The Life of Bon: 2017

Friday, July 07, 2017

Mom Identity Crisis

I logged in to my blog today.  Imagine my surprise to see that it has been a month since I last wrote.  A MONTH.

Sometimes the idea of posting on my blog overwhelms me.  It's the funny thing about a blog.  When you are blogging every single day (or 5 times a week) there is no limit to the things you have to say.  When you blog irregularly, a month can pass and it still feels like there isn't much to say.

Having Hugh knocked me off my feet in a way that I was totally unprepared for.  When I had June I felt like my identity remained in tact.  My schedule, my life, my routine... it was changed in a lot of ways but remained the same too.  I felt like I was still the same person, living the same life, but with one great big awesome addition.  I worked the same job.  I lived in the same house.  I had the same relationship.  June was such an easy baby that we could meet friends to play tennis and she would watch from the stroller nearby.  We took her out to dinner with us, stayed late at firework shows.  She became the instant third member to our party and was happy and easy to come along.  I didn't understand the big deal about how HARD having a baby was.

Of course, Hugh has been none of those things.  I thought he would just mold easily into our lives, the same way June did.  But he didn't.  He is so fickle about sleep.  It is on his schedule and no one else's.  He can go from zero to 100 in one second flat.  With two babies to take care of all of a sudden there is so much that seemed overwhelming.  No dinner out with kids.  Definitely no tennis or volleyball.  With June we could still easily sleep in even- she would happily play on the floor beside us while we dozed in and out.  Hugh gives us a 7 am wake up call and there is no negotiating.

All that being said, it IS getting easier.  Hugh is 5 months now and we are starting to develop a good little routine.  He likes routine.  He likes schedules.  The more we deviate from his routine, his way, the harder the day is.  Some days it is worth it- like the 4th of July.  Most days it is not.  The routine-deviation tax is high around here and we can't afford to pay it often.

So we stick to a routine and he is good.  I mean, right now both children are napping.  And they both went to sleep without tears.  Victory!  I watched the clock like a hawk and timed Hugh's nap down to the minute and he rewarded me for my schedule- loyalty with an effortless nap.  Thank you, King Hughie.  Your subjects never tired of serving you.

All that to say that I feel like I've kind of been having a mom identity crisis around here.  Probably the same mom-identity crisis that so many have with their first child- only I'm having it with my second.  With just June, I felt like mom was one of so many things I did.  I was still the same person. Now mom is The Thing.  I am not the same person.  With two kiddos there doesn't seem to be a lot of time for my other identities.  When all the caring for other children is done, I collapse onto the couch and drink a soda while watching mindless television until I pass out.  (That sentence feels so depressing, but it is my dream right now.)

I really really hope I can get back to blogging consistently.  But it's been crazy enough around here for long enough that I know I can't make too many promises.  I haven't forgotten my blog.  And I do long to write.  That's as much as I can give you right now.

This blog post actually got a lot longer than I intended it to.  I thought I would just write a quick paragraph before telling you all about our sale at Hey June.  But my fingers and mind needed to write, I guess, and this is what emerged.  Thank you for always being here to listen to "what emerges".  And now, the sale.

Our customer appreciation sale is going on in our jewelry shop.  Hey June provides 2/3 of our income, with my teaching gig and Greg's side acting jobs picking up the last 1/3.  It is absolutely astonishing to me that Hey June has done that for our family.  We are so grateful.  So much of it is because of you guys here- your initial support launched the business into what we needed to be able to make it our primary income.  Thank you.

The customer appreciation sale is 20% off, but I am feeling so tender-hearted and grateful to all of you loyal blog readers that I am going to give you guys 25% off.  That is anything in the shop and it will go through Sunday. (The sale actually ends today, but you know, you guys get the perks.)  Use code LIFEOFBON25.  And if your order total is $25 or more you will get a free pair of stud earrings- just put in the comments which pair you want for free.  I'm basically giving our business away, it's cool.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Golden Graham No Bake Salted Caramel Bars

This post is sponsored by Golden Grahams but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Father's Day is a week from tomorrow.  I always kind of start to brace myself for Father's Day.  Since my dad died, it has traditionally been the hardest day of the year for me.  Even harder than his birthday or the anniversary of his death. (Well, this year my dad's birthday is on Father's Day so the doubling up like that doesn't help either.)  

I will always miss my dad on Father's Day.  I have accepted that.  But since seeing Greg become a dad, my Father's Days have gotten much easier.  Instead of missing my own dad so much, I can celebrate the father that my daughter has.

Greg is so good to June.  He is attentive and silly and loving.  He adores her.  Doesn't every girl need a dad who adores her?

Greg always makes an effort to do activities with his kids.  The other day he called me at work to tell me that he and June were "catching mermaids" that day.  We've all been on a mermaid catching kick ever since.  Tonight we went over to "Farm Country".  The place was all but deserted and June got to ride the pony to her heart's content.  It is so rewarding to watch my husband and kids interact.  Is there any thing greater in this world than watching two people you love so much bond?  (Side note:  Greg is also a very good dad to Hugh, but Hugh is still in boring baby stage so there's not a ton to say about him...  But believe you me, Greg has put in his time rocking, bouncing, soothing that crazy baby.)

For snacks we brought some Golden Graham Salted Caramel bars.  Greg told me that he never ate Golden Grahams as a child so I knew I had to show him how great they are.

This picture is not staged at all.  
It was June and Greg doing "cheers" with their Golden Graham treats.

In the interest of full full disclosure, I will tell you that I have tried and made several recipes for this blog.  But THIS golden graham salted caramel bar recipe is the best one I have ever tried.  It will become a family staple that we will eat for the rest of our lives because it is that good and we absolutely gobbled it up.  It is such a unique treat with the salt, caramel, and almonds added in.  All you have to do is look up the ingredient list and you know it is going to be amazing  And it is super quick to make (About 20 minutes to prepare) and requires zero baking.

