Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Congratulations Shannon & GW!

You have a beautiful baby boy. I know you have been waiting a long time to meet him, and he will no doubt be a wonderful source of joy for the both of you!

Luke Aidan McCarthy
November 29, 2005
9:08 PM
7lb 4oz and 20 inches

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Plugging Your Ears To Well Intentioned Advice

There was an article in this month's Baby Talk magazine that I got a few days ago that was nice to see. It was about not listening to everybody's two-cents worth when it comes to your pregnancy, birth and your baby.

I remember everybody had advice or anticdotes to share with me while I was pregnant, some worried me, some were to weird to listen to and others I recognized as old wives tales. When a woman is pregnant her hormones are elevated, and telling said pregnant woman all the horrible things that can go wrong or went wrong for you, especially when they didn't ask, are not necessarily a good thing.

I remember crying for weeks because I was convinced that the hospital wouldn't feed my baby. I knew that I didn't want to breast feed, and that seemed to be a huge taboo these days. So, I figured that the nurses, knowing that I had made the wrong decision, wouldn't feed my baby. Much to my dismay, when voicing this concern through tears at our hospital tour/registration, the nurse replied "no, we won't feed your baby," and after a long silence " will." That was not what I needed to hear, I was horrified. The abrupt nurse slowly filled me in on how the hospital likes new mothers to bond and care for their infants from the start, so the baby sleeps in the room and is feed and changed by the parents. She did ask me if I had considered breast feeding, and I told her yes, but that it wasn't a good choice for me, and she dropped the subject. I guess I was so worried about it because it seemed in every literature that came in the mail or was given to me at the doctor's office--breast milk was the only way your child would survive and it's IQ would be negative 10 if you didn't. Take my advice. Decide for yourself. If you are like me and uncomfortable with yourself, breast feeding is perhaps not the way to go--and there is nothing wrong with choosing formula...oh, and they will give you bottles to feed your baby!

"Don't hold her so much!" If I had a dime for every person that told me I held Gracie to much, I could pay for her college education. Babies need to be held and cuddled and know that they are loved. That's my job, and if the worse thing I did was hold her too much, then I am set. A family member even told me that I was spoiling her because I rocked her to sleep, and that she would never sleep on her own. Other well intentioned family members told Garren and I that letting Gracie get into the bed with us would ruin her and she would never sleep on her own. Well, for the record, Gracie has slept in her crib most of the night for over a year. The cuddle time she gets early in the mornings is as much for her as it is for us. She sleeps fine and I am pretty sure she is not scared for life. Of course I can only imagine what these people would say if I told them that I still cuddle her until she falls asleep for her nap!

I am the one who cared for Gracie every day of her life, but you would not believe how many people told me that she should be on a routine. When you are a new mom you want the best for your child, and you are dumb enough to listen to almost everything people tell you. I confronted the pediatrician about scheduling, after he chuckled, he told me that the baby would make up its own schedule and that I shouldn't even try until she was 6 months old or so. Oh, did I mention I got the scheduling advice starting from Gracie's first week? The doctor was right, Gracie had no concept of time, or of day and night, or of when mommy needed a shower. Every second was about her needs-and that was they was it was supposed to be.

I still get dirty looks from complete strangers when they see Gracie with a pacifier. I know that baby's can get addicted to them, and Gracie is pretty attatched to hers. But, its not hurting her. She is not yet three, the cutoff that pediatricans recommend, actually she's not even two yet! Random people often tell me the stories of how they just weren't going to let their children have them, as if they were straws filled with cocaine. Another woman told me she got so annoyed that her daughter dropped hers so often, that she just threw them all in the trash when she was a year old. I do worry at times about the pacifier, but I think its because so many people have to tell me how horrible it is that my child uses one. It is very hard to tune out advice, but if you don't you will worry all the time needlessly. The only people you really need to listen to are yourself, your husband, your child and your pediatrician.

The above were issues that really hurt me. I know no one would have wanted to make me worry or upset me, but they did. Most of the time the person just didn't think before blurting out their disapproval. If you can help it, try to drain the advice you receive and only do what you think is right. If you are in doubt, ask the pediatrician that's what they are there for.

