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Summer Reads 2016

nature-grass-green-book-medium

We received shocking news last week.

The boy is officially too old for the summer reading program at our local library.

Sigh.

He was actually a bit happy about this because I think the idea of placing a sticker on a theme-oriented cutout marking how many books read loses the appeal as one nears the age of eleven. I, however, am sad because this aging out means two things:

  1. He is getting old. Not cool, kid.
  2. We get less of those “Kids Eat Free” coupons that accompany all reading success during the course of the program. (Super not cool, kid.)
All is not lost because he does get to enjoy the teen reading program, which carries with it the chance to win an iPad mini (Okay…that is kindof cool, kid.)
Our library also has an adult reading program, complete with prizes such as gift cards to local restaurants and attractions. In the past I have won a few of these trinkets. I do believe this was in the early years of the program before many adult library patrons realized they could even enter a contest. These days my competition is a bit more fierce but I am determined to prevail at some point over the next eight weeks.
Reading is a passion for me…especially in the summer. I *heart* a good book list so I thought I would share some of my upcoming summer reads with you.

Glory Over Everything

glory

This is the sequel to the amazing book, The Kitchen House, which I read in a little over 24 hours. It was phenomenal. I cannot wait to tear into the sequel.

Tip: If you are going to read The Kitchen House (and why would you not? Again..amazing.) DO NOT read the premise of Glory Over Everything. It can spoil a bit of the original story.

Here’s to Us

herestous

My family likes to joke about my love for the island of Nantucket, especially because I have never actually visited this little ocean paradise (yet…but next summer I am on my way!). I adore Elin Hilderbrand and the stories she crafts about this tiny little island. Her latest beach reads hits shelves mid-June. I cannot wait. I will drop everything and read this book as soon as it comes out.

The Island House

islandhouse

Remember how I just said I love Nantucket? Well, Nancy Thayer also happens to write about this piece of land. This book was just released yesterday and I am anxiously waiting for my library to call and say my copy is available (because I have had it on hold since February).

The Nest

nest

This book is on everyone’s “to read” list for the summer. I figure if it is making all the lists than it needs to make mine.

Truly Madly Guilty

trulymad

Liane Moriarty is a favorite author of mine. I have loved many of her past works, especially Big Little Lies (which Reese Whiterspoon is turning into a movie.). This comes out at the end of the summer and should be a great read.

The Year We Turned Forty

year40

The title of this hits a bit too close to home but I let it make the list anyway. Amazon reviews for this one are strong and it keeps coming up in my recommendation list.

Okay, Amazon. You win. I will give it a try.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven

brave

Again, this is a book making all the lists. I figure I need something deep to balance out all the beach reads. I hear it is this year’s Nightengale (Is that even possible?)

Eligible

eligible

Who does not love a fun spin on Jane Austen? This is yet another title that is popping up on all the “must read” books of Summer 2016.

 

What is on your list for the summer? Do you splurge and buy them all or keep your fingers crossed and hope the local library comes through for you in a time of need?

 

 

 

 

 

Saving Summertime

summer

Last week I sat down to organize our family’s summer calendar. I mapped out potential camps, listed possible play date opportunities, and checked the church website for fun things that entertain the children and spread the word of Jesus (that is a winning combo, by the way).

I was feeling quite productive as I registered my kids for all the things, including their annual stint at Vacation Bible School.

It was not until I hit that cute little “submit” button that I realized I had registered them for VBS…

in Iowa.

In case you are a new reader here, we don’t live in Iowa.

In fact, we don’t really live anywhere near Iowa.

I then got to make that awkward call to a church office…in Iowa…and explain that I accidentially registered my children for their VBS and would like to cancel said registration.

I am betting by the secretary’s response that she does not receive calls of that nature very often.

So that is how my summer has started off.

What about yours?

As I continue to plan and organize our summer (Which I don’t really consider  as started until after dance recital season comes to an end), I always like to see what my fellow mamas are up to. In the past we have done several variations of the Super Summer Challenge (read about those here).  I have also spent countless hours scheduling technology time, refereeing sibling spats, and searching for the constantly missing bottle of sunscreen. My goal for this summer is to minimize the chaos while maximizing all the glory that is summer.

