Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bless This Mess Giveaway...

My friend, Melissa, has this insanely successful blog. Well, to be honest, everything she does ends up being pretty successful. I always go to her blog for recipes and inspiration on anything homey and domestic. And today, she happen s to be doing a giveaway that I would like to win. Check it out Here.

She asks what our idea of the "American Kitchen" is, and all I can think of is my family. My kitchen gives me the opportunity to show my family-- several times a day-- how much I love and care for them, because that is where I do. When I am cooking for them, nourishing them, and feeding them, I'm able to physically manifest how much I care for them.

Wish me luck in the fridge giveaway! And hey, enter for yourself! Because the only thing better than me winning would be for a friend to win!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Baby Lilly's Birth Story...

I don't even want to know when my last post was. Did I even write up anything when I was pregnant? Well, who cares now...because I have a darling 6-week-old baby girl. And it's about time I wrote up her birth story before I forget anything else. So here it goes!

Preface: I have this friend in church named Beth. She is one of those super-swet people that everyone loves because she is just so freaking nice. And we found out we were pregnant right around the same time...our due dates a mere 4 days apart. Mine was April 6th, hers the 10th. This was her 4th pregnancy, 5th child as compared to my 3rd. So as we neared the end of our pregnancies, I asked, "do you tend to go into labor earlier than your due date or later?" to which she responded "early." Great. With my track record of 41+3 and 40+3 and having to be induced, I had to come to terms with the fact that she was going to have her baby first. Even though I was due first. It took a few weeks for em to be okay with it. So I also made Beth promise me that she would text me on her way to the hospital. I couldn't bear to find out she had her baby by way of Facebook. So she graciously obliged. But back to me...

Sunday morning, April 5th, (which also happened to be Easter) I woke up around 3 a.m. with some pretty hardcore contractions. They were about 7 minutes apart and weren't too painful, but there was no way I could sleep through them. I kept timing thinking if I hit 4 minutes apart, even once, I was calling the hospital. I was so done being pregnant at this point. But 7 minutes apart, every time, until about 8:30 when I decided to get up and fold the three baskets of laundry in the nursery. And of course the contractions slowed right down and eventually came to a stop. So we went on with our day, finding the eggs the Easter Bunny hid around the house, watching General Conference, the kids getting a sugar buzz from all their candy, braving the SNOW to go to Uncle Tim's and Aunt Elaine's house for Easter dinner, and visiting with all of the Thomas side of the family. I napped a little, too, to make up for the 5 hours of contractions that morning. I guess the contractions didn't completely stop, because I had quite a few while we had dinner with the family and I guess they were painful enough that most of the women (and nurses) in the room made note of the time and duration of each one. But I ignored them...I don't go into labor on my own. I was being induced on Saturday the 11th and that was that.

So when we got home from Easter dinner (I made Zac drive my car because sitting was getting rather uncomfortable and I did NOT want to drive...I wanted to curl up in the seat on my side), we watched some tv with the kids and Zac put them to bed. And then I got the text from Beth. "Hey! I've been having some pretty regular contractions. Heading to the hospital." See? True to her word. That's why everyone loves her. So I wished her luck, said I was having some, too, but not consistently, and jokes maybe I would see her there tomorrow. I pretty much collapsed on the couch and didn't move until I went to bed at 10, still contracting every now and then, but not consistently. My mother-in-law (whom I alerted to the frequent, yet sporadic contractions) said she would have her phone on and to keep her updated. She was sure it was going to happen. I humored her and said I would let her know if anything changed, and went to sleep.

At 1 a.m., I think I almost woke up the whole house with an "AAHHHH!" contraction. That one was a doozy. It took a few more to really wake me up and realize I was having really painful ones again. Not just strong this time, but painful. So once again, I watched the clock as a few more went by. 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 6 minutes, 13 minutes...they were all over the place. But I couldn't go back to sleep and I'm pretty sure my writhing in pain was disturbing Zac's sleep, so I went out to the couch. I tried bouncing on my birthing ball, walking, leaning up against the counter, making a mountain of pillows on the couch to lie on...but nothing was helping with the pain. I texted Jaylene around 3:30 and let her know the contractions were back and freaking hurt, but that I still doubted it was anything to be concerned about since they weren't consistent. I hung out in the living room another hour and a half and got a response from Jaylene just before 5:00. She said she was coming over as soon as Madison was on her way to before-school seminary. I didn't argue. I still doubted I was actually in labor, but if nothing else, Jaylene would rub my back and make me feel better.

