Sunday, July 18, 2010

Happy 5th Birthday Philip

Our little boy is five! As cliche as it sounds, time really does fly. Philip had a great birthday party with friends and family all around. Helen really wanted the party to be all about her. Being two is tough.
And since he turned five, and is within 1/2 a pound 40 pounds, we transitioned to a belt strap high back booster seat. He loves it because he can easily strap himself in and unstrap unassisted. On those rainy days, Mom loves it too. The only problem is that Helen wants EVERYTHING big brother has so the jealousy factor has really kicked in!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Battle of the Bulldogs

Today, I started my new job at Samford University in Student Affairs. Samford's mascot is the bulldog. I love college administration. I love college students. I love everything about a college campus. Two years ago when I left my job at Birmingham-Southern College many considered it career suicide, including me. I never expected to be able to re-enter this field in the way that God has allowed me to with Samford. I will have the opportunity to again work with amazing student leaders in campus activities, Greek life, leadership events, and whatever else we can come up with together to ensure that these students' four years (and we know parents want it to only be four years) are incredibly memorable and all for positive reasons.

I am also blessed to have found yet another campus that is so family-friendly. I look forward to bringing our children to Samford athletic and other campus events. If nothing else, I can't wait to see them take off across the beautiful campus quad, and running until they have no choice but to sleep through the night....without waking up and crying for one of us....or ending up in our bed before dawn.

Being at home with my children these past two years is something I will always treasure, but now is the time I feel called to return to work. I pray my children are enriched by my work experience, and grow up with a strong appreciation for opportunities to continue to learn and grow not only in their minds, but also in their hearts and souls. I pray that they will become lifelong learners as a result. I pray that their faith will be the cornerstone to that process.

So today, my children began day school again. For Helen, this is something a bit new staying for a full day rather than the typical parents' day out half day. For Philip, he was in heaven, finding himself surrounded by new puzzles, new books to read, and a classroom full of new friends. He also selected a Scooby Doo nap mat. He practically levitated with glee to have found his favorite character on which to rest his head. I heard from a fellow parent about an hour after dropping Helen off (and she was in tears when I left) that she was happily washing her hands alongside a new little friend, giggling as they made bubbles in the sink for what was probably the umpteenth time in praise of the bubbles they created. When I returned home from work, Daddy had picked them up and headed to the library to get their summer reading stamps and to check out new books. Both Helen and Philip were chatterboxes about their day. And thankfully, they were also all smiles about the experience.

I also had some of the best fried okra I've ever had today in the campus cafeteria. I would have had more if no one was looking. While all of the above experiences certainly put my heart at rest about my decision, the okra was icing on the cake and proof that God intends happiness for us in this new chapter in our lives.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Pre-birthday bribes

(On the way home from Free Friday Flicks in the Park)

Philip, if you will stay in YOUR OWN bed all night tonight, you can go with me to order your Scooby Doo birthday cake tomorrow.

But I can't. I need to cuddle with you in your bed.

Then you can't go with me tomorrow to pick our your birthday cake.

OK, will you just get one with Scooby Doo on it then?

No, I will order one with a big head of broccoli on it.

But I don't like broccoli.

Then I guess you better stay in your own bed all night so you can go tell them what you want on your birthday cake.

(30 minutes later as Daddy puts him into bed)

Daddy, maybe it's not real broccoli, maybe its (making sprinkle finger gestures overhead as he speaks) just icing decoration.

Monday, June 14, 2010

June Travels

We just returned from the 2010 Moss Family Beach Reunion. It was ten years ago that I took the huge risk to accept the invitation to come to a family beach trip with a boy I barely knew. I knew something was special though and the rest was history. Here is a brief trip down memory lane with the first family group picture that started it all.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Living in Disarray

This is my house right now. It is not pretty.

If you've knocked on my door in the last few days and heard me hush everyone inside to pretend we are not home, I apologize.

I'm not sure how I let it get this way. It was clean last weekend when I arrived back home from a wonderful weekend away with my college friends. Mamie Moss and Big Philip made sure of it.

I post this on the blog to motivate me and hold me accountable to restore order to our humble abode. Instead of looking at larger homes for sale every day I need to take that time and put it to good use trying to keep the house in order. I think like most moms, I get terribly deflated after cleaning all day on a beautiful Saturday or Sunday afternoon, only to return to work on Monday and find the house looks just like it did before the cleaning spree. It's not anyone's fault. It's just what life looks like when actively living in a small space.

I don't remember it looking this bad when I worked full-time and since I'm returning to full-time work again mid June, maybe it will improve with the kids in day school and both adults working mostly outside of the home.

