Monday, October 31, 2005

Trick Or Treating

Gracie's Second Halloween

Baby Gracie had a wonderful Halloween...but then, she was warm inside an extra large elephant costume and was being pushed around a neighborhood full of hills, in a stroller!

I wasn't prepared for how cold Halloween night was, but I was very glad that I had picked out the elephant costume for Gracie. It was too big, but the extra length in the arms and legs kept her hands and feet warm.

Gracie was an adorable elephant, and she liked going door to door, but her favorite part were the glow sticks that she got to hold. We had given Mariah and Gracie those sticks that glow when you snap them and shake. Gracie thought those were the neatest things and by evenings end had a handful of them.

Cousin Mariah, Grandpa, Gracie, Garren and I all braved the cold weather to take the girls trick-or-treating. Mariah was a wizard. We were out for about an hour or so and the two had huge bags of candy, which I guess was really good for Garren. Gracie is too little for candy and Mariah doesn't really like candy, she just likes to go trick-or-treating, so "Uncle Garren" got most of the bounty.

Gracie got a card from Grandma and Grandpa and "little something" to get herself a treat. She got a wooden puzzle and several books and a card from Mommy & Daddy.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Church Halloween Party

I am post dating these blog entries as we were in Lynchburg for Halloween and the week after, and we were so busy having fun, we didn't have a chance to blog :)

Gracie's second Halloween got off to a rocky start as we attended the church's Halloween party Sunday evening. We were worried that Gracie would be scared of all the holiday festivities since she has been so frightened of things lately like large stuffed animals, animal sounds on the computer, etc.

Gracie wasn't much for the church's party. They had the lights off and a fog machine running, and baby Gracie clinched tight to her daddy and I. Garren and I had decided not to shy away from the party or take her home early, we want her to feel safe, but we want her to know that there isn't anything to be scared of. My concern is that if we leave things without exploring them she will grow up to be scared of everything.

Gracie was held for about 45 minutes or so, and then she began to see what fun the other kids were having. She played with the pumpkin game (after everyone had left), she chased the other kids, and then she had the best time of all picking up the candy off the floor after the kids broke the pinata. Garren had taken Gracie up for her turn to swat at the pinata, but our little piglet replied with her usual "no-kay."

When they turned the lights on in the church fellowship hall, our shy baby turned into a giggling ball of energy! She liked getting the attention from the bigger kids, and she really liked the food! I can only imagine how much sugar Gracie consumed that night...but I wasn't surprised when it took so long to get her to go to sleep that night!

When we left Gracie got a treat bag, and she won a prize, and some how the fake worms she and her daddy had been grossing me out with all night ended up in our bag! All in all we had a delicious family fun night.

Picture is of Grandpa and Gracie dressed as "Piglet."

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Our Little Soccor Player

Gracie showed us the Saturday we arrived in Lynchburg what she can do if we give her a few feet of grass. I always knew that she would be a soccor star, after all she kicked many a scoring goal in my belly those last few months.

Congratulations Gracie, you can kick a ball!!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Happy Birthday Sierra!

Congratulations Jessica and Steven on the birth of your beautiful daughter
Sierra Nicole
October 28, 2005 7:32am
Front Royal, VA
8 pounds, 5 ounces of precious
Thank you for letting us share in your special day!
Barbara, Garren & Gracie

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

My Humming Bird

The Mommy Gazette
October 25, 2005

Strasburg, VA--The princess Grace is well on her way to becoming a singer slash dancer extraordinaire!

If you can swing the tickets, you'll have to watch one of her command dance recitals. She performs her best to the theme song from TeleTubbies: The music is just too much, and her feet compel her to dance! After a short intermission you'll find that the beautiful ballerina will perform jumps and twirls to a menagerie of music from Blue's Clues to Jo Jo's Circus. But you musn't miss the morning performance the little dear must rest from her busy schedule in the afternoon.

