Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Recap

Thanksgiving Part I and II have come and gone and not without many happy memories.
This year my Porter family joined us in Birmingham to celebrate Thanksgiving on the weekend before the actual holiday. Memaw was able to join us which was such a special treat. Thanksgiving would have been Papa Julian and Memaw's anniversary so we all want to make sure Memaw knows we love her and are able to reminisce with her about the many happy memories we all had with Papa Julian before his passing this past June.

And so, I bought a 20 pound turkey, thawed it all week, and promptly handed it over to my mother and Memaw to cook when they arrived Thursday. I prepared the sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, stuffing (homemade, every bit of it) and an almond joy cheesecake. My sister, Ellen, made a Bing cherry salad, delicious Gorgonzola fruity nutty salad, and Mama brought up pumpkin and pecan pie. The meal was enormous and perfect. We had a wonderful time. As my childhood friend Kelli once said, the Porter house is the only place where four people can be in a room and you hear at least eight different conversations going on at the same time. What can I say? I come from a chatty lot. Besides, have you ever seen such a glamorous great grandmother enjoying her mid morning bloody Mary? I love this woman.
After we recovered from Porter thanksgiving we had Little Philip's Thanksgiving party at school. We made Indian shirts and gave each child an Indian chief or princess name. Little Philip was Chief Funny Feet, in honor of his latest favorite Letter People character, Miss F. The children memorized a Thanksgiving Bible verse, Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever. Psalm 107:1.
The next morning we headed up to Tennessee to be with the Moss family and all extended family for the annual Thanksgiving at the farm. The entire Smith family came up from Lafayette, including our newest member of the family Josh, who married Marietta this past summer. His mom, Viv, came as well, which meant everyone finally had a chance to really get to know her since a wedding weekend is no time for quality chit chat with the mother of the groom! Viv was awesome and fell right into the groove of the Moss family activities. While I didn't get her to chop wood with me, I did get her to go on a walk in the woods. Of course, I was also chasing my two children this entire time so I did not have the ability to capture such moments on film. Someone in the family did and I await their pictures (ahem, Hannah?). The Jim Moss family came up from Jackson, MS as well with their two newest grandsons. These poor hapless souls are all products of Ole Miss which made the Egg Bowl great fun on Saturday. See below for our triumphant pose. Nothing like a four year old picking on a ten month old!Now, a confession. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving the zipper on my new corduroy pants busted open. Yes, yours truly had to shamefully go into Ann Taylor Loft BEFORE the Thanksgiving feasting to hand over busted zipper pants and request an exchange. Those employees are trained well to politely apologize for my inconvenience and suggest I pick out a new size 8 on the pants table behind me. If Loft employees accepted tips, she would have gotten a big one. Nevertheless, 48 hours later, with yet another table laden with 9 x 13 casserole dishes of every food imaginable in front of me, the busted zipper was forgotten.

So with good food, good company and blessings o' plenty all around, another Thanksgiving is in the books with many happy memories made. We pray each of our family and friends had the same experience and much for which to be thankful this year!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Reading and Spelling at Age 4

Little Philip LOVES the letter people. Remember them, children of the seventies? Mr. T with his tall teeth, Miss A who said a-a-choo, Mr. M with his munching mouth? Ringing a bell with anyone? Need a reminder? Go here and it may refresh your memory.

We have been using the Letter People curriculum in our 4K class this year. Little Philip knew his letters but now he is learning phonics. The result? He is spelling and reading now! Something clicked recently and now he sounds out small 3-4 letter words. Tonight he was in the tub and called me in to show me what he spelled all by himself.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Camping

