Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Little Miss Sensitive



Despite the large blue eyes and unassuming smile, it is starting to become quite evident that little Miss Evelyn can wear her little heart right on the very tip of her onesie sleeve. And that little heart can become quite upset over the slightest of things.


For instance, every Wednesday morning we load up into the phillips' family station wagon and set off for preschool. Usually our "Farm Songs" cd is playing (which has an unfortunate version of "Little Boy Blue" as track 5 that is downright depressing and which Isaac is convinced is Tobe singing), the sun is shining, and children are happy in the backseat. Such pleasant images are quickly dispelled the instant Isaac jumps out of the car and races inside the building with his teacher.


Evelyn quickly notices that her brother has left. Then just as quickly she decides she is no longer happy. The tears and loud crying immediately begin and continue until we arrive home ten minutes later.


Fun times, those Wednesday mornings.


This morning, Isaac jumped out of the car, happy to be at school on "Wear White" day. Evelyn looked over, saw the empty car seat next to her, and immediately began crying loudly at the injustice of her brother leaving her side. Determined that this was not going to be a weekly occurance until the end of May when Isaac goes on summer break, I set out to restore the happiness that had been our car environment ten minutes prior to this episode. I made funny noises, I clapped my hands, I sang funny songs.


The crying intensified.


I turned the interior lights on and off. I honked the horn (that might have partly been due to the fact there was an incredible amount of traffic on the highways this morning). I attempted to dance in my seat.


Still only the sounds of wailing came from the backseat.


It was then that I flipped on the radio. I happened upon a station known for playing the "best of the 80's, 90's, and today" and cranked it up in hopes that Don Henley could sing "Hotel California" louder than Evelyn could cry. The next song was one from my youth and I was immediately transported back to my childhood bedroom as Wilson Phillips began singing, "Hold On."


As I was contemplating Carnie Wilson and her weight battle (Is she skinny or plump these days?), I suddenly realized there was silence coming from my backseat. I looked in the mirror to see sweet little Evelyn smiling peacefully, enjoying herself some Wilson Phillips, legs kicking in time to the music.


My heart swelled as I thought about all the great songs of my youth I could share with her. Images of Mother/Daughter bonding occuring while we sang our hearts out (and perhaps created a car dance or two) as we drove down the road filled my mind.


Next Wednesday I will be prepared for when Isaac exits the car at preschool...however I am having a hard time deciding between Air Supply's Greatest Hits or Phil Collins' But Seriously album. Good thing I have a few days to think about it.

(**Blogger spell check is currently not working. My mother is the first person who will tell you I really need spell check, so please excuse any and all misspellings.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"Eat, Pray, Love"


It is that time again....another book review post here at save the phillips family.
Quit your groaning. I am sure that cute pictures of Isaac and Evelyn will resume on Thursday. Besides I eventually will have to tell you about the experience of entering E's room to find her standing in her crib....the crib whose mattress had yet to be lowered all the way.

For now, I am going to attempt to be studious, thoughtful, and engage in the literary world. Tomorrow we can discuss how Isaac has renounced all forms of Pull-Ups based solely on the fact he does not care for any characters available in this line of diapers.

Over the Christmas holidays I sat myself down and read "Eat, Love, Pray" by Elizabeth Gilbert. I had seen Oprah praising this book, had passed it many times while browsing the shelves at Barnes and Noble (by "browsing" I mean craning my neck to get a good look at the displays while stationed by the train table), and actually received it during a mean game of Dirty Santa (however tossed it back in the pile since I already owned it. Tobe's grandpa actually received it in the end, which makes me giggle just a little every time I think of him reading such a girl-centered book.).

My initial review is this: I loved it and I hated it.

Seriously, I might as well go ahead and hire a nanny because publications around the country are going to be knocking on my door to do book reviews like that for them and someone will have to tend to the children while I write such deep sentiments on the written word.



"I loved it."

The premise of the book is that Elizabeth Gilbert decides to devote a year of her life (after experiencing a painful divorce and coming out of a crippling depression) to finding pleasure, experiencing complete devotion, and then establishing a workable balance between these two things. Her writing style is quite conversational, witty, humorous, and poignant....all at the same time. The book is divided into three mini-books and then also divided into 108 tales (based on the 108 beads of the japa mala....an Indian tradition that inspired the rosary). The set-up of the book is quite easy for one to pick it up, read a few pages, and then go off to change a diaper or push "Repeat Play" on the Baby Einstein video (not that I would ever do such a thing).

I loved the quintessential idea of finding oneself, of pushing past comfortable limits to know one's inner core. I believe such a quest is essential in reaching the high levels of thinking that many never attain. I believe understanding the true working of one's inner being is the key to contentment and happiness. I enjoyed reading an unconventional explanation of faith and who God is to Elizabeth. It challenged my own faith and beliefs, pushing me past the typical ideas I sometimes hold when it comes to spirituality.



"I hated it"

It is this idea of "finding oneself" that also caused me to hate this book. As I watched Elizabeth Gilbert speak of her journeys on Oprah (she has done two episodes to date on this book), I could almost hear the collective sigh of women across the country who desired such "freedom" for their own lives, instantly deciding that their place in life is not "me-centered" and thus they are not being true to themselves. This is where the book can become a misleading guide for the discontented woman (or man) who believes she deserves the chance to drop everything (children, spouse, job, responsibilities) and find "true" happiness. All she is going to find in the end with such romantic ambitions, fueled by very little other than a sense of entitlement to happiness, is the same discontented woman living in the same rut.

