Monday, February 19, 2018

Life Lately

Happy Presidents Day Weekend! It's snowing here so that means laundry, tackling the DVR, and chilling. Woohoo! Last week was my first week back teaching and I had mixed feelings about going back. Bittersweet is the perfect word for it. It was so great to be back and see my kiddos. The first day was a bit overwhelming but I have been impressed with how quickly the kids have bounced back and gotten into our groove again.
Sunday dinner at Grandpa and Grandma's house 


 This week was a  CRAZY one for our little family with me returning to work, AJ had parent teacher conferences two evenings, worked his serving job two evenings, Valentines Day at school (which, as every elementary teacher knows, is exhausting), Literacy Night Thursday at my school, learning to pump on the go, and an early morning meeting at school. BUT.....we made it! AJ and my family made it possible for me to return to teaching and I am so thankful. That said, I, of course, missed my chill days with Hank.


AJ surprised me with this sweet Valentine's craft from Hank. It went right up on my classroom wall Wednesday morning. AJ's on paternity leave for a few weeks and I think it's so awesome for him and Hank. 

I paid a visit to my darling daughter last week. I miss her so much. 

My leave went by way too fast and I will forever treasure our sweet early days together, me learning how to be a mom and him learning how to be a baby in the world. I really need to slow down as I drive home from school because I will admit I've been going over the speed limit to rush home and snuggle my boy.

    Hank turned 2 months old this weekend and he got his shots at his two month check up (Doctors with Saturday hours? Amen and thank you!). He was a little champ and he's getting so big. He's already 11.5 pounds! One of my favorite parts of parenting so far has been dressing this little man. I packed away some newborn outfits this weekend and we've gotten into his 3 month stash. SO fun! I lay out a few outfits each day (because rarely does one outfit last us all day!). I don't want to jinx it, but Hank has really been a rockstar sleeper lately. He's been doing 11-5 most nights. The flip side is that he doesn't take very long naps during the day anymore, but I'll take it. He never goes to sleep at night without being in his Woombie swaddle. It. Has. Changed. Our. Lives. I won't swaddle him during the day because I want that to signal "night sleepy time." I know he might not always sleep in nice stretches like that so I am giving thanks for the time being!


We are planning on taking a pic next to this bear every month to see Hank's growth and we captured a real life spit up moment in this shot! Haha! 

There's honestly not too much new stuff over here. I am beyond thankful for Click List grocery pick up, lattes (hazelnut vanilla from The Coffee Shop in Riverton is my new obsession), having a teaching gig I enjoy and most of all, for the handsome gentlemen I get to come home to. This week was a tough one on all of us with the recent events in the news. Violent acts affect every single one of us and it can feel so hopeless. I look at my bright eyed students and son and know that their generation is the one to make changes, to support all people, to enact common sense legislation, and to turn this hurting world around. In teaching we talk all the time about setting our kids up for success. Our country has this same obligation too. I don't know what the answers are, but I know that if we love, nurture, and teach respect  and kindness to young people, change will certainly come.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Granola Bark



I am SO excited to share this recipe with you today. I've tried tons of different recipes for granola and granola bars and I've had issues! The granola I make always seems to taste burnt (burnt oats=gross) and is either too crunchy or too soft. The granola bars I've tried making are hard as rocks or they are too gooey and fall apart. Enter....Granola Bark! I came across this recipe a bit by accident. I set out to make these granola bars but when I went to cut into them, they chipped off into big chunks---perfect for snacking on or adding to yogurt! I have only made this recipe once but there are so many different variations on it that I can't wait to try out.

You will need:

1 cup unsalted almonds
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbs. honey

Preheat oven to 325. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper (this is key!). Mix all ingredients together and press down onto parchment paper. Make sure it's pressed down hard and really sticks together. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Let cool. Then, break into chunks and store in an airtight container.


