The Life of Bon: January 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

It's the end of January as we know it let's all say a prayer of thanks.

I was looking through my camera today and found some pictures that never made it to the blog.  What? Never made it to the blog?!  Now that's a travesty!  Most of them are from December- that month was so freaking crazy with the morning sickness and constant nausea, it was all I could do to wake up in the morning.  I have no idea how I managed to show up anywhere let alone get pictures of as many things as I did.

But here the pictures are.  Magically on my camera.  And I have faint memories of being all those places.  I think?

So here they are.  Some pictures of stuff that happened long, long ago.

^^^A bridal shower for my little sis and bride to be.  Talking about sexy stuff makes her uncomfortable so I made sure to pick out some extra embarrassing gifts.

^^^Our church primary class.  With the beginning of every year the classes move up and so that means we got all new students the first week of January.  We miss these two little buggers, but they make sure we say hi to them every Sunday.  The one on the left often texts us pictures of his origami creations and made his parents invite us over to dinner.  Oh, ten year olds.

^^^I know this picture is really not "blog appropriate".  I mean, it's not cute and it's blurry and the brown background!  Yuck!  But I love it for a lot of reasons.  I love it because of the ridiculous amounts of apples on my little paper plate,  (Hello pregnancy!) for the look that I am giving Greg that says "What?  A picture?  NOW? You devil, you!"  I love it because my fingers look like a pteradactyl's claws and because I have never seen the vein in my neck before and it's awfully scary. But mostly I love it for my blurry, smiling brother trying so hard to get in the picture in the background.  I really like my brother and he's pretty much always smiling.  (Also the fact that he is clearly on his second piece of cake is pretty awesome.)

^^^Ugly sweater Christmas parties with third and fourth period the day before Christmas break.  They read their poetry and we drank hot chocolate and acted like hipster poets. Some took the sweaters more seriously than others, obviously.  Please notice the deep pink v neck in the back left of the first picture.  Priceless!  All pictures of students are taken with their permission and are used on this blog with written consent from parent and student.  Gracias!

That's a wrap!  You folks ready for February yet?  Ah, yah.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bon's Book Club: The Husband's Secret

Alright ladies!  BOOK CLUB TIME!  This is a LINK UP so if you did your own post make sure to link it up.  I have this dream of having a huge online book club for all like minded women who love to read and discuss literature.  Imagine the possibilities!  Oh, and if you are writing your own post please slap the above picture on it somewhere.  Grazi!

January's book was The Husband's Secret by Liane Mortiary.  Here are the questions that I posed to you last night:

+ The book is told from the viewpoint of three women.  Which women did you like the most and why?  Whom did you dislike the most and why?

+ What would you have done if you had found out the secret that Celia did?  Did you agree with the way she handled it?  What is the "right" thing to do in a situation like that?

+ What was the point of the side story with Tess?  Do you excuse the way she acted during that week because of the uncertainty in her marriage?

+ Do you believe the bike accident was adequate "penance" for what John Paul had done?

+ Did you like the resolution of the book?  Did you feel there was enough closure?

Let's start with Tess.  Oh, I hated Tess.  The least likeable character in the book by far for me.  I did not understand at all why Mortiary even put that whole little side story in with Tess and Felicity and Will.  It didn't have anything to do with the main plot of the story, and I felt like it dragged the book big time.  I really disagreed with the way Tess handled everything and I feel like there were a lot of inconsistencies in her character.  As soon as Will says that he's in love with Felicity she just high tails it out of there and says, "Fine! Sleep together!" which was so weird to me.  Why wouldn't you fight for your marriage?  She totally abandons him, and then blames him for everything that is wrong with their marriage.

Oh, yah and then she sleeps with her ex boyfriend (whom she doesn't even remember at first!) MORE THAN ONCE, enjoys it, is slightly infatuated by him, and then practically acts annoyed with her husband when he wants to reconcile.  Oh, AND THEN she never tells her husband that she slept with someone else.  I could not believe this and was really just turned off by Tess as a character.  By the end I didn't care what happened to her, I didn't want her to enjoy happiness, I just wanted her out of the book.  I feel bad for Will that he's married to a cheat and a liar, and I feel so bad for Connor that she basically used him for pleasure.  Connor was actually one of my favorite characters in the book and he was just pretty much used by everyone around him.  No wonder he needs therapy.

OH! And the real kicker is that at the end it says that Tess has a baby that was conceived the week she slept with both Connor and Will and she just always keeps it her little secret that the kid looks just like Connor.  This was almost enough to make me not like the book at all- it seemed so flippant like this was some kind of happy resolution for everyone.  And there's Connor getting screwed again- poor guy doesn't even know he has a kid out there in the world. I seriously felt so bad for him.

I also hated the way Tess viewed her marriage.  Like it was an absolute chore and a drudgery to her.  One of the nights she sleeps with Connor she goes out on a motorcycle ride with him and it says, "no matter how badly it hurt, she didn't want to be home in Melbourne, baking and watching television and doing invoices.  She wanted to be right here, soaring along on this bike, her heart thumping, letting her know she was alive."  I just hate the way this portrayed marriage in general, like the better option was always to be the back of a dirt bike with some total stranger. 

Rachel: She was only slightly more likeable to me than Tess, but I hated how obsessed she was over her daughter's death that had happened 25 years ago.  I get that it was an unsolved murder or what not, but 25 years?!?  She didn't seem to mourn the passing of her husband at all, only focused on her daughter.  Also, I hated the way she treated her son and daughter in law.  Here she was a living child, and she is a total brat to him.  I feel like she had totally wasted her entire life in mourning the loss of her daughter and wasn't able to see any of the goodness right here and now in her life.

Celia:  Here, to me, was the strength of the novel.  I loved almost everything about Celia.  I loved her attention to detail, her quirkiness, that she sells freaking tupperware for a living and makes a killing off of it.  I thought Mortiary really excelled with Celia in developing a complicated, lifelike, and extremely likeable character.  I especially loved how she chatted nonstop when she was nervous and always bugged people with her insistence.  Such a great, real character to me.

As far as the main predicament of the book- Celia finds out that her husband committed murder 25 years ago- I LOVED it.  I loved the way she reacted to it, the way she tried to come to terms with it, how she withdrew from her husband but at the same time couldn't leave him.  I have no idea how I would react in a situation like this, but I love that the book made me consider several possibilities.  It wasn't so far fetched that I felt like it could never really happen.  Honestly,  if Greg told me 25 years from now that he had killed a girl at age 17- that he never meant to kill her, that it happened before he could realize- I can understand doing what Celia did.  What good would it do now to turn him in and where he had a family and kids who need him now...  But then at the same time it does feel so unjust to leave that poor woman, Rachel, not knowing for all those years, haunted by the unknown.  Also is unfair to Connor who deals with feelings of guilt all those years after even though he never did a thing to the girl.  (Again, Connor getting screwed over.) Such a good conflict- I love it!

