Friday, April 29, 2011

Plans And Stuff

We have been busy little bees around here lately, folks. Celebrating Jack all week....Chuck E Cheese's (Lord give me strength) on Monday......beach picnic on Tuesday.....Rio, the movie, on prep tonight.

*****Sweet Jackie got 4 shots and a prick for his TB test yesterday. What kind of mother schedules such on his birthday?! I had to. It was the only time Blake was available to stay home with Lainey while I took Jack by myself. After last year's "conduct disorder" mark on our records, I wasn't going to take any chances. I'm pleased to report that our little guy willingly stepped on the scale, measured his height, took his hearing and sight tests, etc, etc. The pediatrician was perhaps the best we've ever seen and Jack was the best behaved I've seen in a very long time. Now, he did refer to the nurses as the "dentist girls", but then again, his father still calls flight attendants, "stewardesses", so can we blame him?

Moving on.....

*****Lots planned for the next several days.  Company coming in.......more party prep.......another doctor's visit to recheck the TB on the back yard and more.  What do people do all day if they're not busy?  I've never understood that.

*****Starting to think about a little vacation this summer before we head off to Florida in July.  Las Vegas is a short 5 or 6 hours away.  Might take the whole fam to tour the city and laze by the pool in June.  Although I don't think Vegas is very high on anyone's list for a family attraction, I do think there is plenty for kids.  Check this site.

Treasure Island
New York New York
Caesar's Palace

We can ride the train up and down the strip and see the attractions at dusk and relax by the pool during the day.  I'm not talking about a Hangover re-enactment, people, so calm the hell down.  Kids will be on a 2 drink limit and there will be a midnight curfew for everyone.  No hookers and no gambling.


*****I saw Water For Elephants tonight. Absolutely loved it. LOVED. They totally nailed the cast. Christoph Waltz as August was brilliant. Robby and Reese were awesome, too. Highly recommend it. If you haven't read it, do that first.

The trailer:

Back soon. Yall have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jackie

Blake says he's my favorite.

It's not true.

Except for today.

OK, so I only have an entire montage to him from birth until now (almost.....who could keep up with more?). But, he is the only kid documented for nearly 5 years.

On the internet.

Which means, he's going to be labeled as absolutely "crazy" or "brilliant", based on my discretion.

I'll let the world decide.

(Fully knowing how they'll sway, of course.)

He's my only kid to:

*Not tell a lie in his lifetime. It's still (as far as I know) not an ability of his.

*Name every possible dinosaur privy to his little mind, including those I could have never read to him from a book because I would have surely screwed up the name.

*Live life fully in my care (minus Mother's Day Out and Preschool) from birth until now.

*Make me question Aspergers, ODD, and every other possible label for his quirky personality.

*Insist I read more books than I ever thought available for young children.

*Give me the ability to love like I didn't believe I could.

Punkin Jack.

He's the only child I prayed for and begged God for. (Carter and Lainey came quite easily to the family, in case you're late to the game here).

I cried for 7 months thinking I'd never get pregnant again. After waiting so long to have a second child with the man I knew I would love forever. We had to wait. We wanted to build a house. We wanted to be sure. And, when we were, it took forever. For all of those in the same boat I was then (you know who you are, bloggies), I am praying for you, too.

He has taught me so much and more than likely my other 2 children combined will ever convince me of.

I'm so glad he loves trains and dinosaurs. I do, too, now.

So, you went from this:

To this:

In 5 short years. 

Yes, 5.  You are refusing to acknowledge your birthday and dismissing all adults from your party.  This is all par for the course and doesn't phase us a bit.

I took a second at the beach tonight to document your favorite food.  "Rectangle Chicken Nuggets" from Carls' Junior.  They're technically French Toast Sticks, but we missed that correction upon moving here and getting settled.  Damn.

I also documented your latest love.  This doesn't inspire the same unique fascination as does the Coaster or Sprinter, a la Oceanside, California, but you do love it so.


You know every one by heart and can pronounce them better than the experts.

Lainey is your best friend and nemesis all at the same time.  I'm guessing that will go on for years.  She has a way of making things "right" when you think she's wrong.

And, your big brother.  That kid is pretty good to you.

I will frame this one for you soon enough.  Fewer things in this entire world can make me smile like this.

Oh, wait.  There you are.  On the Pacific Coast, 5 years ago.  Such a good match, even then.

And, finally.....the three punks.  You are a match like no other.  God had such a plan with this project.

You are so perfectly matched and uniquely different all at the same time.

And, I couldn't pray for more.

Know what I like about you most?

You're YOU. 

You don't apologize for being yourself.  You have an uncanny and often misunderstood knack for telling the world to eff off and I can relate to that in unmeasured proportions.

Carry on, soldier. 

Your mama's got your back.