But around 5;30, I decided to call the hospital. Just to call and see what they said. Maybe they would have me come in and check me and maybe I made some progress. I was barely at 1 cm dilated and 80 percent effaced at my appointment the Thursday before. So I called and spoke to this really sweet nurse. We chatted for a while...she got my personal info and looked me up, she asked about my other two labors, we talked about how it was my due date, how my mother-in-law was on her way over and she was capable of watching Logan and Kaylee...and I think the best part was how she talked me through the contractions I had while on the phone with her. I couldn't talk through them anymore, so she noticed when I would have one and would just very sweetly coach me through it. After speaking with her for a while, she asked why I didn't want to come into the hospital just yet and I said it was because I was afraid of being sent home and looking dumb for thinking I was in labor.

Nurse: Pregnant women don't look dumb, sweetie. Is your husband awake?
Me: No.
Nurse: Well, do me a favor and go wake Prince Charming up. In the 10 minutes we've been on the phone, you've had 3 contractions you haven't been able to talk through.
Me: Are you sure?
Nurse: I'm sure. You're having a baby today!

So I woke Zac up, got dressed, Jaylene walked in the door, and we went to the hospital. The 6 minute ride there was awful. Who knew a car could be so uncomfortable! I was pretty much moaning the entire time. Freaked Zac out pretty bad, (Keep in mind my other two labors were scheduled inductions, so this was all new territory for us!) We got to the hospital and parked and I headed toward the doors while Zac got my bag. At one point I kind of doubled over in the parking lot and eventually grabbed onto a handicapped parking sign. I had figured out that upright was the best way to handle a contraction, but I usually needed support, too. This became a  recurring theme through the rest of my labor.

Inside the ER entrance (it was just after 6 am, so it was the only way in), the receptionist just smiled as we made our way past her and I said "I'm having a baby." I wasn't in the mood to stop and chit chat. I knew where I was going and to hell with anyone who got in my way. As we moseyed on down the corridor to the elevators, one nurse asked "Sweetie, do you need a wheelchair?" to which I responded, "No sitting." and kept walking. Or waddling, I guess.

We made it to the second floor where the nursing staff was ready and waiting for us. We went right into a room where I got changed and we waited for the Calvary...basically my midwife, Jessica. She got there around 7 and checked me...I was 6 centimeters dilated so it was definitely happening. She suggested I labor in the tub for a while since I was refusing pain meds. I agreed, so they filled up the tub and I got in. It was such a great relief that I was mad at myself for not thinking of it while I was at home! I honestly don't know how long I was in there. Frankly, most of the details and time gets a bit hazy here. I had a nursing student check the baby's heart rate every once in a while. I complained about my awful heart burn and they brought me a shot glass of something sour that knocked it right out, they put a hep-lock in my hand (which I begged them not to, but it's hospital protocol), Zac texted my mom and told her if she wanted to come she should, I said "Hypnobirthing is stupid and doesn't work," Jaylene texted Zac to tell him the kids were off to school and asked if she could come to the hospital, and then things started to feel different in my pelvis so we called the nurse. She had me walk back to my room to be checked and I had to stop a few times down the hallway because the contractions were really awful. When I got to my room, my midwife checked me and said I was at an 8. She also said she could feel the cushion of fluid right there and if she broke my water, I would be done with this whole laboring nonsense in about 10 minutes.

Me: Right, but once you break my water, it's going to hurt.
Jessica: Breaking your water doesn't hurt.
Me: No, I know. But the contractions are going to get a lot worse. And they already hurt. And I'm tired.
Jessica: Okay, but it will be like 10 minutes of intense laboring and then it will be over with.
Me: Okay, fine.
Jessica: On an unrelated and unprofessional note, did you watch Scandal this week?
Me: No, sorry.
Jessica: Okay, try and catch up on it while you're recovering.

So she broke my water. Oh, Jaylene was there at this point. My mom was still MIA. I didn't want to stay in bed because lying down was the worst and I needed to be standing...So I got back out of bed and had a whopper of a contraction. Thankfully Jaylene was there, because I grabbed right onto her. I think I was trying to put her in a choke hold, but she had the advantage of not being in pain or pregnant, so she just held onto me and helped me work through it. That happened a few more times before my midwife said, "Okay, how are you going to push? What position do you want to be in? Because it's go time."

