Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Summer is SIX

Does anybody else wish time would slow down?

Today Summer is six years old.  I admire this sweet little girl for so many reasons but here are 6 of my favorite things about her:

1. She is determined.  If she wants to learn something new, she will work and work and work until she gets it.

2. She is unashamed of who she is.  What you see is what you get!

3. She is passionate.  I love that she is so giving of her heart and isn't afraid to love others.

4. She is imaginative.  She can play with dolls, figurines and stuffed animals for hours.

5. She is helpful.  Scrub toilets?  Sweep the floor?  Slice cucumbers?  She's on it.

6. She has a flair for the dramatic.  Need I say more?

Happy birthday, Summertime.  Life just wouldn't be the same without you!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Potty training + a project

We've entered a new stage here at the Steorts household:

Between you and me, I hate potty training.  When people refer to motherhood as "the trenches," I think potty training is a case in point.  I don't particularly enjoy staying home all day - for multiple days in a row - cleaning up potty messes, but usually by about the third day the worst is over.  

I had heard many times before that it's tougher to potty train boys than girls.  Based on my experience so far, I would have to disagree.  Jackson actually got the hang of things rather quickly and didn't make a single mess.  BUT... he's still struggling with #2.  The girls did as well but after seeing a yucky mess once, they figured things out.  Jackson, on the other hand, wants to avoid the mess altogether and holds it in.  For days.  This issue is completely new to me so wish us luck!

While I was at home potty training Jackson, I got a little restless.  You can only watch Mickey Mouse so many times before going slightly crazy.  So I tackled a room that had been bugging me for a while: our loft.

Multi-functional rooms can be hard, which is why I was struggling so much with the loft.  It was a space for the kids' toys if they didn't feel like playing in our unfinished basement.  However, it's also the space where our guests stay.  I tried to make it an inviting little guest room, but it just wasn't working.

I finally decided that I needed to define the space for what worked for us.  Of course I want our guests to be comfortable, but we honestly don't have guests that often.  So a kid space it is!

Prior to the re-do (I'm so bad at taking "before" pictures!), Wall #1 had a couch with a world map above it.  I had stickers on the map marking where our extended family members live, as well as family photos.

This was my original inspiration
Does your family travel often? See how you can incorporate your favorite photos with special destinations in this gallery wall design.:

Wall #2 had a clock that no longer worked.

Wall #3 had our entertainment center that was filled with the kids' toys and books.

Wall #4 (if you can even consider it a wall) was the space at the top of the stairs.

I started the re-do by painting all of the walls a not-so-creamy color, almost white.  Then I did a little shopping, a little sewing, some more painting, and a little rearranging.  Here's the finished product:

Wall #1:
I bought a much larger wall map that fills the space better.  Rather than having family photos branching out all over the place, I have them collaged together underneath on a floating shelf I made.  The quote says "Life takes you to unexpected places.  Love brings you home."  I'll be added pins that will represent where our relatives live and the places we have traveled.  I also added some throw pillows to the couch. {The couch folds out to a bed so we do have a space for guests!}

Wall #2:
Josh hung some curtains for me and then I added the compass.  I found the arrows and letters at Hobby Lobby and just assembled them the way I wanted.  Saved a ton of money by doing things myself! 

Wall #3:
I added the yellow stripes, which I love.  The room looks so much brighter now!  The toys, books, and decor are arranged exactly the same way as before, but I shifted the entertainment center to the right ever so slightly and that made all the difference in the world.  Eventually we'll add a TV so the kids can watch movies and play with their toys in the same room.

Wall #4:
This tiny wall didn't need too much.  I added some taller decor on the top shelf and tried to keep the other pictures fairly neutral.  Eventually I'd like to get a different style table altogether but I'm happy with how it looks right now.  The main focus is the picture of Christ and that's exactly what I wanted. 

Jackson and I survived potty training in our own ways.  He had his Mickey Mouse and I had a project to do.  We're both doing great :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Back to school

Just as we began recuperating from our adventures in Michigan, it was time to turn right back around and begin prepping for school.  I'm still reeling from switching gears so fast -- from beach toys to backpacks.  Crazy.
The girls received coupons for free ice cream as part of their summer reading program, so we made an outing of it.
This morning we all woke up bright and early.  While I made our traditional rainbow pancakes, the girls put on their new school clothes and laid out their backpacks.

