Friday, June 30, 2006

She Did It, Again!

Gracie filled up her potty chart here at home!

We are very proud, and as promised she received her "potty prize." You can see her showing it off in the above picture. Hopefully it won't be too long before she is out of diapers for good--but we aren't holding our breath :)

If you want to know anything, and I mean anything, about the Baby Einstein company-- we are the people to ask. Baby Galileo (all about the planets & sky) brings us up to 10 videos. Other titles include; Baby Neptune (all about water), Baby Monet (seasons), Baby Noah (animals), Baby Bach (music), Baby Mozart (music), Baby Beethoven (music), Baby MacDonald (all about the farm), Meet The Orchestra, Baby Shakespeare (vocabulary). We have also seen (checked out from the library) Baby Wordsworth (words around the house); Neighborhood Animals (dog, cat, frog, etc); World Animals (wild animals); Numbers Nursery (learning numbers 1-5); Language Nursery (objects in 5 languages), and Baby DiVinci (body parts--definitely a winner!). Gracie's favorites are Baby Monet ("Zebra") and Baby MacDonald ("Cow"). As a parent I highly recommend any of the BE series. My favorite would have to be Baby Neptune though, the scenes of the water and beach are very calming. Next on our list will likely be "On The Go."

**For the record she does not have a dirty nose (I would never show a picture like that!) That is Neosporin that we have been putting on a nasty cut that she some how got right underneath her nostril. **

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Feeding The Bear

Mommy found some more change in her purse this morning, so Gracie got to feed her bear.

He stays pretty hungry, and you can practically see a smile on his face when his loving care taker feeds him. His smile gets bigger when he gets dimes (he is on a strict no-quarter diet, as mommy and daddy need them for laundry).

This wooden bear bank is actually Uncle Brian's from when he was little. I had a cat just like it, but I have no idea where my kitten ended up. I am so glad that mom found if for Gracie a few months ago. She got a real kick out of "feeding" the bear when I got it down for her a few months ago and let her have my change.

When Gracie's bear is full, Daddy or I will take the change to the bank and put it in Gracie's account. For now that account is accruing for use when she gets older. We plan to tell her it is hers and have her use pretend checks to get money for something she wants, to help her learn lessons about money. (Hopefully she will learn better than I burned a hole in my pockets!)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Gracie's New Favorite Thing

I guess no child can resist the fun, elastic, colorful ball of goo that is better known to the world as Play Dough--and this now includes our Gracie.

I bought play dough sometime last year for Gracie to have fun with...but more for saving handprints. It wasn't until this past week that Gracie started to enjoy it. No, better yet ADORING it.

Mariah had pulled out the playdough and toys last week while Gracie was down for a nap. After getting her to sleep, I had fun making different things with her in the colorful dough (I guess adults can't resist either!). I made some very neat animals...Grandma was impressed. When Gracie woke up she was thrilled to see a playdough safari including an elephant, giraffe and turtle. She enjoyed them so much she actually wanted to keep smooshing and sqishing the fun stuff instead of going outside to swing!

Anyway, I pulled out the playdough on Monday when we got back, along with some cutout toys we found at the dollar store. Knead-less to is her new favorite thing to do. She has pulled out the play dough box at least 3 times a day for the past two days and strongly encourages momma to play with her!

I am glad she has a new hobby...and clean up is easy; roll into ball and smack on the table until you collect all the little droplets!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

June Pictures

It took me the last 2 hours, but I have edited the pictures from our week at Grandma's. Well, with 2 cameras going--what can you expect :)

Click here to see them, along with others from June 2006.

Monday, June 26, 2006

We're Back!

Gracie and I are back from our fun-filled week at Grandma and Grandpa's...and for the most part we are fine.

