September 2012
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Our Stories

09/27/2012 - Author: Natasha Phillips

I have found it is hard to write our stories. Stories of our emotions, how we grew up, what maybe changed in our lives and so on. It is hard to admit to mistakes, challenges and distractions we encounter in a path of life. I personally have a hard time facing the failures I have had in my own life. I am not talking about failed dreams or projections on what I thought my life might be when I was younger, I am talking about the failures in everyday life. My emotions get away from me far to often. Of course I try not to yell nor to discourage the adventures of a young boy with their noisy voices, yet I do get very irritated and at times it does happen. Take last night for example.

Matt wanted all of us to play ‘Brain Quest’ with Boyd, which was great, but….I couldn’t get the baby to sleep and he was fussing more than usual. I recently started giving him cereal and I don’t think he is digesting it very well so he was squirmy and wouldn’t settle down. Elliott was just noisy. Everything he did he had to say ‘mom’ first. Everything. Boyd was just unfocused and telling us these long, drawn out stories that don’t really make sense and are hard to follow. At this point my brain is going a hundred different directions and I feel myself getting agitated. So when Matt said he wanted to play a game I came unglued and said, “not until I get the baby to sleep!”. I know it is small but the way I said it was not very nice. Nor was about 30 minutes later when the baby was sleeping, we were playing the game, and Elliott was standing next to me saying, “mom, mom, mom, mom, mom,” (you get the point), and I said: “Elliott, lay down next to your father or go stand in the corner!”. REALLY I mean REALLY. All he wanted to do was to tell me something, yet I let my emotions and lack of patience get in the way.

I think this is pretty normal for mother’s across the board. If it is not, I don’t want to hear about it. 🙂 Really though, I understand that we all have times when our patience runs thin. What I am saying is, that those times are hard to admit. Tonight I watched a film called ‘Sarah’s Key’. I highly recommend it. It is mostly in subtitles as the movie is French I believe, but it was very good. It was about the French/Jewish in 1942 and one family in particular. It tells a little about their story and how it was discovered 60 years later. One of the scenes in the movie though is simply heart wrenching as the mother’s are being torn, literally, away from their younger children and carted off to a concentration camp. It made me want to go hug my children and just hang on to them for dear life. How blessed I am to hear ‘mom’ 165 times during the day. (actually it wouldn’t surprise me if that number was waaaay higher). I can’t imagine the pain and anguish those mother’s were feeling.

I want to be better about telling my story. The stories of my life so my kids know me. I don’t want them to just know my frustrations but I want them to know the pride I feel for them also. I want them to know that even though I have a short fuse at times, it doesn’t mean I love them any less or am not proud of them. I also want them to know my stories. The stories of everyday life that makes us, us. I love my kids and am so proud of them.

I pray I never let go of them, who they are, their wishes and dreams, their emotions and failures, and I pray that I encourage them to pursue the paths they want to take and that I always have time to hear their stories that seem senseless but are oh-so-important to them. I pray that I am a mother that shows love everyday and not frustration.


1 Comment - Categories: My Kids

Brotherly Love

09/26/2012 - Author: Natasha Phillips

Before Matt came into the picture one of the things that I really struggled with was the thought that Boyd wasn’t going to have a sibling close to his age. One of the treasures I have taken into my adult life is the relationships I have with my siblings. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t talk to at least two of my brother’s or sister’s and what a blessing it is. So when the thought of Boyd not having those types of relationships would come into my head, well I would get pretty sad. He does have a wonderful relationship with my brother Clark, in fact their relationship is probably more like a sibling relationship than Clark and I. Then I got pregnant with Elliott and my worries changed from Boyd not having a sibling, to not being able to connect with someone 8 years younger than him.

