Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ringing in the New Year

The holidays are really throwing Isaac off. He knows the past week or so has been a bit wonky, with Tobe being off work at odd times and with all the presents and visits from jolly old men in red suits (I guess that should be "man" as only one Santa visited our little home). As we drove to the kiddie salon for pre-wedding trims (another post all to itself) Isaac inquired as to why this day was a silly holiday-day.

Have you ever attempted to explain the changing of the year to a three year old who still doesn't quite grasp the concept of how the day hasn't changed during naptime (he thinks sleep = change of day)?

Someone should distribute some sort of CD to be kept in the car to answer all those tough questions that come from kids mouths when driving to and fro.

Today it was about how, why, when, and where the year changes. Yesterday's question centered around how the sun goes up and down. Sheesh. After attempting to present a quick summary of the earth's rotation to a three year old (and a 19 month old who was listening intently and who will likely spout this information back to me in the near future), I finally relied on the standard, "Because that is how God made it."

Parent of the Year Award, here I come.

And, yes, I used to teach in the public school system.

Anyway, the year magically changes over tonight when the clock hits 12:00. It is a bit mind-blowing to know that one year suddenly becomes another in a matter of a second. To mark this significant change in time/date/place, here is a look back at a few things that happened at savethephillipsfamily in 2008:

* My grandmother was inducted into the Hall of Honors for Teachers in her local school district. I had the honor of giving her induction speech. I managed to have a good hair day and not trip up the stairs on the way to the microphone....not a small feat, my friends. Read more about her here.

* No, the children are not twins.

* New Moms everywhere find this post in search of some sleep answers, some support, and some sanity.

* An explanation about our name was provided.

* We were blessed with a one year old in casa de phillips.

* I realized I was turning into my own mother.

* We went grocery shopping.

* I completed a bit of a project.

* Apparently my husband knows my password for Blogger.

* Some Q&A took place.

* The battle began (and rages on...yesterday it was over not being able to wear "my pre-ty shoe" which happen to be a size too big.)

* A Merry Christmas was had by all.

Thanks for taking time out of your life to swing by savethephillipsfamily during this past year. I do appreciate each and every comment given in regards to my commentary about everyday life.

See you in 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

These are the Days

It has been a particularly looooooooooooong day here at casa de phillips, beginning with a little boy charging into the bathroom at 5am this morning to inform me he had some "cough-coughs."

I was getting dressed for the gym at the time and was completely startled by someone else being awake. My tendency to panic when startled caused me to become all tripped up in my yoga pants I was putting on. It was quite the spectacle in our bathroom before the sun even rose this morning.

I remember the days of being a young child and of waking early, wondering the house before anyone else was up. The days of hating taking naps the year I was five, regardless of the fact my mother was dealing with a preemie newborn who rarely slept.

It is on these long Mommy days that I know my own dear mother is secretly smiling as I complain to her over the phone, knowing that I am indeed paying for my own childhood.

For example, I used to eat breakfast before the others in my family because I was always awake so early. Being a typical 197o's family, we owned the gold and avocado green Correll dishes that were apparently handed out with newborn babies at hospitals during that time (you either had these dishes or knew someone who did). Rumor was circulated around our little house at that time that those people who dined off the avocado green plates where stupid (I won't mention names as to who started such a vicious rumor)....and it somehow seemed that most mornings my breakfast was served on the green plates as opposed to the cool gold designed plates. Such an occurrence would cause me to become quite distraught, thus leading my mom to have to discipline me before I woke the entire house with my crying.

Well...this morning Evelyn was served yogurt in a bowl not to her liking, causing her to toss said bowl over the side of her high chair in anger.


She wasn't the slightest bit concerned when I attempted to tell her how expensive organic, whole milk yogurt is and how I was going to scoop it off the floor for somebody to eat as to not waste good food. She was slightly concerned when she had to do some time in time-out for throwing food. She was really concerned when she discovered there would be no more yogurt for her this morning.

There are many more tales from today, but I will spare you an invitation to my pity party. However, I do have a bit of a random question for the blog world:

"How much do you spend on average each week for groceries and how many people are you feeding?"

Coming up in January, I am going to do a little series here at savethephillipsfamily and I always appreciate some insight for such writings. Obviously this series has to do with grocery shopping, money, and food. Because being open about financial things can be a bit tricky, I am going to allow anonymous comments for this post for those who do not want to completely disclose such details.

