Thursday, January 16, 2020

Long Time No Blog!

Hi There,
   It has been a while since I've blogged! I got up early this morning and am enjoying my coffee in our quiet living room to the sound of Mumford and Sons. Perfection!
Snow capped mountains on a blue sky day? YES! 

 Since I last logged in:

-We moved out of our townhome
-We moved into our new house!
-Hank got the flu and poor buddy was put on a round of Tamiflu
-AJ got super sick and was out of commission for a few days. In our 8 years together, I've never seen him so miserable. But he's all better now and ready to celebrate his birthday this weekend!
-I have no idea what's going on in my math endorsement class right now. Exponents, eww. But I will be finished in about 5 months. Thank you baby Jesus.
-We returned back to school after our blissful 2 week Winter Break
-We visited Zoo Lights and I want to bottle up Hank's joy over this. He talked about it ALL DAY and was thrilled once we were there. Animals and lights? Well, Hank was one happy little dude.

-I started listening to Harry Potter. Yours truly has never read/seen a single Harry Potter book or movie. My 2020 goal was to finish the series. My awesome teammate lent me her books on CD and I've been listening as I drive. I'm about half a disc away from finishing the first book and liking it.
-I'm on a mission to create an awesome farmhouse gallery wall for the area behind our dining table. I'm a woman obsessed. Canvas? Frames? Any advice is appreciated!
-My sister, Utah Caffeine Queen turned 24! Happy Birthday, Libby!
-I'm tired and busy but feeling oh so thankful.

Leaving our townhome was sort of bittersweet. We didn't leave because we hated it. In fact, we really loved it there, but it was just feeling too small for us. On Sunday I went by and left our keys on the counter and did get a little choked up. We bought that place after our 1st wedding anniversary and that was the house we prepared a nursery for our little girl. And the next year, for our son. Within those walls, we experienced life's highest highs and lowest lows. There were many tears shed and laughs had in that little place and it will always be special to me. The couple moving in there is older and they have grown kids, but I did leave a little note for them wishing them all the joy and love we experienced there. But....this mama did not know life with a walk in pantry and mudroom and I'm not sure how I lived before it. I'm in love!  Ha!

Our move in went super smoothly thanks to my awesome family for helping us when Hank was sick. We also have a rock star realtor (we love you, Jessica!) and I just have to tell you guys about this awesome moving company. We hired this company called Red Barn Movers and they were incredible! Red Barn Movers is a part of a non-profit called Red Barn Academy It's a place where men struggling with addiction commit to live and learn for 2 years. They run the working farm, learn to budget, live in community, and work hard at a job. The moving company is the training ground for these guys to rebuild their lives. Their reviews were outstanding and we were so impressed. During the move, we had coffee and cookies and the we got to know the guys a bit. I've never met a more dedicated, hard working bunch before. If you need to move, call them! Not only will you be super pleased with their service, but it's supporting a cool cause!
I'm grateful for some extra time off this weekend. Speaking of Monday off, I LOVE teaching my students about Martin Luther King Jr. Kid President has one of my favorite videos about him. Check it out HERE

And I also have 2 other little joys to share----Starbucks has a new honey drink and it is 100 emoji. AND....my girl T-Swift's documentary is coming out this month. Yes please. 
Translation: Grande blonde almond milk honey flat white 


Thanks for reading. And as always, Savor Your Sparkle,
Leslie 


Friday, January 3, 2020

Top 5 Reads of 2019

I love reading. Obviously. I teach reading. I read everyday. I love the library and book stores with a passion. And one of the things I also enjoy is documenting my reads each month and sharing them with YOU.

I also love to get book ideas from others so please share your must reads with me, I'll add them to my list! I do want to say that if you are not a reader, no fear. You just haven't found your book yet. Try visiting the library or a book store, find an author you enjoy, read their work, then find others like it, and next thing you know, your TBR ("to be read") pile is ready to roll. I think regular reading works like any other habit....it takes time to make it part of your every day.

I read 58 books this year, and I struggled to narrow down my faves to only 5. But I finally did it and all 5 of these share a common theme: Strong female leads. And Lizzo said Amen!