We arrived in Strasburg last night around 10pm. After giving Gracie her milk and reading two books, she decided that she didn't feel well...and puked up her dinner and milk. Poor thing, she had never thrown up before, she was shaking and crying. We cleaned her up and cleaned up the bed and cuddled her for an extra long time. Afterwards we found that she didn't have a fever, and was surprisingly chipper. There could be several factors that led to the "incident." 1. It was a long hot week and she could have been too tired, or gotten to much sun. 2. She watched her Baby Einstein DVD's the whole 3 hours home, so she could have gotten car sick. (I bought Gracie on of those car DVD players on a super sale last month!) 3. The milk I gave her was less than 24 hours past the expiration date, and even though I smelled and tasted it--it could have been a factor. Either way, it has been thrown out. She is fine today. Well, as fine as she can be while Garren and I unpack and she is dealing with life away from Grandma and Grandpa and the pool and swing.

I thank those of you who sent your sympathy wishes on the passing of my Grandmother. They were much appreciated. We all seemed to make it through the services okay, and it was nice to see family that we haven't seen in decades, despite the occasion.

I was terrible at keeping up with my blog while I was gone, but so many fun things happened, that I am going to work on adding them today. So, scroll down to see pictures and entries from the past week.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

She Did It!!!!

Gracie did it--she filled up her potty chart--all 12 stickers!! We are so proud!!!

On Tuesday of this week, we went and bought Gracie a Royal Potty to use at Grandma's house, since we know that it works for her. We pinned up the potty chart and were very consistent through out the week, and she got several stickers a day. Today she put on numbers 10, 11, and 12!

I had told mom about Garren promising her a Baby Einstein video if she filled up the one at home, and she said that she and Grandpa would do the same. So after her 12th sticker, she received a neat potty ribbon (we found it at the dollar store, and it was perfect!) and Baby Einstein, Meet The Orchestra! I am so excited. It looks like she is really catching the concept--I think it won't be long before she is in big girl pants.

At home, Gracie just has 4 more stickers before her prize from Daddy. So, it won't be long before she gets another reinforcement of how good it is to piddle in the potty!

Yea Gracie, you are really getting the hand of it!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Busy Friday

Well, I did mention something about adventures didn't I!

Mariah came over this morning and the girls had a wonderful time re-acquainting and playing tea party and waitress all over again. I had run and errand for mom, and when I returned to the house I found that the neighborhood was playing chase with 3 dogs. I don't know whose dogs they were, but they had all the neighbors calling each other and children chasing them. It was quite a ruckus! Then, the girls were hungry (me too!), so I headed out to get lunch where I was stuck in traffic every 10 minutes behind groups of 10+ bikers. What a morning!

After the girls ate, my Aunt Dawn came up from Rocky Mount, VA with her 18 month old son-Paul. Gracie was not thrilled with the addition of a new baby, as he seemed to get a lot of attention--even from me. I was able to appease the green-eyed monster with a splash in the pool. Actually, Mariah, Gracie, Dawn, Paul and I all got in the water. Boy is that little Paul a dare-devil! That child put his head under the water and everything.

I was hoping that Gracie would take more to the water than she has. I mean she loves it, but most of the time she clings to me and doesn't like to get her ears wet. Her face and hair can get wet--just not her ears!

Anyway, we had invited mom's neighbor over earlier in the week to take photographs of Mariah and Gracie since it seems we never have enough time to get them to Walmart (they don't have a JC Penny studio in Lynchburg). Jonathan is an amateur photographer, but he did an excellent job, although he was presented with quite a challenge as Gracie did not want to stand still or smile for him! We were finally able to get her to smile after calling out her new favorite word, the one she made up on Tuesday--"mackie-bean!" Gracie truly did get my imagination and creativity.

After the photo session we got some dinner, and the girls again watched some of the Good Night Show (a definite reason to get satellite TV!!!), and shared some quiet time together before Mariah had to return home.

***Above, is what I think was the best shot that Jonathan got of Gracie and Mariah. You can see his other pictures here.***

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Yea, More Books!

Yesterday and today were mainly about running some errands, and trying to find time to rest and enjoy the back yard.

Over the past several days we haven't really gone out much--I think we are really tired from all of the commotion and family and emotional drain that the weekend left us with. But, one of my favorite things to do with mom is to scavenge the local thrift store for children's books, videos and any other neat things we can find. And, boy did we find some good things. I have at least 60 new titles to add to my book list when I get home. I LOVE finding good books!

