Sunday, August 31, 2008

Racing into Labor Day


As the above video portrays, we are just chilling (some more than others) here at casa de phillips this Labor Day weekend.

Here are a sampling of pictures from our Saturday:

Isaac sick...again.

A Boy and His Cotton Crop

Miss E. and the talented gymnast, Cousin Britney (who was the flower girl in our wedding years ago)

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Have a great holiday!

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Sound of Silence

I had every intention of posting last night about our day, but it seems I was fast asleep on our couch by 8:55pm. I managed to read two pages of a new book, flip through a Southern Living catalog, converse with my husband, and gear up to watch the Democratic National Convention....before I drifted off to a deep slumber, waking up only at 10:30pm to the sounds of my husband discussing (with himself? with me? with the news commentators?) the political convention. Alas, no post last night.

By the way, as I type this at 6am I believe my next door neighbor is weed-eating his backyard. Odd thing to do at this time of day. They also have a kiddie pool in their backyard...but have no children...so I think perhaps they march to the beat of a different drum.

Back to the task at hand: Posting about yesterday.

Yesterday was our "Back to School/Meet the Teacher Day" at Isaac's preschool. Due to his preschool holding Mother's Day Out this summer, this Back to School event was held after lunch. Groan. After lunch is never a great time of day for my children (or for me) because they are napping. We are BIG on sleep here at casa de phillips and all of us tend to lean towards the grouchy side when such matters have been neglected.

Despite the odd time, I put on my happy face for the day and off we went. The plan was for us to accomplish three things while out in the world yesterday:

1. Get Isaac's hair cut
2.Meet friends for lunch
3. Attend Back to School/Meet the Teacher event

After a semi-relaxing morning spent at home ("semi" because surely one child must play with the EXACT toy that his/her sibling happens to be playing with at that time) off we set for the local kiddie salon.

It should be noted that we do take Isaac to get his hair cut at the over-priced kid's salon where one gets to sit in a firetruck and watch television while getting his hair cut (by the way, Toni and Guy does the same thing for adults...minus the firetruck and add a glass of wine. Good-bye, personal interaction!). It would be cheaper to cut his hair at home, however I struggle cutting paper in a straight line and the color of his hair makes every scissor cut show. So, hello! Kiddie salon.

Isaac loves to get his hair cut because the salon has a train table and he can get his train fix there. Yesterday we walked into an empty salon, meaning there was no extra time for Isaac to play trains. After a dramatic pout face was made (Isaac's new speciality...which has zero effect on his parents because it makes us laugh every time), Isaac chose his car (firetruck as opposed to taxi) and set about getting his hair trimmed.

Evelyn was in the stroller....sobbing.

Evelyn is the sweetest girl ever, but there are days when she is super-sweet and days when she is moody. Yesterday was a moody day. Moody days involve LOTS of crying, lots of wanting to be held, and lots of unhappiness for everyone within a ten mile radius. She was slightly crying when we entered the salon, but it turned into a full-out wail the moment the hair-stylist got into her face and asked what was wrong. I am thinking of making a cute little sign to pin to E.'s shirt that reads, "Please do not speak to the cute, crying baby". The stylist continued to comment during the entire haircut that Evelyn just must need a nap.

Perhaps I should also add to that cute little sign, "Please keep unsolicited advice to yourself."

After a good haircut and a few minutes afterwards to play trains, off we went to the land of the Happy Meal to meet our friends for lunch.

Let it be known that the Land of the Happy Meal is not my favorite dining destination by any means, however if two Mommies (with four children between them) desire to have anything resembling a normal conversation, an eating establishment with a playarea is a must. Besides Land of the Happy Meal is cheap and the children and I can usually split two kids meals between the three of us.

Lunch was ordered, a table was selected, and we sat down to dine on nuggets and apple slices with our friends. It was about that moment when the swarm of half-day private school kindergartners hit the play area. Did I mention the majority of these children were girls....girls who screamed very, very loudly on a constant basis?

I could barely hear my friend talking to me across the table, much less manage to digest my food with all of the commotion. Isaac was the only child out of the four brave enough to enter the playscape with the big kids, claiming, "I am big like those boys!". He returned seconds later, in tears, because someone had apparently spanked him (never knew the culprit). We left shortly afterwards, unable to tolerate the constant high-pitched screams of five year old little girls and the neglectful parenting of a group of moms huddled in the corner.

My friend had to run home to grab something she lost before our preschool event (her oldest is starting school with Isaac this year). Since we had about 20 minutes to kill before heading to Isaac's school, I decided to drive the kids past our local pumpkin patch to see how the corn maze was growing. This was not met with a round of applause by either child.

Evelyn was fussing because by this point she was exhausted and I am sure her little ears were still ringing from all the screaming we had endured. Isaac was filled with a million questions about why we were going to his school at an odd time, if he was going to stay "long or short", if I was going to sit in a chair, what happened to one of his previous teachers, who was going to be there....and on and on and on. No one was too concerned about the growth of the corn maze..except me, who is fearful it won't be tall enough come October 1st.

Finally we arrived at school and entered the building for our "Meet the Teacher" event. We had to wait a few minutes inside before it started, which Isaac took as an opportunity to give me and the other waiting families a tour of his school. It should be noted that his school is quite small, so a "tour" was limited to such sites as "This is where we pee-pee" and "This is how we go outside" and (pointing to the chapel) "This is where Pastor Randy lives."

