Tuesday, July 3, 2018

What I'm Loving Lately

It's time for another edition of What I'm Loving Lately! Let's do it!

1. Cold Brew: So it's hot out and while I'm still loving a hot mug of goodness (coffee) in the morning there is just something delightful about coffee on ice. Enter cold brew. I'm a big fan of Starbucks cold foam cascara cold brew and I've ordered cold brew at other coffee shops but I've never bought it for home. I bought a jug of iced coffee (Stok brand) that was yummy but came across these packs from Dunkin at the store the other day and decided to try them. Each box contains 2 packs that makes a big pitcher of cold brew (I made mine on Thursday and it's about halfway gone). Easy peasy and perfect for summer.

2. Summer TV: Remember how in my Summer Goals post I said I wanted to watch an entire series?! Well, umm, it's barely July and I already finished Younger. I just adore this show! And now that I'm all caught up I can watch the new episodes on Tuesdays. I'm also watching The Bachelorette (meh, this season is pretty blah, even though I adore Becca!), The Proposal (I know, I'm embarrassed for myself), The Next Food Network Star, Southern Charm, and I also watched the Netflix movie Set It Up and I loved it. Yippee for romantic comedies!

3. Spurtles: Ok, this one is random. But I had QVC on a few Sundays ago (I already admitted I watch The Proposal so I figure this is a safe space for full disclosure), and they were doing a presentation about this kitchen gadget called a "spurtle" (Here's  the low down on what a spurtle is). I ordered a set in aqua (about $20 I think) and wouldn't you know, I reach for them every. single. day. (The presentation said I would, haha). These guys stir, can separate eggs, toss, work as spatulas etc. And I need things in my life to be dishwasher safe and these silicone tools totally are.

4. Hank's First Holidays: After Wednesday (4th of July), Hank will only have two seasonal bibs and first holidays left: Halloween and Thanksgiving. AHHHHH! Experiencing Hank's firsts are so fun and while I think we'll skip fireworks this year (Hank goes to bed when it's still light out...and I do too), it's just so fun watching this little boy grow up. And it's fun to think of where we were last year at this time. Walking out the door to go to a holiday pancake breakfast last 4th of July, I ran for the kitchen and puked in the sink for what felt like hours (this is still a safe space, right?). Me pregnant is no joke. Three cheers for an all-American holiday with zero puke this year!

5. Summer: I chose teaching because I love helping young people discover new things and the power within themselves. But.....gee golly gosh, can I get an AMEN FOR SUMMER?! I like clear beginnings and endings (classic ENFJ here), so I love the cyclical nature of the school year. It works for me. Summer is a time to recharge and reconnect, to read, relax, and recenter. And I, for one, am here for it. And bonus for marrying a teacher. Summer is our thing, people! Woohoo!

6. Podcasts: I love podcasts for the car, for doing my hair and makeup, for folding laundry, for cooking etc. I love 'em! Some faves include: The Pop Cast, The Big Boo Cast, The Bible Binge, Stories We'd Tell in Bars, and most recently, Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness. He is such a delight.

7. This blog! This month marks THREE YEARS since I claimed this little corner of the internet and started Sunday Kinda Love. You all saw me through 2 jobs, the newlywed years of marriage, Hadley, Hank, moving into our home, experiments in the kitchen, the ups and downs of grief and pregnancy after loss, loads of books, and lots of trashy TV talk. I love writing here and I love YOU for reading here. If you ever have specific things you'd want me to write about, have questions, or want to partner up and blog swap or something, feel free to reach out! And if you like a post, I'd love if you passed it along or shared it.

Savor your sparkle AND these delicious summer days, friends.

-Leslie

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Half a Year of Hank!