A couple of adjustments I made when making this treat:

-  I used 16 ounces of marshmallows, not 10 ounces.  This was by accident, but of course it made it even better.  It's so gooey and yummy and I love that the cereal and almonds are covered in the marshmallow/caramel mix.  Next time I won't do as many marshmallows, but I do think I'll do a bit more than the recipe calls for.

- I did not microwave the marshmallow, butter, caramel mixture.  Instead, I cooked it on the stove.  The microwave seemed like a bad idea and I feel like everything cooks better on the stove.  The trick to making sure the bars aren't hard is to not overcook this mixture- that will make sure it stays gooey and soft.  I cooked on low and stirred constantly.  Don't let it boil!

-  I did milk chocolate instead of semisweet chocolate.  I believe milk chocolate to be the most superior of chocolate, so of course I used that.

- I did probably double the chocolate the recipe calls for.  Once the chocolate was melted I just put it in a plastic bag and drizzled it over the bars.  So good and only a little messy.  LOLZ.

Hugh got in on the action too.

The finished product can not be beat.  Greg and June both devoured these.  They are that good, I promise.  The crunchy and gooey mix + the salty and sweet mix really makes this such a unique and yummy treat.

This post is brought to you by Hugh D. Larsen who slept long enough for me to write this post tonight.  Way to go, Hugh!

Some other Golden Graham recipes that look very interesting to me:
(Click for Recipe)

Golden Grahams™ S’mores Candy Bark Recipe

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Thirteen minutes

I just put cookies in the oven and in thirteen minutes the timer will go off and I will eat those cookies.  So thirteen minutes is how long I have to write.

I feel this need to get back to blogging.  To get back to writing.  But the days pass and I don't make it a priority.  I could say I'm busy.  Because I am.  But the truth is that if I really really wanted to find time to blog I would.  So maybe I haven't wanted to.

It is 7:56 pm and today was my last day of work.  I am on summer vacation.  It is needed.  I don't know if I could have survived another day.  I mean, of course I could have.  I'm being dramatic.  But I really don't know if I could have.

Right now, at this very moment, my students are graduating.  I am supposed to be there.  I emailed my boss and asked if I could miss it.  A 14 hour work day with a four month old babe at home didn't sound that fun.  And do they really need all 100 teachers to sit in black robes around the stadium and sit through graduation year after year? In any case, I think my principal sensed that I'm at my work/home life breaking point.  So he said go ahead and stay home.  I'm grateful for that.  He has been a wonderful boss to me the past four years.  He is leaving now.  Being transferred to another school and I feel sad and nostalgic.  He has been so good to my family.  He hired me and then a year later hired Greg.  When Greg suddenly quit (literally went home on a Thursday and never went back) my/our boss was so understanding.  To Greg's email he responded, "Life is messy.  Put your family first."  That was in September.  That Christmas he gave our family $300.

I will miss my boss.  But my new boss used to be my vice principal and she is absolutely fantastic.  A smart and fiery redhead who gets things does.  I'm excited for the changes.

It is summer now.  The days are suddenly long and hot.  How did summer get here so quickly?  What took it so long?

People ask me "do you have plans for summer?"  No.  No plans.  Catch my breath.  Plan more than one day ahead.  Remember what it's like to be me in between endless feedings and rockings and bedtimes and grading papers and 7 am haggling with students over five extra credit points.  You don't really make summer plans when you're so busy just getting to the next day.  January- May is a total blur to me.  Last thing I remember I was teaching an ACT prep in the middle of January.  I woke up and it's June.  A regular old Rip Van Winkle.

I suspect I was/am dealing with some postpartum depression.  It feels mostly better.  Except for on days when it doesn't.  So I put one foot in front of the other.  I go to bed early and feel better in the mornings.  I drink a lot of coke and eat at least one cookie a day.  This isn't really a time to be mean to my body or to expect my love handles to quickly disappear.  It isn't a time to force myself into a size 4 swimsuit or demand that my pre pregnancy jeans fit by August.  It's a time to be nice to my body and to my mind.  We've been through a lot.

Hugh is getting easier.  And then sometimes he is hard again.  But the trend is toward easier.  On Sunday night I rocked him, held him, bounced him for two hours trying to get him to go to sleep.  Then Greg tried for an hour.  Finally after three hours of fierce cajoling, Hugh slept.  We were exhausted.  Mad.  Flabbergasted.  Tonight he started nursing and fell asleep in five minutes.  He's been asleep ever since.  There is no science to babies.  Just chaos.

As I write this, June is self soothing on her bedroom floor.  She flew through naptime but still is refusing to go to sleep tonight.  She's exhausted but refuses sleep.  So she's crying through the door.  A futile hope that Greg or I will come to her rescue and tell her she does not, in fact, have to go to bed, but can instead stay up all night eating popcorn and watching Sofia.  A toddler's wildest dream.

The timer is beeping and the cookies are done.  I'll see you tomorrow?

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Mother's Day Sale

Hi friends.

I want to thank you for all your kind responses to my last two posts.  I know there is a lot of judgment and eye rolling in the mom community, but I have found nothing but support and understanding when I have reached out to other moms- both online and in real life.  So thanks for that.  We took Hugh to St. George for a little "vacation" and he had a great weekend.  For three days we thought he was another baby.  Then we got home and he went right back to his old self.  It is nice to know, if nothing else, that a happy baby resides in him somewhere.  It's just a matter of pulling it out.  So many of you sent suggestions and just kind thoughts and good juju.  I appreciate that more than you know, although responding to everyone will be a challenge.

