Sunday, August 17, 2014

David, Goliath, and a room full of ten year olds

Can anyone recommend me a great newborn photographer in the Provo to Salt Lake area?  I need one stat.  Pretty soon June isn't even going to look like a newborn anymore and I want a real photographer to get some good pics of her.

Today was a weird Sunday.

Greg was filming a commercial, (a national commercial for the Huntsman Cancer Institute- watch for him if you ever see the commercial air.  He'll be the sick looking chemo patient in the background.) so I had to go church alone.  Normally I wouldn't think much of it except for:

1) I have a newborn
2) We teach a class of six 10 year olds
3) Earlier this week the teachers of the 9 year olds asked if we could teach their class as well.  We stupidly said yes.

That left me by my lonesome to teach twelve (TWELVE!) squirrely kids and a newborn about David and Goliath.

I got up up early (8:30-  I realize "early" is a very relative term but come on, it's Sunday AND I'm on maternity leave) to get ready, to get June ready, prepare the lesson, and make treats.  A few months ago we started the terrible tradition of bringing treats for the little schmoozers.  Now they throw huge fits if we ever "forget".  We never should have gone down that dark road of giving food to kids, I realize that, but now if we don't come bearing brownies they're going to stage a revolt, I swear.

ANYWAY, everything was going great this morning, (and by that I mean I successfully took a shower,) until we hit a major roadblock.

Okay fine.  The road block was me.
Taking pictures.
So many pictures.
Of June.

I can't be blamed, it's what happens anytime I'm left alone with my baby.  I go ape with the camera. Greg leaves for an hour and I swear, I go all beauty pageant mom on June, staging photos, dressing her up, posing her like a doll, demanding royalties, the likes.  It's a mess.  I know in the deep recesses of my brain that I am acting totally batty when I take 226 pictures of my daughter just chilling on a Sunday morning, but I have accepted and embraced my battiness and I have to tell you, it feels great.  Long live crazy moms!

Moving onward.  The David and Goliath lesson did not go off at all like I had hoped- when you have 12 kids packed in a little room at 2:00 on a hot Sunday afternoon, I guess you can just expect that they are all going to have WAY too much energy to listen to bible tales.  I asked for volunteers to act out the story while I read it out loud from the scriptures.  That was a total disaster.  My Goliath kept going off script, quoting lines from Despicable Me instead, and my David just kept staring at June, exclaiming, "She's so cute!"

"Sarah!" I demanded, "You're David!  David can't get distracted by a baby!  You got a giant to fight!"  To which she threw her hands up in the air and proclaimed, "I give up!  It's too hard!"

Half of the kids watching in their seats looked bored to tears while the other half we're trying their darndest to get their own speaking part, jumping in their seats and ad libbing their own lines.  One kid rolled his eyes and listened to his iPod.  It was a mess, people.

Add to this all, my little June bug, fast asleep and farting in the corner every ten minutes, sending the entire room of ten year olds into hysterics.  Admit it, you would have laughed too.

By the time I got home from church it was all I could do to microwave some nachos and veg out on a couple of episodes of Shark Tank.  Greg got home about 7:00, reporting that he had mostly sat around and eaten treats all day.  It's a tough life, being in commercials.  I tried not to be mad.

The good news is that he should get a decent paycheck for his day.  I already informed him that when the money comes, I am cashing it and spending it all on myself.  As far as I see it, I earned every last penny of that check today.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

For Robin

In the three days since Robin Williams' death there has been much said, much written, much shared.

My initial instinct was to not say anything myself.  Sometimes I prefer to write about silly things than important things. The important things are too hard to say or too hard to process or require too much analysis and thought and it's easier to just write about breast feeding in line at Chick-fil-a.

But I keep thinking about Robin Williams, and about his death and every time I think about it I feel so darn sad.

The tragedy has sparked much discussion about suicide and the "appropriateness" of it, for lack of a better word.  A very popular blog post has been going around in which the author states that suicide is always a selfish act.  He states "there is nothing positive to say about it."  I did not read the article because sometimes you just know that you don't need to read certain things. But even reading a snippet of the post has made me think- how do we treat someone who ended his life "by choice."  Do we revere him? Do we condemn him? Do we honor him?

What about those of us who believe in God?  Where do we "put" a man such as Robin Williams?  In hell?  In heaven?  What does God say to a man who ended the life that He gave him?  Is He mad?  Is He forgiving?  Does He understand?

