Sweet Camden Shea turns 7!

Birthday Week in the Starr house continues today as we celebrate 7 years of our Camden Shea. Oh, this girl! She entered our world a whopping 14 months after her big brother and rocked it to the core. With a personality that can best be described as “dynamic,” Cami Shea has expanded our capacity to love and parent beyond what we knew possible. Usually the “stirrer of the pot,” she is also the first to cuddle, nurture, and comfort. Camden is our passionate child. Everything she says, does, or thinks is intense, well thought out, and likely to cause a reaction.
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Cam enjoys being in baby sister’s face (literally. She can’t/won’t leave her alone.), bossing around all who will listen, playing house, doing crafts, naming future children, throwing, hitting, dribbling, shooting, deciding what to wear in the next hour, trying to keep up with older sister, and strategizing ways outplay big brother. She is my sports obsessed girl, with an eye for fashion, and a heart of gold. But don’t let the cute blonde cut and baby blue eyes deceive you, Cam also holds the family record for most hours served in T.O. (time out) and has been the guinea pig for a variety of experimental parenting strategies (conclusive results still TBD). She has taught me a lot about parenting and even more about myself, because apparently we are a LOT alike. Which also means that I may or may not behave like a 7-year-old girl.
 
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Cami Shea, you are a treasure and a blessing, to be sure. Your entire life has been a sweet, sweet surprise.  From conception, early birth, and gender to the sassiness and bubbly personality – we didn’t expect any of it.  But, I LOVE surprises and you have been, hands down, the best of them all.  Such a funny combination of drama and joy, you are.  Your passion. Your conviction. Your strength (literally). Your resolve (some might call it stubbornness…)…I love it. All of it. You fascinate and inspire and exhaust me. With a spark in your eye and a VERY special place in our hearts, it is my privilege and my honor to be called your mom. Here’s to a stellar 7th year, my sweet sweet Camden Shea!
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And, mostly for my sake, here’s a quick interview with our birthday girl:

Kaiah True turns 5!!

From this:

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To this:
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My first last baby. Of course, we have a real-life last baby now, but before Maysen Paige, my little Kai Pie was it. She was the baby…and was treated accordingly. I’ll admit it — Kaiah True has been on the receiving end of some serious spoiling. And I can assure you that she deserves every ounce of cuddles, hugs, grace, and kindness that she receives from us all.
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Kaiah is the definition of sweet and the epitome of silly. She dishes out love and words of affirmation (she calls them “bucket-fillers”) like nobody’s business…which, obviously, makes her a family favorite. Her signature crazy curls are still going strong, but those cute chubby cheeks seem to be thinning out just a bit to match the rest of her skinny little bod. Just last week as I was sorting/organizing clothes, I had to force myself to remove all the 18 and 24 month pieces that lingered in her closet. Truth be told, they could still fit her around the middle, but the pants have become shorts and the long sleeve shirts turned into tees. Just more evidence that our little girl is growing up.
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Speaking of growing up…yesterday, as we were making her birthday snack for school (homemade Oreos, if you must know), Kaiah said to me, “Tomorrow when I’m five, I probably won’t need this step stool anymore because I’ll be taller.” Of course, I inserted a hard dose of reality, “No, babe. Just because you’re turning five tomorrow, doesn’t mean you’ll wake up taller.”
“But I’ll FEEL taller.” 
Of course, you will, Kai. That’s the joy of going from 4 to 5. You get to FEEL it ALL! You get to sqeeeee, whine, cry, complain, and screech with excitement, without one bit of concern for how cool you look. What your heart feels, you have the privilege of expressing for us all to see and hear. Color me jealous. All those emotions just free to flow, without an ounce of accountability or consciousness.
For the past year, we have had the joy of watching you grow into and out of the fullness of being four. Your speech has dramatically improved, you’ve mastered a cartwheel, outgrown the “baby carseat,” and hit the 35 pound mark on the scale!
Big stuff is happening, kid. Big stuff.
Your relationships with friends and siblings have become more complex…and also funnier. I love not only watching you grow, but listening to you grow, too.
My Kai. My buddy when the other babes had left me (for school. But still.). We’ve spent some serious quality time together over the last five years — late night nursing sessions, cuddles on the couch, basketball/softball/football game watching, trips to Target, Tropical Smoothie lunchdates, and so much more. I certainly celebrate watching you thrive and thank God for your little life, but seriously. If you could just chill with the growing, that would be great.
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My gosh, little girl…I love you so. You bring our family so much joy, laughter, and love. Keep growing, baby — it’s an absolute honor to observe.
All my love…and lots of big kisses,
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Sibling Shirts by Landy Lou and Evie Too

