The Life of Bon

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Backyard Oasis... but how?!

Below is a picture of my backyard.


Oh, wait.  Sorry about that.  That was a picture of what I wish my backyard looked like.  Below is a picture of my real backyard.


 I mean... those two pictures almost look the same.  It's easy to see how I could have gotten them mixed up.  Here's some more picture of said "backyard."



It's not much, but it's the most backyard we've ever had and I am stoked about it.  As you can see, we have half dirt half concrete.  As the weather warms up, I've got big plans for my backyard.  The problem is I have too many plans for too little space.  I am driving myself crazy trying to decide what to do with what little room we have.

In the past my blog has acted as a kind of life counselor.  I come to you guys with my problems.  You help me solve them and find a place of inner peace.  When I said my milk supply was getting low you came to my rescue.  When I asked you what to do about my non sleeping baby you knew the answers.  When I asked where to find good jeans after baby you did not disappoint.

So now I give you my latest problem to solve.  Your counsel, wisdom, and advice is most welcome.

I love to be outside and I want my backyard to be a place where we can really enjoy our beautiful summer nights.  I like to be outside no matter what, but I need something to entice Greg a little bit as he generally prefers to be inside.  June (and future children) will also be spending time outside so it needs to be friendly to them as well.

Options for the dirt:
#1:  Put grass in.
pros:  Maverick loves grass and so does June.  Grass would help keep the backyard and house cooler
cons: there is no irrigation system so we'd have to water the grass with a hose.  We'd also have to get a lawn mower just for that itty bitty space.  It is possible Maverick would just poo all over the grass and ruin it anyway.

#2:  Fire pit.
pros:  This is probably the best way to ensure Greg will want to spend time outside. Great for hosting friends on summer nights (especially when June goes to bed). It wouldn't matter where Maverick went to the bathroom
cons:  Our backyard would consist mostly of dirt and rocks.  June wouldn't be able to crawl around and play.


#3:  Grow boxes/ garden and trees
pros:  I really really really want a vegetable garden.  The vegetation outside would help keep the home cooler.  We'd have fresh vegetables in the summer.  I would enjoy spending time outside gardening.  A tree would give shade.
cons: Nowhere for June to play, I have no idea how to plant anything.


Option #4: Sandbox, slide, or something more kid friendly
pros: I can let kids go outside and play, becomes almost an extra bedroom in our home in the summers
cons: Our backyard is sacrificed for kids and it doesn't become the outdoor oasis I want it to be.


Options for the concrete:
#1:  A table to eat outside.
pros: we could eat dinner outside!
cons: would we really eat outside?


#2: Hanging bed/ hammock
pros: I could go out there to read, makes the backyard seem more enjoyable and welcome, a little oasis
cons: seems trick to make (I am not a DIYer), would a bed hanging over concrete just be really hot and miserable?
Option #3:
Outdoor lights and couches.  (I know you don't call your outdoor relaxing furniture couches but I can't think of what else to call it!)



Option #4:  Put grow boxes on pavement to free up the dirt for fire pit or grass?!

I have given you everything that is in my head.  Now tell me what to do!  Or is there anything you have had in your backyard that you have really loved?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bon's Book Club: Yes, Please


HOW IT WORKS

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

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

MARCH BOOK:
YES, PLEASE BY AMY POEHLER



Questions:
+ What did you like about the memoir?
+ What did you not like about the memoir?
+ What did you find most interesting/ fascinating in this read?
+ Anything you wished Poehler would have talked more about?  Less about?
+ What was your favorite quote?

I didn't have a lot of expectations going into this book, which is sometimes the very best way to read a book.  There was a lot about Amy Poehler's memoir that I really loved and a few things that I didn't love so much.

THINGS I LIKED:
+ Anytime Amy talked about her two sons.  I especially liked a description she gave of when her boy was two years old and she was pregnant with baby #2.  She would cuddle baby #1 in the hammock while growing baby #2 in her tummy and they would all nap together.  It's an image that will stick with me.  I want me some summer napping pregnant days.

+ "Your Career is Like a Bad Boyfriend".  This chapter should probably be entitled "Your comedy career is like a bad boyfriend" or "your acting career is like a bad boyfriend" because for anyone in a stable line of work, the commentary in the chapter don't totally apply.  When I read it thinking about Greg as an actor,everything was so spot on.  When I read it thinking about myself as a teacher, I didn't totally connect.  I do think, though, that it has a lot of connection with other parts of life.  The idea basically is that you just can't care too much about things that aren't in your control because they'll just end up disappointing you.  Practice ambivalence.  Try to care less.

"You have to care about your work but not about the result.  You have to care about good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look...  

You will never climb Career Mountain and get to the top and shout, "I made it!" You will rarely feel done or complete or even successful.  Most people I know struggled with that complicated soup of feeling slighted on one hand and like a total fraud on the other.  Our ego is a monster that loves to sit at the head of the table...

"We controlled the only thing we could, which was the show.  We did the thing.  Because remember, the talking about the thing isn't the thing.  The doing of the thing is the thing."

+ The Parks and Rec chapter.  I could have read it a million times.  I LOVED all the insight into all the actors, the way they filmed the show (love how much freedom they gave actors to make their own choices).  I especially loved all the nice things Amy said about everyone she worked with and what great people they all are.  It made me think she loves them all as much as Leslie Knope loves them.

+The last chapter, "The Robots Will Kill Us All"  WAS SO SO GOOD.  Basically all about how we are going to unknowingly let cell phones take over the world and I laughed and laughed because I love my cell phone and my computer and I also hate my cell phone and my computer .

+Her chapters on sleep.  Greg can relate because he sleeps like a soldier in a fox hole about to be bombed by the enemy.  In other word he sleeps like total crap.

+Amy tells a story about totally offending someone in an SNL sketch and then later having the opportunity to apologize to that person.  I really appreciated that chapter and Amy's effort to make things right and show the value of saying sorry.  I got the overall impression from the book that she really does try hard to just be a kind and thoughtful person.

THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE:
+ My personal opinion is that Amy wrote this book at the wrong time.  I know that's when the book deal was offered to her and you gotta carpe diem and all that, but it just felt very much so like someone telling me a story when they don't know the end of the story.  She was not done filming Parks and Rec when she wrote the book and she is just barely recovering from her divorce with Will Arnett.  I would have loved to hear more about her marriage to Arnett, how they met, fell and love, and about the years they shared together.  But I could tell that all of that was way too raw for her and so basically Poehler hardly talks about Arnett at all except to say that he is the father of her children and a good father at that.  I can understand the difficulty of writing about a marriage right after it has ended, but I felt a little sad that in her "memoir" she talked so so much about career, SNL, TV, comedy, yada yada yada and so little about her family life.  I also understand that you have to protect family and those you love, but I just really missed that.

