Saturday, September 30, 2006

Fun Day At The Library

Today the library hosted a Teddy Bear Picnic. This was an adorable program that I had been looking forward attending with Gracie all month.

When we got to the library, besides the tons of kids, there were so many fun things to do I am not sure Gracie knew where she wanted to start.

The library had tables set up for making bead necklaces, coloring finger puppets, a snack table (and mini picnic blankets to eat on), a teddy bear clinic and a place to write about your teddy and get a journal to take home.

We started with the beads. Gracie picked out some very colorful beads for her necklace and then we helped make one for Brownie. Brownie was the teddy bear that she decided to take with her to the "picnic." Gracie got Brownie a few months after she was born.

After the necklaces were made, we headed to the table where they had finger puppets in the shape of teddy bears you could color. Gracie and I both decorated one and then we decided to take a break in the action and look around for some books. We picked a few out and read some. I think Gracie was so excited about the storytime she wasn't sure of all the other things to do, so after some convincing that story time would be later on we headed over to the snack table. The kids got to pick out a zoo pal plate (Gracie got a frog) and they had an assortment of cookies including Teddy Grahams. Gracie got a couple of handfuls of snacks and then we found a mini blanket to sit on and have our picnic.

We finished up the snack just in time for the stories to begin. Four young volunteers had been dressed up in the cutest teddy bear costumes and they acted out the rhyme "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear." Gracie giggled. The story lady then read a version of The Three Bears.

Storytime was unusually brief, but that was okay because we still had other fun things to do. At this point we decided to get Brownie checked out at the Teddy Bear Clinic. I wasn't sure how Gracie would react to this little activity, but she was fascinated. We have a pretend doctors set at home that Gracie plays with, so I think that made Brownie's check up that more fun. The "doctor" weighed and measured Brownie, then she checked his heart and ears and throat. She finished off the check-up by giving Brownie a flu shot. Gracie held his hand during several parts of the check up and it was just too cute. Brownie even got a medical chart filled out that we got to take home.

All in all the library staff and volunteers did an excellent job of putting this event on. Of course I took plenty of pictures. The ones of Gracie watching Brownie get his check up are too cute. Click here to see them, along with all the September 2006 pictures (Teddy Bear picnic will be at the bottom).

Pictures: (Top) Gracie holds Brownie and does her new "cheese" face. I couldn't get a real smile out of her, so I had to settle with this one. (Below) Gracie holds Brownie's hand while the "Doctor" checks his heart.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Anniversary Treat

Gracie enjoys an ice cream sundae from Dairy Queen on mommy and daddy's anniversary.

Don't worry, we got ice cream too!

And thank you to all who wished us a happy 6th wedding anniversary. We appreciate your kind thoughts. Our love to you as well.

Through The Years

It's been one of those years--the kind that you might rather forget. So much pain, so much loss and too much heartache.

I was sitting down and trying to think of what to say about the last six years Garren and I have been together. Today, they seem like a blur. Isn't it funny how when you have been together for so long, that it seems more like a lifetime than a certain amount of years? Maybe its because we are old, or because we don't have an exciting lifestyle--but, I think its probably because when you find someone you love as much as we love each other time no longer matters.

We have plenty of moments. I remember our wedding day in clear detail (it was a disaster by the way), I still remember everything about the day he proposed, I will never forget the day we met in person (another disaster). For me, those moments have added with the day I puked on his shoes trying to have Gracie, the day he nearly fainted in Walmart hours after I told him I was pregnant, listening to him breathe frantically outside the hospital curtain in the ER following my accident, the day we moved in to this home, our first Christmas, the night I caught the stove burner covers on fire. That list could go on for a million more moments that have added up to a lifetime of love. So, I guess while it is technically our sixth anniversary it seems like so much more to celebrate.

