Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Good-bye, "Mother of the Year" Dreams...

Should the powers-that-be happen to be handing out "Mother of the Year" awards this week, my name will not be plated in gold on any sort of plaque.

In the wee morning hours, I awoke to a complaining two year old telling me he had a messy face. Despite my sleepy state, I did notice that his nose seemed stuffy and quickly assumed it must have been dripping onto his face. I retrieved a tissue for him and sent him back to bed.

I awoke ten minutes later to him vomiting in my bedroom doorway.

After rushing him to the bathroom, where more sickness occurred, I woke-up a bit more and realized that the messy face he had been complaining of earlier was the result of him being sick in his bed...the bed I had unknowingly sent him back to sleep in.

A quick clean-up and a sip of water later, I returned him to bed assuming that the sickness was a freak accident of allergy drainage. Um, not so much. It continued until around lunchtime today. Our washer has been going constantly and the house is almost unrecognizable with toys strewn about. As I compose this post, there is a little tikes yellow chair sitting next to the computer desk. Not sure how or why it came into my bedroom and hopefully it will just-as-mysteriously return to its place of origin.

Due to his little bout with the stomach bug and being unable to keep even a tablespoon of Pedi-lyte down, Isaac was administered some anti-nausea medicine the old-fashioned, quite unpleasant way. As I gently attempted to explain the procedure for administering such medicine, he looked up at me and said, "But it (meaning the vomit) not come out my bo*tom, it is coming out my mouth." Bless his heart.

Most of the sickness seems to be gone, with a surge of energy inspiring Isaac to wake from his nap (he had fallen asleep after the medicine had been given to him at 11am) in search of Mommy who was attempting to snooze on the couch due to the fact I had been awake since 3:30am (E. was napping in her crib at this time). I had barely closed my eyes after putting Evelyn down, when I hear a little voice say, "I need more orange juice (referring to the Pedi-lyte he had been sipping on). I like my orange juice because I like the color orange." Good to know. This was at 1pm, so it was a long afternoon with a tired mommy, a sick toddler, and a baby happy to explore all off-limits areas of casa de phillips.

Isaac was feeling puny again this evening so we deemed it an early bath and bedtime night. As I dressed him in his pajamas, I asked if he wanted Tobe to read him a story in the rock-rock chair or in his bed. He flatly replied, "I just want to sleep." The boy was sound asleep by 7:05pm.

I am off to find slumber my own self. Hopefully tomorrow there will be no tales of sickness and the ol washing machine can have a much deserved break.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Just Another Day on the Homestead

This morning I was up at 5:30am reading "Love and Logic for Preschoolers" with my first cup of coffee. My early hours literature selection tells you what kind of parenting day it has been around here at casa de phillips.

If I had the energy, I would expound on all the antics of my two year old who appears to be rapidly working towards a Master's degree in "The Fine Art of Arguing" with minors in "Fighting with Your Sister" and "Whining Over Every One of Life's Details." Yeah, it has been an exhausting day and we are just at nap time (which neither child seems too keen on participating in at the time).

Despite my low morale this fine Spring day, I attempted to create a semblance of fun for the children to mask the fact that I would much rather plop all three of us in front of the television for twelve hours straight than to be energetic and creative. Because the ol brain was tired, the most fun I could create was having a theme day. Today's theme is "Cowboy Day." So far, Cowboy Day activities have consisted of both children wearing cowboy/cowgirl apparel. See, the creative juices aren't really flowing. Perhaps for snack we'll eat some marshmallows and a chocolate chip and pretend they are s'mores...

Here is a meeting of the minds that took place this morning..shortly before I had to equally divide up every bowl and magnetic letter in the house

Cowboy Day

Despite my early search for positive parenting solutions, I am sure their were parents across our fine world looking just as earnestly for answers to their own troubles with children. Most likely while I was reading how to deal with a little person logically, I bet Billy Ray Cyrus and Co. were reading, "How Not to Exploit One's Underage Daughter Who Happens to be a Mega-Star"

Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekend Recap

The husband and I hit the town Saturday evening to attend the wedding of one of his co-workers. Meals that do not involve sippy cups, dinosaur chicken nuggets, or an abundance of cracker crumbs are always enjoyable. The wedding was a blast and I enjoyed talking with all of Tobe's friends. Like the dress I am wearing? The husband bought it for me at one of my favorite stores, White House Black Market. He's cool like that.

Isaac's mysterious fever disappeared late Friday evening and has yet to return. He still had a case of whiny-ness over the weekend, but at least I did not have to give him a bath at 2:30am while the rest of the house slept. Despite the lack of fever, the past few nights Isaac has been claiming to have a "high feed-ber" in hopes of being able to stay up past his bedtime and watch Food Network with Mommy. So far that little scheme hasn't worked.
After a busy weekend and a fun play date this morning, we are gearing up for a super-busy month of May. First on the list, E's first birthday party....which reminds me I should really get around to planning that little event before she is scarred for eternity over the fact that we barely acknowledged the first year of her life.
Off to channel my inner Martha Stewart...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Oh So Pretty!

Like the new look? Jen over at Trendy Mommy Designs gave Save the Phillips Family a much needed makeover.

I would say she did quite the fabulous job.

If only someone would stop by casa de phillips and give me a makeover...

The new blog isn't quite finished yet, but this little boy has been running high fevers since yesterday evening.