+ "Obligatory drug stories" chapter.  I hate it when people start talking about all their drug and alcohol stories.  It might be because I don't do either, but I usually am just pretty unimpressed when people go on and on about their drug use and everything that happened while they were high or drunk.  It just kind of feels like 17 year olds trying to show off and anytime behavior reminds me of 17 year olds, I know that's a bad sign.

+ Organization of chapters was horrible.  Poehler is all over the place.  One second she's talking about giving birth to her first baby and then she's talking about how sweet Chris Pratt is and then all of a sudden she's telling you what her high school was like.  It was just so scattered.  I guess I'm real boring, but when people write about their lives I like it to be in chronological order.  Her second to last chapter is about a trip she went on to Haiti and connecting with so many people and realizing our importance (or unimportance) in the world.  It's really beautiful and then the last chapter is this totally funny, weird thing about how cell phones are going to kill us all.  I loved the cell phone chapter, but its placement just felt so off.  Don't editors usually fix stuff like that?

+The SNL chapters.  Oh, gosh, these were such a chore to get through.  Stop talking about SNL.  It might just be me, but I felt like she was talking about SNL forever.  Again, it kind of reminded me of 17 year olds, trying to prove to each other how cool they are.  I felt like Amy was telling me all these awesome stories of things that happened when I wasn't there.  All these inside jokes she has with Seth Meyers and how much fun they have and how much they love each other.  And I just felt like the friend who sits there and listens to a bunch of people tell stories about stuff that happened while I wasn't there, or a bunch of friends with the same inside jokes day in and day out.  It got old.  

+One person commented about the book on my instagram (@thelifeofbon) that they had a hard time getting into it because they wanted Amy to be Leslie Knope.  I agree completely.  I like Amy and all, but she's not nearly as cool as Leslie.  There were a few things she said in the book that I just thought were really weird or harsh or that just made me not like her as much.  For example, she tells one story about a man being short with her and Tina Fey on an airplane and so Amy followed him off the plane yelling the f word at him.  Just makes her a little less likeable for me.

FAVORITE QUOTES:
"I have a stomach for other people not stomaching me."

"Too often we women like to tackle chaos that is not ours to fix."

"Your ability to navigate and tolerate change and its painful uncomfortableness directly correlates to your happiness and general well-being"

"He was the first important person in my life to die, and when he did, it was the first time I realized that life is not fair or safe or even ours to own."

"We were both so happy and so in love.  Nothing brings a couple closer than a baby about to arrive.  Each person needs the other so desperately and in such new and deep ways."

"An important part of apologies is not making excuses."

"It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for.  It takes years to find your voice and sizer over your real estate."

Gosh I've been writing about this book for way too long.  My eyes are drooping.  Overall I did really enjoy the book and would recommend it to anyone (anyone who can handle Poehler dropping a few f bombs here and there, at least.)

I can't wait to hear from you all.  What did you like about the book?  Not like about the book?  And do you still love Leslie Knope?  Leave your thoughts in the comments or link up your post.  I will be responding to all comments.  Let's get this book talk started!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

On Authenticity

Last week Greg and I got released from our primary "calling".  A calling in the LDS church is basically the type of work you do in the church.  When we started going to the church in our area they gave us the calling to teach the class of 10 year olds ("primary") every week.  We agreed.

A calling can begin or end at any time.  We believe that our leaders are inspired to choose people to fill callings based on the needs of everyone at church.  Greg and I were called to teach primary a year and a half ago.  Then, last Sunday one of our church leaders pulled us out of primary for a minute and said they were releasing us from our calling.  We said okay.

There is a lot that is really cool about this system.  You get to contribute in ways that you normally wouldn't choose for yourself.  We put a lot of trust in our leaders and ultimately in Heavenly Father to put us in a calling that we need and that also needs us.  We also trust them to know when it is time to switch up the callings.

All this to say that today, for the first time in 18 months, I found myself sitting in adult classes during church.  Instead of teaching, I was being taught.  I felt uplifted, edified, and instructed.

The lesson in Relief Society (the group for all women) was on choosing wisely and was based on this talk by one of our apostles, Quentin L. Cook.  I was struck by this that was said about living an "authentic life" online.  Naturally, it made me think of blogging and my own "online life".

(Quentin L. Cook is speaking.  It gets a little confusing because he starts quoting Arthur C. Brooks) "A prominent thought leader, Arthur C. Brooks... observes that when using social media, we tend to broadcast the smiling details of our lives but not the hard times at school or work. We portray an incomplete life—sometimes in a self-aggrandizing or fake way. We share this life, and then we consume the “almost exclusively … fake lives of [our] social media ‘friends.’” Brooks asserts, “How could it not make you feel worse to spend part of your time pretending to be happier than you are, and the other part of your time seeing how much happier others seem to be than you?”

I found this quote especially interesting as it is something that I had already been pondering a lot the past week... how to be real on the internet. This was partly triggered by an article I had read online earlier in the week entitled "7 Things that Shouldn't Impress Us Anymore."  Not surprisingly, one of those things that shouldn't impress us was people's social media pictures and posts.  Within the article it stated this:

Almost everyone posts flattering images and experiences of themselves online- from new clothes and restaurant food to local concerts and airplane wings.  These images are closely guarded and selected routinely portraying only the most exciting parts of our lives.  With foolish abandon, we blame Photoshop for perpetuating unattainable images of perfection while simultaneously editing and photoshopping our own lives for social media.

I agree with both of the quoted sentiments, but the problem is I don't know how to do post more authentically about my life.  Sometimes social media and blogging reminds me a lot of education.  A lot of questions, but not a lot of answers.  I don't know how to live a real and authentic life online while still protecting the privacy of those closest around me.  I don't know how to write authentically about education while protecting my students and my job.  I don't know how to write authentically about my experiences in marriage, my experiences hosting a French foreign exchange student, my experiences balancing work and motherhood and everything in between.  I don't want to complain, but I don't want to brag.  I don't want to tell you my life sucks, nor do I want to tell you my life is perfect. 

I have felt this blog shifting in the past year- I guess mostly since I have had June.  I read posts that I wrote two or three years ago and I kind of cringe, to be honest.  I am still me, but I am not me either.  There are things I said then that I would never say now. Then I wanted a big social media following, I wanted lots of comments on my blog, I wanted to make money from writing more than anything.  I wanted to be funny and make people laugh- sometimes no matter what the cost.  I still want many of those things, but first and foremost, I want to be authentic.  To portray my life as accurately as possible while still protecting the privacy of those around me.  I would rather someone tell me that a blog post of mine made them think than that at a blog post made them laugh.

Now... if someone could just tell me how one goes about creating this authenticity.  I'm all ears.

And now for some pictures from the last few weeks...

