Thursday, September 29, 2005

Just Like Mommy

No one from the outside (or inside) could ever dispute that Gracie isn't one part Garren mixed with one part Barbara. Our little princess looks just like Garren. She has his temper, his tendency to get frustrated quickly, his sensitivit, his curiosity, and his build. But there is fair amount of mommy deep within baby too. She has my nose, and my smile, and my laugh-at-anything attitude, she likes to be girly and rough at the same time, she has my love for ice cream...and my taste for spicy and sour foods!

When she was 6 months old we learned that she loved dill pickles, when she was a year old she loved sour lemonade, at 14 months we learned that she liked my homemade salsa, last week she got into sour skittles (and loved them, and didn't make a face) and tonight (at 18 months) she and mommy savored somewhat authentic Mexican food. Gracie enjoyed a quesadilla, chips and salsa, enchilada, re-fried beans and spanish rice. That's my baby!

We have a wonderful baby, that no doubt has the best and worst of both Garren and I. We are proud as well that she enjoys a lot of the same things that mommy and daddy enjoy, like: music, reading, discovery, and being outdoors as much as possible. It's exciting to see what a wonderful little girl she'll grow up to be... but, I hope she keeps my nose and fashion sense!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Happy 5th Anniversary Garren

Sometimes I can't believe it's been 5 years. Of course, Garren says it feels like 20 most of the time... but I just roll my eyes and smile. The two of us have been through so much together; 2 near fatal car accidents, funerals, new jobs, new homes, third shift, disappointments, celebrations, wins and losses...oh yeah, and a baby!!

Gracie has already given daddy his anniversary present. Yesterday, she said "uv eww!" She has said this phrase for a couple of weeks, but never when he was around... but she said it just to him this time.

There are those days when you aren't sure if you'll get to the next morning without killing each other, but luckily for us, those are few and far between. We are very happy with each other.

I guess I hadn't thought about how others see our relationship until a few months ago, as Garren's mom sat in a hospital bed and told me how she knows that God sent us to each other, and that we will stay together until the end. Just looking at us, you'd proably never know that we were in love. We pick at each other and joke around, and I doubt you'll see us kiss in public. Ours is a special kind of love that's just right for us, despite what anyone else might see from the outside.

God did bless me with a wonderful husband and a dear father for Gracie. I thank Him for his kindness each night that my life is filled with such love. The presents each September 29th have gotten less "shiny," but the sentiment is still the same. We both know that we don't need a gift on one special day to celebrate our marriage, we celebrate it all year long.

So to Garren I say, I love you, and I hope that we continue to not kill each other for a long, long, time! And, thanks for the new electric skillet, the old one was getting gross. Oh, and don't forget to take the trash out, Gracie pooped.

Thank You Mariah

Dear Mariah,

Thank you so much for being such a great cousin. I am so glad that we have gotten to spend so much time together, and that you were one of the first people to hold me after I was born.

I love to watch you be silly, and dance, and play. I want to be just like you when I am 7 too! I have lots of fun with you, and at my house I like to watch the videos Mommy & Grandma took of us playing (I like to squeal at the ones where we jump around). And, I am getting better at saying your name.

I listen to everything you say and watch what you do, so I can do it too. I can't wait until I am older so we can share secrets, like how to get Grandpa to buy us more shoes!

I am so glad that we are cousins, who are more like sisters. I love you very much, and can't wait to see you next month.


Teach A Child To Read...

One of the most important lessons we have taught Gracie in her short little life, is the importance of reading. She loves her books and story time, whether at night or the middle of the day. Since Gracie was born, her room has been filled with books. At first, she chewed on them, then she stacked them, then she learned to open and turn pages...and now, she pretends to read the words to herself or anyone else who will listen.

We are so proud of Gracie, we know that she's got a great start on her education. Teaching kids to read, and enjoy books early on, will help them in school and life. At our home, we make it fun. I read all the silly little rhymes, and use different voices, and make animal sounds to go along with the story. Gracie gets so tickled. But, we know it's working, because when she "reads" to herself, she makes the funny noises too!

