Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Surviving Supper

This evening I shut the kitchen down at casa de phillips, packed the diaper bag, and shooed my family out the door for a nice, quiet dinner on the town. We wanted to celebrate how much my husband rocks and a pound of ground beef and some instant rice was not going to suffice for such an occasion. So, off we went to our local Italian eatery.

Although we still have young children, we are at a place now where dining out is not the extreme ordeal it was six months ago. Both children can feed themselves, both are entertained by crayons, and both understand that Mommy or Daddy will quickly remove a child who is misbehaving at the table. We still have those dinners out where someone fusses the entire time, where one parent barely has a chance to eat, and where we leave a trail of smashed Cheerios in our wake....but not nearly as often as our successful experiences.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner tonight. Everyone was happy. Isaac ate mounds and mounds of spaghetti. Evelyn did not manage to eat a package of artificial sweetener nor eat a cracker before it is removed from the wrapper. It was truly a successful dinner out.

The highlight was after dinner when I took Isaac to the restroom. He commented on the large amount of bodily fluid that left his body while using the restroom, claiming the extreme volume was due to the incredible amount of pasta he had just consumed. When it was my turn to use the facilities, he loudly said, "Good Job, Mommy!" much to the amusement of the other women in the restroom at the time.

Good times.

Although we were able to hit the town for dinner tonight, this is not usually the case. Typically our family of four eats at home, sharing a meal at our ancient dining table (which bears the teeth marks of my older brother...placed there at least 32 years ago....and which I love dearly). I love cooking and enjoy preparing a meal for the family.

However somedays I think I would rather place my head in the microwave and push "Quick Cook" as opposed to dealing with the chaos that can erupt during dinner preparation time.

For example, Evelyn is usually fussing while clinging onto my leg, Isaac is whining because I have said an unjust "No" to some terribly important request, and my sweet husband has just arrived home and is scrounging the pantry for a light snack after a long day at work.

Sure Rachel Ray can cook a dinner in under 30 minutes....she isn't attempting to do so in the middle of a three ring circus.

Such craziness before dinner has lead me to wonder if every young family experiences this on a semi-regular basis. How do they deal (obviously, they are dealing or we would hear more stories of moms putting their heads in the microwave)? What tricks work for their family?

This line of questioning has inspired me to host a carnival here at casa de phillips called "Saving Supper...and My Sanity One Dinner at a Time". This will be a place for everyone to share their tips for entertaining kids while cooking, for surviving the witching hours of 4:30 to 5:30pm, and methods on how they avoid wanting to run out the backdoor screaming when dinner preparation time arrives.

There will be more details to come in the next few days, along with a handy button you can place on your own blog, so be on the look-out.

Until then, God-speed as you attempt to cook for your family and not lose your mind.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Roomie Reunion '08

Apparently I need to tighten the security on my laptop considering my "Three Year Old" (aka sneaky husband) broke into my password-secured blog. Hmmm....

My 36 hours away with the college roomies were excellent.

We met for lunch in Salado where there were no chicken nuggets to cut into tiny pieces, no spilled sippy cups, and no requests for coloring books or crayons. We then headed out to do some serious shopping without having to push a stroller or hold a sticky little hand. I must say that it was glorious.

We were fortunate to stay at this cute Bed and Breakfast and blessed to have fellow inn-mates who did not seem to mind our endless chatter and laughter (If they did mind, they never mentioned it....just like we never mentioned to the couple next door that we heard the man snoring all night long. Polite girls, aren't we?)

After checking into the B&B and breaking out the snacks, we dug into our Official Souvenir Box. God blessed me with friends as quirky as myself, ones that think keeping a large plastic container of random pictures and memories is perfectly rational. We are all thankful that Alison's mom graciously stores this container at her home.

Examining the contents of the box

(Which included menus from a variety of restaurants that Alison and I used to decorate our Sophomore apartment, a signed poster of "Kool", clues from a Scavenger Hunt/Sadie's date we hosted, Social Club pledge pins, and an armrest from a chapel seat where we had engraved our names....see what I mean by "quirky?" Bless our hearts.)

The box of Shake and Bake...circa undetermined. I could not find an expiration date on this box, which slightly alarms me that there might not possibly be an expiration date. Alison and I are fairly confident this box was purchased during the Fall of our Sophomore year, which would be 1996...making the contents 12 years old. Roasted potatoes, anyone?
(By the way, this is Kara holding the box)

Ready to hit the town for dinnerSunday morning fellowship on the front porch...notice how everyone looks well-rested after not having to sleep next to a baby monitor all night or getting up early to fetch a toddler a glass of juice.

The "Original" Roomies...Alison and myself

After more shopping and a late lunch, we all headed back to our respective families. I was excited to see my little family when I walked into casa de phillips, expecting my children to come rushing to me. Isaac greeted me excitedly, only to tell me that we currently had company (a good friend of ours was watching the Cowboys game with Tobe) and Evelyn looked up at me from where she was playing, gave me a hard stare, and then continued playing. At least my husband was happy to see me (who did the most excellent job of planning actives for the kids over the weekend and keeping everyone healthy and happy...he seriously should be nominated for "Husband of the Century.").

Yeah for Roomie Reunion '08.... I am already counting down the days until our next one!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

When Mommy's Away

Hello dear and faithful readers of my mommy’s blog. It has been quite a while since we last spoke. In fact, if you’d like to read my one and only other post, please click here. It's the June 30th, 2006 entry, if my hyperlink doesn't perform as it should.