^^^ Agathe about to leave for Sweethearts dance. I curled her hair.  She said she can't believe Americans really curl their hair like this.  She thought it was only in the movies.

^^ Maverick thinks he's her boyfriend.


^^ I have no idea who this baby is.  But she's freaking cute.

^^ Scentsy party!  The spring/ summer smells make me CRAZY they're so good.

^^ Representing at the Jazz game. Four year anniversary.

^^ This guy = my everything.  The way to get him to love you forever is buy him a big fat coke with lots of ice and maybe some beef jerky to wash it down.  He's a man of simple pleasures.

For the sake of authenticity, I must admit that I never took a picture of when I was grumpy and late and stressed in the morning.  I never took a picture of being frustrated because June didn't nap long enough.  I also never took a picture of seventeen year olds who asks me questions I have already answered six times.  I didn't take a picture of Greg's and my disagreement over dinner nor are there pictures of how overwhelmed I sometimes feel for all the people who live with me and rely on me.  No, I didn't get those pictures in, although they are every bit a part of my life as smiling babies and curling hair and anniversary dates.  Our stage of life right now is a mix of hectic and calm, stressed and fun, confident and a little bit scary. It's overflowing with teaching and chocolate chip cookies and 6 am mornings and Sunday walks and end of quarter stress and cooing at our perfect angel baby.    

Here's to authenticity!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

To tip or not to tip

Picture and post have no relation.  
But this picture of Junebug playing on the floor with her grandparents melts my heart.

After eight months of living in our home, we finally caved and got cable.  Or dish.  Whatever you want to call it.  The black box in our living room now shows television shows.

I don't know why we cracked.  I mean, I got to the very end of Bachelor season just relying on bumming off of friends' tvs (Thanks, Sierra!) or waiting until Tuesday to watch it on hulu.  But suddenly we could take our tv-less lives no more.  I think it might have had something to do with the fact that the Jazz have won six straight games and are 9-1 in their last ten games. (Go Jazz!) Greg couldn't stand to be missing out on the action.  And I shamefully admit that I kind of wonder what the Kardashians have been up to.

This means that when I came home from work yesterday, there was a man installing a dish to our back fence post.  Greg had beaten me home by about an hour (the endless stacks of papers!), so I walked in just to catch the tell end of it.

The man said he needed to explain a few things to the both of us and then showed us how to work the remote.  We said yes, we have used a remote many a times, thank you good sir.

He handed me a sheet of paper, said "sign this please", and waited for me to give him my Hancock.  I turned the sheet over to sign and was surprised to see in big, fat letters:

 TIPS ARE VERY MUCH APPRECIATED!!!

I kind of panicked.  I was supposed to tip him?!  I didn't have any cash on me.  And wasn't this guy getting paid a decent wage?  I'm paying a pretty penny for the dish every month and I signed a two year contract so I certainly feel like I'm paying enough to pay for the hour this man spent at my house.

I very sheepishly handed the paper back over to him with my signature.  He stalled for a minute, and then left, realizing there was no tip.

I felt like such a cheap jerk,

Naturally, after he left, I took to the internets and googled it with a fury.  Was I supposed to tip him?  What was expected of me?  The internets were inconclusive.  I felt awful.  Had I just totally ruined this guy's work day, the way a family of 23 once did to me at Sizzler when they ordered all you can eat shrimp, had me refilling soda and shrimp for an hour and a half, and left me no tip?  Had I become the person I once so vehemently hated?

I guess what really throws me off is that I don't know the rules on tipping.  Who in this world am I supposed to tip and who works for a wage?  When I called to ask for rates on dish and they said installation was free why didn't they include, "but the installation guys to expect a tip."  Some tips are obvious- like waiters and pizza delivery guys.  When I waited tables I made $2.13 an hour.  I lived on tips.  But there are so many tipping gray areas.  Was this dish guy living on my tips?  Had I just basically made him work for free?  Had I known I was supposed to tip him, I would have had cash on hand.  But the thought never once even kind of crossed my mind to tip the man who sets up our dish.

Someone just tell me the rules please and I will follow them.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sleep: A tale of muggles, magic, and more


Sit down.  Tonight I shall share a tale of magic with you.

It all started a few weeks ago when I wrote this post in which I told you all that June's amazing sleeping habits had gone and died themselves a terrible death.  JuneBug, once thought to be the best sleeper in the wild west, was waking up in the night, rolling around in bed, wiggling out of her swaddle, and then screaming out in what can only be described as pure terror to be reswaddled.  She would not be comforted without a good, tight swaddle.  And don't even think about that self soothe crap!  That was never going to happen, insisted June.

It was miserable!  For a month there I thought I had seen the end of having children. She was a mess.  I was a mess. The whole house was a "no one is sleeping!" mess!

I took to this blog to tell you all that I was stumped.  I thought I had a great sleeper!  I thought I knew how to put a baby down!  Turns out I knew nothing!  What to do, what to do?

"Duh, Bon.  Buy a magic sleep suit!" Several of you told me in the comments. Baby Merlin's Magic Sleep Suit, to be exact.

A magic sleep suit?  What the devil do you speak of, blog commenters?   I did my internet research.  The suit looked alright in theory, but I doubted it would work for us.  To start with, it seemed likely that June was too old for it already.  She's eight months!  It was also expensive- $40 + $6 for shipping.  And it said it wasn't for babies who roll.  Meh.  I wasn't going to waste my time with it, nice try, commenters!

A week passed.  June's sleep continued to get worse.  She would go down at her normal bedtime of 7:00.  She would then wake up at 11:00 for a reswaddle, and hey, why not nurse while we're at it?  This is fun, right, mom?  Then again we'd do it at 2:00!  Maybe 3:00?  And how about 5:00! It was a party every hour!  June was in heaven.  I was tearing my hair out.  One night I was up a total of four times with her- and with a department meeting at 7 am the next morning.  I was at my wits' end!  First thing in the morning I ordered the magic sleep suit, I didn't care what my muggle friends would think of me!  I mean, who am I to question magic when I'm up four times in the night?

The suit arrived.  We put June in it.  She looked like this.




We couldn't decide if she looked more like the abominable snowman or the Pilsbury Doughboy. She didn't seem to like it.  But she also didn't seem to not like it.  We put her down for the night.  We went to bed.

Ten hours later, at 6 am, we heard June cry.

TEN HOURS LATER.

She had slept the whole freaking night through- just like she had done when she was four and five months old! Our baby was back to her old ways!  But surely it was a fluke?

The next night we put June down at 7.  She woke up the next morning at 7.  TWELVE HOURS.  At some point in the night I heard her stirring, but she quieted back down within minutes.  That magic sleep suit had put my baby right back to sleep.  No nursing no bouncing no swaddling from mama required!



