Wednesday, December 30, 2009

School Days, School Days...Golden Apple Rule Days

Okay, readers...I need some imput.

I am furiously working on an article about preschool (and learning TONS in the process). I need to hear from YOU about if you send (or sent) your children to preschool.

Why did you choose to do so? (or not do so).

What were some of the factors you considered when making the preschool decision?

What things do you like about your current preschool? Are there things you wish you could change?

Please leave a comment or email me at and share your wisdom.

Thanks so much!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The year my child proclaimed, "I don't like Christmas"

Christmas this year found us traveling to and fro, over the river and through the plains of our large state, on the way to The Husband's relatives' homes.

In the days leading up to our trip, I regularly checked the weather forecast to know exactly what to pack for our family of four. I became a little bitter as the forecast predicted clear skies and cool temps for our destination yet predicted snow at my parent's house (where we were not headed). Having never experienced a White Christmas before, I was a bit sad that I might be missing out on one.

Then we woke on Christmas Eve morning to find this: Apparently weather forecasters are not always right and the snow found us and completely missed my parent's house. The children were ecstatic about all the white powder on the ground. We were not too ecstatic about driving conditions, but the family station wagon got us where we needed to be, never letting inches of ice and snow slow us down.

This year we opted to stay in a hotel due to the fact that 31 people from Tobe's family were convening at his grandparent's farm this to celebrate Christmas. This was the children's first hotel visit and they were incredibly excited.

They were also full of many questions such as

"Does the hotel have a toothbrush?"

"Does the hotel have a bed?"

"What will we eat?"

"Does the hotel have bath toys?"

They quickly were able to answer their own questions and were delighted to discover that although the hotel does not have bath tub toys, it does have a Chuck E. Cheese in the parking lot (where they can "purchase" bath toys with tickets).

We settled into our hotel suite for four days, making it a semi- home away from home.

In fact we were so comfortable with our hotel home, we even snapped a few family pics in front of the lobby fireplace.

Isaac greatly enjoyed his big boy bed and after the four of us sharing one room, we all now know Miss E. has a terrible snoring problem.

Christmas morning we headed out to the grandparents' farm and enjoyed a day of eating, opening presents and spending time with family.

It was here that our sweet, precious two year old uttered the phrase "I don't like Christmas."


Seems that Miss E. was in full two year old mode during part of our trip and was a bit of a grump on Christmas morning. She claimed she did not want to eat, did not want to open presents, did not want to have Christmas. She boldly proclaimed to all listening ears, "I don't like Christmas."

Her spirits seemed to lift when she realized there was candy in her stocking.

Ah...behold the wonder of a two year old.

Isaac wondering what is under that sheet....

All smiles after opening her Disney princess set

We moved on the next day to visit more relatives, eat more food (E. preferred Cheetos, as evidenced by the picture below) and open more presents.

We arrived home safely on Sunday afternoon, our car loaded with gifts and treats for each of us. There are still two more holiday celebrations left for us to experience before we can close the curtain on Christmas 2009.

Hopefully Miss E. will be a bit more kind with her opinions about these gatherings...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I hope your Christmas provides you with love, laughter and joy this holiday season!

Merry Christmas, dear readers!



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rockin' around the Christmas tree

We are blessed to live in a very spirited town.

A town that hosts a nightly dance party in their gazebo during the Christmas season.

The children love the dance party, the light show and the chance to run like wild people for thirty minutes straight while their parents simply watch and laugh.

A certain little four year old boy has some pretty smooth moves and can often get other children to join in his unique approach to free styling on the dance floor. A particular little girl simply runs in circles until she falls down, then immediately jumps up to do it all over again.

Occasionally the two dance together. I have aspirations for a "routine" to develop one year which truly would make it the most perfect Christmas ever.

Hope you have time this holiday season to do a little rockin' around the Christmas tree (or town gazebo)!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Our REAL family photo

Because it was the Sunday before Christmas and because everyone in the family just happened to be wearing red (which was completely and 100% planned, by the way), we took some time before worship to snap a few family pictures.

Below is the picture I would normally show:

However, I am playing along with The Happy Housewife today and going to also show your our REAL family photo...

the one that has a four year old attempting to figure out how to pose naturally with a present

the one that has a two year old mad over the fact we are taking pictures

the one that shows the strain on The Husband's face as he attempts to look relaxed despite the fact he just jumped from behind the camera to his spot on the floor before the timer snapped the picture

the one where I am smiling just a bit too eagerly.

There ain't no party like a preschool party...

Preschool Christmas parties were last week and we had two eager participants...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

It's the holiday season's the Christmas season.

And I have presents to wrap, crafts to finish, activities to accomplish, cookies to bake and life to live.

Unfortunately the ol blog might be a bit sparse over the next week or so (with the exception of a holiday picture posted daily, surely I can at least do that).

Which is sad because I have so many funny anecdotes to share, such as how my oldest child appeared in the doorway of my bedroom yesterday morning wearing only his birthday suit and informed me he was closing his bedroom door because he needed some privacy.

