The Life of Bon: February 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Blogging about blogging: It's insane!

This morning a fellow teacher burst in my room at 7:10 while I was trying to discreetly finish up my makeup.  (I have this totally bad habit where I carry my makeup case around with me so I don't have to put on my makeup until I get to work.  That way I don't have to spend as much time "getting ready" at home and therefore don't have to wake up as early.  You know I'm a genius.)

"Hey Bonnie.  You're a blogger, right?"  He demanded.
"Um..."  I replied, "I have a blog..."  I try to avoid the word blogger at all costs.  It's too much for me.
"So do you like it?"
"Yah.  I mean, I guess it's alright."  I really had no clue where this was going.  And I was embarrassed that he knew I had a blog.  (Which brings up the point- why are we comfortable sharing every detail in our lives with perfect strangers but then get uncomfortable when we find out people we know read our blogs?)
"Do you ever worry about your students reading it?  Or getting in trouble for stuff you put on it?"
"Probably not as much as I should.  What are they going to do, fire me?"  (Quitting your job is so insanely liberating!)
"Why do you ask?" I prodded.
"I'm thinking about starting my own blog.  I've got some things to say." (Don't we all?  don't we all??!)
"Well, you're a dude so you'd have an automatic edge."
"Do you recommend it?  What is your advice?"

Ah.  Do I recommend it?

The truth is I don't.  I really don't.
And then in the same breath I do.  I really do.

I love blogging so much, but gosh, somewhere along the line it has become work.  Not work that I don't like, mind you, but still... work.  I have goals and aspirations with this blog, places I need it to take me, and that does require the dreaded "W" word.  It is dreadfully time consuming.  If I am being honest with myself, I spent at least 20+ hours a week on the blog.  Add that on top of teaching 50 hours and a week and a feeble attempt at grocery shopping and an ever feebler attempt at cooking and you've got my life in a nutshell.  Now, I know some people out there would say, "Cut back!  Don't spend so much time with the blog if it's work.  Once it becomes work you've lost the beauty and realness of it."  Or something like that.   (Side note.  It drives me crazy when people act like it's a bad thing if you're blog is work.  All good things are work.  Dealing with 16 year olds is work.  My marriage is work.  Planning a vacation is work.  What is wrong with me thinking my blog is work?)

The fact is that my blog is a side business for me, albeit at this point a very small side business.  But because I am making money off of it, it is "work."  That means I have to post consistently, I have to put up giveaways when I say I'm going to, and I have to return an email.  The blog, therefore, does in fact become work.

Last week, as some of you may be aware, Kristen posted her thoughts on some of the various trends in blogging.  Among these that she does not like or does not do herself are: sponsorships, group giveaways, and turning your blog into a business.  First off I have to give Kristen kudos (do people still say kudos?!?) because she has loads of traffic and thousands of loyal followers.  She engages with her audience and I love that.  She is real and down to earth.

But what I want to know is how?!?  How did she gain all those followers and friends and traffic if she didn't sponsor or advertise her blog?  Kristen tells readers to "concentrate on your content instead of your numbers and you will gain REAL readers which is what should matter."  I agree totally with that.  I am all about quality writing and story telling.  The blogs I visit every single day without fail are written by great story tellers.  But I only found those blogs through sponsorships, advertising, and giveaways.  I blogged for six straight months and stayed at 50 views a day because no one even knew the blog existed.  People don't just find a blog.  Readers don't just appear.  And even if they did, who's got the patience to sit there and wait around for them to stumble upon your blog?  Not me!

I have never regretted accepting sponsors on my blog.  It is much more work, obviously, but I enjoy it and I get to know other bloggers and blogs on a much closer level because of it.  In my mind I have to accept sponsors so 1) I can justify the disgusting amount of time I spend blogging and 2) I can sponsor other blogs and allow my blog to continue to grow.

What I do struggle greatly with is the balance.  How many guest posts are too many guest posts?  When do readers start rolling their eyes at another giveaway?  When does the blog become smarmy and fake and all about turning a buck?  Where is the freaking line?!?

I read somewhere that you should consider every "original" post as a deposit to your blog and every guest post as a withdrawal.  You never want to go in the red- always have more originals than guests.  I agree with that, but wonder if the ratio needs to be more than just "more than half".  What do you think?  Two original posts to one guest post/giveaway?  3 to 1?  4 to 1?!?!?  Who has the answers anymore?!?

Another thing that Kristen touched on briefly, but that mostly commenters brought up was the whole "blogging about blogging" thing.  Blogging tips, blogging strategies, etc. Plenty of readers stated that they hate  all this.  That they don't want to read blogs about blogs.  Quite frankly that surprised me as those people were obviously currently reading and commenting on a post about blogging.  It surprised me too because I LOVE posts about blogging.  The blogging culture is so weird and unique and if I don't talk about it with other bloggers, I don't talk about it at all.

Ah, when did it all get so confusing?  What are y'all thoughts on this?  Do you hate guest posts?  Do you read them?  Do you get over-giveawayed?  When is enough enough?

And you want to know what the weirdest thing is?  This post started with a teacher bursting in on me while doing my makeup.  My, how far we have come.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What's a teacher get any work done?!?

(Disclaimer:  Right after I published this I noticed the title was totally jacked up. 
 I thought about editing it, but decided the nonsensical title was the best way
 to really convey how I feel at the end of these
 parent teacher conferences.  I be losing my mind!)

This is me!  Right this very minute!  Can you tell I'm hating life? (And isn't my wedding ring purrrrrty?!)

I am six hours and forty two minutes into parent teacher conferences.  One hour and eighteen minutes left.  But who's counting, right?

Every parent teacher conference the exact same thing happens.  I make a long, absolutely impossible list of everything I am going to get done that day.  Then a lot of parents come and I don't get anything done and I feel like a failure even though I was busy the whole day.  How's that for a crappy situation?