As a parent I think that we worry about our kids a lot. It is almost like it is a given ‘right of passage’ that you will worry. One will worry about the shoes they wear to what kind of adult they are going to be. In my life my worry can consume me. I really struggle with letting Boyd grow and make more decisions on his own. Especially when I see what he wears to school! 🙂 With Boyd I also worry that when he is older he is going to blame me for having more kids. That sounds weird I am sure, but I worry that he is going to think I wanted a ‘new’ family, a ‘younger’ family. Well since I have had Elliott I have seen Boyd grown in ways I didn’t know were possible for a young boy to grow. He just adores his younger brother and is constantly engaging him in activities and Elliott adores him. ‘Boyd’ is the only name Elliott has said consistently since he was about 11 months and from a very young age anything Boyd does, Elliott has to do. He takes care of Elliott with such tenderness and patience, it is a blessing to see. Oh, sure they still argue and Boyd is a normal kid, he likes to tease Elliott. But I believe that is normal sibling behavior.

We have been really struggling with Elliott lately when it comes to bedtime. (If you want to read about those struggles check out my post, “Bedmare“.) Elliott and Boyd shared a room for about a year when we decided to move Boyd upstairs so he could have his privacy. Anyway, in Elliott’s room still has a set of bunk beds in the room along with his crib. From time to time Boyd sleeps in Elliott’s room, but since we started having troubles with Elliott and bed that has stopped. Boyd just keeps begging us to let him sleep with Elliott and that he thinks he can get Elliott to go to sleep. Of course we didn’t think that would make a difference. Last night however we decided to give it a chance. Neither Matt or I thought it would work. We were sitting on the couch listening to Boyd work with Elliott. He was singing to him, telling him it would be okay, reminding him that he was in the room, and twice telling him to get back into bed. All this time Elliott was just crying and screaming. Pretty soon it was quiet. We thought surely the crying would start-up again but it didn’t. Elliott didn’t even get up once during the night, instead he slept until 7:30 this morning. Boyd slept on the top bunk and Elliott on the bottom. We couldn’t believe it. It is the first full night of sleep I have gotten in I don’t know how long.

I guess I am just saying this because it has been a blessing to watch the relationship develop between Elliott and Boyd.  Boyd’s presence with Elliott last night was enough to calm him and make him feel secure. No matter how stressed I get, or want to pull my hair out at the screaming or disorganization, watching my kids grow in these friendships has been amazing. I am such a blessed mom!

1 Comment - Categories: My Kids

It’s Supper Time Again! :(

09/25/2012 - Author: Natasha Phillips

I don’t know about anyone else, but dinner time for me can be exhausting. Well not really the dinner but leading up to dinner. Figuring out what we are going to eat and then preparing is just at times overwhelming. I enjoy cooking a great deal and am pretty good at it, but I find that I fall into the same rut of meals quite often. Eventually I am planning on putting my menu’s up here on this website, but I haven’t gotten to that point yet. Anyway, my boys are not a fan of meatloaf but I find that hamburger is one of the easiest and affordable staples to use. I try to find different ways to fix hamburger since we eat it about once or twice a week. Well as I was saying, my guys do not like the traditional meatloaf, so tonight I tried it with a twist. I tried Mexican Meatloaf and it was super! I couldn’t find a recipe that I liked so I created my own. In Boyd’s words: “Mom, I DO NOT like the meatloaf they have at school but this stuff is AWESOME!” I thought I would share it with you and maybe it will become a recipe you turn to often, just like it will now be in our house. If you do try it out let me know what you think.

2 Comments - Categories: Food


09/24/2012 - Author: Natasha Phillips

What is a ‘Bedmare’ you ask? Well, it is word my husband I use for the nightmare we are in when it comes to bedtime for Elliott. There was a period that bedtime was no big deal for us…it was about two years ago. 🙂 No really, there was a while a few months ago that Elliott would go to bed fine. We would turn on his music, lay him down and boom, he was asleep for 10-11 hours. It was great, we finally felt that we were getting this ‘parenting thing’ in ONE` area figured out. We don’t know what changed with him, but slowly over the course of the last couple months bedtime has been hard again. Now it is just plain agony. We have tried everything. I have read books and listened to what other parents have done with their kids but it isn’t working. It always seems like the books were written by people who didn’t have kids and the advice from other parents comes from people who had the PERFECT kids. I feel like I am failing my child. I know that the ‘crying it out’ method is supposed to be the most effective, but it isn’t working. I am afraid that our neighbors are going to call DFS because of all the crying they are hearing! So what do we do? We have tried moving him to a ‘big’ bed but that doesn’t work either. Right now the only thing working is putting him on the couch where he eventually falls asleep and then one of us sleeps in the living room incase he wakes up and needs something.

