Sunday, December 10, 2017

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like....

It's beginning to look a lot like:
Christmas!
Baby!
End of 2017!
Nesting!

So I haven't blogged in two weeks but I'm 35 weeks pregnant, the holidays are coming, and I'm doing what I want! But really, every time I've settled in to write a blog post I realized I didn't have much to say. Life feels simultaneously like it's going at warp speed and also going slowly. I have NINE teaching days left for the year and until maternity leave. It's 9 days filled with all sorts of festive fun and enjoying my time with "my kids" before my own kiddo enters the scene.
Last week, 34 weeks 

We went on a date night this week for Chinese food 
Our days have been filled with getting ready for the holidays (we are skipping gifts for each other and family and not putting up a tree.....huge stress relief right there), but there are always last minute holiday things to pick up and get ready for. I've been nesting a ton and enjoying this phase of pregnancy because I've never experienced this part! I've washed all the sweet wittle newborn clothes and socks and we have little man's bassinet in our room all ready to go. We got our carseats installed last week (I found out the police department will install for you to make sure they are put in correctly. The kind officer gave us all kinds of great car/baby safety tips and saved us countless swear words that would have come up had we done it ourselves), and this week's baby goal is getting a basic hospital bag prepared. I treated myself to a prenatal massage this weekend and it. was. delightful.  It's all exciting and while I am giddy with joy---- I am so scared. I can't wrap my head around the fact that there will be a third person living here. My previous pregnancy journey ended in sorrow so it's hard to imagine a different ending. I found this quote this week that I've really connected with for this final stretch of pregnancy:

I have been reading a lot lately and am on book 60 of the year! I know I say this all the time but I cannot emphasize enough how much dedicating myself to reading has meant to me this year. I have laughed, cried, discovered great authors, read suggestions from friends, passed good books along, and have really just enjoyed my time in 2017 between the pages. I don't know what 2018 will hold but I know I want to continue my journey as a reader.
This was a cute modern twist of a Christmas Carol story. Perfect light seasonal read. 

Lots of people recommended this one and I really liked it! Super suspenseful. 

In other news, huge shout out to my sister Libby who graduates from Arizona State tomorrow! We are so proud of you!

Here's to enjoying these last two weeks before Christmas! May your days be merry and bright. And if you can't enjoy a seasonal cocktail, then at least enjoy a festive seasonal mani.



Sunday, November 26, 2017

Life Lately: Holiday Edition

What a blur this past week has been! I am settling in this Sunday afternoon with candles lit, my new CuddleDuds lounge pants, Christmas music playing and am ready for a blog recap! I hope you all had wonderful holidays with friends, family, good food, and grateful hearts. It's true that gratitude turns what we have into enough and I am so so so thankful for all the enough and the abundance in my life. I am most thankful for the chance to become a mommy again and every year on Thanksgiving I will always give thanks that I got to meet and hold Hadley. I don't take a single second I had with her for granted. We had a great time with BOTH sides of our families. It was, overall, a great Thanksgiving week.
Let's go day by day, shall we?

Monday morning: AJ's car won't start. It's about 6:30 am, so I drove him to work in my pj's, came home, got ready, then rushed back to work myself. His car had been in the shop about 4 times this fall for significant repairs and each visit came with a very hefty price tag. Ouch. We looked at each other on the way to school that day and both said it: New car? Maybe? Do we want to invest more money into it? #Adulting. Sheesh. After a busy day at school, AJ had his truck towed to the dealership and we awaited their diagnosis the next day.

Tuesday: The last day of school before Thanksgiving break! My team did Thanksgiving rotations for the day so we each taught one Thanksgiving themed lesson/activity 5 times for each first grade class. It was so fun working with all the kids! In my class we made "Pilgrim Butter" and sampled it on bread while we wrote out the "recipe." It was the perfect way to spend that last day at school for the week. I picked up AJ from school (love the fact that we work blocks from each other!) and we came home to greet his parents who had stopped by our house on their way to get Matt, AJ's brother, from the airport. We visited for a bit and it was lovely to see them since we hadn't since before school started in August. We all gathered for dinner at The Pie (bad blogger alert: no pictures).
I got this pic via Google, but this was what our homemade butter looked like. It was so fun making it with the kids! 

