Browsing Category: Stay at home moms

Day 12: Books as Problem-Solvers

Most of us probably loved books as small children. As babies, we likely enjoyed nawwing on a a chunky board book. As toddlers, we loved the feel of carrying books around the house. As preschoolers we found pleasure in being read to by an adult or older sibling.

Then we eventually head off to school and at some point books become assosicated with work.

During my two years of grad school, I doubt I read one book merely for fun. Do not misunderstand…I read a lot (a lot!) during that time but it was all school-associated. I remember the husband and I talking at one point about how nice it would be to read for fun once all of our schooling was behind us.

One way to break this association that older kids may make between reading and school work is to help them understand the usefulness of books at an early age. Books open many doors, including ways to help the reader overcome real life battles.


Issues with bullying? Check out The Juice Box Bully. or 100 Dresses

Having problems getting along with siblings? Read The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight

School anxiety plague your little one? Try 100th Day Worries

Little ones having a difficult time controlling their anger? Pull out When Sophie Gets Angry

Children having issue with rude language? The Berenstain Bears Show Some Respect


Showing children that books posses power is a great way to ignite a love for reading. In this case, showing kids how they can read stories that relate to their own lives and situations helps them understand that books are not merely for the classroom.



Surviving Summer: Too Much Togetherness

Sometimes as a stay-at-home, home school mom it seems a bit frivolous to complain about being around my children just a bit too much.

Yet that is where I really found myself last week.

I was a bit tired of them and they were tired of me.


All of this “togetherness” that we purposely create and that we believe to be good for our family during this particular time was driving all of us a bit crazy. The onslaught of 100+ degree did not help the matter. Sending the children out to the backyard to play in the direct sun at 4pm simply to get them out of my hair was more of a punishment than a solution. Hiring a babysitter to come over during the day seemed a bit too extravagant. Running away from home (or at least to Target) was a thought, but I figured they would just find me.

How does one survive summer while attempting to deal with being together so much?


Plan to be apart

At the moment, we do not have many plans for our family to be separated this summer. We have a camp and a mini-camp coming up soon where the three of us will all be doing different things. Other than that, we are together for the most part. Because of these lack of plans, I make sure we all have time to ourselves during the day. No one talks to each other. No one fights. No one asks me a question (My favorite question from yesterday just happened to be : “If you are a kid and pretend to be a bad guy, can you still love Jesus?”) . Quiet time each afternoon at our house is essential.

Summer plans can make afternoon quiet time a bit tricky, at least for us. Afternoons are great for swimming and summer play dates. If this is the case, we might have a bit of room time in the morning. Does that not sound delicious?


Run Away from Home (But do come back)

Getting out of the house without kids is okay. In fact, it helps one become a better mom/wife/human being. Taking time to be alone is a really good energy booster for moms. Set up a night where you leave once your spouse gets home from work. Meet up with friends or simply sit in a quiet bookstore with a cozy drink and a gossip magazine that you intend to read but not purchase.

(Not that I would ever do that…)


Find a Friend

As I mentioned, last week was a bit rough in the mothering department around here. I felt a bit burned-out, cranky and tired. Want to know what helped? Being around other moms who likely were feeling a bit burned-out, cranky and tired. No, we did not sit and gripe about such issues. Rather I had three different lovely interactions/play dates with moms with whom I could have a real conversation that did not involve discussing the latest episode of WildKrats. Sure my children were still around. However, they were having a real conversation with people of their size and age that did not involve the importance of making one’s bed or keeping one’s elbows off the table.

It was a win/win for everyone.


Know that this too will pass

Those long days eventually end. Bedtime eventually rolls around. Children eventually fall asleep. Sure that whole process could have been a battle. You could be very weary at day’s end. Yet those bad days/weeks/months do eventually come to an end.

