Sunday, June 29, 2008

First Attempt at Movie Making

Just a little flick I put together today after some fun in the sun...enjoy!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Summer Fun

Hi folks; sorry that I have been negligent in my blogging responsibilities but it is for good reason. We have had lots of family visiting. One of Marc's Aunt's and a few cousins were here with their one year old son, Max this past Tuesday for a BBQ. We had a lovely time catching up and here is the best group shot that we could get to prove it. My son, Justin obviously loves his fiancee, Judy very much as we could not get a pic without a kiss in it :)

My nephew, Sam is here now. I blogged about him recently here. All of my kiddos love Sam but Katie being the very demonstrative girl that she is shows her affection for him whenever she can. She looks at him with googley eyes and coyly makes her mouth the silliest shape as she utters his name and looks for his attention. He is forming a nice bond with Ethan as well and the bond that he shares with Justin has always been very special as Sam is an only child just as Justin was for the first 20 years of his life. They are almost 10 years apart but seem more like brothers when they are together rather than cousins. Check out this cute pic of the cousins both surfing the net on their Macbooks

Sam arrived here last Wednesday and we have been busy ever since. Actually, we are always busy but his arrival ushered a higher level of craziness :) On Wednesday evening we celebrated his 14th birthday. As you can see by the pics, Katie looks very happy to be celebrating with him.

Thursday, I had to go to work and so the bigs stayed with the littles. They played and went swimming until I arrived home and took over after lunch as I sent them to play a round of mini golf. When they got home Sam was a bit under the weather and by the time that we finished dinner with my folks that evening he was VERY under the weather. We had already made a plan to take Sam to Walt Disney World for his birthday so I pulled out my arsenal of remedies and layed them all on him. He went to bed with a fever, sore throat and general malaise and he woke up almost!! We were off to the Happiest Place on Earth (That is unless you are Marc who is not really that into Disney) This is a trait that he shares with my ex-husband and my question is Who does not like Disney? and how do I, a Disney enthusiast, keep marrying such men? Yes, I realize that Marc has many wonderful traits....I am just being sarcastic..sheesh!! Ok, I digress; back to my story...

Well, we tore Disney up!! We divided and conquered the Magic Kingdom. I knew that gridlock would be the end result if the six of us stayed together so we sent Justin and Sam on their merry way while The Dynamic Duo were escorted around the park by us. We hit as much stuff as we could with the DD. The one huge impediment to making greater headway in the park was the fact that if one was not using the restroom then the other one was. It was a bit wearing but I am happy to report that they both did great in the staying clean and dry department; even when waiting in hour long lines. We accomplished a great deal before trying to find a cool place to nap them in their stroller.

We found this lovely little hideaway in the enchanted grove area of fantasyland that was surrounded by stone walls and ceiling. It was actually cool in there and was quite an oasis from the searing Florida Summer heat. This little area was an alcove that led to a location for employees to enter and exit a back office area. One of the manager's actually told us that we had found the best kept secret in the Magic Kingdom. As our children slept they unknowingly garnered huge amounts of attention as employees walked back and forth past them. The usual question of "are they twins?" was the most common and usually we responded with a "no, they are almost 3 months apart" over and over which usually requires further explanation, if we so choose to give it. It was enough to almost make me want to lie and say "yes, they are twins." to just be done with it.

After about an hour there, we walked to meet up with the big guys over by Space Mountain so that Marc and Sam could ride. Following that, we split up again for dinner and more rides before meeting to wait for the parade down Main Street. We were completely bummed that after keeping the "by then, gruesome twosome" entertained for 90 minutes in our prime viewing position, that the parade was called on account of inclement weather just off in the distance. They made this call at start time instead of 45 minutes before when the weather began rearing it's ugly head. It never worsened and also never got that close to us. The cynic in me thinks that decision to wait was based on loss of potential revenue from all the thousands of people that were waiting (drinks, ice cream, other food, souvenirs, etc.) I was pointing that out and somehow my anti-Disney hubster took Disney's side and told me I was being ridiculous. Now why did he decide then to take their side I will never know!

Now it was 9:15 PM and we began our trek with the family to get back to our car and then find our hotel. Once we actually arrived at the hotel it was after 10:00 pm and what we found was not pleasant. What should have been a very nice hotel was a dump and that is a nice way to describe it!! I demanded a new room for us. Justin's and Sam's room was somewhat passable so they stayed put. By the time the children got into bed after their shower (no bath in that hotel .... too yucky) it was 11:30 pm and they passed out. I slept with Katie (not really as she hogged the bed ;-) and Marc slept with Ethan as the beds were too high and I was concerned that somebody would fall out of bed. We woke up bright and early to head home and now we are recouping our strength before the evening's activities.

