Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Finds: UPDATED

Here are a few links to enjoy as you head into the weekend:

*Running of the Brides

"Friends" had Monica participate in the "Running of the Brides" during her wedding planning days. Loved it. This morning on The Today Show the beginning minutes of this year's NYC race were aired. Again, loved it. Despite the fact that I have been married for almost eight years and already own a beautiful wedding gown that was merely worn for a few hours, I kind of want to do the whole "Running of the Brides" thing. It is no secret that I *heart* a good bargain...especially one that requires some quick moves and possibly throwing around an elbow or two. Perhaps Tobe and I should decide to renew our vows one day just so I have an excuse to attend such a sale...

*The Questions Being Raised About "Jon and Kate Plus 8"

I have talked about Jon and Kate and their crew before, usually as a fan of the show in the past. However, their reality television ride is starting to gather some questions and ol J&K are beginning to raise some eyebrows. I found the above article to be quite interesting, a bit disturbing, and a tad hopeful that perhaps someone will realize children and reality television are not a great combination. Again, remember if someone every approaches you to turn your life into reality TV...just say "No!"

*Potty Training Tidbits from a Mommy Blogger

I am gearing up to head down the potty road with Miss E. She has shown signs of readiness for quite a while now and a teacher in her bible class recently commented that she felt that Evelyn was ready to use the potty as well. Although entering the diaper-free world before the age of two seems a bit scary, I think we should take this leap while E. shows interest. We are in the "discussion" stage with her right now, reading some books and talking about big girl underwear. In fact, she and I just purchased her first pair of big girl panties this morning, complete with Cinderella and ruffles adorning them. (Thanks, Ginger, for your Princess Pep Talk). Our other options, other than plain ol pink, were either My Little Pony (a strong contender...E. loves her ponies) or Bratz (terribly scared the 2T package might possibly contain a thong). Obviously we went with Cinderella.

*Our Destination Tomorrow

I am hoping neither child passes out from fright or sheer excitement. I am praying their parents' nerves can handle all the frenzy as well.

*A Tad Too Much Multitasking

Really? The part I really like from this story is the fact the lady was also talking on her cell phone. People really scare me sometimes.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"I Very Much Like That"

As we sat down to supper on Sunday evening, Isaaac proclaimed, "This is my favorite dinner EVER, Mommy! I want you to make this every night!"

That is music to my mommy ears and fortunately we were merely dining on homemade burgers, fries, and baked beans. Easy-peasy.

Lately when Isaac likes something he says, "I very much like that." Gosh, the whole mismatched sentence of a three year old just melts my heart. His new "I very much like that" item is fruit salsa. He has added it to his "Please make this every night" menu.

In honor of the fact that it was 85 degrees here today (ugh), my son got his first sunburn (In February!!!), and because strawberries are on sale the weeks following Valentines Day (did you know that little tidbit), I will now share with you my lovely fruit salsa recipe:

A pint of fresh strawberries (Frozen won't work with this)
One large Granny Smith Apple
One orange
Fresh tortillas (fresh, rather than processed, tortillas will change your life. I get mine here.)
Cinnamon/sugar combo (Make your own by using two parts sugar and one part cinnamon)

Cut the apples and strawberries into very small pieces. Combine strawberry and apple pieces into a bowl, squeeze about 1/4 cup orange juice over mixture. Chill.Cut tortillas into triangles. Heat oil in large skillet. Fry triangles for about 30 seconds on each side or until lightly browned (You can bake these..but they are not as good)
Remove triangles from hot oil and place on a paper towel. Immediately sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and allow to cool.

Serve fruit salsa with cinnamon chips and listen to your family proclaim, "I very much like that!"


Yesterday morning I noted that Evelyn was sleeping quite later than usual. I went in her room to wake her when I discovered a stomach bug had struck her sometime in the early morning hours. The poor girl just lay frozen in a big mess in her bed.
I plopped her in the bath and began the ever-fun Mommy task of stripping bed linens while attempting to not become sick my ownself. Isaac wandered into the bathroom to see what the deal was. While I was carting laundry to the washing machine, he decided it was time to step up to the big brother plate. He brought his breakfast into the bathroom and proceeded to finish eating while singing a collection of E.'s favorite songs to her while she soaked away in the tub.
I am beginning to think they might actually like each other...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Princess Phenomenon

We are slowly treading water here at casa de tinted water known as the "Disney Princess Phase."

Lord, help us.

Honestly I am not really sure what I think about the whole princess phenomenon. If you have been a reader for any amount of time at all, you know by now that we have no issue with the Disney Corporation itself. In fact, we are likely responsible for the top CEO's receiving bonuses this year despite a recession.

It is the notion of a princess that causes me to pause just a bit.

When Evelyn was a baby, I decided we would not take the Disney Princess route when she became older. We are not fond of calling her "Princess" because quite honestly she holds not one drop of royal blood in her little body that we are aware of. We love our children to pieces, but in no means do we believe either of them to be of such prestigious lineage.

Evelyn is beyond precious and the world is at her feet, but I feel a bit hesitant about calling her a nickname that might promote a feeling of entitlement. Long story short, we have never called her a princess. We prefer to stick to such endearing terms as "Bay-wa" or "Ev", which will likely cause her great embarrassment when referred to as such names during the adolescent years.

When we began Christmas shopping this past fall, I spotted a plush Cinderella doll and coordinating pony that would make a perfect gift for E. Cinderella's hair can be combed, the horse can be groomed, and both are soft enough to be loved on fiercely by a 1.5 year old little girl. My idea of "No Princesses" was a bit lost as I admired Cinderella's beautiful, yet durable, ball gown. "Cin-a-rell-a" has become a cherished toy, often spending her days being pushed to and fro in the baby stroller.

Due to that Disney brainwashing magic, the Princess fire was lit by that small gift. Evelyn can now spot a "Pin-cess" fifty yards away. She owns a pair of Princess house shoes and I just lugged home a Seek and Find Princess book over the weekend, in which she quickly learned how to identify and name all of Princesses.

