Monday, July 31, 2006

She Can't Get Any Bigger, Can She?

The summer isn't over yet, and I have already made a raid on Gracie's closet. Last week when I was trying to get her dressed for the day, I think I went through three things that didn't fit anymore before settling on a 6X dress hanging in her closet.

Now, I have told you the saga before about what it is like for a mother to go through her child's clothes and pack them away. What made it even harder today was that there were several things she had never worn, and many more that she had only worn once or twice.

The problem isn't just with Gracie's spurts of growth--she is a happy, very healthy child and we are so thankful for that! But, the growths seem to come at smaller and smaller intervals. She basically skipped 4T all together. She was in 3T for several months, and then out of no where she couldn't fit in to 3 or 4T clothes! And now, we find that some of her 5T clothes are too snug or too short! I am all for her growing up big and strong--but come on-- she's not even 2 and a half yet!

I blogged a few weeks back that Gracie was in the 99th percentile for height--I was wrong. I looked at the chart incorrectly. She is "off" the chart for her age. She is several pegs above the 99th percentile in both height and weight. Looking again (and correctly) Gracie is in the 95-99th percentiles for a 36 month old.

I doubt she will break any records at 27 months being 40.5 inches tall, and 36 pounds--but I am really running out of cute clothes! :)

Now before Grandma and Grandpa get any ideas, you'll see in the above picture that Gracie still has plenty of clothes. I took the picture so you can see the huge pile of clothes that I had to pack up, and how difficult it is to part with your child's favorite outfits. What's worse--around late September I will have to pack up all the summer clothes because it will be too cold. Of course, then I get to go shopping again. :)

**I think this picture also makes my point about how little space we have in this apartment, though I am a wiz at organization--our vaccum cleaner & ironing board are in Gracie's closet...I rest my case!**

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Dinner Party

Well, does Papa John's pizza and sock/bare feet count as a dinner party?

We finally got around to inviting our neighbors over to dinner tonight, and we all had a wonderful time.

We have lived in this apartment for over 3 years now, and Tom, Colette & Mallory have lived next door just as long. I wish I could be more outgoing, but I am just as nervous about meeting new people as Gracie is. When I worked it was easier, you saw those people everyday and you worked with them and you depended on each other, and it wasn't long before some strong bonds were made. But, out on your own is much different.

There are 10 apartments in this building, each with their own lives and daily schedules. I guess I don't want to bother people, or maybe I am afraid that Gracie will be too much, or more likely because it is just easier to stay on our side of the door. Anyway, how can I help Gracie if I can't help myself?

In February I decided to be more outgoing and I invited Colette & Mallory along with downstairs neighbors Tara and Leelou to a tea party, and now we have one a month. Colette and I realized then we were so much alike, and we had a feeling our husbands would also get a long. So, five months later we finally got the families together.

Once she was well awake from her nap, it didn't take Gracie long to warm up to Tom. She already knew Colette & Mallory, so she had a wonderful time pulling out all sorts of toys and getting tons of attention, and at times applause. Tom and Gracie played with circle ball, and later I found her putting her ponytail holders on Tom's fingers like rings!

I think we all enjoyed the visit and resigned to do it again soon. Their family is so much like ours; a laid back, mostly quiet Christian family whose daughter is the center of their world. Plus, they brought brownies!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Puppet Time

It finally all clicked today as we rode back from the library's story time today. Gracie's new fascination with puppets and her somewhat ease from shyness has come from the library's teen puppeteers.

Lets start at the beginning. Gracie is a very shy child. Okay, very shy in public. She clings to me and seems to scare easily in uncomfortable situations. I have thought and thought about ways to help Gracie with this since I know what it was like to be so painfully shy as a child (and adult). I don't expect her to jump up and volunteer to go on stage or make new friends at the drop of a hat, I merely want her to not be quite so uncomfortable around others. That is a lesson I still haven't mastered, and if I can save my child from wringing her hands in while in the company of new people at 28--then I have done my job.

