Thursday, November 2, 2017

Stories of My Life: My 8th Grade English Teacher

When I was in eighth grade I had an English teacher named Mrs. Gott. She wore beautiful clothes and high heels, and had amazing curly blonde hair. She wrote novels and melodramas, and convinced eighth grade boys to wear makeup and perform in said melodramas. She taught country dancing and chess. She was, in a word, fabulous.

I was a shy and studious girl with a secret love for writing. My nose was probably one shade past tan and I was eager to please and impress my new teacher. For my first assignment I wrote an essay about what life was like growing up in a family of five daughters.

When I got my essay back, it was delightfully covered in scrawls of black ink--Mrs. Gott loved my essay! The only one of the many comments that I remember to this day is that she said I wrote in "stream of consciousness." I had no idea what that meant, but it was apparently a good thing and I was darn proud. This was an affirmation from a literary professional--an English teacher!

A short time later, Mrs. Gott pulled me aside after class. She thought I had talent and wanted to nurture my writing skills outside of the regular class work. I was beyond honored. I felt like Mrs. Gott believed in me in that moment more than anyone ever had.

She told me about a literary journal called Stone Soup that published fictional short stories by kids. I studied copies of the journal so I could get a taste for what they were looking for. I labored over an idea and began working on a piece about a secret pen pal friendship between a white girl and an African American slave. Mrs. Gott helped me refine it and submit it to Stone Soup. Weeks passed as I waited eagerly to hear good news from the publisher. I had a good feeling. I was a good writer. Mrs. Gott said so.

I got the letter. "Dear Olive, thank you for sending us your work. Unfortunately..." I cried. Devastation faded to disappointment and turned into doubt--doubt about the so-called "talent" I had.

It may have been a few days before I had the guts to take the sordid piece of rejection to school and show Mrs. Gott. After class, I sheepishly approached her desk, cheeks burning, tears brimming, and handed her the letter. She looked it over, and became ecstatic. Ecstatic?

"This is a personalized rejection letter!" she cheered. "They put your name on the top! And it's a full piece of paper, not just a slip. And look--look! The editor wrote with her own pen on the bottom of the page, 'Send us more of your work!.'" Mrs. Gott licked her finger and smudged the ink to prove it was not a printed stamp. "Amazing!"

When I got home, I hung the letter, open-faced and proud, on the magnet board in my bedroom. I am a good writer. Mrs. Gott said so. And there the letter stayed until I graduated from high school and moved away from home.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Gift From My Daughter

Daughter, I am learning a lot from your one-year-old ways. One of the most beautiful things about you is that you live in the moment. You are not worried about the future and you do not dwell on the past. You are fully present in the present.Your only concern is to explore and have joy and find wonder in the world.

You want to give your stuffed kitty a bath. I say kitties do not like water. I know that when things get wet they get messy and then have to take time to dry. I worry that if your kitty gets wet, the electronic music box inside her won't work anymore. But you do not know about these things and you do not worry about these things. You just want to give your kitty a bath.

You don't worry about how you look. You don't doubt your worth or wonder if you matter--I don't think anything to the contrary has even occurred to you. You don't judge yourself when you look in the mirror. You are simply delighted by the fact that you have eyes and ears, wispy hairs on the top of your head, and a belly button. You are fascinated with the way your body can move. You are still learning how to jump; when you bend you knees and come up quickly on your toes maybe you think you are doing it. The task consumes you for that moment.

You do not judge others. Although you often cling to my leg when you meet someone new, you do not look at them and assign them a value based on their clothes, their beauty, or their age. You don't have a guess at how much money they make or what religion they are. You don't see people as popular or unpopular, cool or weird. There are no odd ducks in your pond.

There are so many things you don't even know exist: money, death, politics, war, disease, and sin. You have absolutely no clue about these things. Yes, childhood is a sweet gift from God. I know someday you will face the world in all its complexities. You will grow strong and smart and conquering. You will learn to intentionally find joy in exploring the world. You will get stronger by facing your fears. You will discover your true identity and believe in it. You will grow to love people unconditionally and withhold judgment. You may become like a child again, but never will it be so effortless as it is today.

So for now, my sweet girl, I will treasure you in your innocence, and relish in the gift of your childhood. For truly, it is a gift to me.

LDS Temple in San Diego, California

Friday, July 14, 2017

5 Year Anniversary

Today Brian and I have been married five years! We both have grown and learned so much. Marriage is a great teacher. We have become one, so entwined with each other that we don't feel like ourselves when we are apart, even for short periods of time.

