Monday, September 30, 2013

Difficult Decisions

Well, I wasn't going to post today.  It's been a long day and I am pooped.  But, the evening brought about some discussion on difficult decisions so I am laying it out so I can clear my brain before sleep.

We've been faced with some sad situations lately.  Not in our immediate family of 7, but a couple very sudden, young deaths and tonight the possibility of a grandparent not making it much longer on this earth.  This is all heavy on our hearts.  And in moments like these sad ones, it brings to light what is really most important in life...people/family/friends--time spent with those you love...not piddly things or little stresses.  It also brings to light that young families like ourselves need to take care of making some big decisions.  Kev and I have been lacking in this department...not because we are lazy or don't care, but because we want to make the best decisions for our family if something were to happen to both of us.  I know neither of us wants to even think about something like that...but it could happen and we do need to be prepared so our kids are well taken care of.  Tonight we hashed it out :)  We talked of wills, insurance and those "lucky" folks who should be "parents" to our kids if we were both gone.  It's a big decision to us and not one we take lightly.  I think we are finally going to put it on paper and make it official and this is a good thing.  It's something every family needs to do.

And on a more important note, these sad situations are making us realize that life is too precious to not do all that you can with those you love.  Spend that quality time with those who mean the most to you.  If you miss a family member and want to go see them, even if they live 1000's of miles away...go see them.  If you want to take a vacation with your brother or sister, do it.  If someone means something to you, tell them....tell them in person if you can, or at the very least call them or write them a letter. Don't put off any of that b/c you never really do know when the last time is you'll see that person.  It's sad that death is what sometimes puts life in perspective, huh?    

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Fab Five :)

 Nothing particularly special to post today.  Just a few pics of the "fab five" (as Pops call them) :)  Hopefully I can post a few pics from this past weekend tomorrow when I am not feeling quite so tired.  But, for now this is better than nothing :) Here's the oldest of the "five" above...after Nutcracker tryouts last weekend...with her lil' tagalong who is dearly loved by the ballet girls. 
 Shelb showing off her Eiffel Tower report that she did for school last week, complete with authentic Paris goodies from Nathalie, and Aunt Sue who had been there for vacations years ago (notice the agility of the baby in the picture...teehee...future ballerina?) :)
 This isn't the best quality pic due to some sun-glare, but check out D's face as he's goes through the warm-up tent as his name is called  for his football game last week.  He LOVES this sport...today I found out it's b/c he really likes the flags and grabbing them off people! He apparently now things all sports should have flags in them. haha :)  Go Spartans!
 The beautiful b-day girl on her 5th bday last weekend.  We did good picking out this outfit, Nina, didn't we?  I just love the brightness!
And my littlest man...this is how tickled he gets by things...he moves his arms like he's gonna take off in flight and his legs come off the ground (also like an airplane).  He's soooo funny! 

When days seem tough I need to revert back to pics like this of what matters most...the people in my life. And I love these FIVE so much! 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

