Friday, October 16, 2015

my love is fire


Truy's Natural Deodorant.  I have tried every natural deodorant on the planet, I swear.  I tried Tom's (it made the skin on my armpits PEEL! Wtf?!), Burt's Bees spray (the closest 2nd--not a bad option!), the crystal, I just didn't love them.  Then Natalie did a post on gentle beauty products and suggested this.  I wouldn't have heard of it otherwise--I've never seen it sold in a store!  BUY IT. It's not an antiperspirant, so you will still sweat, but the sweat will not smell bad!  And I know exactly what every ingredient is (coconut oil, powdered sugar, beeswax, baking soda).  No yellow stains on my tees, no aluminum in my pits (#classylady).

Lenny Letter! Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner started this (free) email newsletter and it's wonderful. Clever interviews, occasional fiction, and all of the content is by super cool ladies that you wish you were hanging out with (for instance, Amy Poehler and Jennifer Lawrence). SUBSCRIBE! You need something more intelligent than advertisements for places you shopped at once in your inbox.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds. They are pumpkin seeds, so yes, good...but they're pumpkin spiced, so yes, BETTER.

The List App.  This just launched a couple days ago and was created by BJ Novak (Ryan on The Office!).  It's basically an app all about lists, and the lists are about anything you want them to be about.  Half of my blog posts are in list form, so you know I'm all about this format.  Mindy Kaling lists which actors were the best kissers on The Mindy Project, Aidy Bryant lists what she would do if she were the Bachelorette, BJ Novak lists post-2012 ideas of episodes of The Office, it's just so entertaining. And it's free! I'm thebrandilyn on there.

Snapchat! Have I mentioned Snapchat on here yet?  I've been snapping for a couple years now but now that some of my favorite online girlfriends have joined it's gotten even better. If it feels intimidating check out this video tutorial by The Alison Show on how to use it and then SNAP ME! I'm hellobrandilyn.

hanging out in the car with Clark, wearing my new tee shirt

I bought this tee shirt at Forever 21 and it was $9, it's so soft, it's a little boxy, not too tight, kinda clever, and I've worn it three times in the week since I bought it.  And then I just saw this Feminist one on the website and now I want it, too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Uncommon Goods

We've been in our little blue house in Mesa for over six months now (how?! How has it been that long?) but we still feel like we're getting settled!  I'm no decorator/DIY-er, so every finished space in my house takes a million different tweaks before it feels just right.  One of my favorite things to add into my home is personal touches--the little things that tell a part of our story, like the tiny Buddha David bought in Chinatown the first time he visited the Bay Area and met my family, the hand-knit blanket my mom got us right after Clark was born to keep us cozy while he nursed, or the painting that Clark brought home from preschool framed in our living room.
One of my favorite places to find these sorts of personal touches for the home is Uncommon Goods (who are kindly sponsoring this post!).   They have all kinds of cozy touches for the home, be it yours or someone else's, and their company is truly ethical.  They sell only handmade, recycled, and organic products, limit the paper catalogs they send out (printing on recycled paper when they do), and let customers choose which non-profit their purchase helps support through their Better to Give program.  Their State Dish Towels are the exact kind of personal touch I'm talking about--something that tells a part of your story. We got the Rhode Island one for David's sister the year they moved! I also love the Dog Blueprint Pillows, which would be so adorable for someone crazy about their dog (the Pit Bull one would be so cute in my parent's house!).
In addition to personal and charming home decor, they have all kinds of gorgeous artwork and clever gifts.  David and I have purchased several gifts for family members from Uncommon Goods, including the Story of the Earth bracelet set for my mom's birthday (she still wears it!) and this clever Spark Plug Plane Paperweight for my father in law.  Needless to say, I'm stoked on Uncommon Goods.  Their products are gorgeous and their mission is inspiring.

Monday, September 21, 2015

keeps my heart from growing older

Some Crap That's Happened Lately, None of Which Explains My Blogging Absence:

- Right now I'm finishing up a David Foster Wallace class and I am trying desperately to pretend to be smart enough to make worthwhile contributions.  I don't know if I'm succeeding.