I wanted to let you know that our Mother's Day sale at Hey June is tomorrow.  (Thursday May 4).  Everything in the shop is 20% off.  We only do this sale twice a year- once a Mother's day and once on our shop's anniversary in September.  Along with everything being 20% off we have our whole spring line finally listed- I spent the afternoon editing pictures and listing jewelry while Hugh slept on me.  Fun!

Anyway- coupon code is MAMA20 and that will go live at 10 am MST tomorrow.  (12 pm EST/ 11 am CST/ 9 am PST).  The first ten orders will also get a free pair of stud earrings so be one of the first to order if you know what's good for you!

Thanks again for all your support and love.  This online/ blogging/ small business community is the reason we can pay our bills.  You all are amazing. 

Long rock arrowhead necklace: $34

Hammered copper cuff- $14

Lariat necklaces- $28-32 (MY FAAAAAAVORITE)

Opal necklace: $26

Pineapple necklace: $20

Long pink arrowhead necklace: $32

Pink Circle Necklace; $26 (Also available in turquoise)

Rectangle necklace: $26 (Also available in turquoise)

Aqua threader earrings: $20

Triangle threader earrings: $16

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


he cries

we swaddle we bounce we swing.

he cries

we feed we burp we spit up

he cries

we swaddle and reswaddle

baby go to sleep.  just go to sleep.

he cries he cries he cries.  he writhes his stomach against mine.  he is uncomfortable.  he can't help it.  please baby go to sleep.

he cries

I come downstairs and turn all the lights out.  I find enya on my phone.  I hold him tight against me in the dark in the kitchen.

and we dance.

shhh shhhh shhh shhhh

we move slowly in the dark.  Steady, even, soothing.  Who can say where the rain goes?  Only time.

I feel his little twelve pound body heavy on mine.  He relaxes.  His neck drops.  His breathing slows.  The babe has fallen asleep.

the tears run down my face.  So grateful for this new baby.  So exhausted by this new baby.  I am so happy.  I am so sad.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Two kids- it's a wild, wild world

Gosh.  It has been so long since I have written on this blog.  I feel like I think that every time I write.  Maintaining any type of consistency with blogging has proven to be such a challenge the past year.

And yet when I write it feels so good.  I pull up my blog, and it feels like I'm coming home.  My fingers go crazy with their click click clacking.  They yearn to write.  I yearn to write.

In the interest of full disclosure, having two kids is kicking our butts.  My butt.  Greg's butt.  All of the butts.  Welcoming June to our family was so easy and effortless.  It was like we had always been waiting for her to be a complete family unit.  She was literally the perfect baby.  Newborn June days were full of bliss.  (I was reading my journal from when June was born- she was sleeping through the night at two months!  WHAAAAA?!?  Hugh is almost three months and we consider it a huge victory if he ever sleeps more than a three hour stretch at night.)

Welcoming Hugh has been more challenging.  Everything about it.  The pregnancy was tougher, the delivery was more painful, and baby Hugh is not content on the level that June was.  I mentioned this on my instagram a few days ago, but he definitely seems to have reflux or something else that is bothering his stomach.  He demands to be held upright and he wants to be bounced, swung, shushed, the whole shebang.  He writhes, he spits up, he fusses, he must be held  ALL. THE.  TIME.  I love holding my babies!  Except for when I have serious shiz to do.  Then I get stressed.  You can't hold a baby for three months straight.  I guess you could, but then who would pay the bills?  And what would one eat?!?

Hugh and June are 31 months apart.  I *think* this will be a really great age gap.  Close enough to play together, far apart enough to have their own identities and keep my sanity.  Well.  That's what I *thought* anyway.  Maybe when Hugh gets a little older?  Right now it is just complete chaos.  They both feel like babies to me still, they both have baby needs, and yet somehow their needs are SO different. I can't double up on any of the work.  They have to be fed differently, bathed differently, put to sleep differently.  They are both demanding and needy, (through no fault of their own- they are babies!)  and I feel like I have neither the skill nor the energy to adequately care for all of those needs. How does any one in the world ever make it past two children?

After I had June I never wanted to go back to the days of not having kids.  I had thought I would.  But I didn't.  My heart was so ready for June, even though I didn't know it was.  She joined my life and there was no looking back.  And now I hate hate to say it, but sometimes I do long for the days of just one child.  The pre-Hugh days.  And then I look down at little Hugh, who through no fault of his own is being wished away, and I am filled with so much guilt that I rock and hold him for hours to make sure he never catches on that I sometimes think that.

I try to be gentle and patient with myself.  We are in such a hustle stage of life, and Hugh wasn't exactly part of our plans.  We are running a small business out of our home.  I am teaching part time at a high school.  I still make some attempt at professional blogging.  We eat and wear clean clothes (most days.)  And now we care for two small children.  It is alot!  Anyone would struggle with so much on their plates.  I'm exhausted and I have to keep telling myself that that's ok.  It is also ok if my house is a mess and the laundry unfolded.  (This week I am paying someone to come clean my house which feels like a failure in its own way- I do not even have it together enough to clean up after myself!)  And it's ok if we eat out more often than I cook.  And it is also ok if I fall asleep Friday night at 9:00 right in the middle of a movie night with Greg.  It's ok if I file my taxes literally the last possible day.  It's ok that we're not ok!

In other, happier, news- the jazz won their first playoff game since 2010 over the weekend.  June, Greg, and I stayed up late and snuggled in our king sized bed watching it.  Our cheers woke up the nearby sleeping Hugh when Joe Johnson's buzzer beater went in.  Normally I say there isn't anything in the world worth waking up our sleeping dragon, but that--- that was worth it.

And now some pictures from our spring break in Las Vegas.  These are hard times, but they are happy times, too.