Since my search for Mommy and Me groups, and music time and other such activities for toddlers in this Northern Virginia wasteland came up unsurprisingly empty, I decided to start small. I noticed that our library had a preschool storytime on Saturdays and Wednesday's at 11am. That was reasonable. We have been 4 times now, and even though there is nothing elaborate, the woman in charge is an amazing story teller. She plans fun and active songs between the stories so the kids don't get restless, and then there are the puppets. The library has a small puppet stage and there are 4-5 teens, who I am guessing volunteer at the library, who control the very brightly colored foam people. Those kids love the puppets and sing and dance along. I guess watching the others get up and get silly has helped Gracie a great deal. Each time we go she is more active and more willing to do a few more things. Don't get me wrong, she still won't dance and act silly or socialize, but its a step in the right direction.

Here at home, I have a tub of fun puppets that mom has given me and that I have found at various places, for Gracie to play with. We have pulled them out and had a good time at various times, but for the past few weeks Gracie pulls them all out at least once a day. She loves to make the puppets talk. They usually say "hello Gracie!" She makes sure mommy and daddy each get a puppet too, and she has fun for a very long time.

I had started to notice her improvement during each storytime trip, but it is only now that I realize she is using those puppets at the library and at home to become more comfortable around others.

The summer round of "preschool storytime" is nearly over, but I have a feeling I will do what it takes to be sure she makes it to the fall program.

**Top picture is of Gracie playing with her puppets last week. (That's an elephant on her hand). The bottom picture is of Gracie smiling and clapping her hands at Wednesday's story time. It's not the best picture, but you can see that she is starting to get in to it**

Friday, July 28, 2006

Painting Fun

As you can see Gracie had a fun during today's craft time. I had saved an old egg carton knowing there were about a hundred different things you could make. Gracie was working on her caterpillar, while I worked on a turtle. We will have to wait until the several layers of paint that she applied dry before we can add the antennae and eyes.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Much Awaited Treat

Okay, okay I am a terrible mother! Today was the first time my toddler ever had peanut butter and jelly. I was reminded of this fact a few weeks ago when Gracie and I were playing "picnic" with her pretend food and she said she was making peanut butter and jelly. I started to wonder where she ever even heard about the kid-friendly treat. I vowed then that she would get one. Well, with the trip and the unusual lack of bread (our bread is molding quickly, I guess from the heat, I have started storing it in the refrigerator now) this fun sandwich had to wait.

This afternoon after a fun trip to the library for story time and a healthy helping of new books to read, I fixed Gracie her first peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I have never been a sandwich person, but I was sure our sugar-deprived Gracie would gobble it up. I felt very mother-like as I spread the peanut butter on one slice of bread and the jelly on the others. You should have seen me, I totally belonged on one of those Jif commercials! :) Well you know me, I couldn't just slap the sandwich on her plate--so I found my cute cookie cutters and made her a cow shaped sandwich.

She wasn't so sure about trying the sandwich, and I realisedI should have let her make her own sandwich. So, when I couldn't get her to even taste it, I let her make one. I helped her spread out the peanut butter on one side and jelly on the other, and then she picked out the cow shape again. Apparently, making it herself made it more appetizing, because she gobbled it up, and then she ate the one I made her.

I believe peanut butter and jelly were a success!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Family Treat

I wanted to share this picture with you tonight. We decided after dinner to be spontaneous and...drum roll please... go to the McDonald's for some hot fudge sundaes. You envy my exciting life don't you ;)

But wait, there is more family fun ahead! We decided to go to the library tomorrow morning for story time since we were out of town this weekend, and this coming Saturday we will likely return and maybe take in some time at the town pool!

And I know you are dying to know: tonight after our family treat we ended our exciting evening by reading Gracie's newest favorite library book Our Marching Band for the twenty-something time. It really is a cute book and the text is rhythmical so it is fun to read.

I kid about our adventure filled life (well, lack there of), but the truth is I wouldn't change it for any thing else. Maybe Brad and Angelina and their kids jet set on a daily basis, but I wouldn't give up my small town life for theirs. Well, maybe for a small town life closer to Candice--she has fresh corn!

A Letter To Lucie (the dog)

Dear Lucie:

It has already been three days and I miss you a whole bunch! I keep asking mommy if we can "go see Lucie?," but she makes a sad face and says that you live a long way away and we will visit again soon. I hope soon is tomorrow.

I really liked it when you came to see me in the mornings and you put your paws up on the bed when I said "morning Lucie." It was so funny to watch you wag your tail.
I had fun playing with you too. I remember playing tug of war with your basket toy, and you growled and I giggled and giggled. And, maybe next time I can throw the ball even farther so you can catch it.

