Sunday, April 28, 2019

Caterpillars, Crafts, and The Drop Out

As you can gather from the title of this post, this is a random one for you today! It's been a delightful spring and while we've had some wacky weather lately, there have been hints of summer in the air and I am here for it! I even wore a dress to school last week (I've been experimenting with self tanners. Send me your faves!). We're getting into some fun units in 1st flower planing and butterflies! We're reading, writing, and wrapping things up. Woohoo! We finished Charlotte's Web last week and it gets me every. time!! Hank was fascinated with the caterpillars that arrived. He loves loves loves animals. I'm looking forward to taking him to the zoo this summer.

The names they came up with were....interesting. Ten years of caterpillars and every single class has suggested the name Bob. 1st graders are my people. 

I've been getting back into my morning Boot Camp workouts and I feel so good when I get it done bright and early. My goals this week is all 5 days. Maybe if I write it here, I'll be more likely to not click that "snooze" button! 
Hank is 16 months old and the most fun little guy. He adores balls, bubbles, putting laundry in the basket, Paw Patrol, and PLANES! He is still a quesadilla man, but is also a fan of peanut butter toast, fruit snacks, green beans, and chicken nuggets. His summer clothes are adorbs (tanks and sandals....ahhhhh!) and we are ready for warmer days. 

waiting patiently for the garbage man

I tried a new Starbucks drink this week that I adored. It tastes like a cinnamon cookie. Order: a grande cold brew, light cream, 1 pump cinnamon, and 1 pump white mocha. A heavenly way to get that morning pick me up. 

Speaking of things I'm into, I saw a 20/20 episode about Elizabeth Holmes and her "company" Theranos and I was so fascinated. This podcast, The Drop Out, by ABC News, is so well done. It's only 6 episodes and I am almost finished. She's not very likable, but Elizabeth's ability to create a sham medical tech company is mind blowing. 

I made this cute sign at a craft activity with some friends. I think it turned out pretty cute! 

Finally, I wanted to reach out to you, the readers, to see what type of content you'd like to see more of: beauty, fashion, cute Hank pictures, our healing journey after loss, recipes, books, life lately? Let ya girl know! 

I hope everyone is having a lovely spring! 
Savor Your Sparkle,

Thursday, April 25, 2019

April Reads

It's time for another edition of monthly reads! To see all my book posts from 2019, click HERE. To see all my book posts EVER, click HERE. This month was a great one for books and my "to read" stack is growing by the day! Thank goodness it's almost summer!

I read 5 books this month. Let's get to it!

1. The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell: This book is a great thriller about a neighborhood that's a bit Stepford-ish and the secrets that are revealed when one of the neighborhood girls goes missing. It's not a happy book and the ending is a bit odd, but I could not put this one down. I loved reading about the suspicious characters and trying to discover what they might be hiding. Lisa Jewell reminds me a lot of Liane Moriarty in that they both masterfully get in the head of the women they write about and dive deep. This would be a juicy pool-side read.

2. I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella: I love Sophie Kinsella books and this one is just her style: a charming protagonist, a cute love story, funny mishaps, and memorable characters. I kept thinking what a cute movie this would make. This one is over 450 pages, though! I read this one for the bulk of the month (my other reads were super fast ones). It's cute and fun, but a bit too long for a book of its nature.

3. The Tattooist of Auschwitz: This book. Guys. I read it in less than 48 hours because it's so good, so gripping, so horrifying, so well done. I don't usually read such heavy stuff but I had heard great things and knew I needed to read it. This is a love story at heart, and a true story, about 2 prisoners in Auschwitz and their time in the camp and how they find each other again. It's intense and some parts are tough to get through emotionally but it's so good. I have visited 2 concentration camps and I could not get those experiences out of my mind as I read. Pick this book up, you won't regret it.

4. Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott: This was another book that I had a hard time putting down! This is a thriller of sorts about 2 young women who met in high school, shared some dark secrets with each other, then meet up again as up and coming scientists in a lab that researches mental disorders in women. It's twisty, suspenseful, violent, and really kept me on the edge of my seat. I read this one over spring break and loved it.

