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.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

light and life

I'm terrible at blogging lately, but today I'm showing up to make a list.
10 Things That Make Me Incredibly Happy:

1. My job. I love teaching. I have a couple students who submit work that just lights up my day. I get so excited to open their submission folders. And...I just signed my Winter teaching contracts! Two English classes and I couldn't be happier.

2. A parent/teacher conference with Clark's preschool teacher, who just adores him. It fills me with happiness to drop him off to learn and grow with friends and teachers who love him.
3. Voting. This election didn't turn out how I wanted it to. I woke up today feeling...totally gutted. But I got to have a say yesterday. I got to vote for a candidate who I believed in. That matters. It felt important.

4. My cat stretches out to sleep in a patch of sunlight on the carpet in my office while I work.

5. I have friends who run really cool businesses. Kate is selling her gorgeous photography, Jolie released her 2017 calendar (with an empowerment theme that feels timely), and Lauren just launched a shop of book-themed tee shirts. Christmas shopping like whaaaaaat!

6. Diet Coke. With ice and fresh limes.

7. I live in a state that is 75* in November. It's been a long, hot, exhausting summer but it is November and it is gorgeous outside. I wish it was a LITTLE BIT cooler, ok, yes. But it's hard not to be grateful for this very, very mild weather.

8. I found some unexpectedly cute tops on Amazon lately. This floral one, this skeptical cat one, and this cactus one. They were cheap and I've loved having some bright new colors to wear!

9. My son, who says things like "Holy crap. Look at you. You're so cool!" when I put a green flannel on, who cuddles up in bed with me in the morning, who asks every day to hear the story about how we got Tina, who makes Dave and I so happy every single day.

10. Nightly walks around my neighborhood. I got a tiny, handheld taser so I feel safe being out after dark (what a world!) and I walk and listen to podcasts (recently the Nasty Women of the Hour and This American Life have been fantastic). It's wonderful, meditative, personal, quiet time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

hear this prayer

It's been months since I posted. Months! My last post was just a couple days before the semester started, which seems fitting.

Teaching has been new and scary and exciting and rewarding. I'm a little sad this semester is ending, because getting to know a whole new class of students feels daunting. I love the ones I have so much! Of course, I'm also relieved to have that first semester checked off. I'm ready for a summer break. I went immediately (actually, there was a week or two of overlap) from being in the classroom to leading a classroom. It felt a bit like finishing a marathon and then being told that no, you don't get to sit and have a water break, you actually need to run another 5 miles. Complaining feels so silly, though! I graduated with a degree in Writing, scientifically proven to be the least useful degree (not based in fact, just my own guessing), and I did it with a job. A job in my field! It's all so good. I'm relieved and glad and excited about how much I loved teaching these last few months. I hoped I would love it this much.
Other than that, the big news around here is that David also graduated (MBA! Get it, dude!) and started a fancy new bank job. Clark (he goes by Clark now, isn't that strange?! But only at preschool! At home he's mostly Joony still...unless he says sternly "Mom, you do not call me Joony today. I am Clark.") finished his first year of preschool and turned four and is attending a musical day camp this week. He loves singing and performing and reminding me that Tina is a cat with a tail on her back and asking for a cup of orange juice and laughing hysterically whenever someone says "turd." He is the very best.
So things are good! The update is that life is normal, busy, good, overwhelming at times, wonderful, all of it. It's life. I'm still here! And these amazing pictures were taken by my photo gypsy goddess Kate during our fourth of July weekend in Rocky Point, Mexico. Like I said...life is so good.

Monday, March 28, 2016

rose colored


I'm coming down from the craziest time so far in my academic career. I submitted my thesis for review last week and just finished up my final traditional class--a Flash Fiction course--before graduation. For a week I was waiting to hear back about my thesis, which meant constant refreshing of my email inbox and re-reading the final product, wondering what someone seeing it for the first time would think.

The last few weeks have been a frenzy of writing and editing and formatting and nitpicking and agonizing over 80 pages of personal essays. It's been a funny mix of confidence and terror: I submitted my best work ever, so I felt very good about that. They can ask for edits, though, so I was trying to stay in a frame of mind where I could jump back into work if they needed me to.

