The Life of Bon: December 2014

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Let's talk about books, baby!

Every year my goal is to read 50 books.  I don't think I've ever hit that- the closest I ever got was in the low 40s.  This year I read 26.  One day I will hit the 50, one day!  

Here's the books I read in 2014- what I liked, what I hated, and what you definitely need to put on your to-read list for the coming year!

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
Nurture Shock by PO Bronson and Ashley Merryman (nonfiction)
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (nonfiction)
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand (nonfiction)
Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman (nonfiction)
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
And Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
The Things they Carried by Tim O'Brien (nonfiction)
Babywise by Gary Ezzo (nonfiction)
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth (nonfiction)
My Story by Elizabeth Smart (nonfiction)
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (nonfiction)
You Before Me by Jojo Moyes
Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan (nonfiction)
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Breaking Night by Liz Murray (nonfiction)
MWF seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche (nonfiction)
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Ann Fowler
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

Favorite Books of 2014:  
Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  The story of a fifth grader with a horrible facial deformity who goes to public school for the first time and endures the bullying, but also the kindness, of his peers.  This one kind of snuck up on me- I wanted to not like it but it wouldn't let me- just an incredible story about kindness and acceptance.

Z: The Story of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Ann Fowler.  I don't feel like this book was incredibly well written, but I loved the insights into F. Scott Fitzgerald's marriage.  He was consumed (dare I say plagued?) by the desire to be a "great artist."  He was never satisfied with his work and never happy which ultimately brought about the destruction of himself, his work, and his family.

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand.  This was an accidental read- it was on my sister's book shelf while I was visiting her in Germany so I picked it up and carried it around Europe with me.  I was shocked by how much I enjoyed reading about horses which is a huge compliment to Hillenbrand's writing.  (Laura Hillenbrand is also the author of Unbroken.)  Her attention to detail in her story telling is unsurpassed.  I didn't love this movie, but the book absolutely drew me in.

Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman.  I read only a few "parenting books" this year- this one was by far my favorite.  It was mixed with real stories from Druckerman's life and explores why French parents seem so much more relaxed and in control than American parents.  The general idea is to give children as much freedom as possible within very set parameters.  Parents should always be the ones in control.  

My Story by Elizabeth Smart.  The full story of Elizabeth's nine months in kidnapping with Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee.  The book was admittedly pretty poorly written, but it was incredible to read everything she went through and how she survived.  I ended the book feeling uplifted and inspired by Elizabeth's ability to overcome and forgive.

Biggest disappointments:
Eleanor and Park (unlikable protagonist, nothing happens)
Night Circus (too many holes)
The Light Between Oceans (too slow)

Books I reread and didn't love as much the second time:
Jane Eyre

Books I reread and loved more:
Catcher in the Rye (May just be my favorite book of all time)
Their Eyes were Watching God (I caught so much more the second time around.)
The Things they Carried (I read this every year with my juniors- it never gets old.)
In Cold Blood (Much like Hillenbrand, Capote's attention to detail is really what makes the book so fascinating.)

Books I quit on:
MWF seeking BFF
City of Bones
In Praise of Stay at Home Moms

Book I hated that I knew I would hate:
Divergent  (I blame blog book club readers for making me read this one- I definitely never would have picked it up if it weren't voted on as a book for the year.)

Books that made me think the most:
Nurture Shock. (Praising children for how "smart" they are is actually harmful to their overall growth, instead they should be praised for their effort and work ethic.  Also, catching kids in lies and punishing them doesn't make them stop lying- it just makes them become better liars.)
Their Eyes were Watching God
Bringing up Bebe

Books I really enjoyed that I didn't expect to:
You Before Me

Books I'm excited to read in 2015:  
Yes, Please
My Accidental Jihad
Interpreter of Maladies (reread)
Waiting for Birdy
Cutting for Stone
All the Light We Cannot See
I am not a Serial Killer
Happier at Home


Add your thoughts!  What books did you love and hate this year?  What do I have to read in 2015?
(Also for those of you wondering about book club, we will vote for 2015's picks next week.  January's book is Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  It starts slow, but read it!  It's worth it!)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime

It's been over a week since I have come to this blog, and I have needed the space.  Sometimes I feel like this blog is alive- like it is a living, breathing entity that, like any living creature, requires attention and feeding and love.  But sometimes I don't much feel like feeding my blog.  Or loving my blog.  I kind of feel like starving it, actually.  Sometimes it is overbearing and obnoxious and I just need to take a little break before I kill it, you know?  It's like any good friendship- with a little bit of breathing room it can be healthy and beautiful, but with too much time together it turns toxic.  No?  Struggling too hard for a metaphor?

In any case, it felt good to have some blog space this past week.  So thank you for that.

Let's see, what have I been doing instead of blogging?  A whole lot of nothing.  Well, some might call it nothing.  I call it everything.  Sleeping in and reading books and staying in my jammies all day long.  Family and food and  lots of slobbery baby kisses.  I took bubble baths and played Mario Kart and did a puzzle with my MIL and SIL.  We went bowling, we went out to eat, we went to the movies.  We watched from our warm house as the snow gently covered our neighborhood in its white beauty and then buried ourselves under heavy blankets, grateful to be able to stay inside.

The best part of the break has been having so much time with Greg.  To be completely honest with you, these last few months have kind of beat us up a bit.  We were (and are!) so ecstatic for Greg to get a job at the same school as me, but a high school theater teaching gig is a very time consuming job.  Les Mis auditions, the show he directed, were the second day of school.  They rehearsed every day.  The last month before the show he had rehearsals on Saturdays, too.  By the time Les Mis closed the Monday  before Thanksgiving, Greg was already in the thick of rehearsals for another play, this one a play he will be acting in starting on New Year's Day.  We went from three hour Les Mis rehearsals every day after school to three hour Is He Dead? rehearsals every night.  All that on top of being a first year teacher.

