The Life of Bon: October 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Puppies and babies.  They're the only guys that have got it all figured out.

Tonight I am overwhelmed.

It is 10:13 and I am just starting this blog post.  I haven't got any of my sponsor stuff ready for November and November is in approximately 107 minutes.  Sometimes I just feel like I can't keep up with it all.  And I don't even have any kids yet.  How do moms fit it all in?

I am in a bit of a weird place with blogging- a very difficult middle ground.  The blog sits at an in between stage- I put way more time and effort into it than certainly any hobby would require, but not enough time and energy to really push the blog to the point it would need to be to be a "job."  So basically if I want it to be a hobby I need to devote less time to it, and if I want it to be a job I need to devote more time to it.  But this stagnant, right in the middle thing that I've been doing the past few months isn't working.  And yet there really isn't a solution in sight.

The truth is I want to be a full time writer.  I want this blog to turn into a living for me.  But then I don't want to quit teaching.  I absolutely love teaching English and the day I leave the classroom will be a day of endless tears.  Add to those two things that I want to be a mom and give my kids all the time and love that they need to grow into loving, independent children.  It's not that I feel pressured or like I have to do all of that, it's that I genuinely want to do it all.  But then I also want long, lazy week nights of watching tv and baking cookies.  I want to read a book a week and I want to keep up with all of my close friends and family.  I want to have time to relax and enjoy life- to have time for things like taking the dog for a walk, puzzles, and Saturday morning cuddles.


(TANGENT:  Also, womanly duties.  How does any one keep up with that crap?  You know... the laundry, the grocery shopping, the cleaning, it seems like it never ends.  Sometimes when I am doing a very mundane task like emptying the dishwasher I think to myself "I will do this probably 10,000 more times before I die."  And then I get horribly, wildly depressed.  Of course, Greg helps out with all the house stuff, but it still feels like in almost any relationship, it falls primarily on the woman.  Why is that?  That is something that really bothers me about this world.  Maybe men just don't care as much or don't notice?  Who's to say?  I know that if I never did house stuff it would still get done... ish.  It wouldn't get done all the way and it wouldn't get done as often as it should, and now I just sound like a crazy control freak.  All I mean to say is that I feel like a lot of men would be happy living in squalor, and maybe the solution to all my difficulties is to be more like a man?

I wouldn't mind doing the house stuff if I actually enjoyed at least some of it, but I don't.  Not at all.  I am no good at decorating- it took me two months to just get pictures up at our new apartment.  I have nothing close to an eye for interior design which is why my house is primarily decorated with two $10 couches and big black couch covers.  I cook only because if I didn't Greg and I would either starve to death or gain 100 pounds from a diet of only fast food.  Cleaning is a bore (and so fleeting!  You clean and it's messy the next day and I DON'T EVEN HAVE KIDS!) and don't even get me started on the dreaded task of grocery shopping.  There is no chore I hate more than grocery shopping, yet it is the one chore that you absolutely cannot ignore.  Sigh.)

Today during lunch some of the other English teachers were talking about hobbies they have outside of school.  One teacher was telling us about the play she is in that is wrapping up tonight and the dance lessons she teaches on the side.  Another teacher sews like a fiend.  Another teacher has seven (count em, seven!) kids and still manages to be a fantastic teacher.  I can't help but feel a bit overwhelmed by all of this.  How do women do it all?

I follow the Instagram of Susan Peterson- the girl who started the Freshly Picked business- and she made a comment once that "balance is bullshit."  She stated that "balance for me is a mystical creature that lives where unicorns live."  She even came outright to say that we need to throw away the idea of balance and just embrace having an unbalanced life.  I have thought a lot about that comment and whether or not I agree with her.  I still don't have answers, but I have to admit that it gives me an odd sense of peace to tell myself that I can be unbalanced.  That I don't have to have it all.  That one month I can neglect my blog a bit and spend way more time cuddling and watching Netflix with Greg.  And one month I can focus hard on teaching and come up with brilliant ideas while my house goes to pot.  And one month I can do nothing but lay around and read books. (It's called July!)

Tell me this.  Have any of you at any point in your life ever felt like you had balance?  If you tell me you have maybe I will continue to seek for it.  But if you all say no then I'm throwing balance to the curb and fully embracing this zany, crazy wild life that I am currently living.

Here's to unbalance?


Oh, and while we're being unbalanced today, why not do a giveaway?  Who can say no to over 500 bones to Nordstrom?  NO ONE!
nordstromstitle_edited-1 In case you haven't heard........the Nordstrom's Half Yearly Sale starts on the 6th! It's a perfect chance to shop and stock up on staples, plus a few fun wardrobe extras.  No one does style and wardrobe extras like these amazing ladies, and we've teamed up to give one lucky reader a $525 Nordstrom's gift card.....just in time for the Half Yearly Sale. Looking for a little what to wear inspiration? Stop by their blogs, and let the virtual shopping begin!


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Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!  We did our Halloween party early this year because Greg has two performances Halloween night.  We kept it pretty low key- chowing down on pizza and watching the opening Jazz game with a few rounds of ping pong during half time.  I usually go all out on my Halloween costumes but had zero time on a busy Wednesday so I went with something a bit easier.  Sometimes you're just on survival mode, you know?  

