Thursday, March 31, 2011

Visit With The Lenzers and Brown Eyed Girls' Fam

***Please ignore the random spacing and lack of fluidity in this post today.  I'm about to punk kick my laptop through the front window because I'm so frustrated.  Thanks!

Spring Break 2011.

It's been a doozy and we're only a few days in!

Jann from The Lenzers brought her family in town Saturday night for dinner. They vacationed in La Jolla and then up to Anaheim for Disneyland. It was so fun to see her again and meet her precious boys. Jann and I worked together at Michaels years ago. I was pregnant with Jack and she with Connor. Happy we've stayed in touch! Carter got a good picture of us after several tries.
Most of the others looked like this.
Punkin Christian.

Christian is a multi-tasker. Cruising in the cozy coupe and playing in the water table.
And, then he tried to go in.

Lainey took the boys on a snail hunt later that evening.

Fast forward to Tuesday. After unsuccessfully meeting up on Monday (code for my kids were being mega brats, so we went home), we finally united with the group at California Adventure. Love this picture of Lainey and Jann. Think she liked the swings?
Finally found the Brown Eyed Girls' Mom and got to meet her cute kiddos. This is Bia. She doesn't like Disneyland or California Adventure. There might be a future there for Jack and Bia. It would be a marriage of grumps!  
Love these women. Isn't blogging fun? I met the Brown Eyed Girls' Mom randomly and then we realized that we had a connection......Jann......her friend. Small world.
Couldn't believe we got a good picture of the group! That's Chatty at the top. I failed to get more pictures of her. She's a great kid. Exactly as I expected her to be.

Off to the zoo today. Carter seems less than thrilled. I keep chanting "Spring Break Twenty Eleven", baby!!!!!" to get him excited.

Seems counter-productive right now. But, it is bugging him.

So, I'll keep at it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Part Of Living in Southern California - Lots and Lots of Visitors!

Which, you know, we love. Love!!!!!!!

I'm in between several events........yesterday was spent at Disneyland with Millie and kids. We ran into Jann Lenzer twice (what are the odds?), but I never got to see much of her or Brown Eyed Girl's Mom. So, we're returning today in hopes of catching up with everyone at some point! Have had lots of dinners at our house and will post many more pictures as time allows. We're on week 1 of a 2 week Spring Break here in lovely California......busy!

Enjoy the above photo.......the Lenzer boys and our punks. Had a fantastic visit with them.

Off to see the mouse. Later!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Recent Reading

I didn't make a goal this year. After surpassing my 30 book challenge last year, I gave myself a break.

Regardless, I love, love, love to read. Can't remember a point in my adult life when I was not engrossed in a book. If I finish one at night before falling asleep, I have to find (or download) another. Just to get started.

I'm obsessed. Blake is annoyed.

Business as usual in the Starnes house!

OK, so here we go.

I'm on chapter 4 of Room and am completely haunted by the subject matter. A boy named Jack, who just turned 5 (similar to someone I know?) has lived his entire life in a 12'x12' room with his mother. Born there.....lives there. I'm still figuring out the circumstances around this arrangement. It's an extremely difficult read for me. Yes, there are inspiring contributions in the form of the mother's love and will to keep Jack's life "normal", but overall, it's disturbing.

Finished Unbroken, recommended by Mae Mae. A World War II story of a man with resilience of another world. The book (written by the author of Sea Biscuit) chronicles his interesting childhood......then a man lost at sea.......his de-humanizing experience as a POW....the long term results of such abuse........and then his eventual discovery of Christ. A fantastic read.

My Aunt Donna trades books with me often. Summer's Child was read a couple of weeks ago when I was sick. I was in the middle of Unbroken and didn't want something so "heavy", so I grabbed this book. A quick read, but a weak story. Pass on this one.

Strong Motion was one of the first books in about a decade that I started and didn't finish. Got to page 160 and just couldn't move forward with it. Caroline gave me 3 of Jonathan Franzen's books for Christmas and so I started with his oldest and planned to work my way through them in order. They're not sequels, but I like to read an author's work in order because I believe you can often see his writing develop this way. Didn't care for this story.....but I may go back and try it again because I loved Franzen's book, reviewed next.

Freedom.......enjoyed it very much. Seems to be pretty popular right now (on Oprah's list) and I can see why. It covers environmental issues, marital, corporate life and more. Interesting characters and a book with lots of story lines. I'll probably read his second book, The Corrections, next. Great author.