It dawned on me the other day that I haven't done an All About Hank post in a while. Hank turned 6 months old last week and I am in awe at how quickly half a year can go by. I can hardly imagine Hank has a little 6 lb. newborn anymore. He's getting so big! Watching him grow, change, and learn is such a joy. Hank's personality has really begun to come out this month. He loves being in on the action and we say he has FOMO (fear of missing out) because if people are around, he will carefully observe  everything going on around him. He'll even not play or sleep sometimes in order to "hang out" with people. He is a sweet boy, and he is pretty chill. He is very attentive and knows and adores his parents and grandparents.


Hank started Little Gym this summer and we both enjoy the Mommy and Me classes where Hank plays with balls, bubbles, practices tummy time, sings songs, moves and stretches, and best of all, hangs out with other babies!

He also started solids this past month! He had baby rice cereal and oatmeal for about 2-3 weeks at first. This past month, he's  tried butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans, and just last week he had his first fruits of bananas and apples. Hank only has baby food twice a day, late morning (just a fruit or veggie) and around dinner time (a veggie and rice cereal). He still drinks 8 oz. of formula about 3-4 times a day. It's so exciting having Hank try new foods and sitting in his high chair. I still enjoy our snuggly times with the bottle, though, too! I had plans to make my own baby food and got books from the library and did a lot of reading online. But when it came down to it, store bought is just so much easier! We've been using Gerber and Beechnut brands. I've pretty much just been following Hank's lead when it comes to the solids stuff. I try and serve a new food for 3 or so days before I introduce something else, but he seems to enjoy everything he's had so far. I think squash might be his favorite.

This month Hank also went in the pool for the first time. He is very stoic in the water and doesn't cry or smile, I think he's trying to figure out what is going on! He likes water and we have also used a small blow up pool in our backyard. Hank is starting to learn how to reach for things in the water and splash. He is still in his baby tub but without the sling. Since he can't sit up independently yet, AJ and I sort of hold him up in the tub.

Hank is wearing 6-9 month clothes and the plain 6 month ones are getting a bit snug, and the 9 month ones are just a little big. This boy has quite the wardrobe from hand me downs, gifts, and family and friends. I think his wardrobe is set until he's at least 18 months old! I used up my size 2 stash of diapers and moved onto size 3's this month. I like Huggies the best but have also tried Honest Co., Target brand, Pampers and Kirkland brand too.

Hank loves his little play gym and the kick piano is still a big hit. His favorite toy is his Moose and he also loves the V-Tech play cube and this fun water mat he lays on for tummy time. He sits in his Bumbo seat sometimes but his chunky legs are almost getting too big for the leg holes! He is rolling all over the place and has been moving around a lot more when we change his diaper. He also loves pulling my hair and I have to be careful with dangly earrings around this dude! When he sits in his high chair while we have dinner he likes to play with his squishy blocks and linking rings. He also, to my delight, loves his baby Starbucks teether! (He LOVES putting anything in his mouth!)

Hank goes to bed in his crib (drowsy but usually awake) anytime between 7:30-9:00 depending on how tired he seems. He gives us definite cues when he's ready for bed like rubbing his eyes. He wakes up most days between 6:30 and 7:30. We love the Graco lullaby sound machine and set it for an hour of play when we put him in his crib. He naps pretty irregularly. He usually dozes off in the morning after his first bottle for around an hour and then he usually has 2 naps of about 30 minutes each during the day. Every once in a while he'll do like a 90 minute stretch in the afternoon and/or morning but that's pretty rare. He does his best napping on a big blanket on the floor next to daddy.

Some things I want to do in the next month or so: Switch to the regular bathtub when Hank can sit up, read at night before bed, and try brushing gums. I bought a baby toothbrush and toothpaste but we've yet to try it.

We are so crazy in love with this sweet little man. He is the delight of our days and we adore being his parents! Half way to 1, Hankster! And just for fun, here are his first 6 monthly pics!



Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Broccoli Slaw Salad


I have a new recipe for you all today for Broccoli Slaw Salad. I really only came up with this recipe because I found a dressing as a "Woohoo" deal at Smith's for only 50 cents that I thought looked interesting.....it was a Pumpkin Harvest dressing (I'm a sucker for anything pumpkin, even in summer!).

