Sunday, October 19, 2014

you girls keep me young, oh i love you so much

hat: local boutique; jeans: LC; madewell archive boot; everydangthing else: target

A Love Letter to My First Two Weeks as a Grad Student:

My first weeks in school were incredible.  It was inspiring and intimidating and heart-clutching.  Both of my professors took it easy the first week--introduce yourself on the discussion board, do a short reading, respond on the message boards, interact with your fellow students, all that jazz.  I've used Blackboard before, but it was a relief to have simple tasks to do to reorient myself with the platform while I get excited about the coursework laid out ahead of me.

Does it sound cheesy to say that just reading through my syllabi got me inspired?  It's true, it did. "Stretch yourself as a writer--try new things, take risks, write more than you think you can, in ways you didn't know you could."  "Don't rush through something the night before--unless, of course, it's brilliant."  Little things like that make my palms tingle and my cheeks feel flushed...I feel new-crush-smitten. No place I'd rather be (n-n-n-no, no, place I'd rather be!).

I wrote a few weeks ago about feeling scared to start, and I'm so pleased that I'm still feeling like this is the exact right choice for me.  A new friend commented on that post that maybe grad school is Baby #2 for now, and that felt so comforting for me to read.  I even laughed to myself when I started thinking about how maybe grad school is Baby #3--with Panache* being Baby #1 (too far?).  The culture that I'm surrounded by sometimes makes me wonder if it was wrong to start grad school instead of trying for another baby (seriously, everyone that has a kid Joonclark's age is pregnant/already has a second! HOW??!), but when I really get down to the heart of the matter, this is right.  The God I know and love is encouraging of personal growth, of risk taking, of being an amazing mom for a small family instead of being a so-so mom to a huge family**.

Well, anyways, didn't mean to get down that rabbit hole again--I only wanted to say that it feels like a breathtaking blessing to feel so affirmed about the place I'm in and the risks I'm taking. I've cried no less than (and maybe more than?) five times because I just can't believe how awesome my school workload is.  There's even a David Sedaris class being taught next semester! And I got in!

If posting is sparse around here (that's kind of a joke, it's always sparse around here) it's because I'm elbow-deep in terribly interesting articles and book chapters and workshopping. And next semester I'm going to take more credits!  Because I want to!

So. Braggy post over. Grad school rocks.
::Insert obligatory quote about a world where there are Octobers or bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils because it's fffffaaaaaallllll guys::

*For new friends, David and I used to own and run a little clothing boutique here in Rexburg called Panache.  We bought it right after we were married and sold it after 5 years in business. It was awesome and terrible.
**I'm saying here that I personally would be a so-so mom to a huge family--not that all moms with a lot of kids are so-so. Those moms are killing it and I'm in awe.  My specific set of talents is so different than theirs.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

my eyes to serve, my hands to learn

Some pictures of some stuff I've been up to lately:

 David is turning 30 on the 14th! We started the celebration on October 1, though, because I'm just the best wife ever.  Our refrigerator is now a shrine to the fun he's had, with love notes from his best friends and family, and our calendar has a fun treat, gift, or activity to do every day.  Because anyone who kisses that well should be celebrated for at LEAST two weeks.
 I got a student planner, two days into my graduate education.  I swear, every time I went to submit an assignment I started sweating buckets and getting so panicky. Anxiety rearing her ugly head and all that.  Anyways, a planner always helps me relax, prioritize, and slay assignments.  I just wish I could find one that lasted, like, two years instead of one school year (which is shorter than one calendar year).
 I got Lena's book! I usually buy my books for $0.01 on Amazon, but when an author I love comes out with something, I pay full price so everybody gets a piece of the pie. For you, Lena, I will pay full price.
 I joined the Dollar Shave Club! My Gilettes were just too dang expensive.  I loved them, but it's the sad truth. $6/month, four blades, plus I get mail.  I really love getting mail.
 My parents came to spend a weekend with us, and they brought Trader Joe's goodies! South African style chips and butterscotch caramels, OHMYGOSH. I don't know why Rexburg doesn't have a TJ's. I could keep them in business all by my lonesome.
 ...and even bigger than snack food, my parents brought this room divider that I always had in my room growing up and now it's in my living room! Doesn't my house look fantastically sophisticated now? I rearranged my wall art and I love how it looks.
BOOM, loving life.