While this year in particular has been so hard, I found myself realizing just how much Garren supported me. Its so easy sometimes to say things to people like "I Love You," "I am here for you," "lean on me;" but it is much harder to show them. This year my husband held my hand and let me cry on his shoulder more times that I can count, and I felt more love in those moments than with any declaration. You see it is the times that aren't so sunny and romantic that we find out how much we truly love each other, and how much we are loved. So, I guess that God did find away to ease my pain, by reminding me of that wonderful man I get to keep for the rest of a lifetime.

Tonight there won't be dancing, we won't be on a cruise, or even share a bottle of wine; and while you may think that it is shame--don't. Tonight I am making lasagne and bread, there will be football on somewhere and two people who don't need expensive meals and lavish presents will make another memory in their small home with their little child and their abundant love.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Proud Toddler

"Did it by yourself momma!"

Gracie was so proud yesterday evening of her newest accomplishment: cutting with scissors by herself for the first time.

The kitchen table was covered with scrapbooking materials I had been using while Gracie was taking a nap, and now she wanted to make a craft too. She found the scissors, and as usual I took them before she could touch them. But, then I remembered the pair of safety scissors mom had given me several months ago. I decided she could at least try to use them. She seemed very interested in all the tools that mommy uses to make crafts. After digging for a while, I found them and gave them to Gracie. She didn't even wait for me to help explain how to use them. Next thing I know she is cutting the paper that I gave her! She doesn't put her fingers through the holes yet, she just pushes them together with her fingers, but it works and she is very proud.

The last time I let her "use" scissors was at the end of August. She had begged me to let her use them, so I held the scissors and let her push them together with her fingers. She was ecstatic at this new found skill, so you can imagine how happy she was to have her own pair, and to do it herself.

This video was taken last night during our impromptu craft time, and I wanted to share it--if nothing else for the joy that you see on her face. And yes she does describe her art work as beautiful-gorgeous. She may have gotten those words from me. After all, I think everything she does is beautiful and gorgeous!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Gracie Reads A Story

I told you how good of a storyteller she was, now I have to share this video I took this afternoon not long after I posted the last entry. I told her I wanted her to tell mommy a story, so she picked out this book of storybook classics and read to me. I was very interested in the story. I didn't catch all of the plot, but she did mention something about Jesus and an elephant.

This video is too cute. It's a little on the long side (50 seconds), but at least watch a few seconds--you will be quite impressed with my little reader. I was worrying about how long I was recording, so I clicked the button off before her "the end," but I assure you all of our stories are finished off with a very pronounced "de end."

Enjoy! And send her a comment if you can, she is very proud that she can "read."


I should have updated yesterday, but I didn't have the energy. This cold, black plague...whatever, is really taking a toll on the family; not to mention its own sweet time to go away!

But, I wanted to take a few minutes to let you know that while we remain sniffly, achy, and very tired, we are still kicking. Gracie is being taken care of (not that you could doubt that), but I know several of you get worried when I don't post for a few days :)

I have passed the days by continuing my creative streak, and ignoring the dishes. Not that there are too many dishes, since we have been living off of corn bread. I don't much care for it, but Gracie loves it and on Sunday I made 4 mini loaves of the stuff, and she can't get enough. Besides the corn bread making I have started (yes, I said started) on Gracie's scrapbook. She's 2 and a half, but anyone with small children knows that extra time for crafts can be limited. In addition to scrapbooking (I am up to "coming home from the hospital"), I have been sketching out ideas for Candice's newly decorated lliving room. She said something about wanting to put something on the bare walls :) Elliott get ready for a new "honey-do list!"

I snapped the picture above this afternoon, to prove that Gracie is happy and clean, and at least for today...dressed! She is in her usual spot reading--something she does now for nearly half-hours at a time. It seems that while she's always enjoyed reading her books, she now wants to do that most of the time. I go looking for her after 15 minutes of silence to see what she is in to, and I find her in a pile of books on the floor reading to herself. I will have to video it sometime, she comes up with the neatest stories.

