Monday, January 2, 2017



As of 1/1/2017 I have a NEW BLOG!

Please visit me over at

                                       THANK YOU!!!

Friday, September 30, 2016

5 Styling secrets to a Luxury Wedding Look on a Moderate Budget

Still Life Studios, Southwick Linens, Flower Bar, J.Starr Stylized Weddings, 5 Styling secrets to a luxury wedding look on a moderate budget
Photo By: Still Life Studios, Linens By: Southwick Linens, Floral By: Flower Bar

1) Chose a venue that you LOVE

Yes, your venue will serve as the foundation for your wedding day. Choose a place that simply makes you feel good when you walk the property. Think about the entire experience, how you felt upon arrival, the grounds that you walked, the overall views, the service, and overall ambience. Often clients are “sticker shocked” by the price of their most desired venues, but guess what? If you choose a venue that you love, with lovely natural built-in features, you won’t have to spend a fortune transforming it.

2) Linens

People tend to choose linens toward the end of the planning/design process when they should actually be the second thing you do, once the venue is selected. Linens are the second major part of your foundation. Pick colors that work within the space and with your color-scheme. Upgrading to floor length linens (meaning the table legs are covered) always give your reception a clean, polished, luxury look.

3) Keep it Classic

Be cautious not to follow the current trends too heavily. Reason being, “trends” don’t often age very well. You don’t want to look back at your wedding one day and say “Wow, what was I thinking?” Now this doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate touches of fun trends, but when it comes to your overall design, “going classic” is always a safe way to build an overall beautiful and timeless look.

4) Repurpose big floral pieces

Pre-arrange with your florist and wedding planner to have your gorgeous large ceremony florals smoothly transported and reset into your reception during the cocktail hour. Yes, you can use the same floral arrangements and your guests will never know.

5) Lighting

Yes, up-lighting, bistro lights, and tons of candlelight can completely enhance any space. Include candlelight everywhere and in unexpected places to create a luxury experience. Up-lighting your reception walls can transform your event and really help to set the mood.

Until next time,
Jennifer Starr, J.Starr Stylized Weddings

Friday, September 23, 2016

What to Ask During Your Entree Tasting

Let’s talk Entrée Tastings....

Often when you have booked a venue or a catering company, a complimentary Entrée Tasting is included. This is your chance to come in and sample the cuisine options for your wedding day and make your culinary decisions. This can often be a confusing time, so let’s dig in:

FAQS and Understanding the Lingo

Q: How many hors d’oeuvres should we choose?
A: For a full cocktail hour, industry standard suggests five to six pieces per person.
Q: What is the difference between butler-passed hors d’oeuvres and a stationary display?
A: Butler-passed hors d’oeuvres are hand-passed and presented to your guests. Stationary displays are presented on a table that allows guests to help themselves.
Q: Can we offer both butler-passed hors d’oeuvres and stationary displays?
A: Absolutely! It is very common to offer both.

Q: What is a hosted bar package?
A: A hosted bar is when you pay a per person/per hour price for drinks.
Q: What is a hosted on consumption bar?
A: A hosted on consumption bar is the same as running a tab – as guests order drinks, they are then added to the total bill.
Q: What is a cash bar?
A: A cash bar is when your guests purchase their own drinks on a cash/credit card basis.
*Please note bar options can differ from property to property depending on the type of liquor license that they have.

Prior to attending your tasting, you’ll need to know a few things……
  • What is your required Food and Beverage Minimum (your contract should included this figure)
  • How many guests will be attending (best estimate)? Out of those guests, how many will be 2 and under? (Typically they are free) and how many are between the ages of (2 & 12) typically they qualify for kids pricing.
  • Go through your list and determine how many of your guests will be drinking alcohol.

Additional Questions to Ask:
  • Will there be a tip jar at the bar?
  • Will your staff pour wine or champagne during dinner?
  • What Vegetarian options do you offer?
  • What do you offer for children’s meals?
  • Do you charge a cake cutting fee? Will your team cut and serve our cake?

This portion of the planning process can be a bit overwhelming. Remember if you’ve hired a wedding planner, consider asking them to attend the Entrée Tasting with you. Otherwise try your best to really study the menu options ahead of time and don’t be shy to ask your Catering Manager or Chef many questions during the tasting.