It has taken its toll on us.  We've both been stretched to the max with our new roles.  Our lives did a complete 180 in a matter of months.  It's a good 180, but that doesn't mean that there haven't been some growing pains. All of a sudden we have felt so awfully grown up.  Buying a house and having a child and serious long term commitments will do that to you.  Greg has been busier than he has ever been before.  Some weeks I felt like the only time I saw him was in the faculty room at lunch.

This is not to complain.  We have been blessed beyond reason.  We have great jobs, a beautiful home, and a June Bug who we absolutely could not be crazier about.  But it's ok to be stressed when adjusting to a totally new life, even if the new life is awesome, right?

Which is why this break has been so great for us.  I have tried hard to soak up the moments together.  To be "mindful"- to think about what I'm thinking about.  To be present.  To be aware.  To enjoy this moment right this second.  This moment where Greg is trying to teach Agathe how to bowl.  This moment where we're snuggled on the couch watching Lord of the Rings.  This moment where June just blew out her diaper and now Greg is giving her a bath and giggling and cooing with her.

It has been exactly what I needed.

Life is good.  Hope you are enjoying this moment as much as I am.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

6 Ways to Have a Truly Miserable Holiday

We all know Christmas is like the most uber best of all the holidays, right?  A lot of people think they know how to do Christmas right, but only bloggers have truly mastered the art of having the best Christmas ever. Or so we think.  Truth is sometimes all the extra bells and whistles around the holidays can make even the strongest of women go into panic mode.  Trust me I know because one of my favorite Christmas traditions is the annual Christmas break down. (You can read about them here and here.)  If you want to be just like me and about dang near go crazy with stress every Christmas time, then I will show you the ropes!  I present to you, how to have a very merry truly miserable holiday!

1.  Check Instagram several times a day to see how much more everyone is enjoying their holiday than you. If you are feeling frustrated, stressed, lonely, or overwhelmed the best thing to do to have a miserable holiday is hop on social media to see all of the people who never feel those things!  Cute couples kissing in front of lights, perfect Santa sugar cookies, and a Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving are great at making cranky people feel even crankier.  No one's life is perfect but social media would have you believe otherwise.  After all, no matter how much you are enjoying your holiday someone else might be enjoying theirs more!  The audacity!

INSTEAD:  Check social media when you are in a good mood, not a bad mood.  When you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take time out for yourself, read, go for a walk, and hang out with your family.

2.  Say yes to everything.  Every holiday party, every extra project, every holiday tradition from your great grandpas brother's ex wife.  To be truly miserable, over commit yourself to lots of stuff, realize you just can't do it all, and then bail last minute on someone who was counting on you.  Then you've upset someone else AND you've made yourself feel sick with guilt.  The more "stuff " you do during the holiday, the less you can actually enjoy the holiday.

INSTEAD:  Allow yourself to say no. Explain  in advance why you can't make the event or do the thing and be honest in your reasoning.  People respect and understand when you are straightforward and kind with them, even if you are saying no.  When you flake last minute, however, people usually aren't so generous with their understanding.

3.  Beat yourself up for not having your kitchen clean enough, the groceries bought, the menus planned and the presents wrapped.  I did this on Saturday- unleashed the water works because no matter how hard I try I just can't get to all the house stuff.  And trust me, it was miserable!

INSTEAD:  Set the timer for 15 minutes every night before bed and do a general clean up then.  The house will stay so much cleaner.  Order pizza for dinner instead of slaving over a perfect roast and use the extra time to soak in the tub and relax.

4.  Worry about super important  non important things like if you have your holiday manicure or if you bought your perfect baby her perfect baby Christmas dress.  No Christmas dress this year?  We will all live.  No picture of kids sitting on Santa lap?  I bet he'll still drop off a present or two.

INSTEAD:  Make some hot chocolate and cuddle up with your kids or husband or friends and watch a Christmas movie.  That time will be much more enjoyable than the time racing around the mall trying to catch Christmas perfection.

5.  Get presents for EVERYONE.  This means cute little presents for all of your neighbors, the people in your church group, your book club, your co workers, the peeps in your gym class.  You can't forget anyone!   Drive yourself crazy trying to remember to gift every single person in your life is a guaranteed way to quickly chase away any cheery feelings you may have had.

INSTEAD:  Try to be more sensitive and aware of the people who are really needing an extra lift this holiday and give a present to them.

6.  Make sure your Christmas Cards get sent out.  I will admit that I love the Christmas Card tradition- I've got a bunch on my fridge right now and gosh it just makes me feel loved.  But I just can't seem to get mine out on time.  Every year I kind of sort of hate myself for not having it together enough to send out a bunch of Christmas cards, but this year I didn't even really seriously entertain the idea and I haven't missed the stress a bit.

INSTEAD:  Send your holiday cards during another less stressful time of year, like Fourth of July cards or Valentine's Day cards. (There ain't nothing going on in February!)  Not only will you not go crazy trying to get them out, but people will probably notice and appreciate more the random holiday card in the middle of July.

There you have it- how to have a truly miserable holiday!  I am now going to go cuddle my baby and take a hot bath- one way to definitely NOT have a miserable holiday.  I hope you do the same!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Book Club 2015- Time for Book Suggestions!

Welp, 2014 is wrapping up and you know what that mean- it's time to start thinking of 2015 books for Bon's Book Club.  Before we dive into 2015, though, let's recap what we read this year!

January: The Husband's Secret by Liane Mortiary. Discussion here.
February:  I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. Discussion here.
March: Divergent by Veronica Roth. Discussion here.
April:  Night Circus by Eric Morgenstern.  Discussion here.
May:  The Light Between Oceans. Discussion here.
June:  Matilda by Roald Dahl. Discussion here.
July:  In Cold Blood  by Truman Capote. Discussion here.
August:  Brain on Fire:  My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. Discussion here.
September:  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. Discussion here.
October:  Z by Therese Ann Fowler. Discussion here.