Thanks for the get well wishes, and I certainly hope that none of you get this whatever it is. It really drains you and you are sore all over and barely able to do simple tasks. So far I don't have the sniffly part, but I am sure I will soon. Poor Gracie has been trying to get over this for nearly a week. But, I am confident we will all be fine. And, we send our best wishes to all of you.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sick Days Are Good For Something

Whatever this disease is that Gracie brought in to our home isn't letting up--and it isn't discriminating either.

By Friday afternoon I knew I had it. I was sore and achey and above all--miserable. This weekend we all decided to stay in and under the covers, since the two other disease carriers were still in the throws of illness. We didn't do much--but we did it together.

While I promised Garren that we wouldn't do anything again today (including clean the house), I found myself "stir crazy." Then it I remembered the hundreds of little projects I had around the house that I never seem to have time for. Perfect. I got out my sewing box and got started. The creative part of me kept my mind active and I was still able to rest as I stitched from the comfort of my couch.

I wanted to show off my completed projects. Above you can see Gracie wearing one of the hairbows that I made for her. I actually got three done today; 2 crayon ones, and one teddy bear. My mother made bows just like these for me when I was a little girl, and I made some for Mariah when she was littler, so now the tradition continues. I hope to make plenty more over the years.

Below is the Clifford quilt that I put together this afternoon. I had the material and I needed to cut the squares and sew them together, and then of course add the back and finishing touches. Realistically, I hadn't started it at all. Somehow I got the whole thing done start to finish in about 3 hours; a new record I am sure!

So, I guess sick days are good for something, even if it is catching up on unfinished projects.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Watermelons, Ripe For The Picking

It is harvest time here in the Shipley house. The abundant fruits of our labor are ready to be brought in from the fields.

Okay, the few seeds that we planted mid June that survived, have bloomed and we figure this is as good as it gets. Surprisingly we got 6 baby watermelons (no we didn't plant baby watermelons, that's just the best a window box could do). My over-ambitious husband when picking out the seeds would we would plant to show Gracie about how things grow, said "what the heck--they could grow!" And he was right...well sort of.

This afternoon we sliced our baby watermelons and had a feast. Well...more like a snack, but I belive that the lesson in how things grow was completed. Gracie watched us plant the seeds, she watched them grow over the past 3 months, and now she has gotten a taste of our success.

It's all in how you look at it. But, what a neat lesson in life.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Teddy Bear Tea Party

Not many things could be cuter...could they?!

Gracie and I hosted our monthly tea party for the other girls and mothers in the apartment this afternoon. A book my mother had given me on "the perfect tea party," had the adorable idea for a teddy bear tea. We invited each of the girls to bring their own teddy to the party. Well you know me, once the ideas get rolling--there is no stopping them!

Here's a look at our bear-themed party:


Beary Sandwiches

Teddy Grahams

Gummi Bears

Bear Cakes

Cherry Cool-Aid



Bear Parade




What a fun time we had. The girls went outside to show off their bears in a parade. Gracie had a little trouble with the concept, but the 2 older girls helped her stay in line. About 3 minutes in to the parade (around the parking lot), the rain began to fall, so we went back in for more fun. After pictures with their bears, I read the girls A Pocket For Corduroy and they all seemed to really enjoy it.

On to craft time. Each girl got a cut out of a teddy bear and they were allowed to decorate it anyway they liked. This seemed to be the highlight of the afternoon as each girl painstakingly picked from a mound of craft supplies to appropriately dress their bear. We mothers got in on the fun too by helping cut, glue and offer suggestions to the decorating divas. Once craft time was complete the girls were off and playing with the many toys in Gracie's room.

These tea parties are such a joy to me, and I so enjoy the company. This is the first time I planned activities other than eating, and I think we all had just as much fun--if not more. Each girl got a certificate of participation for the parade and I handed out awards for each bear. They also got to keep a booklet that I printed out that had the above menu and activities printed on it. I told you, I can really be creative! But the best part were the girls getting together and having a good time, not to mention us moms getting a chance to talk to each other as well.

