Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Giveaway - A Custom Piece of Artwork

Something you may not know about me.....I have an uber talented cousin. Actually, he's Blake's cousin, but mine by marriage.

His name is Lance and he's growing two of his businesses in preparation for their 3rd child, Emily Kate, arriving in September!

To spread the word about his work, I'm hosting a giveaway. One lucky reader will receive the piece of his or her choice. (A value ranging between $250-$500, depending on what you choose!)

His two websites:

Painted Christ

Lance Brown Art

Lance is offering a painting from his Christ collection or a custom painting of your choice. Simply email him a photograph and he will paint it. (This excludes portraits)

You can see this one in his collection......but I thought I'd show it here, too. This is Blake and Carter, at the age of 2, on our first vacation to California. Lance surprised us with this piece years ago and I've treasured it ever since. We love original art. To have a custom made original? Priceless.

So, how to enter.......

1. Visit either or both of Lance's websites and leave me a comment letting me know your favorite piece of art.

2. Let me know you follow my blog for another entry.

3. Re-post this giveaway for an additional 3 entries!

Lance is currently taking custom orders and would love to paint your photographs. Start thinking about the holidays ahead and get your orders in quick! It's a gift your recipient will cherish for life.

***Giveaway will end at midnight on Wednesday, September 8th. I'll draw the winner randomly and make the announcement shortly after!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


I'm feeling lots better. In fact, I felt a huge improvement just hours after starting on my prescriptions. Steroids can work wonders. And, keep you up for 28 hours straight. I got a lot of reading done.

With this little episode nearly behind us, the entire fam will be drug in for flu shots this week. We're taking no chances on anyone else getting sick. Lack of routine and normalcy creates illness. Exhaustion, too. All in the forecast for us.

And, according to this site, this year's shot WILL include 3 strands, including the H1N1. Wonder if those opposed to it last year will not get one this year? We vaccinate. If it's available and recommended by our doctors, we do it. But, I know lots of people had questions last year. No doubt, the media helped feed those uncertainties.

In between making enormous life changes, we've done our best to keep the punks in their routine. Carter's in school. Lainey and Jack are up to their usual nonsense. Blake took them to the KC Zoo, the Deanna Rose Farmstead, Union Station, Crown Center and Kaleidoscope. All while I was sick at home recovering.

Blake = good dad and husband.

The week prior, we enjoyed a lovely morning at the Farmer's Market.....just one of the many things I will miss about Overland Park as we venture west.

Jack's bounty.

And, Lainey's.

Cutie pie.

Yall know I'm big on markets like this and supporting local business.....especially farmers. Take pride in where you live, peeps!

Want to know one of the hardest parts of this move? Parting with old loves. (Not Blake....he's making the move.) I'm talking about furniture we've been hauling from Texas to Colorado to Kansas. Carter used this collection, below, upon exiting the crib and until we bought the bunk/loft system currently used by the boys today. I kept the armoire and dresser that go with this because it blends well with the bunks. But, these......have to go.

And, this. The rocker used to rock each of our babies to sleep. Started with Carter and moved down from child to child. I will be sad to see it go.

Blake and I are big on keeping furniture and buying simple, quality pieces that will last through the years.......and hopefully decades. I'd much rather re-paint something (as we did with this rocker with each nursery) than buy something new.......not only to save money, but because it's yet another extension of recycling.

So, we've made a lot of money from a garage sale on Saturday and lots of CraigsList buyers. And, no one got murdered! Awesome.

New subject. Donuts With Dad.......last Friday at school.

Blake said the PE teacher, whom directs traffic and sets up the cones in the parking lot, went up to Blake and said, "Man, I hear those carpool lanes out in San Diego are really tricky. You ready for that?"

Caroline has confirmed with me that we are the laughing stock of the teacher's lounge right now. Can't blame them.

The littler punks are busy resurrecting toys from areas we're cleaning out. Meow Meow got a ride on the train.

