Monday, May 30, 2016


Hello There!
    I feel like I've been a neglectful blogger lately, but end of May is always a crazy ride! First off, Happy Memorial Day. I love this day because it always kicks off the summer season. But as I get older I realize this "day off" is way more than just a day off. I saw this posted on Facebook and I really liked it. Thank you not only to the men and women who have served or are serving, but to their families too.

This weekend was an exciting one in these parts because AJ's parents came from Oregon to visit! I haven't seen them since AJ's surprise party in January, so it was wonderful to see them and spend time together. They arrived Saturday early afternoon and AJ's mom and I went to get lunch and pedis as it was her birthday! AJ and his dad spent a HUGE chunk of the weekend on baby girl's room and I just have to say....I am in love with it. I go in there all the time and besides a few small details, it's almost all ready. I'll be sure to post a Nursery Reveal post when it's totally complete. My mom and sister are coming over for a "crafting day" once school gets out and I have a handful of items left to buy, but really it's so fun seeing our "vision" come to life.

Saturday night we made a taco bar and went for a little walk. Sunday morning AJ and I volunteered in the church nursery. There were 5 itty bitty babies and at one point, AJ was holding two, I was holding two, and one was laying on the floor crying. We both had sweat dripping from our brows and were out of breath. We looked at each other at one point and just laughed and laughed. We can't wait for our new life as parents to start....with ONE baby, thank you!

Sunday afternoon was that CRAZY rain storm so we came home, relaxed, us ladies napped while the men continued working, and we ended up getting takeout that night and just relaxing. The Steeles left this afternoon but I am so thankful for a wonderful visit with them and to have TWO sets of amazing parents in my life. It's pretty special to have parents and in-laws who you love. We really truly cherish our times together as family.

AJ went out for some afternoon golf and I'm home now getting some things ready for the final THREE AND A HALF DAYS LEFT OF SCHOOL. I am giddy, positively, giddy. I've also been reading this short little book (I think it might even be a middle school level book, to be honest) called "Seedfolks." AJ had to read it for a professional development class and recommended it to me. It's honestly one you can read in a sitting or two, but I'm really enjoying it. I also have "It's Not Okay" by Bachelorette Andi Dorfman all queued up on my Nook to start the summer. Speaking of the Bachelor franchise, I am pumped for this season! I have my eye on a few favorites and can't wait to watch Jojo fall in love.

May you enjoy all the freedoms this country and day off have to offer!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Dear Teacher, Let's Take a Cue from Elsa

I'm guessing I've taught about 900 lessons this year. An average of 5 per day for around 180 days. Some days there were more (butterfly unit, what what) and some days there were less (sweet Jesus, Magic School Bus, please let me rest my voice and mind for 20 minutes). But overall, that's a heck of a lot of teaching. Times that by 7 years teaching and well, I'm not a math girl, but that's like, a bunch. In the midst of all these lessons, unfolding over sunny mornings and rainy afternoons, in my early twenties and my late twenties, in 3 different cities,  I  was the one who learned the most valuable lesson of all. You know what lesson I've finally learned? Well, I could have just watched Frozen and saved myself some tough learning experiences, but, yes, sweet teacher, you with the stacks of grading and the pain in your heart from the sad family situation of your little guy who sits in the back, with the endless emails and dried out Sharpie pens: Know this: Let it go. It's true. You do you, give it 110% and then....let it go. 

Educational reformers, school districts, and school leaders, even the government, feed modern teachers this lie that "Input of A, will (and should!) lead to output of B." No matter what, always, forever and ever amen. The simple fact is, this type of pressure reduces the joy and magic of teaching to a dry and black and white science. Sidenote: I teach the little ones so high stakes testing isn't even on my radar and that? Whew, that is a whole other load of pressure. My hats are off to you teachers who deal with all of that. 

