Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Baby Boy, Books, Bring on the School Year.....

Whew! This summer is all wrapped up and tomorrow is the day I meet my kiddos! We do a "get to know you" day with their parents for 1st grade before a real teaching day begins and I kind of love that idea. For 1st graders, the cafeteria, being at school allllll day, and the big playground can be oh so overwhelming...it'll be nice to ease them into it. We've had a lot going on lately (hence the blog absence), but we are grateful for a beautiful summer and looking forward to fall fun ahead. Yes, my sweet cinnamon pumpkin candle has been lit (I couldn't wait until September, sue me!).
Our biggest and most exciting news is that we found out that are having a BOY! AHHHHH! We are so excited to meet our little guy (we have the name chosen, too!) and while I had no clue what the gender could be going into the ultrasound, I'm used to girl stuff, so my heart stopped for a second when the tech said, "It's a boy!" Then I cried and got excited and we just feel so fortunate. Hadley's nursery is still left as it was. I think I'll have AJ pack away the girly stuff (that might just hurt my momma heart too much) and we're going to get going here soon on the new nursery. I'll share the theme because I am so excited about it: Lumberjack! Buffalo plaid, bears, and natural wood, oh my! I'm currently 20 weeks pregnant this week and hitting the halfway point has been a big milestone. I still worry, I still get nervous, but truly, a day at a time is the way to go. I'll do a "bumpdate"  post here soon and fill you in on what's the same and what's different this time around. We are so thankful to share our journey with our family and friends. Their support, well wishes, and prayers have meant so much.
That stain on my belly is from the ultrasound goo! 

I've been getting in as much reading as I can before school begins and I fall into bed an exhausted heap at 9:30. I finished Hollywood Daughter last week (cute historical fiction about the Red Scare in Hollywood), as well as The Couple Next Door (very suspenseful, I couldn't put it down!) and am about halfway through with Class Mom. I love a story told through emails/letters and this one is no exception. It's fluffy but fun and couldn't we all use that at the end of August?




This past weekend we were on the go with errands, my Back to School mani, a BBQ with friends, and we had AJ's mom and dad in town for a bit. It was fun to see them and hang out. We are slowly but surely getting back into meal prep and getting into the groove of school life. Lunch packing! Early alarms! Unending trips to Target and Dollar Tree! I am enjoying my new school so far and am happy to say, after weeks and weeks, my classroom is officially done and yesterday I had my first early morning in the classroom plus latte plus Mumford and Sons Pandora plus time in the teacher plan book and it felt good to do that again.
new year, new lunch box

Bump and I at school 

trying something new for a reward: a VIP table with fun pencils, erasers, scented hand sanitizer. I hope it's fun for the kids


Crayon Nails thanks to the fabulous Dainty Digits
 In other news, anyone else pumped for Fall TV? Let's give that DVR a workout! I am currently watching: Teen Mom 2, Bachelor in Paradise, Scientology with Leah Remini, The Laci Peterson murder docu-series, Outdaughtered, Rattled, and as always Dateline. I'm looking forward to the return of This is Us, Superstore, Will & Grace (Fun Fact: in 8th grade I loved Will & Grace so much that I wrote to the show and they sent me back an autographed picture. It's hanging in my closet right now!). I'm hoping to add a new drama to the mix, too. I keep seeing commercials for that show The Good Doctor and it looks good.


AJ and I are participating in the Walk for Compassion in a few weeks! The Walk for Compassion is a fundraising event to raise money for children living in poverty. Want to know more? Check out our pages for more info and to donate. AJ's Compassion Page and My Compassion Page
I'll leave you with two wonderful things: This pasta dish I made last week and this worship song I cannot stop listening to. Have a beautiful week whether you're going back to school as a student, a teacher, a parent, or just embracing the inevitable change of the season coming up.
Bacon Tomato Linguine



Savor Your Sparkle,
Leslie 

Monday, August 14, 2017

What I'm Loving Lately

Hi Folks,
    It's time for another addition of What I'm Loving Lately!


there's only 8 pictured because AJ and I each ate two before I took the picture! 

1. Back To School Breakfast Ideas: I am loving some of the delicious looking breakfasts I've been finding on Pinterest. I made peanut butter chocolate chip oat bites recently and loved them. I now want to try all the varieties on the website (blueberry muffin flavor? Yes please). I also made these honey peach muffins last weekend (they were okay, whole wheat flour can tend to make my recipes really dense). I am thinking of ways to meal prep weekday breakfasts along with weekday lunches. I came across these goodies I want to try:
Oatmeal Breakfast Cups
Cranberry Apple Baked Oatmeal
Honey Cloud Pancakes
Freezer Ready Breakfast Burritos
And for a weekend treat: Banana Nut Pancakes


2. Half Days in the Classroom: There is something awesome about getting your feet wet on a new school year without fully diving in quite yet. I've been going in about 3-4 days a week for the past two weeks or so and spending just about 2-3 hours a time there. Now is that a perfect work schedule or what? My contract officially begins this week, but it sure was nice popping in and working till I got tired then I was outta there. My classroom is almost done and now I can focus on the most important part: Planning lessons and teaching! I can't wait to welcome my 20 cherubs next week.