How could my very-shy-just-a-year-ago boy now be guiding the tour of the preschool?

"Back to School/Meet the Teacher" turned out to be kids playing in one half of the room while the teachers attempted to talk to parents (who were stuffed around a kiddie table...thus answering the question of whether or not I was going to sit down) in the other half of the room. Loud does not begin to describe the volume that room reached. At one point I looked over at my friend who had been at McDonalds with us earlier and her face was completely glazed over as if her body had simply shut down due to the overload of noise.

We got our information, hugged our teacher, helped put away the gazillion toys the 15 kids had managed to pull out in 30 minutes time, and left for home.

Hallelujah!

Once home, I put both kids down for naps and just sat on our couch...enjoying the sound of absolutely nothing.

It was wonderful.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Works for Me!: Beans


Oh, Blogosphere, aren't you tickled it is Wednesday because I get to share with you a Works-for-Me tip as opposed to sharing with you how I had to leave the mall today shortly after arriving with two crying children who could not seem to get along, despite the large amounts of raisins shoved in their direction or the promise of playing at the train store if everyone had good behavior. Love those Mommy moments. Still mourning the beautiful sky blue dress I had to abandon in Ann Taylor that was on sale for $19.99.



That is a story for another day....today, it is all about what works for me: Beans!

Over the weekend I had purchased two large bags of dried beans. Monday morning I pulled out two sturdy plastic containers (Thank You, Container Store!) and the beans. I made a container of beans for each child, laid out some measuring cups and spoons....and we all played happily for a long, long time that morning in the kitchen. We scooped, counted, measured, sorted, swept...there was a lot of sweeping...and had a great time.


Here is the proof that dried beans are a fun toy:



As a side note, I should mention that although edible, beans are quite small and could cause little ones to choke. Both of my kids understand (and obey, thankfully) when to not put something in their mouth. That being said, I was playing with them (or unloading the dishwasher...the never-ending task) in the kitchen the entire time the beans were out. I thought a trip to the ER with a choking toddler would really put a damper on our day. Keep a close eye on kids when playing with such small items.


****

To clear up any doubts...yes, we did teach Evelyn to say "Sing Song." It stemmed from Tobe thinking the pirate costumes pictured below resembled Sing Song costumes. Evelyn says it more like "Sh-ing Sh-ong" which is about the most precious thing ever. Thus we require her to repeat it several times a day. Despite her independent streak, she will usually repeat any word we ask her to say and remembers a lot of them. This provides hours of entertainment for our little family, especially now that the Olympics are over.
***
Head on over to Shannon's place at Rocks in my Dryer to read more "Works for Me! Wednesday" tips

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Let's Try This...


After days and DAYS of attempting to upload video the "normal" way, I have decided to take the "One True Media" route. It hasn't been a pretty journey towards posting video, but it seems I finally have something to share in this media form.

Here is a video of both of my lovely children chatting away about various things. They are lovely children....even if the quality and nature of this video is not.

Enjoy!

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day of School


I hope everyone's pencils are sharpened and their new clothes pressed...because today is back to school day in our area. Although Isaac does not go "back to school" until next week, there is a bit of excitement in the air as this new season begins. This morning on our walk we noticed many school bus, filled with students eager (okay, some are eager and others are just plain depressed that summer has come to an end) to begin a new chapter of their educational career.

Being the slight nerd that I am, I have always loved the first day of school....when I was a student and when I was a teacher. I love the sense of promise that it holds, the idea that one is starting out with a clean slate and a fresh beginning. That fairy tale eventually comes to an end as life reverts back to a normal state and kids/parents/teachers all begin counting down the days until the next school holiday. Oh but the wonder that first day holds, despite the reality of a school year that eventually seems long, new backpacks that become soiled and broken, and vibrant markers that lose their lids and color over time.

One year when I was teaching, a student came into my class on that glorious first day of school and announced, "This is MY year this year. It is going to be great!" A smile was plastered on his face the entire day. Because of the nature of the class I taught (self-contained behavior modification class), I had taught this child for the past two years already. I knew his issues and inside I was quite skeptical over the idea that this particular school year (or any year for that matter) was going to be "his year." I smiled an encouraging smile and agreed that it was indeed his year.

Fast-forward a few months, school is in full-swing, and this little boy is s-t-r-u-g-g-l-i-n-g big time. Gone is that hopeful attitude of the first day. In its places resides a feeling of defeat and of failure. This little boy would often journal or draw him emotions in a notebook, which he would share with me at various times. One day I found a page in his notebook with the word "Year" written on it, a large circle around the word and a dark slash going through it. I wrote in the margin, "Tell me about this." to which he replied, "It is not my year."

I then remembered his bold claim on that first day of school, his belief that this school year was gong to be better than those in the past had ever been. Yet time and disappointment had destroyed that belief, leaving behind a distraught boy with little hope for the future of his school year.

I attempted to relight that original fire of optimism, to draw attention to the positive and away from the negative, but it wasn't enough. The little boy struggled for the rest of the year and was never able to find that spunk from the first day of school again.

