Monday, November 30, 2009

Turkey Day '09

Holidays are incredibly fun with two preschoolers running around the house. They get terribly excited about anything holiday-oriented. Last week, the dynamic duo cooked their pretend Thanksgiving dinner (complete with such tasty treats as egg pie and turkey pudding) no less than 59 times in anticipation of the actual turkey day.

The week leading up to Thanksgiving both children had a feast at school. Neither child wanted their picture made in their festive headdress and vest after said festivities. However, I can tell you that when all the little two year olds came marching out of the school building on feast day, there was a tiny sea of little heads sporting blue, red, green and yellow feathers. Then, there was one little head sporting hot pink feathers. I'll let you guess who that little head belonged to.

Isaac has recently learned how to pose for pictures with a hand in the pocket and a crossed-over foot. He thinks it is pretty awesome. This is last year's Thanksgiving feast costume (why he would wear this for a picture and not this year's version is beyond me) with this year's awesome pose. The Saturday before Thanksgiving we loaded up the family station wagon and set off to visit my parents. The children are pretty good travelers and can entertain themselves with minimal fuss in the car. I always tote along our portable DVD player, but attempt to hold off on movies until the last portion of the trip. About hour four into our trek, I realized that I had forgotten the car adaptor to the DVD player and the battery had not been charged. The promises of watching a movie were quickly retracted as I attempted to explain that 1. Mommies make mistakes too and 2. Turning around and driving four hours back home to retrieve the missing part was not practical. The kids accepted their movie-less fate. Isaac proceeded to work in workbooks the remainder of the trip (and figured out multiplication in the process) while Evelyn entertained herself by putting goldfish crackers in an empty crayon bag and singing.

We settled in for our week-long stay at my parents' house. The kids love playing with all the new-to-them toys and spending time on Nanny and PopPop's playground. Evelyn discovered that she is no longer afraid of the Jacuzzi tub nor of the vacuum cleaner and that she does indeed like to eat rolls (She has had a bread aversion until now). Isaac learned how to play tic tac toe and became quite the pro at it.

Here is Isaac teaching his two year old sister the ins and outs of tic tac toe:

After spending a few days doing a lot of nothing, Thanksgiving Day was finally upon us. I attempted to promote the magic that is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade but the children (and I) were completely bored by the constant interviews and only slight glimpses of the balloons as they floated down Broadway. Their little eyes glazed over as I attempted to explain to them of how the parade used to be back in the days before NBC felt the need to self-promote every 37 seconds.

That morning, we forced the two to sit for some Thanksgiving pictures. Being the fanatical parents that we are, we attempted to get some smiles by making up stories of crazed squirrels looming behind Tobe's head. Before having children I would never have guessed that I would jump around frantically, screeching about a mad squirrel just to get my children to smile. These days, such antics seem perfectly sane.

Motherhood has no pride sometimes..but that is fine with me because look at these sweet faces.

Melt my heart...these two will hate this picture someday but I think it is my reward for being a part of the "2 within 2" crowd.

This year we choose to eat our traditional Thanksgiving meal at lunch. The children asked to be seated next to each other, with Isaac citing that they simply had to have chairs next to each other because they were thankful for each other. How could a parent argue with such logic?

Yes...they had juice boxes and chicken at the Thanksgiving table. I figure one of the aspects about Thanksgiving is eating food one enjoys. Neither child is a fan of turkey, so I was "that" mom who heated up some chicken nuggets to go along with all the Thanksgiving sides. Both were happy with their choices and we have only had one incident of Isaac relaying to a store clerk that he had chicken nuggets on Thanksgiving Day.

A few days before Thanksgiving, Isaac asked me to make him an apple pie. I just cannot resist that little face of his some days, so I obliged.

Behold, my apple pie...

After a tasty lunch and a long nap, the two went outside to "ride bikes and trikes" (their phrase, not mine). Soon riding turned into the game of "Hey, Evelyn, chase me while I ride down the street."
One day Isaac will not have a sidekick always ready and willing to do whatever he asks. Until then, life is pretty good for our boy and his sister.

Friday morning I set out for Black Friday. It is no secret that I love to shop and I love a good bargain. Black Friday was made for people like me. I compiled my list the night before, convinced my mom to join in on the "fun" by bribing her with Starbucks and set the alarm for 4:30am. I have participated in Black Friday sales several times...all of them being in large metropolitan areas. Black Friday in the city is a bit different from Black Friday in small town America.

