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An Outer Space Tea Party Celebration

Dear Hunter,

Two Sundays ago,  you turned TWO!  You were sent into orbit by your two favorite aliens.  Oh, my little guy how you have certainly BLASTED off.  You RUN (fast), you HOP (a lot), and you GRIN 95% of the day.  In short, you not only kick my booty, but also your Daddy's and your sisters~ you are CONSTANT.  But you little Tigercat,  definitely make our world so much BRIGHTER. 


Life of course, was busier than ever but we knew that your 2nd Birthday deserved to be CELEBRATED!  I asked your sisters what the "Theme" should be for your party?  I believe at first they said "Dinosaurs" as that was your theme last year...then Emma suggested "Mickey Mouse" which would have been cute, but somehow we landed on "Space." I'm thinking this may have had something to do with the fact that your Daddy LOVES space.

We started preparing for your par-tay  the day before.  YES, only the day before.  

Theme, check! 

Guests Invited (Us + "Grammie Gee & Pa," "Uncle Chase," and "Great Grandpa Jim & Pam"), check!

Menu Created, (Super Easy Peasy yet Thematic), check! 

Décor Decided Upon, check!  Since it was Mother's Day, somewhat your "Space" Themed morphed into an "Outer Space Tea Party." This is what happens when I have your sister's design it~ using only décor items that that we already had ;) I kinda LOVED it. 

White Smoke Bombs, check! (left over from one of Mommy's Wedding Magazine Photo Shoots)

A Pair of Alien Sisters, check! (It did help that your sister Emma, looks like the girl from the show  "Stranger Things" at the moment~due to the recent hair cut she gave herself.) 

An handmade UFO, check!  Yes, your Daddy somehow pulled this together using your Fisher Price Car, cardboard, a can of spray paint, tape, and a plastic sword.  


We were ready to CELEBRATE YOU Little Boy!  And oh how we did.  Thank you for being ours. 


Love, Mommy & Daddy 


12 Ways to Add Meaning to a Milestone Celebration

Grandpa Jim’s 90th Birthday Party

This past November all of my family members (on my dad’s side) gathered to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th Birthday Celebration! In planning this party with my family, I keep a few things in mind and implemented them into our planning process that helped to really add meaningfulness into this joyous occasion. Today I’m sharing those helpful ways to inspire you for your next milestone gathering.


Private Facebook Group for Communication/Include Family Members/Delegate Tasks

Creating a Private Facebook Group is smart way to keep your entire family members (well at least those on FB), involved and included in the planning process. Then they can decide how involved they desire to be or they can simply turn off the notifications and only tune in once in a while. This is extremely helpful when deciding upon the date, the time, the venue, the overall theme, and delegating tasks.

Have A Theme.

Yes, all “great” celebrations truly need a theme of some kind. This is really a sneaky (SMART) tip at being able to keep your budget in check. You see, if you give the party a “relaxed” theme to begin with, this automatically saves you from feeling like your décor needs to be over the top. The theme should make sense and really be true reflection of the guest of honor.

Incorporate your theme into the décor.

The theme should be communicated through the invitation first and foremost. Next it should be carried through on your tables and any other fun areas that can use a little décor and personalization such as the chairs, high top tables, welcome area, and the cake.

Display family photos and memorabilia, and signage.

Nothing make a milestone event more heartfelt than being able to view old family photos. This is such an easy way to add meaning. And signage is a big deal. Having a welcome sign is great way to greet guests into the experience.

Have a Plan for the Timeline.

Having a timeline for any type of gathering is a must. Never assume that you’ll make plan during the actual party, that’s not possible. You’ll be too busy chatting with guests to make any sort of on the spot decisions. This doesn’t mean you need to plan for something happening every minute of the gathering, but a simple timeline creates a flow that is needed when gathering people.

Plan for Family Group Photos.

If possible (especially with large families) arrange for your family members to arrive early, before the party begins. At this time everyone will have fresh faces and attention spans. It’s more realistic to plan for your family to arrive a preset time before the party, then scrambling trying to group everyone at the tail end of the event.

Involve the guests.