Read in the wrong spirit, "Eat, Pray, Love" will only fuel the Oprah notion that every woman deserves to put themselves first, others second, and find what they deem to represent true happiness despite the cost to others. I love to watch a good episode of Oprah, but I honestly believe that her philosophy for women is quite far from that which God has laid out in scripture . I do not think the Proverbs 31 lady ever ditched the children and the hubs (and the weaving of fine linen) to whole-heartedly pursue making only herself happy.


"I loved it" (again)

I say all of that, again to say that I believe going on a quest to find the inner workings of your soul is of utmost importance to reaching the higher level of thinking, to feeling complete with your inadequacies, to understand contentment. That quest can be defined within whatever limits life places on you and the quest is a life-long journey. It is not one answer found in one location at one specific time.
My personal quest began at 18 when I decided at that point I need change. I knew life existed outside the city limits of my small town and I greatly desired to know what that life was. So I moved to the big town of Abilene, Texas (It had a mall, thus if felt big to me at the time). And I found a little piece of myself by learning how to be independent.

I spent four years in college, determined to gain an education with a GPA my father (who was paying for said education) could be proud of. And I found another little piece of myself by learning how to be disciplined.

After those four years, I was approached with the opportunity to spend a summer in Africa. I vividly remembering telling my parents, "I am not asking for your permission to go. I am simply going." I was a feisty 21 year old (and I imagine one day one of my children will say something equally as brazen to me...Lord, help me.) I had come to Kenya to spread the message of "God loves you." to children who lived amongst the garbage, who were abused in every sense of the word on a daily basis, and who knew nothing of unconditional love. Immediately I doubted the foundation of my faith and the message I had come to share. And while spending five weeks living in one of the largest slums of the world, amidst poverty and suffering I still cannot adequately express in words; the person I believed myself to be was completely broken into pieces. It was there that I found cynicism in mankind, myself, and my God.

After a long year, I returned to Africa because I knew that portion of my journey had not been completed. This time I stayed for over two months, working with the same children and struggling with the same questions. Days before I was set to return home, I finally understood the message God had been attempting to relay to me the entire time. Such sentiments would stretch this post much too long, but in the end I found another little piece of myself through tested faith.

Then I married a wonderful man and I found another piece of myself through learned partnership (which happens to be an ongoing process).

Four years later a doctor placed a puffy baby boy into my arms after 26 hours of long labor and I found another piece of myself in motherhood.

And my journey continues.

In conclusion, I recommend reading "Eat, Pray, Love" but read it through the eyes of your own life's journey. The majority of us cannot run off to Italy to eat pasta for four months nor live under the care of a guru in India. Rather we experience life through the normal routines of work, family, and play. It is through such routines I believe the Lord can stretch us, mold us, and teach us who we truly are in the very center of our being.

Monday, January 28, 2008

That Boy...He Has a Way with the Ladies

"4.....That is the number of times Isaac has sat on his time-out carpet this morning before 12pm."

The above was an email I sent to my husband yesterday. I am sure he would love to receive sweet sentiments from me or amusing anecdotes to laugh about amidst his workday, but yesterday it was all about the brief summary of how many times Isaac had the privilege of visiting his time-out carpet.

Seems the lack of audience had inspired him to go to great lengths to get attention.

Great lengths that entailed hiding when it was time to get dressed, attempting to remove Evelyn's hoodie while it was still firmly attached to her body, tossing green peas whimsically through the air during lunch, and excessive use of the word "No" when instructed to do something. This defiance was done with a great big ol grin and dancing blue eyes....mischievous was an understatement for Isaac yesterday.

Although by 5:45pm I was ready for him to retire to his room for the evening as he dangerously leaned far over in his booster seat in an attempt to prove that he would rather fall-out on the floor than eat his (homemade) chicken pot pie, he still managed to warm my heart.

For instance, he needed to exit the bathtub several times to sit on the potty. Although he sat patiently and gave it an honest try, he would return to the tub when nothing was produced. I inquired during one of these tries if he had been successful, to which he casually said, "No. It's just gas."

Bedtime arrived and we made it there in one piece. Every evening I give Isaac "two good nights" meaning that I tell him "goodnight" once while I am feeding Evelyn her nighttime bottle and then come into his room again about 10 minutes later, turn off his light (he enjoys reading by himself before going to sleep....he is truly our child) and kiss him goodnight.

Last night as I entered his room for that precious second goodnight, he looked up from his Little Critter book and said quite sweetly, "I like your coat, Mommy." (I was wearing a jean jacket over my shirt).

That boy...he has a way with the ladies. He has already figured out you can be a mess all day and immediately erase any wrongdoings with a simple compliment. This Mommy is in big trouble.

***

Here is a little video of E. crawling and Isaac talking. Enjoy.
video

Home Again

We rejoined the ranks at casa de phillips on Saturday around noon. The flight home was uneventful, mainly due to the fact that there was one adult per child so no one was outnumbered(and because a family friend happened to be on the same flight and helped us situate all the luggage, stroller, and extra car seat into our car).

Although I love being at my parents' house, I am glad to resume our regular daily life. It will likely take a few days for things to be back to "normal" as Isaac and Evelyn no longer have multiple people to dote on them 24/7. Isaac went through Nanny and PopPop withdrawals on Saturday evening. At one point he laid on the floor, all limbs dramatically sprawled out, saying, "Poor Isaac." It could be a long week.

