The Life of Bon: November 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

You can never have too many earrings.

I'm on vacation, and as such I am staying away from my blog.

I'm on break!  Don't bother me!

Except for one little thing.

It's Black Friday as I'm sure you all know.  I went out to brave the crowds Thanksgiving night, and it was the single most miserable experience of my life.  No deal, no matter how great it is, is worth the hordes of people and waiting in line for 45 minutes.  Shoot me now.

Which is why my Black Friday deal is coming to you via the comfort of your own home.  Trust me, it beats the heck out of trying to go to a store today.

My best friend Amy has always been a crafty genius.  She used to make earrings and necklaces for all of us friends constantly and boy was she dang good at it!  One day a few years ago one of us (Akasha!) said, "Have you ever thought about selling any of this?  There's this site online.  You can sell stuff you make.  I think it's called etsy?..."  And that's how it all began.  Amy has a full blown jewelry shop now and I couldn't be more proud of how hard she works on it.

Her most popular item right now is these initial necklaces.  You can wear them with just one initial or add your sweatheart's to it... freak, you can do whatever you want with those little letters.  The options are endless!

For the entire week (until December 6) everything in her shop is 35% off.  Her prices are already extremely affordable so that makes it really too good of a deal to pass up.  And no lines!  Make sure to visit her shop and use code lifeofbon35 at checkout.

Oh, and to really sweeten the deal we're giving away five $25 prizes to readers. Count, em FIVE!  Winners will get a heart necklace and their choice of two sets of stud earrings.

(Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.  All entries will be verified.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hibernation: Commence

Something about November makes me want to hibernate.  Our fall in Utah has been long and beautiful.  The sunshiney days dragged on long past the normal time and the winds held off almost a full month longer than they normally do.  Fall was gorgeous.

Now the weather has turned.  It's cold.  I flipped on the heater.  The thing is, though, in November I love this kind of weather.  I almost yearn for it to be chilly and windy so I can get home from work, put on my pjs at 4 and not leave the house for the rest of the night.  I cuddle up in blankets and read to my heart's content and write like a fiend and sometimes there's even long, hot bubble baths.

When my mind is tired of reading or writing and the weather is cold and nasty I take to a puzzle.  It's mindless and a complete destresser for me.  I could do puzzles for life.  Sometimes I turn on music while I puzzle, sometimes I turn on Netflix.  I can't quite figure out what it is about puzzles that is so relaxing and addicting.  It's like I can turn off every single part of my brain except for that one little part that puts pieces together.  For some reason it feels so good.

I'm off of work for the rest of the week and from Tuesday night until Sunday night I will be in complete hibernation mode- books and movies and blogs and puzzles and naps.  Oh, and turkey.  Heaven forbid I forget about the turkey.

Today I have Jenn guest posting on the blog.  Jenn is one of my favorites.  She feels like she has such a a good head on our shoulders and when I read what she writes I am amazed by her positive attitude, her intelligence, and her sense of humor.  I absolutely love this beautiful and humbling post on what it's like to be a therapist and this 16 space saving solutions for city living post is genius.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, y'all. I'm Jenn from Much to My Delight, and I'm here to teach you about the historical significance of this fine American holiday.


A long, long time ago, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue until he finally stumbled upon the big fat planet he called "Merica. He was totally starving by the time he reached shore since the double freezer on the Mayflower conked out on day three and the only things he found to eat were some stale wasabi crackers from Trader Joe's and the occasional salty fish. Luckily for C.C., a group of cowboys and Indians were busy preparing a feast on shore to celebrate their recent harvest of pumpkin, corn, green bean casserole and big aluminum cans filled with gelatinous cranberry. They even had turducken. JACKPOT, he thought to himself.


The group gathered around a long wooden table and spent the next five hours discussing New World politics, picking corn out of their teeth and Instagramming between courses. Then the men tossed the pigskin while the womenfolk watched Real Housewives of Colonial Williamsburg and the kiddies played Angry Birds on their parents' cell phones. And that, fellow Americans, is the story of the first Thanksgiving.

I know you guys are busy prepping for tomorrow's festivities by pinning recipes for cranberry mojitos and adjusting the waistband on your pants, so I'll keep this short and sweet. My name is Jenn, and I write a blog called Much to My Delight. I do a bit of writing over there, sharing stories about life in New York City, what it's like to be a therapist, and the special and unique joy of being married to a guy who looks like Surfer Jesus.
DSC_0201 And because I'm hell-bent on dispelling the myth of the glamorous New York City woman, I also share my woes about getting the most awkward spray tan in the world, barfing in the middle of a crowded auditorium of my peers and my ongoing battle with toenail fungus. There's a lot to be thankful for this year, folks. Hope you feel the same. Happy Thanksgiving pilgrims! See you round 'Merica.


Book club November: A Thousand Splendid Suns


Welcome to book club, chicas!

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.

In a few weeks we will decide what books we will read for 2014.  You all will give suggestions and then we'll all vote and get 12 awesome books in line for the year.  I have really loved doing this book club and have found that it has helped me to read books I wouldn't normally read as well as given me an opportunity to re read some of my absolute favorites.

A Thousand Splendid Suns definitely falls under the "absolute favorites" books.  I first read this the summer I came home from my mission and I remember staying up late reading it on those hot summer nights and crying all the way through it.  Some of the images are so powerful and graphic that they have remained in my head since first reading it (Miriam being forced to eat rocks, Laila having a C-section without any anesthesia.)

A brief overview: For those who haven't read or don't know what the book is about, it details the lives of two women in Afghanistan from the early 70s to the year 2000.  The book deals mostly with the mistreatment and injustice for the women in Afghanistan, but it also talks largely about the political turmoil and general unrest of the country during that time.  It sounds like it might be dry or boring, but Hosseini is an incredibly story teller and you are drawn in immediately, first to the story of Miriam who is the bastard child, harami, of a rich man and his servant.  Her mom hangs when Miriam is only 15 and then her dad agrees to let a man 40+ years old marry her.  Miriam never sees her dad again.

Later we are introduced to Laila who has her own difficulties, but has a bit more spunk and tenacity for life than Miriam does.  One of my favorite things about this book is Laila's relationship with the childhood friend on her street, Tariq.  They grow up together and when Laila is 14 they share their first kiss.  These scenes between them are written so innocently and tenderly- they are beautiful.