If you are more of a vocal connoisseur, you'll love her renditions of "Itsy Bitsy Spider in A minor," The Alphabet Song in G major, and her acappella version of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." This little songstress is well on her way to Broadway. The words will bring out a smile and perhaps even a tear to all who are blessed to hear her dulcet tones.

What a fountain of talent and intelligence flow from this extraordinary 19 month old. Her parents are sure to be proud!

Marching Band Website

A few months ago, while cleaning out an enormous amount of things I have saved in the past 27 years...I got an idea to create an online scrapbook of all my band things.

I have tons of pictures and music sheets and newspaper clippings, and I thought I would share. If you were apart of the Big Orange Marching Machine at Heritage High School, those memories are likely ones you want to remember. Being apart of something as big as the BOMM helped shape who we were then, and likely who we are now.

Besides the souvenirs, I have also collected information on former band members about where they are now. You can find everything I have gathered at my band site: Return To Band Camp. I hope that you will enjoy it and help me add more information, pictures, as well as make needed corrections.

Email me your stories and information:

Monday, October 24, 2005

ABC Recognition

All the time Gracie and I spend on Fisher Price's website these past few weeks seems to be playing off. I came across toddler games on their site. Gracie loves to play ABC's and Shapes. Anytime Garren or I are at the computer she gets excited and yells "a-c's!" She has been singing the alphabet song for a few days now, most of the letters are understandable. But, today she was playing with her alphabet magnets on the refrigerator and saying the name of the letter. She knew B,C, H, and S. She probably knew more, but was likely getting tired of me saying "What's this one Gracie." She also held up a picture magnet in the shape of an oval and said "oval." I embarrassed myself by yelling "good girl" and giving her hugs. I can't help it, I am just so proud of her.

On a sad note (for me not her), her baby words are disappearing. I know that they have to say words correctly, but I loved the wrong ones to death. One of her first and favorite words was "ubum." We had no idea what this meant until she held an apple one day back in June and said "ubum." By August it was clearly "apple." The other day I noticed another baby word was gone: "cosie," which is now an emphatic "cookie." She has also turned "ger-ma" into Grandma.

Oh, well, she will be a very polite well spoken young lady...who's mother will embarrass her with all the words she used to say.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Patch The Pumpkin

Patch Shipley was born this evening around 6pm. Gracie was not so thrilled at as he "opened" his eyes and mouth, she liked him better when he was silent and just round.

We had bought Gracie a pumpkin Wednesday, and tonight we decided to carve him into a very happy jack-o-lantern. She looked on, terrified as her daddy started to cut out the lines I had drawn earlier today. But, she became fascinated as daddy started spooning out the icky insides. She put her fingers in the goo and picked out the seeds making a very sour face. As Daddy whittled away longer at the pumpkin she had become very attatched to over the past few days, she decided she couldn't watch anymore--and went off to play. We tried to coax her away from the shoes she was playing with and join in the family fun we had planned for the evening, but she responded with her usual "no-kay." When Patch was finished she didn't want to sit beside him to have her picture taken. She wasn't sure about this pumpkin that now had eyes, a nose, and a huge mouth. We readied Patch and put a candle inside him, and then all at once, Gracie also lit up. She decided that a Jack-O-Lantern was pretty neat all aglow. Now, of course, she wanted to touch him.

In the past few weeks Gracie has increasingly become scared of everything. I have read about this stage, as well as the separation-anxiety stage she also seems to be going through. I know that these two things are natural, but you can't help but be concerned that animal sounds she used to love to hear now frighten her, and stuffed animals like lions or tigers make her cower. She has been such a daredevil since she could sit up--and now to watch my bold child turn into a mommy's baby. Her nightmares have increased as well, and she ends up shaking at least once a night, and in our bed.