Also, this is kind of random but WHAT was the point of all the talk of the Berlin wall?  I feel like it was supposed to be some recurring symbol or whatever in the book, but whatever it was Mortiary was trying to say did not come across very well.  I got so tired of the Berlin wall talk and other the "small talk" in the book.  A lot of the times I felt like the pacing of the book was slow because of long, tiresome details and conversations between characters that did not play into the plot.

Alright, there's more I could say, but I am going to be done for now.  I'm excited to see the points you bring up and I am hoping for an energetic, lively discussion in the comments.  If you did your own post on the book make sure to link up!!!

The book for February is I am Malala by Mala Yousafzai.  We will be discussing it on February 27.  Be there!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Y'all ready for this?


Tomorrow is book club day.  Ah, yah.  I know a lot of you have been reading The Husband's Secret and I am so freaking excited to discuss it all with you.  I finished it last weekend and I have been dying to talk about it with someone so book club can not come soon enough for me.

For those of you who are doing a post tomorrow, here are some questions to get your brains ticking.  These questions are totally optional, you can answer any or all (or none!) of them, I just know that some of us draw blanks when we're told "discuss a book!"  This should help to get us moving.  Of course, any other things you want to discuss are totally free game.  (If you want to join in on book club go here for all the details!)

(Spoilers in questions.  Or at least hints of spoilers.)
+ The book is told from the viewpoint of three women.  Which women did you like the most and why?  Whom did you dislike the most and why?
+ What would you have done if you had found out the secret that Celia did?  Did you agree with the way she handled it?  What is the "right" thing to do in a situation like that?
+ What was the point of the side story with Tess?  Do you excuse the way she acted during that week because of the uncertainty in her marriage?
+ Do you believe the bike accident was adequate "penance" for what John Paul had done?
+ Did you like the resolution of the book?  Did you feel there was enough closure?

Oh, and I made a button!  If you would be so kind to slap this bad boy someplace on your post tomorrow I would be so grateful.

Also, upon further examination, that button sucks.  I'll have a new one by next week I can pretty much promise that.

I seriously can't wait to read all your posts.  My review will go up Wednesday night in between 7-8 pm mountain time so come link yours up anytime after that.

Also- January giveaway winner of the $100 cash is Stacie Skinner-Hoxsie.  Congrats!  You will be receiving an email from me tomorrow.

Taking over for me today is the beautiful Erin.  This woman is going to pop out her first born child any day now, so she is here to share with me wisdom and tales of horror.  If you think Erin looks familiar, you are right, this isn't her first go around on Life of Bon.  Sometimes when something's that good you just gotta hit it twice, you know?

Hello Life of Bon readers!  I'm Erin and I blog over at Love, the Campbells!  First off, I just want to send a BIG shout out to Bonnie and Greg and tell her how excited I am that they are having a baby!  I'm sure you're all with me here!  My husband and I are due with our first little one in two and a half weeks and I thought I would put something together on things I learned throughout my pregnancy that no one told me.

1.  You will miss wine.  A lot.  You might not even drink wine very much but you will crave it like none other now that you can’t have it.

2.       If you cross your arms a lot, people don’t feel the need to touch your belly.  When I first found out I was pregnant, one of my biggest fears was that strangers would randomly touch me.  I can proudly say it hasn’t happened once.  This could have something to do with me wearing a thousand layers of clothes because it’s a -40 wind chill where I live lately but hey, I like to think it’s because I unconsciously cross my arms.
3.       By the time you’re 36 weeks pregnant, you’re going to have the same three tops and the same two bottoms on repeat.  And you’ll be praying your stomach doesn’t get any bigger because those three tops are already stretched to the max.  Lucky for you Bonnie, you’ll have nice weather when you’re this far along.  Take advantage of those dresses because I wish I could even look at a dress right now without getting goose bumps.
4.       Take one of those preparing for labor and birth classes.  They go into more detail than you ever thought possible and you’re going to want to know this stuff before you give birth.  But if you’re like me, it will scare the crap out of you and you will tell your hairstylist that you don’t think you are ready for a baby now or ever.  Then you’ll realize it’s too late and you’ll plan on winging it.  I don’t think one is supposed to fly by the seat of their pants with something like giving birth though.
5.       When you actually pop and really start to show, your husband may utter under his breath “you’re effing huge”.  Take it from me, he doesn’t realize he says it out loud and he will probably apologize profusely.  It’s something I just blew off because his after expression was priceless but I always make sure to remind him of it.  It’s just too good not to.

Monday, January 27, 2014

I let my students fail my class.

Announcement:  We still have a few spots open at the Blogger Roundtable on Thursday.  
It's at 6:30 in Orem and the focus is photography.  
We will be learning how to take pictures, edit pictures, how to use photos to grow our blogs, etc.  
It's definitely for newbies so don't feel intimidated!
It's $10, email me at if you are interested!

I had an interesting chat with a student the other day.  I really love this kid.  He is sweet and adorable and shows up to class every dang day.  He makes these awkward yet hilarious jokes and the whole class laughs with him because he nails the humor and has this quirky, odd confidence that we can't get enough of.

This student has never passed my class.  But he participates, he does work, he delights us with his charisma, he just can't get to that 60%.

At the end of second quarter he stopped trying.  While the rest of the class was working on their research paper, he just stared blankly at his computer.  Or he put his head down and took a nap.  I would tap him or ask him how his paper was going or what I could do to help him.  One afternoon when he came after school to get his cell phone I had taken from him (punishment for using it in class without permission) I told him how much I wanted him to pass second quarter and that I believed he could.  We wrote a "contract" together and if he could pass the class he would get a "key card" that my school gives out- an entry in a drawing for a car and a $25 gift certificate to one of many local restaurants and stores.  He only seemed half interested in the deal, and as our plan rolled out, he really never gave it an honest try.  He didn't put in any extra effort, and he failed second quarter.

Earlier this week I saw him messing around in class while all the other students were working on a group project.  I really want this boy to pass, but at the same time was a bit tired of pushing and prodding and not receiving any effort back.  So I asked him, "Do you have any desire to pass this class?  If there is even a small part of you that wants it and is willing to work for it, then I will help you.  But if you have decided you are not going to pass the class then just tell me and I will stop bothering you."

He was confused.  "You'll let me do nothing?"

"If that's what you want, yes."

"That's what I want."

"You sure?  You don't want to pass the class?"


"Ok.  You're free to do what you want then, just don't disturb the other students from learning."

And he promptly put his headphones in, laid his head on the desk, and fell asleep.

When I went into teaching I thought I would save all the children.  I had grand dreams of Dead Poet's Society and Freedom Writers and I wanted to be that teacher that made that difference.  The Oh Captain, My Captain!  I wanted to be the one that was there for the struggling students when no one else was.  I wanted to be the teacher that inspired the reluctant reader, that made the students work hard and discover how smart they were and how capable they were.  I wanted to be the teacher that shouted from the desktops "In my classroom, failure is not an option!"

