Tuesday, July 31, 2018

DNA, DVR, and Dates

I'm a sucker for alliteration, hence today's post title. I've got a whole lot of random for you today. I feel like I blogged a ton last week, but I wanted to recap our Oregon Road Trip and share my July Books with ya'll. We are heading into August and I flipped my calendar over last week and was shocked at how busy our August is. And with 2 teachers in the house, we're both sort of a mix of "get me in my classroom! Yeah!" and "OMG, please Lord, give me sweet students and endless energy." I am excited to get back in a groove but there's always this foreboding feeling that comes with the end of summer. I was chatting with a friend the other day and I was telling her how I often have to remind myself that "LIFE DOESN'T END WHEN SCHOOL STARTS." The things I love to do and my play time with Hank will still go on....I'll just have 21 new little friends in my life. Haha!
Hank looks like this a lot of the day. This boy is FULL OF JOY and always giving squeals of happiness and smiles. 

Ok, for the first "D" of today's post: DNA. Guys, I've been wanting to try one of the DNA services for a while now and 23 and Me had a Father's Day sale this June so I went for it. I decided to get the ancestry kit and not the health one because that sort of freaked me out. Prior to this I didn't know much at all about my heritage. The results were interesting and I'm about 1/3 Dutch, 1/3 French/German, 1/3 English with a smidgen of Swedish. I have gone through the results briefly here and there but there is so much to explore and I even started diving into the relative finder tool. I really need to sit down and read through it all. It's incredible what a little vial of spit can reveal! And since I'm apparently part Dutch, I have my eye on this lemon blueberry dutch baby pancake recipe. YUM!

DVR---It was hilarious when we returned home from Oregon because our DVR was SO full. I like to watch my shows (folding laundry and getting ready are my prime times for DVR'ing) and delete 'em so I powered through and we now have a cleared DVR. I will accept my trophy anytime. Ha. I've been watching: Teen Mom, The Bachelorette, Dateline, Counting On, Outdaughtered, The Last Defense, Younger, Young and Hungry, The Next Food Network Star, Married At First Sight, Rattled, and Teachers.

Dates---Dating my husband is one of my very favorite things. We are fortunate to have family and friends who enjoy watching Hank so that we can go on dates. We have a concert and a play this month and we just got tickets for Waitress in September and I can't wait. I love reconnecting, having chats about life, and laughing and joking. As much fun as it is to put on makeup (I rarely do in the summer), and go out to eat or something, sometimes a date night is watching stand up comedy on Netflix and going to bed by 9:30. I sincerely believe the marriage relationship can grow deeper, stronger, and more enriching over time but it's so much easier to reap all the benefits of married life if you enjoy some quality time together. It can be trickier to schedule and plan with a baby on the scene, but I believe it is so so so worth it. Long live date nights!
Today my mom, sis, and I are having a gals day at LAGOON and I'm excited for some rides! Have a great week.

Savor Your Sparkle,

Saturday, July 28, 2018

July Reads

This was a major month for reading around here. Being a teacher, going on vacation, and having the time off will do that I guess! I read 9 interesting books this month (well, listened to one on audio) and have some thoughts....

1. The Better Mom by Ruth Schwenk: I enjoyed this light read which was a nice mix of biblical reflections and real talk about being a mom in 2018. There's a lot of talk about the holiness and calling of motherhood and the necessity of self care. I liked it. This would be a great gift for a new mama.

2. Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell: I LOVED this book! I could not put this one down. It's super creepy (and mildly disturbing, honestly), but very suspenseful. It follows the story of a mom who is trying to rebuild her life after the mysterious disappearance of her teenage daughter and she finds clues where she least expects to. If you like Gillian Flynn, I think you'll enjoy this page turner.
3. The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon: This was a book given to teachers at my school to read over the summer to prepare us for our theme of the year next year. This was a super fast read and a tiny book. I liked how it shares management/team building principles in a parable form. It made some great points and no one can disagree that energy is a key ingredient in work life. I'm excited to see how it's applied to our school culture this next year.
4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle: I have been on the audio book waitlist for this one for months! It came in to the library about a week before our road trip so I listened to about half before we left and the other half on the road (sorry AJ, lol). I really want to see the movie now and see how it was adapted to the big screen. It was good, I didn't love it. Sci fi isn't really my scene. I'll be honest, I really picked this up because of Oprah #sorrynotsorry.
5. There Are No Grown-Ups by Pamela Druckerman: I found out about this book because the author wrote one of my faves, Bringing Up Bebe. This was a light, fast read but it wasn't my favorite. It's a memoir about experiencing middle age in Paris (and as with most things, I imagine it's much more delightful in Paris than Utah), but it felt like the author was stretching to make a book out of what could have essentially been an article. She also details a threesome experience that made me clutch my pearls. Skip this one.
6. Educated by Tara Westover: This book is fascinating! It is a memoir about an amazing young woman (she's about my age which made it super interesting) who grows up to "survivalists" (think preppers, bunkers, end of times people) and her journey to a college degree even though she never. went. to. school. before. then. Seriously! It's endearing, devastating, interesting, and super sad. But you'll find yourself rooting for Tara, she's amazing and has done remarkable things with so little support. I LOVED Hillbilly Elegy last summer and this reminds me a lot of that book.
7. The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg: This book was a cute comedic tale of a group of elderly folks in Sweden (the book has been translated....I still found myself googling some terms) who decide to rob banks to go to "posh" Scandinavian prisons where life is better than their scandal-ridden retirement home. There's all sorts of mishaps and adventures but ultimately, this is a story about friendship. The relationships between these badass octogenarians are so sweet. This was a great vacation read and feel good story.
8. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: I think I can say that this was my favorite July book! Eleanor is a delightful narrator and you'll find yourself wanting to give her a hug and make her a mug of tea. This story, told from Eleanor's quirky perspective, is about a woman trying to survive daily life and forge relationships in spite of her traumatic past. There's a twist ending and despite some heavy themes, it's really a sweet book. Pick it up this summer.
9. The People We Hate At The Wedding by Grant Ginder: This is a novel about a dysfunctional family and their preparations for a family wedding no one really cares about. I liked the shifting narrators to get multiple perspectives (a la Jodi Piccoult....she does this best), and there are some funny moments, but none of these characters are likable and I honestly felt bad for the bride in this book----what a rude and selfish group at her big day. Ha! This is pretty classic chick lit and it wasn't bad but there are better beach reads out there by far.

WHEW!!! That's a wrap on my July reading. I know my reading will slow down a bit once school starts, so I've tried to pick some really good ones to read next. I'll, of course, keep you posted! Thanks for following along. And for kicks, here are the 2018 reads (with stars by my faves)! Here is where you can read my posts on them.

*1. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
2. When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Whalen
*3. Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan
4. Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker
*5. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
6. Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan
*7. The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell
8. Parent Hacks by Asha Dornfest
9. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
10. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
*11. Sisters First by Jenna Bush Hagar and Barbara Pierce Bush
12. Look Again by Lisa Scottoline
13. Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado
14. The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert
15. The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
*16. The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
*17. Sugar by Kimberly Stuart
18. Achtung Baby by Sara Zaske
*19. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sara Pekkanen
20. Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman
*21. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
*22. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
23. Mindless Eating by Brad Wansick
24. Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins
25. Our Father by Pope Francis
26. Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
*27. How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
28. Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
29. You Think It, I'll Say It by Curtis Sittenfled
30. This is Me by Chrissy Metz
31. Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
32. The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir
*33. Calypso by David Sedaris
*34. We're Doing It Wrong by David Michael Slater
*35. Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
36. The Better Mom by Ruth Schwenk
*37. Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
38. The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon
39. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
40. There Are No Grown-ups by Pamela Druckerman
*41. Educated by Tara Westover
42. The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg
*43. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
44. The People We Hate At The Wedding by Grant Ginder

Happy reading!
Savor Your Sparkle,

Friday, July 27, 2018

Summer Road Trip: Part 3 (the last part, promise!)

I really tried to fit our Oregon road trip into two posts but I just couldn't!

