Friday, December 9, 2011

2011 News

Dearest friends and family,

Here’s to wrapping up 2011! What a wonderful year it has been for us. Our biggest news being we welcomed our little baby boy, Oliver Charles Phillips, on May 6th. That’s right. We had a baby! His first 7 months have been full of wonder and delight. He is the perfect addition to our little family. We are enjoying every moment. He loves to (in no particular order)

wave his arms in the air
roll across the floor
kiss Shaka
snuggle with his Mama
dance with his Daddy
pick at his new teeth
go on adventures in the woods
flirt with people at the grocery store (the old ladies are his favorite)
sit on his potty
be naked

John still teaches the pre-kinders at Twillman Elementary and is working with his awesome aide, Ms. Miller. They have a smaller class this year, which is good and bad. The good being each student gets more face time with a teacher. The down side is the lack of variety. This is the time of the year when you start to see how much progress the students are making. So far, this class is making excellent progress.

Polly Mae is enjoying her new role as a stay at home Mom. It pays well and has great benefits! There are perks for John too. Polly Mae has earned some bragging rights in the kitchen with all the scrumptious meals she whips up. One of her favorite things to do is find new recipes, especially Moosewood ones. She is also a big fan of the PBS cooking channel.

Polly Mae feels very lucky that John was on summer vacation to help the adjustment into parenthood. Polly Mae and Ollie miss Daddy during the day, but it goes by fast. Every day is an adventure and she is amazed at how much Oliver changes all the time. He’s a good napper, so she’s able to enjoy a few moments for herself, as well as catching up on chores. But if things get forgotten, oh well! It’s not nearly as fun as giggling with Oliver.

Our doggie, Shaka, is beautiful as ever and made a swift and glorious adjustment to big sisterhood. She and Oliver have formed quite the mutual admiration society. Unfortunately, we don’t have time to get her down to the dog park, but she still has a great time playing sticks in the park, running her head off at Jimmie and Cookie’s place, and licking everybody’s face.

This is our 4th year of living in St. Louis and although our lives have been completely taken over by our sweet boy, we’ve still enjoyed other things. The first part of the year John had lots of snow days so we enjoyed snow covered walks in Tower Grove Park and the Botanical Gardens. The winter went on forever! So when the days finally warmed up, we enjoyed visiting other surrounding parks. Truly, we have learned we are not really “big” city people and would very much like to find a little out-of-the-way place with some water and bunch of trees.

For Polly Mae’s birthday this year we rented a cabin in southern Missouri at the River of Life Farms. It was a fantastic little get away before the two of us turned to three in the spring. The North Fork River ran through there and it was beautiful. We took a nice canoe trip along the river... for five hours, which kicked PM’s pregnant butt! But it was full of rapids, fresh water springs, and bald eagle sightings.

Polly Mae’s sister, Kattie, threw a super fun baby shower at the library where she works. Somehow the tallest people won the pregnant limbo. It was full of amazing family and friends sharing their love for our baby. We were so lucky to get so many hand me downs and baby items! Setting up Oliver’s room was a blast.

We took in a few baseball games at Busch stadium. Polly Mae was ecstatic about those wild Cards making it to the World Series. What an AMAZING series! It was great to watch some baseball history take place. If there is one great positive about living in St. Louis, it's those Cardinals!

Of course we also went on the yearly Creek camping adventure. Ollie was only about 3 months old when we went, but he is quite the water baby and braved the freezing cold water for a few dips. He also liked napping naked and sitting around the campfire. Our niece Sydney is the perfect creek age and it made our hearts so happy to see her romping through the water. Ahhh, another creek generation!

Mostly we have been enjoying Oliver and all his visitors. Hanging out with friends and family is the most fulfilling activity. Thank you to everyone we saw this year. You have given us immense joy. We know you just came by to see the baby because you think babies are soooo cute, but he is even cooler now. He is learning new party tricks every day. So we hope to see you again in 2012. If we missed you this year, we are immensely sorry (babies are time vacuums). Let’s get together soon.

