Tuesday, April 17, 2018

4 Months

I can hardly believe my little man is 4 months old! I thought I'd do a little recap of "Hank Life" here on the blog because while this little corner of the internet is for random recipes I've made up, book recaps, and a whole load of our "life lately" it's also basically my son's baby book. No fancy scrapbook up in here, just a url. This might be boring for ya'll, but I wanted to document a picture of our life with our fun and adorable 4 month old. Here it goes...

Hank is a delight. People ask me all the time if he's a "good baby" and he really truly is. He's very chill (unless he's hungry or super tired, then watch out) and he goes with the flow well. This month we really got in a good schedule "groove" but hey, I'm a teacher, I know these things can change and if need be, we can switch things up. Right now he wakes up around 7:00 (eliminating the 5 am feed and pumping session has been heavenly) and I usually change him and get him dressed in his jammies....he wears just a diaper and the Woombie swaddle to bed so jammies are just for evening and morning lounging. He can usually hold off his first bottle of the day until my mom arrives and I leave for work. Sometimes he's still sound asleep when I leave the house but that bums me out because I love our morning snuggles. Between 6-7 I usually rush around eating breakfast/getting ready and pray he stays asleep until I finish blow drying my hair or making the bed so I can get out the door on time.

He sleeps in his crib (we started this officially on Easter) and usually goes to bed between 9 and 10:30. He sometimes goes straight to bed in his crib awake and nods off. Other times he's so beat that he's basically zonked out during his final diaper change and other times he is not digging the crib and he lays between us in our bed while we read and then we move him to his crib once he's fallen asleep (it usually doesn't take long). All the lights are out in his room and we turn on his lullaby sound machine and set it for an hour.

Hank loves to be part of the action. For a while he'd cry and cry while we ate dinner (we had him in the Mama Roo or on his playmat) and we then discovered he just wanted to be by us. He now "eats dinner" with us at the table with his bouncy seat on the table. I often put him in there on the kitchen counter while I make dinner too. He is happiest when all eyes are on him!

As far as naps are concerned, he's really mainly a cat napper. Very rarely does he sleep more than 90 minutes or so (his longest nap is in the morning, right after his first bottle). I figure since he sleeps through the night, I can't press my luck with naps. I want him nice and tired out by the time the evening comes around. We can always tell when it's bedtime or he's in need of sleep, that's usually when he gets fussy. The other day he was awake from 2 ish in the afternoon until 10. Yeah, he was mad. I can barely stay awake until 10 without a nap so I can only imagine how exhausted our little man must be!

His eating has really picked up this month. He usually takes 6-8 oz a feeding and is on all formula now. I began the breastmilk pumping weaning process in early March and by the end of March I was no longer pumping at all. He doesn't eat as frantically as he did when he was a newborn (I think he's finally got the clue that yes, you will be fed whenever you're hungry. Chill dude). He does major burps after his feeds and it makes me laugh when he does a big formula belch in my face. He's always much more content after his burps!

This month we busted out of the house (we were trying to keep him inside during his newborn days and flu season) and he went to church for the first time, to a wedding, Costco, coffee and lunch out, and tons of walks. It's quite the production taking him out (5 diapers, 2 outfit changes, 2 bottles, toys, pacifiers, wipes, bibs, boogie wipes, etc) but it's been nice going places as a family of 3 now.

We bathe Hank every other night. We still use our plastic tub with the "sling" on the kitchen counter and probably won't put it in the actual bathtub until he's sitting up. He likes to chill out in his diaper for a bit after bath. Sometimes he wears his hooded towels or his sweet baby robe too. We no longer make the rookie mistake of going fully nude!

He loves: kicking on his piano mat, his Moose toy, MAM brand pacifiers, his cat car toy, looking at the fan, grabbing my hair, looking at lights, being fascinated by looking up at the ceiling when going up and down stairs, walks and sits outside, reading books in his rocking chair or bouncy seat, and going in his Baby Einstein "ball pit" play gym. He is an absolute joy and AJ and I both give thanks every single day that we get to be Hank Grayson's mom and dad. Happy 4 months, Hankster! We love love love love you! (one love for every month).