Plan for the guest of honor to have something meaningful to take home. Consider setting out a box of note cards, envelopes and pens. Encourage them to jot down their favorite memories for the guest of honor to read later, after the party. It’s a little melancholy when a celebration is over, this is nice way for the guest to have something else look forward to and enjoy.


Arrange for a Master of Ceremonies.

If you’re budget will allow, hiring an emcee/dj will make your job as the host, much more enjoyable. Once you’ve planned everything out, turning over the timeline to the Emcee is HUGE. Now, they become in charge of the flow, and lend a real “voice” (which is needed) to the event.

Be thoughtful with your music selections.

The music needs to make sense. If you can arrange for live music during cocktail hour, there’s nothing better. Next, create a playlist that the guest of honor will appreciate, music that they love. Also, choose some “feel good” classic party songs that help to fill a dance floor.

The cake is a big deal!

A great way to incorporate your overall theme is in the cake, especially when it comes to a milestone (like 90!). And be sure to make this a big part of the celebration. Arrange for the guest of honor to be brought out in front of everyone for this momentous moment.

Slideshows, always.

Never underestimate the power of a slideshow. Make sure it’s located in a visible area and preplan when it will scroll. Remember to turn it off during the presentation part of the celebration so it doesn’t distract from the happenings. The best time to showcase a scrolling slideshow is during cocktail hour and again after the planned festivities have concluded, during the dancing reception.

Involve Loved Ones.

Arrange for those closest to the guest of honor to be involved in some way. This could be through a planned speech, a family trivia game, really any kind of sentimental delivery. These are usually the moments that mean the most to the guest of honor and are the parts of the celebration that stand out the most to the guests in attendance.

Our Honest Survival Tips for Parenting Small Children

I sat across from Justin last Saturday in a small Thai restaurant eating lunch.  We were alone, we were in public, we could have a real fluid  conversation ~this was rare.  I told him about my goals for blogging moving forward, explained to him how much I missed blogging consistently (as I had been able to do in years past.) 

He of course encouraged me keep to pushing forward through the thick of all the responsibilities and daily tasks because he knows how much joy writing, sharing, and creating brings to me.  Yet, we also recognized that we are still in the "thick" of parenting small children, and with that comes exhaustion and endurance.

You see it wasn't that long ago that Justin and I had many conversations about whether or not to have a third child after having our twin girls. Justin being the realist and me being the dreamer talked a lot about this, a lot.  I knew shortly after having my twins, that I was meant to have another.  I remember so many people telling me "yeah, only have to go through this one time."  

My heart would sink each time I would hear this.  ONE time!?  One time experiencing pregnancy, one time experiencing birth, one time experiencing newborn cuddles, one time going through each phase....smiles, words, steps. One time starting pre-school, and on and on.  Granted YES, these "one times" were multiplied but still.  That's a lot all at once.

Justin knew it too, deep down I think he was always on the same page as me, he's just too logical to admit it.  He would tell me many times "Jennifer, having a third child will impact our lives greatly.  All of our other goals will take longer, life will be harder, and this will most definitely impact your business, you will have to be okay with continued  slow yet, steady growth."  Okay, we both decided~ we "knew" what we were in for and we decided to add another child to our family. 

Within (no joke) a few weeks after having our "final" deciding conversation about both wanting this~ BOOM.  I was pregnant, and Justin was shocked.  So shocked that when I told him over a fancy dinner lakeside at the "Chart House" he couldn't even eat his meal.

 Fast forward nine months.... our little blonde burst of sunshine: Hunter Starr entered our world full of tiger cat growls and great big smiles.  And after the amazing months of newborn magic, reality set in.  LIFE WAS HARD, damn hard.  

Everything that Justin had pre-warned me about was happening.  Life was busier and more challenging than ever.  We had had 3 children in 3.5 years.  And it took (and is still) taking some big adjustments.  But throughout this journey and phase in our life we've learned and come to realized a handful of things that I thought we would share with you today.

