The Life of Bon: September 2015

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Reflections During Parent Teacher Conference

It's parent teacher conference night, which you can imagine is always an onslaught of excitement, wonder and glee.  The night usually goes something like this.  Sit for ten minutes.  Talk to a parent for one minute.  Sit for ten minutes.  Talk to a parent for one minute. Sit for ten minutes.  Are you following this very complicated pattern?

Really parent teacher conferences aren't horrible.  We stay two nights an extra four hours each and then we get Friday off.  It does make for really long days.  But the gym is air conditioned and it is admittedly much easier to sit at a table and talk to a few random parents than it is to teach four 85 minute class periods in a row, so I don't complain.  Also they give us dinner and snacks.  Also because I'm part time I only have to be here one night instead of two.  Part time is basically a basket full of perks and dreams and white gummy bears.

I like to play a game where I look at the parents flooding into our gym and then I look at their child and then I try to figure out exactly how and when that parent found out that they were expecting said child.  Was the baby a surprise?  A much awaited piece of good news?  Were they alone when they found out the happy (or not so happy) news?  In a gas station bathroom?  On a vacation in Europe?  How did they come to know that for the next couple of decades (and really forever) their lives would be dramatically different?  Did they ever think during that moment of "oh my gosh I'm pregnant!" that sixteen and a half years later they would be wandering aimlessly around a high school gym, tracking down teachers, trying to figure out why this said-pregnancy-now-turned-high-schooler has a 66% in Art?  DID THEY EVER THINK OF THAT?

Speaking of finding out you're pregnant...

I'm not pregnant.  And for a long time I really wanted to be.  But June has turned full blown toddler on us.  She daily empties out the cupboards, throws her food from the high chair, and squeals like a pteradactyl when I have the audacity to try to close the fridge door while she is busy getting her little hands on a jar of mayonaise.  She's gotten quite unreasonable.  So I think I can wait a little while for baby #2.  I hear that all kids only go through one difficult stage and then they're perfect angels for the rest of their lives so I'm just going to wait until June comes out of this stage.

Other things you might want to know but probably don't need to know but maybe you are in a state or place where my life minutia is somewhat interesting to you... (?)  I don't pretend to understand the way the world works.  But just in case.  Here you go.

+ After reading Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin, I cleaned out my closet.  (Book discussion on this is on October 8.)  And it felt so gooooooood.  Like all my extra clothes and shoes were this physical burden on me and now that they are gone I don't have to feel it.  And every time I saw that shirt hanging in the closet that I don't like anymore I felt guilty for not wearing it.  But now I gave it away to a thrift store (in theory.  In reality it's in my car trunk but IT WILL BE at the thrift store) and it just feels right, you know.  Like I have no more weird shirt guilt. 

***Next steps: cleaning out pantry, coat closet, and fridge.

+ Greg and I are so grateful for how supportive you have all been of our little jewelry venture.  I have been blown away at the blog readers who have left sweet notes on orders.  This is such an amazing community, and I am honored to be a part of it.  We are hoping to get to a place where the jewelry provides us a kind of self employment that fulfills all of our wildest dreams...  Could little dainty necklaces be capable of all that?

+ Speaking of jewelry, we unrolled our little gold ball and gold square necklaces earlier today.  They are 14 karat gold filled and stunning little pieces perfect for the holiday season coming up.  And any time we show a new piece, we like to start with a bang so use code BLING20 for 20% off your gold ball or gold square necklace.  The code will be good for a week.

+ I'm still at parent teacher conferences.  My conferences with students usually go one of two ways:  #1:  Parent + student come.  Student has an A.  I tell parent their student is a very hard worker.  Parent + student leave happy.   #2: Parent + student come.  Student has an F.  Parent is mad at student.  Student tries to explain himself.  I watch in discomfort. I tell parent and student everything that student needs to do to no longer have an F.   Parent + student leave unhappy.  I don't know why, but I rarely see my B,C, and D students.

+ This weekend Greg and I are headed to a High School Shakespeare festival with his theater rugrats.  Nothing is better than watching 16 year olds pretend to be Lady Macbeth.  And I say that in earnest.

+ Today I am feeling really really grateful for the strong and understanding people in my life.  I draw a lot of strength from my mom because nothing ever stops her.  I am also really grateful for my boss this week who has been kind and understanding in a way that I have really needed.  It is a really great thing to be surrounded by good people.  I try to draw from their strength so that later I can have the strength to give to others.  Like some kind of awesome strength parasite cycle.

+ Tomorrow I have to miss teaching my classes and instead go to an all day training.  I'm not happy about it, especially since I haven't taught my sixth period AP class for the past three class periods due to counseling presentation, graduation assembly, college day,  in that order.  Sometimes there is not enough teaching going on in teaching.

+ Forty more minutes of parent teacher conference.  I can do this!

Monday, September 28, 2015

What we did in class this week + What I wore (AP Lit edition)

What I wore:
Blouse: Banana Republic
Pants: Walmart (these bad boys are stretchy and I loooooove them.  They are $12 and feel amazing.  They don't last longer than several washes, though, so try not to get them dirty!)
Sandals: Gap
Necklace: Hey June (20% your order ends TODAY.  Well it ends today if today is Tuesday.  It ends Tuesday!  September 29!  Get your order in before prices go up on Wednesday.  And thank you so so so so much for all the support we have received so far.  This blog has been amazing.  Remember to use BLOG20 on your order to get the 20% off)

A note on clothes- I am adopting my stay-at-home clothes strategy with my work clothes a little bit, and that strategy is to SIMPLIFY.  Simple blouse, simple pants, classic jewelry and we're set.  I am leaning away from wearing bold colors and instead using those colors to accessorize.  For me, I have found that this takes the stress away from dressing and strangely it helps me feel more calm and at peace when I am wearing neutral colors.  I don't pretend to understand, but I go with it.

