The Life of Bon: December 2013

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Let's review this 2013, shall we?


Highlights:  Met my blogging idol, C.Jane, analyzed the fierce complexity of grocery shopping, started Bon's Book Club, wrote mine and Greg's love story (here and here), and took 214 seventeen year olds to the movies.   

Lowlights:  Had the coldest January in Utah since 1938, never wanted to leave the house, Greg got deathly ill and puked his guts out until we finally took him to the emergency room.


Highlights:  Wrote one of my favorite posts about grief, celebrated Valentines Day, blogged about blogging, and quit my job.

Lowlights:  Decided I am the worst blogger ever, Watched the Jazz lose a bunch of games, and quit my job.  Still don't know if I should put the quit my job on a highlight or a lowlight as it allowed for change and growth, but was incredibly difficult to leave Copper Hills.



Lowlights:  Went through a bunch of ugly wedding pictures and decided Greg and I are not nearly as photogenic as we think. 


Lowlights:  May 2013 will go down in the books as the month of stress.  Greg and I were so confused what to do about our work situation- Greg had graduated and for two years we had planned to move to California when he did.  But all of a sudden nothing felt right.  I searched for jobs for countless hours with no luck, and hit wall after wall trying to get my California certification.  Making the decision to go was stressful and making the decision to stay was stressful, but seven months later I couldn't be happier with the place we are at in our lives.  Posts full of angst and worry written during this time here and here and here.



Lowlights:  Lowlights don't exist in July.




Highlights:  Celebrated Halloween with friends and family, figured out my teaching philosophy,  analyzed what it means to be married,  GOT A PUPPY (posts here and here), and enjoyed every single day of beautiful weather that October has to offer.

Lowlights: Struggled to find balance in life,  Does such a thing exist?


Lowlights:  Got fed up with people for being frustrated with "kids these days."  It's the parents, I say!


Highlights:  Decided I'm the worst student ever, took a bit of a blogging break and tried to simplify my life, celebrated Christmas, watched my lil sis get married.

That's it folks, the year in one post.  Here's to 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

My sister got married and this is the best picture I got of the whole dang day.

Also, I'm not quite back to a regular blogging schedule so this will have to do for today.

Forgive me.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bon's Book Club December: We Need to Talk about Kevin

Well, folks, I dropped off the edge of the blog planet for a week and it felt amazing.  Last Sunday night I posted our Christmas card poem and then I didn't touch my computer again until tonight- a full seven days later.  I have been having mixed feelings about my blog lately, so it felt good and necessary to just take a break for a bit.  Sometimes the whole social media world just overwhelms me and I need a time out.

Also there was Christmas and a sister visiting from Germany and another sister getting married. (Posts coming this week.)  Let's just say it was crazy.  Even if I wanted to blog, who knows when I would have found the time?

Which brings me to my current conundrum.  We are supposed to be having our book club discussion on We Need to Talk about Kevin today.  Guess who did not finish the book?  Guess who cannot find her copy of the book?  That'd be me.  I've been carrying the book around all week in my purse with the intention of reading it and every day has been so insanely busy that I've hardly had a chance to read at all.  And then somewhere along the way the book just got misplaced.  At my mom's house or Greg's parents house or in the deep abyss of our apartment- who knows?

So now I am left wondering how I am supposed to conduct a legitimate book discussion for a book of which I only read 100 pages.  I'll give it a go, but I make no promises.

First some questions:
+ Did the letter format of the writing bother you, or do you think it enhanced the story by being told this way?
+ What did you think of Eva as a protagonist?  Did you find her likable?  Did you relate to her or were you disgusted by her thoughts on motherhood?
+ What role does Eva's estranged husband, Franklin, play in the development of the plot?
+ What were your impressions of Eva's visits to Kevin in prison?  Why does she feel so obligated to see him and do you think she should continue to do so based on the way he treats her?

Did the letter format of the writing bother you, or do you think it enhanced the story by being told this way?

At the beginning the letter format bothered me a lot.  I think what bothered me the most is that Eva spoke so formally and wrote in so much detail- much moreso than any person would really write in a letter.  It felt like I was reading a novel that had been edited and edited and re-edited- not a letter to a husband.  I thought the book was very well written, but the ornateness of the language didn't mix with a letter format.  I would have preferred that Shriver either made the novel a "novel" or else made the letters more believable.

I was surprised by how slow the book read.  Usually I skim books a bit or can easily get to the good details, but this book felt very bogged down at times.  Eva as a narrator says something at one point about how she can never tell a story "to the point" because all the tangents are so important to getting the whole picture and I felt this applied to Shriver as a writer, too.  I just felt very dragged down by details at points.