Here are some other misinformation/advice I received that was debunked by the doctor or was not a blanket statement....

*Heartburn means your child will have a head of hair ---old wives tale
*Don't put weight on your babies legs or they will get rickets --pediatrician said that this was true on the 20's and 30's before we made such strides in calcium and other nutrients for babies.
*Keep your baby awake so they will sleep at night--not only did this not work for us, but it made for a very cranky baby. The baby knows when it needs to sleep.

***Picture of Gracie at 3 weeks***

Monday, November 28, 2005

For Posterity

As much as this blog is way for family and friends to keep up with how my little angel is doing, this is also a way for me to keep a record of my child's physical, mental and emotional growth--not to mention a great way to store memories. I hope that you will all keep this in mind as you read the blog. It may seem like a glorified shrine to Gracie, and that I brag about her constantly. Of course I do, I am very proud. But, by writing her accomplishments and our daily trials and rewards, we as a family get to share Gracie to the world, and remember those moments for ourselves all at the same time.

That being said, I want to record here Gracie's skills.

*Gracie can identify the following colors: orange, yellow, green, pink, brown, purple. She has difficulty with red, black and blue, but gets them correct 80% of the time.

*She knows the numbers one thru 10, and we are close to knowing 11 thru 20. She can not identify the number when you write it, (except the number 8) but she can count various objects from cups to toes to fingers.

*She can identify parts of the body including: ears, eyes, mouth, teeth, fingers, hand, feet, toes, hair, belly and nose.

*She knows her alphabet song and can identify all 26 letters in any order.

*She knows the following shapes, and can identify them in other things like windows, blocks, cookies, etc: heart, star, diamond, square, rectangle, triangle, circle, and oval.

*She can tell you that G-R-A-C-I-E is "Gracie," and M-O-M-M-Y is "Mommy."

*She speaks very well and has a vocabulary of over 200 words (I am estimating). She puts words together to make phrases.

*She already has manners, she uses the words "bless you" when someone sneezes, she says "thank you," when you hand her something or help her, she says "welcome" when you thank her.

*She knows over 20 animals and their sounds and can identify the animals by name and picture.

*She can sing the following songs in their entirety: "Twinkle Twinkle," "Itsy Bitsy Spider," "Old Mac Donald," and "I Love You (Barney Song)."

*Physically she can kick, throw and most of the time catch a ball.

Well Wishes To Family

from family email 11/28/05:

Family & Friends:

We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and you no doubt had plenty to celebrate and be thankful for. Our dinner here went well. All eight of us found plenty to eat, and even enough air, which I was worried about in this small apartment of ours. Garren's parents and brother and my parents all made the trip to Strasburg, and we were glad they decided to celebrate with us.

Gracie enjoyed the mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese and rolls. She wouldn't try the turkey, she has been going through this anti-meat thing for several months now. Of course she looked adorable. I made Garren and I and Gracie all dress to coordinate in navy. Yes, I am aware I am nuts! My mom got such a good picture of us though, that Garren has been spared the trip to Penney's to have the family portrait done. We have yet to have a professional family picture taken, but still we have plenty of the three of us that have turned out well (Garren hates to have his picture taken!).

Thank you to all of you who submitted your thankful lists by email and on the blog, we really appreciate this. If you didn't submit one, and you would still like to you can email them to me and I will include them. I think that these lists will help Gracie understand as she gets older what being Thankful means. I read the lists to her and she recognized some of the things and would smile. Thank you all again.

I guess its now on to Christmas. Things seem to move so fast these days. But, I think I will wait to decorate, and we will probably wait to get the tree until about a week before. Those of you who have toddlers know what a nightmare ornaments and lights are with tiny, curious hands!

Gracie continues to grow and learn. Just today I noted all the things she can do on the blog. She knows all of her ABC's and can identify them in any order, she knows most of her colors and all of the simple shapes (circle, triangle, square, rectangle, diamond, heart, oval). She amazes me everyday, I am so lucky to have her.