Packing starts tomorrow, bloggies. Our ticker shows 13 days until we move. Pretty close, although we're not absolutely sure of the exact drive out day. What I do know is that the freight carrier will drop off the trailer next week. For us to fill with the contents of our lives, now scaled down about 40%. We've accomplished a lot so far.

Place to live? Still working on it.

Jobs? Still working on it.

Quit worrying about the little things! :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Questions, Answered

Where are you going to work?
*Not entirely sure yet. Blake and I are both looking at our options. I'd love to find something immediately that will work with the kids' schedules (Preschool, Pre-K and 4th grade), but that almost seems to good to be true initially.

How many Red Bull/Vodkas are you and Blake consuming a day?
*Not enough. Stressful days around here, peeps.

We look like this a lot of the time. Yes, I'm the white cat. You'll see why.

How you like dem apples, boy?!

What will you do if you get there and can't find a job?
*Good question. And, one that seems to be of the utmost concern these days. I had to finally tell my Aunt Mary to quit being so practical and that things would fall into place. Silly.

But, seriously. Although we don't have jobs lined up right now, I have no doubt Blake and I will find work. We've been married for over 10 years and have yet to ask for a handout. Blake will cut grass and landscape (Californians love private gardeners)......I'll wait tables.....we'll bag groceries before a bill goes unpaid.

So, the option of us not finding jobs really isn't an option, as we're moving to set roots and stay. Our initial findings may not be perfect, but we've weighed this possibility and are ready to take that risk.

I don't mean to sound over-confident or completely jaded in our thinking. We've received all sorts of responses to this move and we've considered everything. Blake and I are both hard working people and I have faith that we'll make it happen.

Aria wants to know if her and Batman can be BFFs?

Out of all the wonderful sites to see in California, what are you most excited about doing with your kids?
*How much time do you have? California......lovely, natural California. I'm most excited about getting outside again and finding those things that we loved in Colorado....on the west coast. The mountains, beaches, hiking trails and state parks. I'm giddy just thinking about it.

I have an old college friend who lives in San Diego and we've been in touch since we decided to move out there. We were discussing places to live and his question was, "Well, what's your flavor? Ski, skate, surf or fruit.....avocados or grapes.....something in the middle?"

Love that.

Where are you currently working?
*I'll say it now because we're about to leave.....as I don't typically throw out specifics......but I'm currently working at an upscale resale shop in town called Children's Orchard. I absolutely love it. And, I'm a huge believer in resale now, after finding this store. It's a cut above the rest and the quality is fantastic. The best part? There are plenty of locations in California!

What jobs are you looking to apply for in California?
*Management, retail, buying, U.S. Customs and Imports, writing, editing, accounting, and more. Are you hiring?

Do you believe in ghosts?

Are you crazy?


Where you gonna live?
*Working on it.

Are you going to have a guest room for me?
*Of course!

Aren't you afraid to fail?
*If Blake and I were afraid to fail, we would have never gotten married in the first place. We take huge leaps of faith together. We believe in each other and we trust each other to make this happen. And, I know it will!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Comedy of Errors

We're a total mess right now. In 2.5 weeks, we will drive out of the Midwest and into the unknown. I think the anticipation of it all is causing us to lose our minds a little bit.


1. We forgot to pick up Carter on his 3rd day of school. Forgot. Totally. We were sorting through the kitchen and Blake noticed the clock at 3:30......then drove hysterically to make it there on time. Carter did not notice due to the massive carpool pick up cluster always present the first week of school. But, we felt like terrible parents.

2. In said carpool lane......the very next day......I ran out of gas. RAN OUT OF GAS. I've done this once in my life and that was in high school.

After our mishap the day before, I was there bright and early, first in line......at 3:00. It was 95 degrees outside, so I sat comfortably in my air conditioned car reading my book. Once the parking lot opened, I scooted up to mark my territory, claiming I love my child more than anyone else because I'm so early........and then my car stopped. Had to get out and tell the principal what happened and to please wave people around me until my husband shows up with gas. Awesome.

