Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I *Heart* American Girl

Little girls in the Dallas/Fort Worth area can find themselves in doll heaven when they walk through the doors of the American Girl store, located on the grounds of the Dallas Galleria. Upon entering the massive doors, girls come face to face with a variety of dolls, accessories and an excessive amount of hot pink. Squeals are often heard around the store (sometimes coming from the mothers and grandmothers accompanying children) as girls take in the American Girl experience. (to read more, go here)

Hello, 800

This is my 800th post.


I remember when I first heard someone talking about a "blog", I had no idea if it was some sort-of contagious disease or a vague technical term like "texting." I soon discovered that a blog was similar to an on-line diary and I could cruise said diaries of a variety of people, some I knew and most I had never met before. Soon after that I typed out my first post and 798 posts later, here we are.

Good times.

The amusing thing about these 800 posts detailing the activities, lives and details of our little family of four is that the two main stars of most of these posts have no clue as to this blog's existence. Most of my writing occurs when the children are asleep, either in the early morning hours, at naptime, or in the evening. Now that I have been writing a lot more lately, the kids are a bit more aware that Mommy does something else other than fetch goldfish and dream up random projects for them to craft (by the way, I glittered pumpkins with Miss E. yesterday. Our sidewalk and her hair might never be the same.). One day they might pour over the pages from this blog. Or they might beg me to hide them and never, ever mention such stories during life's important moments such as their graduations or rehearsal dinners (They have been discussing how they will one day become a mommy and a daddy. Currently they are planning on Isaac being the daddy and Evelyn being the mommy and Tobe and I can come visit on occasion. Precious, I tell you.)

So...thanks for sticking around for 800 posts. Especially for posts lately that tend to link to a writing somewhere else or discuss topics not nearly as entertaining as a play-by-play rundown of our latest shopping adventure at Target.

Here's to the next 800...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Teaching children how to communicate effectively

September is rapidly coming to a close, marking the end of "Good Manners Month." The concept of "good manners" seems to focus on proper eating skills, how to have a bit of decorum, and perhaps learning a "please" and "thank-you" along the way. These are all great skills for children to posses and will serve them well in life. However, an aspect of good manners that will really get children far in the world is teaching them about the power of words and the ideas their words can convey to others (to read more, please stop by here)

Attention Local Bloggers...

Hey local bloggers....

I have the opportunity to attend a "Blogger Nite Out" hosted by BurbMom this Saturday, October 3rd. Anyone interested in coming with me? It is a great chance to meet fellow bloggers, get some publicity from your blog and hear about exciting opportunities in our area for bloggers and writers alike.

Leave a comment or drop me an email ( and let me know if you want to tag along.

Monday, September 28, 2009

What's cookin' at BurbMom...

Are you reading BurbMom yet?

If you aren't, you really need to.

Head on over and hear what I have to say about Mending Broken Fences...Toddler-style

(By the way, that is not my family in the picture. BurbMom does have some great illustrations to go with their stories though!)

Praise Junkie Anonymous

Perhaps it began when parents and teachers began displaying the famous "101 ways to praise a kid" poster in homes and classrooms. Maybe it started as an innocent effort to reward children for positive behaviors. Possibly it was the result of the infamous prize box that began popping up everywhere, from home to the Sunday school class to the dentist's office.

However it happened, excessive praising of children is big business in today's world, potentially creating a generation of "praise junkies"...(to read more, please go here)

Links Galore!

I am a busy little bee over here at casa de phillips today. In lieu of an actual post with an attempt at actual writing and possibly satirical wit, I am going to simply post some links I have been holding onto for awhile now. Enjoy!

  • I love secrets...especially when food is involved!
  • Isaac had great fun counting the house last week. I think he had even more fun when he tried to make Miss E. do it as well....
  • The next cool snap we have, I am making these ASAP
  • I *heart* a good smokey eye when going out with the husband. Here are some tips to achieve "smokey" as opposed to "trashy."
  • I made journals for the kids about a month ago, mainly as something for them to do at the table when Mommy needs to write. Also, I think one can never start writing too early (I wrote my first "novel" in elementary school. I fervently hope it has gotten lost in one of my parents' moves.). Here are some great journaling tips for kids. We have not started writing in our journals yet, but I hope to soon.
  • I really, really, really want to like oatmeal. It is supposed to be so healthy. However, the smell of instant oatmeal turns my stomach. My pal Jordan posted this recipe for oatmeal recently and I am considering attempting it.
  • What are your kids going to be for Halloween this year? It is still a debate here at casa de phillips. Katherine Marie Photography recently posted some ADORABLE pictures of her kids' past costumes.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fall Wardrobe Staples for the SAHM

In a workplace that is filled with spit-up, paint splatters and constant sticky hands, a new fall wardrobe seems like a joke to the stay-at-home mom (SAHM). When moms make the decision to stay at home to raise a family, they often feel like they must trade their high heels for sneakers and their pencils skirts for yoga pants and old t-shirts. However, the stay-at-home mom can have a functional, stylish wardrobe than can work both at the park and out on the town with friends (to read more, go here)

This week's Mom--iform

In sixth grade, when large "attitude" buttons were all the rage (and I suppose the pre-cursor to today's attitude tees), I proudly purchased one that read "Born to shop" and affixed it to my purple Members Only jacket.