My to do list today included:
- Grade 10th grade October Sky tests
- Grade 10th grade mini memoirs
- Write Lord of the Flies test for Friday
- Grade absent/late basket
- Update all scores on the computer
- Write blog post
- Write sponsor instructions for March
- Find blogs to sponsor in March
- Finish reading Tweak for banned book club tomorrow (The book is 400+ pages.  I'm on page 55.)
- Get Letter of Recommendation from principal and vice principal
- Scan Letter of Recommendations on to computer
- Request fingerprint cards from state of California
- Sign up to take CBEST (California teacher credential test)
- Apply for Green Dot Public schools
- Apply for opening at ABC school district

That's not too much to get done in eight hours with parents coming in and out all day long is it?!?

Turns out it is.  Of those things I have officially accomplished only the first one: grade October Sky tests.    And I guess now I can kind of cross off writing a blog post?  So that's good for something, right?

Sigh.  When did life get so busy?

Lucky for me, I've got Ashley to take over from here.  She's gorgeous and stylish and all the things that good bloggers are required to be, right?  She keeps her posts short and sweet, but carries a pack with them.  I loved her most recent post on if birth order affects personality and her post about attending blog conferences.  (One day I maybe will be brave enough to show up at a blog conference?)  Oh, and Ashley is giving away the cutest personalized stamp I've ever seen.  Just so you know, I'm rigging this so I can win it.

I kid.  I kid.


Hi!  I'm Ashley from Dancing with Ashley.

I've realized that people can find happiness in little, every day things. Here is a list, according to Ashley, on how to make that happen.  {With a few links to some of my older posts}

1.  Take care of yourself!  Take time for YOU and do things that lift your spirits.   

2.  Wear things that make you feel great!  This dress in particular always does the job for me.  

3.  Be around people who make you laugh.  There can't be anything better than this...there just can't be.  My siblings do this for me.

4.  Do something for someone else.  When you're in a funk or feeling low, show someone else some kindness.  

5.  Find success in the little things.  Every sock has a match in a load of laundry?  That's success to me!!!

I hope you'll come by and say hello, and would love to give one lucky reader this personalized address stamp.

Just use the Rafflecopter below to enter!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013




Welcome to the first ever meeting of Bon's book club!  I am so glad you are here! (Click here to see this year's reading line up!)

I thought about posting a recipe, so that it could be more like a "real" book club.  You know, food and then book discussion.  Then I realized I am the worst cook and have no recipes.  So that idea tan)ked.  But I hope you will enjoy being here, because really, we have so much to talk about it!  If you read the book please leave your comments below.  If you wrote your own post on the book, please please please link it up so I can see all those wheels turning in your head.

The writing style.  First and foremost, the actual writing was good, but not great.  The pages turned quickly, and the pacing was great, but I didn't feel like the quality of writing was any better than the stuff I read on blogs every day.  Sometimes I read books that are so well written and the prose is so indescribably beautiful that I go back and read sentences over and over.  (One of my most recent faves as mentioned yestereday, Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies.  The prose is unbelievably gorgeous in that book.)  I didn't feel this way about Gone Girl.  I felt that the focus was purely on the plot and not on the writing.  And sometimes that's ok.

The f word.  While we are talking about the writing style, I will go ahead and get this one out of the way.  It blew me away how much Flynn uses the f word.  I don't mind the f word it if it has a purpose or if I feel like it is realistic or needful.  I feel like profanity if used correctly can add power to a scene or conversation like nothing else.  If done incorrectly, however profanity acts only as a distraction and takes away from the overall power of the book.  In Gone Girl, the repeated f words did the latter.  The f word was used so often, and in such vulgar terms, and so casually that I had a hard time getting immersed in the plot.  I question why Flynn made the choice to include so many f words, as it really did distract for the greatness of her complex plot and make the writing seem of much lesser quality.  My guess is she was trying to make her characters seem "hard", but for me it only distracted.

My question is this- do people really use the f word that often?  I am  currently reading Tweak, a memoir about drug addiction.  The book has its fair share of f words, but it doesn't bother me nearly as much in this book because I feel like it is a realistic portrayal of the situation and the drug culture.  It is not thrown in there just to seem "cool" or "hard".  Drug dealers and addicts and gang members I am sure use the f word as freely as they please.  But in Gone Girl the characters are none of those things.  They are society contributing, responsible, educated adults.  I get that people who are raised on the streets and uneducated are going to use the f word like it's nobody's business.  But educated people?  Lawyers and writers and your good old average joe on the street?  I live in a conservative community and I come from a conservative state, so this one honestly just confuses me.  Did you see the amount of f words in Gone Girl as an accurate representation of how often most responsible, educated adults in our country use the f word?

The characters- dreadfully unlikeable.
What confuses me about Gone Girl is that I liked the book, but I hate every person in it.  The general rule of thumb with writing a successful book is that if you want people to like the book, people must like the people who the book is about.  That's why we all love Harry Potter, no duh!  What baffles me is that I literally did not like one character in the entire book- Nick is disgusting and selfish, Amy is sadistic and psycho, Amy's parents are irresponsible and judgmental, Nick's dad is a woman hater, the lawyer makes money off of freeing men who killed their wives, the list goes on- and yet somehow I still LOVED the book.  There is only one other book where I hate every person in it and love the book, and that is The Great Gatsby.  Full of vain, selfish people and yet I can't get enough of the book.

The jury is still out on how I could like the book.  I guess by the end I felt a sort of sympathy for Nick.  Not because he was a good guy, but because he was a good guy compared to all the other train wrecks in the book.  And because even though he was wrong to cheat on his wife, he didn't deserve what she did to him.  What do you think?  Did you like any of the characters in the book?  Did you like Nick by the end?

The deterioration of marriage
Perhaps my favorite part of the book was the descriptions of the marriage and how it eventually came unraveling.  Being a fairly newlywed, I am fascinated by the inner workings of marriage.  There were many times where I felt myself passionately siding with one marriage partner based on the argument.  I felt like I was constantly picking sides and in a way even analyzing my own marriage.  Do I make Greg do that?  Do we fight over stuff that stupid?  Am I that unreasonable?