We will have to start searching for yet another pair of shoes. The Barney shoes we bought her two months ago are too tight, and she will be wearing a size 7 1/2 or 8!!! And she's not even 2! She fits comfortably in 3T clothes and continues to progress with the potty. She has been going in the potty sporadically over the past 2 months and we are very proud. And, its a good thing, since she is in the largest size diapers they make!! Cruisers size 6!

I will sum up by hoping that all of you have a wonderful week. We would love to hear from you.

**Picture from Thanksgiving day, included in email***

Happy One Month Birthday

Yeah Sierra you are one month old today!
I am sure your parents will celebrate every milestone with you,
after all they have every reason too.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

No Imagination Left

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I guess its time for Christmas. Garren is listening to his Charlie Brown Christmas CD, neighbors have Christmas trees and decorations up, and the commercials for holiday shopping have been extra obnoxious this weekend.

You might think I am a scrooge; I am not, I guess I just long for the days when you had a time to rest between the holidays. These days the stores are selling Christmas items a week before Halloween. But I digress.

Garren and I have been looking through the sales papers, talking about things that Gracie might enjoy for Christmas, and I have noticed a scary trend. Look through your sales papers and count how many toys there are that require batteries. No, I am not complaining about how much money it takes to keep these toys going, I am talking about how kids are using less and less of their imaginations. When I was a kid, toys were toys. You played with them, you had pretend tea parties and Barbie weddings. I remember getting lost for hours in adventures with my dolls or bears. I was a school teacher, a nurse, a wedding consultant (and often the bride), a rock star, and many more. Now that I am 27 I have an amazing imagination. And, I would like to think because of that imagination I have become an creative writer, and an entertaining mom.

I worry about Gracie's generation, and what will happen without that healthy creativity that kids design on their own. Already the world longs for the newest gadget that will do everything for them from planning their day, to recording a tv show they don't have time for. And, now you find more and more toys that talk or sing or bounce. The Tumble Tigger is adorable--but that's all he does. He has a hard body that you can't cuddle and he says a certain number of phrases and does cartwheel after cartwheel. I would rather Gracie have a stuffed Tigger (or any other animal) that she can hug or read to, or dress up for a tea party or take pretend shopping.

How are our children supposed to develop imaginations if the toy companies do it for them? In Gracie's room, you'll find blocks, books, stuffed animals, a tea set, an oven, and Little People playsets. I love to look in on her playing, and listen to her as the dolls or figurines have conversations with each other. She will pour and stir your tea for you. She can build high towers with her blocks. She doesn't need the Dora talking kitchen, or Rusty the talking dump truck to do it for her. She gets a better sense of accomplishment doing it herself.

I want the sky to be the limit when she pretends and plays. I want to cultivate her imagination and her dreams. Children need to be children, they need to play and develop a sense of self. What will Tumble Tigger do for her, or Chicken Dance Elmo, or Go Go My Walking Pup? They will make playtime shorter. After all, the toys only say so many things, and why make up conversations for the toy, or read to the toy--it can already do that.

With so many toys and gadgets plaguing our homes, where will the creativity go? And for that matter where will the time to play go? After all, any time left in the day is spent on replaying the Desperate Housewives episode you missed last week.

Now, I don't want to be a hypocrite, Gracie has three talking toys; 2 Barney's (one I paid .45 for, the other was free), and a Blue doll that says something like 75 phrases. And as much as she likes these characters, she tends to play with the things that she can decide what they say.

Thanksgiving Weekend

We still have a ton of leftovers, and I don't want to see turkey again for the next 12 months!!

Thanksgiving and the remainder of the weekend went well here in Strasburg. Mamaw, Papaw and Luke left early this morning and have returned safely to TN to wash Luke's clothes before he returns to Knoxville tomorrow.

Gracie got some quality spoil-time with both sets of grandparents and Luke and Garren got plenty of time to visit. All this despite the fact that the princess Gracie did very little sleeping for the past three days. That goes for her parents too!

I would like to say we did exciting things while our guests were here, but Gracie was pretty much the extent of their entertainment. We took a trip to the library on Friday, and Garren showed his family some of the sites during Gracie's nap--but that was about it. I hope they had fun anyway.