Good times.

The sentiment of "Born to Shop" has remained true, as I love to shop. Miss E. is showing such a passion as well in her early years. The husband better hold tight to those credit cards when she hits her tween years because I have a feeling she and I will be participating in several mommy/daughter shopping sprees.

Even though I do heart shopping, I have the tendency to buy the same outfit over and over and over again.

Remember my trouser jean affair of last Fall and Winter? I am not even going to reveal how many pairs of these jeans I own.

I tend to find something I like and stick with it for awhile. For example, when I find a pair of boots or sandals that get my attention I purchase them in a variety of colors. When I find a t-shirt that holds up to my SAHM role, I stock up.

Lately my newest wardrobe craze has been the pairing of the long cardigan, the fitted t-shirt, jeans (really wanting these boyfriend jeans for ATL), funky necklace, and sandals.

I have worn this uniform of sorts four out of the five days this week. I would be wearing it today, but I am out of clean cardigans.

Do you have a go-to outfit or suffer from the tendency to purchase the same item repeatedly? Is your closet over-flowing with seven different "perfect" little black dresses? Am I the only person who gets excited when Target clearances out basic necessities and grabs one in each shade of the rainbow?

Share amongst yourselves...

Ending the isolation of being a stay-at-home mom

Forgoing the workplace and opting to stay at home with one's children can be an incredibly rewarding experience. It can also be a very isolating experience. In the attempt to find the balance between maintaining a household, parenting children and meeting the basic needs of the family, the stay-at-home mom (SAHM) can often feel lost and alone in her 24 hour workday. Unlike a corporate workplace where individuals can discuss such woes with fellow employees, the stay-at-home mom's colleagues are typically under three feet tall and are much more interested in being given a snack of goldfish rather than listening to mommy vent (to read more, go here)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Ticket to Ride...the escalator

The man playing the piano in the middle of Nordstroms paused for a brief second to smile at Isaac and me as we stepped upon the escalator to ride up to the second floor this morning.

We returned going down the escalator 45 seconds later and he gave a courtesy nod.

The fifth time we made our ascent on the escalator, the piano player shot us a curious look.

On our tenth trek down the escalator, the piano man narrowed his eyes at us and exchanged a look to a fellow employee working the shoe department.

By the time we had completed our twentieth ride on the escalator, the piano player was obviously over our antics and was completely ignoring the mother and son duo who had chosen to spend a portion of their weekday morning enjoying the escalator of a large department store.

As our preschool school year began a few weeks ago, I slightly lamented the fact that the children would not be attending school on the same days. Because of this unique schedule, there would never be a day or time when both children would be safely tucked away inside the walls of their school, leaving me to frolic child-free around town for a few hours.

It is now week three of school and I am enjoying these moments each week of being a parent of only one child for a few hours. Yesterday Evelyn and I wondered the aisles of Target, sighing over precious hot pink patent leather mary janes and carefully examining the baby doll section of the toy department. We hauled out every girl toy that child owns and hosted a grand tea party that would make even the Queen of England a bit jealous.

Today Isaac and I headed out to the mall, in search of a mall play area. The boy ran, jumped, ran some more and made a few new friends. After discovering a sippy cup that had emptied its contents into the bottom of my purse and attempting to clean said mess out of my purse, we called it a morning and started the retreat to our car. On the way we passed a fish tank and stopped to examine each fish, speculating about their fish personalities. As we were about to leave the mall, Isaac spied the escalator. When I asked if he wanted to go ride it just for fun, his little blue eyes glowed with excitement.

So we rode it.

About 23 times.

Sure, I needed to get home. The breakfast dishes were still piled in the sink, there was a bed unmade, I had an article to write and Isaac and I had a reading lesson to complete before we picked up his sister from school.

But I figured when Isaac is 15, there will likely still be some sort-of breakfast dishes in the sink, there will be an bed left unmade in the house, I will likely still have something to write (I hope), and most likely Isaac will have moved on from learning how to read and will have some sort of complicated homework to finish.

However, when he is 15 he probably will not want to ride the escalator at Nordstrom's 23 times.

So today we rode. And rode some more. And I was so thankful to be that boy's mama.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A few personal links...

I am taking a break from eating my upteenth cinnamon roll to pass along a few links of some of my writing from today.

I am discussing diaper bag essentials over at BurbMom...

I am on the look-out for area pumpkin patches at Examiner...


"Firsts" on this First Day of Fall

The windows are open, the crisp breeze is blowing through my bedroom curtains...Fall is here.

I am sure the hot temperatures will return at least a few more times before cool weather actually settles into our region to stay for a few months, however today I am embracing our lower temps and welcoming autumn.

Hello, September 22nd. I have been waiting on you.

In celebration of this first day of fall, I wanted to share some recent "firsts" that have occurred around casa de phillips.

Isaac had his first jail experience... Then he had his first jailer experience, when he quickly placed his sister behind bars...