Obviously, I have backtracked a bit on the whole "No Disney Princess at My House" rule just a bit. Now I am left wondering how one juggles princess play without becoming princess obsessed. How do I let Evelyn soak up all the romance and beauty of a dew faced young girl matched with a strapping lad while letting her know that despite their stunning effect, Sleeping Beauty likely is pretty rough looking at 5:30am and Prince Charming often times leaves old dirty socks laying around the castle? That although fun, very few of us get to ride around on a magic carpet over our kingdom and rarely does my Fairy Godmother stop by for a visit.

Ugh. This whole parenting thing is tough sometimes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Those Darn Fisher Price Little People

In the days when I was a teacher, I had a classroom filled with a variety of centers and stations. These areas were mainly designated to foster play in my students as a way to release stress or process emotions. Because the kids in my class were placed with me due to behavior issues, those areas were used quite a bit.

Often times I would see a child playing at the sandtable, muttering things to themselves. On the occasions that I could make out what was being said I would hear the child reenacting prior conversations (usually with a parent) or situations.

Play is a great tool for kids to convey what exactly is on their little minds, behavior issue or not.

Monday is one of my favorite days of the week because I keep us home on that day. I attempt to avoid scheduling any playdates, I postpone all trips to Target, and I usually cook Mac-n-Cheese for is a great day. This morning we had quite the lengthy play session with some new toys from the consignment sale. As lunch time neared I decided a short video would help everyone start to settle down and give me 15 minutes or so to do some writing.

As Isaac and I (and no less than 15 stuffed animals) sat on the couch, E. found herself a place on the floor along with her beloved Little People figures. Soon Winnie the Pooh and Tigger filled our television screen and I became lost in thought as I jotted ideas in my little notebook. A few minutes later, I heard Evelyn talking. I glanced up, attempting not to catch her eye, and saw her energetically playing with her new Little People SUV (again, consignment find), the Mommy figure, and the baby figure.

Here is the conversation that ensued from little Evelyn's mouth:

"Stro-der" (Stroller) said while holding Mommy figure

"No! Walk!" said while holding baby figure

"Stro-der" Mommy figure again

The conversation went downhill after this little exchange due to the arrival of the Little People school bus on the scene and the distraction of attempting to tame the mane of the lion figure.

Like I said above, play is a great tool for kids to convey emotions.

Evelyn and I have a very similar stroller discussion on a regular basis. Seems that her Little People experience such issue as well.

Perhaps I should drop another dollar in the "Therapy Fund" jar on my way to bed tonight...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bargain Hunting

Despite the fact that I married a mega music lover, I have never camped out for concert tickets. Not many huge concerts came to the area where I grew up and the shows that did come one was always guaranteed tickets. These days TicketMaster and the Internet have completely done away with the need for concert-goers to set up camp outside ticket offices.

Yet Saturday I found myself camping out, awaiting for doors to be open.

I was not waiting to purchase some tickets to a potentially sold-out show. Nope. I was waiting to get inside a children's consignment sale.

I guess one can officially say they are a mommy when one lines up two hours before a consignment event begins to make sure they have a prime spot in line. Fortunately I was able to huddle together with a die-hard group of shoppers who had brought their conversion van (and arrived five hours early to get in line) to avoid the wind and cold we experienced here on Saturday morning.

My two hour wait was rewarded as I have successfully secured Evelyn's spring/summer wardrobe for this year, most of it items still bearing their store tags. Unfortunately boys clothes are usually too worn to purchase at these sales, so Isaac was not so lucky. I did manage to find some books he has yet to own (including a Richard Scary one...his new favorite) so he didn't notice the large amount of clothes I carted in to the house last night.

On to the exciting part...the dresses.

Oh how I love little girl dresses.

Here is just a sample of the dresses I purchased for Evelyn yesterday:

There are some Royal Child, Strasburg, Luli & Me, Janie and Jack, and Chocolate Soup dresses in this mix. I might shed a tear or twelve when the day arrives that Evelyn is too big to wear smocked outfits.

Notice the dress on the far left...I was seriously considering not purchasing it. It was priced a bit high for such a sale and I was about to place it back on the rack. It was at that moment a lady stopped me and told me to purchase the dress. She said she was speaking on behalf of my mother (who she does not know) and that I had to buy that dress for my little girl. I figured anyone brave enough to state they were speaking on behalf of someone's mother must be the real deal, so I purchased it. I cannot wait for spring to get here so Miss E. can sport that frock in particular.

Speaking of E., here are her and the brother enjoying an afternoon snack outside.

This little boy informed me before going out on this particular afternoon that, "It is a great day for gardening!" I guess gardening requires one to wear a too small pith helmet...

The proclamations that come out of that boy's mouth on an almost hourly basis keep us laughing. From telling his sister that she needs to compromise to planning a sibling sleepover (not gonna happen considering the sister sleeps in a crib) to deciding that the letter "I" needs three lines as opposed to the standard two, the boy is a riot.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My family loves pancakes.

Okay...let me be a bit honest and say that Tobe, Isaac, and I love pancakes. We are pretty confident that Evelyn will one day love food other than chicken nuggets, fries, and yogurt but are prepared to host her future wedding reception offering only those three items if the need be.

Anyway..pancakes. They are a big hit around here and are usually reserved for Saturday mornings. However, Isaac enjoys a mid-week pancake as well. Mixing up a huge batch on a Tuesday morning currently does not work with our schedule, so I came up with a solution. When I make pancakes on a Saturday morning, I have begun making extra. I then let those extra cool, place them in Glad's Press and Seal Wrap, and toss them in the freezer.

When Isaac requests some pancakes on a random morning, I simply cut out how many I think he will eat and toss them in the toaster oven.

Easy stuff.

*Yes, that is Halloween-themed Press and Seal wrap. It was on clearance and as far as I know, my freezer is not offended by inappropriate holiday decor use.


One final Mommy confession from here at casa de phillips and then I will let the subject go. Today we had a contractor coming to measure for new counter tops in our kitchen (Oh Happy Day!). Isaac woke up at 5am this morning and never went back to sleep. By 9am, he was a grumpy mess. He could not get along with his sister, he could not obey, and he simply could not cope with life.