Yes, camping. We went camping with a 4 year old boy and a 19 month old girl and survived. The last time we went camping Little Philip was 3 months old, at the most. While I am a city girl, I do like to get a bit of the country in my bones and this weekend's camping trip was just what I needed. Big Philip is laughing behind me, recalling me wrapped up in my sleeping blanket Saturday morning loathing the cold weather while my children were bouncing around the campsite, dodging the campfire. I wouldn't know. I wrapped my head in the sleeping bag too, except for this moment when Little Philip wanted to snuggle.
Still, I had a wonderful time and the children were enthralled with the entire experience. Big Philip took care of packing everything we needed to camp, including our food. I simply packed the clothing, and forgot a coat, sweater, fleece anything for myself. Yep, I'm that kind of self-sacrificing mother.
We had hot dogs and smores over the campfire Friday night but also, Big Philip did some foil packs to throw on the fire that were filled with marinaded sirloin tips, diced potatoes and mushrooms. This was to die for compared to the ALDI hot dogs. Glad the kids didn't ask for my sirloin tips because there would have been a serious fight.
For breakfast we had powdered doughnuts and also foil packs with shredded hash browns and sausage. The smell alone after steaming over the campfire was to die for, especially after waking up as cold as I did. Big Philip even had an iced coffee waiting for me. I think I ruined his romantic gift by asking if he could somehow grill it over the fire. "It's an iced coffee," he said.

We walked around Oak Mountain lake after breakfast, stopping at the camp playground for a spell, starting up random conversations with another family that was there camping. Then we broke down our campsite and headed home for the day, right around lunchtime. Helen slept the entire 25 minute drive back home, and promptly refused any further napping for the day. This was the only glitch of the entire experience.
We highly recommend camping for any family. Being without Internet, cell phone, and TV was just what we needed to reconnect and remember what is important in life - looking for squirrels.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Demise of Childproofing

Today I tried to look at my parenting through fresh eyes, instead of bleary blood shot eyes that are exhausted from the physical and emotional strain of being a Mama Bear, constantly protecting, loving, kissing, adoring, and caring for my little ones. For the most part, I gave myself a passing grade. I do my best and look to others and experts for advice when needed, which is almost always.

I did notice one thing. Maybe you more seasoned parents can attest to this too. With Philip, I was so proud of the hundreds of dollars we spent on the latest and greatest safety devices in and around our home. No electrical outlet was left uncovered. Computer cords were neatly tied up in fancy zip ties. Door knobs had safety covers on them preventing an escape. Every right angle that sat at four feet or below had padded covers. We even bought a toilet lock, which gave our dear friend Sarah, who was Little Philip's caregiver for his first year, fits. Granted, she was pregnant so unlocking the toilet was probably akin to torture for her each day. Still, there was no way I was going to let my infant son take too good a look into the toilet bowl.

Which brings me to the demise of my child proofing efforts. I guess the bleary-eyed bloodshot parenting has become a bit lax with Helen. We have allowed her four year old brother to do the childproofing in the house. This is the result of our under sink cabinet child lock. We think it works pretty well. If she tries to undo it, she gets a pretty good rubber band snap on the arm. Classic conditioning.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Our Newest Artist

Little Philip loves to paint, color, do "find it" puzzles, and anything else that involves sitting at his white table for crafts and activities. Helen wanted to join in the fun today so after her brother finished watercolor painting, she climbed up into his chair to paint.

We have yet to show Helen how to paint. Her brother has always been such a careful child so we were a little more daring when it came to introducing finger paint, water colors, markers, etc. and Helen is anything but careful. Recently, she colored the walls in the dining room and living room, as well as doors with sidewalk chalk. She will do so regularly unless we put it all up. Thank goodness it is just chalk. So when Helen finally positioned herself in the chair and lifted the paintbrush, I was curious to see what she would do.

Here is an example of her artwork from school.
Which means that the only paint experience we have allowed her so far has been for an adult to firmly grip her hand, paint the palm, and firmly place the palm onto paper. Is it any wonder this is how she chose to paint today? It is fascinating to see what creatures of habit little ones are at this age!
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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Overheard at the Moss House




Mommy: Philip, Helen loves her baby doll and I think we need to give the baby doll a name.

Little Philip: Yes, we need to give Helen's baby a name.

Mommy: Since Helen can't really talk well yet, why don't you name the baby?

Little Philip: I don't know what to name the baby.

Mommy: What is the most beautiful girl name in the world?