People were yelling. People were pushing. People were crowding the entrance having a smoke break in the midst of their shopping. One lady shoved me so hard I almost toppled over, simply because she wanted to get to the $3 pajamas before I did (Her plan backfired. I was able to squeeze through a tight area while she was stuck attempting to navigate through a larger aisle).

I managed to get out of that store with minimal scrapes and bruising just in time to scoop my mom up and head out to the larger city and visit some of the other stores on our list. We discovered a Wal-Mart who still had several of the big ticket Black Friday items in stock. I may or may not have convinced my mother to purchase herself a new computer. We then hit the toy store and a few other places before grabbing a quiet lunch and heading home.

Saturday we once again loaded up the family station wagon (with a fully-charged DVD player and a fresh set of workbooks for Isaac) and set off for home, thankful for time spent with friends and family.

How was your Thanksgiving, dear reader? Share the details of your turkey day. Did you serve your children frozen chicken nuggets or eat half of a cherry pie all on your own (or was that just me)?

Unrealistic Expectations

Want to know what these two little turkeys are laughing about?

Well, most likely they just glimpsed my to-do list for today...that is quite possibly longer than either one of them...and chuckled over mama's unrealistic expectations.

Somehow in the process of creating advent trees, putting up the last of the Christmas decorations, mopping up the sticky remains of a Route 44 Diet Dr. Pepper that crashed out of our fridge last night, writing a lot of catch-up articles and cleaning the bathrooms, I will be back with a recap post of all Thanksgiving activities.

Until then, check out this review over at Moms Out Loud.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

The sounds of Thanksgiving are swirling around me. Someone is vacuuming, someone is cooking, the children are "decorating" for the "party" by strategically placing large pictures of Diego around the house, and the parade is on the television.

As I steal a few moments away, I just wanted to say that on this Thanksgiving I am thankful for YOU! Many thanks to those of you who click over here day after day to read the thoughts I throw out on the Internet. Thanks to those of you who leave comments, who appreciate the posts I write and who take time out of your busy schedule to read about mine.

Happy Thanksgiving, from savethephillipsfamily!

(My family just found me tucked away with the laptop. I am off to enjoy this beautiful day of thanks with those that I love most. Hope you get to do the same.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful for these smiles

I am terribly thankful for Smile A and Smile B

this Thanksgiving.

(I am also terribly thankful for Smile C which belongs to the husband. However, he would not be a fan of me placing a large photo of his smiling face on my blog)

Monday, November 23, 2009

From feared to favored

Does the kid's table have a bad reputation at your holiday gatherings?

Change that reputation by transforming the kid table from feared to favored in a few easy steps.

Thankful for life's conveniences

Before I became a mother, I would never have imagined the following statement would fall from my mouth (fingers?? keyboard?? life behind a computer is so complex at times):

"I am thankful for a shopping cart."

Yes, a shopping cart. It is no secret that my children do not accompany me when I go to the grocery store for our big twice-a-month excursions. They stay at home with their father, nice and cozy in PJs playing some odd game the three of them created involving a basket of balls and a random assortment of toys. I shop in peace, they all bond, everyone wins.

On occasion I do have to take a child to the store to grab a few things that we need. Often times the child that accompanies me is Miss E, my shopping partner in crime while her brother is at school. Miss E. is quite the shopper and enjoys our excursions.

She has also become quite the shopping cart connoisseur. She knows what type cart each particular store has, if she likes that cart and if I will allow her to ride in said cart (I banned the TV cart over a year ago and somehow we have managed to keep trudging on through life). Her current favorite is the model found at a local Tom Thumb grocery store while her least desirable cart option is found at (gasp...dare I say it) Central Market.

That was until Friday.

Friday the two of us discovered the new cart for kids at our local Wal-Mart. This cart had the bucket seats for two child riders and the standard basket to hold all the goodies. However, the bucket seats seemed to be at the perfect height, rather than too high or too low. The seat was not just a mere sliver of plastic, barely large enough to cover a child's rear end. Instead it was large and comfy. The seats faced forward, allowing Miss E. to be able to take in all the action of the store.

Miss E. was not the only one loving the cart. It maneuvered around turns easily. There was no loud thumping as we walked along, which such kiddie carts often have due to their large size and unbalanced wheels. It felt as if I were casually pushing a light little cart rather than having to focus all my strength into simply getting the thing to move forward as has been the case in the past.

The cart was wonderful, dear reader, and for that I am thankful.

