The Life of Bon: May 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

If you see a high school senior, please don't tell him you saw me

Today I literally ran out of my classroom when the last bell rung.  I'm supposed to stay in my room until 3:00, but I had a doctor's appointment to get to.  That and I didn't want those seniors to corner me.

Oh, the seniors!  The unbearable seniors!  They are three days out from graduation and they don't let you have a moment's rest.  They want to know if they hand in x assignment and y assignment and do z extra credit exactly how much will their grade raise and "Do you think I'm going to graduate?!?"  I have no idea, kid.  You might have wanted to plan a little more than three days out from graduation.

Now they're at the point where they're coming in whenever they please to ask me about their grades.  In the middle of fifth period, they stick their heads in the door, "Hey Mrs. Larsen, I was wondering if you've put that notebook in on my grade yet?"  Or they corner me on my way to lunch, "Hey the library says I didn't return my Othello book?"  I can't escape them!  That's why when it hit 2:25, I grabbed my bag with the rest of my eighth period students, turned off the light, locked my door, and bolted with the rest of them.  I blended right into the crowd and was down the stairs and out the doors before a single kid could make it to my classroom. I knew if even one student caught me then I'd be stuck and I'd be solving the problems of fourteen high school seniors before I could make it to my appointment.

I'll deal with them tomorrow.

And that's how a school teacher survives in May.  Straight up bolts out of the school.

May Book Club: The Light Between Oceans

I'm late! I'm late! I'm late for book club! (All book club details can be found here.)  I was supposed to have this post up last night.  Obviously I didn't.  Deciding to do an online book club the Thursday before graduation was probably the worst idea I ever had.  It's an absolute zoo at the high school, and it's all I can do to keep my head about me, let alone finish and reflect on a book.  But I did it!  I finished the book this morning and here I am, ready to review it!

 (If you link up I'd love you to slap this image on your post somewhere.  Please and thank you!)

2014 Book Club Schedule:

January: The Husband's Secret by Liane Mortiary (January 30)  Discussion here.
February:  I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (February 27) Discussion here.
March: Divergent by Veronica Roth (March 27) Discussion here.
April:  Night Circus by Eric Morgenstern (April 24) Discussion here.
May:  The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (May 29)
June:  Matilda by Roald Dahl (June 26)
July:  In Cold Blood  by Truman Capote (July 24)
August:  Brain on Fire:  My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan (August 28)
September:  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (September 25)
October:  Z by Therese Ann Fowler (October 23)
November:  Wonder by R.J. Palacio (November 20)
December: My Story by Elizabeth Smart (December 30)

You are welcome to answer any or all of these questions.  (Or none of them.  Do whatever you want, people.  I'm not your English teacher!)  I've decided to limit questions for the book to five questions each month- that way it can get our brains moving without being too overwhelming or burdensome.  I answer some of the questions below, not all of them, and I jump around and do whatever I please.  Feel free to follow suit.

+ Who would you consider the protagonist of the story- Isabel or Tom?  Why?  Who was your favorite character?

+ How did you feel about the end of the book?
+ Did you like the writing style?  Why or why not?
+ What are the strengths and weaknesses of Isabel's and Tom's relationship?

+ What would you have done if you were Tom in that situation?  Do you agree with the way he handled the situation?  How did you feel about him trying to take all the blame to save Isabel?

Finally!  A book club book that I actually really liked!  When I set the book down this morning, I felt the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that you get after finishing a truly great book.  You know, like I had been improved somehow for the reading of the book.  I was pretty worried after I didn't particularly like our choices for January- April, but you know what they say, fifth time's the charm!

I loved everything about Tom's character.  I think in some ways he reminds me of Greg, which was why I attached so much to him.  I like that he was a bit more reserved, that he was morally straight to a tee, but that he loved everything about Isabel that was so different from him.  I loved that he loved her fearlessness and sense of adventure even if he didn't have it himself.

When Isabel begged him to keep the baby, I didn't agree with Tom's decision, but I could understand why he was doing that.  I loved how Stedman showed that conflict that he underwent... that he wanted to do the "right thing", but that the "right thing" got so blurry when he had a grieving wife who had so much love to give and when all he wanted to do was make her happy.  I loved the way Stedman showed that conflict.  I also really liked that there were certain elements in Tom's past that were kept a secret to us.  Stedman alluded to the war often and to his family and how those two things had affected him, but I never felt like I had a really good grasp of everything Tom had been through.  Even by the end of the book, I didn't full understand him as a character, and I liked that.

Isabel was a bit harder for me to love because she was so flawed.  To be honest, she probably reminded me a little too much of myself to be entirely comfortable with her.  I felt that she was incredibly selfish in asking Tom to keep the baby- mostly because she knew that Tom wouldn't be able to say no and so in that way I felt like she was purposefully manipulative.  After the baby was discovered, Isabel drove me CRAZY the way it took her so long to come clean that it had been her idea to keep the baby and not Tom's.  I couldn't believe how selfish she was being in allowing Tom to take the punishment and even feeling rationalized a little bit for being angry with Tom.  Tom did the right thing and it was frustrating to me that she was blaming him for that.  I liked, though, that I felt all these things toward Isabel.  To me, that was Stedman's purpose- to be outraged and bothered by Isabel but for part of us to still understand at least a sliver of the reason why she did what she did.

THE ROMANCE  My favorite part of the book was the relationship between Isabel and Tom.  I especially liked that their relationship eventually trumped Isabel's relationship to Lucy.  I know how much Isabel wanted a child, but I've always felt like the most most important relationship in your life should always be to your spouse, and not to your children.  When Isabel was about to let Tom rot in jail for life in exchange for Lucy back, it broke my heart and I was going to throw the book at the wall if that was how the book ended.  The letter that Tom sent Isabel while he was jail was beautiful and so romantic.  My favorite lines-

"We each get a little turn at life, and if this ends up being how my turn went, it will still have been worth it.  My time should have been up years ago.  To have met you, when I thought life was over, and been loved by you- if I lived another hundred years I couldn't ask for better than that.  I've loved you the best I know how, which isn't saying much..."