Friday, April 13, 2018

Life Lately & Hamilton

Hi There,
    Guys. It's Friday. Amen and Hallelujah. This week was a fun one notably because AJ and I went on a little date night and saw Hamilton! I first listened to the music last year and really liked it (And hello, major history nerd here. AJ and I were both history majors in college and US History is my absolute favorite). I always wanted to see the show but once I heard about the intense process and how many people couldn't get tickets, I was resigned to the fact that we probably wouldn't see it.

But then last week after our spring break cleaning AJ found some old golf clubs he didn't want anymore so I was posting them on KSL classifieds and took a little browse at the events section and came across Hamilton tickets. I spent the next 2 days texting and negotiating with various sellers and finally a seller and I agreed on an amount (honestly, it wasn't too outrageous and not very much more than the face value on the ticket) and we met up Saturday (with AJ and at a public place, I'm not crazy!) and we had the tickets in hand. It was so good. I had super high expectations and it surpassed them all. Lin Manuel Miranda is a genius. I've been listening to the music "NON-STOP" lately (also, my fave song in the show for the record).
Love these lyrics on a onesie! How could I resist buying this??

I discovered this Hilshire Farms snacking thingies (I call them "adult lunchables") and I love them! I snapped a pic of my lunch the other day because it's the easiest thing ever and so yummy to put together: Adult Lunchable (there's a few varieties), La Croix (so millenial, I know. I'm also obsessed with avocado toast too), Skinny Pop 100 cal bag, hummus or guac cup, snap peas, and lemoncello white chocolate almonds (from Costco. Have you guys tried these? YUM!).
 I put a pic of these Tazo Teas on my InstaStory the other day. Anything with the tagline "Dessert Delights" is something I can really get behind.

On the TV front, I've decided unless I reallllly like the show, it's series recording spot in my DVR is peacin' out. I guess it took raising an infant to get to this very important life step (Although this new policy has not raised the overall caliber of the shows I consume. I still watch mostly garbage). I gave up on Rise, 600 Pound Life, The Voice, Dr. Phil, and Will & Grace might get the ax too. I've been watching Married At First Sight, Little People Big World, Roseanne, American Housewife, Superstore, Teen Mom, and Southern Charm.

In other news, we are 34 school days until summer break. In years past, I've started my countdown way earlier ( ahem, at 75 days with my 2015-2016 darlings), but I am really enjoying this group this year. BUT no matter how great the class/teammates etc. there is nothing like summer living! Bring it on!

And I'm leaving this post with a Hank picture because I adore this little chunky monkey. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Savor Your Sparkle,

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Strawberry Banana Overnight Oats

I got on a major overnight oatmeal kick last spring. The thing is, oatmeal is super easy to make and takes 2 minutes in the microwave, but there's just something extra delicious about oatmeal that hangs out overnight in all sorts of yummy ingredients. I've done some experimenting in the kitchen and I've come up with this version that I am loving. So put together breakfast the night before. By the time the sun rises, you'll be glad you did!

Strawberry Banana Overnight Oats

Cast of Characters:

-1 over ripe banana (I freeze mine once they get brown-ish and just thaw when I'm ready to use)
-1 cup oats
-3/4 cup milk
-1/2 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
-1 tsp. vanilla
-1/2 tsp. cinnamom
-2 tsp. honey OR pure maple syrup (I've tried both)
-about 5 whole strawberries sliced
-1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Note: you can double the amount of milk and eliminate the yogurt if you prefer

Mix all ingredients well, cover and refrigerate overnight. That's it! In the morning I stir it up and heat for about 2 minutes. This makes a big batch (although I have no problem devouring it all!) so you could double or triple it and make enough for a few mornings at a time. Enjoy!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Life Lately/Photo Drop

Hi Guys,
   This post is a random assortment of all the stuff and pictures I didn't blog in the few weeks before spring break. We had a wonderful March.....we did dinners with friends, had visits from AJ's mom and dad, Hank got to meet Uncle Matt, my classroom got "spring-ified" and we're in full on "get ready for 2nd grade" mode, Hank turned 3 months old and is smiling, loving lights and the ceiling fan (we are contemplating a trip to Home Depot's lighting department to blow his little mind!), I joined Boot Camp again, and we've been enjoying bonus time chilling at home (Yay for spring break!).

