New baby, more changes to family life

James Phillips
Posted 9/3/17

Several readers have mentioned to me in recent days that my lack of a column over the last two weeks was a bit of a disappointment for them.

Jerome Wassmann, a former publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle, was one of the people who mentioned my …

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New baby, more changes to family life


Several readers have mentioned to me in recent days that my lack of a column over the last two weeks was a bit of a disappointment for them.

Jerome Wassmann, a former publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle, was one of the people who mentioned my lack of a column. He is always quick to point out there is no good excuse for not writing a weekly column, because during his time at the Eagle, he wrote nearly 1,000 in consecutive weeks. That’s probably a record that I will never come close to breaking.

As I explained to Jerome and the other readers who had asked about my lack of opinion in recent weeks, our family has had a lot of changes during that time, and I think Dad was getting adjusted just as much as anyone else.

The biggest change in our household recently has been the addition of a new member. Zuzu Petals Phillips was born a little more than two weeks early around 2 a.m. on Aug. 3. Even at 16 days early, Zuzu weighed in at 9 pounds, 6 ounces and was 20.5 inches at birth. She also had a headful of hair, possibly more hair than I can grow at this point in life.

Little Zuzu is unmistakably a Phillips, marching to the beat of her own drummer even as a newborn. And by drummer, I’m talking about a rock band drummer. The poor child has had her days and nights mixed up since birth, sleeping much more during the day and keeping the entire family up some nights.

In the last few days, we have found a trick to get her to sleep more — loud rock music. The one thing that can drive some of our country’s enemies in the Middle East mad is the very thing that soothes my newborn. She’s not too big on newer rock stars, but the sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival and KISS are proving to be right up her alley. Guns N’ Roses seems to be the most recent band that she enjoys.

As far as we can tell, she hates country music. During ESPN Gameday on Saturday morning, my son was asking who Sam Hunt was, and when I played a quick few lines from his most recent song, Zuzu screamed like she had just heard fingernails on a chalkboard.

In the days leading up to her arrival and in the few weeks after, we have had an incredible outpouring of love from friends and family. We are very thankful for the support, and we appreciate every gift, meal, kind word and prayer that we have received.

Along with Zuzu’s arrival, we have had some major changes with a couple of the other children in our family. We have homeschooled our kiddos since our oldest was of school age, but this year, two Phillips children are strolling the halls of Jasper City schools.

Stone, 14, is taking advantage of the “Tim Tebow” rule recently instituted by the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

He is a freshman fullback on the Jasper High football team and plans on playing goalkeeper for the JHS soccer team and possibly even wrestling for the school this year. He is also taking an elective and boys athletics at the school. It has been a great experience so far, and I think it will work well for him for the next several years.

Joy, 5, started kindergarten this year. She is a student at T.R. Simmons, and I have been very impressed with not only her teacher, but also with the entire faculty and staff at that school. On the first full day of school, I was concerned about the one-hour wait to pick Joy up after school, but T.R. Simmons was proactive to work out the traffic issue, and their work with my child so far has been outstanding.

For the first few weeks after having the baby, my amazing wife couldn’t drive. That left me to be a shuttle driver for the entire family, rushing to and from schools, sports practices, dance classes and tumbling classes.

The first couple of weeks were hectic, especially considering that my sleep was lacking as well, but I think we are all fairly adjusted now.

Our family always leads a very busy life, but we wouldn’t want it any other way. We try to have as much fun as possible and make memories that our children will hold dear forever.

With that said, being a new father again at 39 isn’t the easiest thing in the world, so Zuzu will probably be the grand finale when it comes to children in our family.

James Phillips is editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He may be reached at 205-221-2840 or