My question for you is what are you doing this summer to prevent your children from becoming television and technology zombies? How are you saving your sanity while savoring your summer?

Share, mamas (and dads and grandparents and the random nanny who reads here). I plan to totally borrow your ideas and compile them into something useful.

Check back next week to see how I utilize those ideas and what we are going to do to not only save but also savor our summer.

Power Puff Girls and Jump Ropes

Another birthday has come and gone here at casa de phillips.

gift

A few weeks ago the girl turned nine.

Just in case you have been a long time reader, this is the same girl whose birth we live blogged right here on this very platform. How on earth could the child possibly be nine years old? Next year there will not be one child living in my home in the single digits.

Were we not just running from mad ducks who used to chase us as I pushed those babies in their double jogging stroller?

Nine, y’all.

I cannot even.

Birthdays are a big deal at casa de phillips. My birthday has always held a bit of magic for me partly because I have the type of personality that loves to be celebrated (Yes..I embrace that. Some may call it a character flaw. Rather I see it as a love of a good party.) and partly because of being adopted and knowing a lot of people did a lot of things to make my existence even possible.

Over the years, I have settled down a bit when in comes to the actual birthday party for my children. I still love to let the creative juices flow and our credit card bills still show a few extra charges to Michaels craft store during that time, but things have been toned down quite the bit. In fact, the boy has had the same birthday party the past two years in a row. As the children grow older I find they have an actual opinion about how they want their party to be and what the theme should entail. This has been a learning curve for all of us, but I am happy to report that I am embracing it gracefully.

In fact this year when my daughter suggested that I meld the orginal party theme of “Jump Ropes and Hula Hoop Extravaganza” with Power Puff girls, I did not flinch. I took a deep breath and said “That sounds perfect.”

(I also did a silent cheer when we realized that Power Puff girls party merchandise does not exist yet and we could only get old school PPG supplies off of Ebay. The girl was not a fan of the old school merch and so she scrapped the plan. Insert praise hands here.)

As the children begin to own their party ideas, I still own cake decorating.

For whatever reason, the year the boy turned one I decieded to make his cake. This involved a trip to Michaels (duh) and the purchase of a “fancy” cake pan in the shape of a lion. I then proceeded to make two cakes (a test one and the real deal), complete with puffy colored icing to fill in the lion’s features.

A tradition (and a slightly deranged lion) was born that day.

Since then I have made each of the children’s cake (and a few for the husband) for their birthday. It is always a fun treat for them (and usually for me) to see what I come up with.

Before you name me “Crafty Mom of the Year” let me be very clear: typically these cakes are only something a child could love.

For example, there was the year I created Rocket from the Little Einsteins. This cake had TOOTHPICKS inserted in it to keep it together.

And I fed it to three year olds.

Bless.

I have made a flower pot cake and a French fry cake. A super Mario cake and a hot wheels track cake. There has been a Harry Potter and a d0-it-yourself art canvas. We have had a rose cake and a multitude of rainbow cakes.

Not one of these have exactly been pinterest-worthy.

However, each one of them is a gift of love to my kids. Just a few weeks ago, the girl gathered all her friends around to admire the cake I had crafted for her.

Did it look remotely like the picture from the Internet that I attempted to copy?

Not in the least.

But it was beautiful in my child’s eyes).

Making birthday cakes is a relatively easy way to show my kids that I find them to be pretty awesome.

What little traditions do you create for your family that serves as a reminder of your love for them?

 

Guarding our Children’s Time

guardingtime

The glamour of summer camp has struck casa de phillips.

The children want to go to robotics camp, dance camp, theater camp, tennis camp, and any camp that promises a FULL DAY OF FUN!

The deal with summer camp is that camp is expensive…and exhausting.

I am quickly realizing that I am an active participant in rasing up a generation of children being trained to be busy.

“Hey, Kids! Let’s go from school to extracurricular activity A to Kids Eat Free night at our local burger place to Target and then back home for a quick rest before we do it all over again tomorrow! Doesn’t that sound ah-maz-ing and utterly exhausting all at the same time?”

I have noticed this phenomenon of constant busyness is creating a generation of children who do not have the ability to sit still and just be. For example, as I type this our neighborhood which is home a multitude of children is quiet. The park that sits diagonally across the street from our house is currently empty despite the fact that it is 67 degrees and breezy, a true delight here in Texas in April. School has been out for over an hour…so where are the children?