Please share....and if your amount is really low and your family eats at home on a regular basis, I am going to be knocking at your door to get all of your money saving secrets!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Wrap-Up

Christmas Day has come and gone (for now...we have one more Christmas to celebrate next week) at casa de phillips and it was a good one.

Due to some extra events occurring around the holidays this year (my baby brother's wedding), we had changed our normal holiday travel plans just a bit to accommodate traveling for the upcoming wedding. Then late last week we decided to alter the travel schedule just a bit more, opting to stay home on Christmas Day and travel to see Tobe's extended family on the 26th.

THEN Evelyn came down with an unfortunate case of the stomach bug around 11pm on Christmas Eve and all travel plans have been nixed. We were thankful to be at home when this bug hit sweet Evelyn, where we had total access to clean sheets, fresh blankets and stuffed animals, Pedilyte, cable TV (I watched a variety of religious Christmas programs while staying up with E. making sure her high fever broke), and an assortment of medicines. She was a pitiful sight that night.

Despite the bug, Christmas has been fun this year at casa de phillips. Isaac is at the age where he gets the concept of the holiday season, crawling into bed on Christmas Eve with his blue eyes firmly shut because "Santa can't come if our eyes are open." Evelyn plays off of his excitement (when not feeling completely icky). We feasted on fajitas and chips and queso as our Christmas Eve dinner. On Christmas Day no one changed out of their PJs...with the exception of E. who had a few PJ changes during the day....and we all sat around our TV watching Toy Story 2. Tobe and I enjoyed watching the classic "White Christmas" after the kids were in bed and getting to play Santa by eating the cookies the kids had left out. Toys were scattered all over the floor as the new goodies and gadgets were examined. It was greatness.

The only flub in the day was right before Isaac opened his stocking when he said, "I know Santa brought me my favorite M&M's and put them in my stocking."

Um, no, Santa forgot all about the M&M's since candy is not a normal staple here at casa de phillips. He HAD purchased some tasty animal crackers, but had forgotten to get those out of their hiding place under the kitchen sink.


Isaac forgot about the missing M&M's once he found his prized jump rope (Thanks, Jordan, for the tip about the dollar spot at Target!). He uttered lots of "Cool!"'s and "That is just what I wanted!" as he opened his gifts.

Here are a few pictures of our Christmas celebration:

The Duo playing their rendition of "Jingle Bells" on the piano...usually someone gets shoved off their side of the bench during piano time.
Baking cookies for Santa
Putting out the Milk and Cookies for Santa and just being the hams that they tend to be when provided a stage. The next morning Isaac informed us he had heard Santa "munching on cookies" the night before. Hope he didn't notice that trail of crumbs lead straight to the master bedroom....

(This is when E. started to not feel well)
Christmas Morning
(Isaac decided to wear his Santa hat 24/7 starting on December 23rd)

The Coordinating Little Einstein PJs....a bit hit

Evelyn's very own house slippers...courtesy of her big brother.

The Computer Isaac requested of Santa
(yes, Disney gets a lot of our money these days)

The popular Kaleidoscope Santa tucked away in stockings
Despite a fever of over 103, this little girl unwrapped presents like a little maniac and then would gasp dramatically at the contents of each gift. Her favorite seems to be the Snap 'N Style dolls from Fisher Price.

THE Jump Rope
There are no pictures of Tobe and I opening our gifts (the children were much too occupied to operate the camera), although we both enjoyed the thoughtfulness that each other took in shopping this year. I received an extended membership to Massage Envy, new PJs, some gift cards, an assortment of pens and organizing gadgets, a desperately needed new pizza cutter, and some other goodies. Tobe got some new clothes, some books, concert tickets, and other trinkets. All in all it was a great Christmas.
Hope you all had a great holiday!
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from our little family to yours!
(Card done by Kinda at

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

....and all through the house

A little boy was chatting

About everything, including a mouse
As Christmas day approaches, the chatter in our house has increased ten fold as a little boy and a little girl prepare for the big day. This evening as we sat down to the traditional Christmas Eve meal of steak fajitas, Isaac could not stop talking. We finally grabbed the camera to record some of his banter for all to enjoy.