The thought of failing my kids doesn’t set well with me. It doesn’t set well with any parent I know actually. So I am asking for your tips and advice. Matt and I aren’t getting much sleep, one of the bonuses of parenting we realize, but it is getting to the point now that we need sleep. Ivan is tired often as well because any time Elliott cries he wakes Ivan up and then that is another battle we have to fight. I am not complaining, but I want other parents out there to know that if your kid isn’t sleeping, you are not alone. I have no tips or answers to give you but I sure could use some from you guys!!

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Shower Time

09/21/2012 - Author: Natasha Phillips

I have come to terms with the fact that I could not have lived without running water in my house…and yes it used to be a dream of mine not to have running water but to have a pump outside…well that was my dream when I was 10 anyway. 🙂 Yes, it is true, my siblings and I would play dress up for hours and pretend that we were living on the prairie, discovering the west on a wagon trail, or dressing up to go to some turn of the century ball. I blame Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder for those dreams. What were we thinking? The ladies of that era had to wear a lot of perfume or maybe everyone just stunk so it didn’t matter!

In my life I feel lucky if I get a shower every three days. I can’t imagine not having running water, it would be about every three weeks I would be taking a shower if I had to get my own water from a well! Growing up we had 10 minutes from the time we closed the bathroom door until the time we opened it to take our showers and get dressed. For someone with long hair this was quite the feat to complete. I now realize it was just another training exercise preparing me for this time of my life.

I have come to realize that as a mom one of the most refreshing, invigorating, and stressful things we do is take a shower. At least for me it seems this way. Without fail if I decide to take a shower during nap-time one of the boys wakes up and decides to cry, which in turn wakes the other one up…nothing calming about that. I could take a shower late at night instead of going to bed, but lets face it…bed is always going to win for me! Getting up early isn’t an option for me, unless I want to fall asleep standing up in the shower and potentially cause myself great harm by doing that. 🙂

So, what do I do? I get my wonderful husband to watch the boys in the evening so I can take my shower. I hurry though because I don’t want to miss my family time and besides that, who needs a long shower anyway? I have come to realize that even though my showers may at times be infrequent and potentially stressful, it is another way to remind me of the little blessings I have in my house. Because instead of wanting a long hot shower, I want to be playing ‘Brain Quest’ with Boyd, hold Ivan on my lap and watch Elliott play with cars. This time in my life is going so fast, so I am going to enjoy it and just wear more perfume. 🙂

1 Comment - Categories: Family Stories and Reflection

What did we ever do with out Pinterest

09/20/2012 - Author: Natasha Phillips

When the craze of pinterest started I was pretty sceptic. I thought it was probably a waste of time to find projects/ideas that one would never complete. After a while though I started ‘pinning’ and am happy to report that I have tried or done 75% of everything I have pinned. I don’t spend a lot of time on the site, just usually when I need and idea and am trying to avoid what really needs to be accomplished in my day. 🙂

My make-up center has always been a little bit of a mess. I don’t wear make-up very often which is why it probably doesn’t stay very organized. Anyway I was bored one day and started looking for ideas on pinterest. I found a really cool idea that used magnets attached to the back of your makeup and then stuck onto a cooking sheet. My baking sheets are to important to me and I wanted something that would look a little bit like wall decoration as well, so I varied the idea just a bit.