Monday, September 29, 2014

two years and six months

While he doesn't talk quite as much as other kids his age, Clarkjoon is starting to string together some pretty funny phrases.  I've always enjoyed interacting with him, but lately it's reached a new level of funny.  I always love posts about the funny things blogger kids say, so here's mine (which will hopefully someday be as funny as Julia Styles):
"Joon, say 'ambulance.'"
"Okay, say 'am.'" "Am."
"Bu." "Bu."
"Lance." "Lance."
"Ambulance!" "Am-poo-goya!"

(He's basically Joey Tribiani)

The teller at the drive-thru subtly asked if it was allright for her to give Joon a Dumdum.  When I nodded, she looked over at Joony and said, "Hi, there! Would you like a sucker?" Joony's jaw dropped open and he placed his hand over his eyes, laughing and saying, "Oh, my! Oh, thank you, thank you! Oh, my!"

"Your friend Livvy is coming tomorrow! Can you say Livvy?"
"Yeah! Caca."
" Li...vvy."

"Do you love your mommy?"

"You love cheese?"
(Laughs) "Yeah."
"Cheese and mommy?"
"No. Cheese."
And an update on our gymnastics class: last week, Joony scored an early exit by decking one of his peers right in the face! That's right, he's just a shining example of kindness and love and we couldn't be more proud. He did master excellent bunny jumping though, so good news there?  All morning I'd been telling him we were getting donuts after class, and he was heartbroken when I explained to him that we couldn't this week because he hadn't been very kind.  We have this week off for spud harvest, which I am going to talk about now because when I first moved to Idaho I thought it was a joke.  Instead of spring break, schools in Idaho get 1-2 weeks off in the fall during spud harvest so kids can help their parents harvest their crops.  We even have a break from gymnastics class.  This is Idaho, we grow and eat and love potatoes. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

oh, you gonna let it all hang out

There is no shortage of posts about "every mom is different! You do you!" in the mom-blogging world.  Just a few weeks ago, Carrie wrote a post about the "mommy wars" that I agreed with and spoiler alert: no such thing as the mommy wars.  It's all made up and it's dumb and seeeriously, no one else cares how you're raising your child.  It's all born out of our own perception that other people are watching us, which just isn't happening as much as we all think it is.

So I had that in the back of my mind when I watched this video by Lena Dunham, which is just so cute and spot-on.  I love her, plus we dance the same way, so there's that.
(There's an F-bomb at 0:40, plz watch anyways)
"A huge part of being a feminist is allowing other women, giving other women the freedom to make choices you might not necessarily make yourself.  And so, just like we should respect women who cover up for reasons of shyness, or modesty, or religious beliefs, just like we have to allow for all of that, we have to allow for women who want to walk down the street in booty shorts."

I just loved that and I've been mulling it over in my mind all day.  Sometimes I think I'm a bad feminist (Bad Feminist is on my to-read list, by the way! Anyone out there read it?) because I am not as well-read on current women's issues as I want to be. I still have a lot to learn before I feel qualified to spew an opinion on all these hot topics...but it's comforting to think that, at its core, feminism is about support, and I can be and am a part of that.  The quickest way to get respect for myself and my unique set of values and beliefs is to give that respect to others.  I just like the idea of being supportive and encouraging to one another and respecting that we all have the right to let our freak flags fly. Kumbaya and all that, amiright?

Ever since I moved away from blogging for followers and free crap, I've felt more of that sense of community around the blogs I read and the people I meet through the internet.  That's pretty cool.  I'm really trying to get there in my off-line life, too.  It's easy to take a step back and calculate my reaction to something online, or to unfollow that one mommy blog or whatever, but in real time at the grocery store or the park my gut reaction is often an eye roll or a snide mental commentary. I mean, people can just be so obnoxious! Wish me luck. I'm trying to be a better member of the sisterhood over here.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


I've mentioned this before, but I knew there was a void in my life before I applied for my master's program.  I haven't ever been one of those women who only dreams of babies.  I mean, I knew there would be babies, and I knew I would love them, but that wasn't the only thing I pictured.  Even now, when people make jokes about having a second, I feel myself flinch--not just because of how inappropriate the jokes are, but because I know with my whole heart that I'm not ready, and I think when I am ready again, it will probably be for the last time and that's a little bittersweet, too.  What I'm saying is that I love my job as Joony's mom.  I love taking care and helping him to grow and learn new things, I cry a lot because it's passing by too fast, I just adore him to pieces.  I also know that there are other things for me to be doing.  When I think about the things I want to fill my days with when he's older, I know I don't want to pick up a random job or hobby--I want to do things that make me happy, things that I feel to be important.