Friday, March 24, 2017

12 Tips for Starting a Small Business

This post is sponsored by Square Cash but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Eighteen months ago, Greg and I started our small business, Hey June.  Greg was unhappy in his full time teaching job.  He was suffering from depression and anxiety and the 10 hour daily marathons with rambunctious, horny teenagers were not the cure.  (Shocker.)  For so long I had had the dream of selling birthstone necklaces on etsy, but I never dared pull the trigger.  This gave us the reason we needed to finally dive in head first.

We were so scared though.  Starting a business venture like that feels so vulnerable.  You are showing the whole world that you are trying something risky and if you fail, you fail in front of everyone.  I felt sick for weeks, I was so nervous.

Lucky for us, we didn't fall flat on our faces.  We made a few sales and a few more until now the small business has replaced Greg's teaching income and then some.  It has been such a blessing to us and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't feel gratitude for the opportunity to make and sell jewelry.

I'm sure there are a lot of you out there who maybe dream of the flexibility, earning potential, and work-for-yourself schedule that owning and running a small business allows.  Or maybe a small business is your worst nightmare! Either way, I want to share a few tips that really helped us in launching a successful business.

1. Repeat after me:  there is enough.  I think this was the biggest thing in launching our business- getting in the "enough" mindset.  It is so easy to feel competitive with other businesses.  Etsy tracks your sales, which is awesome, but it also lets you see how more more successful all those other shops than you are.  And it can get in your head.  I try very hard to keep an "enough" mentality- there are enough people who want earrings in the world that I don't have to be competitive with others who sell earrings.  We can all have enough.  A huge inspiration for me is The Daily Tay who freaking kicks butt with her t-shirt line.  She always sends good vibes and is not jealous of the success of others.  I try hard to follow her lead.  It has been a process, but I feel like being genuinely happy for the success of those around you puts you in a better place to be successful yourself.  Success begets success.

2.  Learn how to take good pictures!  I don't even think you necessarily have to have a nice camera (although it definitely helps), but learning a few photography tricks is key for a small business.  Use natural light!  Use a white background!  Study the pictures of people who sell similar product to yours!  Study the pictures of items you really want to buy and decide why you want to buy those items! I will be honest, the five excruciating years of blogging I put in before we started Hey June were crucial- I had already learned a long, slow lesson about the importance of good pictures.  I feel like I was able to avoid such a steep learning curve because I had learned slowly over the course of my blog how to take decent pictures.  I still don't love my pictures the most (and there are many I want to go back and redo from the very first months of our business) but they are good enough to do our product justice and to make people want to buy.  Yippee!

3.  Talk to the pros.  A lot of people have already been successful in what you are trying to do.  Talk to them!  I will never stop being grateful to my friend, Amy, who for five years has had a successful handstamping jewelry business.  When I asked her for help starting with the birthstone necklaces, she didn't bat an eye.  I am so grateful for her help in getting started.  Alexa Zurcher, who does amazing graphic design, helped me find a printer in our area to do our earring labels.  Taylor helped me buy our label printer which is the greatest gift any small business owner has ever been given.

4.  Buy a label printer.  See above.  (This is the one I use.  We bought it in December and mostly I am just so mad that I didn't buy it the day we started our business.  It's an investment, but worth its weight in gold.)

5.  Have someone to keep you from going insane.  Running your own business can be absolutely nuts.  There were days in December where Greg and I were both putting in 12-14 hours.  It can be such a zoo.  And then it can be followed by weeks of nothing.  And then you get the craziest review from someone online who only gives you three stars because you offered them a coupon code if they posted your item on instagram and they don't want to post your item on instagram.  (Seriously.  This happened.  People are cray.)  That's why I have Greg so I can tell him how totally nuts that person was and then we laugh about it and watch an episode of Parks and Rec and the world somehow goes on turning.  Without someone to talk to, though, the small business madness could totally get to you.

6.  Package your items in a cute way!  This one surprised me.  Shocked me.  If you look at our reviews on etsy soooooo many people mention how we package our jewelry.  We put our earrings on a crisp, professional looking earring card, we put them in a small box, stamp the box with our logo, and tie a ribbon around it. Greg doesn't get the bow, but I tell him it's like opening a present and people like to open presents.  Boy was I right.  People lose their shiz over this.  At Christmas we got real crazy and tied a RED ribbon around the box.  People went nuts.  For Valentine's Day we did pink.  The crowd went wild Now that it's spring we're losing our damn minds and USING PASTEL RIBBON.  PEOPLE CAN NOT GET ENOUGH OF THIS.  I can not stress this one enough.  Packaging is everything.

A post shared by Bonnie Larsen (@heyjuneshop) on

7.  Send items quickly.  This one is one that Greg I disagree with a little- I like to get items out the next day because I am an OCD freak.  Greg is okay to wait a few days as long as it falls under our shop's promised 3-5 shipping day policy, but to me personally, the faster we send out an item, the more likely that person will buy from us again.  And tell their friends.  Our etsy reviews confirm this.

8.  Follow businesses you admire.  I am energized by watching other small businesses who are doing it right.  I have already mentioned a few of the ones I really look up to in this post.  Others who inspire me in the business world besides the ones already mentioned are Freshly Picked, Made by Mary, Elizabeth Ivie, Little Olive Clothing Co, and Deidre Emme.  I also watch a lot of Shark Tank.

9.  Give oh give, give oh give!  I have found giveaways to be a great way to boost business, and to just send some good karma out in the world.  They can get hard to manage though, and sending free stuff can be a pain for us because I don't have a good system for keeping track of it.  The more giveaways we do, though, the more success I feel like we have.  This goes back to point #1- there is enough!

A post shared by Bonnie Larsen (@heyjuneshop) on

10.  Have a social media following.  This one has been a struggle for me lately- our main shop advertising is done through Instagram, but since they changed the algorithm, I find that many followers don't see our posts.  I have seen some small businesses just dominate the facebook world, but that somehow feels even scarier to me than instagram.  Although I don't feel like I'm on the top of my instagram game, I do know that it boosts our sales significantly.  Any time we have a sale we announce it only through instagram and this blog and I am always SHOCKED by how many people take advantage of the coupon code.  You've got to have a social media connection.