Gracie is only 18 months old, but for the rest of her childhood, Garren and I will make it a priority to urge her to read on her own, listen to family stories and share books with others. We go to the library once a week these days. She enjoys the books so much, that going to the library is a real treat for her. And, she is getting better with handling "big girl books" (ones with real pages), so it won't be long before I start carting up the boxes of Berenstein Bears and Franklin books from the basement.

We are so glad that we could pass our love of books and reading to our daughter, I hope the rest of our children will be as easy!

Note: Gracie has also gotten about 1/3 of the alphabet song down pat! I would like to think that the books, educational toys and Baby Einstein videos were worth all the money!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

We Share Everything

In the Shipley house, mommy, daddy and baby Gracie share everything. We share food, stories, blocks, toys, and the computer. Not to mention hugs, kisses...and germs! It started with Gracie, then again most illnesses start with the littlest Shipley. I thought she just had allergies on Wednesday, but by Thursday evening, she was miserable. By Friday I had it. By Saturday, Daddy was sniffling and achey.

We all shared a cold together this weekend, and stayed indoors, and snuggled up together. We read new library books and had fun exploring the advantages of our newly acquired broadband connection.

Now (Tuesday) Gracie is pretty much over her cold, I am still struggling, and Daddy is plugging along as well. Its never easy having a cold, but it's even harder to be the mommy with a cold. I found myself pushing everyday to get tasks done and care for a sick baby and husband. But, I couldn't do it all. The laundry is still backed up, there is a sink-full of dishes and the dishwasher needs to be unloaded, the trash needs to be taken out, and Gracie is still in her pajamas, and so am I (that was our attire for the weekend as well!)

Of course the world has not ended because all of this isn't done yet, and I hope to be caught up by the time Garren gets home from work. Gracie is happy and Garren had clean clothes for work this morning, but I find it frustrating not to have the energy to do what needs to be done, and what I want to get done. I am sure millions of women say the same thing everyday. And, I have to tell you, while the house remained a mess and there were tissues everywhere--I had time for extra kisses, extra hugs, extra stories, I got to FINISH reading a book of my own, and I got more time to sit down.

I am very grateful that as soon as this cold passes, I will be back and as active as usual. There are thousands of women and mothers who can't get up and care for themselves, or their children. I guess I had a chance to better understand their frustration. I hope that we can each be reminded that good health is truly a blessing, and can vow to help someone else whose mind is willing, but body is unable.

Friday, September 23, 2005

18 Month Pictures

Gracie and I headed back to Winchester today, after her nap, to JC Penny's for her 18 month photo shoot.

Gracie was in rare form today at the photo studio; she didn't cry! Usually she hates to have her pictures done, even though she poses for the camera at home. I had already decided I wanted to show off Gracie's interests/skills at this stage in her life, through her pictures. I told the photographer I wanted to have pictures of Gracie reading her books.

Gracie's face lit up as the assistants brought out a huge basket full of books. She smiled and babbled and "read" the books, making for a great series of pictures (I have included them above, they were scanned in from a black and white print out, but you get the idea). My little girl loves books, and you can really see that in these portraits. I can't wait to get them back!

After the photo session, Garren showed up at the mall to surprise us after he got off work. We had dinner in the food court and exchanged Gracie's shoes (I had accidentally gotten her double wide walkers, and couldn't figure out why they didn't fit).

Following our mall outing, we headed to Wal Mart where Garren got a haircut, and Gracie ended up with another pair of shoes. You see, 2 months ago, we found Barney shoes at the Winchester Wal Mart, when we went back to get them a week later, they were all gone. As we headed to TN that month, we checked EVERY Wal Mart from Woodstock, VA to Greeneville, TN desperately looking for Barney shoes. No one had them. We had given up, until tonight, when Gracie and I browsed the shoe isles waiting for Garren to get his hair cut. There they were--on the clearance rack!! 2 pairs left, both of them size 7's!!! We thought it only practical to get Gracie's next shoe size up, so as not to waste the ones we had just gotten an hour earlier. Luckily for us, her next size is 7! She was ecstatic, and we were content.