3. Yesterday, Blake went to pick up Carter and somehow drove our family truckster straight into a poor, unsuspecting tether ball pole.

It ripped the pole out of the ground and punctured our tire with a 4 inch gash. He said the cones threw him off......and the sign poking out of one telling parents which lane to use......took a sharp turn and plowed into it.

That's 3 parking lot incidents in less than 2 weeks, folks. I have a feeling that the school district here in Overland Park can't wait for the Starnes family to withdraw Carter.

In other news, I think the kids have started to sense the lack or order around here and are becoming pretty brave. Blake was fussing at Lainey a few days ago......she stood and listened.....and then responded, "Daddy. You yook so cute when you talk yike dat."

You want more drama? I'm sick. My lungs look like this:

I have Bronchitis and a sinus infection. For the past 2 days, every inch of my body has hurt like hell. My teeth even hurt at one point.

I went to the doctor this morning. I passed out while giving a blood sample and the guy (about half my size) had to push me back into the chair so I didn't fall out.

I came to and acted as though it really wasn't a big deal. Because, right now, people......it doesn't seem like a big deal. Humiliating? Yes. But, it honestly felt par for the course at this point.

I left with:

nasal spray

And, then bought:

ibuprofen pm

I'd love to be napping right now, but the steroids are making me nutty. One steroid pill can send me over the edge and I have taken 6, as prescribed to me today. My doctor knows about our venture west and wants me healthy asap. I am appreciative of his intentions.....but now I'm stuck in our room until the 24 hour antibiotic "you're not contagious" rule kicks in. I finished a book in nearly a day and am well through another right now. Hopefully, I'll calm down soon enough and sleep this evening.

Phew! I'm worn out. How about you? Sass says we need our own reality show. I'm starting to understand why.

Hope your week is less eventful than ours!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Got Questions?

Let me know! Regarding our move, the kids, Batman, work, Meow Meow, etc.

Click "ask anonymously" if you want to keep your identity to yourself.

I'll be back tomorrow with yet another Starnes fumble....we are a comedy of errors these days......it's getting pretty ridiculous. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Sweet baby Jesus, I'm losing my mind.

House is almost sorted. Meaning, I've touched EVERY SINGLE PIECE of our inventory. Playroom will be done tonight and then the albatross hanging from my neck (I feel so smart writing that) will be gone soon. Goal for the end of the week is to have everything donated, up for sale, trashed, or with the intention of keeping. Pray for us.

That leaves 2 weeks to pack. I think I can. I think I can.

Movers have been secured. The truck has been reserved. We're buying space on a freight carrier, rather than driving a U Haul, for several reasons. It's about the same price after you factor in gas money, food on the road, a few hotel nights with the fam, etc. Plus, our sanity has a better chance for preservation if we're not driving one of those trucks.

So, onto jobs. A few prospects are looking good for Blake. I'll feel great when we're "done" in that department.

I've been thinking of working at Dash. But, then, Kim might want to be BFF and things would get awkward once she read my blog and saw this pic and all my "Ooh lah lah" talk about Reggie Bush:

Remember? Yeah, I don't think that will work out.

The search continues.

We hope to also have the home/apartment/condo/townhome/any livable space search done by the end of this week, too. Californians love the color white. And, granite. And, palm trees.

I know the map of southern California quite well now. And, we've extended our search up to the O.C. (Pretty sure they don't call it that out there. Must consult, Cam, cousin extraordinaire.) This will give us better availability for Los Angeles should we find work there.

With all that being said, I'm considering narrowing down our options to who takes photos with the toilet seat down. Seriously? I start screaming in this house of 3 children when the seat is up. Why would an agent not put it down in an empty condo?

Moving on to the Starnes kids.....