Neither of my children are school-aged yet (thank goodness! I have shed many tears over those of you posting about Kindergarten experiences!) and we only have preschool on our radar at the time. However, I thought a lot today about how I want to keep that first day enthusiasm alive in Isaac and Evelyn throughout the school year. I (selfishly) want every year to be "their" year. After scrapping the idea of tagging along with them each day to class and doing a series of peppy cheers by their desks (Oh, the therapy that would require), I settled on writing a blessing of encouragement over their schooling. A blessing to be shared each morning before darting off into the world of learning; preschool or elementary school, junior high or college.

"May your day be filled with learning, laughter, friends, and happiness. Be kind to others. Respectful to everyone. Enjoy your time in the classroom. Return home to me, full of knowledge and life."
**Don't think for a moment that I will not call them each morning at college, awakening them from their slumber in their respective dorm rooms, to recite this blessing. We better start saving for the therapy sessions now, huh?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Since We Last Talked

Many things have occurred at casa de phillips since my last post. Here is a brief sampling of life at our house.


1. Early Friday morning I heard Evelyn start crying while I was getting ready to head out to the gym. Not wanting her cries to wake anyone else in the house, I went it to check on her. Knowing she is getting even more teeth, I brought along a tube of Oragel to ease her teething pain. Once I was in her nursery, I realized that I had accidentally grabbed the unopened tube of medicine rather than the one we had been using. Oragel containers usually require scissors to be used in cutting off the tip of the tube, however I didn't want to leave E.'s room in search of scissors because her cries would just intensify. Using my super-mom skills, I managed to bite off the top of the tube and was able to get the medicine out. E. went back to sleep and I went to the gym....with the left side of my mouth completely numb due to the fact that the Oragel had leaked out when I bit the tip of the tube off. I spent the entire time on the elliptical trainer wiping my face, attempting to prevent drool from running out of my numb mouth. Nice.


2. That same day I needed to take our vacuum cleaner into the Vacuum Cleaner Hospital for possible repairs. I lugged it into the passenger seat of the phillips' station wagon and off the children and I went to the repair shop. Because it was a cool day and a empty parking lot, I left the children in the car (windows cracked, doors locked...me within ten feet of the car) while I drug the vacuum cleaner inside the store. The owner asked for a description of the problem, plugged the vacuum in, and then pointed out that I simply needed to hit the "reset" button on the front of the vacuum. Seems I hit a baseboard a bit too enthusiastically while cleaning one day and the vacuum motor simply needed to be reset. Wish I had known about that little button before hefting our vacuum cleaner in and out of the car twice.


3. The other day I walked in the living room where Isaac was sitting on the couch. I said something to him and he quickly silenced me by saying, "Shh, Mommy. I am reading in my Bible about 'Jon and Kate Plus 8." Yeah...we then had to have a discussion about how television shows are not found in the Bible.


4. Saturday Isaac walked into our bedroom where Tobe was on the computer and asked him, "Hey, Daddy, what is your email on?" When Tobe told him who his email account was with, Isaac said, "Yeah, so is Nana's." Oh the conversations we have with our three year old....


5. Late Friday afternoon Tobe asked me if I would run an errand for him later that night after the kids were in bed. I agreed to help him out...and then discovered the "errand" was to get a massage (the joy of living in a city is that one can get a massage at 8pm on a Friday night). It was a glorious 60 minutes of someone attempting to get out all the knots and tension that comes with carting around two kids (and the occasional vacuum cleaner) the majority of the day. Isn't my husband awesome?


6. Saturday Tobe scooped me up these new trouser jeans at Ann Taylor for the Fall. I might just live in them, they are so comfy. I highly recommend the trouser jean because they are dressy yet incredibly flattering to the figure. If only Fall would hurry up and get here so I can wear them...


7. As summer begins to wind down, we are savoring our last trips to the pool. Evelyn, at only 15 months old, can get herself in and out of the regular pool. She lowers herself into the pool, holds on to the side, and kicks and splashes around, and then proceeds to crawl out. It is slightly amazing, considering the girl doesn't actually walk yet.


8. I have attempted no less than 782 times to upload two videos to Blogger in the past four days...with no luck. Anyone else struggling with this or is it just me?

9. Last night I became incredibly involved in the men's Olympic marathon. How awesome is it that someone ran 26.2 miles in 2 hours and 6 seconds in unfavorable conditions? We were thrilled that a Kenyan won and cheered him on the entire race.


10. Tobe and I are a bit depressed that the Olympics are coming to an end tonight. We have loved watching them these past two weeks. What a great way for the world to come together and celebrate the human spirit! Yeah to China for hosting a great Olympics this summer....now it's time for them to admit those gymnasts are only 12.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Evelyn's List of Things To Do Today

1. Read books that only have a picture of a bath tub in them. All other books are left abandoned on the floor due to their lack of a glorious picture of a bath scene. 2. Become incredibly excited when she finds a picture of a bath tub
3.Take her baby on a light jog4. Meet her friends Buffy and Daphene at the local country club, wearing her most preppy attire possible, for a light round of tennis and a glass of iced tea.

4. Be a sweet, sweet girl.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Life

Yesterday was the final session of my ladies summer bible study. Fortunately, the curse of sickness has lifted (please, let it be longer than momentarily) from casa de phillips and the children and I were in attendance. Isaac was a bit sad because his beloved teacher, "Ms. Be-ber-ly" was not there but his class was combined with the older kids, which made him feel quite important. Evelyn only cried 42.8 seconds when deposited in her class and actually socialized with others, rather than crying when someone approached her. I made it to my seat, hardly out of breath after dropping off the children, and managed to fit in some small talk before our lesson began.