Today I watched Brooklyn sleeping in her crib and was amazed at what our love has made. I'm not just talking about the baby-making itself. I'm talking about everything that comes after--supporting each other, counseling together, feeling pride and joy and love for this beautiful little person we have made and will continue to make as we raise her. We need each other now more than ever. The stakes on our marriage are higher with a child. It is the safe haven in which she will grow up.

I love the things that haven't changed about our marriage--that Brian still has a crush on me and wants everyone to know it; that he's still my favorite person to spend time with; that we still flirt and pray and take long walks. I smile about the things that have changed--that I can now pee in front of him; that I don't cry ALL the time; that we have learned to trust and share more with each other.

Tonight we opened a big packet that was sent to us from the IRS, informing us that we owe $1200 in taxes from 2015 (honest mistake, oops). After processing that whopper of a number and while Brian was trying to interpret the tax jargon in the twenty-page packet, I suddenly started to laugh. Brian looked at me like I had lost my mind, wondering what I could possibly find funny about this situation.

"What a different sort of night this is than the one we had five years ago!" I said. "You know you've been married five years when you spend your anniversary going through documents from the IRS. I feel like we have reached some pinnacle of adulthood."

And you know, Brian, there's no one I'd rather reach it with.

We kept our annual tradition of watching our wedding video, with me making the same comments I do every year:

"Betsie is so small!"

"My dad has more hair."

"My hair was SO RED!"

"Aw, Michael patting you on the back."

"I can't believe I sang to you at our luncheon!"

After watching the video we had some liege waffles from the kit Brian got me for my birthday. After freezing, thawing, refrigerating, and thawing again, the dough had gone bad. But of course Brian still ate them and said they were delicious, just like he has about every bad thing I've cooked since the day we were married. Bless his ambivalent taste buds. Or is he just trying to make me feel better? I'll never know.

In bed we reenacted the way we snuggled our first night together, face to face, arms wrapped around each other in a way that makes them go numb, not sure where to put your head so that you don't breathe right into the other person's mouth. But we were close as we could be, and that was all we wanted.

And still is.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Brooklyn Jane is One!


"Can you believe it's been a year?"

This is probably the most common question I have been asked lately. And I'm not quite sure what to answer. In some ways, of course I feel like it's been a year--just think how much Bri's and my life has changed in one year, how smitten we have become with someone other than each other, and how much that little someone has grown and developed. But then, I think, time always seems like it has gone fast when you are looking back on it.

"Enjoy her all you can, they grow up so fast."

This is probably the most common thing I have heard from people this year--from friends with older kids, to aging grandparents, to complete strangers at the grocery store. And I've tried just as hard as I can to savor the moments, but by golly she STILL is growing up on me! There is nothing I can do. It just happens, subtly each day without even being able to perceive it.

"Just WAIT..."

I sometimes hear parents say this followed by horror stories of the different stages of raising children.I know as parents sometimes we need to vent, and I will not claim that I have never complained. But comments like these make me sad! I heard it so much when I was pregnant that I finally had to put it out of my mind and decide that I was going to experience motherhood as it came to me, and not tainted by a filter of negative expectations.  I am trying to be a believer in things to look forward to, in enjoying each stage of life for the good it brings. "Life just gets better and better." That's a one-liner Bri always says that I treasure and remind myself of often.

The other night Brooklyn was crying at 3 something a.m. I grumbled and got out of bed and began to rock her back to sleep, dreaming of days when she won't need this anymore. And then this thought came to my mind: "She won't always be a one-year-old. So don't stress about the challenges because there is so much to cherish, even in this moment in the middle of the night when you might rather be sleeping, and she has fallen asleep with her head on your shoulder, her warm little body snuggled on your chest. Nope, she won't always need you to do this. She won't always be one."

I don't care what people say about terrible twos, messy young children, and downright frightful teenagers. I choose not to dread the future and what challenges it may bring, but instead look forward to what joys lie ahead: a two-year-old who can say, "I love you, Mama"; a young child who I can make messes with and laugh about it; a teenager who I can talk to about the most important things and be amazed at the inner strength she already has.

So to women anticipating motherhood, I say "just wait." Just wait until your baby smiles for the first time, until she starts to recognize you as her favorite person in the world, until she takes her first stumbling steps. Just wait until she adds a dimension of purpose to your life that you have never experienced before, and she helps you become a more selfless and happy person than you ever could be without her.


I know she didn't care and she won't remember that she had a first birthday party, but I sure had fun planning and throwing Brooklyn's party! Bri and I felt like it was more a celebration of us completing our first year of parenthood with a healthy, ALIVE baby! We had awesome weather at the park, and there were almost as many kids as adults at the party. Brian's parents helped a lot with the food; they are such awesome grandparents! Brooklyn ate some of her cupcake...until her hands got so sticky with frosting--she did NOT like that! She had fun opening her presents (AKA sitting on my lap while I opened her presents). Pictures are worth a thousand words, so here ya go!