Wednesday: The diagnosis for the truck came back. Hefty price tag. Again. AJ and I headed to the car dealership to look around. We settled on a new Rav-4 in gray. We were able to trade in AJ's truck and after a whole day of paperwork, waiting around at the dealership etc, we suddenly had a new car! We both really like it and are so thankful to have a new reliable ride. They even let us test drive it all the way to our house to see how it fit in our garage. That evening we had everyone over for a taco bar (virgin margarita for this girl!) and it was nice catching up and chatting the evening away.

Thursday: Thanksgiving! We slept in, went for a Starbucks run, watched the Macy's Day Parade, and headed over to my parents house in the afternoon. It was so nice to have everyone all together and being pregnant on Thanksgiving has some major advantages, notably everyone traveled to us this year (and not to mention that every pair of maternity pants comes equipped with delightful stretchy spandex at the waistband. Baby or turkey, you better believe you'll be comfy feeling like a bowling ball is under your shirt either way!). We talked, laughed, and ate. My parents had some fun games planned---like a white elephant-type exchange and holiday trivia. AJ's parents brought out the scratch-it tickets after dinner and we had a blast with those. It was so wonderful to have both sides of our family together for the holiday---siblings and all! And because I was so busy talking and eating (see: spandex pants), I only caught one quick pic of AJ and I at dinner. Booo, I wish I snapped a few more of everyone!
Starbucks? Check. PJ's? check. Macys Day Parade Tradition? Check! 

AJ's mom made this super cute turkey cheese tray! How fun! 
Friday: There was no Black Friday shopping for us this year. I did look at all the ads and honestly, nothing seemed worth hopping out of bed early and battling crowds for. We had a chill morning, finished up some things in baby's room (nursery reveal post coming soon, promise), and we said goodbye to our houseguests. That evening my family and I went to a birthday party for a family friend (AJ was at work). Oh and we also spent some time on the phone with the bank.....my debit card number was somehow stolen and apparently someone (some butthead rude person) did end up Black Friday shopping on my dime. Grrrr, all seems to be sorted out now, but it's scary nonetheless.
AJ captured this pic and it absolutely cracks me up. AJ's dad was busy doing handy man stuff for us and in this picture he's putting a name plate on baby's cradle (which he made, btw!) and I crawled into bed and dozed off! Pregnancy life has me conked out a good portion of the time, lol  
Saturday/Sunday: I think all the busyness caught up to me and I've been cursed with a cold. I've been in pjs, drinking tea, doing some meal prepping (making this soup for dinner this week) for dinners and lunches, doing some reading, and overall just resting and praying these sniffles away.
I'm loving this book and am ready to pack up and move to Scandinavia......except the cold, no thanks. 
There are only 19 more school days before Christmas break (and before baby arrives!!) and I am so excited for holiday cheer and 1st grade fun. I succumb to the craziness this time of the year. Bring it on! We decorated the house for the holidays (but no tree this year, this type A girl can't go into labor after the holidays knowing there's a tree in the house that needs to come down!) and I'm ready for holiday baking, Christmas tunes (started Nov 1st, don't judge), and cozy evenings. Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Bumpdate: 32 Weeks

It's been a while since I've done a Bumpdate! You can check out my 23 week and 27 week  bumpdates too if you'd like. Sometimes just for fun I check out my blog traffic stats and found it interesting that anything having to do with pregnancy and babies (Hadley and our little man) typically gets 4-5 times more page views than any other posts. I get it and agree: these little ones are the best thing about me. So thank you for reading, caring, and praying. I love this little blog space. 