With Style & Sincerity,
 Jennifer Starr
Owner of J.Starr Stylized Weddings

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

J.Starr Magazine Editorial Shoot at Wrigleyville West

This past February I had the opportunity to plan and style an editorial magazine shoot and cover for Arizona's Finest Wedding Sites Magazine.  The year prior I was so unbelievably, fortunate to style SIX covers for all Arizona Wedding Publications.  So this year, with my recent pregnancy and influx in amazing clients, I told myself I was only allowed to take a very small handful of specialty projects and this shoot was one of them. 

And one would think after doing six magazine shoot the previous year, I'd be a seasoned pro...but truth be told, this particular shoot was challenging one.  But it's good to be challenged right?  That what makes us better.  This was definitely one of those times for me.  The reason being, this was a BRAND new property and this was their FIRST magazine photo shoot.  I was really determined to deliver them a shoot that truly their style and vibe. 

The reason this was a struggle is because this beautiful venue is very modern with touches of historic baseball elements with it being located right next to the Chicago Cubs Training Spring Training Fields.  Mixing "modern" and "baseball" was the real tricky part.  It wasn't until I sat down with Patricia of Wild Child Floral Designs that the ideas for this shoot really began to start taking place. 

 I really appreciated Patricia.  Her mind operates similar to mine...always going and constantly changing and evolving ideas.  All and all I'm exceptionally proud of how this shoot turned out.  I think our goal to infuse "modern" and "historic baseball" really shined.  And of course this was all due to the amazing group of talented creative partners that worked with us on this shoot. 

As always thank you to Arizona's Finest Wedding Sites Magazine for this opportunity. Also, if you haven't had a chance to tour this new venue yet, I highly encourage it.  Christina Ayers the Wedding Specialist at this property is a delight to work with and (p.s. she's also an upcoming J.Starr Bride to Be!) 

Stay tuned for this cover to debut in the Spring! 


Photographed by
Still Life Studios • 
Floral design
Wild Child Floral Design
Piece of Cake Desserts
Hair and Makeup
Linda Valenzuela
Groom’s Attire
Mr. Formal •
Event design
J.Starr Stylized Weddings
Paper details
The Event Essentials
Wedding Belles Bridal Boutique
Tables and Chairs
Glamour & Woods

Friday, September 16, 2016

3 Small Items Most Couples Forget on their Wedding Day

Wild Child Floral Design, Still Life Studios, Jennifer Starr Stylized Weddings
Photo: Still Life Studios, Bouquet: Wild Child Floral Design

1. Card holder
Yes, something to “hold” your cards (which most likely will contain money). Consider a basket, a bird cage, a decorative box—basically anything that can serve as a holding device to keep all your valuable cards from floating all over your gift table. This doesn’t have to be a tacky white box, it can certainly be something stylish that blends nicely with the rest of your décor. It’s a good idea to assign a family member or best friend to look after this item.

2. Specialty pens
Consider what type of pens you would like your guests to use for signing your guest book (or guest book alternatives). Couples often spend time and money on beautiful keepsake materials but forget about the pens, guests often end up having to use a ball point pen from the resort’s front desk.

3. Remove all the wrapping and price tags
Remove all the wrapping/packaging and price tags ahead of time. This will save you, your wedding planner, or the catering staff tons of precious time on the day of your wedding. Consider these items and anything else you might have incorporated; photo frames, favor boxes, unity candle, champagne flutes, dress, jewelry, garters, etc. Have all of your personal items “show ready."

Until next time,
Jennifer Starr
J.Starr Stylized Weddings

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

How I Find Appreciation in the Daily Chaos

We now live in a time period of fast, instant, and digital.  For many reasons this is great, and other for reasons not so much.  A few years ago my belated sweet Granny said “I don’t like those digital camera things, I never get photos from you anymore.” Uggh, those words tug at my heart so much. 
It wasn’t until recently that I learned how to infuse my digital brain with my memory keeping heart. This is where Project Life” comes into play. 
There’s a few different ways to use Project Life, but my favorite is by using the Project Life App. The app is super easy to use, very user friendly. 

Every week I spend some time going through my weekly photos and putting together a few layouts.  Then I journal about my recent thoughts, cute things my little ones say, and listing out our day to day happenings.  This app makes doing this super quick, like maybe only 30 minutes per week, it’s almost therapeutic for me in some ways.

