Monday, December 12, 2011

Baby Birds

Since I teach on the block schedule that means at the end of this semester (in 1.5 weeks) I won't have these students anymore. They will be replaced with another batch (92 of them) of EAHS students from the class of 2013. I am sure I will love them just as much but that brings me to an odd phenomenon that I experience at the end of each semester. It's actually kind of bittersweet; I look forward to Christmas (or summertime when it's the spring semester) but I will truly miss the students I have now. I could use the "setting my baby birds free" analogy except that really I'm not setting them free. I'm sending them to another mama or daddy bird. A bird with referral forms and dress code violations and easy access to the grades program and their parents' phone numbers. Or maybe I am sending them off to another cage, depending whether you like cute bird symbolism or complicated symbolism about the entrapment of today's youth. I prefer to think of them as being nurtured, not trapped and loved, not limited. Their new mama bird may be a little less sappy, more sane, and maybe a little more consistent but I don't know if everyone enjoys their students as much as I do. At their graduation I am sure I will be crying as much as their actual moms because it really feels like I have 94 babies sometimes, not just my own three. So goodbye, baby birds. If I see you in the hall you'd better not poop on me. If you do I will write you up because I can still do that once I've set you free... I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Yummy Manicotti

This is one of those recipes that when you make it people think you slaved in the kitchen. However, it's actually very simple and easy to make ahead. It's from my sister-in-law Stephanie Broders. I included her easy sauce recipe, although store-bought sauce works too.

8 oz manicotti (14 pieces)- do not cook it!
Spaghetti sauce (above)- or 26 oz of canned- if using can, add I cup of water
15oz ricotta cheese (about 2 cups)
8oz mozzarella cheese- shredded (about 2 cups)
1/4c 3 cheese blend bag of asiago, parm, and Romano
1 egg
2T parsley chopped
1/2t salt
1/4t pepper
Bag of shredded cheese- any Italian blend-for sprinkling on top.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Cook sauce and keep warm.
In a bowl, stir together cheeses, parsley, egg, salt and pepper. Mix until all ingredients are well coated.
Place part of mixture in a FREEZER Ziploc bag (regular ones can bust at seams when using as a pastry bag). Cut off one small end of the bag making it into a pastry bag.
Squeeze cheese mixture into UNCOOKED manicotti tubes.
Spoon a small layer of warm sauce into a 9X13 pan. Place filled filled pasta into a single layer in pan on top of sauce. Pour remaining sauce over pasta- if freezing for later use see note at bottom. Sprinkle with cheese and cover with foil. Bake 40 minutes or until bubbly.

If freezing- save some sauce to pour on top when you reheat at your later date. (freeze it in a Ziploc bag and keep it with the frozen manicotti)
When cool place foil covered pan in freezer for up to 2 months.

Thaw in fridge over night. Pour sauce over top in a thin layer to prevent drying out (and sprinkle with extra cheese- if you like). Bake at 350 F for 45-60 minutes: until bubbly and hot in center.

20 minute spaghetti sauce
2 cans (6oz) Tom. Paste- any kind
3 cups of water
2T minced onion (dry)
2T Parmesan cheese
2T sugar
1t Italian seasoning mix(oregano, basil, thyme)
1/2t salt
1/2t garlic powder- may sub minced garlic
1/8t pepper
1 beef bouillon cube- can use granules

If using ground meat - brown first and drain.
In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Can also add cooked Italian sausage to sauce or use to make chicken Parmesan by pouring over cooked chicken.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pre-Halloween Fun

I love Halloween and fall decorations. I don't go as all-out with them as I would like but I have visions of skeletons and spooky ghouls dancing in my head each Halloween. I also love Halloween treats and goodies. Here are two of the things I made this year. Both were VERY easy. The first idea came from Kristen Milligan (thanks, Facebook!) and the second I think was from Stampin' Up! years ago. I took a picture with my phone and assured myself that I would do it. Three years have passed and voila, I have made them! The cute little monster treats are for the severe special needs trick-or-treaters at EA. The National Honor Society students take them treat-or-treating to the classrooms and it's so cute to see. I like to have something special for them.

These are for Lila's little class.

My silly assistant

Moon pies decorated with cookie icing! Lila asked if it was her because the dots on top looked like curly hair to her. Luckily her teeth don't look like that.