So much of my work was done, I just wanted to relax into vacation mode! When I finally, finally (I'm being dramatic--it took less than a week) got the email with my final approval, no edits required, you're good to go, thesis status, I burst into tears. I knew I'd been anxious about graduating, but I really think in the minutes that followed I felt all of it at once and it was just...so much. It was a borderline panic attack rush of emotions, which was very strange because they were positive emotions, but all just so overwhelming.

Now that March is winding down, I'm starting to finally relax from the creative and physical exhaustion. For a long time it all felt like too much. I remember thinking that I truly didn't have anything more to give to this process. But of course, I did it! And that is so exciting.

And so now, officially, I am done. DONE. I have a Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing. Two years ago this felt like a very, very faraway dream. Even though my whole life has been rearranged around this program for the last eighteen months, saying it still feels pretty surreal. Adding to the craziness? Three days before I submitted my thesis, I was offered a teaching job at BYUI. It's a position I applied for before I even started my graduate program. My application had stayed on file and they just happened to contact me right before graduation. I'll be teaching a Writing class (online!) at my beloved alma matter and I'm so excited I could dance (have danced) (am probably currently dancing).

It's been an overwhelming time in my life. Overwhelming and so, so happy.

What's next? Prepping to teach this class. Tinkering in my garden. Reading books just for fun. Baking projects. Maybe a blog post every week? I don't know, I'm just dreaming here!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

thunderstruck

Joony dropped his nap.

He's almost four (FOUR!), so it's a totally normal time for him to drop the mid-day snooze, but that doesn't mean I'm cool as a cucumber about it. At all. I've only got one more month of school and it would have just been really super convenient if he'd held onto the nap for a couple more weeks. But this is parenting, right? He didn't and I'm all flustered about it. I really depended on that 2-3 hour chunk in the middle of the day. I'd make lunch, watch an episode of dumb TV, and then buckle down on some homework. I think we both also needed the break from one another.

The last few days it's been an all-out war. A bribing, yelling, sweet-talking, door slamming bloodbath. Finally today I've started to shift my focus from him sleeping to him playing quietly in his room for an hour or so. It hasn't been pretty. He's alternated between playing happily and body slamming the door while screaming "Mom! You makin' me so frustrated and so angry! Why you lock my door!" By the end of the day, I'm fried. I feel picked on and tired and grumpy with the person I love most, which I hate feeling.

The universe smiled kindly on me, though, and several good things happened in the last couple days. Over and over again I had to stop to appreciate that something really nice had happened, and actually, the really nice things were far outweighing the bad. Why is it so much easier to focus on the one frustrating thing instead of the great things?  So now, here's a list of the great things that happened in the last couple days:

1. I got am encouraging work email! I've started writing stories for Mode.com as a little side gig and they liked a bunch of my February title pitches. That was so cool.
2. Passion Planner featured me as their Planner Crush Wednesday! I love my planner. You can find my planner posts on Instagram under #bransplans.
3. I got to help out in Joony's classroom with their Thursday Valentine's Day party. It was so fun to see him doing all their classroom songs and prayers and routines. He's grown so much from being at preschool.
4. I ordered myself a pizza and took a bath with a Lush bomb while David was at a basketball game. Alone in my house. Treat yo self 2016!
4. My visiting teacher texted out of the blue that she was bringing me dinner. Just because she is a really sweet person. Can you imagine? And it was a heart-shaped pizza. Cutest!
5. I got a really encouraging email from my department head about my thesis progress. Even though I knew it already, it was comforting to hear that it's normal to feel discouraged along with a reminder to relax and trust that inspiration will come. And it has! It has and it will and my thesis will be so good.
6. David surprised me with a big, fat, sexy date night. My parents took Joon for the night and we went to a fancy resort in Scottsdale for dinner AND A GONDOLA RIDE. What even is this life?!
7. My BFF Shpitty sent me a Sprinkles gift card for Galentine's Day. Girlfriends never stop being one of the biggest sources of happiness in my whole life.

Honestly, when it's listed out like this, I feel like such a dummy for thinking naps dropped was the worst thing in the world. My life is so filled with light and happiness and people looking out for me, I can handle it. Any of it. All of it! LET'S DO THIS, JOONY! And midterms, too...come at me!