Besides the fear thing, she hangs on me constantly. She cries if I leave the room or do the dishes or anything else that takes me away from the room she's in. I guess I should cherish this time, after all in a few years she won't want anything to do with me! I do hope though that I can find away to help her deal with her fears. And, Garren and I have decided not to stop doing things because we don't want her to be scared. Sometimes its best to know that scary things are really okay. For example: we will not be canceling Halloween. We will take her out and see the sights. But, we will not force anything on her, if she gets scared we will cuddle her and go to a few more houses before we pack it in for the night. Two of the most important things for our child to know --we are always there, and it's not okay to let fear of any kind to run your life.

Apple Pie

I baked my first apple pie today, and it was beautiful! My friend Sara sent me the recipe last week, and after re-stocking at the apple orchard today, I got a chance to try it out. I did cheat on the crusts though, I bought the ready made kind, but I cut the top one up to make a perfect lattice design. I am quite proud.

Gracie was not as excited. I thought my pie was beautiful and I made it for my family, but all Gracie wanted was the vanilla ice cream I got to go on top! I guess I now know how my mom felt all those times she would cook for us kids and we would say "yuck!" or not eat it at all. My mother made this spaghetti sauce that took all day, but I would rather have had the kind from the jar. I now feel that crushing blow to one's ego after hours of labor over a food you are so proud of.

Garren, however, devoured it. He said it was the best apple pie he had ever eaten. And even if he is lying because he loves me, I think I will believe him anyway.

Good Girl Gracie


Congratulations on your second potty-time success. It has been a long week and you have tried very hard each day. When you have to go potty you go into the bathroom and wait for mommy to help, even though mommy isn't fast enough. You sit like a big girl and read books while we try to go each day after your nap. We are so proud of you! And we love you very much.

Mommy & Daddy

Happy Birthday Papaw

Happy 50th Birthday Papaw!

Mommy says you are older than dirt that true and did you really know Jesus personally and ride a dinosaur to school?

Anyway, I love you no matter how old you are,

***Picture of Papaw and Gracie in TN August 2005***

Monday, October 17, 2005

A Day To Celebrate!

A huge celebration took place here in our home, well in the bathroom, today at 3:30pm. Gracie used the potty! We have been getting familiar with the potty, though Garren and I haven't pushed it. The doctor told us Gracie would let us know when she is ready. We have sat her on her potty both fully clothed and without a diaper. She always thought it was fun.

After naptime today, I went to change her diaper and it was dry, so I asked her if she wanted to go potty. She repeated the word potty and in we went. We ready some books and giggled. I didn't want her to sit there to long (and she was getting bored), but much to my surprise when she got up, she had already pottied!! We celebrated and hugged and she got a cookie. But, mostly she just looked at me as if I had lost all my marbles!

I guess my motherhood is showing--I am wildly celebrating and logging about my daughter's first potty experience. But, I am just so proud of her, and to think she is only 19 month's old!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Blustery Fall Weekend

The windy fall weekend here in Strasburg kept us in jackets, but we still managed to have some fun. Since we are really only all together on Saturday's and Sunday's, we try to make the most out of those days...and Gracie and I try to get out of the house as much as possible!

On Saturday, we went as usual to the library, then we spent the rest of the evening in Winchester. We took Gracie "window shopping" at some new stores that have opened here like Old Navy. We also took her to PetSmart. She loves to look at the animals. She had a really good time.

On Sunday, we had only about 30 minutes to play at the Pumpkin Patch, but when we came home we watched Charlie Brown and The Great Pumpkin and we made cookies. It was a breezy, but nice family day.

The weather outside wasn't the only turbulent thing going on. Princess Grace is definitely trying to show us who's boss. We continue to have difficulty getting her to take a nap, she won't got to sleep at night and she sleeps until 10am the next morning. She is having teeth trouble, and her sleeping is out-of-sync. She goes to bed at the same time each night...she just doesn't sleep like she usually does. I like to think that Garren and I are handling the change well. With toddlers everyday is a new battle and new rewards. We are keeping the schedule steady though, we think that's best for her.