11.  Get the convenient apps!  If you are selling on Etsy, the Sell on Etsy app is crucial.  The other app that I couldn't do without is Square Cash.  The idea is really simple- it's a safe and fast way to send and receive money.  You link it to your bank account and you can send money in an instant.  It is the same idea as Venmo, but I love that it doesn't have a social sharing aspect so that others can't see who you are sending money to and when.  That weirds me out about Venmo.

I use Square Cash with our business constantly.  Anytime someone wants to buy jewelry from me in person (friends, family, etc.) I have them send the money through Square Cash.  (It also has an auto deposit option so that it will automatically deposit the money into your bank account.  I think that is awesome.) I always pay our market and boutique show fees through Square Cash.  It is such a no brainer for me.

Also, I can not emphasize this enough- IT IS SAFE.  Square Cash uses a passcode and touch ID.  Everyone I know who has not hopped on the money sending app train yet does so because they think it is not safe.  It is!  (Also, just for the record, I use Square Cash for so much more than my business.  I pay people back with it, I split the bill with friends it, I buy things on our neighborhood garage sale page with it, I EVEN PAY OUR BABYSITTER with it.  If you do not have this app yet you need to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask yourself WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?!?  (You can download it here.)

12.  Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed.  Aside from #1, I think this is the most important thing any business owner can do.  Surround yourself with positive people.  I am so grateful to my blog readers and friends on the internet who were a huge boost in getting this business started.  My family was all crazy supportive.  Every time I see my aunt she is wearing one of our necklaces and it kind of makes my heart melt.  My friends in the neighborhood all sport the studs we sell.  It seriously means so much to me.  A community of support is everything.  Thank you!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

six years

Last week Greg and I celebrated six years of marriage.

I always try to write something special on this blog on big event days.  Birthdays, anniversaries, etc.  Lately I have felt kind of inadequate to do it justice, though.  I used to love writing on these days because I thought I knew it all- thought I had everything figured out and I was happy to share that knowledge with the world.  (After six months of marriage I eagerly wrote a post on "marriage advice."  I cringe to remember it.)  Now I'm convinced that I know nothing and therefore have nothing to say.  What do you say about six years of marriage?  What do you say about the movie nights, the frustrations, the children filling up your house, the will-you-pick-me-up-a-diet-coke, the tears, the snoring, the kisses, the smell of his cologne, the inside jokes, the Christmas presents, the pick up your damn towel, the road trips, the back massages, the eye rolls, the late night runs to McDonald's, the hot bubble baths, the babies crying in the middle of the night, the house projects, the bills, the Parks and Rec marathons, the hamburgers on the grill, the suffering/ joy/ misery/ pain/ hope/ love you share together?

I don't know what you say.

I will say that I'm grateful.  Grateful that there is someone out there who knows me at my worst.  Has seen my ugliness, is well acquainted with my flaws.  Someone to whom I have shown my absolute worst and who isn't afraid of that.  Someone who loves me in spite of it all.  Someone to whom I can be completely vulnerable and someone where I am always safe.  Grateful that I have been given a partner to do this life with because heavens knows it is hard enough alone.

I guess that's what six years of marriage looks like.


+ If you're in the mood, this video was made for Greg's and my wedding, by his friend Eric Phillips.  We sound like a couple of idiots who have no idea what is about to hit them.

+ I'm thrilled to be doing a campaign for this app.  It's one that when people tell me they don't have it my jaw drops and I stare at them in disbelief.  It is a must-have!

+ In the vein of celebrating anniversaries, this article in the New York Times, You May Want to Marry My Husband, is such a tear jerker.  Ah, marriage.

+ Have you all seen this Ultimate Road Trip across the United States?  Developed by scientists so you know it has to be good.  I'm tempted but then I remember I have two kids under three and that ain't gonna happen til they are good and grown.

+ We got into the bad habit of letting June drink from our coke cans and she's turned into a soda fiend. Now we're trying to break the bad habit (Parenting fail) and I've found the solution through  Giggle.  It is lightly carbonated, yummy, naturally flavored and sweetened, and enhanced with vitamins.  She thinks she's drinking coke but it's actually soooooo much better.  Her favorite flavor is orange... My other child, Greg, prefers the lemon. 

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Hugh Dennis Larsen: A Birth Story

Hugh was due February 2, but for months I felt that he was going to come early.  Carrying him was such a different experience than carrying June.  June was nestled happily in my stomach with no signs that she had any desire to ever leave.  From the first few weeks of December I could sense that Hugh was anxious to GET OUT.  He kicked and stretched more often and the first week of January I started to feel Braxton Hicks contractions.  I was bigger and heavier and achier.  I can't exactly explain how I knew, but when I would take the time to listen to my body I could tell that this guy didn't want to stay in much longer.  I told Greg I thought he would come early.  I told some family hopes to go early, but it's very likely you'll go late"  so I kind of listened to that.  June was a C section nine days early and I never went in to labor so this would be my body's first time going into labor at all.  What did I know?  I'm mad at myself for not paying closer attention to what my body was telling me because maybe if I had listened to my body a little closer I wouldn't have been so unprepared!

My last pregnant bathroom selfie.  At church on January 22.

On  the afternoon of January 23 I had a doctor's appointment.  I had wanted Greg to come with me, but the day got away from us.  We had orders we had to get out before 5:00, June was still down for a nap, and it just made more sense for me to go alone.  I've gone to plenty of appointments alone so it shouldn't have been a big deal, but for some reason I really wanted Greg there and was disappointed that we hadn't prepared our day better for us both to make the appointment.  Again, I should have listened more carefully to what my body and mind were telling me, but I ignored all that, didn't push the issue, and went to the appointment alone.