We actually ran into some close friends in the pediatrician's waiting room. They turned the corner and found Evelyn, Isaac, and I tucked away behind the aquarium waiting for our name to be called. Their initial perky, "Hi!" was quickly replaced by "Oh, Isaac" when they saw his feverish, icky little self tucked deep into my lap. Apparently he just has a virus and a regimen of Motrin and liquids should cure him soon....and a steady dose of Blue's Clues to help with the whining.

Upon arriving home from the doctor's office, Isaac asked quite pitifully if he could eat his lunch in the living room. I relented, put his lunch on a plate, and returned no more than two minutes later to find this:

That is Isaac, alseep standing up. The fact that Evelyn was crying for her lunch and I was talking on the phone loudly did not seem to phase him one little bit.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Four Hundred Posts...and a million dust bunnies later

Today I officially hit 400 posts! My kitchen floor might be littered with cheerios and dried peas (my children LOVE green peas...blech), but my blog is rockin' four hundred posts. At least I have my priorities together.

In honor of this 400th post, I am going to share seven random things about me. I have been tagged for this little meme more times than I care to remember, but have never followed through...likely because there is an attack duck story to share or I felt the need to recount how one more person asked if my children were twins. Today is the are seven random things about me!

1. While in Kenya, I was the victim of an attempted mugging. I had gone with a fellow American, along with our Kenyan friend, into the heart of Nairobi to phone my parents (the only time I talked to them during the 2+ months I was there...I think it cost us close to $50!). We were crossing a busy street with about a hundred other people (all locals). Our guide bravely darted across, barely missing several buses barging down the street, but the other American and I hesitated (we were accustomed to nicely designated walkways). Someone must have sensed my hesitation and a man took the opportunity to grab at the wallet that was hanging around my neck (which was smartly concealed under my t-shirt and a jacket. However, a small string must have been showing at the nape of my neck). I quickly realized what was happening and screamed "NO!" and grabbed it back. Because we were going to make these phone calls, I had a credit card, money, and my passport all in that travel wallet (Normally I would not have been carrying more than a few dollars on me). Losing my passport would have been tragic because this was just two years after the US Embassy had been bombed in Nairobi and it was still not completely up and running....I might still be there waiting on a replacement passport. Fortunately my frantic scream scared the man and he ran away. It is custom to yell "Thief!" if being mugged in Nairobi. If you are in a sympathetic crowd at the time, others will chase down the thief and stone him...usually to death. My Kenyan friend questioned me as to why I did not yell "thief" and couldn't quite grasp the fact that I had no such desire to witness a stoning that day.

2. Because I live with two small people with a deep love for snacks, it seems there are crumbs everywhere. I have developed a deep love for vacuuming and get great satisfaction from hearing our little vacuum cleaner suck up various Cheerios, crackers, and goldfish. I currently vacuum twice a week, but am tempted to do it more often simply because I hate seeing stray crumbs lying about.

3.Tobe and I had only dated for one week when we decided to get married. We told our parents and reserved the church. Although this sounds dramatic, it really is not considering we had known each other forever by that point. However, I do like to say, "We reserved the church to get married a week after we started dating."

4. I have horrible fingernails. They do not grow well and break way too easily. I find this odd considering my hair grows at a rapid pace and is thick enough to cover at least three other people's heads. I would love to have beautiful nails, but am not willing to pay the price (or devote the time) for fake ones.

5. Speaking of my hair, I am currently in the process of growing it out in order to donate it to Locks of Love. My original plan was to cut it this month, but I have decided to keep growing it until after a June wedding that I am in. I think I likely will not cut it until the fall because I have become quite attached to its longer length. I worry about Isaac and Evelyn's reactions to a dramatic change in hairstyles....Evelyn currently uses my hair as a handy ladder when attempting to pull herself into a standing position. She will miss it when it is gone.

6. I function much better as a human being when I have some quiet time to myself each morning. I really need at least 10-15 minutes alone with my cup of coffee in order to focus my mind and find a sense of perkiness. I intentionally get up really early in order to have this time for myself. Quiet time is really more important than a few extra minutes of sleep in my book.

7. This morning, as I was attempting to multi-task, I ended up pouring coffee into Evelyn's powdered oatmeal (it was waiting for formula to be added) rather than in my coffee cup. Not only did I pour the coffee into the oatmeal, I then proceeded to stir up the oatmeal and walk over to the table as if I were going to feed Evelyn this caffeinated goop. Fortunately I realized my mistake and fixed her a regular bowl (and myself another cup of coffee) before I accidentally hyped her up for the day. I know this isn't really a random fact about me, but it is slightly amusing.

Yeah for 400 posts!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Works for Me!--Encouraging Toddler to Eat

I am playing along with Shannon over at Rocks in My Dryer today and sharing a new trick to encourage Isaac to eat a wider variety of food.

Before we even brought Isaac home from the hospital, I came to understand that eating was a major issue in the mother/child relationship. Due to various issues, we came home with a 7 pound baby boy who was both breast-feeding and drinking formula from a medicine cup (don't was something suggested by a demanding lactation specialist and only a new mommy with little sense would agree to such silliness). Feeding him became the instant purpose for my being those initial weeks.