As usual I took a ton of pictures. If you want to see them click here. You will notice that Gracie was definitely dressed for the occasion in an adorable plaid dress with teddy bears on the collar. Oh, and her bear's name is "Carter," and he won the award for "Cuddliest Bear."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sick Babies

Yes, I said babies. Any woman who has been married for more than a year can attest that when ill--men become children themselves.

Gracie hadn't been feeling well for a day or two, and I am not sure that she ever got over the cold she had 2 weekends ago. At any rate, she was cranky, coughing, and her nose--well, I will spare you.

The poor little thing was so restless today. She would want to cuddle and then she would want to run and play, all the while never letting go of "gigi." We don't ordinarily allow her to have her binki unless it is naptime or bedtime, but we made an exception today since she was clearly miserable.

Knowing that sickness in the house doesn't take long to spread, I wasn't surprised when Garren whined to me over the phone around 1pm that he didn't feel good and that he was coming home. My husband is very big strong man, but I guess like all of us, he needs a little cuddling when he has a stuffy nose.

So far I am fine (knock on wood), and maybe this cold will pass me by. In the meantime I will do my best to take care of my two very important patients.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

It's Football Time...Again!

Daddy: "Gracie, its time for football!"
Gracie: "Okay daddy, I get popcorn!"

I can't count how many times this conversation took place this weekend (and will likely again tomorrow night).

Garren is the true blue football fan; the kind that actually watches for the love of the game. So, it isn't hard to understand that Gracie would adopt her father's passion--especially when popcorn is involved.

On Friday night there was some sort of game on one of those sports channels, and there was a hot bowl of popcorn on my bed along with two of the most adorable fans you could ever meet. One yelling at the players from the bed, the other stuffing her face with the buttery snack and pointing out each time one of the players dropped the ball "Uh, oh daddy, he dropped the ball!"

Saturday I lost count of how many games we actually watched, but the main event was the 8pm Tennessee/Florida game. Gracie got to stay up late for this once a year tradition, and she was truly in Volunteer spirit dressed in her UT t-shirt. Now, I have been in Neyland Stadium and I have watched many of these games from the bleachers--but, I never had as much fun then as I did watching my little girl cheer on the players.

This would be the night that Gracie learned to chant "de-fense, de-fense." The more I smiled, the louder she would clap and cheer at the players, what a little cheerleader she will make some day! Gracie learned several other simple cheers which she had a wonderful time performing, and we did several renditions of "Rocky Top," much to her amusement. By 9:00 the first quarter was over and the popcorn was gone-- so our tired "Little Vol" was put to bed.

Sunday was no exception from the football-themed weekend. But, luckily (eye rolling here) for me this is one of the weekends where sports over lap. We had the race in the afternoon, and the Redskins/Cowboys in the evening. So thus another bowl of popcorn and more bedside cheering ended our day. Gracie understandably proud of her new cheers, was back in the game again. In between claps of "de-fense" came the one line she could remember from Rocky Top which sounded like "dood old rocky pop!"

I sum up to say that my two football fans had a wonderful weekend filled with some amazing father-daughter bonding time. It seemed like such a simple pleasure for Garren to pile on the bed and watch the game and share a bowl of popcorn--but I could tell it was much more than that.

Need to be cheered on? Check out Gracie's chant for defense!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Parade Fun

Small town parades are definitely the best, don't you think. When you are watching a town parade, if you look closely you'll notice that most everyone watching the parade knows most everyone who is in the parade. They bring out the local boy scouts, and the mini cheerleaders, and no parade would be complete with out the local Shriner lodge driving around in those little cars acting more like 7 year olds than their wise 60's and 70's. This is nothing like the massive parades I grew up with in Lynchburg that hosted more beauty queens and car dealerships than anything else. It is quaint and cute and the people who participate have so much fun waving and throwing candy and honking their antique cars. Times like these are a definite check in the "pro" column when it comes to small town living.