So, mommy is hanging out with all her old college friends this weekend, which leaves me here with my daddy. For the record, my daddy is rad. I love my mommy more than anything, but some good quality time with the old man is good for the soul, if you know what I mean. He doesn’t sweat things like “rules,” “safety,” and “polite decorum” quite the way mommy does. This makes for a pretty gnarly weekend (in a good way) in mommy’s absence.

I thought I’d share some pics and thoughts from mine and Evelyn’s day hanging with Dad. (Evelyn says “whuttup to my peeps” to all y’all, she just can’t type yet).

These are some pretty nice mood setting shots as the day began. As you can see, I’m stoked about what the day holds. Evelyn’s rockin’ Rocket and ready to roll.

This is the only shot daddy got of us at Southlake Town Square. Poor guy thought he had us all posed with a great backdrop of the fountains, but once he backed up to snap the pic, me and Evelyn made a break for the water. Dad got to Evelyn before she could get far, but I totally hopped the fence and was about three steps from an awesome cannonball into that little pond before daddy cuffed me. That was cool.

After that we headed to the library. I spent some time with my favorite football tome. My fantasy football team is massive this year (thank you Jay Cutler & Marion Barber), but you can never have too much football knowledge. My team name is “Pre-Schoolin’ You”. Cuz I’m only 3 years old and all. After time spent with this book, I’ll be dropping some new and improved pigskin knowledge on my league soon. Watch out!

Evelyn is already determined that she’s gonna make her first $10 by the time she’s 2, so she’s always brushing up on the financial section of the Wall Street Journal at home. She asked for a subscription to Forbes for her first birthday, but it didn’t happen. So she reads the one at the library. Plus, she’s all about always looking fashionable – thus her designer shades.

So, at like number 3 on my list of reasons I love my daddy is that he lets me drive. Only in the city limits and when traffic’s not too bad, but driving nonetheless. He totally made me practice in parking lots first (booooooring), but now I can cruise the streets of the ‘Vine whenever mommy’s not around. It’s a big part of the reason I like “running errands” with daddy.

Nap time was chill, as always. When I got up, Arkansas was already getting rolled up on by Texas. Go Razorbacks, nonetheless. Anyway, this seemed like a great time to introduce my kid sis to the joy that is Big Red. It got her pretty hyped up, but she liked. Oh yeah, the whole ‘swim trunks on my head thing.’ It was my version of a rally cap for the Razorbacks game. It didn’t really work.

Well, thanks for reading. And thanks for reading my mommy’s blog. She loves writing it, but loves your comments even more. She is a beyond excellent mommy – takes great care of us, teaches us something new all the time, is always doing stuff with us and carting us around to cool places and with cool people. We’re all pretty keen on her around here and, as awesome as today was, the three of us will be even happier when she’s back with us. It’s never dull around here, and I wouldn’t trade Mommy for anyone. Even daddy. (though you still rock too, dude!)

Issac (and Evelyn)

I'm Outta Here!

This morning I am off for a girls' weekend with my college roomies. The girls pictured below (along with Kara who was not at the wedding this summer where these pictures were taken) lived with me at 1017 Washington Blvd in Abilene. The 1017 days were good ones and I am excited to rehash all of our college tales in the next 36 hours. Everyone is bringing pictures and memorabilia, including our very own Souvenir Box that Alison has kept since college. The Souvenir Box holds all types of treasures and memories, including an unopened box of Shake and Bake that is probably 10 years old at this point. I don't quite recall the story behind the box of pork crusting mix, but I am sure it is hysterical.

These two lovelies are staying behind with their father. They have big plans for a trip to the library, likely a Sonic run or two, and Church on Sunday. I am quite positive they will be okay.
And hopefully they won't take it personally when they hear my tires peel out as Alison and I race out of the driveway.

See you later!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Just a little info about ME!

This is my 500th post.

Yes, I have sat down at this computer 500 times and jotted down the thoughts in my head for the Internet community to read. I am sure my baseboards and flowerbeds have greatly suffered due to my extensive blogging.

Because this is my 500th post, I have decided to honor the tradition of posting 100 things about myself (which apparently I was supposed to do on my 100th post...but I didn't know that then!)

1. I was born in Louisiana.

2. I grew up in the same town of Arkansas all my life and am still friends with people whom I attended preschool.

3. My children are 21 months apart and used to be mistaken for twins quite frequently (not so much anymore...which is odd because they are closer in size than ever)

4. I have my Masters in Clinical Child Psychology

5. I presented my thesis at the American Psychological Association's national convention in 2001....a fact I often boast about to my husband.

6. I won an essay contest in Junior High and was awarded a $100 scholarship and a signed picture of William "The Refrigerator" Perry. Not sure if we ever cashed in that scholarship, but I am sure it would have paid for at least five or six meals at the Campus Center's Chick-fil-A.

7. I love to shop, but there are very few people who I actually enjoy shopping with (husband, my mom, close friends). Typically I just like to go alone.

8. I enjoy being alone. If I don't have some alone time each day, I am really grouchy.

9. I must start my day by being alone. This is the reason I wake up before anyone in my house. I enjoy the quiet of the morning and the chance to be by myself for a few moments. I have always done this...even as a kid.

10. I met my husband in college but did not date him in college.

11. Tobe proposed to me in a small Catholic Church in Mexico.

12. We are not Catholic.

13. Tobe and I had dated one week when we decided to get married.

14. We dated two months before we were engaged and got married nine months later.

15. We were best friends for three years before that, talking every day.

16. I spent two summers in Nairobi, Kenya.

17.While in college, I lived with this girl for four years. We were pot-luck roommates. I'd say the potluck thing worked out for us.