What is expected of teachers? Put your objective up? Check. Differentiated lessons? Check. Provided immediate and relevant feedback? Check. Engaged all students with cheerful memory techniques, hands on fun, and plenty, plenty, plenty of opportunities to practice (the elusive and beloved "we do" that teacher folk swoon over)? Check. This list could go on and on (and indeed, it does) of what makes the perfect climate for learning. But anyone who has lived more than a day on this Earth knows, deep down, life is never ever that simple and formulaic. Neither is the classroom. You can plan and prep with the best of them, armed for battle with a beautiful lesson (and all the necessary items needed at just an arms length, you old pro, you), but when there's an accident of any bodily fluid variety, a kid melt down, a ringing phone, a thousand email "pings," a "have anything for me to do?" parent volunteer with no notice, a spilled pencil box (why, for the love, can these things just not stay. put.?), tardy students walking in, a "he hit me" from the back of the room......this is real life and oh girl, you've got to just let. it. go. 
I've had a tough year. I often joked with my teammates that if I had one more year like this year, I am hanging up my teacher hat for good and never ever returning. I have really beat myself up when all that input of "A," often never lead to the output of "B." It took me a long time to learn (and lots of "opportunities to practice," take that education research), that ideal input does not always equate to ideal output, whether academically or when it comes to behavior. My students this year (well, most of them, I did teach some awesome ones) were tough. I went back to the drawing board time and time again and tried a million different things with them. For the first time in my career, work wasn't fun and while teaching is never ever easy, it was an intense struggle, a daily persistent battle. Sometime around March, I came to the realization that there will always be people who litter, who don't say good morning back, who tip poorly, who run red lights, and who use cell phones in movies. Life is chock full of people who don't really care and newsflash: some of these might even be the kids and families within your classroom. I cannot change the axis on which the world turns. I can only control the climate of my classroom and even then, the output may be not be an accurate reflection of the input. And I.....well, I have to let it go.

 I always saw myself as a "career teacher," walking out of school one day (hopefully with an impeccable sense of style for a 60-something, and no crows feet), with 40 or so classes under my belt. This year flipped that dream on its head and sat me down, and forced me to think that maybe, just maybe, that isn't my future. Don't get me wrong, I still love teaching but its focus and direction as of late has me worried. Not just about the mental health and stress levels of the educator profession, but goodness, for those kids too. One of the key tenants of quality teaching is the belief that every child can learn. You better believe I know that's true. There is a magic in the classroom that is ever present when passionate teaching and learning combine. Magic is not a formula. Learning is not scripted. Sometimes as a teacher you might feel like that "formula" is the be all and end all. But honestly, let it go. It's who you are that your students remember, not just what you say and how nicely your objectives lined up with the core. Kids just want what we all want: to be loved and listened to. I know hoop jumping is part of this teaching world (Praxis, anyone?) so do it, jump through those hoops, but never let the hoops and red tape take priority. 

  Finally, if you are a teacher, I want you to know this: It's such a tough pill to swallow when you realize with despair that you cannot change the world. The adage is true: You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. It's sad and it's frustrating and it's made me cry on more than one occasion this year (maybe it's pregnancy hormones too, in full disclosure), but when you get up every morning, and try and try and try (and try some more!), and you lift one another up in this journey (I shudder to think where I'd be without my teacher people, we are our own tribe and must always stick together. I have never met one single teacher on my 7 year journey who did not have the best interest of children at heart. You are my people and I am thankful everyday for the adults in the trenches with me) and you go back in, each and every morning, with mascara on (well, on good days), and write the day's agenda on the board full of hope again: I admire that. In myself and in other teachers. You cannot save the world, you've let that go, remember? But you still have at it every day and that takes real courage and gumption. There's not many on this planet who could do what we do and I firmly believe that. It's a fervent prayer of my heart that I will learn to reignite my passion and learn to love teaching again. I want to so badly. Maybe you're in that same position, too.  So, teacher, enjoy your summer, travel and read and relax. Really truly enjoy every moment because you, teacher, of all people, deserve to truly let it go. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Summer Bucket List

I used to do monthly goals on this here blog. You can find them here. But I got out of the habit. Maybe one day I'll whip up some monthly to-do's, but since this is the last baby-free season of our lives and hubs and I are both gloriously on summer break for most of June and all of July, I thought I'd make some seasonal goals for this much anticipated time. Here is my summer bucket list.....