This afternoon, I took Gracie to watch the parade in Edinburg. They were celebrating their annual Old Town Festival-- and I had no idea that many people inhabited the tiny town 25 minutes from us--it was packed! Our neighbor Mallory was in the parade and I knew Gracie would get kick out of it--so we shrugged off the very overcast skies and went anyway.

Gracie enjoyed the last parade we attended, which was in Strasburg this summer, but she really liked this one probably because of all of the bands. Gracie has an inherited love for marching bands and instruments, so she was thrilled to watch 2 local high school bands and a drum & fife corps march by. But those didn't overshadow the tractors, little queens, clowns, and adorable mini cheerleaders tossing out candy. Gracie especially loved the candy part, and she found herself in possession of several pieces. But, I think her favorite was Smokey the Bear. She waved and smiled at him--she kept calling out "hi bear!"

Following the parade we walked the festival a bit and found Colette and Mallory helping sell deserts, we petted some kitties the local animal shelter had on display, and Gracie got to draw on the enormous concrete wall with sidewalk chalk like hundreds of other kids had that day. She had a great time, and I loved watching her smile and wave at all the parade participants. We had a good time.

If you're wondering where Daddy was, he stayed behind and deep cleaned the refrigerator--I think he is secretly afraid of clowns :)

You can find more festival pictures in the recently created September 2006 Snapfish folder.

**Above: Gracie waves to the horses and people dressed in very old fashioned garb**

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Twinkle, Twinkle

I know, I are probably tired of the cutesy videos, but Gracie put on a show-stopper of a performance this morning, and I couldn't resist sharing.

Enjoy the show!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Best Buddies

I wanted to share this picture of Mallory and Gracie. They, along with Colette and I took a trip to Manassas to go book shopping. As you can imagine I came away with several new titles to add to our already vast collection. After book shopping we stopped for lunch, and Gracie strengthened her bond with Mallory as the eldest returned to the table with mounds of chocolate deserts. Gracie skipped a formal invitation to share and dove right in. After the messy chocolate mouth shots, I got this precious one.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


This was Gracie nearly 2 years ago when we took her to the "Pumpkin Patch" in Lynchburg (she's 7 months old). We were visiting mom and we took Mariah and Gracie to play on the toys, and of course pick out a pumpkin. Gracie thouroughly enjoyed the experience as you can tell by this video with her daddy.

I have tons of videos from that day, but this one is the best. Gracie and I were watching some old videos this afternoon, and since I have figured out how to share them--I had to show this one.

They grow so fast!

Monday, September 11, 2006

End Of Summer

Friends & Family:

It is hard to believe that yet another summer has come and gone--so, I just refuse to dwell in it. It has been too long since I sent out an email to share Gracie with all of you. With the blog, I forget that many of you don't have the spare time (or the cavity-protection) to keep up with my little munchkin week to week.

Gracie continues to grow like a weed, and I learned that I was right last week when I thought that Gracie was the size of 4 and 5 year olds. In fact, she was the size (and some larger) than the 4 and 5 year olds that she played with at the little playground in the mall. I was somewhat embarrassed to watch these older kids look at Gracie like something was wrong with her. She was definitely their size, but she couldn't speak as well as they could, and she didn't take direction very well from them. I felt I needed to explain, but I decided that I shouldn't worry so much. After I asked a few parents their kids ages (they were in fact 4 and 5), I decided not to worry about it. The more I relaxed, the more I saw that Gracie will have no problems integrating with other kids; she went right up and chased them and danced around and played for nearly 2 hours. Those story times at the library that we started taking Gracie to this summer, to help with her shyness, have really paid off.