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A House, A Dog, and A Baby

The past 12 months have been incredibly blessed ones for Bri and I. I have been meaning to post along the way these past 12 months, but of course have put it off and put it off. But some memories are too precious to lose, so here’s my attempt to catch up on recording them and thank my Heavenly Father for all the beautiful and best parts of the last year of our life:

In March of 2015, we bought our first home. We did our house hunting during Brian’s busy season at work so I ended up doing most of the process on my own. The market was going so fast that we had to put an offer on our home before Brian even got to see it! He was able to see it before we sealed the deal, and luckily he loved it just as much as I did. It is in a nice and quiet part of Mesa, Arizona surrounded by lots of retirement communities but lots of young and middle-aged families too. It has been so fun to “play house” and decorate over the past year. We love our home.

I have wanted a dog ever since moving away from home and away from my childhood dog Delilah. Once we got a home it was finally a possibility to get a dog. We had been trying to get pregnant for a few months without success. Brian and I made a deal that if we weren’t pregnant by the time of my birthday, June 18th, then we could get a dog. Birthday came with no positive pregnancy test, and suddenly we found ourselves with a Luna in the house. Luna is a miniature goldendoodle, basically a living stuffed teddy bear. Our first day with her we took her with us on a camping trip and had a blast. I remember my tummy feeling a little funny though...

On July 9th I took a pregnancy test and laid on the bed with Brian as we watched for lines to appear. I remember setting it on the bedside table while we waited, laying close to Brian and telling myself to be okay if it was another negative—that I still had so many wonderful blessings in my life and I was already so happy. Deep breaths. Time to check--there was a cross where each month before had been one lonely line. We were pregnant!

The first trimester of pregnancy was pretty rough for me as it is for many women. For about six weeks I was throwing up at least once a day—the worst of which was while I was driving home from work and had no time to pull over. Amazingly, I was able to catch it all in my lap and scoop it up with an empty cup once I got to a stop light. The pants never recovered. I lost eight pounds that first trimester and finally asked the doctor for some medication. As soon as I started with that, my nausea subsided and it was SUCH a relief! The second trimester was fun and easy; I felt like it took forever for my belly to show and I was so excited to really look pregnant. Luckily I never got super big so my third trimester was not too uncomfortable. I planned to stop work two weeks before the baby’s due date. My last day of work was on a Friday and Brian and I had a blissful Saturday together. And then Brooklyn decided she was ready to come! Click here to see the video of Bri and I sharing Brooklyn’s birth story!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Grand Canyon Trip and Pics of the Pad

As a post-graduation celebratory trip, Bri and I went camping in the Grand Canyon! It was a blast! Also included in this post are pictures of our new apartment, as requested :) Enjoy!

Chillin' at Camp

That one time Brian went on a scary ledge and I thought for sure I would be a widow . . .

Ain't it grand?

Enjoying a Corn Nut

There were tons of elk everywhere!

Me pointing at a bush. And yeah, there's an elk in the picture too.

Fuzzy caterpillar!

On our hike down into the canyon

Quite possibly the best picture from the trip . . . the canyon's not bad either :)

"Ooh Ahh Point"

At the base of our hike, Cedar Ridge

Powell Memorial

The Colorado River

Titanic moment at The Abyss

Watch out for unmanned bicycles!

Tin foil dinners! They turned out so yummy!

And now, pictures of our new home . . .

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Lowe-Down

Hey everybody! Just thought I would write a little update post because a lot has happened in the past little while! Namely, Bri and I GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE! Brian graduated with a master's degree in accounting (he now insists I refer to him as "Master Brian"), and I graduated with a bachelor's degree in therapeutic recreation ("Bachelor Olive" didn't seem to have the same ring to it). We had so many loved ones to support us during this event, which made it all the more joyful! A few short days after graduation, we packed up our little one-bedroom apartment (again) and moved to Tempe, Arizona. Brian accepted an offer with Deloitte (an accounting firm) in Phoenix. The job doesn't start until September, so his summer job is taking the CPA exam, a four-part beast of a test. I recently took my certification exam to become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and PASSED! I am currently looking for work and spending a lot of time with my new toy, a GUITAR! I didn't realize how much I missed playing music since I haven't had a piano in a few years. I'm loving the guitar . . . maybe I will post a video of myself playing once I get a song down :) Here's a few pics to give you a visual of our life in the past few weeks:

Brian's last day of school EVER!

I'm the one with the thumbs-up and cheesy grin!

"Master Brian"


With our amazing parents

The Lowes

The Barlows


"M" for Marriott School of Management