Friday, December 30, 2005

Home Bound

Home today nursing a sick baby. Gracie woke up with a 100 degree fever this morning around 7am. Obviously I miss calculated the teeth effect. My friend Jessica says the flu is going around. But the good news is that it is gone in 48 hours. She's down for a nap, but is quite miserable. She doesn't have a runny nose or cough or anything, but she just kind of wallows around and wants to be held.

I'll write more when she is better.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Grocery Store Helper

I had to tell you all about tonight's trip to Wal Mart to get groceries. Gracie has been clingy today and was fussy before we left. I felt her head and she was warm, turned out she had a 99.8 fever. I gave her some Tylenol before we left. Now, I am fairly certain that the fever and crankiness are teeth related. I couldn't get her to eat today, she only wanted cold juice, so I felt safe taking her out to get groceries with us.

Anyway, she wanted mommy to hold her rather than sit in the grocery cart. So, after some snuggling I let her down to walk (she is REALLY heavy!) You should have seen her, she held my hand and pointed to different items naming them all. Then, she got a little more adventurous and I let her put things that we needed in the cart. The smile on her face was so huge! When we got to the produce I let her pick out the tomatoes and put them in the produce baggies. She was so happy that she was getting to help mommy.

While we were in the store and she was walking down the isles, I noticed I could see her belly between her shirt and pants. I kept tugging at the shirt, and soon realized that it was not bunched up--it was too small! I asked Garren if he noticed it this morning when he dressed her, and he said it was fine then, and she had to have grown during the day. Well, another size down the drain. Socks were already on the grocery list because the old ones were leaving tight rings around her ankles--so, we threw in a couple 4T shirts and pants we found on clearance for $2. This child is really growing. Please keep in mind she still has three months until she is 2!! So, now Gracie is in size 4T clothes, size 8 shoes and size 6 diapers. It looks like I will have to make another shopping run. I shouldn't complain, she is a happy healthy toddler and we love her so much. Plus, when she is 10 she will probably be taller than me and she can reach the top shelves.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Gracie "Helps" Mommy Make The Bed

Back In The Swing Of Things

Our little family seems to be back to life as usual...with the exception of Garren's migraine. This morning I headed to the gym for the first time in 2 weeks, and it felt good. Garren went to work and I got 3 loads of laundry done, the house cleaned, dishes done, dinner cooked and cleaned up, started Gracie a bath, played & read with Gracie, etc...I even baked cookies. And it was kind of nice to have my day back to normal again. Gracie too found herself more comfortable at home as she decided to use the potty for the first time in 2 weeks! We are very proud, and she received another sticker on the calendar.

I am not sure how this potty training things is supposed to go. It seems like she is sporadic with it. We don't want to push her, I mean she isn't even 2 yet! But, then again, we want her to keep trying. We tried the Dora pull-ups. She loved them, but her sensitive skin did not!! We have had problems with diapers before (Gracie can only use Pampers Cruisers because of the velcro tape, she's allergic to the sticky kind), and this time was no exception. She developed a bad diaper rash that didn't go away for a week! These trainers had a wetness liner in them so your child can feel that she is wet. The liner also had blue colored raindrops on it. We think the combination of the dye and the piddles on her skin created the problem. So, that leaves us in a bind. Because Gracie is so big, she is already in the biggest size diapers Cruisers make--so, she has to be potty trained before she out grows them. But that's a problem for down the road. Although my little weed continues to grow. I noticed the other day she will need new socks since the ones she is wearing are leaving band marks around her ankles.

In addition to the potty success today, Gracie learned about shadows. We were sitting in front of the window with the afternoon sun facing the wall, and Gracie saw her hand shadow on the wall. She thought it was very neat and continued to wave her hands and fingers around while giggling.

Oh, those of you who know me well will get a kick out of this: last night when we took Gracie to Toys R Us to spend her gift card, there was a huge sign outside that said "winter clearance." I told Gracie: "Always look at the clearance rack first Gracie." She repeated "Aways ook at de clearance rack furst momma." It was so cute. And those of you who know me have probably heard me say the same phrase to you!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Hair Experiment

It was last week that I realized that Gracie's hair has remained the same style since she was born; long in the back and bangs parted to the left. I have never had her hair cut and it is really starting to get long in the front is well. And it was time for a new "do." After all, she is a very cute little girl, and I have been longing to dress her up!