After the dressing sat in the door of our fridge for about a month I figured it was time I use it. But a pumpkin dressing has a pretty unique flavor and I didn't think it would really work well on a regular lettuce salad. Enter: broccoli slaw. I discovered this amazingness because Harmon's makes a deli salad that I LOVE with broccoli slaw, breaded chicken pieces (just because it's a salad doesn't mean it's exactly healthy fare), almonds, and an oriental type dressing. I added a bag of broccoli slaw to my grocery list and threw in other toppings I had around plus the pumpkin dressing of course,and voila! You could really make this salad your own and add anything you like!

Broccoli Slaw Salad (This is a loose recipe!)

Cast of Characters:

1 bag broccoli slaw
1 diced apple
handful of:
-pecans
-carrot chips
-craisins
-feta
And a few splashes of your dressing of choice

I tossed it all together and enjoyed for a a dinner and a lunch! Enjoy getting creative with broccoli slaw.

Savor Your Sparkle,
Leslie

Sunday, June 24, 2018

June Reads!

Hi Friends,
   This month was a big one in the book department. I read 7 books. Summer reading is one of my most favorite things! If you are interested in the books I've read and reviewed, click HERE.
Ok, here are my June reads..... 2 short story collections, 2 autobiographies, 1 education book, 1 chick lit novel, and 1 dramatic novel.

1.You Think It, I'll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

I really liked this book of short stories. Curtis Sittenfeld has written some of my fave books (Prep, American Wife, Eligible) so I knew this collection was bound to be good. Some of these stories are rated-R so be warned, but I found myself so engrossed in her tales and I think it's the true mark of a talented writer to be able to tell a short story. Check this one out for thoughtful, engaging takes on modern womanhood.

2. This is Me by Chrissy Metz
If you are a fan of This is Us (and if you're not then you can't be my friend. Jk...kinda), then you know of Chrissy Metz as Kate Pearson. Her story to fame and a starring role on a hit TV show is really interesting. Throughout the book she includes little tidbits of advice that she calls "Bee Mindful" sections. Overall, this is a fast, fun read that I would check out if you like This is Us

3. Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Jenny Lawson is the popular blogger behind The Bloggess and I've been told numerous times that I'd enjoy her quirky off beat humor. This book was funny and I especially enjoyed the parts about marriage and motherhood (the parts about her childhood go on for too many pages I think), BUT Jenny Lawson is one kooky lady. I appreciate some odd humor and people who embrace their weirdness but this chick is kinda nuts and the book reads like her ramblings and it sort of feels like you're in the mind of someone with severe ADHD. It was a light breezy summer read but I'm not sure I'd recommend it.

4. The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir
This book was my June selection for the Book of the Month Club. The basic rundown without giving anything away: Imagine if one of the Duggar children suddenly got pregnant as a teenager. The family decides to stage a fake marriage to make the pregnancy look planned. Things sort of derail from there. This book pretty predictable but I did still enjoy it. An interesting premise and a really fast read. I didn't want to put it down to find out what happens and it turns out the hunch I had at the beginning was correct. Overall, it was pretty good.

5. Calypso by David Sedaris
I've been on the library wait list for this book for months (even though it was just released!). I adore David Sedaris. This book did not disappoint and for David Sedaris fans, please pick this one up. It's exactly what you'd expect from him: quirky, offbeat, thought provoking, spot on commentary on the absurdity of life. It deals with the tragic suicide of his sister in a thoughtful deep way without getting too terribly dark. My favorite story was, without a doubt, the one about how much he loves buying souvenirs on his trips to Asia. In response to his mom's question of why he doesn't prefer a museum over a mall, his response is, "Um, because museums don't sell shit." Makes sense to me, David. Loved this one.