15 Yr Anni pics :)

Trying to get caught up on old pic-posting...it's a loooong process, especially with the busy summer we had.  Gonna start with our 15th anniversary pics :)  It was a busy day back on Aug 14...Ash had her first day of preschool...the kids had just been in school one week...but we did the best with the time we had...We did snag a family pic...this was the best we could get...by our steadfast willow tree :)
I never know what to do for Kev for anniversaries.  We don't usually buy each other gifts, but I wanted to do something special since it was #15.  So I got this fun idea to buy 15 helium balloons (in the colors of our wedding...navy blue/silver/white) and put 15 wedding pics of us with 15 post-its on the back of things that I love about him :)  Kinda cheesy, I know :)
I was gonna copy pics, but then realized I had a whole book of wedding proofs (from back in the day when we had no digital)...so I just used these :)
Ash helped me pick out balloons...unfortunately she fell at the party store and got a black eye :(  Can you tell who love balloons and is forlornly looking at them :)
Here's the pics/notes/balloons hanging around our dining room. I love this b/c there's all our wedding pics of just Kev and I and behind them on the wall are the pics of our 5 sweet kiddos :)
I even had a mini-Kev pose as the groom :)
teehee :)
You know I love these candy gram things now...so why not do one for the hubster in honor of our big day :)
Our anniversary treats...15 white choc. covered strawberries, the candy card and the cake :)
You know we love sidewalk chalk creations too :)
The product of 15 years of lovin' :)  I love this pic...it was fastest pic ever taken of our kiddos...as we went out the door to meet Kev for dinner...
Shelb was our photographer for the evening....she loves pics from a different perspective...reminds me of Pops in FL a bit :) :)
Someone wants his mama's spicy quesadilla....don't worry, he got a lil' "kick" in his milk later on :)
The whole reason to go to Cheddars...the cookie monster dessert!  I think they overcooked it though b/c it wasn't that good.  We'll give 'em slack b/c they just opened for business....but next time it'd better be better!  It was also free b/c we waited forever for it!  Can't complain about free food!  I remember indulging in these often at our GR one by Calvin! Yummers!
I remember going to Cheddars back in 1996 with just Kev and I and some friends...now look at us! :)
I wish I had the old pic of us at Cheddars back in 1997 (or was it 1996?) when my mom met Kev in GR...I can't find it.  I just remember I was bigger than Kev then and he had a Halloween tie on.  But, this is outside ours in Bloomington. So glad they built one so we could frequent it here in town :)  Gosh, we look tired...I guess b/c we are! :)
Here's daddy and Ash looking at the pics/post-its...Logan wishing he could grab a balloon :)
The sweet surprise Kev gave me...a new Pandora charm.  I LOVE it!  It's my new fav on my bracelet...a mini diamond ring :)
The awesome cake Hays made us with the story of our life on it...family pics and kiddo pics...all chosen by her :)
Proof that it is still difficult to get normal looking pics of our fam....but at least photos come with some comic relief :)
Trying to be creative with photos...
But the baby in the fam. loves paper so much, he can't look at the camera :)
Mama thought he was still looking at me...instead I'm the one looking like a crazy person :)  Yes, sometimes I mess up my own photographs :)
I think I posted this before, but here we are on the deck with our cake...15 years older than the picture on the cake...a little bigger, a little grayer, a little wrinklier, a little more exhausted, but a lot more happier with the blessings God has given us!
Bliss :)
Crazy Shelb eating the gold frosting flower Hailey made...
D with his baby pic off the cake :)
Ash with her baby pic...
The big and lil' boy taking a "cat" nap :)
And here's hard-working Cake Boss Hays the day before our anniversary making the cake...she loves piping work and is better at it than me (I prefer fondant)
Proud of her rose...we had to watch an episode of Cake Boss to figure out how to do it! :)
Finished product...go, Hays!
Posing with the cake creation that day before...
Aww, the love...
Oh, the craziness...not only of us, but our Shelby (below).... :)
 Below is a few sweet cards from friends/family.  We got such cute ones this year, I had to take a pic of them :)  We also got our first anniversary text from our Besties...love them! :)  And my fav. card was from Ash...can you see the pic she drew of Kev and I :)  lol!
 And one more pic from July (below)...after coming home from NYC...after our quick jaunt to Hoboken, NJ to get an anniversary cake from Carlos' Bakery. It doesn't look like anything special, but I think this was the BEST cake we ever had...it was white mousse inside.  Super delicious! And, yes, we can be super corny in the Steg house :)

So, there's a lil' recap of our big day...gosh, 15 years.  Honestly seems like yesterday when we were meeting each other in 1995 and dating in 1996 and engaged right after the New Year in 1998...and married that summer.  Crazy how time flies, how God provides and blesses.  I wouldn't want to tackle the valleys and summits of life with any other guy by my side.  He's my soulmate :)

Friday, September 27, 2013

9M!