Other than the 2 thrift stores, picking up some odds and ends groceries, and thank you notes for sympathy contributions...we stayed at home most of the time. And, Gracie had no problems with that. Each day this week we have gotten in to the "big pool" as Gracie calls it. We didn't spend much time on the swing though; mainly because Grandpa worked late a lot, and it was too hot to be in the sun for too long.

We got plenty accomplished though, and since Mariah will return tomorrow, I am sure we will have plenty of adventures!

***Picture is of Gracie in the big pool, if you look closely you will see my arms underneath her! She is a fish...but momma fish is never far away!***

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Monkey See, Monkey Do!

Gracie and Mariah were happy to be together again...afterall it had been 3 weeks since they last saw each other :)

Since Mariah is out of school now for the summer, the girls got to spend the entire day together. They played tea party and waitress. Mariah read to Gracie, and then of course we spent time outside.

Mariah was in a little bit of a funk today, but she found solace in her book. Well, when Gracie got up from her nap she wanted to swing with Mariah. But, apparently just swinging wasn't enough...she had to do everything Mariah was doing (as she had done all day). So, Mariah was kind enough to share one of her books. I don't know how this didn't make those two sick!!

We rounded off the evening with a trip out to dinner, and the girls got to watch the Good Night Show and sip chocolate milk. All in all it was a fun day for the duo.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day Daddy!
Love you sooo much!

Hugs & Kisses,

Happy Father's Day to Grandpa & Papaw too!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Greetings from the bunker

... the Miller-Shipley bunker that is. Gracie is sound asleep in her bedroom upstairs here in Lynchburg, and Barbara and I are about to turn in here in the underground bedroom Dennis built in the basement.

As y'all probably know, we're here for the funeral of Barbara's grandmother Marie. This bedroom is part of her legacy. A few year's back when Marie's health was heading south, it looked like she'd have to live with Dennis and Jean — maybe for the rest of her life.

So Dennis set about converting the basement into a second house, so Marie would have her own space, but still be close enough if she needed help. Fortunately her health improved and she was able to move into her own home again after a few years. But the slow transformation of basement into second home continues.

I put in a few hours tonight working on Barbara's room to make it a little more liveable for her this week while she helps out. I'm probably headed to Richmond on Tuesday for a day or so, making this week an ideal time for my girls to spread a little sunshine.

But tonight, we're in the bunker, safe from tornadoes, hurricanes, nukes, and other disasters. How safe? Dick Cheney has a condo on this block. And irony of ironies, I get better Internet and cell phone service here a few meters below ground than I do three stories up back home.

Go figure....

Friday, June 16, 2006

Bon Voyage!

Gracie and I invited the girls over this afternoon for a beach tea party. As you can see, I really got into the decorating!

We had a wonderful time chatting and the girls all played sandbox and with Gracie's wagon. They seem to really enjoy each other when we have these monthly get togethers.

This will be the last time we are all together this summer, as Leelou (leftl) will be spending her summer with her Grandma. Mallory (the one in the middle) and her mom and dad are headed to the beach next week, and Gracie and I are going to grandma's house, so I felt like a bon voyage theme was appropriate.

Week Hiatis

Gracie and I will be gone to Lynchburg this weekend and for next week. Garren will be with us this weekend through Father's Day. This was a last minte trip as my Grandmother passed away yesterday. I will try to update the blog from Lynchburg and as usual I will check my email.

Despite the circumstances, I still wish all of the Fathers out there a happy and memorable Father's Day with all the hugs you can stand.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Play Date

This afternoon Gracie and I spent some time with long lost friends Jessica and 7 month old daughter Sierra.

Sierra is on the go now and is quite a proficient crawler, which apparently made Gracie a little nervous. You should have seen her! A three foot toddler scooting further and further away from this little baby on her belly. It was like she was afraid of her or something.

After an hour or so the two warmed up to each other and had a good time playing. The good thing about kids is, that they always want what they don't have. So, Gracie played with Sierra's toys, and Sierra played with Gracie's toys.

We made sure that Gracie got plenty of attention herself, although that didn't keep her from pulling out practically every toy in her room and doing everything but a chorus line to get our attention. What can you say...she has been the center of attention for 27 months now!

