Sunday, December 30, 2012

travel weary

Michigan for Christmas: it's an every other year thing for us. Rich and I grew up in western Michigan. Both of our large families are there (or travel there for the holidays.)

Robin (Rich's sister / my sis-in-law) and I dress our kids in matching outfits every chance we get. They will hate us someday for this.

Bryan and Misty (my brother and his wife) put us up while we're there (as do Rich's parents). We destroy their houses and they all love us up with patience and hospitality.

My kids get to experience snow.

This year, Charlie experienced a rite of passage. He rode the Penny Horsey at Meijers. This horse has been there since I was a kid.

We take up a lot of land mass in the terminal.

Rich is the best kid-wrangler in airports and baby rocker on airplanes.

The California sunset that welcomed us home tonight was a gentle reminder of why we live here. And why it's worth the long trip every single time to see our families in Michigan.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

she could bake

My Mom could bake.

Seriously. She didn't make elaborate or fancy things. She made repeats every year. Peanut brittle, fudge and those Oh My God pumpkin rolls.

Bryan and Misty brought her little green and orange recipe box to me this past March. When I really put my mind to it, I can bake, too. And when I bake, I think of her. And this little green and orange box - the one she pulled out several times a year to unfold a typed up recipe - well, it is a tangible memory of a lovely lady.


Linda's recipe box

A lovely lady who made killer peanut brittle.

Linda's Peanut Brittle

Fudge that wasn't too dry but not too gooey.

Linda's Peanut Butter Fudge

And pumpkin rolls that made Christmas . . . Christmas.

Linda's Pumpkin Rolls

Enjoy her recipes. Try them out yourself this year. And if you are a sister or daughter (Misty) or granddaughter or niece or cousin of Linda, please print these and save for your own little recipe box. She would have liked that.

P.S. 2 of these 3 recipes were actually from my Grandma Cunningham, my Mom's mother-in-law. The thing I love about that is 99% of my (non-baking) recipes are from my mother-in-law or sister-in-law. We both married into nice families.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Alice Linda, 1 year old

Dear Baby Alice,

My sweet girl. You took your first trip around the sun.

Alice Linda, 1 month

One year ago, on 11/24/11, you shot into this world fast and furious. My labor to deliver you was painful. My work to hold you and love you and raise you is joy.

Alice Linda, 2 months

You are the last baby for us. You have made us a complete set. (I stole that from Toy Story 2, for the record.)

Alice Linda, 3 months

I wanted a son and a daughter so badly. From the moment I knew I wanted kids (and I'm not exactly sure when that moment was), I knew I wanted one of each. Brother and sister. Thank you, sister, for coming into our world.

Alice Linda, 4 months

You remind me of my Mom, Linda. Not physically. No, no. You are all Rich Phee in the looks department. But sometimes the little expressions you make. Or the way you sit. You just . . . do.

Alice Linda, 5 months

You are teaching Charlie to share. And my heart to share. For that, I thank you.

Alice Linda, 6 months

You rocked most developmental milestones. Sat up and rolled early. Walked at 10 months. I expected all of that from you. I have great expectations for you, Alice. For both you and your brother. They are as follows:

1. Be kind.
2. Be happy.

Alice Linda, 7 months

You are still drinking from bottles. During the day and night. I will probably let you do it until you're 2. Or maybe 12. We'll see.

Alice Linda, 8 months

Have I mentioned yet that you are a trouble maker? Yeah, you are. Electrical outlets are your favorite. Pinching your fingers in drawers. Pulling things over. Making messes. Tisk, tisk girlie.

Alice Linda, 9 months

You share your Dad's sense of humor. Pretty much anything and everything is funny. And nothing really bothers you. (Unlike Charlie and I. When we're serious, don't mess with us.)

Alice Linda, 10 months

Just the other night, you let me rock you in this chair like a tiny infant again. I sang "You are my sunshine" to you as you kicked your little feet against my side. You did the same thing 1 year ago in the hospital. Just you and me, baby girl. You, me and that song.

Alice Linda, 11 months old

Happy birthday, sunshine. Keep on growing.

I love you.


dinosaur jumpers and tutus

This past Saturday we celebrated both Alice's 1st birthday and Charlie's upcoming 4th birthday.

In a simple front yard soiree with a dinosaur jumper, the (best!) taco man, balloons and a diverse group of friends and family, we watched kids run and jump. Share toys. Fall down. Run some more.

I put this one down in the books as a success. My babies were celebrated, the adults seemed to have fun and there were no jumper injuries. (Thankfully - because my father-in-law went in for a round!)

Thank you to everyone to came, thank you for the many gifts to donate to Precious Heart shelter and special thanks to my in-laws for all of their hard work putting this shin dig together.

The Phees

kids' birthday collage

1. Big Wheel birthday gift from Ama & Papa, 2. Elaine, getting ready for the kids' party, 3. Alice, first birthday party, 4. Alice, first birthday party, 5. Charlie, 4th birthday party, 6. kids' birthday party, November 24, 2012, 7. kids party_112412_1273, 8. jump, 9. so serious, 10. let them eat cake!, 11. kids' birthday party, November 24, 2012, 12. kids' birthday party, November 24, 2012, 13. cake coma, 14. kids' birthday party, November 24, 2012, 15. kids' birthday party, November 24, 2012, 16. kids' birthday party, November 24, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

who we are

I haven't been blogging much lately. It sas nothing to do with time. I can find the time if I want.