Here are a few more pictures of our week. I promise regular blogging will resume tomorrow once balance is restored and I can find the computer amidst half-empty suitcases and freshly folded laundry.

Evelyn and Isaac "rough-housing" on Isaac's makeshift Big Boy Bed

E's new skill--pulling up on EVERYTHING!

Playing Memory with PopPop

Post-Nap Ice Cream with Nanny
Friday evening Isaac went for a swim in Nanny's big bathtub. He wasn't too sure of the Jacuzzi effects at first, but then discovered jets of water shooting at oneself can be fun.

Home again at casa de phillips.
Although they appear to be playing together nicely, this scene quickly turned ugly. Isaac moved Evelyn's hand because it was not where he wanted it. She in turned screamed. Tobe and I reprimanded Isaac, who then decided he needed to place himself in time-out. Isaac calmly went and retrieved his time-out carpet, placed it in the hall, and then proceeded to cry loudly as he sat on it. Two is a hard age some days.




Friday, January 25, 2008

The Day After (UPDATED)


The red satin PJ pants stayed at home last night and all wardrobe and potential hair crises were adverted. Last night we celebrated the teaching career of my Grandmother as she was inducted into the local school district's Hall of Honor. The speech went well....I avoided excess use of the word "um" and managed not to fall off the stage. Tobe wanted to videotape my presentation, but I declined preserving it on film for eternity. However, the whole ceremony was recorded and will be played on the local access cable channel. Mom already has the TiVo set to record it and will sell you a copy for $10 each.

Fun times were had by all and we are in full-recovery mode this morning. Despite the fact that my parents have a house with plenty of room, we seemed to have all congregated in their small study recounting every last detail from our evening. What a blessing to celebrate the family matriarch while she is still living.
Tobe was quite excited to sing the Alma mater to my high school and hear me recount all stories from my teenage days spent at SHS.
These two stayed home with a babysitter. Their favorite game here at Nanny and PopPop's house is for big brother to push little sister around the house in the baby walker.

***
Alison is birthing sweet baby Madeline today. Say a prayer for a quick, painless, and safe delivery!
***Sweet Madeline is here! She made her way into the world at 3:18pm. I am sure Alison will post details later on her blog. Alison had a loooooooooooong day so say a prayer for quick recovery.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

We are just movin' and groovin' here in Arkansas. I think about ten minutes after we stepped off the plane, Isaac's nose began running. Twenty-four hours later, Evelyn's nose began running. Forty-eight hours later, my nose began running. We are such fun company to have in one's home with our runny noses, intermittent crying spells, and coughs.

E. seems to be the one who feels the worse. Her appetite is down and her sleeping has been less than stellar. She and I have had many moments to bond between the hours of 1 and 4 am. Fortunately my parents own several stability balls, so I have been able to bounce away on them with her in my arms (she prefers this over rocking). Although I am tired, my thighs are getting quite the work-out as we battle this cold.

I am set to speak at my grandmother's award ceremony tomorrow evening. I am still in a wardrobe crisis and have not decided upon what to wear. Right now my red satin PJ pants seem like a good option. I currently have a sore throat, cough, and a strange rash which are quite the lovely combination for the evening's speaker. The presentation should be interesting if my aliments keep up.

Monday, the children and I ventured out to eat lunch with a dear friend and her daughter (back when I thought the runny nose was mere "a-der-gees" as Isaac calls it....sorry, LP!). I had been explaining to Isaac who we were to be dining with since he hasn't seen this little friend since he was a baby. As I combed his hair that morning before we left, Isaac turned to me and quite confidently said, "My hair looks nice for Lauren." And so it begins.

We are off this morning to visit more family and wipe more runny noses. I am sure many are glad to see us on their doorsteps, Kleenex and cough medicine in hand.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Once Again...Flying the Unfriendly Skies

Yesterday we flew the friendly skies. Although the skies were friendly, Mr. Southwest Ticket Counter Supervisor was not quite as lovely.

Upon checking in, well before our departure time, we requested a courtesy document for Tobe to escort the children and me to the gate. Immediately we were told this is not possible, to which we asked to speak to a supervisor. Mr. Supervisor listened to our very politely stated request, turned to me, and then ever so impolitely said, "You can't handle it by yourself?" with the meanest sneer I have ever seen.

I wonder what he would have done should someone speak to his wife/mother/daughter/niece/granny/any female he might know in such a way.

Fortunately my husband displayed great restraint and again politely asked, "Have you ever done it?"

Mr. Supervisor claimed that indeed he had. Although I wanted to call him on this claim, considering he was no less than 45 and he would have had to have small children quite late in life to experience post 9-11 security measures (And besides what man travels alone with his two small children??), I let it go. I figured getting detained by airport security would only put a damper on our day of travel and probably wasn't the best example for my children. Fortunately Mr. Supervisor printed us a courtesy document and grudgingly passed it along to Tobe.

We cleared security with minimal issue, only to be stopped and questioned that indeed Evelyn's socks were merely socks and not shoes we had forgotten to remove (She was sporting the baby socks that look like Mary Jane shoes). Again I refrained from saying that we had planted a shoe bomb on our sweet eight month old in hopes of destroying a 45 minute commuter flight.