Finally he had his first conductor experience...

All of these firsts happened over the weekend at our local street festival. The family had a glorious time stuffing our faces full of kettle korn (we *heart* kettle korn here at casa de phillips), seeing the sites (such as the above jail) and shelling out big bucks for the kiddie rides.

Another first that occurred at casa de phillips was E.'s first time to wear for-real, genuine, little girl pigtails. I know I have discussed E.'s hair in length on this blog, but it has been such a process attempting to grow her mane of hair. Although the sides have yet to come in (still baby hair) and it is all sorts of uneven, I was able to get all of it in pigtails yesterday morning. Being the smart girl that she is, Miss E. understood the significance of such an occasion.

Check out that grin...

Another first that happened was Isaac's first successful time riding a big boy bike.

We trekked down to our neighborhood park which has a great area for practicing some riding skills. After a heated debate over whether or not he has to wear a helmet (it was a helmet, no bike), he set off. Bless his heart, his mother is not the athletic-type. Although I can ride a bike (and owned one until recently), I was not the best at explaining exactly what he should do on the bike. Fortunately, the process came naturally to him.

Isaac also experienced his first bike wreck, which is a blessing in disguise. He fell over and his head/helmet made a loud thump on the concrete. He was perfectly fine, but now understands the importance of wearing that helmet all the time. He needed no encouragement to jump back up on that bike and give it another try.

Even thought my children have never seen an episode of The Office, last night they had their first "Parkour" experience (is it an experience?). Seriously, it was the funniest thing I have seen in years. We do not know what possessed the children, but they were jumping and tumbling and throwing their little bodies every which way. Tobe and I were laughing so hard we did not have the sense to video such a scene.

Here is the real "Parkour" from last week's Office:

What is a "first" that has occurred in your house this week?

To celebrate these "firsts" and to welcome this glorious first day of Fall, we will be feasting on some homemade pumpkin cinnamon rolls after dinner. Normally I do not bake during the week, but the cooler temperatures inspired me. Interested in the recipe? Check it out here.

Happy Fall!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Photographing Children Successfully

Childhood is a time of wonder, of magic moments, and of endless joy found in life's small details. While children are ambling through the world experiencing such phenomenon, most parents are scrambling behind them attempting to catch these discoveries on film.

Photographing children can be a frustrating experience, especially when parents are attempting to snap a picture of a child who tends to be more interested in eating the leaves rather than sitting in them for a festive fall picture. Paige Pearson, mother of three and creative force behind Paige Pearson Photography, has a few tips (to read more, go here)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New Discoveries

The husband and I would most likely be considered to be a chatty couple. Whereas some married couples have issues with communication, Tobe and I sometimes have trouble with too much communication. The two of us can sit around and talk for hours. After eight years of marriage, six (?) semesters of friendship, thousands of hours spent on the phone, and countless words passed between emails; the two of us still have quite a bit to say to each other.

Sometimes the conversations are lively, sometimes they are mumbled as we veg in front of the television, and sometimes a certain little boy and little girl join in on the chatter.

Because we have known each other for so long now and because we talk A LOT, there are quite a few stories or antics that we have told the other person repeatedly. In fact, Tobe can likely tell some of my high school stories better than I can at this point and I can relay a plethora of music trivia unknown to me before we married.

Occasionally we come across a random piece of information that we have yet to share with each other, a tidbit of life that has yet to have been discussed. These times are rare, but also prove to be comical and enlightening.

For example, last night the husband and I were sitting together on the couch watching some football and chatting. It was during this conversation that it somehow came to my attention that Tobe was not quite sure how to call the Hogs.

I about choked on my drink when I heard such a proclamation, especially when he attempted to engage in this behavior of my homestate, beginning it with a "Whoa" rather than a "Woo." After a brief lesson and a promise never to use the word "whoa" again when referring to the Razorbacks, our conversation resumed and we had a lovely evening.

Next Saturday I plan on teaching him the fight song.

What is something you recently learned about a longtime friend or spouse?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Behold, the power of pancakes...

Apparently someone picked up casa de phillips and relocated it to the Northwest. It has been raining for a week now, with no significant promise of sunshine looming in our upcoming forecast. However, I am not complaining because rain keeps temperatures almost fall-like and hopefully such weather will prevent me from having to wear tank tops in October.

Experiencing so much rain gives me a greater appreciation for moms who live in rainy or snowy regions of our fine country. Everytime I attempt to wrangle two children, various sippy cups and snacks, a large purse, and one tag-along toy while holding a flimsy (yet spunky because it is covered in polka dots) umbrella I am a tiny bit thankful for our near-drought conditions that we have in this area on a regular basis.

Yesterday afternoon I set the children free to play in the rain. This is often a request of Isaac's whenever precipitation does happen to fall from the sky in our area, however said precipitation is typically accompanied by thunder and lighting. Yesterday's rainfall was simply rain, with no other scary elements, so I set the children free with umbrellas and rain shoes on their little feet. Isaac had quite the time running wildly along our sidewalks, attempting to catch flight with his umbrella and a strong gust of wind. Evelyn spent the majority of the time laying on the garage floor, crying over the fact that I did not own an umbrella suitable to her standards and that I would not retrieve a package of Princess fruit snacks for her from the pantry.