Today, I had a bit of a reprieve. The children who were grumpy and rude and loud and demanding to be fed three times a day (sheesh!)just yesterday were sweet and polite and gracious today. They did not beg for every electronic device to be turned on in the house to keep them entertained. They answered quickly and politely. They played quietly upstairs for quite the while before lunch, allowing me to prepare a meal for someone while also talking to my grandmother on the phone.

It was in that moment, as I sat chopping red and green bell peppers, that I was reminded that with the bad comes the good (and with the good comes the bad). That those feelings of too much togetherness are also generously peppered with feelings of cohesiveness as all my family members reside peacefully (and nosily and messily) under one roof.

Isn’t it great how that happens?

Around this time, the two little ones came downstairs happily, chatting about all the fun they had been having together.

Playing barber shop. (*)



How do you handled too-much togetherness in the summer?


*Turns out “barber shop” was only with stuffed animals. That game was quickly given the no-go.  

Surviving Summer: Water Balloons

The first time the water balloon burst in my face, soaking my shirt and my recently cleaned bathroom mirror I attempted to laugh it off.

The third time I held back curses against the maker of water balloons.

The fourth time I contemplated laying on the bathroom floor and crying.

The fifth time I threw the entire package of 250 water balloons into the trash, cursed their maker and questioned how anyone with normal sized fingers was ever supposed to tie those slippery little things.

Obviously it is summer at casa de phillips and Pinterest is inspiring me to be all crafty and fun with my kiddos. I love me some Pinterest, but I do have to give myself a little bit of credit and acknowledge that I was crafty in the pre-Pinterest days as well. However, now I can merely find hundreds of ideas of ways to entertain, teach and play with my kids in mere seconds.

Today’s inspiration involved water balloons.

These particular water balloons were purchased in what I believe to be a moment of insanity last summer. They called to me from the section of the Target Dollar Spot, promising hours of water fun for my kids. These little pretties sat unopened in a play bucket in our garage for a year. Apparently that moment of insanity cured itself last summer and I never felt the urgent to actually open the purchased balloons and put them to good use.

Until today.

Summer has a new bit of pressure for moms. I believe that the pressure used to be “How am I going to entertain my children during the summer break without listening to cartoons 24/7, breaking up arguments and wondering who has been putting popsicles in the cat food bowl?” Now summer has morphed into “How am I going to creatively and energetically entertain my children in such a magical way during summer break without listening to cartoons 24/7, breaking up arguments and wondering who has been putting popsciles in the cat food bowl?”

Make no mistake, I love every summer entertainment tip out there. However, it can put a bit of pressure (IF we allow it…such the key phrase here, Mamas) on the mom as she attempts to make summer AMAZING! MAGICAL! MOMENTOUS!. Suddenly mom finds herself standing in the master bathroom of her home, hair dripping, water staining the mirror, surrounded by 15 ripped and broken water balloons.

As I stuffed the package of water balloons into the garbage, my two kids ran into the bathroom ready for this fun and amazing game I had promised. They had finished their school work, done their chores, ran around the house like crazy people, argued about the origin of Charlie and Lola and now were ready to have all this fun mom promised.

“All that fun” which I just happened to have stuffed into the trash can.

Deciding that I could either burst their little bubbles or get a bit creative, I opted for the later. We hunted down a pack of spare balloons (likely leftover from a birthday party) and attempted to fill those with water. This endeavor was way more successful than my previous attempt. We hauled out the balloons to the driveway, grabbed some sidewalk chalk and created “The Great Balloon Toss of 2012”.

In all honesty, the game did not work so well. The balloons did not burst until the 5th or 6th time they were thrown. I forgot to have the kids keep the score about halfway through the game. We did not even attempt to do a fancy over-the-shoulder throw or a closed-eye toss.


Yet the kids thought it to be the best game ever.



Which made it successful in my book.



Plus, the mirror in my bathroom is REALLY clean now…

Summer Reading for Adults

Last year I participated in the adult version of our local library’s summer reading club. The adult version is not as tricked -up as the kiddie version. There was not a cute little die-cut animal to put a sticker on every time I reached a reading goal. No one gave me a fuzzy key chain at the end for all my reading accomplishments.