18. The first time I met Alison (see number 17) we were wearing the exact same outfit...which involved khaki and denim. I believe we wore a variety of combinations of that outfit for the next four years while at ACU.

19. Although I grew up in a small town with a private Christian university, I opted to travel 500 miles away and attend another private Christian university.

20. Number 19 was the best decision I have ever made because it allowed me to grow-up and discover who I really am. (and because a cute boy named Tobe attended there)

21. Tobe and I shared a class together the Spring of my sophomore year.

22. He never noticed me in that class.

23. I thought he was loud and obnoxious.

24. He notices me now and I never find him to be either 1. loud or 2.obnoxious.

25. My junior and senior year of college I lived with four other girls at 1017 Washington Blvd in Abilene.

26. We all still refer to each other as "roommates" even though it has been almost ten years since we lived together.

27.I am adopted.

28. I have an older brother who is two years, two months, and two days older than me.

29. I have a younger brother who is five years younger than me.

30. I used to treat my younger brother as my own personal baby doll when I was a kid.

31. I love to cook.

32. I have red hair...as do my mother and my grandmother.

33. I am secretly (okay, not so secretly) hoping Evelyn's hair will keep getting more red.

34. I love going to the movies.

35. I worked at a movie theater my Senior year of high school, where my friends were allowed to come up and hang out with me while I "worked."

36. I lived on a steady diet of popcorn, Coke, and gummy bears my Senior year of high school (see number 35). How I miss the metabolism of an 18 year old.

37. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because everything is beautiful and everyone is excited about Christmas being right around the corner.

38. Celebrating my birthday is very important to me.

39. I was in labor with Isaac for 26 hours...fortunately there were drugs involved by hour 16.

40. I went on a three mile walk with my mom after my water broke with Isaac because I wasn't really sure if it had broken or not.

41. I was in labor with Evelyn for a mere 9 hours. She came so quickly at the end that a doctor had to be pulled from the hall to deliver her (the nurse had not called my doctor in time).

42. After Evelyn's labor a nurse accidentally knocked over the sterile container holding the placenta and it went flying through the air. For some reason, this is quite amusing to me.

43. I sometimes struggle with having a filter on what I say (refer to number 42...a story others likely do not need to hear).

44. I love driving around and looking at Christmas lights.

45. Chicken and dumplings is my all time favorite food...my mom usually makes them for me when I go home.

46. I am addicted to Sonic drinks.

47. I am a member of MOPS.

48. I have always loved to write.

49. I one time started writing the next "great American novel" on a road trip with my family. It was a Cinderella-type story (original, huh?) with a lead character named Sophie. Not sure what happened to that great piece of work.

50. I have been working on a social skills book since Isaac was a baby and wonder if I will ever really finish it.

51. I taught Special Education for four years.

52. I was named Teacher of the Year my last year of teaching. Tobe and I were lucky enough to attend a special banquet where I was presented a trophy. I was seven months pregnant at the time.

53. I had half of my thyroid removed five years ago due to a tumor growing on it. To my knowledge it did not fly across the room during the procedure.

54. Tobe wanted to keep my thyroid in a jar on the mantle as a conversation piece, but we were not allowed to take it from the hospital.

55. I would like someone to give me a $20,000 gift certificate to Pottery Barn so I could redo my entire house.

56. I tend to be shy around people I do not know well.

57. I tend to talk too much around people I know too well.

58. I am good friends with my parents.

59.I am terribly scared of snakes. My kids will never visit the reptile house at the zoo unless someone else takes them.

60. I love to go out for chips and queso with my husband.

61. I swam competitively as a child on a swim team.

62. I have a close group of friends from junior high and high school with whom I am still good friends.

63. I love The Office.

64. My favorite movie of all time is Gone With the Wind.

65. I love anything associated with organization/schedules/order.

66. In grad school I was the Graduate Assistant for the statistics professor.

67. Although I have done well in school, math is my weak subject (making number 66 difficult).

69. While teaching, I was certified to physically restrain out of control children.

70. I occasionally had to restrain children in my classroom.

71. I have been bit, hit, kicked and verbally attacked by students....but loved my job.

72. My dad and I went on several medical mission trips to Mexico when I was in high school.

73. I exercise on a regular basis.

74. I love to read and visit the library frequently.

75. Tobe and I met through mutual friends.

76. I love naps...I REALLY love naps.

77. I am currently growing out my hair to donate to Locks of Love.

78. My college roommates and I participated in the intramural ACU rodeo

79. We attempted to catch goats. It was not a successful venture.

80. I love rainy days.

81. I love to do craft projects but rarely find the time or space to do so.

82. I purchased my super-rad double jogging stroller on Ebay (NIB).

83. I did a very loud victory dance when I "won" the jogging stroller on EBay in the very last seconds of a heated bidding war.

84. I have been snorkeling off the coast of Belize.

85. Despite a fear of heights, I climbed to the tallest tower of Chichen Itza.

86. I have seen the Cubs play at Wrigley Field.

87. Tobe's friend Doug, at Tobe's request, one time put a "Happy Birthday" banner on the roof of my house in college....and accidentally spelled my name with a backwards "N."

88. When Isaac was a baby, I sliced my left knee open on the front license plate of my car and had to go to the ER for stitches.

89. Pre-children, my husband and his good friend took me to a concert on a weeknight that ended up not starting until after midnight. I was a little bitter the next morning when my alarm clock went off.