Things were not happy here and were going downhill quick. A lid to a toy storage container had been broken by someone's head, a closet rod had been pulled down, Evelyn's nose was constantly running and snot covered the front of her PJs, and by 9:30am Isaac was getting dressed in my closet (the story is simply too long to go into). I had reverted into my voice used in my days of teaching Special Education, one that is calm and monotone and holding back every emotion possible.

I was convinced should that contractor arrive at that very minute he might possibly think he had entered a home for the insane (or at the very least the sleep-deprived).

I huddled the children together, issued a game plan (cleaning up the chaos room-by-room), set out a reward (Nemo Fruit Snacks...the new favorite), and got everyone busy.

By the time the contractor rang our door bell at 10:15am, both children were dressed and sitting quietly at the kitchen table doing a craft while I worked on my menu planning.

The contractor got busy measuring and plotting out our plan for new countertops, only pausing once to comment on what a relaxing atmosphere we had in our home.

I offered a little shrug and smile, uttering a simple "Thanks."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Give Me A Break

Mommy guilt.

I believe they inject it into all moms at one point or another during the birthing process, perhaps through the epidural line, maybe in some post-labor spiked cranberry juice (or in the innumerable bowls of Fruit Loops I consumed hours after Evelyn arrived into the world), or perhaps through a secret little device in the pen used to sign the adoption papers.

However "they" do it, that Mommy guilt is firmly implanted into the body the instant a woman takes hold of her child.

I am loving the Mommy confessions comments. Kelly--I used to sequester Isaac in front of a Baby Einstein movie when pregnant with Evelyn and in desperate need of some shut-eye. Ginger--I am loving your Nutrigrain breakfast story. Too funny. Ask my children about breakfast picnics sometime. They can totally relate to Gregory and Claire. Kelly S---you will appreciate the fact I have never sent a text in my life. Seriously.

Keep those Mommy confessions coming. I know we all have a whole bunch of "I-let-my-kids-eat-ice-cream-for-breakfast-just-to-hold-off-on-the-tantrums-for-another-few-hours" type stories we are just aching to tell someone.

I think the greatest thing about hearing other mommies relay their weak points is that we feel a bit better about our own weak points. We start to think that maybe we are not doing such a poor job in the parenting department, that perhaps our children might actually make it through adolescence without a stint in juvie or an appearance on Dr. Phil. Lately I have been trying to cut other mommies some slack, attempting not to look down on them when their kid is the holy terror at the park and also attempting not to emulate them because I feel they happen to have it all together at that exact moment. Mainly I have been trying to cut myself some slack, accepting that there will most likely be crumbs in my house round the clock and that there are days when one or both of my children transform into some sort of possessed being and naptime cannot come fast enough.

Any more confessions lingering out there anyone feels the need to divulge? Think of this as a bit of group therapy...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Confessions of a Sanity-Deprived Mommy

1. The oldest kid here at casa de phillips is really struggling this week. The tears are just flowing...over anything and nothing all at once. We're not really sure if it is sleep issues (the child gets up much too early each morning), Mommy issues (I have been super busy and gone some this week), or plain being-a-three-year-old issues. Regardless, he went to bed E.A.R.L.Y. tonight. I have prayed many a prayer since then that he wakes up in a much better mood in the morning (preferably sometime after 7 am).

2. I had a brief (is five minutes considered brief?) moment of panic this afternoon thinking someone had stolen my car. Just as I was starting to become short of breath over how someone took the car (along with some of E.'s birthday presents in the trunk that I purchased at great clearance prices and a new CD that I am loving right now) and how we would have to purchase another vehicle (we have no car debt), I remembered that I was driving Tobe's car. It was about three feet in front of me during my time of panic.

3. My 21 month old still takes a bottle before going to bed for the night. I am not mentally or physically prepared for the battle that will ensue when it is time to get rid of said bottle.

4. On occasion, Isaac asks to play with a toy train from his early toddler days. He believes said train lives in our attic. What he doesn't realize is that the train was sold in a consignment sale quite the while back because Tobe and I could not tolerate the noise it made.

5. When taking her bottle, Evelyn often requests for the television to be turned on. This is likely a sign that she is much too old for a bottle.

6. For whatever reason, both of my kids enjoy the television program "The Biggest Loser". They refer to it as "The Exercise Class Show." We do not allow our kids to watch normal TV (besides the occasional cooking show or sporting event), but they are fixated by trainers Bob and Jillian so I indulge them on occasion by allowing this show to be viewed for a few minutes. After watching about five minutes of the program last night, Isaac vowed to only eat healthy food and avoid french fries so his body can grow big. He attempted to encourage his sister to do the same. I seriously doubt this will ever happen, since the girl lives for french fries.

7.I usually eat at least three fruit snacks out of the package before passing it along to my kids. I always take an orange one and avoid purple at all costs.

8. When either Tobe or I are drinking a soda, the kids think we are drinking juice specially designed for mommies and daddies (we have never specifically said is an assumption they have come to all on their own). They have no idea that Coke, Dr. Pepper, or Sprite even exist, much less what they are missing out on. Please don't tell them until they are at least 18.

9. Tobe and I find it hilarious when Evelyn says the word "delicious" (de-lish-shish) and we ask her to say it multiple times a day. In her stubborn nature, she always yells back, "No! De-lish-shish!" which cracks us up even more.

10. Isaac informed me this morning he needed to check his email. I informed him that he does not have an email account, nor will he until he is quite the big kid. However, I figure by the time he enters Kindergarten kids will be writing their hotmail address directly under their names on worksheets.

11. There are currently four parenting books on my nightstand. I wish I could simply place them on my head while I sleep and learn all their tricks/tips/techniques through osmosis and read something a bit more interesting in my free time.

12. Tobe told me this evening that the average couple speaks to each other only 12 minutes each day. 12 minutes? I talk more than that to Tobe during the process of waking up and putting my contacts in each morning. I don't know if he told me this random statistic as a way of saying, "Look how well we communicate!" or to say, " would be okay if you talked just a bit less."

13. The children think putting used diapers/pull-ups in the diaper pail is a fun little task. Our diaper pail resides in the garage and both get quite excited when asked to dispose of the diapers. I am hoping to keep this excitement going until Evelyn is potty-trained.