Well, guess what.  I just gave a student the option to fail.  And he took it.

It took about a year of teaching before it dawned on me that I did not, actually, have endless amount of energy.  I discovered I had x amount of energy, and I could only do x amount of things for my students.  What they need is someone with boundless energy, limitless time, and that do and be everything for their students.  I am not this teacher.  No teacher is, in fact.  It almost makes me kind of mad at Hollywood for creating these perfect teacher movies or at the university I graduated from for making me think I would save the world, or I don't know, maybe at myself for being young and naive and thinking that I could (or should) rescue all failing teenagers.  I can't.

Once I realized I only had a certain amount of energy to give to my students, I started to be a little more selective with where I was putting that energy.  My first year of teaching I spent 80% of my energy on 20% of my students- the students who would fail no matter what I did, the students who couldn't care less, the students who had severe discipline and behavior problems or barely scraped by.  I spent so much energy on that 20% that I ignored the other 80% of my students- the kids who loved learning, the kids who wanted to please me, the kids who actual read the assigned chapters for crying out loud.  They were getting the shaft while I tried in vain to reach students who refused to be reached.

It isn't easy to let that 20% go.  In many ways I feel like I'm failing my students when I do this.  (Both literally and figuratively.)  I still don't have it all quite figured out in my head yet.  But I know I can't reach every student.  I know some kids are going to enter my class hating to read and they are going to leave my class hating to read.  Some students will never like me.  Some students will think my rules are stupid and my punishments unfair and I will never earn their respect.  Some students will leave my class and forget about me completely, holding no lasting memories of any of the work I put in to making that class fun or interesting or meaningful for them.

I don't exactly know why I'm telling you this except for that maybe I am trying to give myself permission to let go of the 20.  I don't feel one hundred percent great about letting my students down, but at the same time I know that to keep my own sanity, to avoid burn out, and to continue and enjoy teaching for years to come that I have to put limits on what I expect myself to do and accomplish in the classroom.  They are my students and I love them, but at the end of the day, it is my job.  My family will always come first, my religion will come first, my own selfish pursuits and desires may even come first.  (One of my pet peeves with Freedom Writers is that she essentially sacrifices her marriage for her students.  I hate that that idea is even suggested as a possibility for teachers... no teacher should ever be encouraged to sacrifice her family in the name of 17 year olds and a $35,000 paycheck.)

In the end, I hope this makes me a better teacher.  It might not.  But I like to think that while I may lose that 20%,  I can give more to the wanting 80%.  I can devote more of my energy, time and love to the students who really need it and want it.  Believe it or not, there are teenagers out there who love learning, who are genuinely interested in what Jay Gatsby's tragic flaw is, who crave the love and attention of their teachers.

So I'm going to give it to them.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

First trimester insanity and is that a bump?

Shirt: Forever 21 (similar here)
Skirt: Forever 21
(I have this exact same $8 skirt in blue, maroon, black, red, and teal.  
They are so comfortable and go with everything.) 
Tights: Forever 21
Boots: Old Navy
(Yikes, I'm a walking ad for Forever 21 today!)

I present to you, my first official baby bump pictures.  Fourteen weeks, suckers.

I'm aware there is little to no bump to speak of yet, but I like pretending.  I made sure to take these pictures right after dinner in the vain hopes that what was really cheddar biscuits and vegetable soup would maybe just maybe look like some kind of human forming in my stomach.  

A lot of people have asked me how my first trimester was.  I really don't know how to respond except for that it was weird and I felt like someone else took over my body for a few months.  I guess someone did.

Here's why it was weird.  I used to always kind of make fun of pregnant people in my head.  Like why do these women insist on taking so many pictures of their stomach and what is with the constant updates on what is developing this week with their little fetus and can you all please stop holding your stomach every second?  It was very bizarre to me.  I didn't understand.

Then I got pregnant.  And all of a sudden it was the crazy train going at full speed.  Things I never thought would matter to me were now of utmost importance.  Is my baby the size of an olive or a grape this week?  Damnit,  I have to know!  If I'm 11 weeks and 4 days can I start calling myself 12 weeks pregnant or am I still 11 weeks?  Which is also something I never understood before I got pregnant, why pregnant people insisted on saying how far along they were in weeks. Whenever I would ask someone how far along they were and they would answer "29 weeks" I was flabbergasted.  You think I want to compute weeks in my head?  Tell me months, you idiot!  And now anytime anyone asks me how far I am, I spit out the number of weeks before I can even think that that might mean absolutely nothing to them.  My how the tables have turned!

Physically, the first trimester was rough on me.  The entire month of December I basically felt like I didn't know myself.  My body, which I have always prided on being strong and active, betrayed me completely.  I was sick constantly.  Getting ready in the morning I would be keeled over in the bathroom because my stomach hurt so much it was all I could do to brush my hair.  I was 20 minutes late for work every morning because I just couldn't get my body to move. Thankfully I never puked, it was just a constant queasiness.  The best way I can think of to describe it is after you've been traveling all day and your stomach feels totally off.  You don't want to eat anything and you don't want to move- you just want to sit and wait for it to pass.  That's how I felt all day every day.  No food sounded good to me. (Grocery shopping was the worst!  Looking at all that food made me want to vomit.)  I lived on Saltines and Popsicles.  (My students constantly asked me to share my crackers with them when I was eating in class.  No, you sixteen year olds! Don't you realize what these crackers mean?  You are dealing with a hormonal, pregnant teacher and it's the only thing I can eat that won't make me sick, now leave me alone!)  When I went in for my twelve week check up I was surprised to see that I had lost four pounds since being pregnant.  Hmmm... first trimester nausea as a diet trick?

Not only was the queasiness rough, but suddenly I was beyond exhausted.  I have always had ridiculous amounts of energy, so I couldn't quite get used to my body's constant desire to just sit there.  At school I planned all my lessons so I could just sit in my chair.  Forget the wandering around the classroom and checking on the poor tikes, and you can scrap the fun, on your feet, creative activities.  Out the window entirely! I was going to sit and they were going to like it!  Every day I would come home from work at 4:00, lay on the couch until 7:00 and then move to the bed where I would promptly fall asleep.  Getting a blog post done at night about killed me, and I felt the quality of my writing dropping off substantially, but I just couldn't create anything fun or positive or even semi interesting.  I had no desire to go out, no desire to see people, no desire to wake up in the morning (See this post and this post if you don't believe me.)

Then there were the emotions.  Usually I try to be accommodating and flexible to others' needs, but during those first weeks it all went right out the window.  Greg would come home from work and I'd say, "Hey, I was thinking about heating up that leftover soup for dinner."  

"Erm... that doesn't sound very good to me," he'd reply.  

"Alright then screw it!" I'd answer,  "Fend for yourself!  I'm heating up soup and going to bed!"  And I would.

