Friday, February 27, 2009


We're plus one tomorrow and possibly Sunday, too. Helping out some friends by watching precious Emilia. She's 2 and so sweet and gives me a glimpse into what the coming months ahead look like for our Lainey Bug.

Weather report looks good, so we'll be outside as much as possible. Jack is finally coming to terms with our rule....if it has wheels, you have a helmet on your head....even though his stubborn nature prevents him from being pleasant about it. He's starting to show some interest in the small bike with training wheels.

Why? Because Lainey is. She will be running the show in no time.


I just went to put a few cards in the mailbox to send out and brought my house key with me. Toddlers have been known to lock you out of the house if you're not on your toes.

When I pick up toys and pretend kitchen "food", I have to hide the small things like fabric cupcakes or plastic potatoes because if not, Batman will hoard them in the basement.

Am I the only one who does weird stuff like this to accommodate kids and pets?


Anyone know of a good self tanner that won't leave you looking like a zebra?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Maiden Voyage

So, here's the deal. I like nice baby gear. I have tried cheaper versions of what I really want and we tear through them. I don't know if it's because we use it more often than most or because I'm raising Tasmanian Devils, but it's the truth.

I've had two double strollers since Lainey arrived and can rationalize both purchases well. The front-to-back was used at the beginning because it held the travel system and accommodated a newborn. Lainey arrived in September and with the holiday season starting a few weeks after, I had to be prepared.

Then, I drove the front-to-back version and realized that the side-by-side had its advantages, too. Enter, our second double stroller. I've used this one much more than the first, but the carriage is now ripped and the wheels barely turn.

Now that I have 3 children and this is the last piece of baby gear I will likely ever buy (promise, Blake!), I have learned my lesson. Not every one's lesson....mine. Buy the pricey stuff to begin with.

So, I figure I will have 2 more years with a stroller and will certainly get my money's worth with this new ride that I couldn't be happier with. However, when it arrived, it looked like this:

Notice Jack already diving in to help. "Case.....vrroooommm!!!!" "Yes, baby. Almost like a car."

So, after about an hour of cursing and sweating and near tears (I'm terrible at assembly), I managed to push this bad boy around the house and it was magical.

Behold, The Bumbleride.

I linked to the site where you can see the fancy features. I think all we're missing at this point is a DVD player and valet parking. In another lifetime, I suppose. If you go on the site and look at the price, I have no sympathy for you. It's your own dumb fault. No one needs to know.

I promise! It's my last purchase! And, for the rationalize....I'm the most low maintenance woman on this planet. I don't do my nails. Never had a manicure or a pedicure. No massages or facials or expensive makeup. I take care of myself, but on a budget and would much rather put my money into a ridiculous purchase like this.

We took it out for a spin through Cherry Creek North this morning and it was heavenly. She is a beauty, isn't she?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thug Life And Thoughts On Lent

I know. Quite a combo title, huh?

Wondering why little boys have to turn "tough" so quickly. And, the tougher he looks, the cooler he feels. Don't think that skateboard didn't have Nemo stickers on the bottom of it just a few short years ago. It was given to him on his 3rd birthday by Aunt Caroline and has seen its share of phases. If the guys at the skate park only knew.

And, Lent.....started today. Darling Blake attended mass in Kansas City at a gorgeous church downtown and took his ashes like a good Catholic should. Carter did the same this evening.

My holy time was spent with 2 toddlers, denying one Thomas toys and the other baby dolls, as we cruised through Target while Carter was at church. Only the good Lord knows what jibberish curse words were flying out of those toddler mouths as they fussed at me.

Would love to have been at mass. No nursery at this church = no attendance for this crew sans-Daddy. Hoping so much our new church in KC includes one. The last 3 (current, Castle Rock and Keller) all have not had help for young children. Very frustrating!

David Sedaris

Am I the only one obsessed? I have not loved an author like this in over a decade. Hilarious. Witty. So funny, but not in any sort of deliberate fashion. Crass and crude, but not enough to stop me from reading.

Loved it:

Loved it even more:

I'm going to try to pry myself away from him for a bit and start The Shack, but Barrel Fever will be calling my name next. Saving Holidays on Ice for later in the year.

Any other authors I should be reading similar to Sedaris? Who are your favorites?