(In case you are wondering, he is talking about lobsters...which earlier in the meal he decided that Santa needed to deliver said crustaceans to Tobe and myself as our Christmas presents. This gift suggestion is likely due to watching a live tank of lobsters at Central Market this morning while we waited on our fajita meat. If Santa happens to read, please, please don't bring me a lobster. I don't think I could bear to boil one. Thanks.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Last Minute Christmas Gifts

In case you have been living under a rock lately, there are approximately 2.5 shopping days left until Christmas (I say “Approximately” because our Internet/cable/phone are out AGAIN and who knows when I will actually be able to post this).

2.5 days is not a lot of time, dear reader.

However, I am here to share some thrifty shopping tips for those of you who like to live life on the edge and wait until the last minute to finish your Christmas shopping.

Shop at odd hours.
There are some major retail stores staying open pretty darn late in hopes of making last minute sales during this time of recession. For example, a retail store around here stays open until midnight until Christmas Eve. I find it hard to believe that there are any lines in stores at 11:45pm. If you are a night owl, this might be a good option for you.

Create your own gift
Making one’s own gifts to give got a bad rap years ago and I am not sure as to why. Lots of years I make a gift to give to others and have found that it takes much more effort than hopping in the car and plucking a gift off the shelf. Baked treats are a real joy to receive, because who honestly takes the time to bake themselves something. Look here to see my secrets for tasty cutout sugar cookies.

Gift Cards
I am going to be honest and say that gift cards are not my favorite gift to give (although I do like to receive them). I find them to be a bit generic. However, gift cards have become wildly popular and can be found anywhere…including gas stations (which tend to actually be open on Christmas Day…thus giving you one more shopping day).

Framed Pictures
A great present to give relatives is a cute framed picture of your children or family. This is a standard gift coming from casa de Phillips. One hour photo places are EVERYWHERE, including local drug stores. Simply select a picture, download it onto their site, and place your order. Your prints are ready in an hour and you have a cute and thoughtful gift to give.

Discount Retail Stores
I am a big fan of the discount retail store, where one can find a variety of items at discount prices. Recently TJ Maxx and Marshalls contacted me asking to see how many Christmas gifts I could scoop up at their stores spending $25 at each location. Since I tend to consider shopping to be an extracurricular activity, I was more than eager to meet this challenge. Below is a picture of the loot I purchased:

(In order of appearance: One Table Runner, five picture frames, two books, and a DVD)

As I mentioned, I like to give photos for presents. I find that TJ Maxx and Marshalls both have a great selection of frames for super cheap (all of these were under $5....please note, they did not come with photos of my children inside of them). I also think that such stores have a great selection of children's books. Both of the books purchased were in the clearance bin! The DVD was a great find and a gift for some friends. Not pictured is the new flat iron I bought for myself (Toni and Guy brand) and a gift for Tobe (he is the biggest fan of this blog and I didn't want to spoil his Christmas, thus the reason I am keeping it under wraps...excuse the pun).

Those are my tips for last minute Christmas gifts. Anyone have one to share? That clock is ticking!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our Own Winter Wonderland

The temperatures took a dramatic plunge here at casa de phillips late yesterday afternoon. Tobe and I love a good cold snap so we were a bit giddy with the much cooler weather.

Perhaps our giddiness slightly affected our good judgement when we bundled the kids up and took them for a ride on a horse-drawn carriage this afternoon.

Seems when the thermometer reads "32 degrees" there really isn't a line of people waiting for a ride on an open carriage.

The below pictures shows how terribly excited our children were about this trip on the horse drawn carriage.After our invigorating trot around historic neighborhoods, the children felt the need to dance in order to bring the feeling back to their limbs. Speaking of is a poorly, poorly shot video of Isaac dancing to some computerized Christmas magic.

Friday, December 19, 2008

And Good Tidings To You...

This is what happens when one's mother has taken approximately 133 photos of the children within a thirty minute time span.

Not pretty, my friend.

The slightly amusing part was when a business man stopped while we were attempting to take this picture and offered to take one of the whole family. Uh...not likely to be a photo that would ever be seen framed over the fireplace here at casa de phillips.

The really amusing part was thirty seconds after the business man left a woman handed me a catalog and then said I had the most precious children she had ever seen.

They are precious, but lets be honest about how they were anything but precious at that precise moment.

I thought for a moment the lady was simply being nice, perhaps cheering me on in this race called motherhood.