This was gone in less than 2 days at our house! Now for the fun part....variations:

-craisins/raisins
-any type of nut (even mixed nuts!)
-chocolate chips (dark chocolate sea salt, anyone?!)
-peanut butter
-sunflower seeds
-pumpkin seeds
-flax seeds
-oats

I'm excited to try out new versions of this delish stuff! Yippee for Granola Bark!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Surrender

I realize it's mid February and I'm late to the resolution game but I've really been searching for my "word" of 2018. This one word resolution trend has become popular in recent years. It's basically one word to center your year around: goals, intentions, hopes, efforts, and a focal point for all the different ways one single word can lead us to be our best selves. Some popular one word resolutions are: trust, faith, healthy, disciplined, joy, peace, patience etc.

I truly thought about trying on all sorts of words for 2018 and I finally settled on SURRENDER. I guess you could say since it's already February that I surrendered to the process of choosing a word!  I picked this word for many reasons. To me, surrender represents peace, harmony, and most importantly a "letting go." I want to surrender to the plans God has for my life.

I want to surrender to this new stage in my life: Motherhood. I want to experience it all, enjoy every phase and milestone, embrace all it has to offer and give all I can to my role as Hadley and Hank's mom and then...surrender.

 I want to surrender to the learning process---to teach my students the best way I know how, to mix it up if need be, learn new things for my teacher "tool bag", give my students opportunities for success and then.....surrender.

 I want to surrender my health and treat my body with kindness. I want to push my body to its bounds of strength and fitness. I want to work hard and give my body quality fuel and then...surrender.

I want to surrender to God all stress, worry, fear, and doubt. I want to give it to Him every single day and never try and work out for myself what I know has already been taken care of. I will hand it over in faith and then....surrender.

I surrender to this very word of surrender because honestly, I'm not great at it. I'm not great at letting things lie, letting things go, and letting things be. I can be so busy fussing and fretting that I forget that if I just let go, I'll have a safe space to land. This one word resolution will be a challenge for me. It'll involve me unpacking the road map, tossing it out, and trusting deeply, knowing that at the end of each day I can go to bed surrendering to the notion that I have done enough because I am enough.


 So 2018, I'm ready to dive in and roll with the waves, learning how to be my best self all while letting the tide take me where it may. I surrender to letting life unfold just as it's meant to.


As a side note, Oprah, in all her fabulous wisdom, tells a story of how surrendering changed her life. And she sings verses from one of my favorite hymns, I Surrender All. Check it out.

Savor Your Sparkle,
Leslie

Monday, February 5, 2018

Life Lately

Hi Everyone,
   This post features lots of pictures and updates on our life lately! I love that I have this space to document some memories for Hank. Baby book? Nope, this mama will be directing her baby straight to Blogger!
I LOVE THIS BOY! 

Every time I look at this picture I crack up laughing. First of all, his hat makes him look like Mother Theresa but then that face?! I love it! 

I've been savoring this last bit of maternity leave and enjoying every second with my Hank man. He is just the absolute delight of my life! This past week my in laws came for a visit and we had a great time. I was going to work on a Day in the Life post for life these days but I thought it really wouldn't be too exciting. In a nutshell: I try and have myself and Hank dressed, the bed made, and a load of laundry in by 10:00 ish every day. Hank eats every 3 hours, sleeps about half the day, I pump/read/watch TV/wash bottles/fold laundry and we try and do a walk if it's nice enough out. I change endless diapers and Hank usually wears about 4 outfits a day. Haha! My mom often comes by so I can run errands, go to the gym, take a nap, or just keep me company. I am so thankful for her. Honestly, we're in a nice little groove and the days really do fly by. Also, I cannot sing the praises of of Woombie Swaddle enough. We've been putting the "baby straitjacket" (aka: zip up swaddle) on Hank the past few weeks at night and he has been giving us some lovely 5 plus hour stretches at night! All hail the Woombie!
He loves time on his play mat and kick piano. Just this past week he started batting the toys around and kicking the play mat. Yay for playing! 