Twinsie costumes.  I'm supposed to be making a devil face.  Fail.

That's my lil sis and the boy she's marrying in December.  They are Calvin and Hobbes.

This is the first year we didn't do costumes that matched or went together.  It has nothing to do with the state of our marriage, just the state of our creative juices.

Best costume winners.  The boy that is not my husband is my cousin's "friend", Adam, and tonight was our first night meeting him.  Besides the fact that he spiked the ball on me during ping pong, we like him a lot.  Lights out, Marianne!

And go jazz!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

5:00 on Tuesday

Tonight I grabbed dinner with a few friends I have met through blogging.  Trust me, it is as weird to me as anyone else out there in this universe that I have met girls online and now hang out with those girls in a real setting.  It feels like I am online dating these people only even more strange because we are the same gender and there are so many of us. Every time I go to a blogger hang out I feel like the world is going to explode at any minute because it's just! too! weird.!  But then I stop thinking so hard and just enjoy the night.

It all started when Sierra texted me last night and asked if I wanted to get dinner with a couple of friends.  I said yes as long as she is paying.  She said fine.  We were supposed to meet at 5:00 but I showed up at 5:30 because that's kind of my M.O.  30 minutes late at all times and in all places and in all things.  I hate this about myself but am trying to fix it.  Today I was late on purpose, though because I had to take my dog for a walk, and freak these dogs are hard work.  Everyone always says how hard it is to be married or how hard it is to have kids but not once has anyone ever ever told me it would be hard work to have a dog.  Sheesh.  I got duped.

(I feel like now would be a good time to clarify that I still really like my dog. When he's not pooing on the carpet.)

It was a perfect "blogger" get together- not the kinds that are incredibly intimidating because there are 30 gorgeous women in stillettos and skinny jeans.  Those get togethers scare the living crap out of me.  This was more like "Hey. I'm going to get dinner.  Come or don't come.  Whatever."  I showed up with my disheveled hair and my "I've been teaching for nine straight hours" makeup and a big puffy coat and didn't feel a bit bad about it.  We all just sunk into a booth and jabbed away who cares what you look like anyway?

Naturally if you are eating with a bunch of bloggers the talk will turn to, well, blogging.  We talked about a lot of the blog friends we share and bloggers we know but have never met and how weird it is that we read people's daily accounts whom we have never met.  Blogging really is just the weirdest.

We made a few conclusions (although none too firmly) about blogging and why we read some blogs and mostly why we stop reading some blogs. Our main conclusion was that we stop reading certain blogs because we have lost "touch" with that person.  That we no longer connect to them.  All four of us agreed that our favorite blogs were the real blogs.

I think real blogging is incredibly tough.  To start with, no one wants to look vulnerable or weak, and being real means showing vulnerability and showing weakness.  No one wants to say that they are intimidated or that their feelings are hurt or that they are having a tough time in their marriage or that they have any faults at all.  The catch 22 to it all is that the more we try to get people to like us by pretending that everything is perfect the less people like us.  Ironic, isn't it?  The perfect outfits. The flawless marriage. The well behaved kids. The adorable parties. The spotless home. It is beautiful yes, but is it real?  And is this really the message we want other women to receive, that happiness comes from having it all under control?  That happiness is about perfection?

Hmmmm.  I suppose I'll get off my soap box now.  All I wanted to say is that I appreciate the blog posts that are open and honest and real and vulnerable.  Those are the blogs I will always read.  And also that I appreciate girls who will grab soup at 5:00 on a Tuesday and sit and chat for hours and just be real with me.

Thank the heavens for girlfriends.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Angel Puppy goodness

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign 
with Pollinate Media Group™ and Cottonelle, but all opinions are my own. 
#pmedia #CottonelleTarget

Welcome to the first ever "DIY" post from The Life of Bon.  I have a pretty good idea of what I am good at in this world and what I am not good at in this world,  DIY projects falling into the category of things I am definitely not good at.  But the thing is I have this brand new adorable little puppy and I wanted to dress him up for Halloween.  Next Halloween he will be big and grown up, but for just this one Halloween he is an absolutely adorable baby puppy.

I felt weird spending money to buy the dog a costume (also dog costume prices- $20-50 buckaroos.  YIKES!) so I decided to make him something.  My sole requirement was that it be easy.  Enter: angel wings.  Since Maverick is about the size of a hamster I figured I could make super small angel wings that would be no hassle at all.  Also the main ingredient is toilet paper which only added to the awesomemess of my first ever DIY project.  

(I did this on a dog but you could do it for anything- dog, cat, baby, husband, the sky's the limit!)

SUPPLIES:  (I headed to Target for all my supplies.  You gotta love Target because they have everything in one place and it's always easy to find. That and I can eat popcorn and drink a soda while I shop.  Boom!)

Glue, cardboard, shoelaces, Cottonelle triple roll 12 pack,  gold pipe cleaners.  (Not pictured: hole punch, tape.)

