Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Happy 35, Babe!

Well, today my sweet and wonderful hubby turns the big 35! And I'm 100's of miles away from him in FL unable to celebrate with him in person or even give him a hug or a kiss :( That stinks. But, hopefully his mother and our oldest girls will make the day special for him in some way cuz he deserves it. He's the most amazing person that ever crossed my path and I love him more than words can say and every day I wonder what I did so right to call him my own. I am blessed beyond measure by his love, patience, guidance and companionship. I know this every day that I'm with him, but I guess it's becomes even more evident when we're apart :) So, happy 35, my handsome man! I wish I was there to make you a big ol' cake or take you to Cold Stone or out to a big Japanese dinner or something....but I'm a loser this year and am apart from you for the first time on your big day :( I promise I'll make it up to you and we'll celebrate as one big happy family next week when I return. Ash, Dyl and I send all our love and hugs and kisses from sunny So. Fla! XOXOXOXO :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Off to NC (and FL) we go!

Well, it's been crazy busy as normal around here and although I'd love to post about things like ballet and such, I simply have no time....as it's off on our 1-2 week vacation in NC/FL we go! Can't wait to relax in the mountains with the Gritz fam! More about that all when I return in Aug. Is it just me or is summer flying by WAY too fast :( That really stinks! Such is life in the fast lane of the Steg fam....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Cute Kids!

Just a few newer pics to brighten the day. I love these 4 more than words can tell and I am so blessed by their beings in my life. I am one overly blessed mama (and it doesn't hurt that they are quite beautiful and handsome to boot!) :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Stegs' 1st Annual Declutter Event!

Just a lil' post with a few pics to show off the proof of our blood, sweat and tears over the 2 weeks of our summer 2010 declutter event. I'd like to say I'm pleased with the resulst, but the sad fact is it looks like we hardly touched the house. It still feels overrun with toys, clothes and paperwork :( We probably needed like 2 mos instead of 2 weeks! But, Kev the eternal optimist assures me (the eternal pessimist) that we did good and it's better than it was and we should be proud. Not so sure about that, but I love the guy so I'll partially agree :) Anyway....above is our kitchen...probably the cleanest it's been since we moved into our house 8+ years ago. I decluttered the counters and went as far as to get down on my hands and knees to scrub the floor with a toothbrush. Now that is something I haven't had time to do since I had Dylan! It felt good to possibly be able to eat off the floor! :) As you can see Ash was excited about the cleanliness of our kitchen too...or maybe she just wanted her milk out of the locked fridge! :)
I don't remember if I ever showed off our new dining room table! Is it not the most beautiful piece of furniture!? I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! It's nice and tall (counter height) and my fav. dark wood and seats 8 and is just pure beauty (not that the 30 year old hand-me-down dog chewed one we owned before wasn't the cat's meow)...but this one is just slightly more awesome! And I love the simplicity of our dining room now. Just some artwork and my cuties on the wall! That's all I need to eat in peace! :)
I finally hung all 4 (hand/feet) wall plates in the kitchen (made by my sweet kiddos). I love them! I'm definitely thinking I need a window treatment though...and to repaint my kitchen! It needs some color!
Proof of our now clean (usually messy) tupperware cupboard, silverware drawer and cup cupboard! Not as clutter-free as Nina tried to make it when she visited in April, but it's not too shabby either! :)
I should have just made the above pic simply a pic of our junk drawer (far left)...check it out...it's sooo organized now. I should have taken a before pic of some of this stuff, but I was honestly too embarrassed...we could hardly open this drawer cuz it was so crammed full of pencils and pens and junk and we had food falling out of our terribly small pantry.
Our "keep on truckin" lil' old 13 year old fridge. It's been a trooper and this is probably the cleanest it's been in 8 years too! It's hard to keep a clean fridge with kids who love to spill and hate to clean up! :)
This is probably one of our best "clean-up" solutions! A bigger garbage can...and one that slides out! I love it! If you know our home you know we have a lot of trash with 6 people living here...and we were living off a small office supply garbage can (which my mom has hated when she visits...she has not hidden her opinion on that!)...anyway...this is the biggest we could fit in this small space, but it's been a ton better for our overflowing trash problem! This might very well be a gift for Nina too! :) You're welcome, Mom! :)
Ok...here's a few "before and after pics". Our spice/sprinkle cabinet (yes, we have A LOT of sprinkles!)...a terrible mess....too much junk.....
So, we invested in a tiered spice rack....love it! Kev even alphabetized it all (we'll see how long that lasts!) :)