As we exited the store and found our way to the car in the parking lot, it was time to bid our lovely cart farewell. I passed another mom who was attempting to get twin toddlers into the store with minimal issue. I stopped her and told her she needed my shopping cart. I might possibly have uttered the phrase "It will change your life."

What are little convenience are you thankful for today?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thankful for Life's Imperfections

As the holiday season begins to descend upon us, I am eagerly making our Christmas to-do list. The first item on that list was "Take Christmas Card Photo", which I managed to cross off last weekend.

All mothers know that there are few events more stressful than having children's pictures made. When photographing babies, moms pray that the diaper stands up to is leak guarantee and that all projectile spit-up episodes are reserved for after the session. When dealing with toddlers and preschoolers, moms hope that the promise of a post-picture treat will be just enough to keep the tantrums and tears at bay. Last Saturday morning we dressed the children in their holiday finery and set off for our local botanical gardens in hopes of getting a few decent pictures to splash across our yearly Christmas greeting. A generous friend offered to meet us there and snap off a few photos with her super fancy camera.

There were smiles, there were frowns, there was a bit of disharmony about who would stand where and when. Somehow we managed to get a few pictures that show our family of four, merrily smiling at the camera, looking as if we always sit in a beautiful garden wearing freshly pressed clothes with perky expressions on our faces.

When I send out these cards in a few weeks, I almost wish I could tuck a little note in with the card. The note would say something along the lines of "Don't mistake this picture as an indication that we have it all together over here at casa de phillips. We are a bit of a mess some days.". The truth behind the picture is that Miss E. actually arrived at the gardens only wearing tights, bloomers and shoes because I feared her dress would become wrinkled by the car seat. Isaac had to be bribed with the promise of a package of M&Ms. I fretted around, saying such things as "Don't run (translated to a kid as saying "Don't have fun")" and "Don't you dare get mud on your clothes."

Although our picture conveys a perfect little family, tied together in a perfect little bow, we are not such a clique image on a daily basis (or on an hourly basis). Today, following along in my sharing of things I am thankful for, I am thankful for imperfections. I am thankful that all though our Christmas card might portray a cookie-cutter family, I know that 72 pictures out of the 139 taken involved Miss E. scowling at the camera. I am thankful that I know that the pictures showing a brother and sister enjoying a walk in the woods on a pretty fall morning were really the result of a mother anxiously begging them to just hold hands and smile (which they never did). I am thankful that the four of us simply did not wake up looking as we do on that Christmas card. Rather than was rushing around to get everyone dressed, there was parental reminders of "Please put on your Buzz Lightyear underw*ar now before I cancel Christmas", and there was fussing about what was served at Breakfast that morning.

As we all focus on things that we are thankful for this week, take time to be thankful for life's imperfections. Know that behind other people's Christmas card smiles is a bit of frustration, a touch of heartache and a tad of stress. That does not make them bad or worse off than you, it simply makes them human. Be thankful for life's imperfections and embrace them. Things would be pretty boring otherwise.

About those 72 pictures of a scowling Miss E....well, one day they will find their moment to shine in Miss E's wedding video.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful for Moleskin

With Thanksgiving only a week away, I thought I would take the next seven days to share things I am thankful for...some whimsical, others sentimental and others perhaps a bit deep (perhaps...I do discuss a lot of frivolous things here at savethephillipsfamily and I don't want to get too serious and scare people away).

Today I shall share something a bit whimsical that I am terribly thankful for, something that has become almost a fifth limb for me. It is my moleskin notebook.

I am a writer. I have been writing for a long time, about various topics and issues. I once attempted to write a "novel" on a family road trip when I was in middle school. (I guess I should also say that I am a dork as well as a writer).

Now that I write on a regular basis, I needed something to house all my ideas. A place where I could jot down a few thoughts, flesh out some topic ideas, and make notes of future topics. My moleskin notebook is just the place to house such thoughts. I am constantly reaching for it, writing down a note or an idea before it escapes my brain. It is filled with various shades of ink and random little scraps of thought.

If someone were to stumble across my moleskin notebook, they might think they have found the journal of a very confused, very odd individual who has the inability to complete a sentence or form a coherent thought. All though it is a bit of a mess, it is my mess and it keeps my writing focused and flowing.

So today I am thankful for my moleskin notebook.

(and for the fact that the novel I penned in fifth grade likely resides in the city dump where no one can ever read it)

What are you thankful for today?