What we did:
Last week I told you what we'd been doing in my regular juniors class, so today I'm spilling all the beans on AP Literature.  This is my second time teaching AP Lit.  My first time was two years ago.  Last year there were not enough kids signed up, so they swiped the program completely. Then, this year 50 kids signed up!  Hooray!  The program is back on!  The 50 kids were definitely due to heavy recruitment on my part and probably some illegal bribing on Greg's part, (about half the kids who signed up are his theater kiddos) but I ain't complaining!  I am beyond thrilled that the program is back at our school because it's something I feel very passionate about, and when they closed the program a year ago I was afraid we'd never see it again.  But it's back!  And I feel goooooooood.

We started our year off right away- there's not a lot of time to waste in AP because there is so much material that must be covered by May.  Our first book was Lord of the Flies.  I love starting with this book because it pulls the readers in immediately- they know it's not a matter of if crazy happens but when crazy happens.

Teaching this class to 50 AP class students is a lot different than teaching it to 50 regular class students.  In AP every single kid does the reading every single time.  This kind of blows my mind.  I start going over the reading together and they all just look at me like, "Yah, we know Mrs. Larsen.  We read.  Just like you told us to."  And I'm like, "What?  All of you?!  Everyone read!?!"  It is thrilling in the most geeky way.  We all gather together for class and they're ready and excited to talk about the book, infuriated by a character who died, anxious with predictions for the end of the book.

This, obviously, is very different from the way regular class students approach a book.  A lot of my guys in my regular classes have never read a book start to finish.  I beg and cajole, entertain and promise in order to get them engaged with the text.   I put on the whole horse and pony show, begging them to read a few pages.  And when they do it's very rewarding!  When they leave my class in May a lot of them tell me that they have had very positive experiences with reading- something they maybe haven't had up until this point.  Some enter my class hating books and they leave at least liking one or two books.  There are some of those "regular" kids who you make such progress with, and it is extremely rewarding to see the change in them.

That being said, it's so much work!  It's like I'm putting on a show all day, trying to get them excited, checking up on them, explaining and re explaining assignments.  The work is greater, but maybe so is the reward?  I haven't quite decided yet.  Teaching the AP kids is a dream.  It is amazing to teach people who appreciate reading on the level that I do.  I don't have to convince them to read diddly squat.  They're excited and ready.  I love being surrounded by other who love reading as much as I do.  HOWEVER... they don't need me.  Does that make sense?  A lot of these kids would pass the AP Literature test even if a brick wall were their teacher.  I am just one in a line of many people in their lives who help and support them.  If I were to teach the class or if someone else were going to teach the class, they'd still do just as well because it's more up to them and not as much as me.  With a lot of these kids, I feel like they will succeed no matter what.  So I guess in many ways it feels like I make more of a difference to the regular class students, but gosh, teaching those kids who love to learn is fun.  It's all fun.  And it's all rewarding.  But in different ways.

Anyway... coming back from that tangent.  We just finished and tested on The Lord of the Flies last week.  I always love the discussion in this book.  Is man inherently good or evil?  What would we do if left without rules, without government?  Are we mature enough to handle ourselves without a clear system?  I also love the gender discussion as it ties in to LOTF... why did Golding leave out women?  How would the story have been different if they were little girls stranded on an island instead of little boys? 

For one of the most climatic scenes in the book I had students "paint" their faces with eyeliner and lipstick.  We tied ties around their heads to represent the savages (I've got some ins with the drama teacher) and certain kids volunteered to read the parts of Jack, Roger, Ralph, Piggy, etc.  I always love doing this during the most exciting parts of books.  I almost always read the climax of a book in class with my students.  I tell them, "In every book there is a part where the shiz hits the fan.  And when that shiz hits, you know I want to be there.  Front row. Popcorn. Watching it all go down."  Because I do!  That's what reading is all about!

 All pictures are used with written consent from parent and student.

Now that we're done with Lord of the Flies we're moving right on to Hamlet.  I have such a love hate relationship with Hamlet.  I had planned to do Othello as my other Shakespeare, but our school doesn't have enough copies.  I'm looking at doing Macbeth or possibly Twelfth Night or Much Ado About Nothing if I go the comedy route.  Any suggestions?

Also, I was going to teach And Their Eyes Were Watching God, one of my absolutely favorites.  I love the dialect and I love that it's written by a black woman to give some variety to our onslaught of white men.  BUT.  About a third of the kids read it in tenth grade.  Do I carry on anyway?  Or do I try to find another book by a black woman?  I have considered Toni Morrison but don't know that I have the stomach and stamina to teach her.  Or do I just ditch the black woman altogether... I wouldn't mind teaching Kite Runner but it doesn't really fill the niche I was trying to fill.

Your comments are appreciated, as always!

Today is the last day of this campaign that I have been loved being a part of.  Somehow more people clicked on my campaign for salad than for this one and I'm all sorts of confused.  Just when you think you have the world figured out!


8 Easy Ways to Start Living a More Natural Lifestyle (Dummy Edition)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias and its advertiser. 
All opinions are mine alone. #NaturalGoodness #CollectiveBias

I must admit that living "naturally" has a certain appeal to me.  Cleaner eating, a more healthy lifestyle, less toxins... it all sounds awesome.  Like all of a sudden maybe my life will be filled with peace and harmony and yoga in the middle of a tropical rainforest?  Maybe not, but  maybe I'll have more energy and feel better and not pass out at 4 pm the second I walk in the door from school?  Now that sounds like something I could get used to.

But the thing is that the steps to starting a natural health journey are very overwhelming for a regular gal like me.  I think people who live an entire "natural" lifestyle might sway me more in the other direction, to be honest with you.  It feels so intense!  I want to try a couple of things to living naturally and then I see a natural living instagram and I think, "ah sheesh I'm never going to own chickens or spend $200 on an oil diffuser!"  (And I'm sorry, but I will NEVER have it in me to use cloth diapers.)  It seems too big of a commitment, too hard, too expensive, too, well... weird.  But that doesn't change the fact that I do want a lifestyle with less chemicals, less toxins, less processed food for me and my family.  So... I made some baby steps.  Stuff that is getting me there without being too overwhelming.  In case there are any regular joes out there like me who want to take steps to living more naturally, but don't exactly know how, I offer a few baby steps to get you in the right direction.