STEP ONE:  Trace angel wings and cut them out.  I had to do this twice because the first time my wings weren't defined enough.  Because the toilet paper ends up being so big and fluffy you have to make sure that the curves of your wings are very noticeable, otherwise it's hard to notice the shape of wings.

STEP TWO:  Tear of individual squares of Cottonelle triple roll toilet paper.  Hold toilet paper in the middle and bunch it.  Glue toilet paper to cardboard.   (I loved using the triple roll because it made it extra fluffy.  It also glued on and stayed on very well because of its thickness.) 

I have the patience of a two year old which is why I just splattered glue all over the cardboard and then squished toilet paper on there in a mad tizzy.  It worked!  This is a DIY project that is honestly pretty hard to mess up which is great if you're like me and struggle big time with simple things like glue.

STEP THREE:  Make two single hole punches on the side of each wing.  String the shoelace through the hole and tie a knot so that when you pull the shoelace it stays in place.

STEP FOUR:  Use pipe cleaner to make the shape of a halo and attach to the wings.  I attached mine with packing tape (the glue wouldn't hold) but I think in the future I would use hot glue.

STEP FIVE:  Glue or tape the wings together.  This might not be necessary for a baby or adult, but when I tried to put the individual wings on Maverick they kept falling down/ coming off.

(Ignore the punches on the right side... I was experimenting with things.)

STEP SIX:  Use the shoelaces to tie the wings around the body of the puppy.  By having two sets of strings it helps to stay on the puppy better.

Doesn't he look like the fluffiest, most adorable puppy ever?

Right now at Target if you buy the 12 pack Cottonelle triple pack you get a box of Kleenex free with this coupon.  It's while supplies last so hurry in!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Check. Uncheck. Check.

Grades entered in the computer and finalized:  Check.
House clean:  Uncheck.
Shower taken:  Check.
Talk ready for church tomorrow:  Uncheck.
Eating muddy buddies in bed like a true fatty:  Check
Grocery shopping done:  Uncheck
Spending lots of time outside because the weather is beautiful and oh so fleeting:  Check.
Halloween costumes ready:  Uncheck.

I don't have it all done around here.  But I've got a few things done which is good enough.  I am weird enough that I want to do a Halloween costume for Maverick which means that I've spent the last hour and a half of my life googling costumes for dogs.

I'm a mess.  That's all there is to it.

For your weekend enjoyment:
+ One of my good mission buddies is visiting next weekend.  EEK.  Last time I saw her was seven months ago at her wedding.  Today she is six months pregnant.  She don't waste no time!
+ Laughed out loud rereading this post about a student who said that women exist to "minipulate you" and "make shit up."  Oh students!

And in case you care...
+ Last year's Halloween costume.
+ 2011 Halloween costume.
+ All other Halloween costumes

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I'm being hunted by the paparazzi AKA my students.

Today was the last day of the quarter and it went about as typically as last days of the quarter go...

Student comes in first thing in the morning:  "Teacher!  You never put my points in for this assignment and now you failed me!" (notice the generous use of the word "you")

Me:  "It's because you never turned in that assignment."

Student:  "Yes I did!  I know for a fact I did!"

Me:  "Search your backpack, search your locker and search the no name folder.  If it's not in any of those three places then we'll talk."

Student, 10 minutes later:  "It was in my locker."

Me:  "That's what I thought."

Student:  "Can I still turn it in?"

Me:  "Unfortunately no.  The deadline for all work was last week."

Student:  "But I HAVE to have a C!"

Me:  "I'm sorry but you earned a D+.  You gotta be aware of those deadlines and get your stuff in on time."

Student:  "You don't understand- if you don't give me a C then I can't be on cheer anymore."

Me:  "You don't understand- you didn't earn a C."

Student:  "But if you let me hand in this assignment I know I would have a C."

Me:  "But it's over a week late."

Student:  "But you don't understand!  I have a very special situation because I was having car troubles which is why I was late and then my ride didn't show up on time and then my coffee spilled all over me on the way to school and then I was sick with mono and couldn't come to school and I thought I was pregnant and then when I did come to school I was excused for college day and then my boyfriend dumped me for another girl who isn't even cute and then the counselor messed up my whole schedule and then my dog vomitted all over the homework so I lit a candle to get the smell out and then the house burned down from the candle and burned all my books and assignments and also shoes so I had to walk to school in my bare feet in the snow uphill both ways and then I got ran over by a car and had my legs amputated and THEN I had to fight in the zombie apocalypse!"

and so forth

and so forth

and so forth

These are my snappy days- the times when I lose my cool and my patience entirely.  For about 72 hours every quarter I think I am a twisted masochist who needs serious help for choosing this profession and I promise myself I will resign immediately! soon as the grades are in!  Then the quarter ends, the grades get posted and voila! I love my job again, why would I ever want to leave this profession?