Interestingly enough my favorite parts of the book ***spoiler alert***  were Amy's beginning journal entries- the ones that turned out to be totally fake.  I identified with her and loved her and my heart went out to her.  When the whole thing turned out to be a hoax, I felt wildly betrayed.  There was no liking the new Amy after that.  She and I were not to be friends.

I hold on to my love for the fake journal Amy, though.  Man, she had a way of putting things!  My favorite section of the whole book may have been when Amy is describing what it is like to meet the love of your life.  She explains meeting Nick and says 

"Then you run into Nick Dunne on Seventh Avenue as you're buying diced cantaloupe, and pow, you are known.  You are recognized, the both of you.  You both find the exact same things worth remembering.  You have the same rhythm.  Click.  You just know each other.  All of a sudden you see reading in bed and waffles on Sunday and laughing at nothing and his mouth on yours. And it's so far beyond fine that you know you can never go back to fine.  That fast.  You think:  Oh, here is the rest of my life.  It's finally arrived."

Isn't that a beautiful description of finding love and being in love?

***Spoiler alert***
The twist:  Flynn's brilliance comes in her book twists.  I loved that she had me thinking the first half of the book that Nick was the murderer.  And I loved that in a matter of seconds she could make me trust Nick and totally turn on Amy.  Flynn's brilliance is also seen in how all the details played together- the treasure clues, the storage shed full of goods bought on the credit card, Amy's plan to get away with it, the journal she left, all the details that added up.  That woman is a mastermind to make all those details work together!

The end:  Messed up.  I feel bad for that unborn child is all I know.  I suppose in a way Nick needed to deal with his "punishment", but it didn't jive with me.  Nor did I understand why Amy was so insistent on making Nick stay in the marriage.  They were both miserable beyond reason.  It made for a good (and creepy!) ending, but I wish Flynn would have described more why Amy felt drawn to Nick again.  That felt so out of the blue and random to me.

Now tell me how YOU felt about the book.  Let's talk talk talk about it!

Oh, and don't forget about The Fault in Our Stars for March's book club.  We will discuss this on the blog the last Wednesday of the month- March 27.  It has received rave reviews nationwide.  And I believe there are less f words...

For the full year's line up of Bon's book club selections click here.

Oh, and if you link up, please use the button!

Can't wait to read your comments!

Monday, February 25, 2013

To grieve



I have wanted to post about grief for over a month now, but didn't really know how to go about doing it.  I know that I have a lot to say about the grieving process, but it felt weird to just take to my blog, "Hey guys!  After my dad died I was really sad!"  For some reason it felt like I couldn't just say that.  It was too sad and too heavy and waaaaaay too vulnerable.

A few things, though, have encouraged me to be more brave with my writing.  One is Anne Lamott's essay on grief entitled "Ladders." (From the book "Traveling Mercies."  If you have lost someone close to you, you need to read this book NOW.)  In it she states that "lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place and only grieving can heal grief."  And so I write this to not be afraid of grief.  To take it head on.  And perhaps I write this for selfish purposes, too.  To heal a grief that never leaves, and to continually move away from such a barren and isolated place.

So here it goes.
Guys.  After my dad died I was really sad.

I have written about the day I found out my dad died, about memories with my dad, about how I am adjusting now- three years later.  What I have said nothing about is those first months after his death.  Those first days trying to adjust back to normal life.  The weeks after.  The four months later.  Those were the hardest times.  Long and grueling and wildly unfair.

I know many of you may have lost someone close to you.  If not, you certainly know somebody who has.  And as sad as it is to think of, all of us will experience the death of a loved one.  It's part of life.  This post is hoping to help those who are currently experiencing grief or trying to help someone else experience grief.  Or maybe just looking to understand an emotion that is moody and complex and multifaceted.  I also want those who are grieving to know that what they are feeling and that it is normal and okay and even good to grieve.  That one's a big one. It is good to be sad

"It is only by experiencing that ocean of sadness in a naked and immediate way that we come to be healed- which is to say, that we come to experience life with a real sense of presence and spaciousness and peace."
-Anne Lamott

If you are grieving...

1.  You might feel like you can't control your emotions.  I can't tell you in those first months how often I felt enormous waves of grief, how little I could control the crying, how hard it was to put on the brave face.  I remember sitting in the back of an English teaching strategies class at BYU.  We were talking about designing effective rubrics. I sat in the very back with a hoodie covering my face, the silent tears making endless tracks.  "Rubrics?  Who gives a damn about rubrics!?"  I thought.  "My dad is gone and all you can tell me is that I need to use effective word choice when I make a rubric?!?"  Right in the middle of class.  Just crying and crying and hoping the hoodie could hide it all.

One morning, two months after my dad died, I woke up early to head to the school where I was doing my student teaching.  In those early lonely moments, between wakefulness and sleep, I had forgotten my dad was dead.  I got up and was staring in the mirror, brushing my teeth when BAM.  It hit.  I remembered.  And the grief was so strong and powerful and wildly intense that all I could do was sit down on the toilet cry.  Pitch dark outside, 6:10 am, all my roommates sound asleep, and I was sobbing uncontrollably on the toilet trying to get ready for work.  I told myself I had to stop because my students would be able to tell I was crying, but I couldn't.  I honestly could not stop myself  and I was afraid that I was going to cry forever.

It hits during happy times, too.  Totally out of the blue.  At a joyful Christmas gathering, during a sweet movie, when joking with friends.  Six months after my dad died, I was visitng my sister in Washington D.C.  I was so excited to see her, to spend time with her after many months apart.  I decided to bake brownies while she was putting her girls to bed.  I felt so light and airy and I cracked that egg into the brownie mix and then suddenly I was just so sad.  I cried silent tears into the brownie mix, watching them blend in with the oil and chocolate chips.  Tears.  Chocolate. Tears. Egg. Tears. Flour.  I realized I hop on a plane and go visit my sister when I missed her, but I could never hop on a plane and go visit my dad when I missed him. I tried to will myself to stop before my sister saw me, but it was of no use.

With my older sister, Mindy in D.C.  Six months without dad.

College graduation with my mom and sister.  Five months without dad.  A sad day making a valiant effort to be a happy day.