It has been two weeks since we have had the magic sleep suit in our life.  I declare it the best two weeks of my life.  I can't tell you why the suit works.  I don't know why June is so happy in it.  IT'S MAGIC- DON'T ASK ME TO EXPLAIN, PEOPLE.  All I know is that this magic suit answered all my questions in the universe and now I understand the theory of everything.

And that, my friends, is the glorious tale of a magic suit.

Don't believe me, ask the dishes.  (You know... the ones that can sing.  And dance... Please tell me someone in the blogosphere is catching these references.)

Dear future June,  Please don't hate me for putting Pilsbury Doughboy pictures of you up all over the internet.  I promise I'm awesome.  Love, your mama

This post was not sponsored in any way, shape, or form.  I paid full price for the abominable snowman get up, (it was worth every penny!) the magic suit people did not ask me to write this post, endorse their product, or shout magical praises to their magical suit.  I did it 100% of my own free will and choice and I REGRET NOTHING.)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A post for fellow interior design idiots.

Since buying and moving into a home in August, one thing I have really tried to do is make our house into a home.  It's hard though, for an interior design idiot like myself.  I have no idea what looks good with what.  I try things like lime green walls.  I want my home to be welcoming, relaxing and peaceful.  Instead it feels like living inside of an avocado.

A couple of things that have helped me lately:

#1:  The realization that I do not have to do all the things at once.  We have been in our home for eight months and there is only one room I really love.  That is June's room.  Next on the upcoming "really love" list is our living area, followed by our master bedroom.  It's okay that a lot of our house still looks empty, as long as I am making progress on it.  Every month I add a little something.  Doing this allows me to 1) not break the bank and 2) not get overwhelmed and give up.

#2:  The second thing that has been an immense help on my interior design journey is my internet friend, Katy.  She is an interior designer and I love the practical suggestions she gives on her blog, Designs by Katy and on her instagram, @designsbykaty.  She takes pinterest perfect pictures and then breaks them down so design idiots like myself can do it in our very own homes.  She did June's  nursery design for me- and has since helped me figure out what to do with my master bedroom with this post.

Katy's design for the nursery ^^^


^^^Nursery completed.  Thanks, Katy!


Don't believe me how awesome she is?  See for yourself!  Straight from the horse's mouth!
Katy Intro
Hello, Life of Bon readers! I'm Katy, an interior designer and blogger over at DBK: Designs By Katy. Before you check out because "you don't care about design" think again. Interior design can have a major impact on your quality of life. A well-designed space can give the recipient a sense of peace and even happiness. The same, in turn, applies to the opposite principal. Poor or unattractive design can cause stress and discomfort. If you don't have the gift, how do you get there? This is where I come in. I love to share tips on how to style like this:
How to Style an Entry Console
Sourcing: Console, Horse Artwork, Red Lamp, Gold Candle, Small Frame, Orchid
I frequently show step by step guides on how to style or even obtain that amazing room you saw on Pinterest. Don't just file it away thinking it's unobtainable. With the right designer, you can make any dream room a reality. Like this amazing bathroom, broken down into quick easy steps:
DBK Bathroom How To Get The Look
So there you have it. Whether you're catching some tips or even inspiration, come visit me over at DBK. Thanks so much for having me, Bonnie!

P.S.  If you are interested in a "Takeover" post similar to this, please email me at thelifeofbon@gmail.com for rates.  There is one available per week.

Friday, March 13, 2015

An Anniversary


As of yesterday we have been married for four years.

Four years of bliss.

Four years of work.

We have both fought hard for our marriage, and that's not something we are ashamed of.  It has not always been easy.  But it has been full of laughter and commitment and love.

I don't think I knew who Greg was when I married him.  Not really.  I had an idea of what his top layer was.  But I didn't understand him all the way through.  I didn't know what makes him tick, what he needs, what things drive him absolutely bonkers.

There have been some surprises in our marriage.  They are mostly good surprises.  It surprises me how witty Greg is.  How quickly he can make a joke and make a whole crowd laugh.  It surprises me what a good heart he has.  How much he cares for the people around him.  It surprises me what a good dad he is- how he absolutely adores June.

Last night there was another surprise.  The plan was to go to dinner last night.  But then, over chocolate mousse cheesecake, Greg handed me a card.  Inside were tickets to the Jazz game.  He said, "I know what you like to do more than anything is go out and do an activity.  So instead of just going home after dinner we're going to do something fun."  He had bought the tickets, found a jazz shirt for me, and arranged the baby-sitter.  It was sweet and simple and meant a lot because I know that Greg would have preferred to go home and take it easy.  But instead we drove up to Salt Lake on a school night and enjoyed a rowdy Jazz game.

Sometimes I can't believe how hard marriage is.

But sometimes I can't believe how easy it is.

And now, some not so serious wedding pictures.








(More of my posts about marriage are here and here.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Two Bachelorettes: "It's Not Ideal"

Britt's waist has got to be photoshopped in this, right?  Especially the right side?  
Is it humanly possible to look like that?

I am really mad at The Bachelor right now.

Tonight Greg and I watched The Bachelor finale.  (We were a day late and successfully avoided hearing any spoilers today.  No facebook twitter or instagram all day for me).  We, like everyone else, were shocked at the news that are going to have two bachelorettes for next season.  Well, let me rephrase that.  Shocked that they are not going to choose a bachelorette, but instead make two girls show up on premiere night and try to win over 25 men, wait while the men choose which one they want, and then send the other girl home heartbroken and humiliated.  So next season we're going to have one bachelorette and one loser.  An again loser.  Yah, that sounds like a great plan!

I know you have all been talking about this for the past 24 hours, but I just saw the episode so please humor me.  Lets talk about it some more!

Is there a worse idea?  I am so disgusted, honestly.  You see, I enjoy watching The Bachelor and Bachelorette against my better judgment.  It is degrading to women (and men when they are vying for the bachelorette), gives an unfair and unrealistic balance of power in a relationship, and allows people to think it is okay to be kissing and sleeping with multiple people at the same time.  But I still watch it because I'm an idiot.  Because it's entertaining, because I like watching people kiss (I'm a freak), and because a part of me wants so badly to believe in love reality tv style. I've watched every season of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette since Jillian's hey day (hay day?) and that is something I am both proud and ashamed to admit.  I figure I will be a forever watcher.

But then something like this happens and it makes me think about giving up on the whole show for good.  Although the premise of the show is pretty awful I  justify my watching of it because there is a Bachelor and a Bachelorette.  A woman got to be in control sometimes, too.  Except wait.  Let's take the seasons where the woman gets some power and some control and give it back to the men, after all.  Gosh I hate it so much.