We don't let anyone live in this house unless they contribute to the freak show we've got running over here 24 hours a day. And, that includes our cat.

He will sit like this for hours....on the stairs leading from the first floor to the basement.....quietly requesting to be let in. No scratching. An occasional well-mannered "meow". Nothing more.

Toddlers will tickle his paws, poke at him with toys, tease him with frozen waffles. And, he keeps coming back for more.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

That's My Girl

Here is sweet Lainey enjoying a break from walking and having a drink from her sippy cup. Big brother starts bugging her and so she handles the situation with the same grace in which I handle most of mine.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Lots of stress around the Starnes household lately. Our zoo membership expires in 5 days. To renew or not to renew? Risk losing money if we move sooner than expecting? But, wouldn't that be an easy pill to swallow.....finally get to move.....and we're out $85. I do hate to lose money, though.

My friend, Josie, suggested that as soon as I start renewing memberships and living life normally, our house will sell. I think I'm going to do it! And, besides, you know we'll have our money's worth by week 3. For real.

During the 3,426 visits to the Denver Zoo since moving here (slight exaggeration), I have never entered the Tropical Discovery building. No strollers allowed. And, limits like these rule my life right now.

So, if we're with Blake, he takes Carter in and I cruise with the toddlers. The sea lions are quite lively and just a quick walk nearby. During this visit, I ventured in and couldn't have been more impressed. It's a tropical rainforest man made indoors......amazing construction.....beautiful vegetation.....tons of reptiles and one of my favorites....the Komodo Dragons.

Lovely lizards, too. Just look at that beauty. (Not you, Kelly. Too much like an iguana.)

The crew.

The geese run the zoo, so we walk around them, rather than them moving for us.

Could it be? All 3 looking and smiling? If Jack's hair wasn't slicked down due to static and if Lainey didn't have a huge bruise on her forehead, it might just be a favorite. Still pretty darn cute, though.

Lainey's new eye-catching trick that she did several times during this zoo trip and once since then, is jumping off this enormous ledge. It must be 2.5 inches off the ground and the set up is pretty dramatic........we have to count down......lots of anticipation.......she jumps!......and giggles......and claps.......and there are no less than a dozen people at any time watching this little show of hers.

Busted. Runaway Laine.

Caught and secured in stroller.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Question Of The Week

Music has always been a big part of my life and Blake's, too. It's one of many things that brought us together - our love of certain bands and an almost identical CD collection. It's taken a back seat to a few very important concerns....3 to be exact....meaning, Carter, Jack and Lainey. But, we do sneak away for a concert here and there or even a weekend festival in Aspen should time allow. Regardless of how much we're seeing live and in front of us, music triggers all sorts of memories for me and I'm instantly taken back to a time connected with whichever song I'm listening to.

For example:

"Come On Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners....19 years old, 2nd year at LSU, with Millie at the ever famous and now closed down Greek bar, Murphy's, next to campus....dollar calls...the entire place dancing...soaking wet wood planks on the floors from spilled drinks...I can almost smell the heinous Jim Beam right now.

"Crush" by Dave Matthews....25 years old, driving with Blake and Millie to just about anywhere, but Hula Hut is what I think of......after recently moving to Austin....crazy in love with this guy named Blake whom I've known since we were 11 years old....and have re-met and can't think of spending a minute away from...where will this go?

"100 Years" by Five For Fighting.....32 years old, strapped to a surgery table prepped for a cesarean section and waiting anxiously to meet our new baby.....starting to feel a bit nauseous from the drugs....and this song comes on. Blake and I are in tears because we had already spoken several times about how much we loved it and felt it reminded us of Jack.....and now here it is playing in the delivery room.


***What are significant memory-triggering songs for you?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lainey Caroline

I still wake up some days and cannot believe I'm raising a girl. I have a daughter. She is mine, all mine.

We named her after my sister, Caroline. She was my first "baby" and I loved her as a child almost as much as I do now. And, I can't wait to live closer to her so that our two precious Carolines can get to know each other even better.

25 Things

Several people have tagged me and it's been so long since they have....please forgive me for not listing everyone here. I'm finally finding a few minutes to list my own.

