Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Better Way To Do Pictures

Last night I finally realized that all those pictures I have been trying to share via Snapfish folders weren't being seen by all. The problem (which I wasn't ware of) is: in order to see my pictures you have to register with Snapfish. I don't blame you guys for not wanting to do that--again, sorry! So, I decided to do what my friend Shannon did, and get a Picasa page. So, now anyone who wants to see pictures can do so just by clicking! It was amazingly simple to do and much faster than I anticipated. In fact I was able to download a few pictures from each month since Gracie's birth, all while she was down for a nap. Cool huh?! You can check out the page by clicking here. I can add folders to this page and you will get to see everything. Now those of you who haven't been able to enjoy the pictures can! Have fun!

PS: For those of you who enjoy Snapfish, I plan to keep uploading to that as well, since I order prints from their site, and I know some of the family does too--so don't panic! ;)

Happy First Birthday Luke!

Happy 1st Birthday Luke!

I hope you have a fun day with lots of cake and tons of fun boxes to play with (they are much more fun than the toys!) Have a fun birthday, and live it up--after all you only turn 1 once!


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Fall Pictures Are Back

Gracie and I went to Winchester today and picked up her JC Penney portraits. You may remember when I had them taken, I blogged about how she cried through the whole thing. Anyway only two came out. The fall-themed one is excellent. The ballet one is cute, but you can tell she was crying--plus, you can see that silly tattoo I put on her 2 nights before!! Argh! I wasn't thinking! Oh well. I thought I would share them with you.

We hope you are all recovering from your Thanksgiving meals and family. I have a ton of unpacking and putting away to do myself.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tennessee Trip

Garren, Gracie and I had a wonderful trip (vacation) to Tennessee this past week. There are far too many events to catch you up on so, I thought I would be cute and give you a top 10 list. You can also get a peak at our Thanksgiving fun by clicking here to see the tons of pictures I took. We hope that all of you had a great holiday and we would like you to tell us what you were thankful for. You can post your comments here.

Top 10 Reasons The 6 (one-way) Hour Drive
With A Baby Who Never Napped, Was Well Worth It ;)

10. Chocolate chip pizza & Buddy's Bar-be-que!
9. Garren finally got to go to a UT football game
8. Taking Gracie to Speedway In Lights
7. Gracie saying "vroom, vroom" while riding with Elliott on the 4-wheeler
6. Gracie not wanting her Aunt Sharon to leave, saying "but momma, I want to play with her."
5. Papaw & Gracie make their own amusement park in the house with a blanket, slick floors and an empty water bottle.
4. Watching Gracie cuddle and rock with Papaw Charles
3. Seeing Lucie and Gracie reunite like long lost friends
2. "Girl Talk' with Candice
1. It's good to be "home."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Orange Hajj

Having been away from Tennessee for three years, Luke decided it was time for his big brother to make the traditional pilgrimage to the football Mecca of Tennessee on Thanksgiving weekend.

Here's the story of our Orange Hajj.

**The Leader, in Orange, The Pilgrim, in White.

For the pilgrim and the leader, the trip to our spiritual homeland began when we landed at The Mandarin House, hands down the best Chinese eatery in the known universe.

Any trip to the Mandarin House is at least a three-plate affair -- a starter plate to sample the various kinds of chicken available (you can't miss with the sesame and lemon chicken), a middle plate to take in beef and the spicier fare (orange beef, some kind of chicken that had been fed nothing but curry for its entire life), and a third plate reserved for fried rice and lo mein.

From there, the pilgrims traveled down the sacred highway, Kingston Pike, to the massive theater complex at Turkey Creek. Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny. Enough said.

And then, it was game day.

We began our pilgrimage walk down to the stadium to take in the Vol Walk, where the football team hoofs it down to the stadium in jacket and tie, a tradition that harkens back to the days of Gen. Neyland.

The team was simply mobbed. As the band played Rocky Top, thousands pressed closer to shake hands with the team that brought UT football back from the brink and restored the spark to Knoxville.

And then it was time for the band. The leader and I took in the show from the new pedestrian bridge. It was a powerful experience.

Then it was time for the band to join the team at the stadium.

Onward, with the mob of 100,000, to find our seats for the show. The pregame show, that is.

After watching warm ups (and being amazed at how good that Kentucky kicker was), it was time for Big Orange to take the field.

Bad Kickoff Video!

The Leader snagged some great seats, even if The Vols never scored on our end of the stadium.