 Well, my little guy hit the 3/4 of a year mark today :(  And as with every passing month I find myself a tad bit sad.  Don't get me wrong...I LOVE this age...I really do...it's one of my favs.  But, the older he gets, the more I realize how fast it's going and how soon enough I won't have a baby in the house anymore. I cannot help but be sad about that.  But make no mistake...I am not letting that sadness take away from the happiness this little guy gives me every single day.  He is one of many little lights in my life and he can seem to turn any frown upside down.  I love that about babies!  I sadly don't have any pics from today to share, b/c daddy (my digital downloader) along with Dylan are cub scout camping for the next 2 days.  So I am flying solo with my girls and my baby.  I'm ok with that.  But, all these pics are 8 month pics.  I took tons today b/c it was a beautiful day out.  The only bummer was my fav location (at IU by the MAC!) came with tons of mosquitos, so the poor girls and I are all bitten up (Logan even got bit on the cheek and head)...the price we pay for photos in this house...geez :)
 Anyway...here's a few oldie pics to pass the time...the lil guy LOVES to eat (puffs especially now) and LOVES his fav. cup from Nina G.  He's actually pretty good at using a real straw too, but he's not big on consuming liquids (other than mama's milk)...he'd rather suck things up and then spit them out.  He's a mess maker!
 He loves hanging with his big sis every day (and his other sibs too!)  He also loves his tongue :)
 He's almost always very chill :)  (remember this phone, Nina?...It was Hailey's favorite 13 years ago!)
 Proof that he LOVES his Gerber puffs...tonight he had them stuck all under his triple chin.  Hilarious!  And he loves playing in water....even in the smallest pool ever made :)
I am not sure where the time has gone....9 months?!  Craziness.  His whole pregnancy, birth and 3/4 of year has just slid on by.  I almost don't remember him being a little baby.  He's such an integral part of our family now.  He's got his own flying personality, his own busy, troublesome ways and the sweetest little face that just melts my heart daily.  He's such a blessed addition to our household and as crazy as our days may be, he really brings some peace to our fam.  He is our little miracle and our little sweetheart.  Mama just adores every inch of you, Logan Thomas!

On a side note, the lil' 9 monther is now 22lbs, 9oz.  He's actually slowed down in the weight gain department, which shouldn't have surprised me since he's VERY busy getting into trouble lately and he rarely sits ever.  I really thought he'd be more near 25lbs, but I guess 22 is better on my back (which just about went out again today...ugh!).  He is a long fella at 31 inches.  He is still a non-crawler, but I am sure at any given moment he'll get both those knees working together :)  I am not at all sad he's waiting to do this.  He got a clean bill of health yesterday which was a relief after his bad week of sleeping and crying (we worried about his ears).  He does have some circumcision issues so that is an unpleasant thing he is having to endure (yes, pain and bleeding).  But, otherwise he's a happy and healthy little guy who blesses our lives every day!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Princess Party!

So, here it is...a princess party in the making :)  I know some people frown upon big kids' parties.  But, I love to plan them (if time is on my side, which lately it's not :))...but we Stegs love a good kiddo party and we make it a whole family event so everyone helps. I think it helps kids learn to plan and be organized to throw a party.  And I like to do it because we don't really have any big family get-togethers and this is the kiddos' one time a year to have the focus be all on them...and in a family with 5 kids I think that's important :)  And we start at the invite.  I know most people don't do snail mail anymore, but I just haven't been able to bring myself to do evites yet.  I know they are easy, but like I said, I get the kids involved and we try to make it fun.  When Ash asked for a princess party, I jumped at the chance. I really thought I had lost all opportunity to do a princess party.  Hailey never had one, Shelby never really liked princesses (aside from Jasmine a couple years ago) and Ash was more into Hello Kitty than princesses recently.  But, she had a change of heart this year.  I was so happy!  So b/c I knew this might be my last princess party I did go a bit overboard :)  I had this idea in my head of these cute invites.  I went with Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Belle as our main princesses.  I had leftover tulle from another party and some fancy paper so they didn't really cost anything...aside from a stamp (which is expensive enough these days...but I know our kids love snail mail so I think that cost is worth it!)  So, here it goes...a "few" pics to pass the time...especially for my mama in FL :)
Ash helped with the glitter accents on the princess dresses :)
Even Logan helped...he has an appreciation for princesses since he's got 3 big sisters :)
We almost always put a pic of our kiddo on the invite...just makes it a little more fun :)  I can't remember our exact writing under the tulle, but it was princess-appropriate...something like "Gowns, Crowns and Sweet Treats, too.  Nothing short of a Royal Princess Celebration will do!  Her Royal Highness, Princess Ashley, requests the honor of your presence for her 5th Birthday Ball on Sunday, Sept 15th...rsvp to King Kevin and Queen Kelly..." :)
Aunt Sue sent us this cool towel origami book, which Shelby loves.  She had been waiting to make a bday cake out towels and this was her opportunity!  Maybe she can be a future cruise ship worker?? :)
Just so you know I was serious about snafoos and this party...yes, all of my cakes fell apart or didn't rise properly...ugh!  Ash didn't care though...she especially loved the rainbow cake which she asked for!
Our cake ball/gowns...Ash helped, can you tell?! :)
Yes, even Kev has a wicked talent for party planning.  This evening it was tulle-cutting.  He's a gem...I just couldn't sit and do this for very long with my bad back...
Ash helping make her frosting...
...and helped with her castle roof...big 5 year old!
Very tired mama finishing off the castle cake...while trying to keep a straight back...not easy! (Shelby took this...she likes to take pics at angles :))
My fondant helpers...Shelby made stones for the castle...
Ash made mini flowers from my new fondant mold...love it! Never had a mold before for fondant and it was worth the 6 bucks!
Castle cake alzl done...finally!  She was so excited to see it...and we took a pic with it in case it fell apart over night (yes, this has happened before!)...extra special thanks to SS Sharon (our FL Friend!) for making Ash a personalized princess shirt for her big day!  Love it!
Our very own Steg cleaning lady...her idea to use the shopping cart...worked like a charm!  haha about the curlers in the hair...she loves her hair curled these days!
The princess and her BIG crown...aka the pinata!  Special thanks to Nina Stegs for running to Hobby Lobby to get this gem.  We considered making one like we sometimes do, but that just wasn't gonna happen with a last minute party!
Ash putting together her goodie bags for her lil' buddies :)
We were gonna make a pin the princess on the castle game and then it occurred to me that awesome Sharon in FL had given us a big castle puzzle years ago...I had Ash put it together...
And then Hays and D taped the back and up on the wall it went...no artwork involved...yay!
Princess Ash with her finished goodie bags.  I was so grateful to use up all my extra tulle (which has been turning up all around our house thanks to cats that love it :))...so we made tulle princess dress bags out of them...super easy and cheap (bags from the dollar store). I should not have put their names on them though b/c I had no idea glitter glue took a day to dry...ugh!