Catching Fire is the second of the Hunger Games series. OK, so I kind of feel like a Twilighter reading these books because they're super popular amongst teenagers. They were recommended by a friend of mine, Lauren, who reads like I do and I trust her opinions. I am enjoying the series, but I'm not in love with it like most people. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the books follow the "games" society has set for survival and entertainment purposes. Certainly an interesting concept.

Aunt Mary sent me The Best of LSU Fiction for Christmas. It's a compilation of several short stories and I grab it from time to time when I want to take a break from a current read. A lovely group of authors.....all the stories are different.....and I love that it's from Louisiana.

Cutting for Stone. One of my favorite books in years. Multi-layered and deep. It tells the story of twin boys born from a nun and surgeon in Ethiopia. Orphaned by their mother's death and their father's disappearance, they're raised in a medical family and subsequently follow the same field in their choice of careers. The story is set during an evolving Ethiopia and as the boys grow into adulthood, their lives intersect and trust becomes both a challenge and a blessing. Absolutely recommend.

The Hunger Games. As mentioned before, it's a good series. I'll read the third and final book in the next few months for sure. The characters are intriguing. Love Katniss, of course!

What are you reading?

Any recommendations?

I'm interested in reading a book on Amish life. I love to learn about other religions and lifestyles. Know of a good one?

*note: I keep track of my reading on that "books" tab you see at the top of my page.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sweet Caroline

It's a good day, folks. Caroline is going in to have her dialysis line taken out. She's been off of dialysis for several months now, but they kept the port in just to be safe - in case she needed further treatment. And, she doesn't!

She's made significant progress in other areas, too. Caroline recently changed from IV meds that have to be kept on ice to those not needing to be cool. This means that she can carry a cute purse rather than her medical bag and no more ice pack changes throughout the day! After mixing her meds every evening for 20+ minutes, she can now mix up to 7 days at a time. This is big.

Perhaps the greatest joy comes from celebrating a year post-stroke. We looked for a button at Disneyland that suggested such......they have buttons for everything.......except Post-Stroke. WTH, Disneyland?

As always, I'm grateful to each of my bloggie friends who have reached out over the years to support her. Making meals, sending gift cards, buying t-shirts, etc, etc, etc. It has been such a blessing and we're both thankful!

For those who don't know, my sister has Scleroderma and Pulmonary Hypertension. From her initial years with treatment.....and daily life meeting these challenges, Caroline has finished her Bachelor's degree, attained her teaching certificate, taught high school English for 10 years, led numerous school organizations, received her Master's Degree and more. Impressive, yes?

Proud of you, Aunt Carowine.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Recent Ways of Annoying The Family

1. Disney trivia. I pity anyone who enters the park with me. As mentioned before, I love knowing the under layers of how the business came about and why things are the way they are. Disney is filled with all sorts of yummy secrets and I want to know them all! I may have even bored a few people standing in line with me with my knowledge. I try very hard not to point stuff out mid-ride, though. I will, however, point out a Hidden Mickey to just about anyone. Lots of stares, people. Lots of stares.

2. We switched to Direct TV recently and have 3 months of free movie channels (which we never subscribe to). I've been recording movies left and right, but haven't watched any. It's hard for me to sit still long enough to do so, but the prospect of so many options at my fingertips has proven to be too tempting. Plus, I'm rather proud of myself for figuring out how to record something. Not long ago, pushing those 2 buttons seemed very tricky for me.

3. One of our Plano boys is in a new movie with some pretty respectable names. Bradley Cooper and Robert Diniro, for example. His name is Johnny Whitworth and we "went together" in the 9th grade. For at least a week. OK, maybe 3 days. But, I am relentlessly reminding Blake and Carter. Blake is basically indifferent and Carter refuses to believe I could be "that cool."

Oh, sweet Carter. I am that cool and so much more.

And, the movie looks good! (He's the guy who offers Bradley Cooper the meds.)

I'm working diligently on other ways to annoy the fam......and Blake more than anyone.....stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Question Of The Week - Shopping

I used to view it as a sport. Suburban life often brings people to the mall, often without a need or focus. Caroline and I spent weekends and weekends at Northpark and the Galleria while I lived in Dallas. Since we moved out of state, my interests have wavered and it seems less thrilling.