The leader of our study left us with a parting verse, a verse to summarize where our study had taken us over the course of eight weeks and to lighten the path we should faithfully follow. The verse was Deuteronomy 30:19-20.

"I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord, listen to His voice, and hold fast unto Him."

I have selected this verse to be my personal verse for the upcoming school year. Life can be such a battle some days, holding strife that forms from the mundane day-to-day activities and strife that comes from genuine heartache. When I find myself drowning in my own little world some days...for instance like today as I held my screaming daughter in the bathroom of Chick-Fil-A attempting to discipline her/calm her/not stick my head in the toilet while my son happily enjoyed our play date (and the last of my chicken nuggets) with friends at the table....what a blessing it is to know that God has laid out his plan for me, He has provided the simple tasks he desires of me (Love Him. Listen to Him. Hold Fast to Him), and in the end He gives me true Life.

A much better gift than those last two chicken nuggets I missed out on today.

Anyone else with a personal verse for the upcoming months?

Monday, August 18, 2008

An Assortment of Questions

Tonight my mind is awhirl with a variety of questions (must be all that medicine) and I am hopping some of you have answers.

1. Here are casa de phillips we are big time sippy cup users (the children...not Tobe or I). In the past, we have always gone with the Nuby brand. However, I think Isaac needs something a bit more mature and Evelyn has the tendency to gnaw on her lid until a large hole appears. Anyone have a brand of sippy cup they L-O-V-E?

2. After finding a post from my blog on another website (I realize the Internet is a public arena and the website did link to my blog), I am looking into copyrighting the materials that are posted here. Anyone know how to go about making something like that happen? I am sure I could Google the answer, but was looking for a quick answer if someone happened to have one.

3. I need some activity ideas for Evelyn when Isaac and I are working on various school/craft things at the table. E. thinks she would like to color or do play-doh but neither really hold her attention longer than 2.8 minutes. She desires to be at the table and I am in desperate need for some activities that are geared to a 15 month old. Any thoughts?

4. Speaking of E....bless that sweet girl's heart, but the child is SPIRITED. I know one day this spirit will be put to good use, but for today I need some advice. Any great parenting books out there for how to effectively parent a spirited child (aside from the obvious of "The Strong-Willed Child")?

5. Being the big (okay, slightly big) kid that he is, Isaac will be taking his lunch to preschool this year. I used to laugh at the parents of my former students who would send a twelve course meal precariously packed inside a Disney-themed lunch box. As we near the start of preschool, I find myself thinking of all the various items I should tuck inside Isaac's lunch box..."just in case." Hypocrisy is a bitter pill, my friend. Parents who have had experience with such things, any suggestions on tasty tidbits to pack in my three year old's lunch box?

Now that my brain has been purged of its questions, I am off to bed. Goodnight!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Not Our Healthiest

Anyone want to come over for a dinner party?

As of this typing, everyone that resides in casa de phillips is on antibiotics. Fun times around here. I feel as if we need to put a "Quarantine" sign on our front door or at the very least pass out surgical masks to anyone within a ten foot radius of our family. Obviously, we won't be hosting any dinner parties in the next few days until this bug has left our house.

Isaac started running a fever right before bedtime last night, so I loaded him up in the car and off we went to Urgent Care for a strep test. It came back positive, which I knew it would. He was a hit with all the nurses because he was wearing his blue dinosaur PJ's (he was about to go to bed before we noticed the fever) and carrying his stuffed friend, Raffes. He told the nurse staffing the desk exactly what was wrong (he had a "feber, sore throat, and sore neck") and what he needed ("I need to talk to the doctor"). If there wasn't a need for me to sign consent forms, I could have just stayed in the car. That boy is just getting too old for my taste.

I was less than impressed with Urgent Care. The nurse opted to talk loudly to Isaac, apparently thinking because he is little he obviously cannot hear a normal tone of voice. The doctor basically said, "He has strep" and then it was up to me to probe for information about what we should do, possible medicine reactions, treatment regime, etc. We finally left and went straight to the pharmacy to fill the antibiotic prescription...only to discover it was closed for the day (this discovery was made after I had taken a half-asleep Isaac out of the car and into the store). Tobe ventured out to the 24 hour pharmacy (which is not even slightly close to our house) while Isaac and I watched the Olympics. We finally got him medicated, observed him for a while for possible reaction to the antibiotic, and then everyone went to bed around 11pm (this is way late for our little boy who is usually asleep by 7:45 pm each night).

We started E. on her antibiotic this morning because her sinus infection is not getting any better (the doctor wanted us to wait until today to see if there was improvement before starting medicine). I am happy to report the rash on her face has improved and her beautiful skin is starting to reappear.

I started my own course of antibiotics this afternoon simply as a preventative measure. I know that one should never overuse antibiotics...but this mommy cannot afford to be out of commission.

We are going to become even more acquainted with the walls of casa de phillips this week as we continue to stay in a few more days and allow everyone to heal.

Perhaps by Wednesday we can venture into the outside world without fear of causing a national health crisis.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Change of Scenery

Here is where I usually blog... And here is where I will be blogging from now on....
Yes, the husband bought me my own laptop. I really consider it to be both of ours...however I am THRILLED to be mobile in my "putering" as Isaac calls it. Thanks, Baby!