Hays was my trooper as usual and helped with the crown craft...cutting felt and hot gluing.  I did end up paying her for all her troubles, but it was worth it to not do this all myself!
Princess cake pops! Super easy!  Ash loved the edible glitter on their dresses the most :)
Personalized crown sugar cookies.  Hailey did this for me...she loves to do icing/piping work...she could take after her mama in the treat decorating department...I really need to get her into a Wilton class :)
The felt crowns all ready for the princesses to bling-up!
I got this little idea in my head to do a Princess Treasure Hunt.  It was one thing that sorta worked in my favor.  I got all the goodies at the dollar store.  The girls had to each find 7 treasures around our backyard.  Thank goodness it was a nice day because doing it inside our cramped living space was not really an option!  They found a glass slipper pencil sharpener for Cinderella, a dinglehopper (fork) for Ariel/Little Mermaid, a rose for Belle, an apple for Snow White, a "magic" carpet for Jasmine, a hair clip for Rapunzel and a crown for Aurora/Sleeping Beauty.  I wanted to add a frog for Tiana, but apparently the dollar store is on a shortage of these as were other party places in Bloomy and I could only find 8 (not enough). 
Sweet King Kev made the map...I think he has some hidden artistic talent in him as much as he'll deny it! :)  I love that I have ideas and he can make them happen...though he might wish my crazy brain would shut off so he wouldn't get roped into things! 
My two handsome princes :)
An attempt at the Little Mermaid...Hays is a little too big for this now since she's 5'4'' :)
Daddy organizing the game...trying to plant Belle's roses in his garden :)
Ash all ready for her party...the cake actually made it in the fridge for 2 days...but it was interesting to note that it changed colors...the pink faded...weird.  She still loved it!
Showing off her food table :)  Pink princess punch, choc. covered strawberries and marshmallows, princess cake pops, castle cake, frosted animal crackers (our fav!) and crown sugar cookies.
The "fruit" of my labor....the cake  Not shabby looking in a pic, but you will see later how bad it was leaning.  Rice Krispies are not the best tower builders...thank goodness for trim work that covered it up!
Hays made these yummies!
Aurora Ash and her party table...all ready for friends to arrive!
Another view of the tight quarters of the party room!
Our "help the princess to the castle door" game...so grateful for that easy puzzle to use!
The Fab Five...all decked out...Pocahontas Hailey, Little Mermaid Shelby, Sleeping Beauty Ashley and the two princes (Logan has on Dylan's 1st birthday hat from 6 years ago :))
Ash decorated the front door to her "castle"...and showed off a special princess bow :)
My beautiful princess :)  She really wanted to be Little Mermaid after Nina Stegs got her that costume that week and her friend, Gracyn, had that party, but we talked her into a more princessy dress.  Pink worked much better for this party as did her biggest sister's Cinderella crown :)
A couple princess twirls before the friends arrive!
Me and my girl...I was her "princess security" and was glad I could put to use this super cute shirt that my sister-in-law, Candy, made for our Disney trip years ago!
And then the friends arrived in a whirlwind...13 little girls (was supposed to be 12, but one brought another family member). I guess I figured a few might not show up, but they ALL did!  We did our craft first...felt headbands that you add jewels too.  They turned out cute and were super easy/cheap.
We had Ashley's personalized princess party music on (an awesome gift from Aunt Candy and fam) and they girls danced to that. 
Then onto the pin-the-princess game...Ash didn't win (I think Lillian did), but they all had fun trying!
Then it was cake time!  My sweet new friend, Karen, took pics for me. I had just met her for the first time that day and she jumped right in and helped with everything.  I love it when people take pics for me b/c it's so hard to do this and run the party!
The bday princess blowing our her candles...she was a little miffed at me that I put the wrong "5" candle on her cake...she wanted the rainbow one that Nina G sent her.  I made sure to use it on her real bday!
One last shot with the castle before all that hard work was sliced into pieces!
Proof of the tightness of our kitchen with 20 people in it.  I could barely move to give the girls cake and ice cream!
My sweet, happy girl eating her cake :)
The party crew with Ash being a cornball :)
Then the treasure hunt began....first we started on our deck...the "glass" Cinderella slippers (pencil sharpeners) were hidden in our lil' playhouse...
...the dinglehoppers for Ariel were in our sandbox
Belle's roses were in our sad garden :)
Who knew a weeping willow could provide apples...for Snow White :)
Aladdin's (Jasmine's) magic carpet was by the fence...
...Rapunzel's hair was hanging from the deck stairs...
it wasn't easy to unhook hair from the stairs :)
and the final prize was in our playset...Sleeping Beauty's crown...and the BIG crown/pinata, which they were supposed to bring up to the house to do...instead they tried to steal the candy out of it...silly princesses!
The gang...13 little princesses...so cute!
Time for gifts. It was chaos!
We ran out of time to do the pinata, but parents were gracious and let us do it anyway...Ash went first, of course!