This helps me to appreciate my life so much.  You see, there are so times when I go to bed each night feeling exhausted, frazzled, and a little defeated.  But when I take some time to reflect back on my day or the week…I feel so much better! It makes me realize how many wonderful moments that happened, even the crazy, stressful, wild moments become sweet when reflected on later. 

Then the best part is printing out the pages, slipping them into page protectors, and inserting them in an album for my family to enjoy.  I love this because it’s not a bound book, it’s an ongoing process.  You also have the options of inserting tangible memorabilia if you want to. (like concert stubs, kid’s drawings, love notes, etc.)

Then I display in our album in a place in our home (opened up) for our family to be able to flip through it easily as they pass by.  I love moments when I catch my girls glancing through it.  It’s really cool hearing them point out loved ones and reflecting back on fun things that we did. 

I simply love that we have a physical album of our memories.   Our sweet memories aren’t just sitting in files on our computer never being shared or appreciated.  I hope this is something I can keep up with for a long, long time.  I hope one day to have a big beautiful bookcase in our family room filled with albums of our special times. 

If memory keeping is special to you, I highly, highly recommend you check out Project Life, I’m quite sure you’ll love it. 

With Sincerity & Style, Jennifer Starr

Friday, September 9, 2016

3 Advantages to Doing a "First Look"

Chard Photography, doing a first look
(Photo by Chard Photography)

Today let’s discuss one of the first questions your photographer is likely to ask you:
Do you want to do a First Look (sometimes called a First Meeting) or do you want to do a Traditional Timeline?

What does this mean?
A First Meeting = You see each other before the ceremony in your formal attire.
A Traditional Meeting = You wait and see each other at the ceremony.
What are my thoughts? Bottom line, you must do what feels right in your gut. Yes, there certainly are many advantages to doing a First Meeting but you must be comfortable with this idea.

Advantages Include:
1. Calming the Nerves
Every single wedding I’ve been involved with, always includes lots of nerves before the couple sees each other for the first time. The very moment they set eyes on each other and embrace, you can instantly see the nerves fall away, they relax their shoulders, loosen their smiles, and breath. It’s as if in that moment they remember what it’s really all about.  Often times seeing each other before the ceremony helps the couple to enjoy more of their day because they are relaxed.

2. More time with Family and Friends
Great news, once you’ve done your “First Meeting” you can then take your family and bridal party photos BEFORE the ceremony. This is a huge PLUS. Everyone has fresh hair, make up, attention spans and they’re still SOBER (hopefully).

3.The Golden Light is Spent Just on YOU!
With all of the family and bridal party photos done, this means the Photographer gets to spend a nice chunk of time with you two during the best lighting of the day! Just imagine how beautiful your wedding photos will be! Your family and bridal party will actually get to enjoy the cocktail hour while you get in some alone time together (along with your photographer). Having your VIPS be a part of the cocktail hour definitely creates a better overall energy with all of your guests. Your family will love being able to mingle with all of your guests and your bridal party will definitely appreciate being “off duty” during this time.

Happy Planning
Jennifer Starr
J.Starr Stylized Weddings

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Best Parenting Advice Ever Given to Me...

I have three little tiny teeny people.  Yes, I’m the proud mama of my twin 3 ½ year-old girls and my 3-month little boy and they rock my world.  Truth be told, there was a time not so long ago, that I ached to be a mama so bad I feared that it might not happen.  You see, my husband and I were married for 8 years before we started our family. 