This is one of my all time fave pictures of Hank!! 

We enjoyed a trip to the Mall....I hadn't been to the mall in SO long! 

Saturday night we had my family over for pizza and it was nice to all be together. Here's AJ and Matt looking at Hank's photo album. 

One day last week, we heard a knock on the door and it was AJ's dad, he arrived in Utah a day early to surprise us! Hank loved having time with his Grandpa Steele! AJ's dad always enjoys having projects so he painted our backyard adirondack chairs (which he made us a few years ago) a pretty light green color. I can't wait to read out there this summer. I packed away Hank's newborn and 0-3 month clothes (space saver bags are my new obession....ask AJ, I can't stop finding things I want to space bag!) and I am absolutely floored that the "newborn" phase is over. Oh, and we officially transitioned to the crib this week. Hank did better than I did....I miss my little pal in our room but he does well in the crib (we'd been putting him in there for his morning nap to test the waters and he seemed to enjoy it). Babies do not keep!

Newborn, 0-3 month clothes, swaddles, jammies etc. all in this bin. Yay for Space Saver bags! 

And speaking of wanting to read outside......remember that one time all my library holds came in at once??? And there's 4 waiting for me today. Sheesh. Cutting this post off now because clearly I have some reading to do. This month's reads are GOOD! Have a great weekend! 

Savor Your Sparkle,

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

When I Miss Her

Grief is weird. It is a part of you, intertwined with your very spirit. But sometimes it catches you off guard too. How can something that is in the fiber of my being just pop up and surprise me sometimes? How can I be going through a normal day and suddenly I am stopped in my tracks by the thought: Did that really happen to us? Did I really hold my newborn daughter and feel her tiny heart slow, then in the worst moment of my life, stop? See, grief is tricky. While it's calm and settles into your bones, it's also wild and frolicking. It makes you laugh over memories, cry, and strive and strive and strive to make meaning. I've said before and I so believe it to be true: Grief and I are permanent roommates, so we need to learn to coexist and play nice with each other.

  Since Hank has been born I can say that what others assured me of is without a doubt true... that the pain does lessen. It does! Praise hands! It never goes away fully (and it shouldn't) but it becomes gentler, quieter, and blends into the background instead of standing right in the middle of the room. I've discovered that in parenting Hank I am honoring and serving Hadley at the same time. I'm loving my children. Both of them. And isn't that the supreme task of a mother?

I've compiled this list of things I do when I miss her. I've only been partnering with grief for about two years but these things have truly helped me along the way. Maybe they'll bring some healing to you too?

-Go for a walk: Some of you might think of running in this category of "get out and move" but for those of us, ahem, less athletically inclined, there's nothing quite like a good stroll. I love bundling up Hank and putting some miles on the stroller. Time in nature plus exercise is really so good for the soul.

-Music as healing: I love listening to music....especially in the car. I have Pandora going almost all the time in my classroom before and after school and there's nothing quite like the perfect T Swift song to get the day going. And I'm still listening to The Greatest Showman soundtrack and Brandi Carlile like it's my job.

-Treat yourself: When it comes to this one I immediately think of the soul refreshing that occurs with a mani, pedi,  or massage, or splurging on a Starbucks latte, or Sweet Tooth Fairy cupcake. This one does not have to equate to cash or calories, though. Sometimes some "mama needs a bubble bath and early bedtime tonight" is all it takes. The point is, life's short, treat yourself, girl. You deserve it.

-Talk about it: I love picking up the phone and calling or texting a friend. And sometimes AJ and I just need a heart to heart about Hadley. Sometimes it makes me laugh and sometimes it makes me cry, but I need to express myself and talk about it...often and still.

-Remember: When I'm really missing Hadley, sometimes it's helpful to just dive in and read old blog posts, look at her photo book, pick up her hand and feet molds, flip through pregnancy journal pages and just keep her memory alive for myself. She was here, she mattered, and I want to let the memories wash over me. It seems counter intuitive but it actually really helps. 