Little Philip with a smile: Emory

Friday Night


We held off as long as we could, the veil of ignorance being a blissful thing. TV commercials were lost on him, producing a glazed look of knowing nothingness. And then we started attending Mountaintots Day School. You have to pass it on your way to the church. Little friends started talking and finally, he knew what he was missing and begged to go. We broke down and took him. The rest is history. There are about 25 request to go to Chuck E. Cheese each week and we give in about 2% of the time. Friday night was an example of our blessing our son with the Chuck E. Cheese experience. We dragged Aunt Ellen along just for the sheer torture factor. It is a lot of fun watching a young twenty-something happening gal like Aunt Ellen look like a deer in headlights the entire time we were there. She mainly stuck to the salad bar instead of Whack-a-Mole with the rest of us. But we did manage to get a picture of the evening. Aunt Ellen's forehead is the centerpiece but the smiles on both children's faces lets you know that fun was had by almost all!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just in Case Child Protection Pays a Visit

Helen is always hungry. Helen is always eating. We had her 18 month check up yesterday and Dr. Simpson asked if she had a 7-12 word vocabulary. I said yes. He asked what words she was saying. I said "cookie", "cracker", "cup", "more", "mama", "dada", "baba"(brother), "Ra Ra" (Riley the dog), and "kitty." Her first words have always had something to do with food. The words she is trying to form now remain in the food category as well. Her teachers are amazed at the amount of food Helen ingests, yet she remains one of the tiniest and daintiest little ones in the Bunny room. At her check up she weighed about 22.5 pounds and was 31.5 inches tall. That puts her in the 25-50% for height and only the 10-25% for weight. Have no fear, her honker 19.5 inch head is well within the 95% for her age. Love those Moss genes.

Just in case anyone ever accuses me of not feeding my children, I post the following videos as evidence. When Helen wakes up in the morning, she lunges for her high chair. When she wakes up from her nap she lunges for her high chair. She will sit in the high chair for an hour tapping the table as she waits for food preparation to end. She will fly into a rage if you take something out of the oven, stir it, and then put it back. For the eighteen minutes it took the cookies to bake in the video below she stood in front of the oven, pressing her face against the glass, signing "please" over and over and over. For my Vandy friends, Helen is OHB - One Hungry Baby.

Meanwhile, Little Philip ate three bites of chicken and rice for dinner and called it quits in favor of going to his room to dance to the Letter People songs.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dressing Little Girls

This morning it is raining, again. It has rained for 40 days and 40 nights so we are headed to Lowe's this morning to buy some wood, nails, and some tar to seal the ark we surely must build if this rain is to continue.

But that has nothing to do with this post. This morning we are taking it easy, trying to decide something to do as a family in the rain, that is free, or relatively free. While I was in the shower, Big Philip graciously started to dress the kids. It has not gone well so far. Little Philip insists on wearing his spider man pajama top for the day. I pulled out a one piece romper for Helen that has a sailor collar on it. When I got out of the shower, this is what I saw.




Another flashback story. It is second grade at Our Lady of Sorrows School. My sister, Ellen, has just entered the world. My Daddy is dressing me for the school day. This should not be difficult considering it is the basic Catholic school uniform pictured here:Pretty easy to figure out, right? Nope. Daddy put my jumper on backwards so that the V yoke was straight down my back. I believe it was my former first grade teacher, Ms. Campisi, that caught me in the hallway and corrected it before I entered the classroom. I just didn't want to hurt my Daddy's feelings.

So my sweet husband let me sleep until 8:00 am this morning and I am eternally grateful. But clearly, I need to give some more basic instructions on dressing a little girl. The sailor collar goes in back, Daddy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

We Won (a wrench)

But a really good one! A while back, Daddy entered himself and Little Philip into the Skil Saw Birdhouse Building Memories contest. He and Little Philip followed their instructions on how to build a birdhouse together. The birdhouse is hanging in the tree outside of Little Philip's bedroom window now.

Today we received a call that we were a 4th place winner, which means Big Philip (and technically Little Philip) won one of these:

Apparently it is a really good power wrench so we shall see what gets fixed on the honey-do list now!