"Perhaps when it comes to it, no one is just the worst thing they ever did.  All I can do is to ask God, and to ask you, to forgive me for the harm I've cause.  And to thank you for every day we spent together."

Yep.  Definitely cried when I read that part.

I think what I liked about this book so much is that it's somewhat in disguise.  You think the whole book is about a baby.  But it's really not.  The baby is such a small part of the story.  It's a love story.  It's about a man and a woman and how they get through the biggest challenge life can through at them.  I thought the book was going to be about the love of a mom and a baby, but instead it's the subtle story of the love between a husband and wife and I love it for that.

The writing style grew on me.  At first, I didn't love it and the descriptions of the lighthouse, the nature, etc, bored me.  The first 40 pages or so were very slow and I had a hard time powering through them.  (I always think it's a bad sign when I have to "power through" something that is supposed to be enjoyable to me.)  As soon as Tom and Isabel met, though, the book picked up significantly for me and the writing style actually grew on me.  Toward the end there were sentences I read and reread because of their beauty, the way they rolled off the page:

They sat silently, listening to the wind which came roaring up from the ocean, occasionally banishing a cloud long enough to let a shaft of sunlight slice through the glass and on to the carpet.

The best part of twenty tears flowed past like a quiet country river, deepening its path with time.

Years bleach away the sense of things until all that's left is a bone- white past, stripped of feeling and significance.

To me, the ending was very satisfactory.  I feel like I have been reading a lot of books and watching a lot of movies and TVs with very very flawed protagonists and unhappy endings.  I couldn't have handled this book if it ended with Isabel and Tom apart or Hannah without her baby that should have been hers.  I needed things to be "right" with this book, and they were.  I also appreciated that Stedman didn't have Isabel miraculously be able to have a child after they gave up Lucy.  I always feel like that's kind of a cop out when authors do that so I appreciate that Tom and Isabel had to live with the pain of being childless, but that they still had each other.

The scene where Tom is saying goodbye to Isabel when she is dying was probably the sweetest and saddest to me.  I don't know why exactly, but the idea of having that kind of love and relationship for years and years and to watch it slip away is sadder than anything else for me.  His "other half of the sky."

And lastly, I LOVED the ending paragraphs of the book.  Such a beautiful way to end it:

There are still more days to travel in this life.  And he knows that the man who makes the journey has been shaped by every day and every person along the way.  Scars are just another kind of memory.  Isabel is part of him, wherever she is, just like the war and the light and the ocean.  Soon enough the days will close over their lives, the grass will grow over their graves, until their story is just an unvisited headstone.

He watches the ocean surrender to night, knowing that the light will reappear.

Now you add your two cents!  Comment below or link up your post!  I can't wait to hear your thoughts and I will be replying to all comments on this post.  Next month we are reading Matilda by Roald Dahl.  Join in!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

28 things no 20 something year old wants to hear

Every once in a while my brain goes totally dead with this blog.  I can't think of a single clever or funny thing to say.  That's usually when I email Taylor and beg her to send some inspiration or motivation or some kind of -ation my way.  She never disappoints.

When things get really rough I beg Taylor to write a post with me.  As if I can live parasitically off of her wit and humor.  She always says yes because she's nice like that, and that's when we get a little bit of blog magic.  And so, Daily Tay and Life of Bon present to you...

1.  Did you see that your ex boyfriend got married?  His wife is smoking hot.

2.  Do you ever get tired of throwing so much money away on rent?

3.  Oh you are majoring in (insert semi-impractical-but-you-totally-love-it major here)?  What kind of a job are you going to get with that major?

4.  I always used to think of you as a little girl, you suddenly look so old to me... (Thanks, Grandma!)

5.  Are you the last of your friends who is still single?

6.  When are you going to get married?

7.  When are you going to start having kids?

8.  No one is going to buy the cow if you give the milk away for free.

9.  Oh, you’re single?  I know someone of the opposite gender who is also single.  I can set you up.

10. Don't you think it's time you find a "real job?"

11. You know, if you fixed yourself up a little more it’d be a lot easier to meet a guy.

12. Aren't you at the age when you should stop eating crap like that?

13. How much money do you make?

14. Did you go to school for the job you have?

15. Have you thought about putting any money into retirement?

16. Do you have a 401k?

17. You’re being kicked off your parents’ insurance.

18. What kind of benefits do you get?

19. Your credit card statement is late.

20. Are you where you thought you'd be in life right now?

21. You don’t even know what it means to love until you have a baby.

22. So… what do you do all day?

23. Is that still your same car from college?

24. Did you hear Laurie is buying a house?

25. Oh don't worry about it, no one stays skinny after high school!

26. Well, heavens knows that if Janet got married you can too!

27. How long do you plan on living in this apartment?

28. What are your investment plans for the future?

What did we leave off?  What is the one thing you absolutely hate to hear?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Did you barbecue and camp on Memorial Day?

Was your Memorial Day filled with barbecues and family and corn on the cob?

I hope so.

It's okay if it wasn't though.  I spent a lot of my Memorials Days working at Sizzler and feeling left out because I wasn't barbecuing and camping like the rest of the world.  Now I barbecue and camp and I kind of miss Sizzler.  Weird how that works.

We spent a little bit of time at the cemetery this afternoon.  Greg and I met up with my mom and my siblings and we left flowers for my dad.  I still can't visit my dad's grave without crying, but every time it's a little bit easier.