5. When Did I Get Like This? by Amy Wilson: This book is a memoir about a woman in the midst of raising 3 kids. Is there anything particularly unique or profound about her experiences? Nope. But this book is cute, relatable, laugh out loud funny, and a fun tribute to motherhood. This book is told in little vignettes that read sort of like blog posts. This would be a fun gift for a new mom.

And those are my April reads! I hope you are enjoying getting lost in a good read!
Savor Your Sparkle,

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Break in Boise

It's spring break and the living is easy! So you know how I whined and complained about spring break being so late this year? (Well, I did). But, now I'm super thankful for that because spring break is always the perfect preview for summer time and summer break is now just 6 short weeks away! We spent the first couple days of break taking it easy and now we're getting some long overdue to do's completed and shopping and prepping for Easter brunch on Sunday. But earlier this week we hit the road for a 2 night stay in Boise. It was a fun little getaway and so great to visit with AJ's parents. So why Boise? Well, the first year after we got married we met AJ's parents there on a weekend. They live about 6 hours from there and we live about 5 so it's the perfect meeting spot in the middle. It's a cute town and allows all of us to have a visit with one another, not have to make the 11 hour trek, and it's a fun little city! (AJ and I visited ourselves for a concert a few years back. Click HERE to read about it).

For Christmas this year we gifted AJ's family a stay at this cute Airbnb in Boise. It was our first ever Airbnb experience and I was a fan! The cottage was super cute and in a great location for us to walk to places or just be a short drive away. It allowed us all to be together but we also had the privacy of 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. It was nice having the kitchen there too. It worked out well because AJ's mom and dad have a high chair and a pack and play for Hank so we had everything we needed. I'm not sure I'd stay in one if it was just AJ and I with Hank because hotels offer mini cribs, but for this ocassion, the Airbnb was perfect. I'd definitely stay there again.

We arrived on Monday afternoon and met up at the house and then headed downtown for lunch at the Boise Fry Company and to walk around.
These were so yummy! I went with homestyle red. 

Hank loves to "cheers." 

 Hank was EXHAUSTED by the afternoon, so we went back to the house and he napped while AJ and I walked to the cute Hyde Park area. We ended up walking for nearly 2 hours! There's some fun shops around there and some gorgeous homes. We stopped for coffees and arrived home just in time to beat the rain.

Hank got this cute bubble toy (among many other things) from his grandparents and had a blast playing with it! 

We relaxed that night, hung out, and picked up a pizza for dinner. We watched a little Netflix, then bedtime for all of us. The next morning, we headed to a place called Kid Planet, an indoor play place that had a toddler area for Hank to explore. He loved it! And we loved that the under 2 kiddos had their own area to play in.

 After Kid Planet, we stopped for lunch at a Mac and Cheese restaurant. I used Yelp so much on this trip and it led us here. It was yummy!

 Hank went back for a nap with the grandparents and AJ and I headed out to go to a few stores (and yours truly wanted to hit up Costco for some Kirkland wine. Ha!) and to have a little date afternoon. I love hanging with my guy (especially when Hankers gets in a good nap at the same time!).

This drink is called the Bowl of Soul from the coffee shop Java. It is a Mexican hot chocolate mocha (think cinnamon-y rich chocolate coffee flavor. I LOVE it). 
When we arrived back to the house, Hank was playing outside and the weather was beautiful! I pulled out our picnic blanket and read outside for about an hour. It was bliss! We relaxed and AJ and I even ended up taking a snooze (yay for grandparents, lol!).
The book I'm reading was INTENSE....look out for my April book review soon 

Staying at a house meant this little dude had plenty of places to explore and room to roam 
I used Yelp again to find a Mexican restaurant for dinner. It was a hit! But the best part was the connection Hank had with the waitress. Haha. Hank is a charmer and a flirt, and I can't quite tell who liked who more!
true love

After dinner we drove around and found this beautiful park. It was getting close to Hank's bedtime but we decided to return the next morning to let Hank run a bit before our drive home. We played at the park Wednesday morning then hit the road. We arrived home that evening and we still have some blissful days off together. Amen. 
Selfies are hard

I recently discovered portrait mode #obsessed 
 We had so much fun with AJ's family in Boise! This might have to be an annual thing!