Happy Birthday Punkin Jack.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Obligatory Easter Post - I'll Try To Make It As Painless As Possible

Morning, peeps!  Hope yall had a great Easter weekend.  Ours was a ton of fun. 

A few pictures for you........a hand full are from last weekend.  Please forgive.

Doug took this great shot of the 2 punks watching Carter surf.  Love it.

Surfing is hard work, yall.  While the pay off may look fabulous and fun......

Getting there involves hauling the board back out into the crashing waves, setting up and doing it all over again.  Carter must go through this process 100 times each day we go to the beach.  Only way to learn!

Lainey prefers less work and more fun.  Bouncing the day's favorite stuffed animal is her new thing.

What a motley crew these guys are.  Carter loves hangin' with the big boys.

Then, Lainey shows up and they have to act like kitties.  Pretty good sports.  And, yes, Blake is going to kill me for posting this one.

The boys assembled a new arbor for the back yard.  We'll paint the existing one this coming weekend and then add it to another trail that works its way back to the fence. 

Egg dying!  One of our favorite traditions.

Always messy fun, resulting in 3 kids with blue hands.  Small price to pay, I suppose.

Had an eventful beach visit on Saturday.

Carter found this guy washed up in the sand.  We've seen them before at the aquarium in La Jolla and they're oddly one of my favorite exhibits.  They bury in the sand and poke their heads out.  Awesome to see it in person!

Some people on vacation were hard at work on this castle.  Thankfully, none of our children destroyed it while it was being built.

They waited until the family packed up and left.  Then, the family came back for a walk on the beach to see the sunset.  Damn.

Another group made this mermaid.  So cool.

Easter morning arrived early, as always.  Doug and his dog, Brody, were staying with us again, so the Easter Bunny hid eggs in the back yard. 

Sweet Brody didn't know whether to help or not.

California is in full bloom.  Even on a dewy, misty Sunday morning......the colors are fabulous.

The fam......prior to heading out for Aliso Viejo to visit our California family.  Notice the dinosaur trend this year.  The Easter Bunny brought Jack 4 of these guys and he hasn't put them down since.

Had a lovely visit with Aunt Donna, Uncle Bob and family.  We're so lucky to live close to them! 

Lots to do this week.

*Prep for Jack's Un-Birthday party.

*Jack's "official" day of birth celebration.  Cupcakes for his classmates and a visit with Holly + kids that evening.

*Maybe buy a new phone since mine is only recording 20% of my voice mails.  And, I can't really hear people when they call me.  And, it's still mysteriously still in limbo and somehow thinks it's linked to our Kansas City phone number.  Blake's been asking me to buy a new one since December.  Guess it's about time.

*Exercise!  Still going strong and feeling great.

*Water for Elephants.  Heard it's fantastic!

*Finish 2 books and start another. 

*Thank You Notes.

*Overhaul Lainey's pig stye bedroom.  Terrified of what I'll find under her bed.  Who knew a 3 year old could be such a mess?

*Laundry.  Lots and lots of laundry.  Mostly beach towels.  But, I won't go into that again.

Happy Monday, bloggies!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Few Things To Consider Before Moving To The West Coast

When moving to California, it may all seem like fun and sun.  For the most part, it is.  However, there are a few key pieces of information that you may be unaware of.

First, if you have a job, you will have to resign.  While this is contradictory to the radical cost of living out here, your main purpose now will become washing beach towels. 

Wash, dry, fold, repeat.

Going to the beach is fun.  Often, we'll be there on a lazy Saturday afternoon and say to each other, "I feel like we're on vacation.  This can't be real."  But, then, you'll start to get brave and buy a canopy.  Buying said canopy will involve going to a dozen different stores to find the one you want because most are sold out.  Kids will remain in the car, growing restless and impatient for fun.  You will stay in the car with the kids while your husband roams every sporting goods store in a 10 mile radius to find the perfect one.

Once you find it (or settle on the only freaking one available), you will look like a complete idiot less than intelligent trying to set it up.

Sand is everywhere.  Everywhere, people.  While on vacation, this might seem charming and out-of-the-ordinary.  Eventually, you'll be holding down a 3 year old to retrieve sand from parts of her ear you didn't think possible.  It won't be so charming then.

Frank the Tank will surely make an appearance.  Playing on the beach is hard work.

Your daughter will insist on bringing the most idiotic items to the beach.  Her bebe will be napping at home, prior to departure, and because she cannot wake her to put her in her bed, she will bring her to the beach.  With her pram stroller to keep her comfortable.  People around you will think this is odd.

If you're like me, you will have an uncanny knack for setting up behind women with perfect California beach bodies.  Consistently.  While you will get used to this, you will tire of your husband and whichever male guest is present (I'm talking to you, Doug) admiring their finer qualities.

