts in advance and schedule them so that there would be a new blog post every evening.

That was once upon a time.  I was clearly insane  I don't do that anymore.  I go on vacation and I forget I have a blog.  Kind of like I forget I am a teacher and I forget I have a jewelry business.  Isn't that the point of vacation?!?

I went to Dallas, in case you're wondering.  If you follow me on snapchat (@thelifeofbon) you probably already know that.  I went to Dallas for a girls' trip with all of my besties from college.  One of my besties (Mandy) lives in Dallas and she told us the city was worth a look.  Biggest understatement of the year.  I think we all fell in love on the spot.  The weather was perfect, the manis/pedis 20% off, and the food... OH THE FOOD.  We ate not out of necessity, but for the mere pleasure of eating.  Everywhere we went there were amazing, unique to Dallas restaurants.  We ate pizza and tacos and chocolate pie and special noodles that they make right in front of you.  We ate barbeque without plates, just thrown on a slab in front of us.  We ate Chinese food that could make a grown man cry and we ate popsicles with cookies inside of them.  If I were a food blogger I would pack up and move to Dallas right this second.  THERE IS NO END TO DELICIOUS FOOD IN DALLAS.

We did other things to, when our stomachs insisted on a break from the food.  We played tennis and went swimming and played cards and Mandy and I taught Sally and Courtney the intricate ways of snapchat.  We talked and talked and talked some more.  It was the most perfect weekend.

Before the pictures (I didn't take nearly enough pics of the food), a word on adult friendships.  It's harder to make friends as an adult for me.  I do have adult friends, and I'm grateful for that.  But there is something to be said for the girls who have been through it all with you.  Who lived with you, who knew you before you were married, who are well acquainted with your really stupid 19 year old decisions.  It's hard to get that same kind of connection once you are married with your own family.  Most of my relationship energy now goes to my husband and my daughter, not new neighbors who I am hoping to convert into lifetime best friends. For four years my college roommates were my family- they were the people I came home to every day, the people who got on my nerves when they didn't clean the bathroom, the people whose shoulders I cried on.  I wonder if it is possible to recapture that type of friendship after college, that closeness, that need.

We were roommates for four years (when I was in Argentina for a year and a half they all wrote me faithfully!) and then best friends for long after that.  One by one they all moved out of Utah to start their own careers and families.  Now the six of us all live in different states and so our annual girls' trip is really the only chance we get to catch back up.  I am eternally grateful for these girls and their friendships.  And I think we're all aware that finding a group of friends like this more than once in a lifetime just doesn't happen.  So I try to take care of them.  They are my tribe.

 These girls are such incredible women and I look up to them.  My friends are intelligent and well educated (in the group we have a lawyer, a nurse, two occupational therapists, a teacher, and a  business owner).  My friends work in their field.  My friends are pretty.  In college, there was no shortage of boys who wanted to date them.  These women are strong- they have fought through challenges and setbacks and watching them gives me strength.  But most importantly, my friends are just good, kind people.  I am proud to know them.

And now... PICTURES.  Two girls of the group couldn't make it this year (Boo, adulthood) but we'll count on them for 2017!





JFK assassination tour.  Dallas folk are real into their JFK pride.

This is the X where JFK was when he was shot!