I used the cookie icing that you can buy in the baking aisle at Wal-Mart. It's not super cheap but time is money and what's $3/tube when it saves you mixing and cleaning time? It was so easy to use and it hardened nicely. I still am storing my monster treats spread out so that their toothy smiles don't run any risk of being messed up.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tooth Fairy

Cullen doesn't believe in The Tooth Fairy anymore, thank God. Unfortunately Carson, my sweet, loving, eager, boy does. The past four nights I have forgotten to put money under his pillow. He has been very patient and kind but was starting to grow weary of the excuses (the Tooth Fairy doesn't come during Fall Break, the Tooth Fairy doesn't always know how to reach people in the top bunk, etc.) Last night I finally remembered to put the money under the pillow and truly forgot that I had done it. So when Carson unveiled the money this morning I put on a good show of surprise since I had totally forgotten about it anyway. This clear surprise must have worked. Later this afternoon Carson came racing out onto the porch, had me turn off the lawn equipment I was using, and proceeded to share his big theory as to why the Tooth Fairy is real.
1. I was so surprised; would I be that surprised if I was the Tooth Fairy?
and (my favorite)
2. Moms don't even lie anyway
Ummmm, OK. If you say so...
How can I tell one of the two people on this planet who fully thinks I hung the moon that I have been lying to him his whole life?

1. I know it's light outside but the sun is just confused; I promise it's nighttime
2. Yes, there is a Santa Claus
3. Yes, there is a Easter Bunny
4. Yes, there is a Tooth Fairy
5. No, I didn't eat your ______ (peanuts, candy, chips, whatever else of theirs I ate)
6. Those aren't onions; they are just special noodles
7. It's not burned it's just browned

I guess when he finds all these things out he may change his mind about living with me forever.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


This is funny and memorable but is it inappropriate for the classroom? I am not sure. We are starting Units IV and V, which includes the American realism period, on Tuesday so I have three days to decide. I would also like to have one more glass sayings "People just suck" to represent the cynics.

Game Time!

I don't think I went to a single athletic event for either of my high schools for the entire four years. Granted the first school didn't have many sports teams to speak of (unless you consider academics to be a sport- darn magnet schools). In addition, going to McKinley after dark for events wasn't fully safe. However, who would have thought that I would love to attend EA's games so much? I've enjoyed every game I have attended and have no favorite sport. I love watching my students play and I like the atmosphere. My kids and I get in for free and the snacks are cheap; it's a win-win situation. However, I have realized that the way I feel at games is a sense of parental pride. Do you know how it feels when your one or two children score? I feel that way when I hear each of my students' names called over the PA. I get excited when I see my soccer girls' little pony tails waving as they race down the field or kick the soccer ball from one end of the field to the other. I have parental pride x 100. It's a good feeling and I think that is why I go.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Teaching Moments

I was able to give an unexpected lesson on menopause the other day. I am sure the mothers of my students are all relieved. One less thing to explain and who would have thought they'd learn it in English III? I had an adorable student (girl) tell a silly boy repeatedly that she thought he was "Having menopause." Since I love this little girl and know she is a smart girl always wanting to learn more I quietly asked her if she knew what menopause was. She admitted that she didn't (clearly) and I told her the very basics. I made it clear that there was really no way our silly (male) friend was "having menopause." By this point half the class was listening attentively. Turns out they didn't know either. Now if I could only get some other adult to tell my own children about sex. I would pay not to have that discussion. I will be happy to share my morals (honor your body- it is a gift from God; this applies to all major decisions) but not the nitty gritty. It is a conversation that is long overdue but that neither of us is ready for. Give me teething and potty training any day over this next big task.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Little Tiger Fashion

I am going to my first HOME football game tomorrow. It will be as hot as Hades but I will sit more comfortably knowing that my daughter will be at my mother's looking so cute in her new LSU dress. There are some things that you cannot get away with wearing as an adult and therefore should wear as much as possible when you are young. Two of those things are animal prints and tutus. If you're going to wear animal print it may as well be a purple stripe paired with gold smocking. Go big or go home, baby.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


After so many years of appointments with Carson you'd think I would be more laid back about them. However, it doesn't seem to get much easier as the years pass by. This week he goes to see a geneticist to evaluate the possibility of a different diagnosis. He was labeled with muscular dystrophy at age four and it seemed like it fit but there have always been a few things that various doctors have questioned. As we enter a new type of testing I am going to try to remember our blessings such as Carson's intelligence and the fact that, no matter what his other issues are, he can walk into these appointments on his own two feet. I am also thankful for my other two physically healthy children. However, one thing many medical people have told me is that no one is truly "normal". If you investigated everyone you would find something wrong with them. Carson just happens to have been investigated a little better than most.