Besides experimenting with the hair (which came out just adorable don't you think), Gracie and I took advantage of the warm day to get new books from the library. We hadn't been home long before Daddy came in with a card from Aunt Heather. She was so generous to send Gracie a gift card to Toys R US. We decided to let Gracie go shopping this evening. There were so many things to choose from, but she finally decided on 2 puzzles, a JoJo's Circus doll and Baby Shakespeare (a baby Einstein video). We all thank Aunt Heather very much.

Since we are out we decided to grab something. We settled on CiCi's. I don't have to explain any further. Anyone of you who have ever been can imagine the zoo-like atmosphere.

Meanwhile here at the house; I have decided to keep the Christmas decorations up awhile longer. Keeping it festive in here is helping me I think, and Gracie is having a good time talking to all of the birds and other decorations around the house. Her favorite is a plastic angel with a red dress. She puts her new pretend jewelry around her neck and has conversations and tea parties with her. I like the trend: playing with angels. Gracie is so blessed to have so many earthly and heavenly angels watching over her...I couldn't feel more safe and warm watching her play and grow knowing that they are real.

Happy Birthday Papaw Charles

Happy Birthday Papaw Charles!
I wish I could have been there to celebrate with you.
Miss you and Love you lots,

***The picture is from June 2004. Gracie has seen papaw Charles several times since, but this was the best picture I had of the two of them***

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Day

Hmmm, to sum up the day: rainy, messy, hyper toddler plus tons of new toys, Styrofoam, pajamas.

Christmas Day here in Strasburg was much like it has been for the past 27 years in my home: dad in the chair watching non-Christmas TV, child tearing apart packaging and running from toy to toy, mom frantically trying to find the floor and put dinner on the table. Needless to say it was hectic. We never got out of our pajamas. We had ham and macaroni& cheese on beautiful Christmas plates and Gracie tore up Styrofoam in to tiny pieces throughout the day and pooped during dinner.

We ended our day by lighting the last advent candle, playing in Gracie's room and calling to wish Grandma & Grandpa a Merry Christmas.

I might not ever have the Martha Stewart Christmas I long to have, with beautiful decorations and the perfect dress and plenty of friends and family who come over to dine on simply elegant china while Christmas carols play in the back ground. But, I can say with out a doubt that the last two Christmases with Garren and Gracie have been truly wonderful despite the somewhat dullness of our surroundings. Christmas is in the heart, and we have plenty to share.

Christmas Fun:
Gracie learned to sing: "Jingle Bells," "O Christmas Tree," and "Frosty the Snowman."
We read: from Gracie's children's Bible, "Max's Christmas," and Clifford's Christmas" on Christmas Eve.
Gracie got her traditional taste of Gingerale. We made Neman Marcus cookies again this year. Gracie had her Holly Hobbie stocking that I made last year to use again this year.
We attended Christmas Eve services for the first time as a family. We made and lit our first family Advent Wreath.

Christmas Morning

Gracie hopes Santa was as good to you all as he was to her. Santa left her a thank you note for the orange and the milk, and plenty of goodies under the tree.

Gracie was a little overwhelmed at first. Although, the first word's out of her mouth when she saw all of the presents were "Wow! Look at this!" Daddy and I had to slow down a bit, because it was too much all at once. But, after about an hour each of the gifts have been opened.

Her favorite this morning seems to be the "Sing & Learn Chair." Once she figured out how it works, she hasn't left the chair for more than 2 minutes with the exception of breakfast. The play food that Candice & Elliott sent is a close second. She loves to pretend to eat the ice cream cone.

We send special thank you's to family who sent so many special gifts. Santa gave Gracie the chair, a Dora doll, Barney, Baby Bop & BJ stuffies, new placemats, a stuffed elephant, more chalk for her chalkboard, pretend jewelry, puzzles, Thomas the Tank Engine toy, many books, Baby Einstein Dragon puppet, and a bug tunes xylophone. Mamaw and Papaw sent 2 sets of pajamas, a huge alphabet puzzle and "Dick & Jane" books. Aunt Sharon sent an adorable teddy bear and a book. Candice and Elliott were heroes with the play food. Mommy & Daddy gave Gracie Baby McDonald (a Baby Einstein video), "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on The Bed" book, and a Stanley Leap Frog Book.

