Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Downtown Aquarium

Here are some photos of the boys at the Denver Downtown Aquarium last week.

It's a really cool place and we can't wait to go back. There is a TON to do, including hands-on exhibits. So far, we have really taken to Denver and love just about everything it has to offer.

Just outside.

Bounce house....still fun for Carter.

They have a huge bubble machine and here is Carter trying to catch them. Jack just closes his eyes and giggles when they come near him.

Hoping to rent one of these cool cars the next time we visit.

First exhibit.

Panning for gold.

A staple at just about every aquarium.

Here is Carter in one of the "bubble" viewers where you go into the tank and look up through the glass to really get a good perspective.

Gorgeous tigers inside co-habitating.

Checking out the horse shoe crab.

And, the sting ray...

We took a break mid-way through for a snack and to step outside on the balcony that overlooks Six Flags...where we will spend plenty of time this summer. It has a water park connected to it.

Precious Jack, walking around and being adorable.

Carter and I were fascinated with this huge crab who barely moved.

Up close!

Near the tiger exhibit.

Carter's favorites....the sharks....checking them out from above.

Funny boy with the octopus.

And, on our way out....we had a great time!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Are We Nutty Parents?

I found this article below very interesting. Don't get me wrong....I have hand sanitizer in my diaper bag, we feed our kids veggies for snacks and try very hard to instill the best habits. However, maybe we are going a bit too far on some things. This article tries to find the balance. Enjoy!
We Protect Kids From Everything But Fear
With hand sanitizer and long-sleeved swimsuits, we're teaching our children a dangerous lesson.
By Paula Spencer
April 2, 2007 issue

Four 11- and 12-year-old girls stood in front of my open pantry, mouths gaping wide. "Look! Fruit Roll-Ups!" "Oh, my God! Chocolate-chip cookies!" "You have regular potato chips? We only get the soy kind!"

After 14 years and four kids, I thought I'd feel comfortable as a mother. Instead, I'm increasingly aware of a prickly new sensation: that I'm some kind of renegade. Who knew that buying potato chips would become a radical act? Or that letting my daughters walk home from school alone would require administration approval? How did I, a middle-of-the-road mom, become a social deviant?

Fear is the new fuel of the American mom. If it's not fear of her child becoming obese, it's the fear of falling behind, missing out on a sports scholarship or winding up with a thin college-rejection envelope.

Apparently I'm not nervous enough. Last summer while I was loafing in front of the TV with my kids, the most benign things morphed into menaces. For example, the sun: long-sleeved, UV-protective swimsuits were all the rage at my neighborhood pool, while I could barely remember to bring the year-old sunscreen. The water wasn't safe either: at the beach I saw tots dressed in flotation belts and water wings—for shelling along the shore. And goodbye, cotton candy and hot dogs! At a major-league game I saw moms and dads nix the stuff as if they'd never eaten the occasional ballpark treat. As if their children would balloon into juvenile-diabetes statistics if a single swig of sugary soda passed their lips.

Half my kids' friends—who already make A's and B's—had summer tutors in order to "keep it fresh." I thought vacation was for relaxing and recharging. What would our pioneer foremoms think? (You want something to worry about, let me show you frostbite, typhoid and bears!) Heck, what must our own mothers think? (Snap out of it! Go worry about something truly scary, like how you're going to pay for retirement!)

I thought that once the kids were back in school, things would calm down. Instead, a fresh seasonal crop of anxiety sprouted, this time over corruptive candy fund-raisers and insufficient use of hand sanitizer. I know one mom who wants to change her son's schedule because he doesn't know anyone in his classes; she's worried he'll be "socially traumatized" all year. Another is afraid of a learning disability she just read about, though her child seems bright and charming to me.

And then there's playground panic. I had to laugh when an Australian study recently found that playground injuries continue to rise despite safety improvements. One of the suspected reasons: the safe new play structures are so boring that kids are taking more risks in order to have fun.

The fears are as irrational as they are rampant. Recently my children's elementary school failed to meet adequate yearly progress goals for a particular minority's reading progress under the No Child Left Behind Act and was placed on a warning list. This meant parents might gain the right to transfer their children to another school in the district. Never mind that this very same school sent more kids to the district's gifted program than any other, or that this entire district has the highest SAT scores in the state. The day the news broke, six different moms (none in the affected minority) asked me if I was planning to transfer my kids. From neighborhood pride and joy to threat to child's future overnight.

It's not that I think parents shouldn't worry about anything. I'm personally petrified of SUV drivers on cell phones. I fret as much as the next mom about how to pay for college. I pray my kids won't wander onto MySpace and post something dumb.

But you can't go around afraid of everything. It's too exhausting! No matter how careful you are, bad stuff happens (diaper rash, stitches, all your friends assigned to another class). And it's seldom the end of the world.