The truth is that the older I get, the less I understand about God.  I used to think I had the Man totally figured out, but I don't at all.  There are some things I have been told about God that I just don't believe anymore.  I don't believe he is a God to be feared or that he is a God of anger.  I don't believe in a hateful, punishing God.  I do believe in a fair God, and I do believe in a merciful God; how He can be both of those things, I don't know, but I believe He is.

A lot of the things I know and believe about God come from knowing my dad.  My dad put on a tough act, but the truth is he was nothing but love.  He disciplined his kids, he got frustrated with his kids, he about dang near lost it when we totalled his cars and put holes in the family room walls and brought home loser boyfriends. But none of that came close to comparing with the amount of love my dad showed to us. At the end of the day, He was kind. He was forgiving. He was absolutely overflowing with love for his eight kids- a love that always always outweighed the punishments, the discipline, the anger.

I guess I have to believe that God is the same way.  Justice and discipline, yes, but trumped by mercy and love every time.

I believe He understands perfectly our situations.
I believe He is kind.
I believe He is merciful.
I believe He has it all figured out.
I believe that maybe it is all much simpler than we make it out to be down here.

 And I believe that when God sees Robin Williams again, there is a look of understanding, a long hug, and a terrific joke.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Chick-fil-a drive thru breastfeeding. It's a thing.


The weirdest things are happening.

Greg wants me to watch Bachelor in Paradise with him.  He is literally sitting here asking me if I am almost finished with my post so that we can finish the episode.  It's a weird world.

Speaking of weird world.  I had a bunch of errands to run today.  Oh, errands!  They are going to be the death of me.  Get the electricity switched to our name, put down a deposit so the city will give us a garbage can, return library books, get June on to my insurance, pick up mail keys.  The errands never end!  I was at my school district office in the middle of a riveting conversation about flex spending and how to switch June to my insurance for a measley 45 days before we switch her onto Greg's insurance (It's a freaking circus!) when June let out one of her barbaric cries that means it's time to eat. Time to eat right this second, damnit!  I know her cry well.

My next stop was supposed to be the school to work on a bunch of sub plans.  I thought I would feed June there, in the comfort of my quiet classroom, no problemo.  Well.  Actually there was a problem.  First I needed to eat.  I don't mean to put my hunger in front of my child's, but let's face it, it takes June an hour to eat lunch and it takes me close to seven minutes.  I win.  Chick-fil-a is right across the street from my school, so a quick trip through the drive thru before I hit the school was to be my ticket to cure my hunger.

June usually calms down in the car, but she wasn't having it today.  I about had an ulcer when I saw the line- probably 20 cars in line for a little bit of chicken.  I considered going somewhere else, but at this point I just wanted to get my food and be done with it all. The dude came out to my car to take my order, June screamed bloody murder, and it was then and there that I knew I had no choice.  As soon as the guy was gone, I whipped June out of her carseat and began to feed her while we inched slowly forward in line.  It's not going to win me mom of the year, but we were going at most two miles an hour and that child needed to eat.  Sue me.

The highlight of the whole experience came when I finally arrived at the window to pick up my meal.  Who should appear to hand me over my nuggets and fries but a former student?!?

"Oh, hey Mallorie!" I exclaimed much too excitedly and over zealously.  You know how you get when you're nervous and maybe caught doing something you're not supposed to and start talking in a high pitched over excited voice?  It was that.  Mallorie looked at me with that apathetic look that is so typical for teenagers, and then glanced questioningly at the apparent bundle of blankets in my arms.

"Oh you know!  Screaming baby!" I quickly tried to explain.  She obviously couldn't have cared less, but I attempted justification anyway.  "I couldn't wait for the line! Had to feed her now! This little five pound sucker has got a pair of lungs on her!"

"Cool.  So you had your baby?"  She asked, semi interested.

"Yep!  Had the baby! Gotta go!  Thanks Mallorie!  Love my nuggets!" I chimed like the hot mess I truly was.  I put the car in to drive and inched my way into the nearby parking spot.  Forty five minutes later I emerged to change June's diaper, restrap her in a car seat, and throw away my empty chick-fil-a bag.  Mallorie waved from the now empty window.  "Good luck, Ms. Larsen!" she yelled.

Thanks, kid.  I'm gonna be needing it.  See you on the first day of school?

Now. (Enter smooth transition sentence here.)  Before I bid adieu to you all tonight, I've got eight ladies who have pooled a bit of cash together to give you some back to school spending money.  $130 is up for grabs in whichever form you want- via Paypal, Target gift card, J. Crew gift card, the sky is the limit!  Entering is super easy so get going!  If you're anything like me you might spend the whole dang wad on lunch at Chick-fil-a!  Hey, we can dream, can't we?!?