Gracie is having a good time this morning playing. I will put pictures on Snapfish during naptime and leave a link here.

We hope you all had wonderful Christmas mornings like ours.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Our Family's Second Christmas Eve

If you were looking forward to a Norman Rockwell, picture perfect Christmas Eve with beautiful music, and a silent night...I am glad you weren't at our house tonight!

Gracie, Garren and I all returned home from Lynchburg late last night. Garren had gotten a tree while we were gone and had put up the lights, but that was the extent of our holiday decoration.

Yesterday, I loaded several boxes of ornaments and decorations from my Aunt Lou's house. That was what I was supposed to do Monday when I went to see her--so, I couldn't leave Lynchburg without fulfilling the last promise I made her. I unwrapped nearly a hundred tiny pieces that had been in storage for years. She had decided several years ago that it was no longer worth the hassle to put up so much Christmas decor. When I was a child I used to be in awe of her home at Christmas, it was like the White House I expect. Wreaths and garlands and beautiful decorations everywhere.

Here at the house, I pulled out the ornaments I remember helping her hang as a child. But, instead of being sad, I seemed to find some peace as if she were watching me remember her and all the wonderful Christmas' we had together. I put red birds all over the house. She loved birds and I found box after box full of tiny crafted birds on wires. This house has never looked so festive.

But, there is where the warm fuzzy moments end. Gracie has been a disaster on wheels today. We had to go grocery shopping since we didn't last week. She was not happy to sit in the cart. But, any one who decided to wake up at 8am after heading to bed around 10pm is likely to get cranky with the holiday crowds. When we got home she refused to take a nap, threw a temper-tantrum, and got into just about everything she knew she shouldn't.

We did attend Christmas Eve services this evening. However, our little princess was not on her best church behavior as usual. Besides talking loudly, demanding froot loops and juice, singing Jingle Bells during communion she decided to ask "Did you poopie?" during a prayer. The church was packed tonight and she was forced to sit on one of our laps, and she was a little gased. We were a lot embarrassed. Although, I guess we only have ourselves to blame, we usually ask her that same question when she has gas.

Anyway, I was able to get a family picture. We ate dinner, eventually, and Gracie "wrote" a note to Santa and left him an orange and a glass of milk. Garren made cookies this evening, but we didn't want her to have any more, so we left an orange.

So, another temper-tantrum later, several time outs and a near tree falling--Gracie is in bed, and we hope that Santa will overlook Gracie's behavior over the past few months.

Gracie's Letter To Santa

Happy Holidays

From family email 12/24/05:

Merry Christmas
from our family to yours

May you find true peace and happiness on this blessed day. Love to you all, and to your families. Celebrate each day...and another year with each other.

Love, Barbara, Garren & Gracie Shipley

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Saying Goodbye

It certainly isn't easy to let go of someone who means so much to you. Thank you to the many friends and family who called and emailed with their condolences.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Happy Birthday Mariah

Happy Eighth birthday to our favorite niece Mariah!
Happy Birthday, we love you!
Aunt Barbara, Uncle Garren & Gracie

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Gracie and I are still in Lynchburg, and will likely be for the remainder of the week.

Garren returned to Strasburg Sunday night, Gracie and I decided to stay another day so we could visit with my dearest Aunt Lou. It seems like whenever I visit Lynchburg, I never have enough time to visit with her. I told her so Sunday afternoon when I drove her home from church. I also told her that I wanted to see her Monday so we could catch up. Unfortunately I was too late. I stood outside her home for an hour as I prayed that she would soon hear me and open the door. The doctors said she had passed away about two hours before I got there.

Though I am greiving, I take solice that she passed while napping on the couch, and waiting for me to come and see her.

I am her baby. She has called me that for as long as I can remember. She has no children of her own, but I might as well be one. I spent most of my childhood in her home and in her life. We went to church together nearly every Sunday after a weekend at her house. We baked together, and played and shopped. She is primarily responsible for the woman I am today, and I certainly hope she knew that. She taught me how to be caring to others, to be a lady, to sew and bake, and to me a mother. She gave me the foundation for my faith in God, and in myself. When no one else was listening, I knew she was. She understood me, the same way I understood her.

I guess you could equate her to a Grandma, but she was more than that. It was more than the recipes and the scraps of material to make a baby doll dress. It was the lessons and beliefs that she handed down. The same ones I will pass on to Gracie.