She gave it a good pounding, but that baby did not want to break...they all tried 2-3 times.  Finally the boys broke it!  Thank goodness for brothers!
Candy went a-flying...kids went a-diving!
We ran out of time to do hair and nails, but Mrs. M. was a good manicurist :)
Post-party...the boys playing Wii (Isaac makes a nice princess :))...and the princesses with their ring pops :)
Lil' Prince(ss)?  He doesn't look too shabby with a crown on :)  He was a trooper for the party and thankfully slept through most of it!
Ash and Lillian--the robotic princesses :)
Ash showing off her cake pop :)  The lady that created these things needs to be crowned queen!  They are a staple at our parties and the easiest things to make!
The lil' goodies we put in our goodie bags...nothing too fancy this year...apparently princess isn't as "in" as it was.  We always pick "off season" party themes.  Little Mermaid is apparently "in" with the new movie coming out soon...I had no idea.  And below is Ash with her loot. (fyi...the Lalalooopsy is the weird looking doll on the right, Nina :))...she has such sweet, generous friends who know what she loves!
So there ya' have it.  A princess party in the making--my first and probably last one, but I'm glad I spent the time/effort doing it even in spite of a bad back and some stressful snafoos.  It was worth it to see Ashley's happiness and hear from so many of her friends what an awesome time they had.  There were truly so many ideas for this kind of party that it was was kind of overwhelming, but I am happy with what we accomplished in just a week of planning and not much time to do it in.  I will say that 13 little girls in our small house was a bit much.  Thankfully they were all so good, but it was truly a house-full. I don't think they noticed how tight it was, but I am not sure I can have that many kiddos in this house again at once.  My sweet Ash...she is just so friendly though, that even 12 friends wasn't enough. She was upset I didn't invite some others.  She just loves her buddies and spending time with them.  I love that about my social gal!  So after a week of hard work and countless hours of craftiness/cake-i-ness and creativity this was the product.  It reassures me looking back on something like this that if Kev ever strays away from the computer business and I find more hours in my mothering day, we could possibly go into the party business :) haha :)