It was then that I turned the catalog over, to discover it was a Discovery Toys catalog with her business card stapled to the front.

So, yes, my children are precious...especially if I buy your expensive toys whose prices are laced with commission fees.
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Let the Festivities Begin!

As of yesterday at 3:oo pm, Christmas celebrations began here at casa de phillips. My parents arrived, bearing gifts and Starbucks (whose sign E. now recognizes...oops), ready to spread a bit of the Christmas cheer.

As of 4pm this afternoon we have already eaten at Cracker Barrel, taken the kids to do "Build-a-Bear" (their Christmas from my grandmother), hit up two malls, watched the children dance to the "Little Einsteins" theme song approximately 71 times, and made plans to consume large amounts of Mexican food and ice cream as soon as Tobe arrives home from work.

It has been a very busy 24 hours.

I have also had the joy of going ALONE to get my hair cut (a leisurely two hours....yes, it takes two hours to get this mop of hair cut, dried, and styled) and have gone shopping with just my mother for a dress to wear to my little brother's upcoming wedding.

My mother and I had a lovely time searching through the racks of Dillards and Macys in search of a dress that was A. Not Red (lovely shade, but it clashes with the wedding colors) B. Not matronly or C. Not going to be mistaken for a shirt. It was a long and hard search, involving several fits of laughter, moments of panic when I thought I was stuck in at least three of the various items tried on (I have a touch of the claustrophobia when trying on much so I have considered shopping with a pair of scissors tucked away in my purse just in case), and a few mother/daughter being when my mom mentioned that I might just need to purchase some Spanx to make a particular dress work. In the end, a dress was purchased. It is not great, but it will work...especially since the wedding is a mere two weeks away and we have a slightly major holiday to celebrate in the meantime.

With all of our Christmasing over here at casa de phillips, please forgive me if the blog gets a tad bit neglected over the next few days. I plan to check in now and then and I do have a lovely post coming up tomorrow about some great bargain shopping....but I also have some Mexican food to consume and some cute children to hang out with.

And apparently some Spanx to buy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Cheer

Our Internet and phones have been up and down all day. The cable company is apparently blaming the five minutes of light freezing rain we received last night as the culprit.

Because Internet access has been sketchy, I am going to forgo a lengthy post and share two of our favorite videos from this holiday season. In the first we have the children dancing 'round the tree to the classic holiday song known as "The Little Einsteins Theme" and the second is a wacky Evelyn singing a shortened version of the ABC's.

Hopefully full Internet service will be restored tomorrow and I will have a lengthier post....unless we get 1/36 inch of snow tonight and the cable company shuts down all services.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Tour 2008

Merry Christmas 2008!

Welcome to casa de phillips, home to one I/O Psychologist, one behavior specialist turned stay-at-home mommy, one apple juice loving three year old boy, and one train-obsessed 19 month old little girl.

Thanks for stopping by as you make your way through Boo Mama's Christmas Tour of Homes.

Let's begin with my two favorite things under the tree:

(who might seriously have a clothing crisis when she can no longer wear her vast collection of holiday dresses next month)
I attempted to convince Tobe to pose under the tree to serve as my third favorite thing but he declined. I don't know why.
Moving on....I love Christmas trees. Therefore every bedroom (and a few other rooms) has its own tree.
Evelyn's tree is pink, green, and white snowflakes.
When I was pregnant with her, I began collecting snowmen for her. She gets a new one each year to add to her collection. I figure she will really love this idea one day or totally resent the fact that she has an odd assortment of various snowmen.

The theme for Isaac's tree is "Three Year Old Boy". By that I mean that he decorated it completely himself, choosing what ornaments to put on it and what color of lights it should sport. He loves it and I love that it is his masterpiece.
Last year his little Christmas tree only resided in his room about three days. He kept disassembling it during naptime and eventually lost the privilege of having a tree in his room. Now being a mature three years of age, he has done a great job of keeping his hands off the tree.
The tree in the master bedroom has an "Ice" theme and is done in blues, whites, and silver.
Years ago when we first put a tree in our bedroom, we thought it would be great fun to sleep with the tree lights on at night. Um...not so much. It was about as fun as attempting to sleep while someone shined a dim flashlight in your eyes for eight hours. We have never attempted sleeping with the tree on since that dreadful night.