Looking back now, I’m incredibly thankful for the years we had together alone before having kiddos.  During those eight years, my husband completed a lot of schooling, a lot.   Also during that time, we endured the sudden loss of my mother in law.  These factors kept postponing (and understandably so) our timing to start our family. 
Finally, my husband completed his program, and our hearts were slowing healing.  It wasn’t too long before we realized we were pregnant, with TWINS (yes, naturally)!  As soon as that happened the flood gates opened and I was bombarded with “the baby world.”  I received tons of mail, magazines, emails, unsolicited advice….it was truly information overload for this girl.  And if I’m being completely honest, there was a part of me that was really scared about losing “me”.  Don’t get me wrong, I wanted this more than anything and I was overjoyed that we were having twins…but at the same time, I was worried.
I was worried that being a mom would take over my identity. 
It wasn’t until one day I was talking to my OBGYN (I believe we were discussing breastfeeding at the time) and she looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Whatever makes YOU the happiest, will make YOUR children the happiest.”
I tell you what, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t repeat those words to myself.  Those words are applicable in nearly every aspect of parenting life.
Breastfeeding moms, corporate moms, stay at home moms, and freaks like me = Mamaprenuers. 
The truth is, being a parent is hard.  And the hardest part…is how critical we can be of ourselves when it comes to parenting.  Because raising children doesn’t stop, it’s constant and continuous.  And “mom guilt” is the WORST.
I should be home right now; my kids miss me.  We shouldn’t go on a stay- cation, we should use that money towards swim lessons, uggh the house should be cleaner and more organized for my family.  The thoughts go on and on. 
But at the end of the day…it goes back to the question “Was I a happy mom today?” Sure, not every day is always YES…but I think if most days can be YES…then I feel like I’m doing alright.  And the best part, this has definitely helped me immensely with “finding myself in being a mom.” I didn’t lose myself afterall.  Sure my responsibilities of being a mother require the largest part of my life, but I’m still able to be me and do the things I love to do.  Though, they may be limited, planned out way in advance, and require some budgeting tweaks… but all in all my little people continue to help and challenge me become a better person. 
So to my fellow mamas or soon to be mamas….ask yourself “what makes YOU happy” and continue to do it, it’s “okay.”  I’m sending you a virtual hug,  and I’m here if you need a sitter too…heck it’s already a circus around here J  

Friday, September 2, 2016

Honest Ways to Alleviate Stress in the Final Stages of Planning Your Wedding

Hello Friends ~

Especially those friends in the middle of planning a wedding...

First of all, please allow me to give you a virtual hug and a pat on the back. I understand planning a wedding is hard, it’s time consuming, and it never ends. It really is like having a second job, especially if you haven’t hired a wedding planner. So let’s talk about ways to alleviate some of that stress in your final stages, shall we?

 1. You can skip the cake tasting
It is a fun part of the process, but if you don’t have time, skip it. Request a phone appointment, email over some design ideas that you have, and select your cake flavor without actually tasting them. Chances are they’ll still be delicious, if you’ve chosen a reputable company.

2. Surrender the Party Favors.
Honestly, most of them end up being left on the tables at the end of the night and get tossed out anyways.

 3. Allow the DJ to Select Your Music.
Inform the DJ of the genre of music you like and let he/she do the rest. They know the songs that get dance floors moving.

 4. Let go of the seating chart and paper products.
If you didn’t hire a professional to design these for you (and you were planning on creating these items yourself) let it go. Open seating will be just fine.

 5. Stop looking at Pinterest!
Remove that app off your phone until the wedding day is over. The colors you have chosen are perfect, your dress is perfect, your guest book is perfect. Seriously, please do not torture yourself by flooding your brain with every wedding idea in the world.

6. Ask for Help.
Again, if you didn’t already hire a wedding planner, you still have time. Many planners (myself included) offer a “Final Planning” service. This will save you loads of stress and worry and will be an investment that you will never forget. This is meant to be a fun time in your life, let a professional help you bring this beautiful day to life for you.

Until next week,
Jennifer Starr
J.Starr Stylized Weddings

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

5 Tips on Finding Motivation, When You're Lacking Energy

Hi Friends, 

How's everyone doing?  Welp, here I am...determined to someway, somehow get back to blogging on the regular.  I've missed it.  This year has certainly been a wild one but definitely an amazing ride.  And guess what?  Everyone in my home is napping right now....shhh.  (don't jinx it!).  And guess what else?  It's September!  This is especially exciting if you live in Arizona, like myself...because this summer has been a HOT one.  And having to keep three teeny tiny ones primary inside is NUTS.  So cheers to better weather ahead, YES.   

Today I thought I'd share a few ways that have helped me, especially recently in the past few months.  Adjusting to adding a new baby to mix, while running a business and household has been an adventure thus far...but I think my biggest struggle has been the sleep deprivation.  At times I get frustrated with myself and with life...and ask myself how I am going do everything I want to do?  And that's the time when I usually do the following things: 

1.) Brain Dump.
Don't worry about making it pretty, or keeping your thoughts organized...just get them out of your head and on paper.  This helps immensely and takes the stress away from trying to remember everything. 
2.) Turn the Music Up.
Blare it.  In the car, in the kitchen, in the shower.  I find some of my best ideas in the middle of songs.