In the morning when we free him from his swaddle he does the biggest stretches....it looks like he's hatching! 


We went on a date night while AJ's parents were in town. We had a great time and this mama was excited to wear non yoga pants for the evening! I had my first post-baby beer (Blue Moon)  and it was delish! And I was legit obsessed with the dessert we ordered, it was called the Caramel Apple Goldrush. YUM! We went shopping for a bit after dinner and it was delightful. I can see how easy it is to get lost in bottle washing, baby comforting, washing tiny clothes, and rocking our sleepy baby.....we've gone on 2 date nights since Hank was born and both of them have been so so so good for us. I love dating my husband.



We went to a friend's house for a Super Bowl party and I made these football cocoa krispie treats. Aren't they fun? They didn't turn out exactly like the picture (darn Pinterest) but they were yummy anyway. I like getting together with friends, eating yummy food, and enjoying the halftime show and commercials but this year I was most excited for THIS IS US after the game. Shout out to NBC for having something for the ladies on Super Bowl Sunday. After the Bravermans, the Pearsons are my favorite TV family. (Btw, anyone else scared to use their crockpot now?!)

Hank's first super bowl! 

We have been loving this warm January and February. Stroller walks are my new favorite thing! Fresh air for all and some exercise for me, amen!





Life with a newborn is exciting, fun, amazing, and magical....but it can also be exhausting. I am a huge advocate for self care. A few times since Hank has been born I've treated myself to some coffee shop reading/writing time, a massage, a pedicure, and some quiet alone time.

 It's 100% ok to treat yourself and in my opinion, especially once you're a mom! I want to be my best self for Hank and some "me" time can make this mama go from this......

to this:

Have a great week everyone!!

Savor Your Sparkle,
Leslie

Monday, January 29, 2018

Take Out Fake Out: Fried Rice (or Quinoa)

I love Chinese takeout. There's nothing quite like a little paper box with red writing on it when you're hungry and you know the contents will be flavorful, delicious, and familiar. One of my favorite take out dishes is fried rice. There's a few local Chinese places we like but we've been spending a lot more time at home lately with our little guy so I decided to try my hand at this "take out fake out" vegetable fried rice. I found my inspiration online and made a few tweaks and came up with this recipe! I made mine with quinoa because I had some on hand. This would work with quinoa, white rice, brown rice, and I bet it would even work with cauliflower rice (but that's not my jam so you'll have to let me know if you try that). I had to buy some teriyaki sauce, scallions, and frozen veggies (you could use fresh veggies but chopping it all? ain't nobody got time for that), but other than that, I had everything else I needed!


You will need:

1 and 1/2 cups quinoa cooked in 3 cups water
3 tbs. soy sauce
2 tbs. teriyaki sauce
butter (around 2 tbs)
minced garlic
1/4 of a white onion finely diced
1 bag frozen peas and carrots
crushed red pepper
ginger
olive oil
1 bunch scallions
3 eggs
sesame seeds for garnish

1. To begin, make your quinoa or rice in advance. I just made mine in the morning and popped it in the fridge. Everything I read said fried rice works best with cold cooked rice  (a meal preppers dream or great for leftover rice too)

2. In a bowl mix your sauce: soy sauce and teriyaki sauce and set aside.


3.  In a skillet, place some butter (I used around 2 tbs) and saute your white onion with minced garlic. Add your frozen veggies (I thawed mine on the counter for about 15 minutes before I began cooking but you don't need to). Then add olive oil (I just eyeballed a few shakes)  a small pinch of crushed red pepper, salt and pepper, and a dash of ginger.


4. Add in your  precooked grain (quinoa or rice) . Stir fry for about 10 minutes on high heat. Toss in the soy sauce mixture.