Instead, there were door prizes.

Really, really good door prizes.

All adults had to do in order to participate in the summer reading program  was simply write down their name, phone number and the name of the book they read and enter it into a weekly drawing. Prizes consisted of gift cards to local establishments and restaurants.

The great thing about the adult reading club was that not too many adults participated. With the exception of me. Because of these fortunate odds, I won three door prizes last summer.

It was glorious.

I have high hopes of winning again this summer. I already have a stack of books I am currently reading,  want to read or plan to read. I will include a list at the bottom of this post.

Before I get to that list, I want to gingerly feel out a topic that is on every radio station, Facebook news feed and lips of women (and men) nation-wide.

That would be this book.

This trilogy is being gobbled up by readers everywhere. People are raving about how great it is, how they could not put it down, how you MUST read it. It is prominently displayed at every bookstore and retail store. People are reading it on planes, trains, buses and by the local pool.

Despite the content matter.

Unsure what it is about? Well, read the Amazon reviews (and note that most well-read individuals discuss that despite the nature of the content, it is poorly written. Says something about the intelligence level of our society, doesn’t it?) and you will figure it out.

This book is not on my nightstand. Nor do I have plans for it to be on my nightstand.

(And what parent leaves this book laying around when they have children who can read living under their roof?)

First we had Bella and her terribly co-dependent relationship with a vampire. Now we have Ana attempting to save Mr. Grey, while finding herself in some terribly “interesting” situations.

Are the founders of the women’s liberation movement literaly rolling over in their graves at the twaddle that America is calling literature these days?

(No offense to the Twilight fans. Or the 50 fans. And by the way….I gobbled up the Hunger Games trilogy in a week. And that is about children killing children for sport. I am just as guilty, friends.)


I really liked this post talking about this book and its cult following.


Are you reading this book? I always appreciate a difference of opinion. As for what I am reading this summer, here is a small list of what I hope to enjoy in my leisure time.


Another Place at the Table

The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The Memory Palace

American Passage: The History Of Ellis Island

Summerland (what can I say…I am a sucker for Elin Hilderbrand and Nantucket)


What are you reading this summer?



School’s Out for Summer….now what?

Our home school journey ended for this year last Thursday and Miss E. wrapped up preschool yesterday.

In fact, here is the standard first day/last day of school comparison picture.

 See what happens when you feed children? They grow. It kindof makes my mommy heart hurt just a bit to see how old she looks on the right.

As school is finished we now enter that glorious time known as summer.

Also known to suburban moms everywhere as “Project: Keep-my-children-entertained-so-they-do-not-drive-me-bananas“.


This year I have a new summer schedule. As the children have grown older, our summers are a bit more full. I like such “fullness” because it allows us to have things to look forward to and keeps the word “Bored” from our vocabulary. I have cooked up a whole new summer schedule that I will be blogging about soon. In the meantime I wanted to share some tips for moms for keeping their sanity during the summer months.


Make a Schedule


Remember summer as a teenager?  Alarms clocks really only have to be used for Sunday morning church services. Breakfast can be eaten at 11am. Major decisions involved choosing between lying out at the pool or at the lake that day.


Yeah, those days are done.


Summers for moms can be three months of one test of patience after another. Although moms desire for the summer months to be relaxed, approaching this time without a schedule can lead to a disaster.


I really encourage moms to make a basic schedule for the summer day. This prevents kids sitting in front of the television all day in their PJs. It is a way to provide order and structure to the day. You may not use this every day, but it is a good place for families to start when organizing their summer.