When I made the decision to start applying to MFA programs, it felt so right that I couldn't believe I'd let three years pass since graduation (I mean, I could believe it--I found out I was pregnant a month after graduation, so I'd been preoccupied).  Actually starting classes felt very far away though, so I enjoyed feeling bookish when I told people I was going to grad school, that I was researching universities, that I was assembling application materials, waiting for word back from my top choice.  When I found out I got in, I was shocked and excited and proud, and still had a few months to go, so I got to bask in that and not really think about the reality of being a student again.

David started his MBA program at the beginning of September, a full month before mine starts at the beginning of October, and watching him spend his nights frantically working through assignments has been a wake-up call.  Registering for my classes (Flash Nonfiction! Narrative Journalism! Am I dreaming?!) was a wake-up call.  And now, being two weeks away, I'm mostly feeling scared.  I haven't been reading and writing regularly since my days at BYUI, where I honestly felt like a bit of a big fish (maybe a medium sized fish?) in a very small, very comfortable pond where I knew all the other fish. It feels intimidating to know I'll be sending work in to be read by people I haven't ever met, professors who are published authors (um, one of my classes is taught by Tony D'Souza).  I'm starting to doubt myself and feel like maybe I jumped in too fast, maybe I should have waited...for what? Three more years to pass?  Obviously now is the right time, when I have a couple more years before a maybe Baby #2.  The time is now, I'm ready, I want to be educated, I want to be well-read, I want to be writing, and I don't want to be so scared by it all.  When I think about the big picture, though, I think the scared is what is going to make it so cool.

After I graduated high school, I was sitting around my parent's basement being a general loser, working random part-times, when my mom kicked me out (okay, that sounds harsh.  She told me I wasn't welcome anymore, and then drove me to Idaho and helped me get settled and stocked my refrigerator and helped me apply for BYUI--the only school I could get into with my 2.0 from high school).  I felt so angry and so scared, but looking back, I feel proud that I snagged a full-time job and paid my rent and figured out how to do my own laundry and got motivated to go to college and do more. In college, I applied for writer's retreats and teacher's assistant positions that I never really thought I'd get, but I took the leap and stuck the landing and they were the coolest experiences.   The night before I had Joony, I tearfully googled how to give a baby a bath. I'm dead serious, I was so worried I wouldn't figure out, and now I just toss that grimy toddler into a tub without a second thought (the baths are nothing, I wish Google was helpful with the tantrum situation). I guess I'm just giving myself a pep talk here--it's called a comfort zone because it's comfortable, and nothing changes, and sometimes it takes a huge scary leap to get out of it.
Well, anyways, thanks for all the encouragement on my original post about going back to school.  They helped when I started feeling iffy, and I've been reading them again as I get ready to start classes in two weeks, and they gave me the confidence to write this post.  It's fun to still have this space even though I haven't felt like posting outfits lately--maybe sometime soon?

Friday, September 19, 2014

we beat to the same drum

I start school over a month behind David, so I'm trying to enjoy having time in the evenings to bake and watch Desperate Housewives and read instead of feeling cranky because he's busy with homework.  An overview of those things I've filled my evenings with:
  • So far I've baked: a sugar cookie cake, Swig sugar cookies (AGAIN), my mom's chocolate pudding graham crust thing, Oreo truffles, and lemon cloud my freshman 15 is happening a good month before classes start. Huzzah! 
  • I'm 3 seasons into Desperate Housewives. I'm such an intellectual! HA. So far I've counted: 2 suicides (and 2 fake suicide attempts), 3 homicides, 2 B&E's, a secret teenage love child, 2 houses burned down, 1 statutory rape, 1 hit and run (resulting in a coma + amnesia), 1 dead body in a freezer, 2 basement prisoners, and a grocery store shooting. HOW DO PEOPLE STILL LIVE ON WISTERIA LANE? MOVE! And why am I still watching? Every soap opera cliche is right there. 
  • And then books. This month I've read Silver Linings Playbook, Orange is the New Black, Where'd You Go Bernadette, and right now I'm working on Astronaut Wives Club with Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close on deck. I got my Goodreads account up and current, so add me on there if you can dig it!
Have I mentioned my insane giveaway luck? I have insane giveaway luck. Hands down my biggest win is $1,000 (not a typo, seriously that much) to Gemvara from Little Green Notebook. CRAAAAAZY! I got the prettiest rose gold band to stack behind my wedding ring (which also looks so classic by itself if I want a lower profile) and two dainty necklaces that I'm stoooooooked to layer for Fall/every day for the rest of my life. I maybe had too much fun trying to decide what to get since you can customize everything they have on that site. So many options.