5. Make a well in the middle of your mixture and crack in eggs, scramble, then continue to stir fry.

6. Top with scallions and sesame seeds and serve.

This makes a HUGE batch. I served it up alongside General's Tso's chicken (frozen....this new mama's not making two homemade dishes for one meal. Ha!). I loved this recipe and how versatile it is, you can add in any meat or veggies you like. The perfect take out fake out! Enjoy!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

January Reads


I read some awesome books this month! Here are my January Reads:

1. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris: I loved this book so much that I devoured it in 2 days (when I probably should have been "sleeping when the baby sleeps" and doing a whole manner of other things). This book, though, was so eerie, creepy, and suspenseful, I couldn't put it down! It deals with a dramatic case of domestic violence but does so in a way that isn't "Lifetime Movie-ish" at all and has you rooting for the female protagonist the whole time. I was basically cheering her on out loud. Warning: It is a bit violent/graphic/disturbing. My friend Kate couldn't believe I liked it!

2. When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Whalen: This book is about a small Texas town, football, reckless teenagers, their overwhelmed parents, grief, loss, and friendship. It was just meh for me. It has the basis of a wonderfully compelling story but I kept waiting for the climax and it just doesn't really have one. It's like "stuff happens, let me tell you about it" and it just didn't really move anywhere for me. If you are a fan of Friday Night Lights you just might like this book more than I did.

3. Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan: Hilarious! My one word description of this book that could not have come at a more fitting time in my life. This is another book that has you fiercely rooting for the delightfully likable hot mess mom whose escapades to connect and fit in with modern mommies err on the side of ridiculous (pretending to breastfeed so she can hang out with the super cool lactating A Group for example). It doesn't sugarcoat motherhood and marriage but is tender and heartfelt at the same time. This book was a joy to read.

4. Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker: I felt like after a string of 3 novels I needed some nonfiction in my life. This one did not disappoint. I have enjoyed a few other books by Jen Hatmaker and appreciate her witty take on feminism, faith, and family. She is honest, relatable, and one funny lady. This book is  nice mix of thoughtful theological essays (her take on faith and the modern Christian church is beautiful) and funny segments on family life and friendship and  her "how to" chapters had me rolling. ("How to Have a Good Night's Sleep With Kids: You won't. You'll see your child about sixteen times before sunrise"). This book is a great one to pass on to your girlfriends.

5. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid: I think I've found a new chick lit author I enjoy! This was a story about a woman whose husband goes missing, she moves on and enters a new relationship only to have him turn up again. It's a really interesting premise and I found myself not wanting to put it down to find out how the main character would resolve her life. PS) I think she made the right choice!


6. Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan: I have mixed feelings about this one. It seemed to me the author simply wanted to write a book and so she put this one together without much meat there. It's a memoir of an American girl who travels to Australia for adventure and ends up being a nanny for a widower and his two young children. The story is woven throughout with anecdotes about the author's mother and her gradual realization that they are more alike than they once thought. It's a super fast read and entertaining, but it kept feeling like the author was really reaching to make a novel out of something and making connections that sort of fell flat. Kelly Corrigan has written a few other books I'm interested in so I might have to give those a try.

I cannot say it enough: Reading is such a treasure in my life! What books should I read next?