1.  Drink more water.  Duh!  This one is a no brainer, but it is always difficult for me.  I always want something sweet or something with caffeine so I tend toward a really gross amount of soda.  For the past few weeks I have tried to limit myself to 1-2 diet cokes a day and the rest water.  (Which I know doesn't sound that amazing, but for me it is quite the step up.)  The trick to drinking lots of water for me is to always have an ice cold water with me.  I fill my water cup up in the morning and carry it around with me for the day to get my H20 in.

2.  Grow your own garden.  Probably the biggest step I took this year to living more "naturally" was that for the first time ever, I grew my own garden!  I did this in pots in my backyard- if you've got even a little bit of outdoor space (and lots of sun!) you can do it.  I grew cherry tomatoes, regular tomatoes, green peppers, mini orange peppers, and zuchinni.  I felt so proud of myself and the vegetables were fresh and delicious and had no toxins!  No chemicals!  It wasn't even that hard.  I promise!  Nothing tastes better than the fruit of your own labor.  (Next year I am ditching the mini orange peppers and doing cucumbers instead.  I'm also going to try to do a little herb garden in my upstairs window sill.)

Grown by yours truly.

3.  Recycle.  In Utah it can be kind of a huge hassle to try to recycle... I wish there was a little more emphasis on that here.  A couple months ago I took an entire full of aluminum cans 25 minutes away to recycle them.  I received a whopping $7 in compensation, and then I realized I certainly am not in this for the money!  BUT I am thrilled that in the community where we live a recycling truck has started coming around every other Thursday.  We've made added efforts to recycle our plastic, cardboard, aluminum cans, etc.  All it means is that we put them in a separate can as our regular garbage and save them for recycling day.  Something small, but something big too.

4.  Get moving!  A little exercise goes a long ways.  If at all possible, we try to get our exercise outside.  We love to hike and every day we take Maverick for a walk.  When we are feeling more adventurous we play tennis, and I've even gone to a yoga class or two!  These things are little and basic, but they do so much for making my body feel strong and healthy.  And the vitamin D does wonders for my mood.  (I'd love to get a fitbit and work toward getting 10,000 steps a day... I feel like this would definitely get me moving a bit more.  But I'm too cheap.)

On a hike on St. Maarten's

6.  Eat less processed food/ more "real" food.  Since having June I have really enjoyed my days at home because they allow me to cook real food for my family a little more.  We are nowhere close to 100% away from processed food, but we are leaps ahead of where we were two years ago.  When I want a mid afternoon snack now I go for an apple instead of a bowl of sweetened cereal.  Dinner always includes a fresh vegetable and healthy protein.  Baby steps!

Fresh grown green beans and onions (from my mom's garden!) with bacon

Salmon in a cream cheese leek sauce

7.  Make your own baby food.  Some may consider this one a tad bit more on the "extreme" side of natural living, but to me it is one of the biggest and, surprisingly, easiest things you can do to live a more natural lifestyle.  When June was six months my friend Sarah gave us a baby bullet and that changed the world for us.  95% of June's food from then on was natural.  We'd steam and then blend all sorts of fruits and vegetables for her, oatmeal with bananas is a go to,  and rice with chicken was a total fave.  I promise you it is not nearly as intimidating as you think to make your own baby food and it saves you from the processed, not-that-yummy baby food in stores.  It is much more healthy AND a million times cheaper.

8.  Begin to sub out cleaning and hygiene products.  This one may seem like a big step because you are purposely buying a "natural" product.  The key is to start simple!  You don't have to suddenly revamp your entire house with natural products, but start with something easy and something that you use often.  For us, we started with toothpaste.  At my last trip to Walmart instead of buying our normal toothpaste, I took a little extra time and spent one extra dollar to buy Tom's of Maine® natural toothpaste.  (That's one thing I love about Tom's of Maine®- I don't have to go to a special natural food store, I can just pop on over to Walmart and get it while I'm doing my regular shopping.  No hassle!)  Tom's of Maine® products do not contain artificial colors, flavors, fragrances, preservatives, animal ingredients or animal testing.  We loved the Simply White® Clean Mint Cavity Protection Toothpaste- tastes clean and fresh.  And if toothpaste isn't your jam, Tom's of Maine® also offers other natural hygiene products like deodorant, bar soap and mouthwash.  Seriously such an easy switch to start living a little more naturally. 

(You can learn more about their ingredients, including their purpose and source, by visiting

You can find Tom's of Maine toothpaste in the toothpaste aisle at Walmart.  The Silly Strawberry® Anticavity Toothpaste variety that we will use for June when she turns two we found in the kids' toothpaste section, right across from the adult toothpaste.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

We are living in the best kind of zoo and other news

Hello all!  Sorry for my brief sabbatical mid week but it has been a total zoo over here.  A good zoo.  But a zoo!

We are overwhelmed with gratitude, excitement, humility ALL OF THE ABOVE at your response to our jewelry line HEY JUNE.  It has been so sweet for me to watch orders come in over the past couple of days and to see your sweet comments "I've been a blog reader for years" "Love reading your blog" "Your blog made me leave my husband and take up a new lover"  That last one might have been from a spam spell caster.  But you get the gist.

On Tuesday June and I went to story time while I watched orders trickle in.  I couldn't believe it!  People liked what I liked!  And liked what I made!  The last two days since have been a crazy cycle of printing shipping labels,  responding to questions, feeding June, grading papers, wiring necklaces, preparing snacks for a scentsy party (because I decided it was a good idea to host a scentsy party in the middle of all this hooplah.  I HAVE ISSUES),  arguing with school counselors over students missing my class, packaging necklaces, giving bubble baths, and collapsing into bed at night.  It was a whirlwind of crazy and happy and busy and total gratitude.