Savor Your Sparkle,

Sunday, April 14, 2019

This is Us and The NICU

After you've lost a baby, you take in all forms of pop culture with both hands over your face, sometimes catching glances between your fingers to see if something is "safe." I've been known to send a text to pals like, "Hey, The Good Doctor has a sick baby story line, FYI" or "Did you watch such and such yet? Is there anything triggering there?" The thing is, 9 times out of 10, I end up still watching, listening, and reading whatever it is (Jodi Picoult has some doozies), but it's super helpful to know what I'm getting into and if I even want to see the portrayal of a sick child, a death, or any tough mommy/baby story lines at a particular time. That's why, when This is Us tackled a NICU storyline, I had to psych myself up to watch but I am so so so glad I did.
This is Us spoilers ahead.....

This show is one of my very favorites for a lot of reasons, but probably my most favorite thing about it is that it tackles real life issues without kid gloves. Ok, so most people don't have a deep-seated hatred of second hand crockpots like the Pearson family might, but this show takes many real life situations. For instance, we've seen so far:
-PTSD/Soldiers home from war
-Racial Issues (and the uniqueness of inter-racial families)
-Family Relationships
-Gender Roles
-Medical issues
-Death and Loss
-Foster Care
......and more! See? Real life, lots of it!

The baby loss story line started for this show on the very first episode. I had read before the show premiered that there would be a central storyline on the pilot about Rebecca and Jack losing one of their triplets. I appreciate that this show "went there" and the scene between Jack and the doctor is one of my favorite scenes ever ever ever on any show.

While Randall came along and completed the "Big Three," I just so appreciate that the writers acknowledging that some babies don't get to come home. Since the show jumps around time periods and rumor has it, the next season will focus on Rebecca in the past, I am hoping for more of her struggles with the loss of their son, Kyle. I would love to see Kate and Kevin dive into this as well. I feel like the deep, cutting loss of their baby was sort of glossed over to make way for Randall. And ya'll know how much I love Randall, but still.

Flash Forward to recent seasons---After a few episodes involving infertility, miscarriage, and IVF, Kate and Toby finally seem to be having a healthy pregnancy (Can we also give an amen that the writers tackled the often unpredictable road to getting pregnant?). The episode where Kate's water breaks early sat in my DVR for a solid week before a dared press play. But I knew I had to watch. My water broke at 29 weeks. This story sounded so very familiar. When Randall says on the phone, "It's too early," my heart sank. Those 3 words are so relatable. In fact, I repeated those same 3 words the whole way to the hospital.

The episode called The Waiting Room was so well done. The long wait, the not knowing, the anticipation, the terror, but also hope....I wanted to hug all the characters and tell them, I get it. I truly do.

We know baby Jack does end up living, and going home, but we don't know that until the very end of the season finale. In between the birth and that scene, we experience Kate and Toby adjusting to life as NICU parents of a teeny tiny baby. Ok, I'll admit, this was challenging to watch but a standing ovation to this show for actually showing the NICU! It's a real place, and a hard place, and there's tons of noises and cords, and medical jargon. It's fast paced but there's also just a lot of waiting. You get a crash course in neonatal health. You befriend nurses. You long to hold your baby with every fiber of your being. It was our reality for just a week, but I remember it SO vividly. For many people, the NICU is their home for days, weeks, and months. So much content (shows, movies, and books) show a mom pushing for a few minutes (right around her due date, of course), a quickie hospital stay, and then baby goes home. I think it's so brave and powerful to bring to light the fact that this is simply not everyone's reality.

The ways in which the characters deal with this situation are wonderfully portrayed. Rebecca goes into action mode, takes notes, and tries to take in as much information as she can. Kate simply wants to mother, and is trying her best in a very unnatural situation. Toby sort of freezes and has a difficult time wrapping his brain around how radically different this situation is than what he had in mind. Although each of these reactions is a bit exaggerated within the characters, each reaction is pretty accurate in my opinion. I, for one, experienced all 3......usually all within the same hour.