Anybody want some leftover pie? How about turkey?

*Above, Gracie gets spoiled by Papaw, who gives her chips for dinner!***

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and family. We hope that you have a blessed day. Remember to tell each other how thankful you are for their friendship and love.

It snowed here last night. We just got a dusting, but Gracie was in bed before she could see it. Since Gracie woke up at 5:45am this morning and wouldn't go back to sleep, she is now down for a nap at 10am. She watched a little bit of the parade and an episode or two of the "Jo Jo's Circus" marathon on Disney today. I have picked out a cute Thanksgiving dress for her, and we think all of the grandparents will arrive around noon. I put the turkey in at 7am this morning, and the bread is rising. It looks like it will be a wonderful time for all. Hopefully I will get some good picture through out the day and I will post them tonight or this weekend.

Grandma, Grandpa, Mamaw, Papaw and Luke all arrived by noon today. we got the food finished an hour earlier than anticipated. The turkey was delicious, Garren did a good job. We ate and had desert and then the grandparents took turns playing with Gracie. Gracie was adorable today, she went round and round the rooms hugging each person saying "Hi Mommy" (hug), "Hi Gramma" (hug), etc. We took a few pictures and I used mom's camera to capture some videos. Mom and Dad are on their way back home, I think the snow has stopped now, or at least slowed--although the wind has not. It flurried for much of the afternoon, but I don't think any of it will stay past morning.

We hope that all of you had a good time visiting family and friends and had a wonderful turkey dinner!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tomorrow Is Turkey Day!

Another Mixed Up Day

Gracie and I affixed the last feather to our homemade "countdown to Thanksgiving" turkey, leaving just 24 hours to get the bird ready, keep the house clean, vacuum up the fruit loops and cracker crumbs another 6 times, and make several gallons of tea.

Last minute preparations would have been a little easier, if the Princess Grace had decided to sleep last night. Gracie woke up around 4 am and stayed that way until 6am. I would hug her and put her back down in her crib. After three times of that game I gave up and put her in the bed with us. Around 7am, daddy had had enough and he shipped her back in to her crib, where she slept until 9am and woke up crying. She moved back in our bed and slept until 11am. I decided a nap was not likely to happen today.

We hadn't seen Jessica or baby Sierra in a week and a half, so we paid them a visit. Gracie had fun running around Jessica's house and playing with the dogs, and getting a brownie. That is until the baby woke up, and mommy decided to feed it. Gracie wanted hugs and to be held all while I was feeding Sierra. But, she calmed down a little. Meanwhile, I really impressed myself by putting Gracie on my lap while feeding Sierra at the same time, and later by burping Sierra and getting Gracie's shoes on her, one handed. I don't want to say a toddler and an infant is a snap, but I was excited that I could handle both of them at once.

Gracie went to bed early tonight, though she wouldn't eat anything. Her teeth have really been giving her problems over the past few days. Garren and I are taking a break before tackling the dishes and turkey and my 3rd load of laundry today.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Ups And Downs Of My Day

The day started off with yet another potty-time success. I was on my way out the door to the gym, when Gracie ran into the bathroom. Garren sat and read to her, and when I came back he told me she piddled in the potty. Gracie got her second sticker, two days in a row. Of course Garren is ready to run out an by her big girl underwear. Me, I am just hoping to make it 3 days out of the week.

I guess her potty success and the parental "joy dance" must have gone to her head, because the princess Grace decided she was too good for a nap. I fought with her for a hour and a half. She is currently sleeping...although I am not sure for how long.

There are two days left until Thanksgiving. I know this because Gracie and I taped on the #2 feather on to our homemade turkey. Grandma and Grandpa and Mamaw, Papaw and Uncle Luke will all becoming to see us Thursday. I have a ton of deep cleaning to do before then. When you have a small apartment every speck of dust shows!!!