Fast-forward almost three years later and Isaac is an eating machine. Although he has his picky streaks, he usually eats more in a day than I do. However, he is a bit rigid about what he will eat and how he will eat it. For instance, he (thinks he) cannot eat food combined together (casseroles, hamburgers, etc...). I suppose he likes one single taste rather than a combination of tastes. We have a rule that everything must be given an honest try on his plate, but currently do not make him eat an entire serving of a food he does not care for....although the one bite rule will likely morph into a three bite rule as he ages. Also, he eats what we are eating at supper with usually some extra fruit thrown on his plate.

Enter my new strategy....letting him help with dinner preparation. Isaac has been cooking with me since he was about 17 months old. However, that cooking has usually just centered around baking cookies or cakes. Lately he has been assisting me with the baking of biscuits, pancakes, or muffins for our Saturday morning breakfast time. Now I have also enlisted his help in supper preparation. Such duties have really inspired him to eat new things simply because he cooked them himself.

He is more apt to munch on bell pepper while we make pizza or actually eat turkey on a sandwich rather than picking the whole thing apart. He has a sense of pride when everyone is summoned to the table because he was part of the process that generated the food. Who knows...perhaps this is the beginning of an illustrious career as a chef and his own show (with guest appearances by his astonishingly young looking mother) on the Food Network.

Pull up a chair (or if you have the space and extra cash, buy one of these) and let your kids in on the cooking. It is a test in patience, but it opens the doors of communication, provides ample opportunities to learn, and might inspire that picky child to eat what he/she has created.

Works for me!

Just another day in the neighborhood....

Last week I bemoaned the fact that our daily schedule appeared to have gone missing and implored someone to please return it ASAP. Well, fortunately Mr. Schedule reappeared and we seem to be back in the groove.
Yet that groove is never boring here at casa de phillips, likely because I live with the least boring people on the planet.

Here are a few examples of our "groove"....

1. Isaac has started having imaginary friends and/or believing that he personally knows everyone. This is quite hilarious, especially sense he makes up completely nonsensical names for these friends. His current BIFF (Best Imaginary Friend Forever) is Ee-ya. Ee-ya is a little boy with brown hair and just lives with his daddy. Ee-ya likes to play and go to Kohls. Personally I feel bad that Ee-ya is growing up in a single-parent home and hope he one day becomes connected with the Imaginary Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.

2. On Friday I caught Isaac brushing Evelyn's hair with the toilet brush. I am sure it won't be the last time.

3. Isaac has decided that when the phone rings, it is his job to answer it. Let me assure you that it is not his job to answer any phone. He has figured out that if he runs to the master bedroom and picks up the corded phone, he can talk on the phone while I answer the cordless model in the kitchen. This has lead to several occasions of me attempting to carry on a pleasant upbeat conversation with the person on the other end of the line while giving threatening looks and gestures to my two year old to put down the phone. I am not so great at the multi-tasking and managed to provide completely bogus to directions to casa de phillips to a friend during such a time.

4. Potty training is going great and Isaac is accident-free most days. He is quite independent with his bathroom skills and can get all of his business done if I simply unbutton his pants. Wonderful. However, he often yells "Baby Evin is getting my pee-pee" the instant he exits the bathroom. He has some crazy fear that Evelyn is constantly on the prowl to get in his potty the minute he leaves it.

5. During another bluebonnet picture excursion, I someone managed to step in an ant pile...while leading Isaac by the hand...which resulted in numerous ant bites on both our legs. Such an experience led me to practically stripping Isaac of his wardrobe in an open field in search of lurking ants in his diaper and clothes.

6. Here are a few questions I hear multiple...multiple..times a day: "What we do now, Mommy?" "What we do on this day, Mommy?" "Where we go, Mommy?" "Where is (insert designated location), Mommy?" "What we do after this day, Mommy?" "What we do second, Mommy?" "Who will be there, Mommy?"

Obviously the boy has figured out the whole "We love a schedule and a plan at casa de phillips" idea.

Perhaps such questioning is a good thing considering a recent study that just came out reports that children under the age of 3 who hear at least 17,000 words a day spoken by their parents fare better academically than those who do not hear such excessive communication. Isaac's questioning requires me to go in great detail (espcially when he desires to know specific locations), thus uping my quota of words spoken.

Happy Earth Day!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Why "Save the Phillips"?

Over the years (Perhaps we should pause and recognize the fact that I have officially been blogging for years. Let us not think about how great my house might look had I not been spending quite so much time typing out silly stories.) people have asked as to why we named our little spot in the world wide web, "Save the Phillips Family"

When Isaac was just a few weeks old, Tobe and I created this blog as a way for friends and family to watch our baby grow. As we sat at the computer that night, likely sleep-deprived, we thought of names for our little blog. Somehow I came up with "Save the Phillips Family," a name that made me giggle uncontrollably, likely because it sounded like some sub-culture movement to better the earth.

Years later, I still giggle every time I open my Blogger dashboard and see "Save the Phillips" in bold letters at the top. Although this title invokes laughter most days, it carries with it a bit of meaning and truth.

Honestly, who doesn't need saving every once and a while?

We all need a little saving, even over here at casa de phillips....saving from ourselves, saving from materialism, saving from a sibling's jealous hand, saving from competitive mothering, saving from the ice cream sitting in the freezer, saving from the children who seem to know the moment a bathroom is entered in search of privacy, saving from the allergy season which will not end, saving from the false truths of the media, saving from having to endure one more Presidential debate. Just saving in general.

This little blog has saved me more than once on those days when I question who really thought it was a good idea to put me in charge of two little people and their world. I have reconnected and met people through this blogspot that I likely would have never had the chance to communicate with otherwise. I have been able to share my journey of being a mommy with readers who can relate or guide me along a better path. What a blessing.

