Sunday, February 28, 2016

What I'm Loving Lately

W.I.L.L. time is here! What am I digging?

1. These Gold's Gym weights. Ok, so in full disclosure, I've used these exactly 3 times in the two weeks I've had them so while they haven't been getting their full usage, I love 'em! This set was only $18 on sale at Walmart and includes 40 lbs. of weights and 2 barbells. I really missed the free weights at the clubhouse at our old place. Our new gym has some weight machines but no free weights. It's nice to know I don't need to get my booty to the gym to get some weight time in (First world probs, I know).

2. Spring Mani/Pedi! I was in desperate need of a mani/pedi this week (my last pedi was in DECEMBER) so I went this week and got bright pink on my toes and pale lavendar on my nails. It was heavenly.

3. Double Date Night: Saturday night we went to dinner with some friends and then to see Margaret Cho at Wise Guys. It was a hilarious show and it's always nice to experience a side of Utah that we rarely get to livin' in the southwest 'burbs. There is culture here, and gay people, and even alcohol too. It was a fun evening out.

4. The spring-like weather!! Guys. I opened the windows in the house today and in this afternoon we are hitting the trail for a mini hike. I need sun in my life and I just want to soak it alllll up.

5. These. People have been asking me what my pregnancy cravings are and these top the list. I cannot get enough. I know they are sugary, but they are also fruit, and refreshing, and delicious and they are my go-to snack. I finally wised up and am buying them in 12 packs now. YUM.

6. The fact that while Wednesday and Thursday will be epically long days (parent teacher conferences), we have Friday OFF!!!! I plan on sleeping in and getting a prenatal massage Oh yeah.

7. I had every intention of adding Fuller House to this list, but I sadly have not watched one episode. The DVR was looooaded so I decided to tackle that first (American Crime, Shades of Blue, 600 Lb Life, Shark Tank, the usual).

8. I'm loving clothes that will still work with my bump. In the market for some maternity jeans soon. My fave Gap pair still fits but I think their days are numbered. Here's me at 15 weeks.

What are YOU loving lately? 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Proverbs 31: a worthy goal?

It seems like pieces from Proverbs 31 can be found everywhere. Open up any self-proclaimed Christian woman's Pinterest page and you are likely to find:

There's even a direct sales company, Thirty One, based on the tenants of Proverbs 31. (Their products are adorbs, by the way. My teacher bag is from that company and I love it).

So what does Proverbs 31 say? From The Message translation
A good woman is hard to find,    and worth far more than diamonds.Her husband trusts her without reserve,    and never has reason to regret it.Never spiteful, she treats him generously    all her life long.She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,    and enjoys knitting and sewing.She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places    and brings back exotic surprises.She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast    for her family and organizing her day.She looks over a field and buys it,    then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,    rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.She senses the worth of her work,    is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,    diligent in homemaking.She’s quick to assist anyone in need,    reaches out to help the poor.She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;    their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.She makes her own clothing,    and dresses in colorful linens and silks.Her husband is greatly respected    when he deliberates with the city fathers.She designs gowns and sells them,    brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.Her clothes are well-made and elegant,    and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,    and she always says it kindly.She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,    and keeps them all busy and productive.Her children respect and bless her;    her husband joins in with words of praise:“Many women have done wonderful things,    but you’ve outclassed them all!”Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.    The woman to be admired and praised    is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.Give her everything she deserves!    Festoon her life with praises!

Some people admire the Proverbs 31 woman: she is an ideal and the ultimate standard of Christian womanhood. However, to some, the Proverbs 31 woman is out of touch with reality and holds herself and others to unattainable standards. What do I think? I think it's important to have goals and one will never improve/be their best self without a model to achieve. The Proverbs 31 woman is admirable and I do believe emulating her is within reach for the modern woman. But HOW?? Proverbs 31 is not written as an instruction manual. So.....she "clothes herself in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future." She "looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." 3 cheers for you, Proverbs 31 Woman, but how do you do it all and am I expected to do the same? Because I'm not sure I'll ever "shop around for the best yarns and cottons" and I'm not sure I've ever risen before dawn to make breakfast for my husband. 

I just finished a really great book on this topic. In, "My So Called Life As a Proverbs 31 Wife," Sara Horn chronicles her attempts to the Proverbs 31 woman. What she discovers is most likely what each of us would uncover if we partook on a similar experience: Perfection was never the intention. Perfection was never the goal. Being your best self is the goal. And as for that lingering "HOW?!" The answer is simple: Not alone, that's how. Ultimately the ideals of the Proverbs 31 Woman would never exist without relying on God's perfection and provision. He's perfect so we don't have to be. But relying on God and getting to know Him better does not come without some big life changes. You will want....wait for will crave and desire.....being a Proverbs 31 woman yourself. You can't know God's character and not want to strive to be better each day. Aside from the most important element in your corner (God), you have your spouse. I rely on AJ each and every day and he does the same with me. We are a partnership and being a Proverbs 31 woman is not about "doing it all for your husband" (and children) as many people erroneously believe. It's about leaning into your partner in life and wanting to be the best you can not only FOR him but BECAUSE of him. 

