Friday, December 30, 2016

GBOMB 2016

I'm stealing Danica's end of the year GBOMB post idea! Good, bad, and on my mind. 

2016 has been a wild ride. Blogging fell way, way, way to the back of my priorities list for the first time since 2008ish (weird), but I can't seem to give it up completely...so it feels right to do a year end post and maybe I'll blog more in 2017. Maybe! Who even knows anymore. 

GOOD

  • I received an MFA in Writing from Lindenwood University! This was my biggest, most exciting moment. I just never imagined I would do something like this, and not only starting but finishing it felt humongous.
  • In the same week I submitted my thesis, I was offered a job...teaching Writing...at BYUI! Sitting in the Starbuck's in Queen Creek and seeing that email come in will forever be burned into my memory. I sat there, exhausted, and cried openly over my laptop. The next semester I got a second section and a leadership position. It's been a year of massive growth in this new job.
  • Clark turned 4. 4 has been harder than 3, but I am still so proud and overjoyed by the sweet, funny person my Joony is.

  • We went to San Diego, which on the surface sounds like a fun family weekend, but which was actually something we desperately needed at the time. I didn't even realize at the time how badly our family needed that trip, just the three of us. It was the weekend of both mine and David's graduate commencement ceremonies, so we were coming off nearly two years of grad school and were about to dive into career changes that really tested us. That cool, windy, relaxed weekend came at the exact right moment.

  • My girlfriends, the most necessary source of magic in my life. There were two Shpitty weekends (we went to a David Sedaris reading in April and then I went to her wedding in August!), a week with Meeshelle and Baby Than in September, two visits with Meredith (one was a sunrise airport layover hang that I maintain was the best decision ever), a hundred park-and-soda dates with Kate...I knew it before, but girlfriends are necessary. I love them fiercely. 
  • In the last two months of the year I took charge of my eating. I'm really happy with the changes I've seen because of that.

  • Our anniversary--both the 8th wedding anniversary and the 100 month anniversary. I'm so proud of our marriage and I love my husband more than ever.



BAD

  • The election. Ugh. Sigh. All of it. I lost a lot of faith in humanity over the course of this election, and not just because of the outcome--because of the process that got us there and the ugly, nasty things I saw people I once respected justifying. Truly disheartening.
  • Shifting employment. In some ways it was really good, and in a lot of ways it really tried us. Changing jobs is really, really stressful. It was hard on each of us personally and on our family as a unit.
  • Our move to Arizona really sunk in. The first year felt like a dreamland. "We're here! We made it out of Rexburg! Let's get In N Out!" This year a lot of realities set in--how stressful the move was, how deeply we miss Idaho, how different building a life here is than it was in Rexburg. That was hard.
  • Religion was a hot topic on my mind this year. It felt hard and confusing. I think I'm in a good place again, but it's been a year of ups and downs for sure.
  • Anxiety. It's been a couple years now of finding things that alleviate it, things that aggravate it, learning when I cannot avoid it, and coping with the whole ride. A lot of days are pretty good. Some days are pretty bad. Exercise, organization, and a little bit of medication helps me through it all.


ON MY BRAIN

  • Health. Fitness. Diet. All of the normal New Year things! I feel grateful to have a head start on my goals there.
  • Teaching. I have so many jumbled thoughts on improving and growing and advancing here, it feels a little overwhelming! And then I remember that I have years to figure it all out. A lifetime! It's okay!
  • Little Clarkjoon, who needs to much attention but who is also so independent. He's starting kindergarten in 2017! KINDERGARTEN. My heart breaks at the thought.
Oh gosh, I feel like I'm forgetting a million things. Doesn't the year in review feel like a big blur by December 30? I'm excited to get to work in 2017. I hope and feel like there are big, good things happening...but I'm also really excited about the small day-to-day things, like hustling away at my teaching job and my health and parenting week after week. Let's do it!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Blue Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone!

How will you be spending this holiday?

I have family in town from all over. My brother and his family flew in from Sweden and the rest of my siblings traveled from California so we can all be together in Arizona this weekend. I just (finally) got to meet my Swedish nephew for the first time and he's just as cute and squishy as I'd always imagined. It's Christmas heaven! My brother is even teaching my to say "Can I have a hug?" in Swedish so maybe my nephew will warm up to me a little faster. Not that it's a competition with his other aunts and uncles...but I mean, if it was, I'd be winning. ;)


It's already been an eventful weekend. I went to a weightlifting class this morning (it's a new favorite!), Clark was diagnosed with croup (BOOO...luckily he's still as happy as can be, though, and is good to go for Christmas fun!), and we'll be heading to my parent's house tonight for pizza and pajamas. The gifts are all wrapped, the food is going to be delicious, and it will be the merriest time.