Thanks for saving our little family on occasion. Hopefully we can return the favor one day.

Now that you know the history behind, share the story of how you came upon your blog's name. There are some great ones out there and I often wonder as to where such a title originated.

(By the way, if you have ever looked back in our archives you might notice that blogging begins once Isaac is three months old, not when he was a newborn. After Tobe and I set up our blog that first night, we forgot the password information. That original post is lost somewhere in the vast Internet. I did not revisit the blog until the fog of sleep deprivation cleared and Isaac was sleeping through the night.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Two Year Old Antics

Having a two and a half year old around proves to be quite entertaining most days. For instance, as I type this, Isaac is standing on his potty/step stool singing songs to himself in the mirror in my bathroom while brushing his teeth with Tobe's toothbrush. Apparently he finds his own reflection to be quite engaging.

Yesterday his favorite activity was carrying his step stool/potty around the house, using it to be able to reach light switches. Seems that most of the switches were in some need of repair (at least in his mind) and he worked on all of them for quite the while with his tool box. Fortunately they are all still working today.

Upon arriving home Monday morning after not seeing Isaac for two days, I informed him that I thought he had grown three feet since Saturday. He looked at me quite seriously and said, "I just grow two feet, Mommy....see (pointing at his actual feet)!"

Talking on the phone has also become a favorite pastime (when he is not carrying around his potty). He prefers to use the actual phone, rather than a toy one. After dialing no fewer than 23 numbers, Isaac starts into his conversation with the person he believes to be on the other end of the line. Yesterday it was one of his little friends (we'll call her Susie to protect her privacy). He happens to have a friend at school with the same name. His pretend call to "Susie" went something like this: "Hi, Susie, its me Isaac. You are not school Susie. You are other friend Susie. That is your name." Glad he cleared that one up.

Last night our little family went out to eat as a mini-celebration of my entering the 31st year of life. As we were winding down on eating, Isaac turned and informed the waitress (who was walking away from our table), "We are almost ready to go, Lady." Lady? To my knowledge neither Tobe nor myself refer to anyone as "Lady." We both were attempting to contain the laughter in fear of Isaac being encouraged to call everyone, "Lady."

Happy Friday!

Here are a few random pictures, simply because I feel they make my posts a bit more interesting (although what could be more interesting than talking about someone carrying around a potty chair?). I wish I was one of those bloggers who toted her camera everywhere in order to have pictures that corresponded to the stories told. Sadly, I am not. However, I always have some random pictures to throw on the end just for fun.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

$100 Put to Good Use

Several months ago, Tobe received a call from our Alma mater. The purpose of the call was to promote the upcoming release of the alumni directory This was to be no ordinary alumni directory...but the supreme source of any and all alumni information one might need to know.
In a moment of weakness and perhaps out of a bit of Wildcat pride (which we do have quite a bit of around here), Tobe agreed to purchase the directory for the low price of $99. Yes, apparently the days of the free Hello! Book are gone. However, Tobe was promised a free round-trip airfare for making this purchase.

Just a few weeks ago, this supreme alumni directory came up in conversation. We realized we had yet to receive our golden copy despite the fact that many,many months had passed since that night Tobe placed his order. Although we have yet to have any major need to look up long lost alumni, the fact that we were unable to due to our missing directory sent us (okay, me) into a mild panic.

Last week our patience was rewarded when our prized directory arrived in the mail. Immediately I ripped into the box and did the most obvious thing one would do with a large phone book they paid big bucks for....I looked up all my close friends. Despite the fact that I know Alison's phone number, her spouse's name, the number of children she has birthed, and I talk to her on a weekly basis, I still felt compelled to examine her spot in the alumni directory. Obviously our money was put to good use.

After researching all old roomies and friends who I see on a regular basis, I began to search out my own little spot in the directory. The great thing about this mega-directory is that girls (women?) are cross-referenced by maiden and married name. I looked up myself, noted that I was married to Tobe, had received two degrees from ACU, and had two lovely children. Yep, that's me.

Next I headed on to read Tobe's information. His little blurb listed his various degrees (he's a smart one, y'all), his lovely wife, Lynley, his current job title, and his son Isaac.

Yes, just his son, Isaac.

Tobe's blurb was on the bottom of the page and it seems there was no room to include Evelyn's name. Apparently $99 isn't enough to solve such a technical problem. So all the past ACU graduates who happen to look both Tobe and myself up in this directory in order to see what is going on in our lives will notice that although I have two children, my husband only has one.


While Isaac was at school yesterday, I took Evelyn out to attempt some bluebonnet pictures for her birthday card. Nothing turned out great and when we were leaving I realized a security guard (we were in a vacant field adjacent to a large factory) was scouring the field looking for something...potentially us (not sure if we were actually allowed to be in that field). Here are a few pictures from today.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Home Again!

All four members of casa de phillips are home, safe and sound, attempting to find our normal daily routine. If you happen to stumble across it, please send it this way.