^^ I kind of love this picture.  There's technically only one person in it, but really there's three people.  Sometimes I wonder if my dad and my baby girl are hanging out right now.  Just spending a little bit of time together before she comes down to live with me for awhile.  It's one of my favorite things to think about.

And now it's back to school for me tomorrow for just this week and then two days next week.  It is going to be absolutely insane this week and I'm hitting the hay early to be ready for tomorrow's madness.  Stephanie is here to entertain you... she's smart, hilarious, and giving away alot of free loot!  You're up Stephanie!

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Hello out there to Bon's lovely readers!  My name is Stephanie Shar and I blog over at The Loudmouth Lifestyle.  My goal is to provide women with the inspiration and motivation to love themselves and live life to the fullest.  It's a pretty fun gig.  I currently live in sunny Los Angeles with the man of my dreams, and we're expecting a baby boy in September!

But enough about me.  Today, Bon is graciously allowing me to host a giveaway so that one of you can win a free item from my shop, Dress Loudly!  I sell pre-loved, secondhand goodies from my own closet.  Seeing as nothing fits anymore anyway, I decided to pass on my favorite items to other blogger babes!  I sell a variety of sizes, but they're mostly 6/8/10 and S/M/L.  If that doesn't tickle your fancy, you can choose to win my brand-new ebook instead!  It's called 7 Steps to Living Loudly.  Sound good?

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For your chance to win, all you need to do is hit up that Rafflecopter widget below.  I'll contact the random winner by email a week from today.  And if you'd like to read more about living a fabulously loud life, here are some of my favorite posts: how to feel more confident about your body, how to have a successful personal blog, how to keep blogging even when you're really busy, and how to find a budgeting system that works.  Hope to hear from you soon, and enjoy the giveaway! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 25, 2014

In Memorial: For Dad

Today is Memorial Day.  In the past four years, the day has taken on a bit of a different meaning for me.  We barbeque, yes, I get a day off of work, yes, but most of all, I think about my dad.

It is all at once dumbfounding and alarming how that much time has passed.  In November, it will be five years.  Wasn't it just yesterday he was video recording my sister and I laughing at the burger joint, just yesterday I was handing him nail clippers in his podiatry office, just yesterday I received long, detailed letters from him while I was serving a mission?

But it wasn't just yesterday.  In fact, by this point, it was thousands of yesterdays.

I always find it tricky to know what to say about my dad on this blog.  To know how to share that bit of my life with readers without it turning into a pity party or a sob fest.  To be vulnerable without making others uncomfortable.  I suppose I may say things that are too personal, but more than any other event, my dad's death has affected, shifted, alternated my life.  And so I suppose every year I will write this post that marks the numbers of years that have passed since he left us.  Because I love him and miss him and because so much about the way that I am is because of my dad.

In days that are especially difficult, when the pangs of missing are extra sharp, I think about what it would be like to see my dad again in this earth.  I'm not greedy- I wouldn't ask to have him back permanently.  But how about once a year?  How about a two hour lunch with my dad- a time to catch up, to feel how much he loves me, and to be daddy's little girl again?  What would I say to my dad if I could talk to him again, if I were to catch him up on everything about my life?

Dad- did you know I got married?  Of course you do.  I felt you there that day.  Did you know I'm a teacher?  Of course you do- I know how proud you are of how hard I work.  Did you know that I am writing regularly- and that hundreds of people read what I write?  I think you would be really proud of this.  Did you know that we all miss you so much even though sometimes we just don't talk about it because it's easier not to?  Did you know that last night mom and all your kids that could got together and Phil made your pizza recipe and we talked about the good old days and mom told us about when you two were dating?  Did you know that mom is so strong?  That she carries on and serves other and never feels sorry for herself.  I feel sorry for myself sometimes, but then I look to mom's example and remember that we have been so blessed.  Did you know that Mary is a missionary in Argentina and that all of your kids went on missions?  You left that legacy to us.  You always had that passion for sharing your beliefs, and did you know you passed it on to all of us?  Did you know that you have so many grandkids, and even two more on the way?  Did you know that a Mormon ran for president?  Did you know that we all carry a part of you, that all of your kids do things that they learned from you?  Did you know that we love you and miss you?

And yet, I suppose I could never really feel justified in asking for this.  I don't need a lunch date with my dad, because I already see him regularly.  My dad lives in the shadows of my life.  I see him, I feel him, I hear him oftentimes when I least expect it.  The times when I feel him closest to me are the times when I am doing the things he loved to do.  One morning in the summer I was staying at our cabin and woke up early to make french toast.  I was the only one awake and the sun was just beginning to shine its brilliant rays on us.  I stood there, in that kitchen my dad loved so much, where he laid the tile with his bear hands, feeling the early morning sunshine that he couldn't get enough of, and I felt him there with me, lurking in the shadows.

The other night I was watching a television program and the dog was sitting on my lap.  I needed to get a glass of water so I patted the couch next to me and said, "Hop off pop..."  telling the dog to hop off of me.  I was immediately taken aback.  Where had this phrase come from?  I hadn't heard it in years.  Memories surfaced of me as a little girl, sitting on my dad's lap to read the comics with him.  And when we were all done, and it was time for me to get off my dad's lap, he would always command me to "Hop off pop."  And here I was, years later with that phrase resurfacing to the forefront of my memory.  I couldn't help but smile and feel my dad close to me.

A couple of months ago, the heavens unleashed on us, and 8 inches of snow mercilessly dumped down.  I came home from school that Friday and noticed the driveway, covered in inches and inches of seemingly harmless snowflakes.  I thought, "Heck!  I can shovel this up for my mom, no problemo!"  I put some gloves on, whipped out the old, trusty shovel, and set to work. 