In other "change of scenery" news, my mother-in-law called this evening and offered to come get the children tomorrow morning and entertain them for the day. Can I hear an "Amen!". Dear Readers, it has been a loooooooooong week here at casa de phillips. Due to both kids having colds, we haven't braved much into the outside world and I have had almost zero interaction with other adults. Tobe came home with a high fever late Wednesday evening and it was confirmed yesterday that he has strep throat. Evelyn's cold has not gotten better and she has a dreadful rash on her face. I took her into the pediatrician this morning where she was given the following diagnoses: rash/eczema on her face due to her cold, either pink eye or viral infection in her right eye, and possible secondary sinus infection. Fortunately her strep screen came back negative and she was already perking up this afternoon after two doses of medicine.

I am tired and I am looking forward to a change in scenery tomorrow that does not involve sippy cups, runny noses, or Blue's Clues for a few hours.

Today we headed out to Barnes and Noble to meet every one's friend, Curious George (Evelyn was kept in her stroller far from other children as to prevent spreading the Ebola virus it seems that she has and to keep others from questioning about her sweet face). Isaac was incredibly excited about meeting "his friend George"...until we arrived at Barnes and Noble. Due to our doctor's appointment running late, we arrived at story time just as it was beginning. It just so happened that George was entering as well. I don't know if Isaac was expecting an actual monkey or something that looked like an animated George, but I do know he was not expecting an overstuffed monkey to be walking around.

Isaac was less than thrilled to be in the same building as a large, walking stuffed animal.

Fortunately he is old enough not to break out into loud wails of protest. Rather he teared up a bit, stuck out his bottom lip, and pulled in close to my leg. During the entire reading of "Curious George Goes to School" Isaac kept a watchful eye on George, possibly making sure he didn't participate in any monkey business or accidentally come too close to where we were standing.

I did convince Isaac to have his picture taken with George (By "convince" I must admit that I bribed him with the opportunity to play at the train table after the picture was taken if he cooperated.) It is not the best picture, however I was able to crop out the two girls who somehow worked their way into the corner of our shot. Did I mention these two young girls were only wearing their swimsuits?

Notice that I had to make E's picture sepia toned to hide the rash. Poor thing.The other day I walked into the living room, where it was confirmed that both Isaac and Evelyn belong here at casa de phillips. I found them sitting on opposite couches, both quietly reading.


I am terribly excited about my change of scenery tomorrow. How are you going to change your scenery this weekend/week?





Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Recipe Alert!

The quote of the day goes to Isaac this sunny Wednesday, when this morning in the front yard he zipped past me on his tricycle (pushing with his feet...he won't try to pedal, which aggravates me) and said, "Excuse me, Mommy. I need to go have a conversation with Evelyn."

The conversation was a bit more one-sided that I figure Isaac had hoped for, but it was a conversation nonetheless and I was not privy to the details.

I figure we still have a few months before they are actively plotting to take over control of the house, so I minded my own business and let the siblings talk.

Speaking of conversation, the dinner table is a great place to have one with your family (nice transition, huh?). I am a big advocate for families sitting down to eat together whenever possible with no television or music playing. It gives a chance for everyone to enjoy a bit of conversation and food for a small moment of the day.

Monday night we sat down to a lovely meal courtesy of the August 2008 issue of Southern Living Magazine. Although the conversation at our dinner table revolved around such talk as "No throwing your cup." and "Quit smashing your peas" and the all-time favorite, "Go to time-out" (It has been one of those weeks), the Lasagna Pizza Cups were yummy and quite easy to prepare.I wanted to share this recipe in case any of you needed something to add to your menu plan for next week.

Lasagna Pizza Cups
Southern Living August 2008

1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves
1 15 oz jar pizza sauce
1 can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook beef, onion, and garlic in skillet over medium heat until meat is browned. Drain. Stir in pizza sauce. Remove from heat.

2. Press biscuits into bottom of well-greased muffin tin, being sure to press them on the bottom and up the sides as well. Spoon large tablespoonful of meat mixture into each cup. Top with large dollop of ricotta cheese and the sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

3. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes until golden (I only cooked mine for 16...fyi). Remove from pan and enjoy!

***I didn't use as much pizza sauce as this recipe called for. I tend to not measure things and change recipes up as I go and I felt a whole jar of sauce would have just been too much. Also, I added bell-pepper to our meat sauce mixture. Next time I make these I am also going to throw in some shredded carrot simply to add some extra veggies without anyone ever knowing they are in there.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tuesday

I knew exactly what type of day I was in store for when I walked past Isaac's room this morning early (much too early for little boys) and discovered him reading. To his credit, he was reading the Bible and hosting what he called "A Berenstain Bears Devotional" for his animals (the book next to him was Berenstain Bears Go Trick or Treating...which would make some cringe at the thought of discussing the Lord and Halloween in the same breath). But it was early, both kids are fighting colds, and I personally wanted to call in sick to work today.

Alas, I work for some pretty strict bosses who seem to have forgotten to schedule mental health days into my pay ladder (or to schedule a pay ladder for that matter...unless you count hugs and kisses as pay, which I do most days).

