Family Bonding Day 1: Breakfast Time

We RARELY get to have breakfast together as a family.  Carter is off to work by 6 am, and there is no WAY this momma is going to wake her kids up EARLY for the sake of having a meal together.

But today is a HOLIDAY, which means it’s the perfect opportunity to huddle around the breakfast table/island and enjoy a nice, quiet start to our day together.

Did I say quiet?  I meant crazy.

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It’s not family time without our extended family.  That would be Jace’s tools: Dusty, Felipe, Turner, Squeeze, Stretch, Rusty (who is currently missing…RIP), and various stuffed animals.  Toys gotta eat too, according to Jace.  He obviously does not do the budget around here.

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It is definitely not picture perfect. (Yes Jace is licking a banana)

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But they’re all mine.

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Lots of laughter and LOTS of messes.  But I loved every second.

And then the crown disappears, on to do their daily activities.  Left behind is the proof that, yes, we did in fact gather together.  Family bonding will most likely always leave some sort of evidence like this in our household.

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But I suppose messes are a small price to pay for sweet memories made.  By the way, I’ll get to this mess later.

I have a feeling one little munchkin didn’t quite get his fill, and will sneak back to scavenge for more.

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Suspicion correct.

Love this little bottomless pit.

How did you spend your Labor Day?

 

 

September 2014: 21 Days of Family Bonding

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I’m so excited to experience my first Fall in Colorado.  Already the weather is getting cool and crisp, practically begging us to get outdoors.

I’m also excited to be partnering up with my sweet friend, and fellow blogger, Dwan for this month’s 21 days of Family Bonding.  I would post a pic of us from the 5th grade, possibly in matching outfits from 5-7-9, if I could find one.  Honestly, I don’t know if you could handle the bangs.  Fast forward a few (ok a LOT) of years.  We both have families and responsibilities to juggle, making family time something you have to be intentional about.  You can follow both of us this month as we attempt to find creative ways to incorporate quality family time into our schedules.

Dwan has kids that are a bit older than mine, so she will be a great resource for all you mom’s out there with elementary age kids and older.  As for me, having a 3 year old and a 1 year old kind of limits the type of activities I will be doing. (Family board game night = Tanner eating the game pieces and Jace trying to use the board as a train track).  I can pretty much guarantee that my 21 days will not be Pinterest worthy, or extremely crafty. BUT, I hope to show how even with a busy schedule, limited budget, and a house full of minions, you can still make time together as a family.

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This experiment is great for me!  My love language is quality time, after all.  We’ll see how Carter holds up after Day 3 of blowing bubbles and playing legos with the littles. ;)

Join us this month!  You can check out Dwan’s blog Momma D Jane {Derailed Control Freak} for more great ideas for this month!

If you’re on Instagram and want to share photos of your family time, use #21daysfamily.  Keep it simple, keep it fun.  Share your ideas!  I’d love to highlight some of the ways other people are spending quality time with their family on the blog!  Your pic might be featured :)

Happy Bonding!

 

 

 

Favorite Things: Noonday {Giveaway}

I have to just put this out there.  I am not your average Noonday Ambassador.

In fact, I’m a little intimidated by this amazing group of women who I partner with in this mission to end poverty.

Here are some facts about me that may help you understand where I’m coming from:

  1. My nickname growing up was “Clueless.”  Let’s just say I didn’t quite pay attention to my surroundings often.  I tripped a lot. (And have the scars to prove it)
  2. Don’t ask me to be on your team for Trivial Pursuit.  Or Jeopardy.  Just don’t.
  3. My knowledge of history is seriously embarrassing. (see #2)
  4. I’ve lived most of my life in a bubble.

I’m not trying to make myself out to be some airhead.  I’m a smart girl, but I’ve just always been very involved in things that directly related to me:  School, work, relationships, church, kids, health, kids.  Oh did I say kids twice?  Probably because my mom duties consume 90% of my brain on any given day, thanks to two very needy children 3 and under.

I never really knew what was going on in the rest of the world because I was way too busy living in my own world, with its own problems/needs.  It’s not like I made an intentional point to be disillusioned.  I would hear fragments of facts from Facebook, the news, a commercial…facts that may have even pulled at my heart strings and caused an emotional reaction.  Then much like the easily distracted dog in the movie UP (SQUIRREL!), I had my own distraction that would vie for my attention and ultimately win.

Leave it to God to finally get my attention with pretty things.

I learned about Noonday right around the time when God was completely shaking me up through a study by Christine Caine called Undaunted.  I had heard of human trafficking before, but this book wouldn’t let me be distracted any longer.  One thing I’ve learned about myself is that facts don’t spark change.  People do.  Hearing people’s stories and realizing that I cannot sit by idly.

I was immediately drawn to the stories of life change through Noonday Collection.  I loved the idea of not just giving charity to people, but providing them with dignified jobs.  Giving moms like me, who have the same dreams for their own children but a much harsher reality, the rare opportunity to work for fair wages in safe working conditions.