Their first kiss is one of the best kissing descriptions I've read, I think mostly because of the innocence and sweetness that it conveys.  I love the childlike innocence from the scene and the imagery of two teenagers kissing sweetly under a tree while their country is killing all around them was very sharp and beautiful to me.

"He slid closer to her and their hands brushed, once, then again.  When Tariq's finger tentatively began to slip into hers, Laila let them.  And when suddenly he learned over and pressed his lips to hers, she let him again.  At that moment, All of Mammy's talk of reputations sounded immaterial to Laila.  Absurd, even.  In the midst of all this killing and looting, all this ugliness, it was a harmless thing to sit here beneath a tree and kiss Tariq.  A small thing.  An easily forgivable indulgence.  So she let him kiss her, and when he pulled back she leaned in and kissed him, heart pounding in her throat, her face tingling, a fire burning in the pit of her belly."

The book is a fast read because it is so interesting and the story so completely engrossing that I found myself reading it every spare second once I had started it.  I read it in about three days this weekend.  I don't recommend reading it this fast, however, as there is so much killing and abuse that it can be hard to stomach it all.  I felt like I would have been better if I had given myself a week or two to read through it, but I really couldn't put it down.

There is a happy ending and that may be what makes the book so enduring.  Throughout its entirety the book is filled with abuse and injustice and great heartache.  I love though, that ultimately it ends up being a story of the power of love and forgiveness and great loyalty.

Afghanistan's history is really highlighted in the book and understanding all the politcs behind the unrest may have been the most difficult part for me.  There are lots of Afghan words interspersed throughout the book: shaheed, muahideen, namaz, Taliban, Pashtun.  This certainly doesn't keep you from understanding the book, but I think I would have enjoyed the book even more if I was more familiar with the history of their country.

Favorite quotes:
“A society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated...” 

- “A man's heart is a wretched, wretched thing. It isn't like a mother's womb. It won't bleed. It won't stretch to make room for you.” 

- “Learn this now and learn it well. Like a compass facing north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam.” 

“I'm sorry," Laila says, marveling at how every Afghan story is marked by death and loss and unimaginable grief. And yet, she sees, people find a way to survive, to go on.” 

“With the passing of time, she would slowly tire of this exercise. She would find it increasingly exhausting to conjure up, to dust off, to resuscitate once again what was long dead. There would come a day, in fact, years later, when [she] would no longer bewail his loss. Or not as relentlessly; not nearly. There would come a day when the details of his face would begin to slip from memory's grip, when overhearing a mother on the street call after her child by [his] name would no longer cut her adrift. She would not miss him as she did now, when the ache of his absence was her unremitting companion--like the phantom pain of an amputee.” 

“And that, the story of our country, one invasion after another...Macedonians. Saddanians. Arabs. Mongols. Now the Soviets. But we're like those walls up there. Battered, and nothing pretty to look at, but still standing.” 

I don't want to give away too much that happens in the book so I will end my thoughts here.  As always, please add in your two cents or leave a link if you did your own book review.  Here's some questions to get your mind thinking if you need them.

Discussion questions:
+What is the significance of the title?  Does that play into the significance of the work as a whole?

+ The book is largely about the mistreatment of Afghani women.  Does it feel hypocritical to you or 
inaccurate that it is written by an Afghani man?

+  What point does the book make about women and education.

+   By the time Laila is rescued from the rubble of her home by Rasheed and Mariam, Mariam’s marriage has become a miserable existence of neglect and abuse. Yet when she realizes that Rasheed intends to marry Laila, she reacts with outrage. Given that Laila’s presence actually tempers Rasheed’s abuse, why is Mariam so hostile toward her.

+ Laila’s friendship with Mariam begins when she defends Mariam from a beating by Rasheed. Why does Laila take this action, despite the contempt Mariam has consistently shown her?

+ Growing up, Laila feels that her mother’s love is reserved for her two brothers. “People,” she decides, “shouldn’t be allowed to have new children if they’d already given away all their love to their old ones.” How does this sentiment inform Laila’s reaction to becoming pregnant with Rasheed’s child? What lessons from her childhood does Laila apply in raising her own children?

+ While the first three parts of the novel are written in the past tense, the final part is written in present tense. What do you think was the author’s intent in making this shift? How does it change the effect of this final section?

Oh, and get reading for December!  Our December book is We Need to Talk about Kevin and our book club discussion date will be Thursday, December 19.  We Need to Talk about Kevin is the story of "Eva- the mother or an unlabavle boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday.  Now, two days later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, and Kevin's horrific rampage in a seises of startling direct correspondences with her estranged son." (Taken from the back of the book.)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A post in which I get a robot to clean my house

Instead of working five days and having a two day weekend, this coming week will give me the complete opposite.  Two days of work and five days of weekend.  BOO-YAH!  I love everything about Thanksgiving week so I am basically prepping myself for the greatest five day weekend of all time.  From the ridiculous amounts of food and family to Black Friday sales to finally giving myself permission to put up Christmas lights and listen to Christmas music, bring it Thanksgiving!  I'm ready for you!

Of course, first I have to work two days, and as excited as I am to be out of school for five days the teenagers are quadruplely so, making Monday and Tuesday almost impossible to teach.  WE'RE ALL SO HYPER!  LET US FREE!!!! (Also every time I use a word that is not a real word I feel like I need to confess to all of you, and so I hereby confess that quadruplely is not a real word.)

I'm also excited because it seems that I have found a trusty little helper to take care of cleaning the house for me in time for the holidays.  Now, in my blogging hay day it happens from time to time that a very nice person sends me something cool and says, "Hey if I give this to you will you show it on your blog?"  And I say, "Oh, okay, cool."  Which is how I have ended up with some great new jewelry and some purty shirts and even a free yummy smoothie or two.  But never in my blogging life have I ever been sent something as cool as I was sent this week.

Wait for it.


I was sent a robot.

A robot that will sweep and mop my floor for me.

So basically this is how it works.  You charge your robot.  You put a GPS thing on the counter that reads your floor plan.  You put the robot on the floor and then it sweeps and mops for you.  That is legitimately all there is to it.


The best part about it all is that Greg was freaking stoked out of his mind- just to mop the floor!  He kept wanting to know when I was going to open it and put it to work.  When I did crack in to it, he was all over it reading the instructions and putting the gadgets in place.  Then, when I left Saturday afternoon to run a few errands he said to me, I kid you not, "DO YOU MIND IF I CLEAN THE FLOORS WHILE YOU ARE GONE?"  Tell me if you've ever heard your husband say that?  No I do not mind, Greg.  Clean on! And that is how I found a robot to solve all my house cleaning needs.