14.Isaac had banana bread for breakfast, which means a good 1/3 of his slice resulted in crumbs on the floor. As of 8:30pm, I have yet to sweep those crumbs up.

15.Evelyn hates the hair dryer. There are times (usually Sundays) when her hair is a fright and needs some TLC by a round brush, a spritz of water, and my big lime green hairdryer. On these occasions, I have to corner her in the bathroom and frantically attempt to dry her hair while she screams. It is such a tender moment. I am sure Hallmark is set to include such a scene in a commercial any day now.

Any confessions lingering out there from other mommies?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Wonder of the World Wide Web

As a freshman in college I kept hearing talk of this thing called the "World Wide Web".

I was a bit confused, because I could find no tool on the handy word processor I had drug to college titled "World Wide Web" nor had anyone told me about such a creature in my high school typing class (However, a fellow student did pierce her ears and those of a friend one day during said class. Ah, tales of high school. Tobe loves when I relate such stories.). As college progressed, so did my knowledge about this whole notion of the Internet. I quickly learned how to check my webmail in the university's campus center, how to find articles on the psychology database, and how to shop at at all hours of the day.

Obviously I was taking full advantage of the Internet in those days.

Despite the fact that I can hardly remember the world before the World Wide Web became second nature to us all, I still struggle at times to completely embrace all of it has to offer. My computing skills have surpassed those of my word processing days, however can be a bit basic at times.

If you glance at the left side of this blog, you will notice I have added a new button along with links that correspond to my "Feeding My Family on $100 a Week" series. Although not super fancy, they do provide a quick reference to these posts. Please enjoy at your leisure.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Funny Valentine

Despite my misgivings about Valentine's Day being an actual holiday and not simply a day for flower grower's everywhere to hike the price of roses to an unspeakable amount, we had a great V-Day here at casa de phillips.

Friday evening, I made a heart-shaped pizza: I know that one can purchase a heart-shaped pan to create such a lovely masterpiece at home, but I scoff at such notions. Actually I just never made it to the store for such a purchase, so I opted to sculpt my own heart with my own hands before baking our pizza. Isaac was impressed....after I told him what shape the pizza was supposed to be. It was yummy despite its odd configuration.

Saturday morning the family awoke to a decorated breakfast table, filled with the Valentines we had crafted for each other and a few little treats for the kids (candy and art supplies...because one can never have too much of either). We feasted on heart-shaped chocolate chip pancakes and juice and coffee. Again, the hearts were a bit more impressionistic rather than the traditional heart shape due to the fact I had to free hand "draw" them on the griddle. I forgot to snap a picture, but I am sure your imagination can only do their image justice.
Isaac is all about a holiday celebration so he was quite excited about the fact February 14th had finally rolled around. He came running into the living room that morning where I was having my quiet time and yelled, "Happy Valentines Day!" while still rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

After breakfast, I packed the kids up to head out to the grandparents house for a 24+ hour stay. They anxiously awaited Nana's arrival, peering out the front door hoping to glimpse the Nanamobile (our name for Nana's cool van with DVD player). The two decided to do some packing of their own, stuffing odds and ends into the gift bags which had held their Valentine's earlier in the morning.
Gift bags (especially those purchased for 49 cents) were not designed to withhold the "loving" of toddlers or preschoolers. We are currently in need of scotch tape and packing tape here at casa de phillips after I had to use up our supply in failed attempts at reconstructing these bags various times.

Nana did arrive and took the kids away. After a brief pause to enjoy the silence of our house, Tobe and I packed ourselves up and headed out the door. We took in a movie, then left the suburbs for the lights of the big city.
In the big city we dined at one of our favorite restaurants (favorite because of the yummy Mexican food and also because of the absence of anyone under the age of 18) then caught Alejandro Escovedo in concert at a quaint music hall. Tickets to this concert were actually a Christmas present to Tobe from me and we were doubly fortunate the show was scheduled for Valentines.

We were lucky to meet Alejandro (Mr. Escovedo???) after the show and snap a quick photo with him. It was a great concert and a really intimate setting. Fun times, especially on Valentine's Day.
Because we were sans children and already had a room at a fancy hotel nearby, we headed out for dessert after the show. I had a brief moment of panic when we thought I had accidentally ordered the $95 glass of champagne rather than the $8 glass (I didn't...whew. That would have blown an entire week's grocery budget in a few gulps!), but were able to enjoy our yummy apple pie/cinnamon ice cream/hot buttery sauce concoction.
This morning we lingered over breakfast, watched morning television that did not involve animation, and talked without being interrupted. It was fun times.
After browsing a book store and making a quick trip to Banana Republic in hopes of finding a new pair of trouser jeans (somehow both the zipper broke and I ripped a hole in the side of my favorite trouser jeans this weekend), we set out to scoop up the kids from the grandparents. They were happy to see us, but both cried when they discovered they had to go home with us.
Apparently Nana and Papa are much more fun than Mommy and Daddy...I suppose that is the way life should be, huh?
We returned to casa de phillips early this evening and quickly got back into our groove, with Tobe doing laundry, Isaac practicing his baseball skills which somehow resulted in "accidentially" hitting his sister a time or two, and me unloading the dishwasher (my endless chore).
Hope everyone had a great weekend as well!

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Bicycle Built for Two

These two little people are becoming fast friends/worst enemies at an alarming rate. Their affection levels soar as they fall into fits of giggles or ran off to play something together, only to become lost as a heated battle ensues over a toy (this morning it was the 2 inch Lincoln Log flag, yesterday a puzzle meant for a 12 month old) mere minutes later.

They don't seem to mind the frantic nature of their relationship, often consoling the sibling who just got reprimanded for hitting or helping retrieve a lost juice cup moments after attempting slamming the door in one's face.

Although they do not seemed fazed in the least by their shaky friendship, somedays it simply unnerves me. I wonder, "Will they talk again after they turn 22?" "Will they fight like this when it is time to decide what nursing home to place me in?" "Will we even make it to elementary school age if this fighting continues?".

This red hair might turn gray quicker than expected with such cycling attitudes around here.