I had to remind mommy again today what you say. I thought I heard you bark and I asked mommy if it was you, but she said it was on the TV, but she made me laugh when we barked like you did.

I really liked playing with you and Candice and Elliott and I miss the fun things we did. Mommy said you miss me too and you kept sniffing the door after we left looking for me. Silly Lucie! Mommy says we can look at the pictures from our trip when I feel extra sad. The pictures make me smile and I remember the fun times we had.
I can't wait to visit you again soon and play some more.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hey We're Back!

Okay I kinda forgot to blog that Gracie and I were headed to Tennessee last week to spend a week with my friend Candice (she's Garren's cousin, but more my friend :). We had an awesome week, just us girls. We left Garren behind to earn the much welcomed money, and Candice's husband Elliott was at a week long teacher's conference in Murfreesboro. I can't tell you every little thing that happened--stop sighing in relief! So, I will sum up.

Day 1 (Monday)

6 hour drive, toddler in the do the math. When we finally got to Greene County, TN we met Candice at the Subway to get our dinner. Gracie treated Candice like a long lost friend, and let her get her out of the car seat and held her hand as they went in to the restaurant! Gracie has always taken right to both Candice and Elliott since I can remember. Anyway, we get our dinner and take it back to the house and play with Lucie, Candice's year old Schnauser. To finish up our evening Candice took Gracie to their garden (looked more like a farm to me) to pick tomatoes, which Gracie adored!

Day 2 (Tuesday)
We spent much of the day playing with toys and of course Lucie. But, we found some time to take a break and swim in the pool. It was amazingly hot all week with temperatures reaching 96 nearly every day. We picked some more veggies, and dined on fresh corn and tomatoes and more. We also made a visit to see Gracie's great-grandpa Charles, Uncle Joe and Aunt Gail.

Day 3 (Wednesday)
Gracie's cranky day! We drive the hour to Johnson City to take Gracie to the Hands on museum to play. I am guessing she was just so sleep deprived, but either way, she was a cranky terror the entire time we were there! We stayed about an hour or so and had to leave. While we were there she did find a few things that she enjoyed like the piano, and especially the pretend grocery store. We were hoping that a nap would help--but she remained cranky the rest of the day. We decided to over look her cranky disposition and took her back to the pool. We rode down to the pool on the 4-wheeler and when we got to the water, Gracie didn't want to get off! She wanted to "ride again." I got her in the water and she ended up having a good time.

Day 4 (Thursday)
Sleep day. Poor Gracie was so tired and cranky. She slept in late and I put her down for a nap a couple of hours later. She sleep for 3 hours! The day was pretty much shot, but she woke up in a decent mood so we took her to the playground at Garren's old Elementary school. She had plenty of fun, and then to top off the evening we picked up hot fudge sundaes from McDonald's drive thru and ate them outside at Candice's on the picnic table. We picked plenty more veggies too.

Day 5 (Friday)
Our best day! We decided the night before to take Gracie back to Johnson City to play. We ate our breakfast and headed out the door. We took her to Fun Adventure and we played and had a great time for about an hour and a half. Then we went and got bar-be-que (my favorite!) from Smoky Bones--it was really good. After our delicious lunch we headed to a used book store (like you are surprised!), and I got several good titles. It was starting to get cloudy, but Gracie was still in a good mood and I really wanted to see my friends and former co-workers at WJHL. So , we headed to the station and I was surprised to see everyone remembered me :) Seriously though, some of us still stay in touch and it was great to see them all after such a long time. Gracie was bashful, but she didn't cry--I think it was because of all the TV's! We picked up ice cream on the way home, which I let Gracie eat in car seat (believe it or not no mess!). When we finally got back it was too late to try a nap, so Gracie stayed up and had a little dinner and played with toys and Lucie. I had to put her to bed at 8, and she was gone by 8:05. She missed seeing Elliott come home, but she needed the rest.

Day 6 (Saturday)
Going home. Gracie spent the morning playing with Elliott and Candice and of course Lucie. I took a ton of extra pictures including the great "family" picture I posted at the top of this blog. Gracie got to go for another ride on the 4-wheeler as Candice sped us around her huge backyard. I don't have any pictures because I was on the back! Elliott and Gracie picked some more tomatoes, squash and green peppers for us to take home, yum! We said our goodbyes and headed to see Mamaw and Papaw who took her to Chuck E. Cheese's.