In the meantime, I've got about four weeks to get a better cleaning routine down in the house before returning to full-time work. And before anyone suggests I visit the I ditched her long ago after she nearly gave me a nervous breakdown with all of her email reminders those first few weeks I tried to implement her system.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Potty Training Victory

We are claiming potty training victory with Helen after only about two weeks! Please recall the year long saga with Little Philip to share in our joy that this process was virtually painless. Things we did differently that produced a more positive result:

1. We had a girl.

Pretty much, that's it.

Kidding, of course. We attribute our success to the fact that this is a second child, and yes, that Helen is a girl. Also, we did not use any pull-up diapers. We went straight to big girl panties, and LOTS of them. Disney princesses, Dora, Elmo, stripes, dots, you name it. Whatever it took. And it did take. She favors the princess look. No surprise there.

Helen turned two March 18th. We potty trained in one three day weekend, toward the end of April. While her tiny bout with diarrhea during this ordeal was a challenge, we also think that this lent a helping hand in Helen learning to potty....a lot.

We still wear a diaper for naps and nighttime but already, the family budget is breathing a tiny sigh of relief from the burden of diapers and wet wipes being lifted.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Taking the Fear Out of Swimming

Little Philip has always had a fear of water. It is the typical stuff, water in his eyes is frightening, the thought of putting his head under water is terrifying, and so forth. We had him in water babies when he was about 18 months old but by the next summer, all comfort and skill was lost.

And then the unthinkable happened. Last summer, while playing in a hotel pool, Little Philip did what every parent fears. He was crouching on the side of the deep end, reaching for a pool toy that was just out of reach. I was holding Helen (15 months) in the shallow end of the pool watching the entire event unfold. The event, mind you, was all ten seconds at most. It still seems like an eternity now. Little Philip reached, and slipped in, silently, no splashing, no kicking, no screaming, just the nauseating silence as I screamed for Big Philip or any of the other adults in the pool to get him. He simply froze, straight up in the water, head just below the surface. It could not have been more than five second before and adult quickly pulled him up to safety. By then I was traumatized, trying to conceal my tears and fear from Little Philip who, himself, was a basket case. We quietly talked about it after the event with him, consoling him, trying not to seem alarmed but also trying to make him forget the event. We never brought it up again.

Fast forward to this past month. Pool toys are everywhere. Commercials on TV show kids playing in the pools and beaches. Our matching cousin bathing suits arrived for the Moss Beach Week. Little Philip regularly recalls the incident at the hotel pool with a whimper in his voice. It's real fear and I can't blame him. All the more reason that I am bound and determined to help him overcome this fear and see swimming as a fun and safe activity.

As a full-time working mother, there are no swimming lessons offered at a time that is feasible for our family. All of our local swimming pool lessons are offered for a typical two week session, at approximately 9:30 0r 10:30 each morning. As I prepare to re-enter the full-time work force in my return to work at Birmingham-Southern College in June, again, I wonder, how can we bring our son to the point of comfort and safety with water? Individual lessons may be our only hope, but I think the lack of peer pressure he would receive in a group setting may add another obstacle to his swimming training.

I'm on a quest. Since he loves to read anything and everything (seriously, he spent 30 minutes with a book describing the history of flag making), we just returned from the library with about eight non-fiction books about swimming, lifeguards, water safety, and pool games. I am crossing my fingers that these books might entice him to take a few healthy risks, knowing mom and dad are right there beside him as he learns to swim. With any luck, he'll be in the middle of the pool at the condo for Moss Beach Week swimming along with the rest of his cousins. We do not want another repeat of him hugging the concrete pool steps while Helen jumped from the side of the pool into our arms the entire week.

Are there any working moms in the Birmingham area that know of swimming lessons that are offered outside of the typical 8-5 work day?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Philip Reading

Little Philip may have taken forever to potty train but eventually, he mastered it. One thing he has mastered is reading. He loves reading, anything and everything. We cannot spell out words anymore to each other as parents because he will quickly tell you just what you spelled. It is a wonderful thing to see him at the library, picking out books because of the topic rather than just the brightly colored cover. There are other children that read by age four like Philip, we know this, so please do not think we are bragging on our parental skills. We did nothing to teach him to read other than read bedtime stories to him beginning early in his life. His desire to learn to read rather than be read to, we solely attribute to his sweet spirit and incredible hunger to learn anything and everything!

At preschool when it is free play time, he will often go to the book shelf and sit down and read aloud to his classmates. It was a proud moment when I overheard a friend say to him "Philip, how did you learn to read so 'good'?" A huge smile spread over his face and he looked across the room at me to be sure I heard what was said. I silently signed my "proud face" sign to him to let him know that I was, indeed, a proud mama.