Gracie had a great day. We all hope you each have a wonderful weekend, and if you are feeling down--go buy yourself a new pair of shoes, or two! It worked for Gracie!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Gracie Grows

Remember in yesterday's blog when I said the hardest part of being a mom was packing away your child's baby clothes? I spoke too soon!

Today's was Gracie's 18 month pediatrician appointment, complete with shots. It's very hard to be a parent and look on as a stranger to your child wrestles their frightened legs and arms to stab her with a vaccine that may save her life someday. You know that its for their own good, but you secretly wrestle inside between the fear in your child's eyes and the duty of the caring woman who administers the dose.

Today was the first time in Gracie's 18 months that I had to go it alone. Garren has always been there for the pediatrician visits, he's the strong one. He helps hold Gracie still and is forced to watch as I cower in the corner praying her pain will end soon. Anyone who has had a child this small will likely relate to my cowardice. But, today, I had to be the strong one. I confidently answered the doctor's questions and I remembered to ask mine. Gracie was frantic as he examened her, but I held strong talking to her while trying to hold her hands, as she desperately sought to claw him away from her. She calmed down for a few minutes and clung to me until the nurse returned for her blood test and immunization. I did okay during both "procedures," and I helped hold my crying little girl.

The trauma didn't last much beyond the front door as we left, and everything was made okay again as we headed to Wal Mart, then the mall's food court for lunch. She even got to play in the kids' clubhouse before we left. Despite the fact that Gracie refused a nap today (after getting up at 8am this morning), relations between mother and daughter are fine. And, I think I am stronger for the experience. You have to reassure yourself, the prick only lasts for a few seconds, the pain a few minutes, the trauma of it all for an hour or so...but the crippling effects of life with one of the diseases these vaccines protect against; would last a lifetime.

It turns out that Gracie is well ahead in terms of physical and mental growth. She weighed in at 28.3 pounds and measured 33.5 inches, both numbers keep her in the 95th percentile for her age.

**The picture above was taken Sunday, it's of the neighborhood cat that likes our apartment building, Gracie is facinated with him. She is trying to give him a piece of sidewalk chalk so he can color. Garren and I did everything we could to hold in the laughter. She couldn't figure out why he wouldn't take it--she kept says "here ya go!" By the way, the cat is declawed (we noticed), and Gracie ALWAYS washes her hands after being in contact with the cat, and is never unsupervised around the animal!***

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Cleaning Out

It's usually this time of year that my home becomes over-run with extra this and extra that. Things seem to multiply in our closets, drawers, shelves and under the bed, much like rabbits. It doesn't take long for the organizational diva in me to draw the line in the sand, "this much and no more!"

Yesterday and today, I have spent many long hours cleaning out, cleaning up and re-organizing this ever shrinking apartment. I enjoy doing spring and fall cleaning--it's like you get to start fresh and new, kind of like the earth does this time of year.

Today, I had procrastinated long enough though. I had done every room in the house, tackling under the bed, high closet spaces as well as shelves and baskets and pantries...but I was saving the hardest for last. Gracie's closet was overrun with summer clothes and outfits she could no longer squeeze her long legs and arms into. I loath going through her clothes, for me, its the hardest part of being a mother--at least one of the hardest.

I tried to do it quickly, kind of like pulling a band-aid off a wound; but I found myself painstakingly folding and flattening her summer dresses and outfits that she could no longer wear. Before I knew it, 2 large bags were full of socks, shoes and tights, dresses and shorts, swimsuits and unused Little Swimmers.

Each season I try very hard to make sure that Gracie wears each outfit at least once, I seemed to have accomplished this...but you could tell which were our favorites by the worn out look of them. I carefully deflated the water floats that Gracie loved so much stored a top of her closet. I guess it was kind of like taking the air out of another stage of our baby's life; it was gone now and it was time to put the memories away for safe keeping.