About three minutes in I was completely exhausted.  "Wow!  Shoveling inches and inches of snow is hard work!" I thought.  "How have I lived to be 26 years old and never know how bad this sucks?"  Instantly, I thought of my dad and the countless times I had seen him shoveling driveways, porches, patios, and walkways.  I remembered a huge snowstorm where my siblings and I rushed out to the back yard to make snow forts, snow angels, and snowball after snowball after snowball.  My dad shoveled while we played.  We made a snowman and he shoveled.  He engaged in a furious snowball fight.  He shoveled.  Long after we were exhausted and frozen and inside warming up ourselves with hot chocolate, my dad shoveled on.

How many thankless hours had he spent shoveling snow?  Or doing some other work to give me such comforts in life?  Weeding gardens or planting potatoes or clipping toenails or chopping firewood?  How many things had he sacrificed in his life to give his kids and wife the lives we now know?  How much money did he spend on us, how many tuition checks did he write, how many cars did he endlessly repair on account of his eight kids?  It was almost a revelation to me, that Friday afternoon, as I shoveled that driveway- my dad must have done so much to make my life comfortable that I will never be aware of.  That I will never be able to thank him for.  He gave everything for us.  It is difficult to explain how something as everyday as shoveling snow can become so sublime and even spiritual, but I felt my dad's presence there with my so strongly that afternoon, felt him in the shadows, shoveling with me, thanking me for helping my mom, and telling me he loved me.

And so, even though I yearn for that lunch date with my dad, long to have him here again making pizza for us, daydream about a conversation we might have, I will continue to thank God for putting my dad right where he is.  In the memories, in the family get togethers, and even in the snow.

In the shadows of my life.

For more posts on my dad and dealing with death go here, here, and here.

***Originally published on November 19, 2012.

Friday, May 23, 2014

How to choose a house and not sacrifice your marriage: A survival tale

My favorite swimsuit this summer is definitely THIS ONE from Leonisa.  I love the bold royal blue color and the bust is amazing for adjusting to any sized... well... bust.  It's not meant to be a maternity swimsuit, but I have been amazed how it has easily accommodated my growing belly.  The other thing I love about the suit is the options for straps.  You can use the tie like I am wearing in these pictures, or you can hook straps on the sides and have it come up around your neck.  Make sure to check out Leonisa for other suits (For a smoking hot and affordable one piece suit I love this one), bras, and even menswear

On Wednesday, Greg and I picked out features for our townhome.  The place we are buying is being built right now, and we got in at exactly the right time to have some say in the features.  We get to choose our counter tops and wall colors!

How exciting!
How fun!
How absolutely terrifying!

Some things I care about.  Some things I don't.  Paint color?  Don't care.  Just not lime green.  Tile color in the bathroom?  Whatever floats your boat dude.  Carpet?  I'll take the regular.  (Also, there is no "regular" carpet.  There are 100s and 100s of options.  FOR CARPET.)   While I don't care about most things, the things I do care about, I care deeply about.  I was unwilling to give on the kitchen colors.  I dug my heels in and stamped my fist and refused to budge.  It was a lovely time for all of us.

I tried to not get too grumpy when the seller was showing us all our options and pushing upgrades on us.  Usually I get really mean when people are trying to convince me to spend money.  But I tried my darndest to not get stressed out.  (Because spending $200k has never stressed anyone out, right?)

I knew we might run into a few kinks and a few disagreements here and there, but guess what?  We agreed on absolutely nothing!  Nothing!  After an hour of trying to come to a decision on every important house option in the book, we pretty much probably kind of hated each other a little bit.  Agreeing on 100 decisions about appliances, counter tops, and colors will do that to the healthiest of couples. (Right?  RIGHT? The healthiest?!?)

I wanted white kitchen cabinets.  He wanted dark.
I wanted the cheap flooring.  He wanted the expensive stuff.
I wanted one toned paint.  He wanted two.

The single decision we could agree on was the size of our bathtub.  Big!  (Hot baths are the only thing that gets me through November- February in Utah.  It's a survival skill, people.)

But a big bathtub is a $3,000 upgrade.  Ouch.

Spending money stresses me out.  Really stresses me out.  I was born to be a miser.  If I could have my perfect world, it would be me in a cave, counting and hoarding money.  Never spending it.  Just counting, re counting and then maybe hiding it in a safe place so I could take it out tomorrow to count it again.  I'm like a freaking dog who always hides his favorite bones- never uses them, but gets a terrific amount of joy out of just knowing they're there.

Greg doesn't have the same problem as I do.  If anything, he has the opposite problem.  That money burns a hot hole in his pocket until it is good and spent.  Two days is two days too long to have an extra $20 bill lying around.  And buyer's remorse?  You can forget about it for Greg.  It does not exist in his world.  (I'm so incredibly jealous, can you imagine the feeling of no regret after spending money?!?)  I swear, he could lose $50 in his jean pocket and never think about it again.  Never miss it.  (I know this for a fact because I often raid his pockets when doing the laundry and take all the cash I find.  He never asks about it.  I figure it's my payment for doing the laundry.)

Naturally, this has made for an interesting marriage.  He begs to spend our money, live a little, enjoy life.  I beg to save more, put money in retirement,  do activities that don't cost a cent.  In three years we have come a long ways toward meeting in the middle.  I can splurge on popcorn and a full priced movie once in a while, and he's getting better at just making a pb and j sandwich for lunch instead of stopping for fast food.  But it's a long process.  (Also, interesting fact about Greg:  He spends yes, but he doesn't make any big purchases ever.  His entire credit card bill is a series of  daily or twice daily $2 to $10 transactions at Maverick, Wendy's, Popeye's, etc.  Greg could go nowhere for a year but a gas station and a fast food joint and be the happiest man on the planet. It's kind of the cutest thing ever.)