I used a white canvas board, covered with a material that I liked, and then used Velcro to attach my makeup to the board. I am very happy with the results and Elliott hasn’t gotten into my makeup since. If you need to organize your makeup or are just bored, this is a pretty quick, (it took me about 30 minutes for both boards), and fun way to fill your time. Oh, and if you are not a fan of pinterest you should check it out…you might be surprised. 🙂

No Comments - Categories: Crafts

Reflections on Psalms 139

09/19/2012 - Author: Natasha Phillips

A couple days ago I wrote a tidbit about my canning experience with two little ones underfoot. It is funny how one day can stick in your head and start the wheels of reflection turning. I started thinking about my life, the course it has taken over the years and psalms 139. Verse 16 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”

When I was growing up, in particular my teenage years, I was very resentful of certain things in my life. I had a hard time with having to be in-charge of so many kids, hated the fact I was home-schooled, didn’t think the cooking/canning I had to do was fair and I certainly didn’t want the cleaning jobs my sister and I had for work. Basically I was your average, think-they-know-everything teenage. I promised myself all those years ago that I would never be the type to  can, budget my meals, make my own cream soup from scratch or stay home with my kids. I thank the Lord every day that I was wrong!!!

I realize now that the Lord was training me to be the woman and mom that I am today. I believe that if you are a child of God that no matter how far you try to run or escape the plan He has for your life…that He will find you and direct your path in the way he designed. There may be many trails along the way that you cleared yourself , and similar to trails being cleared in the woods, the ones we clear ourselves..without the Lord…those paths will have many obstacles and the traveling will be tough. Now anyone who does any amount of hiking in the woods will know that even the cleared path isn’t always smooth going. There will be bumps and tree roots in your way, but that is nothing compared to the thorns, downed trees, vines, and creeks with out bridges that we have to clear on our own when we walk off the main path. My life is filled with many paths jutting off the main one, but the Lord knows my paths before I even make them. This doesn’t nor should it, give me the excuse to walk away from the main path. I should never walk away from the plan the Lord has for me or the teachings of His word, but I am a sinner and fail, I am thankful though that I have Him in my life to redeem me from my wistful wandering.


I will close with Psalms 139. I pray that it brings encouragement

Oh Lord, you have searched me and You know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, Oh Lord.

You hem me in-behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is to wonderful for me, to lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from Your spirit, where can I flee from Your presence?

If I go up to the heavens You are there; If I make my bed in the depths, You are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,

Even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’

Even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like day, for darkness is as light to You.

For you created my innermost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in a secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.

Psalms 139:1-18

2 Comments - Categories: Family Stories and Reflection

“Don’t Eat That!”

09/15/2012 - Author: Natasha Phillips

It was perfect. The kitchen was spotless, the canning jars sparkling with cleanliness in the sun. The knives were sharp and had worked their magic on the tomatoes. Everything was going according to plan. My hair was done just right with make-up applied in case that ‘surprise’ guest might show. The kids were behaving perfectly dressed in their crisp polo shirts with their colorful plaid shorts. This ‘Martha Stewart’ canning was just perfect. Ahh what sweet bliss. Then….I woke up to reality…and this.

Yeah, that is a square of baking chocolate that Elliott is eating. My response to seeing that, “Don’t eat that.” His response…a smile while repeating, “no,no,no,no.” He knew he wasn’t supposed to eat it. Well, it was a good way to get the cupboards clean. Elliott knew just the push to get me going!

I know, I am a mess. If anyone would have told me this is how my kitchen would look while I was canning a few years ago, I would have laughed and said never!! I like things organized, clean and methodic. This, however was the only way I was going to get anything done today. The boys wanted to be where I was and I had to get the tomatoes done. I am so glad I was able to spend my day like this. Not only did I get to spend time with the boys, I was able to can and clean my cupboards!!! Life is good. 

2 Comments - Categories: Family Stories and Reflection

Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow? !

09/13/2012 - Author: Natasha Phillips

This post is for my sister Micah. I just got off the phone with her and told her that I was having a hard time deciding if I should can the 2 five gallon buckets of tomatoes I have or if I should wait. She said why not wait, isn’t the saying: “Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?”. 🙂 Now we both know that the saying doesn’t actually go like that, but sometimes for our emotional stability, it is necessary to put things off.