We had a good time and enjoyed a taco dinner together, something we hadn't done in quite a while. I am attatching a picture,that to me, sums up the evening. The girls are on the floor in our living room and it looks like Gracie is sniffing her out.

We had a wonderful time, us girls, and hopefully Sierra and Jessica will come over to play again real soon!

Adorable New Do!

Isn't she cute! I got the idea on a whim this morning to put her hair up like this. Amazingly they haven't fallen out yet! This seems to keep the hair out of her face better too.

Other things to mention:
**Gracie is 5 letters away from being able to recognize all 26 letters of the alphabet! I am so excited, I downloaded a certificate and everything for when she does. If you are interested she struggles with W(looks like M), O, J, V (looks like Y), & T (looks like I)
**I have gotten tons of cuddle time with Gracie today. She let me hold her and rock her in the floor for 15 minutes earlier, and she snuggled with me at the computer. I am a happy camper.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

My Smarty Pants

Everyday Gracie continues to amaze me! Today, I printed off some fun worksheets for summer. One of the pages asked you to match the animals to their homes. I was surprised when Gracie knew several of the animals homes. When did she learn that? She knew that the spider lived in the spider web, and the goldfish lived in the bowl, and she devised that the bird lived in the tree rather than underground when I gave her the two choices.

The funny thing about these sheets and the flashcards and other activities that we do...each time she amazes me with what she knows, she acts like it is no big deal and gives me a look like "didn't you know that momma?"

This afternoon we pulled out the flashcards, which may I say, Gracie loves and often asks for. (Probably because I squeal with delight every time she gets something right and she thinks it is hilarious!) The set she wanted to play with was a Blue's Clue's memory game. I figured it was way too hard...but she was insistent. So, I laid all the cards out face up in a huge square and she started to match the cards! I was so impressed. She would pick up one and then search with her eyes until she found its match. She placed the two cards aside and clapped for herself. She was to adorable!

So, Anyone need their socks paired up? Gracie will do it for pretzel sticks!

**Gracie takes a block break. She was so proud that she got them this high!***

Almost There!

Gracie is well over half way to her new Baby Einstein. What they say is right--consistency is the key to potty training!

Way to go Gracie you now have 7 potty stickers! What a good girl!!

Monday, June 12, 2006

You can't fix stupid...

That's what an old friend told me once. He's right.

On the way home today, I stopped at the mailbox. I was reading the mail, getting back in the car, and I stepped half way off the curb, nearly breaking my ankle off.

While I was sure I'd look down and see a Theisman-type injury, it turns out that it was just sprained. Still, here I am, sitting on the bed, reduced to crawling from place to place, all because I had to read the mail. I'm sure it'll be better in a day or so. It's already feeling much better.

But Barbara has now seen me hop up the steps on one foot.

And she knows why.

All About Animals Day

What a fun and educational day Gracie and I had, as we turned an adorable new show on Nick Jr. into a day all about animals.

This morning, Gracie was watching one of her new favorite cartoons, "Wonder Pets," on Nick Jr. It is an adorable show about three classroom pets (a turtle, a hamster and a duck) who go out and save other animals. If you haven't seen it you will have to check it out.

Anyway, in today's episode the Wonder Pets save a baby panda. Well, that reminded Gracie of the panda cam at the National Zoo in DC. So we logged on and checked in on Tai Shan (the baby panda) and his mommy. After watching the mommy panda and "ohhing" and "ahhing" over baby pictures of Tai, we had to check in on Gracie's other favorite animals: the flamingos.

I decided since we were already in an animal mood, we would have some more fun. I printed off a farm animal book and we colored for awhile. And, then we made face masks out of Gracie's ZooPal plates that she adores. She didn't really want to wear the masks herself, but she loved watching mommy wear them and make the animal sounds.

After craft time we played with the wooden animals set (thanks again Sara!!!!). Gracie loves to set up the fence to her "farm" and put the animals together two by two. We had plenty of fin with the animals before naptime. But, just before we said goodnight, Gracie got some animal books; one about a rabbit, and a Franklin book (he's a turtle).