Friends, they are busy.

Busy attempting to make it from one activity to the next. Busy attempting to become the best at a sport in which they most likely will never revisit after the age of 18. Busy DOING because sitting seems like a waste of time and a chance to be surpassed.

I say all of this because my kids are busy (How do you think I am able to type this at the moment?). Sometimes I claim to others that I let my kids be so involved in extracurricular activites because we homeschool. They are home all day so what does it matter if one is at dance for three hours and the other is shuttled between karate and basketball practice in the same night? It’s all good, right?

Wrong.

Because there have been days in which we have loaded up in the family station wagon and set our sails for the a full night of activities only to pass the neighbhorhood children at the park. My children comment on how they wish they could just play at the park rather than attend said scheduled extracurricular activity.

It is hard to find the balance between activity and rest. I am one of the first to stand up and say that children indeed need to be involved in something and that something is not Minecraft or constant mind-numbing cartoons. However children also need to be involved in their childhood, to have a moment to breathe and run and play.

As parents, we are placed in charge of guarding a great deal of things when in comes to our children. We are told to guard their hearts, their minds, their diets, and their relationships.

I am going to add one more thing to that list: we need to guard their time as well.

Like I said, my children would sign up to do all the things if allowed. They would also become big ol couch potatoes if allowed.

As a parent, I get to guard their time and show them how to manage business and idleness in a responsible manner.

Just this school year we made a decision for our daughter on guarding her time. Due to a variety of circumstances, we opted for her to turn down her invitation to be part of a dance company. She has been part of a dance company since beginning dance at the age of five and that title means so very much to her. Yet one of the reasons why we decided to politely say “no thank you” this year was due to time. We asked ourselves if our child spending an insane amount of hours at the dance studio at the age of eight was worth it for our family. We decided it was not and we declined.

There were many tears about this decision (hers and mine) and a lot of character building that had to occur on behalf of our child.

Yet we survived.

Recently she and I began having the conversation about next year’s dance schedule and what she wanted to achieve from it.

Her response: “I just want to be eight.”

That was my answer, folks.

So next year we will let the girl be eight (technically she will be nine but in the heat of our conversation I did not want to point that out to her). She will still attend dance at a studio that she loves with friends that she loves.

Will others who dance double the hours she does surpass her?

Most likely.

Will it matter to our family in that moment?

No.

I hope to teach my children that doing all the things or none of the things is not guarding one’s time efficiently. I hope to show them time is precious and needs to be treated as such.

How do you guard your family’s time?

#39inmy39th

It does not feel like too long ago that my parents and all their friends experienced the life stage of turning 40. I can remember the parties, the “Over the Hill” paraphernalia , and the occasions when my dad would snag a wheelchair from his office to use as a fun party prop. Somehow I have found myself at this same life stage in which those around me are turning 40. Gone are the days of wedding and baby showers. Now we all gather at the latest birthday bash as a fellow friend enters a new decade. Thank goodness Hallmark has decided to phase out the “Over the Hill” black party favors and fortunately “wheelchair” humor is a dying breed.

Today I find myself beginning the year of facing down 40.

Today I turn 39.

Approaching 40 does not create fear in me or casue me to bemoan my age. Rather I embrace it. What a blessing to have been gifted 39 years with a promise of possibly more to come. Sure I recently saw a picture of myself which sent me straight to the skin care aisle of my local department store in search of miracle eye cream. Yes, my back and my knees hurt..especially when the weather changes. I have had the moment of horror when I glanced in the rearview mirror at a stoplight and wondered who in the world planted those gray hairs springing up from the top of my head? Signs of aging are making themselves known.

But guess what those signs mean: I have spent 39 years walking around this earth. Those lines under my eyes that were not there even 6 or 7 years ago? Well those lines are signs of happiness and joy…not signs of a body failing or of youth lost. That back and those knees may ache a bit, but they still keep me going on a daily basis.