Sample Schedule:

7:30am: Get up, make bed, and get dressed for the day

8 am: Breakfast

8:30-9:00: Morning chores

9:00 -9:30: Family Reading Time

9:30 – 11:30: Summer Activity

12:00: Lunch

1:00 – 2:00: Quiet time in rooms

2:00 – 3:00: Organized craft/learning activity

3:00-4:30: Outside free play

4:30- 6:00: Dinner prep, independent play, eat, clean-up

6:30-7:30: Family Down Time

7:30:Bath, books, bed

8:30: Lights Out (earlier for the littles)


Weekly Activity Schedule:

Monday: Home

Tuesday: Library

Wednesday: Service Project

Thursday: Pool

Friday: Field Trip


Be careful not to over schedule…


We are fortunate in that we live in a large metropolitan area. If one desired, their child could attend various camps, lessons, and events every day of the week during the summer.


And start off school in August completely exhausted and worn-out.


Be cautious when signing kids up for summer activities. Carefully pick and choose one major thing (sleep-away camp, if age-appropriate) and perhaps two smaller things (an organized sport and a lesson of some sort). Resist the urge to sign kids up for everything. It might feel beneficial to let kids experience a whole lot in their two months of summer, but in actuality it is harmful.



Set Goals and Objectives


Have a family meeting a few weeks before summer begins and brainstorm ideas of what each member would like to do that summer. Some possible areas include:

Something they want to learn,

 Something they want to eat,

Something they want to Do,

Something they want to make.


Really have fun with this brainstorming session and make a master chart. After the session is over, narrow the chart down into realistic, attainable goals/activities that the family can attempt to accomplish over the summer.


This is a great way to bond as a family during the summer. It also forces mom and dad to PLAN AHEAD when getting summer organized.


Join a Reading Program


Summer is an excellent time to get kiddos reading. I am a big proponent of families joining in reading together. When kids see parents reading or have parents read to them, they develop a love for books. Kids should read or be read to at least 30 minutes a day. Many local libraries, restaurants, and businesses have summer reading programs.

If joining a structured reading program sounds like too much to keep up with, create a family reading program. Set a goal for each family member of the number of books they hope to read during the summer months and then set a family reward for when everyone reaches their goal.

Reading chapter books together as a family is a great way to bring everyone together and share time immersed in a story. Some great chapter books that kids of all ages enjoy are: Little House on the Prairie series, Magic Tree House series, Chronicles of Narnia, My Father’s Dragon series, Hugo Cabret. Also, check out the dollar spot at Target. They carry a wide range of classic novels written in a style perfect for kids.


Take a Weekly Field Trip

Nothing can make kids (and moms) feel cranky and stir-crazy like sitting around the house. Plan a weekly field trip for each week in the summer. Personally, I like to schedule ours for Fridays. The great thing about the internet is that someone in your area has likely already comprised a list of activities that are free/cheap for families to enjoy. Just use your favorite search engine and get ready to paint the town red!


If you live in my area, here are some activities that we enjoy:

McKinney Avenue Trolley (free)

Fort Worth Botanical Gardens (free)

Farmers Market (Grapevine, Coppell,Dallas…all free)

U Pick Farms (Fall Creek Farms)


Museums (look for ½ price days, discounted rates after 5pm)

Pioneer Plaza Cattle Drive inDallas

Summer Theater (Oh Look! In Grapevine, Casa Manana)

Summer Concert Series in the park


Learn Something

Carve out time weekly (daily) to work on educational pursuits with your kiddos. Do not feel like you have to do something extravagant with your kiddos in order to do something educational with them during the summer. You can make it as simple as picking up some workbooks for the summer or really dive into something elaborate. The important thing is to carve out time daily to focus on academics, despite the age of the child.


Math Drills (works for all ages)

Science Experiments

Do-it-yourself Games (color matching, sight word bean bag toss)

Published curriculum: Five in a Row

Investigate a subject and make a lap book

Have a family summer research project


Host a Kid Swap

Despite having a routine in place and a focus for the summer, we can still get a bit weary of our kids and they can get weary of us. Enter: The Kid Swap. Team up with a fellow mom and decide on a few dates during the summer when you each host a kid swap. Perhaps you take turns where one mom has all the kids while the other mom gets some free time to herself or maybe you just trade one of your kids for one of hers. When doing this be sure to establish some basic ground rules between the two families. When hosting, plan one structured activity for the kids and then allow for some free time. Keep the kid swap to less than three hours long.