Gracie is now enjoying an animal snack before dinner; graham cracker bugs! I have no idea where grandma finds these things she sends back with us!!

All in all it has been a great day, and I thought I would share. If you want to check in on Tai Shan and his family click here (be sure to scroll down the page). To watch the flamingo's click here. To print the farm coloring book for your little one click here (farm animal book is the first one). Oh, and click here to check out the Wonder Pets.

**Picture at top is of baby Tai Shan, picture at bottom of Gracie playing with her wooden animal set**

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Where's Garren?

(...or, the long strange trip, vol. II)

As quite a few folks have noted, I've been under the radar for more than a week now. No, I haven't been avoiding the NSA, CIA, FBI or any state or local law enforcement agency. I have, however, been on the road, pulling some long hours on the job.

We're down a couple of people at the office now, it's vacation season, and there was a rash of murders in Winchester about six months ago. That means a rash of murder trials now, and as such even more people disappear into court rooms for hours on end.

So, I've been filling in. I haven't even been back to my office in Strasburg this week. Tack on some computer problems, and I'm glad to be here in my recliner, listening to the soundtrack to Kill Bill. An excellent movie, btw, but not for kids.

What time I have had at home has been spent in a concerted effort to play with Gracie and help out Barbara. Her run in with E.Coli or whatever pathogen made her worship the white idol last week still has her tad run down, so I've been chief bottle washer here for a while. It's nice... sometimes I get more accomplished here with a sink of soapy water in an hour than I do in eight hours with a computer on the job.

Gracie and I get up together around 9 a.m. every day. We get the paper and sit down together for two waffles each, with copious syrup. On occasion I'll read her an editorial, and she'll point out stuff she wants in the sale papers. Yesterday, she was flipping through and said "**Gasp!** Oh my goodness!" I don't know what grabbed her, but it was apparently a shock to a toddler.

I didn't mind the dish thing until today, when I ran some major splinters into my hand and had to operate with an X-acto knife and tweezers. Dawn may soften your hands while you do dishes, but it also lights up the pain receptors on open cuts like a Christmas Tree.

That's a big reason this evening was, as Brad Paisley puts it, time well wasted. We piled up and watched the Pocono race. Gracie spent a lot of time on her potty, cheering when someone would speed by in a close up. Not long after, we all had dinner, then hit the floor for some good old fashioned romping.

My daughter is tough. Hanging upsidedown, standing on her head, it doesn't matter. She laughs. Unless you tickle too rough. "Don't pinch!" I always apologize.

Anyway, here's what I've been doing.

1) Just knocked off the new Star Wars novel, Betrayal. Not a bad read, but you've gotta be blind not to see where it's going.

2) Studying such evil sites as The Pirate Bay and such evil applications as Azureus and BitTorrent. I can't believe that people would browse such a comprehensive selection of music and applications in flagrant violation of copyright law! Bad, bad! I don't know how they sleep at night with such vast CD collections and useful free software.

3) Studying the origins of the concepts of orthodoxy and heresy in the history of Judeo- Christian faith... yeah, that's nerdy, but it's part of the Star Wars book from above.

4) Driving. Lots.

That's pretty much it. As soon as I get some more sleep, a little more food and a little more time, I'll start using the phone again. My love to all.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Potty Success!

Gracie is well on her way to a new Baby Einstein! In the past three days we have had 4 successful potty attempts (3 piddles, 1 poopie), and two of them were today!

We are so proud of Gracie. It may have taken awhile to get to this point--but, it was like something clicked in her head and she realized "oh, that's what you wanted me to do!" Then, again, our success has come from allowing her to sit on the potty while playing and/or watching a video, and sometimes while eating a snack in the livingroom. Unconventional, yes. But, it is working and once she gets enough praise and it really starts to make sense to her--the Royal Potty goes back in the bathroom where it belongs.

As for the Baby Einstein; the Royal Potty came with a sticker chart for rewarding your child when they go. Daddy told her when she filled up the page (12 spots), she would get a new Baby Einstein video. She loves those!!!

Please continue to leave your potty praises for Gracie. I read them to her, and she is thrilled with the attention.