Rather than fearing these signs or attempting to radically reverse them, I celebrate them. My wrinkles are not caused by a lifetime of sorrow or of heavy labor, unlike other women in this world. That thought humbles me. My legs still keep trucking despite others with the same diagnosis as me who lost mobility years ago. Again, what is an achy back compared to lack of independent movement? I can run and buy expensive eye cream, text my hair dresser when those pesky grays (who am I kidding? I am a redhead. There are no grays. We skip over that and go straight to white.) pop up, and I can get in quickly to my chiropractor  when the aches start to get the best of me. I have no complaints with my aging, but rather wear it as a sort of badge of honor and embrace it with humility.

As this day has approached, I have thought about what I want to do with this year leading up to 40. 38 taught me a lot of things: one of those being that my days are so very numbered. How am I spending those days and what am I doing with what I have been given? So often I just flitter about, with little detail to how I am spending my overall time and where I am pouring my efforts. I get caught up in the little picture of get up, workout, feed the family, educate the family, socialize with friends that I lose track of the dreams and desires of my heart. The dreams and desires of God’s heart.

This stirred in me a desire to make a list of things to accomplish this year. This list has some big things on it. It has a lot of small things on it. Some are important while others are frivolous . However, they all mean something to me.

Here, my friends, is my little yearlong project I like to call “#39inmy39th.” I plan to blog this journey as I travel down this path for the next 365 days. A few things will remain private, however most of them will be shared.

Without further rambling, here is the list:

39

  1. Attend 20 yoga classes this year.
  2. Complete a 1/2 marathon
  3. Complete the Whole30 at least once
  4. Climb a (small) mountain
  5. Read a previously unread classic novel
  6. Read a total of 39 books this year
  7. Memorize: The Lord’s Prayer, The Apostle’s Creed, The Great Commission, and The Beatitudes
  8. Finish my book proposal
  9. Attend She Speaks conference in July
  10. Speak at a conference/event
  11. Create an online master class (Don’t you wanna sign up for this???)
  12. Complete the book 52 Lists
  13. Take a class
  14. Publish something
  15. 1017 roomie reunion
  16. *****
  17. Have an Evelyn Day
  18. Have an Isaac Day
  19. Have a Tobe Day
  20. Create vision boards with the family
  21. Cook recipes from both my Grandmother and Grandma’s recipe collection (I have both stored at my house…and never look at them)
  22. Write regular letters to my grandmother
  23. Plan a surprise weekend roadtrip for my family
  24. Have family pictures made
  25. Be intentional about not hurrying the children (this is the only non-tangible thing on my list…but such a big issue for me)
  26. Take Isaac to see a Shakespeare play
  27. Take Evelyn to the ballet
  28. Donate time/efforts to a local organization that empowers women in my community
  29. Donate and raise money for the OM Foundation
  30. Have four families over for dinner (Who wants to come? I am so bad about hosting dinner parties.)
  31. ***
  32. Dine at five local restaurants in which we have never eaten
  33. Paint our master bathroom
  34. Zipline
  35. Finish an incomplete project around the house (ie the large bulletin board that has lived in my garage for two years)
  36. Keep a Gratitude Journal for the year
  37. Watch a classic film never seen before
  38. See a favorite band live
  39. Plan a trip to Nantucket (This is actually a present given to me by my husband. He knew about this list and asked for me to leave one space open. He told me for my 40th I get a trip to Nantucket…a place I am slightly obsessed with and have wanted to visit forever. This year I get to plan the trip and next summer I will go!)

There you have it: 39 in my 39th.

Hello, 39.

I am excited to get to know you.

Eager to see where you will take me.

Prayerful that you will lead me somewhere new.

And eternally grateful to get to experience you.

Homeschool Hacks: The Morning Basket

Do you ever ask yourself how Ma Ingells actually made life work out on the praire?

Because I am pretty sure I would have been out on the whole “little life on the praire” gig when I had to tap a tree for molasses, boil said molasses, and then pour it on the 12 feet of snow outside of my log cabin just to make a treat for my children.

(Who are we kidding…I would have been out when the whole “outhouse” aspect came into play.)

For example, when Ma Ingells found herself with a log cabin full of slightly-sick, ever-so grumpy children what were her options? Letting them stir the big pot of lye soap cooking on the back porch to entertain themselves? Darn the socks?