90. Tobe and I attended the largest anti-war rally protesting the war in Iraq in London in 2002.

91. The two best wedding presents Tobe and I received were 1. A paid rental car to use for our week-long honeymoon in San Diego and 2. Concert tickets to Matchbox 20 (thanks Mark!).

92. I occasionally miss shopping at the Mall of Abilene.

93. I love watching live, off-Broadway productions (My favorite is Annie...of course)

94. I have completed multiple 5K runs...some while pregnant.

95. I have seen Bruce Springsteen five times in concert....one time from the fourth row while pregnant with Isaac.

96. While pregnant with Evelyn, I saw the Dixie Chicks in concert (unfortunately not from the fourth row).

97. My accent becomes much stronger (and much more Southern) when I am tired or am at my parents' house.

98. I know how to run a multiple regression analysis (Jealous? See number 66.)

99. I have very little musical ability, yet make up songs for my kids all the time.

100. I'll be sad when blogging is a thing of the past.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Dislike of Change


I hate change. My tendency to be structured, organized, and the need to control just do not mesh well with change.

My husband is the same way, which means we will likely live in the current location of casa de phillips until our children ship us to the nursing home. Hopefully by then we will have at least redone the kitchen floors.

My dislike of change spills over into the retail world when certain items I love are no longer manufactured. Allow me to share a few of these items:

1. Bath and Body Works Japanese Cherry Blossom fragrance.
I love this perfume because it is sold at a low price and is great for those days when I want to smell pretty but don't want to use my "fancy" perfume. However, Bath and Body Works is apparently repackaging the entire Japanese Cherry Blossom line and is not restocking this particular sent until late November. I have hit three Bath and Body Works (and called two others) in search of this perfume, with no luck. Would it be odd to order 5 bottles online just so I have a stockpile in case this sent does not become available in stores ever again?

2. Quaker Granola Bites
These little packaged granola treats are a favorite of Isaac and I have been unable to find them in stores anywhere in the past two months. I even have a great coupon for them that is just burning a hole in my coupon organizer! I have emailed the company to inquire as to why I cannot find such wholesome goodness on the shelves of my local grocery store anymore. I will let you know what they say.

3. Starburst Twizzlers
Anyone remember when one could purchase Starburst flavored twizzlers? I am not a huge candy person but I did *heart* me some Starburst twizzlers candy. However, they suddenly stopped producing it a few years ago. My little brother and I did extensive research on the Starburst website to find the answer as to why they discontinued our favorite candy. Seems it wasn't enjoyed by the masses. It also seems that my little brother and I might need to get a hobby.

What is something that you have loved in the past but cannot seem to find in your local mega-mart?


Today as I dressed the kids, Isaac asked if he was wearing a "nice" shirt. I confirmed that indeed he was sporting what one might consider to be a nice shirt and commented on how handsome he looked. He then looked me over closely and said, "You look pretty today, Mommy." (He must like the tank top/jeans/ponytail look)

Stop my beating heart. Had we been within a mile of Target I might have purchased the entire toy department right then and there for such a sweet comment.

He then slapped his too big baseball cap on his head backwards (because apparently Mr. Greg wears his this way although I have never witnessed such a site in the ten years I have known Mr. Greg), handed Evelyn her yellow cat eye sunglasses, and we were off for our play date.

Love those kids and their unique sense of style.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Grocery Shopping 101

Grocery shopping...it is the bane of some people's existence.

Nothing can seem more agonizing than loading into the car and driving to the store, attempting to locate the one cart in a sea of 57 that does not have a squeaky wheel (or a television), finding needed items, saying "No" approximately 2,251 times if shopping with children, uttering a silent prayer that the bakery has not run out of free cookies for children, purchasing groceries, racing home before the ice cream melts, and then realizing upon unloading all the goods that you forgot to buy three of your most needed items.

Due to rising food costs and the desire to not spend so much time (and money) at the grocery store and in desperate hope to save my sanity for at least a few more years, I have recently revised my whole grocery shopping method. Here are my new shopping strategies:

1. I grocery shop every two weeks, ALONE, on a Saturday morning before the stores become too busy. Shopping every two weeks prevents multiple trips to the store, which in turn prevents excess spending (research has shown that 6 out of 10 purchases made while grocery shopping are impulse buys). Shopping alone saves my sanity. Shopping early on Saturday morning is the only time when I can go alone and not have to go in the evening or during busy shopping times.

2. I write out our meal plans two weeks at a time and then construct a detailed grocery list from these plans. Making a meal plan for each week prevents that 5:30 pm panic of knowing the family has to eat but have not a clue as to what you are going to feed them other than a few packets of leftover ketchup and some dry cereal.

3. As mentioned in number 2, I make a detailed grocery list. This list is divided by sections of the store. I write the list in black ink, but take a pink pen to cross off items as I toss them in the cart. This change of color in ink prevents me from "losing" items on my list and never purchasing them. Again my sanity is saved by not having to experience the extreme frustration of arriving home with 72 grocery items and realizing that bread, milk, and apple juice are not among the stash.

4. I take my "tools" with me at all times. They are:
A clipboard to hold my grocery list.
This keeps my list nice and smooth during shopping and can be referred to easily.

The trusty pink pen to cross off items in my basket


Although I am not a crazed coupon clipper, I do manage to save about $15-20 every trip with coupons. Also, I rarely stock up on items simply because I have a coupon. I only clip and use coupons for things I normally purchase.

Target reusable grocery bags.