3. Reading Outside: I've been enjoying some nice evenings reading on the back patio. I've read three books recently and liked them all but I really liked Kristan Higgins' cute chick lit read the best of the three. I just started "The Couple Next Door" and I've heard great things about it. I know once school begins I won't have as much free time to read and I really want to keep it up as best as I can. Reading is good for my soul!


4. Walk With Compassion: One of our friends is heading up the Salt Lake Walk for Compassion Event. It's September 9th. If you're local, consider joining us and walking to help end child poverty around the world. My fundraising page is here if you'd like to donate to this great cause and learn more about the work that Compassion International does.







5. Beach Memories: We recently got back the photos we had taken on our July beach trip! They turned out so fun! And isn't my brother in law basically a model? I loved the hat that he brought along to the photo shoot.

6. Tan Towels. These little guys WORK and are my fave sunless tanning product ever. They can be a bit pricey so I bought mine at Kohl's recently and then used Kohl's cash to buy more.


Happy Back to School Season to You!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

How Embracing my "Biker Chick Baby" Helped me Heal

How's that title for some click bait? Haha. But before I begin, I must disclose, I don't know how theologically sound these ideas are. I'm not sure if they're necessarily true or if pastors, rabbis, priests would agree with me. Nevertheless, my daughter died and this helped me heal. You do you, sister. No judgies from me. 

What has brought me more peace than anything in the wake of Hadley's death is that she is now fully 100% herself. I am filled with joy thinking she's walking around in heaven giving the "Hadley Eye" when something seems off to her. I love thinking of her on her baby Harley (she also strikes me as a "Big Wheel" sort of kid) riding around the clouds just being her and doing her thing. I love how she's a fighter. She's tough. She's sweet and kind, but my baby girl also takes no junk from anyone. The other day AJ and I were driving south on I-15 and passed the Harley Davidson place. I said, "Look! It's Hadley's store!" AJ and I laughed and smiled thinking of our gal. It's moments like this that warm my heart and make me grateful I brought this unique little human into the world. We never viewed Hadley as "just a baby," but a real, live person.

Thinking of Hadley in heaven as a docile little angel baby who listens well, obeys and is a perfect little cherub actually makes me sad. Because that's not the Hadley I know. I believe in a God who creates us each unique and full of character. I believe in a God who is kind and gracious and looks upon his people, as who they are, and sees that they are good. The God I believe in lets us be fully, completely ourselves and loves us anyway. He loves us because of who we are and in spite of who we are. He loves the Hadley who needed her arms and legs bound down after birth because she was so wild. He loves the Hadley who would make us have to start NST's over again because she'd kick her cord so hard. He loves the Hadley who was with us for over 5 hours when we were told we'd have but ten minutes to say goodbye. He loves the Hadley who danced to country music in the womb. He loves the Hadley I know. And He lets her be her and that fills my momma heart with joy and peace.

What's helped me heal is knowing that if I can't have my baby, then God's got her. Just the way she is. She's still her, and I'm still me. And we're just two gals, on opposite sides of this life, just doing our thing and trying to be our best selves.

She's been in heaven for around 14 months now. Please give her grace, Lord, she means well. And thank you for letting my baby be herself. Love, Hadley's Mommy

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Life Lately

Hi Friends,
     I have a love/hate relationship with August. On one hand, it's the beginning of a new school year and I love the Target, Dollar Tree, Teacher Store runs, the half days in the classroom getting things done, the feeling of fresh supplies and a new start. BUT August also signals the end of summer and this summer has been pretty great.

 I read a lot, spent some quality time with AJ, caught up with friends, hung out with family near and far, we hosted the Baby Bow Bash, spent time in Oregon, and most importantly spent a lot of time napping and vomiting to grow our little baby! By the time school starts, I'll be halfway through this pregnancy and the fall time always flies by. YAY! We bought Boss Baby some essentials for his or her Boss Baby lifestyle:
By the way, we tried to find out the gender yesterday, but baby had legs closed tight and would not budge. The arms were saluting, but those teeny legs were glued shut! We'll try next time, modest baby! I'm still anxious and become a ball of nerves before every appointment, but I'm really working on taking it a day at a time. Today, I am a mommy to two babies: one in heaven and one kicking around in my belly. And that is enough for today.

As I mentioned, I've been putting in a few hours here and there in my classroom and there is still. so. much. to. do. I'm taking it a task at a time and remembering I still have a few weeks before kids walk through that door. I have a literacy training and a day and a half of district orientations coming up, so I'm definitely in school mode. It helps that last week I turned on a Lifetime movie and got serious with my new Erin Condren teacher planner and some rainbow flair pens.


