Thursday, August 29, 2013

About Me

Hello! My name is Riley Jo. Basically all you need to know about me is that my 2000 and Macaulay Culkin's 1994 are pretty much identical. 

Just kidding, sort of. 

Not really sure what to write on these little about me sections. I find it hard to contain myself in one little paragraph. So I will just do the best I can here.
-I have been blogging since the MySpace days but only in the last two years I have begun to take it "seriously" AKA I keep business cards in my purse which I wish I could say I give out at fancy blog conferences but really I just throw them in jars at restaurants to get free lunch.
-I teach middle school, specifically 8th grade gifted students, English and History. I am currently getting my Master's in Gifted Education. I have a passion for these little smartie pants, and I call my classroom the "writing bootcamp". 
-I am married to Mark. He is quarter Japanese. Currently, he works for a large news source in Utah on their social media team. He cooks, cleans and generally just keeps me alive.
-We see one big dog and zero babies in our near futures.
-We live in a basement apartment in Lehi, Utah until Mark gets out of school.
-I am a PLANNER. I plan everything. I love and live to plan. My family calls me the cruise director. I can't stop. I love parties.

So that's a little bit about me. Check out my "Popular Posts" tab for the highlights! 

However, Pinterest tells me a lot of you are here because of our wedding. Our wedding almost killed me was super awesome. Check out part one and two!

Thanks for checking me out!

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Is this what dreams are made of, Hilary Duff?

I'm nine years old and my Mom has brought home old teaching materials that she no longer needed. For her, they were outdated and useless. For me, it was a chance to take a glimpse into my future. Using barbies as bribery, I entice my younger cousin to play my student for countless hours. I give her worksheets, I tell her to pretend she knows how to read so that she can read her textbook, I point to obscure places on a map and expect her to know them, I love every second of it. 
This is who I am.
A natural teacher personality. An eagerness to impart knowledge. This feeling that I was predestined to be a teacher stayed with me for many years after these play-dates ended. Before I knew it, it was time to go to college and pursue my degree. I was ready.
I ran through my first four years easily, slightly stumbling (ok, falling flat on my face about four to six times) when it came to math, but in my English and History courses I was learning and progressing more than I ever thought possible. 
And then my first teaching class came four years into my college education. I walked into class that first day basically thinking I would run the show. After all, i'm a "natural teacher" (cue hair flip). My professor handed me a packet when I walked through the door, and that's when it happened.

I could not just go into my classroom and be a natural or just wing it. The Utah State Core Standards packet was only the beginning. My dream came with limitations, rules, boundaries, unique challenges, awful pay, long hours, guidelines, awful administrators, the list goes on for days. 
My dream of being a teacher was a three dimensional object that I had only seen as one dimensional for so long and now I was holding it in my hands, finally able to examine all the sides of it. I was not sure I liked what I saw.
I instantly looked for a way out, a backup plan, anything to get me to an easier career that did not have so many downfalls. 
"I'll go on study abroad. That will fix everything."
"I will move to Boston like I had planned. Everything will be better there."
 I was frantic. Until I realized that these "solutions" all were three dimensional as well and again, I was only looking at one side. 
So that left me with a feeling that life was pointless. Then I had another realization. (are you keeping up here?) 
Just as I only saw teaching as this wonderful dream that had no downfall, I started to begin to see it as an awful thing that offered nothing but disappointment. That is only looking at one side as well. However, nothing good is one dimensional. We have to have all the different aspects of it in order for it to be complete and fulfilling. 
So hopefully this time next year I will be in charge of my own classroom. I will have bad days that I cry in my supply closet. But I will also have days that I think "Wow, I'm a natural!" 
And that, is a 3D object, baby.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Contact Me

In case you want to contact me to hang out, go to a movie, put one of your stickers on my blog or vice versa, or give me suggestions, the best way to reach me is via email at

Thanks for reading!

I Believe

My religion never changes, but my faith is always evolving. Each day that I live my life and make the choices that my Heavenly Father wants me to make my faith develops deeper and stronger. For a majority of my life I have been in spiritual neutral. Not really going anywhere, but at least in the car. It's only over the last year that I have finally put my car into drive. Some days I go pedal to the metal and some days I go well under the speed limit. But my car is in drive...and that is a heck of a improvement from neutral.