Things are a bit of a hot mess over here at casa de phillips at the moment and I am thankful that watching lye soap boil is not on my list of ways to save the day. Both kids have a cold that is leaving them beyond pleasant and I am running on just a few hours of sleep (I *may* have been at concerts the last two nights. The life of an almost-forty year old minivan driving mama is exhausting some times.). No one wants to do anything other than whine. Amazon Prime Now just saved my bacon with a delivery of iboprohen and Gatorade. Netflix may just be my saving grace for this afternoon.

Pretty sure Ma Ingels had neither Amazon Prime Now or Netflix out there on the praire…

It is times like these that can really test the fortitude of our homeschool. Let’s be honest, no one really wants to pull out the Shurley Grammar book and diagram sentences when they feel crummy. The deal with these colds is that the kids simply have the common cold. They are sick enough to feel (and act) like big blobs of mess but they have the ability to actually do some school.

This is where our homeschool basket really can save the day.

morningbasket

I have been doing the homeschool basket for years. It is simply a basket that holds a variety of teaching tools that we use everyday. For example, our basket holds the following:

*Everything You Need to Know About Science Homework (*)

*Everything You Need to Know About History Homework (*)

*our current read aloud book

*Math Flashcards

*Life of Fred Book

*One Minute Science Mysteries

*A Really Short History of Nearly Everything

*Maps and dry erase markers

*Devotional books for the kids

 

(*We use these books as extra information in regards to our Classical Conversations New Grammar material. We have a chart that allows us to dig deeper into the science and history New Grammar sentences using these books.)

All of these supplies live in cute little basket that sits by our piano. The cute basket is essential to making this formula work because the basket needs to be accessible at all times. It just does not work for my personality to have a big ugly tub sitting in my front room. (We shall not mention the big ugly cardboard box holding old photo albums that has been sitting in there for a month now). Because the basket is easily accessible at all times, one of the kids can fetch it and we can get some serious learning done.

How do we use the basket?

Well, friends, we simply read the books that reside inside of it. For example, each week we read more about our Classical Conversations New Grammar science and history sentences. We read daily from a Life of Fred book. We always make time for our read aloud. Devotionals are read while the kids eat a morning snack. And everyone loves a good science mystery.

Flashcards really only speak to the heart of one of my children but they are good for the brain so everyone gets a turn.

In 45 minutes (ish) we can cover a lot of learning ground and have some quality discussions. Perfect for those days when learning was low on some people’s list due to the fact they wanted to prioritize “whining”, “arguing”, and “temperature taking” as their top goals for the day.

Bonus: no one had to research “How to make lye soap.”

Do you have a homeschool basket? If so, what lives inside of it?

 

Radio Nowhere

Mamas with older kids, remember the witching hour when they were little?

That time between the hours of 4-6pm when nothing seemed to make their little minds happy and you could not wait to hear the sound of the garage door opening, signaling that backup had finally arrived home from work?

Those were tricky times, friends. I remember on the best of days when my two were littles and I would have a cute little craft and snack on hand to combat the witching hours. I also remember the days when they were crying and whining while I attempted to cook and clean and use the restroom in peace. Those were the days that even the lure of Disney Jr. would not settle their spirits.

We are past the days of the witching hour (although yesterday I swear both kids were a hot mess at 6pm. I blame playing outside for three hours straight and low blood sugar). Rather the witching hour has been replaced with mama’s taxi hour(s).

Now I spend the hours of 4-6pm (and typically up to 8pm) running mom’s taxi service.

Karate? Check.

Dance? Check.

Basketball? Check.

Back to dance? Check.

I drive one road in our suburbia multiple times a day in a span of 2-3 hours. I have threatened to become an uber driver just to make some money to pay for all these extracirriular activities to which I drive my kids to and from.

Recently I realized I was not making the most of this time. Sure I have conversations with my kids. Please remember that we homeschool and so we talk ALL DAY LONG.

That can be a bit much for the part of my spirit that craves quiet and alone.

So there are times that I say “Yes, you can flip on a movie.” or “Please listen to your music” so I can have my own time in the car. Also, I have learned that one is not too chatty after being in dance class for three hours. No need to force conversation. It will come when desired.

My answer to all this quality time spent in the car is podcasts. The great thing about podcasts is that 1. I can learn something. 2. The children can listen (at times). 3. It makes passing the same Chipotle four times in one hour a bit more bearable.