Given our spending habits and backgrounds, you can imagine the trouble that Wednesday presented us.  Greg wanted to go with the nicer, more expensive options.  I wanted everything standard.  As low as we could go.  Greg said we'll be able to get more out of resale if we upgrade.  I said we'll have a lot more we have to recover if the price of the home keeps going up.

My must haves/ really wants:  (Because really, nothing is a "must have."  I kind of hate that phrase.)
- White cabinets
- Light countertops
- White tile backsplash in kitchen
- Big bathtub

Greg's must haves/ really wants:
- Hardwood floors
- Ceiling fan in bedroom
- Two toned paint
- Big bathtub

Notice- only one thing in common for our must haves. (Big bathtub ftw!)  We are two totally opposite people.  Sometimes I have no idea how we are in love.

Greg said he was fine with letting me choose the kitchen colors and going with the oh so important "backsplash" upgrade.  Tile on the wall is pretty pointless, yes, but he knew I really wanted it. (It's so purty!)  So I let him have the two toned paint.  (Which, I mean talk about a useless upgrade.  An extra $1500 for two colors in our house instead of one?  According to the pros though, it's UBER important in resale. I don't believe them, though.  Do you ever notice if a house is two toned paint?  I told Greg I'd just get one color and then go in myself and paint all the trim white before we moved in.  He laughed in my face and said there was no way I would be doing that at 8 1/2 months pregnant.  He might have a point, but you didn't hear it from me.)

The good thing is Greg said he could go without the $3000 fireplace upgrade.  I said I'd live without the $1,000 sink in the laundry room.

My kitchen inspiration.  Tell me it's not beautiful.

It was two hours of decision decision decision, upgrades I'd never even heard of that were suddenly of the utmost importance, and an extra $10,000 later we were signing a lot of papers and trying not to be sick.

But guess what?  Somehow we survived the two hour choosing process.  It wasn't easy.  I feared for our marriage.  But we did it!  

At the end of the meeting we walked out holding hands, and with all of our decisions in place.  I promise you, there is no way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks we would have been able to do that three years ago.  Look at us, growing up, getting mature, learning how to compromise!

I'd call it a victory for everyone! Me, Greg, and most definitely for the man who is getting all of our money.

And now who wants to come over for a big bowl of Top Ramen for dinner?  It's on me!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

To the graduating class of 2014: A bit of advice.

BYU graduation, 2010

It's graduation season, if you hadn't heard the news.

I heard on the radio this morning that Sandra Bullock gave a graduation speech at a high school in New Orleans this week.  The premise of the speech was this: If you could go back and tell your graduating self something, what would it be?

I really like what good old Sandy said.  Turns out she's got some great advice rolled up her sleeve.  She said:

Stop worrying so much.  We worry over stuff that will never happen and the stuff that does happen we never even thought to worry about.  You never remember any of the moments where you were worrying, so that is time you can never get back.

Nothing's a failure, it's just not supposed to work out that way.  Something better is supposed to work out.

Eat something green every day.

Don't pick your nose in public.

When someone you care about hugs you, hug them back.  With two arms.

If someone doesn't want to play with you, it's okay.  Not everyone is going to love you.  Find someone who does want to play with you and who appreciates what you have to offer

I love Sandra's advice.  I think it's spot on.  If someone asked me the same question, this is what advice I would add...

Put good energy out into the world and it will somehow find its way back to you.

Learn early on how to make good friends of your same gender.  You don't get to keep you group of guy friends after you get married, but girlfriends you can have until the day you die.  One of the most important skills you can develop is how to build and take care of relationships.  This will serve you your entire life.  (I always think it is somewhat troubling/ disturbing when a girl boasts that all of her friends are guys and that she gets along SOOOO much better with guys than girls.)

Don't ditch the important people in your life when you get married.  Remember, a lot of those relationships existed long before you even knew your spouse was alive.

Asking questions makes you appear smarter, not dumber.

Be happy for other people's successes and you'll have more success of your own.

The world doesn't owe you anything.  Stop expecting "payment" and you'll stop being disappointed.  Treat everything as a "bonus".  It makes you a much more grateful person.  (When I complained in high school that everyone else got to drive a car to school but me, my dad would always say, "Driving a car is a privilege, not a right."  I hated that saying at the time, but now I love it.  I think that same attitude should carry over into almost every facet of our lives.)

Give people the benefit of the doubt.

Make a serious effort to call people back, email people back, and text people back.  It's just polite.

What would you add to the list?  I'm so interested to hear your comments.  What is the best advice you have been given/ tried to live by/ one thing you wish you knew when you were graduating?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hey, May! Let's be done, ok?

I'm killing myself over here.

May just needs to be done already, don't you think?  I mean, May, it was awesome, we love you, you beat the hell out of January any day, but let's just call it a day, shall we?  (Or a month?)  I can't keep up with you.

Also, I'm sorry I said hell.

Do all school teachers feel this way?  Like they are in this mad, frantic dash to the finish line?  Essays to grade, final tests, capstone projects, seniors with 4% in your class who are begging for at least a D-, (No big deal... just 56% away... close enough, right?) arguments with parents who defend their children when they plagiarize assignments, (Yes this happened.  No I can't talk about it.)  And in the meantime there's an offer an a house (yippee!), a blog that needs maintaining, (I really love this blog!) a puppy that wants a walk, (so many walks!) and a pregnant girl who just wants a nap.

Me!  Me!  I'm the pregnant girl who wants a nap!

Pretty sure it's gonna be June by the time I get one, though.

It's 10:25 and I'm going to bed now!!!!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

One last thing...