It is hard being two years old some days.

Once we finally returned inside to the coziness of our home, I set about making breakfast for dinner. We love some "B.F.D." here at casa de phillips and rainy days are the perfect time to whip up such a delight. I scrambled some eggs, made some bacon, and whipped up my famous chocolate chip pancakes. Little mouths became quiet and hands became busy as everyone arrived at the table and began pouring syrup and spreading butter on their food. As we began to eat, I was reminded of all the times in college when my four roomies and I would sit down to that exact meal.

Despite the fact the five of us would eventually become pretty good cooks later in our adult lives, the roomates and I rarely cooked a meal other than microwaving a grilled chicken breast or paring some crackers with cheddar cheese during our college years. The times we actually ventured into our old plaid kitchen, we often worked as a team to have our famous "Pancake Night". Over the two years we lived in our college house on Washington Blvd, we hosted many a Pancake Night, inviting a variety of people to join us at our table (however, we never invited the President of the University...unlike my husband who had him and his wife over for dinner. Tobe and I still had their forgotten cake pan from that supper for a few years after we were married. Perhaps we should pair it with the WACU's punch bowl that a certain roommate had in her possession years after graduation ;)....).

Ten years later, I am still flipping some pancakes on dreary evenings, spreading a little warmth into my home.

I am pretty sure the first care package I ever send to my children in college will contain a box of Bisquick and some chocolate chips.(*)

**Let it be noted that Miss E. will not use said Bisquick mix to make pancakes due to the fact that last night she informed me she does not eat pancakes because "I a girl. Girls eat waffles. Boys eat pancakes." When asked why Mommy was eating a pancake if this rule is indeed true, she said, "Ewe not a girl. Ewe a mommy."

Children and Sleep

Individuals become painfully aware of the importance of sleep once they hit their adult years. Gone are the teenage days of sleeping in until noon and forgotten are the college years when parties did not even begin until the early hours of the morning. Adults exist in a reality where their lives require them to be employees, parents, and citizens, all titles which require a good night's sleep.

Research is discovering that sleep is also essential for children. Many parents will enthusiastically verify that sentiment, siting how their child can be a grouchy terror on days when naps are skipped or after nights of poor rest....(to read more, go here)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Does your pantry have these five items?

A mother’s worst nightmare (besides serious illness or unscheduled school holidays) is dinner time with nothing to feed the group of hungry faces congregated in her kitchen. Such occasions call for drastic measures as phoning in an emergency order for a large pepperoni pizza or sending the husband for take-out. As the family sits down to dine on fast-food yet again, vague promises tumble out of the mother’s mouth about cooking something hearty and wholesome in the near future. However, every one knows on the next hectic day the family will again be in the same predicament, eating the same junk, wishing for the same home-cooked meal.

Keeping these five staple items on hand...(to read more, please go here).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Discussion with the Creator of MomAdvice

This morning, while a particular little girl watched a bit of Meet Strawberry Shortcake, I was able to participate in a phone interview with Amy Clark, founder of I love me some MomAdvice, mainly because they have free printables that I actually use in real life (as opposed to other printables that I think I might use one day and end up discarding along the way). Amy was super fun to chat with, sharing the details of a little contest she is helping Kenmore appliances with this Fall. To read more about our conversation, head over here...

As for the little girl watching Strawberry Shortcake, she did really well with staying quiet in the living room. She only came into my bedroom once to give me an update on Strawberry and her pals and was easily silenced with a package of fruit snacks.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Life on Planet Mom...MOPS 2009

Despite the fact that many people in our area are contemplating building a boat due to the extensive rainfall we have been blessed with since Thursday, the children and I loaded up in the family station wagon this morning and set out for our first MOPS meeting of the school year.

See how excited the children were to attend MOPS?

(Yes, they wore jeans. The temperatures were in the 70's...something we haven't experienced since April. I jumped at the chance to make their outfits look a bit more "fall-ish")

Actually, they were thrilled because they love them some Moppets (the children's equivalent to MOPS...and they should love it considering I am now in charge of Moppets). They especially love when Fruit Loops are served for snack and they get to play in the church gym...both of which occurred today. Although they could only vaguely recall that the Bible story was about David and Johnathan, they both could give a play-by-play of who rode which Little Tikes car and for how long.

Ah, the wonders of childhood.

Today's MOPS meeting was great. One of our fabulous mentor moms spoke about how a healthy homelife is created by an intentional mom. There are days when I really focus on being a perky mom or a disciplined mom or a slightly sane mom...but often times I simply scurry about my day without much intention. I get lost in the routine, in the struggle to feed two children and a husband, in the quest to read random people's Facebook updates, and in life in general. Being intentional needs to be more of a focus for me.

Our main speaker was a local counselor who spoke to us about Parenting with Love and Logic. Being a former special education teacher, I have gone through several Love and Logic trainings and have read several of the books. Although there are a few aspects of Love and Logic I am not 100% on board with, I think it is an excellent resource for anyone dealing with children. It was great to have a reminder of how to empathize with one's children rather than constantly expressing frustration. I found myself utilizing a few of the tactics before the children and I even pulled out of the parking lot on our way home.