Survival Tips for Parents of Young Children: 

1.) Weekly Date Nights, whatever it takessomething that has been amazing is going on a weekly date night.  At first the idea seems kind of silly.  Once a week?  Who has time for that, the budget for that, is once a week really needed?  That's what we used to think until we realized that we were no longer able to have actual conversations unless all the kids were sleeping.  Now we look forward to them so much.  They are short and fairly simple, but it's weekly reprieve that we can always look forward too.  Even if it means that we are both exhausted, at least we're together.  We feel so fortunate to have found someone we trust be able to watch our littles once a week.  This was a challenge before, as both Justin's parents have passed away and my parents live 50 minutes away.  But someway, somehow we found someone and we've been able to carry on with weekly date nights (for the most part) for the last 13 months.  

2.) Consistent Communication about finances, scheduling.  We have busy lives.  Justin works about 50 hours a week, and I run my growing business and I'm the primary caregiver to my children (twin 5 year old girls & a 1 year old little boy.)   And then, I'm a sucker for all things fun. If there's an event of any kind, I'm always going to try my hardest to get us there.  While I'm still working on creating more "white space" in on our calendar, there are a few things we've learned to help keep us better in sync.  Once a week (usually on Sundays) while our little guy is napping and the girls are supposedly in "quiet time" we try and crank out our schedule and pay bills.  I use an old fashion, super simple paper calendar planner (with monthly view) paired with our shared google calendar.  I prefer to use the handwritten planner first (I'm a visual person) and then insert everything in our google calendar next.  We've realized that it's nearly impossible to remember everything on a day to day basis (especially with my diverse schedule) so chatting it out on a weekly basis helps immensely. And money, we've found that in order for us to be on the same page with our budget and financial goals we have to sit down together and pay our bills and plan. 

3.) Staycations.  Prior to having children "Staycations" seemed lame.  But now, oh how the tides turn....because "Staycations" are GOLD.  We try and manage 2 to 3 a year.  They are easy, relaxed, and amazing.  We've realized that any time we get "away" from the kiddos is meant to be for guilt-free relaxation.  We've learned that these escapes aren't meant for adventure and outings...they are meant to do nothing~ and nowadays we even make it goal to never even leave the resort at all.  

4.) Individual Time.  Truth is, I think I get more of individual time than Justin.  But that's probably because I'm with the crew more than him and he fears my sanity more than I do his. But yes, from time to time I've found that I function best if I can get a little time completely to myself (and not work related.) My escape is usually a reflexology place down the road where I never have to make an appointment at.  I also think a weekend get-away is in my future to visit one of my best girlfriends.  

5.) Adult Meltdowns.  And knowing that adult meltdowns are a normal part of having small children.  (so long as you don't have more than your children do.) It's intense, like way intense and so constant.  I think feeling like you're losing it once in awhile (or once a week) is totally normal.  

6.) Acknowledgement that this stage isn't forever.  "The days are long, the years are short." No better statement could be truer in this stage of life.  Now that my twins are five I have more perspective on this, the years seem to be flying by faster than ever, although sometimes the day are painstakingly long.  

7.) Recognition of differences, strengths and weaknesses. I rarely share about "parenthood" stuff and I've always been terrified to join a "Mom's Group."  I think the reason being because "parenthood" is the hardest role ever.  It's so easy to beat yourself up about not feeling like you're doing a great job.  But one thing I've learned is that everyone parents totally differently and there's no wrong or right way to do anything.  I think the secret is to try to do everything you can to make yourself a happy person and ultimately your happiness is the greatest gift you can give your child.   

8.) Choose what to surrender, and being okay with that.  For us, we've surrendered our home.  Honest truth, sad but true.  What I mean is that we haven't done a single home décor project in five years.  Yes, it pains me, because I LOVE everything design related and I'm a big believer in your surroundings having a big effect on your mood.  But this truth is, like Justin always says....when you have twins (followed by their active little brother) constantly picking up our home is much like trying to books on the shelf during a earthquake. For me, I like to say having three children, 3.5 years apart and cleaning the home feels a lot like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreo cookies~ kinda impossible.  And anytime that my children are sleeping (aside from my regularly scheduled work days, when I have our sitter), I'm working on my business ~ before they wake up, during pre-school/nap time, and sometimes after they go to sleep at night.  And I'm so grateful that Justin totally supports this.  Now as the girls are older, and we only have one toddler...I'm starting to notice a difference, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I know that one day I will have a pretty home again, but I also know that I'll miss my children no longer being babies even more.   