But those students!  I tell you what, they have got the pestering thing down to a science.  For how easy it is for them to lose their homework, they sure are good at finding their teachers.  They are killers who will find me anywhere. They're like the damn paparazzi, hunting me down, prowling, never letting me rest.  After today I can say that I know exactly what it's like to be a celebrity. (A celebrity who pulls in $32K, wowzers!)  Those little man-eaters track me down in the faculty room at lunch, they come banging down my door during my prep period, they interrupt my classes like it's nothing, (WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GRADE MY ESSAY I TURNED IN 26 MINUTES AGO?) they stake out my car with late assignments galore and generous, albeit futile, offerings of diet coke.

None of this would be a problem if I could just stick to my freaking guns a little better.  The problem is that most of the time I buy their bull. I have too much of a heart, and I hate that.  Part of me thinks "I must prepare them for the real world!  They can't turn in late work EVER!"  But then I realize people are late all the time in the "real world", they just have apt consequences.  People are late for interviews and they don't get hired.  People are late on bills and they get a fee.  People are late on their mortgages for too long and they lose their home.  It occurred to me that students should have a similar fee... one that is non negotiable and preferably monetary.  In other words, students should have to pay to hand in late assignments.  Forget docking points, it should be a straight flat fee of $3 to the teacher every day the assignment is late. (Can you imagine an assignment that was 2 months late?  That'd be an extra $180 I could make by grading that bad boy!) What you'd have on your hands is students who would get their assignments in on time and teachers who would stop whining about having to correct late work.  Win win and I'm a freaking baby genius over here.  Too bad schools aren't businesses, but I can't help think that our education system would be better if they were.  And THAT is a topic for another day.

This quarter I caved way more than I wanted to.  I tried to be all tough and hard, but I feel like I have to be nice the first quarter of the year, and also I kept thinking about this post I wrote a few weeks ago.  These past few days I have reminded myself over and over  "mercy, mercy, mercy. Mercy is stronger."  But then I showed mercy to one and he repaid me by sleeping through the entire next class period.  I showed mercy to another and it convinced her she doesn't have to show up all quarter if she is here the last week to get her stuff turned in.  In those moments, mercy doesn't seem strong.

This was supposed to be a post about a lot of different things but then it turned in to a post just about late work and how is that for a freaking lame post?

In other words, I am now the unproud owner of a gross amount of diet coke.

Also unproud is not a word, but it should be.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October Book Club: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


2013 Book Club Schedule
February:  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
March:  The Fault in our Stars by John Green
April:  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
May:  Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
June:  Seriously... I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres
July:  The Help by Kathryn Stockett
August: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
September: Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
October:  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
November: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
December:  We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver'

For those of you recently joining us, in January readers chose 11 books to read throughout the year.  We read one a month and  the last week of every month (usually a Thursday) we discuss the book and pretend that we are eating yummy food and drinking warm apple cider while doing it.  You can join in on any month, and if you miss a month and then read a month and then miss the next month that's fine too! Sometimes we won't all finish the book (I admit I never finished Life of Pi) but the point is that we all get together to talk book and rejoice that we have beautiful minds that let us read this stuff.

If you want to do your own book review but don't know where to start, here's some questions to get the ball rolling.  You can answer any or all, this ain't no freaking English classroom!

-Oskar is an unusually intelligent and sensitive boy.  Do you find him realistic as a narrator.  Is he sympathetic or annoying to you? 

-What is the purpose of the illustrations, scriblings, over-written texts etc.?  Why does the author use them.

-How do both main plot and subplot (Oskar's grandfather and the bombing of Dresden) interweave with one another?

-How did you feel about the ending of the book?

This book can be a bit tough to get through for a couple of reasons.  One of the main reasons is the organization of the book.  There are not always standard paragraphs or dialogue (some paragraphs literally go on for pages and pages) and sometimes it's hard to figure out who is talking.  In addition to that, the book shifts from Oscar's point of view to the letters written in his grandfather's point of view.  The grandfather's story unravels as the story goes and this can be kind of frustrating.  I don't really like trying to figure things out in books, necessarily, so for me at least it got annoying trying to figure out what the grandfather's stary was and how it all tied in.  These are some reasons why the reading might be tough.

A reason it might be easy is that there are pictures.  PICTURES!  I know some people say that they have found the drawings and illustrations to be gimmicky or confusing.  I am kind of indifferent to the pictures.  I certainly didn't think it was necessary to the plot but since they were there I looked at them.  I don't have a real specific reason for why the author does this except for that probably he likes to be edgy and hip and random pictures in the middle of his book seemed like a good way to do that.

As far as the content of the book goes...  the basic story line is beautifully tragic.  I love the idea of a nine year old boy scouring a great big city like New York to find clues about his dead who is now dead.  Something about that made Oskar so endearing to me.  He loved his dad so much- practically worshipped the ground he walked on.  It was hard for me to dislike a character who I saw in so much pain.  Perhaps I like Oskar because he both lost our dad so I kind of wanted to put my arm around him and say "Yes.  I will go on your treasure hunt with you to find everyone in NYC with the last name of Black.  Anything to help you grieve, buddy."

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is strongest in its ideas.  I love how many unique thoughts and interesting ideas are in the book.  One of my favorite things is when Oskar talks about inventing an ambulance that instead of a siren has a light flashing that gives a message from the person inside like "Goodbye! I love you! Goodbye! I love you!"  And we'd all have little devices that let us know if the person in the ambulance was someone we were close to.  Don't know why, but it's one of those ideas that always stuck with me.