Thanks for all the comments about my Grandmother. She has been moved into a rehabilitation facility for a few weeks to receive physical therapy and to help her shoulder heal. She is one tough cookie and isn't going to let a mere shoulder break get her down.
Evelyn and I flew back to Texas Monday morning, after almost missing our flight due to incredibly heavy traffic created by an accident. Although getting through security was a breeze with just one child (I won't mention how a considerate TSA worker became severely frustrated when I told him I could not lift our heavy stroller onto the conveyor belt while holding a wiggly 11 month old....fortunately Kind Business Man stepped in and helped.), the flight was not our best. Evelyn has a need to GO and sitting in a car seat (after enduring one for almost two hours in traffic) or in my lap is not her idea of fun. However, she did greatly love standing in my lap and waving at any and every passenger who would look her way. Special thanks goes out to the man sitting in front of me who felt the need to recline his seat, despite the fact that there is zero leg room anyway and I was holding a fussy baby. Thanks, dude. Hope you enjoyed your paper from your reclined position. I enjoyed letting my child repeatedly put the tray table up and down during the flight, since it happened to be in my face anyway.

Moving on....

Monday afternoon Tobe and I headed out to Houston for the Bruce Springsteen concert (I had to give my ticket up for the show in Dallas Sunday night because of the impromptu trip to Arkansas). Only one word describes the show: EXCELLENT! We were questioned by a fellow concert-goer as to our age (we look younger than we are...especially with no kids in tow...and most people in the crowd were middle-aged) and then given great accolades for our taste in music. It was a great, quick trip. One of the highlights was witnessing the end of a drug bust at our hotel when we check-in. Nice. However, my sense of reasoning decided that since a drug bust had already occurred, we were quite safe. I am nothing if not practical.

Today is all about getting back into our groove and cleaning the hovel that is our house. Wish us luck.

While E. and I were away, Tobe and Isaac fit more into two days than I get accomplished with the children all week. They enjoyed each other's company so much, I do not think they realized the girls were gone.

Here are a few pictures of Isaac at our local farm enjoying a spring festival:

Sunday, April 13, 2008


This morning I am posting from chilly Arkansas, which is a bit crazy considering I am supposed to be in Texas right now.

Friday evening we received a call that my grandmother had fallen and broken her shoulder and was in the hospital. My parents happened to be visiting casa de phillips at the time. Saturday morning Evelyn and I piled into their van to return back to Arkansas, while Isaac and Tobe stayed behind to enjoy a boy's weekend.

Currently Grandmother is in the hospital, enjoying the treats delivered every four hours from the pharmacy. Originally it was believed she would have surgery, but it seems like that is not going to be the case right now. She has a long road of healing ahead of her and would appreciate any and all prayers.

Most likely, E. and I will return to casa de phillips tomorrow, completing this whirlwind trip. She quickly settled into the role of "only child" these past 24 hours and has enjoyed having everyone all to herself. However, yesterday after crying for a while in the car trying to fall asleep, she eventually began calling "I-------sic." over and over until she nodded off.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Casa de Phillips' Tree Removal Service

When Isaac was a baby, I quickly realized the mega-empire that is Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Being the doting new mommy, I eagerly took Isaac to the local mall to have his photo taken with Santa. It was then that I realized photo ops with Santa were not a mere $5 as I had expected them to be....rather packages started at $16.99. Same thing with the Easter Bunny. I love my children, but paying almost $20 for a picture of a crying baby sitting in the lap of a bored, costumed adult sounds crazy to me. It was then that I decided we could simply purchase our own Santa and Bunny suits, dress Tobe up during these holiday times, and charge a mere $7.99 and make a killing.

Although we have yet to do this, I still think it would make a great business.

Yesterday I decided upon a new business venture for casa de phillips: Tree Removal. Due to violent storms that struck our area Wednesday night, we had damage to a tree in our front yard. After calling many tree removal services, I quickly realized that it is perfectly okay to inflate prices for such services after a storm. One polite man told me to take the first available person and pay whatever price asked if I wanted the tree removed before May, due to the high number of removal requests in our area. He told me I could be asked to pay as high as $2,000 and that was apparently a-okay.

Obviously he doesn't know that if we are shelling out $2,000 to anyone it better be to some luxury hotel in a tropical climate.

After learning of tree removal racketeering, I decided that I could learn to use a chainsaw and start my own little side business each spring. If we charged simply $800 per tree we could totally afford the nanny who would have to come care for the children while their mama is yielding large machinery and hacking up trees.

Here are some pictures of our damage: The whole tree is going to have to be removed because it is quite unstable. I told Tobe I am in mourning over the loss of this beautiful pear tree because we basically nursed it back to good health when we moved into casa de phillips six years ago.

I did manage to find someone to cut up and remove the tree...including the stump...for a reasonable price. I am not sure they are an actual listed business (the man was quite proud that he did not charge sales tax), but I am not really phased by such technicalities at this point. I would simply like to be able to walk in my front yard without having to either climb over a large branch or fear a unstable tree is going to fall on my head.
We also lost a small section of our fence as well. Notice that square of dirt in our backyard? That is our garden, where Isaac and Tobe are growing corn.
Here is Isaac next to his "crop" which we discuss in length every day. His favorite thing to do is check on the corn, yell at the corn to grow, and instruct the sun to shine down on his corn in order to make it grow. I'll let y'all know when we have our corn harvesting party over here.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Martha Stewart...or Bill Gates...I am not

Have I ever mentioned the time I thought it would be a great idea to handmake Isaac's birth announcements and our 2005 Christmas cards?

Probably not because I am likely suffering a touch of the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from undertaking such a task.