At my appointment the doctor told me I was dilated to a 2 and then said pretty casually, "Want me to strip your membranes?"  This is when I wish Greg had been there with me.  Doc said it so casual that I assumed it was a pretty casual choice.  Also, my friend had literally told me on the phone the day before that stripping membranes does nothing and it rarely helps someone go into labor.  I was tired of being pregnant, it seemed pretty low probability anyway, and I was really hoping for a vbac and to go into labor on my own so I said, "sure.  ok."  It was awkward and uncomfortable but only lasted a few moments.  "If anything happens, it'll happen in the next 24 hours!" Doc assured me on the way out.

When I got home I told Greg that Doc had stripped my membranes and that I was feeling pretty uncomfortable.  Greg's reaction kind of surprised me, "What?!  He did?  Why didn't you call me?  That's kind of a big deal, isn't it?  So we could be having this baby tomorrow?!"  I played it cool because I really didn't think it meant anything- especially since I was still ten days from my due date.  "The chances that I go into labor are very slim."  I told Greg.  Because apparently I am the labor expert?

That night I insisted on doing really weird things.  Like you would think that since there is a chance I was going into labor that I would focus on that.  But I didn't.  I tried a new and kind of complicated recipe for dinner.  I wrote a blog post. I watched The Bachelor with Greg.  I did no plan lessons for school.  (Six weeks maternity leave requires a lot of planning.  I had been swamped in end of quarter madness and ACT prep classes so I didn't have anything ready for a sub yet.)  I did not pack a hospital bag.  I did not organize the nursery or move the crib.

I went to bed around 10:30 or 11 knowing that I had to work the next day.  I was feeling crampy but I read online that that is common after having your membranes stripped.

I woke up at 2 am to more "cramps" as I was calling them at the time.  (Hello!  First timer!  They were totally contractions!)  I felt really uncomfortable.  I had slept a solid three hours from 11- 2 and I knew in my heart that that was the best sleep I would be getting that night.

I forced myself back to sleep and dozed in and out of a light sleep until about 3:30.  I tried and tried to make myself sleep but was too uncomfortable, so finally by 4:00 am I got up.  I figured I could do some lesson plans and get a start on my school day so that I could come home early from school and just crash. I sleep like a bear, never struggle with a bit of insomnia, and I am NEVER just randomly up at 4 am so this was truly weird.

I was in enough pain that I decided to take a bath before doing any lesson plans.  I drew a hot hot bath which woke Greg up.  "What's going on?  Are you in labor?"

"No," I answered.  "I'm just cramping."  They say denial is the first step.

I got in the tub and read Slaughterhouse Five in preparation to teach my AP class that day.  If I truly was in labor I figured I would be laboring all day long.  Everyone told me that first labors take a day or two so I reasoned that I could still go to school and teach that day.  I'm not normally that crazy about making sure I get to work, but there was still so much I had to do to be prepared for my maternity leave that I really wanted to make it in.  Also, I was supposed to be meeting and training my long term sub that day and I REALLY wanted to show her the ropes so that she could put in grades, know the system, etc. while I was gone.

I soaked in the tub for a long time and finally got out a little after 5:00.  As soon as I got out I was surprised by how sharp and frequent my cramping was.  I thought to myself, "Hmmm... maybe I can just go in until noon.  Meet my sub, teach my AP classes, and then come home."

 I got dressed and started doing my makeup.  I had to pause while doing my makeup for the "cramps" which I now definitely realized had to be contractions.  This was when it finally dawned on me that there was no way I'd be able to teach through this.  I decided not to try to teach that day, but that maybe I could still go in right away to get some stuff ready for the sub and to meet her when she came in at 7:00 and show her a few things.  I could be out of there by 7:30 or 8:00.

Finally I woke up Greg and told him my plan.  "I'm just going to go in to the school for an hour or so to get everything ready."  I was saying this in between contractions.  "Bonnie, no.  You're not going to school.  There is no way I am letting you drive yourself to school and work on lesson plans.  That's just stupid."  Greg was firm.  I don't think I realized until I heard the panic in his voice that he was right- this baby wasn't going to wait for AP lesson plans.  Sorry, kiddos, you're on your own!

"Do I have time to take a shower?"  Greg asked.  Which I remember thinking was so cute that he thought the baby was going to come so quick that he couldn't even shower.  "Of course, it's fine, we're still a ways out," I said.  I really had no idea what was going on, but it just seemed absurd to me that my body would progress so quickly when every other person in the world says that you'll have plenty of time.  While Greg was in the shower I downloaded a contraction app and started timing the contractions.  They were coming every 2 1/2 minutes for 30-60 seconds.  They were also getting crazy more painful with each one.  The app started buzzing and blinking at me after I had recorded three or four contractions, "Go to hospital immediately!  Go to hospital!"  Sheesh!  Bossy app!

Suddenly I really started to panic.  What if I missed my epidural window?  This happened to my sister because she got to the hospital too late and so she delivered a nine pound baby boy compltely unmedicated.  I was terrified.  THIS COULD NOT BE ME!  WE MUST HURRY! I AM NOT THE TYPE OF WOMAN WHO CAN SURVIVE AN EPIDURAL-LESS BIRTH!

And now I was yelling at Greg in the shower, "Hurry!  Get out!  We have to go!"  I called the secretary at my school to tell her I wouldn't be coming in today and that I would send lesson plans as soon as I could.  I went downstairs to try to gather some things but the contractions were so heavy I couldn't focus on anything.  I was screaming through them at this point.  I woke June up.