Because of her continued growth spurts Gracie is now in some 5T, but mostly 6X clothes. She just turned 2 and a half, last week. We aren't that worried about her size, she is very healthy, not chubby, and well proportioned. This does make it very difficult to find age appropriate clothes. I don't know what happened with retailers, but they are dressing 3 year olds like 7-8 years olds, 7-8 year olds like 12 year olds, and so on (have you seen today's 16 year olds!!!). I guess I better get really good at sewing very quickly, seeing as there are few things that I would allow my child to wear hanging in these stores. Until I can catch up on the sewing, I will stick to the second hand stores and cute outfits from my era where kids looked like kids and not pre-teens!

Back to summer. We had a busy one. We visited grandma and grandpa several times, and even made a trip to Tennessee to stay with Candice and Elliott and Lucie. Staying with grandma & grandpa is always a busy time, I can't even tell you all of the things we did from shopping, to swimming to playing on the swing set. Our trip to Tennessee was also quite the adventure. Since it was just us girls in the car for 6 hours (one way), Gracie and I had plenty of bonding time. Candice was solo for the week as well, so we considered it a "girls week." Gracie had so much fun playing with Lucie (their dog) and picking vegetables from the garden--not to mention the trips to Hands On Museum and rides on the 4-wheeler! I have to admit, Gracie is far more of a country girl than I ever was. She adores the wide open spaces, exploring and all the animals that come with a country life.

Also on our summer travels we saw DC for the first time since we moved here. We got brave (at the urging of my high school friends) and drove the hour to the Metro station, took the 30 minute ride and had a blast in DC. Gracie had the most fun on the train, and just after-- when she saw a pigeon for the first time (she thought it was a duck!). We took Gracie to the Air & Space museum, had an overpriced lunch and took in the Museum of Natural History. Gracie got an overpriced (but adorable) souvenir and we took in quite a few of the touristy sites like the Washington Monument and the Capitol building. We had so much fun that we are looking forward to going back!

We have spent some quality time in pools throughout the past 3 months and Gracie has become a little fish. While she can't swim on her own yet, the swim trainer suits have allowed her to float along beside me and work at moving her feet and arms. The last time we were in Lynchburg, Gracie was propelling herself into the deep end! I have confidence that she will be a strong swimmer and it won't take long next summer to catch back up.

In addition to growing, our little toddler has taken on quite a personality. Though we are still working (without much success) on potty training, she has formed her own agendas. While painting remains a favorite, she has now added PlayDough and especially dancing to her list. She is able to put together 25 piece puzzles on her own, and her vocabulary has grown exponentially, her new favorite word being "excellent." I wonder she gets it from ;) Other fun info: favorite color -now pink; favorite snack-raisins; favorite playtime pal-new stuffed panda "Tai Shan" from DC trip; favorite book-Three Little Kittens.

We have also had the chance to get closer to our wonderful neighbors and had several fun meals and "play-dates;" which has worked miracles for this lonely stay at home mom. Gracie and I spend plenty of time together learning, playing, hunting for new bargain books, and doing tons of fun crafts--but it is nice to have another adult to talk to!

Now that fall is here we have plenty of adventures still to come. We just got back from the zoo, and we are looking forward to the Pumpkin Patch, Halloween and visits from family. While it can be sad to watch another season come to an end, I am looking forward to all that the next season will bring. Garren, Gracie and I hope you had a wonderful summer full of your own memories. We look forward to hearing all about your many adventures and pray for more exciting ones to come.

We send our love and heartfelt wishes for a wonderful fall season,
Barbara, Garren & Gracie

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Happy Grandparents Day!

Have a happy day...

Grandma & Grandpa
Mamaw & Papaw.

I can't wait to see you all again really soon.

Love you bunches!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Trip To The Zoo

What a day! Garren and I made our second trip to DC today to take Gracie to see the animals at the zoo. We were expecting a cool fall day...but then again we were expecting a lot of things.