Because I learned my lesson in attempting to craft more than three invitation-type cards for anything, I recently purchased adorable invites for an upcoming shower I am hosting (or "throwing" as we tend to say here in the South). Let me preface this by saying, I am DELIGHTED to be co hosting this event for one of my dearest friends. DELIGHTED! Although I love my friend deeply, I do not love anything enough to reach the brink of insanity by attempting to hand craft cute cards.

E. and I purchased some great stationary today (this is actually the second great stationary purchased...but that is another post in itself). I sat down this afternoon all ready to print out my cute, rapidly produced invitations. I just finished these "super-fast" invites ten minutes ago (obviously there were child-rearing, dinner-preparation, bath-giving breaks in the span of that time). Technical genius I am not.

Because of such mental energy devoted to these lovely invites, I am simply leaving you with this nice park pictures from yesterday. Enjoy.

Also, someone please tell me when Evelyn morphed from a baby into an is just about breaking my heart!

A Day in the Life of a Parent

Yesterday was one of those great parenting days when the planets seemed to be in perfect alignment and each child resembles the portrayal of cherubic youth found only on the pages of glossy magazines. There was no arguing over who gets to sit directly in front of the Little People House (yes, E. can argue in her own almost 11 month old way. And yes, I thought I solved this issue by purchasing another Little People house for mere pennies at a consignment sale....I did not.) Hugs were issued without abandon. We restored our good name at the library after last week's unfortunate incident. Everyone napped. Isaac was full of cute things to say such as calling a cat "the-kitty-the-cat" and coming up to Evelyn and me at the park saying, "Hey, what's the problem?" Supper was eaten by everyone and Isaac seemed to finally comprehend the mini-lesson of how one is not supposed to state how they do not like something on their plate....they must simply take a bite and move on. Evelyn displayed a slight interest in the table food we were eating, which is a first because I fear the girl will be carting stage one baby food in her lunchbox to kindergarten one day.

Ah, the bliss of parenthood.

Things came to a bit of a halt when I mistook a glass of meat marinade for the glass of fruit punch I had been sipping while cooking dinner. I will let you figure out what happened there. I resisted Googling " Getting E. Coli from marinade" last night and assured myself I did not consume enough of the liquid to do any damage to my internal organs.

About ten minutes after Isaac crawled into bed for the evening, he made the discovery that his precious Raffes was not in his bed with him. We then remembered Raffes was in the car....the car which Tobe had just left in to run a few errands. The amount of tears was equivalent to those that might be produced should I have shipped Raffes off to Yemen. During the consoling process, I somehow got whacked in the face with a rather large book on accident. Not fun.

Once Raffs was returned safely home after his trek to our neighboring suburb, things began to quiet down and I plopped down on the couch with the husband. An hour later we both woke up...still in the same positions on the discover we are indeed old and should just move our bedtimes to 9pm.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Beast

I feel as if an important topic as failed to be addressed so far on, which is a complete lack of responsible blogging on my part.

We must discuss the Little Tikes cozy coupe/grocery shopping cart combo.

Such combination is a joy yet sheer torture all rolled up into one insane device.

Normally I refrain from taking both children to the grocery store by myself when I have to do our serious shopping because of shopping cart issues. If we just have to grab a few items, E. goes in the front of the basket and Isaac rides in the back along with our purchases. He makes sure to sit far from E.'s curious hands which always want to grab her brother's blond locks. I pass out a few snacks and some sippy cups and we all have a good time. This combination does not work when I need the entire basket for our groceries.

Due to our busy weekend, no grocery shopping occurred until today. Knowing that I would have both children in tow and be minus a husband (sometimes we all shop together, each taking a cart, a kid, and half of the list), I knew the only option was to visit our local grocery that had the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe/grocery cart combo. Isaac could ride in the cozy coupe and E. would ride in the front of the cart. Problem solved.

(Sidenote: Although many stores have carts with two seats up front, these do not work for us...mainly because it puts the children in close proximity where they can bug each other until everyone ends up crying. Including myself. We have not reached the stage where everyone can ride side-by-side drama-free. Also, Isaac is responsible enough to walk next to the cart. However, I must have a good three hours to spare if he does walk because the child does not really know the meaning of the word "hurry." Bless his heart.)

Yet my problem is not solved by the Cozy Coupe/grocery cart combo because despite the fact both children are safely secured and happy, I am now responsible for steering this beast. Coordination is not my strong suite, so maneuvering a large grocery cart with a full size child's toy attached to the front is tricky. During shopping trips were such carts are necessary, I often find myself praying the entire time that I do not knock over any expensive store display of Corningware or accidentally trip an elderly person, causing her to break a hip. Seriously.

Today I found myself pushing/pulling/cursing this Coupe/cart combo around the grocery store. We traveled down the coffee aisle because I was in desperate need of more Dunkin Donuts coffee. It was there we encountered a man, his wife, and employee eagerly studying the baking ware section. They seemed to be oblivious to the fact that an unskilled Mommy was attempting to push the mother of all carts past them because none of the three made an effort to move themselves or their carts. After a few meek, "Excuse me's" that went unnoticed (apparently the bake ware was quite fascinating) my non confrontational self decided to simply turn the cart around and head back from the direction I came.