Sam leaves to go home tomorrow and it has been wonderful being with him. We do not get to see him enough at all as my sister and her family live in Northern Virginia but we definitely make the most of the moments that we have together.

Here are a few more pics from the rest of our time at "Mickey's house" as Katie Starr refers to it.

Riding the tram into the park to start our marathon Disney Day

The next three shots are both kiddos with a birds eye view of the show at Cinderella's castle

Don't ya just love the hand placement on Marc's head?

Ethan looking a little solemn before riding the teacups but his sister looks excited

Now he is getting the swing of it!

Say Cheese!

My man has still got it Look at Sam go; great knee action!
Riding in the "It's a small world" ride How much longer till the parade starts...NOT!!

That's all folks!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

In the morning, in the evening; ain't we got fun!

That old theme song that was used for years for Carnival Cruise lines is very true. We were just on our first cruise with the Dynamic duo and boy did we have fun! We went with our very good friends, Shannon and Alan and their kiddos.

We had an absolutely awesome time; thanks to great company and Camp Carnival :) Seriously though, cruising has always been a favorite way for us to travel but we did not know what to expect when it came to cruising with kiddos. The Cruise line made it easy as they offered a program for the children that made both the children and us very happy. Each day our children would start asking when they could go to camp; you gotta love that! We sent them there a little bit each day so that we could partake in some adult fun :)

The weather was great so there was lots of pool time with them as well as other outdoor activities. There was not a lot of rest for the weary but there was lots of laughter to feed the soul.
One funny little tidbit to share is that Katie and Mimi could never quite understand that we were on a ship. They kept looking at other ships and telling us about them but they kept saying we were in a hotel and that "we are not on a boat!!" in a very exasperated manner as if we were severely mistaken (smirk)

The words that Katie Starr spoke as we prepared to depart the cruise sum it up quite nicely.

"I don't want to go home; I want to be on Vacation!"

I say right on girl, I do too!

I leave you with some candid and professional pics that were taken on the trip...

Three banditos and a big brother after the first day of Camp Carnival

Let's see Key West!

Mimi is an "all star" sleeper...ya gotta love that :)

Hmmmm...I think Shannon has some explaining to do

The Dynamic Duo watching the Ocean pass by outside our window

The "P" family at the southernmost point in the continental US

Ethan a little tuckered out when we picked him up at Camp Carnival

Ryan a little tuckered out when we departed the ship to head home

Here are the shots taken by the professional photographers

The next two were too funny for words.....

There are no captions required!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Short but Sweet

I don't have time to write too much right now and will not be able to write for the next few days. I will leave with you with a few pics until I am able to blog again; probably next weekend. These are from our children's cousin, Joshua's 3rd birthday party.

Judy, our future DIL with our cousin, Romey

with Katie Starr

The Dynamic Duo with cousin Joshua

Daddy joins the fun

Ethan eyeing the birthday boy

Happy Birthday Josh!

mmmmm.....let me get just a little bit of this cake!

Katie and cousin Josh hamming it up

These next two pictures are not for the kiddy crowd. Our cousin, Stephanie is from Germany and she offered us Vodka shots that have to be drunk the following way (that is our story and we are sticking to it!) You take the cap off the shot bottle, stick it on your nose to balance it while you put the bottle between your teeth and shoot it down. Here are Marc, Justin and Judy demonstrating it for you :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Proof Positive that they grow up way too fast

The grandchildren in my family are spaced very well. Justin is the oldest at 23, then came Sam ten years later who is my sister's son and so he is 13 years old. Finally, came the dynamic duo of Katie Starr and Ethan who are ten years behind Sam at 3 years old.

My sister sent out this picture today to family and friends of her and Sam together with the following e-mail:

"Hi All - Thought you might enjoy a picture of Sam and me. It made me laugh that at 13 he is officially a head taller than I am. Oh well, glad he is gonna be tall. Hope all is well in your world. Jane"

OMG!!! Where is the time going folks!!! My little nephew, Sam is now taller than me and my sister. This is just not it?? Can't we stop the progression of time for just a bit so that it does not march by quite so quickly....

Now, on another note; I have to say he is just scrumptious isn't he? He is seriously so handsome and he is a good as the day is long...straight A student and a wonderful all around guy. He is coming to visit us at the end of this month for a few days all by himself and we totally cannot wait to see him. Katie asks everyday whether this is the day that Sam is coming. Now we want the time to hurry up...oh well, it is a woman's perogative to change her mind :-)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ladies Night

Last night was our FCC Group's first Mom's Night Out and I am happy to report it was a rousing success. We went to see "Sex in the City" and then after laughing, crying and eating great "movie food" we (Lori, Candy, Minouche and Lisa) ambled on over to Ruby Tuesday's (where we met Sandy and Shari) to add more dessert calories to our daily allotment. I think we all went over that allotment..LOL. We stayed an hour after the place had closed, talking and laughing.