Spend Time outside Every Day (and not just in the pool)


Summers are brutal here inTexasand once we continuously hit the 100 degree mark, going outside can be tough with little ones. However, growing bodies need time outdoors to run and play. They need time to explore nature. Do not let the heat deter you from taking little ones out to play. Some guidelines for getting outside everyday include:

  • Get out early. Consider taking a breakfast picnic to a local park.
  • Stock up on cheap outside fune: sidewalk chalk, water balloons, little race cars and army men, jump ropes
  • Go on a nature scavenger hunt.
  • Keep a nature journal.
  • Create an obstacle course in the backyard.
  • Organize a neighborhood bike club.


Keep Meals Simple

Our generation is starting to step back into the kitchen. There has been a resurgence of women wanting to cook healthy, decent meals for their families. With this resurgence brings elaborate dinner plans and long hours logged in the kitchen…not the best way to spend every late afternoon in the summer. This summer be committed to providing simple, easy meals for your family. Avoid resorting to fast food but also avoid the 10 step recipes that call for 20 different ingredients.


  • Take advantage of the Farmers Market, providing simple fruits and veggies for the family to eat.


  • Have a stash of snacks ready to go that are healthy and easy for little hands to grab on their own by creating a snack station.


  • Teach kids how to make their own breakfast and lunch.


  • Bring the family into the kitchen with you.


  • Make a simple summer menu consisting of about ten recipes and simply rotate them during the summer months


Serve Someone Else

Summer break can be very kid-centric. It is based on the idea that kids are getting a “break” from the hard job of school. This is correct, but kids need to also understand that there are others living outside of their immediate circle of friends and family. I desperately want my children to understand that not everyone is living the suburban lifestyle they are so accustomed to…that the world does not begin and end with them. Take time this summer to serve others as a family.


  • Random Acts of Kindness (blessing strangers with gift cards, acts of service, quarters taped to a machine)


  • Find out who in your neighborhood/church/community needs help with a yard. Even young kids can help pull weeds or tote trash bags.


  • Bake treats for a fire station or nursing home


  • Collect school supplies during the summer for all the back-to-school drives in August




Plan this summer, take time to create some good memories with your kiddos, but also just relax. Keep it simple. Take time to enjoy the family rather than the constant hassle of creating a three month long party for your little ones.



Date of the Month Club

Back in December, I hinted that the gift I was giving the husband for Christmas was going to be pretty awesome.


Because the husband is typically one of the first people to read any new blog posts, I could not disclose what this gift was until he actually opened it. After weeks and weeks of playing up the awesome factor of this gift, it finally came time for our little family of four to exchange Christmas presents.

Let it be noted: When one plays up a present for weeks on end with endless chatter about how great said present is going to be, one gets a bit nervous when the time of actually giving of that gift arrives.

Especially when one opens her present from the husband first and it is completely and totally wonderful.

However, the gift did not disappoint.

Behold: The Date of the Month Club

(Thanks, Pinterest!)

I gave the husband thirteen large white envelopes, each with a different month written on the outside (one was a “Bonus” date). Each month’s envelope contained a pre-planned, pre-paid date and everything needed for that date (that fits into an enevelope). Each date has a cute little title. Some dates are for out-of-the-house fun while others are ones we can do at home (Hey, paying a babysitter 13 times adds up!).

I wanted to give the husband the gift of time with this present: time for us to spend together (minus the children…there are no family dates planned!) and do something enjoyable. Each date is unique and most of them are not some of the standard things we typically do on date nights.

To find the inspiration for these dates, I used social media deal sites such as Groupon as well as looking at event calendars for our area. I made sure to mix up the dates so we were not really doing two similar things in a row.

I am really excited about digging in and enjoying these 13 dates and all I have planned for them. 2012 should be a fun year!