Giveaway ends August 19, 2014.  All entries will be verified.  Giveaway open to international readers given they are able and willing to accept the prize money via Paypal.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

NIP: Nursing in Public.

In September, Olivia Wilde is going to be featured in Glamour magazine as a proud breastfeeding mother.  She's got pictures to prove it- decked out in a gorgeous gown and strappy high heels, breast feeding her naked son in public like it's the most acceptable thing in the world.

I'm jealous of this picture not for the reasons you would think- I don't envy the dress or the perfect hair.  Mostly I want the total acceptance to nurse in public like Wilde is doing.  I've been at the breastfeeding game for a whopping four weeks.  I was lucky in that it was much easier for me than I imagined it would be- had it been at all difficult I surely would have given up.  (I'm not one to tenaciously insist on doing something that I am not good at.)  June is a good nurser and eats at a very consistent schedule meaning I really have no excuse to keep breastfeeding her as long as she decides.

Deciding to definitely be a breast feeding mom, then, now presents me with a new dilemma.  I am constantly on the go.  I plan to return to work.  I am not in a private setting every three to four hours where I can comfortably nurse.  June, a normally very chill and happy baby, goes all sorts of crazy when it's time to eat.  Panic mode sets in, and convinced that she will never eat again she resorts to high pitched screams of absolute frenzy until she is satisfied.  It's awesome.

I was at the library last week when this happened.  We have had trouble getting internet and cable into our new home so for the past week I've been doing all of my blogging business at the one open kiddie table at the public library.  I was blissfully typing away when June let out a hunger scream.  It was time to eat.  Now.

I had about 20 minutes left of writing and editing before I could publish my post.  June was not about to give 20 minutes.  I was not about to drive 15 minutes home, feed June, and drive 15 minutes back to finish the post.  I checked the bathroom, but it did me no favors in the breastfeeding department.  And so, desperate and tired, I whipped out a swaddling blanket to cover myself and fed June right then and there.  The cover was hot and obnoxious, but I didn't quite dare go at it cover-less.  June ate voraciously while I attempted to type one handed and finish my post. Besides the fact that she drinks about as loud as an elephant, I convinced myself that no one had the slightest idea of what was going on.

Since then I have gotten a bit more comfortable breast feeding in public, as long as the trusty cover is in place, of course!  (One site I read said to practice in front of the mirror.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like the only thing more awkward than breastfeeding in front of other people is breastfeeding in front of yourself.)  Greg and I spent an evening in Park City last weekend with his family and when June was hungry during dinner, I fed her right there in the restaurant. (Although as my sister in law pointed out as she watched me maneuver the nursing cover, the shirt, the nursing bra, "That's like a circus!"  Yep!  Welcome to the show!)  I didn't ask my in laws if they were comfortable with me nursing during dinner, I figured it was easier just not to ask because heck, I didn't want to miss dinner and I certainly wasn't going to make everyone wait 45 minutes for me.

After the successful dinner nursing, I figured I was in the clear.  I was a nursing in public prodigy!  I wouldn't be afraid of donning my obnoxious cover (It's so hot!) and feeding my child wherever, whenever.  But then yesterday at church Greg asked me,

"What are you going to do when June needs to eat this afternoon?"
"I'll just feed her."
"In the middle of church?"
"Yes...We're going to be in primary." (The class with all the kids aged 4-11.  Greg and I teach the 10 year olds).
"Yah, I'll just sit in the back and feed her."
"I don't know if the kids and teachers are going to be comfortable with that.  I think that's why they have the mother's room..."  Greg sounded hesitant.
"You're uncomfortable with me nursing in public?"
"I'm not uncomfortable with it, I just don't want to make other people at church uncomfortable."

I have to admit, I was kind of surprised by Greg's reaction.  He was totally comfortable with me nursing in a very public restaurant, but not comfortable with me nursing at church.  I nursed in front of his brother and dad, but not in front of a bunch of squirrely ten year olds.  Is there, then, some "public" nursing that is more acceptable than others?

In the end, I acquiesced.  Instead of nursing in primary, I banished myself to the "mother's room", a closet sized room with a couple of rocking chairs designated for breastfeeding moms.  I found myself in there with two other moms and we spent the last 45 minutes of church in there together, all feeding our babes under covers instead of sitting in the classes we were supposed to.  I couldn't help but think it strange that I had to miss a significant portion of church to feed my child.  The other two women were missing relief society- a class of only adult women.  Surely they didn't feel like they needed to leave a class of only women to feed their babies because the other women would be uncomfortable with their feeding?