- The other day I was making myself a sandwich for lunch and Tina was watching me (you know, as cats do).  She wasn't moving or making a peep until I pulled out the bag of deli turkey, when she started purring really loudly but otherwise didn't budge. I laughed for a really long time at that.  Alone, in my kitchen, out loud laughing.

- Being recently potty trained, Joony is fascinated by bodily functions.  He interviews me about every trip to the restroom, informs me of every flatulence, and spends hours considering when he will next go poop.  I'm 30% annoyed by the constant discussion of bowel movements, 70% hysterical with laughter over the way Joony says "I tuh-hooted!" (tooted) or "I got pooT," (poop) emphasis on the T sound.  Also, "Okay, I flush my poopoos! Bye bye poos, you go swim in the ocean!"

- Last week I showed up at the gym, went to the bathroom before class, and while washing my hands I looked in the mirror and realized my pants were on inside out. Great work.

- My bookshelf is overflowing!  I'm currently working on Why Not Me?, I Hate My Neck, Sick in the Head, Family Life, and Foxfire. The end of my semester cannot come soon enough. Ready to crack some spines!

- Speaking of, I'm finishing up my semester this week, the I get a week off, then I'm back at it again. In the fall I have an internship (!!) and one class, then in the winter I have my graduate thesis and one class, and then nothing. Graduation.  Life with an MFA in hand. How? How is it so close?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

wildest dreams

It's been two weeks since it happened and I still haven't blogged about Taylor Swift, which is insanity.  It needs to be blogged about, and since my dad texted to remind me it's been almost a month since I last posted (hi, Dad!), here goes.  Taylor Swift.

I first heard of Taylor Swift on MySpace (this was in 2006).  I think it was right around when her first album came out.  We're the same age and I would listen to her songs and read her MySpace bulletin blog posts and think she was so cool for recording music and having mermaid hair and being my age.  I bought every album after that on the day it came out.  I've followed her career and memorized all her songs and defended her to my friends and I just...I'm her biggest fan.  I truly believe that!  Me and every other 12 year old on the planet, I don't even care.  I'm now a decade strong in unapologetic, non-ironic love for Taylor Swift.  I know that a lot of people roll their eyes, but homegirl writes her own songs, plays like 5 instruments, treats her fans like GOLD, and has somehow kept her crap together and stayed down to earth despite being in the limelight for her late teens and early twenties.  You have to respect that, right?

So I knew she was going to be in Arizona on the 17 & 18 but couldn't afford a ticket.  Holy crap, tickets were so expensive!  I tried and tried--quite literally hundreds of phone calls into radio stations--to win myself a ticket, but it was a no go.  I really couldn't believe she'd be so close and I wouldn't be there.  On Saturday night, out of curiosity, we looked up concert tickets.  We were scrolling through and gasping over how much they were (some pit tickets were in the thousands!), we realized that there were also some really good deals on tickets that had been sold back to Ticketmaster, especially if I bought a seat by myself.  We made the (split, rash, impractical, irresponsible, exciting) decision to...just do it.  We bought one.  It was still too much to spend, but David was so sweet and excited for me.  It felt so silly to be going by myself, but I was honestly too excited to care too much.
On Monday, I got ready (wearing a 1989 shirt Kate made for me! That glowed in the dark!!) and headed to the arena.  It. Was. Packed.  I couldn't believe how many people showed up, and everyone had costumes and signs and they were singing and was so exciting.  I couldn't believe how much I'd lucked out with my ticket.  It was directly in front of the stage, just a couple rows back--not in the pit next to the stage, but still really freaking close.