(Disclaimer: This picture was not taken the night the husband opened up his present. Rather, it was snapped by one of our children at another holiday celebration. However, I love it for many reasons: 1. I like to imagine this is how the husband felt when he opened his gift 2. It makes me laugh out loud every time I see it 3. I think it looks like us when we were in college. )

What gift did you give your spouse for Christmas?

Fly away, little butterfly: My adventure with tattoo removal

Sixteen years ago I paid $35 to get a tattoo of a small butterfly placed on my shoulder at a shady (at best) tattoo parlor in Abilene, Texas.

Yesterday I paid quite a bit more to start the process of having that tattoo removed at a upscale plastic surgeon’s office.

Allow me to explain:

First, I went to college in the mid-90’s. By that point, the grunge scene (which, honesetly, was never really a scene in rural town America where I grew up) was fading and everyone wanted to have a Friends-inspired haircut.

And a belly button ring.

And potentially a tattoo.

I was eighteen years old, living five hundred miles away from home. I suppose I felt the need to express my newfound independence and such expression really needed to come through a form of body art.

So I contemplated the belly button piercing.

And I contemplated the tattoo.

Then I opted for the tattoo, which just so happens to be a PERMANANT fixture to one’s body.

The reason I did not choose the belly button ring was because the Lord has never blessed me with the perfectly flat tummy, even in my 18 year old days when I could eat cookies and soda for breakfast, fried chicken nuggets for lunch and munch on a taquito at 11:00 pm at night and not gain an ounce. My tummy has always had a curve to it, so I figured the responsible (Read: adult) thing to do would be to forgo the belly button ring (which could have been easily removed when I tired of it) and get a PERMANANT tattoo.

Dear 18 year old self: FYI: This logic is faulty.

Fast-forward a few years and the tattoo seemed a bit ridiculous. For one, the look does not really work on me. I am not the type of person who can really pull off a butterfly tattoo on the shoulder. Secondly, I had the tattoo placed on my shoulder. Again the placement of said tattoo was another area where my 18 year old logic was faulty.

When I got the tattoo, I went with two of the gals from my dorm who were also going to PERMANANTLY ink their bodies as a way of expressing their independence. They both had their tattoos placed above their hip bone, a place where the tattoo could be hidden most of the time.

Not me.

I “reasoned” that if I ever had children one day a hip-boned placed tattoo would stretch into some unknown form.

What did I do to prevent having a misshapen tattoo during my child-birthing years?

I had my tattoo placed on my shoulder, that could be seen anytime I wear a swimsuit or a summery outfit with skinny straps. A tattoo that would show on my wedding day. A tattto that would make me have to wear stuffy cardagian sweaters on 100 degree days with certain church dresses to keep the old ladies from passing out in the pew.

Dear 18 year old self: You were not the brightest college student on the block, huh?

For years I have been wanting to have the tattoo removed. The problem with this desire is that tattoo removal was not widely available and it was terribly expensive. I kept telling the husband that surely there were enough people like myself who attended college in the 1990’s and who regreted their decision to ink their bodies. Surely our generation would make a demand for tattoo removal services.

Such a prediction proved to be true.

Tattoo removal has soared in popularity and in availability over the past few years. Yet it still remained terribly expensive (about $400 for a session, with most people needing an average of ten sessions).

Enter: The Groupon.

Over the summer, a groupon popped up in my email inbox for tattoo removal, making the procedure quite affordable. I immediately purchased three sessions and waited for summer to end before beginning my treatments.

Yesterday was Treatment #1.

As I mentioned, the procedure was performed at an upscale plastic surgeon’s office. The coffee bar and selection of magazines were enough to make me want to hang out in the waiting room for the afternoon. The delicately worded advertisements for the “soccer mom makeover” (complete with free botox) made me contemplate an overhaul after the tattoo removal procedure was complete. I attempted to rationalize purchasing the $250 eye cream located by the receptionists desk, especially after she said she used it and did not have a line on her face. After sitting in this Dr.’s office for a mere ten minutes, I understood why people get a bit addicted to the plastic surgery. When confined in the pretty little walls of a surgeon’s office, surrounded with all the ways one can make themself just a bit more better, it is tempting to indulge.