It was then that I had an awful Austin Powers moment (think Austin and the golf cart) where the Coupe/Cart combo became wedged horizontally in the aisle. After several attempts to calmly get us turned around, I began to panic. I have a bit of claustrophobia and such tight situations can shoot my anxiety levels through the roof (just ask Tobe about how I about passed out last night when a shirt became stuck half-way down my face when I attempted to put it on without removing the large towel wrapped around my wet hair). For a moment I contemplated grabbing the children and abandoning ship, but I knew we needed the items in our cart. Finally I was able to get us slowly turned around and headed out of the aisle, a cold sweat dripping down my back.

The beast was eventually parked back in the cart return and no elderly people were harmed in the process.

As I was putting E. into her car seat, I did realize that she had shoplifted some cheese (I had let her hold onto the wrapped block of cheese while we shopped because it made her so served as a nice teething ring). It was pricey white cheddar, so I had to take it back inside (along with the children) and pay for it. I'd hate for the girl to have a criminal record before her first birthday.

100% Girl

Yes, casa de phillips is still in existence. Due to extended family coming to visit us this weekend, the ol blog was a bit neglected. No fear, my posting about such exciting events as library visits and grocery store trauma will resume.

Speaking of the grocery store, let me share a tip on how not to purchase large amounts of junk food while attempting to stock your pantry. If you visit the grocery store at the same time as a group of Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders are there filming a spot for their cable access show, you will be more inclined to throw some veggies in the cart rather than the desired box of Chips Ahoy! cookies. Perhaps I can always schedule my grocery shopping around theirs in order to encourage healthy eating in hopes of looking a bit more like them (although I can already tell you that the white skirt/white boot combo would look horrible with my pasty skin tone, but I think I might be able to pull off the long, curled hair).

Saturday morning, Evelyn and I had the chance to have some quality girl time together while Tobe and Isaac visited a local museum with his family. Since in my mind quality girl time = shopping trip, we headed out after her morning nap. While browsing the racks at the Banana Republic (who is having a large spring sale, by the way), I heard the following conversation between mother and daughter nearby:

Mom: "This shirt would look good on you."

Daughter gives mother a disgusted look.

Mom: "But, Susie (name withheld to protect innocent), it is your color. You would look beautiful!"

Susie: "Moooooooom, it is watermelon. Gross."

The conversation warmed my heart and made me miss my own mom, because we have had this exact conversation no less than 489 times, usually over something the color of aqua or teal. I smiled, lost in memories of past shopping sprees with mom, until a sudden thought came over me. I am no less than ten years away from having this exact conversation with Evelyn, except that I will now be on the uncool side of things. Sigh.

Speaking of Miss E., here are a few latest pictures of the girl. She turns 11 months old at the end of the week, which means we are getting dangerously close to that one year mark. The girl is 100% girl (with a slight love for cars and balls) and greatly enjoys wearing this tutu I bought her recently at a consignment sale. There was likely a time not too long ago when I swore my daughter would not wear the tutu, but she looks so cute crawling around the house in it I could not resist. Besides, every girl needs a fashion statement.....even if that statement happens to be shades of watermelon or teal.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Library Drama

A few days ago I mentioned that Isaac woke up incredibly early one morning and began playing quietly in his room. Although this might sound like an endearing toddler story, let me assure you that indeed it is not.

Two year + 4:??am wake-up time = large lump of whiny, grumpy mess

Our time-out carpet never had the opportunity to be lonely Tuesday morning.

Despite such behavior issues, I felt compelled to load the children up and attend our local storytime. The weather has been less than favorable this week and I knew we needed an excuse to get out of the house. Besides, Isaac adores books so I figured there was no way he could be grumpy at the library.

We roamed the aisles selecting our books, then found our spot on the reading carpet in the story time room. Everyone was made a bit uncomfortable by the father in attendance who decided preschool storytime was the equivalent to happy hour at his local neighborhood bar and began making advances at the sweet, shy librarian. A few stories were read and then everyone stood for the action song.

Apparently the idea of singing the action song made Isaac thirsty because he whispered that he would like his "fresh apple juice, peas". When I informed him that his sippy cup was in the car because the library did not allow food or drinks inside, it was if I had informed him all apple trees had been destroyed and the world rid of his juice forever.

The boy fell apart.

Grateful that loud music was now playing and children were dancing, I gave Isaac "the look" and hissed in his ear to get it together or we were gone.

He wailed louder.

At this point I realized an exit would be neccessary. Fortunately E. was still in her stroller. I gathered our things, scooped Isaac up, and managed to manuever the stroller around various toddlers doing the hokey pokey. Once outside the storytime room, Isaac began crying that he would like to rejoin the group. I gave him a chance to calm down, to which he began to cry louder, "I not want to have a good at-ti-tude. I not want to change my behavior."

Not exactly the calm I was looking for.

Quickly realizing that we were entering major tantrum territory and beginning to feel the earnest stares of the librarian burn holes in my turned back, I decided it was best that we leave our library books behind and head for home. This decision was obviously not met with a round of applause by Isaac.

I managed to get him out of the library into the atrium (with Evelyn loudly telling everyone "hiiiiiiiii!" as we exited) when I realized there was no way I would be able to carry a wiggling boy and navigate a stroller down the winding ramp and through the parking lot. It was then that the Super Mommy skills kicked in and I was able to removed Evelyn from the stroller and stuff Isaac in (quite unwillingly) all in one motion.

We made it safely back to casa de phillips, although my ears might have suffered some minor damage due to the crying coming from the backseat. Isaac was served an early lunch and then tucked into bed for a long nap. By the time he and Raffes were under his polka-dot quilt, his positive attitude had returned.