Friday, August 9, 2013

how my relationship breaks me out of my fairy tale and into reality but in a good way etc.

I am reposting certain blogposts from my previous blog in order to have things in one place.
This blog post is originally from 8/9/13

This week has been rough for me, etc etc (how I always start my blogs out) because of job drama and stress and so naturally I take it out on the person I love most in the world. Also, PMS, man. So earlier this week I started freaking out about something irrational and I had the thought "Wow. A relationship is taking TWO different peoples wants, needs, desires, etc. and requiring that both be met. That's nuts. I want to be in a relationship that is only one sided. Can I date myself? Shoot, I can't have a asian baby with myself...well maybe I could.." and on and on I went in my head.
Last night, Mark and I watched THIS movie trailer (PS Joaquin Phoneix actually doing something??? Let's all applaud) and we discussed it after. Mark commented that this probably will be reality in 40-60 years. We were both struck with a sense of sadness because of how pathetic this one-sided love seemed. Mark then said something that struck me and made me realize what an idiot I had been. I asked him why anyone would want that type of love. He said "People want to love a robot because they are selfish, they only want to worry about themselves in a relationship, they don't want to grow...they want to live in a selfish bubble forever." 
Being in a relationship is the hardest thing I have ever done and I am only at the brink of it. This is where my first life lesson comes in. "Hard" does not mean "bad" it absolutely does not. Hard means learning the lessons that I should have learned a long time ago that make me a better person. 
I am so thankful for Mark every day for being patient while I learn these harder lessons.

Also, let's give a second round of applause for Joaquin.


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Tuesday, August 6, 2013


I am reposting certain blogposts from my previous blog in order to have things in one place.
This blog post is originally from 6/8/13
I might receive my certified crazy card in the mail next week with this blog post. The mailman will deliver it to me and he will look at me and just know. He has delivered his fair share of those crazy cards in his mailman lifetime, mostly to trailer parks and apartment complex's called something like "Aspen Lakes" but occasionally he visits neighborhoods like mine. The reason I deserve this crazy card is because my whole entire life I have had this premonition. No signs, no dreams, no answered prayers but just a feeling. It's more than a feeling however, it's a knowledge. Like I know that gaucho pants will never look good on me, but I have never tried them on. Maybe not that trivial, but you get the point. 
I have a feeling that I am going to have a down syndrome baby. I am not really sure when my feelings about this started, but I remember being terrified. I have a down syndrome aunt and she is the sweetest lady but I have always felt uncomfortable being close to her. In high school, all my friends took the peer mentor class and worked at Rise, an organization that helps special needs children. I could have done all these things, but I never did because it just made me uncomfortable. I know this sounds terrible. Because it is quite terrible. I am a bad person for this way of thinking. This is why I feel that I have a little DS baby in heaven waiting to come change my mind. In the past few years and with the help of Kelle Hampton, I have embraced this. I am not scared and actually look forward to it. 
I got a little nervous when I realized that I should probably bring up my little feeling to Mark. You never know how guys take things. Especially because I realize that just explaining it on this blog post, I sound like a crazy person. But last night I casually brought it up, surprising myself that I had been so nonchalant about it. I was worried he would run down the street and assault the mailman in order to hand deliver my crazy card himself. Mark's response made me fall in love with him all over again and I just wanted to grab his little panda face and cover it with kisses. "That's ok, we'll love it." That's pretty much Mark's attitude about life. You get dealt what you get dealt and you learn how to deal with it and then you just do it. I envy this acceptance so much. I tend to hmm and haww and fight what I have been given instead of just "going with the flow" and dealing with it, learning from it and moving on. 
I mentioned Kelle Hampton earlier and today I just finished her book Bloom. It was fantastic! I recommend every going and reading it. 
Also I noticed what a crazy coincidence that Kelle's Father's response upon hearing that her daughter had DS was exactly what Mark had responded.