Yesterday I talked about teaching gratitude to children over here and over here (yes, articles do get recycled and rewritten). When you click over here, notice my new profile picture courtesy of Paige Pearson Photography!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Encouraging a love of reading in young children

Wednesday mornings are my date times with this handsome little boy. Although his sister has been around for almost 2 1/2 years now, I still remember when it was just Isaac and me paling around everyday together. It is nice to have one morning a week to spend alone with my little guy.

This morning the two of us dropped E. off at school and then made our plan of attack. I told him the things that needed to be accomplished (a bit of cleaning at home and running the car through the car wash) and then we settled on the fun things we wanted to do together. We opted to make a run to the library, hoping to find the latest in the Magic Tree House series and sit in on storytime.

After our time at the library was over, I suggested a stop by the local resale shop so we could browse the used book section for a few minutes. This request was met with great enthusiasm from the boy in the backseat. While in the store I peered over at my blond hair boy, sitting criss-cross applesauce on the floor with a mound of books around him, and smiled. He was engrossed in the pages of a book and did not even notice that his mama was gazing at him (he likely would have asked me to stop if he had caught such an exchange). I love that he already loves books and reading. His reading skills are getting quite good and he manages to surprise us daily with the words and sentences he can read (unfortunately, he is also starting to be able to figure out what Tobe and I are spelling to each other when we do not want the children to know what we are talking about).

The other day a fellow mama asked me how to encourage a love of reading in children, especially those who might be a bit hesitant to stop and sit quietly with a good book. Below are a few tips and tricks that can encourage reluctant readers.

1. Let them see you reading. Children have to learn that reading is fun and enjoyable. Don't save personal reading for late at night when children are in bed. Take time during the day to sit down with a good book or a fun magazine when the kids are present. Tell them about what you are reading and why reading that particular book is exciting to you. They are more likely to be excited if they see your enthusiasm.

2. Find books that match their interest. If your kid loves trains, find a variety of books about trains (both fiction and non-fiction). Although I love to read, I would really struggle to sit down with a 400 page novel about electronics. Such a topic does not interest me. However, I am more than will to sit down with a 400 page mystery novel.

3. Point out the written word in everyday life. Some kids are hesitant to read simply because they think they cannot. Build their confidence by asking them to read familiar signs, such as the one outside favorite fast food restaurants or retail stores. When children realize they can read things out in the everyday world, they are a bit more enthusiastic about sitting down to read a book.

4. Read daily. Tobe and I read to both kids on a daily basis, several times a day. This is a special bonding time and a time to share a good story together. We read to them as a group and individually. A while back we started reading chapter books to Isaac. He really loves this time and we have worked through various series together.

I wrote an article about this topic a few months ago, which includes some more tips and tricks.

How do you encourage a love of reading in young children?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thankful for Thanksgiving books

If you have ever visited casa de phillips, you know that we are book people around here. Walk into the living room and one of the first things you will notice is a bookshelf stuffed with children's books. Enter any room of the house and you will discover even more books. Go to our local public library and you most likely will see us there.

We love books.

I especially love holiday books for children. I have two large tubs filled with children's books about various holidays. At each holiday, I dig through my buckets and pull out the appropriate books for us to enjoy.

There are some really good children's books about Thanksgiving. Head over here and read about a few in particular that we love.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Vaccine Shortage. Waffle Shortage. What's next?

When not eating cupcakes.. Or ice cream
Evelyn can be found eating waffles.
Seems finding her beloved waffles might become an issue soon...

A Home for E.

I have a vivid memory of being on the playground of my elementary school (What's up, Denner Dawgs!) and partaking in a conversation with a friend about pogo balls. That year they were the must-have Christmas present. This particular girl's mom had canvassed half of the state in search of a pogo ball, hoping to find one in time for the holidays.

I remember wondering why her mom was going to such great lengths to find a present, especially one that was never really quite that fun in my opinion.

Fast forward 20 some odd years later and I have found myself searching the Internet furiously for a particular present for Miss E. Months ago I stumbled across a huge assortment of dollhouse furniture for the beloved (and now retired) Little Tikes Dollhouse. Knowing that we had planned on buying E. a dollhouse for Christmas this year, I snatched that bag of goodies up thinking finding the dollhouse would be a piece of cake. I contacted my local Little Tikes resale guru (*), only to discover she had no houses for sale (with the exception of the mansion which might require an addition to be added onto casa de phillips in order for us to have space to house it).

No problem, I thought. I will just search that handy-dandy popular on-line auction site.