Peace and love,
John, Polly Mae, Oliver, and Shaka

Monday, December 6, 2010

2010 Happenings

Hello friends and family,

Hope this finds you all well and enjoying the holiday season.

We are still kickin it here in St. Louis, MO. This will be our third year in the Lou and although it doesn't feel like home this is where we are for now. We're still the apartment managers of our building which keeps us very busy. Our location is the one thing that makes this a bright spot, with Tower Grove Park right across the street and the Botanical Garden a few blocks away.

John continues to work at Twillman Elementary school as the Pre-K teacher. This year he has eleven students that keep him on his toes and laughing. He’s enjoying the continuity of being in the same place. He has the same classroom aide who he works well with so the first part of the school year has been a blast. Not sure how it got to be December already, better start teaching these kids something.

Polly Mae was working as a librarian substitute for the STL Public Libraries up until summer time. They closed down the main library downtown for a two-year renovation during which her hours have been greatly reduced to zero. This is because the main library staff was spread out to all the other city library branches thus overstaffing everywhere, which leaves no room for substitutes. She misses it but has found ways to keep busy at home while John now leads as “sugar Daddy”. According to Polly Mae, her skills as a house-wife are lacking but she's a lucky lady!

Our goofy beautiful boxer puppy girl, Shaka, still rules the household. Especially couches, beds and pillows. However she also loves to cuddle right on top of us leaving us short of breath due to her 80 pounds of love. She enjoys playing in the dog park, taking long walks, playing slobber toy, mulching sticks and heading to the country to play with Grandpa and her cousin dogs.

Some highlights from our year included having lots of great visitors, journeying back to California in the spring for our good friends wedding reception and visiting family. During the summer we had a great Illustrious 8 reunion in Champaign where we learned our good friends Andy & Steph were pregnant! Of course there was the annual Rosa family trip to the creek to play in the water all day and sit around the campfire at night.

The most memorable part of our year was the road trip of a lifetime for Johns 30th birthday! Oh boy… We left St. Louis on June 6th and voyaged to the Badlands N.P. with a brief detour to the Mitchell Corn Palace. From there we checked out Wall Drug and Mount Rushmore. Looking at dead white guys carved into the mountain gave Polly Mae the giggles. A lot of giggles. There was a quick visit Devil’s Tower to watch the sunset (but no UFOs or dead cows). Polly Mae was enamored by the fields of squeaking prairie dogs giving each other kisses.

Yellow Stone was the next stop on our agenda. Our perfect campsite overlooked a field that ran down to Yellow Stone Lake. We biked, hiked, and enjoyed the steam from Geyser Basin. The Tetons were too close to pass up so we took a sunny boat ride across Jenny Lake and were then caught in a storm as we hiked back. Our last day of Yellow Stone saw us off with a snow shower at Artist Point.

Next we headed North to Glacier. Glacier was by far the best place we visited and it is now Polly Mae’s favorite National Park. John went kayaking for the first time and loved it. We rode bikes, hiked, and swam in lake Macdonald. Brrrrr! Unfortunately, the Road to the Sun was closed due to an avalanche, but we drove up as far as we could and took a nice walk through the Trail of the Cedars.

We bid Glacier adieu and spent a day in Seattle before we took the ferry across the Puget Sound to Olympic National Park. Our campsite was cozy and sat on the edge of a canyon with a waterfall and was by far our favorite camping spot. We enjoyed hiking around and getting lost in the rainforest. We also spent a night camping on the beach and were happy to be reunited with the west coast again.

We got some much-needed rest in Portland while visiting our good friends Andy and Steph and Polly Mae’s cousin, Claire. We laughed, played games and soaked up the love and friendships.

Once again we were hitting the road to drive along the Columbia River Gorge before heading south to Crater Lake. Now, we didn’t enjoy Crater Lake and that may have something to due with the mosquito-infested month of June. Or the mountains of snow that made it a bit hard to dig out a camping spot.