3.) Shake Up Your Space.
Rearrange your desk area, buy a new piece of art for your wall, treat yourself to a fresh floral arrangement to sit in the middle of your dining room.  Finding new appreciation for places that you see on the daily, definitely helps. 

4.) Move It.
Exercise, even if it's a simple as walking.  Those endorphins are real things and can be instant mood boosters.  Did you know that there a few indoor walking tracks in Arizona?  Yes, they do exist. 

5.) Listen. 
I have a list of 8 people that hangs on my wall next to my computer.  These are people who inspire me for different business owners, as wedding planners, as moms, as writers, and in the health/fitness industries.  All of these people have blogs, webinars, and books.  When I need feel some extra inspiration I turn to my list and find myself listening to one of their videos.  Sometimes just listening to another human share their struggles and successes can be very inspiring. 

P.S. How cute is the little boy?

And there ya go peeps, I hope you were able to find something helpful above.  My goal is to continue blogging twice a week moving forward on Wednesdays and Fridays ~so hold me to it :) 

Chat Again Soon!

Much Love,
Jennifer Starr
J.Starr Stylized Weddings

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Steps to Build a Beautiful Foundation for Your Reception


Steps to Build a Beautiful Foundation for Your Reception 

Yeah, you've officially booked your venue and your wedding date! Congratulations, that is a huge check mark on the "to do" list! What do you do next?  Well, often times after a venue search things can be left very scrambled in your head.  But please don’t start overwhelming yourself by jumping ahead…let’s start with your foundation.
1.)    Confirm what’s included.
Read thru your venue notes and your contract.  Make a list of everything that’s included with your venue.  What do the chairs look like for the ceremony, what about the reception?  What type of existing furniture does the venue already have in place?  What type of linens are included?  Are they lap length or floor length? What colors do they come in? What about napkins?  Does the venue offer any type of centerpiece options?  What about vases?  Do they offer candles?  Uplights?  What are the table options? Really understand everything that is included and everything that is not included, before you move forward with any of your décor decisions. 

2.)    Decide on Your Colors
Really consider your venue, the season, and your overall personal style.  It’s important that your colors work with your venue and not against it.  It’s important to consider the season due to weather and your floral options.  And of course you’ll definitely what your colors to reflect you and the style that speak to you.  
3.)    Select Your Linens
Start by choosing your linens.  This will be helpful for you do even before selecting your bridesmaid’s dresses or invitations.  Decide on whether or not you’d like to use the linens that are provided by the venue of if you’d like to upgrade to specialty linens.  Linens make a HUGE impact on the overall look of your reception, and the options are endless.  I recommend making an appointment with a rental company to visit their showroom in person.  Once you’ve selected your linens, your foundation for your reception will be laid and you can then begin building on top of it with all the other beautiful layers (floral, beautiful menus and paper products, and candlelight.)

With Sincerity & Style,
        Jennifer Starr, J.Starr Stylized Weddings

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Day Hunter was Born.

(Jennifer) I had slept fairly well the night before, but once I woke up the nerves started kicking in.  I felt excited, worried, happy and sad all at the same time.  That morning I really wanted to do something special as a family…but I had no clue what.  I was struggling with saying “goodbye” to our family of four, my heart felt a little torn.  Justin kept asking me why are you sad? We’re still going to be a family.  And while yes this was true, as a mama I was concerned about how much having a baby brother would change Hannah & Emma’s world ~ now they would need to share us even more than they already do. 

So with these thoughts heavy on my heart, I kept daydreaming about our last morning and how special it would be.  Silly me, I must have forgotten that our daughters are 3 YEARS OLD! It was chaos.  At one point Emma was nearly naked running around the backyard half covered in mud.  Our beautiful little girls were simply happy and goofy as could be.

(Justin) When I awoke that day I recall reciting to myself “make today special, be patient with the girls.”   This was an extra stressful day, as we were ready to finally see our new son.  I knew the girls would be challenging while Jen and I attempted to prepare for our trip to the hospital. Hannah and Emma were 3 years old and full of life. They required so much entertainment and Chase would not be there to watch after them until just before we were supposed to leave. I remember thinking why didn’t we ask him to come way earlier. You may think that one would be prepared in advance for such an event, especially since it was on our calendar for quite some time. Well with twin 3 year old daughters and a very pregnant wife, there is rarely a prepared moment in our lives.  Somehow,  we seem to function well. 