1. Go to Bear Lake/Logan. True Confession: I've never ever been here! Now I originally stated that under no circumstances was I going to go beyond a 45 minute radius of the hospital this summer, but life, man. We are itching to get outta town and thought a little excursion here might be fun. We have done zero planning or even thought of dates, but thought a day trip or night away to explore this pretty area would be fun.

2. Read at least 6 books. I am hoping to get a summer book list together soon. I have been a reading slacker the past month or so I want to hop back on the literary train. Is there anything in the world more delightful than a refreshing frosty beverage, a juicy novel, and a pool-side lounge chair? No, no there is not. Leave any good book recommendations in the comments!

3. Go Thrifting. Honestly it's not like we need any more stuff, the pre-baby overhaul this spring was pretty massive. BUT...I love the thrill of the hunt. I haven't been thrifting in months and it's so fun to check out the different thrift stores in different neighborhoods and see if there's any good stuff!

4. Get a prenatal massage. I got one of these when I was around 16 weeks pregnant. It felt SO good but anyone else leave massages feeling like your body is broken? They ALWAYS make a comment about the tension in my neck and back and make some expression like "whew! You are tiiiight. You must be very stressed." I know, I know, I wrangle 6 year olds all day and rarely stretch when I workout. I get it. They put me on a "every other week" massage regimen recommendation to which I scoffed and tucked my debit card safely away in my wallet. BUT I do carry tension and a prenatal massage in trimester three might be just what the doctor (not money hungry masseuses) ordered.

5. Finish Baby Girl's Nursery. This is the bucket list item I am most excited about. I keep a little list on my phone when I think of some nursery detail and I am so ready to tackle the list and do some details/finishing touches (like in Fixer Upper when Joanna Gaines stays late at the house and just hangs things/fluffs pillows and Chip and the kids bring her some sort of that). I'd say the nursery is about halfway done at this point. I am thinking some Target runs, some crafting, some Pinspiration, and just nesting in my new favorite room in the house. In fact, as I write, AJ is upstairs attempting to put together an Ikea dresser. I will refrain from sharing the words coming out of that room currently.

6. Grill dinner at least twice a week. We love to grill and there are tons of perks like, I have no idea how to grill so AJ has to cook dinner (sorry women's lib movement, but I'll keep letting fire be a man's turf), the kitchen stays clean, and we can incorporate yummy veggies and even fruit. I want to think beyond chicken and burgers. Any fave grill recipes?

7. Look into/maybe actually make a will/trust. We went to Dave Ramsey's Smart Money Tour last week and besides being inspirational/awesome/Dave-tastic, he also emphasized the importance of making a will/trust. Let's be real, here, AJ and I do not have an "estate" with massive amounts of assets to be doled out, but we do want to make sure, in any unfortunate event, our baby is taken care of and that we get a say in what happens. How very adult-ish of us.

8. Walk everyday: I have heard from countless people that walking is one of the best things you can do to remain active during pregnancy. I love to walk and want to be active every day this summer. Bring on the walking paths and trails...and when it gets too toasty, the treadmill at the gym!

9. Finish Orange is the New Black and Game of Thrones: Ok, so this first one is a no-brainer, I love OITNB, but Game of Thrones?? If you didn't gasp in shock that I, Leslie, am watching this show then we're not really friends. I know, it's very unlike me (my DVR is typically home to "Dance Moms" and "Shark Tank"), but a few weeks ago, AJ and I decided we needed a new series and we heard GOT had tons of fans and hype, so alas, here we are. We are only 4 episodes in, but it does keep my interest and certainly broadens my taste in entertainment. I have no idea if this is a series we will stick with, but I am seriously digging Peter Dinklage so....