1. I am one of 6 children, second from the oldest, oldest girl.
2. I always wanted 4 of my own, but feel blessed to have 3 and have no complaints.
3. I try to see one movie a week - good or bad. I love the whole experience....the movie, popcorn, time to myself.
4. Blake and I met in the 6th grade at a softball field. I was the first girl he asked out. I shot him down with a sassy comment and haven't slowed down since.
5. I will spend just about any amount of money on baby gear (strollers, diaper bags, etc) because I use it more than most. Bought a stroller last week that, after adding accessories, will cost about the same as my first car. I promise I will get every penny's worth.
6. Staying home with kids all day makes me crazy. People think I take kids to the museum, zoo, parks, etc for them....and it is.....but just as much for me, too.
7. I love lima beans. My grandmother made them for us when we were kids and I fell in love with them.
8. I have no fear of getting old - birthdays do not freak me out - quite the opposite. I feel lucky to be a year older, to be closer to family members, to know my kids better, to be more financially solvent. I never understand people's fears in this regard. Life is so precious. Why would you not want more of it?
9. I love Red Bull.
10. I enjoy planning travel and researching destinations as much as I do visiting them.
11. I've lost 20 pounds in the 5 months since Blake moved to Kansas City. It's looking like we'll be here for another 5, at least, so I may be at my target weight before this whole thing is over with.
12. Despite our current situation, I love relocating and experiencing a new part of the country. If Carter were younger, I'd be more inclined to do so every few years.
13. I send mail - snail mail - more than most people. Cards, presents, thank yous, makes me feel good to know something is in transit to someone I love.
14. If I could choose any car in the world to drive, it would be the one sitting in our garage right now. We got a deal!
15. I cherish sisterhood and think mine are just about the best in the world. My sister-in-law is included in that group. It took us 8 years to get where we are today, but we're closer than ever and I'm grateful.
16. I love gardening - mostly just pots at this point - but one day want a large vegetable garden in our back yard.
17. I wish I had followed my original plan to become a teacher.
18. I love living in an area where it snows. I prefer winter over summer, although, this time of year makes me anxious for spring.
19. My husband continues to amaze me, in our 9th year or marriage.
20. I can't believe our oldest son will receive his First Communion in May. And, I'd give anything to be a fly on the wall during his First Penance (confession) during Lent.
21. We celebrate Mardi Gras each year and because of that, most of our neighbors think we're pretty weird.
22. They think we're weird for plenty of other reasons, too.
23. I'm a strong believer in counseling and thank God my Aunt Mary introduced me to it 17 years ago. It keeps me sane.
24. I like trains a whole lot more today than I ever thought possible.
25. I was a buyer at Pier 1 and Michaels before this latest career change into being a stay at home mother a little over 3 years ago. I loved both - working and being home - and actually feel being home is more stressful.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Squeaker Shoes

These are squeaker shoes. You either love them or hate them. We think they're great!

Blake's name is always "Baby GPS" because when we're out and Jack is running in one direction and Lainey in the other....we can keep track of each, especially if there is only one adult present.

I bought Lainey a pair last year before her first birthday and they still fit, but barely. Knew it was time to look for more, as we're taking advantage of her toddler days and letting her squeak away. Found a vendor direct from China who sold them for $7-$8 a piece and then shipping overseas was about the same, making each price around $15. Last year, I paid $30 at Josephine's in Denver. If you're interested in the shop overseas, I'll be glad to send it to you. They're the same shoe as far as I can tell.

So, what's the or hate for you?

The Sneaky Chef

Don't get me wrong. I love cooking with kids. It's such a great opportunity to play and create and to see their faces when the finished product arrives is a true joy. And, as they get older, we incorporate math into the process and turn the project into a lesson of sorts. I've never met a child who doesn't like to cook......doesn't love the kitchen.....or to be by mom, covered in flour, measuring and stirring.

But, sometimes I just want to get something done. Start and finish banana bread in the predetermined 10 minute prep time allotted....pop it in the oven and relax.

Is that terrible?

I tried to do so last Friday because I had a list of items to make, a house to clean and errands to run before Blake's arrival. However, as soon as he heard the bowls clink, my little chef comes down the stairs, apron on, with a suspicious, "Ooooohhhh, Caaaase!"

He jumps up on the kitchen island, grabs an egg and starts cracking. Smiling from ear to ear, he looks up at me with a look that convinces me that this single activity might just be worth putting the trains down to enjoy. And, I can't say, "No".