Dessert Bars

These are almost impossible to mess up!

Dessert Bars:

1 box chocolate teddy grahams crushed

1 stick butter melted

chocolate chips

white chocolate chips

heath bar toffee chips

walnuts (chopped)

condensed milk

Heat oven to 350. Put crushed bears on foil lined 9x13 pan (quick release recommended). Pour melted butter all over bears. Kind of press down and mix as you can creating an even, level, crust. Put in oven for 5 minutes. Cover with last 4 ingredients, using the condensed milk last and simply pouring that over the top of the other ingredients. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool then refrigerate, which makes it easier to cut.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Day in the Life

On Monday mornings my students often try to get me off task by asking me what I did over the weekend. Usually I don't have much to say. How can I put into words what I actually do all weekend? I do the usual laundry, cleaning, and errands of your typical mom but how do you explain what else the willing parent must do to entertain their offspring? Here is the answer to "what did you do this weekend?" as told in pictures.
I pulled up all of my overgrown flowers and planted new ones. I salvaged some pretty zinnias.
I bought what Carson needed to make his first recipe; pizza sandwiches.

The results! Yummy.

Lila drew "good days" on herself. These are smiley faces.

This is Lila's daycare. It was Cullen's idea then morphed into quite the weekend activity.

Lila put my old bonnet on her head, held onto the ties, then galloped around saying her own little version of giddy up.

Robot monster.
"I am not scary; don't you see my little girl toes?"

Friday, August 5, 2011

Jesus, Jesus, I love Jesus!

This summer the big boys spent several days in Mobile, Alabama with my brother Chris, his wife Molly, and their two little children, Hannah and Hampton. The boys had a wonderful time and got glowing reports. One thing that they shared in while in Mobile were several religious rituals that we do not partake in. We almost never say grace (I can't remember to give them utensils half the time, much less calmly give thanks for our food) and we haven't read bible stories for quite some time.

Yesterday a package came in the mail. It was very surprising because it's not anybody's birthday and no one usually sends us random packages. Inside were several things: toys and a toothbrush Carson left in Mobile as well as a copy of the collection of bible stories that Chris and Molly read with their little ones daily. There is a story for every day and the boys were very excited to see this familiar book. Bedtime came and we were winding down (at least trying to) and the boys rushed to brush their teeth and gather in the game room to read before their movie night. Carson was hanging on my every word. He loves to be read to and soaks things up. Cullen was interested in listening but he was a little distracted by Lila. We decided to cheat a little and start on the July 24 story, which was where the story of Mary finding out she was carrying Jesus began.

Lila, as usual, was the one who was throwing the kink in our well-organized plans. She too was VERY excited. Story time with her brothers? This called for a pillow, a blanket, and a pink poodle stuffed animal. "This is my dog named Jesus!" she told me proudly. She was actually ready before her brothers and spent her extra time jumping and dancing while chanting "Jesus, Jesus, I love Jesus!" It was so cute. At first. The boys were stretched out to listen and while they tried their best to pay attention Lila continued to dance (after five seconds of sitting criss cross apple sauce hands in your lap), do somersaults across her brothers while screaming "Watch me do a flip!" and kneeing, kicking, and crushing her poor brothers. By the time it was done I was saying my own little prayers to Jesus for patience and Lila had been dragged to her bed screaming. We will either need to do this new routine after Lila goes to bed or find a way to strap her down.

Lila did listen to the story about Mary and the arrival of our savior; this was also her second story within the last few days about someone having a baby in their belly. Her teacher is pregnant and we discussed this crazy concept of a baby being in the mama's belly. The cutest end to the day, which cancelled out all of the craziness, was a sleepy Lila with heavy, droopy, eyes, sticking her Barbie happy meal toy under her nightgown and saying it was her baby. Then when I tried to remove the Barbie before I slipped out of Lila's bed she gave my hand a little slap "No, my baby isn't bored yet." I went in later when she was asleep and it was still there and I slipped it out and put it on her pillow. If only childbirth were really that easy.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dinner With Muffin