I am interested to hear what you all think about the NIP debate- when and where is it acceptable? (And with what people?)  Do you feel uncomfortable when other women nurse in front of you?  Do you always have to have a cover to nurse in public, or is it ever acceptable to nurse your child freely? (Because boy, am I over the cover already!)  Sometimes I wish I could just go to Argentina, where women are bare breasted and feeding their babies on the back of motorcycles like it's nothing- now wouldn't that be the life?!

(The first time I wrote about breast feeding was here-  I can't say my opinion has changed too much over the years.)

Thursday, August 07, 2014

High School Reunion- to go or not to go?

That up there is a picture of me in high school, in case you were wondering.  
I was very into mascara and lip gloss and spent a lot of time 
with my flat iron trying to get my hair to flip just right.  
You know, important high school stuff.

This month is my ten year high school reunion.  I have debated and debated whether or not I should go, and I keep putting it off, promising to think about it tomorrow. Today is the deadline to buy tickets.  Decision day is here.

The truth is I was a bit lost in high school.  I suppose I hadn't quite figured out who I was yet.  I liked myself just fine, but wasn't quite convinced yet that anybody else should like me.  I had no confidence around my peers. I was the president of National Honor's Society, the piano accompanist for choir, and carried around a copy of David McCullough's John Adams to all of my classes just in case there was down time.  (There always was.)  A terrible driver from the get go, I wrecked my parents' old station wagon midway through my senior year.  My parents insisted I live with the consequences of my actions, and so for the rest of the year I had to resort to rollerblading from the high school to my after school job.  I carried the blades with me in my backpack during the day and to make the after school trek more fun,  I listened to Billy Joel's Greatest Hits on my discman while I rollerbladed.  I was the epitome of hip.

I had no idea how to flirt.  I was madly in love with a boy in my calculus class, and watched helplessly as he dated someone else for the entire year.  The friends I hung out with were all a year older than me, and I suspect they let me roll with them partly out of pity.  I had never kissed a boy.

That's not to say I hated high school. It was fine for what it was, I just didn't love it. I moved from the town I grew up in for college and never looked back. I found my confidence in college and met my best friends for life.  My mom moved from the town three years ago and any friends I had there have long since left.  Especially now that the place harbors with it so many memories of my dad, I have little desire or motivation to visit and tend to keep my distance.

Yet something keeps pulling at me to attend the reunion.  It's two hours away from where I live now, and it would cost $50 for Greg and I to attend. (Ouch!  Does this seem steep to anyone else besides me?)  I really am not close with anyone who graduated with me in 2004.  Part of me feels all my high school insecurities rushing back to me when I think of going and seeing my high school peers.  It's like I'm convinced all over again that I'll never be cool enough.

When I was visiting my sister in Germany I mentioned that my reunion was coming up.  She encouraged me to go, stating that she had missed her own ten year reunion and regretted it.  I still can't decide if I'll regret missing mine or if I should just keep the $50 and spend the evening cuddling up to Modern Family with my husband and baby instead.

I am interested to know how many of you attended/will attend your high school reunion.  Is it important to make that effort or is it okay to just accept you have nothing in common with 200 people who graduated the same time and place that you did and let it go?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

These days

There must be something seriously wrong with me that a big part of me can not wait to have another baby.  It's just that the entire pregnancy/birth/newborn stage has been so much sweeter than I could have ever imagined.  I suppose I prepared myself for the worst.  I listened to everyone's horror stories about having babies and convinced myself that that would happen to me, too.

I would go two weeks past my due date.
I would have a terrible, traumatic birth experience.
My baby would have colic.
I would have postpartum depression.
Greg would distance himself emotionally from me and the baby.
My baby wouldn't latch onto me making breast feeding painful and miserable.
I would resent my baby.
I would have to stay at home all day every day because my baby wouldn't allow me to go out at all.
Sleep would cease to exist.
I wouldn't ever have time to shower or get ready.  I'd never feel pretty again.
It would take me three years to lose the baby weight.
Greg and I would fight constantly.
Post birth recovery would be so bad that I wouldn't be able to do anything for weeks and weeks.
My friends would all ditch me and I'd be totally alone without any social outlets.
I would resort to talking to wildlife and playing online poker for my social interaction.

I was ready.  Armed and loaded, ready to be hit with every single one of those scenarios right after birth.  (This is what happens when you live in a culture where ever single person your age already has kids and every single one of those people want to share their worst experiences with you to "prepare" you.)  So when I wasn't hit with those scenarios, at first I held my breath.  Certainly they were coming.  Four days of successful breastfeeding?  That doesn't mean a thing!  Two weeks of easy nights, with baby only waking twice to feed and then going right back to sleep?  It won't last!  Three weeks of loving everything about being a mom?  It could all go wrong at any second!