My "searching" has transformed into hours spent pouring over various dollhouses for sale, contemplating which would be better and which would not force us to live off of rice and beans for the month of December in order to finance shipping and handling charges. I have called all local consignment stores (remember this particular house is retired...meaning it has to be purchased used) to see if they have one on their shelves. I have searched Cra*gslist in my area and all surrounding major cities....and possibly even larger cities where I have friends who could scoop up the house for me.

I might possibly have become that crazed parent in search of the perfect Christmas present.

You'll be happy to know that I have limited myself to a driving radius of 200 miles, which would not quite be canvassing my state in hopes of finding this present.


What presents are topping your children's Christmas lists this year? Please share!


*If you live near me, I will be happy to pass along the contact information for my Little Tikes resale lady. She is the go-to source for anyone needing Little Tikes toys (with the obvious exception of those looking for a dollhouse).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cupcakes, E. and ME!

As mentioned yesterday, I recently took Miss E. out for cupcakes and tea. It was such a fun and sweet experience.

You can read more about it here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Enjoying the dynamic duo..separately

These two little ones together can be a ton of fun (or a slightly large headache depending on the day and time) Sometimes it is nice to spend one-on-one time with them as well. Our school schedule this year allows such individual time to happened, which we try to take advantage of as much as possible.

Yesterday the husband and I took Isaac here to enjoy a bit of history and nature.

It has been a long time (about 2.5 years) since it has just been the three of us. We all enjoyed exploring some log cabins, riding a train and then feasting on a large lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant...all accomplished before we were due back to scoop up Miss E. from preschool.

Last week, the amazing Miss E. and I (along with some friends) enjoyed some quality girl time at a local boutique. This particular store hosts a tea time for little girls, complete with dress-up clothes, cupcakes, and hot pink tea. I refrained from putting on the adult sized Cinderella costume I spied in the corner and stuck with a simple feather boa. I did not refrain from eating my very own cupcake.

E. loved every bit of this girly experience and has requested that we return to the princess store again soon.

If you have multiple children, how do you manage to squeeze in some individual time with them on a regular basis?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mommy Blogging 101

Last month I celebrated my four year blog-iversary.

Yesterday, I wrote an article about how one can start their own mommy blog. Be sure to check it out!

Stick around for some drastic (and much needed) changes to this mommy blog coming in future weeks!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Journaling with Preschool Children

During the day, the children and I use our kitchen table for many things.

We color at it. We bake at it.

We paint at it.

We craft at it.

It is our mecca for group projects. The warm yellow walls and sunny area found in our breakfast nook make the coziest place for the three of us to sit down and work on something together. This blog is usually penned from there, often times in the dark and quiet of the early morning hours.

Lately the children and I have been journaling from our kitchen table. In my teacher days, the elementary school where I taught kicked off a huge writing initiative. EVERYONE wrote...teachers, kindergartners, and older kids as well. The idea was to start the process of writing early on and get kids to practice, and hopefully love, the task of putting thought to paper.

A while back I took two ordinary composition books and covered them in scrap book paper. I told the children these were their journals and that we would write our thoughts in them on occasion. Here are a few tips for journaling with young children:

*Explain the process, using terms they understand. Before you begin a long lecture about recording personal thoughts on paper, stop. Explain to children that they have to the ability to write down their thoughts and stories on paper,which they can do with words and with pictures. That, dear readers, is journaling!

*Create a special space to hold these thoughts. As mentioned, our journals are simple composition books. Although simple, these books are kept in our crafting cabinet and not left out with other coloring books or notebooks. We keep them tucked away until writing time so they remain special and unique.

*Provide a prompt. As of now, I am guiding the children's writing. We have written about Halloween, about Fall and about themselves. Give children a topic to write about to guide their writing and prevent a detailed (and confusing) tale that no one understands in the end.

*Encourage illustrations. Because Evelyn is just learning how to write her letters, she has no grasp on "writing" per say. In her journal she draws a picture about the prompt and then I write a sentence for her about the picture (she dictates the sentence). Isaac can write quite well and understands the concept of a sentence. He too draws a picture and then writes a sentence about his picture.

*Don't strive for perfection. Sometimes it is hard for me to sit still and simply allow the kids to create in their own little way. However, if I expect them to actually own their own work (and not want me to one day complete their science project in its entirety) I have to allow them to do so from the very beginning.

