Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What I'm Loving Lately

Hi Guys!
   Slacker does not even begin to describe me this week. We are in the midst of post-school year meetings at school (one more day!) and between those all day, organizing the massive amounts of teacher things that will have their home in our house this summer,  getting ready for Baby Bow Bash, family time, keeping on top of the house, and yes, a few naps, I feel like I'm just out of my groove. Normal meal preps, gym classes, life in general will continue next week. For now, the Steeles are approaching the finish line with a Bow Bash just on the horizon! Woohoo! I decided in the midst of the busyness, I should do a What I'm Loving Lately post to pause and.... you know how I do: savor the sparkle!

1. Summer: It's here and I sort of feel like since last summer was such a crazy messy ride, that I have 2 summers worth of fun and relaxation to fit in. Here's to late nights, shorts and t shirts, iced Starbucks beverages, and plenty of time outside. 
Saw this graphic this week and immediately saved it to my phone. This is an awesome mantra, huh? 

2. I found this pin for Starbucks Bistro Box copycats and I loved it! I tried it this week twice for super simple lunches. I'm looking for some fresh and yummy make ahead salad recipes to make on Sundays and enjoy throughout the week. Any great ideas?

3. I always love listening to country music in the summer. Imagine my delight when I heard my old favorite, John Mayer, on the Highway country station. I have been loving his new song, "In the Blood." 

4. Visiting Hadley: Now that weather is getting nice, I am excited to take my picnic blanket and visit my girl. We went to have a picnic with her on Memorial Day and we ran into my parents there. I love my girl so so so much. And I miss her. 

5. Friends Across the Miles: I am so thankful to have amazing girlfriends. I heard (on Teen Mom) that if "you're friends for ten years, you'll be friends for life." I give thanks every day for the amazing women in my life. Katie, Marie, Tracy: you are my people. 

6. AJ went golfing on Sunday and I asked if I could tag along: My book, a giant water tumbler, and some time to rest and tan? Sign a girl up! Also I could drive that golf cart all day. Vroooom! 

7. And because I'm feeling lame and boring this week, I bought my first ever electronic can opener and it was worth every penny of that $19.98. And if you can't get excited about the little things, right??? 

Have a great rest of your week everyone! 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

That's a Wrap (pretty much/almost/basically/so close)

This school is pretty much all wrapped up! We go until Friday but My classroom is basically empty and there's just field day/popsicle/chalk party/deep cleaning/movie party and some last day of school read alouds between me and summertime. I purposely took a bit of time off the blog because there was just a lot going on and I just needed a little break. No guilt and no worries! But I'm glad to be back!

It still hasn't hit me fully that I am switching schools. I got to meet my new team and take a look at my new classroom (it has a window.....I was worried there for a minute. Teach' needs to see the sky, mmmkay?) and I am excited. I'm looking forward to setting up a new classroom and it was so so so good to go through all my teacher stuff and basically "Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" (yes, a verb to me)  that junk.

I decided to do a book recap as part of this post. I just started in on book 21 of this year. Here's the list since I last posted my 2017 book list here.

17. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick: This was such a fun book. It's interesting learning about her rise to fame and life in the spotlight. She strikes me as pretty gosh darn normal.

18. Happily Ever After by Trista Stutter: Ya'll know I need to read every book written by alumni of the Bachelor(ette) franchise. This one was cute---kind of preachy and not full of nearly as much dirt as I wanted. But it was a fun one I'd recommend if you like ABC Monday nights as much as I do.

19. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover: I loved this book, It was pretty intense and definitely R-rated but I read it in a weekend because I couldn't put it down. If you're looking for an engrossing story reminiscent of  a Lifetime movie, pick this one up.

20. The Clasp by Sloane Crosley: Meh. That was how I felt about this book. It definitely held my attention and I found myself wanting to read on to see how it wrapped up. I had really had high hopes for this and didn't love it. The best parts were the beautiful descriptions of Paris.

21. Boundaries by Dr, Henry Cloud: This book has been on my radar for years. It's been recommended in church messages time and time again and I feel like the Christian approach to the concept of boundaries is something that could be really beneficial.

We've been pretty domestic on the home front lately (is this 30?) and we planted tomatoes, cucumbers, blueberries, and jalapenos this past weekend. We hadn't a clue what we were doing (and may have knocked down a display of plant food at the store and we laughed and laughed as we tried to help clean it up because that's so very "us"), but I must say, we worked together and I think it looks pretty good. The previous owners had old plants there so we tore them all out and started with a blank canvas. It was fun working hard and seeing the fruits of our labor, but next time I get gung ho about gardening, I would like someone to gently remind me of my aversion for creepy crawling things (shudders).