The children and I boarded the plane which is always a comical experience. Because Southwest felt like it was a good idea to change preboarding policy and now allow families with small children to board after Group A (meaning 60 people are already on board) rather than before, I had to encourage Isaac to continue walking down the aisle while lugging two bags and a rather large suitcase with Evelyn riding in the Bjorn. I sure appreciated how everyone commented on the cuteness of my children, yet didn't offer to help. Thanks again.

We finally crossed over into the great state of Arkansas and made a safe landing. I had sent up many prayers during our hour flight that some kind person would offer to help us deplane. Fortunately a nice gentleman stopped and asked what he could do to help me. My faith in mankind was restored and we deplaned with little incident (I am considering Isaac walking into the cockpit rather than exiting a plane a "little" incident. However, in these high security level days I would not suggest allowing your child to do this because it is not well received.).

Upon greeting my parents at the airport, I swore I was not flying alone with the children again until they are sulking teenagers who can cart their own stuff while I read a gossip magazine on the plane rather than attempting to retrieve tossed toys with my foot from the middle of the aisle.

Yet I might see if ol Mr. Supervisor wants to bring them to Arkansas the next time since he is quite capable of flying alone with babies.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Oh Deer Me!

Last night I had to make an emergency run to the Banana Republic.

I happen to be speaking next week at the banquet honoring my Grandmother and it seems I am in complete wardrobe crisis here at casa de phillips. Thus the emergency trip to the BR.

As I was driving down the road, singing along loudly with the radio because I was blissfully alone in the car and therefore not forced to listen to one of our many Little People CD's, a sudden blur went across my windshield. I happened to glance to my right and caught the image of a huge deer (a Buck with enormous antlers) leaping across the headlights of the truck right next to me. The truck swerved into my lane to avoid the deer and I went as far left as I could before being forced to drive in the median that happens to be filled with small trees.

Fortunately neither of us hit the deer nor each other. This was most likely a major accident narrowly avoided, considering the size of the deer and the speed at which we were driving (about 45mph). It is always a surreal moment when you bond with a complete stranger after experiencing something random together. Although we both rapidly moved our cars to avoid Bambi's father, neither of us slowed down due to the volume of traffic behind us. After composure was regained and both cars were in their rightful lanes, the driver of the truck pulled up next to me (while still going about 45mph), making motions asking if I was okay and then we both raised our hands as if to ask, "What in the world???" Crazy.

Fortunately I made it safe and sound to Banana Republic. Although I did not find anything suitable for my presentation, I did do a little dance of joy when I noticed the clearance racks were marked an additional 60% of the lowest ticketed price. I scored jeans for $14, a sweater for $10, and get this....a shirt for $1.11. Yes, a shirt for less than a price of a Route 44 from Sonic.

Hopefully Mr. Deer made is safe and sound to wherever he was travelling last night. After the near-miss I wanted to roll down my window and yell at him to turn around. Seems he doesn't know the layout of our little town here and was heading straight in the direction of the Bass Pro Shops.

I cannot imagine the kind-of frenzy an 8 point Buck would cause in the parking lot of Bass Pro.

***
I just received word last night that another article is set to be published. In the words of Isaac, "Hood-ray!!" This one will be featured in the April edition of the bimonthly magazine that runs in my hometown. It will eventually be available on online, at which time I will provide a link.
***
Tomorrow we are once again boarding an airplane. Although I know many of you enjoy a good Phillips' family travel story, I am hoping for an uneventful trek. I'll let you know how it goes.
Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Policeman and His Suspect

Did I mention that I have an 8 month old who woke up Sunday morning and decided to go right into full-crawling mode, casually giving up the army-crawl style of transportation she had been doing?

Apparently something clicked in her little brain overnight because Sunday morning she was crawling everywhere and keeps getting better each day. Gone are the quiet moments of Evelyn playing on her sweet little quilt. The girl is on the move. Do not dare leave her alone while you step away....because she quickly comes to find you.

Did I mention that I have a 2 year old that now feels the need to police everything his crawling 8 month old sister is doing?

This afternoon as I was hurriedly attempting to change clothes in peace (we were about to go for one last walk before the freezing temperatures settle into our area overnight), Isaac came running into my running shouting, "Baby Evelyn has the letter "P" magnet! Baby Evelyn has the letter "P" magnet!"

We have been working with Isaac on the basics of baby safety and what things Evelyn could choke on, however the Letter "P" magnet is about the same diameter as a coke can, so choking hazard it likely is not. I went and retrieved the apparently sacred "P" magnet, placing it high on the refrigerator door, then went back to finish dressing.

Five seconds later a frantic two year old voice screeches, "Baby Evelyn has my Santa! Baby Evelyn has my Santa!!" Apparently Baby Evelyn had snatched a drawing of Santa Claus done by Isaac that still resides on our refrigerator door. Santa was placed safely back on the fridge, next to the Gingerbread Man creation whose buttons and ribbons have all been torn off except for one sad eye (torn off by the artist, Isaac), and again I resumed getting dressed.

"Baby Evelyn has my snack! Baby Evelyn has my snack!" immediately filled the air before I could even make it down the hall back to my bedroom. Turns out, Baby Evelyn was only taking things given to her. Policeman Isaac was handing her contraband items and then immediately protesting when she took them.

I hope this is a short phase.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Boy was in Rare Form

When the Lotion Bandit struck again by 8:15am yesterday morning, I should have known it was going to be an interesting day.