*Set an example. One of the reasons I began journaling with the children is because of the large amount of time I spend writing these days. I simply wanted them to understand exactly what I am doing behind the glow of my laptop (although Isaac still questions if I am playing games on Show your children your writing, read some of it to them and let them see how you put thought to paper.

*Practice, practice, practice. Writing is a skill that requires practice. Perhaps set a goal of journaling with the children every Monday morning, writing about something that happened over the weekend.

Pull out a kitchen chair, grab a notebook and some crayons, and start writing!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Maclaren USA recalls one million strollers

A massive recall by Maclaren, a giant in the baby stroller industry, is set to be announced tomorrow, Tuesday November 10, 2009. Maclaren is recalling all of their strollers produced between 1999 and 2009. The reason for this record-breaking recall is...(to read more, please go here)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

You had me at "Chi"

When he married me, my husband likely thought he got a pretty good deal.

At the time I was quickly teaching myself how to cook (rather successfully...with the exception of the 4 Cheese Macaroni Incident of 2001), cleaned our little 900 sq. foot home every Thursday night while he was in class and was quite content with snuggling on the couch late at night watching Friends reruns rather than blowing our small salaries on nights out on the town.

Not the "standard" gal, I was not one to demand flowers or require expensive jewelry. Toss around a few "I love yous" on a regular basis, kiss me good-bye and hello, and perhaps leave a little note for me on occasion and I am good to go.

See what I mean about the husband getting a pretty good deal?

Although he got a pretty good deal in this whole marriage thing, I got an even better one.

Know that bit about me not needing bouquets of roses or big sparkly diamonds? Well, the husband could have just stopped there. He could have simply recognized that he somehow lucked out and would never be forced to browse the expensive and confusing displays at the local jewelery store, questioning how he would ever find that perfect piece that would make the ol wife happy. Instead of just being thankful he did not have to partake in buying me the typical wife-wooing gifts, the husband got creative.

A month into our marriage, he arrived home one afternoon bearing a clown cone from Baskin Robbins.

As I munched away on my cute little clown made of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, I loved him a bit more.

The year before we became pregnant with Isaac and had just decided to start a family, he gifted me with a few stuffed animals to go in the future nursery.

I smiled just last week when Isaac *gently* tossed one of those stuffed animals at his sister in a manner only a big brother can do, smiling at the memory of that animal's entrance into our home.

For my birthday last year, the husband sent me away for the weekend where I could enjoy a blissful 48 hours of not having to fetch apple juice and goldfish for cute little people or clean up said apple juice and goldfish after those cute little people. Those two peaceful days recharged my batteries and made me even more thankful for my life long partner.

There are likely hundreds of gifts, some big and others small, that the husband has bestowed upon me during our decade+ of knowing each other.

Friday he put all those gifts to shame.

The family had just finished eating supper. I was rushing around attempting to get dressed (the husband and I were going out after the kids were in bed), gather things for the following day and attempting to field the hundreds of questions only preschoolers can generate. As I was scattering my piles of clothes and shoes around on the bed, I noticed a box. Then I noticed it was not just any box. It was this box:

Be still my beating heart.

That boy had gone out and purchased me a hair styling product.

And he did not buy just any old hair gizmo.

He bought a CHI.

Just because.

A few nights prior to the bestowing of this gift, I had mentioned how the man behind the CHI company is considering a run for Governor of our state. Completely bypassing any and all political talk, I then went on and on about the greatness of the Chi hair straightener. I surmised that anyone known for designing such a highly respected hair styling tool would most likely make a good Governor. The conversation transitioned onto another subject and nothing else was said about CHI's or hair straighteners or about the fact that I most likely should reconsider my methodology for selecting potential political figures.

Then on Friday the CHI box magically appeared on my bed.

Some girls' love language might be flashy rings or large expensive bags or glitzy trips. I can confidently say that my love language is hair styling tools.

What is a totally random, completely wonderful gift your significant other has bestowed upon you?

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Changing of the Leaves

One day, these two little children will have inside jokes that they will snicker about behind my back. Inevitably, I will do something just a bit too eccentric, a bit too "momish" for these two. They will likely glance at each other, perhaps share a secret eye roll and most likely later laugh over said occurrence at my expense.I am tough. I can handle such an event when the day comes (Just like I can also threaten to spend their eventual inheritance). When I was a kid, my brothers and I used to laugh over how one time my mom purchased a large amount of canned green beans on sale and we ate those things for months on end. For years, whenever green beans were placed on the supper table, we asked her if they were from the original case of beans purchased on sale.