The craziest thing of all happened over Thanksgiving break.  Greg and I had planned on going to the temple together the Friday after Thanksgiving.  We had been trying to go for weeks and always something came up.  We had finally gone the Wednesday before Thanksgiving only to discover that the temple was closed.  So we decided Friday, no matter what, we would go.  I can't remember what happened but something came up, we ran out of time, and the temple got squeezed out of our day completely. Again. When I realized it wasn't going to happen for us that day, I went ballistic.  Absolutely stark raving mad. Somewhere in my brain there was 1% part of sanity left that tried to tell myself that we would just reschedule and fit it in another day.  But the other 99% of my brain had given itself up entirely to the dark side, and insisted that I would never go to the temple again, that everything that was once important to me no longer fit into my life and that I would live out my remaining 53 years of life in misery.

At first I just started crying, which is nothing too unusual as I am prone to crying.  But then it turned into sobs.  Within a few minutes I was bawling inconsolably.  Greg was bewildered.  He had no idea what to do with me.  I flung myself on the bed and cried and cried and my body was racked with sighs and heaves and it was all so out of control.  There have been two other times in my life when I have cried like that- six months into my mission with a companion who hated me when I was miserable and homesick and wanted to come home more than anything, and when my dad died.  Only twice have I ever felt that hopeless and miserable.  This occasion, a rescheduled temple trip, surely did not merit the same reaction.

But I couldn't help myself.  It was like another person had seized my body and was making it cry without end.  I remember feeling almost scared of myself in that moment, like "Who is this woman and why is she in my body?"  I knew I was being unreasonable and crazy, but I had no control over myself.  Greg lay on the bed with me and hugged me until eventually (half an hour later) the crying ebbed and turned into an occasional sob and then just sniffles and then finally, finally sleep.  

So yah.  There was that.

We were going to wait until twelve weeks to tell family, but I was so miserable at eight weeks that Greg basically begged me to tell my mom.  I think he was terrified being the only reasonable adult around.  He didn't know what to do with me- like I was some kind of dynamite that was going to explode at any minute.  "You need your mom.  I can't do this by myself anymore. Please. "  He begged.  Apparently being around a sick, exhausted, stark raving mad person isn't fun?  Say whaaaaaaaa?

So we told our families and everyone was delighted and there was Christmas and wedding and a lot of not feeling awesome but the best news of all is that by 11 or 12 weeks I started to feel so much better and here I am at 14 weeks feeling 100% like my old self again!  HALLELUJAH!

There you are, folks.  First trimester in a nutshell.

Also, I am sorry if this post has felt very negative/ complain-y.  I am beyond excited and grateful to be pregnant and consider it an absolute gift.  I know that the sickness and exhaustion and crazy train ride will all be worth it when I have my own little ginger baby staring back at me.  

If not, well, I've been told a lot of lies.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Love without end.

Before I say anything, I must say thank you.

Overwhelmed is not an adequate word to describe how I have felt at the outpouring and love I have received from all of you when we announced our news yesterday- from friends, former students, old acquaintances, and even people I have never met "in real life"..  I won't be able to respond to every comment, but I read them all and I know who you are who sent such kind wishes, and I thank you.  You have been so generous with your congratulations, so sweet, so happy for this crazy and terrifying adventure Greg and I are embarking upon.  I have been moved to tears several times over the course of yesterday and today because of things you have said.  I woke up at 4 am last night and glanced at my phone to check the time.  There they were in the middle of the night, countless blog comments and facebook messages sending me your love.  I went to the bathroom then crawled back into bed and cried at the sheer kindness.

My classes clapped and cheered today when I told them. I cried again. I haven't been able to put my finger on it, but there is something so beautiful and natural about the way people have come together to celebrate the announcement of new life.  In a world that doesn't seem to value family, commitments, or children it was absolutely inspiring for me to read the congratulations of people from all walks of life.  Thank you for celebrating our good news with us. Thank you thank you thank you.

Before I start the nitty gritty descriptions of morning sickness woes, food aversions and doctor's appointments I want to take just one more post to focus on the sublime.  There was one thing I didn't tell you last night.

Two months ago I wrote this post.  It was the night before the anniversary of my dad's death.  I always write a blog post on the anniversary of his death, but this year I struggled greatly knowing what to say.  I felt like I had been over it all- it was sad, it was unexpected, I grieved, I continue to grieve.  I wanted to show love and respect to my dad by somehow honoring the passing of the day, but I didn't want my blog to be too heavy or sad.  I didn't want people to leave depressed or feeling sorry for me.

What I wanted my blog post to say was that I miss my dad a lot and losing him has been the single most difficult experience of my life.  BUT.  God has helped me.  There have been tender mercies, or "beauties" as I referred to them in the post.  I wrote out a list of ways I had felt my dad close to me the day of his death and the days immediately thereafter.  I wanted to identify clearly that my dad's presence and influence had remained with me and still does.

I wrote the post on a Monday night.  Greg was at rehearsal, Maverick was sleeping at my feet.  The post took hours, as do my most difficult posts.  I cried through much of it.  I felt the spirit as I wrote it- I felt peace, I felt happiness.  I felt close to God and close to my dad.  By the time I was done I had written out seven ways that God had shown me He still loved me, that everything would be okay.  Seven ways I felt my dad with me during those most difficult of days.

Turns out I missed one.  There were eight.

The night I wrote that post, I was already pregnant.  Inside of me was a growing embryo, a developing placenta, a uterus ready to go into overdrive.  I had no idea.  The next day, in the middle of marking the anniversary of my dad's death there was one positive pregnancy test.

Tears sprung to my eyes the moment I saw that second line come in on the test.  The truth is Greg and I had been trying to conceive for months.  To finally receive the happy news on the anniversary of my dad's death was a tender mercy beyond words.  It was God telling me all the things I had needed to hear from Him- that He still loved me, that everything would be okay, that He would take care of me.  It was my dad saying hi.

For the past four years November 19 has been the hardest day of the year for me.  I dread it-  in fact, I dread the whole month.  It's almost like I try to take a deep breath going into the day and only when I'm out safe and sound and in my bed at night can I slowly begin to let the air out.  November 19 is a remembrance of pain, suffering, sorrow, and grief.

But not anymore.  A day that once meant death now means life.  It means hope and resurrection and family.

My Heavenly Father has given me so many blessings that I may spend the rest of my life desperately trying  to thank Him for it all.  He has been so good to me.  He showered me with tender mercies and with kindness, even in the midst of the great tragedy of my life.  I am no stranger to His goodness, but this one takes the cake.  The most "beautiful beauty" of all turns out to not be what I thought it was.  Instead, it is in the subtle morphing of the meaning of a day.  From here on out November 19 means the continuation of life, not the end of it.  It means the promise of a growing family, not a shrinking one.   It means love that grows and grows, love without end.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A baby or a dog.

Last summer Greg begged me for either a baby or a dog.

I don't know why or how, but suddenly an urge had come over Greg.  An urge to care for, to provide for, to protect.  Out of nowhere he felt this deep desire to be responsible for someone else's life.