Two years ago when I joined MOPS I did not know what to expect. I did not know anyone in the group, had never walked through the doors of that particular church, and had an infant and a clinging toddler to pass off to strange childcare workers. It was one of the smartest moves I have made as a stay-at-home mom. I found a place where I could connect with fellow moms, eat a tasty breakfast, have a break from my children, hear some great speakers (She was the first speaker I ever heard at right up my alley, huh?), and make friends.

Are you involved in a MOPS group? If so, how has it changed your experience as a mom?

Toy Organization 101

First-time soon-to-be parents can often be found roaming the aisles of their local baby mega-mart, attempting to decide which baby equipment to purchase. They marvel over the selection, picturing how their home will soon be filled with swings, baby gates and musical toys.

Fast-forward a few years and these same parents find themselves standing in a living room that resembles a war scene from a movie. There are plastic Legos scattered about...(to read more, please go here)

Are you a BurbMom?

Sooo....there are a few posts of mine running over at BurbMom today. Be sure to check them out, especially this one since Fall makes me want to pull out all my trouser shoes and trade in flip flops for those infamous non-atheletic tennis shoes.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In honor of Grandparents Day

In case you were unaware, today happens to be Grandparents Day. My children called one set of their grandparents to say send their love over the phone (Evelyn yelled, "Happy birthday parents day!" Don't think she quite understood the holiday. By the way...Mom, your grandparents gift is in the mail.) and saw the other set at church this morning. They are a lucky set of kids to have such fantastic and involved grandparents.

In honor of Grandparents Day, I am re-running an article/speech about my Grandmother that I presented when she was placed into my hometown's Hall of Fame a few years ago. My Grandmother is one special lady who I love deeply. Enjoy these words about her life as a teacher!

In my former life before I was a Stay-at-home Mommy, I was a teacher. Although I believe the field of education to be an excellent career choice, I actually happened to fall into this profession accidentally. Weeks before I was set to graduate with my Masters degree in Child Psychology, my graduate class was part of a round-table discussion with several professionals from our field. Many of these speakers urged us to have a back-up plan, citing that money-making opportunities in the therapy field were few and far between at that time. Fabulous. I was weeks away from graduating, about to be married, my soon-to-be husband was in school full-time working on a PhD, and we had massive school loans from a private university. And now I needed a back-up plan.

My back-up plan turned into my career when I was presented with the job of teaching special education at an elementary school. I quickly discovered that I loved being in the classroom. As a young girl, who changed her lofty career aspirations on a weekly basis, I would have scoffed at anyone who might have predicted I would become a teacher. My mother was a teacher. My grandmother was a teacher. I was definitely not going to become a teacher. Funny how some things change.

At the young age of twenty, my grandmother, Marjorie M***, was assigned to teach the 11th grade Science class at in a small rural town. Despite the fact her students were only a few years younger than she, my grandmother met the challenge with a determination to successfully manage and teach her classroom. This was the beginning of 31 years spent teaching.

Twenty eight of those years were spent in the *** Public School system, teaching second grade. My grandmother originally began working at McRae Elementary School, then transferred over to Sidney Deener upon its opening, where she taught the remainder of her career. On opening day of Deener Elementary, Grandmother loaded the school bus along with her children and their text books and traveled across town to their new school.

The principal who my grandmother served under for many years once wrote the following sentiment in a birthday card to her, “Learning was easy in your room because you taught people how to learn. You knew just how they were to do this and when you closed your classroom door every morning you wanted no outside interference from anyone. Period.”

Before my elementary school days began, I can remember visiting Grandmother’s class on several occasions, feeling quite envious of the fun had by her students. Grandmother often said during her years of teaching, “You never know what kind of morning a child has had in getting off to school. “ Because it was inevitable that some child in her class had experienced a rough start on any particular morning, Grandmother always began each school day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, marching the class around the room to a patriotic song, and then participating in a group sing-a-long. Years from now, I know I will still be able to close my eyes tightly and envision my Grandmother dancing around her classroom, cheered on by adoring eight year olds, to the Oakridge Boys “Elvira.” A fellow teacher once said, “We always knew we could depend on Mrs. Martin to be our song leader every morning. The rest of us barely got through the Pleadge and “My Country Tis of Thee” but Marjorie’s kids did that and show tunes.”
After the singing of “Oklahoma” and “Hello Dolly!” had come to an end and the old brown record player was stashed away for another morning, Grandmother stood before a class of smiling second graders who were now ready to learn for the day. Countless children walked through the doors of my Grandmother’s classroom. They not only developed a love for learning—from reading to grammar to mathematics--- they also learned they were a person of value and at the very least they were loved deeply by their teacher, Mrs. M.