As for her learning skills, she had become a parrot. She repeats everything. She can tell you what things are hot and cold, even if you don't ask her, she knows 3/4 of her ABC's and she can put together a shape puzzle with ease. She never ceases to amaze me with her intelligence. We are lucky to have such a bright little girl. And, her hair is really getting long. But, pitty for me, she hates for me to fool with it. I love to run my fingers through it and gather it in a ponytail, but she shakes her head and tries to get away from me. Oh well, I guess I will have to put the ribbons and bows on hold for a few more months!

The picture above is from Sunday at the Pumpkin Patch

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Angry Toddler Strikes Again...

There are days when being Gracie's mom is easier than others. Oh, its never hard to love her...but some days she makes it real difficult to make it until bedtime!

Today was another battle of the nap. I snuggled her as usual without avail. After about a half and hour I decided to put her in her crib. This usually ends two ways, she fusses until I come and get her and we try again, or she lays down and goes to sleep. I let her fuss for several minutes today, and when I went back in to ask her if she was ready to try and take a nap again...I found her covered from head to toe in diaper cream!!!

I guess the Desitin was too close to the crib on her changing table. She was angry for being put in her crib and angry that she had to take a nap. She had squished and squeezed that tube and the cream coated her hands, face, and shirt. Not to mention the crib sheets and poor Clifford. I took her straight in to the bathroom to clean up. Mother's note: if this ever happens to you--do not try to wash it off the child's hands with soap and water. This does not work. Use a damp washcloth and rub it off. It will take several swipes to get it cleared away.

I checked the tube and it says harmful if swallowed, but she had binki in her mouth and there were no traces of it in her mouth, but I am watching her carefully. I got her down for a nap after cleaning her up. So ends another adventure in mommyhood!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Curves Update

All that hard work this month paid off. I was confident going in to my "weigh in," and it appears I had every right to be. The extra water, steady workouts, and semi-daily walks with Gracie added up for a successfull day at the gym.

This month I lost 4.5 pounds! 2.5 pounds of that was body fat. I am very happy with my results. I lost several inches as well, and gained some newfound confidence.

Overall I am down 13 pounds since I started at Curves in April. The picture I am attatching is from Sunday. I am still pretty big, but compare that to the picture of me in March, and you can really see a difference!

I am now looking forward to having our family picture done for Christmas!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Happy First Birthday Lucie

Happy First Birthday Lucie GeFellers!

I know that your mommy and daddy are very proud parents even though you were born with 4 paws instead of 2 feet, or maybe its becuase you were born with them. I know that you make Candice very happy, and now she knows what it is like to be a mommy.

Barbara, Garren & Gracie

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Fun Weekend

Grandma, Grandpa, and Mariah are headed back home this hour after spending the night here with Gracie in Strasburg. Gracie and Mariah had a blast catching up after being apart for 3 months. We usually see my parents (and Mariah) once or twice a month, but with so much going on--we hadn't seen them since July. The girls played and giggled, and this time Mariah got to play with Gracie at Gracie's house. Mariah hasn't visited us since the week Gracie was born, and they didn't stay overnight that time. I think all had a good time.

We went to the mall yesterday. Since it rained the pumpkin patch was out. Gracie got a new coat, and we had a good time window shopping. Today, however, the rain stopped long enough to take the girls to Hill High Farm to the pumpkin patch. Gracie had a wonderful time running all over the place. We picked our own apples and picked out pumpkins. We also got to visit the animals again. A baby calf liked Mariah so much it gave her several kisses, and chewed on her shirt! Gracie liked the lambs best of all. They were her size (and very shy), but she thought they were cute. Gracie enjoyed the "horseys" too, but wasn't sure about petting them even though Grandpa held her. In addition to the apples and pumpkins, we got to try some fresh from the pit pork BBQ (my all time favorite food!). It was delicious, they used a apple-BBQ sauce that was incredible.