The family tree
All of our decorations in the main part of the house are red and gold. I like a uniform color scheme....including such details as ornament hooks and wrapping paper. If it is not red or gold, it is not part of our main decoration.
This is the first year for our 7.5 foot pre-lit tree. At first I thought it was much too big for our living room but now I really do love it.
When snapping these pictures, I forgot to take some of our special ornaments. HOWEVER...I did remember to do that last year during BooMama's Tour of Homes. Click here to see some of our very special Christmas ornaments.
Our Christmas scene over the piano.
Notice that we have hung our stockings with care on the piano rather than in the more traditional setting of the fireplace. Our fireplace is often used as a stage for the children and I could only imagine the type of mark a Pottery Barn stocking holder could leave on one's face if pulled off the mantel. Thus the reason for using the piano this year.

My Santa Collection
I collect Santas, buying a new one each year. I date each one so I can remember what year he was purchased.

Scene above our Entertainment Center
This year's picture with Santa sitting next to this year's Santa (the one on the right)

Kitchen Christmas Decorations
My Two Little Elves enjoying a friend's Christmas party this past weekend.
I included this shot so everyone could see what happens when a head of a cabbage patch doll meets the eye of a little girl. She has quite the black eye these days.

I also thought I should share some of our Christmas photo shoot pictures since our cards have been sent out already.

Merry Christmas!
Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tour of Homes


Ah, the Christmas season is upon us and the holiday spirit is filling the souls of humanity.

With the exception of the man I observed today who was obviously experiencing severe road rage when he honked LOUDLY at Mrs. Claus and Rudolph who were apparently walking across the crosswalk much too slow for his taste

(**We live in the "Christmas Capital" of our fair state so seeing Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, Frosty, or any of the gang walking down the streets is a regular sight around here).

Because it is the Christmas Season, BooMama is again hosting her holiday tour of homes. I hope everyone visits her blog and joins in on the fun.

Check back here tomorrow for a lovely Christmas tour of casa de phillips.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Look, Honey! They re-invented the Whirlybird!

Apparently no one else's child asked for a jump rope this year for Christmas, because they are impossible to find.

Last night Tobe and I set do some final Christmas shopping while the children basked in the attention of their Nana. After a leisurely dinner consisting of queso, chips, and all things Mexican food (where I proclaimed "Queso" to be the theme of my 30's) we set off in search of Christmas goodies.

We were able to cross several things off our list, but came up short on the whole "jump rope" request. No wonder childhood obesity is at a all-time high because there are aisles dedicated to all things video games but no simple ropes made for jumping to be found at any major toy retailer. I was lucky today to hit up a local toy boutique and secure the jump rope for our boy.

Seems that jump ropes are considered "specialty items."

In our search of several toy stores, we quickly discovered that "retro" is the new in toy. And by "retro" I mean toys that were on my Christmas list when I was a child. There are My Little Ponies, Smurfs, Popples, Cabbage Patch Kids (By the way, I am slightly obsessing over finding one named "Evelyn" ....just for fun. Not because the girl needs another doll, but because Cabbage Patch has reverted back to using the old-fashioned names for their dolls and I have decided there must be an "Evelyn" out there somewhere.), and Care Bears. I started to feel a bit depressed that I am now considered "retro"...until a group of giggly girls stopped us in the aisle of Target, questioning if we had a nine year old son. One member of the group quickly piped up, "Oh, y'all are much too young to have a nine year old."

Bless you, child. Bless you.

The best quote of the evening of holiday shopping came from a man, close in age to Tobe and myself, who loudly exclaimed, "Honey! Look! They re-invented the whirlybird!"

Upon hearing such a proclamation, my Christmas is now complete.

I hope all of you have successful shopping adventures and find that manufacturers have indeed "re-invented" your favorite toy from years past.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sugar Cookie 101

From the moment Isaac's blue eyes opened yesterday morning (I won't dare mention the time), he was talking non-stop about our holiday cooking making that was set to take place.

He loves to bake and has been eagerly looking forward to making this season's batch of holiday cookies. He could barely contain his excitement over our scheduled day of mixing, rolling, decorating, and baking in preparation for a cookie exchange that was supposed to take place at MOPS today.