I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but Gracie seemed to have a great time. There was so much going on and so many kids and loud music that she was too distracted to eat her pizza. She did go and play many, many games with Papaw and Uncle Luke, although her favorite part was apparently putting the tokens in the machine! Before I could get the machine to count all of Gracie's tickets, Papaw had already bought her a stuffed Chuck E. Cheese doll! So, she got a Dora magnet too, and Uncle Luke bought her a pretend jewelry set. She isn't spoiled is she ;)

The ride back was interesting. Gracie was sound asleep 10 minutes in to the trip, but when she woke up there was plenty of whining and demanding. We made it home 6 hours, one really messy ice cream cone, a Subway dinner, and 4 or 5 thunderstorms later. We were safe and sound and much missed by a daddy.

Here are more pictures from Tennessee. I took a ton, but I was only able to post pictures where Candice has on makeup and isn't in her pajamas! ;)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Weekend With Grandma & Grandpa

Grandma and Grandpa came to visit us...well Gracie...this weekend as they caught up with their classmates during a 30th reunion. Tells you how old they are huh! Then again, it tells you how old I am too--my 10th high school reunion is this fall!

Mom and Dad graduated from the now non-existent Wardensville High School in West Virginia which is about 30 minutes from us, so they decided to turn their reunion, in to a Gracie reunion as well.

Gracie got to play a little with them yesterday before and after their "party," and was very excited that Grandpa drove all the way to Gracie's house to do puzzles.

This morning we caught up with them again and joined them for breakfast at the Cracker Barrel, and then did a little shopping. Gracie now has quite the little Old Navy wardrobe. I guess that makes her "in-style." She was previously a Wal-Mart baby, I certainly hope she doesn't get to uppity now and demand designer jeans :)

This evening we went to dinner and then took Grandma and Grandpa to see the ducks. She got some play time with them to before heading off to bed.

Mom and Dad will head back to Lynchburg early tomorrow morning, and I will likely have a pouting toddler on my hands. But, rest assured I am sure we will see them again soon.

PS: Remember me mentioning that Gracie was in the largest size training pants? Well, they are way to small. We are now using Goodnights, a brand of training pants made primarily for older children who still wet the bed from time to time! I hope the potty training gets back on track soon. We have suffered quite the set back. She wants nothing to do with the potty. I checked up on it, and this happens with toddlers all the time. Experts say not to push it, and take cues from your child when they are ready to try again. Cross your fingers for us.

**Picture of the three while at the "duck pond" at Jim Barnett Park in Winchester.**

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Happy Birthday Casey!

Happy Birthday Casey!

We hope you have a wonderful day filled with lots of cake, gifts & birthday fun! Sending lots of love to you--

Uncle Garren, Aunt Barbara & Gracie

**Picture from summer 2005, the last time Casey & Gracie saw each other. Hopefully they will get to visit again this summer.**

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Over Priced Hydration Help

I would like to tell you we bought them for their nutrition, or because they were on sale, or for any reason other than Gracie wanted them, and we were too exhausted to argue.

Now, I won't try to mask this lack luster parenting faux pas with excuses, but will admit that we weren't fearful of a temper tantrum. While we find ourselves embarrassed from time to time, Garren and I agree that giving in to a tantrum is the worst thing we could do as parents. And, there wasn't a threat of a tantrum--she just wanted it, and so we caved.

Gracie's unexpected treat was a pack of juices that had character heads on them. They are called "Tummy Ticklers," and there were three to a pack. They had several license characters to choose from like Clifford, Dragon Tales, Charlie Brown & Sesame Street. Gracie finally decided on Dragon Tales. The juice pack was in a section that was still in the process of being setup, so there wasn't a price and we were too tired to find a scanner. Garren said "how much could they be?" and let Gracie help put them in the cart.

I wasn't paying attention when the lady scanned them, so I remained in the dark about the price. Gracie couldn't wait to have the one with Cassie on it--so I poured half the juice in a juice cup and filled the Cassie container the rest of the way up with water (better for her that way, less sugar). She polished of the juice in no time.

Now we were a little smarter than your average exhausted parent. I read the label and the juice bottles are plastic, dishwasher safe, spill-proof and can be used again and again with less expensive juice. I blog about this not only because of my lapse of a stronger will than my 2 year old, but because if you have as hard of a time getting your child to drink something as I do--these are the ticket.