5 Fave Reads of 2019 (in no particular order):

1. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid


2. No Exit by Taylor Adams

3. Becoming by Michelle Obama

4. Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

5. Again but Better by Christina Riccio

Honorable Mentions:
-Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss by Georgie Fear
-Glow Kids by Nicholas Kardaras
-The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
-Life Will Be the Death of Me by Chelsea Handler
-Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand

2019 was an amazing year for reading and I can't wait to get my hands on all of the amazing books that await in 2020. For the detailed reviews of all of my 2019 books, click HERE.

Savor Your Sparkle,
Leslie

And now here are all the books I've read in 2019....with stars by my faves!
1. An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
2. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
3. The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank
4. *Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
5. Happy Teachers Change The World by Thich Nhat Hanh and Katherine Weare
6. The Day I Went Missing by Jennifer Miller
7. *Glow Kids by Kardaras Nicholas
8. Final Girls by Riley Sager
9. *Becoming by Michelle Obama
10. As Long As We Both Shall Live by Joann Chaney
11. *The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
12. If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey
13. *The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
14. Adequate Yearly Progress by Roxanne Elden
15. *Regrets Only by Erin Duffy
16. *Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell
17. I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella
18. *The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
19. *Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott
20. When Did I Get Like This? by Amy Wilson
21. *Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman
22. Maid by Stephanie Land
23. Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson
24. Sh*tty Mom by Laurie Kilmartin, Karen Moline, Alicia Ybarbo, MaryAnn Zoellner
25. Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
26. Dietland by Sarai Walker
27. The Mother in Law by Sally Hepworth
28. The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
29. *Life Will Be the Death of Me by Chelsea Handler
30. *Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand
31. Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty
32. *The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
33.  Roar by Cecelia Ahern
34. A Love Letter Life by Jeremy and Audrey Roloff
35. The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Frances
36. *Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
37. *Can I Get An Amen? by Sarah Healy
38. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
39. *Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
40. How Do You Tuck In a Superhero? by Rachel Balducci
41. City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert 
42. *No Exit by Taylor Adams
43. *Things You Save In a Fire by Katherine Center
44. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
45. *Again But Better by Christine Riccio
46. *Secrets from the Eating Lab by Traci Mann
47. I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi
48. Well Met by Jen DeLuca
49. What Happens In Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
50. Ghost by Jason Reynolds
51. *You've Been Volunteered by Laurie Gelman
52. Naturally Tan by Tan France
53. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell 
54. Christmas Bliss by Mary Kay Andrews
55. *Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
56. *Miracles and Other Reasonable Things by Sarah Bessey
57. Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
58. *Lean Habits for Lifelong Weightloss by Georgie Fear 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Winter Break


I love Hank's goofy grin here 

It's my first post of 2020! Happy New Year! I decided to kick off this year on the blog with a winter break recap. School doesn't begin until next week, so we are still on break, but the next few days will be busy doing house stuff (We move this month!), so I figured it'd be a good time to write about the holiday break. The first couple days off, we totally relaxed. We all had little colds so it was nice to just chill. The last bit of school before break went really well, but AJ and I were both exhausted. We did go to the aquarium to see the scuba diving Santa. It was super cute.



We made our traditional overnight French Toast bake on Christmas Eve, went to church and heard a beautiful message about how God is always with us, and went to bed early, eager for Santa's arrival. 

Santa left Hank his big gift in the garage---a Paw Patrol car. Hank had a great time driving all around the garage on Christmas morning (it was snowy and freezing out so it hasn't made its sidewalk debut yet). We went over to my parents house that afternoon and had a fun evening celebrating together. 





The next morning we boarded our flight to Oregon to visit AJ's family (and our third Christmas celebration, haha). 
Hank had his morning milk in the airport in a Starbucks cup 




Hank was a champ on the 90 minute flight---snacks, coloring, books, music, more snacks, cars etc. 

Hank looks like he's 25 here. 

I always need my Oregon Dutch Bros! 
We had such a fun time in Oregon. AJ and I went to visit the cute town of Sisters one morning, we went to the movies and saw Knives Out (we liked it), and enjoyed plenty of relaxing. One of our Christmas gifts was tickets to see "The Michael Jackson Experience" in Bend. The impersonator looked so much like Michael and he put on a great show. We also visited the High Desert Museum. Hank loves exploring with his grandparents. 