She never missed a birthday or Christmas with me. She was there when I was confirmed, when I graduated high school and college, when I got married, and when I gave birth to Gracie. She sent me notes and cards out of the blue, just to tell me she was thinking of me and what she had done that day. I am not sure how to live without her in my life.

I have my memories, and I am very thankful that God let me, and the rest of us have her for as long as he did. I am thankful that Gracie got to know and love her, and that she will continue to know her through pictures and movies and stories.

I know that the pain will lessen as time goes on, but it is very hard right now to remember that. There are so many others in this house right now dealing with her absence, and I feel compelled to keep my grief hidden. And that is making it harder I know.

I went to her home today. I remembered all the things I used to do with her. I found my secret hiding spots, and I watched my daughter play as I did with one of the doll houses...and my heart broke. I saw her clothes over the bed, the kissing angels on the mantel we found together at a yard sale for 50 cents, and I heard Gracie run down the hallway just like I did...and I wanted to cry. I smelled her house and I ran my fingers over her neatly tucked bedspread...and the pain was overwhelming.

I don't think anyone will ever know how much she ment to me. I was just a child, and I am only her neice. No one knows my pain. I am the one she called "baby."

Wait, there is one person who knows my pain...when no one else understood me or wanted to listen--she did. And she is likely in heaven now listening to me weep and praying for me as she has for the past 27 years.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Missing You

Lula Bryant Nash
***Picture taken Fall 2003**

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Christmas Shopping And Other Fun Stuff

The weather was decent here today and Garren was ready for a break, so during Gracie's nap we headed out to a nice lunch at Olive Garden and to finish up Christmas shopping for Gracie.

I had noticed the insane crowds this week as mom and I were out and about, and had the brilliant idea of shopping at 11-midnight at the Lynchburg Wal Mart. Apparently everyone else had that idea last night as well. In addition to the crowds and insanely long lines...we also only found half of the things we were looking for. So, today after a wonderful lunch, we again braved the mad throngs of people looking to finish up their yuletide purchases.

We got lucky at Target and were able to get all but a few things that can be picked up during next weeks grocery store visit.

Tonight, we had some of our extended family over for a little dinner and get together. Gracie was a definate show off, and she and Mariah looked beautiful in there holiday dresses. I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I had hoped, but I got a few good ones.

Despite eating a ton of junk food, Gracie spent much of the day playing with her new train set and with cousin Mariah. I think the two girls are really enjoying being together this weekend.

Tomorrow we will go to church to see more of the family.

**The picture above is of Gracie playing with her new Leap Frog toy and her great, great, great uncle Junior***

Friday, December 16, 2005

Gracie Meets Santa

As it usually is when we visit Grandma—the day was very busy! Since Mariah didn’t have school today, she came over around 9:30 this morning, to a very excited Gracie. We decided to head to the mall early since neither of the girls had seen Santa this season. Gracie was very excited to see the train, but not as thrilled to come face to face with a chubby man in red with plenty of facial hair.

Mom rode with the girls on the train, and then let Mariah and Gracie ride by themselves when I wasn’t looking!! But Gracie was a good girl and held Mariah’s hand the whole time as they say in the engine car with a friendly “engineer.” (Mall employee)

When it came time to visit Santa, Gracie was more interested in the toys that they were using as props. The friendly photographers let Gracie have a toy and sit next to Santa in a little rocking chair instead of on his lap while Mariah told Santa her wish list.

After having lunch in the car, (the mall was too packed and we couldn’t find a place to sit!!!), we headed home for a nap.

Tonight, the girls got to open gifts from Grandma and Grandpa. Gracie got a Geo Tracks train set, a pink engineers hat, a leapfrog word toy and plenty of cute outfits. Mariah got a sand art kit, and knitting loom, and a computer game as well as some clothes.

Tomorrow, the schedule begins again! We will have a family get together around 6pm, and we are looking forward to having the family together again.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Hello From Lynchburg

Gracie and mommy spent much of Wednesday afternoon on the road to Grandma and Grandpa's, and are we ever glad that we left then-- instead of today as we had planned. The roads here in Lynchburg are covered in snow, ice and slush...and Garren tells me the roads in Strasburg are about the same. The wintery stuff began late last night, and it hasn't stopped yet.