It was a blast and I for one cannot wait until the next one!!

Here we are saying "Cheers" to our good friend Viv, she is one of our original FCC South Florida members who now lives in Canada. Obviously, she could not be there but she was definitely there in spirit. Here's to you Viv!!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A "Starr" is Born

As promised, here is the story behind the name "Starr"

When Marc and I decided to get married I struggled with the decision over whether to take his last name. I had been married before and was carrying that last name for the sake of my son. I certainly was not going to keep my old married name with my new husband and I thought briefly about taking back my maiden name. If I had to take on a new last name and it had to be different from my son's last name then my initial gut reaction was to have a "brand new" last name for Marc and I. I asked him what he thought about that idea and Marc being the awesome guy that he is said that he would change his last name for me. Isn't that unbelievable?!? I cannot even tell you how he touched me by responding that way immediately and with no hesitation. Quite honestly, at that point it made me decide that I wanted to honor him by taking his last name, which I ended up doing.

During that time though, we actually discussed what name we could take on as our last name if we changed it. Marc wanted something catchy as he is in the entertainment business. We finally came up with a name we both loved and that was *Starr*. We thought it was perfect but as I said earlier I decided that we would not actually go through with doing it.

For fun we have always used *our special name* when making reservations or when we go anywhere that we have to use our name. People always tell us that they love the name and I politely just say thank you as I give Marc a knowing little grin :) Marc still calls me "His Starr" so that is how I sign my cards, letters and e-mails to him.

When it was time to pick out a name for our daughter; the choice was simple. Katie Starr Hongshan was named for Marc's beloved Grandma Katie, then our longed for daughter received our treasured private name as her middle name and then of course the second half of her middle name is her Chinese name, which symbols translate to grand and beautiful.

When we told our parents of the name that we chose for our daughter, of course Marc's mom was thrilled that her mom was honored in this way and then my dad was delighted to share with us that *Starr* was his maternal grandmother's family name. How is that for a red thread?!?

I could not think of a better name for our daughter and someday I hope that she is happy to know that she shares her special name with us and enjoys the history behind it.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Red Letter Day in Our Home

Today is a very special day on two accounts. Please bear with me while I gush about the people that I love.

Today was Ethan's last day of occupational and physical therapy. We thought we had a couple of weeks left as we knew that we were close to the end but our therapist discharged him today and pronounced him as awesome!! He still has a bit of lower body strength building to do but she has resolved all of his sensory issues as well as balance and increased body strength. We are so thrilled and gratified by this development. It has been a long road but oh so worth it!! Ethan's speech therapy ends through the early steps program on his birthday, July 6th and then as of August 18th he will be attending the Place Program in the local elementary school. We are so excited by this next step as this is an fully integrated program that will address not only his speech but the developmental delays that he has due to his difficult start in life. Our Ethan is one tough cookie and we are so proud at how hard he has worked in his therapies. I am also very thankful to my parents, Marc's parents and Justin who have been there to help when needed; whether it be to babysit while one of us ran Ethan around or in my father's case to carry more than his share of the load in our business while I attended to our children's needs. Justin has been my sidekick through it all and has really stepped up to be a rock for me. Thanks to my sister Jane for always being there as my cheerleader. Thank you to my awesome friends Kira, Shannon, Mary, Kim and Sherri who have been there to listen and offer wise counsel and true friendship during some very tough times after coming home with Ethan. Also my FCC and Blogging friends, especially Candy, Tammie, Dawn and Viv who's support has been priceless. It takes a village to raise a child and I am so grateful for my village.

This brings me to the next reason that this day is special and that is due to Marc; my partner in life and my heart...

Today is also our 8th Wedding Anniversary. On June 4, 2000 I married my wonderful husband, Marc. I am not one to brag but I must tell you that Marc is the most amazing husband. There is nothing that is too much for this man to do. He goes to the enth degree to make sure that everything is taken care of that needs to be and that everyone in his life is happy and satisfied. He really is unlike any man that I have ever known. He is a loving husband, father to our three children and son to his and my parents. He loves my sister like she was his sister and is loyal and true to all of my friends and his. He is so hardworking and carries more than his share around here. He took the lead on dealing with all of the therapy and I was his back up. He is as funny as the day is long and I still laugh at all of his jokes. Life is never boring with him by my side; crazy but never boring! I could not ask for more in this life. I love you Marc with all of my heart and soul and I always will. Thank you for all of your devotion to our family and to me.