Savor Your Sparkle,
Leslie

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Joy in the Journey

I am a nerd. Always have been, always will be. One of the things that makes me a nerd is that I love planners and calendars. This started in my middle school days and continues even now. My school issued planner with important dates like finals week, days off, etc. have been replaced over the years with expensive colorful Erin Condren planners, Barnes and Noble planners (that, let's face it, I probably purchased in September for the following year), and now I use a small paper one I can slip in my purse. I keep a printed off calendar on our fridge, but I just need the little one to write down dates on the go.
This weekend I went on a cleaning spree (I feel like I'm nesting post-baby....to make room for all the baby gear!) and I came across 7 years of planners. 7 years. In those years I went from college student, to grad student, to teacher. From girlfriend, to fiancee, to wife. From  resident of Spokane to resident of Chicago to resident of Salt Lake. From pregnant mom, to angel mom, to Hank's mom. In those planners I planned: lessons, a wedding, moving dates, finances, class assignments, paydays, job interviews, coffee dates, workout classes, hair appointments, dentist appointments, lots and lots of maternity appointments, birthdays, holidays, vacations. I curled up one afternoon last week and looked through them all. It was fascinating. A few things jumped out at me as I opened the pages and let the memories flood in.
-We went to therapy a lot after Hadley. Like all the time
-I have no idea how I kept so many balls in the air in college: I worked part time, took a full class load, and my goodness, the social life! It makes this 30 year old me want to put my hair in a bun, put on some sweats, and curl up with a book and mug of tea for approximately 75 years to recover
-I have a handful of friendships that have spanned the expanse of time and are comfortable, familiar and perfect. Those friends have seen me at my best, my worst, all kinds of things in between. You never know when a "dinner with_____" on a random Wednesday in college will turn into a life long friendship that's deep and true.
-Each school I've taught at has had its share of extra responsibilities---For one school I had written down, "Plan Black History Month Program," another "Take on-line literacy program training," and yet another, "Call parent regarding recess incident." My years teaching and even individual students came flashing back as I looked across my scribbled notes and to do's involving life in the classroom.
-AJ and I have made lots of trips to Oregon. I love it there and now consider it my second home. I love visiting with my in laws, walking the gorgeous shoreline of the Oregon Coast, and buying Red Vines and coffee at small town gas stations as we discuss which music or podcast to enjoy on the open road.
-"Make funeral arrangements" and "Call about headstone" are two things that shouldn't be in anyone's planner. Ever.
-Girls Nights have been a constant in my life and always will be. Give me some wine, good food, and wonderful women who have a lot to say and a lot to catch up on. Sanity saver and a hell of a good time.

-"Day off" (yes in quotes) means I'm planning on taking a mental health/sick day and am already planning it in advance (new teachers: yes, this is vital)
-If I ever can't sleep I'll try and calculate how many manicures I've had in my life. Newsflash: lots. But nail salons are a lot like Starbucks, they're basically all the same wherever you go. And I love that.
-I sure am glad I don't have to fly home anymore. There's something great about a 15 minute drive home instead of a whole day of travel and multiple airports
-My faith community has ebbed and flowed. Some seasons I was really plugged into a great church community, volunteering a lot, some times not at all, but seeking spirituality and learning more has always been important to me.

-Holiday, special days, and anniversaries are a big deal for me (classic ENFJ), and I love celebrating milestones ("7 weeks together!", "Last day of teaching summer camp!," "Moved in a year ago!")
-Self-care seems super selfish when you see it condensed like that...My God, how many dentist, eye, lady doc, hair, massage, eyebrow, counseling, dermatologist, etc appointments does one person need? Adulting is hard.

I'm a do-er, a mover, a get things done sorta gal. Planners are my love language. Maybe that's why I enjoy blogging so much: I deeply treasure writing, memory making, reflecting, and recording. As I glanced through these pages, it made me smile to think that girl in 2009 would never ever in a million years have believed she'd be a 1st grade teacher, living in Utah, still working on that balance of being a foodie and being fit, married, have a daughter in heaven, and a baby son in her arms. She'd never believe driving on the freeway isn't actually that scary, that the world won't implode if the bed is unmade some days, that she'd still be friends with those girls, that she'd date some frogs but marry her best friend, have lived there, hung out with them, felt that way, cried over that, laughed over that, and that all those pages, pen scribbles, and dates held her whole journey so far. I am so thankful for every moment, the messy and the breathtaking. The scary and the awesome. The foolish and the inspired. Each decision in one year danced its way into the next, causes had effects, choices had consequences, and they all wove, twisted, and turned to here, now. It's not where I'm going, it's how I'm getting there. You'll never have this day again so....How will you spend it?