Uh, too late for that, dude.

Or how when we took the children up to experience the light display at our local town square this evening, big brother affectionately encouraged little sister to come dance with him in the gazebo, promising her he would stay right by her the whole time. (He ditched her the moment the music came on...but she quickly found her own groove and no longer needed his assistance)

I could also say how the memory card on my camera is just begging for me to download all the images and videos shot over the past three days because there are some quality memories captured forever on it (including tonight's dance party and lunch with Santa earlier this week).

In the meantime, I leave you with a link over to BurbMom in which I discuss how an unfortunate cookie accident changed my outlook on the holidays.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One of life's little lessons

These two are as joined at the hip most days. They enjoy time away from their sibling, but often are thrilled to be reunited with their other half.

This morning as the two were deep in the process of building a sailboat from a push car, baby stroller, and assorted pieces of lacing string, I overheard the following conversation:

"Isaaaaaaaaaaac! Your messing up my sailboat!"

"Evelyn, just calm down. Calm. down."

"I not calm down! Mommyyyyyyyyyy! Isaac told me to calm down!"

Hiding my laughter, I pulled Isaac aside and told him it was time to learn one of life's lessons:

Never, ever tell a woman to calm down and expect her to do so.

His future wife will thank me some day for passing along such wisdom.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Card 2009

Checking the mail is an exciting time in December. Every afternoon I anxiously open the little box and pull out that day's treasure trove of Christmas cards. We display our cards on the doors leading into the kitchen for everyone to enjoy as the enter and exit. Seeing friends' faces smile at me on a daily basis just warms my heart.

Because I *heart* a good Christmas card, I thought I would share our Christmas 2009 card with you (in case you were not on the mailing list this year...or in case you are still one of the few I have yet to get your card to...or in case you are my mother who is still waiting on the post office to deliver the mail that was on hold while she and my father were in Hawaii last week).
Every year my goal is to incorporate a lyric or two from a Christmas carol into the wording of our card. So far, it works. Ask me again in twenty years when I am having to put such phrases as "With a corncob pipe and a button nose, Merry Christmas from the Phillips family" or "Here we come a-wassiling among the leaves so green...and wish you a Merry Christmas!" and I might be cursing the whole tradition of Christmas carols on the holiday greeting card notion.

If you are wondering who designed this super-cute card, it just happens to be my friend Kinda from MyKindaCard. If you are needing cute, inexpensive cards for any and all occasions drop her an email.

The pictures were actually taken by a close friend in a quick 15 minute session one Saturday morning in November. She did an excellent job of coaxing a few smiles out of the children and putting everyone at ease. What you cannot see in the picture is my uber-cute tights that were brown and blue argyle. When I decided on a brown and blue theme for this year's picture, I was surprised to discover outfits already in everybody's closet that would work nicely together.

Then I stumbled upon the brown and blue tights in a local store and knew they were a must for my holiday card ensemble.

However, we did not really have a good family picture displaying the beauty that was my cute tights. I figured most people would rather receive a Christmas card bearing a picture of our family smiling merrily as opposed to one showcasing my obsession with printed tights.

I gave one up for the team...this year.

Next year, you just might be receiving a Christmas card featuring a collage of all my cute leg attire and a random carol greeting of "O, Christmas Tree! O, Christmas Tree! How verdant are your branches!"
(Want to see more Christmas cards? Go here and Enjoy!)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Tour of Homes 2009

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

Casa de phillips is all a' sparkle these days as we sit and enjoy the twinkling lights of Christmas from the comfort of our couch. I am touring along this fine December day with The Nester as she hosts the annual blog Christmas Tour of Homes.

If you are new here...Welcome. Casa de phillips is made up of one husband, one wife, a four year old little boy and a 2.5 year old little girl.

The first stop on our tour today is the Christmas tree, which is mainly decorated in reds and golds (including the wrapped presents below its branches). Because we live by the philosophy that a tree can never have too many lights. we actually add two strands of lights to our pre-lit tree. We string them up through the middle, which makes the tree absolutely glow.

After many discussions and rearranging of furniture (some of which is now housed in the garage during the holiday season), we opted to place our tree by the piano this year. I was skeptical at first, but now love having it in that section of the room. If only one of us could actually play the piano decently, then the family could sit by the tree and sing carols.

Oh well. Maybe next year.

The best thing about our tree is the two little ones who are often found underneath it.

Our tree has many special ornaments. My favorites are our name ornaments, a tradition I begin the Christmas my husband and I were engaged (a tradition I also totally copied from "Days of Our Lives". Who can resist the yearly Christmas episode when the Horton Family ornaments are pulled out?)

Our family ornament

The husband and my ornaments

The children's ornaments

Our stockings are hung with care on the mantle. These beauties are from Pottery Barn, where I also purchased the adorable picture frame stocking holders to go with them. Then I realized that said ornament holders were made out of very solid iron. I also realized that casa de phillips is home to two very curious preschoolers. Hoping to avoid any and all trips the ER this holiday season, I opted to keep my beautiful stocking holders stashed away this year and am using clear plastic hooks instead.