Greg called his mom to come spend the day with June.  "Bonnie's in labor!"  Greg's mom lives about 45 minutes away, but it was pretty apparent we weren't going to be able to wait that long for her to get here so I called and woke up my neighbor and good friend a few houses down.  "Can you come over until Greg's mom gets here?"  She was over in less than ten minutes.  She was our life saver that morning.  Thank you Sarah!

At this point Greg was running around frantically trying to pack some kind of hospital bag.  I never in a million years imagined that I would be so rushed in labor that I wouldn't even have time to pack a hospital bag.  In fact, I always even kind of inwardly laughed at people who packed their hospital bags weeks early- like it was so ridiculous that labor would come on so suddenly and forcefully that they couldn't even gather a few things.  Well, who's laughing now, dummy!??!

I don't even know what was in that bag.  Greg threw a bunch of random stuff in it.  A camera.  A nightgown for me.  Maybe some licorice?  I think that was about it.

With Sarah over to watch cartoons with June (poor little girl awake at 5:30 am because of my screaming!) we rushed to the hospital.  Luckily, our hospital is literally a mile from our house.  We hurried in to the front desk and the lady, after hearing me yell through a contraction, said we'd do paperwork later and sent me straight up to labor and delivery.   I insisted on carrying a glass of raspberry ice crystal light everywhere with me.  I wasn't thinking clearly, obviously. Mostly I just remember the panic and the pain but I also remember Greg with a duffel bag slung over his shoulder, a baseball cap on, and a camera around his neck.  He looked like a damn tourist and I loved him for it.

6 am, ready to get the party started!  Notice my crystal lite?!

When I got upstairs they checked me and I was dilated to a four.  It was about 6 am at this time. I had been a two just 12 hours earlier so I guess that was good enough for them to admit me?  Either that or my banshee screams convinced them that this was real labor but they didn't give me any trouble about getting me into a room stat.

Somehow I totally totally lucked out and the anesthesiologist was on the floor and had a few minutes before he had to be somewhere else so he was going to be able to hit me up with that epidural immediately.  Of course, first we had to get an iv in which is always the worst part for me.  With June it took over an hour and six stabs to get an iv in.  You can imagine, I was really looking forward to it this time around!

Two nurses tried and then the anaethiosologist himself tried and couldn't get it in.  (It doesn't exactly instill confidence in a patient when the man who is administering an epidural can't do an iv!)  Finally an angel nurse came in, stuck me good, and it was all over.  She was an iv ninja, that one.

The epidural, in comaprison to the iv, was nothing.  It was instant relief and I have never been so happy in my life.

At this time it was about 7:00 am.  With the epidural pumping sweet goodness through me I could finally think clearly.  I sent an email with my lesson plans to the school, texted my mom and told her I was having a baby today, and texted my friend who I had arranged earlier to take some pictures.  Once I was settled, Greg went back home to finish a couple of orders that had to be out that day and I fell right to sleep.  Oh, sweet epidural!

I snoozed off and on most of the morning and it was glorious.  The nurse told me I was progressing nicely and that she expected I'd be ready to deliver by noon or 1:00.  YEA!

But from there everything went so slowly.  Noon came and went and the baby wasn't close.  I think I was a 6 or 7 at this point but the nurse told me that my contractions had slowed down significantly. Jordan, who would be taking pictures, came and so did my mom.  I think my mom brought Cafe Rio for Greg?  He ate some time in there.  Details are fuzzy.

I remember people telling me how hungry they were once they had their epidural and how hard it is because you can't eat.  I was feeling enough pressure and discomfort though from everything else that eating was the last thing on my mind.

The only drawback with the epidural is that it kept making my blood pressure drop which would cause me to get really nauseous.  I threw up once and then the anesthesioslogist came in and adjusted it so it would be a lower dosage.  Awesome as far as avoiding the nausea goes, but I would pay for it later!

The afternoon stretched on.  My teacher friend texted and asked if there was a baby yet.  No baby.  I started to feel anxiety about all the hours that the photographer and my mom were waiting in there with me.  At 6 am I had thought the baby would be here right away.  Now it was 2:00 and nothing to show.

At about 2:00 the nurse said I was an 8 but that I was slowing too much so they were going to give me some pitocin.  I remember panicking at this point- like my whole body was just going to decide that that was enough for today and that I actually wasn't going to have the baby.  Like do they send someone home from the hospital who is dilated to an 8?  Could it be possible that this baby wasn't actually going to come for another week after all?  Or that they were going to tell me that my body couldn't do a vaginal delivery and that I would have to go in for another C section after all of this?  I felt like my chances of a successful vbac were slipping out the window.

Luckily the pitocin did its thing and it wasn't much time before I was feeling some serious contractions.  They didn't feel like my contractions in the morning, I just felt so much pressure.  I think the epidural was taking off that original contraction sting, and just left me with unbelievable pressure every few minutes.  My contractions were still only 4 or 5 minutes apart though, which was so frustrating to me.

At around 3:30 I was dilated to a 10 and the nurse said we could start pushing soon!  But first, the doctor wanted me to wait for about 20-30 minutes and let the baby naturally push and move in to the birth canal.  So we waited.  I remember we watched Family Feud.  I gripped the side of the bed to get me through the contractions.

At 4:00 the nurse came in and said we could start pushing.  The goal was to have a baby by 4:30!  We could do this!

The pushing felt surprisingly natural to me.  Once she told me how to do it, it made perfect sense.  I didn't feel like I was doing much, but she assured me that with every push and every contraction we were making progress.  I felt frustrated that my contractions were still 3-4 minutes apart- I felt like all the work I had done pushing was being lost in that time between contractions.  At one point she offered to bring a mirror in and said that helped a lot of people.  I said ok.  It scared the Bejeesus out of me!  I couldn't concentrate at all with that mirror and it was just absolutely terrifying.  No one needs to see that!  I ordered them to get that mirror out right away!

We pushed and braked and pushed and braked and finally the nurse told me she could start to see the head!  Progress!