Long after her retirement, Grandmother is still approached by former students. These people typically recognize the familiar red hair and inquire if Grandmother happens to be Mrs. M, their beloved second grade teacher from Sidney Deener. Stories then flow from these former students’ mouths about afternoons spent on the floor by the old brown recliner, listening to Grandmother read the story of Little Lost BoBo. They reminisce about her trademark plaid coat she sported on the playground during the winter months and recite her well-known phrases of “Why the Very Idea” and “I ought to snatch you bald-headed.” Regardless of the memory shared, the sentiment remains the same: The time spent inside the walls of that second grade classroom deeply touched the lives of many individuals, creating experiences and lessons they will never forget.

My grandmother was married to my grandfather for 59 years. Together they had one beautiful daughter, who happens to be my mom. Grandmother is now a great-grandmother to four great-grandchildren. She lovingly refers to these four as “my babies.” Last Christmas she presented me with my own copy of Little Lost Bobo so the story can remain alive in our family. Grandomother retired from teaching in 1985, yet continued to substitute teach for many years afterwards because she missed the classroom. She was often requested by students upon hearing of their teacher’s upcoming absence.

Years after my Grandmother left teaching, I found myself in the classroom, singing crazy songs and able to get students in line with a simple look. One particular afternoon, my mother happened to be in town and had come to visit my classroom. As she was helping me prepare things for the next day, she asked how I knew to do the things I was doing in my classroom.
My response was simple.

“It’s in my blood.” I told her. I had spent years watching both my grandmother and my mother teach, eagerly soaking in their natural ability to cultivate learning and command respect. Grandmother was a teacher in every sense of the word, from her professional attire, to her ability to instruct, to her unyielding love for even the rowdiest of students. I was extremely blessed to sit at her feet and attain such an informal education.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Discussing difficult world situations with young children

As our country pauses today to remember the attacks on our homeland eight years ago, curious young children may approach their parents with questions regarding the events of 9/11 (to read more, please go here)

Back to school for the phillips family

As September rushed to greet us, the phillips family went back to school. Isaac has been counting down the days until school began, eager to get started on preschool for the 2009/2010 year. He had grand plans as for what he would carry in his backpack, who he would play with on the playground, and what exactly he would learn.

I have a secret suspicion that he had concocted a few lesson plans in that little head of his as well. I hope the child did not feel the need to share said plans with his teacher. (The other day he offered a suggestion to the children's librarian about a potential activity for storytime. She was not very amused by such a suggestion). As in years past, Isaac was allowed to bring a special friend to join him on the first day of school. This year the honors fell to Tiger, leaving poor Ike at home to wonder why he was not attending preschool.
Isaac chose a red shirt with a collar (red is his all-time favorite color and collared shirts are an almost daily request... he is his PopPop's grandson) to wear on his first day of school. The backpack of choice this year was MarioKart. I was a bit sad to see the Little Einsteins backpack used over the past two years set aside in the top of his closet. I can remember a tiny little twenty-four month old Isaac hugging that pack ferociously the day we purchased it in Target.
But a boy has to grow-up (just a bit) and MarioKart is a harmless replacement.

Isaac had no reservations about going to class and sitting down to get right to work. Having graduated into the "experienced student" status, he was the designated line leader for the day. That boy loves being line leader (go figure), enjoying any opportunity to lead others around and possibly direct them in what to do/say/act/feel.

While Isaac was at school, Evelyn and I enjoyed our annual girl's lunch at a local eatery. I *heart* a good girl's lunch complete with flavored ice tea and chicken salad sandwiches so I am thankful that I have a daughter to accompany me on such outings. While dining, I asked Evelyn if she will still want to eat with me when she is a big girl. After getting over her initial anger because she thought my statement implied she currently was not a big girl ("I am a big girl, Mommy!"), she agreed that she would always lunch with me. I figure such an agreement might dissolve a bit during the teenage years, but for now I am thankful for quiet moments with my favorite little girl.

Because the children attend a particular type of preschool, their classes do not meet on the same days. Isaac currently attends two days a week, while Evelyn just goes one. Therefore after Isaac's first day of school at the beginning of the week we turned around and had Evelyn's first day of preschool the following day.
Miss E. was not too convinced she wanted to attend school, claiming she would just rather "stay with ewe, Mommy." After a minor wardrobe meltdown (she wanted to wear this dress because she knows it is a "school dress". However, her legs are so long now that the dress has become a shirt.), she was fed, dressed, and ready to go.

I got her ready under the clear belief that no little girl should attend her first day of preschool without a bow as big as her head secured tightly in her hair.

Evelyn's backpack this year is Disney Princess. It is pink, glittery, and the definition of "tacky"...which is exactly why she loves it. It makes her terribly happy so I attempt to ignore my feelings of dislike over anything with a character screenprint affixed to it.