Another idea I loved, "I invented a special drain that would be underneath every pillow in New York and would connect to the reservoir.  Whenever people cried themselves to sleep, the tears would all go to the same place, and in the morning the weatherman could report if the water level of the Reservoir of Tears had gone up or down, and you could know if New York was in heavy boots.  And when something really terrible happened- like a nuclear bomb, or at least a biological weapons attack- an extremely loud siren would go off, telling everyone to get to Central Park to put sandbags around the reservoir."

The strength of this book, I believe, is in the writing and the incredibly clever and creative ideas behind the writing.  The plot in and of itself is not that moving to me.  In fact, not much happens.  It's basically the story of a boy grieving.  All of the real action of the story takes place before the book does so the plot doesn't feel that strong.  But the nuances of languages and fascinating ideas make up for it.

Favorite lines from the book:

"It probably gets pretty lonely to be Grandma, don't you think?" "It probably gets pretty lonely to be anyone."

"She wants to know if I love her, that's all anyone wants from anyone else, not love itself but the knowledge that love is there."

"My life story is the story of everyone I've ever met."

"I wasn't having second thoughts, but I was having thoughts."

"It's a shame we have to live, but it's a tragedy that we get to live only one life."

"We spent our lives making livings."

"I put my hand on him.  Touching him was always so important to me.  It was something I lived for.  I never could explain why.  Little, nothing touches.  My fingers against his shoulder.  The outsides of our thighs touching as we squeezed together on the bus.  I couldn't explain it, but I needed it.  Sometimes I imagined stitching all of our little touches together.  How many hundreds of thousands of fingers brushing against each other does it take to love?"

"We were not rich but there was nothing we wanted."

"I regret that it takes a life to learn how to live, Oskar.  Because if I were able to live my life again, I would do things differently.  I would change my life.  I would kiss my piano teacher, even if he laughed at me.  I would jump with Mary on the bed, even if I made a fool of myself.  I would send out ugly photographs, thousands of them."

"It was late and we were tired.
We assumed there would be other nights.
I had never told her how much I loved her.
She was my sister.
We slept in the same bed.
There was never a right time to say it.
It was always unnecessary.
There would be other nights.
And how can you say I love you to someone you love?
Here is the point of everything I have been trying to tell you, Oskar.
It's always necessary."

Your turn!  What did you all think?  Have any of you seen the movie?  I heard the movie was awful and that the little boy who played Oskar is terribly annoying so I didn't watch it for fear of having the book ruined for me.  Good choice or no?

As always leave your thoughts in the comments or if you wrote your own blog post on it leave the link so we can check it out.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hurt less, love more

^^My dad with his grandchild, Emily.

^^ One of my favorite pictures ever- my dad and three of my brothers looking on.

November will mark four years since my dad's death.  Each year, around the end of October, I take a deep breath, clench my fists and do my best to charge through November- as if my own determindedness and impious stubbornness could make the month speed by faster and therefore not allow me any time to feel the pain associated with the anniversary of my dad's death.

It never works.  But I still try nonetheless.

The weird thing about losing someone is that it really never stops hurting.

It stops bleeding profusely, yes. It stops throbbing, perhaps.  But it doesn't stop hurting.  It doesn't hurt every second of every day.  No, not at all.  Some days go by virtually pain free.  Days are busy and full and you don't remember that you lost your dad or that if he were still alive he would have called you to see how your new job is going or that this is his favorite time of year. Some days you don't think about it.

And so a day will go by without hurting.  A week.  Two weeks, even.  But the hurt is still there, hidden in the recesses of my heart and cruelly, it sits, always ready to pounce.  And then one day it returns- the unannounced and unwanted remembrance that gosh, I miss my dad.

A sudden longing for my dad came unannounced a few days ago.  It was triggered by a dream I had had about him.  (FYI... in Spanish they change the preposition that goes along with dream.  Instead of dreaming "of" or "about" someone you dream "with" them.  In my head now I always think of dreaming this way.  Such a prettier way to put it... I dreamed with my dad.  As if I weren't alone in my dreaming... as if he were dreaming too, actively involved in the dreaming, doing something with me.)

In the dream my dad was here with my family.  I don't know if he was back from the dead or if he had never died or what he was doing living on this earth, quite frankly.  He was just here. He gave of each of his eight children a letter that contained his last words to us.  Everything important that he wanted us to know was in that letter.  They were individualized and full of inside jokes and tender sentiments and all the reasons he loved us.  In his letter he called me his favorite nickname, "Bopper" and "child I love so much."

When I woke up I felt almost paralyzed with grief and anger.  I was mad that I didn't have a letter, a goodbye, a "I'm leaving you now."  What in the world is fair about not saying goodbye to your dad?  I sat up in bed, took a deep breath and wondered while I choked back the tears, "Gosh. Will this ever stop hurting?"