Lately Greg and I have been making a lot of big decisions.  Huge decisions, actually.  Decisions that will alter the rest of our lives- that will carry effects and ramifications not only for a year or two, but for decades and lifetimes.

For the most part, we've made these decisions quickly.  Rashly, even.  Stupidly?

Last May we decided to NOT move to California to pursue acting for Greg.  We had been planning on this since we got married.  We decided in a period of about 36 hours that we weren't going to do it.

In June Greg told me he wanted to go off of birth control.  He told me that on a Friday, and by Sunday I had agreed.  A week later we were officially "off", and by November we were pregnant.

One day in October I saw a random listing for a red toy poodle.  I showed the picture to Greg.  Two hours later I was on my way to pick the little guy up.

Four weeks ago there was an opening at my school for a theater teaching position.  There was a whirlwind, a crazy tumult, screening interviews and second interviews, and before we dared even tell anyone about the interview, Greg had the job.  We said yes before we could even think twice.

This week we decided to add another quick decision on to the mix.

We made an offer on a house.

Our lease is up on our apartment on July 31.  We knew that with both of us with steady jobs close by there was no reason to keep renting.  Might as well throw some money down and make an investment, dig our heels in for the long haul, and start paying mortgage on a house.  You know, something bigger than one bedroom. A garage perhaps?  I mean, those kinds of digs still exist, right...

A fellow English teacher at my school does real estate, and she pulled a bunch of listings for us.  On Wednesday we looked at three townhomes.  We hated two and loved one.  And when I say loved, I mean loved. Head over heels, madly, crazily in love.   Couldn't take our eyes off of, wanted it bad kind of love.

The one we love was actually a model.  BUT.  The exact same town home is being built literally a block from where we live now.  We could stay in our neighborhood, stay within our same church community, and basically hand pick the features that we wanted for the townhome- countertops, tile,cabinets, etc.  There are four townhomes going up, two have already been sold before even being listed.  The two remaining townhomes would be listed on Friday.

I was leaving town Thursday and Friday- we couldn't afford to wait for the weekend to pass us by.  It was the exact location we wanted, we could get all the features we wanted, and it was the perfect size and price range for our little family.  If we waited until after the weekend, chances were good that the town home would be gone, gone, gone.

Greg and I looked at the property.  We thought about it for about an hour.  And then we made an offer.  Because.  I mean.  Why not?

There's a line from John Green's The Fault in our Stars that I really love.  Hazel describes how she falls in love with Gus, "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."  In a way I feel this way about mine and Greg's decision making.  In many ways it feels so sudden- so "all at once".  But really, it's not.  Really they've been decisions that have been in the making for months and even years.  Things that have been stirring around in the back of our minds, decisions that have been forming, emerging, developing.  And then when the time comes to make the decisions, we have made them the way you fall asleep- quickly and all at once.

There's something about this method of decision making that in some way is terrifying.  It is also incredibly liberating.  When you feel something is right, you just go with it.  You don't second guess yourself around every corner.  You don't worry and fret and stay up late at night wondering if you've made the wrong choice.  My mom likes to exhaust every possibility before she commits to anything.  I remember when I was engaged, my mom and I had found a reception hall that I really liked.  But we found it pretty early on, and it didn't seem like we had quite looked hard enough.  My mom insisted we see several more reception centers, just to make sure we had found the right one.  Even though she liked our choice, she couldn't commit until she had seen everything that was out there and had determined that she was making the very very best choice.

Sometimes I wonder if I should be more like this.  Should we have looked at more than three townhomes?  Should we have scoured the valley for the best deal, the best square footage, the very best location possible?  With enough work and time we maybe could have found something equal to what we were getting but $10,000 cheaper.  Or with a bigger backyard.  Or more bedrooms.

But we didn't keep looking, we made an offer on what we liked, and now we sit and wait for the whole thing to be final.

And it feels great.  And very grown up.

I guess that just about rounds up the year as far as big events for the Larsen clan.

Full time career.

Now.  If someone can just teach me how in the world a car seat works....

Sunday, May 18, 2014

I went to a special doctor.

Thursday morning Greg accompanied me to a long and chaotic doctor's appointment.  I was supposed to see a "specialist" because my baby is measuring too small.  Sometimes I swear I don't even know if I believe in half the stuff doctors say we need to do.  It seems like they're always changing their minds. First red wine was bad for us now it's good for us now it's bad again.  You know?  I'm not saying I blame doctors.  I don't expect them to know everything.  But I also think I should be able to use my discretion and follow or not follow a doctor's orders based on how I feel or think about a situation.

For example, our baby doc said a week ago that I am measuring two weeks too small and that my baby is measuring in the 4th percentile.  This could be because the placenta isn't doing its job right and babe's not getting the nutrients she needs. That's enough to send anyone on an insane freak out, right?  But the thing is, in my heart I knew everything was fine.  My period was irregular before I got pregnant so it could easily be that our due date is a little off.  I have been measuring "small" my entire pregnancy, but I've still been growing at a normal rate, just always a bit behind.  I feel great.  My blood sugar is normal, my fluids are normal.  I am a small person and Greg is no giant himself.  So my intuition told me I was just fine.  I didn't want to see a specialist, I didn't want another doctor's appointment, I just wanted to trust myself that everything was going to be just A-ok

But then I started second guessing myself.  What if there is a problem and I ignore it and cause serious complications for my baby?  Also, this is not only my child.  It is Greg's too, (so he claims... I have my doubts) and Greg wanted to get the wee one checked out.

So that's how I found myself in a hospital on Thursday morning.  We waited for half an hour in labor and delivery before the people figured out we were at the wrong place and sent us down to radiology. But first we had to "check in"- which basically meant get all my insurance info and make sure I can pay for my services.  We waited at least half an hour before they even had us sign in.  It was beyond frustrating.