That's all for now. I have to go hide from the mailman. 
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Monday, August 5, 2013

on mommyness and stuff

This is an old blog post that I am transferring over from my other blog

Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.
Henry Van Dyke

Do you believe everyone is good at something? That God gave each of us special talents?
I didn't use to.
I suck at math, Can't sing. Can't dance or draw. Can't speak more than a sentence of Italian and a very dirty French phrase I learned from a song.
So I used to be all like..."Cool guys. I'll just be here while you all use your cool talents and run a mediocre blog."
But then my freshman year of college I was nannying my nieces for a week while my sister was in New York. My friend was staying with me and she had this boyfriend that I seriously loathed. Towards the end of the week I was exhausted. I had finally gotten the girls to bed and plopped down on the couch ready to sleep for the rest of eternity, or until it was time for school the next morning, when I heard "Um...Riley...." It was my sweet niece Merci and she had come downstairs complaining she couldn't sleep. So I got up, gave her a bath, sang her every Taylor Swift song I knew, gave her a puppet show that included all her stuffed animals  singing about why sleeptime was important, rubbed her back for what seemed like an eternity, and then she was finally asleep.
When I came back downstairs I noticed friends-boyfriend-whom-I-loathe starting at me. After I snapped a "WHAT!?" at him, he said "Riley, you are going to be a really good Mom."
At the time, I blew this off. Cause like I said, the dude was a douche. It took me a few years to realize that it was the most sincere compliment I have ever received from anyone.
I know it sounds stupid, and really Mormon, but I firmly believe I was put on this earth to be a Mom. I am everyones Momma. It is my talent in this world. Though it's not tangible, though it isn't something I could stand on a stage and perform for a talent show, it's all mine.
And, I definitely thought I would be pregnant by this time in my life. And I now know that this is absolutely crazy. What I do know, is this.
My kids are going to have the best life. Because I will have waited extremely long for them.
So to my future babies, whose names I already have picked out because I am a girl like that, I already love you so much, I know you are in heaven waiting for me, and know that no matter the mistakes you make in your life, I will always love you like crazy.

Surviving a bout of the stomach flu and a plane ride

Prime example of motherhood...

I am not sure why I think putting a mixing bowl in my shirt is funny but I'll be damned if I don't think it's the best idea I have ever had when I do it.

I am going to work hard to be the best Momma out there. But I have an advantage. Whenever I get sad that I won't be able to sing my kids to sleep in the best voice, or teach them piano, I remember that a boy who never had one single positive thing to say about me noticed that I would be good Mom. So I will go from there.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

I'll Never

I'll Never Not Have A Plan
My life may be chaotic. My clothes may be everywhere. I may have a week old pizza box sitting right next to me as I type this. But I will never not have a plan. My life, as a whole, shall always be organized. I always know what I am doing next. I am not a hopeless wanderer. Though, sometimes this gets in the way of the spontaneity my peers have. However, the conclusion I have come to is this: spontaneous people are the way they are because life rewards them for their spontaneity. Life has never rewarded me for being spontaneous. Never have I done something without thinking about it that turned out well. So, I will stick with my plans. I will stick with incessantly looking at my planner. I will stick with my to do lists. Life rewards me this way by giving me a peace of mind. I will never not have a plan.

I'll Never Give Up Control
I will let you drive me somewhere without digging my fingernails into my thighs. I will never let someone else plan what I am doing for the night. I will never let myself be surprised. I will never put myself in a situation I do not have control over. I will never let anyone else have the upper-hand in a relationship. If that starts to happen, I pull back because "the power in a relationship lies with the one who cares the least".

I'll Never Stop Loving Kids
Because I am a born MOMMY.

...Or social networks.
Because as easy as it is to make fun of them, I think our generation is incredibly lucky. We can document our lives. We have memories at our fingertips. We can connect with anyone in the entire world. We can meet someone on twitter and fall in love with their best friend (true story). We are lucky. We are lucky to document such a special time. We are lucky to be able to keep in touch with the people we love. I love social networks.

