Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Wrap Up, Holiday Bowl, and a New Treat for Me

Sweet Finny Finn Finn (Blake's name for him - name that movie) donned Batman's old Santa hat and beard for Christmas Eve night.

Kiddos created gingerbread house cookies from our party favors the day before for Santa. 

Thanks, Julie!

Love these punks.

In front of the church before mass.

Da fam.

Our perfect Catholic children praying for just the few itty bitty sins they committed.

Our Christmas Eves are filled with traditions.

Of course, we read The Night Before Christmas.  This year, we chose the Cajun version.

Treats for Santa and reindeer.  Yes, reindeer eat green onions.  Don't worry about it.

We walk outside to find Santa.  Without fail, there is always a red blinking light in the sky.  Upon seeing it, Jack proclaimed, "Off to bed."  Very business like.  He was not messing around.

I went to tuck kids in and for the first time, Carter helped Blake with one of our favorite parts of the night.  While tucking in the kids and saying our prayers, Jack and Lainey heard the reindeer land on the roof.  Bells ringing, too!

(Carter and Blake go outside while I'm tucking kids in and throw rocks on the roof......trickling down......they sound like reindeer hoofs landing........bells ringing signify Santa's arrival.)

Total magic.  It's amazing to see just how quickly little ones can shut their eyes and fall asleep when they hear those sounds.  It worked on me as a's an old Clemens on the Starnes kids, too!

Once we're sure Jack and Lainey were asleep, the big boys set up Santa's gifts.  Our kids request one gift from Santa.  Everything else comes from mom/dad or relatives/friends.

Carter loved being part of was a big rite of passage in my family as a to see our oldest now enjoying it, too.

Jack got a major Geo Trax set.

Lainey got a Tiana Animator doll.

And, it thrills me beyond belief to say that Carter requested the Spiderwick Chronicles book collection.  I love our nerdy pre-teen.

The next morning was chaotic and fun.

The 800 square feet we live in didn't quite fit Christmas.  But, we made it work.

My favorite gift of all........and I will treasure it Aunt Mary framed a photo of my grandmother and included her business card.  She owned a toy store for over 50 years.  I have countless memories of working in her store, cleaning, organizing, making up pretend commercials with Caroline, etc, etc.  I was in tears opening this.  Nonnie died in 1991.  She never met my husband or kids.  Makes me sad.

Regardless of the brief sadness thinking about Nonnie and missing her, Christmas was wonderful this year.  It was the first since the separation from my parents that I didn't totally break down.  The holidays are always difficult for's a time for love and family and forgiveness and acceptance......and my parents and a couple of siblings not being in our lives always weighs heavily on me this time of year.  I usually have a few meltdowns, but it didn't happen once this year.  Maybe 4 years is a turning point for me?  I still miss them very much.......but have made peace with the situation and for the first time was not a complete mess. 


In other news, Blake and Carter went to the Holiday Bowl last night to see Texas play Cal whatever (I can't keep track of all of the colleges here!).

Football food. 

My big boys.  They had so much fun!  Arrived early to tailgate and were treated to brats from neighboring families plus some football in the parking lot.

In other, other news.........I'm saying goodbye to this baby tomorrow.  She's been good to me.  But, I've driven her into the ground.  And, my hard drive is full to capacity.  And, I'm missing lots of keys.  And, the space bar can no longer be rigged onto the keyboard like every other key that has been popped off by kids in this house.  And, it's loaded with God knows only how much spyware and crap due to years of use.

A moment of silence, please.

Notice that I'm now using a random keyboard because of the space bar.  It's a good looking set up, yes?

I think it has 'professional' written all over it.

Off to celebrate 37 years of life on earth with Blake.  Well, I've only been present for 1/3 of least on a daily basis......but I've known him since we were 11.  He's a good egg.

Happy Birthday, babe!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Pretty Much The Best Stuff To Come Out Of 2011

(Note:  It's entirely possible that many or all of these things were created years ago and I'm just now discovering them.  I'm slow like that.)

Suri's Burn Book

My new fave.  Written in first person "Suri", she dishes on celeb kids and tears them to shreds. 

Link here.


This girl is crazy with a capital C and funny as hell.

And, she created this:

Link here.

STFU, Parents

The author of STFU is not scared to point out over-sharing.  Like about your kid's bathroom habits.  Sometimes too much IS simply too much, people.

Link here.


Not a website. Just a sign. Sweet justice. 

Link here.

Flash Sale Sites

Did they explode this year or is it just me?

Living Social
Plum District
Rue La La

Sometimes I'm afraid to leave the house.  What if I miss out on a deal?!


This girl has the perfect amount of snark and hidden agenda, distinguishing the real photogs from the fauxs.  And, she's just about the cutest thing ever. 

Link here


And, finally......what I'm dreading about 2012.

The entirely possible and expected 'hiatus' of Widespread Panic.

Since I'm now blocked from posting on their Facebook site (something about 'stalking'....blah, blah, blah), I invite you to petition for their continuing tours.  I know they've played their hearts out for 25 years.  But, if JB goes into retirement, I will likely turn into one of those weirdo hippies who mourned Jerry's death for years, dressing in tie-dyes & Birks & long wispy skirts, smelling of patchouli and selling hemp jewelry to college kids at concerts.

Help a sister out, peeps!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

Just a brief visit before heading to bed after Christmas Eve mass and Santa construction.

A day or so ago, we exchanged gifts with the McNamaras.  Not the easiest task to get a picture of this group.

Thursday included a cookie party at Nolan's house.  He's a preschool friend of Lainey and Rylee's and I'm now completely obsessed with his mom and her mad skillz in decor and creativity.

She read the little ones a Christmas book and then the kids tore into the cookies.

We toured her house......or nosily walked through's a dream come true.

3 children (of 5) sleep in this room.

Seriously.  I was speechless.

Holy cuteness.

The gang.

The party was enough.....but we were sent home with our own cokie decorating kit complete with cookies, icing and candy.

The party was a blast.

That evening......Eve Eve.....we went to the San Diego Zoo for their Jungle Bells party.

I feel the same way on the gondola, Jack.  Believe me.

Why?  Why can't our kids be normal?

The San Diego Zoo is ENORMOUS, in case you don't know.  They even have escalators in some parts.  Kids loved this.

Family pic.

This was just before I fell over backwards, holding Jack, into the pointsettas after telling the children not to touch them.  My short dress didn't help the spectacle.

Merry Christmas, Zoo goers!

Oh, and that's Laine in the penguin hat at the bottom.  Great shot, random stranger.

Mass was lovely tonight. 

We returned for our usual Eve routine.  But, this time Carter helped put together Santa gifts.  Slight tears.  A rite of passage in this house..........he's growing's fun and heartbreaking all at the same time.

Merry Christmas, dear friends.  I hope you've been as blessed as we have.