That morning I pretty much let the girls get away with whatever they wanted. They got popsicles in the morning, played in the dog house and ran through the sprinklers in their pajamas. All of these things were the least of my worries that day. For some reason I was far more concerned about the operation this time than I was with the girls. Perhaps it was due to the fact that the girls came a couple of days early and we really didn’t know what to expect. This time around we were leaving our home to go to an appointment to have another child.  Weird.  In addition we had a much better idea of what to expect. Chase showed up on time and we were able to catch one last photo of the Starr foursome for the last time. With bags in hand and nerves on edge we headed to Chandler Regional Medical Center to have Baby Boy Starr.

(Jennifer) As we snapped our last photo as a family of four, my eyes started to welt up.  Hannah noticed my reaction right away and wanted me to hold her.  She sensed that something big was going to happen but I don’t think either of our girls truly understood.  I was so happy that my brother was there to watch and play with them.  The girls adore him and I knew that right after we left, they would all have lots of fun. 

We arrived at the hospital on time to check in.  The front desk starting in with all the questions …and I felt myself getting more and more nervous.  It was so weird because I wasn’t really nervous prior, when I had my twin girls.  I remember just feeling so relieved because I knew that my body couldn’t handle carrying them any longer (as they were full term twinzies).  I was also, completely oblivious because I had never been through this before ( c-section).  However this time, I remembered nearly everything….I was getting scared.  I was also really shook up because now I was already a mom, I worried what if something happens?  What about my baby girls (and son to be)?  It’s a vulnerable feeling when you have children to care for and you know you’re about to get cut open. 

The nurses started in with all the prep work.  Justin could tell I was extra nervous because I wasn’t talking much.  I was so aware of everything medically that was happening, I was full of fear.  Then, all of a sudden I heard the sound of a nearby newborn baby cry.  And then I lost it…the tears started falling and I could barely keep it together.  In that moment I was reminded what was REALLY about to happen…I was about to become a mom again.  That sweet sound was just the reminder I needed, that  is what this was REALLY all about.  We were about to bring our baby boy into this world. 

Finally it was time.  They wheeled me out to the operating room, right past my parents who were waiting in the hallway.  I could feel my heart pounding.  It was time to say goodbye to Justin for a few minutes while they administered the epidural and got me prepped.  It seemed like it took forever!  Once the epidural was over I felt a little better, I had this really strong sense of just wanting and needing Justin to be in the room with me.  It felt like it took FOREVER before they let him come in.  All of sudden I started to feel super nauseous..and I got scared.  Oh no, what’s going to happen.  Luckily the anesthesiologist was really great and was able to get my nausea under control.  I just keep taking deep breaths and was so anxious for the surgery to be over. 

(Justin) As we were sitting in the prep area and the nurses were starting IVs and collecting even more data I grew increasing nervous. I just wanted the surgery to be over with and everyone to be healthy and resting in our hospital room. I was seated outside of the OR and remember that it seemed to take forever compared to what I experienced with the girls. Time was in “fast forward” motion with the twins but now it was in “slow” motion. Finally it was time. Jen was getting nauseas and the anesthesiologist was pushing drugs and adjusting things to help overcome her stomach. Then the anesthesiologist said “ok dad, you can look now”. Just then I saw our baby boy being lifted in the air. At first I noticed he didn’t cry and my heart sunk. Then all of the sudden we heard a “bobcat growl”. This kid was loud and healthy.  I instantly began to tear up and remember the exact way I felt with the girls. It is this overwhelming “out-of-body” experience of pure joy and fear all at the same time. I looked back at Jen and saw her smile. That beautiful smile I fell in love with so many years ago.  Suddenly this nurse has Hunter cradled like a football and starts pushing through all of the people in the room, including me. She brought Hunter right over to mommy. I mean right away. This was new to us. I just started snapping away with my camera. It was quite the thing to witness.

(Jennifer) Finally, the moment had come that I was waiting for, the sound of my baby boy’s voice.   The sense of relief you feel as a parent in that scenario is incredible.  I just started calling out for him, telling him I was right there and that everything was okay.  It’s really wild what your human, motherly instincts direct you to do without even thinking about it.  The next thing I know the nurse brings Hunter directly to me.  (this wasn’t something I experienced with my girls).  She brought him straight to me and nestled him right next to me for a long duration of time.  The amazing part was that this instantly calmed him..he really did know my voice and he knew I was  “mom.” The next thing that happens is I feel his little hand reach out a grab my chin, all the nurses started gasping and saying “oh wow, look at this.” He kept his little hand there for awhile.