If you are still relying on plastic bags every trip you make to the store, you need to get to Target today and scoop some of these reusable bags up. They hold much more than any plastic bag ever dreamed of holding and they are reducing the amount of waste our country produces (If you travel abroad, you will quickly realize other countries do not use plastic bags as extensively as we do here in the United States). I *heart* these bags and currently own four of them.


Did I mention that I shop early in the morning? Well, I need me some coffee to navigate the aisles of the grocery store at such an hour. Also, I bring my own coffee from home and resist the temptation to pay $4.25 for a cup of coffee at the over-priced coffee house.

5. I unload the groceries (with the help of my family...even Evelyn can help take diapers to her room) immediately upon arriving home and put things in their correct location. This prevents the fridge or pantry from becoming out-of-control. Snacks (such as fruit snacks and raisins) that come in individual packages are immediately taken out of their main box and placed in our snack basket that resides in the pantry. Items such as flour, sugar, coffee, etc. are also removed from their original packages and placed in air-tight containers. My tools are put away until my next trip and we have the rest of the Saturday to spend together as a family.

Overall this takes me about 2.5 to 3 hours from start to finish. However, it is done and I do not have to think about groceries, the store, or my sanity for another 14 days (or more).

Works for Me!

For other Works for Me! tips, head over to Shannon's at Rocks in My Dryer.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Quest for Halloween Costumes

Have I mentioned that my children are 21 months apart?

Well, they are.

Being so close in age has its perks and its disadvantages, as I am sure it is with most sibling spacing. One of the perks of my children being close in age, and being such a young age, is that I can control both of their Halloween costume choices and require their outfits fit a theme. Such coordination brings me joy and makes me hope the days of them wanting to be popular superheros or princesses are still far away.

Being the chooser of the Halloween costumes holds great importance as well as a fair amount of stress (*). I have discussed in great detail with anyone willing to listen (usually poor Tobe) about the ins and outs of potential choices. I have spent way too many hours searching the Internet for possible costume choices, deciding if purchases need to be made or if I can simply create a costume from what we have (not likely due to the fact my only sewing skills involve the extensive use of a glue gun). Aisles of local stores have been scoured in search of ideas or outfits that would tie together to make a coordinating theme.

Here are a few lessons I have learned during my search:

1. The retail superstores have really bought into the idea of putting grown-up clothes on children. This is no shock considering low rise jeans are now sold in size 12 months and training bras have been replaced by polka-dot push-up undergarments. However, I am wondering what purchasing manager decided that toddler girl costumes need to resemble a bar maid. For instance, one can purchase a Raggedy Ann costume for their two year old complete with corset top and thigh-high stockings. The same goes for devil costume, angel costume, princess costume, and lady bug costume. Sam Walton would likely roll over in his grave if he knew such merchandise was being sold on his shelves.

2. Pottery Barn Kids think that charging a minimum of $80 for a costume (although incredibly darling...and tempting) is okay. It's not, PBK.

3. Apparently I needed to order the costume I wanted from a particular retailer in August because it sold out in a matter of two weeks. Who knew? Perhaps such information as this needs to be in the New Mother Handbook issued at the hospital upon the birth of one's child.

4. Deciding upon costumes raises moral issues. For example, the costume choice that we have decided upon for Isaac could possibly have a gun. I am not quite ready for my three year old to have access to toy guns. It makes me a little uneasy and a bit nostalgic for the days when he was a cute little giraffe all bundled in a blanket and not toting weapons (by the way, he is not going to be wearing any type of gun this Halloween).

5. Because costumes cost money and because they likely will only be worn in public two or three times, I want to purchase something that can be re purposed as dress-up clothes. This means finding costumes that the kids can almost get on and off by themselves and that will hold up more than three weeks at casa de phillips.

6. EBay is the parent's answer to finding hard-to-find costumes. I have placed bids on outfits for both kids and should know by the end of the day if I have "won" them or not. Oh, the stress of wondering if my bid will be the highest (yet still be considered to be a great deal). Such bidding allows me to set a reasonable price and hope some mother with more cash to burn isn't out there bidding against me.

7. My husband should do costume consulting on the side for college students needing ideas for parties/socials/Grubs (ACU reference there). He comes up with some great ideas. One of his ideas was to make Isaac Michael Phelps and Evelyn Nastia Lukin for Halloween. Being the stick in the mud that I tend to be, this idea was vetoed. However, I think it would make a great costume for some spirited college kids.

After much searching, I have decided on costumes and a theme. However, I am not quite ready to tell exactly what they are yet (what if you bid against me on Ebay???).

Anyone willing to share what your kids are going to be this Halloween?

For fun, here are some past Halloween pictures:

Isaac as a Giraffe on his First Halloween

Second Halloween: Bloggers vote on costume choice

Last Year: A Firefighter and his cute dalmation

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Welcome, Fall!

Tomorrow is the first day of Fall, a day of golden leaves, crisp temperatures, and new long sleeve fashions....or if you happen to live where I live: another day of 90 degree temperatures. Ugh. I was speaking about Fall to Isaac the other day and he inquired as to when the leaves will become red. In December, my son. December.
I do miss the seasons.

Silly Global Warming.

In honor of Fall's glorious return (It just so happens to be my favorite season), I have a comfy recipe of Chocolate Waffles and Carmel Syrup to share. We love to have Breakfast for Dinner here at casa de phillips and this recipe is a winner everytime.


Chocolate Waffles:
1 1/2 cups Bisquick
1 cup Sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa
3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 eggs

Stir ingredients until blended. Pour into waffle iron of your choice (I think this is a cool one). Cook until done.