By the time we went back to radiology, it was 10:00.  We signed in at the desk and then waited. And waited. And waited.  If Greg hadn't been sitting my side, I would have walked right out of the hospital.  It was just such chaos, and I felt like the whole thing was totally useless.  Even 2048 got pretty old by that point.

Finally, at 10:45, we were taken back.  An ultrasound technician came in, poked my baby something fierce, and then got the special doctor.  He came in, probed some more, and said baby is totally fine, she's in the 28th percentile and we have nothing to worry about and don't need to come back.  We're likely a bit off on my due date, and I may deliver later than I think.

And that was it.

I am definitely relieved that it is nothing major.  Thanks to all of you who left kind comments on my blog post last weekend, or who left sweet messages on my instagram post.  Ya'll are the best.  Everything's ok around these parts and the lesson of the day is next time I'm following my gut and not showing up for "special" doctor's appointments.  

Amen and amen.

I spent the rest of the weekend in St. George, where the sun is blistering and the pools are many. My mom, a few of my siblings, and some cousins were spending a long weekend there for no other reason than that it's spring and we like each other and why don't we all go do something fun in the nice weather?  Greg had shows every night and a matinee on Saturday so I left him on his lonesome (R.I.P. Greg! Or something!) and enjoyed two straight days of sun, pool, tennis, cards.  It was great!
My uncle told me that I am starting to look "a little pg" (because apparently we're not allowed to say pregnant around these parts) and I slept like a freaking baby in the softest bed around.  Enough of a vacation recap for you?

And now.  Pictures!

^^  Nothing makes you feel quite as sexy as carrying a big old belly and waddling around a pool in a swimsuit that you're busting out of.

 ^^We went to an indoor pool one day.  I'm still confused why we did this, but sometimes in a big group, you just go with the flow.  This is my mom, uncle, aunt, and sister.  I took four pictures and this was the best one I could get of them, believe it or not.  Sorry, Glen.

^^ Marissa on my left and Cami all the way on the right are also both having babies this summer.  Katie is not having a baby this summer, but she's still freaking awesome.

^^ I kind of love this picture of my mom and her brother, Glen.  They are two peas in a pod.

Night tennis!  One of my very favorite things about summer.  Praise the Lord, I think it's finally here.

^^ My brother and his wife who is ALSO having a baby this summer.  We're out of control.

^^My sister and her husband.  I thought they were pretty adorable both reading by the pool.

And that's a wrap.  I never take as many pictures as I should, but sometimes you're just enjoying the moment too much, you know?

Now it's back to school for me.  Nine more days of teaching, a buttload of essays to grade, graduation and then I'M A FREE WOMAN!  This is the time of year when I realize how absolutely great it is to be a teacher.

Friday, May 16, 2014

I ain't got no time for a blog post

Sorry no post this morning.  After days of chaos, it's time to play just a little bit.  Don't mind if I do.

Some internet things to keep you busy this weekend:
14 cures for writing block
On jealousy and resentment.
A book you HAVE to read this summer.
This post about different kind of mothers from Natalie Jean was a total favorite for me.  Girl nailed it on the head.
I spent way too much looking at designs for these bad boys this week.  Which one is your favorite?
Loved this post from Talisha about getting older.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

When it comes to the mornings, I don't do anything the hard way

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Nestle, but all opinions are my own. #pmedia  #BreakfastEssentials 

Confession:  For the last three years I have had nothing to eat for breakfast but Carnation Breakfast Essentials.

Or, as we affectionately call it around here, "Instant B."

As in, "Is there any more Instant B left?"
"Will you make me an Instant B?"
"Did you have an Instant B this morning?"

We're pretty much addicted.  (Random fact:  When we went to Hawaii a year ago our hotel had a mini fridge.  We put milk in it, bought ourselves a package of Instant Breakfast, and boom, we were set for breakfast for the week.)

Greg converted me to Instant Breakfast  (which I didn't know until I did this post is officially known as Carnation Breakfast Essentials.  Before I married him, I had whatever random crap I could find for breakfast.  An old apple. A frozen waffle.  A left over diet coke and half a piece of bread. You see, I have to be to work at the disgusting hour of 7 am every morning.  I sleep until 6:30.  That means I have exactly 15 minutes to get ready in the morning and exactly 15 minutes to drive to work.  It doesn't leave much time for me to sit down and enjoy a nice breakfast. (My motto has always been that in order of morning importance, sleep always trumps food.)  That's why in college and my first year of teaching, it was whatever food was easy to grab with me and run.

Now, I've fully converted to Carnation Breakfast Essentials.  It is easy and convenient AND I'm still getting the nutrients and vitamins that I need for the morning.  I drink my Insta B in the morning and I don't have to worry or think about food for another four hours.  It has gotten me through many a first period class, I tell you that, and it is MUCH healthier for me than a bowl of sugary cereal or a diet coke, my old go to.

When I am in a dead rush, my Instant B breakfast consists of me pouring milk in a cup and adding the powder.  Usually, I just throw the little package in my purse and dart off the door with a cup of milk in hand.  (I have sat in the back of many faculty meetings, stirring up my little cup of instant breakfast.)  Even when this is all I can do, it's still delicious and filling.  It doesn't have the weird after taste that a lot of protein shakes do.  It seriously tastes just like chocolate milk.  (Also, I LOVE the strawberry variety.  Less stores carry it and it's harder to find, but when you do see it on the shelves, snatch up a couple of boxes.  It is heavenly!)

When I have three extra minutes, I like to make an instant breakfast smoothie.  It is almost just as easy, but offers a little more substance.  My go to smoothie is easy as can be and gives me a little extra protein and fruit for the morning.  You want me to show you how to make it?  Alright, fine, you talked me in to it.  I'm warning you though, I'm a gourmet chef, and this recipe is really complicated...