I thought about it for a second and said "I don't know. I don't care. What's easier for you?" Because as I was thinking about it, I realized I never had an option before. With Logan I had an epidural and didn't feel a thing, so they positioned me. With Kaylee, she came so fast, my doctor wasn't even there. I also started to freak out at this point because I realized I never learned how to push. Again, with Logan, I couldn't feel anything and I don't really know how I even pushed him out. And with Kaylee they were all telling me not to push and she came out when I rolled over. So at this point I was in full-blown panic mode (i.e. Transition) and kept saying "I don't want to" and "I can't" and "I don't know how."

Jessica: Pushing is just like pooping. Pretend to poop.
Me: I don't want to poop!
Jessica: You won't poop. There isn't anything in your rectum.

She lied.

But I pushed once. And then I pretty much gave up.

Me: I can't do this! I don't know how! I don't want to!
Jessica: One more push, Sarah. The head is right here.
Me: I don't want to!
Jessica (though it may have been Jaylene): You hate being pregnant, right? One more push and you won't be pregnant anymore!

And that was all it took. Baby was out and crying and everything looked great!

She was born on her due date at 10:06 am weighing 9 lbs 2 oz, 20 3/4 inches long.

We waited for the kids to get home from school to see her before we named her, so when Zac brought them to the hospital that afternoon, we all agreed on Lillian Danielle.

The last 6 weeks have been pretty great as far as Lilly is concerned. She is a good sleeper, a great eater, and really isn't too fussy. She prefers to be held, but isn't above the rocker or the lounger. She sleeps 4-6 hour stretches at night most of the time and is starting to smile when she is awake during the day. We love her to pieces and really can't imagine our lives without her!

Monday, May 19, 2014

So Much For Updating...

Heh. Remember when I said I'd be better about blogging? Back in February? Yeah. That didn't happen. But what has happened since then (in no particular, wait. That's a lie. This is mostly chronological since my last post):

1. I was called as the YW President in the Canandaigua Ward.

It was a crazy thing. The bishop called me into his office and sat me down...I was figuring he was going to release me from my calling (non-lds readers can take that as "unpaid, volunteer job") as the Young Women organization's secretary because the YW President was moving. So the conversation went something like this:

Bishop Warner: So, as you know, Barb is moving.
Me: Yes.
Bishop: And when a president leaves, her presidency is dissolved and a new president is called. Then she calls two counselors and a secretary.
Me: Uh huh..
Bishop: We're going to need a new president. Who do you think it should be?
Me: Um...isn't that your job to figure out?

...I proceeded to throw out some ideas of people who would keep me on as secretary, but he pretty much shot down all of my suggestions.

Bishop: So what about you?
Me: Um, I don't know if you are aware of it or not, but this? [Motioning to myself] This is not leadership material.
Bishop: I beg to differ. So take some time, pray about it, and tell me who we are calling as your counsellors and your secretary. Congratulations, Sister Steele.

So yeah. That happened. And it's been hard and at times I feel like I'm drowning, but I have an AMAZING presidency who gets crap done. And I love those girls so much. I'm in a good place.

2. I half-quit, half got fired from the YMCA. I really started hating it there. Like LOATHED going into work and working with one or two particular people. It was crushing my soul. And after taking on the responsibilities as the YW president, I'm SO GLAD I'm not there anymore. Because I would die.

It was an interesting experience, having never been fired from something before. My "supervisor" (self-assigned title) and I haven't gotten along since I was hired. Just a personality clash. It really started wearing on me. So incident after incident, we both kept reporting the other to our boss. I think our boss just got sick of it and said I needed an attitude adjustment. Which wasn't wrong. When I couldn't stop complaining, she asked for my letter of resignation. I didn't give it...I just left. Which was probably the wrong way to go about it, but I hated that place so much in the final weeks I was there. So I still have a bad taste in my mouth with the whole being partially fired thing, but it was one of the best things that could have happened. Especially since I actually have time and a desire to work out there now instead of just going there to work! Oh, and I get to spend more time volunteering at school and at home with these beautiful babies.

3. WE WENT TO TEXAS. Which deserves its own post. Which I will get to some day. But in the mean time, I will just tell you that I loved every second of spending a straight week with my very best friend in the whole world. Guys. Danielle Baer Williams is my soulmate. I'm so lucky to have her in my life.