I had a male friend/ acquaintance from high school share my shop on facebook and I was kind of blown away.  I haven't seen or talked to that person for 12+ years.  And there he was, supporting our silly little shop.  I guess some days I am kind of pissed off at all the people in the world.  Dumb drivers, inconsiderate people at the grocery store, people who make up meetings that I have to go to for no good reason.  And then I see this and I see how many people are supportive and how many people genuinely sincerely wish success for others and I am reminded that people are basically good. (We've been reading Lord of the Flies in AP Lit so I've been doing a lot of soul searching- is man inherently good or evil?  Which one is it?!?) 

Then I find out I have to go to another meeting and I question everything again.

But thank you.  Thank you for your support and your love and your comments and the general good juju that you have been sending my way.  I send it right back to you.  I am so honored to be a part of this blogging community and totally humbled and blown away that you show up here every once in a while to read my ramblings.  When and how did this blog get to be such a big and happy part of my life? 

I don't know. 

But I'm grateful.

TOMORROW:  What I wore + what we have been doing in AP Lit this week

- The dinner struggle is real.  I've made this for the past week straight week.  I never get sick of it, but Greg is about to stage a revolt.  I might be in need of more (easy + fast) suggestions.

- One of my favorite men, Richard G. Scott, died on Tuesday.  He was an apostle in the LDS church, He always gave the sweetest talks and was so sweet and tender toward his wife.  I mourn for me at his passing, but rejoice for him.  He is finally reunited with his wife after 20 years.

- I bought a bunch of these for Halloween treats.  I have since eaten them all.  #adultfail

- Loved this article on 15 things happy people don't do.  Do you do any of those things?

- Speaking of happy, are you reading The Happiness Project or Happier at Home for book club this month?  Book discussion is October 8.  I'm about 100 pages in and you better believe I already organized the crap out of my closet.  Gretchen Rubin will do that to you!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Announcing... Hey June

I am so excited I can barely contain my excitement!

And by that I mean I am so exhausted I can barely keep my eyes open.  

I mean, excitement, exhaustion it's all pretty much the same, right?

In my case it is.  The cause of my excitement and the cause of my exhaustion are one and the same.  Today Greg and I officially opened our online jewelry shop, Hey June 
 Here's the story.  After I had June, I wanted an adorable little ruby to commemorate the month of July in which my body was cut in half and a baby was pulled out of me.  It was the greatest month of my life!  And the weirdest!  And I needed to celebrate!

But alas, I couldn't find that perfect little ruby anywhere.  I checked birthstones but blech! Have you guys seen what has happened to birth stones lately?  Let's just say Walmart has really had its way with birthstones the last decade.  Ain't no one making a birthstone necklace these days that looks pretty and dainty and feminine.

So I decided fine fine fine.  I'll do it.  I'll make these necklaces for the world.  My best friend since college has had a successful jewelry shop for years so she set me straight- told me where to find some much needed supplies and gave me all the advice one needs when one decides to start making necklaces with rubies in them.  IT'S A WEIRD WORLD.

And that's how we arrived here.  With these necklaces in my home.  Made by me with some help from Greg.  And when I say some help from Greg I mean he untangled twelve necklaces for about six hours tonight with the patience of a kind and tender nun.  Thanks Greg!  And word to the wise:  DO NOT TANGLE NECKLACES.

I love celebrating my birthday and all, but I kind of started thinking that we should be celebrating so much more in life than just the month we were born.  August is the month that Greg first kissed me.  May is the month I got my first teaching job.  March is the month I got married.  In September I started this blog.  October is the month that Maverick joined our family.  November is the month my dad passed away, and then four years later on the exact same day, it was the day I found out I was pregnant with my first baby.  I really ought to be celebrating or remembering all of these significant times in my life, not just my birth month.

Hey June's goal is to take a special period of time in your life and hang it around your neck for you to hold close to your heart.  It's not just a necklace, it's a story.

When I'm feeling all romantical I wear August's stone (peridot) 
to remember the month that Greg first planted his salty lips on mine.

But I didn't want to make no cheap jewelry.  I can't help it, I like my jewelry the way I like my women- beautiful and feminine, yes, but also strong and durable.  I have been blessed in my life to know the most amazingly beautiful and strong women, and these necklaces are a tribute to those women.  All our pieces are made to last- they are made with 14 karat gold filled chain, 14 karat gold filled wiring, 14 karat gold filled clasps and real swarovski crystals.  Gold filled jewelry means that your necklace will not turn color on you or turn your skin colors.  IT WILL STAY GOLD.  Because what's the point of spending money on a necklace if you can't wear it anymore after a few weeks?  A main goal of these necklaces is that they are simple enough, pretty enough, versatile enough, strong enough and durable enough to be an every day, staple piece of jewelry.

Greg and I do the wiring on our necklaces ourselves which means that each piece is unique and has its own personality and character.  June does the wiring on some of the necklaces too and those ones are real unique.  Chalk full of personality. (I kid. I kid.)

Go check out the shop.  It would be an honor to help you remember significant times in your life with our jewelry.  AND because it's opening week and because you are my faithful, awesome blog readers I am giving you all 20% off necklaces for the first week.  Just enter BLOG20 at check out.  AND if you order $50+ worth of jewelry you get free shipping.  Use code FREESHIP.  And that shipping deal, dearies, is good forever!

Oh, and follow us on instagram (@heyjuneshop) for all the behind the scenes action, giveaways, discounts, and the first scoop on new items coming out. There may or may not be a giveaway coming up soon.  Just saying.

It is definitely way too late for me to still be working on this post, and I am for sure middle-of-the-night-emotional but I just want to thank all of you guys for reading, commenting, supporting and being a part of my life through this blog.  It feels very vulnerable to embark on a pursuit like this.  I feel so grateful to even have the opportunity to start a little business...  It is breathtakingly terrifying, and I never in a million years would have attempted it if I didn't have such awesome online friends through this blog.  Your support means the world to my little growing family, and thanks for giving me the confidence and love to do something like this.