Today, I have already had to refill Cassie twice-- and it is only noon. Gracie is thrilled to be drinking out of a container that looks more "big girl," and because it has her favorite characters.

Gracie worries me a little, as I struggle to get her to drink. Its not that she doesn't like the juice or even plain water--she just doesn't take the time to stop and get a drink. I invented "juice break," last month and that helps when we stop what we are doing and both get a sip of water or juice.

Now, I knew I needed to know the price of these little juice gems, so I could pass on the helpfulness they have given me in the form of hydrating my little one. Are you ready? Are you sitting down?! Three 8oz juices with character heads at Walmart....$5.95!!! Oh well. It works, and maybe we can mortgage the Clifford ones next time. Hey we don't have to be sticklers all the time :)

PS: As I write this blog entry, Gracie has gone in to the refrigerator several times to switch out characters. A couple sips from Cassie, a few from Zak & Wheezie, and now she is making Ord feel better by drinking from his juice bottle!

**The above picture is of Gracie enjoying her "Cassie juice" and watching the Wonder Pets, bottom picture of the other two characters in the fridge (thought you might want a close up look at what cost me $2 a peice!**

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wonder Pets Save The Day!

I have often blogged about the adroable Nick Jr. show that we all love: The Wonder Pets. Equally adorable is their theme song which Gracie memorized in no time at all and runs around the house singing it. I have told Grandma about this but she has never been a witness to the theme for all to enjoy is my toddler singing the Wonder Pets theme.

This is the first part of it. She stops becuase she pushes her horses button and he begins to sing. You will have to listen to the second part of the song in the second video as Daddy helps.

If you or your child haven't seen the Wonder Pets yet, you will have to tune into Nick Jr. at 11:30am.

Wonder Pets Theme--Part 1

Wonder Pets Theme--Part 2

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

My Little Angelina Ballerina

Gracie has come to love the little mouse known as Angelina Ballerina. This is an adorable cartoon that originated on PBS and now runs on PBS Sprout, which Gracie gets to watch at Grandma's house. The opening credits to this cute show has the little mouse in a pink tu-tu swirling and twirling around to a catchy little tune. As you can see Gracie likes to mimic the dance in our livingroom.

We were able to bring some Angelina Ballerina episodes back with us on VHS thanks to Grandma & Grandpa's satellite and a VCR.

Dancing around the livingroom floor and making her self so dizzy she can barely walk is her new pastime. She gets tickled and then of course it is "mommy's turn!" So, I in turn have to dance around like Angelina Ballerina until I to am too dizzy to walk straight. We usually end up in a pile on the floor in giggles, following our performances. Good thing the neighbors under us work during the day :)

Book Review

Each week...well almost every week, Garren, Gracie and I head to the library and check out our usual 30 books. We often find new favorites among the titles that we check out, and come back for them again and again. This week we came along 2 really good ones that I wanted to suggest to you and your little ones.

Katie's Sunday Afternoon, by James Mayhew. This is a beautiful book with breathtaking images and story line. Since we read it on Monday, Gracie has brought it to me 5-6 times to show me the pictures again or to have me re-read it. It is clear that she loves the story and illustrations as well. Mayhew has several other books in this series, and I am looking forward to checking them out in the future.

Just Like A Baby, by Rebecca Bond. I loved this story! This story has rhythmic text and beautiful images. The story of how a new baby gets her is a poetic and sweet story.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I Have Arrived!

I have gotten my first invitation to a Tupperware party! If that doesn't scream successful housewife and mother, I don't know what does! It's about time I was fully recognized in the Stay At Home Mom Community. :)

Seriously though, I was excited. I really do enjoy my new lifestyle--one that I know very few women make these days. But, I love everything...well almost everything about being a SAHM. Gracie and I have a wonderful relationship and a fun schedule.. And, I take pride in my home...not to mention the other things I now have time to do like: sending cards and letters, baking, sewing dresses for Gracie, making quilts, hosting tea parties, scrapbooking, etc.

Now, all I need is to win a blue ribbon at a county fair for something yummy I made and my "Mayberry" dream is that much closer to a reality. Yea, I know I am old. Who cares--I am happy.