I resisted the eye cream (and the soccer mom makeover…for now) and headed back for the procedure.

Which took all of six seconds.

Yes, six seconds.

The tattoo removal process involves a strong laser directed at the tattoo. The laser breaks up the ink particles, sending them into the body. The body them reasorbs the particles. It takes several treatments for the laser to break up all the particles, especially if the tattoo has color (mine does) and is new (mine is not). Because the skin needs time to heal, the patient can only have one treatment every four weeks.

Back to those six little seconds…

They were painful.

Very painful.

It felt as if someone lit my skin on fire (which basically the laser did) and was poking me with a thousand tiny needles all at the same time. I could have had a numbing shot for an extra 25 bucks, but decided to be brave and save that $25 to put towards a new pair of boots for the winter. My rationalization was that I have birthed two children, being in active, pushing-stage childbirth for over four hours, and I could handle a few seconds of pain.

Dear 34 year old self: You are not that smart some days either.

Almost 24 hours after the procedure I have a big red sore (in the shape of a butterfly) on my shoulder. It hurts. It looks really gross. Supposedly it will blister in a few days and hurt even more. Yeah, me. But, I am now one step closer to being tattoo-free.

Here is the before shot of my tattoo:


I will wait to post an “after” shot once the sore/blister is healed. I put a lot of things out in the blogosphere, but I do draw the line at blisters.

You are welcome.

Anyone else out there with tattoo regret? Have you had one removed?

Please, share your story with me. Misery loves company, dear reader!


A tale of 47 books

Currently I have 47 books checked out from our local public library.



At casa de phillips, we now have three library bags because one was just not cutting it. I am the mom who no one wants to be behind at the self check-out station because it takes me forever to scan our stack of treasures and DVDs. After I finish scanning, there is the whole business of having to distribute the mound of books between the three library bags in just the right way to ensure that the children can help me carry everything to the car.

The poor things look like their mama has never heard of child labor laws as they schlep large bags of books to the family station wagon while I use such encouraging words as “Come on! The bag is only twice your size! You can make it to the car!” to prod them along.

(By the way, does your local public library have the self scan station? Ours does and it is the library patrons only option for checking out books. I am not  a fan of the self check-out station, mainly because it seems to always malfunction while I attempt to scan. Perhaps I am overloading the system with my 47 books…)

As witnessed by the large amount of books we take out of the public library on a weekly basis, reading is an essential part of our daily life here at casa de phillips. All four of us love to read, love books and love the library.

Many parents want to know: How does one make such a love for the written word grow and flourish in children?


Put words everywhere.

I label a lot of stuff, partly because I adore my label maker and partly because I wanted the children to understand the relationship between words and things. By placing words out in the open in one’s home, children encounter them every day. They see that letters  make words and that words have actual meaning. Putting words everywhere in the home…and this can be done decoratively…helps create an understanding of written text and can lead to a love of learning.


Read, read, and read some more

Read to your children everyday, rain or shine. Our family pediatrician recommends reading to children at least thirty minutes a day. When I read aloud to the kids, I allow myself a veto option. I am not a lover of mindless children’s books that are based on popular cartoon characters. I find these texts to be poorly written and boring. Instead I look for books that are humorous to both child and adult. Also, do not feel that children can only be read aloud from text made for their age group. Pull out a good chapter book and read it (slowly) together as a family. You will be surprised by the amount of interest shown by the children.


Complete extension activities.

Part of learning to love to read is being able to create a picture of the text in one’s head. Extension activities really make the written word come alive. After reading a fun book. recreate the storyline by putting on a family play (Added bonus: Retelling a story after listening to it is the best way to sharpen one’s reading comprehension skills….more so than any reading comp worksheet or activity book). Paint a picture about a favorite character. Cook a meal based on one someone dined upon in a book. Show children that the words and stories found in the pages of a book can very much be alive.