Caramel Syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 light corn syrup
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla

Stir all ingredients together in saucepan. Heat until boiling, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, pour generously over waffles, and Enjoy!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Zen of Cleaning

This afternoon I felt an inner itch to clean my house from top to bottom. I know I have mentioned my cleaning schedule before, and normally I stick to it, but there are times that I feel the need to clean everything at one time. For some reason, this need struck me today.

After a fun playdate (that involved an unfortunate accident between Isaac, the McDonald's playscape, and the Batman helicopter found in Happy Meals...he is okay and we are thankful the blade of the helicopter only cut his cheek and did not pierce it), I brought the children home, tossed them in their beds (gently), and grabbed my cleaning bucket. I spent the next two hours cleaning, scrubbing, putting away odds and ends, and making the house shine.

Within twenty minutes of the children waking, the following had happened:

*A full glass of chocolate milk was spilled on the kitchen floor

*A box of crackers was spilled on the kitchen floor (see a pattern here?)

*A certain three year old decided to "clean" the bathroom mirror with wet wipes, due to the fact he had splattered water on it with his toothbrush earlier that morning (which I had already managed to clean)

* Approximately seven different groups of toys had been excitedly pulled out and then left abandoned around the house by someone in search of something better

*A raisin was smashed into the carpet, leaving behind a mangled piece of beige and brown

Maybe the maid will show up tomorrow to repair the damage...

Sights and Sounds Around the Casa

I am not quite sure how it has been four days since my last post. I have been here, the children have been saying adorable things, I have Internet access....but for whatever reason, there has been no blogging. Likely the reason Martha Stewart did not invite me to be a part of her blogging show yesterday (also she likely didn't invite me due to the fact I questioned the extreme length of her home management book).

Because of my lack of blogging this week, here is a brief synopsis of things that have been happening at casa de phillips:

*On Tuesday Isaac shared quite the long story of how he learned in Bible Class that one has to be careful with their Pull-Up (as in disposable underwear for those in the trenches of potty training). Isaac is potty-trained and only wears a pull-up at night, so I am not quite sure where this came from. He spun quite the tale of how one needs to be careful with pull-ups and how one needs to ask for help from every possible family member with this article of clothing. I know from papers sent home he studied Adam and Eve last Sunday....not sure where the pull-up discussion fit into that. At least he took some sort of lesson home with him from Church, even if it has to do with disposable pants.

*The mommy/daughter clothing battles might have possibly begun here at casa de phillips (like the uncertain language there?). Evelyn has a Little Einsteins shirt that was purchased for her to wear to Isaac's birthday. It has become a favorite, referred to as "LaLa" (for Little Einsteins...and this is also what she calls a friend of mine, whose name sounds nothing like "Little Einsteins"). She carried it around the house Sunday afternoon after it came out of the wash and then wore it on Monday. She has asked for it everyday since then. Dressing her is a battle anyway and now she is attempting to pull off the clothes I have dressed her in because they are not "LaLa." I will win this battle.

*To ease her spirit over once again being denied the fact that she could not wear "LaLa" again, Evelyn wore her yellow sunglasses on all our errands yesterday. She attracted a lot of attention in her "shun-shasses" as she calls them.

*Earlier this week, Evelyn discovered a small rag doll that has been sleeping in her crib with her since Christmas. This has been added to her collection of things she must cart around at all times (included in that collection is her blanket "Bea" and her zebra "RaRa"). She refers to this doll as "ChaCha". I have no clue where this name has come from and am starting to wonder if we are going to need to hire a Sherpa to lug all of E's belongings with us wherever we go.

*Last night I walked in Isaac's room to check on him before I went to bed to discover that his pull-up was dirty. He is not fully night-time potty trained, but rarely has anything but a wet pull-up in the morning. I knew he could not sleep with soiled items on his little body, so I attempted to wake him up to change it. He barely stirred. I then took off his PJ pants, changed his pull-up, put on a fresh pull-up, and put his pants back on....and he never woke up. Two days of preschool right in a row is wearing this little boy out!

*Children's artwork is starting to overtake my house. Isaac is quite big into coloring, drawing portraits of the family, and writing his alphabet. This generates A LOT of artwork. Some of it I save in a special folder and some of it is secretly relocated to the trashcan in the garage. Does anyone have a great strategy for saving pieces of artwork? I really cannot let go of some things because they are just too precious (or too good for a kid Isaac's age) but I also cannot afford to rent a storage building to house such projects.

*I have heard rumor that Starbucks has started selling their fall drinks again. I am itching for a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Please let the weather stay under 85 degrees so I don't need to have a portable fan keeping me cool while I sip my hot fall beverage....

Monday, September 15, 2008

All in a Morning's Work

I believe that if given the proper chance (and free babysitting), the mommies of the world could unite and get quite a few global issues tackled in a single morning. This is because Mommies are excellent at accomplishing many things in a very small amount of time.

Here is a sample of what I accomplished today before 1pm:

*Visit gym. Exercise in order to make any reminders of the fact that my tummy has carried two babies disappear.