Mav couldn't get enough of it. ^^^

Apparently some people have already heard of these advancements in cleaning, but I have not, so I was totally baffled by my cleaning robot.  And in love.  Sweeping and mopping is one of those chores that is a total bore to me (unlike organizing my closet which I strangely really love).  Also if you want to see how the iRobot Braava (which is its real name, although I personally think cleaning robot is a much better choice) works, watch this two minute video that explains it all.  It is the perfect holiday gift for your overworked mom or sister.  You know how women get offended when you get them a vacuum as a gift?  Well, it's kind of like that except for non offensive because it basically means "Lie on the couch while someone else does the cleaning for you!"

Make sure to go here to check out all the deets and happy short week everyone!

*This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Linqiq, Inc. and iRobot Braava.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Why I Blog

Admittedly, there are times I want to quit this blog.

I started blogging five times a week in September of 2011.  It has been two years and two months.  Every weekday for this 26 month span I have written a post.  At first it was mostly nonsense post and not many people were reading. At first it was pretty easy.  It got harder.

There are lots of things that make blogging difficult.  For me the most difficult things are:

1)  Responding to criticism.  I like to think I am getting better at it, but I am still not great.  Some critics are complete strangers and they say hurtful things on anonymous internet sites and it stings, but only for a minute because I know they really don't know me and have no idea who I am.  Some criticism is from friends and family... people I love and trust very much, and naturally that is the criticism that hurts the most.  Learning what to listen to and what to ignore, what is hurtful and what is helpful takes good judgment and lots of prayer.

2)  Writing about events and people accurately and honestly.  A blog is in real time in real life so if I get my details wrong on how something happened there are lots of people to let me know immediately.  Furthermore, it is extremely difficult to write about people knowing that those people will most likely read what I write about them.  I can not possibly explain everything that is a person in a blog post.  I have often worried especially when posting about my parents or my in laws or even my students.  I am only showing one very small slice of who this person is.  Are they going to be offended by what I chose to share?  Will they feel misrepresented?  Will my readers get a good idea of who the person is and what they are about or will they judge and criticize not only me but loved ones whom I have chosen to write about?

3) Knowing what is appropriate to share while still trying to be an honest and open writer.  I often don't know what is too personal.  To me everything is fair game on the internet.  When I write a personal post about Greg or marriage I have to have him preview it before I publish it.  He is usually fine about it but there have been times where he has told me point blank that he doesn't want me to post any of what I have written.  Some things are too personal or sacred, and for me the line is often very hard to discern.

These thoughts have been swirling around in my head a lot as my blog has gotten me in a bit of hot water recently.  This isn't the first time my blog has gotten me in trouble so it's nothing too new, but it does have a tendency to jolt me a bit and cause me to reexamine my reasons for blogging. This past week I have even felt a little resentful toward my blog and have wanted to distance myself completely from it, almost as if I felt my blog was a traitor to me and responsible for all my troubles in my life.

Even as I felt these things, the anniversary of my dad's death was fast approaching and if nothing else the blog is my own selfish way of coping with my own feelings.  For the past two years I have grieved, celebrated and lived with the help of this blog.  I don't know how I would wade through the grief or pain of the day without writing about it.  I process my emotions through this blog and as much of a mess as I am, I think I'd be ten times worse without this blog and my readers to help me sort it all out.

And so I wrote about the anniversary of my dad's death even though I was kind of mad at my blog and wanted space from it.  I had let my blog know personal thoughts of mine before, and it had turned on me so I guess I was kind of scared.  But I wrote on and shared the tough stuff and wondered in my head if this blogging thing is worth it.

The outpouring of love I received on that day and the days following have been absolutely humbling and inspiring.  So many people left comments- on the blog, on facebook, on instragram.  Some emailed me directly.  Others called or sent text messages, and overall the day was a day of amazing peace and happiness.  The blog certainly played its part in that.

I think overall I realized that the reason I blog is exactly what C.S. Lewis figured out years ago when he said "we read to know we're not alone."   I write, I read, I blog, I comment to know that there are others out there who understand me.  I thank everyone who has left a comment on this blog, who has let me know in some way that I am "not alone"-  who has shared the load with me.  Thank you for being with me as we share our suffering, our grief, our happiness, our excitements, our worries.

Blog on.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Kitchen Catastrophes

Well, folks, I just cooked the most horrific pot of ham and potato soup imaginable.  I didn't even know it could taste that bad.  I was going to insist that Greg eat more than the half of a cup he served himself, but I couldn't even say a thing after I tasted it.  What is it with cooking?  Why is it so hard?  Why do some things mix together great and some things mix together awful?  And why can't my husband just like to eat all of the things so that I can stop feeling guilty when he's the skinniest grown man I've ever laid eyes on?  I should have known when the recipe called for two pounds of Velveeta cheese.

This  cooking stuff really is the worst.  The problem with all the online recipes is that you really have no idea if they're good or not.  It's not like when you go over to a friend's and taste something she's cooking and say, "Wow, I need that recipe."  It's not like that at all.  It's like "there's a beautiful picture and the ingredients seem legit but there is no guaranteeing that this recipe will any good at all.  I might waste my time, energy and money for nothing."  That's why I am no longer getting my recipes from pinterest.  Unless I actually know someone who has tried the recipe I ain't risking it because kitchen flops are the worst of all the flops.

Oh, I know!  Leave me a link to the favorite thing that you cook.  That way I can have some legit recipes from people I know.  And I'll sure mine with you!  My favorite recipe is Zuppa Toscana soup.  I make it about once a month and it is a total hit every time and it's fairly easy to make.  You can find the link for it here.

While you are all leaving me links to your favorite dinner recipes, here is Katie to entertain you with her wit, whimsy and wisdom.  I really really like this Katie gal. She is one of my favorite people to work with in blogland and she just seems to get the job done.  She comes up with quality content regularly and never leaves you wanting more from a blog post.  When I heard last year that she was expecting a baby it was like my very own bestie telling me the good news.  I promise you will love her.

Hi Life of Bon readers! I've been looking forward to posting on Bonnie's blog again and in an effort to keep things short and (hopefully) interesting, here are five random things you should know about me:

1.  I pretty much pride myself on my ability to find cheap clothing.  To the point where if anyone tells me they like my top I have to respond with "I got it for only $4."  When an appropriate response would be thank you.  While I fail to have fancy pictures because I'm still too embarrassed to even have my husband take my pictures, I use my tripod and rarely venture off my deck, I like to share my outfits on my blog.  