What did you think of Eva as a protagonist?  Did you find her likeable?  Did you relate to her or were you disgusted by her thoughts on motherhood?

As a character, I really like Eva.  I found her extremely complex and very flawed, which is how I like my book characters.  I was extremely interested in her thoughts on having children- how she almost saw having children as a competition with herself- proving to herself that she could do it.  I found her very selfish, but in a very real and relatable way.  Many of her concerns about having children I have had and so I found myself connecting to her on that level.  Thus far I have felt a sense from her that she blames herself for Kevin's massacre so I'm excited to read further to see how that develops and to see if I agree with this.  Those who read more than 100 pages in the book, do you hold Eva partly responsible for what Kevin did?

What were your impressions of Eva's visits to Kevin in prison?  Why does she feel so obligated to see him and do you think she should continue to do so based on the way he treats her?

This is the part of the plot that I am most excited to see develop- Eva's and Kevin's relationship.  I am shocked by how little remorse Kevin feels up to this point- almost as if he enjoys his "celebrity status" at the prison and is proud of what he did.  I am also shocked at how he treats his mom- he's not at all grateful that she comes to visit him and acts like a total brat to her.  The line that was really interesting to me was when Kevin says that he hates her and she replies, "I hate you too sometimes."  And yet she goes to visit him every time no matter what.  I think if I had a son like that I would just give up on him altogether- I am impressed with her complete devotion to him even when she "hates him sometimes."

Okay- I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the rest of this.  Don't be afraid of spoilers- just because I only read 100 pages of the book doesn't mean you have to be afraid of not diving into the deeper parts of the novel.  If you wrote a post on it make sure to leave the link to your blog post.  For 2014 I will be posting the questions for the book discussion earlier so you can be thinking of them as you read.  In January we are reading The Husband's Secret so start now!  (We will be discussing it the last Thursday of the month.)

January 11, 2014

I finished this book last night and had a couple of things I wanted to add onto my original thoughts.  I am glad I finished the book despite what seemed to me an unnecessarily slow beginning.  I feel like Shriver could have benefited from a really good editor- she had great information in there but at times I felt it was buried underneath so much other useless detail.  I skimmed way more than I usually do in fiction for this book just to get through it.

About halfway through the book I guessed that Kevin had killed Franklin (and Celia) so I wasn't terribly surprised by the big reveal.  I was surprised by the manner in which he did it, although I'm not sure if I like Shriver's choice there.  The archery instead of guns seemed a bit over the top for me.

Kevin: Nurture vs. Nature?  As a character, Kevin is repulsive.  It was hard to imagine a child that is that evil and that brings up the whole nurture vs. nature debate.  Are kids born with evil in them like that?  As a child he cried constantly, was outraged at the world, thought everything was stupid, was not interested in anything.  I suppose I have a hard time that a child is just born this way- it seems like such a cruel trick from God to just make a human being so naturally evil like this.  I feel like the message that Shriver was trying to get across through Eva is that it could happen to anybody- she was an educated, wealthy woman who was very much aware of her son and his problems.  I don't know that I agree with that idea, though.  I believe we are a combination of nurture and nature but I don't think one child is just born so purely, insanely evil that he would do something like this with no events in his life to trigger it.

Other characters:  One of the hardest things about this book for me was not only how unlikable Kevin was, but how unlikable both the parents were, and even the other child, Celia.  The drama teacher who is accused of sexual misconduct is equally unlikable, Kevin's best friend is extremely unlikable... I am just a bit confused as to why Shriver made a book full of such painfully flawed characters.  I get that you want your characters flawed to some extent, but these folks all seemed over the top.  Eva was too pretentious and cynical.  Franklin was too naive and stupid.  Celia was too weak and afraid.  Kevin was too purely evil.  In the same way that I feel like a well crafted character must have some flaws, he must also have some strengths.  Humans are full of both strengths and weaknesses, so I suppose it bothered me that I didn't see that in the characters.  Franklin especially bothered me, as did the nature of their relationship.  They were on the verge of divorce, constantly bickering over their children and always at each other's throats, yet they were still having sex every night?  It didn't seem like a very real relationship to me... even the marriage I needed to be more "human."

Messages from the book:  My two favorite commentaries/ messages from the book are 1) the commentary Eva makes about how she's not surprised by evil and misery in the world anymore, but instead she is amazed by kindness and beauty.  I loved the way this was phrased and allowed me to think about all the tragedies in this world in a little bit different light and 2) when the interviewer asks Kevin why he killed his classmates and he gives his little speech about "watchers" and "watchees" and how so much of what we do in life is just watching someone else live.  Reading a book, watching a movie, gossiping about a friend, watching the news, listening to a song... that is all just in some extent watching somebody else's life, not our own.  I started thinking about our world today- facebook, instagram, even blogs.  Those are all somebody else's life, not our own.   I suppose it made me want to be a bit more proactive about having meaningful experiences and actively participating in life.