9.) Endurance, progress and motion.  I'm constantly reminding myself just to keep going.  It's unrealistic to think that I'm going to get a BIG job done in one setting.  It's more realistic to always making small steps that eventually turn into achieving big goals.  I think giving yourself a true "block of time" and giving it all you got within that block is a huge game changer.  Sure at the end of the night I don't feel like I've aced my daily to do list, but it does feel great to know that I was able to "touch" on all the areas of my life that are important to me.  

Bottom line, it's just about surviving and remembering that *this* stage of life is hard on everyone.  Try your best to be strong, be happy, and remind yourself that you're doing an amazing job.  



Venue: SoHo63 | Photography: Matt Wheeler - Owner of Still Life Studios | Make Up: Makeup By Diana

A Love Note to My Valentines...

Dear Justin, Hannah, Emma & Hunter,


 Happy Valentine's Day My Loves!

Wow, how did I ever deserve 4 Valentines?  You all fill my heart with more joy than I ever imagined and today I thought I'd share with you a few reasons why....

Hannah & Emma~

At age four, you two are really something else.  And to see you two together, as best friends....laughing and scheming everyday is quite a sight.  The love you have for each other is a relationship that is like no other.  One minute you two are in your own little world, deeply entrenched in whatever kind of imaginary game you are playing, the next minute you're completely enraged at each other for often time situations that I can't ever really figure out....only to be best buddies again moments later. 

Currently your favorite things to do are: color, paint, play outside in the backyard, help us to cook meals, and you LOVE to decorate for the holidays with me.  Your favorite toys at the moment are: your remote control dinosaur, your "dolly" house, STICKERS (they're currently all over nearly every wall of the house), and your puzzles. 

Funny things you say...Emma, whenever you get mad (like really mad) at your sister, I hear you call her "an old lady" in your meanest most serious voice.  "Awe, come here you old lady!"  I have NO idea where your heard this or WHY you say this but it makes me laugh so hard!


Forever my valentine.  Just when we thought life couldn't get any wilder.....Hunter Dean came along and rocked our worlds.  Little did I know I would fall in love with you even more deeply.  Seeing you become a Dad has been one of the most heartfelt things that I've experienced.  Seeing you with them....seeing you all my ultimate joy. 

You my love, are an incredible husband and an amazing father.  Our family is happy (and functional) because of you.  Thank you for loving us. 

My Little Hunter,

Where in the world did you come from and where have you been all my life?  YOU little boy, have completely stolen my heart.  I melt every time I see your smile.  And your SMILE is one in a million. People stop in their tracks anytime I take you anywhere and you flash your GIANT smile. 

You are the happiest little guy and our family is so much more complete with YOU.  You have  captured the heart of not only me, but also your sisters and your daddy. 

Hannah Jane,

My little HJ, my little Nanna.....

You remain so "tough" yet so "Intense."  Your personality still reminds me so much of your Daddy.  You are so focused, patient, and determined at whatever the task is you're working on.  Yet, when you wrap your arms around me, bat your eyelashes and say "I love you Mommy" your "toughness" melts away.  I love the way you run, I love to watch you concentrate when you draw.  You're quite the little fact your entire room currently has your "art gallery" displayed in it.  You still hold tight to your "Piggie" and every night when you go to bed you have "Piggie" next to you and you rub his soft ears.   

Trikes and dainty little rough and tough girls.

Emma Louise,

My Emmie Lou, my little Lou Who.....

YOU are such a goofball.  Honestly little girl, I never understood myself as much before until I met YOU.  Granted I don't think I've been as naturally goofy as you are, but you definitely have similar personality traits as your mama.  You love people and parties.  You always want to know "what are we gonna do next?"  and then you say "OH, that would be so FUN, I so excited!!"  When you get your mind set on something....LOOK OUT world, you're not  giving up on your idea easily, that's for sure.  You always care about others...especially your sister.  You're always making sure that if something is given to you, you always ask "for Hannah's too?"  Me and your Daddy never really know what you're going to say or do next, you keep us on our toes that for sure. 

On Sunday we kept our Valentine's Day tradition.  This has been something we've been doing since Hannah and Emma were born.  Emma at first was terrified of the "baboons." She once saw one float away and has yet to recover from that tragic accident.  But despite the fear of the "baboons" she eventually warmed up to them. 