8:07pm--The day got a little better. Gracie slept for an hour and a half, and pooped in the potty again. For which she got another sticker. But, since she didn't want mommy to feel to good about herself, she decided not to eat dinner and whine and cry until we put her to bed. On the bright side: she's in the crib, and so far no crying!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Potty Success

***Warning, if you can't handle poop do not read on***

Gracie had potty success today after a month off the pot. I am hoping that we can once again start a routine now that we are back on a regular schedule. This afternoon I could tell Gracie was "trying." So, I asked her if she needed to poop and she ran to the bathroom. I was able to get her diaper off in the nick of time. She pooped and I read. That's her favorite part of potting--mommy reading her books. I made a big fuss over the incident and she got a sticker on the calendar. Garren plans to pick up cookie dough as he comes home so we can celebrate further.

Yeah Gracie! We knew you could do it!

November Pictures

I have added November pictures to my snapfish account and they are ready to view. There aren't as many this time. I know November isn't over yet, but it seems each month that goes by I take fewer and fewer pictures. In a way that's a good thing, because I am enjoying more moments instead of trying to capture them--but I enjoy photography, and I don't want to lose out on special every day moments. That's what's neat about pictures--they don't have to be saved for special events or holidays, you can share everyday moments that can mean just as much. I included in this blog one of those "it just happened" moments. I was in the living room after swiffering the kitchen, and I guess Gracie just decided to help out. I grabbed the camera while she wasn't looking and snapped the photo. It is a precious smile she has on her face. You can tell she is proud that she was helping mommy clean up.

Other pictures include Gracie playing in the "barn" I made her. Mom was going to get rid of this little play house that had a plastic Hello Kitty design that fit over the frame, but since Gracie had such a good time playing with it at their house, I decided to take it home. However, Hello Kitty does not match the barnyard theme I have crafted for Gracie's room over the past year. So, silly me decided to sew a barn together!!! Four hours and 12 gray hairs later I was finished. I have no idea how it turned out so well. I had no pattern and I was just guessing at it. There wasn't quite enough material to get the top triangles on either side, but that worked out well...because now it is also a puppet theatre!

There are some more pictures from our Halloween trip to mom and dads, and some cute ones of Gracie's fall wardrobe. I hope you all enjoy my photos as much as I do.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Post Partum...Well sort of

Last night I was watching Nick-at-Nite and it was that Cosby episode where Cliff dreams he is pregnant along with Elvin, Theo and Martin. Its a very funny episode, it makes fun of how women and men react to pregnancy. But, it also reminded me of my labor and delivery and how I didn't get to experience what most mothers do.

Now, I know that many women are probably yelling about how lucky I am at this point. But, the hardest part is, that I will never experience those things. Because of complications with my labor, I can no longer have a "natural birth," I will always have to schedule C-sections. Having Gracie was the most wonderful thing to happen to me...but the operation was planned, the induction was planned...there was nothing natural about it, and it has left a small hole in my life.

You may think its silly, but Garren and I didn't get to coach each other through labor pains, and load up and head frantically to the hospital. We missed out on that anxious/excited feeling you get when you know "it's time!" Garren didn't get to catch the baby or cut the cord. They didn't put Gracie on my chest. I didn't get to complete labor and feel that euphoria after working so hard for something and reaping the reward.

Don't get me wrong. There was plenty of anticipation, but it spanned over 3 days as I waited, and waited, and waited for the medicine to force me to go into labor. And it increased for the four hours I tried with all my might to push. And then, anxiety became fear when the doctor said they would have to take her out by operation. Of course at the time I was so drugged up, that my fear was mixed with swirling lights and sounds.

I guess there was just something missing. I read about a year after Gracie's birth, that it is very common for mothers who have their babies by C-Section to feel a sense of loss. That there was something incomplete about the whole process. Gracie was a year old, and so I don't remember the advice they gave to overcome it--but I recommend any one who has to undergo a C-Section to find out. These days many, many more obstetricians are recommending normal births following C-Sections. Unfortunately while pushing, I tore my cervix and uterus and other sensitive parts making it dangerous for me to try again.

These feelings are some that are at the back of my mind, but they swell up when I see something that reminds me of what I didn't get to experience. But, writing it here seems to have helped. Having a C-Section is not a bad thing, and it may not leave you with the same feelings I did. For many having a baby this way is a great relief--no pain, and everything is over in about an hour or two. But, I recommend talking about your feelings afterwards, and discussing the possibility of having a natural birth with your doctor the next time you conceive.