All in all it was a great and relaxing weekend with family. Because they have a long trip ahead of them, Grandma, Grandpa and Mariah left at 2pm. Gracie is down for a nap, and Garren is headed to Richmond to cover a gubenatorial debate. It's still cool and cloudy out, so maybe Gracie and I will bake some cookies tonight. And, I'll work on putting pictures on snapfish.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Congratulations Becky & Mike

Becky & Mike Kaye:

Many warm wishes as you start a new and exciting life together as husband and wife.

I wish so much I could have been there to celebrate in person--instead I will choose to celebrate your happiness each and everyday that you are together.

All of our love to you both!

Barbara, Garren & Gracie

Friday, October 07, 2005

Gracie's 18 Month Photo

You can find the other pictures I got here: Milestone Pictures. Scroll to the bottom, there are 9 of them. Enjoy!!!

Odds and Ends

The rain destined for the Shenandoah Valley that has been backed up on 81 all summer is finally here, just in time for a planned visit from Grandma, Grandpa and Mariah. But, we can all enjoy the company anyway. If the rain slows long enough on Saturday, we'll head to the Pumpkin Patch and let the girls have fun.

A very dear high school friend of mine is getting married in Atlanta, GA this weekend. I had hoped so much to be there with her, but we just couldn't work the trip out. I am sure that she knows Garren and I send her best wishes as she and her husband start their new life together. I will be there in spirit tomorrow as she says her vows.

Gracie's 18 month pictures are back from Penny's. I will post them next.

I think Gracie is going to be an elephant this year for Halloween. She LOVES animals, and her new favorite is elephants. She can even make the animal sound. I looked for a costume without avail, but luckily for me my niece Mariah was one a few years ago. Mom is going to bring the costume for Gracie to try on this weekend. I am also hoping that the 3 of us can celebrate Halloween in Lynchburg with mom and dad again this year. There is much more for Gracie to do there, and here we don't know many people and we live in the sticks, which isn't conducive to trick-or-treating.

I am actually looking forward to this month's weigh-in at Curves. Gracie and I have been walking 30 minutes to an hour this week (except today, it's pouring!), so you add that to my regular workout, and maybe the pounds will come off faster. Gracie and I both enjoy the walks, she gets out of the house, and I get to work off some excess energy.

I think that's about it. Gracie is still a handfull, but I am trying to stay calm. She refuses to take naps now, but I finally got her down for one today. I took everything out of my jewelry armoire and I taped the doors shut on the entertainment center with packing tape. We had child locks on them, but Gracie broke them off (no kidding!) We are managing well, but any prayers you want to send my way would greatly be appreciated.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Terrible Two's

That's what my mom always called it; "The Terrible Two's." Well if that's what it is, my 18 month old daughter has it!!

Gracie has been especially difficult over the past few days. She's cranky for most of the day, and her tantrums, which I lovingly call "outbursts," are coming every hour or so. I know that she is teething some more even though I can't see anything through the gumline yet. But, its more than just the toddler miserable syndrome--she's well...a terror!

She has gotten into everything she knows is not allowed time after time. The books say she is "testing her limits," I say she is testing my patience. Day after day Garren and I scold her for getting into mommy's jewelry box (like I have anything valuable in there! But sill the pieces are mine and I don't want to see them lost or tangled) It's a jewelry armoire really, it has several tiny drawers, and to be honest I can definitely see the intrigue to small hands and curious minds. But despite the time outs, she returns again and again. Her behavior shows how smart she really is. She knows she is doing something she shouldn't, because when we catch her in the act, she walks away saying "no, no, no." But there is more than the limit testing, she's like a small puppy, when denied attention she retaliates. Whenever I have to leave her (to go to the bathroom, or to take a shower), I return to find her in the jewelry case, pushing the buttons on the computer or banging on the DVD player. She looks at me as if to say, "well you left me and I was mad." When I return from my daily workout, Garren informs me that he too has scolded her for doing things she's not allowed to do.