My favorite books of the year:  Z and In Cold Blood (Also, I am really enjoying Wonder which was November's book but has now been moved to January's book for 2015.)
Least favorite books of the year: Night Circus, Divergent, Eleanor and Park
Books I learned the most from: I am Malala and Brain on Fire

2014 got off to a really rough start for book club.  I did not enjoy the first four books, and I only really loved two of the books. My three favorite books that I read this year were not book club books. (Seabiscuit, Bringing up Bebe, and Me Before You). I am hoping 2015 brings in a better book crop!  So let's get to it, shall we? We've got twelve months ahead of us and there are books that need reading!

There are some things I really like about book club the way it is now and some things that I am going to try to change to make it better.  I love that the books are voted on and chosen in advance.  This year I am going to choose three and have you all vote for the rest.  We will have book club the THIRD THURSDAY of each month.

The biggest change for 2015 is that I am going to be asking for co-hosts for each month's book discussion.  That will mean that one of you will read the book, give questions for the book one week before the discussion, and post the main discussion on my blog as well as on your own blog.  I will add my two cents and respond to what you said in your discussion, but one of you will be the head honcho for the discussion. You will also be active with me in responding to comments in the discussion. I love book club so much, but I just can't keep up with reading the book, thinking of the questions, and leading the discussion every month.  This way lots of you will get a chance to be more involved, and hopefully it will send some traffic over to your blog and you can make new book/ blog friends.  Not a bad deal, huh?

One other small change- no December book!  It's just impossible. January and February's book of 2015 are already chosen because they are the books we were supposed to read in November and December- Wonder and My Story: The Elizabeth Smart Story.

So, what we need now is to decide on what books we are going to read for 2015.  We need books for March through November- nine books!  I will choose three and you will vote for the other six.  Throw your suggestions out in the comments on this post or you can also comment on facebook or twitter and those will be added into the mix too.  On Monday of next week we will vote.  Here are last year's finalists if you need help getting your book wheels turning. (Suggestions should be 400 pages or less and should be pg or pg-13ish in their content.)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Spelling Bee: High School Style

Let it be known that I do not think spelling is any indicator of how smart a person is.  I have known lots of very bright people who were also truly awful spellers.  It seems that, more than anything, spelling is an indicator of what type of learner someone is.  Visual learners logically are much more apt to remember what a word looks like than other types of learners.

That being said, I have seen lots and lots of creative spellings from my not- so- visual learners.  Nobody around here is going to win the spelling bee, that's for dang sure! Sometimes I have to stare and stare at a word just to figure out what those young folks are trying to say.  And then when I figure it out I just laugh because wowzers!  That word wasn't even close!  Here are some of my most creative spellings I've seen in the past few weeks.  Can you figure out the word?  (Answers at bottom of post.)













Tradject- tragic
Gratter- greater
Sertiant- certain
Desiell- diesel
Alouth- although
Boarring- boring
Innaproptirate- inappropriate
Gose- goes
Afended- offended
Scafle- scaffold
Jermerl- journal

I will end this post by saying that in fourth grade I missed the word "pyramid" in the second round of the spelling bee, and I cried for hours afterward.  Literally hours.  I had my little fourth grade heart set on winning that spelling bee and making my dad proud.  I am proud to say now, 18 years later, that it has had absolutely no effect on my happiness or success as an adult and my dad was still proud. Phew!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

State of the Union Address: Larsen Family

My crew waiting for me to watch a movie with them.

It's been three weeks since Agathe has been a part of our home and family, and it's been one heck of a ride! It's kind of crazy to think that 14 months ago our family was just Greg + Bonnie.  Now it's Greg + Bonnie + Maverick + June + Agathe.  Anyone else want to join the flock?  We're taking applications!  Must be able to cook and willing to take the garbage can out on Wednesday nights.

I'm sure you're all just dying to know how we are all faring.  Are we alive? Yes! Well?  Ish!  Happy?  Most definitely!  Here's the update, folks.

GREG: He was one Do You Hear the People Sing away from strangling 40 singing seventeen year olds three weeks ago, but we lived to see the end of Les Mis.  He survived, I survived, our marriage survived and THAT is a miracle unto itself.  Right before the play opened Greg got some nasty pneumonia/ flu/ bronchitis that has stuck around for seriously a month.  Twelve bottles of Nyquil, one Z pack, and an inhaler later he says he's feeling better! Modern medicine at its finest!  He's performing in Is He Dead? now at the Hale in West Valley that opens on New Years he is spending his nights rehearsing over there while I am left a lone woman in the garden of Eden.  Or, rather, a woman with a baby, a poodle, and a French teenager in the garden of Eden.  Now that he is in the thick of this show we are both kind of like, "What were we thinking when you auditioned for a play that starts rehearsing right after Les Mis and rehearses straight through Christmas?!?!?  WE ARE IDIOTS!"  But Greg has really enjoyed acting in a show again, and it always makes me so proud and happy to see him doing what he loves most.  He plays an Irishman in the show and does one mean Irish accent.  It'd make the coldest of women go weak in the knees.

AGATHE:  I dare say she's fitting right in with the family.  She's trying to teach me how to speak French (Bonjour! Merci!) but she says my accent is just atrocious to which I say how rude!  The first week or so we all just kind of stood around like "crap, what do we do now?" but now she's cuddled up on the couch watching The Mindy Project with me and yelling at Maverick to stop chewing his bone all over her.  Yep!  She fits right in!  Agathe is probably the world's chillest teenager.  Like sometimes all the time I forget she's 16 because she acts like she's 34 and seriously already has life all figured out.  Her only downfall is that she likes to watch shows like Selfie and Devious Housemaids on Hulu, but hey, she can't be perfect, right?!

JUNE:  There is no person cooler in this world than June.  Last night she did a lobster dance on the tables of Red Lobster and giggled all the way through it. Then she sat in Santa's lap on Friday like he was her own flesh and blood.  Saturday morning she had her first successful roll over and now she's just rolling all over the house like she owns the place!  To say we are crazy about her would be an understatement- Greg and I pretty much spend all of our free time just making googly eyes at June and waiting for her to do something insanely brilliant like drool or smile to which we clap enthusiastically and declare her the smartest baby in the world's history of babies!  In other words, we are totally normal parents.