Today we ventured out to the library, which has quickly become a favorite Friday tradition. Seems not too many people go to the library on a Friday morning, so we typically have the entire children's section to ourselves.

It is quite blissful.

I can browse the books, the kids can explore the play area or the computers, and we do not have to contend with twenty other parents and children. This morning after I had the children set up at their respective computers (with one computer separating them as a precautionary measure), I made a beeline for parenting section in search of books with such titles as "How to Parent Siblings Effectively" or "Brothers and Sisters Who Never, Ever Disagree" and perhaps "Stellar Parenting Tips for Individuals Named Lynley".

Although none of those particular titles lined the shelves (go figure), there were rows of books on sibling interaction. It was a tad overwhelming. Just as I was attempting to make my selection, I happened to get a glimpse of Isaac out of the corner of my eye. He had gotten up from his computer and was gently replacing Evelyn's headphones and attempting to straighten her hairbow, while showing her how to work the computer game.

My heart just melted.

I decided we were doing okay on with the whole sibling thing. No one has broken any bones yet and they both seem interested in each other still. Perhaps I can hold off on that type of parenting book for a few more months...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The 14th of February

The first year Tobe and I were married, I spent two days cooking our Valentine's Day meal. It had several courses, required countless cookbooks, had a fiesta! theme, and not one frozen chicken nugget was involved. Fun times, those days when I had countless hours I could spend bustling around the kitchen.
Over the years, we have had some festive Valentine's Day celebrations. There were the years we went to a local historic movie theater for their Valentine's movie and dessert, the year it snowed and we hiked all over town taking pictures, the years I cooked something fancy, the time Tobe hid Crocodile Hunter valentine's cards all over the house for me to discover (found some months later), and now the years with children who can craft their own Valentine artwork.
This year Tobe and I are dropping the children off at the grandparents' house, then heading out for a concert and an overnight stay in the city. There will be no naptimes to coordinate, grapes to cut, or baths to give. Good times.
What are your plans for February 14th? Are you staying home, heading out, ignoring the day altogether?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Aftermath

I imagine you might see Tobe or myself on the late night news sometime soon or possibly on a cable-access show titled, "How Not to React in the Face of a Storm."

Despite the fact we both hold higher level degrees, neither of us really is quite intelligent when it comes to behavior during thunderstorms. Last night our area was scheduled to be hit by severe weather. Due to the technology of meteorology these days, we were told what time exactly the storm would hit our neighborhood. 9:26pm was our scheduled time. Around 9:05pm Tobe and I began making preparations.

Currently only one car resides in the garage at casa de phillips due to the double jogging stroller, the single jogging stroller, the Little Tikes cozy coupe, the red push car, the tricycle, the umbrella stroller, and the large assortment of books (which had to be relocated when our study became Evelyn's room) that live on the other side of the garage. Yesterday at bible study a lady who sits next to me informed our table she was praying for hail (her husband owns a paintless dent removal shop) so to be sure to safely secure our cars when the severe weather hit later on. She seemed to be quite the Godly lady with an active prayer life, so last night Tobe and I quickly tossed children's items aside (meaning we stacked them on top of my car...sorry, no picture.) and pulled his car into the garage minutes before the storm was set to hit.

Then we quickly transformed into the worst storm victims possible.

With tornado seirns wailing, Tobe went outside for a quick look.

Meanwhile, I sat inside (flashlight ready) and complained that the storm was interfering with Dateline on NBC (it was the octuplet's mom interview...I am a bit fascinated by the craziness of this whole scenario). I did question at one point if we should wake the kids and place them in the bathtub, but that was only because it was a commercial break.

We did get about three minutes of severe weather, just enough to lose another pear tree in our front yard, the roof off our Little Tikes cabin, a portion of our back fence, something off the top of our house, and about 15 minutes of Dateline.

Here are a few pictures of our damage. Apparently a tornado did touch down relatively close to casa de phillips, but fortunately no one was injured in our area (some others in Oklahoma were not so fortunate. Keep those families in your prayers)

Our second pear tree damaged due to the storms
I was pretty angry about losing this tree.
I had people come cut the rest down and chop it up for us this afternoon. Most likely we are going to have to have the third..and final..pear tree removed before we lose it in a storm.
I miss having actual trees around and it was nice to have these three semi-large trees in our front yard. We are considering replanting with Magnolia trees, whenever it comes the season that one plants Magnolias (I do not have a green thumb nor any knowledge of planting trees)
Our Log Cabin...minus a section of the roof
(It has since been reclaimed and put back on. I was happy it did not get bent during the storm)

The section of the fence that is down. Although still standing, the section next to the down portion was also damaged in the storm.
This came off the roof of our house

Little Tikes chairs were scattered through the yard...fortunately none came through the kitchen windows

Evelyn surveying the damage to her home, probably making a list for the insurance company

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The One Where I Discuss the Restroom

Being a "Mommy Blogger" allows me to discuss all sorts of Mommy-related topic here at

I have pretty much discussed everything, from wild duck attacks to flying placentas (#42). Basically my Mommy-life is an open book for the Internet to enjoy.

One topic I have yet to discuss, due to its sensitive nature, is about to be thrown out there for all of the world wide web to read and contemplate.

It is The Mommy Potty Break.

Before having children, I never understood that one day that making a trip to the restroom would become equivalent to a covert operation in the military. I did not realize that I would most likely have four little eyes staring at me every time I made a trip to the facilities during the children's awake hours. I never knew of the questions that could come from little one's mouths and that they would feel the need to comment on every aspect of the restroom process.

Then I had two lovely children and now I have an audience in the bathroom on most occasions.

Good-bye, privacy.

Perhaps the whole labor process should have been the indication that my ol friend, Privacy, was gone for good once I strapped on that badge which read, "Mommy."

Not only is using the restroom at home an exciting moment for those in the three foot and under crowd, it also proves to be an exciting moment for all of us when out in public.

Back in the days when both children were still in strollers full-time, I never really contemplated using a public restroom. Sure, I had a captive audience and yes there would be questions...but I was getting that at home so it was not a big deal.

Then the oldest child began to be at the stage where the stroller is not really an option on everyday outings. And now the youngest child is usually stroller-free as well.