I know that this will pass. And there are tons of people out there with their own sage advice like: "Time outs, are you kidding, spank her and that will teach her a lesson!" Against my better judgment we did try taping her hand and saying no, but it lead to her hitting herself and telling herself no all the time whether she was doing something "bad" or not. She clearly was so hurt by this action that she internalized it and made her dislike herself. The hand taping ended almost as quickly as it began.

"Put more locks on your drawers and put things away better," is likely another source of advice. While we would love to furnish this very small apartment with cabinets that completely seal away any evidence of "cool things," we can not afford to replace the things we have, and besides, every child has to learn that they can't bang on everything they want to. We have child safety locks on doors and cabinets, but our amazingly strong and smart toddler has undone them quite quickly.

"Don't scold her, let her explore," this advice is likely from the grandparents of the group. While my fondest wish is for Gracie to be in an environment so large and safe that she could explore everything, this apartment is not it. The cable box she likes to bang on belongs to the cable company, if she breaks the DVD player we can not afford to get a new one and she can no longer watch her Baby Einstein DVD's, if she pushes enough buttons on the computer she will break it and all of our photos and files and digital videos will be lost, again.

I have found that each day is a new and exciting adventure with Gracie. While there are mountains of advice coming in from all corners, I have found the best within myself. Each day I make sure to find at least 10 things that Gracie does to applaud her for. I shower her with praises and hugs so she knows that not everything she does is bad. When she is put in timeout, I make sure I remind her why she was there and I hug her and tell her I still love her. I make every effort (and its not always easy) to remain calm when she "tests her limits," if she knows she's gotten me mad, she will know her job has been well done. And most importantly I pray each night, morning, mid morning, afternoon, mid afternoon, and evening for the strength to love and discipline this wonderful daughter of mine, and patience, I pray for a lot of patience to see me through.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

A Mother's Heart Aches

I took every last one down from the cabinet and put them in their own seperate bag and packed them away for what I am sure will seem like a lifetime. All of them, even her favorite one with Curious George on the front. I carefully washed each one, and made sure it was nice and dry, so that they would be sparkling clean for their next owner.

Thursday night, as it turned out, was her last bottle of milk.

Along with the bottles went the bibs and "spit rags." She's a big girl now, she feeds herself, and takes her night time milk in a sippy cup. A sippy cup she holds herself. A sippy cup that doesn't have Curious George on the front.

I sighed as I packed away her outgrown clothes last week, I smiled to myself as we picked out her new shoes last weekend, I wrinkled my brow when I realized we would have to get the next size diapers, I laughed when she sat on the potty and read a book...but Friday, when I packed away the last of the baby items--I cried. I guess I had just had enough of packing things away. Those bottles were the final tug at my maternal heart.

As I write this, my little princess is cuddling her favorite lamb and the bunny I had when I was an infant, and in a few hours she'll likely cry out for me. But, she won't need me to give her a warm bottle of milk. She'll doze off in a few minutes as I cradle her, and when I carry her back to her crib her long arms and legs will dangle, making it apparent that she is getting to big to carry across my arms. I will remember to turn sideways as we pass throughout the bedroom doors, so I don't bump her head or feet. I will kiss her and cover her up, and she will never remember how she got back to bed.

I often wonder if my own mother could have possibly felt this kind of heartache when she packed away my bottles. But, then again, she had Brian not long after me, and when he was finished with his baby things she probably celebrated.

My friends and family know that I celebrate each of Gracie's accomplishments. But tonight I think I will sit and sulk awhile. My heartaches, and as millions of mothers before me, I feel like complaining to any one who will listen that "my baby doesn't need me anymore!" I'll likely be fine by Monday, and I will applaud loudly when she masters another shape or color. But that night as I pour her milk into a sippy cup and warm it, I don't think anyone will blame me if I get misty and feel another relapse coming on.

**Picture is of Gracie's Papaw, when he and Mamaw got to see Gracie for the first time, our home, April 2, 2004***