Unfortunately, the boy was overcome with a fever mid-morning and the planned holiday baking was not quite as fun as he was hoping. The process took quite longer (due to tending to a sick child and keeping up with another who lost interest in the whole cookie making process ten minutes in) and I was still cleaning up dough and red and green jimmies at 8pm last night. We did not make the MOPS meeting this morning as planned, but rather stayed home and enjoyed some quiet time in our warm little living room (however, we did get to enjoy the cookie exchange due to some sweet friends who gathered and delivered cookies to my doorstep)

It appears as if Isaac has fifths disease, a common disease of childhood. His cheeks are quite rosy (symptom of 5th's) and the fever seems to have gone for now. Apparently such a disease is on the highly contagious side and since I routinely find Evelyn sneaking sips from Isaac's cup and walking around the house with his toothbrush, I figure it is only a matter of time before her cheeks turn rosy as well. At least its not the stomach bug...
As we are on the mend here at casa de phillips I wanted to share some fool-proof tips on how to achieve the perfect cut-out sugar cookie. Sugar cookies seem quite elementary, but can be extremely frustrating. Nothing is more aggravating than spending lots of time preparing dough, rolling it out, and cutting out festive shapes only to realize the dough is stuck to your kitchen counter or to lose an appendage to a carefully cut gingerbread person. After many hits and misses, I have developed a relatively simple (although not quick) process for turning out tasty sugar cookies.

First, use this recipe for complete cookie yumminess (slightly adapted from
3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup Crisco

1 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon milk

Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter, Crisco, and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack. Serve as is or ice as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

Second, after allowing the dough to chill for about 30 minutes, roll it out in sections between two sheets of parchment paper. This allows you to NOT have to use flour for rolling out the dough (which can make your dough stiff and your cookies BLAH!)

After rolling the dough out between two sheets of parchment, throw it back in the fridge. I usually place mine on clean cookie sheets, still between the parchment. Let it sit at least an hour or up to a day.

When ready to cut out cookies, peel one side of the parchment away from the dough. Lay that side of the dough on your baking surface (I swear by Pampered Chef Baking Stones), then peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Lightly dip cookie cutters into powdered sugar (NOT FLOUR!) and cut away. Cookies will not stick to your counter because you are cutting them on the baking surface....Genius!

The key is to place all cookie cutters on the dough before you actually cut. This ensures that you use almost all of the dough in one cutting experience. Place scraps in pile and continue on with next sheet of dough. (Scraps can either be frozen for another baking experience or rolled back out, rechilled, and cut)

Bake cookies.
Allow to cool and frost.

Enjoy and share with friends.

Spend the next three weeks discovering random green and red sprinkles in the crevasses of your kitchen.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Flashback Post

Tonight I attempted to make chocolate-dipped pretzel rods as a gift for my MOPs table. I am fairly proficient in the kitchen and felt quite confident in my ability to
A. Melt Chocolate
B. Dip Store-Bought Pretzels into Melted Chocolate.

Well, apparently there was one extra drop of moisture in the air and the chocolate seized up (for the non-bakers out there...seized chocolate = frustrating baking experience). Remembering my experience last year when baking for the December MOPS meeting, I attempted to keep my need for things to be perfect in line and forged ahead with the chocolate. I dipped my pretzels, coated them, and am now going to crawl into bed and forget about these goodies and their uneven lumps of chocolate.

In the meantime, enjoy reading a post from last year about the tiny lesson I learned from a holiday baking mishap.

Bring God your Broken Cookie Pieces
(originally posted December 2007)

I devoted a day recently to baking holiday cookies for a cookie exchange at a Mommy get-together. Deciding this would be an educational experience, I enlisted the help of my toddler in the dough making process. We shared quite an enjoyable time measuring, pouring, mixing, and tasting our creations. Upon completing the dough, we carefully tucked it away in the refrigerator to chill.

As soon as naptime began that day, I hauled out the bowls of dough and set about baking and decorating dozens of cookies. This too would have likely been an enjoyable activity for my son, but I wanted my cookies to look cute. Two year olds don’t know how to do cute…just messy and destructively messy. That afternoon I baked and decorated four dozen reindeer cookies, painstakingly placing mini chocolate chips as eyes and red chocolate candies to serve as the nose. Pretzels were cut precisely to serve as little antlers atop the peanut butter cookie head.