UT carried the day, snagging a pretty good bowl berth in the process. All in all, this was one of the most fun things I've ever done. I can not thank Luke enough for making it happen.

It felt like I was home again.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Have A Blessed Thanksgiving Day!

Happy Thanksgiving
from our family to yours!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Please Make Time

This Thanksgiving we each are so thankful for family and friends, new technology, church and home, food and shelter and a multitude of other amazing gifts that God has given us. What may not always be on our minds is the blessing of a free country and the gift of people willing to fight for us and our families. Many of those people won't be home Thursday with their families gathered around turkey, nor will they be home with their kids on Christmas morning to watch them tear into Santa's bounty like Garren and I will.

I am asking all of my readers to take a minute...and I mean 60 seconds, to send your thanks to a soldier abroad.

You can thank those in uniform by clicking here and picking out a thank you card. Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to some member of the armed forces. Whether you are for or against the war, those people proudly serving need to know we appreciate the time they spend away from their families to protect ours.

I just sent one from Gracie, it took 60 seconds. Please make the time to send a card.

***When you go to this site you will be asked to pick a illustration for your card done by school children from all over, the above picture is the one I picked for Gracie's card. What a wonderful Thanksgiving idea, thanks Shannon***

Monday, November 20, 2006

Gracie's First Theater Experience

Garren and I took Gracie to see her first big screen movie today in Johnson City, TN...and she had the best time!!!

The three of us are in Tennessee this week for Thanksgiving, and on the ride up here (it's 6 hours, so we had plenty of time to think), we thought: what about taking Gracie to the theater to see "Happy Feet?"

It ended up being a great idea. Our wonderful neighbors the Mozingo's gave us some movie gift certificates for our anniversary, so we owe them a great deal of thanks for today's wonderful family "first."

We decided to attend the matinee (less crowded + before naptime) and we got there early so that Gracie would get to look around and be more comfortable with the theater before the lights went out. We opted for the large popcorn and a shared large drink and found our seats. Gracie was already very excited since we had told her that she was going to see a movie about dancing she had a popcorn larger than she was.

Since it was a weekday, we were 3 of maybe 20 in the whole theater, so that was nice. Gracie didn't get scared when the lights went off; her disappointment came from the 20 minutes of previews! It has been a while since I have been to the movies, but I don't remember having to wait that long to see the actual movie; then again I wasn't waiting with an excited 2 year old then either. Throughout the previews I kept trying to reassure her that the penguins were coming. At one point she started "penguins, where are you? I want to see you!" It was cute.

The movie proved to be adorable. Like most movies it had some "scary" parts, but Gracie handled them well. She even stayed in her seat for at least half of the movie before starting to get restless. We sat so we wouldn't bother other people, so her restlessness went unnoticed. Although, her father and I couldn't help smiling from ear to ear as she got up to "tap dance' through out the movie.

She really did enjoy the experience, and Garren and I were in parenting heaven. Gracie highly recommends the movie, and told her daddy and I repeatedly on the ride home "I love the dancing penguins!!!"

Thanks again Tom, Colette & Mallory for an amazing once in a lifetime family experience.

To see more photos from our Tennessee trip: click here. I am using Garren's laptop, so they haven't been edited or named, but you'll get the idea!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Gracie's Fall Fun

From Email 11-18-06
Family & Friends:

It has been a while since I last updated you all, so make an appointment with the cavity police, because here comes some more sugar-filled news.