6. We're Doing It Wrong by David Michael Slater
I already gushed about this one on Facebook. I love reading some education books and this one was so. amazing. The format is for every 25 ideas that Slater claims are being implemented incorrectly, he offers research-based solutions that he believes can transform classrooms, schools, and the whole education system. I really resonated with this author and nearly every page I was practically shouting, "Yes! Preach!" Slater doesn't suggest throwing out current teaching and assessment techniques, he merely suggests we tweak the focus from test scores and achievement to teaching great student habits and respecting the art of teaching. Loved It!

7. Fitness Junkie by Lucky Sykes and Jo Piazza
I heard about this book from the Big BooCast Podcast. I haven't read a good, classic chick lit novel in a long time and this one right here fit the bill. The premise is a young wedding dress designer who is told by her boss to lose some lbs. Hilarity ensues as the protagonist tries all sorts of zany exercise and food trends to shed the weight. My biggest issue with this book was that the main character doesn't throw more of a fit that she's basically told she's ugly and she better change or get fired. Ummm, excuse me? I thought more of a resistance on her part would have made the book more believeable. Nevertheless, this is a great beach/pool read and gives all the elements of great chick lit: big city, love story, likable protagonist, misadventures, and a nice, happy ending.

And because we're a HALF WAY into 2018 (What? How?) I am posting all my 2018 reads so far here. While all had their pros and cons, I put stars next to ones I especially enjoyed.

*1. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
2. When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Whalen
*3. Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan
4. Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker
*5. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
6. Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan
*7. The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell
8. Parent Hacks by Asha Dornfest
9. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
10. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
*11. Sisters First by Jenna Bush Hagar and Barbara Pierce Bush
12. Look Again by Lisa Scottoline
13. Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado
14. The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert
15. The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
*16. The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
*17. Sugar by Kimberly Stuart
18. Achtung Baby by Sara Zaske
*19. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sara Pekkanen
20. Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman
*21. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
*22. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
23. Mindless Eating by Brad Wansick
24. Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins
25. Our Father by Pope Francis
26. Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
*27. How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
28. Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
29. You Think It, I'll Say It by Curtis Sittenfled
30. This is Me by Chrissy Metz
31. Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
32. The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir
*33. Calypso by David Sedaris
*34. We're Doing It Wrong by David Michael Slater
*35. Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
Happy reading!
Savor Your Sparkle,
Leslie

Friday, June 22, 2018

In Defense of Mornings

I have a confession: I love the mornings. Now, before I go on, do not get me wrong: This girl loves sleep. I adore sleep. It's truly one of life's best medicines. Sleep is my hobby, naps are my love language, and I will splurge on high thread count sheets because dayuuuum. BUT, lately? I've been having a thing for mornings. Most mornings (not all, mind you!), I like to wake before Hank and engage in my early morning "rituals." Now in the school year this all became a bit more rushed but as winter morphed into spring, it got lighter earlier and it was the best thing ever.


Here's a little rundown of my ideal morning:
-Wake up before my boys and creep downstairs
-Here I either go to the gym and commence "me time" after working out or I'll workout after, I'm flexible! But morning workouts have been my thing lately. One, I workout harder because I'm not as exhausted from the day and two, then it's DONE!
-Open all the blinds
-Brew some coffee/grab a big glass of ice water (I try and drink 2 big glasses with breakfast) and now that I'm on summer break I am free to pee anytime! #teacherlife
-Read my devotion of the day from Everyday Holy (I used to read Savor by Shauna Niequist but after a few years I got sick of the stories so I'm loving mixing it up with this new one from Melanie Shankle)
-Tidy the kitchen and living room /wipe the counters
-Turn on some music (Pandora fave stations include: Banana Pancakes, Coldplay, Joshua Radin, Chris Stapleton, and sometimes Jazz--a pretty eclectic variety)
-Check the baby monitor and give a quick prayer of Thanksgiving for my sweet baby boy AND the fact that he's sleeping peacefully still!
-I am a list girl! In the mornings I make my list for the day: laundry I want to do, any errands I want to run, etc. It helps me feel accomplished to have a clear sense of what needs to be done in a day.
-Cook up something to eat! I love a big breakfast and I am a HUGE fan of eggs. I either scramble up some eggs with peanut butter toast, make a bowl of oatmeal with berries, or whip up some avocado toast. I sit at the kitchen table and enjoy.
-I love to write in the mornings and if, by some stroke of luck, Hank is still snoozing, I work on some blog posts or simply journal.
-The internets: Lest you think I just engage in devotionals and quiet reflection time, I also browse some of my fave websites in the morning: Pinterest, blogs I follow, KSL, Buzzfeed, Zillow, Bachelor(ette) recaps, check my email etc.