We are also featured on the Skil-Saw entry web page which you can view here. Some of the other entries look pretty fancy. We can say that Little Philip did all of the work on his birdhouse except for the power sawing and getting the screws in really tight. We are very proud of him!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Goat Cheese Heaven


This post is to inspire my our niece, Joy, to take very good care of those milk goats she recently acquired. Aunt Renie paid $6.00 for this itsy-bitsy tub of herbed goat cheese today at the farmer's market. The way we see it, you'll have your college tuition paid for in no time if you can make this delectable cheese!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hungry Hungry Helen

Much like the hungry, hungry caterpillar, Helen eats her weight in food each day. She awakens each morning, earlier than any rooster, and proudly says "eat! eat!" When she smells food she says "eat! eat!" When she awakens from her nap in the afternoon she says "eat! eat!" As often as the Weather Channel does the local on the 8's update or I have to endure another song from the Fresh Beats on Noggin she says "eat! eat!" Up until now, only her mommy and daddy could marvel at their bottomless pit of a child, thinking it a nice change from Little Philip who eats nothing but PBJs each day.

So this afternoon, I planned a little experiment. While Helen and Philip were napping, I started making our Cuban black beans a rice, a request by Little Philip. It is actually the only meal he has ever asked for seconds of that I can remember. Helen woke up at about 4:30 and, as expected, smiled that loving smile and said "eat! eat!" I gave her a cup and kept working in the kitchen. She would have none of it and walked over to the table, removing her bowl and fork to demand that I serve her.
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After eating two bowls of black beans and rice (you can see the size bowl in the above video) as well as half a can of mandarin oranges, Helen eyed the cornbread and promptly demanded that Daddy relinquish his hot buttered piece, but not before retrieving her spoon from under the table, just in case the cornbread required it. Having removed all traces of food from the dinner table, Helen retired for the evening, leaving the kitchen in nothing but her diaper, heading for her brother's bean bag in the living room upon which she sat to digest her weight in food.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Overhead at the Moss House at Bedtime

Each night, we say our prayers with Little Philip. We first thank God for everything and everyone in our life. You know, like the ability to watch Wonder Pets and stuff like that. Then, we ask God to forgive us for our sins, like not putting our shoes on when Mommy tells us to. Then we ask God to help us with different things. Sometimes it is very sweet like giving other little boys and girls toys or houses or food to eat. Other times it is the ability to watch more Wonder Pets.

Tonight, in the mind of our wonder-eyed four year old, something clicked.

Mommy, Jesus died on the cross for your timeouts.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Busy Times

I feel I have abandoned our blog lately, due to typical daily busy times! We finished up the summer term of preschool and will be beginning the new year this coming Wednesday. I will be teaching Little Philip in his 4K class along with a co-teacher. Helen will be starting in the "bunny" room just down the hall from the two of us. I am excited about meeting all of my new students and look forward to Helen continuing to improve in her anxiety as she departs from me. Lately, there have been no tears as I drop her off each morning and if she catches a glimpse of me during the day, she rarely cries or falls apart anymore.

Big Philip has started his fall marathon of visiting area high schools, following up with prospective students for MSU and attending area college fairs. He continues to enjoy his work with MSU.

There is nothing else to share at this time. We lead pretty boring but blessed lives lately!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Simple Things in Life

You know you are easy to please when the highlight of your day is when your free bra you sent off for 6-8 weeks ago finally arrives in the mail. Pure bliss.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Roger Day!

If you have not had the pleasure of taking your little one to see or hear Roger Day in concert, I highly recommend it. He's sort of a toddler celebrity around these parts but travels all across the country to do children's concerts. Tonight he were able to see him again at a local church and Little Philip got all his sillies out!
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Cauliflower

Once upon a time, there lived a darling little girl named Renie. Actually her name was Little Irene, because that's what you do to your children when they live in the South, especially anywhere near Mobile, AL. You always confuse them and everyone around them by naming them after you so that every time someone calls on the phone you must clarify which Irene the caller desire. I decided to repeat this torture with our son. But I digress...