Poor Gracie spent much of the day looking out of the many windows here in the house wanting to go out and play. But, since it was raining ice, it was much to unsafe for her to go out. She was having a hard time with that concept since she is allowed to come and go as she pleases at Grandma's usually. We are lucky that they have a deck and a back and front yard for Gracie to play in, and she looks forward to swinging and running around outside, unlike at she can do at home. Maybe tomorrow we can let her out in it a little bit. Good thing I packed her boots.

Tomorrow we will get to see Mariah. I know Gracie will have a ball!! The snow and ice has cancelled school for Mariah tomorrow and she was already scheduled to stay the weekend here at mom and dads. I have no doubt that those two girls will have a great time romping and playing and just being silly together as usual.

We had planned a family Christmas get-together on Saturday with more of the family, and I certainly hope that the bad weather won't get in the way. Garren will make his way to Lynchburg tomorrow after he finishes up some reporting in Richmond.

We put up the tree here at grandma and grandpa's and Gracie enjoyed seeing a lit tree inside the house. Unfortunately we were unable to get a tree for our apartment in Strasburg before we left, as Food Lion was sold out Tuesday night when we went. I am sure we will find some poor lonesome tree at the Winchester Lowe's or something like that when we get back, so don't worry that Gracie won't have her own tree for Christmas.

I will try to update through out the weekend and add more pictures. We plan to see Santa and ride the train in the mall sometime this weekend, so I will let you know how that goes.

Please have a safe weekend and don't travel if you don't have too! Stay inside where it is nice and warm, and share hot chocolate and buttered popcorn with you family.

Monday, December 12, 2005

"Language Explosion"

This is the phrase Garren has decided to use for the phase our little Gracie is going through. In past entries I have talked about how Gracie's vocabulary has improved and she repeats what we say...that was nothing compared to our current level of gab!

Gracie's vocabulary is already enormous, but over the past few weeks, she has repeated phrases that her father and I say all day long. I hope that she is understanding what we are saying and what she is repeating. We sure are learning to watch what we say, and how we phrase it. In our house, we don't want to use negative words like: stupid, crazy, dumb, hate, now, no etc. Instead we use words like: silly, no thank you, please and thank you.

It is truly amazing to listen to her talk, she can practically have a conversation with you. I continue to be astonished at her capabilities. She is a wonderfully talented and educated child. When she repeats a word or a phrase I try to point to what we have said like "shirt," and then I try to find another way to describe it like "purple shirt." "You are wearing a purple shirt to bed tonight." I really hope this helps. You can tell she really wants to learn. I get excited when she holds on to the lessons I teach her, but I admit in the evenings after she has gone to sleep I may peek a picture of her at 3 months old and smile and become wistful.

The phrases she learned/repeated today: "Silly Daddy!" "Football!!!!!" (I think you can figure out who taught her this one!)

Others phrases she has been using for a while: "Wash your hands." Brush your teeth." "Bless You Momma!" (when I sneeze) "What you want?" "What you doing?" "There you go!" "Its okay." "Love you mama." There are many more, but these are the ones used most often.

Garren and I are so proud of our little one. Of course if her conversations continue to soar like they are--I guess her daddy will be right: "you're just like your momma, yak, yak, yak!"

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Ready For Christmas

It was a long weekend here in the Shipley home as the Princess Grace gave us a run for our parenting money! The boo had had little sleep and is very onry!

On Saturday, I brought up the Christmas decorations and put the manger scene up and a few other things to make the house nice and warm and in the holiday spirit. We haven't gotten a tree, but I picked out the ornaments less likely for Gracie to damage and they are ready for Tuesday, when Garren says he will get the tree. I think Gracie will really enjoy the tree. She is at a very curious age!

Last night we made homemade peanut butter cookies. We found a really simple recipe: 1C peanut butter, 1 egg, 1C sugar. Mix and teaspoon on to a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes. But, a word of advice, they took closer to 10-11 minutes. But anyway, Gracie thoroughly enjoyed them.

This morning our friends Jessica and Steven and baby Sierra went to church with us and had lunch at our apartment. It snowed a little, but not enough to do much of anything. Not that it need to, this weeks snow has turned in to snow-looking ice, and there is still plenty of it!!