Just recently have I started to allow myself to think that maybe this is what motherhood is going to be for me.  Sweet.  Fun.  Enjoyable.  Maybe all these years that I was terrified of having children what I didn't know is that I would absolutely love it?

That's not to say that there haven't been bumps in the road.  The last thing I wanted was a C section and there is a part of me that still mourns that I couldn't deliver June normally.  My incision will strike at a moment's notice, causing me great pain and making me instantly grumpy and frustrated.  If I don't leave the house every day I start to feel lonely- like the world is passing me by.  My emotions have been all of out whack.   (See crying over tile back splash from yesterday's post...)

BUT.  Overall, it has been a very special, almost sacred time for me.  These days are incredibly sweet and tender.  There is a special spirit in our home with our little five pound newborn. Greg doesn't have to start working at the high school until August 14, and I don't have to go back until mid September (yea for maternity leave!) so these winding summer days are long and lazy for us.  We stay up late cuddling and cooing at June, eating nachos, watching Redboxes.  We sleep in, are lucky to take a shower by noon, run to the grocery store together, and take long afternoon naps.  Sometimes I take a step back and look at my family and am just overwhelmed at it all.  This is my very own little family- my future, my everything.  What in the world I did to deserve it, I will never know.

Next week Greg will start his job at the high school and my days will be my own.  June will grow and soon she won't be the still sleeping newborn that she is now.  I'll go back to work and life will go crazy again.  But for these days, these long dog days of summer, everything is just about perfect.

Can you blame me for wanting to do it all again?

 ^^My niece, checking out the baby.

^^ She hasn't quite mastered the hold yet.

 ^^ This is my friend's baby- born one day after June.  As you can see, there's a bit of a weight difference.

^^ With her grandma.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Welcome home!

Last Thursday Greg and I woke up early, drove down to a little office in Provo and signed our lives away.

At least that's what it felt like.

It was an hour of signing documents, then a stop at the bank to wire every last penny we've ever earned, and botta bing, botta boom, WE ARE HOME OWNERS!  (Also, how totally weird is it to have thousands of dollars in your bank account one minute and zero dollars in your bank account the next minute?  It is awful, that's what it is.)

I thought it was never going to happen.  It seemed like that house was going to just keep getting built and built and built and that we'd never move in.

But we're in!  As of Friday, we are in!

Would you like to see some pictures?  Alright... you talked me into it!

(Two car garage?!  We're in HEAVEN!)


My favorite part about the house is the kitchen.  It didn't quite turn out how I had envisioned, but it's close enough.  I thought the wall color would be darker.  It's very hard to look at a 1" x 1" swap of color and know how that will look on every wall in your household.  I wanted it to be a light gray.  Greg had chosen out a color that probably would have been perfect, but last minute I went in and changed it in place of a lighter shade because I was worried the original color would go on too dark.  I thought that paint always looks darker on walls? (Since someone has told me the opposite- it always goes on lighter.  Which is it people?!?)

The other part of the kitchen that didn't go quite as I had planned was the tile back splash.  I used a picture from the builders to choose from- it was supposed to be a light gray that matched the counter tops.  Five days after June was born we were walking through the home with our realtor to talk about some landscaping issues.  I stopped in my tracks in the kitchen when I saw the back splash that had just gone up that day.  It wasn't gray at all- it was cream- and it didn't match the kitchen a bit.  Five days postpartum and not quite in control of my emotions, I naturally burst into tears.  The realtor, who works in the English department with me at my school, was nice as can be as was Greg, but you can tell they didn't quite know what to do with me.  Lesson learned- always ask for a sample not a picture.

^^What the back spalsh looked like on the picture... GRAY, right?

^^ What the back splash looks like in real life.  Greg says I need to let it go.  I say he'll never understand the complexities of kitchen tile back splash.


^^ Again, so hard with samples to know how everything is going to go together.  The counter tops and tile don't quite match like I want them to, but, you know... let it go...


^^ This space is mine alone- there is a whole other half of the closet for Greg.  I'm in absolute closet heaven.



Friday we got everything moved out of our apartment and into the town home.  Both my and Greg's mom showed up around noon on Friday to help us clean, pack, and box up everything.  (I try to be useful, but with my incision there is still so much I can't do!)  About 4:00 my brother showed up with his truck and trailer as well as my other brother and nephew to help pack boxes.  Greg's brother and sister in law came to help too, and within an hour we had everything loaded.  I was so overwhelmed as I looked at our "crew"- all of these people helping us do the worst chore ever- move.  They weren't there because they had to be or because they were benefiting somehow- they were just there because they love us and wanted to help us.  It has been so humbling for me to see how many people have helped us in and given to us in these days since June's birth.  Coming from a girl who can't even push a vacuum by herself these days, I am so appreciate of all of you who have helped in some way or sent love or well wishes.  Thank you!