Here is a typical bedtime for us. He is reading The Wish Fish for the first time (an Usbourne first reader - I highly recommend Usbourne books!). This is one of about twenty books he chose at the library this week and he is ready to go back and exchange them for new ones already. In this video he gets tripped up on several words that begin or end in consonant digraphs (th, sh, tch, ch, etc) or those that have multiple syllables. Still, not a bad start to reading!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Potty Training Update

We interrupt this potty training boot camp currently in progress for diarrhea. Please stay tuned :(

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Overheard at Speech this week

Little Philip receives speech services once each week with his beloved Miss Taryn, who has worked nothing short of a miracle with Philip's speech these last two years. As the session was ending on Tuesday, she showed him a picture (I think, I was listening from behind the partition).

Miss Taryn: Philip, what are these?

Philip: Mommy has those.

Miss Taryn: Does Mommy lift weights like these?

Philip: No, I never see her use them.

Potty Training Boot Camp

Ladies and gentlemen, the cast of characters:
The plot - potty training in a weekend. In a phrase - potty boot camp.

Helen will officially go pantless at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow when she awakens. She will remain pantless until she gets it. I have multiple bottles of floor cleaning solution as well as several bottles of Resolve and Woolite Rug Cleaner. We are ready, mom is willing, now is daughter willing?

Please don't let this be a repeat of a year long process with her brother. (click here for recap)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What Are Little Boys/Girls Made Of

What are little boys made of?
Frogs and snails
And puppy-dogs' tails
That's what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And all that's nice
That's what little girls are made of

So true. Helen is definitely not cut out for a life with bugs which, among other things, is her latest fear. Don't even get me started on trying to get her to step over the threshold of an elevator door. Thank goodness for big brothers for rescuing us from violent and unpredictable dead ladybugs.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Two Down for the Count

We just returned from Leland, MS where we attended the beautiful wedding of Leah (Big Philip's cousin) and Judson Williford.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous for a memorable outdoor wedding and reception.  We would have enjoyed the celebration so much more if not for Little Philip who fell asleep before the reception started.  We draped him across three chairs on top of Daddy's suit jacket and danced with Helen for a few songs and enjoyed catching up with family and friends.  When we arrived home that night, Little Philip had a fever.  We drove the long drive back to Birmingham on Sunday and arrived home to check on both Helen and Philip.  Both had fevers.   And Big Philip is working at MSU until late Monday night.

So, with a substitute arranged for my sweet little 4K puppies, I'm tending to my own flock at home, hoping it doesn't get any worse than this.  Little Philip threw up at 3:00 a.m. last night but his fever had risen to 103 so with Motrin, we are keeping it around 100 and preventing anymore yuckies.  It looks like a full day of Nick Jr. at the Moss house.  Maybe I can finish Helen's smocked Easter dress (please note the date of this post). 

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Easter Sunday Celebration

This past Sunday we celebrated Easter Sunday.  Little Philip made a rugged cross in children's church that was so beautiful.  We made it the center piece of the table.  While he was very excited to hunt for eggs, he truly understood the true meaning of Easter Sunday and was thrilled to find out that the children's church activity was to tell the story of Jesus with Resurrection eggs.  If you've never seen these, they are a very special way to explain a difficult and complex story for the typical four year old.  Each egg has a small object in it (dice for casting lots for Jesus's robe, crown of thorns, etc) with an accompanying story segment of the week leading up to Jesus' death and resurrection.  The last egg is empty to symbolize the empty tomb.  He is risen!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Granddaddy

On Friday, March 12th, my Granddaddy celebrated his 94th birthday.  On Sunday, March 14th, he was called home to heaven.  My Granddaddy was a very formal man, a man of few words .   I talk incessantly, much to the frustration of my husband, and I wish I had inherited a little bit of Granddaddy's ability to stay quiet, listen more, and choose only the best time to speak and the best words to share.  Because of this, he had the unique ability to draw a deep desire out of me to please him, to make him proud.  He was a very accomplished man, although he would never say so.  At his funeral, based on the people that came to pay their respects, I learned what a tremendous influence he had on so many, always choosing to remain anonymous in the gifts of time and resources he shared.  He truly had a servant leader's heart and I am eternally grateful to have been in his arms as a young child, while my parents completed graduate school in Mobile.

Granddaddy would take me to my swimming lessons, always being more patient with me than my swim teacher, despite the fact that I never put my head under water until I was seven.  He took me to Whataburger or Krispy Kreme after swim lessons, and I remember watching him empty sugar packets into a teaspoon, wink and me and flash a big smile as he devoured his sweet treat.  I was not quite four years old then.  He never wanted us to go into the attic, despite the fact that inside that attic were treasures I still long to find now as an adult.  The second floor of my grandparents home has four sets of doors that lead to an attic that wrapped around the front of the house.  He told me he kept a live bear in the attic and for a while I believe him.  Granddaddy would secretly watch for my curiosity to be too much for me, hiding until I just barely turned that door knob and then growl the loudest bear growl you can imagine.  That is why my children (his only two great grandchildren), and the youngest of his twelve grand children who are still in college, call him Papa Bear. 