I didn't totally understand.  I was in the middle of a beautiful summer.  Three months off of teaching, a trip to Hawaii, frequent visits to the water park, late nights reading my books- who needs another living thing to take care of?  I was just fine thank you very much.

But Greg kept pressing.  Week after week,
his plea to grow our family in some way continued.

Finally toward the end of summer I relented.  I told him we could look for dogs.

So the puppy hunt commenced.

It certainly wasn't all fun and games looking for a dog.  We wanted different things.  I was about as flexible as a board.  (Isn't it sad that the person who wants it least has the most power?)  I would not have a dog who shed.  I would not have a big dog.  The only dog I would have, in fact, was a toy poodle.

Greg was exasperated.  He wanted a dog, yes, but what kind of a dog is a toy poodle anyway?  An insult to his manhood, that's what kind of a dog a toy poodle is!  So the dog hunt stalled and stalled.  We couldn't agree on anything.

In October I found Maverick on KSL.  He was a redhead, just like Greg.  A little toy poodle puppy at a reasonable price, just waiting to come home to a loving family.  I called Greg from work to tell him I had found a possibility and by the time I came home that night Greg had already done the research and was 100% convinced we should buy the pup.

There were frantic, quick phone calls and before I knew it I was driving an hour and a half to pick up a puppy while Greg was on his way to rehearsal.  I had never seen that man so excited in his whole life.  "When I come home tonight I will have a dog!" he shouted on his way out the door.

And just like that, we were now the proud owners of a little toy poodle.

And proud, were we ever!  It amazed me how quickly I fell head over heels in love with the little guy.  Both Greg and I were borderline obsessed.

"Look at Mav!" we'd exclaim.
"Isn't that the funniest thing? He's rolling on the floor with that teddy bear."
"Oh my gosh, Maverick is watching TV!"

We transitioned easily into a little family of three.  In some odd sense, it felt like Maverick had always been with us- like he had never not been  part of the family.  Life was easy with Maverick- we took him on walks, we played fetch, we laughed constantly at the silly puppy things he did.  When Greg was gone I texted him pictures of Mav and when I was at work Greg would update me on Mav's potty schedule.  We were successfully responsible for a living thing!

Lest you think I'm telling you only half the story, it wasn't all roses and unicorns.  There were some difficulties, some growing pains.  The first eight weeks we would have to wake up in the night to take Maverick out to the bathroom.  He cried at 3 am for no good reason.  He kept us up; I went to work sleep deprived from a needy, anxious puppy. We started to feel guilty if we were away from him for more than three or four hours. We got stressed when his poop looked abnormal.  People everywhere told us it was great training for a real baby.  Surely we were nowhere near real parents, but we started to believe them.  Was this maybe, just maybe, a little taste of parenthood?

Fall was so good to us this year, lingering all the way through October and even into November.  The days were beautiful and warm and we soaked them all up.  All through October I took Maverick on warm, afternoon walks.

One day in mid November the weather finally began to turn.  It was one of those idyllic, cold fall days- the first of the cold- when sweaters and boots are a novelty, and it's so fun to get bundled up and feel just a little bit of that cool air again.  I looked out my classroom windows during fourth period, admiring the changing seasons and the falling leaves.  A student said to me, "I love this gloomy weather!"  I agreed.  The wind, the dark skies, the threatening rain were all so incredibly welcome and eerily romantic.  A stormy, fall day- almost like a scene from a book.  One of those days where all you want to do is go home, make some wassail, put on your pumpkin spice candle, and indulge in a long, hot bubble bath.  That was my plan for after work, at least.

On the way home from school I stopped at Target to pick up some bubble bath.  I picked out the bubbles, wandered around the store in no particular hurry, looked casusally at some nail polishes.  Passing the "ladies" section I remembered I was a few days late on my period.  Maybe?  I've never been too great at tracking the bugger, but it seemed like it should have come that weekend.  Friday or Saturday maybe?  And now it was Tuesday.  Yes, I was possibly a few days late.  So I threw a pregnancy test in the cart.

When I came home I forgot about the pregnancy test.  The day felt so lazy and carefree.  Greg wouldn't be home until six, dinner was already in the crockpot, I was totally free for a couple of hours.  I fixed myself a snack, watched a bit of TV and then went to fill the tub.  The pregnancy test fell out of the bag as I reached for the bubble bath.

Oh, yes.  That.

As I filled the tub I unwrapped the pregnancy test, peed on a little, plastic stick and waited patiently, tapping my chipped fingernails on the counter sink.

Last summer Greg begged me for either a baby or a dog.

Little did I know that come July I'd be giving him both.

The night we found out our happy news.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Morals are hard when it comes to Wendover.

Monday was a holiday.  I had the day off of school.  Greg had the day off of work and had no shows to perform.  We were as free as the wind!!!!

True to form, I started to feel the old familiar ants in my pants.  We needed to go somewhere!  We had to do something!  It was a day off of work together we must take advantage!  Greg suggested we sleep in until noon, cuddle in bed, do lunch and then watch movies all afternoon and evening.  I wouldn't stand for it.  Staying in the apartment all day?  Torture!  We must go somewhere, you fool!

Now, this feeling of absurd anxiousness is nothing new to me.  It happens every year around this time of year.  Christmas has long since worn off.  Any hopes of spring seem grossly premature, at best.  It's the January blues.  We are stuck in what seems to be an endless cycle of winter and inversion and scraping ice off of windshields.  (All you California and Florida peeps, now would be an appropriate time to not say anything.)

It didn't help that it seemed like everyone I knew had booked it out of the state.  My mom went to Costa Rica with her friends.  My best friend is on an Indonesian cruise.  My other friend is flaunting around the beaches of Maui.  Naturally, I started to feel bad for myself in a first world, you-have-everything-in-the-world-and-still-manage-to-feel-sorry-for-yourself kind of way.  I wasn't proud of this self pity, but it was there, nonetheless.

So I begged Greg to take me away.  The problem is we only had only one day:  Monday.  Greg had two shows on Saturday and we teach primary class on Sunday.  It didn't exactly leave us with a lot of time to go anywhere very far.  Let's see... Salt Lake?  Park City?  Sundance is going on practically in our backyard but it sounded cold and Greg hates crowds.  (Which to me is the equivalent of hating happiness.  How do you hate to be surrounded by people having fun?!?)

So we settled on a day trip to Wendover.

Let me tell you a little bit about Wendover, if you are unfamiliar to these parts.  Wendover is where all already depressed, miserable, and pathetic things go to die.  It is the Northern Utah/Nevada border and basically the only purpose it serves is for Utahns to go to get their gambling fix.  Other than that it is a hellhole of a town, with barely a fast food joint or two, a lone sheriff patrolling the empty highways, and a few dark, smoke-filled casinos.  You feel like you've been to Wendover now?