***Picture is from OR, when I got to see Gracie for the first time, she was already cleaned up and wrapped up, and yes she is sticking her tongue out!!! This is my first memory of her!!!***

Friday, November 18, 2005

Where Did Fall Go

It didn't stick around here long that's for sure.

Yesterday, Garren came home from work early after a very bad day and told us to get ready that we were going out. He told me to put Gracie in her new winter coat. I scoffed at him, but after walking out the door, I was very glad I took his advice. It was frigid! The wind made it worse. And, it doesn't look like it will warm up anytime soon. Oh, the sun is out today, but it is just mocking Gracie and I as we find things to do inside with the heat on!

Last night was fun though. We went to dinner and then to Books A Million. Gracie had a wonderful time playing with a wooden Thomas The Tank Engine train setup they had there. We split a hot chocolate, but left after a few sips because the patrons there were giving us the evil eye for bringing a toddler into such a literary place. We finished the hot chocolate in the car and then took her to Toys R US to make her list for Santa. I looked at the Thomas sets, but we just don't have enough room. And, you really need one of those train tables to put the set on for her really to enjoy it. Maybe when we get a house.

We rounded of our frosty evening at Wal Mart. Gracie got a winter tobogan. We are still looking for mittens. The kind they had there were too tight to get on Gracie's hand. We'll have to check some other places. For the time being her extra long sleeves are keeping her fingers warm. We picked out her winter coat last month. We had to get a 4T!! She's not even 2 yet. But, it was the best fit. I just hope she can stay in it until March or April when winter goes.

I guess mommy and baby will just have to find fun things to do inside for the next 3 to 4 months. Any ideas?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Happy Birthday Katie

Happy Birthday to my dear friend Katie.
I hope that you had a wonderful day and plenty of ice cream.
We are sorry we couldn't be in Knoxville to celebrate with you!
***The picture is from June 2004 when Katie & husband Matt met Gracie for the first time***

Being Thankful

I would like to teach Gracie what others are Thankful for. As a favor to Gracie and I, would you email or write in the comment section of this blog entry what you are thankful for. I would like to read them to her and help her understand over the next year why we give thanks.

Thank You so much,
Barbara & Garren & Gracie


From Email 11/17/05

Dear friends and family:

I know Gracie is young, but I am trying to instill values as early as possible. Over the past two days we have been getting ready for Thanksgiving. She made turkey hand prints and we have been talking about what we are thankful for. I want to teach her why we should be thankful. If you find the time today or this week, if you could email us or post a comment on our blog about what you are thankful for. I plan to read her the list and over the next year talk about why those things might be important to us or to someone else. I think that talking about being thankful and why Thanksgiving is more than just turkey, is a good thing to do even at this early age. You'll find Gracie's and mommy's thankful lists on our blog:

Thank you in advance for your help!
Barbara & Gracie

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Giving Thanks

Gracie and I talked today about being Thankful. We went through family members and thought about all the ways we were thankful for them. I know she is very young, but I would like to see her catch on to concepts like thankfulness and love for others.

I know my child very well, and I think that if she could communicate, her Thanksgiving list would go something like this: I am thankful for: Mommy & Daddy, Barney, Clifford, Po, Ice Cream, shoes, books, fruities, Grandma, Grandpa, Mariah, Mamaw, Papaw, Uncle Luke and Uncle Brian, Aunt Heather & Uncle Kenny, DJ, Ryan & Casey, Jessica & Sierra. Kids so often thank God for the things in their lives that they most cherish, and though many of the things on their lists are materialistic, I think that those "things" give them true enjoyment and they are truly thankful for them.