And the public restroom becomes a place of pure fear.

Although I try to avoid liquids and not eat too much while out just to avoid the Mommy Potty Break, there are times when I have to haul myself and both children into a restroom. Upon entering there are the instructions not to touch anything or put anything in one's mouth, not to sit down, and whatever anyone does absolutely DO NOT go near the door.

It is here that I must ask why we, as women and mommies, allow for bathrooms to have easily opened doors without latches placed at the very top to prevent curious hands from opening them at crucial moments?

Why has a woman not marketed some sort of portable fence/playpen that can be used in the public restroom to reign children in for those 2.7 seconds needed to take care of one's business?

Why have the Mommies of the world not united against stall doors and walls built with a large two foot gap at the bottom, perfect for little ones to quickly squeeze under at the precise moment Mommy cannot grab them?

Seriously there has to be some sort of Mommy entrepreneur out there inventing something to make the whole Mommy potty break much less terrifying.

Needless to say, I had an encounter with the Mommy Potty Break today. After dropping off Isaac at preschool, Evelyn and I headed off to bible study (Beth Moore's Esther study....just giddy over this one!). Well I drank a bit too much OJ and then a bit too much iced tea at lunch (E. and I had girl's lunch out since she did so well in class). After finishing our meals at "our" favorite girly spot (I am convinced E. will love it as much as me one day...even if they do not sell french fries nor chicken nuggets. She did taste some iced tea with lime and loved it.), it was time for the potty break.


E. was on a roll this morning, being exceptionally cute and darling. Some Luther Vandross song came on over the restaurant's speakers and that girl became a dancing fool. The girl who usually hates when strangers look at her was quite the entertainer for all the tables around us. She was chatty, she was full of expression, and she was down right darling.

Until we went to the restroom.

Evelyn stood in the assigned spot in the restroom, with her sweet little smile plastered on her face. She was enthralled with the floral decor and was discussing the "pink fow-ders" animatedly. I soon began to feel confident that this restroom experience was going to be okay, that I would be able to leave with my dignity in tact.

It was then that E. discovered the doorknob...the door knob that someone installed who must have never, ever taken small children into a public restroom with them.

Just as E exclaimed, "Oh, Mommy, open door!" and proceeded to act on her statement, I was able to grab the door and pull it shut. I imagine the majority of the small eatery heard my screams as I did so.

Good-bye, dignity. Have fun whooping it up with my former friend Privacy. The two of you sure will be missed...

The Mommy Potty Break....just another reason why motherhood is oh, so glamorous.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Solving the Craft Crisis

I once heard Martha Stewart advise an audience member to build a new kitchen when asked how to create more space in one's pantry.

The lady simply stared blankly at ol Martha, presumably while she attempted to comprehend that this talk show host was indeed suggesting adding on to a house in order to create more room.

Obviously building on to one's house does indeed create more room, but the majority of us are not residents of the Hampton's nor do we have unlimited funds that allows for home renovations simply when spaces get tight.

Lately, our craft area has gotten out of control. At the beginning of last summer, I cleaned out a portion of my china cabinet to devote to the children's craft supplies. This worked for awhile, until things started to become untidy and I had to yell, "Catch that crystal glass before it breaks" to Isaac as he attempted to free a box of markers from the jumbled mess.

The craft chaos became so extreme I began dreading requests to do a craft. I *heart* all things involving creating, gluing, and cutting so if I was dreading craft time....the mess was out. of. control.

Finally I decided to move some decorative items out of the way and placed our crafting supplies in the shelves of the cabinet. Each child has their own craft bag, which can easily pulled down when the creative spirit fills their little souls. The red box contains paper while one of the jars holds feathers and the other holds tiny square scraps of paper (when we have scraps left over, I cut the pieces into tiny squares to use for mosaics). Isaac's workbooks sit on top of the red box.

I still keep our larger crafting items inside the china cabinet, however we have been much happier with the new arrangement. It is easy for me to pull down one of the craft bags while cooking dinner to allow someone to watercolor or draw and I never have to fear for the life of my Christmas dishes again.

And, Martha, I managed to do all of this without having to build a craft room off of the kitchen.

This morning we had quite the time crafting Valentine's cards for those that we love. Evelyn's attention span is still a bit short for a lengthy crafting project, however she sat at the table with Isaac and me the entire time (about an hour and a I said, I love to craft!). She painted, colored, glued, and stuck stickers on all her Valentines and greatly enjoyed herself.
Isaac worked terribly hard on one particular Valentine, putting great thought into his work. In the end, he decided that such a Valentine was so good it was surely meant to be for himself as opposed to giving it away. There is no lack of self-esteem in that little boy.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Even Scary Birds Can't Keep Me Away from a Good Deal

This morning, as I sat in the comfort of my car, I seriously contemplated not going inside the grocery store due to the large, ominous group of black birds flocking the parking lot. However, I knew there were bargains to be had (free toothpaste this week!) and no juice at home (almost as bad as having no coffee), so I braved the birds and did my shopping for the next two weeks.

I was a bit nervous about what the final total would be this week due to a lack of quality coupons (I had to pay full price for diapers today. Full price, people. That about killed me...fortunately the free toothpaste cheered me right up), but I managed to just go about six dollars over. Not too bad, considering the purchases made and the lack of coupons used.

I did manage to save approximately $50 this week by using my measly stack of coupons, by shopping the store ads, and by using a store reward card. Not too bad.

Sometime in the next week, I hope to have a button on my sidebar linking back to all my posts about feeding the family for under $100 a week. Be sure to look for it!

In the meantime, check out this blog of a fellow Mommy blogger attempting to feed her family for under $300 this month. Pretty impressive.

We spent the day with Tobe's family, which is always a nice treat. On the way home this evening, Isaac said, "Thank you for the trip to Nana and Papa's house."
There was not even a two second pause before another little voice piped up from the backseat saying, "T-aint you for i-cream".
That E. loves her some ice cream.

And she has a pretty fierce fashion sense as well.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Valentine Brownie

A new favorite question of Isaac's (because, really, there were not enough already) is, "Mommy, what do we DO on Valentine's Day?"

Ummm...perhaps Hallmark can answer that question for you, son, because they made up the holiday in the first place.