*Work on reading site words with three year old at 6:20am per his request

*Drink miraculous thing called coffee, clip coupons

*Wake up sleeping child, load children and husband into car to drive to car dealership in order for husband to pick up rental car because family station wagon is still being worked on (7am)

*Feed children nutritious breakfast of frozen waffles (Whole Wheat!) and blueberries

*Clean kitchen and get presentable for the day while children watch Sesame Street and play grocery store (new favorite game at our house)

*Dress children, including putting shoes on the 16 month old twice because she removed them while I wasn't looking

*Change diaper and remind 3 year old to visit the restroom

*Take children outside to "ride bikes" (AKA ride tricycle and Little Tikes cozy coupe)

*Carry 16 month old, cozy coupe, and sippy cups to safe area on sidewalk due to the fact that our driveway slopes dramatically into the street, thus making it incredibly dangerous to small children and ride-on toys

*Teach 3 year old how to ride his new tricycle while holding 16 month old who is clingy due to the fact men are loudly trimming trees across the street

*Retrieve more toys from the garage at the sweet request of three year old

*Attempt to take pictures of 3 year old riding tricycle and miss the fact that the 16 month old has crashed the Cozy Coupe and is now crying with a bloody lip and chin.

*Make sure no teeth were knocked loose in cozy coupe crash and send three year old inside for a towel.

*Retrieve sidewalk chalk and attempt to draw best recreation of Blue from Blue's Clues. 3 year old is only slightly impressed.

*Haul all ride-on toys, children, chalk, drinks, and camera back into garage.

*Load children into car, secretly throw lovey "RaRa" into wash in hopes of removing blood stain (from earlier busted lip), and head out to the grocery store for allergy medicine (with coupon that makes it almost free!)

*3 year old tells tales of new shopping carts at grocery store (he had spied them over the weekend while there with Dad) and asks if we can use one....I agree before realizing that said grocery carts have TELEVISIONS in them for children (ugh.)

*School myself on how to operate grocery cart/television combo. Select "WonderPets" for children to watch in the 1.2 minutes it is going to take to find and purchase (almost free!) allergy medicine.

*Manage to not run over anyone or any store display while making a very sad attempt at steering grocery cart/television combo.

*Make our purchases, return television on wheels, and leave grocery store; explaining to children that we are not always going to watch television while shopping

*Return home, put away purchases, and set up play mat and cars for children.

*Create a car parade with matchbox cars

*Stop argument over who gets what car

*Cook lunch.

*Set children down at table for lunch....one is excited to eat the mac and cheese, the other claims he cannot eat a thing. (11:30am)

*Clean pieces of macaroni from 16 month old's hair, attempting to get out the sticky mess without pulling too hard. Wash two sets of hands and faces.

*Change diaper. Send three year old to restroom.

*Retrieve "RaRa" from dryer, notice the blood stain is gone, do small victory dance

*Attempt to create the right mixture of noise machine and ceiling fan to block out the sound of a tree being cut down across the street. Am slightly successful.

*Put 16 month old down for nap.

*Inform 3 year old that attempting to measure his bookshelf is not an option and that he should be getting ready for his nap.

*Read book to 3 year old, put him to bed.

*Issue grave warning to 3 year old that he is to rest and not be looking out his window at the tree being cut down or cars passing by our house

*Eat my lunch while watching television (Shh..don't tell the children) and wonder if Martha Stewart is human or actually a robot.

See? Mommies can get many things done in a morning. Although my morning seemed pretty busy, I am fairly confident millions of other women are doing as much or more with their mornings.

What did you do this morning?


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up

After every local meteorologist predicted rain and tornadoes in abundance for our weekend, we were spared the wrath of Ike and merely experienced a rainy day yesterday. We were thankful for the rain but heart-broken for those whose lives have been uprooted by Ike.

Due to the grave predictions about the weekend weather, we opted take Evelyn for her first haircut on Friday evening rather than Saturday morning as planned. Isaac had great plans about how he was going to tell E. to be brave and help her be happy during her salon visit. However, upon discovering that this salon had no toys, Isaac was over the whole first haircut experience and offered little big brother support to his sister.

Much to our surprise (and utter joy), E. did really well with getting her hair cut. There were some tears and some frantic "Bye!Bye!" (E.'s way of saying, "Lets get out of here") at the beginning, but once she was handed a large "Quack Quack" things were good.

Pre-hair cut...yes, my cape says "Diva" on it

After the hair cut
(I don't think this picture gives the cut justice because her hair was still wet. The mullet and stringy pieces are gone and she has more of a pixie cut that should grow all together. I am quite happy with the decision to cut it.)
After getting E.'s hair done, we set off to enjoy a nice family dinner at one of our favorite local Mexican restaurants. Seems that it happens to be Terry Bradshaw's as well because he was dining there with his wife. I hoped he would comment on our children as he passed our table on the way to the restroom, but no such luck.
Saturday morning we decided to hit a local mall's play area to let the kids work off some energy (and for me to shop while the husband hung out with the kids...isn't he awesome?) since the rain was preventing any outside time. Upon entering the mall through JC Penny's we discovered that this particular store was decorated for Christmas. Christmas, people. It isn't even Halloween and they had the store COMPLETELY decorated for Christmas. It about made Tobe and me sick. Because of this total lack for the practical progression of how one should decorate for holidays (Halloween, then Fall/Thanksgiving, and then Christmas), I have decided that I am not shopping at Penny's until the New Year.
After taking her first steps over two months ago, Evelyn is finally walking on a consistent basis. Often times we have to remind her to walk rather than crawl, but she is walking. This excites Isaac to no end and inspires him to hold E.'s hand while she walks....which often ends up with both kids crying in a jumbled heap on the floor.
Here is a random photo of the two of them marching around the living room....note that Evelyn is only wearing a pajama shirt and Isaac has on shorts but is still wearing his PJ shirt. Some mornings we just go with what works.
On Thursday, Evelyn turned 16 months old. I believe she is 16 months going on about 2 1/2. Her language has exploded and the girl has an opinion on most things, which she expresses quite loudly. She is obviously growing up in a house with a big brother, switching from pushing her babies around the house in their stroller to playing cars.