Life is good.

Welcome to the mom club?

Well folks.  Today you will find me again at the library.  It's looking like we're a week out from getting internet in our new home so I suppose this will have to be my work space.  It's not so bad except for I've constantly got four and five year olds staring at me wondering what I'm doing sitting at this mini table typing away.  Also this library does not have regular sized tables.  It's a total gyp.

A part of me still does not process that I am now a part of the mom club.  I look at all these moms tromping around at the library and yelling for their kids and I think, "Sheesh!  Pipe down, moms!"  And June gives a battle cry from the carseat at my feet and suddenly stinks up the place.  I'll stop getting annoyed at all of you other moms now.

Moving on,  I've got a great variety of bloggers to introduce you to.  Their interests and blogs vary greatly (clean eating, marriage and family relations, , etc.) but what they all have in common is that they have awesome blogs that are worthy of a couple of minutes of your time.  I have pulled out their best posts for you so you can quickly click on a couple of links and see which bloggers line up with your taste.  Here's to making new bloggy friends!

I totally love Torrie because her blog is full of practical, useful advice.  (Not to mention that she's a seventh grade teacher- she gets me in a way very few women do!)  She seems to cover it all on her blog- from clean eating, to photography, to teaching rambunctious seventh graders.  Lately she has been focusing on goals, simple living (I love this post on 19 ways to motivate yourself to clean the house) and money matters.

The main purpose of Amberly's blog is to inspire women to work hard on their marriages and relationships every day.  She is a Family Studies major and wants to become a Marriage and Family Life Educator and her passion for making marriage a priority shines through in all of her posts.  She is about as down to earth and real as it gets- I love when I see she has posted something new because I know it will show her strength as well as vulnerabilities.  I especially touched by  this post about a recent miscarriage and extremely curious about this post on why she and her husband don't use credit cards. 

You may also enjoy: What happens to love after you get married, Sacrifices, How we keep the spark alive in our marriage

Heather's blog is almost a complete 180 from Amberly's described above.  Heather's blog embraces her single life and she "tries to keep it real" as she writes about the things she encounters as a single, 32 year old living in a small town where everyone else is married and/or raising children.  She writes about her happiness being single and the fun adventures she goes on.  Her goal is to show that life is still fulfilling being single! In addition to that, Heather is hilarious.  Her posts on social media culture (Dear Mr. Zuckerburg and The importance of a good profile pic) are right on the money!

Jackie is a blogging newbie, only at the game for a few months, but from the looks of her blog you would never guess that.  Even just her "daily rambling" posts are extremely interesting (like this one- no sales tax on school items in the South?!  I live in the wrong state!) and she's got a talent for choosing the exact right gif for each post!  I found myself laughing out loud at several of her posts today.  At the library!

Sierra originally started her blog in 2009 to simply write and document travels, (Love this 10 places I wish to travel) but it quickly morphed into a place for her to share all of her "views"- on photography, fashion, design, humor, teaching, and relationships.  Her blog is both very funny and incredibly raw- I appreciate her openness to share this post on things you should never say to someone with depression.

You may also enjoy:  A letter to my wife (written by her husband), and A Letter to my future daughter.

Now go say hi to these great ladies!  There are so many great reads to keep you entertained on this fine Tuesday.

Monday, August 04, 2014

August Goal: Relax

Hi guys.

We're internetless at my place these days (and will likely be for the next week.  Oh, the joys of moving!)  so I'm chilling in a public library typing away like mad because in 42 minutes the computer is going to boot me off.  Don't you love the first days in a new place?  Total madness.  No internet, no garbage, the bathroom sink only shoots out piping hot water.  It's a dream.


We're in!  We're in!  We're in our brand new home.  Later this week I am hoping that life will slow down just a tad bit and that I can write more about the move and maybe even write about June's birth and maybe maybe finish writing about our time in Europe last month?  This summer has blitzed on by- it's all I can do to sit down and catch my breath.

Which brings me to this post.  At the beginning of the year I wrote this post detailing my goals for 2014.  Knowing that I am not the best at focusing on many things at once, I decided to pick one goal per month to focus on.  January- April I was doing so good at this.  In May, life exploded.  I tried to save, but didn't make a real concentrated effort.  In June we did make it to Europe, but I hardly even wrote about it.  And July.  Poor, Poor July.  It got completely thrown by the wayside.  The specific goal to "Be Kind" was not thought of once during the month- it was all just a chaotic madness.  I'm sorry, July.