And I love this idea....if you ever need more storage and have a small house (with lots of kids and stuff!) like us...use these over-the-door hangers for EVERYTHING! We already have them on all the doors for shoes and gloves/scarves, etc....but this time we used them for school supplies (just nailed it the wall)....so the kids could get stuff out easily....love it and it left us with a much less-cluttered coat closet with also doubles as the kids' craft supply closet!
The kiddos playing with all the Little People stuff that we've had in storage for probably 8 years. It was like Christmas in July for them! :) We put a new shelf up in the "cat room" in the basement just for them to store all this. Did I mention we have every Little People toy imaginable...we went a little crazy when Hailey was 1 and 2 years old! :)
In the midst of our declutter, Hailey had 4 double headers! CRAZY!
We thought this would be her last game, but turns out she had 1 more tournament game. Now the season is over...it was a great chance for her to try a new sport...but not sure it compares to ballet?? Her team and coaches were great though. Go Storm!
The only thing Dylan wanted to do on his first weekend home after our cleaning escapade was to find everything with a road on it and put it all together. You know our boy and his cars and roads!

Kev going through our mounds of cookbooks! We are vowing this coming fall to try one new thing a week in one of our cookbooks or cooking magazines! There is tons of yummy stuff in there! And, yes, the man loves his Crepes!
The kitchen stuff we got rid of. This wasn't actually that tough. There have been a couple boxes of things that we got for our wedding 13 years ago and never really even used. Those went (or are going) to Goodwill! It left us with a little more cabinet space, which is nice!
Some of the 20-30 bags of stuff we gave away to our local crisis pregnancy center, goodwill, backstreet missions, etc. Kev made a trip to one of these places almost every day of our declutter You'd think our house would be empty after giving away that many clothes and toys, but no siree bob...we are still a cluttered mess in Steg-land! :(
Our messy corner by the fridge. For as long as I can remember we have wanted a pantry here. We were promised one when we purchased our house, but the salesman messed up and was fired so we didn't get that promised (much-needed) pantry. And we never took the time/money to order one. Anyway...so this is not normally how messy it looks, but it goes to show that the small bookshelf we had here was not suitable for all our cookbooks and mainly for all my cake-decorating books....this mess coincidentally occurred when I was looking for a recipe during our declutter (all these books fell on me)...lovely!
This is our "new" space! Don't you just love this new chrome shelf?! I do! It's perfect and it got some of my bigger appliances off my counter.
A lil' look into the small amount of work we did upstairs...our hallway (kids') closet/linen/medicine closet is always a mess...it's really hard to keep it clean since the kids are in charge of it mostly...
But, I was proud of my all-day clean out of it....
and even more proud of Kev's awesome idea...to hang another over-the-door hanger behind our closet door in our master bath....to put all extra bath supplies in...love it and it totally cleared out our linen closet! And you never see this cuz it's always behind our open closet door (which is closed in this picture)
We said goodbye to the crib (well, sorta...it's still not out of the house as we haven't had time to post it on Craiglist)...but we moved it out of the nursery and moved Dylan's new bunk bed to the perfect new spot...and moved Ash into her new bottom bunk in Shelby's room. Now it's a shared room. Ash has done great in there and is sleeping like a charm. We are very, very lucky! But, it was sorta sad to say goodbye to our Ragazzi crib that we loved so much and picked out just for our 1st baby over 10 years ago. Even after 10 years and 4 kids it looks brand new. I hope we can sell it and our dresser/changing table to a nice couple expecting a baby. We sold Shelby's old furniture to a wonderful lady who had a little girl turning 2. I loved knowing it was going to a sweet little girl who would love it like we did. We also sold the ol' organ! Good riddens and now Nina can have more space in her basement room!
Here's proof or our 2 days of basement declutter/clothes-sorting...what a chore...a very taxing (and emotional) of a chore for me (and Kev)...
Even after 2 days of decluttering and giving away 20 bags of clothes...we were still left with all this....
And I'm sorta embarrassed to show this off...our master closet...it's the catch-all for...well...everything! I cannot let it get this bad again so I am posting this to remind me! A walk-in closet is really meant to be what it says "walk-in"...and thankfully now it is. This doesn't show off how it really will look since Kev just hung a new shelf in here this week and now I can actually refold all the towels and his t-shirts....but this pic was proof that we actually have a closet floor (haha!) :)
Anyway...so that was that....about 9 days of decluttering (minus many hours due to softball games and running kids here and there)...and we probably only crossed a few things off our list of 20, but like so many of our dear friends say "it's better than it was!" :) I guess that's true and I need to stop being so pessimistic! But, it does go to show that we need to keep doing this kind of thing and make it an annual event or even biannual. And I need to be better about not letting things pile up. This is so hard to do when you are a very busy mom of 4 and you spend so much time immersed in your kids' lives. I'd much rather have happy, smart, well-rounded kids than a spic-n-span house any day. But, I must say...having both happy/smart kids and a clean house for a brief moment is nice too! :)

(Special thanks again to Nina and Poppy Stegs who took such wonderful and amazing care of all 4 kiddos for those almost-two weeks...we truly could not have done this w/o their love and support and generosity...if you don't know them and love them like we do, you should...they are two of the most amazing people you will ever meet and we owe them immensely!)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Swim Lessons!