Book ending:  I thought the book moved way too slow, and the end moved way too fast.  The last few chapters felt hurried and rushed and didn't give me the resolution that I wanted.  Honestly, I was a little bothered by the end.  Kevin from day one has been nothing but pure evil and then out of nowhere in the last chapter he starts to show some remorse.  I felt like this was a flaw in his character because he switched from night to day.  All of a sudden he felt guilty for his actions, after two years in prison.  I also struggled with Eva's devotion to Kevin, even though she "sometimes hates" him.  Especially once I found out that Kevin had killed Franklin and Celia as well, I just didn't understand why Eva would continue to see him so faithfully.  The ending felt very abrupt when all of a sudden Eva says that she loves Kevin.  This goes against everything that Eva has said and felt throughout the book so I guess I didn't "buy it."  There was no transformation or growth just all of a sudden, "I've hated my son throughout his entire life and now that he has murdered my husband and daughter I can say that, strangely enough, I love him."  It didn't leave a very satisfying ending to me.  Kevin did nothing to deserve her love, and I don't believe just being someone's son or daughter is enough to be worthy of their unconditional love.  Kevin never did anything to gain her love or respect and she realized that throughout the whole book.  That's why it felt so off that all of a sudden the resolution of the book was supposed to be that she loved her son....  I'm so interested to hear your thoughts on this part of the book.

I know this post was originally written two weeks ago, but I would love any further comments or discussion on the book.  Now that I've finished it I really want to talk about it!  So come on, Let's Talk about Kevin!  (Too cheesy?)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!

I looked at my calendar today and what did I see?
It's December 22 already?  Ah, gee!
I had great big plans to get Christmas cards in the mail,
Now they'll never make it on time- it's a holiday fail!
I needed an alternate plan, something easy and quick,
I know it's lame, but a blog Christmas card will have to do the trick.

2013 has been a full year in our little family clan,
Lots of changes and decisions for this wife and her man.
When the year started we had plans to move to Hollywood,
But after lots of thought and prayer we decided Utah was just as good.

Greg got his Bachelor's degree in April- he's now a college grad!
He refused to walk at his ceremony, but a nice, fancy dinner wasn't too bad.
He now spends his days working with adults with special needs,
And at night you will find him on the Hale Center Stage- playing the lead!

This summer we ventured to Hawaii with Greg and his family,
Got scammed $1200 bucks in the process- quite the "vacation fee"!
It hurt at the time, but we chalk it up to a "good learning experience",
And if nothing else it helped us grow up and learn a bit of common sense!

I moved high schools this year- left Copper Hills in the dust,
Switched to a school closer to home and with a football team you can trust!
I miss Copper Hills and the people there- there's no doubt about it,
But the change and growth is good for me- this new school is a great fit.
I teach juniors and seniors, and yikes, they even gave me a class of AP-
I'm terrified to teach it, but pray that the seventeen year olds don't see.

In August to my mom's basement we had to say goodbye,
We loved being so close to family, but found a new place in Lehi.
With just the two of us alone it suddenly started to feel a bit lonely,
So in October we got ourselves a dog, I insist I must have been crazy.

This fall we got called to teach primary, and that has been one of our greatest joys,
It means we spend Sunday afternoons with three rowdy, ten year old boys.
They are a hyper and active bunch and they keep us on our toes,
But we've fallen madly in love with the kids, how it happened nobody knows.

The year was filled with its ups and downs, small trials and blessings great,
We know that no matter the difficulties, God blesses us at a much faster rate.
We make so many mistakes- we are humans who are deeply flawed,
And so find ourselves constantly giving thanks for the gift of the Son of God.
During this Christmastime we are reminded of so many miracles great and small,
As we remember the birth of baby Jesus-  His life and sacrifice is the greatest gift of all.

Merry Christmas from Greg and Bonnie

Friday, December 20, 2013

Book club 2014: VOTES ARE IN

ONE DAY MORE!  I have to survive one prep period, one faculty lunch and three classes of rowdy seniors until I see my freedom.  Two weeks of break is knocking at my door and I could not be more ready for it.

Before next week sets in and the pure madness of Christmas takes over, I wanted to let you know the book club results for 2014.  Votes are tallied!  Books are chosen!  Just in time for you to grab a couple over the holiday and get reading (And don't forget we are discussing We Need to Talk about Kevin on December 30.)  I am especially excited because I have only read two of the books on this year's book club list. (Last year I had read six already.)  So many new books! 