While I was preparing breakfast, Isaac sauntered into the kitchen with a guilty expression on his face. He then looked down at his hands, attempting to feign complete shock in way only a two year old can, saying "Uh-Oh, look at my hands." Apparently he had discovered my face moisturizer and decided that his hands were on the dry side.

As I cleaned them off I was going on and on about how he is not allowed to play with lotion, blah, blah, blah.

He looked up at me during this diatribe and said, "But I lovs lotion."

***
A new battle we are experiencing at the table is everyone (Isaac and Evelyn) wanting to blow raspberries while eating. This is a normal developmental stage for Evelyn, however we discourage the spitting while she is eating to promote appropriate table manners later on (we had the same issue with Isaac as a baby). Isaac has quickly picked up on the blowing raspberries and is joining his sister in the spitting fun. He is only encouraged to blow harder and louder by Evelyn's infectious giggles over the act.

This leaves me as the bad guy, enforcing the "No Raspberry" rule at the table. Yesterday morning another Raspberry session was in full-swing when I proclaimed that if Isaac spat one more time, he was off to the time-out carpet. Of course he did spit one more time. As I got up to remove him from the booster seat and send him to Time Out, he quickly stuffed an entire piece of toast into his mouth as to not be hungry while enduring the torture of sitting on a small square of carpet in our hall.

**
Another area where Isaac has decided to mimic Evelyn's behavior is in removing shoes in the car. Evelyn has always been able to get her socks off her little feet and usually does so whenever given the opportunity (We believe she will be our "barefoot" child). Despite his sisters sockless feet, Isaac has been instructed to leave his shoes on while riding in the car.

Yesterday as we were returning from Barnes and Noble storytime, I noticed Isaac had removed a shoe. I then had to once again enter lecture-mode, telling him to put the shoe back on his foot and do not remove the other one or the Time-Out Carpet will once again be revisited. As we pulled into our driveway it was apparent that both shoes were off and Mr. Time-Out carpet was going to get a lot of use that day.

I removed Isaac from his carseat, instructing him to go inside and put up his shoes and coat. I told him he would have to sit on his time-out carpet as soon as I got inside with the diaper bag and Baby Evelyn. By the time I got through the door, Isaac had already put his belongings away, hauled out the carpet, and was sitting on it with the saddest pout ever on his face. I had to quickly retreat to the kitchen with Baby Evelyn to keep from laughing.

**
And so our day continued, with Isaac taking the world's shortest nap and then running around like a madman until we were finally blessed with the task of tucking him into bed for the evening. Everything he said was at an extremely loud volume and everything he did was accomplished at an enormous rate of speed. He squealed with absolute joy whenever Baby Evelyn was near in pitches only dogs can hear. He climbed, jumped, ran, and crawled all over everything. While I was bathing the two last night, I looked down to see him rapidly drinking cupfuls of bathwater.

I hope he slept peacefully last night and wakes up refreshed and calm for a productive day today. Otherwise I might take him to run laps at our local track until his little body is worn out.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Joyful Kitchen

When casa de phillips moved into its current location 5.5 years ago the kitchen...although nice and spacious...was country blue and pink. Some of you saw this sight and hopefully such images were not burned into your brain forever.

These days the kitchen is painted a happy mixture of yellows, with red and sage accents in the draperies and accessories. Gone are the blue geese and pink accent wall. I believe it is my favorite room in the house. Some other time I must share how I painted these walls while on a school break when Tobe was away on a business trip for a week. This task involved me attempting to strategically place a telephone where I thought I might land should I happen to fall off the very tall ladder used to reach the top of the walls.

I mention my kitchen because this room of the house was the topic of my MOPS meeting this morning. Our devotional was lead by a "more experienced Mom" meaning someone who has survived the preschool years and has gone on to bigger challenges such as adolescence. This particular mother shared with us the importance of the mother in the kitchen. She was not encouraging tedious meal preparation or extensive baking sessions. Rather, she was promoting a positive Mommy vibe to radiate from the most popular room of the house.

The kitchen is where people congregate. It is a place that is deeply connected to togetherness and the pleasure of eating. Although our family is small, one can usually find all four of us stepping over and around each other as I cook supper, Tobe feeds Evelyn, Evelyn tosses her sippy cup dramatically on the floor, and Isaac attempts to search all the cabinets for hidden treasures while my back is turned. At times such chaos makes me want to run for the bathroom, feigning illness, simply to have five minutes of peace.

However, the Mom today encouraged us to embrace the hecticness that is the kitchen, especially a kitchen filled with one's family. She said that if we bring three simple things into the kitchen each time we walk through its doorways, our family will be deeply blessed.

Upon hearing this proclamation, I had my pen poised, ready to take copious notes. What would those three things be.....EVOO a la Rachel Ray? Pureed sweet potatoes a la Jessica Seinfield (whose cookbook I had nightmares about last night....seriously.)? A nifty apron that is stylish yet functional?

Although my list of possibilities could find a useful place in the kitchen, her list involved characteristics of one's Mommy self. She encouraged us to enter the kitchen with:

A. A Joyful Heart
B. A Smile at the Future of our Family (a la Proverbs 31)
C. A Mouth full of Wisdom

Buying a new bottle of EVOO or pureeing a variety of vegetables to hide in spaghetti would have been much simpler than the list provided above. I know I do not always enter the kitchen joyfully but rather sometimes stand and cook dinner while obsessing over little grievances. I struggle with always "smiling at the future" because I often defeatedly decide I will forever be sweeping up bits of dried Play-Doh and Goldfish crumbs. Sometimes the only wisdom flowing from my lips is, "Do not take the corn on the cob holders into the living room (a recent epidemic here...don't ask)."