This year I loved the idea of a Christmas outfit that was wintry without being red and green or covered in sequins. These shades of blue feel festive (I wish you could feel how thick and luxurious this wool skirt is!) but will transition well to other times of the tear. DressLily has some killer deals and a really cute selection--I had way too much fun browsing over there!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

mustard everything

Is anyone else still obsessed with all things mustard? I'm coming up on a decade of gasping every time I see a mustard yellow knit. I guess that makes it a classic, right?

Anyways, it's finally (finally) cool enough around here to wear a sweater, even if only for an hour or two in the morning. I'll take it! A few weeks ago I grabbed two mustard knits from Rose Gal to wear through the cooler months and I couldn't be more excited about them.

I wore this first outfit to hit the library, Sodalicious, and Trader Joe's with Clark. He's out of school for Christmas and my semester is graded and done, so we've got two weeks to party! It's been a wonderful break from our usual hustle (even though Clark double checks with me every morning: "I don't have school? My teachers aren't there today?").
I love the cozy knit of this cardigan (and it comes in a gorgeous wine color, too!).

I wore this second (mustard, cozy, knit...I have a type! ;) sweater to dinner with my family and rolled the sleeves for a more casual look. I paired it with my most comfortable loafers and loved the way it made my favorite turquoise necklace pop.

When I took these pictures it had been raining off an on all day. Do you see the leaves behind my *just* starting to turn yellow? We don't get fall in Arizona until January! Even as it was raining all morning it was nice enough outside (60*) to go on a walk with Joonybugs.

Anyways, thank you for reading along and checking out the businesses that are kind enough to sponsor this kind of post. I've loved browsing through RoseGal and finding cute seasonal pieces!

Monday, December 5, 2016

stuff your stocking

Most years, my mom and I do each other's stockings. It's been one of my favorite traditions, and it takes stress off my husband and dad! Stuffing stockings is one of my favorite parts of December.

Below I've assembled a few silly things I'd be excited to see in my stocking, just in case you're working on a mom/sister/friend's stocking OR you want a few wish list ideas for yourself:

Nail polish holder - This is just good old-fashioned genius. Vanilla bean paste - I've heard that it's so much better for baking than vanilla extract, but I can't say for sure because I've never been willing to spring for it myself (which is what makes it the perfect gift!). Wunderbrow - Word on the street is it's amazing and stays on forEVER. Stencils! - Great for 12 years olds and people who love doodling in their planner. Chandrika bar soap - It smells musky and romantic. I love it. Bar earrings - They go with everything and are perfect even for people who don't love jewelry. David Freaking Sedaris' NEW BOOK - you'd have to pre-order it, since it doesn't come out until June, but my word. No better gift! I would be begging everyone I know to buy it for me if I hadn't already bought it for myself. Just write "David Freaking Sedaris' new book is pre-ordered. Expect it in June." on a Post-It note, stick it in the stocking, you're ready to rock. A Passion Planner! - I use mine every single day. The compact size is perfect for stockings/life, and you can get 10% off with my code BRANSPLANS10.
 PROVOCALIPS - I could write a whole blog post about this, but the bottom line is that it does NOT transfer, comes in gorgeous colors, and is $7 at Target or Wal Mart (you know that $30 lipstick everyone is selling? Where they make a video of themselves rubbing their lips over and over again? I promise this is better/cheaper). RTIC tumbler - I mentioned this before, and I still use it every day. Best tumbler ever! Magnetic car vent mount for your phone - Perfect for playing music or navigating while you're driving. A+!

Friday, December 2, 2016

C

When David and I first got married and we lived in Rexburg, we were surrounded by other newlywed couples exactly like us. I remember once in class at BYUI I said I'd been married for over 2 years and a classmate looked at me, shocked, and said "How many kids do you have?!" People were always saying how long they'd been married by months: "We've been married 14 months!" It's a lot like the way a lot of moms say their babies are "17 months!" instead of just "One," or "Almost two." In a culture where everything happens so quickly (dating-engaged-married-babies), I guess every month counts. Big time.