The public tantrum is likely a right of motherhood. We rarely see such behavior from Isaac, but usually lack of sleep is the motivating factor in such incidents. A friend told me the other day how she took her daughter shopping at Wal-Mart after a napless afternoon, where a public tantrum errupted. Such behavior forced the mom to practically throw her daughter into the restroom at Wal-Mart in order to allow other bargin shoppers to hunt for their goods in peace.

Where has your child had a total meltdown and how did you handle it?

By the way, yesterday afternoon...quite randomly...Isaac became terribly concerned that we had left a stack of books on top of the shelf at the library. He was worried that A. Other kids would get them and B. We did not put them back in the right place.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

World Autism Day

Although some of you might have been waiting anxiously for the post about the unfortunate toddler tantrum at the library yesterday (and a mini-story about a father at the library who decided story time was the perfect opportunity to hit on the librarian), you are going to have to wait one more day.

Today we at savethephillipsfamily are pausing to recognize World Autism Day.

April 2nd has been set aside to promote global awareness of an epidemic which is affecting our world. Rates continue to rise, with England and Ireland being so bold as to report rates of autism as high as 1 in 60. This morning the New York Stock Exchange was opened by several families dealing with autism. Six years ago the most publicity autism was receiving was occasional showings of Rain Man on TBS and the random shot of the "Cure Autism Now" poster in the background of the television show ER. Now we have a World Autism Day. Things have come quite far, which I am thankful for.

My interest in autism began when I started teaching a behavior modification class for elementary kids that consisted primarily of children diagnosed with some form of high functioning autism. I spent four years working with the same core group of children (others floated in and out) and witnessed their families battle this disease. Some are success stories (one of my very first students is set to graduate in May 2010) and others are still deep in the trenches of this battle. Finally the media has tuned an ear to this problem and autism has been placed in the limelight. Awareness is being cultivated, more dollars are being placed into research, and understanding is growing.

Despite many conflicting reports, as of today there is no definite reason as to why autism happens in individuals and there is no known cure.

In honor of World Autism Day, here are a few links to click on and read about some of the latest happenings in the world of autism spectrum disorders.
  • Autism Speaks website....great basic information about autism spectrum disorders and about World Autism Day
  • Here is a link to an article written by Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey in response to the vaccine debate (Do vaccines cause autism?) and how some children with autism can be in recovery. I have read Jenny's book "Louder than Words" (see my review here) and really liked it. Although I do not believe the statement of "Vaccines cause autism" and I currently do vaccinate my children according to set governmental guidelines, I do believe that some children cannot tolerate vaccines and such toxins in their bodies (as well as other environmental and food toxins) "trigger" autism. A girl I taught with autism had parents that jumped on the "Vaccines gave my child autism" bandwagon early on. I believe they did this rightfully so because their daughter had no symptoms prior to receiving vaccines around 18 months of age (understand that some children display signs of autism before receiving major vaccinations) and because parents crave an answer as to why their child has suddenly become locked behind the wall of autism. The girl often wore a sweatshirt proclaiming the horrors of vaccinations and what they can do to children (this shirt was eventually prohibited by the school district due to its content and due to the fact the girl did not have the ability to understand the message her parents were dressing her in). After many different types of therapies, these parents eventually took their daughter to a specialist who rid the little girl's body of metals and mercury through different herbs. I laughed along with other teachers when we heard of this nonsense. Then I saw the results. A little girl who was once lost inside her own little mind was now running around the playground interacting with children. She could concentrate in class rather than being somewhere a thousand miles away. The repetitive language and behaviors ceased. She was taken out of my class (except for social skills training) and thriving in regular education. I believe in autism recovery.
  • Barnes and Noble Bookstores are recognizing April as being Autism Awareness Month by hosting special story times about autism. We plan to attend our local story time event later this month.
  • Hannah Poling's family made the news recently because they won a settlement claiming that vaccinations caused their daughter's autism. Some people believe this is an admission by the government that vaccines cause autism, yet the government is standing by the notion that the vaccines could have caused the autism and that research continues to show their is no link. I am not sure what I think about this settlement yet.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Life's Lessons

Being a Mommy is all about learning life's little lesson...sometimes the hard way. Here are a few lessons I have learned in the past 24 hours:

Lesson 1: If you inquire as to why your two year old has wet hair while standing in front of the sink, he will plainly state, "Because I washed it." You will then smell lemon-fresh goodness the rest of the day because he washed it with Dawn dish washing liquid.

Lesson 2: If your two-year old wakes up well before 5am and begins playing...unknown by anyone else in the house....he will be quite perky at 6:15am. However, he will be the biggest bear by 9:45am and will go down for a nap almost an hour earlier than usual, after many visits to time-out and many sniffling promises to "change my at-ti-tude".

Lesson 3: If you attempt to take a grouchy two year old out into public you will most likely find yourself in the middle of a toddler tantrum and wind up stuffing a noncompliant child into a stroller while attempting to hold onto a baby who feels the need to yell "hiiiiiiiii" at everyone. More to come on that fun experience later...

Lesson 4: If you hold a full, open container of baby food (with the spoon in it) over your head while singing "God Made the Round, Round Sun" to your 10 month old in order to get her to eat, you will most likely knock the spoon out of the container and Apple/Strawberry/Banana goop will rain down all over your hair. I am simply thankful it was not Mixed Vegetables.

What life lesson did you learn today?