Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter

Our Easter festivities began last weekend with a neighborhood Easter egg hunt.



Yesterday Josh and I sent the kids on a little scavenger hunt of our own.  Some of the clues were hidden in some not-so-fresh places...



...but the hunt was totally worth it.  The kids were surprised to find new bikes waiting for them in the garage.  Kylie had definitely outgrown her old one.  We actually kept Summer's current bike but just spruced it up a little with new tires, a basket, and streamers.




Easter Sunday is one of my favorite days of the year.  I love getting the family all dressed up.  Some were a little more cooperative than others but I'll take what I can get.

               



 

 




But Easter is about so much more than getting dressed up and going to church.  As I've gotten older, this day has become so special and personal to me.  I read this quote on another blog recently and it's been in my head ever since:

"We know that Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane.  It's our faith that he experienced everything -- absolutely everything.  Sometimes we don't think through the implications of that belief.  We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family.  But we don't experience pain in generalities.  We experience it individually.  That means he knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer -- how is was for your mother, how it still is for you.  He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election.  The knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid.  He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia.  He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau.  He experienced napalm in Vietnam.  He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.

"...He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth-grader, when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down's Syndrome...He knows the pain you live with then you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children are visitors...when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years.  He knows all that.  He's been there.  He's been lower than all that.

"I beg you to open the door and [let him in].  Give him your whole heart, all the pieces, and let him heal you."  - Cheiko Okasaki

Isn't that beautiful? 

Not only did Christ experience all of those things, but He literally rose above all of those things. 

HE LIVES.  And that means that He is here with me, everyday, through good times and bad times.

I can't thank my Heavenly Father enough for allowing me to have such an incredible gift.

#Hallelujah

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Snapshot

I need to take a second to jot down what life is like right now.  Sometimes I forget that this stage of motherhood won't last forever.

Kylie's top loves right now are art, fashion, and Paris.  She doodles on everything, including herself.  Recently I found one of her sweatshirts in the trash.  She had decided to cut off the sleeves and turn them into leg warmers.  I had to give her kudos for innovation...and for using an old sweatshirt.  

She is equal parts studious and silly.  She tells me a joke at least once a day...and they're actually funny!  She does well in school and feels happiest when others around her are happy.  

Kylie has a serious love affair with reading.  If she gets a new magazine in the mail, she has to read the entire thing cover-to-cover right then.  When she visits her school library each week, she generally comes home with at least two American Girl books {which she's probably already read} and some other book about history.  When she and Summer disappear into the basement to play, their favorite game is "Olden Days", where they put on bonnets and aprons and pretend to raise children.

Kylie is naturally athletic but has no desire to pursue sports right now.  She enjoys riding her bike, playing catch, kicking the soccer ball, and swimming, but only in her free time.  She is really interested in taking some kind of art class so I'll have to see what I can find!

She enjoys practicing new hairstyles on herself but generally won't leave them in for longer than an hour or two.  She looks borderline homeless when she gets off the bus each day with disheveled hair and holes in her pants, but she always has a smile on her face.

One of my favorite things about Kylie is how helpful she is.  She's very good at picking up on people's body language, especially mine, so she's quick to pitch in when she can tell I've had a rough day.  Some people never acquire that kind of sensitivity!


Summer is my little ray of sunshine.  I can always count on her for a good laugh.  {Today she was coloring with a crayon that said "fun crayon" on the side and she asked me what it would say if we took away the "n" and "crayon."  Then she wanted to know what was so funny about the letters "FU."}  She also begins many of her sentences with, "I predict the future that________," except it will be something obvious, such as "it's raining outside."

She really loves gymnastics when she's not being too hard on herself and has already progressed so much.  Who knew that a simple strip of painter's tape could help her improve so much?  She does cartwheels every waking hour of the day, and now that she knows how to land gracefully, I don't mind one bit.

Summer has a larger-than-life personality but can actually be quite sensitive and shy.  She loves preschool and is very bright but she still doesn't feel like she's made any good friends.  It breaks my heart to see her so sad about that.  The other day she was crying when I picked her up from school because two of the girls in her class were having a playdate and she hadn't been invited.  Hurt feelings are just a part of life...but it was surprisingly difficult to cheer her up after that.  I hugged her and told her that she is a beautiful, sweet, smart little girl.  She teared up and said, "How come nobody else knows that?"  Oh, that just broke my heart into a million pieces.  I'm doing my best to build up her feelings of self worth because life will only get harder.  Her love language is words of affirmation so I praise that little girl as much as I possibly can.