I'll Never Hate My Family
I know many whom hate their families. Whether it's an individual, or their entire clan. But me? I will never hate my family. I believe we were given our family for a reason. Just like we are given everyone else in our life. To teach us lessons. Would I be friends with certain siblings if I was not related to them? Probably not. But I am related to them. I would die for them if asked. I acknowledge that a little of my personality has come from each of them. I know that we are apart of each other. To hate one of them would be to hate a piece of myself. I know that they share a part of my life that no one else does. They know that my Mom does not laugh often, but when she does she laughs so hard she cries. They know my Grandpa Joe loved olives. They know that my Aunt Kimmy will always cry on a holiday. All things that are important, and they are the only ones who understand.
We were given our family for a reason. I do not know how I would hate something that God has made apart of my life permanently.

I'll Never Be Fearless
All the movies tell me that men want girls who would lay in the middle of street with them. But I will never be that girl. I will never be the girl who thinks love can save us all. No, love cannot save you if you are laying in a street and a car comes. I will never be a bungee jumper. I will never hike a tall mountain. For many reasons. I will never ride The Rocket at Lagoon. I will not.
I will, however, surprise you sometimes. I will move across the country to fulfill my dreams. I will go up to a random stranger and get to know them. I will fly, alone, to a state I have never been in and stay in a sketchy hotel. I will do brave things, I will just do them for myself.

I'll Never Be Late.
Because I do not understand people that are late. It goes beyond a pet peeve. To me, being late says "Hello, I do not care about you, or your time. All I care about is me."
Being late goes beyond a "no big deal" thing to me. Because no, it is a big deal. It is telling me that I am not worth your time. So I will never be late.

I'll Never Drink

Because I cannot get past why you would drink something that tastes so awful and why you drink when you are not thirsty. I can also say with complete assurance that my life has never been so bad as someones when they are drunk and I have had more fun in one night than a drunk person has ever had. I will also never begrudge those who drink, that is like people who resent me for tweeting a lot. It is who I am. But drinking, it is not for me. But I will ALWAYS enjoy when my friends are the perfect amount of drunk.
So stop trying to get me to cause I never will thanks bye.

I'll Never be Skinny
I am 5 feet, 10 inches tall. By any standards that means that the minimum I am supposed to weigh is 160. I will never be skinny. But I will never be morbidly obese. It has taken me 21 years to understand the balance between being healthy and enjoying my life. And I have learned to love myself in any form. I have gotten to the point where I can take the prettiest girl in the room and ask myself "Would I want to switch bodies with her?" The answer is always no. I like who I am. I like my hips and I like my big boobs. I like them. I have learned how to dress for my body. I will never be skinny.

I'll Never Be Negative
 I will never be negative. I do not understand negative people. I do not understand what satisfaction people get from complaining about their problems. Your life is YOUR LIFE. Your choices have led you to your current situation. And any choice you make can get you out of your current situation. You have options. Until you are braindead in a hospital with no family or friends, you have the ability to change things. This is YOUR life. At any point you can say "THIS IS NOT HOW MY STORY IS GOING TO GO!" and change it. So stop. Stop with the negativity. Even if thing seem like the darkest of dark, find ONE positive thing and go from there. I promise it will change your life. Because it changed mine.

I'll Never Begrudge Absence. 
I guess I should say, I will never begrudge absence ever again. Because I definitely was queen of hating when people leave me. But I have learned that the phrase "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is extremely true. Even an individual I thought I hated has become one of my closest friends in their absence. You truly don't know what you have until it goes away for a little while. I will never begrudge absence and what it has taught me and my friends. I will never begrudge absence because of the strength it has given many relationships in my life.

I'll Never Stop Being A Writer
Because writers see the world differently. Because I have found my voice in writing. Because I have found solace in words. And mostly, because I have found confidence in something that I am good at. It is something I do not have to worry about. When I sit in a math class, I have this sick feeling that consumes me. This feeling is a feeling of complete and utter helplessness. Feeling like I have no control. This feeling is one I have never had in an English class. Instead of the wave of panic I feel when a math test is announced, I have a feeling of complete assurance when an essay is announced in English. Everyone has their "thing". Their thing that makes them light up. Writing is my thing. Some people give up their thing for one reason or another. But I never will. Because it makes me feel like me.

What will you never do?


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