2 .My husband and I struggled with infertility for over two years and were blessed with a beautiful baby girl this last July.  I've never been through anything more emotionally and physically trying, and while incredibly hard I know that I wouldn't be the same person I am today if God didn't allow us to go through that struggle.  My blog ended up being an amazing place to process everything and a great source of encouragement through all of it.    

3.  I may just be the most easily annoyed person in the world.  Chewing, tapping, breathing heavily, you name it.  And my husband does all those things.  His only annoyance: that I am easily annoyed.  Silly faces though, I'm a fan.

4.  I wouldn't called myself a DIY guru by any means, but I am pretty good at making cheap, quick and easy projects like this chalkboard vase, welcome banner and chalkboard.  

5.  I'm a terrible singer, I think I may have missed a calling to be a Fanta girl or back up dancer, if I had three wishes one may be that sweets were healthy and acceptable meals, I hate abbreviations and I'm terrible at being patient and giving up control of things.  
Oh and of course I'd like you to come visit me!  Thank you Bonnie for having me!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

An anniversary rememebered

Sometimes life gives you exactly the opposite of what you expect.

Take today for example.  I was expecting today to be hard.  It's the anniversary of my dad's death and I was sure that it would be one of those endlessly tiring and mentally exhausting days.

But it wasn't.  It wasn't any of those things.  It was happy and fun and filled with people I love.

My students were extra sweet to me, as if they could sense that they were dealing with a fragile teacher.  They didn't pull any of their usual shenanigans and were seriously little Tuesday angels for me. They did their work, they participated and I even gave every student in fourth period five points extra credit because they were more on task than I have ever seen them before.  What is this?!?

Then, my co-worker and friend, Hannah, surprised me with a dirty Dr. Pepper at lunch.  She said she knew today might be a little bit hard for me so "here's your favorite drink."  It was the only point in the day that I was close to tears... I just kind of stared stupidly back at her, shocked that she even knew that today was of any importance to me.  Even moreso, I was floored that she had remembered my favorite drink from a casual conversation three months ago.  It's things like this that A) make me want to be a better person and B) maintain my belief that while some people are bad, most people are good.  Really really good.

When Greg got home from work tonight he was so sweet to me.  Extra tender and extra loving and extra everything a husband should be when his wife is sad.  He made me feel cherished and special and other goopy stuff.

I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love in the comments on yesterday's post.  I always hesitate to post about my dad's death, thinking that it is weird to be so open with my life to total strangers, but when I read your comments back it reaffirms my decision to talk about things that are hard for me.  I am often surprised by how many people say they too have lost someone very close to them.  If there is one thing I have learned it is that sorrow and suffering are universal.  We all suffer.  We all feel pain.  The beauty of it is in coming together to share it and heal together.

The icing on my proverbial cake was that I got to spend some time in the temple with my mom and a few of my siblings tonight.  Mormon temples are a little bit different than churches in that we believe it is our place of most sacred promises and communication with God.  There are no phones or electronic deices and it feels like you shut out the entire outside world when you are there and just focus on the most important things.  Mormons believe that we can be "sealed" forever with our family in the temple making it possible to live forever with our family after this life.  I felt so close to my dad and to my family sitting there tonight and thinking of the promises I believe in for after this life.  Ultimately it was just a moment of absolute peace and happiness.

We ended the night with In-N-Out because it wouldn't be a Blackburn get together without good food and we chatted until long after we all should have returned home.  It felt so good to be surrounded with family and to be reminded of God's plan to get us all back to Him.

So yah.  The day was supposed to be sad.  But instead it was happy.  So happy.

*Two days left to enter this giveaway for a straight up wad of cash.  
*Six days left to finish reading Thousand Splendid Suns.  It is a beautiful book.

Monday, November 18, 2013

One dad, four years, and a few silver linings

Tonight marks four years that our dad left us for a more perfect world.  I like to think that for him it is a world of Minnesota Twins, fresh corn on the cob, cabins, and bicycle rides. A world of gardens without weeds, autumns without winters, life without death.

And certainly a world without car repairs.

It is much easier for me to write about my dad's death than it was in the beginning.  I will always miss my dad, but time, if nothing else, has the gracious power of healing wounds.  Of taking away the sting.  Of showing us the beauty that was there, even in the midst of the suffering.

I couldn't see the silver linings then, not when it happened.  I could only focus on the sorrow, the injustice, the pain.  Now, four years later I look back on the days surrounding his death and funeral and can finally see some of that beauty.

Beauty:  My dad died the night of November 18.  His obituary and his death certificate say November 19 because that is when his body was found.  He went on a bike ride the evening of the 18th, like he frequently did.  My mom went to a young women's activity.  When she came home she noticed my dad wasn't home, but figured he had stopped to say hi to a neighbor, give a jug of apple juice, or do any of the countless things that would distract him from being home on a Wednesday night.  She fell asleep on the rocking chair waiting for him, and when she woke up at 11 with my dad still not home, the panic set in.  She called my brother who lived in Price and called a few neighbors.  They went out searching for him.  It was cold and it was dark.  They searched and searched and searched.  Besides my brother in Price, none of the other kids knew any of this was going on.  My dad's body was found in a little ditch in the early hours of the morning of the 19th.  His hands were still on the handlebars.  He had a gash in his forehead, but there was not bleeding which would indicate that his blood had stopped circulating and he had died before the bike ever hit the ground.  Cardiac arrest is the doctor's best explanation.  He most likely died at the very beginning of his bike ride as he was only quarter of a mile or so from our home, probably around 5 or 6 in the evening.  We know he didn't suffer through the cold night and that he was dead before anyone ever thought to wonder where he was.

That night I was playing poker.  A friend at BYU had invited me over for a Texas Hold Em tournament with just the guys.  It was me and five boys.  The buy in was $3.  I'm not terrible at poker, but I certainly don't ever play the game planning on making money.  That night I won.  Easily, too.  I got good hands, I bluffed like a pro, I fooled all those BYU frat boys.  Five dudes and me and I took their money and beat them to pieces at their own game.