In searching for an answer I have attempted to explain to Isaac that Valentine's Day is the day to tell friends and family you love them. I have opted to leave out the part about extreme commercialism of the whole event (just got an email this week from a large toy manufacturer wanting me to purchase V-Day toy packets for my kids...that started at $59.00. Whatever.) or how some day in middle school this will become a horrible rite of passage as some kids get to be the recipient of singing telegrams and others get left with nothing.

As you can tell, I am not the biggest fan of Valentine's Day. However, I do enjoy a good holiday so I still manage to scrape up some festiveness around the 14th of February each year.

Today was MOPS for this month and as table leader I attempt to bring a small treat for the gals at my table.

Things are a bit hectic this week, so I needed something quick, cute, and festive.

Behold: The Valentine Brownie

All I did was make two batches of brownies and allowed them to cool completely. After they were cooled, I then cut them into heart and flower shapes using small cookie cutters. Spray the cookie cutter with a bit of non-stick spray and the process will be quick and painless.

After cutting out my shapes, I whipped out this icing. Like I said, I needed something quick and "Make Royal Icing" did not fit into the schedule this week. I drizzled some on the top of each shape, tossed on some leftover sprinkles from Christmas, and VIOLA!

I packaged the brownies in these candy boxes purchased at our local craft store. Although cute, I would not recommend such packaging because there were no directions on how to assemble the boxes.

Dear Reader, I need directions.

After an extensive Google search and an hour of frustration, I finally figured out how to get the boxes to fold together. They were not exactly pretty, but they held together.

I then fashioned a bit of festive ribbon around the boxes and my treat for February was complete!

This morning I thought the children looked especially sweet, so I wanted to take a quick photo or fifteen before we left. They opted to stand by the crepe myrtle that needs to be pruned and ran in circles when asked to stand close to their sibling.
Perhaps they have been reading my blog in their spare time?
Gosh, I love those kids.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Photoshopped Existence

Recently we have added a new little feature to our home computer.

Rather than having a standard screen saver that pops up when the computer is resting, we have one that pulls pictures from our large stash of photos stored on our hard drive. It is like having one's personal "This is Your Life!" slide show running at various points in the day.

This new screen saver feature has really caught the interest of everyone in the family. Evelyn will stand in front of it asking, "Who dat, Mommy?" with each picture change. She can now tell the difference between she and her brother as babies, as well as recognize and name random individuals who have wound up in a few of our photos over the years. Isaac likes to sit in front of the moving slide show and comment on each picture, usually providing running commentary of the shot as if he remembers each and every moment these particular photos were taken. The recent photos he does indeed remember, however he especially likes to comment on ones from before he was born or when he was just a tiny little baby. My favorite comment, inspired from the viewing of this screen saver one day, was, "Mommy, remember when we used to not live in the United States?"

Umm...we have always lived in U.S. of A., my child. You, dear son, have always lived in the same town and in the same house. So, no, I don't remember such a time...

Sometimes at night as Tobe and I are lounging around our room (where our family computer lives) talking about the days events, we will suddenly become transfixed by the moving images flashing across our computer screen. There will be a shot of me pregnant, a photo of Isaac chasing after his beloved bunny a few years ago, one of Evelyn shortly after birth....and we just allow the sweet memories to wash over us.

If either of my children are ever the subjects of a school/graduation/pre-wedding photo slide show set to music, I will just lay down on the floor in a ball and cry. Seriously. The recap of ones life up to that point in pictures is just too much for me.

Watching this slide show, always different and always entertaining, at random points during the day really started me thinking. Although all of our pictures are sweet or entertaining, they only convey a small portion of our actual life. In reality those photos have been edited, unpleasant background images have been cropped away, unfavorable lighting has been altered into something a tad more pleasant.

Because of some handy photo-shopping, the whole story is not being conveyed.

The photos of a tiny little Isaac, dressed so smartly in a little newborn outfit, fail to show the days he would never sleep and those late afternoons/early evenings when he would fuss continuously. Such photos fail to describe the tremendous amount of effort that was put into feeding him those early months or the adjustment Tobe and I had to go through as we figured out how to add "Parent" to our already long list of duties.

The pictures of the children together often show them smiling, at least one of them actually looking at the camera, and clean clothes on their little bodies. Deleted forever are the shots taken of them crying, of someone in a state of complete muscle loss as they wither in the throws of a fit, or of their mother sometimes caught in the frame (although attempting to be off-camera) attempting to make the children smile through the use of some bizarre antic.

Photoshop, it is a magical thing, even if it tends to make our lives a bit too cookie-cutter-ish and bit too perfect.
One day, when the children are a bit older and their worlds a bit more tarnished, I plan to reveal the truth behind some of our family photos...the story that lies behind the photoshopped image.

I plan to tell Isaac that although the bumper pad looks pristine and angelic in his crib in many an image, in reality it was stained by the numerous tummy issues that plagued him in infanthood.

I likely will tell Evelyn the reason we have quite a few shots of just Daddy, Mommy, and Isaac taken in years when she had already joined the family is because she could be found on those occasions crying a few feet away, refusing to have her picture taken.

And I will likely point out the pale hand that can be seen in the far left corner of our 2006 Christmas card....a hand that was firmly holding Isaac against a Christmas tree, forcing him to stand still (and not run away as he desired) for a professional holiday picture to be taken.

Perhaps I will tell them why certain pictures were changed from color to black and white, sometimes to disguise a bruise from a recent toddler mishap or other times to conceal the tell-tale signs of candy that Mommy used to bribe the subject of the photo.

There are some stories behind such images, stories that display how life actually is as opposed to how life actually seems in a brief, still shot.

However, I might fail to mention all the times I conveniently retouched the dark circles under my eyes or used the "enhance" feature to make my face a bit more tan and rested-looking.

Those kids don't need to know everything, do they?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

O, To Be a Super Hero Princess

This afternoon, in my weekly quest to be first in preschool pick-up line, I arrived in time to see Isaac's class finishing up recess on the playground. His Wednesday class is smaller than the Tuesday one, so there were only five kids running around.