I also think Britt is a pretty horrible choice for a bachelorette and I don't know why they are considering her at all.  She always came off as sincere and manipulative to me.  And it's pretty obvious that Kaitlyn thought the same, which makes it all the more biting that Kaitlyn now has to compete with her to be the bachelorette.  And are we really okay with 25 random men deciding who the next bachelorette is going to be?  Come on Bachelor producers, what are you thinking on this one?

I think Kailtyn said it best when Chris Harrison asked her how she felt about it and she responded, "It's not ideal."  No, not it's not.

P.S.  I was thrilled that Chris chose Whitney.  They might be my favorite couple in Bachelor history with the exception of Sean and Catherine who go down as the Bachelor queen and king forever.

P.P.S.  Jimmy Kimmel on the After the Final Rose was the best thing that ever happened to me.  "Have you guys had your first fight yet?"  HA!  Thanks, Jimmy, for asking what we all wonder.

What We Did in Class This Week

The two hardest days of the year to wake up and teach are:

1) The day after Christmas break
2) Daylight's Savings in the spring.  Today.

But we made it this morning.  Made it to school with our baby and French teenager in tow.  Three stars for us!

This year I am teaching three junior classes.  This is my fifth year teaching juniors and it feels comfortable.  Easy. I can tweak my plans and my units each year, but I have a solid base that makes the day to day planning, teaching, and grading so much easier.

This year my "tweaking" has mostly involved trying to adequately prepare my students for their required testing.  And there is so much testing!  Last year Utah rolled out a new statewide testing system, the SAGE.  It is more rigorous and more difficult than our old test, the CRTs.  The biggest change is the addition of a writing portion.  Juniors are required to write two essays for the writing portion- an informative essay and an argumentative essay. Students are given three or four passages about a certain topic and then asked to write an essay on it.  It takes three class days (85 minutes each) for the writing portion and then two to three class days again in May for the English portion.  That is five- six days of classroom instruction for the statewide test.

Last year students took the writing portion at the end of the year.  This year, the writing portion was boosted up to the first week of February.  One of the drawbacks of teaching half time is that I miss half the meetings.  Usually I get the gist of the important info shared in the meetings, but sometimes I miss big things. That means the second week of January when my department head came in to give me the SAGE schedule for two weeks away I about had a mini stroke.  What?!  My students have to be prepared to take an end of the year writing test?  In two weeks?  But we haven't even done their big research paper yet!  We haven't gone over informative writing!  How do I get them ready for a test that measures year long growth in two measly weeks?

The result of this was a January classroom that was a scramble scramble scramble of trying to get my students ready for the SAGE.  I had to tell myself to relax and that I had been teaching my students writing all year long.  Still, with my maternity leave going until mid September and the end of the year testing boosted up to February, I felt like we were robbed of time and like I was sending them into battle wildly under prepared.  They had had four months to learn what should have been learned in a year.

When I found out they would be taking the SAGE in February we were smack in the middle of reading Great Gatsby.  I cut half of my teaching plans for Great Gatsby, skimped it down to the bare minimum, and January became a frenzied mess of Daisy Buchanan, thesis statements, prohibition, rebuttals, and extramarital affairs.  It was wild, but I hope and pray that something of what I taught stuck in those young kids' heads. 

Last year I taught Gatsby in May.  SAGE testing, though, cramped our style and made the teaching of the book rushed.  This year I decided to teach Gatsby in January so that none of the state testing got in the way of giving the book the attention it deserved.  Looks like that plan was a bust.

We finished our SAGE testing on February 9, we tested on Gatsby on February 13 and then we had two wild weeks to get the kids ready to take the English and Reading portions of the ACT.  This isn't technically part of the core for juniors, but the state pays for every junior to take the ACT on March 3, and I felt like I would be doing my students a huge disservice if I didn't help them prepare for it.  The two weeks leading up to the ACT we took timed practice tests, went over the structure of the test, reviewed testing strategies, etc.  Although it is not very "fun", teaching ACT prep is very rewarding to me.  All year long I teach things that I know will benefit my students, but they don't see the benefit until sometimes years later.  I have received messages from students in college, "Thanks so much for what you taught me.  I didn't think it was important when you were teaching me, but I have used the skills so much since."  It is rewarding to get these kinds of messages, no doubt, but it is a delayed gratification.  When I teach the ACT, I get the reward of seeing my students use what I taught them almost immediately.  The day after they take the ACT they strut into my class,

"It was exactly like you told us it would be!"
"I would have been lost without those strategies you taught me."
"When I came to the who/whom questions I knew exactly how to figure out the right answer!"

Now we are doing a short unit on Dead Poet's Society.   It is the one movie we watch in its entirety.  (Poor deprived children that don't get to watch movies in English)  I love going over the poetry references in the movie- almost all of the poetry we studied in December.  I also love it for its larger application questions.  What is the purpose of education?  What makes a good educator?  How much influence should parents and teachers have on teens?  It is always a fascinating discussion and leads to a lot of debate about what really is our purpose sitting at these desks, teaching this grammar, coming to school day after day.  One of the best discussions of the year.

Wednesday we will start our research paper.  The kids are dreading it.  But there ain't no rest for the wicked, right juniors?!

Now, just a word on our pacing and core curriculum this year.  In the five years that I have taught, our core has changed drastically.  Utah implemented a new common core, as most states in the nation did.  The new core calls for more rigor, more nonfiction reading, less time "playing" so to speak.  The first year I taught Gatsby I did vocabulary activities with it, a journal project where students had to write as if they were one of the students, a unit about the symbolism of the color in the book and a funeral for Gatsby.  This year all of that was scrapped in order to give test prep priority.  It makes my heart sad.  I understand and I don't understand.  Some teachers and I were recently lamenting all the fun and creative things that we used to do in our classes that we have slowly had to take out to make room for the more intense testing, the rigor, the demands.

I understand the high school students are entering college unprepared.  They are not reading or writing at the level that they need to.  But I don't know that taking out all the enjoyable parts of learning and replacing them with more "rigor" is the answer.  I also don't know that that is not the answer.  There are no answers in education, but to me it seems like you give a goal that teachers need to meet and then you allow them to get there how they may.  One of the things I loved about teaching AP is that there is so much freedom with it.  There is a big test at the end of the year.  Students are expected to pass that test, but what an individual teacher does to get those students to passing the test is completely up to the teacher. There is so much freedom, creativity, trust.  I love that and I wish I saw more of that for all teachers, not just AP teachers.

Speaking of AP, 49 students signed up to take AP Literature next year.  I did a happy dance.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

A Theoretical Question: Can a Salesperson Sell Without Being Annoying?


^^ When Greg saw this picture he cried out, "Who's the mystery host?  I hope it's not me!" 
No, Greg.  It's not you.