Being a mom, I have never ONCE looked at the week (or day) ahead and wondered how I was going to feed my kids.  I have never had to consider dropping my two boys off at an orphanage just to give them a chance at survival.  I have never struggled with the idea that my sweet children would most likely never receive an education, leaving them no choice but to continue the cycle of poverty.  I’ve never had to live in the fear of violence or exploitation that often accompanies the poor’s search for a means to live.

If you live in America, you are richer than 75% of the world.

These statistics, and similar ones, were not new to me.  Maybe you have heard something similar.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that we are a privileged people.  The question that I’ve finally been wrestling with is, What am I going to do with the influence I’ve been given?

So I may not be well versed in the current economic conditions of countries all over the world, or the verbiage of those who are on the front lines working to provide relief to the poor.  I may just be learning about the idea of products that are “fair trade” and feel very lacking in my knowledge of the realities of other cultures.

But I know this:  People matter.

That’s why I’ve chosen to be a voice for the voiceless.  I sometimes don’t feel like I’m always the right person for the job, but I also know that if I can impact the life of ONE person, then that is enough.

I urge you to check out the Impact section on the Noonday website.  Read through the artisan’s stories, allow yourself to feel vulnerable.  Cry with happy tears as you read the stories of redemption, hope, families brought back together, generational impact being made.  Realize that these women are just like you and me.

Today you have a chance to win a $40 gift voucher to purchase one of the beautiful handmade pieces from our collection.  My hope is that when you wear your earrings or necklace or scarf, or when you carry your bag, that you will smile and think of the woman across the globe who’s story you get to carry with you.

To be entered to win:

  1. Go to my site www.erinstark.noondaycollection.com and pick out your favorite piece.
  2. OR go to the impact section on the site www.erinstark.noondaycollection.com/impact and choose your favorite story
  3. Share one of those in the comments section here and you will be entered!  Be sure to include your email – it will not be used for anything other than to confirm you are an actual person :)

The winner will be announced Friday, August 29.

{The giveaway is now closed and the winner was chosen at random by the “And the Winner Is” plugin.  Congrats to Catherine Helphinstine!!!  Keep rockin some Noonday and sharing about our artisans!!}

Follow the Noonday blog train for additional chances to win FREE Noonday!  Go check out this post by Marijoy, and tomorrow go to Amanda’s post!

Here are some of my favorites from the new Fall line.

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Roar Necklace, Octagon Hoops, Metallic Pearls Necklace.  Image ℅ Noonday Collection Instagram

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Amhara Scarf, Phoenix Earrings, Kantha Foldover Bag

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Tierdrop Necklace

 

Your purchase is making a global impact.  Happy shopping!

House to Home Day 20: Red Rocks

Wow.  There are no words for this awesome concert venue.  I mean, how many people go to a place to see a concert (or in this case, a movie), and see a sign that says TRAIL to Will Call.

Yes.  You have to hike if you want to enjoy this beauty.  Add the altitude to that and you gotta WERK for your entertainment!

So glad I brought along my pregnant friend. :)

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Sorry about the photo quality for this post.  I was using my iPhone and huffing and puffing while walking up the trail.

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Look at that blur.  I was in a hurry.

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This is where we stop to catch our breath, and squint to see the teeny, tiny people and lights at our destination. (which was still quite far away)  ONWARD!

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Halfway point.  This is facing the direction we came from.  Our car is somewhere out there in the distance…and I sure hope we can find it when this is all over and it’s pitch black outside.

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{Not Posted:  The Rocky style staircase at the base of Red Rocks where we waited in line for 20 minutes.  It was nice to slow down after our hike considering there was much less oxygen up where we were}

But to FINALLY get to the top!  Check out this amazing view!  Red Rocks normally has concerts, but they do a Summer Movie series and tonight they were showing The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire.  This is apparently a popular thing to do here in Colorado.

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And we got there a little late.  This is Brandon looking for a seat.  He looks ticked.  There were just a FEW people there already…

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So we found a “seat” at the very tippy top of the mountain.  And by seat, I mean a flat piece of dirt that was only occupied by 8 other people and allowed 2 out of 4 of our party see the screen while sitting down.  Carter and Brandon stood in the back.

There’s Katniss, life size.  We couldn’t always see the screen, but there was definitely some entertainment people watching around us.

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And if all else fails, you can just take in the view of the city behind the screen.

So I thought this place was pretty awesome.  That is saying a lot considering it was a straight up WORKOUT to get up there, it’s annoyingly crowded, half of our group had to stand, the food is overpriced, and the hike BACK to the car was less taxing but more scary.  It was PITCH black and no one was around (we left early after enjoying what we deemed was enough of the experience) and Carter was our guide (wrapped in a blanket that we brought…Colorado nights cool off quite a bit).  He calls out, “Watch out for snakes!”