2.  You might feel mad.  What surprised me was that I was angry.  I knew sorrow was a part of grief, but anger?  Mostly I was mad at other people.  I worked at Sizzler, and I remember waiting on my tables on those first weeks after my dad's death, furious at the sweet little senior citizens who could barely walk to the salad bar.  Why were they still alive?  They were so old!  They couldn't take care of themselves!  My dad was only 61- young and healthy and active- riding a bike when the unexpected heart attack hit him.  How dare these people be 10, 20, 30 years older than my dad and still alive?!?  They had no right!

I was also mad at people who had "tragedy-free" lives.  There were a couple of times in church where I heard people say things like, "I have had such a blessed life, I have all my family close to me," or "I'm so lucky, I haven't had any major tragedy happen in my life".  Or the worst- "The Lord blessed my mom and kept her safe in the accident. I know He saved her life"  I couldn't help but think, "So why didn't he save my dad? He loves you more than me?!?"  Of course, I knew that wasn't so, and my faith in God got me through the tough days, but it was others' implications that God had somehow spared them tragedy because He loved them that would absolutely outrage me at times.

Even now I struggle with this.  Why is it fair that people older than me have grandparents alive and I have all four grandparents dead and buried and a dad who will never meet my husband or children in this life?  When people post on facebook that their grandma is sick and to please pray for her, I feel mad.  Mad that they even have a grandma who is alive and that they don't have to understand the enormous grief of losing a father too soon and that they got more time with a grandparent than I got with a parent.

3.  People will not know how to act around you.  I learned after my dad died that I had to invite people into my circle.  People can be so awkward about death that they will just avoid you because it makes them too uncomfortable.  Especially people who have had no close experiences with death.  My dad died on a Thursday.  I went back up to BYU the next Tuesday, to take a test and work a shift at Sizzler.  My roommates were home that night when I came home.  They were so weird around me.  I wanted them to hug me and keep me close to them and stay up all night asking me if I was okay and eating cookie dough and wiping my tears away.  But instead they kept their distance from me.  They talked about lots of things, but they didn't mention my dad.  Neither did I.  It was the big elephant in the room.  I put on a brave face and acted like I was fine and we all pretended like nobody's dad had died and nobody was hurt.

After an hour or so of this I couldn't do the charade any long.  So I went to bed and cried myself to sleep.  Now, I love my roommates and to this day they are my best friends.  But they just didn't know how to act around me.  How to be there.  They knew exactly how to make me feel better after a break up, but not after a parent's death.  Their discomfort didn't allow them to love me and reach me in a way that I so desperately needed.  My immense sorrow didn't allow me to see that I had to invite them in.  If I would have known then that all I had to do was invite, to allow them to mention my dad, to let them see me hurt, I know they would have responded lovingly.  But I didn't know how to.  And they didn't know how to either.

Trying to let people into my circle. Five months without dad.

4.  You may feel very fragile, like you should be wearing a giant label- "HANDLE WITH CARE."  I was thrust into finals week immediately following my dad's death.  He wasn't even buried two weeks and I was trying to cram for exams that I couldn't care less about.  I remember one teacher gave me a C on a project.  I admit, I hadn't done my best work.  But I had tried.  I had dragged myself out of bed and put that stupid project together and I had handed it in on time.  When she gave me a C, I just fell apart.  Didn't she know I was hurt?  Didn't she know that that was truly the best effort I could give at that time?  And all I got back for my work and pain and suffering was a lousy C?

Another example.  A few days after Christmas, I got a bad haircut.  I burst into tears.

During this time I had a Korean foreign exchange roommate.  We were roommates in every sense of the word, and nothing more.  One night she was upset because nobody had changed the light bulb.  Two weeks later I left the front door unlocked and someone broke in and stole our laptops.  She was irate.  She yelled at me and made me feel like an idiot.  Normally, I would have been able to take the heat and admit my mistake.  Instead I ignored her all the time, took to the internet to write nasty things about her, (Interestingly enough g.o.m.i. hammered me this past month for the post I wrote about her during that time. It has since been deleted.) and did things purposely to piss her off.  In some twisted way it made me hurt a little less.

New niece.  Two months without dad.  Unfathomable how people enter life and leave life at the same time.

5.  You may feel like jealous.  This one goes along with the anger.  I was just so incredibly jealous of everyone around me with a dad.  I couldn't look at wedding pictures of brides with their dads knowing my own would be so glaringly absent from my big day.

One night my friend's dad was in town and he sat down and played a round of cards with us.  He played a card that did not benefit him at all, but that he knew would help his daughter out.  Everyone around the table booed and yelled, "Hey!  Mandy's going to win now!  Why did you do that!" and he just smiled and said something along the lines of "Well, I want my daughter to win too!"  I remember thinking that was the sweetest thing.  And I was jealous.  So so jealous.  My dad had always favored me.  He had always done things like that and I was instantly filled with indescribable pain and missing.  I excused myself from the game and sobbed in my bedroom.  Why didn't I have a dad anymore who was always looking out for his little girl?

Nine days without dad.  Trying hard to act like everything is A-Ok.

6.  You may feel desperate for love.  I'll just say this- I dated some real idiots right after my dad's death.  One who never called, always texted, and never before 10 pm.  Then there was the one who wasn't going to school or working, just totally bumming his life away. Oh and I can't forget the one who broke up with me and got back together with me three different times. So many dumb boys. Not even close to my type. Not even close to loving or caring or sensitive. Not even close to being what I needed or wanted.  Just boys.  Trying to fill a void.

Like I said.  A lot of idiots.  Three months without dad.

7.  It may feel like you will never stop hurting.  The first two or three months after my dad died I didn't want to stop hurting.  I felt like if the pain stopped it would mean I didn't love my dad anymore and that I had forgotten about him.  That by keeping my grief close to me I could keep my dad close to me.  Every day that passed I mourned because it separated me further and further from my dad.  I knew I wouldn't feel so sad if I didn't have such big pieces of my dad still inside of me, but I wanted those pieces in me for the rest of my life.  I was completely unwillingly to let any part of my dad go.