Gracie didn't sleep well last night waking up every 2 hours or so and staying up at 6:45 am. I knew we couldn't make the trip unless Gracie got caught up on her sleep. Luckily I was able to get her down at 10 and she slept until noon. I wasn't sure how an afternoon trip would go, but we decided not to waste the opportunity and go anyway. After gassing up, stopping for lunch and the very long drive, not to mention the train ride and 10 minute hike--we were finally at the zoo. By now it is 3:30 and we are soaking wet from sweat. I had no idea it was going to be that hot! But, we were at the zoo and Gracie was very excited since pictures of Panda's were all over the place.

Now, before I get too far, I should mention that Gracie was very groggy in the car on the way to DC, and now she is starting to sound stuffed up. We have to decide--take her in, or turn around and leave. I figured that she could still get a lot out of the zoo, and it would be a shame to waste the whole trip, and we would monitor her and leave when we needed to.

Despite the onset of what was to become a cold, Gracie seemed to really enjoy the animals. We got to see all of her favorites from Tai Shan the baby Panda to the flamingos and many, many in between.

We didn't stay at the zoo long, about 2 hours. We noticed she was really flushed and getting too hot. Even without a cold it was far hotter than we thought it would be, and halfway through the bird house I had to pull her jeans and shoes off and put on a pair of shorts I had packed "just in case."

We did stop and get a very large lemonade too cool off and I found several reasonable souvenirs to commemorate the day before we headed home.

We got back to the apartment around 8 (after stopping to pick up some cold medicine, which we gave to her as soon as we got in the car), and we cuddled up-- and of course watched the race-- before our little panda fell sound asleep. All in all it was a pretty good day.

Click here to see more zoo pictures, or watch below:

**Picture is of Gracie on the bridge watching the ducks. Gracie loved the elephants, and flamingos and of course Tai Shan--I think she liked the horse the best though. She talked to all of the animals as we passed by each of them. She would wave and say "hello horse!" ***

Friday, September 08, 2006

Girls Night

Since Garren had to work very late tonight and our next door neighbor Tom was on a retreat, I invited Colette and Mallory over to spend the evening with Gracie and I. We had fun playing with Gracie who wanted to show "Ballory" everything. To calm her down before bedtime I put in our Angelina Ballerina DVD and she climbed right up into the recliner and cuddled up with Mallory. It was too cute--I had to snap a picture! Gracie thinks the world of Mallory and I am so glad that our families have gotten a chance to know each other better.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Mommy & Gracie Day

I have had enough of this weather! Its forcing the gloom outside to come inside! Today Gracie and I are going to fight back and spend the day together having fun--just the two of us.

We started off by stopping off at the Food Lion for some power food (fruities & a diet Pepsi), then we sang as loud as we could to our Backyardigan's CD all the way to Winchester. When we got there, we made our first stop at the Handley Library. Gracie had won a prize for the summer reading program and I kept forgetting to pick it up. She was very happy to carry her Chick-Fil-A cow around for the rest of the day. We walked around the library for a little while, but didn't check out any books since we were up to our limit.

Now it was lunch time! We rode over to the mall's food court where I got Chinese and Gracie got chicken nuggets and fruit from her cow's home. Unfortunately Gracie was far too excited about going and playing in the playroom and I was hardly able to get her to take 3 bites! She waited as long as she could, and I got as much of my lunch down as possible, and then we joined the other preschoolers in the playroom.

I watched in amazement as Gracie took right to the toys and the other kids. I had worried that Gracie would have a hard time in school because she was an only kid and not around other children. I guess taking her to storytime this summer really did work, because she was chasing these kids and laughing and dancing like she knew them all of her life. I was so thrilled to see how happy she was. And, I tried not to let the fact that she was a big as the 4 and 5 year olds kill my buzz. I knew she was big for her age, and the other mom's proved that point when I asked how old their "darlings" were. I decided not to dwell on it, after all Gracie is very healthy and well proportioned--but, I am sure those kids were really confused since Gracie couldn't talk as well as they did, and she didn't follow the directions to their made up games very well.