Right as Vance Joy, her adorable, talented opening act, was finishing up, an older gentleman came up and sat down next to me.  He asked which seats were mine and explained he was in the ticket business and had sold someone four seats--two on each side of me, so their party was split up.  He asked if I'd mind scooting down two seats so this mom and her three daughters could sit together, and I said of course.  So I scooted down, and then he asked where the rest of my party was.  I explained how I'd come alone, tickets were expensive but I just loved Taylor Swift, etc. etc.  He told me then that he'd bought a pit ticket to take video for his website but didn't want to spend the whole concert down there and asked...if I wanted to trade him seats halfway through the show and go into the pit.  I think I just stared at him with my mouth open for a minute before responding.  I told him yes ("Yes! Are you sure? Yes. But you shouldn't! But yes!") but honestly wondered if he'd end up coming back because come on, the pit!  At T. Swift!  At this point I was a jumble of shaking hands and excitement because going into the pit or not, Taylor Swift was about to come on.
SO the show starts.  Welcome to New York.  She pops out of the GROUND, I start crying, it's incredible.  Right after her second song ("New Romantics," in case you're interested), this guy shows up and says he'd already got the video he wants and I can head down to the pit with his ticket if I want.  It hadn't even been half the show.  It had been 1.5 songs!  I was stuttering and yelling "Thank you! Oh my gosh!" over and over.  He said he was happy to take my seat and enjoy the rest of the show sitting down.  I ran around the arena (while frantically texting Dave and my mom"GOING INTO PIT I SWEAR GUY JUST GAVE ME TICKET GOING TO PIT OMG THIS REALLY HAPPENING RN") to get to the pit entrance with my heart thumping in my ears.  I really didn't think they'd even let me in, it all felt too good to be true.  But...before I knew it I was about 4 feet away from Taylor.
I don't even know how to put the rest of the night into words!  It was easily the best concert ever.  All of it.  The dancing, the songs she chose, the interviews with her BFFs that played for a minute or two during costume changes, the stage that ROSE UP INTO THE MOTHERFREAKING SKY and rotated around, everything.  Just bananas.  I danced the whole time, screamed the words to every song, cried multiple times, took a couple terribly lit pictures, basically just lived up the best night ever. 
And so. That's the story of how I ended up just a couple feet away from Taylor Swift for an evening, something I really don't think I'll ever forget or stop smiling about when I remember it.

OH amazing is the new Wildest Dreams music video?!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

the luckiest seven

 (on our first date in 2008, outside of our clothing store in 2010, college graduation in 2011, and Joony's newborn pictures in our Main Street Rexburg apartment in 2012)

I struggle to write about my marriage.  I worry I'll trivialize it by talking about it with less-than-perfect words, that I'll be unable to express the true depth of my feelings or the complexity of this commitment.  I think people talked to me before I got married the same way they talked to me before I had Clark.  "It's so hard, but so worth it!"  And that's it.  I couldn't ever wrap my head around broad statements like that.  What could be hard about it?  What makes it worth it? I know the answers now, but they're complicated, and it really is easier to say something like "We work hard, but it's the best!" than it is to find the words to say what a marriage truly is.

To me, marriage is having a second person become a part of my story, someone who knows every small triumph, every ugly cry, every turn that led up to those big life moments.  It's sharing a life in the most complete way.

It's being on stage at my college convocation and making eye contact with the person who saw me crying in defeat over a disappointing grade, made midnight soda runs, and took me out to dinner every time I finished a semester.

 It's being handed my beautiful, healthy son by the person who saw my shoulders slump every time I got a negative pregnancy test, who worried while I paced the apartment in the middle of the night when I woke up in pain, who held me while I sobbed because I wouldn't get the birth I'd been so excited for.

It's a celebratory "we sold our business!" dinner with the person who stayed up late after doing homework to do the store's books, who learned how to change bulbs in a tanning bed, who brought me lunch because there were no breaks when we didn't have employees.

It's the years of planning and hoping and praying and risk taking that came before high-fiving each other as we crossed over into Arizona behind a moving truck.

It's exposing every scary, unflattering, awful part of myself and knowing he'll stay after seeing them.  It's best friendship, complete equality, Netflix in bed, knowing his favorite snacks at the grocery store, a quick wink across a crowded room, a million inside jokes.  It's partnership and bickering and back scratches and secret love notes.  18 year old Brandilyn did a lot of stupid things, but deciding to marry David Haynes was not one of them.

Happy anniversary, David! I love you more today than I did on August 2, 2008. I love you more today than I did yesterday. I love you forever.

Monday, July 13, 2015

clark, three years and three months

I walked in on Joony messing with an antique table in my parent's bedroom:
"Hey, dude! Get out of here!"
Joony, turning to Duke the pitbull, who was sleeping peacefully in the corner:
"Yeah, Duke! You get outta here!"