September stone- the month I started this blog.  
Thank you thank you thank you.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A post about clothes I wear at home because this is interesting stuff that must be shared with the world

Dear blogging world.

Do you know what I stopped worrying about lately?  My clothes I wear at home.  Every home day I used to sit and stare at my closet and try to figure out what in the world I was going to wear.  Has to be comfortable, but still cute and not sloppy.  But I need to be able to take Maverick for a walk in it, go to the grocery store in it, meet my mom for lunch.  Well, I learned from my friend Sarah that the whole trick is to keep casual clothes simple.  I kind of feel like this was a whole epiphany for me- when I am at home, doing laundry, running errands, etc I don't need to over think what I'm wearing.  (Which is different from not getting dressed.  I always get dressed on my days at home as this helps me feel more productive and gives me a boost of confidence and self love.  Some people love staying in their pjs all day, but it always sends me into weird spirals of depression and self loathing.  We've all got our problems people!)  

So I developed kind of a casual days at home uniform, so to speak.  Basically I just copied Sarah.  My at home uniform is:

- loose v-neck tee
- comfy jeans
- flip flops, tennies, or booties
- simple but pretty every day jewelry 

This system is amazing. No more thought or energy wasted on clothes I wear while chilling around my house. Every day at home I wake up and throw on a v neck and a pair of jeans and the whole "getting ready and being pretty" routine is over.  Well except for hair and makeup and listen, if anyone out there has got a way to make this process simpler, I am ALL EARS because the thought that I have to put mascara on every day for the rest of my life is just the pits.

Those jeans are from a clothes drive at my church and are my current favorite pair.  They fit like a freaking glove.  Now, someone tell me how this happens: I search every store in the world for a great pair of jeans.  I am willing to pay $100+ for that perfect, every day pair that fits me just right.  But they are not found.  Month after month I search for those, and still they allude me.  Then, in a completely non related pursuit, I last minute decide to go to a clothing drive for my church and what do you know?  The perfect pair of jeans is sitting right there, waiting patiently for me in a pile of maternity dresses.  WHAT IS THIS WORLD WE LIVE IN?

And that's the story of the heroic and brave journey of my jeans.

My tshirt is the Boyfriend Tee from Old Navy.  This shirt pretty much changed my life.  It's $5-7 and comes in every color.  Guess what?  I discovered this year, too, that I don't like a lot of the colors that I buy clothes in.  Turns out my whole life I have felt this weird responsibility to buy clothes in every color.  Why was that?  As if I had to honor this loyalty to the color spectrum.  I don't have a green shirt!  I must buy green!  When it's time to buy a cardigan I love the gray one best, but I already have so much gray so... purple it is!  It took until this year at the ripe old age of 29 that I allowed myself to stop buying clothes in every color.  Turns out for most of my clothes I like the basic colors- white, gray, black, navy.  Say what?  It can't possibly be that simple can it?  Wearing these basic colors allows me to have more fun with color in my accessories- I love a bold red lip or bright turquoise flats or a pretty mint necklace.  I can wear these pretty colored accessories whenever I want with my plain shirts and pants, and I still get that pop of color without it being so overpowering.  (FYI: I bought this shirt in navy, black, two grays, and three whites.  It's that great.)

The best thing about the boyfriend tee from Old Navy though, is not the basic colors it comes in, but that it is NOT TIGHT.  NOT FORM FITTING.  DOESN'T SHOW EVERY FOLD OF MY POST BABY BODY.   I realized this year that I don't like my clothes very tight.  At least not my shirts.  I don't mind a great tight fitting jean but when it comes to shirts, sheesh, get that thing off my body!  I can't breathe and I'm sweating out my arm pits like a banshee now loosen this tee up.  I'm talking to you Forever 21.

As far as jewelry goes, I am lately digging simple colored stones.  I can't tell you any more information about the necklace below until tomorrow but get ready for something freaking awesome!

Peace out!  May your Monday be productive and hppy.

Friday, September 18, 2015

What We Did in Class This Week + What I Wore

It's time for the return of what we did in class this week!  This is always one of my favorite posts to write.  Last year I felt a bit off my jam when it came to teaching, getting dressed, writing on my blog.... everything really.  We were adjusting to a lot of newness as a family and then there was the nursing wardrobe which really cramped my style.  I felt like I could never dress cute because everything had to be low, buttoned, loose, layered.  Yea for being done nursing!  (But boo for the return of my flat chest.  You can't have your cake and eat it too, you know.)


Those are the eyes of a woman who just taught four straight 85 minute classes full of teenagers.  
I wonder if I did the ultimate kamikaze move by giving up my prep period?
Also, hats off to elementary teachers who never get prep periods.

Outfit details:  
Cardigan: Gap//  Blouse: Thrifted//  Shoes: Gap// Skirt: JC Penny (I got that skirt six years ago when I first started teaching) Watch: Jord

This year I am teaching two classes of regular junior English and two classes of AP Literature.  I really love teaching a class twice- you don't have time to get sick of teaching it yet, but teaching it only once feels like SO MUCH WORK to prepare all the materials for just one class.  I used to think three was the perfect amount to teach something, but last year I taught three junior classes and got pretty bored by the third go around, so maybe twice is my sweet spot?

My juniors are one day away from finishing The Crucible.  My school district likes us to teach junior English (American Literature) in chronological order which means that we start with Puritan type stuff- The Crucible, Scarlet Letter.  I struggle with this because those texts are extremely difficult for regular kids, and I don't like to start out with the hard hard stuff.  Kids are still shuffling in and out of class and they don't quite trust you yet.  If I had my way I would teach The Crucible in January- it would give us time to do some scaffolding and reading of other texts to prepare them for Crucible.  Also they would trust me.  It's so much easier to teach second semester- kids buy in to your system, they no longer believe that you're just trying to screw them over, they understand your systems and procedures.  I feel like if I save the difficult texts for when they 1) trust me and 2) are used to the structure of the class, I have a lot more success.