Jack and Lainey got married recently. Their first dance:

Jack hauled Lainey's baby changer upstairs just for the occasion because it plays music and people hear music when they get married. THAT is love, people.

Then, he lost interest and our bride was left to do pictures on her own. No worries. They get married a lot these days. To each other. We haven't had that talk, obviously.

We've also been skipping naptime in an effort to put kids down earlier and do more drinking work at night. Hence, a recent shot of our damn good parenting skills.

In other news, Carter is successfully boring every one at school with our moving plans. Hell, even I'm sick of hearing about them. I can only imagine what his teachers are going through.

He's also a head taller than most kids in his class. Supposed to be 6' 4". Blake's gonna get his booty kicked soon enough by one of his sons. Awesome.

How do we know this? The doctor did some calculator-type-formula when Carter was 4 and it showed he's going to be pretty tall. We don't know about Jack. Because he wouldn't stand still long enough to measure his height at his 4 year old check up. I'm thinking this contributed to the "behavior misconduct" label in his file. I think I will conveniently forget to have those forwarded to our new pediatrician in California.

Clean slates for everyone! Woo hoo!

Lainey has more dress up princess outfits than she has clothes at this point. And, I honestly don't care. If she's happy, we get more done.

I think that's it, folks! Back to house hunting......

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Swimming Pool Fools

Blake and the kids have logged more pool hours than anyone in the history of our neighborhood. I'm sure of it.

Take a look at this short video of Lainey being launched in the air. This was taken about a month ago, so this trick and all swimming is done sans life jackets now.

(as always, ignore my shrieking......I had not seen this trick before and was shocked!)

More fun.....

Short break for makeup. Got to look good at the pool.


Our handsome big boy.

Pool food.

Jack is swimming like mad now, but before preferred simple water play on the side of the pool.

And, also drinking water from Crocs. That looks healthy.

Meow Meow always joins us.

Off to work the Midwest Kids Fest this weekend. Have a great day!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thoughts On Facebook

First, watch the trailer above. I CANNOT WAIT.

Facebook is fascinating to me. While I don't understand how people can spend hours of their day looking at profiles and cruising pictures, I've immensely enjoyed catching up with old friends. I am very good at keeping in touch with people. We send out 150+ Christmas cards a year. Obviously, I have problems crossing people off my list. This is in no way an attempt to brag on my abilities to keep up with correspondence. Anyone can mail a letter, send an email or make a phone call.

So, this crazy social network allows each of us a glimpse into the world of close friends, old loves, enemies and the occasional crazy family member. It's genius. The privacy settings provide a bit of security, although, I think we all are aware it can be breached in many ways. Once we hit "send", "comment", "submit".....it's out there. To be read and shared. With your "friends" or anyone else.

I've witnessed the good and bad about Facebook. And, I'm enjoying the ride.

But, if I could be my snarkiest self, I'd recommend the following tips to any user:

1. Please do not feel obligated to squeeze your entire family or spouse or significant other in your profile picture. Adding another person does not make you look more worthy.

2. This goes for babies, too. We're thrilled if you've had one. Now, we just want to see if you're going to take the weight off. (Or gained it back like I have.)

3. Dogs or cats in profile picture? APPROVED.....because that just means you're funny enough to do it.

4. Random pictures including the kind of car you drive conveniently posed in the background is dreadfully transparent. Don't do that.

5. Also don't "tag" a picture of me where I am drunk or looking stupid. I can do both of those things very easily on my own, thankyouverymuch.

6. Writing a note to one of your closest friends about a fabulous event, night out or party = another dreadfully transparent way of announcing that other people are not included. Pick up your damn phone and text if you're unwilling to call said BFF.

7. "Liking" or participating in every Christian group online does not mean you are any less of an asshole in real life.

8. Announcing every single piece of local/national breaking news is annoying. That being said, I wouldn't have known about Michael Jackson for days because I rarely watch TV. But, still.