-Practice Gratitude: This one is something I try and work on daily. Gratitude has the power to completely transform your life. I am thankful for the time I had with Hadley. I am grateful to my body for helping me have a healthy pregnancy with Hank (where I was once bitter and angry at my body), I am grateful for a strong marriage and my partner in life. I am thankful for family and friends who have showed their true colors and held us up in times of sadness and times of joy. There's always something to be thankful for.

-Pray: Sometimes it's necessary to pause in the quiet and talk to God. You can call this one praying, meditating, reflecting, whatever, but there is power in silence and mindfulness. You don't even need to speak, sometimes you can just offer up your heart and thoughts, God knows what's there. In the silence I often get clarity.

-Visit Her: It was so important to me to have a place where we could visit Hadley and have a special spot to reflect and remember. I felt some guilt about not going as often in the winter and now that it's spring and summer is coming up, I plan to try and go more often. I can't wait to bring Hank and enjoy some time under the peaceful shade of Hadley's tree.

-Focus on Others: I remember the summer after Hadley was born I was so thankful to go back to work and get into the groove of leading my classroom again. While teaching is not always a walk in the park, overall, my students and teammates have brought me joy over the years. Pouring my energies into my classroom and my students is more than a distraction, obviously, but it's hard to be sad or feel down when you spend your day with some pretty cool and cute kids Throwing the Baby Bow Bash was so healing for my soul AND it helped include our friends and family in serving the community and amazing NICU families. And as an addition to this tip, Hank brings me so. much. joy. and focusing on him brings me so much peace. I give thanks for him every minute of every day.

 I adore my precious daughter and give thanks for her role in our family. There are hard days and great days and every variation in between. I'll never not miss her so it's been valuable to find ways to cope when I do. We love you Princess Baby!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter 2018

We had a wonderful Easter weekend! I've heard that the holidays become super special once kids come on the scene and that is so so so true. I know Hank is only 3 months old, but we got festive, got him Easter goodies, and celebrated being all together. While the commercial Easter things are so fun (Target Easter paper products? Swoon), I think it's important not to stray too far from the true meaning of the celebration. Easter changes everything. The message at church was perfect and I hold the words close to my heart: "Never assume God is done working." I cannot understand His ways but I also cannot ever lose faith that His ways are perfect.

AJ's family was in town (his mom had been watching Hank for 2 weeks and his dad arrived earlier this past week), so all of us went to church together and then came back to our house for an Easter lunch. AJ and I wanted to make a nice meal as a thank you to our families for all they have done for us as Hank's grandparents these past few months.

 Hank got THREE Easter Baskets (this boy is LOVED). AJ and I (well, err, The Easter Bunny) got him Easter pajamas, new shades, bubbles, Little Blue Truck's Springtime book, and a play ball. He got some fun stuffed animals and cool new toys and outfits from his grandparents. I think next year we might be able to do an egg hunt (or maybe the year after!).

 Whenever we do dinner at my parent's house, my mom always has some sort of game and prizes. We did a "guess the number of jellybeans" game. AJ's mom Susan was the winner of a Dairy Queen gift card!
 I found some pretty gold eggs at Hobby Lobby and put them on this tiered server for decoration. I added a bouquet from Harmons and ta-da, Easter ready table. We used Easter paper plates and napkins (because ain't nobody got time for all those dishes).

We ditched our plaid for a comfy onesie after lunch! 

Ok, let's talk food. We served:

-Mimosas with berries
-Spinach Artichoke Dip and Pita Chips
-Steele Family's Famous Chex Mix
-Honey Baked Ham 
-King's Hawaiian Rolls
-Mediterranean Chopped Salad (Costco) 

The meal took some planning but ended up being super easy thanks to some shortcuts. Ordering the ham was a great decision. It was so delish. We got a honeybaked ham from a friend when Hank was born and we were fans--- it was so nice not to worry about making the main dish. I love the dip because it was made in the crockpot. AJ's mom made the Chex Mix and Potatoes Deluxe (one of my favorite things she makes!). The carrot recipe was a new one for me and it turned out well. And the banana pudding.....ohmygoodness, I love it! I made it for Easter a few years ago. It's decadent and rich, perfect for a holiday (and it's no bake so super easy to put together the night before). And this mama is no longer pumping so bring. on. the. champagne. Ha! 

It was the perfect day with all the people I love the most! Happy Easter from our family to yours.