Back about..oh, you know…SIX or so months ago, I received some really, much anticipated happy mail.
After a long search for THE *perfect* sibling shirts, I happened upon Landy Lou and Evie Too, a locally owned online shop. Until I found the Landy Lou and Evie Too Facebook page, I wasn’t really sure what kind of “meet the baby shirts” I wanted for the big kids. Something homemade? Store bought? Matchy-matchy? Simple? Now, in the grand-scheme of things, my sibling shirt dilema ranks up there with the Starbucks vs. Dunkin’ debate…but when you’re 23 months pregnant with your fifth baby and her head feels like a basketball wedged between your coccyx and ischium (yes, those are real bones. Nurse, remember?), you tend to make mountains out of molehills and will do just about anything to focus on something other than the burn-your-throat-heartburn and cankles. SO. Within minutes of stalking the LL&ET page, I just knew that they would be able to hook me up with something fun, unique, and affordable. After a few back-and-forth emails with Megan & Jessica, I just knew they were, no only, great business owners, but truly wonderful girls!
Annnyyyway! The kids’ shirts showed up just a few weeks before Baby Maysen and we couldn’t have loved them more! They’re just so us. Even Eli liked his “jersey!”

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Long story not-so-short? I would HIGHLY recommend Megan & Jessica at Landy Lou & Evie Too! They were fantastic to work with — creative, professional, prompt, and FUN! Check out their page for any of your custom apparel needs!
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Oh, and as I’m searching for pics of the kids in their shirts, I realize that I don’t have any of the backs (boo!). So, you’ll just have to envision it (each kid has a number 1-5 based on their birth order) until I can trick my friends at EL Photography & Design into taking a few. Which reminds me…I should order another, bigger one for Maysi! She outgrew her teeny tiny newborn handmade onesie a looong time ago!
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MPM

Yep, Tuesday again. I’ll be honest — kind of feels like I’m losing my mind a bit. The kids start school tomorrow and I have a million things to do before then — the most important being, you know, spending time with them.

Anyway, wanted to pop in with our VERY boring meal plan for the week. We had a few things come up last week  and ended up eating leftovers one evening, so there are a few repeats from last week.
Monday: BLTs
Tuesday: Hot subs using my favorite Sam’s Club french bread loaves.
Wednesday: Spicy Sausage Pasta
Thursday: Turkey Tater Tot Casserole. I use Michelle Duggar’s recipe. I know, I know — Duggars = scandal these days, but still — this recipe is the best.
Friday: Not Chicken Pot Pie
So, what’s for dinner at your house? I need some new ideas for the school year!
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MPM

Back by popular demand — MEAL PLANNING MONDAY…on a Tuesday, of course!
have had a couple people ask me when I was going to start posting our weekly menus again, but really? Documenting daily dinners is more for me than anything else because:
1. It makes future planning easier when I can go back and get ideas from previous weeks.
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2. I like when you all post meal ideas in the comments section.
So, back to business. Here’s what we’re having this week.
Monday: J made mac & cheese. (Just keeping it real…)
Tuesday: Weight Watchers Shepherd’s Pie. This is seriously one of the easiest and delicious meals EVER. And I can’t find it online anywhere. So, here’s a poor quality pic from the magazine I got it out of.

Wednesday: French Bread Pizza. Again, we’re not talking rocket science here. I get 2 HUGE loafs of french bread at Sam’s Club for $2.37, then add pizza sauce and toppings. Cheap, cheap, cheap.
Thursday: BLT’s & sweet corn. We have tomatoes coming out of our ears, so this is a weekly staple for us until they’re gone.
Friday: Breakfast Burritos
Saturday: Spicy Sausage Pasta
Sunday: We’ll wing it!
Ok! Your turn! What’s for dinner at YOUR house?!?
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Hey, Elijah Wrigley…EIGHT is enough!

It’s true y’all.
Even though I could swear he was just born yesterday, my baby boy is 8 years old today!
Eight!
And let me tell ya — EIGHT is enough! 
Elijah Wrigley,
If you wouldn’t mind staying at this still baby-faced, big tooth-ed age, I sure would appreciate it. Because this growing up business? It sure is hard on your mama’s heart.
And speaking of heart, you certainly hold a special place in mine. It’s a place all it’s own and ONLY for you. Because you, son, are my boy. You’re my little lover, button-pusher, tender-hearted, completely sports-obsessed, bacon-loving, and LOUD boy. You mess up words, wear emotions on your sleeve, are freakishly good at math, and can be a little too sarcastic at times.
Eli, you’re an analyzer. The opposite of me. You’re a smarty pants. A joy to have as a son. A thinker and doer. Cautious. Leader. Persistent and stubborn.
Stubb.orn. Where you got this need to be right all the time, we’ll never know. (*cough*cough*) But you and I? We’re working on admitting when we’re wrong. And we’ll get it, buddy. Thankfully, this isn’t something we need to practice often.
Oh, sweet boy, these years have been good ones. You are growing so quickly and your little boy-ness has almost completely faded away. I know it’s only a matter of time before you’re less interested in morning snuggles with your Mama and more interested in other people (girls!) and things (more sports!).
Eight years ago, I could only hope you would sleep another hour.  Today I’m realizing how quickly the past 8 years have gone and it makes me want to take back each and every bedtime story, tee ball game, park date, or bike ride and do them all over again.  Holding hands with you, my now 8 year old, feels so fleeting. Today we walked into the store hand-in-hand and I had to wonder…how much longer will this last? Was today the final time to have your hand in mine? Please know that as you step away and pull your hand from mine, we are rooting for you, cheering you on like no one ever will.
Son, your dad and I pray that the people and things that God brings into your life will continue to draw you closer to Him. We pray for you, that you would use your leadership and passion not to build your name, but to make His name bigger — that you would use your stubborn persistence to tell others about Him.
We pray the Lord’s richest blessings on you, precious son.
Happy eight years!
We can’t wait to see what this year will bring us!
All my love to Wrigley and back,
Mom