MAVERICK:  He's the only one who's not totally sold on June yet, although I do think he has at least accepted her presence as something that is not going away.  Baby steps, Maverick, baby steps!  Maverick has got the digestive system of a horse- he eats everything in sight including but not limited to: diapers, licorice, diapers, bags of chips, diapers, Christmas ornaments, diapers, books, and DIAPERS.  You can always tell when he's eaten a diaper recently because 1) the diaper is in pieces all over the floor and 2) Maverick's poop is crystallized for a few days.  If there were any chance Maverick could die based on the stuff he eats, he would surely be dead by now.  Instead, he lives on, the immortal dog with the world's strongest stomach.  He drives me totally batty most of the time, but he's wedged his way into my heart.  Crystallized poop will do that to a person, you know.

ME:  My hair is falling out in clumps (five months post partum!) and I'm one bad hair day away from chopping it all off Halle Berry style.  My wallet is still missing, (Friday night consisted of a two hour crying fit where I tore the entire house upside down and inside out looking for the dang thing.  I now declare the wallet officially gone forever.  I have accepted the loss.  I'm moving on.) I racked up a hefty fine on my sister in law's library card, and I've still only written half of the thank you cards to people who were so generous and kind when June was born.  Most of the time I feel like I don't have a handle on life at all but then I look at the people who live in this home with me, my friends and family who share my life, the Christmas tree with its twinkly twinkle lights, and by golly, I couldn't ask for anything more.  Life is good.

Psssssst.  If you are interested in ordering scentsy products for the holidays 
get your order in by Wednesday to be guaranteed Christmas delivery.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sometimes people lose wallets

Yes, I dressed June and I alike.  She'll only let me do that for so long, you know.

This super chic leopard skirt is from Aubrey's shop, Skirts for Macy.  I adore it.  I now have my eye on the blue polka dot dress.   The skirts and dresses are handmade and totally affordable.  (The skirt that June is wearing is priced at $15).  AND Aubrey is offering 20% off to Life of Bon readers with the code BON20 so hurry up and order your baby's skirt for the holidays!

Now, for other important and yet very stressful matters. For how long do you let your wallet be “lost” before you finally surrender and call it gone forever?  Mine’s been missing since last Wednesday.  Every day I lose a little bit of hope that it can still be found.  But I haven’t given up all the way.  Yet.

Let's retrace my steps shall we? Last Wednesday was a work day for me, but I didn’t teach my classes because I had an all day teacher training.  I was in Greg’s car because he had to take my car with the carseat to take June to daycare.  On my way home from the training I stopped at Target.  At Target I bought three 12-packs of Dr. Pepper and one pound of ground beef.  I didn’t bring my whole diaper bag in because it was full of heavy junk I didn’t want to lug around. Instead I brought in only my wallet, my phone, and my keys.  I was alone.

I know I must have used a shopping cart because I had the three 12 packs and there’s no way I could carry those. I'm assuming I put my wallet in the cart as well.  While I was at the store Greg called and said June was hungry and please hurry home.  So I did. I must’ve still had my wallet when I checked out because I was able to pay.

When I got home, I brought in the ground beef but left the soda out in the car for Greg to bring in later.  I put the beef in the fridge and then went upstairs to feed June.  She was chilling with Greg in the bedroom.  I fed her and then we both took a nap on the bed.

That night I couldn’t find my wallet, but I didn't think much of it. I am constantly misplacing things, so I figured it would turn up.  

It didn’t turn up.

By now, nine days later, I have torn apart both cars and the house looking for the wallet.  I have called Target AND stopped by- just to play it extra safe.  No one has seen a turquoise wallet.

I’m tempted at this point to just accept defeat.  Cancel the credit cards, request new insurance cards, get a new license, etc, etc, etc.  BUT here’s the catch.  I check my credit cards every dang day and there hasn’t been a single charge on them.  So that means the wallet couldn’t have been stolen, right?  I mean, wouldn’t any thief use the cards first thing?  And besides my credit cards there is really nothing of value to a stranger in the wallet. (Maybe $7 in cash. Maybe.)  My driver’s license, some stamps, a $25 coupon to the gap.  (And I really do want all of those things back!) If said thief didn't have interest in the credit cards, what would he or she be interested in?

So do I quit and call it a wash- start the process of obtaining an all new everything wallet?  Or do I keep on persisting in a futile search for a vanished wallet?  (And if I do keep looking, WHERE?  What super obvious place am I missing?)

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

I'm not writing on my blog tonight

Instead I am writing my book.

I wrote 60,000 words of the book in third person.  Then I had people read it.  They told me my writing was blah, my narrator was boring, and the pace was at a deadly crawl.

So I switched to first person.  I wrote two chapters and had people read it.  (I learned from my mistake the first go around.  Don't write 100 pages before asking someone if it is working!)  They said my narrator was bratty, unlikable, judgmental.  Too much inner dialogue.

So now I'm starting from scratch for the third time, trying to pull a funny and strong character from out of my head somewhere.  If I can find this character's voice I can write the book.  Why is writing so hard?

Forgive me for the next-to-nothing post.

Also, ever since I decided to blog only 3-4 times a week, I feel like a tremendous weight has been lifted off of me.  I don't have to write a post if I don't want to and you can't make me!  Or I can write a short post like this and it's good enough, folks!

Oh, and this is the second day in a row I have blogged without including a picture in the post.  Do you think the blogging Gods will kick me out of the blogosphere? 

Monday, December 08, 2014

An inconvenience fee

I figured out what the one main problem in life is.

Everybody's always inconveniencing each other, you know?

I also figured out what the solution is to that one main problem in life.

Start charging an inconvenience fee.

Let me explain.  Most of the things that drive me absolutely bonkers about my job are nothing more than an inconvenience.