Hunter just went with the flow. Just like he always does.  He was born into a loud, constant family and just fits right in quite perfectly. 


 And my little tornado twosome...loved every moment. They're always excited for fun times and new adventures!

Happy Valentines Day to my Sweet Little Family,

Thank you all for being MINE.  I love you all so much and feel so lucky that I get to spend every wild and crazy day with all of you.  I love you all more than my heart can handle, you are my everything.

LOVE, Mom.

P.S. Hunter, you better stop being SO CUTE!!!

Dear Justin, Tomorrow Our Son Will Be Born...

Dear Justin,
Tomorrow our son will be born, tomorrow....our son. 
I think those words are still a bit shocking to us both.  But before we enter this new chapter of life...I wanted to share a few things with you.  Just recently we celebrated our 10 Year Wedding Anniversary.  I can't believe it's been 10 years, it feels more like 5 years.  During that time we've endured many life experiences...some of the most significant being....
1.) Our Wedding Day
Truly an amazing day.  A real reflection of both of us fusing together.  You were equally involved in the wedding planning process...just as you are today in our life, our home, and our family.

2.) Our Travels
I'm so thankful we were able to do some traveling before becoming parents....our trips together to Hawaii, Bahamas, Cabo, Vegas, San Francisco, etc. ....are so special to me.  Especially now as our traveling is very limited with all of our little ones.  But I know that we will have our travel time again in life.  Until then, I appreciate the amazing places we've been so far.
3.) Our Educations
Oh those student loan payments.  But, totally and completely worth it.  I'm so thankful that we were both able to receive college educations and both are doing our dream careers now.  As hard and time consuming as schooling and building a business has been, I'm so thankful that we kept pushing each other to reach our goals. 

4.) The Loss of Loved Ones
By the age of 29, you had already lost both your Mom and Dad.  Watching you go through these losses at such a young age, forever changed us and forever changed our relationship.  Through these most heartbreaking times, I saw unbelievable strength in you.  You inspired me in more ways than you'll ever know.  I'm certain in some ways...through this, our relationship was deeply affected in a positive way.  These hard times really showed us the gift of a time and the preciousness of life. 
5.) Your Graduation
Despite the tragic loss you continued on to receive your Doctorate of Physical Therapy.  I've never been more proud of you.  Several of your professors offered you the option of taking time off, but you powered through.  Seeing you graduate and walk across the stage to receive your diploma ~ you had a glow on you. I knew in that moment your mom was with you, and I knew you would continue to shine.

6.) Our Friends/Our Celebrations
Oh, the parties we have thrown...since our first year of dating.  Thank you babe, I know that often times our celebrations create a lot of extra work for you...but thank you for valuing these times.  Each passing, busy year it's harder and harder to keep in touch with friends (especially with kiddos) but you always support and help me plan many of our special times. 
7.) Buying our 2nd Home/First "real" House
Remember that one time, when I was SO pregnant with twins...and you had to get our current tiny condo sold, and find us a new home...pretty much ALL on your own?  Oh my.  You did it babe.  Thank you, that was a crazy time. 

8.) Becoming Parents (of Twins!)
Wow, we had NO idea.  I quit my corporate job just before they babies came after we had just moved into our home...and all of sudden we were parents? Talk about one of our craziest times.  But we did it.  And it turned our lives upside down and inside out...but we did it.  We made it so far.  We had limited time, limited money, and limited energy...but we've received ridiculous amounts of joy and love.  Seeing you handed our two baby girls in the operating room was one of my greatest moments in life.  Seeing you so happy, makes me happy. 

9.) Our Careers
I'm quite certain that there are several people in our lives that think we are absolutely nuts, because our schedules are busy and very untraditional.  But that's us, and that's probably why (with being parents of multiples) we haven't gone crazy (yet).  Thank you for always making it work.  You are a true team member and partner.
10.) Preparation for our 3rd Child  
And here we go.  God willing, everything goes smoothly tomorrow we will meet our Baby Boy!  Our little grand finale to our family.  This pregnancy, although (thankfully) a healthy one, hasn't been the easiest on our family.  Our tiny twosome requires a TON of physical and mental work....of which I've been lacking at times.  You've had to carry us through, just like you always do.  Last night I watched you play "Barbies" with our girls for a long time.  Using all of your silly accents and saying the most off the wall hilarious things...Hannah & Emma were loved every minute.  I truly never knew how much I loved you until I saw how much you love our children.  There is nothing better in life. 