On going to the dentist: "They spray water, and I haf new teeth!"

Narrating my Taco Bell dinner: "Oookay, mom haf taco.  Wow, good job, mom, you eat taco! Reeree good! Oh, and chips? And cheese? Woow. Mom eat chips. Mom eat cheese. Mom eat taco.  Eat food, all gone!"

When I say "I am SO proud of you!" after he uses the toilet: "Hey, mom! I fo proud of YOU!"

(While pulling a Corona out of my parent's refrigerator): "Look! Apple juice!"

He had an unfortunate accident when we didn't make it to the toilet in time.  As I was cleaning out his underpants, he walked over to Tina (our cat) and said "Hey, Tina! You come here and see my yucky poops, Tina.  Come and see! YUCK."

"Hey, mom! A tractor!"
"Wow, cool tractor!"
(shaking his head patiently) "No no, mom. Say 'Holy cow!'"
"Oh, okay. Holy cow!"
"Good job, mom."

Every single time we walk in the front door, after a big, satisfied sigh: "We home. Feels good, mom!"

On the human body: "Mom? I tooted and...I feel good!"

On a positive attitude: "I wake up, and I cry. I so sad! Then...I happy. And I so happy!"

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

a late bloomer

My son didn't crawl until right before his first birthday.  He didn't walk for a few more months after that.  His speech has been slower to develop than other kids his age (sometimes I feel like I'm 50% mother, 50% translator).  He still sleeps happily in his crib. He wasn't potty trained at 18 months.  At 3, he doesn't count to 50 or cook meals or spell his name.  He's starting to string together some pretty funny sentences, he sleeps through the night, and he is a happy guy.  Every time I meet with our pediatrician, I'm assured that he's a healthy, normal kid meeting his milestones on his own time.

I've had to be careful about the things I read too much of on the internet.  I've been good about unfollowing fitness accounts that make me feel terrible about my body, which is strong and pretty and does not deserve harsh criticism.  I remove hateful, close-minded political ranters from my feed because they leave me upset for hours.  But moms are tricky.  I always read Instagram and Facebook posts with a laundry list of academic and developmental milestones that people's kids are reaching that aren't anywhere close to what my kid is doing.  They make me worry when I never would have otherwise.  Is he dumb? Is he delayed? Am I not doing enough?  And then I feel terrible for thinking that about my beautiful, funny, quirky, clever son!

I know everyone is proud of what their kids do, and I try to remember they're not trying to act snotty about it.  So much of this is just me being sensitive because I'm a worrier. I will never understand the race to have our babies grow up so fast. I see so many moms rushing to get them on the toilet, out of the crib, off the boob, and I think...why?  What's wrong with a baby?

I don't know, I opened this post to write about potty training and got sidetracked.  But we did it!  Joony potty trained in less than a week and I'm so proud, but I worried that writing about it might make someone who's struggling through accidents and tantrums sad.  I don't want anyone to worry about where their kid is at right this moment. I have a late bloomer in every area, and it's taught me to enjoy every stage for as long as it lasts, and it's been a real exercise in minding my own business. In being happy for someone else and happy for myself at the same time.
So potty training: we didn't even try until after his third birthday, and I'm so glad because he was ready then, but not before.  Once again, late bloomer.  There were no power struggles.  Not even any huge accidents (except for one memorable turd in our backyard).  He holds it and goes when it's time.  I'm so proud of him I could burst, and when I say "Joony, I am so proud of you!" he beams and hugs my leg and laughs "Yeah! Yeah, mom! I fo poud of you!" I had anxiety for weeks about starting this process. I stressed and cried and fretted and read ridiculous articles with titles like "Potty Train in ONE DAY With This Simple Trick!" In the end, I didn't use any secret Pinterest tricks or formulas.  We did it our way, on our own time, and it felt so good.  And it's done!  We did it!  The fact that it was kind of a non-issue in our home, that we were even able to have some fun with it, felt like a big, fat miracle.  I felt like a good mom.  I'm proud of that.

(...and if you're offended by pictures of kids on toilets, well, you can just suck it)