I know I am not the only parent blazing up the roads as I take my kids back and forth from various practices or rehearsals. For those other extracurricular activity road warriors (or perhaps for those who commute daily like my husband, bless his heart..and his car’s mileage), below are some of my favorite podcasts.

 

Serial

I cannot consider myself part of Genearation X unless I say I listen to Serial. I loved the first one. The husband and I are slowly making our way through the second.

For the sake of being truly transparent, I will admit that I thought it was a fake scenario the entire time we listened to the first episode of Season One (think Soap Opera on the radio back in the day). Fortunately my husband did not pack his bags right there and leave over that moment of airheadishness. Just in case you did not know, Serial is 100% based on real events. It is not child-friendly.

Dear Sugar

This is an advice podcast by Cheryl Strayed, of Wild fame. It is a fun one to listen to and I can often walk away (aka climb out of the family station wagon) with a nugget of truth for my life. Again, not child-friendly.

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey

Oh my goodness: I feel like if I bumped into Jamie Ivey in my local mall that I would speak to her like she is one of my closest friends.

Let it be known that I almost spoke to someone I did not know once in a creepy familiar way because I stalked her blog back in the day. So obviously I can have boundary issues with people I don’t know.

Jamie Ivey is from Austin and has this great podcast in which she chats with influential women. Because she is in the hip Austin scene she happens to know a lot of women. Jen Hatmaker fans will be happy to know that there are at least 4 episodes featuring Jen. This is a great, inspiring podcast for women. Typically it is child-friendly but one sometimes has to censor.

Also..if your kids are familiar at all with Pine Cove, they will flip out when the Pine Cove commercial pops on in the middle of the podcast. You will then have to pause the podcast to hear them regale all sorts of Pine Cove stories. See! Podcasts bring families together!

Read Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie

If you are a homeschooler and have yet to read the book Teaching from Rest, open up a new browser right this instant and order if from Amazon. It will refresh the remaining school months left in this year and get you focused for the upcoming year.

After ordering the book, be sure to listen to the author’s (Sarah Mackenzie) podcast. It is simply delightful.

In all honesty, there is a podcast by a blogger who I adore that I simply cannot listen to due to her voice.  (No worries…I won’t divulge this blogger’s identity). It simply does not work with my delicate ears. However, Sarah Mackenzie has a delightful, soothing voice that is super easy to listen to and your children will enjoy it as well. She has managed to snag some excellent guests (Andrew Pudeaw is her first guest…in fact, the podcast origins are all because she asked him to be on her show that was non-existent when she made the request to his company.). This podcast is excellent for those times when you are making supper and the kids are playing and you need a few moments of encouragement while you stir the spaghetti sauce. Most likely you will want a piece of paper and a pen nearby while you listen: there are some great nuggets of wisdom tucked into each episode.

The PopCast

I love some good pop news/trivia and this podcast never fails me. Beware: If you happen to be listening to this while running on the treadmill, you most likely will laugh out loud at 5am and cause those near you to stare uncomfortably.

The Big Boo Cast

This, dear reader, is the first podcast to which I ever listened. It has gotten me through many a solo-parent Texas/Arkansas road trip. The great thing about the Big Boo Cast (hosted by mommy bloggers Boo Mama and Big Mama) is that one feels like they are simply listening to two friends chat on the phone.

And that phone conversation covers things such as the perfect mascara to writing tips to celebrity gossip, all with a touch of Jesus sprinkled all over it.

Again, delightful for the ears (Although the southern accents may be a bit too much for some, I find it to be a taste of home.)

***

Do you have a favorite podcast that helps you make it through a portion of your day? If so share so we can all make that one more trip to karate just a bit more manageable.

***

Also…I may have checked out tons of books on podcasting because I have this dream to create my own podcast. Stay tuned!

 

 

The Gift of Time on an Ordinary Monday

leapday

My daughter’s love language is donuts.

Who am I kidding…donuts are my love language too. (As is queso and coffee and pie…but I digress)

This morning I took her to grab donuts after my morning walk. The prospect of fried dough topped with chocolate and sprinkles put her in such a jolly mood that the girl managed to talk the entire way to and fro the donut shop. She was full of cute eight year old antecdotes and funny little stories. My favorite gem from this morning was her retelling of an article she had recently read in American Girl magazine (worth the cost, dear readers. Just FYI.). The story she recounted was about a little girl and her horse. The horse apparently had a severe allergy to grass.