In addition, we are blessed with friends and companions. Female friendships are a holy thing. We can look to one another and say "Me too" and know that as ladies, we are on this path together. Striving doesn't need to mean stress. Being a Proverbs 31 woman does not mean we always have perfect meals on the table, thriving career goals, time for charity and a Zumba class, Pinterest-worthy outfit combos, peaceful and joyful relationships, a perfect tidy home, or restorative "me time" indulging in a 3 hour "Fixer Upper Marathon." (speaking from experience on that one). It might mean we have one or two of those things. Or that one of those things takes a back seat in a certain season of life. And that's ok. Being a Proverbs 31 woman means we wake up each day, wanting the very best for ourselves and our loved ones. We want a happy home and joyful marriage.We want great careers and satisfying relationships. We want hobbies and financial security and success. We want it all ,and we can have it all. Just not alone. Never alone. The Proverbs 31 woman is a real woman who sometimes burns the cookies and that's ok, because more often than not, she's also burning the candle at both ends. BUT she tries and she cares and she leans on the strength of others with her whole heart so she can shine for them and because of them. And yes, I want to be just like her. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Let's HEAR it for the Weekend!

Hey There,
   Long time no blog. What's new in these parts? We enjoyed SUCH a relaxing long President's Day/Valentine's weekend. There was much sleeping, DVR tackling, reading, and chilling. We made cinnamon rolls on Valentine's Day and realized this was our 4th Valentine's Day together, awwwww.  I was still recovering from the 1st grade death cold and hadn't yet completely recovered when Thursday I woke up and legit couldn't. hear. Yeah. Went to instacare to discover my cold morphed into a raging ear infection. I'm on pregnancy-safe antibiotics now and the hearing is still touch and go. Here's hoping for full ear restoration by next week (although we are getting our taxes done this weekend and maybe not being able to hear all the boring deets is a good thing... Until they get to that little word I've been dreaming of: REFUND). So until I get this body of mine in working order this will be another weekend of epic chill. Which is fine by me! 
I made a new dinner last weekend and we really liked it! Enchilada Elbow Bake

I finished this book in just 3 days and loved it. Sometimes a gal just needs a little romantic easy read amiright? 
Baby bump is doing well. Still making mommy puke her guts out but I like to think of it as baby's way of communicating with me. "Like, hey, fist bump, mom, want to see last night's dinner again? No worries, just me saying hello." We honestly haven't bought anything for wee one yet, but there are two items on this weekend's "to buy" list: a pregnancy body pillow (doc said I'll need one once I start showing and as I look down I see a belly that is not, contrary to popular belief, made up of just tacos and tater tots, I'd say I'm showing) and some books for the start of baby's book collection. AJ and I are both avid readers and we're teachers, so come on, this kid better get used to nerding out. In other news, the students that I do have in class (see: 1st grade death cold/excessive absences from both teacher and students) are being pretty okay lately. I had them write about what they would do if they were president. My fave response: "I'd start by kicking out all the girls. Except Mrs. Steele. She can stay." Uhhhhhh.....Thanks, little buddy. Have a great weekend! 
This little grass cup from a student reminds me that spring is coming! Bring on the long days, warmer weather, and bright colors. I'm ready for ya! 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

New Life

So I posted this on Facebook Wednesday evening and it felt so joyous to share our big news!

I can't guarantee this won't turn into a mommy blog since I'm equal parts fascinated, curious, and thrilled with this new little one growing inside of me. It is still a bit surreal but I'm savoring every pregnant moment in awe of this miracle.

So the deets: So far, thank goodness, no one has asked rudely if we were "trying." (people's fertility is such a sensitive topic and prying into it is rude rude rude). Truth be told, we were hoping and praying for a baby to grace our little family. We are settled into our first house, both have jobs we enjoy and are most likely done with school, we have a happy home and a loving marriage and wanted to share it with a wee one. I certainly didn't think the stars would align as soon as they did (decades of watching "16 and Pregnant" tried to convince me otherwise, but I honestly did not think it would happen to us just. like. that.).

I felt sort of funny after Thanksgiving break and googled "early pregnancy symptoms" more times than I cared to admit. I honestly was convinced I was NOT pregnant, but a no show from Aunt Flo and supreme exhaustion  did send my mind wandering in that direction. I went to do my normal grocery haul on a Friday afternoon and tossed a 4 pack of tests in my cart. I got home (AJ goes directly to his second job Friday nights right after teaching so he wasn't home and probably wouldn't be until 10 or so that night) and took the test and left it on the counter while I tossed in a load of laundry and tidied some things up. In the past when I've taken tests, I've stood at the bathroom counter wide-eyed for the whole 120 (long) seconds until the "negative" inevitably showed up on the screen and I could breathe a sigh of relief. But this time was different. I wanted a positive so I stayed away from the test for about 15 minutes hoping and praying maybe I'd see a result on the screen I'd never seen before. I peeked back into the bathroom and saw the big P word and I cannot even explain the feeling. I think I said "Oh my God" about 1000 times and proceeded to pick up the test and wander around the house not sure what to do with myself but I couldn't stop smiling. Of course the first thing I wanted to do was tell AJ. I took the test and wrapped it up in Christmas paper (this was early December) and counted down the hours until he'd be home. I then called the doctor to make an appointment because I am nothing if not efficient. The doc was closed till Monday and I learned my first lesson that waiting for the doctor is so excruciating when all you want as a new mommy is hope and reassurance that your little one is ok.