PS: For those of you who want Tupperware, I can be you "connection" if you want. The lady starting her own business is my really sweet next door neighbor, and I am not sure how avaiable those products are--so if you want some, I would be happy to ask for you.**

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Gracie's First Story Time

...well at the library at least.

Going to the library is one of our favorite things to, but we usually just get our 30 books and go home. Gracie some times does some puzzles or plays with the stuffed animals around the children's room while I look for interesting titles. But, we have never really taken advantage of what they have to offer.

Several times over the past 2 years I have picked up one of the fliers they have stacked neatly about storytimes and summer reading, and I always take them home--but find plenty of excuses not to take Gracie: "she's too young," "she would fuss or cry," "I would have to rush to get her ready in time to get there."

This week I decided that Gracie, and our family, needed to push past our borders and try to get more involved. I told the family we would get up, get ready and go to pre-school storytime this morning at 11. And we did.

Gracie sat still and was very patient. She loved to listen to the woman who read the stories, and she giggled at the puppets who sang some songs. But, when it came to the cute movement parts that went along with some of the songs and a story, Gracie would have nothing to do with it. She sat in my lap, and would cry if I tried to move her arms or fingers like the other kids. I decided that this was her first time, and maybe next time she would be more active.

When we left the library (with some new books in tow), Garren was surprised at how shy Gracie was. I'm not. I worry about her a little bit. She needs to be around other people, and especially other kids. I have searched for a "Mommy & Me" group of any kind---but there aren't any here. Garren and I remembered how painfully shy we were as kids, and we hope that she will be able overcome that. But, if not, we know she will be okay--look how we turned out! :)

**Yes, I took a picture--don't you know me by now ;) Anyway, you will see Gracie sitting on Garren's lap to the far right. These other kids were obviously veterans of storytime and they had a great time. Gracie enjoyed watching them do the fun activities, even if she decided to sit on the sidelines.**

Friday, July 07, 2006

Momma Said There'd Be Days Like This

It was just one of those days!

The morning looked promising. We headed to the park while it was rather cool outside and had plenty of adventures and turns on the swing. We returned with some found foliage which I decided to turn in to a craft. (The butterfly from leaves and flowers turned out well by the way.) But, I had no idea what was in store for the rest of the day!

I took a bathroom break pre-nap time after we got home from a fun day at the park to find my toddler holding four bright hi-lighters. I dismissed the event as she turned sheepish and ran to put them away. Then she quickly brought me a game to play. As I was pulling out the pieces I noticed that she had "developed" fluorescent stripes. Her legs were covered in pink and purple thick lines. I was not a happy camper. I attempted to wipe them off, knowing full well that they will have to wear off.

After her very short nap, I decide to go for a ice cream bar. They are freezer burnt, but that doesn't stop the "toddler of doom." She looks at me (while reaching for the stick) and says "have it?!" So, she finishes off the terrible ice cream while I tidy up the kitchen. 2 minutes later she
comes to me covered in chocolate drippings and wants her hands washed. She is a mess! But, I love her!

About an half hour later, I decide to finally catch up the dishes. I hate them, and always save them for last--plus, I fell asleep during naptime, so I couldn't do it while she was down. I finished the last of just a handful of dishes and noticed that Gracie was awfully quiet. I head towards her room, but stop just short to find her making a tower out of toilet paper rolls and other supplies she found in the linen closet. Okay, it was really cute, and she wasn't hurting anything, so I let her play.

Fifteen minutes later, another short bathroom break and I find Gracie holding my now empty water bottle in one hand and the cap in the other. I clean her up. My fault for leaving it out.

5:30, dinner is going and Gracie wants to play "water table." Okay. 5 minutes later I hear banging on the bathroom wall. I go in and find her running her toothbrush up and down the wall. She looks at me and explains that she is "painting, momma."

What a girl! :)

**Above you'll see the picture I took moments after catching her in the act of making a tower with the toilet paper. I think Cottonelle makes a more sturdy structure--don't you think ;) **

Happy Birthday Candice!!

Happy, Happy Birthday Candice!

We hope you have an absolutely wonderful day. Find some time to celebrate with Elliott and Lucie, and remember just how special you are to everyone else!

Sending you lots of sunshine and hugs,
Barbara, Garren & Gracie

**Picture above is of Candice and her "baby," Lucie; her other "baby" --husband Elliott is not pictured**

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Tonight I was given a wonderful treat as I watched the inter-artist come alive in my 28 month old.