 This week is the 32 week Bumpdate! Can you believe it?? I sure can't! Thanksgiving week was a huge huge milestone in my heart. It just meant that I made it through the whole fall pregnant and that I was nearing the final month or so. Unless you've had a preterm baby (in Hadley's case, very preterm), I don't think you can really grasp the joy that being pregnant each week brings. Baby is still in there---growing! I get so excited each week that he stays put.
 So as of last week, I am officially the most pregnant I have ever been! And it's definitely different. I feel like my bump is BIG and I even got some new maternity clothes last week. I was holding out, but when your maternity shirt is still not covering the belly, it's time for some upgrades. I can't do things as quickly as I used to (and for a go-er and a do-er like me, that's a harsh realization). I always sit in the same spot on our couch, in the corner of the two pieces and lately it's been quite the effort to leave my corner space to stand up! Thank goodness for AJ to help me as I scoot and grunt my way up (#truth). 

I spent SO much time in the hospital last year that I for sure wanted something cute and comfy to wear for recovery. Target PJ section to the rescue! 

The nursery is done except for 2 things: the crib skirt and the changing pad cover. I ordered both from Etsy and they are due to arrive in the next few weeks. I love hanging out in there and AJ's taken to playing his guitar and reading or drinking coffee in the nursery rocking chair. We only have 5 more weekly shots left and while I usually whine and whimper getting it (they hurt!), AJ reminds me of the important truth: I'm getting shots so hopefully our little guy won't need to be poked and hooked up to machines as much as his sister was. Ok, so worth it! 
My parents go us this cute tie blanket kit and finally this kiddo can have something homemade by his non-crafty mom!

I still crave Chick-fil-A (I don't think it's pregnancy anymore, it's just who I am now), english muffins, peanut butter, and I drink a ton of water (coconut la croix forever and ever). Yes, I still puke most mornings. People are always like "Omg, that's horrible!" and yes, it is. BUT I puked morning, noon, and night for most of the first trimester so once a day? I can work with that. 
My view from my desk at school. He likes to kick up a storm during math lessons and when I read aloud to the kids. I always tell them he'll be the smartest baby ever because he's been in 1st grade right along with them all year. 

We tried once again to get a good view of our little man's face, but at our last ultrasound a few weeks ago he had both hands covering his face. So needless to say, we can't wait to look in his eyes and finally meet face to face. He is predicted to be about 4 and a quarter lbs. this week! 
We took some time to have a little brunch after our doc appointment this week. Hey when you have half the day off! 

Overall this pregnancy has gone well, but I will not sugar-coat it. It's scary. SO scary trying again after loss. We know there is no such thing as "in the clear." Every time I get excited and filled with anticipation and joy there's still a piece of me that thinks, "But what if...." I know that based on what we went through it's normal, but I don't want to cheat this baby out of a joyful pregnancy and birth experience because I am terrified. He deserves better than my fear. Easier said than done. So we wait. We pray. We dream. We fret. We hope. We remember and miss Hadley fiercely. We plan. We anticipate. We worry. And we lift each other up. Literally...that corner of the couch is no joke.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Book Talk!


Since I last blogged I have read some great books that I've really enjoyed. I liked Lauren Graham's book (typical but still pretty entertaining, I had no idea she was dating the lead actor from Parenthood, so cute!), found Caitlyn Jenner's book Secrets of My Life to be super interesting (I had no idea she struggled with her identity pretty much her entire life. It was heartbreaking to read of her struggles but also joyful that she can now be her genuine self), but I really really loved the book Tell Me Three Things. This is a young adult book and I devoured it in 3 days. I could not put it down. I found the main character likeable and endearing, and the teenage romance in it was the cutest thing ever. I highly recommend this charming sweet read. I am currently reading Pupcakes a Christmas themed chick-lit novel. 


Here is the complete 2017 reads list (so far. I hope to get in a few more in the next few weeks). I decided to put stars next to the 2017 reads that I liked best of all. 

1. Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
2. Ruthless by Ron Miscavige
3. Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult*
4. The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
5. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist*
6. Giddy Up Eunice by Sophie Hudson
7. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
8. A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams*
9. Hey Harry, Hey Matilda by Rachel Hulin
10. Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand
11. The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
12. What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey
13. My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
14. What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan
15. Room by Emma Donoghue*
16. The Nest by Cynthina D'Aprix Sweeney
17. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
18. Happily Ever After by Trista Sutter1
9. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover*
20. The Clasp by Sloane Crosley
21. Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend
22. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
23. One Less Problem Without You by Beth Harbison
24. Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
25. An Unseen Angel by Alissa Parker
26. This is Not Over by Holly Brown*
27. By The Numbers by Jen Lancaster
*28. House Rules by Jodi Picoult *
29. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance*
30. Sweet Bitter by Stephanie Danler
31. Save Me by Lisa Scottoline
32. Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist*
33. How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley
34. The Girls by Emma Cline
35. How To Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue
36. Stories I'd Tell in Bars by Jen Lancaster
37. Into The Water by Paula Hawkins
38. If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins*
39. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
40. The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott
41. Class Mom by Laurie Gelman
42. The Orphan Keeper by Camron Wright
43. More Than Happy by Serena Miller
44. A Fireproof Home For The Bride by Amy Scheibe
45. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
46. The Identicals by Ellen Hilderbrand
*47. The Daughter by Jane Shemilt
48. Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle*
49. Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan
50. The Trouble with Lexie by Jessica Anya Blau*
51. The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro
52. Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
53. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum* 
54. The Secret of My Life by Caitlyn Jenner
55. Pupcakes by Annie England Noblin 

The books I have reserved at the library/checked out to read next: The Gatekeepers by Jen Lancaster, The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell, and The Gift by Cecelia Ahern. What are some books you are enjoying lately?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Leslie's Favorite Things

So I'm no Oprah, obviously BUT every single year I look forward to her "Favorite Things" of the year. You can find this year's edition here. Even though she no longer makes her show, you can find her iconic list each season as part of her magazine and on her website. In the spirit of celebrating the things we love and are thankful for, I present to you.....

Leslie's Favorite Things 2017 
Now, my items are not close to the price point of Miss O's (I'm looking at you $94 lounge shirt and $110 pies), but these are just a few of faves. Maybe you'll find some of your current or future faves here too! 

Disclaimer: Yes, these are all material things. I love many people and intangibles more than these items, naturally, but these represent some of the the material favorite things I have enjoyed this year. 

1. Paper Journals: I went through a paper journal phase a few years ago, but my pretty journals quickly got replaced by Target dollar spot notepads and the notes section of my Iphone. Recently I've resurrected the cute paper journal and nearly always have one nearby to jot thoughts, make a list, remember a quote or moment, or just use as scratch paper as needed. 


2. Megaplex Movie Popcorn Tub: I was first introduced to this concept when we purchased one for my movie buff dad for Christmas last year. If you're not familiar, you pay a one time amount ($35 I think) for the tub. Then, each time you refill it at the movies it's only $3! You know I love me some movie popcorn. A few weeks ago AJ came home with the tub as a sweet "just because" surprise and we've already used it once. 

3. Flair Pens: These are a must have for every teacher, planner, list maker, and human. I have them in lots of fun colors and use them in my day planner, my lesson planner, our fridge calendar, and with the paper journals I mentioned in #1. 


4. Podcasts: I got really into Podcasts this past year. Ones I tune into often: Oprah's Super Soul Sunday, The Big Boo Cast, True Crime Garage, Stories We'd Tell in Bars, Dave Ramsey, and our church's Sunday sermons. I love listening in the car or while cleaning/cooking/folding laundry, or walking on the treadmill.


5. Cosmic Kids Yoga: I adore this Youtube channel featuring free, fun, easy yoga "lessons" for kids. The host is fantastic and she takes kids on an "adventure" as they go through a story and do yoga at the same time. I am loving the new mindfulness "brain breaks" they host as well. Perfect for when the 1st graders (and their teacher) need some zen. 


6. Kate Spade Tumbler: A friend gave me this last year for my birthday and it is rarely not by my side. I drink ice water from it all day at school and keep it within arms reach at home too. Keeps me hydrated and looks cute? Win win. I have the gold dot one but how cute is this book one too?!