A funeral Mass was said for Granddaddy.  My cousin, Fred, and I read the two readings as the two oldest grandchildren.  Each of the remaining grandchildren read the Responsorial Psalms and the Prayers of the Faithful.  One of the prayers of the faithful in the Mass was this.  The true measure of greatness is not in worldly things but in the love and devotion of one's family.  We thank God for the example of this in our Papa Bear. 

Alfred Boyce Wettermark- longtime resident of Mobile, died at his home. He was 94 years old. He leaves behind his wife of 61 years, Helen McCown Wettermark; seven children, Alfred Boyce Wettermark (Urszula) of Fort Worth Texas, Irene Porter (Paul) of Mobile, Lawrence McCown Wettermark (Nancy) of Mobile, James Hart Wettermark (Joan) of Birmingham, Michael Daly Wettermark (Tina) of Fairhope, Mary Helen Espinosa (Carlos) of Managua, Nicaragua, and John Francis Wettermark of New Orleans; twelve grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Born in 1916 in Alexandria, Louisiana, he was the son of Alfred Wettermark of Nacodoches, Texas and Alexandria, Louisiana and Irene Boyce Wettermark of Boyce, Louisiana. He was a graduate of Spring Hill College and Harvard Business School. He served in the Navy during WW II aboard the USS Altair. Following the War his Navy service included coordinating supplies for the construction of Thula Air Base , the northern-most U.S. Military base in the world. He was the Supply Officer aboard the USS Wasp Aircraft Carrier and for Naval Air Station Pensacola. He retired from the Navy in 1962 at the rank of Commander. Following his Navy service he worked independently in real estate acquisitions, sales and land management as well as in financial investing. In Alexandria, he was a founding member of the Alexandria Aquatic Club and was active in civic and church affairs. He was partnered in numerous businesses including Hemenway Furniture Company and Guaranty Bank and Trust Company. In Mobile he was active in Kiwanis, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, Catholic Charities and his Parish of St. Ignatius, as well as his alma mater of Spring Hill College. He will be remembered for his intellect, wit, gentle nature, and humility. Most of all he will be remembered for his love and devotion to his wife and family.  He was a true Southern gentleman.

Poor Second Child

Poor Helen.  I neglected to mention on her actual birthday, which is March 18th, that she is two now!  See what a terrible mommy I am?  I chatted with my mother-in-law over spring break about how terrible I am at keeping up the same level of attention to keeping photographic and written memories of sweet Helen.  She gave me Big Philip's baby book that has a few notes in it, and then shared that her first son, George, had a complete baby book.  Her third child, Emily, has a baby book with only her name written in it.  We took Big Philip's baby book back home with us, determined to fill it out.  The book includes pages for enscribing the names of your wedding party and even your grandchildren  All is not lost!  There is still time to get that book finished!

Meanwhile, Little Philip's book ends at age five and that is fast approaching.  I need to complete the last two years to catch up.

Helen's book has, well, the first week of her life in it.  Maybe I should make her first priority. 

After celebrating the life of my 94 year old grandfather, Alfred Boyce Wettermark (Boyce is mine and Helen's middle name), we went to Tennessee to celebrate Helen's birthday with all of her Moss cousins and family.  On the Monday after spring break we returned to school and Helen finally got to wear her birthday cupcake dress she has been begging to wear for weeks.  Seriously, she is two and begs to wear dresses.  This is definitely proof of nature vs. nurture if you knew me as a child.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Super Why

Overheard this morning while Mommy was finishing lunches before school:

From the living room where the kiddos were watching Super Why.  Wyatt said "and you, what's your name?" to which Little Philip loudly replied:

Philip, with the power to READ!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring Break Plans

We are so looking forward to spring break next week!  Granted, we'll miss that extra week of preschool teaching pay but the reward of being at home for a few days as a family means so much more.  That being said, I anticipate running out of fun things to do with the little ones on Monday at 9:00 a.m.  I found a great new blog called No Time for Flashcards that is all about encouraging children's learning through creativity. There is a bar on the right that has different crafts and activities sorted down to any keyword you can imagine.  She even sorts activities by age group which will be wonderful as I continue to look for more fun activities to add to my 4K classroom!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine

I have no idea what this crazy movie is supposed to be about but tonight, I had the luxury of having a 5 minute steaming hot bath.  That might as well be a time machine moment for me.  Big Philip kept the kids at bay, literally, while I soaked my tired body, staring at some kind of funky toenails that are never going to see sandals unless I do something about them.  I slid down into the hot water not only to attempt to submerge my fat belly that is sooooo, not baby weight anymore, but also to try and block all sound, in a Calgon moment. heard instead:

Moooooooomy?  Mooooommmmmy?  I hear Mommy in there, Daddy! 
 (Daddy says something to lure him away from the bathroom door)
WHAM...WHAM.....WHAM...kicking the door some more...WHAM
Daddy tells him to leave Mommy alone while she takes a hot bath.