Despite these shortcomings, I am inspired to make my cute yellow kitchen a center of joy for my family. Tonight as I walk through those doors I will enter my kitchen with a joyful heart.....even if it is simply because there is no longer a pink accent wall.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thursday Tidbits

Want to know the best way to bring library story time to a screeching halt?

Allow your child to open a large bag of mini Oreo cookies and begin happily munching away while seated on the group carpet.

Cries of mutiny will drown out any production of a creative puppet show or the reading of an intriguing book going on at the front of the room.

Other parents annoy me sometimes because their lack of adequate parenting skills in public settings creates complete chaos for the rest of us Mommies attempting to keep our toddlers semi-composed. For example, this particular parent whipping out the Oreos must have never been taught the rule of "bring enough to share with the whole class or don't bring any at all" as she allowed her daughter to greedily stuff Oreo after Oreo into her little mouth. One sniff of that chocolate and cream-filled goodness caused the other children at story time to fall into puddles of whining messes, begging their own mothers for a snack. The poor librarian simply attempted to continue reading despite the fact that her audience was now much more focused on snatching Oreos rather than listening to stories about a tiny fireman.

***
Yesterday I read a tale about a child covering himself in something secretly swiped from the master bathroom. Smiling at their amusing story, I smartly thought, "Not at casa de phillips."

Fast forward to 3:30pm today when I walked into Isaac's room to retrieve him after his nap. Baby lotion was everywhere. His cheeks were covered in pink, his hair spiked high, his pants and shirt resembled a poorly done finger painting. I put on my sternest Mommy voice and immediately condemned this lotion-spreading behavior.

Did this cause any pause for tears or sorrowful apologies....no. The tears did not start flowing until he looked down and realized that his precious green blankie was covered in the pink goo as well. (And continued to flow as his slimy little bottom was placed on his time-out carpet)

***
I received word today that an article I submitted for publication is going to be run in a local magazine. Hooray! This is especially good news considering we are now in need of replacing an economy size bottle of baby lotion. I'll pass along details when I know them.
Happy almost-weekend!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Last of My Remaining Brain Cells

My intentions were to sit down tonight and type out a thoughtful post about a book I recently read.

Such intentions died somewhere between the completion of nap time this afternoon (Isaac never fell asleep today so this occurred quite early) and bathtime this evening.


There were no tantrums or grumpy children to contend with this evening. No one was falling out crying on the floor. Everyone was happy and perky. It was just the normal day-to-day task of entertaining, feeding, bathing, disciplining, cleaning and loving my family that somehow fried my brain tonight.


I thought if I had to say such sentences as

"Please do not eat the lotion"

"Do not cram the toy into your sister's mouth."

"Do not work your puzzle directly under my feet while I cook."

"Keep the water in the bathtub."

"Do not drag the fire truck tent around the house."

"Throw the leaf away rather than crumbling it into the carpet"

one more time tonight my head might literally start spinning in circles.....and even then I would have to say such things as "Don't pull all the cookie cutters out and give them to Baby Evelyn." because I doubt head-spinning would have made an impact on my selective-hearing toddler.


(Despite his selective hearing, my heart almost broke when I peeked in on him just a minute ago, all cuddled under his quilt wanting to look at one more book before I turned out the light.)


Alas, there are no thoughts on my latest read to share this evening. I doubt I could even comprehend the newest issue of Parents magazine at this point, much less write about it.


Instead I leave you with pictures I have lovingly titled, "Future Blackmail During the Angry Adolescent Years"



**This was a game invented solely by them of "Let's both put the same washcloth in our mouth and giggle uncontrollably while half the bathwater spills onto Mommy's jeans."

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Firehouse Fun

Each week, I attempt for us to have at least one full day at home. This means a day free of errands, park trips, Sonic drive throughs, library story times, school, or Mommy and Me class. Although I think I would prefer a little interaction with the world outside of the walls of casa de phillips most days, I believe it is important for Isaac and Evelyn to spend time just being home.

Today was our "Just Being Home" day. Translated this means I was the only one not wearing PJs at 10:30am, Isaac pulled every toy imaginable out of both kid's closets, Evelyn was delighted to crawl in her brother's chaos, and nap time could not come too soon.

Rather than just opening every Christmas present received and going into a toy coma, I always put several aside to open over the next few months (We have actually unwrapped them, but have not removed them from the box.). Today we pulled out the fire engine tent Tobe's grandparents gave Isaac.

Because all I had to do was pull it from its carrying case and give it a big shake to unfold (rather than undertaking "some assembly"....however we still have not figured out how to magically fold it back into the carrying case), this tent was a big hit with me. Because it is huge, new, and a firetruck, this tent was a big hit with Isaac. Because she got to be right in the middle of the action, this tent was a big hit with Evelyn as well.

"Fider-fighter" was the game of the day. Apparently many homes were saved and lives prevented from being destroyed because the three of us extinguished more fires than I can count.
Fire Chief

Assistant Fire Chief

Being Crowned Assistant Fire Chief

Time to make lunch for the fire station

Even Important Fire Chiefs pause for a spot of tea

"Helping" his sister eat a cupcake

On the move to find more fires

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Dynamic Duo


"Here-da-go, Baby Ev-lyn."