Then, off to the bus stop we went.  But not before snapping a few pictures :)

This little lady was super ready for Kindergarten.  As soon as I told her it was time to go to the bus stop, she scooped up her backpack and whispered to herself, "Kindergarten, here I come!"
She felt a little silly because she had to wear this info sheet on her back but I appreciate how cautious the bus drivers and teachers are with my little girl.
Our good friends/neighbors/bus stop crew... 

The Kindergartners take up the first two rows on the bus so I knew exactly where to look to find Summer.  She was practically bouncing in her seat she was so excited! 
And just like that, the 2016-2017 school year had begun.

I was a little nervous about having only one child at home.  It's been a minute since I've experienced that!  I quickly realized that I'm going to have to adjust my schedule to accommodate Jackson's needs.  {More on that later}.  But it was a wonderful day.  Josh is taking an online class at home this week so he was able to join us at the bus stop and take me out to lunch :)

After we returned home from lunch I heard a hissing sound.  The tire stem had broken and our front passenger tire was quickly leaking air.  Three thoughts flew to mind:

1. Thank goodness that didn't happen on our vacation(s).
2. Thank goodness Josh was home to help.
3. Thank goodness it happened before I needed to pick up the kids from the bus stop. 

About an hour later Josh, Jackson, and I picked up the girls from the bus stop.  I could immediately tell by their smiles that they had an awesome first day of school!

At home, we chatted over chocolate chip cookies.  I loved hearing all the details: the friends they made, the activities they did, the books they read, etc.  It's going to be an awesome year!


Monday, August 8, 2016


We just returned from an epic trip to Michigan.  We did quite a bit of traveling during our time there, and I'm so glad we did because we got to experience some of the most gorgeous sites that state has to offer.


What initially prompted our trip to Michigan was my friend's wedding. Since the ceremony was for adults only, Josh and I left the kids in the very capable hands of my parents and enjoyed a weekend getaway.  The ceremony didn't start until 4:00 so we spent the first part of the day at the Detroit Temple.  It felt amazing to be back in the place where our journey began 10 years ago.

Afterwards, we had a quick brunch at Cafe Zola's in downtown Ann Arbor {so delicious!}, then stopped by our hotel to freshen up/change clothes. 


The wedding ceremony was so, so sweet.  My friend, Jeff, and his new bride are such a perfect couple.  I couldn't be happier for them. 

We got to spend a good chunk of time with Amelia, which is the wife of the best man {and another one of my really good friends from high school}.  We took a moment to snap a quick picture with the groom as he made his rounds.


Once the toasts were done we all got to hang out together.  It was such a fun night catching up with these two.  The last time we saw them was at their wedding back in October.


The next morning Josh and I slept in {a rare treat} and then had a delicious breakfast at the infamous Zingerman's Deli.  That place is always busy and I can understand why.  The food is amazing.


We had one last stop to make before heading back to Grand Rapids: The Big House.

I'm pretty sure Josh was in heaven as we explored the Michigan Stadium.  I hope that next time we go back there it's because we have tickets to a game!


Our next trip was to Mackinac Island.  The last time I had been there was before cell phones!  We decided to rest for a night in Mackinaw City so we could feel rested for a busy day on the island.  It's an interesting little town.

This was our home for the night: a surprisingly spacious log cabin.  And the pool wasn't half bad either :)

The next morning we took the ferry over to the island.  The kids were so excited for their first ever boat ride, and their excitement only heightened once we docked at the island.  Their smiles were huge as they took in the carriages, shops, and treats.  I had forgotten how absolutely beautiful that place is.



The best way to see everything on Mackinac Island is to bike it.  We all rented bicycles {and a trailer for the younger two} and rode the 8 miles around the island.  I was so impressed with Kylie's stamina; she biked the entire way and kept a really good pace.



There were times where we just had to stop to soak in the beautiful sites.  We hiked up 207 steps to see Arch Rock and took a moment to skip rocks in Lake Huron.  I couldn't get over how clear the water was!

By the time we were done biking we were ready for something cold.  


The ferry ride back to Mackinaw City {and our 4 hour drive back to Grand Rapids} wasn't quite as exciting, but we had a great time reflecting on our adventures on Mackinac Island.



During the summer months, you can't go to Michigan and not stop by a beach...or two.  We visited our favorite beach in Holland {Tunnel Park} and another beach on our way back to Indiana {Silver Beach} and both were so, so fun.  We're all beach bums at heart!







The best part of our trip was spending time with our dearest friends and family.  We feel so blessed to have such special people in our lives.



It made my heart so happy watching my kids interact with their aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. This is how family should be.



Michigan was the highlight of our summer, but these guys are the highlight of my life.