Isaac led the way into school, Evelyn attempting to toddle behind him while holding up a backpack that weighs more than she.
We were fortunate enough that Tobe could go into work just a bit late that day so he could see E. off on her first day (and have Isaac show him the classroom).
Evelyn quickly found her name and placed her backpack on the hook and her folder in the container. Knowing that the children are tested at the beginning/end of each year, I had reviewed E. earlier that morning about all her basic knowledge (name recognition, colors, shapes, counting, ABC's). Pretty obnoxious, huh? I did refrain from inquiring as to how she did on her test later that day during pick-up time (Don't worry, I'll ask next week. I only refrained because the previous day when the teacher told me how Isaac had done on his test I mentioned that she might also want to test his knowledge of the United States and have him identify various countries on a globe. See what I mean about obnoxious?).
After a few (hundred) pictures, Evelyn found a seat at the table and got to work. We were able to get Isaac out of the room without broadcasting to the entire class that we were leaving (it is a covert operation when leaving Miss E.) and left our baby girl to experience her first educational setting alone. Isaac and I enjoyed our very first day alone without Miss E. in two years. He had quite the time planning our activities and choosing the location for our lunch date.

Evelyn's first day was a success. There were some tears, but they did not last long. When I picked her up, she perkily jumped in the car and exclaimed, "I didn't eat my lunch today!". Seems that one of the crying episodes happened during lunch time and she did not want to eat lunch without her mommy.

I personally think she might have been crying because there was no ice tea or cute little sandwiches served...

School is off to a good start. Both children have been especially cranky in the afternoon as we adjust to this new/old schedule (one day they were both laying in the floor crying, clad only in t-shirts and underwear while I attempted to cook supper), but I figure that phase will pass quickly. I have heard snippets of little conversations between the two as they compare activities participated in and choice of recess equipment played on while at school on their separate days.

Good times.

Hopefully the two will still be this eager about school in seven years when I have to drag them out of bed and shove them out the door.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Navigating the paths of life

When Tobe and I married, we were fortunate to have all eight of our grandparents and one of my great-grandparents at our wedding. Over the course of our eight years of marriage we have only lost two of these gems.

In the last two weeks, I have been fortunate to visit with the seven grandparents that are still with us. I have sat at the their kitchen tables, dined beside them in restaurants, and been reminded of the effects of what an honest life lived looks like. I attempted to inquire as to how they exactly found the spot where they have landed, how they navigated the paths of life in such a successful manner. Some days I feel like I am feverishly treading water, often to little or no avail, as our family moves through time. I wonder if the preschool years of parenting will ever end and in the next moment think that my babies are growing much too rapidly. I see or hear about other families doing better or worse and wonder how people pull their families along life's timeline successfully.

Today I wrote an article about creating a family mission statement, because I think that intentionality is the best way to keep one's self and one's family on course. Perhaps I have spoken of drafting such a thing before on this blog, however we have yet to achieve such a goal.

I plan for the husband and I to sit down in the very near future and write a phillips family mission statement (This is more Tobe's cup of tea than mine, with his love for all things business and organization). Perhaps one day, my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will find themselves seated at my table and will inquire as to how the phillips family weathered the trials of life and time.
Or perhaps they will simply read the posts of this blog and wonder how my family survived my quirks over the years...

Does your family have a family mission statement? If so, what does it say and is it effective?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Good Table Manners for All!

In the South, the phrase of "Were you born in a barn?" can be heard at dinner tables across various towns and state lines as parents question the lack of table manners displayed by their children. Most kids seem more concerned about licking the remnants of mac and cheese off their plates rather than contemplating what Emily Post would have suggested as a proper tactic for handling the last of one's food...(to read more, please go here)

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Last 18 Minutes of Summer

I will spare everyone the overused expressions about time passing quickly and simply say that summer has flown by at an astonishing rate. Seriously, did I not just make my nifty summer schedule and purchase my first tube of SPF 75 for the season?Regardless, time marches on and on this holiday weekend I am enjoying the final 18 minutes of summer before we greet Fall (which, for those living near casa de phillips, means we have the same temperatures as summer. ugh.).

Our little family has enjoyed quite the great summer, from taking some vacations to visiting with family to celebrating a few birthdays. This was the first summer that both children were really ready to tackle some fun adventures (last summer E. was not hard as that is to believe) and I only had to carry a few sippy cups and some goldfish with us as opposed to toting around a significant portion of a child's nursery in my purse.
Summer 2009 was good times, my friends. Good times.
How was yours?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Somewhere else today...

On this Friday before a holiday weekend, I am somewhere else today (namely at "Meet the Teacher", running errands, listening to my oldest child recite the numerous locations of various countries, and sorting the laundry in anticipation of the weekend).

I am also over at Burb Mom, discussing the ins and outs of E.'s hair (once again). Check it out and give Burb Mom some love!

A Ticket to Ride

When Isaac was about three weeks old, I realized I had to do something to get out of the house or my sanity would be severely compromised. Still in that new-mother stage of being a bit timid of attempting anything too daring with just me and a newborn(such as a trip to the Target 1.7 miles from my home, which I do not think I ever attempted until the child was about three months old), I opted for taking him on a walk each and every morning. We quickly found a favorable route and so began our mornings together everyday. We would wake-up, I would feed him a bottle and then we were off to see the world outside the walls of casa de phillips. At first Isaac usually fell asleep during the middle of the walk. However as months marched by he was more alert and became aware of his temporary outdoor surroundings.