There is still hope in Gracie's room though. Along with the stuffed bears, diapers, lullaby CD's and chunky crayons, there's a closet full of little girl dresses, sweaters, and overalls for those cool weekends when we head to the park or the pumpkin patch. And, there is great anticipation as I head to the stores again, to find great bargains and precious outfits for my little one. She needs new shoes too, as well as socks and onsies; shopping has always seemed to ease the pain.

I am so very proud of Gracie, and there are many things that she can do now, that she couldn't do when summer began. A new season has begun, winter awaits, and my child will grow in body, spirit and mind.

***Pictured above, one of my favorite summer outfits***

Sunday, September 18, 2005

New Photos/Personal Journal

New photos are up for viewing on Follow the links.

September 2005 (including Pumpkin Patch Pics)
August 2005
July 2005

And you can check out my personal baby journal here on my blog as well. I took 2 days to type in everything I had written down from the day we went in to the hospital until she was 17 months old. I wasn't very faithful with writing in it, although now I wish I had been (there are a few days sparatic months). The entries are pretty short and bring back memories. Also, if you are pregnant and looking for a first hand account of delivery, this might help. But, keep in mind everyone's labor and delivery is different! I also want to thank Becky, Sharon and Mom, for fowarding me Gracie emails that I thought were gone forever! Getting those memories back is worth far more than a simple thank you. I have added those family emails to my blog. They are archived under the month in which I originially sent them.

I certainly hope that you enjoy reminiscing about Gracie. She is a real treasure to me and these blog entries have given me a wonderful way to remember my daughter for years to come. Thank you dear Lord for making me a mommy, its the best gift I could have ever received.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Family Fall Fun

Pumpkin Patch Fun

Garren, Gracie and I along with our downstairs neighbors, who have a little girl 6 years old, spent the afternoon together. We went to the library to stock up on books and then we headed to a place that we fell in love with last year; the pumpkin patch. The place is actually called Hill High Farm and it is about 10 minutes from us. It's run by a local family who opens up their property to the public. They have all kinds of farm animals, a corn maze for the adults and tiny maze for the kids, hayrides, pumpkins, apples, and plenty of other stuff.
We happened upon it last year as we were taking a scenic route to Winchester, and we decided to stop. I am glad we did. It is free to get in, a novelty that is quite extinct. You can buy pumpkins of course or pick your own apples (you pay for a certain size bag, and go crazy), but Gracie just loves to run around the farm and see the animals.
This year was as enjoyable as the last. Gracie was particularly intrigued by the "horsey." Garren let her sit on the John Deer tractors on display, but her favorite thing was a silo filled with corn (Garren says it is called silage). She had a blast sifting through it and throwing in the air.
We didn't get any apples or pumpkins, I think we'll save that for mid-October when they look better. It was hot, but everyone had fun. Gracie got pulled around in a little wagon they supply there and she enjoyed having some freedom to explore. I have a feeling we'll go back several times before they close after Halloween.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

God Bless The Single Mom

Gracie and mommy spent the whole day together today, just us girls. Garren had to leave at 7am this morning for a long day in Alexandria and then Richmond, so he won't be back until 9pm tonight or so.

Gracie and I had a great time; we slept in late, we stayed in our pajamas until after naptime, we went for a walk, we played, read and had our usual fun day. Now, I have no problem keeping up with Gracie, she's wonderful, but a handfull. As usual there were always those frustrating moments, but all in all it was a great day. On a weekday, like today, I don't usually have to do it all by myself. Garren goes to work, but before he leaves, he watches her for 30 minutes while I go to Curves and workout, he gets her dressed and help feeds her breakfast. In the evenings when he comes home, he is sometimes there in time to help entertain her while I finish dinner, he gives her a bath if I ask him, and he rarely ever misses milk and books before bedtime.