So, exhaustion had set in by the time we reached Rocky Mountain National Park. We spent most of our time at our little hike in campsite sending good thoughts to our friends Andy and Jessi who were welcoming their baby boy Terran into the world. We drove into Boulder where we crashed with Polly Mae’s Uncle Be and cousin, Emma. We ate A LOT of good food and shared lots of laughs. It was like Thanksgiving! We also let John loose in Denver to hit up as many record stores as he could, since we were there on his actual birthday.

It then came time to make our last big leg of our trip to Chicago to see our new godson, Terran. We spent some time getting to know this great little guy, reading him books, and John taught him the art of napping.

Our next and final stop was Neoga to pick up Shaka and partake in Ryan and Kattie’s best ever Fourth of July Fireworks Show. The whole trip was filled with unforgettable memories, but we were happy to arrive back in Saint Louis to sleep in our own bed for a very long time and stay in one place.

By the end of the summer we were happily surprised with our own news of being pregnant! We just recently found out that it’s a boy. Chuck, the womb name of our little wee, one will be due in early May. So far Mama and babe are doing well. Polly Mae feels very lucky to be a stay at home pregnant lady where she can fully experience everything and be totally in tune with her body. We're hoping he doesn't mind having two goof balls as parents...not that the poor kid has much of a choice. We are beyond excited for this little dude to arrive.

Other than that, we’re still our goofy selves that enjoy being together listening to music, reading as many library books as we can, and visiting near by family and friends as much as possible. We feel very lucky to have our life together with such great people all over the country and world that make us laugh and feel loved.

We hope you are all doing well and enjoy a wonderful holiday and new year full of love and laughter. Peace.

John, Polly Mae + Chuck and Shaka

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Holidays!

(click on image for more info)

2009 is over? Really? It's been hard to keep straight what has happened this year. Some things feel like it was years ago and other things feel like they were just yesterday. And we can never figure out if we were in California when it happened or in the midwest...we're still settling! But yes, was a busy year!

We ended 2008 with Polly Mae's cousins in North Carolina jammin to the Avett Brothers and then got to Illinois just in time to count down into 2009 with friends.

February brought Polly Mae's 30th birthday trip to Maui. It was an absolutely amazing ten days. We stayed in a sweet little cabin on the west shore and time literally stopped. Plus we cruised in style with a sweet convertible upgrade! We snorkeled and ate shaved ice everyday. Other highlights were swimming in the dangerous ocean pools (we almost got swept away!), standing close to the blow hole, cruising the road to Hana that brought us to an amazing hike through a forest of bamboo, waterfalls and dips in the Seven Sacred Pools. We also enjoyed running around on the silent volcano and hiking through lava rocks to find a private little paradise. Polly Mae was often mistaken for a local which has never happened to her anywhere else. We loved our time just being together.

March brought a new addition to our family. We got a puppy boxer from the shelter. Someone had abandoned her at five months old. She was full of energy and dying to be loved. It was love at first play...especially for John. So, we adopted her and named her Shaka! Now she's huge and full of kisses. She is always eager to smooch or snuggle on the couch. Although her snuggles can leave you flat on your ass sometimes. She's a strong dog! She loves going out to Polly Mae's parents house or sister's house where she can run, run, run and play with other doggies. Or she enjoys runs in Tower Grove Park across the street from us and finding sticks to chew to mulch. She is an absolute joy to have around and great foot warmer in the bed.

For spring break in April, Polly Mae joined her good friend, Jessi, on a road trip out to New York. They stayed a few days at a fun B&B in Ithaca and enjoyed hiking the gorges and eating daily at the Moosewood Restaurant. They then went on to the Catskill Mountains to stay with their good friends Neb & Jennie and their daughter Greta. It was great to all be together making food, crafts, playing games and hiking around.