I don't know the answer to that question, but after 1400+ dad-less days I suspect that the answer is no, it doesn't ever stop hurting.  The hardest part, I decided, about losing my dad at 23 is knowing that my children will live their entire mortal life without knowing him.  It is this thought, more than any other, that lingers so painfully.  I am wildly jealous of my four oldest siblings who had children before my dad died.  Why couldn't I have been older too?  Why couldn't I have just one child who will have memories of his "baba"?  I try to chase the thought out of my mind, instead imagining my dad and my unborn children hanging out together now, even as I write this.  If nothing else, it helps calm my troubled heart.

And so I try to focus on the positive and remember happy memories and thank God for the time I did have and not be a total drag on Greg or my family by holding onto pain that needs to be released.  But the fact is I like remembering my dad and I like missing him, however painful it may be.  It makes me feel close to him. At this point I suppose it's hard to tell if the pain won't let go of me or if I won't let go of the pain.

These posts I write about my dad are always the toughest ones for me to write.  I know they are tough for my family, especially my mom, to read.  But I write them for a few reasons.  One is purely selfish- it helps me to understand and sort through my feelings of sorrow and mourning.  It helps me through the grieving process. Sheesh- the grieving process- who would have thought it would last for four years? (Will it extend four more? And four more after that?  Does the grieving process ever end?)

The second reason I write these posts is because I have received a handful of emails from readers who have lost someone close to them and who thank me for posting what I do about my dad.  They relate and they thank me for writing something that conveys what they are feeling.  I have heard losing a family member compared to joining an exclusive "club" of people who have lost loved ones.  Given, it's a terrible club that no one wants to be in. Most people don't even know it exists until they are in it and then they immediately want out.  Once you are in, though, the other "I have lost someone I loved very very much" club members are some of the sweetest, most sensitive and caring people out there.  They listen to your grief.  They cry with you.  They never tell you they are running short on time.  They share their own grief in hopes that you will feel you're not alone.  It's the worst club you could ever recruited into comprised of the best club members imaginable.  How's that for paradox?

So I suppose the second reason I write is for those guys.  My fellow club members and future club members...  with a hope that somehow we all heal together and hurt less and love more and miss less.

Hoping that we let go of the pain.

It's Honestly So Good! Also I'm eating dinner by myself but that's beside the point.

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign 
with Pollinate Media Group™ and Lean Cuisine, but all opinions are my own. 
#pmedia #HonestlyGood #ad

When I got married two and a half years ago I was dreading a few things. Don't get me wrong, I was all sorts of excited for lots of things about marriage... someone to cuddle with in the night, an automatic date to all future weddings and funerals, and of course someone to buy a puppy with, eeegatz!

But the cooking? THE COOKING? Was I really going to have to learn to put chicken and bouillon (I didn't know what bouillon was until I got married) and minced garlic (I also didn't know what minced garlic was until I got married) and water chestnuts (okay, now I'm just showing off. I know so many cooking words now!) together and have it come out edible? Oh, the pain!

The problem isn't that I can't cook, per se. I have learned enough the last few years to whip up a meal and not have a mini panic attack like I did in the early days. The problem is that cooking involves grocery shopping. Grocery shopping's predecessor is meal planning/ looking at recipes. Both of these processes are arduous, exhausting and stressful to me (See this post.) Even when I do manage to write out 20 needed ingredient and then succesfully buy them all at the store, there then presents itself another problem. I get home on weekdays at 4:00 after nine hours of teaching, and the last thing I want to do is stand in the kitchen and make food. So the groceries rot in the fridge and two weeks later I throw them out without ever having made any of the recipes I was going to make.

When miracle upon miracles I manage to meal plan AND grocery shop AND cook THEN comes the worst part of all.. .the clean up! Pots and pans and strainers and I swear to you if you cook dinner for your family every night then you are a goddess because just the sight of dirty dishes after the planning/shopping/cooking is enough to leave me curled up in the fetal position in a fit of sobs. I'm exaggerating, of course. Or am I?

A few months ago I discovered something. If I saved my heavy duty cooking for weekends and didn't pressure myself to cook big elaborate meals on the weekdays... Oh, sweet HAPPINESS! No more stressful meals and clean up and I'm taking my week nights back, thank you very much!

Of course, then comes the stress of what do we eat during the week days? Greg's schedule is inconsistent at best... he is home less than half of weeknights so lots of time I'm just eating by myself. That more often than not involves pouring a heaping bowl of cereal. But cereal gets old. So then I go get fast food. But fast food is fatty and gross and costs too much.  

What's a girl to eat?

That's when I kind of started dabbling with the idea of frozen dinners. I never ate one single frozen dinner growing up... I came from a family of eight children- there was no way enough frozen dinners for the Blackburn mini army could even fit in the freezer. Besides that my mom was a cooking queen- no frozen dinners necessary!

Thus, when I started shopping for my own frozen dinners I had no idea what I was doing. I bought dollar dinners that tasted like cardboard. I bought $10 specialty dinners that were good, but not filling and blew my grocery budget out of the water. I bought greasy frozen pizzas that were inexpensive and didn't taste half bad, but oh the grease! The horrific amounts of grease!