Last night was night two of the kids being in Folsom with Grandma. The night before consisted of a romantic evening full of Kevin working on the garage renovations and playing X-Box and me cleaning the bathrooms and closets. Last night neither of us was totally into going out but we went out because we felt like we should; what a waste to stay home on a night where we have a free babysitter! So off to the Hibachi grill in Gonzales we went. It was my first time to any such place and I loved having an option right there in our little parish. The decor was perfect and when we walked in they asked the question we expected "Would you like to sit at the grill?" Why yes, of course we would! We were seated right and had an organized (American) waitress. There were other people there but they weren't right next to us. At first. We were there five minutes when the waitress asked a young lady if she would move to sit on the other side of her family, thereby freeing up two seats at our grill seating area. There went the single chair spacing between me and another person. Have I mentioned that I don't like to sit on top of other people while I'm eating? This applies to my own family, much less people I don't know. This was a test of my comfort level. Isn't one of the joys of having your kids gone being able to not have people in your space? Yet here came another couple and they were to sit next to me. They were very nice looking and smiled sweetly but didn't start talking like we were friends. We soon found out, however, that it was the man's birthday. He was embarrassed (as I believe all men are required to be per the Man Handbook) when his girlfriend pointed this out to the waitress and later the chef. It was a night of excitement... Kevin caught his flung vegetable perfectly but alas, I did not. Our chef was the perfect Oriental stereotype. I wonder if he REALLY talks like that or if he's out of some Hibachi training school? And who on earth decided making balloon animals for children with a hot grill in front of you was a GOOD idea? Also, how do you find people that can cook and make balloon animals? The sushi was great and the food was yummy. I learned how to make fried rice. Then it came time to sing happy birthday to the birthday boy. For the first time in my life I sang happy birthday to someone sitting a foot away from me and we got all the way to the "Happy Birthday, dear______" before I realized I had no clue what this man's name was. I knew he had gotten his girlfriend a dog (Chug- very cute) but not his name. You can't say "Happy birthday dear randommanatmytable" so we all paused. It turned out his name is Muffin. So happy birthday, dear Muffin! I did not expect to eat dinner with you but I am happy we got to help you celebrate your birthday. I will think about you as I eat my leftovers today. I hope that you get a lot of use out of your crown made out of a balloon.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Fish Museum

Today's little road trip was a whole 120 miles (round trip) to downtown New Orleans. In May we bought a membership to the zoo and the aquarium; one trip to each and the membership pays for itself and we have already surpassed that. Kevin had to work (those pesky year-round jobs!) so it was me, the boys, and Lila on our way to the aquarium a.k.a. the fish museum. We listened to what seems to be our favorite family song (if you don't count Daddy) "Tonight, Tonight" by Chelle about eight times and the rest of the trip was Lila Songs (those awful kids CD songs). We coasted into New Orleans traffic free, had no trouble parking, and nary a complaint from any of the children. It was so smooth that it was almost eerie. I thought surely something would go wrong (aquarium closed, for example) but nope, it was a perfect little adventure. Lila wanted to go without her stroller (I agreed) and she stayed by my side. The boys also followed all rules and never got separated from us, which I am absolutely paranoid about. It was really an amazingly delightful trip. We loved all of the usual attractions, like the penguins, the sharks, and the otters and Lila LOVED the play room. The only issues were that feeding the stingrays is more exclusive, you have to wait in a longer line and if you come in right behind a daycare (like we did) you will find out the stingray exhibit is sold out. However, that was trumped by the success of the new bird exhibit. The boys loved going into the bird addition and buying little feed sticks ($1 each and we only needed one). The birds were easy to coax onto the sticks and Carson and Cullen enjoyed getting birds to choose their sticks above those of the other children. When we finally left Carson mournfully said that he was really going to miss his bird. Poor Carson feels very deeply, for better or worse! If you're almost 12, almost 10, and 3 what is the perfect meal to end your morning of fun? No, not Drago's, not Mittendorf's... it's McDonald's. We zipped into a McDonald's on Veterans and we all decided that our perfect outing was completed by McDonald's actually serving our order with NO mistakes. I loved listening to Lila have her Blueberry Muffin toy talk to the boys' Star Wars Toys and say "I a girl! I a girl" and then later sing Jesus songs. To me, the perfect ending was that Lila did not sleep in the car but instead saved her nap for home, giving me my few hours of freedom that I treasure. What a gift of a day and it's not even over yet!