Since this discussion this morning, I have had many, many questions about the horse with the unfortunate grass allergy.

Why was it allergic to grass?

How did they keep it from eating grass?

How does one discover a horse allergy?

The girl quickly tired of all my questions and reminded me that this was an article in a KIDS magazine, implying that the journalistic details may be lacking somewhat.

On this extra day of 2016 (Hello, Leap Day!), I have thought about that horse and its lot in life. Does he not get to gallop about in green pastures in fear that he may eat grass on a rest break? Is he destined to a life in a dirt field void of anything green?

This morning I asked my kids what they were going to do with the extra 24 hours given to them today. Were they going to spend it wisely or just treat it like an ordinary Monday?

We happen to be doing a bit of Spring Breaking this week (I know…its early. But we like to keep things a bit unconventional around here). The kids plans were to spend the day outside with friends.

Pretty perfect for an extra 24 hours when you are a kid…especially a kid growing up in a time of technology and hectic schedules.

We all want more time: more time to sleep, more time to complete a hobby, more time to just be rather than time spent running.

Today we have been gifted with the thing we all ask for: time.

Despite the fact that today is indeed a Monday, we have been given a bonus 24 hours. Sure, jobs still have to be attended and bills have to be paid. Laundry piles still accumulate and life still happens.

But today has a bit of magic attached to it, as we gladly take our bonus February day.

As for me and my extra 24 hours: I am spending time with my parents, soaking up a normal Monday hanging with them. I took a nap. I read a book that has absolutely no value or life-altering message. I watched a television broadcast with my husband…even though we are currently in different state.

And I pondered what life is like for the allergy-laden horse.

How about you? How did you opt to spend your extra 24 hours today?

 

The L Word

thelword

I hate the treadmill.

If our ancestors knew that we pay money to walk in place on a large, loud machine they would think the world had gone to hell in a handbasket.

(I love to use that phrase. I feel like it is very 1950ish of me. Also…everyone has been saying the world is going to hell in a handbasket for a good 75 years, so the punch said phrase is meant to deliver has lost a bit of its flare. )

Despite my hatred for the treadmill, I climb on the one at my gym every morning around 5am. I select a machine situated by the TV showing the local news, pop in my headphones, cue up a playlist, and start that ol treadmill moving.

Just like the days of yore.

Except my ancestors were likely hiking up a hill to fetch the morning eggs rather than walking in place on a mindless machine.

I hate the treadmill, but I love food and being able to fit into my current wardrobe, so I walk and run every morning.

The deal with this is just a year ago I could not run. Two years ago, I could barely walk. My time spent on the treadmill always reminds me how far I have come since the days after my surgeries and I am thankful for this mindless task I can perform at the gym each morning.

Because of these surgeries, I have become part of a unique club. I was actually a member of this club my whole life and never really knew it or understood my fellow members. This unique club is comprised of individuals like me: people born with cerebral palsy and living life with the effects of a disability. Through the wonders of social media, I am part of several Facebook groups in which I get to interact with others in this club. I see videos daily of kids who are rocking life as they fight for steps or sometimes even simple movements. I have met adults who although they share a CP diagnosis, they are moving mountains and not letting a physical disability slow them down in any way.

And so daily I get on that treadmill and I walk and run for those members in this club who unfortunately cannot do the same.

Seeing these individuals on a daily basis through Facebook and through their videos has made me painfully aware of something in our culture. It is the use of the word “lame.”

I have never used the word myself because it hit just a bit too close to home.

And quite honestly it faded from popular vernacular for a bit.

However, it has found its way back into mainstream vocabulary and I find it disturbing.

Thankfully we have reached a point when the majority of society has stopped using the words “retarded” or “gay” in a derogatory manner. We are fighting to end racial slurs and prejudices. As a whole, we have come to understand that when you use a word that represents a group of people as a way to explain something as being “stupid” or bad, you are insulting said group of people.

It is mean. It is hateful. It is unnecessary.