By the time Evelyn came along, Isaac and I were in a pretty good rhythm with our walking. We had people we routinely greeted, we knew the best malls to hit up on colder days and I knew exactly how long it took to prepare for and then complete the walk, thus fitting it in perfectly with our schedule.

We tweaked things some to fit Miss E. into our walking (such as "winning" a beaut of a stroller on EBay) routine. Soon the three of us were out on the streets of our little suburb, soaking up some sun and having a grand ol time (except for when being chased by local rabid ducks**. No grand time was ever had then.)

I still have two kids who love to go on walks. Now we have to walk a bit further to discourage anyone from thinking they can leave the stroller and walk by themselves. I pack a lot more snacks and we usually hit up a few more playgrounds than we did in the past. There are some days when the phrase "Keep your hands to yourself" is repeated countless times, leaving me to wonder why the creators of the side-by-side stroller did not have an optional retaining wall to place between the two passengers of the stroller on difficult days.

I have found that walking with kids, whether in a stroller or side by side, is a great way to get outside and just talk. Yesterday we partook of a very long walk (about 4 miles). The three of us talked about various things, discovered some local history and simply enjoyed each other's company. During our four miles, we fed some fish, hiked a trail, visited a farmer's market, was in the background of a commercial being filmed, and swung by Sonic for some refreshments.
Do you think these two will still want to ride in our BOB when they are 11 and 10 years old?

**I know I have failed to mention said ducks in a long time. After calling the local dog catcher and attempting to have the city protect me from these mean creatures, I eventually decided to never. walk. that. way. again. Yeah, I am a dork. Anyway, about three months ago the owners of these ducks built a fence around the "pond" (think child's swimming pool) where the ducks live. Guess who is outside of the fence everytime I drive by? Mr. Duck and his crew of duck hooligans. So in case you were curious, yes the ducks are still there. No, I never, ever walk past them. Ever.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Saying "Yes" to Your Kids

Parenting young children, especially those in the toddler and preschool crowd, often feels like it revolves around the word "no."

"No, you cannot eat three packages of fruit snacks and call that a breakfast."

"No, you cannot attempt to cut your sister's hair using the scissors from the play doctor's kit."

"No, you cannot dump water out of the bathtub by the bucketfuls in hopes of creating a your own personal water feature in the tub."

Despite the continuous round of "No's!" escaping from parents' mouths,...(to read more, please go here)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Not a June Cleaver-esque Day

Today has been blah.

It has been remotely productive. I managed to drag myself from the warm comforts of my bed to join the other 11 people crazy enough in my town to partake in boot camp at 5:30am in the morning. Seriously, we pay someone to tell us to squat like a frog while doing repeated laps around a room. My thighs might thank the teacher, but my sanity is likely in question.

It was a normal kid day. A few squabbles here, a computer desk accidentally broken there (big tears over that one...and I wonder if the space bar on our keyboard will ever recover), a sock inadvertently drawn on with hot pink marker causing more bouts of tears. I managed to completely overhaul Isaac's closet as well as go through a portion of our children's book collection (if our local library ever closes, the citizens of our town need not worry. They can simply swing by casa de phillips for a few books.).

I beat Isaac at Candy Land and worked a few puzzles. I helped Evelyn doctor her Baby Kate. Breakfast, Lunch, and Supper were all consumed. But for whatever reason is was just a blah day.

Anyone else out there with a bit of the blahs?

In non-blah news, you can check out a former Savethephillipsfamily blog post over at BurbMom today. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

And the winner is....

I am just popping in to announce the winner of my Home Management Binder give away....then I am back to hopefully finishing my project I began weeks ago.

The winner is...Summer!

Summer, can you email me your address at savethephillipsfamily at

Thanks to everyone for participating!

Laws..they are a changin'

First time parents often spend a great deal of time contemplating the ins and outs of baby gear. They question which crib to purchase, which highchair will best accommodate their kitchen and which car seat will work best in their family vehicle.

As of today both new and experienced parents are having to step back and consider the type of child safety restraint used in their car. The Texas Child Restraint Law has recently been changed, with such changes going into effect on September 1, 2009...(to continue reading, please go here).


If you clicked over to finish reading the above article (Thank You! by the way), you likely noted that I am a HUGE advocate for outlawing the use of all mobile devices while driving. We never talk on the phone while driving in a car with our children and ask anyone else carting our children around to refrain as well (Yes, we are obnoxious.). I know this is a touchy subject and many people believe they can properly drive a vehicle and talk on the phone/update their Facebook status/text their spouse at the same time. Perhaps you can. However, if you happen to fall into this category, I strongly encourage you to research the implications of such behavior. Unfortunately we live in a society that makes us all feel like we are extremely important, thus needing to "tweet" or make a phone call whenever the urge strikes...even while driving (I openly admit I fall right into this "self-importance" category...I pen a blog about the ins and outs of my day under the assumption that hundreds of people care what I have recently purchased at Target.).

I am now jumping down from my soapbox. Thanks again for taking the time to not only read this blog but my Examiner articles as well. I am sure I will be back soon with a less-sensitive post, such as a recount of Isaac's telling of the story of Jonah last night at supper that involved Jonah, Jesus, and some big spiders....