*TEN* Joy-Filled Years || Happy Birthday, Addi!

My gorgeous (biased much?) Addi-girl is a decade old today! This marks 10 years of motherhood for me and, looking back I can safely say that, Addison’s birth day was the best day of my life…not because I love her more than her little Starr siblings, but because she’s the one who made me a mom. She was the game-changer, the one that took me from t-ball to big league LOVE. And for that, I am forever grateful. We are oh-so-thankful for Addi’s quick wit and compassion; her creativity, leadership, and work ethic; her kindness and enthusiasm. But most of all?  We thank God for Addison’s heart. It’s pure gold and full of love for the people and things around her. With her in this world, I have faith in the future, because I know she will make it better.

Addison Clark Starr, I pray that you will never, not for one single moment, forget that you are wholly, madly, deeply, unconditionally loved. Not just by your dad and me, or your siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and those that make up our “village”, but also by an awesome God, who exceeds all of that love and a thousand times more.

Finally…Fireplace “Built-Ins”!

One of the things that has been on our “House Wishlist” FOREVER is “built-ins” for around the fireplace. You know, the fancy kind that look all “built-in” and professional? Yeah. THAT was our vision and for years we were content with our large wall unit/entertainment center that we scored for uber cheap back in the day, while living at our old house.
Well, finally this past February we decided it was time to take the “built-in” plunge and, after asking around a bit, we decided to get bids from a couple different contractors. First we called T & E Construction and they stopped over within just days to talk us through the process and to give us a free quote. We liked everything Eric from T & E had to say, but like any responsible homeowners, we figured we should bring in at least one more contractor for a bid. After a little back and forth emailing with an independent contractor, he finally stopped over to have a look. While he was a SUPER nice guy, we could tell from the get-go that he wasn’t very confident about being able to make the built-ins look completely…well, BUILT-IN, without a LOT of work. Aaannndddd, painting of the built-ins was not included in his services. We waited for just over a week to get his quote before going with our gut and calling T & E Construction in for the job!
Eric & his crew were booked out just a couple of weeks, but it didn’t take long for the process to be set in motion! T & E’s custom cabinetry guys were out taking measurements almost immediately. Next, the electricians were quick to come get things set-up for our TV to be mounted above the fireplace (something we’ve been wanting to do for a loooongg time!). Then, on a Thursday a crew showed up with the custom made pieces and work was underway! We lived in family room disarray for just over a week before the entire project was complete — painting and all! And, let me tell you — we could not be more THRILLED with how they turned out!
I realize it sounds like a little thing, but the built-ins have changed the way we use the room. With a family our size, there was always some type of “seating competition” going on for couch room *directly* in front of the television. Well, I’m happy to report that there is no longer a “best seat in the house!” They’re all great and the room is truly the heart of our home. Plus, it’s probably no surprise, but having lots of shelves for me to style is an absolute dream!
So, you want to see?
First, let’s take a look at the BEFORE situation:
Again, not bad, but we were ready for something different/more practical.

Aaannnndddd, the AFTER:
It’s light & bright. And practical. And just what we wanted!

So, a HUGE shout-out to T & E Construction on a job well-done! Eric and crew, the Starrs give you 5 Star(r)s!
The good news for us/you is that T & E does it ALL! In fact, they’ll be our first call when we’re ready to finish our basement, build a new deck, and maybe even build our *future* dream home!
You can find out more about T & E Construction by visiting their website: http://www.teconstructioninc.net/
Or on FB (the social media strategist in me LOVES how Heather handles their social profiles!!) at:
https://www.facebook.com/teconstructioninc
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Photos to Treasure

Waaaayyy back in January (February??) when I was 26 or so weeks pregnant, my most favorite photographers/friends/bosses convinced me that they NEEDED to do a pretty snow shoot and that #starrbabycinco and I were the ideal subjects. Very tricky, huh? Of course, I obliged and, as funny as it felt to have the camera on ONLY me (I’m used to having cute kids as the focus/distraction!), I am so grateful for these images of me and my sweet little girl. They are pictures that I will treasure forever.sig