Take last night as an example. I have a tooth that has been bothering me for a while so I finally went to the dentist yesterday. Supper was already to made in the crock pot since I was unsure how I would feel after my appointment. Well needless to say I didn’t feel great. In fact I felt plain awful. The pain was almost unbearable, but my family needed me. They needed me to feed them, clean the kitchen, go over homework, can 5 quarts of tomatoes, and put them to bed. This by no means makes me a hero or wonder woman, it makes me a mom. I am also ashamed to say I didn’t do any of those things with joy. There was zero joy in my heart, instead there was a great deal of frustration that I couldn’t just go lay in bed, pull the covers over my head and go to sleep. (Which is what my husband and probably 90% of the male population would do.) I am not saying that I resented my family in those moments, or the situation I was in, I just wasn’t happy. To make matters worse for today, my boys decided not to sleep last night. Literally maybe 4 hours of sleep was achieved. Matt, however, did get more sleep. Now I understand he has to leave the house and go to work and that my ‘job’ is here. There are times though that I want to scream and say, “you know, I also need sleep so that I can take care of the boys”. Actually in all fairness to my husband I have said that, and not nicely either. So here we are today,  and I have tomatoes to can. But for my kids, husband and my emotional stability, I believe that I will not be doing them today. I need some time to just play with the boys, enjoy them and get over my bad attitude. I need to spend some time in the bible and rejuvinate….re-fuel if you will.

Now I do not want to give the impression that my husband isn’t a help or that my children are a burden, because they are not. Matt is very helpful around the house and my kids are the light of my life. Some days though I want to go on a long walk….a very long walk. 🙂 And to you husbands or boyfriends out there, bring your significant other a flower, a card, a candy bar, heck..even a rock would work and tell her you appreciate her and the work she does whether she is a stay at home mom, a mom who works out of the house or a wife/girlfriend who makes sure you feel loved.

To my sister: Thank you for listening and encouraging me. Thank you for the positive influence you are and for the words of wisdom you share with me. Thank you for the laughs and the tears. Thank you for being you and my friend. I am so glad we have each other and can celebrate this time of our lives together. Love you!!!

1 Comment - Categories: Family Stories and Reflection

Game Night

09/11/2012 - Author: Natasha Phillips

Last night Matt and I were watching last years season of ‘Parenthood’. It is one of our favorites and we can watch previous seasons through Netflix. Anyway, there were many story lines going on in the episode we were watching, but the one that hit closest to home was about a game night. Kristina (one of the characters), was trying to get her family together for a game night because she was feeling so disconnected after just having a baby. Of course the family didn’t really want to play along which ended up in the husband and kids being forced out of the car by an angry mother while she then proceeded to drive down the street saying she was going to have fun playing mini-golf all by herself. Of course I was laughing pretty hard at this entire scene because I can relate on so many levels. Mostly on the level of growing up and not wanting to play games and mom getting frustrated with us. Now, however I am on the end of trying to get game night going in our house….it isn’t working out so well. So we compromise and play ‘Brain Quest’ instead.

For those of you who are not familiar with ‘Brain Quest’, it is an educational supplement that you can use as flash cards, work books, or quiz cards. We like the quiz card sets the best. Each card has 10 questions on them with an answer card directly behind the question card. I get to be the moderator and Matt and Boyd race each other to see who can answer first and get the point. Elliott tries to answer as well but we can’t understand him yet… so he doesn’t get a point. Boyd does get a 5 second head start just to make it fair. Right now we are working on the 5th grade questions which can be a little surprising. For instance: “Who is the Italian explorer that America is named after?”, “What’s the female equivalent of a hero?”, “Which amendment game African-American men the right to vote?”, “What four coins add up to 95c?”, and so on. Some of the questions seem rather easy while other prove to be a bit difficult, even for Matt.

It is a fun way for us to all spend time together while learning trivial facts and exercising our Cerebrum. If one is in need of a stocking stuffer, a small gift for a birthday party or wanting to add to their game collection, I recommend ‘Brain Quest quiz cards’. I may not be able to get my family to go mini-golf regularly, or bowling but I will take the time we can spend together playing a simple game and treasure it just the same.

P.S. What does this picture have to do with this post? Nothing! 🙂 I just wanted to add a picture and didn’t have one that was very relevant.

2 Comments - Categories: Family Stories and Reflection

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