We didn't do much this afternoon, just visited with our friends and relaxed. Tonight we lit the third candle on our Advent wreath, the candle of peace. Gracie got a bath, and is in her crib now continuing to fight sleep. For the past 2 days she has fought taking a nap for several hours, has laid in her crib awake until 10:30pm, and gotten up at 9am! She is quite sleep deprived. We noticed today that her crankiness seemed to be accentuated by a need to chew on things. It looks like sore teeth are back and are likely to blame for her sleep deficit and her moodiness.

We are looking forward to visiting family this coming weekend in Lynchburg, and Garren is preparing to head to Richmond twice this week. We have a very busy schedule and I am hoping to have Gracie's pictures done, and the tee decorated too!!

The holiday's are upon us, and I think that this season will be a wonderful memory for our family...oh, and I have to mail out the Christmas cards!

Friday, December 09, 2005

More Snow

We got more snow last night, and then ice on top of that. I think it was about 3 inches, maybe 4. This morning I got down the laundry basket and we wrapped up the Boo and she and Daddy took a couple of laps around the parking lot.

We didn't stay outside long because the wind was fierce and was blowing the snow so hard it stung. But, as you can see she enjoyed herself.

I am not sure if this is the end of the snow for this week--but I know we will probably have plenty more opportunities to pull out the homemade sled!

See more December pictures

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Gracie Reads

I wanted to tell you all that Gracie read her first book today. It was a board book entitled "Babies." The pictures take up most of the pages, but underneath it says things like "babies need hugs," "Babies need kisses," etc. It goes on this way for 10 or so pages. Anyway, today I was chowing down on some Froot Loops left over from Gracie's breakfast and she brought the book in to the living room and I watched as she opened the book and said word for word what the text said, and turned the page and kept reading!!! I was terribly excited. She was reading to herself, so of course when I asked her to read it to me and do it again, she walked away!

Yes, to all of you killjoys out there, she probably did memorize the book from where we have read it to her so many times...but still it was very neat. At the very least she could tell from the pictures what the babies needed. The best part was when she got to the last page she read "Most of all Babies need love." She is precious! And of course we end every book with "de en" (the end). I was very proud.

Today, we went to the library and did a little shopping with my friend Jessica. Gracie was so excited to see Jessica. She gave her hugs and wanted her to hold her--I think that she was excited because Jessica was there to see her and she hadn't brought that noisy baby. Gracie is very smart. She loved Jessica (she still does), but she was very jealous when Jessica brought over her newborn baby. She didn't want to share her mommy or Jess-ka (that's what she calls her).

But, we had a good day, and now Daddy is waiting for the snow. I think we are supposed to get 4-6 inches, but I am not holding my breath! If we do, we will likely let Gracie play in it again and I will post some more pictures.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Playing Dress Up

I was thinking back today about how my photo sessions with Gracie had tapered off. I love photography, and even though this camera of mine is falling apart--I want to capture precious moments. Don't get me wrong--I still take quite a few, but not as many as I used to.

So, today I decided to have fun with Gracie and let her play dress up. You'll find one of my favorite poses posted here. I am not sure who had more fun, me, or Gracie. She got so excited trying on mommy's jewelry and shoes and later daddy's tie and hat. She thought it was a very fun game.

Now, I can allow Gracie to play with the things because I do not have any sort of nice jewelry--and the stuff I have, I wear once in a blue moon. I would not recommend letting your toddler play with your Grandma's pearls or that exciting emerald necklace you got for Valentine's Day.

Gracie is napping now. Being a covergirl is exhausting. And mommy is happy, because she has ignited her passion for photography and fun with her daughter all at the same time.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Fun In The Snow

...before it melted!

I don't think we got the amount of snow we were predicted to get, but none the less we got enough to cover the ground last night. It snowed here from about 1:00 yesterday afternoon until about 1am this morning. The sun was bright when we woke up, so I gave Gracie a hot breakfast of oatmeal and got us both dressed for the outdoors so she could get to play in it before it melted.

When we got outside the parking lot was completely cleared, but there was some snow on the bank beside the building. I put Gracie's new boots on her that her Aunt Debra got her, and we let her walk around in it and touch it.

She was pretty amazed with the snow. It was cold on her nose, but she was fascinated as she patted it with her mittens. And, then we she saw that it had stuck to her mittens, she looked like a confused puppy. After playing for a few minutes, Daddy held her up and let her get some off the car.