My dad would sometimes tell us kids about his poker playing days.  He'd tell us with a sly, mischievous grin, how he'd sit in the back of the bus and clean out all of his buddies.  He was a good poker player in his day, one of the best, but shhhh don't tell mom.  Mom would smile, she knew the man she had married, but feigned disapproval.  Now that the pain has dulled I can think back to that night playing poker and feel my dad there with me.  Helping me win those silly hands, perhaps?  He had already passed on by the time I was enjoying a my poker night, and I like to think he lingered that night to watch, and maybe even help, his Bopper play a few hands.

Beauty #2:  I received the phone call around 7:30 am the morning of the 19th.  I was already at school, doing my student teaching.  When I heard the news I went in to tell my cooperating teacher that I would be going home, that I wouldn't be teaching that day- I had to leave right away.  My cooperating teacher had lost his own dad at a young age and I will never forget that look of complete understanding and empathy he gave me when I told him.  He knew the pain exactly, and he was so tender and sweet with me that morning and throughout the entirety of my student teaching.

Another one:  My home in Price was an hour and a half away from where I was going to school in Provo.  I didn't have to make that drive alone.  Two of my sisters and one brother lived in Provo.  We made the drive down together.  I sat in the backseat in the middle on the hump.  The only time in my life where that crowded, squishy spot was the most wanted seat in the car, and I got it.

Beauty #4:  I remember so vividly approaching the front door to our house and seeing the sign "Give Thanks" on the door.  It was a week before Thanksgiving, after all, and my mom had decorated the house with Thanksgiving gear.  I remember feeling like that sign was mocking my pain, telling me to give thanks for the single most difficult experience of my life.  Now I can look back tenderly at that sign.  Thanksgiving had always been my dad's favorite holiday, and he had long taught his children about the holiday.  I know all about how Lincoln first declared it a national holiday and how FDR later changed it from the last Thursday of the month to the fourth Thursday.  I know all the history of that day because my dad absolutely loved the idea of a day to surround yourself with people and food and just be grateful. The sign wasn't mocking me, it was a sweet reminder of everything that my dad encompassed.  A tender mercy, in fact.

Beauty #5:  The first person I saw when I entered the house was Chris Heiner, our neighbor down the street.  She was sweeping the front entrance.  She gave me a big hug and I don't remember if any words were spoken, but somehow I needed her to be there.  She had long been friends with our family, both of my parents loved and respected her immensely.  She was calm and collected, the perfect woman to be in my home.

Beauty #6:  Most of that day is a complete blur to me.  I remember my mom huddled up in the rocking chair with a blanket over her.  I remember so many people coming and going.  I remember endless amounts of food that nobody wanted to eat.  I remember a flower truck making constant deliveries.  One of my favorite things I remember, though is my my mom's best friend's son.  He had to be in his late 20s or 30s at the time.  He was a grown man presumably with a grown job and grown responsibilities.  I don't know that I had ever said two words to him in my whole life.  Yet he was there all day long.  Through the tearful morning, through the long afternoon hours.  He was always nearby, but never saying anything at all.  I remember sitting at the table and watching him play cards with my nephew.  For hours, just he and my nephew playing with a deck of cards.  What a weird thing to bring comfort to someone, I think, but it unmistakably helped me in those most difficult hours.  Life is busy, people had excuses to not be there, but not this man.  He was there all day long.  A beautiful silver lining on that day.

One last one:  There are eight kids in my family.  Six were living in Utah at the time.  My sister flew in the next day from Virginia.  My brother and his family, however, were living in India, and I remember how anxious I felt for him to get there, to make our family complete- or at least as complete as it could be now.  It wasn't until more than 48 hours later that he walked in the door with his pregnant wife and two boys, weary and travel ridden.  I remember how we all cried when we saw my brother, the new oldest male in our family.  I will never forget his lanky body walking through that front door and how my mom hugged him and the rest of the family crowded him, united in our pain.  With him there it finally felt like we had permission to mourn.

I have said that I can see my dad in the shadows in my life.  That I hear him in the quiet evenings when I'm writing, or when I see the red fall leaves in all their splendor.  I feel him when I'm at his cabin, early in the morning making french toast or late at night looking at the stars. Sometimes I hear his quiet laugh when I'm teaching. I can almost always hear him expressing appreciation for good food and good people when I'm seated at the table with my mom and siblings.

What I didn't realize until recently was that my dad didn't wait to come to me, to be a part of my life after his death.  I had thought I needed to wait to have him close to me again, that I couldn't feel his presence with me until months after his passing, but that wasn't true at all.  He was in the shadows of my life immediately after he died- instantaneously, in fact.  He was there that actual night helping me play poker, that next morning through a sign on our door and a neighbor sweeping our floor, two days later when my last family member made it home safely to be with us and we embraced in the hallway.  As soon as my dad left this earth he was with me.

I guess the most beautiful beauty of them all, then, is that he never left at all.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Quoth he, quoth I

Things I legitimately have to say to him:
+ Go back in the bathroom right now and flush the toilet.
+ Did you eat any vegetables?  I know you didn't.  You need to have some.  Please.
+ This is a serious conversation, Greg.  We need to talk without you doing that accent. Seriously, stop it.
+ Do you have any idea how much you've spent on the credit card this month?  You're spending way too much!
+ You can't just have soda and chocolate for dinner.
+ Will you play "Risk" with me?  Please?  I'll pay you.
+ Have you seen my keys?

Things he legitimately has to say to me:
+ Are you wearing your seat belt?
+ Please don't bring that coke in to the movie theaters in your purse.  You know that's against the rules.  I'll act like I don't know you if you do.
+What did I tell you about grabbing my butt in public?
+ I don't want you rolling down the window to scream at those people.  Seriously, Bonnie, don't.  Don't don- That's it, I'm putting the child lock on.
+ How fast are you driving?  Are you going the speed limit?  I don't believe you.  Slow down.
+ You're talking way too loud right now.  Everyone can hear you.
+ Have you seen my keys?

When it comes down to it we're just a couple of little kids trying to figure out how to be grown ups.  It ain't easy.

P.S.  Share the most insane thing your significant other has legitimately had to say to you or vice versa.  The best ones will be highlighted on the blog on Wednesday.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Weekend musings

For your weekend reading:
+ Monday marks four years since my dad unexpectedly left us.  Writing about the experience has been absolutely necessary for me in understanding, accepting, and healing.  You can read some of these posts here and here   These posts helped me in different ways, but my favorite one to write was probably this one about my dad and cherry coke.
+ On a lighter note, this was one of my favorite activities I did with my students last year.
+ I can't resist free stuff.
+ I am the worst decorator ever- like burnt orange with lime green bad.
+ This post on blogs going "stale" has been fantastic food for thought for me.  Kenya hits it home!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Loyalty and a big wad of cash.