That's why when Pollinate offered a campaign to check out Lean Cuisine Honestly Good frozen dinners I was all aboard. Not only were the called "Honestly Good" but they looked honestly good!

I hustled on over to Target because there's a Target across the street from my school. Also, it's Target. Let's face it, I'm there every other day. The Lean Cuisine Honestly Good dinners come in honey citrus chicken, lemongrass salmon, pineapple black pepper beef, plum ginger grain-crusted fish, promegranate chicken, and roasted red pepper chicken. I wanted to try ALL THE DINNERS but my Target is remodeling and only had Pomegranate chicken and Lemongrass Salmon in stock. So I bought em!

And then we ate them!

^^ Pomegranate Chicken

^^Lemongrass Salmon

^^ Table set for two except for Greg was only home for approximately 2.7 seconds so I put his in the fridge to eat when he comes home later tonight.  Also, I spy a PUPPY.

^^  Greg's a big salmon fan so I saved the Lemongrass Salmon for him and helped myself to the Pomegranate Chicken.  I was seriously shocked at how good it was.  And a little insulted... how can chicken that is frozen taste more tender than anything I have ever made myself?  How rude!  The sauce is sweet and gives the perfect amount of flavor.  If someone had served this meal to me and not told me it was a frozen dinner I never would have known.

^^ This is me eating dinner alone and attempting to use the self timer on my phone. Not my finest moment. The bright side to eating dinner alone is you can read through the whole meal and chew as loudly as you want and no one gets mad at you for being rude. Winning!

The best part about Lean Cuisine Honestly Good meals (aside from affordable and delicious) is that they are HEALTHY. I am on the go all day long and it is so hard for me to make the time to eat and cook healthy. This does it for me. The meals are made with 100% all natural wholesome ingredients so I don't have to feel guilty when I eat these frozen dinners. No greasy pizza, no immediate stomach ache after eating, no added pounds to my waistline. And no clean up! These bad boys are definitely going to become a freezer staple for me!

Now, if only they would only make something to curb my mighty powerful sweet tooth... Lean Cuisine Honestly Good desserts anybody....?  (Hint hint!)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Getting sneezy with it, nah nah nah nah nah nah nah

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with 
Pollinate Media Group® and Kleenex but all opinions are my own. 
#KleenexAllergy #pmedia

Autumn is upon us and you all know what that means...


I am an avid lover of fall.  Who isn't, right?  The weather has finally cooled off after the blistering summer, the leaves start to turn, football starts up- I think we'd all have to be a pack of morons to not love September and October.

The only problem with the beauty of fall is allergies.  They incessantly plague my two favorite seasons- spring and fall.  Ever since I was a little girl I have suffered from allergies, and so I figured a mandatory quality in a mate must be that he too shares in my semiannual suffering- cue Greg!

For the past four weeks or so we have been a walking team of sneezing, rubbing, sneezing, blowing, and more sneezing.  No medicine seems to do the trick for us and so we have resigned ourselves to a lifetime of sneezy springs and itchy falls.

Luckily we don't tear our noses up completely because we are total brand snobs and only use Kleenex.  You see, when I moved to college I bought the cheapest tissues I could find to combat my allergies.  They were pretty much straight cardboard and it didn't take me long to discover that with how often I was wiping and rubbing my nose it would need to be all Kleenex all the time.  The fact of the matter is that after 100+ rubs your nose starts to get scratchy and itchy and so in addition to allergies you now have a flaky, crusty bleeding nose.  It's gross.  That's why you need a soft tissue that protects your little nose people!

Thus my reasoning for only allowing Kleenex around these parts.  They are by far the softest tissues on the market and they help prevent me from looking like Rudolph during non stop sneezing season.  We pretty much decorate the house with Kleenex in the fall, that's how pathetic it is.  In the bathroom, in the bedroom, in the living room, we've got Kleenex EVERYWHERE.

Let's play... spot the Kleenex!

^^Please ignore the grossness of our bathroom shelf.  We don't have bathroom cupboards.

Right now at Target (I know you want an excuse to go to Target- admit it!) you can buy a Kleenex 4 pack and get a wallet pack (2-pk) or pocket pack (3-pk) for FREE.  Click here for the coupon. (I just brought it up on my smart phone and the cashier scanned it from there.)  The coupon is only good while supplies last so hurry on over.  

Also Greg just looked over this post for me and said, "We do use a lot of Kleenex."


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pumpkins pumpkins and more pumpkins

I have no idea why I make that face.

It's fall break round these parts.  Greg has had work and rehearsals so we have stayed close to home, but I've enjoyed these long lazy autumn days.  I thought I would get all sorts of work done- you know, get caught up on the groceries and blog like crazy and clean my whole house top to bottom and read six books.  And then somehow the days pass without doing any of that and that is just fine.  Yesterday we spent all afternoon carving pumpkins for decorations for Greg's show.  Last night was opening night- they are performing Christopher Marlow's "Dr. Faustus"- so we decked out the place with pumpking, cobwebs, the work.  There is nothing better than fall, but why is so fleeting?!?