One thing the children might giggle about behind my back is my deep love for the changing of the trees in Fall. In our area we do not often get the same type of glorious display of autumn that I grew up experiencing. However, recent rainfall and color temperatures are making the leaves on local trees burst with color this year.

I cannot help but discuss this changing of color everywhere we go. Today as we puttered around town in the family station wagon I could tell the children were growing a bit weary of me pointing out every gold and yellow leaf we passed. I am sure if I had studied their little reflections in my rear view mirror I most likely would have seen an eye roll or an exasperated shrug pass between the two of them, as they tolerated dear old mom going on and on about leaves.

Because the color of the trees have inspired me so, I decided to do an art project with the children based on leaves found in our neighborhood. First we went on a walk, examining trees with changing colors. We stood under a neighbor's tree, peering up at the leaves in all their multi-colored goodness. I pointed out the strong branches and how each leaf was a bit different from its partner. We each selected a few leaves and went inside to sketch them.

After drawing paper, pencils, crayons, and snacks (the most important thing to bring to the craft table) were handed out, the three of us took time to carefully study our leaves. We looked at their colors and at the tiny veins running through them. We felt them to see if they had different textures or made different sounds when rubbed between two fingers.

Then we began the task of drawing the leaves.

Evelyn's attention span is a bit shorter for such an art project and she eventually moved on to simply coloring and gluing. Isaac however is quite the student of art and took this assignment rather seriously.

After completing our sketches, we moved on to leaf rubbings. We laid a piece of paper over a leaf and gently rubbed a crayon across the paper, hoping to catch the small details of our piece of nature. After the rubbings were completed, we grouped them according to leaf size.

Finally we decided to draw our own interpretations of a tree in the height of fall.

Isaac's leaf sketch and drawing of a tree:

In need of some fall-themed crafts to do with your children? Go here and read some more great craft ideas.
I am off to the backyard to stare at the changing oak tree watch the children play.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Daylights Savings Time is Not My Friend

I love to eavesdrop on the conversations between my two children.

They have become fast friends and often times sneak away for a private chat just between the two of them. Occasionally such chatter leads to arguing, other times to covert plans to hide away the remaining pieces of Halloween candy, but most often it is just casual banter between two friends.

Yesterday I heard the two planning the afternoon's activity they hoped to partake in once nap time came to an end. Apparently Miss E. had been wanting to play baby dolls and her obliging big brother agreed (he does not so much enjoy actually playing with the dolls as much as he likes setting everything up and being the boss of what happens when). They hashed out some details and Isaac accurately listed what the baby doll's schedule would be for the "day" once they began playing (See what I mean about being a boss?).

Amazingly, the doll's schedule was exactly like our schedule here at casa de phillips.

I have discussed scheduling children in the past and it is no secret that we believe children should be on a set daily routine. A daily schedule works well for our household. No one is shocked when nap/quiet time arrives after lunch nor is anyone surprised when they are told to clean up their toys before bath. These occurrences happen Every. Single. Day. and they work for us.

You know what does not work with a child on a schedule?

Daylights savings time.

I used to eagerly look forward to "falling back" knowing that I would be granted an extra hour's sleep one night and experience sunset an hour earlier each day for a few months. The sun would shine on me as I drove to work rather than having to push myself out of the house in the dim morning light.

Such a fondness for time change is gone, dear reader. The early wakings by the children this week as they adjust to daylight's savings time has been okay. We have dealt with early risers the entire time we have been parents so that is something we can handle.

The sobbing, yelling, snot-flying meltdowns by bath time are something entirely new.

Despite the fact that our clocks in the house read one thing, the children's internal body clock is reading an entirely different time. That time just happens to be an hour later than their normal bedtime. Everyone appears perky and happy and then bath time hits and both kids are crying messes. Last night we had a sibling spat break out in the bathtub that could possibly have qualified for WWF-level fights. I still have no idea what set off that dispute. What I do know is that both kids were quickly rinsed, hauled out of the tub, shoved into some PJs and tucked safely into bed by 7:15pm. There were no books read, no nightly devotional time shared and quite honestly, no teeth brushed.

I know their little bodies will adjust in a few more days and bath and bed time will resume a semi-state of calm once again.

Most likely in time for us to spring forward...

A few personal links...