So anyway, this little girl named Little Irene hated oatmeal. I don't think instant flavored oatmeal packets were invented yet and if they were, Little Irene's parents surely did not buy them for their perfect daughter, so the only option was old fashioned steel cut oatmeal, like what horses eat. So one morning before school, Little Irene came downstairs in her Catholic school uniform and found, in horror, that her mother had served hot old fashioned oatmeal for breakfast, complete with raisins, butter, and brown sugar. She sat down and begged not to eat it but her mother forced the issue, saying "IRENE BOYCE PORTER YOU CAN SIT THERE ALL DAY LONG FOR ALL I CARE BUT YOU ARE NOT GETTING UP FROM THAT TABLE UNTIL YOU EAT YOUR OATMEAL!" And so, Little Irene sat crying, whimpering about the fact that she would be late for school if her mother did not relent. All the while her mother babbled about starving children in Africa and what a sad thing it would be to have to confess to Father what's-his-name than you did not eat your oatmeal, blah, blah, blah. Finally, in obedience to the desire to remain a perfect daughter, Little Irene held her nose as she shoveled the goopy meal down her throat. She was then allowed to get up from the table. When she did, she promptly threw up all over the floor. Little Irene was very late for school by this point and so she had to go to the school office. There sat Sister Joan, the principal of her school. When Sister Joan asked what was the nature of Little Irene's tardy arrival, Little Irene's mother nudged her daughter to explain. Feeling sure that a Catholic nun would take pity on her, Little Irene blurted out "my mother made me eat my oatmeal and it made me sick so I threw up." Why Little Irene thought a Catholic nun would take pity on this situation, she'll never know but sure enough, Sister Joan replied saying "I am sorry Little Irene, but I am afraid that is an unexcused absence." At this point, Little Irene pondered this and realized that at eight years old, big whoop if it was an unexcused absence. Later in life, Little Irene would become Presbyterian.

Fast forward to this evening and you will find my son at the dinner table, refusing to even try a teeny-weeny morsel of buttered cauliflower. We are talking about a piece about the size of a pea. My only rule is that you have to at least try a new food by eating one bite. If you don't like it, you do not have to eat the rest but you must at least try it before passing judgment. I refused to let Little Philip have his chocolate pudding unless he tried his cauliflower. Mind you, my husband was sitting across the table trembling that I might make him take a little bite too. In the end, the power of warm chocolate pudding was too much and Little Philip attempted to try it. As he tried to swallow, he upchucked onto the floor.
Somehow the above memory of being forced to eat oatmeal alluded me until the fateful moment that Little Philip's stomach emptied itself onto the kitchen floor.

Yep, I have officially become my mother.




Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Three Philips


We have now lived in Birmingham for five years and wanted to make a visit to Selma to see our Uncle Buddy. Uncle Buddy is Philip Ball Moss, both Big and Little Philip's namesake. While we enjoy seeing him at family weddings, we wanted to have a visit on his home turf so we invited ourselves down for a visit today!

As always, Uncle Buddy was the picture of graciousness, and we enjoyed learning more about the Moss family history as well as our driving tour of Selma. After a delicious lunch we returned to Buddy's house to swim with his grandchildren. When Helen's eyes started looking a bit sleepy we began our goodbyes and prepared to drive back to Birmingham. It was at this point that Little Philip announced that he wanted to spend the night with Uncle Buddy. He repeated this emotional request several times, even throwing his arms around Uncle Buddy and sweetly repeating his request in his ear. While it was tempting, we figured that we should depart before our little darlings turned back into pumpkins. And so, we dragged a sobbing Little Philip to the car, explaining to Uncle Buddy that he should consider this a great compliment. We had a wonderful time and hope to return for another visit soon!

Budding Artists

This past week, Little Philip's friend, Emory, came over for breakfast while her mommy and daddy went to the doctor, and what we hope will be her last doctor's appointment before her baby brother, Ethan arrives.

Little Philip and Emory are quite gifted in the acrylic painting department. I love the layering techniques both children used, playing on the patterns of light in this work. Notice the abstract ability to capture what they deemed to be "a day at the beach with friends" with bright contrasting colors. Maybe this was the case but most likely, there were four buckets of paint and each stood guard over their respective two buckets. Still, a work of art in my mind!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

First Nightmare

Little Philip was sobbing tonight because he did not want that big brown thing to come out of his wall and take all of his stuffed animals again.

Nightmares are so scary. Now I'm going to have a nightmare about a big brown thing coming out of my wall too.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Grocery Glee


Sometime ago I wrote about how we started to use coupons in our household to save money. By my estimation, we have come to the point where we save, on average, about 35% on our total monthly grocery bill. This is a good thing considering our summer energy bills went up due to the typical Alabama heat and our need for some good backyard water slide fun. Because of couponing, we are rarely financially stressed when we turn that water spicket in the backyard or adjust our A/C by a degree or two.