Summer's favorite time of day is when Jackson goes down for a nap because that's when she gets screen time.   She likes to play games on nickjr.com, Minion Rush on the iPad, and PJ Masks on TV.  

She is also learning to read!  Every night when we read scriptures we give her a verse of two to read on her own and she's getting really good at recognizing sight words.


Jackson is...lucky he's cute.  He has been such a stinker lately!  We recently had to put a child lock on the pantry door because he kept sneaking food, and there's a definite possibility we'll need to put one on the back door as well to prevent him from escaping.  

He still loves cars more than anything else.  He keeps himself occupied for long periods of time by lining up his toy cars along the couch cushions or windowsill.  Whenever he's riding in the car, he has to point out every semi, fire truck, and bus he sees.  I love that he refers to Josh's motorcycle as "Daddy's bike."

Those curly locks are here to stay!  He's had probably 10 haircuts and the curls are tighter than ever.  Between his hair and his big blue eyes, he's quite the heartbreaker.

Jackson still takes a nap everyday but usually only for about an hour.  Each time I lay him down to go to sleep he insists on singing 3 songs: Monkeys jumping on the bed, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Monkeys swinging in the tree.  He generally requests the next song while I'm in the middle of singing the current one.

He talks all day long and we're just now getting to the point where we can understand most of it.  He isn't speaking quite as well as the girls were at his age but he can definitely get his point across.  I'm not worried about his speech nearly as much as the possibility of color-blindness.  It runs in the family but it's too soon to tell.  Whenever I ask him what color something is, his default answer is "green" but he has correctly identified other colors before so...who knows?

Jackson has recently developed a love of reading, but he only has about 5 that he'll sit and listen to.  We read those same 5 books every single day.  The entire family has them memorized: Blue's Big Birthday, Mickey Mouse Super Adventure, Where's My Puppy, Paw Patrol, and Joe Moves In.  These books bore me to tears but I would rather read the same 5 books than have him watch TV all day {which is exactly what he would rather do}. 

He really knows how to throw a tantrum.  He screams every night at dinner because he doesn't like what's on his plate; he screams when I turn off the TV after his show is finished; he screams when we have to take a break for a diaper change.  But he really is happy most of the time!  He can be so, so sweet and I love that I'm his favorite :)  He's very protective of me.  My favorite part of the day is when I give him one last diaper change before I head to bed and his curly little head snuggles up on my shoulder.  He's tall for his age and turning into such a little boy, but there's still just a touch of babyness left.  I love it.


So that's what the kiddos are like as of March, 2016.  But who knows?  This could all change tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

5 things I'm loving right now

1. Our cul-de-sac.  We have the best neighbors.  On warm days, the adults spend hours relaxing on the front lawn while the kids wander from yard to yard.  I've taken so many "mental pictures" of our neighbors playing baseball, blowing bubbles, and coloring with sidewalk chalk with my kids.  I adore where we live.


2. The buds on the trees.  It means that the cold, gloomy weather is on its way out!
 

3. This adorable dresser.  Josh and I found it at an antique store {how married are we??} and I instantly fell in love.  It inspired me to take a more Shabby Chic approach to the girls' bedroom. It also inspired me to take an interior design class, which I'm LOVING.
The dresser is the only thing "done" about this room.  Everything else is a work in progress.


4. Fresh flowers.  They never cease to lift my spirits.


5. Lunch dates with my guy.  Especially when it involves free childcare and gorgeous weather for a motorcycle ride.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

More than just a car

We recently sold our Pontiac Vibe.  Although that little car had been part of our lives for 10 years, I was surprisingly sad to see it go!

We bought the Vibe shortly after we got married mainly because our current car, a 12-year-old Ford Probe, was going to die at any moment.  We drove to a car dealership in Salt Lake City on a freezing cold day in November and returned home with our first family vehicle.

Oh man, did that experience teach us some tough life lessons!  

1. When you test drive a car, test everything. Unbeknownst to us, we purchased a car with a broken AC unit.  Because it was considered a pre-existing condition, no extended warranty would cover it.

2. Do your research on vehicles ahead of time so you know what you want, what questions to ask, and how much money will be spent.  We didn't really do any of those things.

3. Have a down payment saved up, even if you're trading in a vehicle.  You will save SO much money in the long run.

4. Be prepared to negotiate.  And don't be afraid to walk away if what they're offering isn't right for you.

5. Shop around for financing options.  What is offered at the dealership isn't the only option out there.

To many of you, you're probably reading this and thinking, "Well, duh!"  But remember, I was barely 19 years old and had never owned a car, let alone purchased a new one from a dealership.  *sigh* I had SO much to learn about life.