Today is Tuesday, meaning we should have been loading up in the car to drive to bible study immediately after breakfast. Bible study: a place of adult conversation and free childcare. Sigh. Due to the children's colds, I unfortunately (and quite begrudgingly) had to decide that spreading our germs was not kind nor helpful to my fellow bible study mommies. Knowing my attitude would improve slightly with a venture out of the house, I dressed the children after breakfast and pulled out of the driveway

I stopped the car 1.5 minutes later and unloaded everyone at our local bakery. Isaac had cookies and milk, Evelyn ate the second half of her soggy waffle from breakfast (the cold has been affecting her appetite), and I enjoyed a nice cup of coffee savoring the quiet that only comes from toddlers who are engrossed in their food. After a quick potty break (and by quick I mean 15 minutes...does everyone experience a three ring circus each time they take two little ones to the restroom?), we set off down the sidewalk in our stroller. Evelyn was still working on that waffle and Isaac was happily walking next to me toting what he refers to as his suitcase (others call it a Little Einstein lunchbox) that was filled with the necessities of a three year old boy: one Cars house shoe, a dozen unsharpened personalized pencils, and a pretend camera.

Definite necessities.

Fortunately we live in an area with various stores/historical things to admire all conveniently situated on one long stretch of road. We slowly made our way down the sidewalks and eventually to our local historic train station. My original plan had been to look at the display train and then continue on walking up the other sidewalk. However, the volunteer who was working the museum located inside the train station came out and enthusiastically encouraged us to come and take a look around.

A museum..how educational, I thought. Perhaps the day would not be a wash and I could redeem my stay-at-home mommy hood status by enlightening the children about our fair city's history.

Maybe another day they will be enlightened because today was certainly not the day.
E. immediately began screaming, "Bye! Bye!" the moment the stroller was wheeled into the doorway of the museum. This was only intensified by the nice volunteer sticking her face into E.'s face to perk her up. Over the screams I attempted to explain that we are dealing with a separation anxiety phase right now and E. likely thinks she is being left with this strange lady. The lady then directed her attention to Isaac, showing him all of the wonderful train toys they had for sale. Um, thanks for that. Fortunately Isaac has learned that if he sees something in a store that he likes, he can ask for it to be placed on his birthday or Christmas wish list. I then pull out whatever scrap of paper I can find in my purse and write down such a request, which ranges from the typical to the "hope you forget about this one" toy.
After browsing the gift shop and adding "ceramic train coasters" and "plastic toy that won't survive two days in our house" to Isaac's Christmas list, the lady lead us through the museum. She attempted to explain various historical artifacts to Isaac, who was more interested in standing over the air-conditioning vents in the floor. He put on a good show and did tell her he loved dinosaurs after the volunteer finished a lengthy tale of how dinosaurs used to roam this area thousands of years ago. Upon realizing that the three-foot-and-under crowd I had with me were not interested in her stories, the volunteer turned her focus towards me.

Let me say that I do love my little town and I do enjoy some good historical tidbits, but I was quite torn between being polite to our apparent tourgide and between making sure my three year old did not climb into the antique wheelchair nor did he feel the need to type on any of the typewriters that were 100+ years old. Did I mention I was holding E. by this point who had stopped crying simply because she had been allowed to hold a fistful of the pencils from Isaac's "suitcase"?

We finally managed to escape the museum, after signing the visitors log and promising to check out various exhibits that come to this depot during the year. The kids looked at the train on display and then we headed off back down the sidewalk, in search of our car and air conditioning (It had been overcast when we started this venture, but the sun had come out in full force by this point).
As we walked down the sidewalks, it became evident that our local Senior Citizens center had brought a group of its members to this same area to do some shopping. E. was again wearing her cute little kerchief, which was a big hit with the elderly crowd. Countless people stopped us to talk to E. (who, quite frankly, was in no mood to talk nor be talked to), commenting on her hat and many calling her a "little lady." One woman shared tales of how she too used to wear scarfs on her head as a little girl and then her husband asked E. if he could take a bite of her waffle (yes, she was still eating it at that point). All I could think was, "Get me out of here. Now."

After a hot trek back to the car and a screaming 15 month old who decided she did not want to get into her comfy car seat, we finally made it home. Lunch was served, various globs of applesauce and crumbs fell onto the floor, and then everyone was sent off to nap time. Ah, glorious nap time...only to be interrupted by crys of a little boy who fell out of his bed despite its four rails, coughing spells, sales calls, and plain ol life in general.

It is now nighttime, both babies are asleep, and I can hear the low murmur of the Olympics on the television in the other room. The husband came home, extra perky knowing that I was tired, with a warm dinner in his hands. My Mommy tank is on low...not for any one particular reason or circumstance...its just on low, that little shaky line hovering below the tell-tale E.

How do you refill your Mommy/parenting tank when your energy supplies are depleted?

Tomorrow is a fresh day, one filled with two happy, (relatively) healthy kiddos...and will hopefully be free from any unplanned museum trips or encounters with large groups of people over 85.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Tale of Two Siblings



This little girl is 15 months today. Wow! It is almost hard to believe she is getting this big, except I doubt many 15 month olds are this opinionated or know exactly what they want quite like Miss E. For example, today at lunch she was served green peas, a turkey hot dog, and a graham cracker. Appears that "turkey hot dog" nor "graham cracker" were listed on her personal menu. She ate her peas, then looked straight at me while dropping the hot dog pieces and cracker on the floor. Sigh. Good thing her sweet moments out-weigh these streaks of strong willed defiance.