Two hours later I surveyed my tiny holiday masterpieces, choosing only the perfect reindeers to swap in the cookie exchange. I wrapped my platter in decorative cellophane, tying it with a coordinating ribbon and decorative tag.

On the morning of my Mommy get-together, I gathered both children, two diaper bags, my purse, and my perfect plate of cookies and off we went. I dropped the children off at their classes, and then rushed back out to the car to retrieve my festive cookies. A quick glance at my watch told me I only had a few minutes to make it back inside for the start of the cookie exchange.

I bet you can imagine what happened next…

I dropped the plate of cookies.

Upside down.

On the hardwood floor.

Antlers were broken off in sad little pieces, noses were without a face, and the beautiful ribbon/tag/ornament combination I had carefully affixed on top of the platter was a jumbled mess.

A perfectly good afternoon spent making these cookies was now wasted.

In a moment of personal introspection, I learned a few things from this mishap. I had missed out on the perfect opportunity to spend quiet time with one of my children because I was seeking perfect cookies simply to impress others. I missed out on quality family time because I was still packing away the cookies and cleaning up the post-baking war zone that was my kitchen. I missed out on a much needed nap because I had devoted my child-free hours to making sure reindeer eyes were even and antlers were straight.

Sometimes I put a significant amount of focus and energy into making sure my personal plate of cookies looks beautiful to others, causing me to neglect the important areas of my life. God does not ask that our life’s cookies resemble a Martha Stewart creation. Rather He asks us to bring him the broken pieces of our life, because He is the only one to make us whole and perfect.

To the Mommy who received my sad little platter of broken cookie pieces at the exchange…just pull out a spoon and dig into those crumbs. I am sure Rudolph is just as tasty in little pieces.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Spreading Some Holiday Cheer

One of my all-time favorite Christmas carols is the whole "Yes, we need a little Christmas...right this very minute" song.
I am sure it has some sort of actual title, but I am much too lazy to actually google such a thing this afternoon.

Anyway, today E. and I had to make a trip to our local post office and I felt the need to burst out with this little diddy about five minutes into our long wait in line.

Our post office is a cozy little joint, filled with friendly employees, and harsh lighting. The normal neighborhood postal place. Because it is Christmas, this tiny little building was filled to the brim with all sorts of people mailing, shipping, and seeking out the elusive holiday-themed stamp. Fortunately it was a school day, so I only had one child in tow.

Unfortunately, it seems that the unspoken social norm in our little post office is that everyone must stand in line QUIETLY.

Most days, E. doesn't do quiet.

Being prepared to wait in Holiday lines, I had come equipped with various toys and tricks in my purse to entertain Evelyn while we waited.

She came equipped with her voice.

Every time a noisy mail cart would squeak behind closed doors, she would loudly gasp, dramatically cover her mouth, and yell, "Wha' dat, Mommy?!"

There was the singing of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" whose only words she knows are "Twinkle, Twinkle Star...How I won-der...are!" and which she feels compelled to sing in extended rounds.

There was the new question of "Who dat, Mommy?" while pointing at random strangers. No one was terribly amused as I quietly attempted to say, "Well that is a nice lady mailing a box." or "That is a friendly man with a cap (who is glaring at me quite unfriendly like)."
However, the winner of our 30+ minutes spent waiting in line at the post office today was the sudden...and persistent...exclamations by my 18 month old who is on the verge of being ready to potty train who kept yelling, "Mommy! PeePee! Mommy! Shoo-shoo (her own word for diaper)...PeePee!!!!!!" and making gestures to let everyone know exactly what had just taken place in her size four Pampers. Seriously, no one was amused.

I have to return to the post office again tomorrow to mail off forms for my passport to be renewed. I am contemplating lugging along our 1980's style boombox and piping in some Christmas music to cheer everyone up in line.

Any Christmas carol....even the one of the dogs barking "Jingle Bells" (E.'s favorite, by the way)...would likely be better than listening to my child give a bathroom report for half an hour.

Monday, December 08, 2008

When They're Good...They're Really, Really Good

The creative forces are not at work today, my friends. Usually the ol blog posts just come tumbling out when I sit down at my laptop but today the well is dry.

In the meantime, enjoy brother and sister enjoying some quality book time in the rocking chair. Good thing our children love to read just as much as Tobe and myself or they might be terribly bored.... It is going to be a sad day when I have to put the Christmas dresses away for another year