Read Yourself.

Let your children see you reading yourself. Set the example by showing them that you value the written word and enjoy taking time out of your day to sit quietly and read. Do not save your reading for after the kids are tucked safely into bed at night. Give yourself some grace and spend a few minutes during the day reading while the children play nearby.


Want a peek into my bookshelf for this month?

Here is what I plan on reading or am currently reading:


Grace for the Good Girl

Playful Learning


What are you reading this month?

Say “Good-bye” to the Dino Chicken Nuggets…at least for a few days

You might not have noticed, but Savethephillipsfamily went on a bit of a hiatus last week.

The husband and I were ever so lucky to send the children off to Camp Nanny/PopPop for four days, before joining them our own selves on the fifth day. The grandparents had been in town for the big birthday bash (post about that coming…eventually) and took me up on my offer to “allow” my children to come visit by themselves.

While the kids were gone, I used the time to get the school room in working order.

I also used the time to eat out every night with the husband, see two movies, rent a movie and visit the mall.

Need I mention that I am still working on the school room?

For us, school begins next Wednesday (*Fingers Crossed*) which means I officially have  a week to get the chaos reigned in.  Alas, things are coming together and one might possibly be able to see the floor of this room again by the weekend and some quailty learning should be able to occur by mid-week next week.

Back to my kid-free time of last week: It was glorious. There were no baths to give, no meals to prepare and no little bodies to load in and out of the car on 110 degree days. Being a mom is the best job in the world. However, even the best jobs require a bit of downtime on occasion.

I recently came across this article discussing the need for moms to get away by themselves (note the “by themselves” part…this is not the time for a girls weekend) for a yearly retreat. I love this idea of moms taking time to relax, refocus and rejuvenate….and get ready to dive back into the world of dino shaped chicken nuggets and nap schedules with a fresh attitude.

Summer Heat Buster: Go Camping!

In the current location of casa de phillips we are on our 27th consecuative day of 100+ degree temperatures.

There was a slighty possibility that on Tuesday of this week we might not hit the predicted 105 degrees due to cloud cover. People across our metro area were cheering the heat on, hoping that the record would not be broken by one day of 99 degrees (Why? you may ask….well if you have endured 24 days of hot weather one might as well keep going and attempt to break a record). Fortunately the clouds broke by late afternoon and we quickly soared above 100 degrees once again. By Saturday it will officially become the second hottest summer on record.


Attempting to burn off entertain energetic children in this heat requires the use of all my creative energies some days. I do not want the kids growing up thinking the only way to survive summers in our area is either by shopping or swimming.

I also do not want to be outside when it is 104 degrees and a level orange ozone alert.

The solution to our problem on Monday was to go camping.

In our front living room (*)

(One of the best decisions we have made with this house was to leave the front room relatively bare.  Technically, it is supposed to be a formal living room. Currently, it holds a piano and a reading spot. Other than that is an open space that the kids can transform into anything. )

To go camping at home, first instruct your campers to pack while the tent is being constructed. I reminded my campers that one can only bring so many things into the great outdoors (thus limiting the amount of excessive toys we had to put away at camps end).

Once camp is established, time to unpack and get cozy.

As night began to fall (created by me slowly choosing certain blinds to close in the room), we made a campfire.

Our grumbling stomachs told us it was time to eat something, so we roasted marshmallows.

The boy and I both love really roasted marshmallows, which I achieved over our gas burners.

We settled into the tent with our provisions and read several library books about camping.

Soon it was night time and everyone snuggled down in their sleeping bags. I had made these cute firefly jars earlier in the morning to serve as nightlights (TIP: I used washable paint so the jars could be repurposed)

Morning in the great outdoors came quickly, allowing everyone to play in the tent.

Happy Camping!

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