Students who hand their work in late.
Students who make you repeat instructions because they weren't listening.
Students who make you repeat the instructions because they were in the bathroom comforting their best friend who just broke up with her boyfriend.
Students who make you repeat the instructions in Spanish because they don't speak English.
Students who cheat on tests and copy papers off the internet.
Counselors who tell you last minute that they need ten minutes of your class to explain college day.
Administrators who change the bell schedule last minute and expect you to be flexible with your lesson.

These are all things that us teacher folk (and yes, grammar nazis out there, I am aware "us teacher folk" is not proper grammar, you don't need to waste your time leaving a comment or telling our gomi friends all about it) just LOVE to complain about.  We gather around and just yap and yap about how annoying all of these things are.  They are such inconveniences!

BUT.  What if we got paid for all of these inconveniences?

$.25 for every minute of class time I lose due to last minute announcements, assemblies, etc.?
$3 for every time I have to explain instructions again.
$1 for every day late an assignment is.
$.25 for every minute past 3:00 I have to stay so a kid can make up a test that he didn't take on test day because he sluffed class.

If we did this I wouldn't ever complain at all.  In fact, I'd kind of start looking forward to the inconveniences of my job.  If I'm getting paid, I mean, sure, I'll let you hand that paper in as late as you damn well please. 62 days late?  NO PROBLEM.

And how about out of the work place?  $5 for every time I get into Greg's car and have to fill it up.  $2 for every article of clothing I pick up off the floor. $20 every time I go grocery shopping. $7 for emptying the dishwasher.

Oh, and then there's my baby!  June would owe me a bunch of money by now!  $500 for getting my body sliced open so she could enter this world.  That was definitely inconvenient.  $4 for every diaper changed.  $2 for every time I clean up spit up.  $.25 for every minute of sleep I lose and $10 per nursing session.

And don't get me started on people who are late!  They should certainly  be charged for inconveniencing the people who are on time.  $1 for every minute I have to wait for you.  You can bet people would start showing up on time.  Myself included!

Ah, now I'm really getting the feel for this! $5 for cutting me off in traffic, $10 for not listening when I'm saying something important, $5 for farting or burping in my presence ($10 if it's in the car, $20 if it's in the bed), $25 for every load of laundry. $3 if you finish off the milk and don't tell anyone, $6 if you eat my treat I bought just for myself, $20 for every mean comment you leave on a stranger's blog.

See?  Inconveniences in life SOLVED.  I'm a freaking genius.

My Christmas meltdown came early. Yippee!

An example of Christmas insanity- we arrived at the Christmas party too late to get a picture with Santa.  I think June knew I was sad so she posed anyway without complaints.

Every Christmas I forget that Christmas season can be totally insane/ stressful/ make me want to crawl into a hole and never come out.  Then I feel guilty for being stressed.  Because crazy busy life during the holidays is a good crazy busy.  Family and holiday parties and lights and gifts!  Nothing wrong with any of those things!  But then they come all at the exact same time, and suddenly I'm stressed.  Because my family is having a party.  I mean, really?  Of all the things to be stressed about.

This year, my annual Christmas melt down came early.  It usually comes around the 20th of December.  This year it arrived on the 5th!  Hello, meltdown!  You're early, but okay, let's just get this out of the way, shall we?  My meltdown started gearing up the end of last week.  My sister was here for Thanksgiving visiting from Germany and my best friend was here this week from California.  I love having friends and family visit, but like my sister said, no one else is on vacation when she is visiting.  I try to make time to see people I really care about, but I still have to go to work/ go grocery shopping/ do laundry/ write blog posts/ feed baby.  So it gets crazy.  And when I only get to see my sister once a year I want to see her every day she is here.  And then trying to see her every day makes my life totally crazy, and it doesn't help that she's staying 20 minutes away.  What we need is a week where every person in the world is on vacation and everything just stops so we can all hang out with our family and friends.  Whaddya say?

To add to it all, Greg's been sick for three weeks. THREE WEEKS.  He took a full dosage of antibiotics and they did diddly squat for him.  Ladies and gentleman my husband is immune to medicine and that is not awesome.  He went back on Thursday for more medicine and they gave him some inhaler thing that is maybe kind of sort of helping. Question Mark.  When my husband is sick for two or three days I am very sweet and loving.  When it is two or three weeks, I go ape.  He can't help around the house, I can't pick up the slack, he's mad because I'm mean, I'm mad because he's sick and gosh it just ain't pretty.  AND, in the middle of this madness, Agathe moved in.  You'd think from what I just described that she would be running for the hills.  But she's not.  She's very sweet and pleasant and seems beyond grateful to be here so I guess that means she really had it bad at her other home!

With all of this craziness, it was pretty much inevitable that the Christmas breakdown would have an early arrival.  Do you know the steps of a breakdown?  They are as follows:

1)  Take on way more things than you can reasonably handle.
2)  Do none of those things well and feel like you are letting people down left and right.
3)  Start snapping at innocent people in your life because you just can't get everything done.
4) Burst into big ugly tears.
5) Retreat to bedroom and cry until you eventually fall asleep.
6) Wake up after two hour nap and feel a little bit better.
7) Realize you have to cut something out of your life if you are going to keep your sanity.  And your marriage.

Really, it's a very predictable process!

After my breakdown this week here's what I decided I need to change to have a healthy and happy Christmas season.

1) Blog 3-4 times a week instead of 5.  I just can't anymore.  In my blogging hey day I was a young newlywed with a husband who had rehearsals every night.  Blogging five times a week wasn't too hard because I had so much time to myself.  Now it is harder.  And that's okay because my life is full of very good things.  I still love my blog, but I just gotta cut back a little back.

2) Say no to the blogging "stuff".  Mostly this means saying no to giveaways and sponsored opportunities that I can't do well.  It might be time to be done with sponsors and ads from other blogs.  I used to feel like I was doing that well, and I don't anymore.