10. Listen to my Abide app each night. During the winter, I LOVED this app. Basically you choose a topic and it reads a prayer and/or a bible passage/devotional to you. It's wonderful and I hate to say it, but I haven't even opened the app this month. I want to get back into it, it's such a great spiritual resource and perfect for relaxing if you want to just listen and not read.

11. Get creative with Father's Day. Guys are hard to shop for. It's not like you can rely on the standby scented candle or pair of earrings like you can with ladies. I want to think of something great for my dad, father in law, and AJ this year.

12.  Costco Haul for the Essentials. We got to Costco every few months for things like frozen ravioli, hummus, and raspberries etc,, but I want to do a full stock up before Baby Steele arrives: toilet paper, paper towels, laundry soap, dishwasher pods, napkins...all the day to day stuff I don't want to have to worry about running out of when we become a family of three.

There will be many more to-dos, but for now, all I can see on my horizon are days to sleep in and dive into the ol' bucket list. Cheers to summmmmer, baby!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Weekending & Life Lately

We are in the home stretch of the school year and just enjoying these May days....

On Friday we both took the day off and went to the retirement seminar offered for state employees at the start of their careers. It was interesting and I have to say, I really learned a lot. Anyone else obsessed with compounding interest like I am? (nerd alert).
On Friday we got to sleep in a whole extra hour and AJ got us beverages while I got ready. Bliss. 

I feel like AJ and I have both been running around a ton lately. His students take the AP test on Friday so he's been super busy with that (I know they will absolutely slay that thing with him as a teacher), we've had late nights of birth class, obligations, meetings, errands, to dos, just a lot of in my car/past my bedtime/epic errand weekends lately. We had another one of these weekends scheduled this weekend, but we decided to mix it up a bit. We both ran some errands Saturday morning but then it started pouring out, like full blown thunder/lightning storm and we put on our comfy clothes, curled up, and took embarrassingly long naps. We woke up and ate dark chocolate in bed (thank you, teacher appreciation week for all the goodies from my students) and then puttered around the house, read a bit,  made a Costco pizza, went for a long walk once the rain stopped, and watched TV. It was perfect. I am all about the whole "date your spouse" thing. It's important to make time to enjoy each other's company and do something fun as a couple. But date nights don't need to be elaborate. They can be full-blown home body bliss too.  On a typical week day there's not a whole lot of time between coming home for the evening and being out the door again in the morning. To counteract all the "everyday," it's easy to fall into the trap of getting busier and plan super unique date nights. But you know, what? We're tired....sometimes it's nice to embrace the everyday but do it together. I told him as we laid on the couch, that it felt like our dating days. He smiled at me and said he agreed, and then, for the first time, he felt our little girl kick. Life is busy, but it doesn't always have to be. There is such beauty in rest and the THREE of us agree!
The previews for this movie look great so I'm finally getting around to reading it before the movie comes out. Anyone read it? Thoughts? 
Sunday was Mother's Day and I awoke to a card from "baby" (with some help from dad, I'd say!) and the bookshelf I'd been eyeing for little one's nursery along with this super cute floral bulldog print. The color has me all heart-eyes emoji AND a bulldog is a fun nod to Gonzaga! AJ had to work Sunday evening, but I went over to my family's house to celebrate my mom and that my sis Libby is home from college for three whole months! It was a lovely day.

The rest of this week has us on the go again, but I need to set aside some time for some quality DVR-clearing. Sister Wives is not about to watch itself. Also, I am loving the fact the Orange is the New Black always seems to premiere right when school gets out for the summer. I have a date set with some Outshine popsicles and the Litchfield inmates just as soon as it comes out. In the meantime, let's just try and treat each other like the friendly folks who bring waffle fries to your table do. I saw this the other day and was like yes, can I get an Amen for the CFA customer service? Of course you can, it's their pleasure.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


This post is all about the bun in the oven! I'm 25 weeks pregnant now. 