I noticed Isaac playing with the only other little boy in the class, both being quite animated in their actions.

After Isaac got in the car, had ransacked the remnants of his lunchbox (why does school make one soooo hungry?), and had proudly displayed his prize for earning ten good behavior stickers; I mentioned how he and the other boy had been playing on the playground and how I was happy to see them playing together.

Isaac then informed me that he and this other child (who is a really nice kid) were having to "fight the girls."

Then a very long tale of how boys must fight off girls because they are knights and girls are superhero princesses ensued. It was a very long tale, with many details I did not quite understand nor really care to hear again.

I then told Isaac that I was a girl so that must make me a superhero princess (and really, who would not want to be both superhero and princess?) and such hybrids (ok, I didn't use the term "hybrid") must be pretty cool.

Without giving so much as a brief pause, he replied, "You're not a girl. You're Mommy."

Currently that same three year old boy is resisting taking a nap. He has appeared at my side no less than five times, stating he has to go to the bathroom or he can't find a certain animal or the planets are not in the correct alignment for napping this fine afternoon. I have found him rearranging the books in his bookshelf and also attempting to make the bed while he lays in it, all in hope of holding off sleep.
Why do kids fight naps somedays? Do you know how much I would pay my own mother if she came over and insisted I laid down for an hour and 1/2?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tell-All: Night Stand Edition

Brain dead.

That is me tonight.

Usually when I sit down to write or type out a blog post, the words flow. Not tonight. Cannot think of one interesting tidbit to share, one child story that I haven't already discussed, or one funny anecdote.

While I wait for the creative juices to flow once again, I thought I would ask what things you keep on your nightstand. I find the nightstand to be quite the telling piece of furniture, revealing all sorts of information about its owner.

And apparently I love a good expose.
Below is my nightstand, in all its glory

Contents include:

One phone base minus the cordless phone

One clock

One travel clock that I use for alarm purposes only (it has been with me since it. Might cry if it ever dies.)

One baby monitor that I have not turned on in a good two months

One pair of glasses (can see Evelyn sporting such eye wear here)

One hair pin used to secure hair in bun before bedtime

Two writing notebooks, filled with various thoughts/ideas/ramblings

One bible, that has been with me since about 1991. Will cry if it is ever lost.

One stray receipt from Half Price Books

Book: Can You Keep a Secret?

Book: Positive Discipline for Preschoolers

Book: Down a Sunny Dirt Road (autobiography of Stan and Jan Berenstain, authors of Berenstain Bear series)

Here is a snapshot of Tobe's nightstand. It is a bit more tidy than mine. I am a tad too lazy tonight to actually walk over and examine the titles of his books, however I do know he is reading this book because I purchased it for him for Christmas. Notice the clock...I bought that for him after he ran his first marathon.

What is on your nightstand? Any good books or interesting objects ?


Tonight after bath, Isaac said, "Hey, Daddy, 'X' marks the pot!" I thought it was hilarious. I was the only I said, I am a bit brain dead.


Check out this sweet girl feeding her Baby Kate. She is such a good mommy and only carries her babies by their hair on occasion these days. She insists on changing one of her doll's diapers before her own diaper can be changed. Cute little quirk...most days.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Feeding our Family: Week 4

Technically this week marks Week Number 4 in my four week long challenge to feed our little family for under $100 a week.

In case you have been doing something a bit more exciting than reading my blog, you can catch up at the following links:

Despite my huge savings last week at the grocery store, I did forget to purchase a few things for our little Super Bowl soiree we held last night at casa de phillips. After picking up those final items, I did go over budget by $11. However, I felt the purchases was justified because who can eat queso without chips and Monkey Munch minus the Chex cereal would basically be a huge blob of melted chocolate, peanut butter, and butter.

You can check out this week's menu here.

Although my four weeks have come to an end, I believe that I am going to continue my diligent quest to keep the grocery budget under $100 a week. I cannot promise I will be typing out our bi-weekly receipts (actually I can pretty much guarantee I won't be doing was not an enjoyable task) but I do hope to have the occasional post about money saved.

During these economic times, food costs storylines have become quite popular in the news. Currently I am following this CNN blog of a man attempting to live off food stamps for a month. It is an interesting concept, one that I hope brings light to the issue that despite the fact we live in a country where people line up to pay $5 for a cup of coffee, drive ridiculous cars, and pour large amounts of cash into their recreational habits (*)....there are fellow citizens who wonder on a daily basis how they are going to be able to afford to eat.

When my children were babies, surviving solely on infant formula, I would sometimes have little fits of worry over how I would possibly feed them should our water supply become tainted or we were stranded somewhere without access to their food. Obviously I am a bit of worrywart and a bit dramatic, but the mommy inside of me felt a bit of panic over such imagined scenarios.

These days they both consume "people" food and I have the luxury at times to scoop up something organic or pay a bit more for healthier items. Not all Mommies out there are in the same situation. These four weeks of really focusing on our food budget have started me thinking of ways that I can reach beyond my little family of four and look into our community for areas where I may be of assistance. One of my personal motto's, which originated after time spent in Africa and after seriously struggling with events/conditions/life I witnessed, is "God has blessed me so he can bless others through me."

Time to put that little motto into action, I do believe. Not quite sure exactly how and I likely won't share the details here, but it is time to focus on others as well as casa de phillips.
On a bit of a lighter note, here are my children dressed as the uni bomber. We went for a long walk mid-morning today (mainly because someone turned her alarm off and didn't make it to the gym this morning...fortunately she has a three year old little boy who asked her repeatedly why she didn't go to the gym, reminding her of her failed fitness attempt for the day) and stopped at our neighborhood park. Both kids wore their hoods because I am attempting to get everyone healthy in this house and both sported sunglasses due to the overhead sun (E. had taken hers off by the time I snapped these pictures). However, Isaac decided their outfits were not complete until they both tucked their loveys into the necks of their jackets. We gathered a few stares on our walk, but fortunately no one questioned if the two were twins (although I did get that question..again... just last week at Wal-Mart).

**Please note that I am not attempting to be pious here...I, too, drink expensive coffee on occasion and we own a gaming system here at casa de phillips. I was not attempting to offend, simply make a point.***