We didn't stay out long, it was sunny, but freezing. I think she had a great time. We are supposed to get more this weekend. Maybe then we can pull out the trust laundry basket!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Our Snow Family

Another Fun Family Day

Today ended up being another nice day for the family. The ice that fell last night was gone by morning and it was absolutely beautiful outside. The sun was warm and bright, and it wasn't terribly cold. We still had to wear coats to church, but not our heavy ones.

We really enjoyed the Advent service at the Strasburg Methodist Church this morning. Attending services has always been on our "to do" list, but we always seemed to have some reason not to go. Raising Gracie in a church is a very important thing for both of us, and we thoroughly enjoy Sunday mornings in Lynchburg. So, after receiving an invitation from a church member last night during the parade, we decided we had waited long enough. So, after three years here--we got up, got dressed and headed in to their 11am service. The church was small, but every pew was crowded. We met some of the nicest people ever, which is a big deal since it is hard to find a warm soul in this northern "iceland". Everyone is either in a hurry, or very rude. We found a little bit of southern hospitality this morning at church, and it warmed out hearts.

This afternoon, after a VERY late nap (the princess was too good to take one until around 4pm!!), we made a craft. My friend Candice was nice enough to send me directions on how to make sock snowmen, something she is doing with her fourth grade students. We sat at the table with all of the fun accessories like cotton balls and fabric and beads and some jungle bells we added for fun. We all got into it, even Garren, and we made a snowman family; mommy, daddy and baby. They now adorn our mantle.

After ordering out for pizza, Gracie got a bath and we tried to settle her down with a Baby Einstein video.

Tonight, we are just waiting for the snow. We have a winter weather advisory and snow could start around noon tomorrow. I know Garren is excited--he loves the snow, and he can't wait to take Gracie out in it.

Despite my feeling low and missing friendships that I once had...this weekend turned out pretty nicely. When telling Garren how lonely I am and how I feel left out, he told me "Where God closes a door, He opens a window." I know he is right, and maybe this morning he opened a window to a new set of potential friendships.

***Picture of Gracie helping make the baby snowman***

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Cold Saturday

It's icing outside as I write this blog entry tonight. It was very cold most of the day today, but we decided to go and watch the Strasburg Christmas parade this evening anyway.

This afternoon we filled our time with a trip to the mall as well as Wal Mart to pick up some more rice for Gracie's "sandbox," and some supplies to make a real Advent wreath. During Gracie's rather late nap, I constructed the Advent wreath out of a glass plate I had (I couldn't find candle holders so I melted the bottom of the candles to the plate), and some fake plastic greenery. Gracie slept so long we were worried we wouldn't make it to the 5:30 parade! But, we woke her up a few minutes after 5 and bundled her up for the chilly spectacle.

She was pretty still during the parade. She seemed interested in the kids and the band that were in the parade, but she didn't giggle or smile--I think she was too cold! But, she did enjoy collecting candy from the parade participants. Following the parade, was the lighting of the town Christmas tree. By this time it is really getting cold, but we stuck it out. The tree was pretty with the lights and I think Gracie enjoyed it. We decided to skip the hot chocolate and Santa at the fire hall and get Gracie home and warmed up. Instead we picked up some Tostidos and salsa for an evening snack. I toasted the corn chips and we three had a picnic in our livingroom floor while watching Christmas specials on the Family Channel.

All in all it was a very cold, but wonderful family day. It is kind of sad that we have lived in this small town for going on three years now, and we have never participated in much of anything. This is the first year we witnessed the parade and tree lighting ceremony, and it was pretty neat--cold--but neat. I certainly hope that we will do it again next year.

As for tomorrow, we had planned on going to church, going to the library, and making some crafts that Candice sent me the directions for--but the ice and possible snow tonight may keep us from leaving the house! Regardless, I am sure we can find some fun family activities.

A Story

Sometimes the best way to deal with your emotions, is to put it in to a story, so let me tell you one...

Once apon a time there was a young woman. She was a plump woman, but she loved to smile and laugh. She had a beautiful flower garden. She was happiest talking to her flowers and caring for them. She watered them and sang to them and gave them plenty of love.

Years went by and the young woman continued to care and tend to her loving flowers, but she noticed that the flowers didn't respond as well to her care any longer. The woman continued to sing and water and carefully tend the flowers despite the fact their beautiful blooms had begun to droop.