Last week I took a personal day and went to Provo to meet with one of the founders of Girlie Glue (a bow adhesive). This awesome company donated over 50 tubes of their product to include in our "Bow To Go" bags that we are bringing along with individual bows to the NICU's as part of Hadley's Baby Bow Bash. I have been blown away by the giving spirits of people I have met in this grief/loss journey. Thanks, Girlie Glue! PS) Here's  their website if you want to order this amazing product for yourself. After that, I went to lunch with my friend Tracy and it was just such a great, relaxing, soulful day that I needed.

My DVR is on fire this week with the finale of The Voice, the start of The Bachelorette, Little People Big World, Pretty Little Liars, Teen Mom OG, and more. I also started this (very trashy) show called "Southern Charm" that is basically the Kardashians in South Carolina (I'm ashamed, I know). I absolutely LOVED "The Keepers" on Netflix. If you like Dateline stuff, and are as intrigued by Criminal Justice as I am, you must check it out. Warning: It's very dark and disturbing but the badass old ladies working to bring a sicko to justice is something pretty amazing.

Have a great rest of your week and if you're a teacher, savor those moments with your little ones. I have been reminded multiple times this week that for so many children summer isn't always a good thing. They'll miss you, teacher. And even if you say you won't, you'll miss them too.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Life Lately

Greetings from the final stretch of the school year! I simultaneously feel like I'm crawling toward the finish line and also that I'm in shock the end is already here! Today's post is a little "Life Lately" for you!

Mother's Day was certainly bittersweet and it meant so much to me to hear from friends and family on that day. I really really appreciate it. AJ and I went for a long walk, then came home and planted flowers for our front porch. We uncovered the patio furniture and this upcoming weekend we are going to start on our vegetable garden. I've always wanted a garden but don't know the first thing and have never had one. Wish us luck (and green thumbs). That afternoon I finally watched "Moana," (my students were appalled I hadn't seen it), and meal prepped and relaxed. We had my family over Monday night for a belated Mother's Day BBQ. My sister, Libby, surprised my mom Sunday evening and is home for a few weeks before heading back to Phoenix for the summer. It was nice to have everyone together Monday night.

We all got together Saturday night for some Chinese food to celebrate my sister's bf, Joe's, birthday 
I made it my goal to take down one thing in my classroom each day so packing up wouldn't be such a headache come June. I'm happy to report my classroom is practically cleared and I'm always a bit amazed at how much stuff teachers can manage to collect over the years. These last few days of school (8 to be exact) feature fun things like Lemonade Day (we make homemade lemonade and write a "how to" paper on the steps), Field Day, our class pizza party, some quality parachute time, summertime writing, and more. This year teaching has not been my favorite. It was both a blessing and a curse to return to work right after our summer with Hadley. On one hand it was a good distraction and it was nice to return to the familiar, but in so many other ways it was really hard. I know a change of school will be good for my soul and a rejuvenating summer will be just what I need. I will be completely honest, losing Hadley sandwiched between two very difficult teaching years has been a lot to handle. Mrs. Steele needs a break! That said, though, my students are so sweet and I love teaching 1st grade to see all their growth and progress. My students make me smile and that has been so great.

We released our class butterflies!!! 8 years running and it is my FAVORITE unit to teach. 
I devoured this book, "It Ends With Us," in just 3 days. I loved it! I'll do a book update post soon, but in the meantime, I am so glad I decided to be intentional about my reading this year and commit to it. I got a good sized library haul recently and am ready to dive in.
In terms of meal planning, I have been on a peanut butter/strawberry toast for breakfast, salad for lunch, hummus for snack, and grilled meats and veggies for dinner kick. Although I did break out this week and we had teriyaki chicken burgers, salmon skewers, and stuffed shells for dinners lately. I also tried muffin tin omelettes and I love these protein packed little guys. I am looking forward to trying new fillings this summer. I have eaten way too many sweets lately (teacher appreciation week, I'm looking at you) and I have rediscovered my love for Sweet Tooth Fairy cookie dough cupcakes. Uh oh. Boot Camp to the rescue (please!).
I am over the moon excited for: end of the year fun with my class, Baby Bow Bash, celebrating Hadley's birthday, and our summer Oregon Coast visit. Bring. It. On. Have a great rest if your week!

Savor Your Sparkle,

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Dear Hadley

Dear Hadley,
    Today you would be 11 months old. 11 months ago we got to meet you and be amazed by you. We always knew you were special, incredible really, but meeting you just confirmed it. Daddy and I switch off between imagining you as you would be here at 11 months old and what life is really like for you now. We have imagined you as a precious angel above. Somehow, though, we think even an angelic you is still so "you." Daddy and I joke that you wear a leather jacket and drive all around the clouds on your Harley. I love that image of you and it always makes me smile.