Several reasons support this change......less disposable income with 3 kids in California is considerably more expensive than other places we have lived.....more to do outside in Colorado, KC, and Cali...and our kids simply don't enjoy it. Carter was an awesome shopper. Jack and Lainey - not so much.

I have learned, too, that online shopping can be even more effective and certainly stress free. Remove the obligatory lunches/coffee, etc that always add to a mall trip and you're coming out way ahead.

Behold Christmas 2011. I'm about 80% done, peeps. Feels good. Bought nearly everything online as I saw sales and will keep it tucked safely inside my storage bins until it's time to ship out in November. Feel free to call me "crazy". I can take it.

Caroline and I ventured into Fashion Valley while she was in town to pick out Jack's birthday present. One visit to Nordstrom and we were both about to pull our hair out. He did score these super cool dinosaur Vans while there. And, I picked up a little gift for our nephew, Kellen, too. For Christmas, of course!

While we were out, I wandered into Peek. Holy cuteness. I believe it's primarily a West Coast thing, but they do have a store in Texas. Northpark, I think. Check it out. Nordstrom has a Peek section, too, in their kids' department.

Fun and funky. Just our style.

OK, so my question......since I'm out of the shopping game......what am I missing? Our kids are stocked for summer, but I'd like to freshen up their wardrobe a bit. And, I'm always in search of cute sundresses for me.

***What's your latest favorite for kids?

***What's your latest favorite for women?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Catch Up

Get ready for a whole lot of random, folks!

First, my "check in" with Eat. Live. Be. for a better 2011. I'm officially at 11 pounds lost and feeling great! Enjoying the exercise and love walking on the beach more than anything. I also schooled Carter in a basketball game last night. Made him run laps because I won.

Moving on.....

The Rand family came over for dinner while they were in town. I love having people over to our house.......perfect for entertaining!

The best shot I got of the complaints.....Carter was photographing.

Carter and Haylee. Such great kids.

Dinner on the patio! Artichoke spaghetti and cheese pizza. The evening stretched into some cocktails for the adults and the kids watching a movie. Just like old times. Love this family!

We were supposed to see Matthew McConohay at Jay Leno on Wednesday, but stayed home to be safe. Caroline wasn't feeling 100%. So, we dorked around the house and had a quiet day. Naps, too!

Thursday morning, I woke early to make green eggs for St. Patrick's Day. Only I ate them. Haters.

They were delish!

Afterwards, we visited Disneyland again. Planned on a short trip and did just that.

Caroline and I are officially obsessed with all things Disney-related. Have bought several books and are enjoying learning about the park and all the behind-the-scenes trivia.

Walt Disney had an apartment on site.....just above the fire house.

At night, they leave a lamp on in his honor. Love that.

We encountered another tantrum. This time, it was further into the park, but just as severe. This picture breaks my heart. I know I should be mad and at some point, I was, but to see her panicking like this brings out 2% frustration and 98% compassion from me. I hate to see my baby girl suffering and right or wrong.....she is.

Back to the Disney trivia. Feeling as though his single apartment wasn't large enough, he began construction on a larger one to share with his brother. Hidden within the blue scrolls are their initials in gold. Sadly, Walt died before seeing everything complete.

Club 33 is a very sought after private club in the park that members only can visit. I'm assuming it's all very Xanadu in there. Need to get on that list.

The group. Trying out a new restaurant. Pretty adventurous for us because Carter would have us eating clam chowder at the French Market with every visit if he could.

Day planning.

Look who has red hair now! Well, it's strawberry!

Castle pic? Jack's less than interested.

Spying on Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter just beyond the moat.

We finally toured the castle. It's not open often.......very cool!

For Coco. You love it.

Blake showed up to spend the rest of the evening with us.

Love, love, love Disneyland. Carter, Caroline and I headed home, but Blake kept the little ones there to ride the monorail, the storybook ride and Buzz Lightyear. Such a good daddy.

On the agenda this week:

*Dr appointment today.

*Schedule Jack's 5 year old well check! (tears)

*Beach dinner with Holly and fam.

*Business meeting in La Jolla.

*Prepare for more visitors. Jann, Cindy, Millie + families!

*San Diego Zoo visit.

*Finish my book. Unbroken. Fabulous read.