While, I am exhausted tonight (I am exhausted every night), I was reminded as I kissed Gracie goodnight (hoping she wouldn't cry because her daddy wasn't there), that there are millions of men and women who take care of their child or children alone. Their situations are all different and they love their children very much, even if the can't spend lots of money or time on them. To me, they are stronger than I could ever be, and very special people.

Since the day we brought Gracie home from the hospital, I often wondered how anyone could do this alone. This tiny little thing depended on me for everything, and I couldn't do it all, not by myself anyway. Each day I thank God for bringing Gracie in to our lives, but tonight I think I will say an extra prayer of thank you. It's one I haven't said in a while, the one where I thank God for sending Garren to me to be such a wonderful husband and father.

**Picture above is from Gracie's first week at home, a time when I needed Garren most***

Monday, September 12, 2005

Gracie Throws A Ball

It's a small accomplishment, but we celebrate everything here in Shipley-world. Gracie has been trying to throw the ball and catch the ball, and kick the ball since she could run. So, we celebrate her latest accomplishment.

My smart baby is also working on shapes. She knows, square, circle, star...we are working on triangle. We are also making progress with colors. She knows color words like "yellow," and "red," but she can't put the word with the color yet. Right now she holds up a green crayon and says "yellow." So, we are getting there.

Also, today we walked downtown Strasburg. Don't get too excited, it isn't that big. We saw Daddy at work, and got a drink (and animal crackers) at the Dollar General, and played with a play kitchen that was outside of the kid's second hand store. She fell in love with that kitchen and all the doors and knobs. We may go back and get it for her. They only wanted $8 for it. A new one would be close to $40. We'll see how interested she really is with is, and maybe we'll ask Santa for a nice Fisher Price one. Lately, Gracie has really been fascinated with her play dishes and play food and tea set. But she remains well rounded, she still loves her trucks and building blocks. I think she'll grow up and be able to do anything!

Yeah Gracie, today you threw a ball!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Happy Grandparent's Day

Ah, to be a grandparent! I bet its the world second best job; after being a mother of course. They, the grandparents, get to do things they never would have thought of doing with their own children: ice cream for dinner, finger painting in the living room, pillow fights, bowling in the house--you get the idea.

I still am amazed at the transformation my parents took from "mom and dad" to "grandma and grandpa." The same man who said to me, things like, "you act just like your mother!" and "you're wasting daylight!" plays on swings and in the pool, makes mud pies and throws his two granddaughters in to the air.

My parents have become two completely different people--kind of like strangers who took over their brains and kept their bodies. But, don't let these people fool you! They were the strictest, most uncool, most uptight people when I was a kid, and they had no life. Now its rare that I call them and anyone's home. My mother and father go to concerts, plays, out of town, and all sorts of things. I guess maybe they were waiting to do all of that stuff until my brother Brian and I were out of the house? Who knows.

I still remember when I, or usually Brian, got to mom's boiling point she would usually point her bony finger at us and say "I hope you have children just like you." I used to laugh at it (after her head was turned), it sounded so funny. But, now I am scared--what if the curse continues? She always said her mom cursed her with that threat, and it came true. Of course why should I be worried--I was a perfect angel!

However it came to be, my parents have made wonderful grandparents. They spoil Gracie and Mariah, but I think all kids should have grandparents like that. Someone to make them laugh and wipe away their tears and give them a cookie when they really don't need one. I think grandparents are kind of like referee's in the game of life: when the coaches get cranky and the other players aren't being fair, there's someone to step in and give them a time out for a while.

But I bet my mother will hold on to her definition "grandchildren are God's reward for putting up with children like you." Someday, a long, long, long time from now I will be a grandmother, and I guess Gracie will say all the same things about me-- and I will smile and give my grandbaby another spoonful of ice cream.

Happy Grandparents Day!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Yeah It's Fall!!