Watching my daughter's friends ogle my pantry, I realized there's one big, legitimate fear that I haven't heard anybody mention: what's the effect of our collective paranoia on the kids? Yes, these very kids we want to be so self-sufficient, responsible, confident, happy and creative (not to mention not food-obsessed). They're growing up thinking these weirdly weenie views are healthy and normal.

Walking out my front door that day, each girl happily clutched a plastic baggie stuffed with the exotic kid snacks that my daughter had doled out in pity. I may be a rebel mom, but at least I'm not afraid of a chocolate-chip cookie.

Spencer lives in Chapel Hill, N. C.



Just a few pictures of the boys at dinner last week. Jack is trying an apple slice and asparagus for the first time and loves them both!

Bike Riders

Recently, I've started taking some of the neighborhood boys down a few blocks to ride bikes in the dirt and open streets where they have yet to build. They seem to love the open space and have started calling it the "BMX Games".

Here are a few of the tough guys....

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sick, Sick, Sick

We're almost all recovered now, but have been plagued by a flu bug for the last few days. Jack brought it home....then Dad got it...then Mom. Hopefully, Carter will avoid it!

So, I'll try to post again soon.....hope you all are well!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Garden of the Gods

Last week, the boys and I went into Colorado Springs for the day. We visited The Garden of the Gods, a gorgeous Colorado State Park that dates back hundreds of years. The history and geological creation of the park is really interesting.

Here are the boys looking out from the visitor center.

Pikes Peak behind the park.

At the visitor center, we watched a movie on the creation of the park, gathered maps and learned where to go. We were lucky enough to time our visit with a 2:00pm Nature Walk, so we got a hands-on history lesson and good insight into what it's all about.

These are the "kissing camels".

Look closely and you'll see a rare falcon mother sitting outside of her nest on the side of one of the rocks.

Crazy rock climbers.

So beautiful.

The family comedian.

Checking things out.

Such a great kid.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


It's snowing! We heard about spring snow and now it's here! We were outside in t-shirts yesterday because it was 70 degrees and now it's pouring down snow. Nothing is sticking to the streets thus far, but the ground is covered.

In Texas schools we were taught "if you don't like the weather in Texas, wait a minute and it will change". Funny...we've heard the same thing since arriving in Colorado.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Thought I'd take a few minutes to update you all on the Starnes family. We're busy as always getting ready for a move and more changes! We bought a house in Brighton, Colorado...about 45 minutes north of where we are now. It's in an expanding and thriving community, much like Castle Rock is, and we're excited to set roots there. The house is wonderful and has plenty of room for our growing family. Batman, too!

We will be 20 minutes from Denver, 30 from Boulder and a little under an hour from Fort Collins. It's a great location and so we can't wait to get settled. Right now, we're spending a lot of time outdoors and more specifically, taking advantage of all that this area, south of Denver, has to offer.

We'll actually be closer to Linda and Debbie and families....but further from Belinda, so we're gaining and losing in that regard. But, everyone is wonderful about getting together and seeing each other, regardless of the driving it takes to get it done.

And, onto the boys....Carter is doing so well in Kindergarten and couldn't be happier here in Colorado. He's sad to leave his buddies on our street, but I have no doubt he will make plenty of new friends in Brighton. We had him all signed up for soccer and had his first practice scheduled tonight, but we decided to not make the commute to Castle Rock this season. Hopefully, we'll find a fun spring/summer sport for him to do up north. Skiing took over his winter season, so we didn't even try an organized sport then.

Jack is almost 11 months old and is such a happy baby. He has 5 teeth now and is learning to use them!!!! He's almost walking (we're doing everything we can to stop it!)....definitely cruising and getting where he needs to go. He gives kisses and plays peek-a-boo and loves Elmo almost as much as he does us.

That's about it from our little family. Here's a photo of Jack with his new front teeth.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Castlewood Canyon

Recently, I took the boys out to Castlewood Canyon for a picnic and hike. It's a beautiful Colorado State Park about 15 minutes from where we are now in Castle Rock. It's about 2,300 acres of the ecologically unique Black Forest region of Colorado. You can see panoramic views of the Front Range and Pikes Peak.

Pretty view.

Lunch time.

Play time.

Hitting the trails.

View of Pikes Peak.

We looked for animals every inch of the way and decided any marking on the ground like this had to have come from a snake. HAD TO, according to Carter.

Took a few spring pictures while we were there.

Examining the trail. Carter is the best kid to take out on trips like this....or really we can take him just about anywhere. He has a curious mind that we're constantly trying to nurture and expand.

Reading about native animals.

Posing for a picture in front of the canyon.

We couldn't get too close because the cement path ended and then the rock one began...which makes it difficult to take the stroller any further. Soon, we'll come back with dad for a long walk and he can haul Jack around.

So much to discover.

Back at the Visitor's Center where we learned about recent animal sightings and the origin of the area. Very interesting.