Well, the rest is history! AJ was over the moon and his reaction will always be treasured in my heart as one of my favorite memories. Since that day, Baby is now 13.5 weeks cooked and all is looking well. We still, naturally, pray fiercely for our sweet one and after a brief scare that involved an ER visit over Christmas Break (that is a whole entire saga in and of itself that one day I will maybe write about), we have already been taught a fundamental lesson of this parenting gig: It's not our baby, it's God's and reliance on His goodness and provision is the only thing that can provide comfort amid the profound joy and worry over carrying a piece of his creation.

I've been spending my time with my head either in the toilet or on the pillow and let me say this with complete confidence: ain't no tired like first trimester tired (add in teaching and I feel like I deserve a medal for getting dressed and staying upright for a solid 9 hour stretch). The sickness has been not so fun, but AJ and I joke that our baby is just giving us a run for our money....Baby Steele is already a mischief maker and we kinda like it. Actually we love it. So much already. Cheers (with a virgin "Pregatini") to this adventure. Oh baby, let's do this.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Hey there,
   So what's been going on here? An itemized list for you! (basically too random to make into a coherent post. Also, see: lazy)

1. I made a new recipe this week and I LOVED it. Banana Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars were easy, healthy, and delish. When dessert doubles as breakfast, we have a winner.

2. You know I love a good cleaning product and I was seeking the perfect cleaner upper for our granite countertops. I feel like I've purchased more than my fair share of Clorox wipes and they weren't getting the job done. My mother in law told me about this amazing cleaning spray from Costco. It's a miracle! It leaves counters and cabinets shiny and clean. I'm in love.

3. A few weeks ago we discovered this delicious local popcorn shop (in The District for you UT peeps) and AJ has literally talked about it daily. I'm not kidding. We swung by there Saturday when we were out and about and I died laughing when I looked in the backseat and saw my husband's prized possession buckled. up. That is some serious caramel corn lovin' folks.

4. One of my students came up to me and said "Mrs Steele, I really want to be a teacher when I grow up!" I told her that was great, what would she like best about teaching. Her response? "If your water bottle is empty, you always ask one of us to fill it up for you. I just think it'd be nice having people do stuff like that for you." That is a true teacher perk I never thought of. Thanks for the perspective, little one!

5. On Friday I got to work at the crack of dawn to get some things done and I realized (after the fact) that you need to walk a little ways into the building to trigger the alarm so that you can turn it off. I just went in to turn it off right away. And then was trapped in the janitor closet when it wasn't working. I sipped my Starbucks and waited the 15 minutes for the next early bird to arrive.  Yeah, I think I'll wait a bit before chomping at the bit to get to work next time.

6. We had fun at a friend's Super Bowl party. I am not the biggest sports fan, but you know, wings. And commercials. And the fact that Monday I needed to know what happened to make conversation.

7. The Bachelor. I shouted for joy when he sent Olivia home! But I have to agree with Jennifer Weiner's tweet: "Are they just going to leave her there until a new season of Survivor starts?" Boat pulls away and Big Mouth McGee is just left there crying! Ummmm. Tricky tricky ABC for having Ben take the rose to reject her. I am loving this season. I'm still rooting for Becca or Lauren B to be standing at the end and Caila to be Bachelorette.  But Twin (aka: Taylor Swift) is really growing on me too. Time will tell! And this season I'm staying away from Reality Steve, I want to be shocked and awed at "the most. dramatic. conclusion. ever."

Friday, February 5, 2016

Super (Bowl) Dips!

Who doesn't love a good dip? And what better time for dip eating is there than the Coldplay/Beyonce concert? (Or, "super bowl" to you sports fans). In the past AJ and I have thrown a super bowl party and loved coming up with appetizer-y fun foods to feed a group. We skipped hosting this year but will be bringing one of our fave easy dips to share to another gathering: spinach artichoke dip....get this....IN THE SLOW COOKER. Talk about easy. We use this  recipe from Six Sisters Stuff. It's deeeelish! 

 If spinach artichoke dip isn't your thing, then we can't be friends (just kidding, kinda), check out some of these other yummy dips I found on the web. Bon Appetit! 

This Jalapeno Popper Dip  has been on my radar for months. Tons of great flavors all together in one bowl? Yes please. 

Cake Batter yum does this sound? Perfect sweet to cut the savory of your Super Bowl night. 

I love a good French Onion Dip served up with some Ruffles, but I have had a hard time finding the dip mix lately in the grocery store. Enter the home-made/better for you version! 

This Cowboy Caviar looks so fresh and delicious! I love all the bright ingredients and just want to dunk a Tostito into a bowl of it right now! 

I couldn't find the link for this one and I pinned it years ago, but is this not the best idea ever? Tortellini skewers in a pesto could do marinara too. Easy, filling, and fun.