Some couponers have all the time in the world to put their entire grocery shopping experience out on their lovely dining room or kitchen table, artfully displayed to show the amount of groceries they received after subtracting their coupon savings. I sometimes think they have fake children because there is no way I am taking that 15-20 minutes out of my day to artfully display the food my children are already clammering for, let alone slapping off the hand of my hungry husband. But for today, I will make an exception because it was just one of those grocery shopping experiences that put it all in perspective.

Here is what I bought. I have highlighted in red what was NOT on sale to show that I was able to buy these items relatively guilt free as a result of being offset by coupon savings. Most of these items were fresh produce or specialty items that rarely come with coupon potential. The total of these non-sale items was $29.06. Keep that figure in mind when you see my final bill.

2 bags Glory Brand Cut/Washed Turnips - $2.99 each
Publix frozen green beans - $2.69
Veggie Stix organic veggie chips - $4.27
Mary B's frozen tea biscuits - $2.59
Publix gallon 1% milk - $2.89
Bag of red potatoes - $3.99
Publix extra large eggs - $1.49
Birthday card - $.99
Whitewheat Bread - $2.00
Shout Trigger laundry spray - $2.99
Publix 6 pack kids yogurt - $2.00
2 packs of Yoplait Gogurt (B1G1 deal) - $1.44
Publix antibacterial wipes (B1G1 deal)
Lysol All purpose cleaner - $1.59 (B1G1 deal)
Kraft Zesty Italian dressing (B1G1) - $1.50
Kraft Cucumber Ranch dressing (B1G1) - $1.50
Kelloggs Special K Blueberry cereal - $3.99
Special K cereal bars - $3.19
2 bags 8 o'clock ground coffee - (B1G1) - $2.50 each

Total bill before coupons and B1G1 deals - $70.15
Total savings with coupons and B1G1 deals - $25.23
TOTAL FINAL BILL - $44.92 a savings of 36%.

Some of the really good buys included the Kraft dressing (50 cents each) and coffee ($1.49) and the Lysol All Purpose 40 oz. cleaner (60 cents). Again, if you look above, I bought a lot of items that were not on sale, and bought mostly brand name items and still, I saved a bundle! If you see a brand name purchase, that means with coupons, it was cheaper than buying the Publix generic verson. And the best part, NO WAL-MART! I won't say I don't go there at all but let's just say in the five years we have been in Birmingham, I think I've been there six times. I think that is pretty good considering the evil empire's ability to infiltrate your life. All my savings come from my friendly local Publix. Mike, the customer service manager tells me to "knock it out" when he sees me arrive, knowing I'm a couponer. There are several cashiers that are super nice and enjoy ringing me up just to see what kind of savings I racked up for the week. Simply put, Publix rocks and I want to support a business that practices ethical care and support for their employees, customers, and the community in which they abide.

Where do I get my savings ideas? My home girl Jenny over at www.southernsavers.com. She is amazing! Want to know more about couponing? Just ask me or check out Jenny's blog as she taught me everything I ever wanted to know and she continues to teach me even more tricks of the trade.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sew Frustrated

I have had the enormous blessing of a few days all by myself. Literally, my husband has been in Mississippi for staff development week and his parents graciously offered to take Helen and Little Philip to Tennessee for a few days of spoiling and cousin time.

Big Philip's time in Mississippi unfortunately parted us for our eighth anniversary yesterday. However, after eight years of marriage, we know how to adapt so we celebrated last Friday. In our minds, the actual "date" of a birthday or anniversary is less important than celebrating it the right way on a day when you can.

I am sure my children are having a blast with all of their cousins, aunts, uncles, Mamie, Bop Bop, Mama Em, Papa Papa and then some. I hear that they went to an exotic animal farm where wild animals came right up to them, allowing the children to feed them. I am sad to miss such fun but...