I am hoping, though, that the maddest of madness is over for the Larsen household.  Big European vacation is over, baby is here and safe and starting to settle into a routine, we have moved into a new home.  Now let's get to August's goal... RELAX!

When I set these goals in January I knew I was pregnant, although we hadn't shared it with the rest of the world yet.  I thought, "What is a good goal for the month right after you have a baby?  What can I possibly try to accomplish that month?"

Nothing, I decided.  Absolutely nothing.  Which, cruelly enough, may be the hardest of all the goals.  This is what I wrote about my goal for August:

AUGUST:  SLOW DOWN AND BE PRESENT I often think about Thoreau's words, "our lives are being frittered away by details."  In August I would like to slow down and just live a very present life.  (Posts on that here and here.)  I want to relax and enjoy the small things and not feel rushed or stressed or hurried, but just enjoy life in its simplicity.

You see, I'm a total busy body.  I don't like to sit still.  Ever.  Ain't no rest for the wicked.  Or something like that.  Most of the time I like that I keep busy, but I also kind of hate it because I often don't take the time to slow down and enjoy the moment.  I want to be more present.  To enjoy this moment right here right now right this very time and place.  Especially this very special time with my newborn and the fading summer and long days where I don't have to go back to work yet.

It's always easier said than done, though.  Ya'll got suggestions?  I would love to know how you slow down and relax.  Mostly I can't get past the "I have to be doing something productive right now!" feeling.  I am taking a huge step tonight- instead of trying to finish unpacking my house in record time, I am going to go hang out with some blogger friends and watch Bachelor in Paradise.  You know, nothing like watching hot, single people get drunk and make terrible decisions in Mexico to make you feel relaxed, right?  (Also, props to you if you made it through that sentence.  It was a doozy!)

Speaking of relaxing, I am hoping this should help.  You know, a free vacation to Hawaii.  Certainly doesn't hurt, does it? 

(Also, August 15 is national relaxation day.  I am totally jumping in on that!  You should, too!  Check out here for all the details and to get entered in the "Summer of Go Sweepstakes" to win that Hawaiian vacation.  Tommy Bahama is leading the charge on getting all of us to relax a little bit this month.  Don't mind if I do.)

This post is sponsored by Tommy Bahama.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July Book Club: IN COLD BLOOD

Book club time! BOO YAH!

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

 (If you link up I'd love you to slap this image on your post somewhere.  Please and thank you!)

2014 Book Club Schedule:

January: The Husband's Secret by Liane Mortiary (January 30)  Discussion here.
February:  I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (February 27) Discussion here.
March: Divergent by Veronica Roth (March 27) Discussion here.
April:  Night Circus by Eric Morgenstern (April 24) Discussion here.
May:  The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (May 29). Discussion here.
June:  Matilda by Roald Dahl (June 26). Discussion here.

July:  In Cold Blood  by Truman Capote (July 31)

August:  Brain on Fire:  My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan (August 28)
September:  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (September 25)
October:  Z by Therese Ann Fowler (October 23)
November:  Wonder by R.J. Palacio (November 20)
December: My Story by Elizabeth Smart (December 30)

Alright folks!  It is time to talk about one of my favorite books of all time- In Cold Blood. If you didn't quite get to it this month, I totally encourage you to still read it.  It is killer! (See what I did there?) I haven't met anyone who read the book and wasn't totally fascinated by it. Truman Capote is an excellent writer and pays strict attention to detail.  He is a gifted story teller, so the true account reads like a suspenseful thriller.  Capote goes beyond the surface and delves into the psyche of the two characters- why they did what they did and everything in their lives that led up to that point for them.

A bit of background...
In Cold Blood is the true account of two men who senselessly and without apparent motive murdered four members of the Clutter family.  It was published in 1965, six years after the murders and five years after the two men, Dick and Perry, received the death sentence.  Truman Capote, the author, spent hundreds of hours with the two killers while they were on death row.  He developed a close friendship with Perry, especially, and was rumored to have had romantic feelings for him.  His sympathy for Perry is obvious in the book, often portraying the softer and more sensitive side of the man.  (He does this to some extent with Dick, too, although I would argue not nearly as much.)  Due to the amount of time spent with the killers, the book is incredibly thorough and looks deeply at the lives and histories of the men.  He doesn't pass judgment on the killers, but lays out all the facts and allows readers to do it for themselves.  (One of my favorite things about an author is when he or she trusts you and allows you to make your own conclusions instead of doing it for you.)