**The picture above is of Gracie just after she put on her latest potty reward sticker. You can tell how proud she is! She loves the praises and the big deal we make over it!***


Okay, okay, I admit it--I am addicted. Addicted to bargain books! I just can't help myself!

Last month I put on here an entry about Gracie's growing library. At that point, Gracie had a whopping 801 books. This included all her books from baby board books to Little Golden Books to paper back titles. These are books my mom and I have collected over the past few years.

I think my ultimate goal is to have a library for our kids. Well, for Gracie and any other children we may get around to. I loved to read so much as a child, and Gracie already loves to read to herself and make up stories, and have her daddy and I read to her.

The neat part about Gracie's collection is finding the titles among bargain books. These past few weeks I have hit the jackpot. Mom and I shopped at a bargain store in Lynchburg when we were there last and found about 40 books for less than $20. This week I made a stop at our local second hand store and got Gracie another 15 books (Mariah got about 30). And, then today, we found even more at the Hospice thrift shop, each for 25 cents! I love finding children's books.

So, as you can imagine, Gracie's collection has grown. We are now at 847. But, don't think that will stop me. As long as Candice keeps sending me Scholastic order forms, and there are thrift stores around--I will keep building up my child's book collection...and her love for reading!

I have updated the list of Gracie's books-- you can see it here. If you want a review on any of these books or a suggestion for your child email us, and I would be happy to oblige!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Oh No! Not Again!

She can't really be growing any more can she? Did I give birth to the jolly green giant, and her pigment is waiting until adulthood to kick in? Will I really have to buy her Depends?!

It appears that little Gracie is growing again...or at least stocking up for the big growth spurt she will side-swipe us with in a week or two. How do I know? Well, first we just got her a bunch of new clothes, a new pair of shoes and two packages of socks. Secondly, she is eating like she's afraid we will run out.

For those of you keeping score: Gracie is two years old and 3 months now. She is in clothing size 5T, yes, you heard me right 5T. She wears size 91/2 shoes, and is in the largest size diapers and training pants they make (size 6). At last measurement she was 37 inches tall (that's over 3 feet). I haven't weighed her in a while...but I am betting she is close to 40 pounds. Oh, and all four of her 5 year molars have broken through. Yes, she now has all of her teeth, a process that is supposed to take 5+ years.

Now, if you don't have a little one at home, or it has been a while, allow me to compare a little. First clothing sizes are an approximation of age: (2T= 2 year olds, 3T= 3 year olds). This scale doesn't always work, but it is close. So basically, Gracie is wearing clothes meant for a 5 year old...which also explains my constant frustration when it comes to finding appropriate clothes. I will spare you my soap box speech on how people are dressing kids like tweens, and tweens like 16 year olds, etc. But, it is difficult to find a cute smocked dress in Gracie's size.

Another comparison that may shock you. Gracie's cousin Mariah is 8 1/2 and a little tall for her age, is wearing size 9/10 clothes, and size 1 girls shoes. The two cousins who are 6 years apart, are also 2 clothing sizes apart (6x & 7/8) and 3 shoe sizes apart. Did I mention they wear the same sized socks!

Surely she can't grow much more can she? It is already very difficult (and painful to my back) to pick her up for long periods of time or to swing her or let her climb into my lap. She is only 2, and I feel robbed of some special moments. But, on the plus side she is still very sweet and loving and gives mommy plenty of hugs and kisses.

For those of you who may not know Gracie, I don't think there is an ounce of fat on her! She is very well proportioned, she is just as they say "a big girl." And, she eats pretty healthy. Lots of fruits and vegetables, not too much sugar. Although, she loves snack foods and we are trying to cut back a little on those (popcorn, chips, crackers, pretzels, etc.) To give you an idea of what she is eating these days though--yesterday she ate 2 waffles with syrup, a Blue Clue's banana yogurt, a handful of dinosaur crackers, half of my left over sweet & sour chicken I was saving for lunch, 2 slices of cheese, a whole bun length hot dog, 1/2 cup cold peas, 1/4c applesauce, a small salad and the popsicle her daddy let her have after dinner!!!

I certainly hope she levels out soon! Maybe we better ask the Labor Day fairy for one of those small chest freezers so we can stock up now.