   Hadley, we want you to know you are a part of our daily life. Never does a day end and we have not spoken about you. You are our daughter and naturally, we speak of you all the time. I worry sometimes that as the days pass, you will slip further and further from me. That I'll forget your scent, the way your soft skin felt, your precious tiny fingernails, and your flexed itty bitty feet. When I feel sad about it, daddy reminds me that there's no possible way I will forget a thing. We are made of the same stuff, dear girl, and as I am, so are you. I am so thankful we have so many of your pretty pictures. Want to know something? I look at every single one every day.

    These 11 months have been filled with all sorts of things: fun times, adventures,lessons learned, laughter, reflection, and hope. But through it all, you are missing from us. And that is so painful. We will never "get over you," Instead, we will learn to live and love and laugh with that missing piece. Around that hole in hearts, we are striving to honor your life and make something beautiful.

   We have felt your presence in so many ways over the past few months. For starters, about three weeks after you passed, I was home alone, looking at your pictures and the tears began to fall. I was devastated that your life was cut short and we would never get to watch you grow. I was in despair, and sinking into that awful question that still haunts me from time to time: "Why us?" Suddenly I felt you there, right there with me, and  instantly the tears dried, a smile came to my face, and I just knew you were safe. Not just safe, but happy and loved. I hold onto that moment. In a much less dramatic fashion, you've also shown up to us in other ways. Daddy and I decided a crown was your symbol after your favorite book, "Princess Baby." Now, sweet girl, we see crowns everywhere and always view them as a little wink from you. It seems that they always pop up whenever we're talking about you or thinking of you. Also whenever daddy or I are having a rough day, we give each other your special wink, "The Hadley Eye," we've called it, and that reminds us to try and be as tough and strong as you are.
 Hadley, I wish more than anything, that you were with us. Even in moments of joy, we feel the sting of your absence. We loved you before we knew you, we loved you in our short week together, we love you now and we always will.
Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


I love Pinterest. I have gotten so many teaching ideas, new recipes, fashion ideas, loads of nail and hair pictures to bring to the salon, and inspirational quotes from it. Now, that said, I think Pinterest, like all other forms of social media, needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Don't have a classroom that looks like it was designed by Joanna Gaines with an unlimited Lakeshore Learning store budget? For shame. You didn't make brownies with zucchini hidden inside to disguise the veggie-averse husband or kids? Loser. You don't have rock hard abs after doing "this one simple exercise?" Lazy. But for real....Pinterest life is meant to inspire, not strike up an unhealthy habit of desiring what is not ours. But the ideas and inspiration sure are fun!

Here are some pins I've been loving lately! Happy pinning!

I love this idea for meal planning ideas. Theme nights for the win!

This end of the year bulletin board is the cutest thing ever. Next time I'm out thrifting, I'll keep my eyes out for a pair of overalls. Love those puns! 

Isn't this wreath so pretty? This etsy shop has tons of cute ones. They are on the pricey side but this picture is great inspiration for a homemade one.

I'm on the hunt for a new chandelier and rustic farmhouse is my vibe these days. I get tons of great ideas from Pinterest. How cute is this one?
We are doing this Beach Ball STEM activity in my class this week. Love when I get fun classroom ideas.

Sometimes I just find pictures to make me laugh. Like this one. And all the elementary teachers said AMEN!

I've gotten some yummy recipe ideas from this blogger's meal prep plans!

I have plans to try this look on my nails this spring/summer. Leopard print fun!

This BBQ salad is definitely on my must make list as the weather gets warmer.

Isn't this such a fun idea for a 4th of July party? These layered drinks are too cute. Just add a cute glass bottle and a festive straw. Adorbs.

I am loving this cute classroom! The chalkboard signs, tent, color palette and rug? Perfection!

This DIY after shower wrap is so fun. I need this for blow drying my hair in the summer. When you're beautifying but not quite ready for real clothes yet? Need this!
Pinspiration for the win! Happy pinning!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Nothing Much....

Truth? I usually have a list of blog posts I want to write about. I keep a notebook in my bag and jot down ideas I have that I want to write about. This week? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I think it's a mix of being tired/busy/not forcing myself to blog when I don't feel like it. So here I am with a list of a whole lotta nothing for you:

1. I've been reading "Happily Ever After" by Trista Sutter for about a week now. It's cute and light. I have a good novel ready and waiting for when I finish it.