Last week we hosted a family BBQ and I made a new recipe: Shirely Temple Cake. Ok, this was some serious baking business as it required me to bust out both the bundt pan and Kitchen Aid AND I needed to run to the store to get more butter because this one cake takes 3 STICKS. Yes, 3 sticks of butter. That said, my version looked nothing like the picture but it sure was dense, moist, and bursting with cherry yumminess. I think I'll make it again, but wait a few months because 3 STICKS.

My "to read" pile is growing exponentially. That's what happens when your library hold list all starts coming in at once Oh yeah. I read these two books last week. One was dark, R rated and intense. The other was cute, full of feel good friendship, and perfect chick lit. Can you guess which is which?


In other news, our "garden" is getting out of control. I was all about having a garden and bringing in bounty from our backyard in baskets over my arm (have you seen Oprah's instagram?), but then I realized it was a lot of dang work, we only have a teeny space, and all the crops died but the tomato. Farmer AJ has been taking good care of it, though, and he lights up when he brings in a new one each evening from outside. I think I'll need to do some research next spring because I feel like I spend too much money on berries and would love a backyard harvest.
Top pic is May, bottom pic is end of July

We saw Dunkirk with my parents this week. It was good, but I didn't love it. If you like movies with no females and lots of shouting, it's definitely your jam. 

That's pretty much all that's going on around here. I feel like it's my civic duty to spread the word that Starbucks egg bites are back in Utah stores after being discontinued for a while. I'm obsessed, really. This explains the sous vide cooking method. I love you, Buckys.
Have a great weekend!

Savor Your Sparkle,
Leslie 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Wedding Gift Guide


There comes a period in every 20-30 something's life where every weekend feels like a wedding. This is the first summer in years where we have not had a wedding to attend! Any last minute invites? AJ and I can cut a rug, ensure you won't have too much leftover cake, and we'll wait patiently in a receiving line making small talk with your hairstylist or second cousin.
 
I was commenting to a friend the other day how much of our stuff is actually wedding gifts! I love using a kitchen utensil and remembering who got that for our wedding. Which coworkers gifted us with shower curtains, which cousins gave us coffee mugs, and which pals chose the perfect personalized gifts that we use all the time. It's such a great memory and we give thanks for our generous friends and family who helped us build our life together.

Choosing a wedding gift can be tricky. Do you go for the registry? Choose a few small items or one larger one? Go with an online company? Wrap it up or send it straight from the internet? Gift cards? To where? What amount? See something cute but it's not on the registry? Do I go with a themed gift? Do I go with practical or pretty? Functional or fun? Here are some basic tips I've discovered over the years:

1. Don't shy away from a gift card. We loved bringing our stack of gift cards to Target after our wedding and getting things we needed but didn't get from our wedding.
2. Themed gifts can be really fun. For our honeymoon we went on a road trip and a pal (hi, Alyssa!) gave us an adorable road trip pack with snacks and a gas gift card. Super cute and really thoughtful.
3. If it's an out of state wedding, let the internet do the work for you. You can purchase right off the registry online and have it sent right away so the only thing you have to think about on wedding day is staying hydrated and wearing your dancing shoes.
4. Personalization is so fun. Ya'll know I love a good monogram. Celebrate the new couple with their new monogram or something personalized.
5. Picture frames are timeless and a great gift. In just a few weeks, the happy couple will have all sorts of beautiful wedding pictures they'll want to display.
6. Don't underestimate a date night gift. A restaurant gift card could be just what the newlyweds need to keep dating even after the big day.

For our wedding, we registered at Macy's and Target. Macy's was for our dishes (love that Martha Stewart collection), nicer serving items, some linens, etc. We went with Target for decorative items, kitchen gadgets, and bathroom things. I've known couples who have done the traditional store routes like we did, honeymoon funds, amazon lists, and more and more I've been seeing sites that take registry items for across the internet and putting it in one place. Want a tray from Target, picture frame from Etsy, and cooking  classes? Put it all on there!


This summer I learned about a website called Zola where you can make a registry  from a variety of sources. I had SO much fun playing around on this website (I know, I know, I'm an old married woman now, but it's still fun looking at wedding stuff). My favorite section was called "Registries We Love" where you can look at actual couple's registries and browse. I may or may not have spent over an hour ooh'ing and ahhh'ing over these fun registries.
Check out these handy guides straight from Zola:





Okay so what if you're not a bride or a wedding guest? I love how Zola also has gift guides by price. Stumped on what you should get a pal or family member for Christmas or a birthday? There's lots of ideas and you can even search by brand (Kate Spade, anyone?).

Without further ado, here are some goodies I found on Zola that I'm loving:
Kate Spade tidbit plates

Libbey Mason Jar drinking glasses

Mason Cash Batter Bowl

Chicago Map Throw

Monthly Wine Club

Strawberry Patch Garden Tower


Floral wire bowl 
Happy shopping, happy registering, and happy browsing! Cheers!