Gracie had a fantastic Halloween this year. Her Mamaw & Papaw (Garren's mom and dad) came in the weekend before and spoiled her rotten, and then she and I drove to Lynchburg so we could trick or treat in my parents neighborhood. We have done that for the past 2 years, and there isn't any real place to take her trick or treating here. On the downside, because it was election season daddy had to stay at home and he missed out on this fun holiday. I wasn't sure how Gracie would react to the dressing up part, and she wasn't a happy first. By the third house or so she was really enjoying herself and telling the person at each house that she was a puppy dog. Then she would tell me on the stroll to the next house that she got candy and "I having fun momma!"
The morning after Halloween we had even more fun in store as I drove mom and Gracie to Virginia Beach for an extended stay. We hadn't been to the beach since Gracie was 6 months old, and I was really looking forward to this mini-vacation. We went to see family, but we had already decided to make it into a fun stay as well. Gracie absolutely adored the beach, and the first day was so warm that she was able to splash in the water and play in the sand. By day 2 the cold had set in, but we didn't let that stop us! We wrapped Gracie up in many layers and had a big coat on her while she made sand castles and sand angels. We also visited the aquarium which was a neat experience, and my little animal lover was so excited to see all the fish and other creatures. Personally, I loved the sea turtles!
I guess this has been the season for traveling. Besides Halloween and the beach we have made trips to Lynchburg for my 10th high school reunion, Grandma and Grandpa came to Strasburg to see Gracie as did Mamaw & Papaw; and now we are getting ready for a week long trip to Tennessee for Thanksgiving.
We have had such fun this fall. We baked many pies and took several trips to the apple orchards and pumpkin patches in our area. We carved pumpkins and hosted tea parties. Gracie got to take her first pony ride, and attended her fist real football game. We went to a couple of festivals, and attended story times at the library and really enjoyed the Teddy Bear Picnic that they hosted. Gracie used scissors by herself for the first time, and astonished me by completing matching worksheets. (She is such a little genius isn't she ;)
In the midst of all these activities Gracie took another growth spurt; surprise, surprise. She is now pretty much only in 6x clothes, we do get her 7/8 or larger (that's little girls not toddler) shirts to fit over her head. The potty training is still at a dead end, but we are starting to see some renewed interest, so here's hoping. As for the binki, I am at a loss for what to do. I have gotten many suggestions, but I don't want to cut her off cold turkey, and while the idea of giving them to the baby animals is a good one, I can't see Gracie walking away without running back to retrieve them. I have thought of getting her infant pacifiers and when she can't get any suction, hope she will give them up on her own. Anybody else got some ideas? Right now she still only gets "gi-gi" at naptime and bedtime.
I guess that's a pretty good update. Gracie continues to grow in to more of an independent person, and boy does she have a personality. She is very well behaved child so far, although these past few weeks have been difficult as she tests our limits to see what she can get away with. The "terrible two's" are definitely in full swing at our house! We are sticking to our guns though and we have consequences for bad behavior (time outs), and our rule with temper tantrums is: everyone gets frustrated and mad sometimes and we don't punish it, but we don't want to listen to it either, so she goes in to her room until she is finished being upset. She doesn't have to lay down or sit in a corner, just take time to fume and calm down. This really works, she usually cries for a minute and starts playing and then comes out and tells us "all better."
I have tons of pictures and videos to share, and of course you can read all about our life here on our blog.
Gracie, Garren and I hope all of you have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for this year and we plan to celebrate those blessings as often as we can. We are again asking family and friends this year to share their blessings with us as we continue to teach Gracie what it means to be thankful. You can email you thankful lists to me, or post them on the blog.
In the meantime, be sure to let us know how you are doing. We care about each of you and would love to know how life is treating you.

All our love,
Barbara, Garren & Gracie

Gracie September 2006
Gracie October 2006
More October
Gracie Halloween
Gracie At The Beach
Gracie Novemeber 2006

Giving Thanks

Gracie, Garren and I are looking forward to another family Thanksgiving together. This year we will be spending the holiday in Tennessee with friends and family. Its no secret that our family is truly blessed, and we want to instill that thankfulness in Gracie. Keeping with a somewhat new tradition, we would like to ask all of you to tell us what you are thankful for. Gracie and I have discussed being thankful and being blessed for the many things that God has given us, and last year sharing your blessings with her was a real success. She really seemed to start to make a connection. I would ask you to do the same this year. Please leave your list, as long as you like, of what and whom you are most thankful for in the comments section.

We wish you and your family a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Our love and prayers are with you!!

**Above: Gracie poses (kind of) with her Turkey of Thanks. You can see several of the people she is thankful for...oh, and the list does include Dora, but aren't we all thankful for Dora?!! ;)**

Friday, November 17, 2006

Turkey Party

Gracie and I had the "girls' over for pre-Thanksgiving tea party, or "turkey-party" this afternoon. We had our usual guests, plus 2 more that came all the way from Florida to play with us. Well, actually they are Mallory's cousins in for the holidays, but they came over to play with us anyway ;)

The girls got to eat their snacks at a min-table in the living room while enjoying "Charlie Brown Thanksgiving." After plenty of goodies, we made an adorable craft. The idea just kind of hit me, and I used Dora yogurt cups and construction paper and had the girls make their own "turkey of thanks." On each feather that they attached to the turkey they wrote something that they were thankful for. They turned out pretty cute. I helped Gracie with hers, and she even "wrote" a few herself. I have no idea what they say, but I know she is truly thankful for getting to use the marker by herself!