7. "The Husband" cake from The Chocolate: A few years ago we visited this chocolate shop (one in Orem, one in West Jordan) and I fell in love with this particular cake they serve there by the slice. It's moist and perfect yellow cake covered in rich milk chocolate fudge. It's a splurge, a treat, and a decadent dessert that I love. 


8. Etsy: I went through a major Etsy phase while I was wedding planning and I have recently rediscovered it for baby items. Many items in our little guy's room came from Etsy. I just love the idea of supporting small businesses and crafty people who are so talented! I saw a quote recently that said, "When you support a small shop and make a purchase, a real live person does a happy dance." True! 

9. Christmas Novels: Ok, this one is new to me. I recently discovered the holiday novel section of the library and I love it. These are not earth-shattering, life changing pieces of literature but they are fun, light, novels that definitely get me in the seasonal spirit. Here is a great list of some from Barnes and Noble. 


10. Alex and Ani Bracelets: I have been gifted two Alex and Ani bracelets and after trying to decide which one to wear each day, I finally got smart and decided to wear both each day. I love the messages on both of them (an angel one and a mom one) and I love my cute jingly-jangly wrists.


11. Apple Corer: Ok, so this one is sort of lame. But I just need to sing the praises of this simple kitchen tool. I don't know what it is but when I pack a whole apple in my lunch I rarely eat it (I notice my 1st graders are the same). But slices? Suddenly I'm interested. My new fave: apple slices dipped in melted peanut butter with a tbs. each of oats and raisins. The best $8 you'll ever spend! 
12. Coconut Mint Drop Bath and Body Works scent: I popped into Bath and Body Works last week for their $3 soap sale. I was instantly loving the Christmas vibe in there. I got some soaps and was in the checkout line when this adorable grandma handed me a free body care item coupon! How sweet was that?! I left my spot in line and made a bee-line to the seasonal body creams and fell in love with this scent. It is definitely a new favorite. Thanks, kind coupon lady! 

13. Meal Planning Notebook: I bought one of these guys at Michael's a few years back and have since filled two more. It helps track of breakfast lunches and dinners and allows me to make a list on the side of ingredients needed for the week's meals. Then I log it into another favorite: Smith's Clicklist curbside grocery pick up. 


14. Burt's Bees Lip Balm: I adore this brand and their tinted lip balms are the bomb! So long dry lips and hello moisture and a light tint of color. I have some in my purse and in my desk at work. Bee-lightful! 


That is a whole lotta goodness right there! Happy season of cherishing the joy and festiveness of some of your very favorite things! 

Savor Your Sparkle,
Leslie 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Quick and Easy Taco Quinoa

We had one of our fave dinners this week and I'm excited to share it with you. I got inspiration from around Pinterest (obvi) and tweaked some things to make this creation our own. I hope you love it as much as we do!


Taco Quinoa

Cast of Characters:
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. minced garlic
1 cup broth (any kind, I used chicken)
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 can rotel
1 can black beans
1 small can olives
1 cup frozen corn
lime juice
1 tbs. taco seasoning
Toppings: sour cream, cheese, avocado, baked tortilla strips etc.
Instead of buying those little packets of taco seasoning, I bought this stuff a while ago and love it. All those great Mexican flavors in one seasoning! 

In a large saute pan, put your olive oil and garlic and cook for a minute or so. The next part is the best/easiest part: dump in everything else except lime juice and toppings! Stir it up and bring to a boil uncovered. Once it's boiling, turn heat to medium, cover, and set timer for 20 minutes. THAT'S IT!

After 20 minutes uncover and squirt on some lime juice (I like a lot). Top however you like!
The best part of this dish? It's super easy and makes a lot. This is a great meal prep recipe. I usually have everything to make this on hand so I can make it whenever I need a quick and easy dinner.

I primarily based this dish on this recipe but here are some other variations I came across:

5 ingredient Mexican quinoa
Mexican Quinoa Stew
Vegan Southwest Quinoa

Bon Appetit!