I hear this phrase no less than 32 times a day.

On September 12, 2006 when I took that tell-tale home pregnancy test that confirmed the true reason I was craving nachos, a part of me felt ecstatic and a tiny part of me felt sad for Isaac. He was only 13 months old at the time and I felt guilty for introducing a sibling into his life before he had been given the chance to experience the world around him for at least two years alone.

That guilt subsided long ago when I quickly realized the whole "adding-a-new-baby-into-the-mix-here-at-casa-de-phillips" was going to be okay. I do not even think Isaac remembers a time before Baby Evelyn. (Although yesterday he did "brighten" my morning by pointing out my tummy and then asking if Baby Evelyn could return there. I do have some schooling left to do with that boy on how to talk to a girl. At least I was inspired this morning at the gym to add on some extra crunches to my routine.)

Often times I find Evelyn surrounded by a mountain of toys, brought to her by her ever-doting brother (thus the phrase, "Here da go, baby Ev-lyn."). During these times, I can usually only see her sweet face and arms excitedly waving in the air, encouraging her brother to bring MORE! Isaac loves to be the first one to race into Evelyn's room in the morning, climbing up onto the crib to peek over the rails. He loves to kiss Evelyn's hand and cheek goodnight each evening before they retire to their separate rooms. Isaac will brush Evelyn's hair in the bathtub and retrieve her sippy cup whenever she tosses it down.

In exchange, Evelyn squeals with delight at the mere sight of Isaac and lunges towards any toy he last touched. She attempts to grab handfuls of his blonde hair whenever he gets too close and falls over in laughter at the slightest attempts of humor her brother makes.

That September day I never imagined what a joy it would be to watch my children love each other. I know there will (quickly) come a time when lines are drawn and battles are staged. I just pray in the end they still call each other as adults and complain about all the idiotic things Tobe and I did as parents. Then I will know they are true friends.




Saturday, January 05, 2008

Nomination Form, Please.

Tobe has decided to start 2008 off with a bang...

This evening, after the children were tucked snugly in their beds, Tobe surprised me with an evening of relaxation to myself.

There is nothing more precious to a mother of young children than time to herself. Seriously. Offer a mommy $5oo or a chance to have two hours to herself....I promise she will take the two hours every single time.

My evening began with a warm shower, lit by candles, and then I was provided fresh, warm towels out of the dryer after I had completely bathed myself in all the new lotions and potions I received for Christmas. Tobe made a Sonic run to get me my Route 44 of choice. The laptop is all set up in our bed, ready to play the latest chick flick for me while I lounge in peace. (And while Tobe watches play-off football in the other room.)

I must find that "Husband of the Year" nomination form...


I bid you farewell, as I am off to watch my movie in my cozy PJs while drinking the world's largest Diet Dr. Pepper by myself. Life is good.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Odds N Ends

It is nap time, but apparently someone forgot to mention this little detail to my children. One is singing random songs loudly from his big boy bed while the other is fussing in her crib. Were they not instructed in "Baby 101" that Mommy is much nicer after a quiet two hours to herself in which she accomplishes a variety of tasks on her to-do list?

Such lack of napping might require an early bedtime this evening, which works out well since Tobe and I have big plans once the little ones are in bed. Yes, 60% of the Christmas decor is still present in our house and tonight was deemed "Undeck the Halls" night. If the Phillips' bank accounts were much larger than they are, I would be tempted to throw everything on the curb...rather than packing it away nice and neatly....and starting anew next year. Alas that is not my luxury.

In an attempt to cloth my ever-growing daughter, the children and I headed out to the local mall this morning for a brisk walk and to exchange some size 9 month Christmas presents for a roomier size 12 month (seriously, if she keeps growing at this pace, Evelyn might be over six feet tall by the time she is in third grade.) garments. All was well during our shopping. Both kids were perky and happy, enjoying puttering along in our zippy red stroller. One store we had to make a stop in has a Lego table in the back, which Isaac is allowed to play at if he has been a good little shopper. He was happily playing Legos while I browsed the sale racks nearby (it is a small store...no Amber Alert potential here). Another little boy was also playing Legos, whose mother was watching from a close distance.

My ears suddenly perked up when I heard that mother say, "Now, Henry, don't bite."

And then again, "Remember, we don't bite."

I turned around in time to see Henry attempting to bite everything...from Isaac (which he didn't), to the Lego table, to a display of pajamas. The mom attempted to smile at me and I returned a friendly "We've been there too" look (Actually, biting has not been an issue for Isaac. However, a couple of months ago he went through a phase of wanting to hug the tar out of any child he encountered.). We encountered them again later on in the mall, where Henry was gnawing on the stroller. I almost tossed them a spare teething ring (from a safe distance) but opted to just keep on our merry way.

Speaking of teething (like that transition?), Evelyn has sprouted two bottom teeth. She also has got the army crawl down quite well and can really scoot if she is after something of value (either the remote, a forgotten magazine, or anything associated with Isaac). She is able to pull herself into a sitting position and loves to stand for long periods of time at our ottoman. Isaac really took the physical development quite slow, so this rapid pace is a new experience for us.