But she's not in the tub anymore because I heard her tee tee just now!

Nope, that's just our leaky faucet, son.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Bedtime Update and Nostalgia

We are happy to share that Helen has finally adjusted to her big girl bed.  She, like her brother, must have a bedtime ritual, and while she does not demand three books, she does demand to be read to before bed.  To us, this is a pure joy and a positive thing to reinforce.  Philip reads voraciously and we like to think it was because we began reading to him at his nap and bedtime at an early age.

There are few, if any, toys left from my childhood in my parents house.  This is in stark contrast to Philip's childhood home that contains even the tiniest plastic G.I. Joe gun that mounts on the arm of some small action figure.  In fact, even the arms of G.I. Joe men themselves are still in his playroom, despite the actual bodies of the action figures having been severed from said arms decades ago.  We were recently at my parents home and Helen found a very old book I had as a little girl.  It is called What's In My Pockets?  I very much remember this book, and my parents hiding little trinkets inside the pockets sometimes when they read it to me.  The trinkets are long gone, and the book itself, being made of fabric and applique, has been washed many, many times, leaving it faded and well worn.  Simply put, it shows it was loved.

Helen asks me to read her the pocket book every time she lies down for a nap or her bedtime.  I leave the room with her babbling happily as she flips each page, sticking her sweet little fingers into each kind of pocket.  Her favorite is the secret pocket, sewn into the top corner of the last page of the book.

I can't tell you the joy it brings me to have one of my toys beloved by one of my children.  I'm off to find some little trinkets of our own to hide in each pocket, to start a new generation of memories with my own child now.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Overheard at the Preschool Today

Philip, is that toothpaste dried on your face?

No, I think it's just dirt from being a little boy.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Candy Overload

MOMMY!  Did you know that the stick in Lick-a-made is candy too?!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Big Girl Bed Time

We are trying to accomplish two things right now.  (1) Helen to sleep through the entire night entirely in her own bed and (2) reclaim a little space in our little home, perhaps combining Helen and Philip into one room within this year.  In order to accomplish one or both of these tasks, we removed the crib gate from Helen's crib, making it a low day bed.  So far so good....sort of.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Couponing Meal

So I know this is typically a family memories blog but since we started to clip and use coupons for our grocery shopping, it has become a huge part of our family activities. Take the meal shown above. That's pulled pork BBQ nachos with black beans and Bobby Flay's Queso Sauce. Here are the ingredients along with the price we paid for them:
1 box Velveeta cheese - 93 cents
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes/green chiles - FREE
1 tub Lloyd pulled pork BBQ - $1.25
1 can black beans from ALDI - .$.49
16 oz. cheddar/jack cheese - $1.50
Bag of corn tortilla chips - $.99
tablespoon of chili powder - FREE
tablespoon of Kosher salt - not sure what I paid for this a while back but it's just a tablespoon.

The queso recipe calls for red onion (didn't have it) and green onion (didn't have it).

Total price for this meal was $5.16

We have about 4 cups of amazing queso dip left over for anytime we feel like hardening our arteries again soon. There is also enough BBQ left for Big Philip to have a BBQ sandwich tomorrow for lunch.

So, these are brand name products for free or next to nothing all from couponing at Publix. Our grocery bill each month has gone from $550 to about $350. We do not set foot in Walmart because Walmart will not double coupons that make their everyday low prices NOT the lowest compared to Publix. Anyone not convinced yet?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Rainy Saturdays

It's been raining for a few days now. I realize this is nothing to complain about compared to our family and friends suffering "snowmageddon" in the northeast. Would it be considered in poor taste to say that we would love to have about ten of the 36 inches that have fallen in the DC area today? We would really love to make a snowman.

Because of the rain, we have to make up things to do in our very, very tiny house. It's actually quite entertaining so I spent this afternoon observing differences in personalities between Helen and Little Philip.

Helen is such a little girl. For my friends that believe in the nurture argument about gender differences, Helen is living proof that nature often takes a commanding lead. I am not a girly-girl, never have been. There were no dolls in my room growing up. I had science test kits, dug in the dirt, built forts in the woods (by the way, thanks Wildwood Walmart for establishing your presence directly on top of my once beautiful fort. I'm still that bitter twelve year old). Enter Helen into our lives. She loves dolls, loves babies, and pulls my necklaces off to try on all the time. In a word, she is all girl. She also has an outstanding sense of imagination. This afternoon Helen disappeared on me for about five minutes. I was in the dining room tagging toys and clothing for an upcoming consignment sale. I went into the kitchen and found Helen sitting in my chair at the table. She had her baby doll firmly clipped into her booster seat. She asked me for a bowl and spoon. I asked her if she needed a bib too to which she replied uh huh (we are working on please and thank you but it's a struggle). She then commenced to feeding her baby. It was so adorable.