Today as the children and I were playing in E.'s room, I saw a great demonstration between the difference in having a girl and having a boy. We had opened a toy chest filled with stuffed animals and each child had grabbed a few to play with. As Evelyn sat feeding her stuffed puppy dog a bottle, Isaac was creating a gruesome scene where the stuffed alligator was attacking the grey plush mouse.
No worries, as it appears that Alligator and Mouse have resolved any differences and were later seen sitting next to each other at the birthday party Isaac threw for all the stuffed animals of casa de phillips this morning.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Housekeeping 101 in Less Than 800 Pages


I am darting back and forth from computer to TV (Olympics, my friend, Olympics...I am a junkie to such programming), attempting to type out a post between gymnastics and swimming. Oh the stress. Such darting should be considered its own Olympic sport.

This afternoon I found myself at the library, gloriously alone, rummaging through the shelves. My goal was to pick up a few home organization books to use for research on a piece I am writing. It was during this search I stumbled across Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook that was published a few years ago. This "handbook" is 752 pages long. What on earth? How can one possibly manage to "keep their home" if they have 700+ pages to read in order to learn how to do so? I had textbooks in grad school shorter than that. I was over the whole Martha Stewart thing when I once heard her recommend that an audience member of her talk show solve their pantry space issues by remodeling the pantry. Really...a remodel was her best answer as opposed to purchasing some simple organizational bins and keeping only the necessary culinary tools around? That Martha might be crafty, but she is a bit separated from reality at times. (I now have ruined any chance of ever being contacted by her people for any contest/giveaway on this blog.)

Anyway, as I searched for books on home organization, weeding through the impractical (752 pages) and the whimsical ("Stuff all the junk in the closet and then pour yourself a glass of wine...life is too short to clean."), I began to wonder if any of you had a good book/website dealing with home organization that you would recommend. Such sharing would be greatly appreciated
***
In slightly unrelated news, Kinda (rhymes with "Linda") over at http://www.mykindacard.com/ has a new website up and it is fabulous. When I needed birth announcements for Evelyn, a friend kindly pointed me to Kinda and her business. I was hooked after that. Check out her new user-friendly website and her super-cute designs. Besides having great products, her prices are much lower than other speciality card shops. Also, the baby on the far left of her homepage looks strangely familiar. Let her know I sent you...Christmas card season is rapidly approaching!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Household Notebook Preview

A few weeks ago, I announced a project alert to let all of you know some serious crafting would be occurring over here at casa de phillips.

Serious crafting might be a stretch, but I have (almost) completed my household notebook.

Let's take a tour, shall we?

Opening Cover.


I purchased one pad of coordinating scrapbook paper at our local craft store. I knew if I didn't make my household notebook semi-cute, that I would not be interested in using it. I bought paper that coordinated with my kitchen (colors of red, yellow, and sage) so the notebook would not look too obvious in its resting place on the kitchen counter. Although it might appear that I got "scrapbook-y" while making this notebook, please note I made all dividers and the cover one night while watching Food Network.

Pocket of Useful Tools:
This pocket contains two Sharpie fine point pens, scissors, hole-punch, and a calculator. It could really use a roll of Scotch tape...but I am currently running low.

Divider One: To-Do Lists and Calenders

This is where I keep my daily to-do lists, my running list of things I need to do eventually, and my monthly calenders.

Divider Two: Menu Planning and Grocery
This section is where I keep my menu plan for each week. If you aren't doing menu planning, you need to start. It is a great time-saver (no more moments of panic at 5pm when you wonder what you will possibly serve to your family and hope they don't notice you are eating PB&J again) and money-saver (no last minute trips to the grocery store in search of needed items...only to return home with such items plus ten more). I menu plan for two weeks at a time and do our major grocery shopping every two weeks as well. I do have to get milk and sometimes fruit/bread every week simply because we don't have the freezer space to buy such items in bulk.

I also keep a running list of past meals that were big hits in this section as well as a list of recipes I want to try out. Nothing fancy here...just a list I can add to when needed.


Below is a photo of my price book, every thrifty shoppers friend. I keep a running record of what I pay for certain items (milk, cheese, meat, diapers, etc.) so I make sure I am not forking over too much money for our neccessities.

Divider Three: Emergency Information and Family Info


This is an important aspect of my Household Notebook. It has emergency information for all members of our family should an outsider need these details quickly. It has doctor's phone numbers, emergency contacts, medical releases for each child in case someone else needs to give consent for their care, etc. Such forms can be found on the Internet...simple Google it!

Divider Four: Kids

In this section I have all information related to Isaac and Evelyn. This includes schedules for each, rules for each, basics of what they like/don't like, and suggested activities in our area for them to participate in. At the back of this section I also keep ideas that I have stumbled across that I would like to try out with the kids (crafts, activities, educational things).

Divider Five: Cleaning

I wish this divider did not have to exist, but I never want my home to be submitted for Clean House. Therefore, I clean on a schedule each week. This divider has a check-list that I can use each week of chores that need to get done...some are daily, some weekly, and some monthly or seasonally. For example, each day I make beds, sweep, clean counters (multiple times), put away stray items, and pick-up toys (before nap and before bedtime....kids help with this one). Each week, I do a good basic cleaning of all the standards: mopping (actually do this about three times a week because I live with toddlers), vacuuming, dusting, cleaning bathrooms, washing linens (Tobe does all our other laundry), etc. Each month I attempt to clean baseboards, dust fans, and find those odds and ends that need to be cleaned but seem to get skipped.