The children (okay, mainly Isaac) are starting to understand that when Mommy is working at her computer she is actually doing something as opposed to merely playing Dora's on-line candy land. Recently I have started both kids working on journaling (post coming on such a topic) to help them with their writing skills (notice I use that term loosely...they are only 4 and 2) and to help them gain a better understanding of what mommy means when she says, "Hold on. I am writing something."

Here are a few links to some articles I have written lately, some during nap time and others with a little body hovering near questioning when I will be available to get them more apple juice:

Also, last Friday an article of mine previewed in an insert of the Dallas Morning News. A few weeks ago when I first got word that this was going to happen, I was quite excited. Then I was told I would be a part of a photo-shoot to go along with the article.
Said photo shoot went well. Despite the numerous outfit changes (and the cute child model ..named Isaac...who sat in for a few frames), only two pictures made it into the article (one is just a picture of a sweater I own...without me in the sweater).
Fun times.
For some of you, this edition can be scooped up at your neighborhood Starbucks.
Or you can just swing by casa de phillips and get one of the 50 copies I have swiped so far.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Halloween 2009...aka The Year Isaac's Mom Went as a Chicken

After a weekend spent celebrating Halloween, I believe the Phillips' family is finally ready to retire the Robin Hood costumes for just a bit.

After weeks and weeks of searching for the perfect family theme for costumes, Tobe came up with the idea for us to go as the Robin Hood clan (actually, he came up with the idea for Isaac and E. to be Robin Hood and Maid Marion. I came up with the idea for the adults to dress up as well.). I loved the Robin Hood idea, but was not sure the children would even know who Robin Hood was. How could I sell them on a costume idea if they were not familiar with the character?

We went out and bought the Disney version of Robin Hood and watched it as a family. I remember it being a favorite of mine when I was a child and both the kids enjoyed it as well (although Isaac did get a bit upset in the 22 seconds viewers are lead to believe that Robin Hood has been killed by Prince Richard). After the viewing of the movie and talk of having a bow and arrow, the children were sold on the costume idea.

It was decided that Isaac would be Robin Hood, E. would be Maid Marian, Tobe would be Little John, and I would be the lady-in-waiting.

In the weeks and days leading up to Halloween, people often asked Isaac what he was going to dress as for Halloween. He proudly told the person that he was going to be Robin Hood. He would then go on to explain that his sister was going to be Maid Marian, his daddy was going to be Little John, and his mommy was going to be a chicken.

Yes...a chicken.

If you are familiar with Disney's version of Robin Hood, then you know the characters are portrayed by animals.

The lady-in-waiting ("Ms. Cluck") is a chicken.

Somehow, in the planning of our costumes Isaac translated me dressing as the lady-in-waiting as being Ms. Cluck, and thus dressing as a chicken.

I cannot tell you the strange stares I received from people when Isaac informed them that his mother was set to be a chicken for Halloween. The first few times I attempted to explain what my real costume was going to be and why my child perceived said costume as being that of a chicken, but I usually got even more puzzled looks.

Eventually I simply smiled and nodded, leaving many people wondering why three out of the four members of a family were dressing in a Robin Hood theme and the mom was standing alone dressed as a chicken.

Miss E. and her lady-in-waiting

Little John and Robin Hood

Brave Robin Hood

Robin Hood needed a quiver to hold his bow and I "made" one out of a Pringles can.

Remember last week when I mentioned Isaac had a cut directly between his eyes? Well, he attempted to shoot his bow and arrow (before I modified it) backwards into his face. We are thankful it did not hit his eye. Said bow and arrows now live high up in his closet.

Pretty Maid Marian...whose hat was worn for all of 2 minutes on Halloween

With the aid of Velcro rollers, mouse and lots of hair spray I was able to give Miss E. some stylish princess hair. I also put a bit of blush and lip gloss on her little face. She wanted mascara ("Make-ups my eyes, Mommy!") but I thought that was a bit much for a two year old.

Trick or a winery.

Robin Hood conquering the hay maze

Miss E. eating a sucker.

Fortunately the girl is not much one for candy.

Trick or treating in our neighborhood.

By this point, the kids' pumpkins were quite laden with candy from a trunk or treat we had attended. Isaac was quite the gentleman and carried his sister's pumpkin for her.

At two different houses, the decor scared E. One house had a tombstone that sang a song, which made her a bit nervous. Another house turned on a fog machine which cause E. to bolt away in fear.

Halloween 2009 was quite the successful weekend for our little family, regardless of the fact that both kids (and now myself) were battling colds.

Now I am off to think of next year's costumes...

Perhaps they will include a chicken theme into them...