Time for this sleepyhead to go home!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Three Weeks Left!

We have just three weeks left of summer. Or, as I prefer to say to the kids "We have THREE WHOLE WEEKS!" Seriously, you can fit so much fun into three weeks. I planned to start the fun today but I kind of dropped the ball on that unless you find physical therapy for Carson, laundry, closet cleaning, and (yes more) tea parties to be award-winning fun. We did Shrinky Dinks but I was grumpy so I think if fun were a mathematical equation my grumpiness may have negated any possible fun. Here are some of the things we thought of to do the next few weeks for fun. I hereby challenge myself to do it! Hopefully I will do a better job than I have done with my New Year Goal of learning the African countries (hey, the year isn't over yet!)

1. Blue Bayou (again)
2. Dixie Landing at night
3. The New Orleans aquarium
4. The Audubon Zoo (again, this time we'll do their splash park)
5. Bluebonnet Swamp (since I was bad and didn't sign them up for their usual swamp camp)
6. My parents' house in Folsom
7. I also really want to go to Jefferson Island; this one I am not sure about. Can I handle all three kids there by myself?? Of course I can barely handle them at Wal-Mart by myself...

The first two will be done without Lila because she impedes our fun. The rest we will do while she isn't at daycare. After all, as Carson conceded this morning, she IS part of the family. Uh, yeah. Thanks for the genius news flash.

The fun will start tomorrow. Along with my diet. Seriously, I mean it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Creative Friends

One part of Lila's birthday party that did not get a mention were her presents. What kid doesn't love presents? Lila is a little reserved in groups. Actually, she's a little reserved around all humans. We think of her as that performing frog from Looney Toons... never performing around others, but always around us. "Hello my honey, hello my darling..."

I was kind of mean because I told her that if she didn't interact with her party guests at all then she wouldn't be able to play with her presents. We talked about playing on the slide with her friends, saying hello when they arrived, etc. It worked because, although it was subtle, I did notice her trying to be a little friendlier than usual.

When it came time to open presents I was as excited as she was... dresses! bows! jewelry! baby dolls! What mom doesn't love those? My friends came through with the cutest things. Lila got an adorable monogrammed tee shirt from her friend Isaac. A couple of precious towels (she didn't have a single monogrammed towel- what kind of a bad mom am I? Below are some of the homemade things my friends gave. They are amazing and their presents were too!

Bottom of bow hanger/holder (what do you call those things??) from Jenny, who SAID she wasn't crafty.
Monogrammed towel from Denise! Lila noticed and loved the polka dots on the lettering.

Sorry for the un-rotated shot! The bow hanger again.

Cathy's needlework on the swimsuit cover-up

The mermaid on the cover-up; well-timed since we now LOVE mermaids.

The necklace Cathy and her girls made!

The cover-up and towel combo.

Towel from Cathy. Cathy is the queen of creativity; did I mention that?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Prayers: Lila Style

When home during the day we say prayers two times. Once when Lila takes her nap and once when she goes to bed at night (her dark nap, as she says). Sometimes Carson or Kevin will join us but usually it's me and Lila laying in her bed and, after we read a pile of books, we say prayers. She prays for her brothers, me, and her daddy. She prays for her cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and any friends she has seen of late. She prays for all of her brothers' friends ("thank you for ALL my brothers"). She prays for her teachers and the children at daycare. We usually pray for "babies, people who have babies, and people who want babies", which started when I had several friends with tough pregnancies. She also prays for her her birds and owls painted on the wall... "Thank you for that owl, and that owl, and that bird, and that bird, and that bird...". One thing she has never forgotten to pray for is our dog Jake, who died this past December. She prays for "my baby dolls and Jake"- always in that order. Today was the funniest/saddest one ever. She concluded her prayers with a command that she screamed at the top of her lungs "AND GOD, GIVE ME MY DOG BACK!" If it were only that easy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

So How is Your Summer Off?