More years flew by and the woman continued to tend her favorite flowers. It was one afternoon when she went to water the plants that she noticed the petals were nearly gone, and the roots were beginning to show. The woman hurried in to a frenzy and desperately tried to cover the roots. She sang the sweetest songs she could and she talked to the plants hoping that they would hear her voice and begin to bloom again. After nearly half a year of this dedicated care, the woman saw that the beautiful flowers she loved so much were gone.

The woman wept in her hands. She had lost her beautiful flowers that she cared for for all those years. She couldn't understand why her love and tendering care wasn't enough. Between sobs the woman looked up and saw beyond the gate of her garden. There were the beautiful hues of her favorite flowers. While the plants were dying in her garden, the wind had blown their seeds to the east, west, north and south. There the flowers were growing and thriving and had found wildflowers and roses to mingle with. The woman dried her tears. She was still sad, but she knew the flowers were happy now.

As the woman pulled the dead stalks of her favorite flowers from her garden, she raked over the soil praying that God would send her new seeds and make new flowers grow so that the loneliness in her heart would heal.

Happy Birthday Aunt Heather!

Happy Birthday to my favorite Aunt!
Have a wonderful day and celebrate with your family--
Love, Barbara, Garren & Gracie

Friday, December 02, 2005

In The Holiday Spirit

We hadn't planned to, but tonight turned in to a pre-Christmas celebration.

Since it was so cold and windy out tonight, we decided to snuggle up together as a family. I remembered that the Family Channel had already started showing their Christmas specials, so we turned it on, and watched "Nester the Christmas Donkey," while the snowman cookies were baking. Gracie got to place the dough on the cookie tray, which is something she really enjoys(second only to eating them).

We ate the cookies and had some hot chocolate before heading in to mommy & daddy's room for books. Garren and I were in a Christmas mood after watching the Rankin/Bass 1970 something special, so we read the Christmas Story from Gracie's children's Bible, "Away in A Manger," "Christmas Is Coming," "Baby's First Christmas," and "January is For Snow."

I went to the basement this afternoon and brought up the Christmas wreath for the front door. The autumn one looked out of place. Gracie and I also made a homemade Advent wreath for the table too. I had her make the wreath out of her green fingerpainted handprints. I added some red dots of paint for holly berry's, and I cut out and colored five Advent candles from paper. I cut out paper "flames" and we will paste them to the candles, one each Sunday of this month. Garren mentioned tonight that he would like to make a real Advent wreath with candles and such. Maybe we will get the supplies tomorrow.

We are looking forward to doing holiday activities this month. We will have to find out dates for Christmas parades around the area, and there is a light display at the park in Winchester. Of course we will also see the man in red and ride the train in Lynchburg. Gracie is at a wonderful age this year for Christmas. I will be excited to see how she interprets all of it. We will likely hold off on the tree though. But, maybe she will be patient enough to help hang the ornaments. I plan to pull out only the wooden one for her safety (and ours!).

** The picture is from December 2004 (Gracie's first Christmas), and now you see why we are waiting to put up the tree!!! It's a blurry picture because I snapped it quickly, catching her in the act of pulling the lights off the tree!!****

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Send Rice

Dear Grandma and Grandpa,

Please send rice--mommy's a genius!


Okay, I am not a genius, but I am pretty proud of my latest idea. I saw how much fun Gracie had at mom and dads in the sandbox, and I hated that we didn't have one at home, nor could we get one. With just a small deck on the second floor and no yard, we are limited to outdoor toys. This past summer I had a storage box full of water and toys on the deck, but I had to cover the deck with plastic so the neighbors below us wouldn't get dripped on.

So, I thought: we can't have sand, too messy...why not dry rice? Last night at the grocery store Garren and I bough a huge bag of industrial cheap rice. This morning I put the rice in another rectangular rubbermaid storage container along with some spoons and cups and a dump truck. Gracie had a blast! I tried putting the box on plastic--but she wasn't much for sitting on the plastic, so I have a sheet under it now, and any rice that falls out can be poured back in. The large bag of rice only filled the box up about half an inch all the way around, so we will have to get more.

Now, if you can't handle messes, I do not recommend this indoor sand box solution. But, for me its all worth it since Gracie getting to do something fun and different. The rice is dry and it will vacuum up. Besides, the vacuum might like sucking up something besides Froot Loops!