 We got to visit with some friends and their kids. It's so fun to see how quickly kids grow up when you only see them a few times a year! AJ and I had this idea to do a pizza challenge when we visited Oregon so I made up report cards and we brought all the entries home and got to tasting and rating. The winner was....Abby's pizza! AJ's bro Matt introduced us to a new game called Code Names. We played many rounds of this fun game.




Code Names 
This was such a wonderful break to cap off a wonderful year. I am so excited for new beginnings in 2020! 

Savor Your Sparkle,
Leslie

Sunday, December 22, 2019

December Reads

It's the final reading month of 2019! I can't believe it! Look for an end of the year book post coming soon. But first....December books! I read 5 books this month. There's something so awesome about curling up under a blanket with a warm mug and a good book. One of my favorite things in life!! Here we go....

1. Christmas Bliss by Mary Kay Andrews: This was a super fun, festive quick read. I didn't realize until I got a few chapters into this book that it's a sequel to a book I read last Christmas, Blue Christmas. This one is about a young woman in the South and navigating the holiday season with her kooky friends and family. It was good, but pretty forgettable. It's a basically a Hallmark movie in book form. It wasn't amazing, but it was the perfect festive book "junk food."

2. Hamilton by Ron Chernow: My goal was to finish this book in time to include it in my December post and I did it! I wrote a whole post about this book. Check it out HERE.

3. Miracles and Other Reasonable Things by Sarah Bessey: I had heard wonderful things about this book and it did not disappoint. In fact, this is one of those books that I most definitely would like to read again. It's a little book but there's a LOT here. I wrote down 2 of my favorite quotes from this book:
"We have to be committed to unlearning the unhelpful, broken, unredemptive, false, or incomplete God if we want to have space to relearn the goodness, the wholeness, the joy of a loving God." 

" Jesus' tears meant something to me in those places. I had lived in a narrative that didn't recognize God in the grief, and so when sadness, or loneliness or suffering came to stay, I felt that God must have moved out of my life in order to make room for the suffering. Suffering can be a sacrament not because its refining on its own-suffering can also make us bitter and twisted and angry-but because it can become the sort of darkness that makes the light much more beautiful." 

I mean wow, right? This book follows Sarah on her journey from evangelical Christianity's "name it and claim it" prayer movement (Joel Osteen, anyone) to visiting the Pope, nearly dying in a horrific car accident, to rediscovering the God of love. This book is part travel memoir, part theology and, the forward to this book is written by one of my absolute faves, Shauna Niequist. That gives you an indicator of the type of book it is: beautiful writing with flourishes, and deep theology embedded into the stories of life. If you're looking for a faith-based book to wrestle with in the new year, try this one.

4. Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella: I have read and loved every book in the Shopaholic series and they always delight and entertain me. This one was so fun and I love reconnecting with Becky Brandon (Bloomwood) and her pals. This one features Becky getting herself into typical mischief (such as getting herself locked in a pet store, accidentally ordering a ridiculous amount of smoked salmon, getting herself admitted to an all-male billiards club to win a raffle). It's fun, it's cute, it's a beloved series. I liked it!

5. Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss by Georgie Fear: It took me nearly 33 years to know this truth deeply: Diets don't work and ingrained HABITS are the catalyst for lasting change. This theme is a huge part of the intuitive eating movement, and the podcast and program, Balance 365 Life, and this theme was also a major part of Secrets from the Food Lab and Mindless Eating, other nutrition books I have read. This book is an excellent little guide presenting research and data alongside easy to read lifestyle habits that are important for every eater to know and practice (not just those pursuing fat loss). Some of the key points revolve around eating frequency and time, the crucial components of rest and hydration, and the need for understanding hunger and satiety cues. I am so glad I purchased this book so I can continually refer to it. It's an excellent resource with a solid scientific backing.

Well, that's a wrap on my December reads! I'm posting this a little sooner than the end of the month before the holiday craziness begins. This was, like always, another month for the books.

Savor Your Sparkle,
Leslie

PS) Leave a comment with your favorite book you've read recently. I'm growing my 2020 TBR pile!