After catching that little moment I decided to film Little Philip for comparison. Little Philip is a realist, and black and white kind of guy. He has virtually know concept of how to play make believe. If he had happened upon his sister, he would have wondered what in the heck she was doing, maybe even offering to dump real oatmeal into the bowl rather than try to comprehend make believe oatmeal. Instead, Little Philip was happily coloring in the living room, singing his Letter People songs, talking to himself about the characteristics of each letter person. To him, the Letter People are very real. To us, they are practically nauseating. Every night he listens to the Letter People music CD. He has us put his CD player on random (he'll come out a fuss if the songs go in order) and sleep mode. If he is still awake when the music stops, he will come out and tell us to turn it back on. Meanwhile, Helen is snoozing within a minute of going down. However, she'll be up in about three hours. Philip will be out cold.

My children seem to be polar opposites right now and it is so intriguing to watch how these differences play out each day.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Overheard at the Moss House

At bedtime, just before prayers, a conversation between father and son...

Daddy, did you know there are three Gods?

Really Philip?

Yes, God the Father, God the Son, and then the broccoli said the Holy Ghost. He made a mistake. It's the Holy Spirit.

Some people say Holy Ghost, Philip. Broccoli wasn't wrong.

But most people say Holy Spirit, right Daddy?

Apparently, Little Philip watched Veggietales at school today.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Happy 35th to Big Philip

Happy birthday, Daddy! In the words of Little Philip, thank you Mamie and Bop Bop for having my Daddy!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Consignment Season

This is a picture of my dining room, picture perfect for that next hip dinner party.

For the past year, I have gone through the emotionally scarring experience of steaming, ironing, and safety pinning each outfit from my child's previous season to a wire hanger, ensuring that the hook is pointing to the left in order to sell it in a seasonal children's consignment sale. The goal is to make enough money to buy this season's clothing for both children.

I don't sell any of my hand smocked or high-end smocked clothing. I keep that for my grandchildren so that one day, in long awaited future, my daughter and daughter-in-law will have to to find a way to politely accept and use my lovingly stored family heirlooms despite the fact that children will probably be wearing Teflon spandex or some sun-proof spacesuit by then. In other words, my grandchildren better be wearing smocked clothing at some point or my birth certificate doesn't say Demopolis, AL. I realize this is a matter of opinion but I'm already forming scary strong grandmother opinions at age 35. But I digress...

My rule is that if I cry nostalgic tears as I fondly remember a time when one of my children wore an outfit as I try to put the outfit on a hanger, it gets to stay. The problem is that we are 99% sure we are a complete family. This makes the tears come more freely as I consider that each milestone with Helen is most likely the last I will encounter as a mother. There will not be another child to potty train after Helen. HOW SICK IS THAT? Do I need to remind everyone of the horrors of potty training Little Philip for 18 months???? I literally googled and opened a phone book to find a potty training support group. All I can say is that all those motherhood hormones are cruel little masochistic suckers sometimes.

My only imperfect and earthly saving grace is that hope that I make enough money to then, in turn, buy other children's consigned clothing, each with their own memories in each little stitch, with room to add more memories with my own children tucked neatly inside each outfit. And with even more luck, I'll make enough money to continue to invest in sewing and smocking instruction classes. Those are my new addiction and I eagerly look forward to those moments when I can buy fabric or take a class.

In the meantime, let me know if you want to come shopping in my dining room. We've got a car lot of toddler Tonka trucks in there.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Helen's Snore

It's 9:45 pm and Helen is sleeping peacefully, for what we bet is another three hours. Then she will magically wake up and scream for over an hour until we surrender and deliver her to our warm bed for the rest of the night. She will wake up at approximately 5:45 a.m. and promptly demand that Daddy (not Mommy) take her to the living room where she will watch Animal Planet while eating gogurt.

But for now, doesn't she snore like an angel?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Helen's Chatter

It is so interesting to hear Helen's speech develop, which has been at an alarmingly faster rate than Little Philip's experience. Granted, Little Philip was plagued with ear infections and did not get tubes until he was 18 months old. Helen has only had two ear infections to date, and nothing to right home about. And let's face it, she is a girl.

So here are Helen's favorite topics.

SQUIRRELS (pronounced QUIRL)! At 21 months, she is obsessed. If she sees a squirrel she will levitate and begin squealing, pointing, shaking, holding her finger to her lips to let everyone know she needs complete silence to lure the squirrel nearer to her. She has no less than three stuffed squirrels in her crib at all times.