(Jennifer) In that moment I finally “got it.” You see so many moms keep telling me how “special and different” a bond is between a mother and a son.  That’s the moment
I got it.  At less than a few minutes old, my baby boy was already comforting me.
(Justin) I was relieved that all was okay  and he was slowly turning more pink as he was pretty blue at first. We were then escorted out with Jen holding the baby. Again this was different than the first time, as the twins were placed in a bassinet and I was able to introduce them to the family right away. This time they whisked us past Jen’s Mom and Dad and our friend Bridget that was waiting in the hallway to get photos of little guy. This was a very different experience than last time.

As were we in recovery waiting for our room little guy just picked his head up to take a look around. He was so strong it made our mouths drop and laugh at him.    We were told that it may be a while for our room so I quickly went across the street to get a bit to eat, as I hadn’t eaten all day. I ran into Quizznos and grabbed a sandwich. I remember sitting in the car quickly eating trying to get back as soon as possible. Then, I received a text from Jen saying that they were in room #421.  I was disappointed I didn’t get to go with them up to the room and push the button to play the newborn song that plays in the hospital when there is a new arrival. When I got back to the hospital I saw baby and mom resting in the room.
(Jennifer) Looking back now, I actually loved the little bit of alone time I had with my baby boy after we transported up to our room.  His warm little body on my skin felt heavenly.  He was so happy and very content.  In a weird way he seemed more advanced and less fragile than my girls had originally seemed.  Maybe it was more about me already being more of an experienced mom…or maybe it was because there was only one of him, he seemed so much more manageable. 

Justin arrived back and about an hour or so later my parents arrived with Hannah and Emma along with my brother Chase.  This was the moment I had been daydreaming about;  seeing the girls meet their baby brother for the very time and seeing my three babies together.  The girls walked in the room slowly and full of wonderment.  I think it was all a little overwhelming to them.  Emma instantly wanted to hold “Baby Hunter” Hannah was very unsure. 

(Justin) When the girls first came in to see Hunter the reaction was mixed. Emma was super excited and couldn’t wait to hold him. Hannah seemed a bit confused as to why Hunter was still not in mom’s belly. At one moment Hunter opened his eyes and Hannah freaked out. It was sad but funny at the same time. One of the greatest moments is when Emma held Hunter for the first time. She was all smiles and you could tell she was very proud of herself. The family all took turns holding little guy and visited for a good while. After they left and night fell, things were pretty calm. I remember thinking how easy this was compared to the twins. Granted it was only one this time and I had a lot of experience this time around. Once he was settled down I actually found myself able to relax a little. He slept cuddled up in Jen’s arms for the night. All I could see was his orange hat sticking up and I listened to his little tiger cub noises all night. He was a sleeper.

(Jennifer) Our baby was here and all was well. We were happy and relaxed.  All I did for next several days was hold him ~all the time.  I had never had one baby before, he was so kissable and easy.  He slept on me all day and night. I remember at one point a nurse had asked me if I wanted her to place him in his bassinet, and I said no.  She asked if I was going to be able and stay awake like that.  I giggled to myself..umm yes.  I was a second time (third time?)  around mom, and I was breaking the rules.  I knew he was safe in my arms, I wasn’t about to let him go , he just felt way too good. 

(Justin) While Jen and Hunter were resting in the hospital I was running around town getting the final preparations completed for his arrival at our home. With the girls down at their “Pa and Gee’s”  house I was able to finally get some things done. I got our bed comfy and purchased a co-sleeper as he was going to be bunking with us for a while. We didn’t think it was right to put him next to his loud sisters just yet. We only stayed 2 days this time around and baby and momma were ready to come home. It was nerve racking to drive with him in the car. I was reminded of the drive home with the girls. When we got him home we placed him in his brand new bed. He was here. Finally we had our little boy and the next chapter started. Our little Hunter Dean Starr.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

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 haven't had much time, much money, or much 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,
Hair & Make Up (Jennifer): Linda Valenzuela
Hair (Justin):  Shannon Thomas   

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