If one more person asks me "so, what are you doing for your summer off?" or "How are you enjoying your summer off" I will need to correct them. I am enjoying my summer with my kids and we are doing many fun things. However, do not confuse this with being "off". That sounds a little too much like a resort vacation filled with pedicures (I haven't had any), and novels by the pool (not in my world). I am lucky if I even get to switch the TV to the channel I want to watch, much less lounge around. As any stay-at-home mom will tell you to be home with your children is not akin to a resort vacation. It is work, just a different kind of work than the traditional job. There are many days where it would be easier for me to be at work. Here are some reasons why:

1. Other people's children listen better to me than my own
2. I can go to the bathroom by myself. Not often, albeit, but at work no one asks me "What are you doing?" or "Can I come in?" when I go to the restroom. If they invaded my privacy the way Lila does I could press charges. A few days ago I locked the door and the next thing I knew I saw her little fingers slipping under the door and she used her monster voice to say "My fingers see you privacy!"
3. I get dressed every day and no one wipes their cheeto hands on me.
4. I don't have to fix breakfast or lunch (Kevin does breakfast on work days since I am gone before the kids even get up)
5. I can pretend that my house is clean while I am at work. It may not be but I have a wonderfully active imagination.
6. I eat better when I am working.
7. I talk to more grown-ups plus I like the people I work with

To add balance, here are the good things about summer:
1. No papers to grade
2. Tea parties twice a day with Lila, Buzz Lightyear, Monster Baby (a Pokemon doll), and any number of naked Barbies and baby dolls
3. Swimming, sliding, Blue Bayou (the place I love to hate), the beach
4. Road trips!
5. Doing laundry before midnight
6. Icees and snowballs
7. Listening to the boys chatter with their friends as I drive them to and fro. My favorite last week was when a friend told Carson "I have always wanted to know how dogs and cats get married. They have babies but how do they get married?" to which Carson replied "They don't get married they just mate." Oh, to be so wise...
8. I love my kids and being home with them during the summer is a blessing. It's just not "off" in the standard sense of the word.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lila is THREE

It is so hard to believe that our little Lila-Pop has turned three. We were able to have her Lollipop birthday party on her actual birthday, which was fun and very efficient, in my opinion. I did my preparations for her party a little at a time... I made large lollipops in May when I had a little extra time the last few days of school. I made large wrapped "hard candy" one night when Kevin took the boys to the movie. I sewed little pennant banners here and there while Lila napped and before I knew it I had quite a few cute decorations! I got some adorable decoration and food ideas from Glory and her Glorious Treats blog, which Laura shared with me. Glory's ideas were fantastic and easy to duplicate. Others came from a cute article in Parent's magazine that a childhood friend, Kristin, sent me when she heard what I was doing. The cake idea came from a student (thanks, Keri!), who texted me the photo from her little sister's candyland birthday party and also told me all about their own great projects at her party.

The cake is a whole little story/bit of drama in itself. I ended up having the cake itself made at Target and I did the fun part (the decorating!) myself. It was one of my smartest decisions when it came to the party; a time saver and a money-saver too. In fact, it was a money saver even before I got it for free (yes free, minus the thirty minutes of stress I "paid"). Baking a big cake isn't cheap when you need to buy things like the cake pans too. When I showed up to get the cake (five hours after it was supposed to be done) they had overlooked it and not done it at all! I was calm (really, I was!) and the people in the Target bakery worked hard to make it right. They pulled a lady out of the Starbucks section who could ice cakes and had her ice a cake to my specifications (all green!) and had it boxed up less than thirty minutes after I had first asked for my cake. That's customer service; it's not just about being perfect but making it right when things aren't done properly! That being said, I think the cake was a hit and Lila, before drifting off to sleep for her nap, listed it as her favorite thing. Yes, even before presents!

We had several good friends attend Lila's party with their precious boys and girls and of course enjoyed some family time too. You can't have a Phillips party without a few cousins there to join in the fun! The water slide was the final touch and enjoyed by all. That thing was the tackiest but best investment we have ever made for the kids when it comes to summer fun. The hoses are duct-taped on but it works and provides so much fun.

The secret star of the party was our deck, recently completed by Kevin. It had its grand debut today for the party and really made the party easier. It was nice having so much space to set things up outside and so many places for people to sit. We have true seating for ten but the various ledges make great seating for little ones with their legs dangling! It was wonderful having it done before the party. He worked very hard on it and I loved being able to really use it.

Hopefully these photos will show how sweet our birthday girl and how well some of the ideas I borrowed turned out. Thanks to all who could attend and to all of those who helped in various ways!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Comparing Notes?