Lately I have been accused of being a fair weathered fan.

Psssh.  I just don't like to watch a team lose.  Does that make me fair weather?  Okay fine, then I am.  But in my defense, isn't everyone "fair weather" in the literal sense?  Does anyone spend all day outside when it's freezing cold? (Okay, snowboarders and skiers, you win.)  Like my brother once said, I'm just a fan of excellence.  And if a team isn't performing "excellently" then I don't necessarily think it's my duty to continue to show up to watch them lose.

Cue the Utah Jazz.

I've long been a jazz fan. (See here here and here.)  But this season I might be acting a bit fair weather.  To start with, I don't think the coach has any clue how to coach.  Secondly, the Jazz pretty much decided they were going to throw their season down the tube when they traded all their good players in hope for a good pick in the draft next year.  So they basically decided to suck this year.  I don't think I have to support that.

The result is that we started the NBA season off with a pathetic 0-8 record.  OH AND EIGHT.  We were the only team in the NBA to not have a win.  I watched the first five games in their entirety and then just up and quit.  The players weren't trying so why should I?  I have since devoted my time to things that make me happy like my puppy and bubble baths and sparkles.  Being a fair weather fan sure feels fine and dandy to me!

The problem is Greg.  He's the most loyal person I've ever met.  In terms of our marriage, it's awesome. No complaints!  In terms of our relationship with the Jazz, it is agonizingly painful.  He insists on watching every possible game.  Today when I came home from school, Greg was all up in my grill.  

"Let's go to a jazz game tomorrow!"  The boy had our weekend all figured out.  You see, he hasn't had a Friday night off from rehearsing or performing for months and he won't have another one off until January.  We must celebrate this free Friday night in style.  Jazz tickets for everyone!

I groaned.
"You really want to watch the jazz?  You know they're the worst in the NBA."
"Oh, come on Bon!  Show some loyalty for crying out loud!"
"Who are they playing?"
"The spurs."
"Yah, no way."  (The Jazz can't beat the Spurs even when the Jazz have a decent team, let alone this group of misfits we've got running the court this year.  Spurs are currently 8-1 and Jazz are 1-8.  Doesn't take a genius to figure out what the score on that one will be.)

Greg was offended.  "You really need to figure out your loyalties, Bon."
"I am loyal to good teams!  But what's the fun in watching them play terrible and lose by 30 points?  I am not required to support mediocrity!"
"Supporting a team isn't always fun, Bonnie.  Sometimes it's work, but it's worth it in the end." 

Sounds like a freaking marriage speech, doesn't it?  I told you.  Greg decides to be loyal to someone or something and he is full throttle pedal to the metal balls to the walls all the way do or die sickness and in health sunshine or rain until death do us part and I think I'm out of metaphors.

So that's where I'll be tomorrow night- if you're wondering.  Paying $20 to sit in nosebleed seats watching men who get paid 26 times what I do miss jump shots and free throws and turn over the ball.

In other news... it's group giveaway time!  I've changed the way I am doing the monthly giveaway.  In the past, sponsors have all given an individual prize- a candle or a $15 Target gift card or a pair of earrings.  Last week when I was out to dinner with some blogging buddies I figured a couple of things out.  My buddy Kelsey has won countless giveaways.  She let me in on a little secret and that is that winning group giveaways isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sometimes it's not even worth the hassle as sponsors send the gift card to the wrong address, strangely disappear, etc.  And sometimes, she said you just get sent stuff that you would never use- coffee cards for someone who doesn't drink coffee, necklaces that are broken, nail polish you would never wear.   And I thought, sheesh, all that hassle and sometimes the girls don't even like the prizes?  THEN WHAT IS ALL THIS HOOPLAH FOR?

Bing.  An idea was born:  pool all the gifts together for one grand prize and let the winner spend it how she wants.  I sat on that idea for a few days, decided I loved it, and then fully converted.  This is how I will be doing my group giveaways in the future, a wad of cash.  If a sponsor has a handmade business, she can of course give that prize instead, but this way it keeps the whole process a little cleaner.

So I present to you, November's giveaway!  180 big ones to be spent any way you want, sister.  Sponsors who contributed are listed below.  Mandatory entry is to follow Life of Bon on facebook and the rest is optional.  This month's sponsors are top notch so make sure to send them some love as they are all giving their own money and resources for this giveaway.  (Giveaway ends November 22.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dinner conversation

6:00.  Wednesday.
Our apartment.
It is dinner hour, the couple is seated and eating something that really doesn't look very good.  Bonnie cooked it.

Bonnie:  So I got a ticket today.

Greg:  What?  Bonnie are you serious?

Bonnie:  Yes.  I got pulled me over for an illegal left turn.

Greg:  Bon....

Bonnie:  I know, but it wasn't too bad because he didn't actually give me the ticket for that so it's not a moving violation.

Greg:  What'd you get a ticket for then?

Bonnie:  Not wearing my seat belt.

Greg:  Bonnie you weren't wearing your seat belt?!  How many times have I begged you to wear it?

Bonnie:  In my defen-

Greg:  No.  There is no defense.  You should always be wearing your seat belt.

Bonnie:  But I was literally pulling out of the school's parking lot.  I hadn't had time!

Greg:  I don't care.  You put it on before you start the car.

Bonnie:  Sheesh, stop being so dramatic.  Also you know I've gotten way better about wearing my seat belt, I wear it probably 90% of the time.  That stupid beeper in my car makes sure I put it on.

Greg:  Then why weren't you wearing it today?

Bonnie:  I had seriously just gotten in the car!  The beeper hadn't even gone yet.

Greg:  There's no way that's true.

Bonnie:  Okay, you're right.  It's not.  The beeper had gone off, but I really had only been in the car a minute.

Greg:  How much is the ticket?

Bonnie:  It's not bad at all, it's only like probably around $25.

Greg:  There's no way that's true.

Bonnie:  Dang it!  How do you know every time!

Greg:  Because you're a terrible liar.  So how much is it really?

Bonnie:  Forty bucks.

Greg:  For real?

Bonnie:  Yes, for real.

Greg:  So your only ticket is that $40 one, then?

Bonnie:  Well, I also got a ticket for no proof of insurance and no license on me but those can be erased if I just go down to the court and show them proof of both.

Greg: So it's three tickets?

Bonnie:  Technically, yes.  Although none of the tickets are for what I was pulled over for.