It looks like fall is finally here!! Yeah Fall!!!

autumn is definitely my favorite season of the year. It means leaves and cool days, the smell of cinnamon and spice, pumpkins and festivals. I have always enjoyed this time of year, but after watching baby Gracie as she saw her first pumpkin and tasted her first fresh-from-the-tree apple last year, I have a new reason to celebrate September through November.

Garren and I hope once again to take Gracie to the "Pumpkin Patch" in Middletown. Last year she went a couple of times. She had a blast riding around in a wagon and touching the pumpkins and gourds, as well as seeing the ponies, calves, hens and other barnyard animals. But, her favorite thing of all was watching the helicopter take off and land in the apple orchard. The family that runs the pumpkin patch from their home has helicopter rides to view their property. Our whole family had such a wonderful time last year! We hope that Gracie's grandparents can join us for the festivities this year.

Other fall things I am looking forward to: Baking pumpkin pie with Gracie, Making sugar cookies, letting Gracie taste cider, picking out and carving our pumpkin, raking and jumping in to leaves, taking Gracie and her tricycle (which she is learning to peddle) to the park, Gracie's second Halloween, putting extra blankets on the bed, pulling out the jackets, time with family and warm meals

There are so many wonderful moments that we miss out on if we try to hurry too fast. Don't let autumn's wonderful adventure pass you and your family by. Enjoy each day and each season, and each year that God gave you.

***The picture above is from October 2004 when we took Gracie to the Pumpkin Patch for the first time, they sell the most beautiful mums!***

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Grocery Day

Ever wonder what it takes to keep a family of 3 going for 2 weeks at a time? Well I am glad you asked. Today was "grocery day" in the Shipley household. We loaded up the baby, extra juice and diapers, the grocery list and the calculator and headed to the Woodstock Walmart around 5:30pm. At 8:30 we were back and unloading the supplies. Now keep in mind we don't eat out, except for grocery night, it takes so long and it is easier to grab dinner out. Also, because of Garren's pay schedule, we have to get enough to last for 2 weeks at a time. Its not an easy task, in fact, I would say it is one of the harder parts of my job as a homemaker. Nothing will give you greater nightmares than to worry that there is not enough food in the house!! But, rest assured, I make a complete list ahead of time that maps out every meal we will eat, and what ingredients we need.

Here's some highlights of how tonight's supplies added up:

*5 pounds of hamburger
*15 pounds of chicken(5 bags) 2 meals per bag
*2 boxes Spaghetti
*5 cans spaghetti sauce
*Jumbo bag of diapers
*Laundry Detergent
*Dishwasher detergent
*Gallon of milk
*2 bags hamburger buns
*Jumbo bag Shredded Wheat
*3 boxes fruit snacks
*3 boxes crackers
*2 bags chips
*1 large roast
*4 boxes waffles
*3 bags salad (shredded lettuce, carrot mix)
*1 box tea bags
*10 pounds potatoes
*6 cans fruit
*5 Large Bottles Juice
*2 boxes mac n cheese
*1 box pizza kit
*6 Frozen/microwavable lunches for Gracie
*4 pounds peaches
*2 pounds tomatos
*2 pounds bananas
*4 pounds of cheese (grated, and cubed) that's 16 cups
*5 ears of corn (fresh)
*1 Huge box instant white rice
*8 bars of soap (for Garren)
*1 bottle of Baby Lotion

Wow, looking back at this list it seems like a lot of junk food. I will have to work on that, but I also have to balance budget and nutrition. The more nutritious the more money. I have been getting good at balancing it out daily though; making sure Gracie gets a well balanced meal at least 2 times a day (most of the time she won't eat lunch, just a small snack of a few crackers and fruit snacks *100% juice).

This probably seems like a lot, its something you have to look forward to when and if you decide to extend your family, and many of you already have shopping lists like this one. But, I can heave a sigh of relief each night knowing that my family will not go to bed hungry unlike millions of Americans. Somehow the money and effort spent to keep this family running doesn't seem like much at all when you think of the babies, toddlers and other children who don't get enough to eat, or don't have anyone to cook for them. We are truly blessed.