Oh, but wait.  What is that there running down the coast like something out of Baywatch?  Cute lifeguards in training.  There is a God.  And, he is a fair God. 

Your kids will grow so comfortable in the sand, that after a long day of play, they'll eventually pass out.  Tourists will think this is the time to go.  Nah.  Got to see the sunset!

L.A. traffic.  While I don't see much of it, Blake does.

California raised children will gawk and stare and scream when thunder or lightning appears.  This will make you question your move and will confirm that this is, indeed, the land of fruit and nuts.

While trying to lose weight and compete (or, hell, just not stand out) amongst the previously mentioned bikini girls, you will be tempted by a taco stand on EVERY DAMN CORNER in sight.  Note:  Fish tacos, while they may seem healthy, are not.

Wine is cheap here.  This can be good and bad. 

So, to conclude, California is a fabulous place to live.  But, it's not without its challenges.

Have I forgotten anything?

Oh, one more.  Your house will soon become a home-away-from-home for friends near and far.  Thus,  more towels.....more sand......more wine......more beach.......more tacos......more of everything.

More fun! 

Come visit us soon, peeps. 

Our door is always open.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Questions, Answered

*Which kid is your favorite?

It depends on the day and time of day.  Carter is pre-teen-angst-ish in the morning, deciding what to wear.  If skinny jeans are not clean, he's less than pleasant to be around.  Jack is almost always in love with me, super affectionate and could literally hug me for hours if I let him.  However, his social skills are still developing, so it's stressful being with friends.  Lainey is so overly sweet sometimes that it's hard to believe she's real.  Other times (and always unpredictably, unlike the boys), she can be a mega brat.

So, I'm going with Batman.

*What did you draw at the cartoon exhibit at Disney?

Tigger.  The artist broke it down to show the kids how to create him, start to finish.  Pretty cool.

*Is a wine diet.....I mean, a liquid diet......the preferred method of losing weight?  I'm down!

Wine is actually quite high in calories.  Unless you stop eating all together, I think this might be counter productive to your goals.  Oh, wait.  Is your weight "down"?  Please advise.

*Why is Hilarious (Hilary, a friend from high school) not as funny as Julie (another high school friend) and Casey?

She's short.  And, still lives in Texas.

*Where did you find the sourdough Mickey Mouse?

California Adventure, at the Pacific Wharf Cafe.  It's in the Boudin Bakery, which is part of the cafe.  The original Boudin Bakery opened in San Francisco in 1849.  It's known for using only the best ingredients available.  I believe the Mickey was $7.99 and they give you all the butter you want.  A total carb fest, but the kids loved it and we ate a ton!  Great snack to keep the kids going without spending a lot of money.

*Where did you find the drawing exhibit?

California Adventure, at the Animation Academy in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area.  After entering under the Golden Gate Bridge, take a left and walk down the street.  It's at the far end, on the right.  The drawing exhibit is only one part of this attraction.  Lots to learn about how Disney animation comes to life here.

*When are you going to visit Texas?

Not sure.  No plans right now.  Still getting settled in Cali!

*What is your favorite ride at Disneyland?

Haunted Mansion and It's a Small World.  Old school and fabulous.

*Ever been to Disney World?  How does it compare to Disneyland?

Had a trip planned in 2008 and researched several of the parks there, but ended up canceling the trip due to our move from Colorado to Kansas.  Can't wait to go one day!

*No kidding.  They sell alcohol at the park?

Disneyland does not, as I understand it.  California Adventure does.  While I can see how indulging here and there would be a nice option, it is pricey and not entirely kid-friendly, as you know.  They have several places......a "winery" that is high end and nice.  That is where I stopped last visit.  Most restaurants serve beer.  And, although I didn't do it, I believe you can walk the entire park with your drinks.  Seems somewhat anti-Disney to me, though.

*What is your favorite area?

Assuming this is regarding Disneyland.  My favorite part is tucked back by the Haunted Mansion.....particularly the French Market and surrounding attractions.  Carter is always thrilled here to get his Clam Chowder and the kids love seeing Tom Sawyer Island.  As for favorite has to be Fantasy Land.  Mr. Toad's wild Ride......Peter Pan........Cinderella's castle, etc.  It's all magical and full of history.

*What do you think of President Obama nowadays?

I'm surprisingly far away from politics right now.  Still a Republican, but haven't paid much attention to it all.  I'm intrigued by Bobby Jindal, but otherwise, few politicians hold my interest.  It will all become more important near election time.  For now, I've lost interest.

*Do you still love Coco?  What happened to her?

Of course, I still love Coco.  She's working.  Seems to be interfering with her blogging, which, to me, is reason enough to quit.  I suppose she and her husband disagree.

Great questions, peeps!  Hope yall are having a good week.

Lots to report on.......hold tight!