Greg:  I give up.

In summation, it's not easy to be married to a forgetful wreck of a driver like myself.  Also I really am not a compulsive liar, I just like to minimize damage if possible.  And I really am getting better with the seat belt thing.  Growing up, seat belts weren't really emphasized too much in my family, so I grew into a bad, bad habit of never wearing it.  I really am mostly better about wearing it now, (Greg's a seat belt Nazi.) it's just not automatic.  Also, the whole thing sounds quite comical written out, but the actual getting pulled over part was awful.  I started crying in front of the officer because it had just been one of those days already and because cops always make me frazzled.  Especially when he asks for license, registration and insurance and I have a copy of none of those in my car.

It's hard to be such a mess, really.

What I wore + what we did in class, November 2013

Picture #1:  Blouse: Gap Outlet (sold out), Skirt: Forever 21, Tights: Forever 21, Shoes: Forever Young, (not online, similar here.)
Picture #2:  Sweater: Chicnova, Pants: Wal-mart, Scarf: London, similar here. (When I went to London in 2011 I stalked up on scarves.)
Picture #3: Blouse: Forever 21, Scarf: London, Skirt: Eshatki, shoes: Gap Outlet.

A couple of notes on clothes:
* The sweater in the second picture is one of my very favorite sweaters this season.  It's sparkly and is perfect for fall and pre-Christmas.  You can find it here at a very reasonable price.
* The pants I am wearing in the second picture I found for $10 at Wal-mart in the spring. They are leggings/pants.  I bought a pair in black, white, gray, and yellow and they are absolutely my favorite pair of pants.
* I love the color of the skirt in picture #3 but the waistline is too high and the pockets are placed right at the hips so I always feel very large in it.  You've been warned.

And now, what we did!


We've been plowing through Hamlet the past couple of weeks.  Shakespeare is such a challenge and I do not wish it upon anyone.  Every year I start out with great ambitions to teach my senior classes two Shakespeare plays (So many great ones to choose from!  Macbeth! Othello! Hamlet! Taming of the Shrew!), but by the time I'm done with the first play I need a 6-12 month break from Shakespeare and teenagers so we never happen to get to the second one.  I love Shakespeare and I love teenagers but the two together are rough.  Seventeen year olds hate Shakespeare and it ain't hard to see why.  Half the words he uses we don't use anymore, half of the words he makes up himself.  So much of his writing is puns and metaphors and double meanings and it's just layers upon layers of text to dig through.  I think if I ever teach college I will absolutely thrive on teaching Shakespeare, but teaching it to regular Seniors is definitely a struggle.

That being said, I feel like all teens should leave high school with at least a few Shakespeare plays under their belt so I make sure to at least teach one for every year they are with me.  This year I am teaching Hamlet.  To make it more understandable for the tikes we have acted out a lot of the scenes.  I begged the drama teacher for access to the costume room and found a few hats and paraphernalia to dress up the parts.  The kids are pretty good about volunteering to read parts and although it's slow going, I do believe they are getting the gist of it.  A couple of especially juicy scenes I have had the students all act out in modern language and I also had them pantomime one of Hamlet's famous soliloquies- it was hilarious.  I have found that with high school students it's really amazing what they can do if you make them.

(All pictures of students are used with written permission from parent and student.)

My juniors just finished "reading" The Scarlet Letter.  The Scarlet Letter is a total beast and students typically hate it (Hawthorne- so wordy!  So many descriptions!) so to make it more manageable, I put the students in groups and assign each groups two or three chapters to read and present to the class.  This way the kids get a taste of Hawthorne, but don't have to endure the entirety of the book.  I'm considering scrapping Scarlet Letter all the way next year.  I just don't know if it's worth the trouble.  This year I had the least success of the four years I have taught it this way and I wonder if it's just time to let the old dog die.  I am struggling a bit with my junior class.  In the past I have taught either three or four classes of juniors and it has been my favorite grade to teach.  This year I am only teaching one class so I feel like I can hardly even get my crap figured out before the class is over and my only shot at the lesson is gone.  I tried to get my kids to discuss some of the big issues in the book like "who decides if something is right or wrong," "how does our society alienate groups or people" and "what kind of prejudice do you see then that relates to now."  They only kind of took the bait.

AP Literature:  This class was the toughest for me at the beginning of the year, but I find myself enjoying it the most now, mainly because the curriculum is so free and open.  Obviously I am supposed to be preparing them for the test in May but how I want to do that is totally up to me.  I wish I were given that freedom with my regular classes- "Here's the goal- do whatever you want to get there."  My AP students are still quiet and reserved and often times I will get better discussions from my regular students just because of the number of kids and the different personalities.  But my AP kids are silent geniuses (all eight of them!) and I find myself oddly attaching to them, quietly and slowly.  There are absolute no discipline problems.  (No tardies! No cell phones! No late work!) and they always have their homework in on the day it's due even when I forget to remind them.  Sheesh!  Sign me up for straight AP classes!

They just finished reading Hamlet and for their final test I am making them act out a scene.  The scene has to be 8-10 minutes and has to have exact lines from the play.  I'm even hardcore enough that I am making them memorize their lines from the scene and practice with costumes, a set, the whole shebang.  They have been practicing the last three class periods.  Today it was so cute to see them rehearse- they had all come with their lines memorized and were blocking and acting and quoting Shakespeare and I tried to not look too stupidly proud of them.  Final performances are on Thursday.  I can hardly wait.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Shakespeare, you dirty dog!

Today was a really good day at school.  We're reading Hamlet in my senior classes and before we ever started the play I promised that as we read I would do my best to help those rascally little perverts find every dirty hidden meaning possible.  The looked up to me with those big brown eyes, "Do you mean it, Teacher?  Will you really show us the dirty stuff?"  I crossed my heart and hoped to die and vowed right then and there to to point out to them every sexual innuendo I could find because, well, seventeen year olds.  They can't get enough of it and sometimes a teacher must resort to desperate measures to get her kids to pay a lick of attention.  As promised, I have faithfully pointed out all sexual innuendo and my reward has been a class that is very very engaged.  Suddenly they can't get enough of old Billy Shakes.  Ah, teenagers.  They ain't too hard to figure out.

(Also, on a separate but related note, I always love it when parents tell me that they are so grateful I teach clean literature like Shakespeare instead of all the "dirt" and "garbage" that is produced nowadays.  That is when I truly know they know nothing about Shakespeare.)