BUT as teaching Crucible in January definitely doesn't work for chronological teaching of American Lit, I bite the bullet and start teaching it the second week of school.  This year I have seriously debated just scrapping Crucible altogether.  It is such a hard text with so many characters.  It requires a very good understanding of the time period, and if kids miss a day of reading they are pretty much screwed.  There are so many nuances in the text that kids can easily miss if I don't point them out.  We read the whole thing together in class and I feel like I am stopping them every two lines, "Did you see that?"  "What does that mean?"  "What is he referring to when he says that?"  "Why is she upset?"  It is exhausting for me and the students, and I still don't know if they are really understanding.  It takes us close to an entire class period to read 20 pages together and I feel like I've sucked the fun out of their souls.

If I stopped teaching Crucible then I would need some other work of literature to sub in for the Puritan era.  Scarlet Letter is an obvious choice, but is an even tougher read than The Crucible and I'm afraid it would just totally kill off my students if I started in on Scarlet Letter right back from summer break.  Their minds aren't in reading shape yet, you know?  My other option would be to scrap a longer work of literature altogether and just read short stories and essays about the time period.  I dread doing this because here's my confession, I am not a good teacher when I don't have a book or play that we are working on.  A book just gives so much structure to the class and makes it so easy to teach all of the standards- reading, writing, speaking, listening- all of it is so much easier when we are studying a piece of literature.  Thinking about going several weeks without teaching a book terrifies me simply because I don't know how.  I don't know how I would fill all that time or how I would find enough to talk about.

LASTLY an issue that I've had with Crucible this year that I've never ever had before is I've had kids complaining about the separation of church and state issue.  There's a part where the reverend asks John Proctor to name the 10 commandments to see how "worthy" he is.  I always have students try to list off how many they know to see if they'd pass Salem's "standards of righteousness".  Usually kids really like this and think it's fun.  This year they complained- one student said it made her really uncomfortable and one muttered under her breath while we were doing it that "this isn't Sunday School."  I tried to explain to them that we can study religions and religious beliefs without it being Sunday School- I was not implying that they should be living the ten commandments, merely asking them if they had a basic knowledge of Christian beliefs and knew any of the ten commandments.  I mean, yes, I get it, separation of church and state but how in the world do you teach early American Literature without mentioning God?  They are Puritans!  Everything they did, said, and thought revolved around their beliefs in God, so yah, we kinda gotta talk about religion.  Especially in The Crucible... the reverends, the turning yourself over to Satan, the trying to please God, etc, etc, etc. You simply can't teach the book without teaching a basic "this is what Christians believe."  Sigh.

SO... long story short I am really struggling with teaching The Crucible this year.  I'd love to axe it completely, but don't know what would take its place for next year.  I see the reasoning behind my district wanting to teach American Literature chronologically- it makes the most sense and aligns with what junior history teachers are teaching.  It is the ideal way to teach.  BUT, I think for regular juniors it might not be so ideal.  Junior options at my school for English classes are: AP Language, Honors English, and Regular English.  I definitely think that an Honors language class should be taught chronologically.  These kids have had success with reading in the past, usually enjoy literature to some extent, and can probably jump in to Crucible or Scarlet Letter early on in the school year without it being too difficult.  But for regular juniors, many of whom have never enjoyed reading, not passed English classes in the past, and are generally suspicious of English teachers, I feel like they'd benefit from establishing a relationship with the teacher and getting some other more manageable texts under their belts before attempting Purtian literature.  I just don't think we're doing them any favors starting with Crucible.  I also have a handful of students in each class who are not native English speakers and struggle with basic comprehension- I fear we're killing them off very quickly with old John Proctor over here.

If I had my choice I'd start regular junior English off with Of Mice and Men.  It's a short book (barely over 100 pages) which always wins students' affection immediately.  There are interesting characters, manageable text and dialogue, and themes that are really easy to understand and talk about.  It yields great discussion and kids always have a strong opinion about this book.  Some hate it, but they love that they hate it, you know?  I feel like this is a perfect book to help students trust literature and their literature teachers.

Um... I was going to tell you what my AP Lit classes have been working on too, but by now my blog writing time is far spent.  I'll give you a glimpse into our AP classroom next week.  Also, I am going  to start doing these What We Did in Class posts every two weeks instead of every month so that it is a more manageable post to write.  Ok?  Ok.  Now go have a great weekend!  And if you think about it, tell me a solution to my Puritan/Crucible/Scarlet Letter problem!  Grazi!

Around the Web:
+ Can't think of a more worthwhile cause of the whole internet than this one.  So proud to be a (little) part of this.  Not all agree with me that it's still a major problem in our country, but I definitely think it is and it's something I'm proud to fight for.
+ My blogging bestie, Taylor, had me laughing out loud this week when making fun on Instagram and the way we all buy in to it.  She's a genius.  A hilarious little genius.
+ Brooke breaks down why your facebook posts aren't reaching very many people in this post.  Want to know how to increase your reach?  She's got you covered.  (After reading this I am kind of shocked.  I need to change basically everything about the way I promote my blog on facebook.)
+ Started crying when I was reading this article about marriage.  I agree with so much of it and disagree with so much of it.
+ Would you ever make something like this for dinner?  I'm desperate for easy dinner suggestions around here.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Conquer Your Boredom with Crunch + Netflix Binge Shows

One of the things that I love about Greg is he is totally a kid at heart.  He loves camp outs and forts, staying up late and sleeping in, and he'll tear through a bag of candy faster than a twelve year old the day after Halloween.  His favorite chocolate bar is this one, and I swear to you I cannot keep them stocked.  Even just preparing for this post I had a bag of these bad boys in the pantry and Greg would come home from work every day, open the pantry, and ask me if he could eat them yet.  "No!  I have to take the pictures still!"  I'd say.  He was thrilled when we finally got around to taking our pictures so that he could dig in.  I think I ate about two bars before he and June devoured the rest of the bag.  Jerks.