The Mama: I feel like I finally have back a lot of the energy I missed the first 20 weeks. Naps were my best friend and a full day teaching nearly killed me there at the beginning. I still am more tired than usual, but it's totally manageable. I puke every day still. Once a day if I'm lucky....morning and night some days. This is the perfect example to me of why I take all advice and tips and personal stories with a grain of salt.Every body is different, every baby is different. It's getting pretty old, I must say, but then I look at it as prep for parenthood: in a few months it won't be MY vomit down the front of my shirt on the way out the door. Ha. I am on anti-nausea pills and they are a life saver (when they work). Of all pregnancy symptoms to have, truly, I feel blessed that this is my worst one. I have gained about 12 pounds and my goal is to keep it under the 25 area. I'm honestly not too concerned about it, though. I have my whole life to focus on being fit and trim and carrying around an extra human really isn't the time to be stressing about it. I wasn't exactly at peak physical condition when I got pregnant so I'm going easy on myself. I am trying to eat as many fresh foods as I can and try ("try" being the operative word) to limit my intake of sweets and treats. I crave fruit juice, chick fil a, anything spicy, and cereal. Feeling her move is without a doubt my favorite part so far. It's like our own little language. I want to tear up and cry tears of joy with each tug, pull, and little movement. That's another thing: the tears. Oh Lord, I am like broken floodgates lately. I cry when I look at her clothes, I cry when we pray for her at night, I cry when I think about her, I cry when I practice my labor breathing. I cry over pretty much everything: good and bad. I am so overwhelmed with this miracle that I just can't help it! Also, hormones. 

Dad: Swoon. This guy. He gives our girl a little pep talk each morning and he is the best dad already. He worked super hard painting her room and he loves reading to her at night. He had a work meeting in Park City a few weeks ago and came home with a bag from Carter's. He bought her three outfits while he was up there and was so excited to show me each one. He is getting very into the idea of being a "girl dad" and she already has him wrapped around her finger. He says he's most excited for late night feedings when the two of them can snuggle up and watch ESPN together. 

Baby: Baby girl is doing well! She's a mover and a shaker and is weighing in at just under 2 lbs. She is most active after meals and I love feeling her dancing around right before bed. If music has a good beat, she dances! We cannot wait to meet her and we are actually excited that we never got a good ultrasound face shot....her pretty mug is a mystery and we can't wait to meet her. Every doctor's visit we have she suddenly gets shy. It took a while at my last appointment to get a steady heartbeat count because they'd capture it for a second and then she'd squirm away again!  

The preparations:
We finished up our Hynobirthing class and have another one day birth and baby class this summer. I really loved this class. I am not saying 100% that we will have a Hynpobirth(honestly, I'm thinking no), but whatever ends up happening, this baby has to come out somehow and I know I learned skills and techniques to assist me, AJ, and baby. Basically Hypnobirth is about getting back to the roots of birth as a natural, safe part of life and reducing fear and tension and having a calm, relaxed, experience. Learning about birth in other parts of the world fascinated me. And the history major in me enjoyed learning about the way birth used to be conducted. Not too long ago, men were told to go home and came back "when it was all over." Can you imagine?? The breathing exercises and visualization techniques were wonderful and I am glad I have a few more months to practice them and finish reading the book from the class. Overall, I loved the message of birth as part of a divine plan. God created our bodies to do this and sometimes, we just need to listen, relax, and let nature take over. I am in awe over the human body and not only what it can do, but what it just knows to do at the right time! Miracle is really the only word for it.

Nursery: AJ painted the room a light gray color (it's been a saga. Seriously, gray is a hard color to get right. It's not exactly as I was envisioning, but after much debate, we are leaving it the way it is. It'll have furniture in the room soon and more color pops/things on the wall  so we won't just see.....paint color ) and we are thinking peach and coral as the main colors with gold accents. wedding color palette. I like what I like! I want her room to be cozy, elegant, and cute. I have my eye on some accent pieces already. This weekend we are hitting up Ikea for a dresser and bookshelf and to browse a bit. It's been very fun nesting. I'm already a bit of a "nester" by nature (I love being home, cleaning, and organizing) so getting her room and things prepped has been so fun. 