Today Cullen noticed something I would have NEVER thought he would have actually noticed. He asked why I had a picture of me holding toddler-age Lila up close and one of me holding toddler-age Carson up close and don't have one of me holding toddler-age Cullen up close. I do have one that my sister-in-law took and I only have one. It is sweet but it is not in a frame anywhere. Who would have thought Cullen, who I have to remind to comb his hair and change his clothes, would have noticed this? I showed him the picture in the scrapbook and said I would make a copy and frame it too. The way I REALLY wanted to reply would have made him turn red and be too embarrassed to ever ask a question again. I wanted to say...
"Yes, but I breast-fed you the longest, sweetie..."


When I am feeling especially overwhelmed or tied down God sends me a message to help me realize my blessings. As much as I am restrained by my children I am also empowered by them and I literally would not want to be here without them. Today I was frustrated by the screaming, messiness, and general disobedience of my children. I was wondering why I hadn't put Lila in daycare for the summer (this mama needs a break!) and why I didn't enroll the boys in more camps. Then a friend on Face book posted a link to her friend's blog about the shocking and sudden death of the friend's 14 month old baby. That was God's message to me to suck it up and count my blessings. My blessings are plentiful.

The same thing happened a little over nine years ago. I was pretty depressed after Carson was born. I was overwhelmed and had very little help with a two year old and a newborn at home. Kevin was working hard, like usual, and my grandmother was sick and then passed away, which kept my mom busy emotionally and physically. She was unable to help as much with newborn Carson as she had with Cullen. In May of 2002 Carson was almost six months old, Cullen was two, and, between lack of sleep and a bout of pneumonia (which I suffered from and recovered from without help with the children... they just laid on the sofa bed with me for a week), I was feeling down, drained, and was wallowing in self pity. At the end of the May a girl I knew was driving between Baton Rouge and Lafayette and was in a terrible car crash with her almost three year old and her older son, who was about ten. Little Cole was killed in the crash and his mother, Amy, was injured so badly that she was in the hospital for weeks and unable to attend his funeral. That terrible accident helped bring me out of my depression. My children and I were alive and well; it was time to live our lives and enjoy it! Through the loss of one little boy's life I was able to realize that I needed to value my life and my blessings more.

I hope that I can remember this every day this summer, even if there are a few moments where I forget the treasure that I have.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Crawfish Soup

This is from Jason; it's awesome!

1 lb crawfish tails
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 cup chopped mushrooms
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 stick butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup flour
2 cups whipping cream
2 cups milk
Creole seasoning
Garlic powder
1 lb tasso, chopped
From Amy: I add a capful of crab boil. I also add a few cans of corn if I'm in the mood for it.

Melt butter - sauté tasso for about 5 minutes. Add white onions and half of
green onions, sauté.

Add Chicken broth, let cook for a few minutes. Slowly add flour, whisking
as you add to avoid lumping. Add crawfish. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring

Add cream, milk, season to taste (throw in Tabasco). Bring to boil, reduce
heat and continue stirring. Add rest of green onions and paprika before
serving. Bon appetite!

My Babies in their Christmas Finery

I have given up on the "perfect" picture. However, these are still sweet to me. I loved how their outfits matched without the boys having to be in "baby" clothes. Happy New Year!!

New Year's Resolution

I don't usually make New Year's Resolutions because I usually break them and I hate to set myself up for failure. For this same reason instead of making a "to do" list with just big statements on it I break it into smaller tasks... "Do laundry" turns into "1. Wash Laundry (2) Put away kids laundry (3) put away adult laundry," etc. That way even if I don't finish it all I still feel like I did something. There is a fine line between OCD and normal and I walk on it daily...

My New Year's resolutions this year will not involve weight loss. I do want to lose 8 pounds but I'm not fully committed yet. Instead, this is what I plan to do:

1. Learn all of the Countries in Africa:
Did you know that there are up to 54 if you count the islands like Madagascar? I am counting those too. I only know TEN so being the geography snob that I am I feel ignorant. I learned many of them in the past but forget them. I was one of four people to make an "A" in the second Geography at LSU and I intend to keep my bragging rights. I have printed a blank map and I have printed one with the countries listed on them. I plan to know them by mid-February.

2. Teach the Kids Religion
I just want to work on some of the basics... the songs, the stories, the books of the Bible, the interesting things that kids should just know. They don't seem to learn as much during their one hour of catechism each week. The teachers there are so sweet and it's an organized program but an hour a week just isn't enough. This way I can do it MY way. I don't plan to ever enroll them in Catholic school but I can definitely teach them more about The Bible.