And so, the pain lingered.  It came in when I was least expecting it and plopped itself down on the couch and stayed for long periods of time.  It menaced and teased and didn't give me rest.

Each month got easier.  But the pain was still there.  I wondered if I would ever feel completely myself again.

Four months without dad.

Even now, I feel sudden bursts of unwelcome pain and missing.  This past Father's Day it hit me so hard I had to go downstairs and fold laundry while Greg's family ate ice cream on the back porch and opened gifts.  I tried to brush the tears away, tried to tell myself I should be past this by now, but I inevitably had to just let the tears flow.  Let myself be sad for awhile.  And three years later, I am realizing that it is okay that some days I need to miss my dad and be sad that he's not here to share my life with me.  I have to allow  myself to completely wallow in sorrow every once in a while in order to truly heal.  Like good old Lamott says, "Don't get me wrong: grief sucks; it really does.  Unfortunately, though, avoiding it robs us of life, of the now of a sense of living spirit."  By grieving, I allow myself to live.

I will leave you with this last thought- I have probably already said far too much.  Lamott states that "Grief ends up giving you the two best things: softness and illumination."  With death, we lose so much, but so much remains.  And some is even added to it.  I have learned so much from losing a parent.  About tenderness and softness and kindness and peace.  Above all, peace.  It is in those moments of deepest sorrow and loneliness that I have felt the love of God stronger and more acutely than at any other times in my life.  There have been times where I have been so engulfed with peace and love while still being in the depths of sorrow.  God has taken me to the lowest of points to show me the greatest of joys.

I don't understand why everything happens in this world, and I don't pretend to.  But I know that in some way we experience things such as this so that we can share the experiences with others.  However painful it may be. So that we can come together and share experiences and griefs and sorrows and unload some of that burden.  We have to allow others to share the load.

So I guess this is my way of saying thank you for sharing the load.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Interview Shminterview + Forever 21 giveaway

Here's what happened, folks.

I met this girl named Alycia.
I liked this girl named Alycia.
I said, "Hey!  Let me ask you a bunch of questions and have you answer them on my blog!"
She said, "Okay! But you do the same!"
She said, "Let's give away $50 to Forever 21 so we can show people who much we like them.
I said, "Ok!"

And that is how this post came to be.  Enjoy suckers.  I love Alycia.  She's my real life bloggy friend.  And she's got the most beautiful long blonde hair in the world.  I've been trying to figure out how to steal it for months.  When you're done reading this hop on over to Alycia's blog to read my answers to the same questions.  You maybe will even get to see me with a noodle up my nose.  Maybe.


You guys I am so excited to be over here sharing in the life of Bon :) Although, I just call her Bonnie! I have actually had the opportunity to meet Bonnie at a couple different blogger meet ups, however, I must complain we have not actually had a lot of time to just sit, chat, and get to know one another! You see, I am probably the hardest person to nail down time with right now and Bonnie is pretty busy herself as well! But someday, yes someday I will make it happen. I absolutely love reading Bonnie's stories and would not want to miss the opportunity to hear one person, that is for sure!

Well that was a long intro paragraph, all to say HELLO! My name is Alycia and I blog over at the Crowley Party, a lifestyle blog about my life, and interests! We have a motto in our house that life should  be a party, and blogging and the community that comes with it has become a part of that daily celebration, I hope you join the party!

Bonnie and I thought that our readership was full of some amazing people, people that probably have some similar interests, and so we thought, "heck, let's introduce each other to each other's amazing readers?!" and why stop there? "Let's give them something awesome!" So today we are offering one reader a $50.00 gift card to Forever 21! Probably my favorite go to store for affordable and adorable clothing! No joke there, my whole closet is Forever 21, I love them!

So onto the get to know me part?! Bonnie has asked me some questions, and I guess I am obliged to answer :)

How did you meet your husband?!

Well, well, well. Technically I met the hubberz (Trevor) in line for water at a back to school picnic that was going on at the University of Utah. It was a hot August night and we were at the end of the line to get water. It ran out just as we got to the table, and he offered to get me some from inside. So I waited for this complete stranger with hair longer then mine (yes people, to his shoulders) to get me some water. He came back with the water, I thanked him, and that was that. I moved on to mingle with other people.

That would have been the only encounter if it hadn't been for the fact that I didn't know a soul there that night and this random creepy guy started following me around and wouldn't leave me alone. I needed an escape and I saw the long haired guy who had got me some water and took it as my only opportunity. So I turned to the creeper and said' "Um hey, I see my friend I am going to go say hi to him!" I ran up to the long haired guy (Trevor) and asked him to pretend to know me so the weirdo guy behind me would leave me alone. So he did. He put his arm around me and talked to me for a bit, and when the creeper left and I thanked him for doing me a solid, he asked for my number... the rest is history. Thanks to that creeper, that night led to the BEST day ever!

You have a 10 minute speech to give at a high school, what is it about?

Oh high school. Funny thing is, I went to school to be a high school teacher - hey Bonnie, we have so much in common ;) and I love high school aged kids! I think it is such an important part of our lives, that critical, awkward, stage that is all about transition and growing up.

If I was to give a speech, it would be about how they don't need to go off and "find themselves" that they can create the life they want for themselves right now. To take who they are, be proud of it and make goals to better themselves and improve. That the more they envision the things they want to accomplish, eventually they will see them :)

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Well I am not a mother yet so I can't use the "my child!" answer for this one. I think I would have to say so far my greatest accomplishment would be graduating from the University of Utah. I value this accomplishment for so many more reasons then the academic. I graduated in Social Science Teaching and History Teaching, from the last question you can see that I want to teach high school students someday! It is a long story why I am not right now, well you can actually read it here if you are that bored!
Although I am thankful for my education, I also felt like when I graduated from college I became an "adult". I know that might sound dumb, I was obviously over 18, and was married, but the experiences I had during college were life forming, and shaped who I am today and who I will be in the future. That day marked the end of something, and the transition and start into something new, and I was really happy and proud of how I came out of that.

Who do you admire?