2. I'm still meal prepping on Sundays and I just love it. It makes my weeks so much easier. I wish I started years ago. Today I prepped salads, chopped some veggies, and made this new recipe for banana muffins. I'm making spicy sausage pasta for dinner tonight. I haven't made it in months but it's one of our favorite dinners. 

3. Baby Bow Bash is less than one month away! Ahhhh!! Today I am working on making station signs and this week my goal is to make the tags to put on the "bow to go" bags. Since it's our first year doing it, we aren't completely sure what we're doing, but I know 1) It will be fun and 2) It will provide a service to the NICU community and 3) It'll be a great way to honor Hadley's first birthday.

4. I am organizing and beginning to pack up my classroom because.....I am teaching at a new school next year! I am doing 1st grade in a public school district. I am really excited about it. That said, I have SO. MUCH. STUFF. and try and take down at least one thing each day so it's not totally overwhelming at the end of the month.

5. Anyone watching Married At First Sight this season? I'm loving it! I like all 3 couples and hope they all make it, but if there's #drama, I won't mind much either! Other shows in the DVR lately: American Crime, The Voice, Pretty Little Liars, Teen Mom, Young and Hungry, American Housewife, Little People Big World, Shark Tank.

6. This weekend I helped AJ hand out tests on Saturday as he hosted an AP practice review session. The big test is on Friday and I know AJ will be so relieved when it's over. Bring on summer!

7. Last summer was a blur of hospital life, pain, grief, and tears. This summer? I'm excited for family/friend time, fun in the sun, trips to Portland and the Oregon Coast, and plenty of reading by the pool. 
Here's to a brand new week and some writing inspiration! 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Steeles in Seattle

Hi Everyone! We are back from our fun long weekend in Seattle and looking at oh, around 16 days left this school year! I want to thank you so much for all your kind feedback about my "Princess Baby Lessons" post. It was my most favorite post to write and sharing about Hadley brings me so much joy. I really appreciate all your support and love.

I'll spare you the play by play of this trip, and instead I'll just dump a bunch of pictures and captions. We had such a great time. We: visited with family, attended a good friend's beautiful wedding, went to Pike's Place Market (aaaaand ate our way through it!), had a family dinner, did the big Ferris Wheel on the water, "Wings Over Washington" ride, visited the Starbucks Roastery, saw a movie, did some shopping, relaxed and enjoyed every moment. We've had this trip planned for months so it was so fun to have it finally arrive!


View from the "Seattle Wheel" 

AJ's aunt Jan and us on the Seattle Wheel 
airport excitement 

Cousins! AJ's cousin Robbie (and his wife Carmen and daughter Everlee), Dana, Katie (and her daughter Nina), and his Aunt Jan. We went to Pike Place Pub Friday when we arrived

Seattle Gum Wall 

Love those pretty fresh flowers! 

Proof we did have some blue sky! 

Good Luck Pig in Pike Place Market 

On the Wheel 

This is where Starbucks roasts some of its "reserve blends." 

Reserve blends going into bags


Definitely not a regular Starbucks: Fancy ($$) drinks and a different pastry selection. I got an iced vanilla cold brew. You can order coffee flights and things for those realllly into coffee. It wasn't as packed with things to do as I thought, but definitely a cool space worth checking out. 

Friday evening we took a stroll around Aunt Jan's pretty neighborhood. 


Site of Ann's pretty wedding! 

Ann and I lived together our sophomore year and have been pals ever since. She is one of the most creative, hilarious, thoughtful people I know. Her wedding day was lovely and she and her new hubby are head over heels over each other and it is just the sweetest thing. 

After the wedding we walked downtown and I was freeeezing (bare legs) so we went into Old Navy and I bought these leggings, a sweatshirt, and flip flops. A girl has gotta be comfy! 

This awning was above some downtown shopping. We saw a late showing of "The Circle" downtown  after my fashion switcheroo. AJ liked it. I thought it was ok 
We stopped at this cute coffee shop before the reception. 

It started pouring so we ducked into the movie theater and decided to go to a show (in my new sweatshirt. Haha. Wedding clothes in a shopping bag!)

AMAZING Beecher's "Famous" Mac & Cheese 

Walking all around Pike's Place (yes, we went back for more) 

At Peroshky, Peroshky We waited in line for a bit, but definitely worth it 

Beef Peroshky 

We also had to try some Asian pork dumplings! 

We walked to the "ride" Wings Over Washington (sort of like California Adventure at Disneyland). We really liked it. We got some  pastries to take home and flowers at the market to bring to AJ's aunts house for dinner that night.
We had an awesome trip to the wonderful Emerald City. It was so great to see all our cousins and second cousins (all 7 of them). Everyone was so welcoming and hospitable. We had chill time, family time, and got to see a friend say "I do." A great weekend getaway!