This was the first time we have ever given June a Nestlé® Crunch®.  One of my favorite things about being a parent is watching June discover life's little pleasures.  Nestlé® Crunch® is definitely a little pleasure for us.  Or maybe a big pleasure.  All chocolate just kind of rules our world around here.

As you can see, June is very good at getting food in her mouth all over her face.  The yummier the treat, the bigger the mess, amiright?

While June is obviously a big fan of Nestlé® Crunch®, Greg and I might rival her when it comes to our love for this perfect little candy bar.  Just the right amount of crunchiness and chocolate.  Sometimes our nights around here can get a tad bit dull- we both work ourselves like crazy during the day and then at night all we have energy for is to come home and stare at the wall.  That's why Nestlé® Crunch® is the perfect snack to help us cure our boredom... it gives us that extra bit of crunch we need at night.  Our favorite thing to do on our weeknights is put June to bed, grab our Nestlé® Crunch® and other snacks and cuddle on the couch while binging on Netflix.  Real original, I know, but it's the perfect little cure to our boredom, helps us relax, and gets us mentally prepared to face hundreds of 17 year olds the next day.

Our favorite shows in Netflix/ Hulu:
Community- Just starting season 3... where has this series been all my life?  I love Abed something fierce and Chevy Chase as Pierce is just too freaking good.  My only complaint is that sometimes I wish there were a bit more of a plot that carried through several episodes.
Parks and Rec- Plowed through these last year.  So good.  Chris definitely wins for favorite character, Greg loves him some Ron Swanson any night of the week.
The Office- rewatched the first three or four seasons last year.  Greg says it isn't good after season 4 and won't watch any more than that.  While I think they definitely decrease in awesomeness, I still love them.  I never watched any of the episodes after Michael left.  Do I need to?
Arrested Development- we've watched these all once and LOVED them.  I think it's time to watch them again- the cleverness of the writing is out of this world.
Breaking Bad- best television show made ever?  Jesse Pinkman is my television hero but I don't think I could ever watch the series again.  So heavy!
The Mindy Project- we loved it when it first started, it went through a bit of a rough spot, and now, on the brink of season 3 we are loving it again.  Mindy + Danny as a couple are absolutely hilarious and they remind us SO MUCH of Greg and me. (One of the few tv relationships that I thought the show got better once they finally hooked up)  I guess it gives us hope that if a fictional couple on tv can be very different and have a great relationship, so can we.  I mean, don't all of life's hopes come from fictional characters on tv?!?

Shows we kind of like on Netflix/ Hulu:
New Girl- LOVED the first season, but I liked it less and less as it progressed. We haven't watched any of the newer episodes  I don't like it when shows or writers just rely on endless sex jokes for the laughs... gets kind of old.
Call the Midwife- full disclosure, we have only watched one episode so far, but I LOVED it!  I may have to watch this one on my own, though, as Greg mostly just talked in a British accent about how we needed to deliver babies for the next two days after we watched this.
Downton Abby- we watched the first two or three seasons of this (up until a very very prominent character got killed off) and then just kind of forgot to start watching it again when the next season started up.  I'm hoping to binge on this over the winter... it always feels like a great winter watch to me.
How I Met Your Mother- Such complicated feelings on this show!  We watched all 9 seasons and I hated the way it ended so freaking much that it kind of ruined the entire show for me.  The last season was probably the worst thing I have ever seen a television series do to itself.  But Marshall + Lily are hilarious- one of my favorite tv couples ever.  I hate Robin though.  I could never attach myself properly to the show because Robin just bugged me way too much.
The Following- We LOVED the first season, the second season just got to me too much, and we tuned out after that.  Do we need to give season 3 a shot?

Also I feel like I need to confess that when I am by myself I pretty much exclusively watch old episodes of 16 and Pregnant or Teen Mom because I am seriously weird.

Alrighty, grab your Nestlé® Crunch® and conquer your boredom with some seriously good Netflix shows.  Tell me, which ones are we missing out on?  Oh, and because Nestlé® Crunch® is awesome they are giving one of you guys $20 worth of chocolate.  HOLLER!  All you have to do is like their facebook page here and then comment on this blog that you did so.  Winner will be announced Friday at 3:00 pm MST. Easiest giveaway ever.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Down and Dirty

What in the world makes a little girl this dirty?

THIS of course!

Stick around, full post and details coming tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Day in the Life of June: 14 Month Update

Hi guys!  It's me, June.  My mom talks a lot about me but I figured it's time to let you know what the real deal is in my world.   It's not cool to always let adults talk for babies, you know.

I'm 14 months old now which means I'm pretty much the smartest baby alive at this point. I do things my way and not the way that others (ahem, mom) want me to.  I know a lot of other kids my age are walking, but my philosophy is why walk when you can crawl?  Last weekend my mom and dad took me camping and it was a blast crawling all over rocks, dirt, and even in the shallow lake water while dad tried to fish.  I got all my clothes filthy dirty within twenty minutes.  #winning!  Walking seems like it's pretty overrated because then your parents expect you to walk places and stop carrying you as much.  With crawling you get the best of both worlds- you can move whenever or wherever you want but as soon as you get sick of it you can let out a sad little cry and someone will rush to pick you up because you can't walk yet.  Trust me, I've got this whole thing figured out.

Here's the thing with mom.  She's kind of an idiot.  She tries to buy me these cutesy little toys to keep me entertained and I just look at her like, "Mom?  Really?  You think this is fun for me?"  I don't want blocks and I don't want dolls.  You know what I like to play with?  Tampons.  And Qtips.  Anything in the cupboards basically.  A box of cascade is one of my favorites too.   I can spill that little white detergent all over the floor in four seconds flat.  And then there's pots and pans.  Those things make a ton of noise and I love to leave them all over the kitchen.

 Pads.  These bad boys are one of my favorite toys ever.
No idea why mom buys them, but I'm glad she does!