4. We have a new addition to the family. No, not the dog. I posted about him last time. This addition is 12 years old and her name is Bailey. Over a year ago, Zac and I both felt pretty inspired to start taking foster parent certification courses through the county. Fast-forward to the beginning of March when our final home-study was being completed and I found out that one of my Young Women (in the aforementioned Young Women's program) was taken into foster care because her circumstances at home were not good.  We were asked if we were willing to take her since we had a previous relationship, but our caseworker advised against it simply because our licensing wouldn't be complete for another week. So we didn't and she was placed in a different foster home. But fast-forward 5 weeks and whatever home she was in "wasn't working out." So we were asked to reconsider. And now we are trying to figure out how to parent a 12-year-old who has never been parented before in her entire life. It's an interesting adventure. This picture is from her first day of school in Canandaigua.

So now you're caught-up-ish in the goings on of the Steele household. Future plans and upcoming events? Probably getting the puppy groomed. I'm getting my tonsils and adenoids out on Thursday. It's going to be awful, I'm sure. We are talking about a summer vacation...possibly to Washington D.C. since a) I love being a tourist b) It's a reasonable drive and c) Logan has taken an interest in early American history, most notably with old documents like the Declaration of Independence. Oh, and d) it's close to an Ikea AND a Cafe Rio. Boom.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Oh, Hello, Blog Old Friend...

Yeah, I haven't blogged in forever. No apologies. I've been busy. So to recap the last 13 months of me NOT blogging, here are 13 random updates in no particular order:

1. We retired the Swagger Wagon and brought home "Ruby" the Freestyle. She is pretty legit.

2. Zac and I spent a weekend last November in Albany and it was awesome. We are hoping to take the kids for a weekend sometime and get to teach them a little bit about the state capitol. 

3. I finished my "Jade" manuscript and started another 2 I did at a writer's retreat that Julie Berry invited me to. (Yes, I'm name-dropping). The other manuscript I banged out during NaNoWriMo. It was my first time participating and I met my month-long goal and ended up with 73,000 words. It's not finished yet, but pretty close. 

4. About a hundred of my friends got married over the summer of 2013. 

5. Both kids started attending the Canandaigua School district. Logan in 1st grade, Kaylee in UPK at the Y. 

6. March of 2013, my very best friend and her 3 beautiful kids came and visited us. (And we get to go visit her next month in Texas!!! But my kids don't know we are going, so shhhh. Good thing they don't read this blog.)

7. I had 2 nephews and 1 niece born. They are all pretty amazing. 


8. We celebrated our 10-year high school reunion Bloomfield-style in Julie Driscoll's parent's driveway and had a bon fire in their backyard. 

9. The kids and I really enjoyed summer in Canandaigua. 

10. I lost 40 lbs. Then put 10 back on over the holidays, but still. 

11. I started writing/interviewing for Mormon Artist Magazine

(One of my more recent interviews) I've gotten to know some really stellar people. 

12. I was called to serve as the YW Secretary in church...a calling which I'm about to be released from only to take on another calling which is shaking me to my core.... more about that later. But it will be a good thing. 

13. And last but not least, we added a new family member. Chewbacca. He is the best puppy. He is calm and happy...doesn't really lick or jump. Was housebroken in like 5 days. And only chewed one shoe. He's a keeper for sure. 

Here's hoping I'm better at blogging this next year :-)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

"And I Miss You..."

Ugh. Sad post time. Seriously, don't read this if you're in a happy place.

So I had a good chat with Mary Therese this morning. It was quick because the kids were in the car. But I said hi, caught up on some life happenings, told her I missed her. Told her the anniversary of my Grandpa's death is just around the corner, too. But then I told her how that anniversary isn't as sad to me, because Grandpa had lived a long, full, happy life. No doubt hers had been happy, too. But not nearly as long as it should have been.

So then I got in the car and made my way back home and started cleaning the house, my Pandora radio station playing. And this song came on. And you all should know me well enough by now that when I hear a song that is applicable to whatever my current mood it, I latch onto it. But this one is a triple-whammy.

It's called "From Where You Are." Oy.
It's by Lifehouse (one of MT's favorite bands). Double oy.
When I watched the video, I found out it was produced by Allstate's Teen Safe Driver program and at the end, the video is dedicated to teens who have lost their lives in accidents and to all those who loved them.

Like I've said before...some anniversaries are happy; some are sad. And then there are those that make you want to hug your loved ones a little bit tighter.

Miss you, MT.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas 2012

We had a wonderful Christmas this year (even in spite of my annual grinchiness). We had Thomas family Christmas on the 23rd at my Aunt Karen's house. The kids were spoiled out of their minds. And for the first time in many years, my Aunt Bobbi joined us. It was almost like we were a complete family again.