After nearly 2 hours, I started to gather up my little social butterfly and we said our goodbyes. I knew she was exhausted and wound up, so I thought a stroll through the mall would be good exercise for me and a chance for her to calm down as well.

After several rides on those mechanical toys, and a small ice cream cone later we left the mall and got back on the road. While I knew Gracie needed to sleep, I didn't want to give up on a chance to stop by the thrift store. I was glad I stopped because they had a sale on books, all 25 cents! 26 books later I piled my very sleepy toddler back in her car seat and turned on the lullaby CD (at her request). She was sound a sleep by the time we made it home. I carried her up to the apartment satisfied that we had a wonderful mommy & me day!

**My batteries in my camera were dead and I couldn't get them charged before we left!!! I hate that I don't have pictures of our day, but it was good day none the less. ***

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The End of Summer

Summer limped out of the Shenandoah Valley tonight, half-drowned and beaten by the remnants of what was at one time Hurricane Ernesto and a summer clearance sale at Food Lion.

I was in the middle of a late night junk food run when I notice summer headed south on Route 11, tail between its legs and a sad, whipped puppy look on its face. It was being chased by a murky fog that hung over the pine trees in the valley, soaking up sound and leaving a misty film on everything it touched.

Time to roll the windows down.

Ahead of me, a tractor-trailer loaded with produce turned down the Interstate ramp for Winchester, headed into town with the season's first heaping mounds of green apples. It was sad in a way, but then again, even winter brings its own form of renewal.

A long, hot, blistering summer of sunburn and disappointment has given way to the crisp smell of drying leaves, fresh apple pie on the stove and wood smoke drifting through the air. Pumpkin cakes have replaced lemon bars, and barbecue tongs are now two for one.

The idyll of heat exhaustion has inevitably passed into the dillegence of study and chopping wood, and we are all new again for the effort.

Fall is here. And not a moment too soon.

Dining Al Fresco

Gracie and I decided to fight back against the bad weather this week and eat under the cloudy skies that have been plaguing us for over a week. I fixed spaghetti for dinner, and since Daddy was late coming home I moved our dinner for two to the "patio." Gracie loved it. We will have to do it more often!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

All Dressed Up...

...and ready to go! Gracie was very impatient this morning as she waited for Daddy to hurry and get dressed before we headed to church.

It has been several months since we have been to Sunday morning services, something we were looking forward to correcting.

Gracie looked absolutely adorable in this pink smocked dress. She was pretty good during the service, but quite a bit fidgity. Maybe next time we will look into using the church's nursery, children's church is reserved for 2nd grade and up.

And by the way, if you weren't believing me about her recent growth spurt, I think I can rest my case with this picture. She is standing in front of our apartment door, I told you she was really growing. Oh, and the dress is a 6x!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Little "Science" Experiment

You may remember that I mentioned planting a few seeds in late June to share the experience with Gracie. She wasn't much interested at the time about planting the tiny seeds in the dirt, but she has really enjoyed watching things grow in those same pots outside on the deck.

Garren and I planted tomatoes, watermelons, and several different kinds of flowers in 6 or so planters, and hoped that she would at least see some blooms. Our work seems to have paid off. While it is early September, at least one of the groups of flowers have blooms on them, Garren has staked the tomato plants and they have flowered, and now we have six baby watermelons. The watermelons are so cute. The above picture shows what they look like now. The cool air is settling in, and this maybe as much as we get, but it has been a fun "experiment" regardless.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Nice Dinner With Friends

Garren, Gracie and I had a lovely evening with our neighbors the Mozingo's tonight.

Since it was rainy and gloomy I invited them over to share in some chicken casserole (Garren's favorite). They brought the side dishes and I made the bread and tea. It was a wonderful time. Although, Gracie was so excited by their presence she wouldn't eat her dinner--she kept pulling out all of her toys! After dinner she got her wish and we all piled on the floor to play with her. Tom is an excellent puppeteer!

**Picture above is of Mallory and Gracie having a wonderful time singing and clapping**