Anyways, as newlyweds living in Rexburg surrounded by this, I started mentioning our "anniversary" every month. I meant it sarcastically, as a joke, poking fun at everyone around us, but I guess the real joke is on me because...I never stopped. Every month on the 2nd I send David a text to wish him a happy anniversary, and he laughs at me and says it back. We don't actually celebrate with gifts or a date or anything, but it's mentioned every month.

A few years ago I started wondering how many months I'd been doing this, and I calculated when we'd hit the 100 month mark. When I realized it was at 8 years and 4 months, I thought "Holy crap, that's so far away." But...here we are. December 2, 2016 marks 100 months of marriage! And I'm officially a psycho wife for knowing, counting, and acknowledging the milestone. Where I've been celebrating our marriage every month, though, it feels significant! Silly. But worth acknowledging.
So here's to 100 months of marriage! We are different in so many ways, but I love David with my whole heart. There is no one better for me, no one else I'd rather stand beside as I navigate life, no one else I'd want to parent with, and for sure no one else who would be as good-natured about the special brand of crazy I bring to the table ;)

Monday, November 28, 2016

puppies & kittens?!

What's this?! An outfit post?? I wouldn't believe it myself if it weren't before my very eyes! But today I'm partnering up with Rose Gal to show you a few fun, budget-friendly items.

Since animal-themed clothing is sort of my jam right now, I was super excited to pick out some cute things from their site. I paired this dachshund crop tee with my favorite high-waisted jeans, slip ons, and a lightweight green coat for an afternoon of errands with Dave and Joon.
It's insanely soft, of course I'm nuts about that puppy face, and it's less than $15. BOOM!
The next day I took this kitten purse, which is right up my alley, for a spin at church. I love that it's not too crazy but still adds a little personality to an otherwise simple black dress.
I also wore these hexagon earrings (less than TWO dollars!) for an easy accessory.
Right now Rose Gal has some great holiday-themed clothing and everything is really affordable. It would be a great place to shop for gifts or to find a dress for holiday parties (I totally have my eye on this elegant swan dress, which is only $20!). Check them out!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

work this body

I gained some weight over the last year, maybe 10 lbs. I kept planning on eating healthier, but it was always after...something. After I submitted my thesis. After I graduated. After my first semester of teaching was over. Blah, blah, blah, of course, life is always stressful, and it felt like there was always a reason to indulge. And so, right before the holidays (? Why, Brandilyn) I started tracking calories and stopped drinking Diet Coke.

I immediately noticed how much I'd been snacking. Hundreds of calories every day consumed in snacks! Crazy. It's like when you start tracking your spending and notice how fast the $1 items at Target add up. I also started chugging water like there was no tomorrow. It's going great!

So, in the tradition of bloggers everywhere, after doing something for a little while, I am now the expert! Bring all of your questions to me! Ha. But I am about to list some things that have helped me as I've started taking control of what I'm putting into my mouth, and maybe it'll help you, too!
My Fitness Pal makes it really easy to track calories, water, and exercise. I put the app on my phone so it's truly at my fingertips. One thing that helps is to log everything I know I'm going to eat right at the beginning of the day. For instance, today I knew I was going to want a slice of leftover apple pie from Thanksgiving. So I logged it when I woke up! And I've been working my calories around that treat all day. You can also enter your own recipes on here, so I have all my favorite smoothie combinations and overnight oats recipes already entered.
WALKING. Walking! So simple. Going on a quick walk every day gets me to my Fitbit step goal, earns a couple extra calories, and feels good for my brain. I swore to myself I wouldn't do any exercise that made me hate myself the entire time. Running is out. My brilliant mom's yoga class every week is in! Fight class at the YMCA is in! And walking is IN!

I also got a taser for when I'm out walking. It's handheld, lightweight, and makes me feel way safer than walking without it. I won't go walking alone at night without it.
My favorite Instagrams for healthy food ideas: Mindful Eating and Lauren B Health.

I got a killer water bottle. I wanted one of the Yeti tumblers, and this is essentially the same thing for $12. Nice. My water stays cold ALL DAY. I take it to church with me, and even sitting in the hot car for 3 hours, there are still ice cubes afterwards. Miracle! I try to drink 4 of these a day.

Halo Top ice cream. Duh.

I don't know, this is all pretty obvious and elementary. Eat less food. Work out. Drink more water. But it's because it works! I refuse to do fad diets or insane workout regimes. There is no healthy way to drop 15 pounds in a week. It just takes time. But it's healthy, and it's working, and it feels good! Just call me Brandilyn, the obvious blogger.