Gracie had been a wonderful toddler this morning, but she seemed to wake up from her afternoon nap "on the wrong side of the bed!" Despite her crankiness, I pushed on and got dinner done and found the patience to put together several puzzles. I had pulled out a wooden bird feeder kit for an after dinner family project. But, since Garren had to work extra late tonight, Gracie and I got started early.

She seemed to perk up when I dumped out the small wooden pieces on the table. We carefully glued the slats together to make this absolutely adorable little house (isn't the dollar store great!). But, the fun was just getting started. The glue was barely dry and Gracie was begging to paint.

Finger-painting has always been her favorite thing to do, she also loves making crafts and coloring and playing play dough. I already knew she had a creative streak a mile wide like her mother--but even I didn't know how much she truly enjoyed it.

I opened the small containers of paint that came with the kit and handed her a paintbrush, you would have thought I had sliced a chocolate cake and given her a spoon. She instantly lit up. She started softly talking a mile a minute as she made very careful strokes with the brush. She was so intent in what she was doing, she could have burnt the little house down with the glare of her eyes. It was so amazing to watch.

I helped her put on the first coat by smoothing out the clumps of paint, and then I started to feel guilty. I didn't want to become one of those parents that takes over their child's projects and can't stand if it isn't perfect. So, I let her take the brush and the colors and decorate it anyway she wanted. She was very careful to announce and use each color on all sides of the house. It is very hard to describe just how meticulous she was, but I stood in amazement.

She continued to talk her way through her skilled stokes (she reminded me of a little Bob Ross with the "happy trees" and everything), and repeated her new word that I taught her, "masterpiece, momma."

An hour later I finally had to take the brush and paints away from her. It was time for bed. She cried and cried as I cleaned her up.

What an amazing little artist I have, and a wonderful little person I am raising.

**I put the rest of the pictures from the birdhouse craft, along with others, in the July 2006 folder on snapfish. Click here.**

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Our Fourth Of July--Part 2

The Fireworks:

We all took a good long nap (after watching the space shuttle lift off at Daddy's request), and we were ready for an afternoon of fun! A pretty big storm rolled through while we were resting, but it looked as if there wasn't any rain and we were in the clear for the rest of the evening. I re-packed the bags and cooler, grabbed a quilt and we were off again!

We got to Strasburg park around 6:30, and walked about a half mile from the parking spot we got well down the road. We rolled Gracie around in her stroller and let her see all the activities. There were 10 or so inflatable games, pony rides, food, over-priced souvenirs, and a really awful band playing. We thought that Gracie would have a great time, so we took her over to some of the inflatable bouncy things, but she wouldn't budge. We walked around some more, tried different things...she demanded back in the stroller. At this point I was getting a little frustrated. It is hard to have such a shy child. All of these things looked like fun, and best of all they are free! But still, I try to stay calm and not push her to do things--that won't help any of us. I am starting to get worried about the fireworks for tonight remembering the stroke she had last year. I don't mean to be, sometimes I am really embarrassed that my child is such a "chicken." Its at this point, I check my temper and remember that it is who Gracie is, and I can't expect anything more from her. The best I can do is show her a good time and do my best to reinforce that there is nothing to be scared of.

We gave up on the games and even the free pony rides, and headed for the ice cream stand. This seemed to make Gracie feel better. We enjoyed our treats after we staked out a prime spot on the lawn, perfect for watching the fireworks later on.

From here we spent much of our time playing with Gracie (I brought along a kit of books, toys, crayons, etc just in case, and boy am I glad I am a prepared parent!) and listening to the really awful singer the town hired. Ironically, Gracie was intrigued by the band. She adores music, so I think that really helped her stay calm.

When it started to get dark I pulled out the light sticks I had been saving that Grandma got for her at the dollar store last month, and the over-priced light up toy that they bought her last year. Gracie had plenty of fun with these glow in the dark toys, and I was starting to feel more optimistic about the pyrotechnics. Last year we fleed in embarrassment with a screaming baby. The year before we were so proud of our fourth month old who watched in amazement at the fireworks and didn't cry. I wasn't sure what to expect this year, but I told Garren we wouldn't flee, that only makes it seem like we were running from something scary.