At that point, I’m not gonna lie.  I panicked.

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I was certain we were heading towards the wilderness, seeing as I didn’t recognize anything that we were passing (you know, trees and stuff).  Luckily Carter knew the way and led us to our car safely.

I definitely want to go back again, but next time do the VIP experience.  You get food from this great little diner in Denver, plus seating in the very front.  This was such a fun thing to do and I’m glad we made the trek out there.

House to Home Day 17: Zoo Day!

I love taking the boys to the zoo, so I was excited to see how the Denver Zoo compared to the Fort Worth Zoo.  It did not disappoint!  Especially the weather.  I still think I’m a little partial to the Fort Worth Zoo, but hey, you can’t have everything.

Tanner hated being in the stroller and was a little cranky because he wanted to walk around like his bubba.  The camels got his attention though.

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Jace was our tour guide (it was like he was living in an episode of Dora the Explorer…map and all)

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Both boys thought the sea lion was their Texan chocolate lab, Max.  The only dog I know who dives to the bottom of the pool.  I tried to explain that Max lives at GiGi’s house and not at a Colorado zoo.

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Jace was enthralled with the tigers.  Or maybe he just liked swinging on the rails.  Probably the rails.

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Their favorite part was probably the Dippin’ Dots.  My favorite part and least favorite part was the Dippin’ Dots.

FAVORITE:  We had to wait a little while for them to open so we got them ALL for FREE.  That would have been at least $15 in zoo bucks.

LEAST FAVORITE:  Tanner’s white shirt transforming to rainbow tie-dye before my eyes.  He rode home in a diaper.

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Although it was a pretty warm day for Colorado, it was super nice to not have the Texas sun and humidity beating us down.  We enjoyed the day and it wore the boys out enough for some extra long naps.  Bonus!

 

 

House to Home Day 15: Top of the World

One thing about living in Colorado is that there is never a lack of something fun and adventurous to do.  As the newest members of this great state, we wanted to break the norm from our typical Saturday of hanging around the house, and go on a “Mountain Adventure.” (that’s what we called it for the boys)

Carter had heard, or probably researched, about the highest paved road in North America that takes you to the top (literally) of Mount Evans.  Here is an excerpt from their website:

 Drive from 8,700 feet at Idaho Spring where you turn off Interstate 70 to 14,240 feet to the summit, and you will pass through 3 life zones, passing ancient trees, lakes and forest to the land above timberline. It can be 90 degrees in Denver and 40 degrees at the top of Mount Evans. Mountain Goats and Bighorn Sheep will greet you as you climb to the top of the world.

We were excited to do something that we never could have done in Texas, so we gathered up our crew and started driving.  I’m still in awe on the mountain view…it never gets old.

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Upon arriving at the base, we discovered that it was actually National Get Outdoors Day!  (i.e. “get in free day”)  Coincidence?  I think not.  Destiny is more like it.

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This is the moment that our true Texan nature was revealed.  You see, we had been hanging out outside all morning in summery clothes given that it was a nice 75 degrees.  Naturally, I wore my same outfit: a tank top and my workout stretchy capri pants.  Perfect for doing something outdoorsy in nature.  I mean, I didn’t really know WHAT we would be doing, but I assumed it would require workout attire.

HA.

As we were driving away from the little booth with the Colorado native, she casually mentioned that there were some snowstorms on top of the mountain.

Say whaaaat???  You mean my boys’ t-shirts and shorts (with a fleece jacket thrown in last minute) won’t suffice?

What she failed to mention was the death trap of a road that led up to the top of that mountain.  I was having a slight panic attack at times, fearing that we would fly off the side of the mountain with even the lightest gust of wind.

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We finally reached the top.  And Carter took a 5 minute nap for lack of oxygen.

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And here I am in my mountain attire.  I got out of the car for approximately 5.4 seconds to snap a pic.

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Carter was equally unprepared for the cold weather.

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The views made it so worth it…even if they were mostly taken from the comfort of our warm vehicle.

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On our way home we stopped in the quaint mountain town of Idaho Springs and had pizza.

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It was such a perfect day.  We had a blast, and it got us excited about other adventures we can take in the mountains.

Next time we spend equal effort researching the weather as we do the location, however.

 

 

House to Home Day 13: New Girl

I recently posted about how continuing things that were familiar was one thing that really helped me feel at home in my new state.  Well, have you ever watched a show and you felt like you were friends with the characters?  Where just by watching it brings a sense of comfort?

Let me introduce you to my friends:

Jess.

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Nick.

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Winston.

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And of course, Schmidt.

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In other words, let me introduce you to New Girl.  It’s like the new Friends and it makes me laugh out loud on a regular basis.

So when the day is over and Carter is snoozing next to me in bed and I can’t go to sleep, I turn on Netflix and watch reruns with these crazies.  (And wake Carter up with my laughing.)

Somehow, it just makes me feel at home.

 

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