We got back to Central Oregon on Wednesday afternoon (after a stop at an amazing crepe restaurant in Salem. Suddenly I have the urge to open a coffee and crepe shop here in Utah. Who's with me?!). We were wiped out from the beach so we all took naps and did laundry and chilled in the backyard.
 On Thursday, AJ, Hank and I went to Bend to go to the mall there and walk around and explore. I love hanging out with my guys (and going in stores......you're a patient saint, AJ!). We also stopped at Costco because I under-estimated how much formula we'd go through (rookie mom mistake). I was absolutely floored to see wine at Costco. I know non-Utahans think I'm crazy, but guys, I'd never seen that before! I just had to get some Kirkland pinot grigio because I could. Ha! That evening we relaxed and hung out. Friday morning AJ and I did a Boot Camp workout outside and sweet Hank hung out on his blanket and watched us.
 Friday evening AJ and I went to Bend for a date to Deschutes Brewery. I love that place! Then, Friday evening Susan and I went to a LulaRoe boutique that I had been following on social media and was only a few minutes from AJ's fam's house. Guys, this place was amazing! This LulaRoe rep has transformed her shed into a gorgeous shop. Seriously, it was the cutest. Sweet Jen was so accommodating and was our own personal stylist. We had a blast.

Saturday morning AJ's aunt, uncle, and grandma came to visit Hank! It was fun for them to meet Hank and we spent the afternoon together visiting and having lunch. It was so special to see four generations of Steeles all together!

 Sunday morning we hit the road for Boise and arrived in the early afternoon. We walked to dinner at a pizza spot and then hit the hay early. Monday we made the trip home to Utah and after hours of unpacking and cranking the air (it was 86 degrees in our house when we got home!), we settled in and gave thanks for such an amazing summer trip. We head to Oregon again in December and already can't wait!

This guy started sitting up by himself on Saturday! 

We saw dozens of these weird alien-looking cars on the highway between Bend and Boise. They fit like one person and were going so fast. It was crazy! 

 Thank you for following along with us on our journey!

Savor Your Sparkle,

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Summer Road Trip Part 2

It's time for Vacation Recap Part 2! If you missed Part one, click here.

We left Redmond for the Oregon Coast on Sunday mid-morning. For some reason, this leg of the trip felt like the longest. It was a super pretty drive, though. We got to the coast at around 3:30. We met up with AJ's brother Matt, Brian, and AJ's parents there. We loved exploring the beautiful beach house. It was so gorgeous and the views were perfect for reading and hanging out!

Our house was the brown one 
The first evening we went for a beach stroll, came back and had a yummy taco bar (AJ's mom did all the meal planning shopping and cooking, it was amazing!). That evening me, Matt, Brian, AJ, and Mike went to the casino. We had fun playing slots but it looks like I'll need to keep my job....we did not win big. At all. Haha.

On Tuesday, Susan, Brian, Matt and I hit up the outlet mall and had a great time. AJ, Hank, and his dad did a beach walk while we were gone. 

That afternoon AJ and I went and had a drink and appetizer at Fathom's the restaurant we ate at right before we got engaged and at the Inn at Spanish Head where we honeymooned. It was so nice to have a day date with my guy. After that we hit up some beach shops and the Christmas store (love it!).

This is the view from the BATHROOM at Fathom's. Best bathroom ever!

We relaxed that evening and I used the AMAZING bathtub in the master suite. Wine, bath bomb, face mask, a good book, and a super hot giant tub. This mama was in heaven. It was so nice just hanging out, chatting, relaxing, and spending quality time together. 
 The next day Matt and Brian went to go do tourist things and AJ, Hank, AJ's parents and I  walked the beach and drove to Depoe Bay (a small beach area with whale watching about 30 minutes from where we were staying).

We walked around, saw a whale, had lunch, and just explored. It was a super fun day!

 That evening we went for another beach walk, enjoyed a yummy pasta dinner, and visited the casino again (losers, again). We got ourselves organized and tidied up because we were leaving the next morning to head back to Redmond for a few days.
Hank got a whale souvenir 

I LOVE the Oregon Coast. It's where we got engaged, honeymooned, and announced we were pregnant with Hank there last year. It's a magical place and I loved introducing Hank to it. It was so nice to chill and relax with family. I have MORE pics for you about the last few days of our trip for you next time. Thanks for following along! I love having a place to document our family memories.

Savor Your Sparkle,