3)  Spend less time on social media.  It's a time sucker and I don't really get anything out of it.  When I nurse I spend WAY too much time on my phone and I would rather spend that time reading.  My goal is to get on insta/twitter/ facebook ONCE a day, not twelve times a day.

4) Stop buying stuff I have to return later.

5) Spend more time holding and cuddling and loving June.  She's about the only thing in this whole world who doesn't make me stressed out of my mind.  I think God knew I was crazy so he sent me the chillest, happiest baby ever.  It is awesome, but it also means He's got a little hellion up there waiting for me.

I leave you with a giveaway- likely the last giveaway I will put together for awhile.  $100 for Christmas shopping to one lucky reader.  Enter below.  All entries will be verified.  Winner will be chosen on Monday, December 15

Brought to you by: A Gray RainbowUncustomary Art, Sierra's View, XO Kerry and Bella the Blog

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Thursday, December 04, 2014 an opportunity to give back this Christmas

It took spending 18 months in Argentina for me to really understand how unevenly wealth and opportunities are distributed in this world.  One rainy afternoon we met a woman who told us that more than anything in the world she wanted to learn how to read.  She was 21, had two young children, and lived in a one bedroom hut. She had no formal education whatsoever. I will never know why some of us have been given so much while other have been given so little.  But I do know that there are great opportunities to give back. is a nonprofit organization that provides clean and affordable water to people in South Africa. I am happy to use this blog as a platform to support this great cause.  I have Caitlin here today, a WHOlives representative, to explain why WHOlives is important and how you can donate if you so desire.  I especially love that donating toward the wells allows African girls to go to school as it frees up their time.  

WHOlives is a nonprofit based in South Jordan, Utah. With innovative technology and effective systems, we are working hard to bring clean water to Africa.

WHOlives differs from other nonprofits in the cost. Approximately $4 can provide a child with clean water for ten years. Ten years! For the cost of your morning coffee, or a couple of diet cokes, you can truly change someone’s life.

The W.H.O. stands for water, health, and opportunity, as we believe these things are interconnected.  Providing clean water lowers the risk of many diseases, improving health.

In addition to vastly improved health, these wells provide other benefits as well. Girls are primarily responsible for gathering water, and they typically walk several miles each way to a water source every day. When a well is installed, this frees up an enormous amount of time for the girls, enabling them to attend school. We have found that in each village where a well is drilled, school attendance greatly increases, especially attendance among girls.

The wells also improve the economic health of the village. Several people will be employed to power the drill every day, providing jobs. The drill is also sustainable- villagers pay a small and manageable fee of approximately five to ten cents to use the well, ensuring that there is money to repair the drill or purchase new parts as well as pay the drill workers.

To deliver clean water, we use the Village Drill, a Brigham Young University engineering capstone project. The drill is used to create wells, and it is much more cost-effective to use the Village Drill than traditional well drills. Each well provides clean water to thousands of people.

If you’d like to donate to WHOlives, please see the link below. Remember, the donation does not need to be large to make a difference. Even a one-time of donation of $4 will change a life.

I was not compensated in any way by for promoting their non profit organization.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

I would rather die than be engaged again and other horrific tales

First things first!

THANK YOU for your kind comments on yesterday's post.  Even a week into the decision I still question it and wonder if we are doing the right thing for us and for Agathe.  Your reassuring and sweet comments helped me to feel peace.

I AM SORRY for not telling you all that I nixed book club for November and December.  My life just exploded and I couldn't keep up. I figured that most of you are probably in the same boat.  November we are supposed to read Wonder and December we are supposed to read the Elizabeth Smart story, so very cleverly titled My Story.  If it's alright with you, I'm just going to postpone both of those and they will be our first two reads of 2015- Wonder in January and My Story in February.  If it's not alright with you, you can send me a mean letter in the mail and I'll never read it because I've gone and lost my mail key. Ha!  Jokes on you!

IF YOU WANT TO ORDER some scentsy products for Christmas the last order day to be guaranteed Christmas delivery is December 18.  Let me know if you have any questions- they make such fantastic gifts.  I am convinced that heaven smells like "Eskimo Kiss" or maybe "Silver Bells".  If you live in Utah county let me know before you order, and I can get the shipping for free as long as you're willing to meet me somewhere to get your stuff.  Also, if ordering within the week, please order under the Tayler Party.  Grazi! Click here to check out all the goods.

Now, that we've gotten all of that out of the way, let's talk about getting engaged.  And what a truly horrific experience that is!

Because yesterday was Greg's and my four year engagiversary (How's that for an awesome word?!?) and because I have two good friends who got engaged over the weekend (Tis the season!), I thought I would share my thoughts (Because I always have so much to share!) and let you know about how horrific my engagement was (Mostly my own fault, not because of any person involved) and let others learn from my mistakes of being engaged (have you noticed how long this sentence is?) or let those who have already been engaged laugh in agreement  (And are you digging these paranthesis or what) or think I'm a freak for putting myself through utter hell during my engagement.


Sometimes I get carried away.

Here's a couple of excerpts from my journals as PROOF that I was not making this up.  Engagement is rough!

A journal entry from January 9, 2011: "I am a stressed out mess every time the wedding gets brought up. I seriously can not handle it."
Journal entry from February 9, 2011: "4 weeks and 2 days. Not that anyone's counting down. I swear I'm never getting married. The wait for something has never been so long in my life. I'm dying. Absolutely miserable. I can't handle the stress. The planning. The never ending details. Not seeing Greg every day. The sexual frustration. I would say that being engaged is on my top five list of worst experiences. Dating Greg was amazing. Being married to him is going to rock my word. The engagement, however, is like cruel and unusual punishment."

And now I present to you....

The most depressing post ever.