Joony started gymnastics! I've been so excited and counting down the days and planning how great it would be to get him around other kids his age and get us OUT of the house, especially as the weather turns cold. Well, our first class was not ideal. It was a disaster. While the other little cherubs were stomping like elephants and buzzing like bees and being cooperative and adorable, my son was sprinting around the gym screaming, "NO! Mom, NO! NONONONO!" I was sweating and speaking through clenched teeth and bribing with donuts and it was just...well, it was life with a two year old. The teacher was so patient and sweet and gave a little pep talk at the end about how this age group is still figuring out structured learning time and interacting with others and they'd do better as the 12-week session progressed. I could have kissed her, she was so kind.  After class, I took Joon on a donut date, because that's what my mom did every week when we had gymnastics classes growing up...and because I needed a little caffeine/chocolate boost after that class.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

running just as fast as we can

Tips From an Asthmatic Runner Who Does Long(ish) Distances Very Slowly:
My only picture crossing the finish line! It's blurry but takes me right back to that moment, so I love it. Also, that's the marathon timer and they started a few hours before us. Juuust FTR.

1. Run when you can, walk when you have to.  I started off with a 3:3 minute walking/running ratio. I gradually upped my running time to 4 minutes, and then I'd shave a minute off my walking time.  It was neat to experiment with my ratios and see how short I could make my walking times vs. how long I could run.  The biggest misconception I had about running was that you couldn't ever walk. All the marathoners I saw at my race took little walking breaks here and there.

2. Just focus on the run you're doing that day.  I distinctly remember walking through the door after my 7 mile run--a full month before race day--and feeling so defeated because I couldn't imagine running 5 miles after the beast of a run I'd just finished.  I had to shift my focus.  Even on my short run days, I tell myself: "Today, it's just 4 miles, nothing more."  Tomorrow's distance, or next week's distance, they don't matter.  It's all about the run at hand (which is, like, so true as a metaphor...for life, man. Think about it. It's deep).

3. Warm up. Warm. Up. WARM UP. Warm up, ya turkey. Ain't nobody got time for an injury. I have to stretch out and walk briskly for a long time to give my lungs time to clue in that they're about to work.  My lungs are fickle, petulant little organs. I have to be gentle with them or they go full-on screaming in the cereal aisle on me.

4. Good shoes! It's basically your only expense as a runner, don't be cheap about your feet. Go to a running store, have them fit you properly, pay more. They're going to last you 500ish miles, it's worth it. No sale rack at TJ Maxx or neon Nike shoes just because they're trendy, I'm being for reals here.

6. Be so patient with yourself, and then also push yourself. If you're positive you can only do 1 mile, map a 1.25 mile run. You'll get such a rush out of pushing yourself just a little extra bit, you'll want to see what you can do the next time. And then also, don't be discouraged because the guy who fits you for running shoes does 12 milers regularly. The coolest (COOLEST!) thing about the running community is how excited runners of all levels are just to see other people out on the road with them.  I rarely pass someone without getting a nod or a smile or a thumbs up.

7. Sign up for a race! Nothing gets my butt off the couch faster than knowing I paid entry fees and they'll be wasted if I'm not ready. Plus, you get a tee shirt. And a huckleberry milkshake if you do the Mesa Falls run like I did.

8. I mean...just do it. Put on your sneakers and walk out the freaking door.
There were so many crazy moments during my half marathon...the Killers whispering "Time, truth, and heart" into my ear right as I turned and saw fog rolling in over the deepest blue river.  Rounding the last corner and finally seeing the finish line--I teared up and somehow found the adrenaline to runfloat over it.  Miles 1-4, which felt like floating. Miles 5-8, which were straight uphill and not as hard as I imagined. Miles 9-12, which were the hardest physical moments of my life.  Over anything else, though, I keep thinking about a comment David made the day before the race: "The training has been a bigger accomplishment than the race will be."  He was right. Committing to it, sticking to the plan, making it happen; I really didn't think I could do it. There's a lot of power in proving yourself wrong about yourself. If you WANT to run, but don't feel like it's something you can do...well, you really can do it, and I hope you do! Because if I can, then really, really, truly, anyone can.