Balboa Park

April 15, 2014

What can I say about Balboa Park? Honestly, these turned out to be my favorite pictures from the whole trip.

The day we planned on going to Balboa Park, it was relatively gross weather. This is San Diego we're talking about, so when I say relatively gross, what I mean is 63 degrees, foggy, and windy :) But still. We almost canceled, but the sun came out and the fog cleared up at the last second. So, camera in tow, we went. I guess I expected Balboa Park to be crowded and full of people trying to sell you stuff. Mais non! It was practically empty, not a vendor in sight, and so so beautiful. We loved the Spanish-American architecture, the hidden hedge garden we found, and the a cappella quartet practicing Latin hymns in one of the church courtyards.

How out of control is Sam's beard in this picture?? It was like that all week, and I loved it. (Don't worry, dad, he trimmed it down to non-mountain man status for church and work this week.)

We strolled for quite some time through the park, enjoying the peace and the last warm sunshine of the afternoon. All I'm sayin' is that one day, when we design our mansions in heaven and such (ha), we know exactly the feel we're going for :)

the day we became hodads

April 13, 2014

One of our favorite stops in San Diego was Ocean Beach, California. We originally ended up in Ocean Beach by accident, but it was the best wrong turn of our trip. This was the town that epitomized the "Southern California" feel. You know, sun-kissed skin, daisy dukes, bikinis on top. Swimsuits were the required dress code, and real clothes were strictly optional. The average age had to be about 25, and everyone had either a dog, a surfboard, or a cigarette in hand (all three if you're really cool). They even had a designated sidewalk for people with big surfboards to walk on. We walked all over the town, and then we walked to the end of the pier and back.

^^ bougainvillea was all over the place in Cali. So gorgeous. ^^

^^ I don't always convince this bearded man to take a picture with me, but when I do... ^^

And then we stopped at Hodad's for lunch. Edit: I should say something more epic than "stopped at." We experienced Hodad's. We had our mind's blown by Hodad's. But seriously, it was SO good. Sam couldn't even fit his whole burger in his mouth. And now I'm a firm believer that every chocolate malt should come with a huge slab of ice cream in it. I already want to go back!

^^ these license plates were cracking us up ^^

According to the waiter, a Hodad is a non-surfer who hangs out with the surfer dudes on the beach; a poser. I guess, after that afternoon spent in Ocean Beach, we qualify as hodads. And honestly, if it means 80 degrees, sunny, watching surfers, and eating the world's best burger, I'm not too sad about it :)

Ever been to Ocean Beach?
P.S. watch Hodad's on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives HERE.

first glimpses of our babymoon

April 11, 2014

Today, Sam and I are headed home from our spring break trip. While I'm stuck in the car for 11 hours (inevitably asking Sam to stop for yet another bathroom break), I have for you a few snapshots of our trip. What else is there to say about our vacation except that IT WAS THE BEST EVER. We slept in, we ate too much, we walked for miles and miles exploring the beautiful city of San Diego, we got sunburns, and we loved it. It was so great to have this last vacation with just the two of us, before baby comes.

I have pictures upon pictures to post of the city we both became obsessed with, but here's a little glimpse of my vacation. These pictures are all from my instagram (follow here @brookejanette).

San Diego, you were so good to us!

Semi-unrelated sidenote: how do you get good pictures of you and your significant other on a trip? I tried several times to hand my camera to a passerby, but let's just say, the pictures are terrible at best. Honestly. I'm not even IN one of the pictures a stranger took for us. I don't want to bring the tripod and set it up in the middle of the zoo or wherever. I even try to look for someone with a camera who looks like they know what's up. Do I have to be more demanding and specific of the strangers I ask to take our picture? Should I use my iPhone so strangers don't feel intimidated? Should I just give up on the idea? Tips please!

what I'm doing next year: one of the most vulnerable posts I've ever written

April 7, 2014

This is one of those posts that has been literally weeks in the making. I've known exactly what I wanted to say, but those dang sentences would never form in a cohesive manner! I've drafted, deleted, and drafted again. Maybe it was so tough for me to write this because I feel like this is a snapshot into the very center of my heart. The writer in me knows this post is still not perfect, but it's my best for now. It's also a very honest post, so please be nice to me, because I feel very vulnerable posting it.

For decades, I've wanted to be a teacher. For decades, I've wanted to be a mother. What I didn't think about was how those two roles would coexist, or even if they would coexist. For some reason, I didn't think about that at all until I got pregnant. Suddenly I was faced with a choice: should I teach or stay home next year?

What I didn't bank on was how much I would love teaching. How difficult it would be to think of giving it up. Honestly, I love it. Teaching is one of the hardest things I've ever done. Teaching gives me more purpose, joy, and meaning in my life than I ever thought possible. I like how productive I feel after working a long day, and I like that I work for education, which is one of the noblest causes out there. I love that my end goal isn't a new sale, or a pageview count, or a bonus commission, but the actual education of children. I love getting little glimpses that a student has recognized the value of education in their lives, that they learn to love feeling vulnerable, growing, and experiencing their world. Not to mention my amazing coworkers, who often know more about my life than my family, since I spend nine hours a day with them. I feel comfortable when I'm at school. My classroom is my little kingdom: I'm in charge and I accomplish things in there, and at the risk of sounding ridiculously arrogant, I think I'm good at it. Teaching is one of those things I believe I can actually do.