Monday, April 18, 2011


Soon enough, I'll be on this site. That or People of Walmart.

Either way, it's going to be a low point.

Back soon!  I have about 3 inches of sand to remove from our house after 2 days at the beach. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Scoop on Thursday

Prepare yourself, Texans.  In N Out is awesome.  The prices are fantastic.  Food is fresh.  You can watch the peeps cutting potatoes to make French Fries.  Nothing frozen.  Simple menu.  Yummy shakes.  (Just ask Jack.)  A once-secret menu is now available everywhere, so know your stuff before ordering.  Check out this link.

When Caroline and I first ordered something "animal style" on vacation in La Jolla, we were totally nervous they were going to bust out laughing at us. 

Like the time we asked where the giant hedge maze was at The Stanley Hotel in Colorado, where we thought they filmed The Shining.  Yeah, the movie was made on a sound stage and the maze is in England. 

Or, when Pee Wee asked where the basement was at the Alamo.

You get the point.


Jelly fish washed up on the beach last weekend.  So cool to see this.

Lainey's cute factor goes up about 100% on the beach.  There's just something about her long blonde hair and tiny little self that gets to me.  She's been asking for some more "swim-kinis".  Working on it.

Never posted about our Spring Break trip.....we stayed overnight near Disneyland and enjoyed 2 days at the parks.  Lainey introduced baby Minnie (in her hands) to Mickey Mouse.  "Here's your bebe, Mickey!"

Minnie, as a baby, is actually his wife.  Or, girlfriend.  Either way, we're going to have to explain the Disney family tree to her soon enough.  I've got that on our calendar next to "Santa Claus" and "Easter Bunny".

She doesn't care.  Little punkin was overjoyed.

We checked out the Bippity Boppity Boutique in Cinderella's Castle, where she'll celebrate her 4th birthday.  You choose from packages ranging from $45 to over $200, depending on what kind of service you want.  I'm going to go ahead and guess Laine will want to go all out. 

Thinking of buying a bunch of cheap Wet n Wild makeup, some crappy hair extensions and sequins & glue for "body jewels" and setting up camp in the parking lot.  $30 special!  Any takers?

Was nice to have a hotel suite......which we most often do not book since we live an hour away.  Left the park in the afternoon to swim and eat off site. 

Carter loved the big pool.....Jack and Lainey, too......but they mostly stayed in the hot tub since it was a bit chilly outside.

Next day......back at the parks......we finally found and bought the elusive sourdough Mickey.  Yum!

The crew.  Don't look so happy, boys! 

Blake joined us for both evenings.  I was solo during the days while he worked.

One of the advantages of going to Disney often is to find the little out-of-the way places like this.  An art studio located in the back stage area of California Adventure.  Kids sat down to learn how to draw characters.

Pretty cool.

No major meltdowns recently, but I did indulge in a glass of wine on the second day.  I earned it, peeps.  See that stroller behind me?  Little Laine is fast asleep.  Nice little break for all of us.  Boys at ice cream and toured the nearby presentations of park changes, including a new "Cars Land" (based off the movie of course).......a Little Mermaid ride......and more.

OK, done with Spring Break. 

And, on to a random little talent the Starnes kids possess.  Well, 2 out of 3 do.

Lainey can put her little lizard tongue all the way in her nose.  Carter can touch his.  Lovely, isn't it?

On the agenda:

*We have a visitor this weekend.  I know.  Shocking!  Remember The Delts from Kansas City?  The guys who lived in the house across the street?  Doug is in town and he'll be hitting the beach with us on Saturday and spending two nights.  Maybe some golf for the boys on Sunday.  Excited to see him!  Weather all weekend should be a perfect 75 degrees.

*Shopping for Subway art.  I want a simple, colorful square shaped piece, approximately 24"x24" for over my stove.  Looking on Etsy, of course.  Any suggestions?

*Thinking of joining the YMCA instead of doing the pool in the backyard.  Blake might divorce me if I sign up for another membership, though.  Decisions.......decisions......

*Must find a way to incorporate my friend, Julie S., into the blog.  Perhaps a guest blog post?  Interested?  Leave a comment to answer, ding dong.

*The water table is the smartest purchase we've ever not made.  I was brainstorming ways of creating my own because I didn't want to pay $80 for one.  Then.......voila.......a neighbor was tossing theirs out!  It's a sand & water table, but Sweet Baby Jesus, we have enough sand in our lives.  So, it's a water & water table.

*Jack's "Un-Birthday" is in a couple of weeks.  He does not want to turn 5, so we're celebrating and not celebrating his birthday.  If you attend the party, please do NOT mention the age of "5".  I'm pretty sure we totally screwed this kid up when we never told him her turned 3 in order to score another free year at theme parks and the zoo.  Damn.

Questions answered soon.  Off to help at Preschool!