So my being the private person that you are and me being the obnoxiously public person that I am....I hope you don't mind me sharing these thoughts with the world today.  I just wanted to share how truly amazing you are, even if I may not tell you or show you that everyday. 
Thank you for the last ten years, every single moment, I can't wait to see what the next ten years holds for us. 
Let's have this baby already. 
I Love You,

A Few Life Lessons...

This morning I thought I'd share a few life lessons that have been weighing on me lately.  I learned these from my Granny.  I hesitate to blog this for fear that I might leave something important that she taught me out...but I guess I can always write a follow up if need be.  I'm just gonna let my heart spill out a bit.

You see, she was incredibly important to me. But in a way, that I never really realized how much before because it was buried so deep.  It wasn't until recently, as she lived her final days, that her role in my life has became more magnetized. 

1.) Love Hard. 
She taught me to love hard.  She made sure everyone that she loved, knew they were loved, deeply.  She never held back the chance to say "I love you." She never hesitated to give big hugs.  When ever I left her home, she insisted on walking me out.  Even the very last time I visited her.  She would wait until I was in my car, just to have the chance to wave goodbye and blow me a kiss.  She always expressed love abundantly, and without hesitation.

2.) Sharing & Giving.
She shared everything.  She struggled accepting gifts, because sharing was so much more important to her.  Life wasn't easy for her growing up, she didn't have much as a child, and lost her mother at the age of 12...and then lost her father a few years later.  She was the eldest of her four siblings and had to take on a lot at a very young age.  She learned early on what it meant to stretch a dime.  That always stayed with her.  She was uncomfortable with large purchases for herself, but always wanted those around her to have it all.

3.) Approachability
As my mom wrote in her obituary "She never knew a stranger." She talked, laughed, and joked with everyone.  Going to the grocery store with her was an experience.  She hugged strangers, she gave random children cookies, she called cute young boys her "boyfriend." She was a hoot.  She never cared much about social norms. She just saw goodness in people.  And that was just on the surface.  For me she was incredibility approachable because she shared her stories with me.  She told me all about her first love, the birth of her babies, her many travels (as my Papa was in the air force).  The common theme in all of her stories was about "the people".  She loved people and all their differences.  She allowed me to share my life with her. I could tell her anything, and she would always respond back with a caring tone.

4.) Warmth & Kindness
The moment someone stepped foot in her home.  "Can I get you something to drink? Can I get you something to eat? You look tired.  Why don't you go get up on my bed and cut the fan on." She wanted to make sure you felt as comfortable as possible in her home.  And in her glory days...she could cook. Wow, the best food I've ever tasted.  The moment you were in her presence (even strangers) you immediately felt loved. 

5.)  Sense of Humor
She never took herself too seriously.  She loved to laugh, tell wild stories, and she was famous for her random sayings in her Tennessee accent.  She joked around a lot, and cracked herself up a lot.  She knew the power of a good laugh.

6.)  Building Memories
Whenever I left her home she would always tell me "I love you Jenny Girl, go build some memories." My eyes tear up just typing those words as I can hear her voice so strong.  She constantly encouraged me to "do fun things." She always reminded to build as many memories now, because memories are all you have towards the end of your life. 


Happy Monday My Friends.....

Cheers to loving hard and laughing along the way.  xo

~Jennifer Starr

Checking In: Reflections + Standing Still

(Photo by Ben & Kelly Photography, Floral by Avant-Garde Floral Design Studio, at the Arizona Biltmore, as seen in Arizona's Finest Wedding Sites Magazine)

I've often said to Justin "I wish I could capture emotions and bottle them." Just open up a pretty little glass bottle grasp an emotion from my heart, label it, and put it on the shelf. 

The bottles could be labeled a variety of things...