PS: If you are wondering how much it all was, we came out for $210.00. Not bad for 2 weeks worth of food.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Happy Birthday Elliott

Happy Birthday Elliott!!! Many wishes for a happy and wonderful new year in your life. Hope Candice bakes you a cake (but somehow I doubt it :) Maybe you can milk a steak dinner out of it!!!

Barbara, Garren & Gracie

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Daddies & Daughters

When we first learned that Gracie was going to be a girl I was so happy I could hardly wait to buy her hair bows and frilly dresses. And, after she got here, I knew she was the most beautiful girl in the world and I secretly snickered at all the hearts she would break as she got older. But, after a few weeks, I started to worry about how my husband could bond with her. At first I was worried that he didn't spend enough time holding her and cuddling her, and then later I worried how they would play. As usual my fears were unfounded, but she was a he and how did my husband know how to relate to a little girl?

I am sure he would be the first to admit to you that it wasn't easy trying to bond with Gracie. Oh he loves her to death, and she has him wrapped around her little finger, but he didn't know anything about babies: boys or girls. I guess we women have a head start. Most of us babysat or were put in charge of younger siblings, and most of us are equipped with a maternal instinct. This instinct is not always found in men, and they need help! But after several months of helping change and feed her, the two were forever bonded.

In the beginning it was so easy just to tell him what to do or how to play because I was terrified he wouldn't know how. This was not the way to go. This man had been a loving husband for four years, he had prayed and hoped for this baby as much as I did, and cried with me the minute she was born. Just because he was a "boy" didn't mean he couldn't find a way to relate to our little princess.

Ours is a father-daughter success story. He and Gracie play and relate in a very special way. They play ball and wrestle and read. They share common interests like music and the computer and racing. They can romp and act silly just like any father and son. It took me a long time to realize that he doesn't care that she is a girl, he cares that she's his.

This weekend Garren and Gracie have had a marvelous time. To Gracie, time with daddy is a wonderful treat since she only sees him for a few hours a day. They played at the park and swung on the swings. They watched football and ate popcorn. They played on the computer and rough housed in the living room floor. Those two are quite a pair. They bring out the best in each other and they bring out the best in me. I am very blessed to have two such special people in my life.

pictured above: Garren and Gracie watching amazed as the popcorn pops in the microwave.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Happy Labor Day Weekend

From Family Email September 2, 2005:

I hope that the gas prices aren't keeping each of you from celebrating the 3-day holiday (If you got 3 days). Garren, Gracie and I are staying here in Strasburg. Were not sure what we'll do, but we'll do it together.

Gracie is growing and growing! She is working on her ABC's and is counting everything she can get her hands on, well until she gets to 10 and then she starts over. She has 16 teeth now and is between a 2T and 3T, and wears a size 6 shoe!!! I can't get over how tall she is. She still loves Barney and Clifford, but her interests are slowly moving to arts and music. She would rather play with her toy piano, xylophone, and drum or color (inside or outside) these days.

I have had a wonderful time with my blog. I forgot how much I loved to write, and how good I was at it. It gets my creative energy out and it's a nice way to keep friends and family updated on how the little princess is! If you get a chance, check it out, I am very proud. Also, I am desperately looking for anyone who may have saved these Gracie update emails from 2004. When my computer crashed last September, I lost them and I want to get any information I wrote. If you have any, would you mind forwarding them to me? Please?!

Garren is doing well with his new political job (he LOVES it), and will talk about politics to anyone--but if you know him at all you should know he did that long before this job!

Though its kind of lonesome here in Strasburg, Gracie keeps us busy and very happy. Maybe we'll visit family again before too long. I hope you all have a great holiday. Please stay in touch (I live for adult conversation that has nothing to do with the Governor's Race!!!)

Creative Mess

I must have the smartest girl in the world…

I must have the smartest girl in the world…
My Gracie knows her ears and nose,
She can even pretend to blow.
Call the Nobel Prize committee,
My baby can even find the potty!
And though she only uses it as a boat,
I as Gracie’s mom have cause to gloat.