After thinking about it for several minutes here's mommy's list:
I am thankful most to God for giving me life and making me a wife and mother, I am thankful to Gracie for giving my life meaning, to Garren for loving me and putting up with me these past 6 years for better and worse, richer and poorer and poorer still, and sickness and health. I am thankful for Fisher-Price and Leap Frog and Baby Einstein and PBS for making parenting a little easier. I am thankful for Wal-Mart allowing me to be a stay-at-home mom by making families like ours be able to live well on a budget. I am thankful for friends, even though we don't talk much and aren't as close as we once were, they still seem to be there when you need them the most. I am thankful for Garren's job, and the fact that we have all the necessities we need and a paycheck every two weeks. I am thankful for family, and upbringing I received from them. I am also thankful for rainy days and the seasons and chocolate chip cookies. And for the women at Curves who help me every week with the courage to keep trying and to work harder to make a better and healthier me. I am thankful for my health and that I can get up every morning and sleep (almost) every night. I am thankful that I am an American and my daughter is an American and can live with many less fears than women and children around the world. I am thankful for my digital camera and the technology to share my thoughts and adventures with family and the world. And, I am thankful for the gift of another day with all my memories.

Our home is a happy and warm place to be, and I make it my job to remember every now and then, all the things that make it that way. We are truly thankful to be a family.

***Picture above is what I am most thankful for. Taken March 2003**

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Perfect Day

Today was an absolutely beautiful day here in Strasburg. The sun was warm and it was about 70 degrees outside. After Gracie's nap, I decided that we could not waste this perfect day. I gathered up the diaper bag and Gracie and we headed to the park. A few minutes after we arrived, every other mom in Strasburg got the same idea. There were about 20 or so little kids, most of them boys, in shorts and t-shirts running around trying to savor what was left of fall.

Gracie had a great time. She's much more independent now that she is more sure of herself, and she ran around the park and climbed on things- occasionally asking for help. She especially enjoyed the swing.

After an hour or so at the park, I wasn't ready to go home yet, so we stopped by my favorite second hand store and looked through the books. Gracie got 5 books and a puzzle for $2.32. (I am good aren't I!) Then we stopped by to see Daddy at work. His co-workers "ohhh-"ed and "ahhh"-ed over her and she showed Daddy her finds from the store. Still not wanting to go back inside, I took Gracie to Food Lion to get a few things that probably could have waited--but it was such a nice day!

There weren't enough warm sunny days this fall, well here anyway. It seemed like it rained too much or it was too cold to take Gracie out. I am glad that mother nature gave Gracie and I one more day in the sun before we have to cower back in our little apartment for the winter.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Gracie Meets Sierra

Garren and I got our first glimpse into what it might be like if Gracie had a sibling. Our friends Jessica and Steven came over for dinner Saturday night with their 2 week old baby Sierra. Gracie thought the baby was first. She would hug Sierra's foot and point to her and say "baby!"

As time wore on and I held the baby, and Garren held the baby; Gracie became less and less sure about this little wriggly thing. While Garren and I were taking turns getting our "baby fix," Gracie showed off all her tricks. She tossed the ball, she pulled out many, many toys, she sang her ABC's- all in an effort to divert the attention her way. Her (Gracie's) cuteness wore off, and her efforts turned in to temper tantrums. Gracie refused to eat even though I made her favorite; lasagne. She cried and insisted on being held. When it came time to put her to bed she wouldn't drink her milk or sit still for the stories, and she screamed when we removed binki to brush her teeth. She did go down okay, but she insisted on keeping her milk cup. I let her have it, but only because I knew she wasn't going to drink it, she just wanted to clutch it. I was right, I checked on her an hour later and she was sound asleep and the milk hadn't been touched.

Garren and I love our baby very much, but we don't want to keep her from other babies or children for fear she might get jealous. Jealousy is a healthy part of life, and it will take time for Gracie. After all, she has been the center of our world for nearly two years now. But, Gracie is a also a sweet and caring child, and I don't think it will be long before she starts asking when Sierra will come over to visit again. Besides, Gracie has two parents whose job it is to make her feel wonderfully special--and we take our job very seriously!

As for Sierra, she is a beautiful baby with a wild set of lungs and a hollow leg! I have never seen a baby eat that much. She drank 4 or 5 ounces in one setting, and I feed her 4 ounces earlier in the day! We were so happy to have all three of them over for the evening and hope they will come back soon.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

October 2005

Check out October 2005 family pictures from Halloween, Pumpkin Patch and more on snapfish.