One area that she is not excelling at is eating. The girl only loves baby oatmeal and barely tolerates anything else. Isaac was eating mainly solid foods at nine months, yet I am worried this girl will have to have a bowl of goo with a candle stuck in the middle served at her first birthday. We recently introduced her to Gerber Veggie Puffs in order to improve her eating coordination. It only took a few times of showing her the puff goes into the mouth before she grasped the concept. Now, we simply place a few puffs on her tray and she goes after them in such a frenzy it resembles the board game "Hungry, Hungry Hippo." We took video of this last night because it is truly hilarious. Perhaps I will find the motivation to post it this weekend.

As I have mentioned before, Isaac has recently learned almost all of the 50 United States due to working a wooden puzzle (He only lacks learning the "little states" such as Delaware and Connecticut). He now has a placemat with the states on the front and their flags on the back. Last night he pointed to one of the flags and said, "That is Colorado's flag." Indeed it was. I figured perhaps my parents had taught him a few flags while they were here (the flags are not on his puzzle...just on the place mat). This morning he correctly pointed out Michigan's flag.

After a quick call to my mom where I found out they had not taught him any of the flags, we have decided that he is recognizing the state name. Most people start with the basic sight words of "Cat" or "Bat" but it looks like we will be beginning with "Pennsylvania."

Riots are beginning in each of the children's rooms....one is crying and the other one is loudly saying, "Mommy, I want to get up now!" Time for this rambling blog to find an end.

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Stolen Moments

Neither of my children are big cuddlers.

This should come as to no surprise considering who their parents happen to be, however as the Mommy I believe that the cuddles of my babies is my God-given right.

Isaac was never one to be held and while Evelyn enjoyed snuggling at first, she has quickly become too busy to sit in someone's arms for an extended amount of time.

Yet, I am blessed with times during the day...albeit short....where each of them wants to spend a little quality time with me. Perhaps they have a internal instinct of knowing they must pay the piper in order to continue receiving the basics of food, water, and love. Perhaps they kind of dig me. Whatever the reason, they cuddle and I do not question their intentions.

With Evelyn, she likes to coo and pat my face after finishing her bedtime bottle. She chats endlessly, while often times poking my face or stroking my hair. This girl is going to miss the hair when it is gone. We often prolong her bedtime to have these quiet minutes alone, listening to her baby babble and admiring her dainty features.

Isaac will always be held for a book reading of any kind (or any length...I am contemplating beginning chapter books with him). As soon as the last page is read and the back cover closed, he is off again. Yet occasionally during the day he will run up with a spontaneous hug or ask to be held. It is those times that I study his long eyelashes and the curve of his nose, attempting to remember every detail of this little boy who all too quickly become a man before my eyes.

My cuddles are often stolen and short, yet priceless. I imagine when I am 80 years old, lacing up my SAS shoes in preparation for a big shopping trip to the 99 cent store with this girl, I will still be able to close my eyes and feel the weight of my children in my arms, sense their gentle touch on my skin, hear the shallowness of their breathing, and smell the lingering traces of baby shampoo. It is then I will be oh so grateful for stolen moments.





(Blogger must have emerged from its post-holiday funk because I can post pictures once again)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Welcome to Blahville

The post-Christmas melancholy has set in.

Perhaps it is because today at lunch Isaac looked up at me with quite the serious tone and asked, "When is it gonna be Christmas day?". Poor boy has celebrated Christmas so many times he has not a clue to the fact that the 25th has come and gone.

Perhaps it is because my fingers might never regain their feeling from unwinding various lengths of plastic twine from toys. I contribute a good portion of our landfill problem to the world's toymakers and their excessive use of packing materials.

Perhaps it is because Tobe and I saw "I am Legend" over the weekend, which prompted us to have that lovely discussion of what our family should do in case of national chaos and crisis.

Perhaps it is because all the festive PJs, shirts, dresses, and hair bows are tucked away in plastic containers, not to be worn again until next holiday season ( Most likely never to be worn again due to the ever-growing state of our children).

Perhaps it is because although the holiday clothing is put away, none of my Christmas decorations are housed in the attic yet. Due to our extended Christmas celebrations, I left up the decor. Yesterday I could not muster the energy to begin the daunting task of taking everything down and packing it away. Every time I walk past my Christmas tree today I can feel it quietly mocking me for such laziness. I just stick my tongue out at it and run in the other direction.

Indeed the post-Christmas melancholy has arrived, unannounced and uninvited.

I love everything about the months of September through December....the anticipation (and continued anticipation if one lives where casa de phillips currently resides) of cold weather, the various ways to decorate one's home for the season, the speciality drinks at Starbucks. Then January is at my doorstep, with no fun home decor or specialty hot beverage to sound its arrival. Welcome, blahs.

Never fear, I will come out of this blahness in a few days. I am sure the feeling will once again return to my fingers (just in time for Evelyn's first birthday) and the world likely won't end in the next six months. Isaac will hopefully figure out that indeed we did celebrate Christmas, amid the various gift exchanges and traveling. I will learn to settle for a regular skinny mocha from Starbucks in exchange for the Peppermint White Chocolate one with extra whipped cream I have been consuming this past month. My Christmas tree will again find his space among the outgrown baby clothes and old college textbooks in our attic.

Life will return to normal.

...Until next September when the buzz starts all over again.





Apparently Blogger has the blahs as well...or perhaps it is our computer which seems to have caught a virus we cannot rid ourselves of....because this is the only picture I am able to post.