It has to do with perception. Not yours - mine. This blog is my digital scrapbook, a document of our lives. For the most part, I want it to represent our best selves. And lately we haven't been at our best. The kids aren't sleeping well - or aren't sleeping in their own beds. The house is a disaster 90% of the time, laundry piled up, dirty dishes in the sink. My house isn't decorated beautifully for the holidays. I'm not crafting or baking anything. I haven't lost the weight I wanted to lose after having Alice. No big announcements or milestones. Just our life. Our very messy and real and sometimes not-all-that-good life.

This is an indicator of how sick everyone in my house has been, how disorganized I've been and the general chaos of life lately. I went grocery shopping yesterday .... and my kitchen is such a train wreck that I didn't notice 2 gallons of milk sitting out

Lunch, couch side while watching Crazy Heart. Chillax Sunday.

So maybe I need to be a little easier on myself, on this family of mine. Beds aren't made, tempers are lost, too many "toast as dinner" meals are eaten, carpet is dirty, debt piles up, silent treatment happens, Alice wears pj pants all day. And that is life. Our life.

Brrrrrr. And purrrrrr.

But we also laugh a lot. And dance Gangman style in the kitchen. Call our friends and family to tell them we love them. Give generously. Say we're sorry. Work hard. Admire full moons. Dream big. Hug. Tangle our legs and feet together on the couch to watch History channel. We grow.

the 4 Phees, November 2012

I tell other people to come as they are. To just show up. It's time to take my own advice in this space.

So here we are. The 4 Phees.

I love me a baby shower

It's true, I do.

And this baby shower, well, I couldn't be happier to have been a part of. Let me back up on this one.

Tom Peters is one of my oldest friends. We met in 5th grade, Mr. Metzler's class. So we go way back. Funny how life works but here we are, both of us married and living in Los Angeles.

Tom is married to this gal named Michelle. Pretty much the coolest chick I've ever met. Stylish, artsy, relaxed.

They're having a BABY. Yes, a baby boy. A mini-Tom. The world is going to be a very lucky place around December 16th.

On to the photos. Enjoy. And all the best in the world to you both, Tom and Michelle. xoxoxoxoxo

Michelle baby shower

1. Michelle Baby Shower November 2012, 2. Michelle Baby Shower November 2012, 3. Michelle Baby Shower November 2012, 4. Michelle Baby Shower November 2012, 5. Michelle Baby Shower November 2012, 6. Michelle Baby Shower November 2012, 7. Michelle Baby Shower November 2012, 8. Michelle Baby Shower November 2012, 9. Michelle Baby Shower November 2012, 10. Michelle Baby Shower November 2012, 11. Michelle Baby Shower November 2012, 12. Michelle Baby Shower November 2012, 13. Michelle Baby Shower November 2012, 14. Michelle Baby Shower November 2012, 15. Michelle Baby Shower November 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

hoot, hoot

Robin (my sis-in-law) sent these adorable tooth fairy owls for my kids last week.

tooth fairy owls

I nearly squealed when I opened the box. And I might, just might, keep them for myself.

They are really thick, sturdy. The stitching is bold and exaggerated.

tooth fairy owls

Each one unique and personalized with my babies' names.

tooth fairy owls

Her friend of a friend, Katie Henze, makes them. Unfortunately she doesn't have an Etsy shop but if you're in the Chicago or Wisconsin area, you can get them locally.

They are sold at the Capputan Coffee Shop in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Seriously, if you in that area, stop in and buy 2 or 10.

I just had to share. Couldn't help myself.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Charlie, 3 years + 10 months old

This kid is almost 4.

Blows my mind. He's tall and clumsy. He's moody and sensitive and loving. He's clever.

He has mastered his back float.


He's really strong. He has one of those motorized kid's cars that gets trapped between the two houses. No problem. He just gets out and moves it like it's no big deal.

push, push

Then he jumps around. And jumps and runs. And then jumps off the couch and builds a fort and jumps on my bed. And climbs on the patio table and in the back of Rich's old truck. Then he runs around our 1100 square foot house (approximately 1000 times) until he's exhausted.

And then he's still not ready for bed.

my superhero

He sleeps hard. Plays hard. Eats a lot. All boy, all day long.

He is my heart, up jumping around.

Alice, almost a year

Sometimes she's really, really happy.

dinner time

Sometimes she's really, really pissed.


In the morning, she goes through a range of emotions.

Good morning, sunshine.

This is her from last weekend. I just want to eat her. So cute.

Alice 11 months old Oct 2012 (21)

Crawling around when she doesn't feel like walking.

Alice in the grass

We are less than 1 month out from Ali Cat's first birthday. Oh my Gawd.

Halloween 2012

Let me start with the costumes.

Chazzy was Batman. The muscular Batman. In my mind, that would be the Val Kilmer Batman before he got fat.

Halloween 2012

Alice was a garden gnome. Because she's too young to contest it.

Halloween 2012

It makes me so happy to beg two children to look at the camera and hold still. I always wanted two kids. And here they are . . . in all their Halloween glory.

Halloween 2012

Halloween 2012

There was also a Halloween Carnival at Chazzy's preschool. (There is always a fundraising event at Chazzy's preschool. I'm shocked there isn't a Veteran's Day event coming up requiring tickets and wristbands and silent auctions.)

halloween carnival
(Yes, these gorgeous gals are Charlie's teachers. Needless to say, Rich makes sure we attend each fundraising event.) 

We had a surprise visit from Papa Tractor. 

Halloween Carnival 2012

Met up with friends. 

Halloween Carnival 2012

And finally, after jumpers and train rides, it was dark, cold and late. 
spooky Halloween tree

One holiday down, 2 more to go in this year!