Did I mention that I had these last few days all by myself? Sunday night after Big Philip left I wandered aimlessly around the house, pittering on facebook, attempting to discern what to do with this incredible gift of time and space. After a long hot bath in complete silence, a conversation with a girlfriend that did not involve hiding from my children in order to have said adult conversation, I decided to get busy sewing.

Now you should know that I am a sewing-crazed fool that has zero skills. That is a major problem since it means I have dozens of patterns and fabric I have purchased this past year and most often, end up ruining the fabric and my spirit attempting to teach myself to sew. I have been known to look inside the shirt and dress collars of my preschoolers to see if their mothers or grandmothers handmade their outfits. I have also been known to wait by the classroom door to accost these mothers and grandmothers and asked them how they did it. I took one sewing class at The Smocking Bird here in town and learn how to sew the Children's Corner "Lucy" pattern for Helen. That taught me some very basic skills and tricks that I have been able to apply. However, I continue to be baffled by the dreaded zipper, that appears in every pattern I have purchased to make clothing for myself. Still, I keep at it. So here are the results of the last 72 hours.This is a Lucy dress I made for Helen. It was very easy except for making the buttonholes. I recently bought a buttonhole foot for my Bernina 150 but no matter what I do, I have to gently tug the fabric along to keep it from snagging. I made it work but an expert seamstress would look on my work with a heavy heart. It is a cute little jumper and something that is not so PINK since most of her wardrobe is still so PINK. I thought it was time to branch out.
This is a skirt I tried to make about two months ago. I checked out Heather Ross's Weekend Sewing book from the library after seeing some craft blogs tout how simple, functional, and easy the patterns were in the book. I chose the Yard Sale Wrap skirt and got to work. To tell you the truth, my work was virtually flawless and then I tried it on. Mind you, I made the X-large size so imagine my dismay to find it would not go around my waist by about six inches. Some quick googling revealed that Heather goofed and did not get corrections completed before the book went to press. I was so upset. I printed off the errata sheet and tucked it into the book before I returned it to the library so some other poor soul did not find herself as frustrated as I was. However, the bliss of these last 72 hours gave me the time to cut out the beautiful waistband, pull up the skirt to shorten it and fit my teeny-tiny waist (detect that sarcasm?), and attempt to put in a dreaded zipper. I failed again, but it does zip, and it will stay on. I just need to wear a slouchy t-shirt with it to cover my terrible sewing skills.This is a dress I complete a while back and had planned to wear to some summer wedding weekends. Again, it is virtually flawless except for my inability to put in an invisible zipper. Because of this, there is a hideous white zipper that glares at you from the back. I post a picture of it despite the fact that I did not do a thing to it these last 72 hours. However, I spent about an hour trying to work up the courage to take it apart and try again. I decided against it and plan to take it to an alterations place to have them correct my zipper mistake and make it wearable before my Southern upbringing makes it impossible for me to wear eyelet linen past Labor Day.

I started to back smock a pink panel I was given that should form a cute bubble but comparing it to Helen's current bubbles made me think that she has definitely outgrown it. If I had a smocking pleater, I probably would have spent some more time starting some new smocking projects.

So here is my wishlist to feed my need for sewing.

A smocking pleater
The Smocking Bird's intermediate sewing class (set in sleeves, collars and piping)
The Smocking Bird's smocked bishop construction class
The Smocking Bird's smocking stacking class

Too bad we need groceries first each month!

Tomorrow I will be able to press my sweet children's faces to mine and give them big sloppy kisses and hugs. Saturday I can give my husband big sloppy kisses and hugs too. For now, I plan to go soak in one more hot bubble bath and enjoy that last glass of white wine chilling in the fridge.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ahoy, Me Hearties!



Today we had Little Philip's 4th birthday party. The weather was absolutely perfect, right in the mid 80's. It was actually a tad bit chilly if you were playing in the water slide we had for the party! Lots of little friends helped us celebrate with a pirate themed party. Aunt Lizzy had plenty of beads and doubloons she brought from New Orleans so we draped the back deck and used them to decorate the treasure chest full of party favors. Little Philip finally received the big boy bike he has been hoping for, with "two wheels." It is 8:55 pm now and both children are sound asleep in their beds after an exhausting but fun-filled day. Love that silence!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy 4th Birthday, Philip!