1.  Details, details, details!  I hate details!  I don't care how the flowers are arranged.  I couldn't care less what the table arrangements are.  Do we put the registration info on the invitation?  Or a separate insert?  Or not at all?  WHAT DO WE DO?!?!  Suddenly stuff I have never cared about before seemed so incredibly important and there were so many CRUCIAL decisions to be made. I wish I would have relaxed more.  I was so concerned about the stupidest details- the flowers, the invitations, and we can not have our reception in an LDS church cultural hall or I will die!  I mean, really.  How's that for stupid?  So much grief over decisions that two years later nobody cares about and nobody remembers.

2.  Not living with the person you are engaged to.  This one is different depending on your situation, but Greg and I didn't live together until we were married.  Meaning constant phone calls over wedding decisions, trying desperately to find time together with two hectic schedules, and not even being able to crawl into the same bed at night.  This one also leads to...

3.  Sexual frustration!  Us Mormons don't do the deed until we're married.  While I will be forever grateful for that decision  and may even write a whole post about why I made that choice and the positive effect it has had on my life... it makes for one hell of an engagement. (Sorry Mom for the curse word) (And sorry you are reading this paragraph.  That can't be fun for you.) Once you are committed to someone and you know they are the one it's pretty hard to keep your hands off of each other.  I don't think I would revisit those months of tension for anything in the world.

I always laugh at this picture because HELLO, can you not see the sexual tension written all over our faces?!?

4.  Limited time.  Greg and I were engaged for a mere 11 weeks.  (Because of  the torturous nature of the experience, I have often concluded that the engagement was 11 weeks too long.)  Due to #3, we wanted the engagement to be as fast as possible- every day dragging the engagement out was misery.  HOWEVER, the time crunch did present a problem.  Visiting a friend in Seattle over New Years, we stopped at a wedding dress store and when I asked about having the dress altered in time for my wedding in March, the sales clerk laughed in my face.  The earliest earliest EARLIEST they could have a dress fitted would be May.  Everything was more stressful because of the time crunch- decisions had to be made quickly, reception centers were booking up, the flowers needed to be ordered, etc., etc., ETC.!

5.  I was engaged for January, Feburary and March.  The deadest, ugliest months of the year.  The cold, the snow, the dark drive to work every morning... It all somehow made the engagement seem so much longer.  I am convinced that if I was engaged in the summer it would have floated on by like a dream.

6.  The dress.  For some reason I had an EXTREMELY specific type of dress I wanted.  I knew exactly how it was supposed to look.  And it was nowhere to be found.  I went to wedding dress store after wedding dress store after wedding dress store.  Not even trying on the first dress was fun for me- it was just pure stress.  Every gown brought out my incredibly middle of winter paleness or drowned me in lace or made me look flat or was too "Mormony".  After each dress I was more depressed than the one before.  Not to mention the prices.  Holy shizzle!  My mom was footing the bill (thanks again, mom!) but we're a conservative folk.  I refused to spend over $1000 on my dress and finding one exactly how I wanted for that cheap... not an easy task.  Even when I DID find the dress, I went in weeks later to try it on after adjustments and suddenly hated it.  All of those miserable details can be found here.  Looking back on pictures I wonder what the heck my problem was- the dress was gorgeous.  I've concluded that being engaged just made me crazy is all.

7.  School.  It was my first year of teaching and  I was doing a 45 minute commute.  On top of that, my principal asked me mid year to pick up an extra class- creative writing.  I had never taught or studied creative writing and I knew nothing about it.  Like a fool, I said yes.  Suddenly I had no prep time to grade the endless papers, and three different classes I was teaching for the first time.  I put in long hours at the school and spent even more time home frantically trying to grade essays and stay on top of lesson plans.  I even made my sister drive up to the school with me six days before my wedding to grade essays (read it here!).  I don't think I have ever been so stressed and miserable in my whole life. Fo rizzle.

8.  Larry.  This man arranged Greg's and my honeymoon.  In nice terms, he royally screwed us over.  Five days before the wedding, he called Greg and told him our honeymoon cruise had been "cancelled".  Within time, we realized it was all a big lie, but we believed the crook at that moment.  He got us on another cruise,  with less preferable destinations, length of cruise, and type of room... and then tried to steal $600 in the process.  Six months and one lawyer brother later, we got the money back (Read all about it here!)

9.  Offending people.  I like to make people happy.  And I don't like to hurt people's feeling.  And yet somehow, I believe I managed to offend every single person close to me in the process of getting married.  I offended Greg when I said he couldn't have a say on the dinner details because that was my terrain, I offended my mom when I said I didn't care where was easiest for her and her family, I wanted the ceremony in Salt Lake.  Greg's family was offended when we didn't want their opinion on anything, my family was offended when I didn't keep them more in the loop, my bestie was offended when I didn't ask her to be a bridesmaid, my cousins' cousins were offended they weren't invited to the ceremony, and probably every one of the 300 guests at that dinner were offended by Greg's dad's speech about how difficult it was to conceive Greg (use your imagination!).  To every person who was offended by my getting married, I sincerely apologize.

I am almost to the point where I can just laugh about it now.  Almost.

That's a lot of people to keep happy!  And this is just my siblings and their kids!

10.  My dad. The hardest part about the whole engagement was the fact that my dad wasn't there.  I met Greg a few months after my dad had passed away and by the time we got married it had been a little over a year.  It felt so fresh, so raw, and I was still barely getting a handle on my grief and how I worked through it.  I know my mom missed him terribly- he wasn't there to keep her sane and to help her fight the battles that were so important to her (all extended family MUST be invited to the dinner!).  In some ways I began to kind of dread the wedding day and the hordes of people that would be there when one of the most important people in my whole life would be so noticeably absent.  He wouldn't be there to smile proudly at me, to tell me I looked beautiful as a bride, to dance the daddy daughter waltz with me.  All those things raced through my mind before the wedding and I worried so much that without my dad there the day would be seeped in sorrow.  I'll always be grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who answered my prayers and let me know that my dad was there with me that day.