I can't tell you exactly why we settled on Wendover.  I guess I couldn't resist.  You see, I developed a bit of a gambling streak, and I blame that on the two most important men in my life- my dad and my husband.  My dad played poker in his youth so it runs in my genes.  When I married Greg he taught me the ways of blackjack and with my predisposition to love a little money on the table, there was no turning back.  (I say this somewhat in jest, I do love to play blackjack but at best play two or three times a year.  For all my aunts and cousins out there worried about me, I do not have a gambling problem.   I also would like to point out that I do not condone this behavior, nor am I especially proud of it.  I don't think it's a good thing that I throw a little money away in casinos. I also think, however, there are much worse things in the world than a few rounds of blackjack.)

My first ever blackjack experience.  This friend of a friend in Vegas gave me $100 to try blackjack.  I lost it in ten minutes.  He didn't seem to mind.

And so to Wendover it was! To celebrate our day off!  Not depressing at all!  Greg's friend, Daily, who is down for anything in the world came along to make us feel not so loser-ish.  (Also everyone in the world needs a friend who is down for absolutely anything in the world- even 9 am drives to deserted gambling towns.  It enhances your life in a way you can't imagine.)

Wendover turned out to be about exactly as I predicted.  Cold.  Empty.  Wildly depressing.  Greg and I always take a set amount of money when we play blackjack and don't allow ourselves to spend any more than that.  We are both extremely competitive- I think if we didn't do this we'd give away our first born son without even realizing what we were doing.

The three of us sat down at a table that looked like it had "good mojo" and got our blackjack on.  There are lots of awesome things about blackjack like the waitresses who bring you free cherry cokes, the friendly people who sit by you and cheer when you get a blackjack, and the totally false feeling that you might actually make money from playing a really fun game!  I know it's all a total trick, but I can't help it, I'm in love  with the trick.

We played about three hours before Greg and Daily were out of their predetermined amount of money.  They watched me play my last few hands and convinced me to put my last $10 on one hand.  The dealer got a blackjack and I was out and that's the way the cookie crumbles.

I just realized that this story is basically over and it really has no point.  It feels like I should be arriving to some big climax, like any good story does, but mine just kind of fizzled off with the $10 blackjack loss.  I suppose it should have a moral?  Don't waste your days off of school and work at the casinos?  Or how about don't take blackjack advice from two guys who got out before you?  Hmmm... morals are hard when it comes to Wendover.

One last note, though, before I sign off on possibly the weirdest and most random blog post I have ever written.  I sat down at a table for all of about four minutes with a crazy dealer.  She hit 20s and 21s every time and I lost five in a row in the blink of an eye so I hightailed it off of the table. (I'm totally superstitious about a table.  If I start losing on it I get off of it.  The problem comes when you lose on all the tables...)  But in the midst of her incredible hands she told me the weirdest story about a man who had come to Wendover and won $13,800 one day.  Every chance he got after that he was back in the casinos trying to win more money.  He lost all his winnings and then lost a lot more.  Spent all his money.  Was totally broke.  Winning the $13,800 was the worst thing that ever happened to him.  "And then he got a divorce!" she added- just to put that last nail in the coffin.

So there's your moral, kids.  If you win $13,800 in Wendover, call it good and don't ever go back.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Superbowl? Superbowl? Anyone got plans for the Superbowl?

Alright ladies, have you heard it's almost time for the SUPERBOWL?  In case you dropped off the edge of the planet, I will inform you.  A week from Sunday (February 2) is the Superbowl.  It will be a Broncos vs. Seahawks showdown. I know close to nothing about football, but I try hard to fake it.  Million dollar commercials, halftime show to die for, and all the food you can imagine... it's a dream come true for anyone as long as you can figure out how to sit through the actual game...

Superbowl 2007.  Living the college life, hence the upraised couch.  Interesting fact: the girl on the right married the boy on the right (on the phone) and now they have three kids.  How's that for awesome?  (And what a difference seven years makes!)

For those of you ladies who aren't ardent football fans, I've got the perfect thing to do during the game.  It's called Superbowl Bingo and it has saved me year after year when I am having a hard time staying interested in the game. (What down is it?  What does the flag mean?  Why are they taking so long to line up?) Usually all the ladies want to play, but I'm always surprised how many men join in on the action, too.  Here's how it works:

1.  Create a bingo card.  I usually just have my guests make their own on a sheet of paper by creating a five by five board of squares.  You can buy some I'm sure, or just premake a bunch if you want to save on the hassle.

2.  Decide on your categories.  Your "winners" of the categories can be people at your SuperBowl party or people playing in the SuperBowl.  For example:
(For SuperBowl players)
First touchdown:
Superbowl MVP:
Last touchdown:
Most emphatic touchdown dance:
Most whining after a call:
Most offensive remark:

(For people attending the party)
Last to show up:
Falls asleep:
Spills drink:
Finishes off the cheese dip:
First person to go to the bathroom:
Takes the most trips to the bathroom:
Spends the most time on his or her phone:
Most offensive remark:

3. Have guests fill the categories in whatever boxes they choose.  (Again, if you want to save on work for guests you could have this already prepared for them.)  You can use some boxes more than once... for example, if you want to have three different boxes dedicated to "spills drink", go for it! (But the guests have to put in different names).  Oh, and you get one free space, of course!

4.  After all the guests have their boxes filled in, the guests then decide on the person to put in each box.  That's where it really gets fun!  Oh- and you can't put yourself in a box- then you'd be rigging it!

5.  Play bingo!  Mark a square off for every person guessed correctly.  Usually my friends and I get competitive enough that we don't need prizes as a motivator, but a couple of fun prizes never hurt for the winners.  You can do the traditional five in a row, blackout, whatever you want to determine a winner!

If you try this let me know how it goes.  I'll be anxious to hear.

And WHY NOT, let's give away a $250 gift card to Amazon or Forever 21 or Cheesecake Factory or anywhere else you could possibly want.  (Giveaway includes a gift card to any of the places on this list.)  Enter below via rafflecopter.

Oh, and don't forget to check out these awesome Superbowl sales. 

SuperBowl Giveaway_edited-1
This giveaway is open to US residents only.
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Sunday, January 19, 2014

I'm wearing a neon green beanie and don't have to go to work in the morning WHAT NOW?

Beanie:  c/o Repreve
Dress:  Downeast Outfitters (They no longer carry this dress, but I'd give anything to have this one for spring)
Scarf:  Thrifted
Shoes:  Old Navy

A couple of disclaimers for my "fashion" posts.  I will never be a fashion blogger, nor do I strive to be.  I just like to wear pretty things, but I'm aware that I am not exactly "talented" in this.  I'm okay with that.  Lately I have been mixing casual with formal, (i.e. a beanie and a dress) and it's definitely hit and miss.  You can take it or leave it. Disclaimer #2: I have a very sweet, although somewhat reluctant photographer.  His name is Greg. I can get him to take pictures of me doing nothing but wearing clothes for about 60 seconds before he is over and out.  Sometimes it can be difficult to get a winning picture when your photographer has a job he never wanted in the first place.  Disclaimer #3:  My dog never leaves me alone.