In May we headed out to Portland, Oregon to help celebrate the marriage of two very good friends, Andy and Steph. This wedding brought a lot of John's old friends out so we rented a house and crashed together. Some friends of ours from California came out that same weekend and crashed with us as well. It was this amazing week full of the greatest friends on earth, with plenty of singing, dancing, drag, strippers, sports, games, laughs and stellar love. It's a week we look back on often. We miss all of our people!

The summer kept us very busy since we are still the managers of the seven unit apartment building we live in. We had a lot of turning over of tenants and units to fix up and rent out. But it's slowed down now and we do love our third floor pent house overlooking the park (with reduced rent, who wouldn't?). We also attended a slew of Cardinals games, visited family, and made the annual venture to the creek in August to celebrate Jimmie and Cookie's 40th anniversary.

Polly Mae made a trip back to California in October. She partied with her bro-n-law, Eric, in San Francisco at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, which was out of control! The amount of people that attend has sky rocketed since they first started going. But that would be expected with free concerts in the Golden Gate Park. She also hit up some of her favorite spots in S.F. like the Presidio and Fillmore areas. She then made her way down to Santa Cruz to kick it with her homies, Sarah and Frank. And also squeezed in a trip down to Salinas to stay with her Uncle Roy and Aunt Cookie.

And we got a new niece this November! Ellen and Scott, John's sister and brother-in-law, had a sweet baby girl. Faith is happy and healthy...and sleepy. She is the ideal compliment to Grace's craziness.

John was a permanent sub at Flynn Park Elementary during the beginning of the year but was then hired as a Pre-K teacher for Twillman Elementary. Yeeeaaaah! He loves institutionalizing his students' wild minds and teaching them to write "Down with homework." Another perk to a full-time job is having spending cash to drop on vinyl at the independent record stores. He works hard at giving his little 4 year olds a great place to play, learn and imagine and is very successful. Mr. Phillips is already very well known on campus and his classroom is often a safe haven for many "troubled" students aka a zoo. Outside of work, John spends the rest of his time reading, listening to his records, bike riding and napping with Shaka.

Polly Mae continues to work as a library substitute for the St. Louis Public Library. Although she's been offered many full time positions she enjoys the flexibility and the experience of working in all the different branches. She is currently trying to talk herself into following through with library school applications. So we'll see what happens there. Nothing like the GRE and application fees to keep it at bay. She really enjoys having control of her work schedule. It gives her free time to just be home with Shaka, or visiting friends and family when she wants. She has been battling with health problems of uterus fibroids and ovarian cysts for a few years now but has stopped taking medications and has turned her health around with diet change! No dairy, meat or gluten. It's been a big change but has made her feels loads better. She mainly enjoys hanging with John and Shaka with a good book, tunes and breaking into dance every now and then.

We are extremely happy to be back in the Midwest closer to family and surrounded by the seasons. Yes, even winter. It is still taking a little while to get used to St. Louis, but we are finding little pockets that we like. We enjoy hitting up the Laumeier Sculpture Garden, The City Museum, and Wasabi for sushi. We are happy that we can just drive right over to see family for the weekend or they can show up at our place. It makes a huge difference. We feel so very lucky to have people we love all over this country...and a few even outside the country. You all make our life so full. Thank you! We hope 2010 brings loads of love and laughter. Maybe we'll see you...all are always welcome a stay with us in St. Louis.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Holiday Blog

holiday banner

Hello from bloggerspace! We thought this would be a fun and interactive way to update people on where we are and what we're doing without using so much paper.

The first half of the year in California was productive. Polly Mae was working at the McHenry Library on the UCSC campus and John was teaching in Watsonville. We often visited the most awesome city of San Francisco to hang out with John's brother Eric, go to the Fillmore Hardware store (Polly Mae's favorite store ever), and spend a lot of money at Amoeba Records (the best record store). San Francisco, and all it has to offer, is sorely missed. We also spent a good amount of time going to Avett Brothers concerts where we would dance our butts off and scream at the top of our lungs. Something that is very contagious at their shows. Other than that we would kick it in Santa Cruz with our homies.