Ah, cleaning...the task that never ends.


Divider Six: Contact Information
(This picture is missing and I only have about ten minutes of blogging time left...hopefully I will get it on here soon. Until then, use your imagination)

This is where I keep a list of close friends phone numbers and addresses so I have quick access to them. We keep an extensive address book on our computer as well, but I wanted a place to keep those that I use on a regular basis. I also have a section for business numbers that we use frequently (Pharmacy, pizza, library, etc).

Divider Seven: School
Isaac's preschool sends out a newsletter each month along with various handouts. This section serves as a base for such paperwork. Because I will immediately know where to find his newsletter, I will never miss out on knowing the letter of the week or what item he needs to take for show-and-tell.

Divider Eight: MOPS


My MOPS group has excellent newsletters filled with important, useful information. Rather than letting the papers pile up in my purse, I now have a great place to keep them organized. If you haven't joined a local MOPS group yet, I strongly encourage it.

Divider Nine: Library

We are frequent patrons of our local library. I like to keep our receipt handy to know exactly what we checked out each visit and when it is due. Also, I like a place where I can jot a note down to myself about a book I am interested in scooping up on our next visit.

Divider Ten: Christmas


This is the place where I keep a running list of Christmas presents purchased and a list of those still left to be purchased. We attempt to Christmas shop through the year to soften the financial blow (we haven't been great about this since having Evelyn...probably because shopping is quite a bit harder with two kids in tow). I also keep a note of where purchased presents have been stored to prevent losing one before the holiday season arrives.

Divider Eleven: Blog



Sometimes blog post ideas strike me during odd times of the day...usually when sitting down at the computer is not convenient. This section is where I can keep a running list of potential posts or jot down a funny statement uttered by one of my children when I don't have a moment to blog.


So there it is...my household notebook. Nothing fancy, but very practical. I do keep each sheet in a plastic protective cover to keep the papers from becoming stained or torn (remember, I keep this book in the kitchen which is similar to a war zone somedays).


Have you made a household notebook? If so, leave a comment with a link so others can see your work.

Interested in making one of your own? Here are a few links to help you out.

Simple Mom's Household Notebook

OrganizedHome.com's Household Notebook

Household Notebook.com

Information on how to start a household notebook

Great source for FREE printables via Real Simple

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Things I am Currently Pondering...

1. How one child could possibly desire to watch a single episode of Blue's Clues so much. I believe we have watched "Blue's Baby Brother" no less than 20 times. We do not watch a lot of television around here at all...but when the opportunity is provided, Blue's Clues is our first request. Evelyn even says, "B-ue! B-ue!" I found myself humming one of the tunes to this cartoon just today as I unloaded the dishwasher and I often ponder how we, as educated TV viewers, are supposed to truly believe that Joe is Steve's brother.


2. Apparently I felt it was a good idea to have the grandparents purchase a CD player...complete with microphone...for Isaac's birthday. The CD player was a great idea. The microphone only means that I now have the chance to hear, "BabyEvelyncomehere!!!!!!!!!!!" magnified by 100, multiple times a day.


3. How many teeth can one child get at one time? Evelyn is getting at least four teeth right now. I say "at least" because I am actually scared to put my finger in her mouth to take an accurate count. The crying jags have been more frequent and the opinions ("no!") clearly expressed this week. Bless us all. At least her mouth should be pretty full of teeth by the time these come in.


Evelyn's typical demeanor for the week

A peaceful moment...before I took her to the horror known as the Bible Study nurseryDoesn't that kerchief just kill you? She left it on all day like a good little lady.

4. Tobe believes that I am preparing our children for Sing Song 2027 (ACU reference)by having these pirate costumes purchased for Isaac's birthday. Here's the deal: Preschool boys like to dress up just as much as girls, however male-oriented dress up clothes are EXPENSIVE. When I saw these pirate costumes for $2.99 on the Little Tikes website, I knew they were a must-have. Besides I laughed so hard I cried when I placed that pirate hat on E.

5. Being that Evelyn is my first little girl, I am amazed at her internal instinct to care for and love her baby dolls. My parents brought my old high chair and cradle (which I used for my babies...not myself) for Evelyn to enjoy. They even recovered the tacky brown 1970's fabric that was covering the cushions. Evelyn has loved rocking her babies (in the high chair for some reason), feeding her babies, and putting her babies "nigh-nigh". She still manages to run over at least one of them daily in her push car, but she is a good little mommy anyway.



video

6. Being a parent is sometimes similar to a comedy routine found in some low-budget sitcom. Yesterday the kids and I went on an extended walk, with stops at various parks to enjoy the unseasonably cool weather. At one particular park, we had to make a bathroom break...which meant figuring out how to get the three of us and our stroller all into the bathroom together. While in the restroom, I noticed that Isaac had put his underwear on backwards that morning. I half-expected a laugh track to start playing as I attempted to remedy his situation in this tiny cramped bathroom, while maneuvering around our large double jogging stroller and attempting to prevent Evelyn from putting her hands in the toilet. Mommyhood...it's never boring!