After raft-time, I read 2 adorable stories about Thanksgiving and we let the girls play. It was a fun afternoon, and I am so glad that we got to share this time together. I for one am very thankful for my dear neighbors and the tea parties that we share.

See more pictures here.

Happy Birthday Katie

Happy Birthday Katie!!!

We hope that you and Matt find a way to celebrate your special day in style. Enjoy your birthday, we are celebrating right along with you!

Much Love,
Barbara, Garren & Gracie

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Love The Golden Girls!

I am the 111th biggest Golden Girl fan! Or atleast I was at 11pm tonight. Cool huh!

Play the game.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Our Thanksgiving Turkey

I had this idea this afternoon, while staring at one of Gracie's empty apple juice jugs; "that could make a cute turkey." So, I decided to do an impromptu craft. Gracie helped me paint the jug brown. It dried while she was napping, and I cut out some feathers out of construction paper. When she got up she helped me glue on the feathers and make our "Tom" into a very colorful Thanksgiving centerpiece. I am inviting "the girls" over this Friday for a "turkey party," so we will use him then since the three of us will be spending this Thanksgiving in TN.

Making this turkey was about the only fun thing we did today. Gracie threw more temper tantrums than I could count. She had been in a foul mood since she got up this morning, and it just never went away...not even after her nap. I guess it is just another bump along the "terrible two" roadway of life.

Oh, and I have to share with you the Christmas dress I found at the thrift store! I was so excited to find this. As many (most) of you know I love old fashioned looking things, and they are harder and harder to come by, especially in size 6x! So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to find this gem. Let's just hope that the Christmas pictures go better than the fall ones! ;)

More pics from today's turkey craft in November pictures.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Saturday Afternoon Out

Garren, Gracie and I spent the afternoon out in Winchester, and had some quality family time.

Our first stop was the mall's food court. This is always a fun thing to do. I don't know about your mall food courts, but ours has things you can't get just anywhere. We opted for some Chinese, and Gracie did eat quite a bit before the itch to play in the playground was too much to resist. Unfortunately we didn't play long because Gracie burst in to tears after only 3 or 4 minutes of playing. There were just too many kids in there and many were not well behaved, including the "spider man" who climbed on top of the roof of the playhouse Gracie was in, which I am sure was what scared her.

Garren and I had already planned to take her to the Cold Stone Creamery for her first look and taste of over-priced ice cream. It wasn't as much fun as I remember it being when I first went in Knoxville, oh, 5 years ago. But, the ice cream is still quite good.

Gracie watched as the lady scooped up her mint ice cream and mixed in rainbow sprinkles (these were her choices, I swear!). After she downed her kiddy sized cup, she zeroed in on my waffle cone of vanilla, chocolate chips and almonds. Gracie left the Cold Stone very happy and very full.

And what better way to wind down an evening of family fun? Walmart of course! We picked up a few things we needed and got a sneak peek at some ideas for Christmas. Yes, Christmas! I am no where in the mental state of Christmas, but when you have a little one you have to start early deciding on some gifts, especially since relatives are also curious as to what your little "elf" might want. A few things we are considering: Fisher Price Preschool table (the one you have seen on TV that has the clock and piano), the huge Playdough container that has all those gadgets, some accessories for her Mrs. Potato Head, books of course, and maybe the Angelina Ballerina backpack set. Gracie really wants the Fisher-Price zebra bouncy toy (also on TV) and it is adorable--but she is just to big. It is meant for 1-2 year olds, but since she is the size of a 5 year old we are afraid she will be disappointed. I am open to any other ideas if any of you out there have a great suggestion!

Anyway, I got off track. I have started a November Snapfish folder and you will find more pictures from tonight, plus many more. Oh, and please notice the absolutely adorable outfit she is wearing that Mamaw picked out and got her from Cracker Barrel the weekend they were in. Who knew they had such cute kids clothes?!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Chilling Out

Had to post this picture I captured of Gracie tonight as she got comfortable in mommy/daddy bed and watched Garfield (don't you love Boomerang!) while I fixed her chocolate milk for books & milk.

PS: Check out the "born to dance" tattoo that she got last night. Mommy got a crown. They came from a ballet book. I put them up for later fun, and decided last night "why not?"

Play Date

Well one thing did go well today. Jessica brought Sierra over to play for awhile this afternoon.

It didn't take Gracie and Sierra long to get re-acquainted and now that Sierra is a year old, I think she was more fun to play with as far as Gracie was concerned. The two had fun building blocks, coloring and playing with the many balls in this house.