Totally cliche, but I am goign to say it... my family!I have a big family whom I love. We are all such individuals with different personalities. I should have really put a picture that had my parents too, because they started this all. I admire my family for all being so true to themselves. They all hold qualities I wish I had and want to work on, and they are my biggest supporters. They are my best friends, and role models. Not sure what I did to get blessed with such a great family, let's be honest though, God probably knew I needed to have this many people helping me out along the way ;)

Tell us a time you were incredibly embarrassed.

I usually am one to put my foot in my mouth, so the fact that I don't have a story about that to share is shocking. But the most embarrassed I have ever been would have to be a time back in high school. We were playing dodge ball in the gym and some girls came up behind me and pulled my sweat pants down, and well, EVERYTHING came down. Naked white butt for the whole gym to see. Yeah, I was pretty embarrassed. I didn't cry until I got home though, which I was proud of myself for. But I think I felt for all the people I blinded with my white booty!

Why did you start blogging and what is your favorite part of blogging?

I started blogging because my Dad wanted me to get one! YES, my Dad is why I started blogging. You can read the long story here, but basically it all started off as a way to document my life, and I got sucked into this amazing community of creativity! I have made amazing connections, friendhips and am inspired daily. I think I am here to stay :)

What sets you apart from other bloggers?

Hmm, that is a toughie. My husband is amazing, like whoah, at guitar, does that count?

What is your worst puke story?

I was an angel in my Church's life Nativity play. I was feeling sick before going on stage. I walked up on a stander that made it look like I was flying above baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Right on cue, at the end of the show, I threw up all over the REAL baby and the babies parents playing Mary and Joseph. Yup... they still talk about it to this day and it was about 17 years ago! Thankfully I was too young to be that embarrassed :)

Something about yourself that you never tell others?

Well anyone who knew me back in the day would know this, but I can burp so incredibly loud it makes babies cry... and I can talk in full sentences. I have had people tell me I sound like the devil when I talk in burp :)

Oh and there is the time I peed on an overpass? 

A life changing experience.

Growing up my brother had a best friend, Abram. He was always over at the house and we basically grew up with him. He was like another brother. My parents even let him come on family vacations with us. He died in a tragic accident at age 19. I was 16 at the time and he was the first person I had ever known that had died. I was stunned. I didn't believe it was true. In a society that values youth and hates to age or grow old, I learned through that experience that I want to grow old. Abram was too young, he had barley started his life.  I want to live as many days on this earth as God will give me. Abram lived life to the FULLEST without a doubt, and I try to value and live each day like that. His death changed my perspective on aging, and life in general.

Thanks for having me Bonnie! Sorry for the novel responses, apparently I can't answer a question "quickly" :) You know what they say,"If you give a mouse a cookie..."

Since I know how much you guys love Bonnie, you should go check out the questions I asked her on my blog :) Oh and that $50.00 to Forever 21 because you guys are amazing... ENTER NOW!

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bonnie. And Bonnie. WHAT?!?

 Or just the one Bonnie... whatever works

Me with my namesake.  And boy does it feel good to say I have a namesake!

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Oscars + Magazines = Heaven

Yesterday it got a bit heavy around here when I announced I am leaving my job.  All of a sudden we were talking about quitting jobs and big life changes and leaving behind loved places and experiences and people and twas all a bit heavy.

So today we're going light.  Light and fun and frivolous and entertaining.

Did you know the Oscars are coming up?


I didn't really love the Oscars growing up.  Didn't watch them, didn't read about them, didn't care about them.

Then two things happened to me.

THING #1:  I married Hubs who is an aspiring actor, and thus I began watching movies like a fiend.
THING #2:  I started reading lots of blogs and suddenly knew something (very little something) about fashion.

So bam, guess who's now excited for the Oscars?  THIS GIRL!

At this point I feel like it would be appropriate to mention that I had a deep and ever abiding love for magazines.  I purposely choose long grocery store lines so that I can devour all the latest celebrity gossip.  I love flying because I treat myself to magazines and the flight hours just slip on by.

Now, put together magazines + Oscars and you've got yourself one excited girl.

You gotta be careful what magazines you choose, though.  Not all of them have got the scoop you need.  My preference is PEOPLE Magazine.  It's got the latest on the celebrities, the best and worst dressed lists that I absolutely crave, and it even has its share of real writing.  REAL WRITING!  When Greg and I drove down to California last fall I read him stories out of PEOPLE magazine and showed him the pics all the way down.  (Oh, look at McCauly Culkin!  He's all grown up!  There's a story here about a man who kept this woman locked away for 13 years, want to hear it?)  Admit it, you think that's awesome.

That would be why I am looking forward to the PEOPLE Magazine 2013 Oscars Double Issue- coming out on March 1.  A double issue?!?  All about the Oscars?!?  Shoot me, I've died and gone to heaven!  Rest assured that I will be stuffing that magazine in a backpack, flying to Arizona, and I'm going to read the whole darn thing while laying in the sun.  That, my friends, is how you forget about your problems.

Or maybe I'll just read it on my living room couch.  Either way it's a win.  I can't decide if I'm more excited for the Oscars or the PEOPLE Magazine!

What is going to be in the PEOPLE Magazine 2013 Oscars Double Issue?  What Oscar events will they cover?

FOR EXAMPLE:  Will there be adequate pictures of Angelina Jolie and her leg?

Will J.Lo have a convenient "wardrobe malfunction"?

And most importantly who is going to chant "They like me!  They really like me!" if Sally Field doesn't win for best supporting actress?!? I sure hope PEOPLE has got this figured out!

Oh, and Target is giving away $20 just for kicks and giggles.  So you buy yourself a PEOPLE magazine and snacks to go with it and remind yourself why life is awesome.  Get entering! :)
Sweepstakes Info: Test your PEOPLE Trivia skills for a chance to win!
Enter each week for a chance to win one of hundreds of rewards cards!
Click the link to play now!

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and PEOPLE Magazine but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #PEOPLEforOscars

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The day I quit my job

Yesterday I marched down that great white tile hall, tromped into the principal's office, threw my resignation on his desk and declared, "I'm out!  I'm on to bigger and better things!  See you later! Sir!"

Or something like that.