MOPS started back up for the school year on Friday and the three of us were quite excited to be back with our group. Evelyn went to her class with no screaming and minimal tears and Isaac happily joined his new three year old group. I am a table leader this year with is exciting and a bit intimidating. If you are not connected with a MOPS group and you happen to be a mother of a preschooler (working or staying at home...it doesn't matter) I encourage you to get involved with a local MOPS group. It is good times.
Here are the kids before MOPS on Friday...note that I had to include two pictures because they never look up and smile at the same time.

After rain kept us away from our local festival yesterday, we finally ventured out to it this afternoon after church and naps. Isaac has been talking about attending the festival all week, going so far as to create his own out of Little People, so he was thrilled to finally attend. In my hurry to pack drinks and snacks, I forgot the camera. Ugh. So you will simply have to imagine Isaac riding his favorite horse, Shaggy (he rides the same pony at every festival...the owner even remembers us), and Evelyn becoming ecstatic over seeing her beloved "ChooChoo" up close. We ended the afternoon by sharing a funnel cake, the true symbol of family unity.

Good times, my friend. Good times.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Car Care 101

The husband and I are about to take the phillips family station wagon(*) into the mechanic for a tune-up. Because we are going to be without our main family vehicle for 24 hours, we have moved car seats over to Tobe's car (by "we" I mean "Tobe"). Can I just tell you that our family might be able to end world hunger with the number of goldfish crumbs and lone fruit snacks that were discovered under those car seats?

I attempt to be organized but most days my car is a bit of a disaster. Hair bows usually line the front cup holders, toys are scattered about, and empty boxes of raisins are left discarded by grubby little hands. I ask you, dear readers, how do you organize your main family car? Do you keep toys in your car to entertain the children? Do you allow eating in the car or is that a big "no-no"? Does your car require a Hazmat team to come in order for it to be cleaned?

Any car organization tips would be greatly appreciated!

I do have many pictures to share of E. turning 16 months old yesterday and of the kids all dressed up for our first MOPS meeting of this school year....but the mechanic waits. Also, we are getting E.'s hair cut for the first time this weekend (pray for the poor hair stylist selected to do that job) and are hopefully attending our local festival if Ike allows (pray for the potential victims of Ike. One reader of this blog lives in Ike's path and is 39 weeks pregnant...say big prayers for her!). I assure you there will be a picture post in upcoming days.

Happy Friday!

*We don't really own a station wagon...I just like to say that because it amuses me. Wouldn't it be great if I was scooting around town in one of those big station wagons from the 80's with the back seat that faces backwards? We drive a normal car.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Works for Me! Wednesday: Muffin Tins

One of my daily tasks as a Mommy...possibly one I will be doing for the next 18 years...is making sure my children eat something nutritious and filling at each meal. This is no easy job, considering I have one child who is such a chatterbox that he struggles to find time to eat amidst all the talking and another child who really only prefers chicken nuggets, french fries, raisins, and frozen waffles (Seriously, she will go on a hunger strike--which we let her do--rather than pick up "foreign" food). The food war is an eternal one here at casa de phillips.

Recently I have started serving Isaac's food in a six cup muffin tin. He likes how each group of food has their own location and is always excited to see what surprises are tucked away in his special plate. Often times to encourage eating rather than talking, I will put a special "bessert" (a gingersnap, a few chocolate chips, or some marshmallows) in one of the cups and tape a piece of paper over that opening. In order to take the paper off and reveal his surprise, Isaac has to eat the majority of his other food.

Here is his lunch from today (Not too outstanding due to the fact it was a school day and we rush through lunch to get two tired kiddos to bed): Another great thing about using a muffin tin as a plate is that they do not break. Isaac is responsible for taking his dishes to the sink when he is finished eating. A while back he accidentally dropped one of our plates and it broke. Fortunately I was right there to help him but now we stick to unbreakable dishes.

Now if we can work on the other one's devotion to all things chicken nuggets, the meal time battles might possibly end before these two are in high school...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Screaming: Day 3 of Preschool

Yes, Evelyn is still quite distraught over her brother exiting the car two days a week for preschool. I imagine dogs in the school's neighborhood are quite distraught as well on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings since E. can scream at such loud decibels that is likely only audible to canines (and mommies).

However, being an only child for seven hours a week might have some perks: Today, in a moment of weakness, I allowed the yellow Little Tikes cozy coupe back inside my home for a few hours.
"Thrilled" does little to describe E.'s reaction to such a treat

E. doesn't realize that the cozy coupe used to live in our living room, occupying the space by the piano, for whenever her big brother might need to take a spin around the house. However, it became a full-time outside toy the day the basketball goal came to live in our living room.
The basketball goal has now found a comfy location in Isaac's room, merely to make room for the *vintage* baby doll cradle and high chair that are currently living in the back part of our family room. It is a constant rotating door of toys that occupy this coveted space, all who eventually get relocated to a spot a tad less high-profile....usually when I reach the point where I feel as if I can no longer stand viewing such a toy 246 times a day.

Here is E. taking her baby....oh so carefully...to her car for a little spin. Unfortunately baby fell through the hole designed for children's feet and was left in E.'s dust. I am almost 90% sure such an occurrence will never take place in real life when E. has children of her own....as long as said children are paying attention.

E. also discovered that Mommy will take an "only child" on an extensive hunt for choo-choo trains and anything resembling a choo-choo train at the slight utterance of the phrase, "More choo-choo peas."

Maybe this school thing won't be so bad for little sister after all....

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