Are you about done reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close?  We are discussing it on Thursday so get reading!  It's not too late to start! :)

For your weekend entertainment:

+ What I was doing last fall break. Gosh, I was a brat.
+ Words of wisdom from my students- a compilation of hilarious things they say.
+ Mourning over celebrity breakups.  Who can make a relationship work nowadays?
+ It's that time of year again- the end of the teaching honeymoon.
+ The best post I've ever seen about dealing with negative criticism.  I laughed so hard- this woman is a comic genius.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nonsensical questions and answers

Alrighty folks, today I'm teaming up with Alycia from Crowley Party to answer random, nonsensical questions about ourselves.  I mean, isn't that the purpose of blogging?  I have a ton of respect for Alycia- she always has so much on her plate and still manages to produce a high quality blog.  After reading this post make sure to check out her blog- you're going to want it on your daily reads.

Oh- and don't forget to enter for a chance for free ad space in November on both of our blogs.  Together we average 150,000 monthly pageviews so winning this giveaway would definitely give a great boost to your blog.

What is the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you?

ALYCIA:  Oh man this one is a toughie. I have had a lot of strange situations but I think the worst was the one situation my own husband put me in! Trevor loves making people uncomfortable, and trust me, I am not spared! Trevor used to work for the senator before law school, and one night I went with him to help out at an event. The senator came in and said hi to Trevor, in which he turned around to introduce me. The senator looked at me and shook my hand, turning to Trevor and said, "How did you get such a beautiful girl to marry you?" I blushed of course, but didn't realize just how much more I would be blushing in a few seconds. My husband, without missing a beat, responded with, "What you don't know is that she used to be a man!" I wish someone could have snapped a picture of all of our faces in that moment. You could tell by the Senator's face that he didn't know if this was a joke or not. I tried telling the senator that I was indeed born a girl, and nothing has changed. The whole thing was so weird and awkward... thanks a lot husband. Of course Trevor thought the whole thing was hilarious. We both laugh about it now!

BONNIE:  Weirdest thing that ever happened to me would have to be the speech that my father in law gave at my wedding. The gist of the speech was this:  My husband, Greg, is truly a blessing to him because it was very hard to conceive Greg.  Gary then went into great deal (in front of 300 guests) of all of the different techniques he and his wife used to try to get pregnant with Greg.  I will always remember this line, "My doctor was trying things on me I've never even done with my wife!"  I'm pretty sure that from that point on it was shocking enough that I just blocked it entirely.  Toward the end of the speech he whipped out a jock strap, proclaiming that his years of playing softball and wearing a cup is what led his reproductive process to not function exactly as it should...

You know, the type of romantic, sentimental stuff that you just love to hear at weddings.

My family is very very very very conservative.  Naturally, we were horrified.  Now we're to the point where we just laugh at it, but whenever it gets brought up Greg and I just look at each other, laugh, and say "Yah... that was weird..."

What is your worst and best experience with blogging?

BONNIE:  The worst is definitely the criticism.  The internet gives people a mask to hide behind and allows us to say things that are much more hurtful than we would ever say in real life.  I have been called "annoying", "terribly immature", "ridiculous" and even compared to "bean paste" (say what?) by perfect strangers.  In the long run though, it has been good for me as it helps me be aware of my weaknesses, and if nothing else gives me tough skin.

The best experience with blogging has been to get into a habit of writing consistently. Writing for me is how I figure out the world around me so as I write I am able to learn more about myself, my relationships, and important events in my life.  I feel like I become a better person through blogging and that it helps me to be more sensitive and aware of other people's needs.  And of course- the friendships!  It blows my mind how many amazing women there are in the blogging community.

ALYCIA:  There is good and bad that comes with blogging. But I would have to say that the good astronomically outweighs the bad.

The worst experience I have had with blogging is seeing nasty things written about me online. However, I know it comes with the territory. If you put yourself out there so publicly, you are bound to get negative feedback along with the good. And I am okay with that, because I know who I am, and who my friends are, and there is so much good too.

I would have to say the best experience I have got from blogging is getting to meet amazing people. I have developed some pretty great friendships through blogging. Also, every now and again I receive a sweet e-mail from a reader. I love making personal connections with people and I am always amazed at just how kind people are. Another experience I had recently was just happening upon one of my early posts. It made me realize why I love to document my life. It was a little moment between me and Trevor that I had totally forgotten about until I reread it. If I hadn't documented that, I would have totally forgot that story and fun memory. There are so many good experiences with blogging, sorry I couldn't stick with one ;)

What do you like about the other person's blog?

ALYCIA:  I love how honest and witty Bonnie is on her blog. I can get totally caught up in her stories. I love how they can be about absolutely anything, something totally random, yet I have to read every word of the post. Some blogs you go to for fashion, for pretty pictures, or a good laugh. I go to Bonnie's to get a good read :)

BONNIE:  One of my favorite things about Alycia's blog is how stunning she always looks!  She can pull of any look and she is so freaking photogenic, so half of the time I just go to look at how amazing she looks in her pictures.  Besides looking gorgeous in pictures, she takes stunning pictures so whenever I want a little inspiration on how to spice up my posts with some great photos I make sure to visit Crowley Party!

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