(Also interesting about Capote- he was best friends with Harper Lee.  Dill, Lee's character from To Kill a Mockingbird, is based on Capote.)

On sentimentality-
One thing I love about books is that they represent a time and place in my life for me. I first read In Cold Blood the semester I lived in Hawaii for a postmodern literature class.  I'll never forget walking from Taco Bell to campus, and I was so engrossed in this book that I was literally reading it as I walked.  I don't think I've ever felt like a bigger nerd, but I just couldn't stop reading.  I suppose I can be quite sentimental about books, so I love how this book has taken me back to that place in my life.  I have spent most of my time reading the book this go around while I have been nursing.  It is sweet to me that in ten years when I read this book again I will be reminded of these first weeks after June's birth, staying up late at night feeding her and reading In Cold Blood.

Why I love this book-
I've always had a sort of fascination with serial killers.  My dad once told me that I should spend time reading books about people I admire and look up to, not people who do terrible and disgusting things.  I can't help it, though, the mind of a killer is absolutely fascinating to me, and I think what makes In Cold Blood so dang good is that Capote really does a good job of getting you to understand these two men.

Dick Hickock on the left and Perry Smith on the right.

For example, here's just a smidgeon of the information he gives us about the killers:

About Dick: 
"Envy was constantly with him; the Enemy was anyone who was someone he wanted to be or who had anything he wanted to have."

"Dick loves to steal.  It's an emotional thing with him- a sickness.  I'm a thief too, but only if I don't have the money to pay.  Dick, if he was carrying a hundred dollars in his pocket, he'd steal a stick of chewing gum." (Perry's words.)

About Perry:
"They never hurt me.  Like other people.  Like people have all my life.  Maybe it's just that the Clutters were the ones who had to pay for it." (About the Clutters)

"After everybody had gone, and I'd started to wash some dishes- I heard him crying.  I turned on the radio.  Not to hear him.  But I could.  Crying like a child.  He'd never broke down before, shown any sign of it.  Well, I went to him.  The door of his cell.  He reached out his hand.  He wanted me to hold his hand, and I did, I held his hand, and all he said was, 'I'm embraced by shame.'" (-The lady who worked at the prison after Perry received his sentence)

I guess I love this book so much because it challenges me to look at the killers as people and to understand what brought them to that place in their life.  I still ultimately agreed with the decision that they receive the death sentence for their actions, but I appreciated Capote's ability to make me sympathize and feel for these men.  It blows my mind how Capote made me love these killers by the end of the book.

I can't wait to hear your thoughts about the book!  Here's some questions to get you going if you need it.  Answer any or all or none of them!  I will be responding to all comments on the blog- I hope to get a strong, lively discussion going here! (If you wrote a post on your blog, make sure to put the link in your comment!)

- What about Capote's writing style drew you in? (Or drove you out?)

- Did you feel sympathy for the killers?  Why or why not?

- Perry stopped Dick from raping Nancy the night of the killings.  Does that redeem Perry in your mind?  (But then, ironically enough,  Perry was the one who killed Nancy and her family members- is rape worse than murder?)

- It was Dick's idea and plan to kill the family and he dragged Perry into the scheme, but Perry actually killed all four members of the family.  Who do you hold more responsible?

- Perry had a terrible home life whereas Dick had a much more supportive family and upbringing.  Should this factor into the sentences they were given?

P.S.  While you're commenting on the book, give me some new book suggestions, will you?  I am spending a lot of time these days nursing my baby- I need some good books to read!

P.P.S. August's read is Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness.  Make sure to get reading!  (Has anyone read this already?  I admit, I'm totally nervous to read it.)

Monday, July 28, 2014

12 days

Greg has gone to a teaching conference in Cedar City and I'm camping out at my mom's house for the next three days.  These days are slow and quiet, but good.  Thursday we will close on our home and then Friday and Saturday we move in, so I'm trying to enjoy these days of calm before it all gets wildly chaotic.

And of course, there is no such thing as too many pictures of our June Buggy.

She doesn't always love the little baby photo shoots I try to pose with her.  In other words, she thinks I'm real annoying.

She doesn't quite fill up her car seat, does she?  Also, BABY MULLET!

Our good friends, Jess and Eric, had their baby a month before us.  Eric and Greg have been friends since high school and performed together like crazy in college.  Who would've thought a year ago that they'd both be daddies today?

 The moment June really stole my heart was the moment she did a fist pump right as I snapped a picture.  She couldn't get any cooler.

 He's hopelessly in love.

 Greg's mom made this little sign to welcome June home.