"Doubts + Fears about my Business" {Summer of 2014}
"More Joy than I Ever Imagined Possible/Birth of Babies" {December 2013}
"Exhaustion Upon Exhaustion" {Spring 2015}

But the best part would be...that once in a great while I could take off the cap to the bottle and "feel" that exact same emotion that I once felt at that time.  I could use this to make myself feel better at the present moment, and truly appreciate life. 

For example on the days that I feel so exhausted and defeated by motherhood, I could inhale a little bit of "More Joy than I Ever Imagined" bottle and be instantly reminded of how amazing life is, (even while I'm scrubbing magic markers off the wall...)

Or like this summer for's been rather stagnant and definitely sad as my sweet Grandmother (known as Granny) passed away a few weeks ago.  It's been a time period in which I just didn't have my normal energy, excitement, and momentum.  Instead, my heart and mind have been in a more reflective and contemplative place.

I remember last year at this time feeling so much self doubt as a business owner.  But over the last month I'm really starting to see all the "seeds that I planted over the last year start to bloom." (thank heavens!) I'm so grateful and excited for the future of my business.  It's on days like today I wish I could visit my little imaginary shelf of "bottled emotions" and  inhale a little bit of "last summer" to truly appreciate the new place I'm at now and really appreciate it. Before jumping full force into "the next" stage of life.

Sometimes I think life forces us to stand still for a moment, whether we want to or not.  And in those moments, we begin to see things more definitively.  So here's to the past, the present, and the future ~ whatever your goals might be.  May you be able to "stop" once in awhile, be okay with standing still for a bit, and be proud of how far you've come.  And if you need a high five, I 'm sending you a virtual one now. 

Happy Monday My Friends.

With Lots of Love and Big Dreams,
Jennifer Starr

Life As a Mamapreneur

Happy Monday Friends, 

Special thank you to my intern Emily.  I've put her in charge of making sure my marketing stays consistent this summer. I received a text from her about an hour ago reminding me that my topic to write about today is "Life as a Mamapreneur." Deep sigh... I'm digging deep, here we go.

Well for starters, what is a "Mamapreneur,"  you may ask?
A "Mamapreneur" is a women who is the primary caregiver of her children and also runs her own business.  Does that sound ambitious with a touch of crazy?  Well, you nailed it.  It is.

I often have a hard time relating to "stay at home moms" and also "corporate/working moms".... That's because I'm stuck somewhere right in the middle, I identify with both and neither...all at the same time.   And honestly, I really wouldn't have it any other way.  But there are certainly times that are very any role is for any parent. 

I'm often asked, "Do you have a nanny?" Nope.  "Do you have an assistant?" Nope.  "Do you have a house cleaner?"  ...ha ha ha, you're funny. My children are still small and growing just as my business is, so I'm not in a place where I'm able to bring in hired help (yet).  So how do I do it?  (here's where the touch of crazy comes into play.)

I'm often told "Wow, you do so much! How do you do it?" I never really know how to answer that question, because I've always enjoyed being a busy person.  And truth be told, "time management" isn't something that comes easy to me (ask anyone who knows me really well.)  I'm a dreamer/creative type, so I'm very easily distracted if I suddenly become inspired by a new idea.  Having children has definitely forced me to sharpen my time management skills and through this process I've learned a few "musts" that have helped me, so today I thought I would share a case they help to inspire you..... regardless of your profession or season in life. 

"J.Starr Mamapreneur Musts":

List Making/Scheduling Out my Day the night before ~ Every night I make a list for the next day and divide it into 4 quadrants: Health, Babies, Home, J.Starr.  This helps me to visually have awareness for a better balance of life on a daily basis.  I also write out a daily timeline.  This has helped me immensely to stay on I'm easily distracted.

 Waking up 2.5 hours earlier than my kiddos~ always.  It makes me feel like I've got a much better handle on the day.
Running ~Not everyday, but ideally four to five times a week.  If I can get in a 30 minute run before I do anything else, my days so much more productive. 

Coffee~ Enough said.  Warm in the morning, Iced in the afternoon.

Eating Breakfast~ Before the kiddos wake up.  Otherwise I forget to eat and start to feel lethargic.