OH!  I almost forgot- Maverick's food and water dish!  That is my favorite toy in the whole darn tooting house.  I like to take his pieces of dog food and one by one drop them in the water dish.  It's very interesting to me to watch that dog food get bigger and bigger.  Then when I feel like I've dropped enough in the bowl I like to pick the bowl of soggy dog food + water and just empty it all over the kitchen floor and all over myself.  This is truly a blast and I love the way my clothes smell like dog food after this.  The best water activity you could ever imagine- way better than the splash pad or the swimming pool.

One of my other favorite things to do is follow mom around the house while she is attempting to clean up.  What a fool, thinking she can clean this house while I live here.  I follow slowly in her wake- she straightens up the bookshelf and I promptly go to throw all the books from the shelf.  She loads the dishwasher while I sit on the floor and sneakily unload it.  She straightens up the bathroom, hops in the shower, and then I empty all the contents of the bathroom cupboards.  Mom gets out of a shower to an even bigger mess than when she got in.  Hahahaha!  She's doomed!

Ah crap, caught in the act unloading the dishwasher while mom tries to load it.

Lately I've decided that it's really lame to let your mom or dad feed you.  I know that when they feed me a lot more of the food actually gets in my mouth, but I would be totally embarrassed if the other babies knew that my parents still had to spoon feed me.  So I insist on doing it myself.  If mom or dad tries to feed me I shake my head and yell and refuse to eat.  If they just put the food in front of me, though, I'm really pleasant about it and just eat my food.  This is awesome because it also helps contribute to my plan to leave a mess wherever I go.

I have another favorite trick, and that is that I love to release my stinkers while in the bathtub.  It just feels right, you know?  I know I could do it in a diaper when it's a little easier on mom, but the thing is, it just feels better in the tub.  Then mom has to clean out my stinkers, disinfect the tub, disinfect my toys and then give me another bath!  It's awesome!  TWO BATHS!  I do feel bad when mom has to do it, though- I try to use this trick mostly when dad is giving me a bath because dad used to pull this trick on his mom, too.  I figure it's payback for dad.

My busy schedule of uncleaning the house and bathtub shenanigans often leaves me totally exhausted.  Very few people understand how hard it is to be this busy.  That's why I take my sleep very seriously.  The other day mom put me down at 5:00 for a short nap because I was acting real grumpy.  Well,  I didn't feel much like getting up so I slept right through dinner and didn't wake up until 8:00 the next morning.  Fifteen straight hours of sleep!  If that's not talent, I don't know what is.  Again, my dad used to pull this crap when he was a teenager and in college, so I guess I've learned from the best.  (Mom can also sleep in until noon on weekends.  Really, we're just a talented bunch of sleepers.)

Also, did I tell you my mom stopped nursing me?  That was rude.  I'm still kind of mad at her for that.  She can be real inconsiderate sometimes.

Welp, that's it from Baby June.  Maybe next time I'll tell you all about what I do when I go to Kinderbeets (daycare) with the other kids.  That place is a blast.  And I'll let you know if I ever decide to start walking but for right now, who needs it?  Also I've heard there's this thing called Christmas coming up where my mom puts decorations very low to the ground while hanging on branches... can't tell you how excited I am to destroy those suckers!  Peace out!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Dinner got ya stressed? I got your back.

A friend asked on facebook the other day for "house maintaining" suggestions now that she would be going back to work part time.  I didn't think I had much to say to her but as I started commenting, the advice came flying off my finger tips hard and fast.  Turns out I have lots of little tricks I've picked up in the past year of being mom + working part time + blogging on the side to help the house run smoother.  I plan to write a full post on my ideas later in the week, but I'll start with the most important for me and that is that on the days I work I follow Dwight Schrute's KISS strategy when it comes to dinner.  KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.  I do enjoy cooking quite a bit, and I have a few fancy recipes up my sleeve that I love to make when I have time and energy, but when I am crawling in the door at 4:30 absolutely dead exhausted and Greg follows me an hour later even more exhausted, we keep dinner prrrrrrrrrretty basic.

One of my favorite easy dinners for work days is Betty Crocker's "Suddenly Salad."  The bones of the meal are already there, and then I just add whatever I have in my fridge to spruce it up.  Adding meat to it turns it from a side dish to an entire meal.  This time around I didn't add any meat, but next time I am going to try adding grilled chicken and make a whole meal out of it.  We're making added efforts around here to eat lots of fruits and veggies, so I tried to add a lot of vegetables too, and the salad was very filling.  Here's the Suddenly Salad we had for dinner on Thursday, my most recent work day.

(Also, if my recipe doesn't float your boat, check here for tons more easy easy recipes to use with Suddenly Salad.)

1 Suddenly Grain Salad Southwest Grains (Coupon here)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs water
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 roma tomato, sliced into quarters
feta cheese

1.  Prepare grains according to package directions. (Boil 17 minutes)
2.  While grains are cooking, use a small bowl to mix box seasonings with 1 tbs oil and 1 tbs water.  
3.  When grains are done cooking, run grains under cold water and stir in dressing.  Put salad on serving platter.
4.  Add your fixins!  Put your sliced tomatoes on top, (mine are from my garden that I grew by myself and they are so so yummy!  I'm just a little bit proud!) and sliced avocados around the edges.
5.  Sprinkle feta cheese on top
6.  There you have it- a filling, scrumptious dinner with fresh vegetables ready for the whole family in LITERALLY SEVENTEEN MINUTES.  Bon appetit!

(PSA:   Next time I make this I am using less of the seasonings in the box and a little more water and oil.  The salad had more than enough seasoning and I would have liked it to be not quite so dry.  Next time I'll probably add about 1/2 the seasonings and a dash more of oil and water and that should make it just about perfect...)

Other simple, easy, and yummy Suddenly Salad recipes:
Mediterranean Salad
Southwest Salad

Wondering where you can find Suddenly Salad?  Click here to find the store nearest you that carries the product.


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