On to the clothes!  The boots are the best thing that ever happened to me.  I wear them every day.  I love the scarf but have literally no idea where I got it, which is why I put "thrifted."  It seemed like the best option for when you have no clue how an item appeared in your closet.  The beanie is made out of REPREVE- a recycled fiber that helps turn plastic bottles we recycle into cool stuff we can wear and use every day.  Yep, what you see as the beanie on my head was once six plastic bottles.  Wowzers!  Talk about the beauties of recycling!  The beanie is my new favorite- aside from helping the environment, it is comfortable and warm and fits so snug- perfect for my afternoon walks with Maverick. (Greg also loves it- he has already stolen it from me to go running- he says it is warmer than any of his other beanies.)  The green in the beanie is to symbolize the movement to "go green", but also the neon green just totally rocks.  It gives such a bright spot to my winter wardrobe.  The beanie is not the only product made out of REPREVE- to see more of their recycled products check out here.

Other brands that use REPREVE to make their products greener:
• Volcom graphic t-shirts- use 2 recycled plastic bottles.
• Patgonia fleece jackets- use 40 recycled plastic bottles.
• Life Khakis by Haggar- use 7 recycled plastic bottles.

• The North Face, Polartec, Patagonia, Beija-Flor, Lauren Conrad’s XO(eco) by Blue Avocado, Swiftwick socks, and more.

And just for the heck of it, I am giving a beanie away.  REPREVE sent me two of these beauties and while I could be selfish and keep them both, I would rather give one away to one of you lovely folks.  It's the easiest giveaway you'll enter this side of the Mississippi.  Just visit this site and leave a comment telling me what product you like most that is made with REPREVE.  Easy enough?  No rafflecopter necessary, just one simple comment because I'm a rebel like that.

I hope you all enjoy your day off today.  I am making Greg take me to Wendover to play a few rounds of blackjack.  I've got the itch.  The its-the-middle-of-winter-I-need-to-go-somewhere-anywhere itch.  Also, Wendover is the most white trash gambling town in all the land, in case you are wondering.  


*This article is sponsored by REPREVE.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I'm losing my mind

TODAY I got paranoid on my way to school that Greg wasn't going to wake up in time for his show.  He is currently performing in The Foreigner and today they had two afternoon matinees for schools- one at 9 am and one at 12:30.  He doesn't have to be to his normal work until 9, but with a show this morning he was supposed to be at the theater at 8 am.  On my way to school I realized that it was weird that Greg wasn't awake yet if he had such an early show.

So, naturally, I freaked out.  Like any caring, loving TOTALLY SANE wife would.  It was 7:00 as I entered my school and I did some quick calculations... he should absolutely be awake by now, especially as he had a 30 minutes drive at least.  I called and called but to no avail.  (Also when you are calling someone at 7 am in Utah in January it feels like you are straight up calling them in the middle of the night to loot their homes as it is pitch pitch black outside.)

Finally after about 15 minutes of fruitless phone calls I decided that Greg's alarm hadn't gone off.  He was still asleep.  He was going to be late for his show.  500 eighth graders piled in to see him star in a play and he was going to sleep right through it.

The logical thing was to drive home to wake him up, right?  In the middle of my work day.  School starts at 7:50, it was 7:20.  I live 15 minutes from my work.  If I seriously booked it, I could get home with just enough time to wake Greg.  Yes, Bonnie, totally logical to leave with no idea if you will get back to teach the 40 seventeen year olds who will be knocking down your classroom door in a mere thirty minutes.

So I bailed out early on a faculty meeting with the firm conviction that the only way the day would not be a total disaster (Greg sleeps through show, Greg gets fired from his role, Greg abandons all hope and decides life is no longer worth living) is if I went home and woke Greg up.  I would save the day!

Five minutes later, cruising down the freeway like a true bat out of hall, I received a text from Greg.  "I'm fine.  Thanks though."  WHAT?  That's all I get?  An "I'm fine?"  I told him he had put me through a lot of stress and turmoil this morning.  To which he asked, "Why?  I set my alarm.  I'm an adult, Bon." 

Hmmm..... I don't know about this.  I mean, it's not like the boy has been setting alarms for 25 years now and could solve the complex riddle of how to make sure you are awake in time in the morning ALL BY HIMSELF.

So I turned around, went back to school, and felt like the true paranoid idiot I am.  I know I maybe freaked out a bit and got a little overly worried/ panicked, but can you blame me?  What would you do if you were 90% that your husband was going to sleep through something very important where hundreds of people are counting on him?  I was just playing the good wife and I maintain my belief that I AM NOT CRAZY.  Not entirely crazy, at least.

Also I am literally falling asleep as I type this.  LITERALLY.  I don't know that I've ever been so tired while writing a blog post.  But before I sign off to dream land, this month's sponsors are teaming up to offer you $100 big ones.  Entry is easy and I hope in addition to the chance to win $100 you find some great new blogs to start reading.  These girls are so sweet and have given up their hard earned cash to make one of you extremely happy.

An excerpt of the email I sent to our last cash giveaway winner, Sue:   "Thanks you so much again!! You have no idea how much this means right now!!!! :) Now, I get to explain to my co workers why I am dancing around like a crazy!!"  You could be the next person dancing around like a crazy person! 

Brought to you by...

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

End of the quarter

Welp.  It's that time of year... end of quarter!  This quarter I somehow managed to keep my sanity (It's called I have a student teacher who helped me grade piles and piles of paper) and if it weren't for the usual crazy requests from my students I might not have even noticed the quarter was ending.

Things my students ask me at the end of the quarter:
Student (on the last day of the quarter):  I only need 2.4% to be passing your class.  Is there any thing I can do to make it up?  Please please please PLEASE?
Me:  (Looks at grade) You don't need 2.4%.... you need 24%.  There's a big difference.
Student:  Oh. Crap. (Pause)... So is there anything I can do to make up 24%?
Me:  You might want to start by enrolling in a math class.

Student:  What did we do last time?
Me:  Did you check the absent board?
Student:  No.
Me:  Read the absent board.  It'll tell you everything we did, what you have to make up, and where the papers are that you need.  If you have questions after that, let me know.
Student:  But can't you just tell me what we did?!?
Me:  Why won't you just read the board?
Student:  It's too much woooooooooooorrkkkkkkk.................  I hate reeeeeeeeeeeadiiiiiiiinnnnnnng......

Student:  Is there anything I can do to raise my grade?
Me:  Yes.  You can do all your missing work that I gave you last week.
Student: Oh....  (long pause)
Student:  Is there anything else I can do?  That was a lot of work.
Me:  What did you have in mind?
Student:  Um.... I could wipe down your whiteboards.

Student #1:  If I twerk for you will you raise my grade .3%?
Me:  Yes because I want more than anything to see my students twerk.
Student #2:  Dude, I can't believe you really thought that would work.  You're an idiot.
Student #1:  I had to try!