Social Media Time Blocks ~Huge time saver! HUGE.  Like I said I get easily distracted so scheduling only three blocks a day to check in, update posts, publish blogs, etc. The internet can be take up a ton of time.  I always sign out of my accounts completely, so I'm not tempted.

Tracking my Food ~life changing habit that I learned in Weight Watchers (amazing program by the way).  I track, and measure my food, the best I can.  It's like balancing a check book, after it becomes a habit it becomes a's not always fun..but it's super powerful in making good decisions and being able enjoy indulgences from time to time.

Answering Emails in Blocks ~ Same as social media. I try and answer/send emails in batches rather than every time I get a new email (again too distracting).  I also just recently started to answering emails from the bottom to the top (oldest to the newest).  Maybe the rest of the world already does this. 

Interns~ My interns help me immensely and really help to keep my daily office hours consistent.

Office Hours~ Speaking of office hours, five days a week (1.5 in the morning + 2.5/ 3 hours in the afternoon).  This is perfect for my current workload.  These areas are devoted strictly to office hours...I'm really good about never wavering, because I really can't.  This is when I bust out emails, contracts, marketing, accounting, special projects, clients, prospective leads, etc.

Scheduling Something Creative (Non Work Related) ~ The best way to work in a creative field is to allow yourself time to be creative (just for you!) I try and do something, each home design projects.....or currently I'm loving creating personal photo albums with "Project Life."

Date Nights ~ The reason I stay sane (most days) is because my husband is an awesome supporter of my goals.  I'm so incredibly grateful.  Being parents and having careers isn't always easy....for anyone.  So date nights are the best thing ever.  Wish we could do more of them, but I'm thankful for the times we can escape a bit and catch up (have actual interrupted conversations). 

Stay tuned as I hope to share my "Mamaprenuer Must Nots" soon....I've learned a lot, lemme tell ya. 


The Salt River & The Starrs

I have so much fun stuff to catch up on.....

{My Favorite Shot....It doesn't look like it but Justin and I were standing right next to them ready to jump if they started to move they were on a was terrifying, I thought for sure I'd end up in the lake....but how precious did it turn out??}

Let's rewind a bit shall we?  I believe it was around the second week of November...we were able coordinate my schedule with Justin's schedule with Matt's schedule {our dear friend and owner of Still Life Studios}....We've been doing a "family session for a few years now, before the kiddos....but this was our first time doing this as parents..

{Hannah's FACE!}

{Oh Emma}

Things we did right:
~Took them in early November... that allowed much more time for editing, ordering our Christmas cards, and getting them sent out
~Asked Matt to take them...years previously we would try and do this ourselves using Justin's self timer or remote....super difficult...lemme tell ya.

{Chewing on Mommy's Bracelets...the only way we could think to keep them calm and not scared of the crazy photographer:}

~Chose a RAD location....several people has asked me if the back ground in the photos is REAL, umm...YES!  It's a really gorgeous location at the Salt River that Matt and the SLS Crew frequently shoot.
~Made sure everyone was fed ahead of time prior to the shoot...babies and husband
~I took a pair of flip flops to the shoot to switch out as we were walking {hiking} all over the place.

{Hannah LOVES Mommy's Jewelry}

Things we did wrong:
~Didn't allow ENOUGH TIME,  yes Matt had told us what time to pick him up to make sure we allowed plenty of the time for the shoot...and we ended up picking him about 45 minutes LATE.  This then forced us to RACE against the sun light....imagine us hiking up and down hills with all the camera gear, babies bags, and two little munchkins strapped to our sides.... I have to keep reminding myself that it takes MUCH MORE TIME than I ever seem to estimate to get four people dressed, fed, packed up and out the door.... 

{At this point in the evening I remember  getting panicked as I could hear animals close by}

But thankfully Matt is SUPER talented and was still able to pull of a great shoot, we were able to get some lovely shots for our Christmas card and for our new wall gallery in the living room.... Thanks Matt!  I'd also like to send a special out to Bridget Levi with Still Life Studios...who the custom designer of the Starr Cards this year, Thanks Bridgie!

Their little hair bows lasted the first five minutes, the little pink shoes didn't make it at all}

All in all it was totally worth all the effort...I'm so glad we did this.....don't underestimate the power of family photos...precious time slips away too quickly not to take them!