On Wednesday I am having a scentsy shindig at my place. Any and all who are local are welcome to come.  (I live in Lehi.)  Because I feel uncomfortable offering up my home address to the dark abyss of the internets, I have not included it on the picture.  If you want to come, just send me an email, (thelifeofbon@gmail.com) and I will gladly tell you my address.

Wednesday night should be a lot of fun.  My new spring and summer scents arrived last week and they are goooooood.  Bonfire beach has got me craving summer in a bad way.  Stop on by anytime between 7 and 9 to give the new smells a try.  There are gorgeous new warmers, too, and, of course, all the classics.  (So many commas in that sentence!  Must we need so many commas?!)   AT 7:30 A "MYSTERY HOST" WILL BE SELECTED- THAT MEANS A PARTY ATTENDEE WILL BE RANDOMLY CHOSEN TO RECEIVE ALL OF THE HOST REWARDS- UP TO $25 OF FREE PRODUCT AND HALF PRICE ANY ITEM.

We will have treats!   We will laugh!  We will make the men put the kids to bed! (And one lucky person will get all their stuff for free!)

If you are not local, but want to check out all the new spring/summer stuff, you can buy online here. My favorite new scents are bonfire beach, Sedona sunset, sunkissed citrus (not new, but so good for spring), and coconut flower.  You can email me, too, asking for recommendations.  I can help you with any kind of smell your little nose desires.

If you are buying online you can buy five scents and get one free- go to the combine and save on the left hand column.  Please check out under the "February party"  I am very grateful to those of you who have bought.

Now, just a quick word on "selling" scentsy.  I know it's kind of weird that I took on selling scentsy a few months ago.  Afterall, I just had a baby.  I work part time.  I keep up a blog. We let a French girl move in with us.  My house is never clean.  Once upon a time I was trying to write a book.  Certainly I don't need scentsy!

Turns out I kind of do.  I didn't decide to sell scentsy because I want to become a milllionaire from it.  That'll never happen.  But I buy a lot of scentsy product anyway (I have a psychological need to have my house and clothes smell good at all times) and a discount seemed really nice.  Then I figured if I could sell a little extra to others then I could actually get my stuff for free or close to free.  And maybe make a little gas money on the side?  Is that so wild to think?  AND fuel my shopping addiction without spending all my money?!  (Putting in orders for other people and waiting for your packages to arrive is just as fun as doing online shopping for myself!)

The best part, though, turned out to be that it gets me out of the house a couple times a month- allows me to hang out with other adult women and not talk about explicit vocabulary plans or how long my baby sleeps at night or what we're cooking for dinner.  Not that I don't like talking about those things.  But sometimes I like to hang out with friends and remember the person I was before I was a mom and before I was a teacher and before I had all the responsibilities.  You know?  And weirdly enough, scentsy lets me do that.  I get to hang with friends, eat treats, and shop vicariously while Greg stays at home and puts the baby down,  Not a bad gig.

All that being said, somewhere in the back of my head I worry that my desire to get out a few nights a month and earn some extra gas money might annoy other people.  Because that is only possible if other people buy the product.  And people are (understandably) usually pretty careful with how they spend their hard earned cash.  They don't like it when they feel like their money is threatened.  I get it.  

I know that people who sell products can get real annoying real quick.  My facebook wall is flooded with every different type of MLM product imaginable. I'm not annoyed because I am one of those people, but I can see how it could get annoying to others.  So my goal to not be that person.  It is hard to know where the line is, though, of informing people about a product without stuffing it down their throats.  My goal is to find people who are genuinely interested in scentsy and sell to them.  I never want anyone to feel obligated to buy from me.  My worst fear is that someone wouldn't want to hang out with me because they're worried I would try to sell them some wax or force them into hosting a party.  What if someone thinks that about me?!  (I'm interested- do you know people who sell products who are not annoying?  What makes them not annoy you?)

So that's my huge, giant disclaimer.  Come on Wednesday if you want.  There is some amazing stuff if you like your house and clothes to smell good all the time.  But you don't have to buy if you don't want to.  And if you don't come, I will not take it personally.  I will not harass you next time I see you or talk to you.  I will not throw stones at your car and threaten to burn down your house.

That's a promise.

And now, let's do this weekend thang.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

What makes you read a blog?



Monday night, after a ten hour drive home from Arizona, I took a hot bath in my big bathtub.  It was a $3,000 upgrade to our house for that big bathtub, and I'll tell you this much- it's the best $3,000 I've ever spent.  But that's a subject for another day.

I was soaking in the tub trying my best to relax, but my brain kept trying to remind me of stuff I had to do now that I was home.  Laundry! Grocery shopping! Work in the morning!  Blog post!  My brain is such a jerk.

Blog post, hmmm?  What kind of things was I going to say in a blog post?  Who was going to notice if I posted or not?  Who was going to be disappointed?  Who was going to read?  Who was going to even care?

The weird and very hard thing about a very public blog is that you have no idea who is reading or not reading.  Not on a personal, intimate level, at least.  You know a pageview number, yes, but that doesn't mean much.  You don't know when someone decides they don't like your blog anymore and stops reading.  You don't know why they stop reading.  You don't know when someone new starts reading and becomes a forever reader after that.  You don't know what it is that makes them keep reading through the good times and bad.

The internet isn't going anywhere, but I sometimes wonder if blogs are.  Are they?  Or aren't they? Can someone settle this question once and for all?  I know that I read considerably less blogs than I used to.  I used to follow lifestyle blogs that I don't read now because I can't relate anymore.  I used to follow some fashion blogs that I don't read now because I follow on insta and don't need the blog anymore.  Most blogs I've stopped reading because they have stopped writing.  They haven't stopped posting, but they've stopped writing, you know?  Like there's no more substance behind anything, just links to sweaters and pictures of their toes on the beach.  I can't blame them, though, because you can't always write about the hard stuff, the stuff you want to write about.  Sometimes it's easier to post links to sweaters than to divulge your hopes, dreams, pains, vulnerabilities to the cruel and nameless internet.  Sometimes you have to protect the privacy of yourself, your job, your family- and that means less real writing.

But there are some bloggers who still write.  These are the blogs I still read regularly- my favorite writing blogs.

The Daily Tay
Danakin Skywalker
A Handful of Peanuts
Nat the Fat Rat
C. Jane Kendrick

My all time favorite might be Elizabeth Ivie but she has stopped writing and pulled all of her archives.  Offering up your personal life to the internet is tough.

What are your favorite writing blogs?  Please share with me.

And on a deeper level, what makes you read a blog in the first place?  What makes you eventually quit a blog?  Or stay with a blog through the hard times, the lulls, the giveaway and sponsored posts mania?  What makes you loyal?  And what makes you call it a day?

These are the things I think of while relaxing in my $3,000 bathtub.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

We Went on a Road Trip!

I went away for the long weekend and didn't post on this blog for five days.  I hope you don't mind.