Goat - pronounced correctly, this is her second favorite animal in her book. She also called baby cows goats but we'll get there.

Hay kittay! - We have two cats, and she is very loving and wants to rub them all the time.

Ra Ra or Rayeeeeeeee - That's Riley our dog. Riley never let Little Philip sit on him like a pony ride, but Helen has achieved such greatness. I think Riley knows he's lost the battle with the princess of the house.

Mulchhh - Milk. She drinks a good gallon a day.

JoJoot - Yogurt. She eats about 4 servings a day. The girl is not missing any calcium.

Bed - Bread. She asks for plain pieces of bread or whole flour tortillas for snacks. And she devours it.

Cacker - Cracker

Beebee - Baby

Poon - Spoon

Tickle, tickle, tickle - self explanatory

Babah - Brother, although she has recently said brudder as well.

Favorite Phrase so far:

Where Daddy go? (with hands in the air)...answering her own question: At wuck.

I poo poo.
Thanks for sharing Helen.

Monday, January 04, 2010

2010 New Year's Resolutions

In case you missed last year's resolutions here they are. By going there you can see the previous year's resolutions as well.

Renie's 2009 Resolutions - How did I do?

1. Quiet time, every day, without fail. - Massive fail.

2. Baby weight must be gone. Goal? 20 pounds shed by Moss Beach Reunion, first week of June.
Can't remember what my start weight was so let's just call this a massive fail as well.

3. Learn to sew drapes and garments. I'm already taking my first real sewing class this month. By the end of the class I should be able to sew a Lucy a-line jumper for Helen. I also want to learn how to put in a smocked insert to the Lucy jumper and how to put together a bishop dress that has been smocked. My goal? To make some money to add family income...once I learn such skills. I'm definitely learning more and more about sewing. I can make a Lucy in my sleep and even know how to do set in sleeves, collars, pleats, and ruffles now. I also have a smocking pleater now so in the coming two months, I hope to learn how to pleat a bishop, do picture smocking since I'm basically capable of doing geometrical smocking now, and how to put a bishop dress together, all by Easter of course! I would love to be able to market these skills for extra income but time is precious now that I'm working part-time teaching preschool. Still, I love sewing and I do think there is a future in this for me.

4. Potty train Little Philip. Seriously, folks, we are so close. Philip rarely has an accident anymore and it is usually out in public rather than in the house. However, if he sees you typing on a computer, please excuse him when he asks you if you poo pooed on the potty. You see, he gets 20 minutes of computer time every time he poo poos on the potty so he naturally assumes you did the same. Just say yes and enjoy the high spirited affirmation from a three year old for controlling your bowels. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Literally it was last January that we claimed victory. That time spent potty training might be the only time I was tempted to call my doctor for a psychotropic medication. Let's hope Helen doesn't drive me to such a place like that.

Renie's 2010 Resolutions:

Lose 25 pounds and keep them off. No baby headed our way this year and certainly with Helen turning two in March, there is no way I can continue to say "well, you know I just had a baby."

Organize the house from top to bottom. We are cramped, really cramped in our home and our clutter and disorganization does not help. I really think we can revamp several closets and areas in our home to help in this area. We will start with the front coat closet that I'm sitting in front of right now, typing on this computer. Yep, our front coat closet is a computer closet. We are that cramped.

Quiet time. I'm not going to set a daily goal because I know I will not keep it. Let's just say I need to reintroduce quiet time in my life. Daily would be great but let's just start by making it a regular routine again. I know I need it and everyone around me would benefit greatly from the peace I gain by putting myself in the more than capable arms of Christ once again.

Big Philip's Resolutions:

More consistent quiet time.

Eat healthier and work out more.

Give up regular Coke and switch to either Diet or Coke Zero

Clean out my car so it doesn't look like I live in it. There might be upholstery underneath all of that ****. (Renie's subtle suggestion)

Little Philip's Resolutions:

Learn to ride my bike.

Ingest foods that grew in ground. It's been a while.

Learn to listen and obey the first time with a cheerful heart.

Stick up for myself when my little sister bosses me around.

Helen's Resolutions:

I will not bite my brother ever again.

I will not hit my brother or try to shove him out of my mommy's lap.

I will try not to eat my family out of house and home with hourly full meal feedings each day.

I will sleep through the night and not scream like a ringwraith from Lord of the Rings at 3:00 a.m. every night, nor will I refuse to sleep and continue to scream in such a way unless I get to sleep with Mommy and Daddy.

I will be potty trained before the end of the year, maybe by Moss Beach Week in June.

Riley the Dog's Resolutions:

I will try to keep my evening outings to the backyard to a minimum, especially once my parents have settled into bed, knowing that Helen will likely wake them up within an hour of falling asleep.