The truth is I did it because they bribed me with 200 big ones if I quit by the end of the month.  The school does an "early resignation", meaning they want to know early on what teachers are staying or going.  So if you tell them in February that you will not be returning in the fall and they can plan early, BAM, $200 buckaroos.

I guess I have known ever since I married Hubs that my job at the Hills of the Copper (I feel like I shouldn't say my school's "real" name.  Now none of you know!) would be temporary.  The dude's an actor.  There's not many gigs for that in West Jordan, Utah.

Still.  It didn't lessen the pain.

On our first date Greg told me he was a theatre major.  I thought that was weird.  But I also thought he was cute.

That night after our first date, I laid in bed and thought about this Greg guy and his career choice.  I had to decide then and there if I could marry someone who was pursuing full time acting as a career.  In my mind it made no sense to go on date #2 or date #3 or date #506 if I wasn't okay with the way he decided to make a living.  If I couldn't handle the job insecurity, the adventures, the wild life, then why continue on one step further in the dating process?  I don't do charades.

So I thought and thought and turns out I felt great about all of it.  A kind of excited and "wow, this isn't what I was expecting for a future husband but I can totally handle it!" feeling.  A lot of people would never leave a job, a state, a home that is comfortable for something so unpredictable.  But it turns out comfort actually makes me kind of uncomfortable. (Say whaaa?!?)  I am the opposite of a home body, and I yearn for adventure.  I'm a bit of a risk taker and a bit of an idiot.  What more could I want in a husband than a man who wants to drag me to Hollywood in pursuit of the acting dream while I pursue my writing and teaching and saving the youth of America dream?  Admit it- it's all very romantic in a "you two are very stupid" kind of way.

But first Greg had to finish school.  Earn his undergraduate degree, get some experience under his belt, and live in his mother in laws basement!  All vital experiences!  Greg graduates this spring, and so we have known and planned for the past two years for me to quit at the high school, pack on up, and hit the road for Hollywood this year.  Very glorious and very dramatic.

From day one I have felt good about this plan.  I have supported it, saved for it, counted down the days for it.

That's why it shocked me how scared I was to "announce" my resignation yesterday.  I signed my name on the form, texted Greg (This is it!  I'm really quitting!) and then did laps around my classroom for twenty minutes trying to calm my nerves.  Finally I walked down to the office and looked for my boss.  He was nowhere around.

"Matt, have you seen Todd?" I asked the Vice Principal
"I have!  He has brown hair, short of stature..."  Don't you hate smart aleck V.P.s?

I decided to just leave the paper my boss' desk.  The bell was about to ring, I had a seventh period to teach, and I couldn't mope around all day waiting for him while my brain thought about what a great job this is, did I really want to leave something so secure, and I don't even have another job lined up, you idiot!

And then, as this was all racing through my head, Todd walked in.  I didn't say a word, just handed him the paper.  He read.  I waited for a reaction.

He looked up at me and we made eye contact.  The kind of eye contact where you have an entire conversation in a matter of seconds.

"I'm sorry."  I said.

He replied with all the nice things bosses are supposed to say- that he was sad to see me go but he understood, that he would write me glowing letters of recommendations, that the school would dearly miss me.  And I couldn't help it.  I looked right into those brown eyeballs of his and let the tears well up in mine.  How is it that a job can mean so much to a person?  Walls and desks and horny teenagers who never remember their pencils?  How is it that somehow the high school and the students have gone ahead and wedged themselves a giant place in my heart?

It doesn't seem too fair.

News spread fast around the school and several teachers came in to talk to me.  They all were beyond nice and said "Congratulations" which seemed ill fitting.  "Hey!  You quit the job that you totally love; you have no other job lined up and no leads! Congratulations!"

But I said thanks and tried to not seem sad because you can't be sad when you've had three great years at a job and felt totally accepted and loved and appreciated.  You can't be sad when you have a lunch group that talks about dating and sex and makes you laugh so hard you forget you're at work.  You can't be sad when you have 240 teenagers who pour their heart and souls out to you in their papers and do their homework (sometimes!) and crack inappropriate jokes and tell you that they love your class.  And you can't be sad when they all demand answers and get upset at you for leaving because they are going to miss you so so much.

No.  You can't be sad for that, can you?

(P.S.  This massive giveaway is open through the end of the week.  Don't forget to enter!)
(P.P.S  We still have spots open for this Provo based blog consultating/ strategizing night on March 7.  So excited for those of you who have already committed!)
(P.P.P.S.  I finished Gone Girl this weekend for our Blogger Book Club.  So much to talk about with that book!  Our discussion on that will be next Wednesday- February 27. Make sure to finish the book and link up with us!  March's book is The Fault in our Stars so go ahead and get started if you already finished Gone Girl!)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I have an idea! An idea! A really good idea!



Elisabeth and I are stoked out of minds to announce our first ever monthly blog strategizing group.  With open arms we welcome you to....


The first week of every month, twelve girls will circle round a table (a real table! In person! Not online! Can you believe the madness?!?) to talk all things blog strategy.  Each month the topic will differ. We don't want anyone getting bored round here!  Topics and questions will be given ahead of time so we can all come prepared with great ideas to share.  Learn from the best blogging minds and see what others have done that have worked for their blogs.


March 7
7:00 PM
Provo, UT (specific location to be disclosed upon booking.)
$10 paid in advance
($10 buys you a seat at the table, it does not buy you food.  If you want food, come early to buy it.  And then share it with me.)

Topic of discussion:   Growing Your Blog With Social Media: How to drive traffic and generate interest (twitter, instagram, pinterest, facebook, bloglovin, etc, etc, ETC.!)
  • What social media tools are best for your site?
  • How do you use twitter to build relationships and generate traffic?
  • How to manage your time between social media outlets. Which are the most important?
  • How to use pinterest to drive traffic toward your blog.
  • Social media fads- which are coming, which are going.
If you are interested please email me at with Roundtable discussion as the subject.  I'll zip you an invoice.  Once we are good and paid you will be sent an email with all the juicy details.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Why I am the worst blogger ever

I might as well come clean, folks.