In other news, my pup is really growing up! It's the craziest thing.  (I've never been responsible for any living thing besides me before, so bear with me while I tell all of you folks who are likely responsible for several tiny humans what it's like to be in charge of a 2 pound dog.  I'm sure you have no idea what responsibility is or anything.) He's twice as big as he was a month ago and it breaks my heart a little to see how fast he is growing.  He answers to his name now. (Ish.)  I used to have to carry him down the stairs because he was too scared to go on his own and now he just charges right down them like a man on a mission.  I know it's dumb, but freak, it kind of pains my heart a little bit to see him descend those stairs by himself.  He's growing faster than I want him to which begs the question, how in the world do people ever let their babies go to kindergarten?

In other news, I've got a lot of reading to get done tonight.  I am finishing John Green's Looking for Alaska and I really need to get reading A Thousand Splendid Suns for this month's blog book club.  Remember, if you aren't reading yet to grab a copy and start now.  I promise you will be glad you did.

Taking over for the rest of the day is Kate.  She's also got a husband and a dog so she's kind of like to me except for she lives in Virginia and likes to drink wine while she dances around her kitchen which I have never done but imagine I would be pretty dang good at.  You're up, Kate!

Hello, fellow Life of Bon readers! My name is Kate and I blog over at Thoroughly Modern. During the day I run the 4-H program for my county here in the beautiful commonwealth of Virginia, and at night I try to be the best wife and puppy mother east of the Mississippi.

* photo b074a6b7-1340-453a-b5d3-2c35d59adee8_zps27caaf61.jpg/
Family selfie session!
 In short, I'm just your average, twenty something brunette who also happens to be a big ol' scaredy cat procrastinator.

That's right. You heard me--PROCRASTINATOR.

Maybe this is just me, but when I was in college it was kind of cool to roll your eyes, sigh, and talk about how you're such a procrastinator. I would be up until 3am, playing John Mayer on repeat until I couldn't take it anymore, and then I'd get up early to finish and print off that 8 page paper with only 15 minutes left to jump in my car and head to class.

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Birthday cakes: A typical result of my procrastination in college.
These days, even though I'm a grown-up with a grown-up job, I still procrastinate like it's the only thing I know. Some may view procrastination as laziness, or a result of ADHD, but I know there are two big forces behind my procrastination: fear and self doubt.

Looking back, there was always fear involved--fear of failure, or the fear of creating work that was not up to standard. I also couldn't help but doubt myself. The truth is, when I have these big, important projects coming up, I slowly start to doubt that I am capable of creating high quality work that is completely my own. All that negativity just creeps in and settles in my soul and brings me down. It reaches the point where all I want to do is avoid it, so instead of doing what needs to be done, I'll play candy crush, or read a book, or even go do laundry, because I just don't want to face the fear that I will never be good enough for the standards I've set for myself.

Pretty heavy stuff for a Tuesday, amiright?!? As you can imagine, I procrastinated writing this post. Yes, I did have quite a bit going on with work and family these past few weeks, but once again I was scared. I put too much pressure on myself trying to come up with a unique, eye-catching guest post, and before I knew it I was at my deadline and I needed SOMETHING.

Luckily, this post came out of my procrastination, and it has been cathartic being able to realize the origins of this nasty habit. Will I keep procrastinating after this moment? Absolutely. But I hope I will be slightly more aware of what's keeping me from doing the task at hand, and I will push through that fear and self doubt and start building up my confidence. Not that I'm biased or anything, but I've got a pretty swell husband who has always believed in me, even when I don't believe in myself.

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We don't look this shiny in real life. Three cheers for professional photographers!
Thanks for taking the time to sit through this little therapy session! When I'm not attempting to reach self-actualization through my blog posts, I also write about pop culture, retail therapy, and my love of carbs and music. Come join me at Bloglovin, and you're also welcome to stalk me on ALL the social media: Facebook, the Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Have a beautiful day!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tribute time! I nominate the ten year old!

The above picture has been pre approved by my mom.  When I asked if we could get a pic tonight she immediately demanded to know if it was "for the blog" and when I said there was a good chance it would hit the blog she then determined we must take it with a good background.  Just standing by the couch wasn't going to do.  "Take it by these Halloween decorations!" she insisted.  Because there's nothing like Halloween decorations on November 11 to really highlight a dang good picture.  After the picture was taken my mom wanted to preview the picture just to make sure it was up to Debi Blackburn standards.  "Well, my eye's a little freaky, but I guess it'll work..." she relented.  The picture passed.

All this hooplah about a picture is because tonight we celebrated my mom's birthday.  Her actual birthday is tomorrow (Monday) and of course, we'll celebrate Monday too, but if you can start the party a day early, why the heck not?!

One of my favorite things we do in my family for birthdays is "tributes."  It's almost my favorite part of birthdays- all my family members tell me why I'm awesome.  Generally people probably aren't as great about saying nice things to each other as they should be, so that's why tributes is a great excuse to tell people you love why you love and admire them.  Not to be confused with tributes from The Hunger Games.  No no.  That's something else entirely.

My nephews' tributes are always the best, especially Davey's.  That ten year old really knows how to hook you up with the truth.

The year I got married, "Bonnie's great, but mostly she's always with Greg so I don't really see her too much."  Note to self: I'm neglecting my family.

The next year:  "I love Bonnie because she knows all the jokes."  You hear that folks?  I know them all!  ALL the jokes!  My coolness raising in Davey's eyes.

His tribute to my mom this year:  "I love Nana for a lot of reasons, but the main reason is that she is usually the one who makes the dessert."  AMEN!

(Also while we're on the subject of my nieces and nephews I have to tell you the most hilarious thing my three year old niece said to me last week when I was babysitting her.  I was wearing bright pink lipstick and she asked me why it was so bright.  I replied, "I like to wear bright lipstick sometimes- do you like it?"  "Yah... but it's a little bit ugly."  She answered deadpan.  Leave it to a kid to give it to you straight!)

Lots of nice things were said about my mom because my mom really is about as great as they come.  The general theme seemed to be, though, how much we admired her for the work she put into relationships.  My mom never acts too busy to spend time with you.  She's got a million things on her plate, but you would never guess it because she never seems stressed or harried or like it's a burden to be with you.  She focuses on the individual and she makes people feel important and special.  My mom will ask question after question to every person she meets- she genuinely wants to know all about them.  She values her relationships more than anything and it is my hope than one day- maybe one day- I will be half as good as her at making people feel loved.