PS: Gracie finally went piddle in her new Royal Potty! She got a potty sticker and was very proud--you may congratulate her in the comments section if you would like.

**That's my little half-pint of led eating a Blue's Clue's banana yogurt this afternoon...I have no idea where she puts it! She remains at the 90th-99th percentile in her height and weight, where she has been since she was born***

Monday, June 05, 2006

Gracie Gets An "A"

Thank you to those of you who sent well wishes to me, and sympathy wishes to Garren, as I suffered this weekend from what I believe was food poisoning. I was out of commission from Saturday 7am until late last night (Sunday). I am still pretty week and I have to sit down if I try and do too much, and the stomach pains haven't completely stopped--but I am tons better than I was in those grave Saturday hours.

On to today. Gracie and I had a good time making up for lost time. We ran a few errands, and since she didn't get to go to the park as promised this weekend, I took her for a few minutes before our lunch today. We grabbed a sub from subway, and had storytime and naptime. After we both woke up, I decided to pull out some of the Pre-K workbooks I have accumulated over the past few months (thanks Vicki & Mom!). To my surprise Gracie was able to do the work...well sort of.

The first page I worked with was shapes and matching items to their shape. Gracie and I went over the two shapes and I gave her the choices for each item. For example, one page was circles and squares. There were pictures of an apple, sandwich, lollipop..etc. Amazingly Gracie identified what shape each item was. I was very impressed! We did two of these pages, and then I let her color them. Afterwards, I thought I would try one of the alphabet pages. It had those three lined spaces for practicing drawing your letters. We started with "A." I took her hand and put a crayon in it and helped her trace the shape. "Up, down, across" I told her. We practiced several times, and then I let her color because I didn't want to push her, I just thought maybe it would stick and it would help her later on. While she was coloring she started to make little tepees. On one of the later ones she said "up, down, across!" I scanned in that particular drawing so you could see it. (I circled what looks like an "A" to me!)

Garren says it was probably a fluke, and maybe it was...but I could see the wheels turning in her head while she was making these lines. Then again, I am always impressed with Gracie! But, I won't be turning in her college applications yet...unless they will supply the diapers and give her 30 minute "binki-breaks."

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Some summer thoughts...

Summer arrived in the Shenandoah Valley tonight. Yeah, I know it's not summer until June 21, but by my standards, summer is here when you can go outside in shorts at 9 p.m., jump in the car, drive through town with the windows down and still be kind of warm.

I was on my way to Food Lion tonight, and the deep smell of honeysuckle wafted over Route 11 for the mile or so between home and the store. Given the nature of today's events, it was a nice indicator that better times are always just around the corner.

Summer here isn't like summer back in Tennessee. True, there is a haze that hangs over the mountains all summer, and there's the odd day where the heat and humidity makes you flee indoors to air conditioning, or strip off more clothes than you'd ever think about in cooler weather.

But this valley comes alive during summer. It doesn't bed down or crawl under a rock until September like some hotter locales do.

During the day, it's chaotic. Bikers, mostly federal employees and baby boomers who need a hobby, run up and down the valley on motorcycles the can't afford, while cars, dune buggies, trucks and SUVs all run up and down the byways, windows down, passengers taking in the sweet air of summer and the sound of a finely-tuned exhaust — or a muffler that won't pass inspection come fall.

The ice cream, excuse me, custard, stands open, and kids show off how they can ride a bike with one hand while eating a soft serve cone at the same time. Everyone flocks to the pool, where young and old, fat and thin, tan and pale, all angle for that nice patch of lawn close enough to the diving boards to keep from burning their feet, but not so close as to get trampled by the horde of kids making their way to the snack bar.

Then there are the quiet times, like tonight. Thunder rumbles in the distance, but you can still see the stars hanging high over the Alleghenies and Blue Ridge, while the moon casts its pale glow over the valley. The evening dove calls, and somewhere a backyard campfire throws off smoke that spices the night air with a scent of pine.

Kids are playing in yards, under streetlights and porchlights, while parents watch from the porch.

Summer is here again. And not a moment too soon.