My little princess can fix tea,
She fixes it for Dolly and Me.
She can create a magnificent piece of art,
Call the galleries! Boy is this girl smart.
She can blow you kisses and tickle your cheek,
And cover her eyes, but can’t wait to peek.

She can open and shut just about anything.
And wait till Barney’s on—she’ll even sing!
My girl can get down by herself and say “whee!”
And knows animal sounds from Monkey to Bee.
She can go up steps, and hold her juice,
All the while, working on her 16th tooth.

She can stack many a thing here in this room,
She can even hold her own fork and spoon.
Were still working on her colors and ABC’s,
But she will learn ‘em with the greatest of ease.
See, she’s a little genius don’t you know,
Just 17 months—Watch her GO!

If you want she’ll sing Itsy Bitsy,
But it doesn’t take long to get silly,
She’s a pro at ball and sledding,
Tell the Olympic team she’s ready!
She can count to ten and talk on the phone,
My musical prodigy can play the xylophone!

She can play house with her little people,
And pretend to shop for milk and apple,
She makes her toy cars go “vroom,”
As she scoots around her play room.
She can buckle a buckle and zip a zip,
And with help she can do a back flip.

She can brush her teeth and wash her belly,
She can help put on pajamas and get ready,
And when night time nears she snuggles ‘tween
“Time for milk and books my little queen.”
Cozy and warm, we ready for bed,
First, kisses and prayers are said.

The best thing, I think, is her favorite word.
Not a day goes by without it being heard
It’s the most wonderful word anyone could say,
The one that is just for me, and makes my day,
That one that can be both comfort and alarming,
But I still grin each time I hear… “Mommy.”

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hind Sight Is 20/20

Like millions of mothers before me, I too play the "what if" game from time to time. There is nothing we can do to change the past, but still we can't help but wonder if we gave our child enough attention or too much attention, if she got enough fruit and calcium, and if we have some how scared him or her for life. The truth is most of us are good mothers, and only time will show us that--and until then we have to concentrate on the now instead of yesterday.

Last night I was looking back over old pictures and I started to get misty. I was remembering fondly the days when Gracie had to be cradled everywhere. I was longing to relive her first foods, the day she rolled over, her cute dresses. I was snapped back in to reality this morning as my precious princess woke me up at 8am. Those days were special because they were fleeting. And, they weren't all days of smiles and cooing: there was teething, 3am feedings, 6am poop, no sleep, plenty of crying, watching your child trying to communicate and not being able to. Today Gracie can tell me what she wants (for the most part), we play tea party and dolls, she can color and swim and walk...and best of all I get hugs and kisses.

Each day with Gracie is like a new gift from God. I never know what to expect, but I know that I will show it off to anyone who will listen. Enjoy you today's with your children and grandchildren and don't dwell of what could have been....and remind me of that too when I get wistful about my early days of motherhood.

But in the interest of helping other new parents (which I really hope to do with this blog)...

Things I wish I Had Done Early On:

1. Write more things down. I know I was busy, but just a few minutes each night before bedtime to write down what she and I had done that day.

2. Spent less time keeping the house spotless and more time playing or sleeping. They say to you when your pregnant "sleep when the baby sleeps," but I found that was the only time to catch up on housework---IT CAN WAIT, SLEEP CAN NOT!!!!

3. Gotten out of the house more. Garren and I were so exhausted, and we were anxious about taking the baby and so much stuff out of the house that we practically became shut-ins. Babies can learn so much from seeing/exploring the world around them.

4. Sent more thank you notes. I know that this is hard to do, but so many people were so good to us, and often I never found the time to thank them for their kindness. I hope that I can do better with that and use the email to make necessary thanks to special people.

5. Found away for Gracie to see her Grandparents more. Living so far away from both sets of grandparents, I fear that Gracie has been robbed of forming a special connection with these people. I hope we can do better from now on.