My morning time is sacred to me. It's worth it to me some days to set the alarm a bit earlier and engage in some quiet self care and a yummy breakfast. The sun streaming through the windows and starting my day with a good mindset sets the tone for whatever unfolds that day. And now,  I must be off.....I hear a sweet 6 month old practicing using his new found singing voice on the monitor!
My set up as I wrote this very post! 

Savor Your Sparkle,
Leslie

Friday, June 15, 2018

Life Lately

Hi, Guys!
    Can we all get an AMEN for summer?! I feel like with AJ gone for AP grading, my 3 work days last week (2 for a conference, 1 for a team planning day), NOW the summer can officially begin! Here's some pictures documenting our life lately. I just adore this season of life we are in----SAVORING is the name of the game!

 -Hadley's Day! We celebrated Hadley's birthday on Wednesday. I knew the day would be sort of an emotional mine field and as I went to bed that night I was thankful we had made it past it. BUT.....despite the sadness and sense of loss, I really wanted to be intentional about celebrating Hadley.  So many of our loved ones reached out that day and it meant so much to us. We wore our  Baby Bow Bash shirts, and picked out a pretty flower arrangement and baby angel statue for the cemetery. We introduced Hank to the book "Princess Baby," and continued the tradition we began last year of having a birthday dinner at Buca di Beppo.
We only light this candle on June 13th. It's her special birthday candle. 



Here are just some cute shots of Hank lately, for my own memories' sake!
There will come a time when Hank maybe won't want to dress preppy---But for now, mommy says YES! Ha! 

This boy is a drooling machine and every.single.thing. goes in his mouth. I picked up this "Munch Mitt" from Target recently. He likes it! 

My teammate Kim and I at a Teacher conference Monday and Tuesday
I saw an activity idea on Pinterest to tie a balloon to baby's foot. Hank had a great time with this! 

I tried this funfetti cheesecake crescent roll recipe last week. YUM! But lots o' sugar so this weekend I'm cooking up some chickpea blondies for a sweet treat. 
First time in the pool!

Remember how one of my summer goals was to clean all closets and drawers? Done and done! This is the donate pile. Next task: "Space Bag" all of Hank's  3-6 month clothes. 

Daddy's home!! We missed him!  
I want to wish a Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. I'm so thankful for  my own wonderful dad, my caring Father in Law, and my darling husband. Dads rock! 

Cheers to a Fabulous start to summer!!

Savor Your Sparkle,
Leslie 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Happy Birthday, Hadley

Well, it's here: Hadley's 2nd birthday. I can hardly believe it. If you want to read the whole Hadley story from the beginning, all the posts are gathered here.



 I could write and talk at length about baby loss, faith and grief, medical jargon, mother/baby care, anxiety during a rainbow baby pregnancy, mothering after loss etc. (and hey, if you want to talk about any of that, seriously, reach out to me. I am here for you. I mean that). Hadley taught me and lots of people in our circle of family and friends many lessons. But today isn't about any of that stuff. Today is just about her. It's not a time for me to make connections, create meaning or even ruminate on the past.




Today is simply a celebration of my daughter, of AJ's daughter, of Hank's sister, of a niece, a granddaughter and my Princess Baby. Hadley Grace Steele, I am fortunate to be your mama. Thank you for meeting us all even for a short while. You are remarkable and we all love you very much.

Happy 2nd birthday, baby girl.