We also made it down to Southern California to see Disneyland! John's mom took us and we had a magical time. The best part was we won Dream Passes so we hardly spent any time in line. Space Mountain is a fantastic ride and every person should experience it once before they die. We also met up with Eric and checked out the legendary Watts Towers built by one man using only crude tools.


So, here we are back in the Midwest again. Our three years in California were fun, but it was time to come home and be closer to family. After some sad goodbyes, Polly Mae's Dad flew out to help us drive our two cars packed to the rim with our belongings. We took our time and made a fun trip out of it. Started with Uncle Roy and Aunt Cookie's wedding anniversary party, then on to Lake Tahoe, CA where we gambled for the first time (legally). We continued on to Arches National Park in Utah followed by a stop to visit Uncle Be in Colorado. During this visit we discovered Guitar Hero and all it's glory. We had heard whispers of how good it was, but we had no idea until we experienced it. Following that we drove straight through, about 15 hours, to Neoga! What a great journey! We spent the summer staying in Granny's new home that she built on Mom and Dad's property. It was great to be surrounded by family. The summer was full of looking for jobs and apartments in St. Louis. But we also took time to catch up with friends and family. Jobs were looking scarce, but we managed to find an apartment that we love! An old three story brick building right across from the beautiful Tower Grove Park. We're on the top floor so we have a great view.


Now, almost four months later here we are in St. Louis! We are slowly adjusting to city life...well, midwest city life. It's no San Francisco. *sigh* We miss our dear friends we left in California. Haven't met any kindred spirits in these parts yet. So we entertain each other most of the time. But it is wonderful to be just a few hours away from family and friends in Illinois!

John is working as a permanent substitute teacher at Flynn Park Elementary School. It's just outside the city in University City. He goes in every day and is there to go where ever they need him. He loves it! It's great experience with all the different grades. He comes home with some great stories! His coworkers are nice and there are some excellent teachers there to learn from. This is awesome news since he came across a few disappointing sub positions before this one. Outside of work, he is trying to get involved in community radio again. He is doing training classes at KDHX, 88.1 FM.

Polly Mae picked up a job as a librarian substitute! So, out of the 17 library branches she goes where ever they need help that day. Mostly she works at the downtown library, which is beautiful. It reminds her of Hogwarts in Harry Potter! But she enjoys those little community branch libraries too. She is wrapping up a semester of two library school graduate courses that she took online through the University of Missouri - St. Louis. She loves library work and has decided to test the waters of grad school! Yikes. She isn't in the program yet... She's hesitant about school. Likes more hands on learning rather than sit, listen, read and take notes. We'll see!


We also became managers of our apartment building. Our old landlady was moving away and she asked if we would be interested in managing. So we took it! There are seven units in our building, including ours. We pretty much deal with the maintenance of the building, collect rent, and deal with any of the tenants needs. Plus it cuts our already cheap rent in half! It's good experience and we're enjoying it.

Other than all that, we try to get out and see our new city. We caught a couple of Cardinals games before the season ended. Go Cardinals! Our families have been out to visit which is nice. Plus we run over to Illinois a lot to play. Our friends Sarah and Frank came to visit from California! We love to ride around on our bikes and play in the park. Now we're buckling down for our first Midwest winter in awhile. So we're staying in listening to records, watching the Daily Show online, playing games, reading, and baking.


PhotobucketWe have a lot to look forward to in 2009! We will bring in the New Year with Polly Mae's cousins, Evie and Noel in North Carolina...our awesome friend Sheri is coming for a visit...our friends Bear & Pets are getting married in Portland... and we will be spending a week in Maui, HI for Polly's Mae's 30th birthday! Please, if you are in our parts, stop by! We'd love to see you. Sending our love to all parts of the world...*hugs*

Polly Mae & John