I will no longer eat napkins out of the kitchen trash can. There will no longer be evidence of such a habit found digested in the backyard, especially by the children's swing set.

I will continue to be the sweetest dog ever to my human siblings, continuing to allow Helen to ride my like I'm a kind of wild horse or something. A spoon full of peanut butter every now and then will help me keep my sweet spirit and shiny coat.

Atticus the Cat's Resolutions:

I will no longer vomit ten minutes after I eat breakfast and dinner and if I do, I will do my best to avoid shoes, bed linens, rugs, or sofas.

I will shed less. This should help with goal number one.

I will not sit and demand a stream of water from which to drink at 6:30 a.m. from the bathroom sink. I will accept the fresh water sitting in my bowl each day willingly and without whining, even though I am twelve years old now, and have tolerated the introduction of a dog, another cat, and two small humans to my very important life.

Julep the Cat's Resolutions:

I will no longer walk across my parents' bodies and faces just after they have fallen asleep or just before their alarm goes off each morning. If I do, I promise to turn the volume down on the purring.

I will try to be nice to any female human guests that come by from time to time. I will especially try to be nice to my human grandparents that come to visit. I realize that this is the third year I've made this goal. I will remind my mother that her weight goal is also making a third appearance.

I will willingly give up my claimed bed that once belonged to the dog of the house, but only if he continues to spoon me as I sleep each night.

Christmas Travel Marathon

Hi, remember us? It's been a while, we know. This was one of those holiday breaks where we traveled a lot. It was almost the kind where we needed an oil change before and just after the travels, but not quite. We would not have it any other way as we were able to see family in West Tennessee as well as L.A. That's lower Alabama for those of you unfamiliar with our terrain here in the Deep South.

Because Big Philip works in education, meager though the pay may be, the payoff comes in a lovely two week break that allows us to reconnect with each other and our family, and that is just what we did. We began by visiting the Moss family in Tennessee. There, one our surprise Christmas present from Mamie and Bop was Skype for each of the siblings. Since then, Little Philip and Helen has been video phoning cousins and grandparents, even calling Aunt Mary Helen in Nicaragua once! No matter who is on screen, Helen puts her hands in the air with a questioning aire and says "wheah Amy?" Amy was grandchild number eleven to come along, just three months after Helen. And since then grandchild number twelve was born to Aunt Beverly and George bringing their total number of children to seven. Grandchild number thirteen is due in July, which will make Amy a middle child of three to Aunt Emily and Uncle Jamie. Try to keep up now, the numbers wildly fluctuate! Below is a picture of the nativity play, starring all the older cousins. Little Philip was cast as Joseph but got stage fright and was quickly recast as a shepherd where his line was "we are so afraid!" Helen and Amy loved spending time with each other, taking care of their baby dolls.
After traveling to Tennessee we came home for Christmas "eve" eve so that Santa to come to our house. Santa was a big deal this year to Little Philip and it was so much fun seeing that special light in his eyes. Well, you can't exactly see the light in his eyes in this picture but he's four so, he's focused on the loot. And we promise Helen smiled that morning, but not when we forced her to look at the camera for this picture. Apparently we disturbed her from her princess tea service.

After about 20 hours in Birmingham we headed to Mobile to be with the Porter and Wettermark family. We were there long enough to really spend some quality time with Memaw Porter in Daphne as well as Grandaddy and Grandmother Wettermark. We even got another picture of the four generations of Wettermark women. Grandmother Helen, Nee Nee, Mommy, and Helen. This is always a sweet moment for us. Despite the chill, Little Philip and Helen headed straight for Memaw's front porch swing during our visit. NeeNee and Poppy completed Little Philip's geotrax train set with the an airport, complete with a remote control airplane that does loops in the air on a track.

We coaxed Nee Nee and Poppy to visit the Mobile Exploreum with us since it was free admission for us as McWane Center members here in Birmingham. For anyone that does not know the a McWane membership is reciprocal with most children's science museums in the country, now you know and it is so worth it. Lots of silly time was spent at the Exploreum. Little Philip was amazed at Daddy's floating head.
Then we were finally headed home, to two cats that were besides themselves lonesome for our return. When we opened the door I wanted to say "we've been robbed!" but alas, that is just how we left our house on December 18th and how we found it on December 27th. Aunt Elizabeth was able to come home with us for the week which was so much fun for everyone.

Then on December 28th we went over to Starkville to cheer on the bulldogs and were able to sit with our friends the Mathews. Miss Diane helped Helen understand the game while Big Philip tried desperately to get Little Philip to sit still and watch the game. Notice the death grip Daddy has on him in the picture.

We've spent the last week trying to clean up while spending some good quality time with each other. Big Philip started work today, and we all return to school tomorrow. I think we will be grateful for the routine to return.