When I got pregnant, my plans for next year became a huge source of stress and internal conflict for me. I knew I loved teaching, and that it would always be one of the most meaningful things in my life. I knew I loved my little baby already, and that I would jump at any opportunity to be with her, to hold her, to love her. Also, this isn't popular among all people, but I believe that the ideal family situation involves one parent, preferably the mother, at home. But I also believe that women should pursue their careers if they want. I believe in the peace of mind that a second income provides to a family, especially a family that's still in the "just starting out" financial phases like us.

Sometimes becoming a mom scared me. Still does, actually. Scares me silly. It's just fear of the unknown. It's hard to leave something that I have experience with, that I'm comfortable doing, that I'm good at, for something totally brand new. What if being a mom exhausts me physically, mentally, and emotionally beyond what I can handle? What if I don't know how to provide for my child's needs? What if my world shrinks down to the mundane tasks of bottles, diapers, sleep deprivation, and one tiny person who can't even converse with me? What if something comes up and we need a second income?

I started asking advice from other moms/teachers I knew. The stay at home moms told me that 100% it was worth it, that even on the hardest days they NEVER regretted their choice to leave teaching, that they wouldn't trade time with their child for anything. The working moms I know told me that it's totally doable to work full-time and have a child, that daycare doesn't always have to be a scary place, that their job provides important financial security to their family even though it's hard to do. The working ladies who don't have kids told me that OF COURSE they would be stay at home moms if they ever got the chance.

That confused me even more. All sides had great points. I spent weeks avoiding thinking about it, because it stressed me out. (When will I learn that avoiding stressful topics actually stresses one out more?) When I was at school, I wanted to stay there and teach next year. When I was at home, I wanted to stay there and take care of my sweet baby next year.

Eventually, I told myself to get a grip, put on my big girl pants, and start praying about it. So I did. My husband and I had late-night discussion after late-night discussion about it. We prayed, read my patriarchal blessing, made pros and cons lists, and went to the temple.

One evening, Sam and I were sitting in our car in the temple parking lot, talking about next year. I was crying (surprise surprise) with the stress and indecision of this huge choice I was making. I remember rolling down the window and leaning my head back on the window frame to get some fresh night air. Looking up at all the stars that were out that night, I suddenly felt so close. So incredibly close to the spirits who are up there beyond the stars. Those spirits didn't feel like they were a million miles away, unfindable by man. They felt like they were right here, right now, with me in that car. I don't know if I was feeling particularly close to God or to my sweet unborn baby or to my mom, but I felt such a connection that night, and utterly surrounded by peace. Peace that I had never felt before. My tears dried up, my baby started moving around inside of me like she never had before, and I knew.

I'm not going to teach full time next year.

I remember sitting there with my head leaned back on the window frame for a long time that night, breathing the air and talking to Sam. After so much indecision and stress, just having an answer was a huge relief. We enjoyed the peace and the certainty and my kicking baby for a long time.

And then, I turned to Sam and wept. I wept because of what I was giving up. I wept because, even though I'm finding some part-time work, it won't be the same next year. I won't have my own class, I won't belong to 30 students who say I'm their teacher, I won't have the same little kingdom that I'm in charge of and comfortable with and good at leading. I'm really really going to miss it, and I wept because saying goodbye to being a full-time teacher for now will be really hard. And Sam just sat there all nobly, letting me get snot and tears and mascara all over his white shirt. That man is one in a million.

Eventually, I stopped crying. There's a time to cry about things, and then there's a time to stop crying and move on to better things. Also, I was getting a cramp in my neck from leaning over to Sam's shoulder. I took deep breaths, stole one last look at those stars, and rolled up the window. I gathered all the trust I've ever had in myself and mentally stored it away. And then Sam kissed me, said "let's do this, darling," and we drove home.

And that's how I made my choice about teaching next year.

Some important post-decision information:

  • I'm still looking for something part-time. I love teaching, and teaching is part of who I am. That might look like a shared contract, or it might look like a specialty teacher, or it might look like after-school tutoring and piano lessons. I'm so incredibly happy that I get to keep teaching kids, and also be home with my baby. It's the best of both worlds. 
  • I have felt so much peace since making that choice. This is huge, coming from a person like me who second-guesses EVERY CHOICE I EVER MAKE. I have never once gone back and wondered if I made the right choice. It has felt right every second since I made it.
  • My choice has made me love teaching even more. It's easy to get dragged down by disrespectful students or problems with parents at school. But lately, since I know it won't be like this next year, I am just loving those kids and enjoying every second I get to spend with them. It makes me love this job more than I ever have, and appreciate everything about it. I want to be the best teacher I can be for my remaining months.

If you're still reading this, congratulations! You deserve a huge round of applause and possibly some chocolate for making it through this very dense post. I hope you know how much respect I have for the full-time working moms out there, and for people who have different viewpoints than my own. Working moms have strength and stamina I'm not sure I ever could have! I feel I should also mention that all the mascara and snot came out of Sam's white shirt, which I personally feel was another miracle of that week.

P.S. Two of my blogging friends, Bonnie and Tayler, are also posting today about their decision regarding teaching next year. Check out Bonnie's blog HERE and Tayler's blog HERE to read about their decision. We also decided to make this thang a link-up! If you have any posts about teaching, working, being a stay at home mom, earning income at home, or anything in that category, please link it up! I love reading about other women and their stories.

P.P.S. We decided to make this a giveaway too. Enter below to win $15 to Babies R Us! (Thanks Tayler for putting this all together!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you're in a similar position, I'd love to hear from you! How did you decide what to do? Have you ever regretted it? What worked best for you?
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