9. Mentioning the word, "Monday", in any post should automatically revoke your Facebook privileges. IE....."What? Who slipped in a Monday around here today? I was just enjoying Saturday!"

Disclaimer: If you qualify for any of the above critiques from me, please don't be offended. I've participated in nearly half of them. Live and learn, peeps.

Now, leave my blog and go look up your ex and have a field day making fun of his/her new love. We've all done it. It's part of the beauty of this mad online world.

Question Of The Week

Early 20's for me. No doubt. So much fun and independence, but we were old enough to not make the dumber mistakes we made in our late teens. College. Tons of travel on very little money. Live music every weekend. I was a total free spirit back then.

Disclaimer: This does not mean I don't love my life now......this does not mean I don't love my husband and kids.

***If you could go back and re-live any age from your past, what would it be? Now, you don't get to change things......just experience them again.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First Day Of The 4th Grade

We had a successful morning here at the Starnes casa. Carter dressed in his new Vans, his "California" shirt, and we headed off to school.

First, a picture.

Lainey wanted one.

Meow Meow, too.

He's still letting me take pictures on campus. I'm as shocked as you are!

He got settled at his desk and there was already plenty to do.

With his buddy, Jake.

Sweet boy. It's really cool when you genuinely like your children. I mean, we all love them. But, Carter.....I really like the kind of kid he is.

With another friend and neighbor, Miles.

He goes to an excellent school here in Overland Park.....as always, I never disclose school names, teachers, etc. This has been our favorite so far, though.

A look back.......notice the big change from 1st to 2nd grade.

First Day Of Kindergarten

First Day of the 1st Grade

First Day of the 2nd Grade

First Day of the 3rd Grade

I'm off to the doctor, to run some errands and back home for a big family dinner. Can't wait to hear how his first day went!

Here's to a great school year, peeps.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Latest Scoop

The house is OFFICIALLY leased. We have to be out September 14 at noon. Which means, Lainey will be spending her 3rd birthday on the road moving out west!

We gave a little.....had to in order to time the move as we wanted it and secure this tenant......but I believe we're coming out ahead. The sooner we get to California, the sooner we can settle Carter in school, find jobs and start Jack and Lainey in Preschool.

Our current project is going well and I'll be posting a link to a site that shows all of the furniture we're selling in case any of you locals Kansans are interested. Mega-deals, peeps. We're selling half of what we own.

Some recent pics:

This kid is getting a haircut soon. Like, tomorrow. He's looking homeless at this point.

And, Lainey's been sporting the rain boots to the pool. Makes sense in our 100 degree heat.

Swimming pool fools.....

Lainey has mad acrobat skills.

Batman is daydreaming here about living in a normal home. I just know it.

Lainey looked a whole lot like Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction after removing her braids recently. I told Blake to keep all the bunnies in the neighborhood away from her and he didn't get it.

Jack is still Jack. "Don't pitcher me!!!!!!"

Sweet Carter has his new shoes lined up for his first day of 4th grade tomorrow. As much as we tried to avoid it.....after speaking to school districts in our prospective cities in California and here in Overland Park, we decided to get him started. He'll only go a few weeks......but it will give him a chance to say goodbye to friends and announce the exciting news regarding our move.

We're leaning towards hiring a driver to move everything.....drive our cars out at the same time.....and spend a few days in a hotel prior to signing a lease. The internet has endless resources and Google Earth can show us an amazing amount of information about the houses/condos/townhomes we're looking at.....but there's nothing like seeing it first hand.

Still lots to work through. Still lots to decide. But, we're beyond excited about this next venture!

Check out the monthly temps in San Diego:

Temperature highs/lows

January 65/48
February 66/50
March 66/52
April 68/55

May 69/58
June 71/61
July 76/65
August 78/67
September 77/65
October 75/60
November 70/54
December 66/49

I know. I can't wait.

More to come after Carter's first day. Hope yall are having a good week!