And that is the story of how my engagement sucked.  But, the good news is it was all worth it!  Here's what I wrote in my journal the night before my wedding:

March 11, 2012  "The real reason I'm writing tonight is so that I can look back on the night before my wedding and have my kids read it and know how supremely happy and one hundred percent confident their mother was before she married their father.  I've never been so sure of something in my life; I have absolutely no doubts.  When I think of the future I feel joy, peace, and overwhelming calm and assurance.  I know that marrying Greg is the right decision and I am so excited.  So so so so excited.  And happy.  Sooooooooooooooooo HAPPY."

Ah, shucks.  You thought this post was gonna be a real downer, and then it ended being all sweet and gushy on you.  How's that for a twist?!?

P.S.  I tweeted this earlier today, I just couldn't keep something so good to myself
"Student giving report on sex ed: The thrill of sex lasts seconds, 
minutes, hours, or days, but the effects are forever. 
#days? #DAYS?!?"

If you're not already following me on twitter, you should be!

Post originally published December 2012.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

How we got ourselves a French daughter

Three weeks ago, one of my students, a foreign exchange student from France, asked me if she could talk to me for a minute after class.  I said yah, sure, why not, kid?

After class she milled about for a minute, standing uncomfortably.  "Agathe.  What can I do for you?"  I asked, figuring she was wondering why she missed those extra points on the test or wanting to ask me about extra credit.  Instead, she looked at the other kids who were gathering up their bags and finding their way out of the classroom and answered,  "I will wait."
Now, I ain't no detective, but I can tell when something is just a bit off.  "Is everything ok?" I asked.
"No."  And as she said that, tears sprung to her eyes.

I hurried the other kids out of the classroom and closed the door.  Alone, Agathe told me about a situation that was less than ideal with her current "host family".  She had told the foreign exchange coordinator and the coordinator told her that she would need to change home.  And then Agathe asked me if she could move in with Greg and me.

The request was not a small one.  She would live with us until the end of the school year- June.  We would be her "legal guardians".  She would spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with us, go on vacations with us, eat dinner every night with us.  She'd sleep in her spare bedroom and shower in the spare bathroom.  We would have to drive her to and from school and any other places she needed to go. For six months she would be like our daughter.

I was completely taken aback. To put it lightly.

I didn't say yes.  

But I didn't say no either.  

I said I would talk to Greg and that I would love to help her, but that I couldn't make any promises.  She said she understood and repeated over and over again, "You can say no.  You can say no.  I know this is a lot to ask you.  Just the fact that you aren't saying no right away means so much to me.  But I understand if you say no."

Immediately after that I went to lunch, where Greg was sitting next to me at a long table surrounded by English and Science teachers.  He was two weeks out from Les Mis opening night, enduring a random, searing pain in his mouth, and one stress attack away from a mental break down.  It certainly wasn't the best time to ask him.  But I asked him.

He didn't say yes.

But he didn't say no either.

For ten days Greg and I debated what we should do.  We talked about it and stressed about it and prayed about it.  The more I heard about Agathe's situation, the more I knew she needed to be in a better situation and the more I felt that she should live with us.

Here's the thing.  I know I'm crazy.  I really really really know I am.  You don't have to tell me that two twenty-something year olds with a four month baby that live 20 minutes from the school and are about to kill themselves with stress are not the best candidates to take in a foreign exchange student.  I know that.  In my head, I absolutely know that.

But then my heart just kept saying something else.  I kept thinking about how my mom had let us live with her for a year when our housing fell through literally the day before we were supposed to move.  What was supposed to be a two week stay turned into a year. I am sure that wasn't easy or convenient for her, but it is thanks to living with my mom that we were able to save and pay for a down payment on the home we live in now.  How can I take someone else's generosity and then turn around and refuse it to someone else?  I remember being so grateful to my mom and thinking, "I can't wait until I am stable enough that I can help other people the way my mom has helped us."

Well, I don't know that we're "stable enough" to help others, but every time I thought about saying no I just felt sick to my stomach.  So maybe that means something?

In the end, it was Greg's decision.  He has been under a terrific amount of stress these past three months.  He has no teaching background, but is teaching six classes (five different subjects).  He is also running the school's auditorium (oftentimes for after school hours events), directing the school musical, and rehearsing for a play that he is acting in at the Hale starting on New Year's.  Sometimes I don't know how the guy is still putting one foot in front of the other. That's why it had to be his decision.  He is the one who is under so much stress.  He is the one that has had every facet of his life flipped upside down the past few months.  He is the one who the move would most affect.  So I told him I wanted to do it, but I know how busy he is and how hard it would be and if he didn't want to do it then I'd respect that completely.

In the meantime, we were playing a waiting game of sorts.  Even if we agreed, we weren't sure if it would be possible because the school district needed to approve the move.  (We live outside the school's boundaries and foreign exchange students are supposed to live within school boundaries.)  Two weeks after Agathe originally asked, I was grading papers when I got a text from the coordinator. The move was approved.  We needed to give our final decision as soon as possible.

I went down to the auditorium where Greg was in the middle of a chaotic two-days- before- show- time rehearsal.  The microphones weren't working right and act two was an absolute train wreck.  I knew my timing was awful, just awful, but well, who cares about timing anyway, right?

"Greg.  The move has been approved."  I said as I slunk into an auditorium chair next to him.  On stage, the revolutionaries were firing away behind their imaginary barricade.

"What?"  He said, turning to me.

"Agathe.  They approved her to live with us."


 He didn't say anything for a minute, watching the teenage actors on stage in front of him.

"Do you think we should do it?"  I finally asked.

He sighed heavily.  "We've been so blessed.  I guess I can't think of a good enough reason not to."

I know it was a huge decision for Greg to arrive to, to give up his home and free space- his one oasis in the middle of a chaotic and stress-filled period of his life.  But one of the things I have always loved about Greg is that his heart is gold- solid gold- all the way through to the core.

I think we were both really scared in that moment.  But confident, too.

It's not easy to know if you're doing the right thing.  I hope and pray that we are.

If we're not, well, you can at least give us a couple of points for trying, right?