 Ingredients= Milk + ice + banana + peanut butter + instant breakfast.  It is alarmingly easy.  I promise you, when it comes to food in the morning, I don't do anything the hard way.

I use a nice, fat spoonful of peanut butter and about half a glass of milk. (I know, I know, my measuring abilities are insane!)  To make it thicker and colder, I like to use a frozen banana, but if I haven't been quite on the ball enough to freeze bananas ahead of time. it's just as good to use a fresh banana. (Also, I've made the mistake of putting a whole banana in before and then the banana just takes over the whole dang smoothie. Stick to half a banana if you know what's good for you.)

Ta da!

Don't be deceived.  I never relax and enjoy my breakfast like this.  It's always in the car, at a faculty meeting, or in my classroom before first period starts.  But this is how it looks on Saturday morning, at least!

If you want more recipes for your Carnation Breakfast Essentials, click here.  So many great recipes to make breakfast that much easier.

Oh, and right now you can get $1 off with this coupon at Walmart.  (Also, I have bought this product at every grocery store imaginable, and I can promise you, it's cheapest at Walmart.  Take it from me!)

And don't forget to like Carnation Breakfast Essentials on facebook.  Boo yah!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Being an adult

May 13, 2014
9:28 p.m.
Pictures from right now.
Right this second.
At my apartment.

I'm home alone tonight.  Greg is performing a show (Peter Pan at Hale Center Theatre in Orem- see it!) and Maverick is out for the count, so I'm home doing the nesting thing.  Our little redheaded furball had his manhood taken away today, and as a result he's as tired and calm as I've ever seen him.  He's incredibly playful by nature- always jumping up and down, greeting whoever walks in the door, begging you to throw a tennis ball for him.  It kind of breaks my heart to see him like this, just lying around, hardly able to move.  I suspect he's also mourning the fact that he will never be papa to any baby Mavericks.  Sorry, bud, it just wasn't meant to be.  We already have one procreating couple in this apartment- there's just not room for another.

I've grown to really enjoy my nights home alone.  When I first got married, I hated it.  I was used to the hustle and bustle of college life, of roommates, of something always going on.  Now I revel in the stillness.  I make myself a simple dinner, watch Jeopardy at 6:30, clean up the house a little bit, read, write on my blog, pet my puppy, take a bath.  Somewhere in the back of my head I know that this will come to a screeching halt soon- that there will be a little girl demanding my attention, forcing me to put the book down.  But still.  I'm optimistic enough to think that her presence will only enhance my nights home alone.  Me, baby girl, and Maverick.  Couldn't ask for anything more.

Maverick was so sweet this afternoon.  I came home from work and Greg had just brought him home from the vet.  He was so drugged up and could hardly move.  But he reacted to me, wagged his little tail, tried to get up.  I admit that it is crazy to me that a puppy like this knows who I am, gets excited when he sees me.  I can't believe I have the power to make an animal happy at my arrival- to try to stand up in the midst of his pain.  He cuddled close to me, resting his little body against my growing belly.  "Look, Bon," Greg said, "It's Maverick's and baby's first time cuddling."  Yes, indeed it was.

I have been a bit worried about this growing bump of mine the past few days.  Everyone tells me I'm small, and I know it is supposed to be a compliment, but it worries me.  The doctor said Monday that I am not growing like I should be.  That both baby and I are measuring small- too small.  He put us in a little bit of a panic when he said that the baby is in the 4th percentile for size.  I'm 29 1/2 weeks, but measuring closer to 27 1/2 weeks.  The main concern, he said, would be that she's not getting the nutrients she needs from the placenta.  He added on that fluid levels are totally normal, heart beat for baby is normal, and heavens knows she moves all day every day.  If she's small it's probably because she exercises so dang much in there- I swear she thinks she's training for the Olympics.

Tomorrow we'll go to the hospital to Labor and Delivery and they'll do some tests and hopefully tell us that everything is fine and that the baby is indeed getting all the nutrients she needs, she's just little.  And she'll be fine.  I understand that doctors have to cover their own backs with stuff like this- have to run tests just to be safe even when the chances are 99% that you'll be just fine.  I hate the added stress though.  Greg started worrying like crazy- that's just his nature.  I kept telling him "Don't borrow trouble.  We're fine."  He said he didn't know that for certain, and I said he's right, but stressing for three days never helped anyone anywhere.

On top of all of this, we are house hunting.  Our lease on our apartment expires on July 31 and now that we're looking at staying here for at least the next five years, it doesn't make sense to rent anymore.  I've been a Nazi with our money (Greg absolutely loathes the word "budget" while I keep trying to force a strict one on him) the past few years and we've managed to save a good amount for a little down payment.  Hopefully we can get into a nice town home and we will once and for all know what it is like to live in a place that is larger than one bedroom.  Can you even imagine such luxury?!

I am feeling more adult than ever lately.  Sometimes it is a wonder to me that I am all grown up.  I've had a full time job for four years now, so I guess I'm used to that.  Still.  There are moments when I have to sit back in awe and just wonder at how I got from where I was to where I am.  When an 18 year old boy asks me if he can go to the bathroom.  When I wake up in the night to the sound of Greg's steady breathing beside me.  When I feel the weight of my round tummy.  When I get a call from an agent saying my car insurance payment is due.  When a parent comes to me in tears telling me of her child's drug addiction and I feebly try to comfort her.  How can it be that I am already an adult?

I guess, when it comes down to it, I feel pretty blessed.  There are ups and down and jolts and turns that you never see coming, but at the end of the day, being an adult ain't half bad.