We went to Phoenix to visit Greg's brother and his wife.  We miss having them close.

Agathe stayed with a friend here, we loaded up our June bug, and hit the open road for a ten hour journey.  Besides the horrible snow storm in Flagstaff, the trip went off without a hitch.  It was so good to get away and just focus on my family.  I took no pictures with my real camera, so these poor phone pics will have to do.



The rainy weather in Phoenix didn't agree with my plans of lots of tennis and swimming. (It was still 70 degrees, though.  When the rest of the country is in a blizzard.  Phoenix, you are too good.)  So we mostly took it easy.  Sometimes vacations are good even if you're not doing a lot of vacation type things.  To not be at home, to not feel responsibilities, to just have an excuse to hang out and do nothing with my husband and baby.  I'll take it.

+ On the way down we finished the first season of the podcast, Serial.  Please tell me that one of you has listened to it.  I must talk to someone about it!  Greg and I have differing opinions on it.

+ Brett taught Greg and I how to play a nintendo game called Worms.  We tried to blow each other up.  It was fun!  Except for when I blew up my own worm!

+ We went to get thin crust pizza and June tried marinara sauce and tomatoes.  She likes!  I am trying hard to expose June to lots of different flavors so that I don't have a picky eater on my hands.  Greg is the pickiest adult eater known to man and I can't have two of those!  So June must eat all the things!  (I have also been reading French Kids Eat Everything- very interesting ideas about teaching kids to appreciate all sorts of flavors and textures at a young age.  I especially love the idea of eating being a pleasurable experience, slowing down to eat, eating at the table, making meals a highlight of the day.  I don't like the idea of eliminating snacks completely.  That would mean no more diet cokes to get me through the day.  Travesty!)

+ We went to the hot tub a couple of times and attempted the pool but the water wasn't quite warm enough.  Next time, Phoenix, next time!  (June has two swimsuits, if you're wondering.  She's such a diva.)









+ Saturday morning Greg, Brett, June and I went to breakfast. (Kylee, Brett's wife, had to work almost all weekend.  BOO!)  It is officially the second time Greg and I have ever been out to breakfast.  The other time was while on vacation in Hawaii.  Greg hates breakfast foods so when he suggested at 10 am that we all go get breakfast Brett and I were both kind of like, "Whaaaaaaa?  Where's Greg and what have you done with his body?"  But we didn't complain!  I had the best almond encrusted french toast of my life (of which I took no pictures.  I'm such a failure of a blogger) and a big diet coke.  In that moment, life felt perfect.

+ Greg and Brett hit up a movie while June and I went to visit one of my favorite people on this earth, Sally!  She was my college roomie and the sweetest, kindest, happiest person I know.  She just had a five pound bundle of joy and of course I wanted to see the new little babe and her recovering mama. It was so good to see Sal, if even for a minute.  I am a firm believer in the power of female friendships and in keeping people close to you who make you happy.  Sal is one of those people.

We put the two babies next to each other and mostly I was shocked at how big June looked compared to her.  I just had June!  June's supposed to be a little bitty baby!  Why is she so biggggggggggg?  I cannot accept that my baby will one day not be a baby.  I CANNOT.  I WILL NOT.



+ We played a lot of Crossy Road on our phones.  Out with Trivia Crack, in with Crossy Road!  Those high schoolers keep us up to date on the latest, greatest phone games, that's for sure!

+ Sunday night we played a rousing game of Settlers of Cataan.  Greg convinced Kylee to disrupt my longest road and then stole the victory for himself on his next turn.  Sneaky little guy.

+ Sunday night we also watched a scary movie.  I can't remember what it was called, but a guy gets possessed.  I have seen a lot of scary movies in my day, and the guy always gets possessed.

+ For dinner on Sunday I made my favorite sweet pork recipe.  I accidentally added cinnamon to the recipe, thinking it was garlic salt.  (Rookie mistake, I know).  I was surprisingly good.  Cinnamon flavored pork for the win?

+We drove through a lot of snow and a lot of rain to make it home today.  Spring left in an instant and it was winter again.  There's a blizzard in Utah this morning- the most snow we've gotten all winter long.   What is happening in the world?  Sixty degrees in January, thirty degrees in March- Utah, you crazy!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bon's Book Club: My Story by Elizabeth Smart


HOW IT WORKS

Every month we read a book.  On the selected day, we talk about it. (Generally the last Thursday of the month).  I will do my darndest to post questions ahead of time so that you can be thinking of possible discussion topics as you read.

Join in for whatever books you can.  I know you are all busy, and you might not be able to read all the books. (Or be interested in reading all the books!)  Read what you want and comment on what you want.  Some readers write their own review on their blog and then link up to it, others just write their thoughts in the comments- it's up to you!  If you write your own post and link up, please slap the image above on your post! Grazi!

FEBRUARY BOOK:
MY STORY BY ELIZABETH SMART




Questions:
+ What made you feel connected (or disconnected) to Elizabeth throughout the story?
+ What was something that amazed/ shocked you when reading her story?
+ Was the writing style an issue for you?  Why or why not? 
+ What was most impressive to you about Elizabeth's story?


My co-host and partner in crime this month is April from Hansen Love.   Here are her thoughts:

Where to start about this book? 

Amazing! Inspiring! Uplifting!

Everyone who is anyone knows the story of Elizabeth Smart. How she was kidnapped from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah when she was 14 years old. Her captors, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, took her to live up in the mountains not far from her home. Mitchell believed that he was some modern day prophet that was sent to come and marry 7 virgins and save humanity. 

Sadly Elizabeth was one of those that Mitchell believed was sent to be one of his wives. 

Mitchell and Barzee, many many  moons ago 

Mitchell and Barzee during Elizabeth's trial.

This book was a little bit of a shock to me. Growing up and living in Utah, even though I was younger, I remember hearing about what she went through after she was found. I read the news stories that were told during the trials for Mitchell and Barzee and I was shocked even more while reading this book to hear Elizabeth's everyday life with these two. 

 I loved the voice that was used for telling Elizabeth's story. She did a fantastic job of recounting what happened with using just enough emotion to pull you in but not too much that you think that she is whining and complaining. Don't get me wrong she has every right to whine and complain especially after everything she went through, but she did an excellent job. I felt like I was there watching the whole thing. 

There were times while I was reading that I would have to remember that she was rescued and she is okay! I would come home on my lunch and pick up where I left off. She would be talking about how she went days without food, and here I was munching down on my PB&J laying on my couch and I felt bad that I had all of this and she didn't have anything! It really reminded me that there are others out there that don't have anything. 