The mantle also holds a portion of my Santa collection. Every year I purchase a Santa, being sure to mark the date on the bottom. This was the first year that I broke a Santa and was unable to fix him. The children were aghast at the thought of a missing Santa, but fortunately it was one purchased during my college years and was not that great.

A new section of Christmas decor this year is the holiday toy table. We own several pieces of the Little People Christmas village as well as a Nativity set made for little fingers. These toys have a home of their own where they can be enjoyed on a daily basis (they live in storage eleven months out of the year, which makes them terribly exciting during the month of December). I am in search of a cute, cheap red bucket to house some of the bigger train pieces which simply live on the floor next to this table.

Random groupings of Santas, twinkling lights and pictures can be found all over the living room.

The piano decor...which is home to more Santas, pictures, and twinkling lights. One can never have too many twinkling lights, in my opinion

Pre-children I used to set the table in festive holiday dinnerware as if we were expecting company at any moment. Such tabletop decor no longer works. I have made peace with plastic placemats and simple decorations in the kitchen, knowing once the children are off to college my elaborate table scape can return.

I always spruce up the light over our table

Collection of Christmas plates above the fridge

I *heart* Christmas trees and have a few scattered around the house.

Here is the tree in the master bedroom.

Each child also has a tree in their room, complete with theme.

We found out Miss E. was a girl the week before Christmas 2006. I rushed out and began her snowman collection that very day. Every year I add a snowman to her stash, being sure to mark the date on each one. This year was the first year that she helped choose her snowman (the glitter one to the left of the tree). Her tree's theme is pink and green.

As our four year old little boy starts to leave his baby years behind, we decided to change the theme of his tree this year. It has been safari animals in the past but now has a global theme. Isaac loves geography and maps. Every night the husband teaches him a new country's name and location on his globe (he is up to knowing about 100 different countries).

When I discovered tree garland with tiny globes affixed to it, I knew we had a new tree theme for Isaac.

Thanks for touring casa de phillips this holiday season. Be sure to leave a comment so I can tour your home as well.

In the midst of being a stay-at-home mom, I also dabble in freelance writing. Take a minute to tour a few Christmas articles.

Getting the perfect Christmas card photo

Our un-picture perfect experience trimming the tree

Sugar Cookies 101

Creating Family Traditions this holiday season

Preparing children to meet Santa

Top 5 ways to ruin the holiday season

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Letters to Santa

Although I already penned my letter to Santa for this year, the children had yet to do so. On Monday we pulled out the pens, paper and stickers and set to work writing letters to Santa. I love for the children to practice their writing skills any chance they can get and dropping the man in red a line is the perfect opportunity to tie in writing with the holidays.

I had a very eager participant who needed little guidance on his letter. He wrote about half the letter, filling in the blanks with his own ideas (I did help with spelling, obviously).
Isaac and his letter to Santa...which involves some sort of spider and web drawing at the top. I was never clear as to how such an image represented Santa but I let such matters go.

My other letter-writing participant was less than thrilled. I thought about reminding Santa in her letter that she is indeed two years old and might need a bit of grace this year, but refrained. The picture below sums up her attitude during such an event.

A few days after writing out letters, we mailed them at our town's adorable red mailbox.

Thank goodness for big brothers who can reach up high and open the mail box slot!

Our letters have been sent off to the North Pole. The Santa who works the area around casa de phillips is really good about writing children a response, so we expect a reply in the next week or so.

After mailing out our letters, we stopped to admire the city Christmas tree. I love to tell the children about the time when Isaac was a baby and pulled off a small section of this tree. Although it was actually a different tree (the city tree has grown considerably in the past few years), the children find such a tale hilarious. I am sure by the time Isaac is an adult this family story will have morphed into something grand and quite far from the truth. Isn't that what family stories do anyway?

Did your children write letters to Santa this year?

Creating family traditions for the holidays

Establishing traditions within the family unit is a excellent way for parents to instill particular values and ideals in their children while also binding the family together through ritual. Traditions give families something to rely on and look forward to, especially during the hectic holiday season. This year consider implementing a few new traditions into the family. Several moms from the Dallas/Fort Worth area were kind enough to share traditions that their families take part in each holiday season in hopes of inspiring others to do the same....(to read all of YOUR great ideas, go here!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

All Aboard! Experience holiday fun at the Trains at Northpark Center

This holiday season be sure to check out the trains at NorthPark Center in Dallas. Not simply a mere Christmas train display, this large exhibit is home to over 2,500 feet of train tracks and more than 40 vintage locomotives. All the trains are chugging along through a variety of scenes, traveling through such known cities as San Fransisco, Mount Rushmore, Washington D.C. and New York. There is even an elaborate Dallas setting with such well-known landmarks as Children's Hospital, Reunion tower and, of course, NorthPark Center itself...(to read more, go here)

The Best Gifts Under our Tree