It's difficult sometimes to interact with things that may be "triggering," but I think it's also healing. You know how Hollywood is trying to make content that feels a bit more diverse? More women, more people of color, etc? I feel like depicting real life situations involving birth and baby illness and loss is just as important. It makes me feel less alone. It gives voice to many experiences we have had. It's powerful, honest and it's vital. TV is entertaining---how else can you explain why, on Monday evenings, I watch 30 people exit a limo into inevitable drama on their "journey" to find love? It's fun. But television, like all forms of entertainment is a mirror too, catching us looking right back at ourselves. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Savor Your Sparkle,

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Spring Has Sprung!

It's SPRING!! And I, for one, am so happy about that! We've been busy lately and are looking forward to spring break in a few weeks. Easter is so late this year! This is a hodge podge blog post so get ready! 

We took Hank for a little spring photo shoot this past weekend and they turned out so cute that I can hardly stand it! One of my spring/summer goals is to make a photo book of those ones and his 1st Birthday party. 

Hank is on the move and it's so nice going outside again for walks, park visits, and to the swings. He loves throwing balls and walking in grass. I've been trying some new recipes, reading good books (click HERE for my March reads post), watching all my shows, doing the teaching thing, fitting in workouts, and more. 

I've recently gotten into making Indian food....might be the giant thing of naan bread I added to my Costco cart! This is pre-made tikka masala sauce with chicken, some sauteed veggies and basmati rice. Easy peasy and delish. 
I enjoyed a fun craft night with some friends. Girl time is so so so important to me and I am so thankful for friends and "Ladies Nights." 

 Last weekend we went on a date and then to Target to shop for Hank's Easter basket. We went pretty low key, but we are excited for the "Easter Bunny" to bring him Paw Patrol sneakers, a Peter Rabbit book, an egg matching toy, and some seasonal treats like bunny fruit snacks and of course, Goldfish. Being parents during the holidays is SO FUN!

My sister and her bf Joe have the cutest apartment and hosted my family and Joe's for a spring brunch. It was so lovely and all the food was delicious.

I declared 2019 the year of taking care of my skin. Sorry not to have an inspirational word (last year's was "surrender") but my 2019 resolution really was just "skin deep." (had to, lol). I have been using Philosophy's skin care line since December and I have really been liking it. I use the Purity cleanser morning and night along with the Purity moisturizer. Three times a week for one of my washes, I use the Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash in place of the Purity. I use a face mask 2-3 times a week and have been really liking the charcoal peel off masks. I am in the market for a good eye cream to stop early signs of aging but don't want to spend an arm and a leg OR put lots of unnecessary chemicals on my face. Any suggestions?

I'm not usually one for pranks or practical jokes, but a few years ago I found this "brown e" idea for April Fools Day online. My 1st graders thought it was so funny! I just casually started handing out the "brown e's" and played dumb when they looked at me confused. I only let the confusion last a minute before I handed out real brownies! 1st grade can be a challenge to teach but those little moments remind me why I adore 6 and 7 year olds so much! I feel like so many of us in the teaching trenches have been dragging a bit lately---spring fever has arrived and our teacher "plates" are overflowing! I'm trying to focus on the small fun moments because they ARE there. 

This time of year brings up a lot of memories because in the spring of 2016, I was getting BIG and my pregnancy was progressing normally....until it wasn't. I've had so many friends on my heart lately who are struggling to find their way to this motherhood season of life. I heard every platitude about "God's Plan," "Strength through hardship" etc in our darkest days of grief but sometimes you need a good cry and know that you are not alone on the broken path to  building your family. I never thought ever ever ever in 2016 that I'd be here with a toddler son and my precious daughter in heaven. Just a lot of feels. I saw this poem recently and it really resonated with me. You might not have any idea just how brave those around you are forced to be. I am so fortunate to have been surrounded by strong women in those days and still today too. 

This popped up in my Time hop this week. Can you even believe all the machines our little Hads was hooked up to? It breaks my heart. 

I warned you this post was random! We are looking forward to a chill weekend around here! 

Thanks for reading!
Savor Your Sparkle,