I love how my mom is on the phone in this picture.  Like, mom, who are you talking to?!?

The doctor came in around 4:45 or so to catch that baby.  (Our nurse was amazing and seriously did everything.  I loved her so much!)  At this point I was in a pretty significant amount of pain and I remember yelling, "More epidural!  More epidural!"  The doctor chuckled a little and said, "Well, it'll take about 20 minutes for you to get it, so it might not do you any good now."  I pushed that little button hard and fast, but I guess at this point whatever pain reliever I had was all I was going to get.

I am not a very pain resistant person.  I'm a straight up baby.  So there was a lot of crying and moaning and screaming.  It's so funny because in that moment I couldn't have cared less.  I was acting like a fool!  Screaming, yelling, cursing with not one thought of what the people around me thought.  It was almost an out of body experience where you don't even realize or care what is going on.

The doctor told me that the baby was right there and I just needed a few good pushes to get baby out.  I remember thinking there was no way I could do it.  It hurt so much.  "I can't!  I can't!"  I yelled to him.  "It hurts so much! Owie! Owie! Owie! Owie!"  Over and over again.

"This is what they call the ring of fire and they don't call it that for nothing!" he laughed.  I decided it's easy to laugh when you've never experienced what that person is going through.  Female OBGYNs from here on out! (For the record I was very happy with my doctor, just some jokes are ill timed, you know?)

Somewhere around this point doc told me that he was going to do an episiotomy because there wasn't enough room.  I started panicking because I really really didn't want an episiotomy.  He assured me he was doing it because it was absolutely necessary and that without it I was going to tear much worse.  I absolutely felt that little snip snip and screamed to let everyone in the room know that I did!

The next contraction I knew I had to get this stinking baby out of me or else I wouldn't have the strength or willpower to do it on the next ones.  So I pushed and pushed and felt that ring of fire and felt my body tear to make extra room and then "The head!  The head is out!  We see the baby's head!"

Hearing that the head was out was the adrenaline rush I needed to finish the job.  On the next contraction I pushed those shoulders out with everything in me and felt my body tear some more.  I was bawling and screaming and wanted everything to be over and to kill the person who did this to me. (GREG!)  But I was done!  The baby was out!

"It's a boy!"  I heard Greg yell.  "It's a perfect, healthy baby boy!"

It's kind of funny because I thought that finding out the gender would be a huge motivator for me when delivering, but turns out I had totally forgotten about it.  In fact, when Greg announced the gender it almost seemed irrelevant to me.  I was in such another world and so focused on ending the pain that I was in.  It seemed almost absurd that in this moment of pain and frustration and agony that Greg thought I cared at all about the gender.  I felt like screaming at him, "YOU THINK I CARE IF IT'S A BOY OR GIRL?!?  JUST GET IT OUT OF ME AND STOP THIS PAIN!

Yah, obviously that was the pain talking...

They put the baby on my chest and I smelled his newness and cuddled him so hard and we both cried and screamed because that was horrible!  Before I delivered I remember thinking that Jordan would be able to get a beautiful picture of me meeting my new baby, crying because of how much happy I was and how strong the spirit was.  Well, I'm definitely crying in the pictures, but it ain't no pretty happy cry.  That is the cry of someone who is in a lot of pain!

The doctor sewed me up and I screamed and cried some more because OWW and because next time I am full blasting my epidural because I felt entirely too much of that whole experience that's the only thing I know for sure.

They took the baby to wash him and weigh him and Greg hugged me and I cried into him and begged him to make that damn doctor stop stitching me up.

The nurses were amazing and before I even knew what had happened they had whisked away all the bloody sheets, the dirty towels and I was in a clean place with a clean baby to cuddle and love.  Doctor finished up and went on his merry way.  He was there for probably 20 minutes total.  Baby was born at 4:55 pm.

After that I really don't remember much.  Greg's mom and sister brought June over so everybody could meet the baby.  June showed negative interest.  My mom said goodbye as did our photographer, Jordan.  There were lots of cuddles.  Someone brought me something to eat.

We decided on the name Hugh pretty much as soon as we saw the baby.  Hugh was in our top three for boys names and when the little dude was born it was suddenly really the only possibility.  His middle name is Dennis after my dad.  I like to call him Den or Denny.

Giving birth to Hugh was a complete different experience than giving birth to June.  June's delivery was quick and done before I had a second to even think about it.  Hugh's was drawn out and much more painful!  Meeting both of them, though, was a profoundly spiritual experience.  When I held that little Hugh I was reminded of the same strong feeling I had the first time I held June- that it was a reunion.  Like I had been separated from him for a long long time and that I was finally being reunited with an old, dear friend.  I was so happy to see him again and I felt he was happy to see me.  We had so much to catch up on!

Carrying and birthing a baby is every miserable experience in this world- suffering, misery, discomfort, pain, agony.  But it's all the beautiful ones too.  Strength, hope, love, family, joy and so much gratitude.  I am so thrilled that this little boy has made his way safely into our home and family.  He is my everything.

(A note on having a birth photographer.  DO IT!  I didn't have one at June's birth and I regretted it after.  Once I contacted Jordan (@jordanbreephotography on instagram) about doing our birth photos I started to feel really nervous.  Maybe I would hate it?  Maybe it was too personal, too vulnerable an experience to have a photographer there?  I almost chickened out and told her not to come last minute, but I knew I would want some pictures of this day.  Most people list their wedding day and the day they had their children as the most important days of their lives.  No one would dream of a wedding without a professional photographer but we do for births all the time.  So I decided I would try it this one time and see how I felt about it.  And I LOVED it.  When Jordan sent me these pictures, I immediately started crying.  Nothing can capture the pain and the euphoria of that day as well as these pictures.  THANK YOU JORDAN!!!)