As a culture, it is time to add a new word to this list of words sitting in degrogatory banned camp. That word is “lame,” my friends. When something or someone is lame, that means he/she cannot walk. It does not mean that he/she is stupid or dumb or undesirable.

It simply means that an individual cannot walk.

Fortunately our society has graduated past the belief that disabilities define the person, rendering those with such issues as useless to the good of the whole. This advanced mindset should also spill over when we consider using words whose correct meaning explain race or maladies as a way to denote something bad that is going on in our lives at the moment.

If you are using such words or phrases, I implore you to take a minute to think of their true meaning and then apply that to how you are using the words in your everyday speak.

Then ask yourself how you would feel if a large portion of our society began using your name in a derogatory manner.

“That is so Sarah that you forgot to set the DVR.”

“That show is soooo Sarah. I cannot stand it.”

“Stop being so Sarah. You are getting on my nerves.”

(*Apologies to all Sarahs. It was simply the first name that popped into my head. There is a reason I write nonfiction as opposed to fiction: I am horrible at developing characters’ names.)

Not so fun, is it?

I am stepping off my soapbox now and climbing back onto the treadmill. That Valentines Day candy isn’t going to burn itself off my hips.

Be blessed, friends. Put love out there and not hurtful, mindless speak.

Reading Queue

I did not travel to England until I was in college. Apparently I also did not read much British literature before then either (other than Pride and Prejudice and I believe this predates Bridget Jones’ Diary) because I did not know that the meaning of the word “queue”. That first time I traveled to England (enroute to Kenya), our group came upon a witty billboard making a joke about long queues. Several people laughed and noted the wittiness.

I fake laughed, made a mental note to LOOK UP THE WORD IN THE DICTIONARY (obviously this was pre-Google days), and continued on my journey.

Now I jump at the chance to use the word queue anytime I can, especially around my international friends.

Because everyone simply loves the person who uses words incessantly and obnoxiously.

The biggest queue in my life could be the long line of books itching to be read.

If one thing can be said about the residents of casa de phillips, it is that we all adore a good book.

Every time the husband and I go into a bookstore (which is frequently. See above statement.), we often mutter the same thing as we leave: “So many books. So little time.”

I always have a significant stack of books that I am working my way through: fun reads, educational insights, parenting guides, and things I SHOULD read but may never get around to it because I enjoy junk fiction just a bit too much.

Currently my reading queue holds the following books:

The Life Giving Home by Sally Clarkson

lifegivehome

Who does not want to be Sally Clarkson? Seriously, I feel like she could navigate the motherhood aspect of my life with much more grace than I ever can manage. I have been looking forward to the release of this book for quite some time.

 

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch

gratefulkids

This past weekend we had a family Valentine’s Day celebration. One particular child was not exactly in a celebratory mood all that day. Hello, Entitlement Generation! I fear the patterns of entitlement and priviledge we are passing down to our children, both knowingly (gulp) and mindlessly. Said child did opt to change that attitude when the choice of being perky and participating in the dinner I had planned or rather being sent upstairs with a piece of bread and peanut butter, a banana, and a glass of water for the remainder of the evening.

And I also informed the child I would eat his/her cupcake if the second option was needed.

Sigh.

 

Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons by Christie Purfoy

roots

I have a secret desire to move to the Northeast. I know my Southern accent, proclivity towards a completely made-up face, and love of Rotel and Velveeta does not lend itself to a northern life, but it is 80 degrees here today, y’all.

In February.

In November when the rest of the country was experiencing Fall, we were still wearing shorts.

I cannot wait to dive into this book about one woman’s first year in a Pennsylvania farmhouse. Perhaps I shall read it while eating my chips and queso on my front porch in flip flops.

Nantucket

nantucket

Y’all I simply cannot pass up a book about Nantucket. It all goes back into that east coast living thing.

Fates and Furies

fates

 

I am plodding through this book right now. It was the Amazon Book of the Year and received tons of critical acclaim. However, the first part is a bit hard to follow and honestly reader reviews are not super favorable.

I have a system when it comes to reading books. I give the book until page 100. If I am not completely hooked or enjoying it, I set it down and move along. This may very well become the fate of Fates and Furies.

 

What is in your reading queue that you cannot wait to dive into?

 

 

 

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