Two posts from me in one day...unheard of! Well, it's been a lazier day than normal for me with no swim lessons, canceled play date for Hailey and canceled photo session for Ash due to scratch on the face in the bath last night (go figure)...so I guess I was meant to have a free, laid back morning. And with that I'll post a few pics of swim lessons this week. Monday was our first day of swimming and we were off to IUOP (Indiana University Outdoor Pool...our fav. place to take lessons)...the three youngest are swimming for the next two weeks. Hailey will swim in August once her vigorous ballet schedule is over. This was Ash's first time doing lessons (parent-toddler ones) and boy has she been in rare form (that's a nice word for it) in the pool all week....but isn't the above pic so sweet of my lil' swimmers!?!
Since Monday was a holiday for daddy he was able to watch us and take some pics...Ash actually looks semi-happy here trying to swim to her duckie...but don't let the semi-happy face fool you...she was a BEAR this day in the pool (and almost every day since)! :(
Dylan on the otherhand LOVES swim lessons and puts his whole heart into it. I love this happy boy! We put him in a level probably above what he was able to do, but he is doing awesome and trying so hard!
Can you tell what she saying? "NAH!" The smile on my face is lovely isn't it?! If you only knew what I was really thinking....stubborn baby!
Hmmm...daddy actually got semi-happy looking (non-crying) pics....don't know how he managed that?
Dylan and his instructor...
Little guy jumping in...he loves to jump in the pool!
Shelby in her advanced class...we too put her in a higher level and she almost cried the first day cuz it was "so hard"...but she's doing great and learning to work hard w/o complaining (a challenge for her) :)
And I love these pics....this was all Ash wanted to do the first day...was jump into the pool...and she didn't just want to jump into my arms...she wants to scoot as far down the pool as she could and then jump so I wouldn't catch her. Can we say Miss Independent?!
1, 2, 3....
...go! She almost didn't make it into the pool :)
And here is a pic from Wednesday...still being stubborn and ornery and fussy! :( (finally by Thursday she hardly fussed at all...phew!) And then a lil' pic of our prima ballerina on day one of "ballet camp"...she is LOVING it! It's very intensive, but an awesome learning experience....she has been exhausted each day, but is lovin' learning Swan Lake choreography and I can't wait to see her perform next Friday night.

Friends...and an Ice Cream Pool Party!

Just another quick post to show some of our summer fun. I decided very last minute this week to throw a fun little ice cream social/pool party for Hailey and her best school friends. She was thrilled with the idea the only issue is that she now has intensive ballet session 5.5 hours every day til we leave on vacation next week so we had to try to squeeze in something in the evening hours. So, we emailed all the girls and sure enough most (all but 1) were available this Wednesday. They had a grand ol' time hamming it up and eating junk food. Here's the pics to prove it. I realize I never posted Hailey's b-day party pics from March/April, but these are the same slumber party girls...Baileigh, Audrey and Ella...(Erika not present :()
Before the official party started we had Baileigh and Sydne over for supper (we made bagel pizzas and cheesy bread...yumm!)...Hailey was still at ballet at this point, so she missed out...
But, as soon as she arrived home her friends surprised her with a bombardment of water balloons...can you see Shelby made it up the deck first to get her! :)
Hailey reciprocated with all she had in her hand...sunscreen!
We put the slip-n-slide on the side yard...much more fun (and fast) on the incline! We had to put Ashley's deflated baby pool at the end to catch the girls from flying into the grass!
Ash decided it was GREAT fun to go down on her own. :)
LOL! Check out her happy face!
The girls making a pool whirlpool and Shelby taking all the "big girl" fun in :)
Bathing beauties :)
Baileigh (aka The Wild One :)) and Shelby....going crazy shaking up a root beer and letting it explode!
Digging into the ice cream sundae toppings before I had even brought out the ice cream! Oink Oink!
Ash getting her first whipped cream in the mouth...she had no idea what to do with it after this so it fell right out of her mouth :)
The girls diggin' into their sundaes.
We made the "siblings" go up on the deck and leave the big girls alone...they weren't too pleased about that. Ash was the first to polish off her sundae...no surprise there!
Sydne and Shelby chowing down.
The girls showing off their George Washington hairdos...to which I mentioned they looked more like Elvis...so they did these Elvis poses instead :) Crazy girls!

It was a quick, but fun evening and nice to get the girls together before many of them (and us) leave on vacation and before school starts again. Hard to believe summer is half over already :( We have just been trying to cram in as much friend-time as we can!