Love always,
Your Starr, Lori

PS On the next post I will fill you all in on the story behind Katie's middle name and how it was my pet name first ;-)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

More Potty Talk

Just a quick update on Katie and potty training. We had a break through today :) When last we discussed this sensitive subject ;-0 Katie was having great success with peeing on the potty and staying dry most of the time at night. She was holding back on # 2 though and we had four days at a time with no action on that front. She was really holding back and trying hard to control it. She has been having bad tummy aches and I have been imploring her to use the potty and sitting with her each day and reading to her while she is on the potty so that she will relax and go. The first two times she ended up going in her panties but today we had success! The funny thing was that it was in a public restroom at Ethan's speech therapist's office. Marc saw her tense up and asked her if she had to go. We were again on day four in our quest for poop. She told him no and protested when he decided to take her. This time when he put her on the potty she finally gave in and went and boy was she excited. She had him call me and tell me that she had made a "big fat poop"! Her words not mine..ROFL. I was so excited that you would think I had won the lotto. Man oh man, I need to get a life...

Maybe we have turned the corner...fingers and toes crossed!

Monday, June 02, 2008

What a Dope!!

I am talking about me!! Today was the Dynamic Duo's end of the year show; Suessical the Musical :) I forgot my video camera...doh!! I had my still camera with me so I decided to take about 20-30 seconds of video vs the still shots as we were a few rows back.

Katie Starr had been practicing her songs around the house for the past couple of weeks. It was so adorable. When we got to the show we decided that we did not want to sit too close because if she or Ethan saw us they may want to come sit with us ~vs~ staying with their class and then there would be no chance that they would perform.

All of the classes filed in and they sat in the front row waiting for their turn. Their eyes were as big as saucers as they looked around at all the families in the audience. All of the sudden I saw Katie look back over her seat and spot us! She turned around and she immediately turned to her brother to tell him because then his head shot around. Thankfully, they stayed put and when it was their turn they filed up and did their thing. We (Marc, my mom and myself) were so proud and had such fun watching them and all the children.

Now let me set the stage for this grainy short clip. This was their second song. Katie is on the far left next to the boy yawning during the song (smirk) and Ethan is on the far right. What I did not catch is the part towards the end of the song where Ethan decided that he wanted to be next to Katie and started inching towards her across the stage to his right in front of the other kids. he got about 1/3 of the way there before the song ended and had us all erupting in laughter.

These are the moments that make your heart swell and all of the hard work a dim memory.

Here ya go!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Family Fun

It was another fun filled weekend for the dynamic duo and of course as you know if the dynamic duo is happy then so are Mommy and Daddy. Today was family fun day which is an end of the year event at their preschool. They also attended a birthday party this weekend. They had lots of fun at both events. The birthday party was held at "My Gym" and I was most impressed with the amount of upper body strength that Ethan has developed; both in therapy and during his swimming lessons. I was not able to get a good shot of him hanging from the rings or the parallel bars but believe me when I tell you that it was impressive.

Today, at the "Family Fun" event, the children were able to play on a tremendous water slide as well as other water fun inflatables and a bounce house. There was a DJ and crafts and lots of other activities to keep the fun going. We even won a themed basket at a basket auction (They were calling it a Chinese Auction until I brought the origins of that term to their attention) The basket was items for a day at the beach. There are all kinds of fun things in it, so we will have try them out very soon.

I ended the weekend showing the older kids (Justin and Judy) apartments as they will be moving in together by the end of the summer. It comes in handy sometimes to have a mother who is a Real Estate Broker ;-) We only saw a couple as I have the ability to see the price paid for the unit as well as how much is owed to the bank and let me tell you; there are a lot of people in trouble out there. It is quite scary but at least I can protect my kids to the best of my ability from being caught up in the middle of a foreclosure. There were even two listings where the foreclosure was already filed. I cannot believe that people would be so horrible as to rent to unsuspecting people who will end up losing all of their deposit and rent money...ugh!! I cannot wait for this market to start to turn around. It makes people do desperate things.

Lastly, I want to thank my dear friend Viv for nominating my blog for the "blogs that make my day" award. I am honored and quite honestly I wish that I could renominate you but the rules do not allow it. Yours always makes my day. Oh and BTW, I am no longer working for that Large China only agency. It was my choice but "Stress is still the New Black" around these parts.


Here is Thing One and Thing Two (who would not smile)

Smile for the camera

Justin helped me with the DD at the birthday party - Thanks Mr. J!!

Thing One just hangin' around


I love this water tunnel

The kiddos both loved flying down this huge can hardly see Ethan in this pic :)

Ethan loved it too...

If fun could be gauged by dirt then they had lots of it!


I love this one!

Eating lunch in the shade..

Double fisted cookie eater :)

This is our little "fishman" crying after some "self perceived wrong perpetrated against him"...our little guy can look mighty sad, can't he?