Me:  You're in luck, you will pass the class this quarter as long as you did well on the test.  I haven't finished grading them yet, but they should be done within the next couple days.
Student:  What test?
Me:  The Hamlet test that we took last week...
Student:  Hamlet?
Me:  Did you take the Hamlet test?  The big one? That was worth 100 points? 50 questions and an essay?  Took all class period...  You took that, right?
Student:  I don't know...

(Will someone please tell me how you do not know if you took an hour and a half long test within the past week?)

That's why we teachers get real ornery at the end of the quarter, you know.  Lots of crazy, unreasonable requests and questions.  Lucky for us as soon as the new quarter starts the students go back to not caring at all about their grades and leave us in peace until the last week of the next quarter.  It's utter bliss!

Now, it's time for me to announce something very exciting...
grow your blog roundtable 2

grow your blog roundtable 2_2

The return of the roundtables!  If you are local, this is something you don't want to miss! Elisabeth is going to be in town the last week of January and we are going to take advantage by throwing a round table together!  The topic for this month is photography.  We will be going over basic photography tips (best ways to capture light, how to take good pictures indoors, etc.), some tips and suggestions for using DSLRs as well as the pros and cons to having a DSLR, best editing programs for pictures, etc.  As always, come with any questions you have on the topi.  The purpose of this roundtable is to get us all feeling more comfortable with our ability to take excellent quality pictures for our blog and of course, to meet new friends!  (P.S. If you don't have a blog but are interested in photography you are more than welcome to come!)

Thursday, January 30
Orem, Utah

If you want in, shoot me an email at and I will reserve a spot for you.  Can't wait to see you all!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What I've Learned from the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

There's been a lot of commotion in Utah lately over gay marriage.

Here's the gist if you missed out:  On December 20 a judge in Utah overturned Utah's ban on gay marriage saying it was unconstitutional.  Then a whole lotta people married their same sex partners.  Then the court put a hold on same sex marriage.  Then the people who got married were told their marriages might not be recognized.  Then the attorney general said they would be recognized.  It has been a lot of back and forth and a lot of uncertainty.

Utah is a very conservative state.  It is highly influenced by the Mormon church and culture.  The Mormon church believes marriage is between a man and a woman. (The church's most recent statement can be found here.)  At the same time, there are many people in Utah who desperately want the rights to marry someone of their same sex and resent Utah for withholding these rights.

To be honest with you, the whole debacle is very confusing to me.  I am a Mormon and believe in Mormon doctrine.  But then what happens when some doctrine seems to counteract other doctrine?  These are all things I believe:

- God loves all His children.
- God put us on Earth to be tested.
- God also put us on Earth to find joy. (One of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon states, "Men are that they might have joy.")
- One of our greatest gifts from God is our agency- the ability to make our own choices.
- Marriage is between a man a woman.
- We are to live Christlike lives which means showing charity, kindness and compassion toward our fellow men.
- One of my favorite teachings of Christ: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

Currently, my facebook wall is awash with passionate rants and raves from both sides of the argument.  Many people that I love and respect believe to their very core that we should never allow same sex marriage.  Many people that I love and respect believe the exact opposite.  I have Mormon friends on both sides; I have non Mormon friends on both sides.  I expected that there would be a little tension over the issue, but I have been absolutely appalled by some things that have been said by both sides.  I have been  embarrassed for people, shocked that people would say things that are so insensitive or cruel.  After a friend of mine blatantly attacked the Mormon church and its beliefs I typed out a biting reply and stared at it for ten minutes before I finally decided to delete it.  I didn't want to feel hatred or bitterness which is what I was feeling in that moment.  I have stayed quiet mostly because I do not know the answers.

This is what I do know.  In our search for correct doctrine and what God wants for marriage, we may have forgotten completely what God wants in the way of kindness, compassion, and joy.  I have heard incredibly ignorant and hateful remarks toward people with same sex attraction.  I have seen people blatantly attacking my religion and choice of beliefs.

What we all need is more understanding.  I had a student with same sex attraction say to me once, "Churches are awful places.  In "church" they teach you to hate gays."  Well.  I have spent a lot of time in "church."  Pretty much every Sunday, in fact.  I've never once heard anyone say to "hate gays".  The boy was clearly misinformed.  He heard something about a church or a religion and believed it point blank without ever having stepped a foot in the actual church.  Likewise I have many friends with very passionate beliefs for traditional marriage. I have an acquaintance who is very passionate about the subject- she will go off for hours on how gays should not be allowed to marry or adopt or enjoy the rights that heterosexuals enjoy without batting an eye.  She doesn't know any one who is gay.  Pretty easy to make a lot of decisions for people when you don't know anyone personally involved, right?

In many ways I feel like I am right in the middle of this argument which puts me in the unfortunate position of being offended by nearly everything that is said by either side.  On one hand I am fiercely defending what religious leaders have said on the subject and what I believe God intended for marriage.  On the other hand I am fiercely defending agency and the right to choose our own paths.  And with what little time or energy is left I find myself pleading, "Where is the Christlike love in any of this?"

On Sunday Greg and I invited my two brothers, sister in law, and niece over for dinner.  It was a small group, just enough to barely fit around our little table.  My brother asked what we thought about the recent debates and he expressed frustration at people who had said insensitive or unkind things about the issues.  He said he had walked out of lunch at work one day because the conversation had turned nasty.  We talked about it much longer than we should have with many of us with differing views on the point and in the end we came to no conclusions.  But it felt good to be able to discuss a difficult topic in a safe environment and feel love and kindness during the discussion instead of resentment or hatred.  My brother commented that it was the most civilized, kind conversation he had ever been a part of on the topic.

I don't know the answer to what God intends for people with same sex attraction, and I may never know the answer.  I have thought about it a little more in the days since, however, and these are things I do know:

-It is not our place to judge.

-God understands everything much better than we do.  At some point we will be blessed with more knowledge, but for right now we are asked at least these two things: 1) faith and 2) charity.

-This life is a test.  I believe our reaction to things like the gay marriage debate are part of our test.  How kind can we treat each other?  Can we be respectful towards others' beliefs and desires no matter how much we personally disagree with them? (This goes for both sides.)

-Sometimes it is best to just be quiet.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite things that have ever been said on the topic, and I think about it many times when I am frustrated by not knowing the answers. This was a comment my friend, Sally, left on a post on the same topic that I wrote nearly two years ago:

The New Testament is rife with stories that try to explain that God doesn't judge us all the same. The story about the talents - he gives some 10, some 5, and some 1...the story about the workers in the field that are called at different hours of the day...

I think the most important thing that we need to do is just show love and kindness. God does not ask us to be judgmental or cruel. He asks us to love one another. If we all had Christ-like love, I believe that God would bless us with the knowledge of why some things are.

Amen, Sal.

(P.S. This is one of the most genuine and heartfelt posts I have ever read on what it is like to be a gay Mormon.  Chad is a friend of mine from BYU- the "Mormon University".)