Little Philip turned four years old on Monday. I had hoped to post big smiles and happy pictures but instead, we had one sick little boy on his birthday! We returned from a family wedding in Mississippi this past weekend with both children down with a stomach bug. Let me tell you, there is nothing worse than having two children throwing up on "both ends" and being stuck in a hotel room, plotting your five hour drive home for the next morning. We were sad not to be able to visit with family since the first incident occurred as we were pulling up to the church for the wedding. Let's just say that the rental car we still have should air out by the time the body shop actually finishes fixing our van...we hope. To all our aunts, uncles, and cousins who waved at us from the Hampton Inn breakfast Sunday morning, it was great to "see" you.

So Monday morning we filled Little Philip's room with balloons, just like we did last year. He didn't even notice them as he weakly dragged his poor little boy out of bed to throw up one more time before heading back to our bed for the day. He slept most of the day away but was feeling much better by dinner time.

Fast forward to Tuesday, when Mommy returned to work and left Daddy to care for the two mostly healed children. Little Philip decided to use his new beanbag chair as a slide off of the sofa. He slid alright, right into the coffee table face first. His lip and front gum look like something out of a gory movie, but Dr. Hamm assures us that his teeth are in tact (our biggest concern) and that lips and gums are amazing to watch heal. We hope it heals in time for some birthday cake on Saturday!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Helen Eats and Talks


Helen is just shy of 16 months now. She started walking the second week of June, FINALLY! Actually, she spoke her first word before she ever took her first step. Her first word was "thank you" which roughly translates to "I-am-holding-out-my-hand-and-repeating-this-phrase-until-you-feed-me-what-is-in-your-hand-and-if-you-don't-I-will-shriek-like-a-wild-banshee-causing-a-huge-public-scene." It's adorable, really it is, the first ten times, but then it kind of wears on you without a Tylenol fix. Unlike her brother, who eats like a bird, Helen eats roughly her weight in food each day.

This past week she added another new word to her ever growing repertoire: "cookie." She also says "cracker" but cookies are more prevalent in our house lately than crackers since baking them is a family activity in itself. Yeah for the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough recipe that keeps wonderfully in the fridge! Here is a little clip of us holding food hostage until she says the word. Please note her frantic use of baby sign language taught not by her parents, but by her brother across the dinner table.

video

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Summer Activities

A blog called The Long Thread shares a plethora of summer craft activities you can share with your children or yourself. I am drawn to blogs like this since I am now teaching preschool. Little Philip is a glutton for arts and crafts and anything involving books. Helen wants to tag right along, despite her tender age of 15 months. Thankfully, we are past the point of eating craft glue so she is able to join us with most projects.

Here are a few projects or activities we plan to do this summer, all gained from the above link but specifically linked in each project (former BSC Honor Council members, please note my effort to cite sources):

We seem to go through the store bought sidewalk chalk like toilet paper around here, so we will be making our own sidewalk chalk. I have an enormous four year old container of plaster of Paris I bought to make Little Philip's first feet impressions. However, the cute little tin I bought to put his cute little footprints in turned out to be too little since I gave birth to a son roughly the weight and size of a Thanksgiving turkey.
We will be making our own sidewalk chalk paint but will not be using Mommy's beloved silicone pastry brushes. Daddy has some perfectly good paint brushes in the garage that has seen their last latex painting days. Since we can't afford to fixed the horribly cracked concrete driveway, I'm devising a grand sidewalk chalk mural that will disguise the cracks for the little ones to complete one day.
Because Little Philip loves to read and has discovered the Dr. Suess section at our local library, we will be making oobleck. I have not read this book, nor do I know what this stuff is but it looks a like like Flubber and getting ooey-gooey is quite a treat for my little ones. On a rainy day (if there will ever be one!) we will be making kaleidoscopes:
And one more project. We will be making our own bubble mixture which basically consists of dish washing liquid, water and unflavored gelatin. For all my couponers, remember those $4 off any one Knox unflavored gelatin coupons that resulted in about a $2.50 overage to spend? I have about ten boxes of that stuff that have just been sitting waiting for a use like this.

And the good news? All of the above activities will cost us nothing since we have all the required materials or ingredients already on hand!