At 9:30 the fireworks started, and so did the screams. Garren held her, but that wasn't working. I reached in the bag for the thermal receiving blanket I had packed just in case she got cold, and I scooped her up and held her up against my chest, putting the receiving blanket over her head like a jacket hood so she could still see. I held her head tight and covered her ear with my hand. She was heavy and sweaty, but she stopped crying! It worked. She didn't exactly "ohh, and ahh," but she felt safe with me holding her tightly and the blanket acting as a "shield."

It didn't take long before my back and legs were killing me, so I laid down and put her in between Garren and I still holding her tight. She whimpered a little but then she calmed down and I covered her ear again. She seemed to enjoy watching the colors, and I kept things calm by calling out the colors and shapes and making a big fuss over how neat they were. Believe it or not when the 15 minute show was over she sat up and clapped with everyone else! We were so proud of our brave little girl!

All in all, things went well, and we had a wonderful family day. Poor little Gracie was so exhausted from the day, she feel asleep in minutes after putting her to bed.

You can see the pictures from the day by clicking here. You'll also see some of the fireworks we saw as Garren tried out the "fireworks" setting on our camera.

Our Fourth Of July--Part 1

The Pool:

We had a fun-filled plan for our third Fourth of July as a family--the pool, then nap, then fireworks! And surprisingly we were able to stick to that plan. Who knew?! I guess I should write that down in some sort of family record book. :)

We wanted to be sure to have plenty of time at the pool, so we left around 11:30 (the pool didn't open until 11). We had no idea just how hot today was going to get. You can see in some later pictures that despite several rounds of SPF 60 re-applications, we all got a little pink.

Gracie had a wonderful time in the big pool. This is her first time this year in the Strasburg town pool, and we weren't sure what to expect from her. But, as I had guessed, Gracie was a little fish, and she wasn't happy being made to get out of the water for juicy breaks (it was really hot and we wanted to keep her hydrated).

The most fun for all of us was the last hour or so at the pool, when Gracie figured out how to get where she wanted in the water, without help. The swimsuit she has on is a swim trainer and it is wonderful. I have mentioned before that Gracie loves the water, but is clingy. This afternoon Gracie let go and moved her little frog legs to get from me to the side of the pool, and from the side back to me! It was great!!! We are so proud of her. Of course I don't have pictures since I was in the water with her--but she is really getting used to the water and how to move.

Around 2 pm, we had to practically drag Gracie from the pool, but we were all in desperate need of a nap!

**Picture is of Gracie putting sunblock on her nose. She made this into a little game, and Garren and I were happy that she would stay still for a few minutes to get more sunscreen before wanting to go back in!**

Happy Fourth of July

We hope all of you have a wonderful Fourth Of July! I know that it may say "independence" in the title--but it is our sincerest wish that you find time to spend the day with your families and loved ones. The fourth is such a fun summer holiday, create some new memories this year, that will surely last a lifetime!

Garren, Gracie and I will be attending the Strasburg fireworks and fun in the park, and we will be sure to post pictures as soon as we can.

Our love to you all!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy Birthday Heather!

A wonderfully Happy Birthday
to our good friend Heather who is turning the big 2-8 today!
We hope you have lots of fun
and make plenty of good birthday wishes on your special day!

Lots of love to you!
Barbara, Garren & Gracie

**This picture is of Heather holding Gracie when she was a month old! Heather, we have to see each other more often, this picture is too old! :) ***

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Mommy's Fireball

Just when you think she couldn't be anymore like her father...

Gracie and Garren and I made a run to the grocery store yesterday for a few things (including ice cream), and I had a hankering for some Atomic Fireball candy. I love those things! I really like to put them in a baggie and use a hammer and crush them up so there is really hot and sweet in every bite. I decided to do this yesterday afternoon and Gracie insisted on trying it. She loved it. I gave her very small pieces at first, but no too long afterward I was having to fight her for the big pieces! Poor Garren cringed as she ate the super hot candy. That's my baby!

I guess Gracie didn't want her daddy to feel too left out--we decided to measure her height again--40.5 inches tall! Unbelievable! She remains in the 98-99th percentile in height. I will have to find a scale at some point and see how much our little giant weighs these days.

If you are keeping score at home, that's 40.5 inches (over 3 feet) at age 27 months, wearing 5T clothes, size 9.5 shoes and the largest diapers they make are getting to small. Thank goodness we are well on our way to being potty trained!