Over the next decade, that car became a part of so many memories.  We took it on road trips through the mountains, across the plains, and to the beach {without air conditioning...}.

Our first two children were brought home from the hospital in that car.  When Summer was ready to be born, my parents offered to watch Kylie for us at their house.  We shoved Kylie's tiny toddler bed into the back of our car while me and my HUGE belly were smooshed up against the glove compartment. *breathe... just breathe.*


Before long our car was filled with car seats, booster seats, baby wipes, cheerios, and messes that only children can make.

 

In that car, I waved a tearful goodbye to my firstborn as she left me for the first time to go to school.


And, of course, there are the not-so-great memories... but they're memories nonetheless.


I'll miss that little car but we're welcoming the newest member of the Steorts family with open arms.  We purchased this vehicle much differently than we did last time, which has brought us so much peace of mind.  Looking forward to many years of wonderful memories.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

February little things

As I scroll through my photo folders from years past, my February folders always have such a sad number of photos in them.  It's just a weird month.  It goes by fast because it {generally} only has 28 days, but also seems to drag on forever because it's the dead of winter.  
 
I wish I had more pictures to share, but here is what we've been up to:

Summer and I enjoyed some one-on-one time together.  Her date of choice consisted of browsing the dollar store and getting a special treat from Starbucks.  I sure love that girl.


We signed Summer up for a gymnastics class.  So far she has only had 2 classes; she has cried at both.  Her desire for perfection is frustrating at times but overall she is loving it.  There is only one other child in her class so she gets plenty of attention.


At my yearly physical I had to get a tetanus shot and a pneumonia shot.  {Side note: diabetics have a compromised immune system, meaning we are more susceptible to illness and less likely to heal quickly}.  It was terrible!  By the end of the day my arm was incredibly sore.  Throughout the night I developed a fever, chills, and completely lost my appetite.  Josh had to miss two days of work because of the flu-like symptoms my vaccinations brought on.  Ridiculous!  Thank goodness I won't have to endure either shot again for another 10 years.  By then my 18, 15, and 12-year-olds can pamper me :)

We've been blessed with  a few sporadic days of gorgeous weather.  We spend as much time in the sunshine as possible on these days!




At Christmastime the girls received these cute flip-flops from Santa.  It's too bad he didn't bring them some new leggings too.




Speaking of shoes, each week when I clean my friend's house, Jackson insists on wearing these little purple shoes.  Josh can't even handle it.


Josh got a new toy.  He has been wanting a motorcycle ever since his last one died almost exactly 10 years ago.  Warmer weather is sure to bring many wind-swept rides to the office as well as leisurely date nights around town.  I'm ready!

But for now, this little cutie and I are spending lots of time together.  I love that I get him all to myself {and errands are much easier when you only have one child to cart around} but he can be a little stinker.  He throws very loud tantrums anytime I try to put him in a cart or stroller unless I have a "treat" waiting for him.  Once the treat is gone, my time out and about is severely limited.



I redecorated the wall above my couch.  It used to have 4 black-and-white portraits {one of each of the kids and one of Josh & I} so I added color and livened up the space a bit.  It's been almost a week since I put the gallery wall up and I'm still in love with it.  It's who we are.

 


Kylie completed her first school project.  She had to create something using only 3D shapes.  A bouquet of flowers was her object of choice.  I think she did a really good job!


Other events that are not pictured:
  • We sold our Vibe and bought a newer car {more on that later}
  • Kylie started attending Activity Days at church, a program designed for 8-11-year-olds
  • Summer missed a week of school because of a high fever, followed by a lingering cold
  •  Josh got all of the ladies in the house flowers for Valentine's Day
  • I started reading the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking.  Suddenly I feel so much better about myself.
  • I finished decorating Jackson's bedroom {for now...}.  More on that later, too.
  • Jackson got a haircut.  He always looks so much older after haircuts.
  • We had our first bonfire of the year with our neighbors.  They're pretty much amazing.
  • Summer has started sight-reading her way through the scriptures each night.
  • Jackson will now request to read stories... and he sits through them!
  • Someday I'm going to be famous by association.  My cousins on one side of my family are releasing some pretty awesome music videos, and a cousin on the other side is setting records and winning trophies in track and field.  I should start getting autographs or something.
  • I signed up for an online class to see if my latest passion is legit.  I'll keep you posted...