School: I have been busting my butt on maternity plans for the start of next school year. The person who subs for me will either love me or hate me. They are...a bit....detailed....not necessarily my daily lessons, but more like protocol/classroom management/tips for beginning the year. I know I need to relax and let it go, but at the same time, I don't want to walk into chaos when I return. Honestly, I was dreading getting them ready but a few things helped me: 1) I've been teaching the same grade for 7 years. I pretty much know what I'm teaching and when 2) I spent $5 on a maternity plans template on teachers pay teachers and it served as a great guide to make sure I was including everything. They haven't been used yet, so there's no telling their usefulness but I worked hard on them and am glad I don't have to spend all summer on them like I originally thought I would. I have just a few weeks left this school year and am so thankful and ready for it to be over. I'll be honest, I have felt some guilt over exposing my baby in utero to my stress from this school year. I'll be 30 weeks when summer break begins and am so excited for the time off to rest, destress, and pamper myself before I'm a mommy to an outside baby.

I firmly believe pregnancy is a time not just for the baby and my body to get ready, but for AJ and I to get our hearts and minds prepared for parenthood. This season of life is a little uncertain, extremely exciting, full of learning and new understandings, packed with questions and wonderings, sort of uncomfortable sometimes, always an adventure, and most of all, full of pure, immeasurable love. 

Here's to the next 15 weeks, sweet little lady! May you grow strong, chunky, and full of the love your "fan club" has for you.

And because people have asked.....yes we do have a name. It's been on our radar since before Little Miss was conceived. We love it and unlike our boy name choices, we were both 100% on board with this one and agreed. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016


Hello Bloggy Readers,
   I've got a whole lot of random for you this sunny Sunday!

1. Little Miss has a freshly painted room! I am so proud of AJ and all the hard work he put in on making it look nice for baby girl. The color is Behr's "Pebble Gray." It ended up looking a bit lilac-ish in the natural light, but I can't tell if that's my eyes tricking me because it was a lilac color before it was painted. We have bought a few accent pieces and this month's goals are: crib set up, take down fan and add a pretty light fixture, bookshelf, and dresser/changing table. I know she'll be itty bitty and have no clue about her room, but a cute nursery matters to the mama and it's been fun planning it.
He told me he needed "union breaks." Here he is looking cute during one such break. 

2. Titus Andromedon. Guys, I am just 2 episodes away from finishing season 2 of "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." I can't get over this show. I find Elle Kemper a tad annoying (maybe it's just her character?) but Titus is my soul sister and this show is on par with Arressted Development for being clever, witty, and hilarious. This is a show I really need to sit down and watch (as opposed to a show like the Karsdashians that I can cook and clean during) because there are so many clever little details I don't want to miss. "Pinoooot Nooooooirrrrr!"

"I envy you. I've never been able to meet me." 

3. I was flipping through a magazine a few days ago and came across an ad for Morning Star veggie sausage patties and it had a little recipe attached. I added the ingredients to my shopping list and made it for lunch today. It looks and sounds weird. I know. But it's a burst of protein and the flavors actually work together. Toast up a whole wheat english muffin. Spread with almond butter, top with veggie sausage patties, pear slices, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I never ever would have paired these ingredients together but it was delish.

4. I did a MAJOR spring clean on our closets this weekend. I wanted to clear out some junk and also make room for the stroller in our downstairs closet. Man I love good purge.
Wide open spaaaaces! 

5. I feel like every weekend we wind up at the PGA golf store in Sandy. We went to the grand opening over spring break and I'm pretty sure AJ has found his paradise. He is like a kid in a candy store there and it's sort of cute. But then I get bored. Easily. I'm not much of a golfer (I've never actually played a game, we just like to go hit balls every once in a while). But yesterday I wandered off into the ladies section and decided if I were a golfer, I would want this bag. Style on the course!

6. There are 24 days left in school and I am readdddddddy. I need late nights, dinner on the grill, shorts and flip flops, pool time and a good book. Trying to remember this during the last month: "Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." -Galatians 6:9 

Have a great week, everyone!