January: The Husband's Secret by Liane Mortiary (January 30)
February:  I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (February 27)
March: Divergent by Veronica Roth (March 27)
April:  Night Circus by Eric Morgenstern
May:  The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
June:  Matilda by Roald Dahl
July:  In Cold Blood  by Truman Capote
August:  Brain on Fire:  My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan 
September:  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
October:  Z by Therese Ann Fowler
November:  Wonder by R.J. Palacio
December: My Story by Elizabeth Smart

Book club is the last Thursday of the month unless noted otherwise.  Thanks to everyone who voted (147 votes!  Our book club has 147 people in it, YIKES!)  I will put some questions up for The Husband's Secret by the beginning of the month.  Can't wait!

I am on my way to go raid the library and see what goodness I can find from them... I suggest you do the same!  While I am trying to steal books I've got a couple of girls to introduce to you.  I have highlighted for you some of my favorite posts of theirs and hope you enjoy visiting their blog as much as I have.

Pursuit of Pink is a place where real women can find all sorts of things: beauty and fashion tips, new mom tips, my honest thoughts about life and sometimes some funny posts to just forget about everyday problems. I try really hard to be as transparent as possible so my readers see that I am human too and that we all go through ups and downs in life. I just like to keep things positive and not totally get defeated when something negative happens. I hope my readers come to Pursuit of Pink to smile.

Bonnie here:  I especially love this post on taking a village to raise a child and I'm pretty sure I'm going to copy this exact outfit.  

Hi I'm Sonya.  My little space of the internet is called a gray rainbow.  I'm not a foodie blog but I can't help but write and talk about food.  I have a sweet little boy who sometimes drives me mad, but I love him so I can't help but gush about him too. I like to write about funny things that happen with my family.  I wrote about my Santa encounters here, and I like to have silly dog birthday parties and wrote about it here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A home is just a home.


And a cabin is just a cabin?  

A cabin is NOT the people in the cabin or the memories in the cabin and it's not even the food in the cabin.  It's just the cabin.  Walls and floors and wiring.  Nothing more.

Within the next couple of days my mom will close on the selling of our family cabin.  I've never bought or sold a major piece of property so I really have no idea what it entails, but it sounds like it involves a lot of papers and some signatures and shuffling of funds and some more signatures and then it's all done.  What was once our haven to relax and spend time and run away together now belongs to someone else.  The keys get changed and if I show up for a weekend I am now trespassing on someone else's property.  

What was once our family cabin is no longer our family cabin.  

The reasons for selling the cabin are many.  Within a few years the whole thing was going to need to be re-stained, a massive job.  In the winter the pipes often froze and caused several headaches worth of damage.  We didn't use it enough to justify how much money we spent on it.  The property taxes were out the wazoo. 

So when my mom told her eight kids that she was thinking of selling it, we were supportive.

That doesn't mean it was easy when she accepted an offer on it.

Mostly it was hard because it was a piece of my dad- a huge, honking piece of my dad and now it is gone.  Death is weird in that you lose the person all at once, and then you lose them again- in remembrances of the person slowly, over time, while you're desperately trying to still hang on.  The first remembrance piece was lost a few months after my dad died when we had to put the dog down, Red.  The biggest piece was when my mom sold my house and moved from the town I grew up in.

And so the pieces have gone.  Some big, some small, but they keep going.

The cabin was a big piece.

My dad put his heart and soul into that cabin.  It was his dream.  He literally built the thing himself.  We all did.  I spent countless weekends and spring breaks and summer vacations caulking logs, painting walls, laying tile, staining wood.  My brothers sanded every single log with a small electric sander.  They even did the sheetrock themselves.  Heck, my dad would have done the plumbing if only someone would have told him how and given him the right tool.  In Jr. high and high school the word "cabin" struck absolute dread in my heart, for I knew it meant a weekend away from friends and countless hours of work.  It took almost five years to get that sucker completed. 

We never expected my dad to die so young, and so I suppose we never expected to sell the cabin so soon.  But he did and we did and life marches on.

Now, as I look back on the pictures I must remind myself of why the cabin has meant so much to me over the years.  It's not because of the cabin, it's because of what it symbolizes.  Fun and faith and friends and work and love.  

And family.

Mostly family.  So many  memories of my parents and siblings and 16 nieces and nephews filling the cabin up with laughter and games and always, always, always food.

So as I prepare to say goodbye to the cabin I will remind myself over and over again that it was never about the cabin.  Never about the logs or the tile or the ping pong table.  It was about the people that I love more than anything in this world.  

And that's something that will never be taken away from me.