The thing that amazed me about reading the book is that after everything that happened, you would expect Elizabeth to be ruined. But she has gone on and become a motivational speaker and has her own foundation that helps prevent crimes against children. She has taken this absolutely horrible situation that she was placed in at such a young age and turned it around and made it something amazing. Her mothers advice is absolutely perfect:

“You be happy, Elizabeth. Just be happy. If you go and feel sorry for yourself, or if you dwell on what has happened, if you hold on to your pain, that is allowing (Mitchell) to steal more of your life away. So don’t you do that. Don’t you let him. There is no way that he deserves that. Not one more second of your life.”


Thanks April!  And, of course, I couldn't resist adding my two (or two hundred) cents...


THE WRITING STYLE
First things first- the book is not well written.  At times I felt like Elizabeth was almost emotionally detached while telling the story.  It felt like I was reading a newspaper account of the events.  I suppose this might be how she has to deal with everything that happened, but it did feel odd that I didn't feel more of emotional reaction from her while reading the book.  At times the writing was even a bit painful for me because it was so bad.  It was frustrating to me that for a story of this intensity and with this amount of interest, better efforts weren't made to find a really good ghost writer- or at the least an amazing editor.  HOWEVER, the story was fascinating enough to me that I ended up being able to turn off the part of my head that cares about writing quality and just focus on the story.  Still, a better writer would have really made this book more enjoyable, and I believe, made the message of hope and forgiveness from the book even more powerful.

WHAT SHOCKED ME
+ I was shocked to read that Brian David Mitchell tried two other times to kidnap a young girl to take for his wife- like he had Elizabeth.  One of these items he tried to kidnap Elizabeth's own cousin.  Both times he failed- when trying to kidnap Elizabeth's cousin something fell over in the house and crashed which led him to run.  Mitchell required that all his victims be young (easily manipulated) and Mormon (inexperienced and innocent.)

+ I was very interested in the way Elizabeth talked about Mitchell. She says several times that Mitchell was a master manipulator.  He was not insane, as he pleaded during the trial, nor did he sincerely believe that he was doing God's errand by kidnapping these girls as he claimed- he was just using religion and insanity as tools to manipulate and control others.

+ Reading about the abuse that Elizabeth went through was heart wrenching. She was raped nearly every day, tied up like an animal, forced to go naked in the camp, forced to pee and poo in front of Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee.  She went without food and water, was forced to drink alcohol until she threw up and passed out, etc.  (Smart, at 14 years old, woke up in her own vomit from drinking too much alcohol.)   I had known all of this, but hearing the day by day experiences from Elizabeth's own mouth made it all much more real.  I also wonder if reading this after having my own daughter made me more sensitive, but it was a very emotionally taxing book to read.

Elizabeth Smart at the time of her kidnapping- this picture was posted all over Utah.

+ Something interesting that I didn't know is that Mitchell would say prayers for sometimes and hour or more and force them to all kneel on the hard ground the entire time.  In his prayers he would praise himself and thank God following him to be chosen and all this other garbage.  It was infuriating to me to see somebody use something as good as God and prayer to carry out such evil and twisted purposes. I know it happens all the time, but again, to see it so close up like that made it hit home much more to me.

+ I think the most frustrating part of the book was reading about all the opportunities that Elizabeth had to escape. There were several times that they were out in public and Elizabeth did nothing to escape.  She felt no feelings of love or compassion for her captors like some have speculated, just that she was absolutely terrified. She was always covered head to toe so people couldn't see her, but I just couldn't believe that in a huge crowd she wouldn't yell out or try to leave. The most mind boggling was the story she recounts of being in a public library and being approached by a police man.  The police came and point blank asked Elizabeth if she was Elizabeth Smart.  She was covered so he couldn't see her face. Elizabeth didn't say who she was. Instead Mitchell jumped in, claiming that Elizabeth couldn't uncover her face or speak because it was against their religion. (Again, using religion to manipulate.) The officer didn't persist, and Mitchell left the library with Elizabeth safely in tow. It was so so frustrating that she didn't say anything in that moment.  She explains why she didn't, saying that she was only fourteen years old and she was terrified. Mitchell had threatened her that if she said anything or did anything to aid in her capture that he would kill her whole family.  Even if he was in jail he said that he had friends that would kill Elizabeth's family.  Adults have a better perception of reality and understand that a man wouldn't really send friends to kill your whole family while in jail (or that a man like Mitchell wouldn't even have "friends" to do this for him), but a fourteen year old wouldn't be able to quite grasp that.  Especially a fourteen year old like Elizabeth who was very sheltered and naive.  Also, I think the fear kind of took on a life of its own.  Elizabeth mentioned many times how paralyzing it was.  I think most of us have never been in a situation when we are faced with extreme fear like that, but my guess is that logic kind of goes out the window at that point and you just do what you can to survive.


A picture of Elizabeth at a rave the summer she was captured.  She is on the left, whispering to Wanda Barzee.  So sad that she didn't say anything to anyone!  (Also, that man's hair is on fire!)

+ Something else that surprised me as I read was how much I hated Wanda Barzee.  I knew I hated Brian David Mitchell, the man who kidnapped Elizabeth, but as I read I found that I hated Barzee just as much.  Even though she didn't carry out the plans, she sat and watched it happen, and to me that is just as bad.  She is a mother (I believe she has six kids?) herself, and to sit there and let a fourteen year old girl be abused and raped like that and do nothing to stop it is inexcusable.  I was filled with so much disgust for both Mitchell and Barzee.

WHAT MOST IMPRESSED ME
Throughout the entire book, Elizabeth has an incredible attitude.  She prays and thanks God for her family, and is able to remain mentally and spiritually strong throughout the experience.  It was incredible to see her strength and tenacity.  She was kidnapped in June and she explains her Thanksgiving day with her captors.  She says that on that day she makes a mental list of everything she has to be grateful for- after five months of being abused and raped and starved.  I was also impressed with Elizabeth's attitude after she returned home- the quote that April mentioned stuck out to me as well.  She was able to forgive her captors and move on, not letting them take any more of her life or her experiences away from her.

At one point in the book Elizabeth says something like "I am 25 years old.  That means I have lived 300 months.  Nine of those months were pretty horrible.  But the other 291 have been great and I have been extremely blessed.  So how can I focus on the nine bad months when the other months were so good?"  Pretty amazing attitude, right there.

Now, thirteen years later, Elizabeth seems to have healed and recovered.  She has served an 18 month mission in Paris for the LDS church, has graduated from college, and has married.  She also speaks out as an activist on behalf of kidnapping survivors and child victims of violence and sexual abuse.



Elizabeth now- 27 years old.


Alright, that book review got way too long.  I apologize- the whole story is just so fascinating to me.  I can't wait to hear your thoughts!  Leave your thoughts below or if you wrote your own post make sure to link up!

And don't forget to join in next month!  We are reading Amy Poehler's Yes, Please and will discuss the book on Thursday, March 26.