Browsing Category: examiner

Visit with the big man

The entryway table at casa de phillips is covered in photos with Santa during the month of December. I love pulling out these pictures every year, seeing how the children have grown and changed. There is one year that especially makes me giggle because it is a picture of a very weary Santa holding a crying 6 month old and a weepy looking two year old.

Obviously no one had much Christmas cheer that year at that particular moment.

Yesterday the children and I had to be out and about in the city for various reasons. I figured crossing “Have picture made with Santa” off my December to-do list would be a great thing to get accomplished in all of our business.

Typically we visit a particular Santa at a particular mall. However, we opted to visit a more “popular” Santa due to the fact that he just happened to be located in the epicenter of all of our errands.

This “popular” Santa requires crazy mothers to grab tickets hours before their precious offspring will ever sit in Santa’s lap, ensuring a place in line. When one’s appointed time nears, children are herded together, hair is combed and everyone takes their place in roped off areas.

And waits.

Fortunately our wait only lasted about 15 minutes. I am the first to tell you that having children wait for things is a good character builder. However, this mama was a bit ready to call it a day by the time our allotted waiting time neared. I managed to keep it together and we finally approached the big man in red.

The children climbed into his lap, smiled for some pictures and chatted a bit about Christmas lists. Santa bid them farewell and then reached into a deep basket to give them a little gift from Santa.

Readers, I kid you not when Santa bequeathed a glossy 4×6 photo of HIMSELF to my children.

Does anyone else find this peculiar? Why do children need a professional photo of the mall Santa laughing? Should we display it? Should we set it in our nativity scene?

As we were leaving, Isaac inquired about the photo and asked, “What am I supposed to do with this?’

Good question, son.

As for our actual picture with Santa that includes my two children….well, we didn’t get it.

We did not even see it.

I discovered that after waiting in line to visit Santa, one must then wait in line to see the pictures. This line was much longer than the Santa line and this mama had dealt enough with waiting. Besides heavy traffic time was rapidly approaching and I wanted to get home before I had to navigate the family station wagon through the hot mess that is rush hour.

Our table will have a picture with Santa on it from this year. It will simply be one snapped by my own camera.


Family-themed costumes for Halloween

Halloween has become big business over the past few years. Traditionally, a few jack-o-lanterns were set out, a bowl of candy was prepared for visitors, and children donned costumes rummaged from goods found around the house. These days Americans are spending almost 5 billion dollars on this October holiday. Inflatable pumpkins decorate lawns, costumes are ordered months in advance and candy bowls have evolved from Mom’s old Tupperware into something a bit more sinister.

Halloween is starting to become more of a family-oriented holiday as opposed to being solely for children. Moms and Dads are getting into the act, putting on costumes before heading out to local festivals or setting off to trick-or-treat in the neighborhood with their children. Many families find it fun to dress in a group theme. Below are some great examples of themes families can use this Halloween.

  • Headed to a fire. Fire fighter is a popular costume choice for boys. Turn this choice into a creative family-theme by having one child be a fire fighter and one child a dalmatian. Mom can be a flame while Dad serves as the fire hydrant. A stroller can even be disguised to be the fire engine.



  • What’s all the “buzzz” about. Parents often times feel like bee keepers, attempting to keep busy little bodies corralled all day. Why not transform such a thought into a Halloween costume? Mom and Dad can be the bee keeper while little ones can be the honey bees.


  •  Off to Neverland. Fairy tales make for a great theme for families wishing to sport similar Halloween costumes. Go with something fun such as Peter Pan, where the males in the family can be Peter Pan or Captain Hook while the females can be Tinker-bell or Wendy. Another way to use fairy tales as a Halloween theme is to incorporate a royal attitude, having adults serve as King and Queen while children are knights and princesses.


  • Sports. Have a favorite sports team? Why not show some team spirit by turning a love for a sports team into a Halloween costume. Ideas range from dressing as football players, cheerleaders, or super-excited fans.


  • Howdy Partner. Set the focus on the ol West and have the family put on their best Western gear. Dad could play the Sheriff while the young boys in the family are the rowdy outlaws. Living in Texas, western supplies are easily available which makes this theme simple to create.


Does your family dress up for Halloween? Leave a comment and share how your family chooses to step out and celebrate Halloween together.

As we have done the past two years, the phillips family will be stepping out this Halloween in a family-themed costume. Be sure to check out the pictures after next weekend!

Say “good-bye” to McDonalds and “hello” to the Village Tea Company

Many moms quickly realize if they want to socialize with other mothers in a kid-friendly atmosphere that offers both food and fun, they are resigned to hitting up local fast food chains for play-dates. Moms know they have to deal with the sticky tables, the processed food and the loud environment in order to find a place where children can play and parents can chat…(to read more, please go here)

Praise Junkie Anonymous

Perhaps it began when parents and teachers began displaying the famous “101 ways to praise a kid” poster in homes and classrooms. Maybe it started as an innocent effort to reward children for positive behaviors. Possibly it was the result of the infamous prize box that began popping up everywhere, from home to the Sunday school class to the dentist’s office.

However it happened, excessive praising of children is big business in today’s world, potentially creating a generation of “praise junkies“…(to read more, please go here)

A Discussion with the Creator of MomAdvice

This morning, while a particular little girl watched a bit of Meet Strawberry Shortcake, I was able to participate in a phone interview with Amy Clark, founder of I love me some MomAdvice, mainly because they have free printables that I actually use in real life (as opposed to other printables that I think I might use one day and end up discarding along the way). Amy was super fun to chat with, sharing the details of a little contest she is helping Kenmore appliances with this Fall. To read more about our conversation, head over here

As for the little girl watching Strawberry Shortcake, she did really well with staying quiet in the living room. She only came into my bedroom once to give me an update on Strawberry and her pals and was easily silenced with a package of fruit snacks.