I am the worst blogger.

Seriously the worst.

Here I am staring at my freaking blank screen at 9:14 pm and I don't have one idea of what I am going to say to you tonight.  All of Kimmie's peeps at Sugar and Dots are going to come over and say hi, and here I am with nothing in the world to say.

It really sucks being such a crappy blogge---

Now wait a second.  I do believe an idea was just born.  Yes.  Yes it was.

I hereby present to you...


WARNING:  This picture has nothing to do with the post.  
I just like it because it's the middle of summer, I'm riding a tandem bicycle with my bestie, and Santa Clause tried to hop on the back.  
And we're laughing our heads off.
Who could resist sharing?!?

Reason #1:  I don't like blogging about weekends.  My weekends are great and everything, don't get me wrong.  I just don't know that they are necessarily post worthy.  So most of the time I don't mention them at all unless Hubs was puking his guts out or something.  When I do try to post about a normal weekend I bore myself with the post.  Weekends are great to live.  Not so great to read about.

Reason #2:  Sometimes I am embarrassed to be a blogger.  I even kind of hate the term "blogger."  It feels like I don't belong in it.  You know when you just start dating a guy and you feel weird every time he calls you his girlfriend?  It's like that.  Also, pretty much everybody I know gives me a hard time about being a so called "blogger."  Don't get me wrong- it's all in good fun- but it's also somewhat mortifying.  "Hey, guys, Bon just got out her camera!  This is going on the blog!"  "Oh hey Bonnie.  Heard you got yourself your very own blog!"  and of course, my students, "Teacher are you going to tell this story on your blog?!?"  I always just kind of duck by head and pretend like I don't know what they are talking about.  I practically disown my blog on the daily.  Shouldn't a good blogger be loud and proud about her space on the interwebs?!?

Reason #3:  I always forget to take pictures.  Either that, or I feel super lame pulling my camera out.  For example, Saturday night we hung out with all of Hubs' friends.  It was real fun!  They were all dudes!  Six of them, in fact! I was the only girl!  We ate at a gross buffet and then wasted money in a way I would rather not discuss.  Just me and the boys!  I wanted to take a picture of it, but it just felt weird, "Hey you six mid twenty year old men!  Smile for the camera so I can put this on my blog!"  It's not just with six dudes, I always feel real self conscious pulling out the cam cam.  When I do, I snap a pic real fast and then hide my camera back away.  Which is way my pics always turn out like crap.
3a.  I don't have a DSLR camera.
3b.  I have no idea how to use a DSLR even if I had one
3c.  I never edit my pictures because oh gosh, it's just all so exhausting.

Reason #4:  I really really hate DIY.  You should see me try to do any kind of craft.  Thirty minutes into it I've got yarn tangled up, glitter spilled all over the floor, and fingers that are hot glued together.  I invariably give up half way through the project, throw the cardboard with a hot mess of glue and buttons on it across the room, and then demand someone else finish it for me.  It ain't pretty.

Reason #5:  I don't blog on schedule.  Ever.  I can count on one hand the number of times I have had a post ready to go a day or more in advance.  Did I say one hand?  I meant one finger.  Most of the time I open up my computer and stare at the blank screen and wonder, "now what should I write about today?" just like I did today.  If I were a good blogger I would have this all figured out and planned and scheduled.  Last week I talked to a blogging buddy of mine and she told me she writes all her posts for the week on Saturday.  ON SATURDAY!  Can you imagine the kind of determination and organization that that woman must have?  I'm never going to get there, I'll tell you now!

Reason #6:  I have no idea how to do any kind of blog design.  It's all I can do to copy and paste an html and I tell you what, that took me a whole year to catch on to.  I have only one time made my own button and that was an all out disaster.  I've got people who do that crap for me because I just can't figure it out on my own.  And my, don't I sound official saying "I've got people?!?"

Reason #7:  Pretty sure I am the antithesis of link-up queen.  I always forget how to link up, I never find the link ups on time, I'm never quite writing on the right topic.  Then there's my own link ups I've tried to host.  Don't even get me going there.  I never put the link up gadget up right.  What few people are nice enough to link up never even hear a peep from me because I'm so overwhelmed with the whole stinkin thing I never get to the point of actually commenting on the posts they linked up.  It's a shame I tell you, a crying shame!

I could go on but Reason #8 I am a bad blogger is I blog too late at night and then I am exhausted and just want to go to bed and the post gets the raw end of the deal.

So sorry post.

Hey!  It just occurred to me that a lot of you probably think you are bad bloggers too.  Well, hello, that is what the comment section is for!  Tell me what makes you a bad blogger and we will all wallow in our blog awfulness together.  Now that sounds like a party!

P.S.  If you are here for the first time, A. I am so glad you are here! B. Check out my Best of Bon page if you want to read more and C. don't forget to enter yesterday's massive giveaway.  Lots of loot up for grabs!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Whaddya gonna do with a three day weekend?!?

It's a three day weekend!  Hip Hip Hooray!

You are going to...

a.  Get stuff done!  This is the perfect opportunity to catch up on everything that falls behind during the week... clean out the car, organize closets, go to the gym, and catch up on emails.  Bring it on weekend!

b.  Play, of course!  The week is for working, not the weekend!  Time to get away, go skiing, spend time outside, get together with friends, and be social.  Weekends are meant to be enjoyed!

c.  Relax! The week is so exhausting that weekends are ideal for sleeping in, reading, shopping, and catching up on your favorite TV series.  Staying in all weekend and doing nothing sounds like absolute heaven.

d.  Use the weekend to pay attention to those who you neglect during the week.  Love up on the children, spend quality time with significant others and find ways to give little acts of service and make other people feel happy.  Weekends are the best time to show other people your love.

What are you?

I'm a definite B.  But the older I get the more A I find trying to creep in.  Stay away, A!

P.S.  Have you ever taken the color code personality test?  These answers somewhat match up with you color.  If you chose A you are red B is yellow C is white and D is blue.  I am a yellow-red.

P.P.S.  Whaddya think, do I have a career in writing personality quizzes ahead of me?!?