25 minutes later, the bread is in the oven......Jack is so proud of himself.....he scurries off to return to his trains and I'm left with a huge mess. Upset? No way. We just made a memory and it's worth every single extra dish, egg on the floor, flour in my hair. They're only little once.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Barr Lake

While in town, Blake alerted Carter and me to the fact that he'd never been to Barr Lake.

Huh? We have walked that lake over a dozen times, visited the nature center, had picnics, took friends to visit, and more. How did Blake miss (he might say "avoid") all of this fun?

So, we ventured out on a cold evening before he flew out to Kansas City. The lake is just a few minutes from our house and has become one of our favorite Colorado destinations. Bald eagles - and a pair that nest here each year - are one of 300 bird species that inhabit this area. The trail around the lake is 9 miles long. Half of the lake is for boating and recreation. The other half is a wildlife refuge.

Bossy Laine....fussing at someone. Look at that face!

The nature trail we frequent most is short and easy and lots of fun for the kids. I love coming here because parts of it reminds me of Logoly State Park in southern Arkansas where I visited often while seeing my grandparents.

Carter being silly on the observation deck.

Blake trying to help Lainey see.

Sweet Daddy and daughter.

This is another membership we have and one I highly recommend. State parks offer so much.....they're typically varied in recreation options and activities....and are relatively inexpensive. I think we paid $65 for the year. Check it out!

Etsy Purchase

Just ordered this darling piece of custom artwork from a shop on Etsy benefiting Cora's Playground. The direct link to it is here. There are so many beautiful things to choose from - all handmade - you can't go wrong with any of them. But, this is certainly my favorite.

You personalize per children, the sex of the children, names and there are different silhouettes to choose from to match ages and interests. And, the price? You won't believe it. $20. I love custom artwork and certainly love it at this price.

Click the pink button on the side of my blog to view all items for sale.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Polaroid Pictures

Found this cute, free downloadable software a week or so ago and just made time to play with it. Get yours here!

The program allows you to see the photo "develop" as we did when we were kids and it even includes the trademark photo click and process sound. Also....a virtual shake if you're so inclined! Really cute stuff.

I'm going to share this with Carter after school today. Seems like he needs more reasons to believe I'm 100 years old. This should do it.

The Bachelor

I found this on another blog.....don't look unless you want to see what could be a's juicy!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Baby Book, Part 2

Most of you know by now I'm pretty nutty when it comes to photography, albums and of course, the blog. Add a little known secret to that baby books are completely up to date and filled with all sorts of extra notes, knick names, Halloween costumes each year, special gifts, etc.

I know. I'm crazy. One day this insanity will all pay off. I'm sure of it!

When Carter passed 5 years old and his baby book pages were falling out of the seams due to so much writing and wear & tear, I wondered where I would document his grade school years. It felt weird to write in Jack's book and leave Carter's sitting there...after so many years of attention....untouched and lonely. So, my mom found the book pictured above and I've cherished it since then. Click here to find it on-line.

It's the perfect companion to K-8th grade. Each school year has an envelope for storing special papers, report cards, artwork, awards, sports photos, notes home from the teacher, etc. The envelopes themselves include a place for the child to sign his name each year, a place to glue on a school photo, and several options for entering information pertinent to the child's grade and age (favorite subject, goals, pets' names, teachers and more). It's not nearly as thorough as a baby book and seems like just enough for a grade school child. Carter and I sit together a few times each year to fill it out and he enjoys it as much as me. Check it out!

And, yes, I know I have to stop at the 8th grade. (unless, of course, you find something suitable....let me know!)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ski Trip

Had a fun visit to Copper Mountain on Sunday. Pretty weather, good skiing and a lovely little mountain village. It proved to be much more than I was expecting.

The toddler crew.

Half pipe.....Carter went down it twice on his snowboard! So proud of our little guy.

Jack checking out the trail map.

Time for a treat from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. That's the fun part about skiing for these guys.....sugar at 10:00am!

We were thrilled to meet up with an old friend, Ryan....his precious wife and daughter! Ryan's father was there, too.....more friends.....lots of good conversation in between and after skiing. They made our day that much better.

Carter was smitten with their gorgeous dog, Aspen.

Lainey and her "bee bee".

Such a cute family! Savannah just turned 1 and is a little sweetheart.

Ryan and Blake.