When Zac and I got back from our anniversary stay at Belhurst Castle, we spent Christmas Eve at my in-laws' where we made bank in the present department. Probably my favorite gift (next to my new BJs membership) was from my MIL...a "Willow Tree" nativity set. I'm in love. I almost look forward to next Christmas when I can set it up :) Oh. I also got a stainless steel bucket from my father-in-law. Not sure why, exactly, but I'm having fun with it. I'm trying to use it for something different every day. Today it is transporting Christmas decor from the living room to the storage closet.

Christmas morning was wonderful. My parents came to our place to partake of brunch and the joy from the tiny children opening their presents. Again, spoiled. We rounded out the day by spending time with Savannah and Brandon before their return trip to Utah.

So there it is. Christmas 2012 in a nutshell. And now for pictures:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Simply Thankful...

The last few days, I have been thinking about how truly thankful I am to have my kids. My two incredibly smart, funny, happy, healthy children. They are my world, and I don't know what I would do without them.

Wait. That's a lie. I DO know what I would do without them. I would sleep more. I would go on more vacations with my husband. Have more "me time." Like peeing alone, or showering alone. I'd have more money. I wouldn't be driving a minivan...I'd probably have something much nicer and newer. I probably wouldn't have mac and cheese three times a week. I wouldn't get the "Dora the Explorer" theme song stuck in my head on a daily basis. I would buy clothes that are dry-clean only in a heartbeat. And I would have a marginally cleaner house.

But you know what? All that doesn't compare to Kaylee tip-toeing into my room at the crack of dawn, putting her chubby little hands on my cheeks, and saying "Morning. I love you. Can I have a Gogurt?" Or how when Logan steps off the school bus in the afternoons, he runs full-speed right at me to give me a hug and tell me about his day. Or when they are saying their prayers at night and say things like, "Heavenly Father, I thank you for my mommy and how much she loves me."

I have experienced far too many tiny coffins in the last two years. Too many babies that have entered this world for too brief a time. I have seen friends of mine coping with the loss of a child, learning how to deal with a void in their family. And it breaks my heart. There hasn't been a single baby lost that I've known, that I haven't shed tears over. Spent hours grieving for. Spent days praying for their families they have left behind. And not knowing what to say or to do, because... what can you say or do?

So this year, this Thanksgiving, I am simply thankful for my Logan and my Kaylee. Yes, they drive me crazy at times. But I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. They are my life, my joy, my loves.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I've been rearranging a lot lately. I get bored, so I move furniture, I put up new pictures, I buy new throw rugs.

So my latest conquest has been our bedroom. The layout is a touch annoying...there is only one logical place to put the bed. And the bed has been there for over a year. So I got creative.

The head of the bed now rests against the window.

Crazy? Perhaps. I wasn't sure if I would like it. But as it turns out, I have found many little perks that make the new bed location just that much better.

For one, there is the symmetry of the night stands, wall outlets, and lighting that we've never had before.

Two, Zac and I like to be cold when we sleep. So having our heads by the windows that we can open and let in. a brisk night breeze is fantastic. Which also leads me to

Three- along with the "liking to be cold" thing, there is nothing I dislike more than a hot pillow. So with the two pillows I have, I can keep one next to the window which chills it very well. So when I wake up, as I do frequently, I can swap out my warm, slept on pillow for a "Chillow," if you will. Ask my brother-in-law, Matt, about that one. I think he copyrighted the phrase :)

This evening, I just found another bonus to being close to the window. The window sill now houses my water bottle throughout the night, keeping it chilled like it came right out of the fridge. With the convenience of not having to travel to the kitchen.

Best idea I've had in ages.

p.s.- I know the red curtains don't match. I'm working on that ;)

September/October iPhone Photo Dump...

A trip to the children's museum, riding the carousel, painting pumpkins, eating gelato and other delicious treats, and the "Guitars and Stars" concert with Momma Steele (where I got to see Lonestar and Martina McBride...and like 3 other country singers I don't know, but liked anyways!). It's been an eventful 4 weeks.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Day At The Grove In Pictures...

Logan was still on 24-hour fever watch and stayed home from school again yesterday. But since he was feeling better, we met up with Grandma Jaylene for a picnic and hike through the Sacred Grove over in Palmyra. It was a bit breezy, but a lovely day.