On To The Next Holiday

From family email:

Hello family and friends:

I hope that you are all enjoying the fall, because winter is almost here. I am not sure if I am ready for the holidays....but I guess I don't have a choice!
We're back from Lynchburg and Gracie and I are working to get over a cold. We went to mom and dad's for Halloween and Gracie and I stayed for the week after. Gracie was an adorable elephant, and she and cousin Mariah racked up the candy while Garren, Grandpa and I froze! Luckily the rest of the week was warm and sunny and Gracie got ample time to play outside.
We are slowly getting ready for Thanksgiving. It looks like mom and dad and Garren's parents and brother are all coming to Strasburg for Thanksgiving. It will be nice to have everyone together, although I doubt any of them are coming to see us, they just want to see Gracie!
Gracie is now 20 months and can do a number of things including singing her A,B,C's, naming her colors and shapes, and counting one to ten. She can also tell you the parts of her face, hands, and feet. And, she is very good at singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" "Old Mac Donald," and "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and she enjoys pretending.
She is a wonderful handful and incredibly smart. Garren and I are so proud. She is also a giant (she gets that from her daddy), she is in 2T to 3T clothes and her size 7 Barney shoes that we just bought are snug!!! If you saw her, you would never know she wasn't even 2 yet.
I have updated my blog for the week we were gone and there are several pictures from Halloween for those of you who are interested. For those of you haven't seen it yet, you might enjoy it, I update it several times a week and there are tons of pictures on there.
Let us know how you are all doing, we would love to hear from you. Have a wonderful rest of the week and weekend!

Germs Strike Again

We are all safely back in Strasburg after a wonderful week in Lynchburg with Grandma, Grandpa and Mariah...but cold germs have struck the Shipley home yet again. Gracie woke up with a cold Monday morning, and by Wednesday I was feeling like death! I still have a stuffy head today, but Gracie is doing well.

Election Day for Garren seemed to go well. Election Day is kind of like Christmas for him. He's such a political junkie, plus this was his first election as the political reporter. He stayed at the office until midnight that night and smoked his twice annual cigar on the ride home. I am proud to say that Garren stayed on top of the election and the candidates through out the political season, and had really made a name for himself. Oh, and if you didn't vote Tuesday, don't tell Garren!! He would be terribly disappointed in you :)

We are starting preparations for Thanksgiving already. It looks like his parents, his brother and my parents will all be joining us here in Strasburg this year. It should be fun, and Gracie will enjoy being doted on by two sets of grandparents and an uncle!

Other than that not much going on here. We have gotten the apartment ready for winter and I am slowly accepting that Christmas is almost here. I guess we will have to dig the decorations and Christmas cards out soon--but not until after Thanksgiving!! One holiday at a time.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Sand Box Fun

At Grandma's and Grandpa's

Gracie had a wonderful time in Lynchburg this past week. Since mom and I were working so much on trying to get things together for a church yard sale Saturday, we didn't leave the house much. That left plenty of time for Gracie to play outside. We had beautiful weather all week. It was very warm and sunny, and I enjoyed watching Gracie run around the yard. Gracie's favorite though, was playing in the sand box. This is the first time she had ever gotten to experience a sandbox, and she kept herself busy for hours with buckets and shovels and her own two hands.

Its really wonderful when Gracie gets to play outside. Sometimes it so hard to live in an apartment where going outside is going to the parking lot. But, at Grandma and Grandpa's I make it appoint to let Gracie spend as much time outside as possible. And of course mom and dad let her rule the roost, and they leave the back door open to the deck so she can come in and out as she pleases (the door is full of windows so we can keep an eye on her, and there is a locked gate that keeps the stairs of limits).

Gracie, as usual had the best time visiting with Mariah. This week we rode to pick Mariah up from school, we saw her in her Karate class, the two went trick or treating and they spent hours giggling and playing.

As is a custom with these week long visits to Lynchburg, there never seems to be enough time to see everyone. I am sorry that we didn't get to visit more people, but we'll be back soon enough.