Single parent day

A nasty bug or bad burrito got hold of Barbara this morning, and she's been out of commission ever since. She's in bed, hardly able to move until the desire present an offering to the bathroom idol is over.

It may be that she has the same affliction that got hold of me en route from Limestone to Strasburg. If so, it's short lived but miserable. She's getting better quickly, so I'm convinced she's on the mend.

Regardless, that means its Daddy-Daughter Day!

Gracie's down for a nap right now (playing her xylophone, no less). But we have cleaned the kitchen together, gone shopping together, played with paper plates and had story time, all while juggling diapers, traffic and food.

I love my daughter. Get well soon, Barbara. Please, please, please get well soon... :)

Happy Birthday Shannon

Happy Birthday Shannon!

Welcome to 28!
We hope your day is full of laughs, and love and plenty of warm memories that will surely last you a lifetime!
Take tons of pictures and be sure to share!
Its your first birthday as a mom, so take time and enjoy your day.

Barbara, Garren & Gracie

Keeping with tradition, I am posting a picture of Shannon and Gracie, but since it's from over 2 years ago, I thought I would include a picture of her new family from last month when her son Luke got baptized.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Try Try Again!

I know that this doesn't appear to be the best idea in the world--but I needed a creative solution to our potty problem.

Last night, Garren and I bought Gracie a new potty chair; partly because we left the other one in Lynchburg by accident, partly because the other one was so uncomfortable for Gracie it left deep red marks on her hind end.

The new "Royal Potty" is really cute. It has different "royal" sounds for when your child sits on the potty and it has a sensor and makes a trumpeting song when your child goes piddle in the potty. It came with a potty chart and reusable stickers, so Gracie was very impressed.

Before we had Gracie sit for nearly a half hour at times on her potty reading tons and tons of books without much success. I think one of Gracie's main problems is she is too active. She doesn't want to take the time to stop playing to sit and try to go.

A month or so ago we checked out a Little Critter book from the library where Little Critter's sister gets potty trained. In the story the mom let the little girl sit on it in the livingroom to watch TV, she put in her room so she could sit and play, etc. Well, I think it is a wonderful idea! This morning (as you can see), we let Gracie sit on the potty while watching one of her morning shows. She sat there and read books, watched tv, and drank juice for at least 20 minutes! So far no luck with piddles, but we continued to sit on it at various times through out the morning. (by the way when she got up to play I stopped her to pull up her Clifford training pants!) I know you may think that it is gross, especially since we have carpet--but sometimes you have to get a little creative to help your child pass to the next level. Plus, we are in the privacy of our own home, and hey: if it works, it works!

Added bonus for parents: you don't have to keep picking your child up to see if they have done anything--it tells you!! :) So far the Royal Potty seems like a good bet. We picked it up at Walmart for $19.99, and it's Fisher-Price, you can't go wrong with them! Fisher-Price also has another potty in their catalog I just got, that says phrases to your child like: "good job,""way to go," etc. It looks like a big person's potty with a plastic toilet paper roll and everything. It will run you $30.00.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Keep Those Post Cards Coming

Gracie and I want to thank all of you who have been sending us post cards from your exciting trips all over the US. It is so exciting to get mail anyway, but Gracie and I enjoy the little summary's that you have been putting on the backs of each one--and Gracie really loves the pictures.

I am sure to tell her who sent her the postcard, where they went and I read what it says to her. Sometimes, just for fun, we get them out of our special box to look at them again, and again. Oh, and now we have a little Dora map, so I can show her which state you sent your card from!

We hope all of you have wonderful summer vacations and trips, and if you think about it--send us a little post card so we can know where you've been!

A special thank you to Matt & Katie who have sent several beautiful post cards over the past few months! We really love and appreciate them!

So, keep your cards coming!!!!

PS: I decided putting our address online wasn't the best idea! If you don't have our address, please email me at and I will be happy to send it! If you aren't going anywhere this summer, find a post card of where you live and tell us something about it! We would love to hear from you!!!!

We have gotten postcards from:
*Knoxville, TN
*Nashville, TN
*New York, NY
*Death Valley, CA
*Lynchburg, VA (we'll get this one as soon as grandma mails it!)