Sierra and Jessica didn't stay very long, but it was a fun visit, and we certainly hope that they will come back very soon.

Picture Fiasco

Let me just say it has been a bad day! I decided to take Gracie to have some fall pictures done at Penney's; first bad idea. I make the appointment for today (find out later it's Veteran's day holiday and kids are out, meaning every parent is having Christmas pictures taken!!!); second bad idea. Among the other disasters today: I was there for pictures at 11:30, I got home at 1:15; I couldn't get the heat to go off, the house got up to 80 degrees; my cell phone goes haywire and I couldn't use it for most of the day. You get the idea. So you can imagine with today's track record that the actual photo session didn't go well.

Gracie cried the entire time the poor photographer tried to shoot the pictures. I forgot gi-gi and there was nothing to calm her down. After 10 minutes the lady told me she had to stop trying because management says if they cry for 10 minutes that it is border-line child abuse and she has to stop.

Anyway, I had an adorable red dress on her and underneath I had on her ballet leotard and tights. I love to have her pictures capture the stages she is currently going through. Since her new thing is ballet and Angelina Ballerina, I had hoped to have a fall picture as well as ballet pictures too.

I guess I should be grateful though. Before her full on crying fit, the photographer got one good one of her dress. Gracie also calmed down enough to have one ballet picture snapped too. I ordered some of each. I really hope that she will do better for Christmas ones!! These pictures mean so much to me; they are only this way once and while I have tons of digital candids, it isn't the same.

I scanned in the four pictures she was actually able to take. I didn't order any where she was crying and the one where the photographer was trying to show her that it was okay by taking the picture with me in it. I will be sure to share when they come back the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Beach Pics

It took a while, but I have edited an uploaded beach pictures to Snapfish. You can see them by clicking here.

I also put a few videos on YouTube of Gracie at the beach, you can see those by clicking below.

I am sure you can tell we had a blast at the beach, and I have tons of souvenirs to prove it!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day Excitement

Per our annual (and sometimes twice annual) routine, Gracie, Garren and I headed to the polls in Strasburg today to cast our ballots.

We had to stand in line for a little while, but Gracie was very patient. She and daddy stood a little longer so they could use the one new electronic voting machine. I decided to skip the line and do it the old fashioned way. Garren let Gracie push the buttons on the machine, a Shipley family tradition since 1982; except when Garren helped his dad there were levers instead of a laptop.

Following our vote, we decided to start a new family tradition: an election breakfast. We took Gracie to I-Hop where she practically grossed us out on how much she ate. Our "little' one ate her pancake, strawberries, a link sausage, her scrambled eggs, 2 of daddy's pancakes, and my garlic toast! She may explode later--but she had a great time doing it!

**Above: Gracie is very proud of her "I Voted Sticker." Below: check out the amount of breakfast she's eaten!

Monday, November 06, 2006

We're Back...

...and well rested; sort of!

Gracie, Grandma & I all had a wonderful time at the beach. In fact we had so much fun that we ended up staying an extra day! There are too many fun things to share, so I will just tell you a few things.

Day 1: Weather is perfect! The sun is so warm that when we arrive in Virginia Beach we head straight for the sand. It took Gracie all of 30 seconds to fall in love with the beach, get her sock and shoes off and play in the sand and the water! We stayed out for about an hour having too much fun and getting soaking wet.

Day 2: The warm didn't hold out, as we had figured. We spend this day doing a little shopping, catching up on some sleep, and visiting with Aunt Betty and Uncle Ray. After dinner, we found The Purple Cow; and adorable burger and ice cream place that we thoroughly enjoyed. Gracie and I split a dish of mint chocolate chip and Gracie walked away with a plush purple cow to commemorate the fun ice cream stop.

Day 3: We went to the aquarium. Gracie got to see so many animals. We saw seals, sea turtles, manta rays, and hundreds of fish (there were more, but there isn't enough time to list them all!). I think Gracie's favorite were the harbor seals, mommy loved the sea turtles. Gracie even got to make a craft.

Day 4: Another cold and windy day like the past 2. We decide to go and see the Cape Henry lighthouses. This was a very scenic place and Grandma clicked about a million pictures. Gracie enjoyed going up a boardwalk like bridge to see the ocean view. We didn't go in the lighthouse since there were far too many steps for Grandma. Since it the sun was warm, we bundled Gracie up after lunch and let her play with her newly bought sand toys on the beach. She could barely move, but she had so much fun that she cried when we made her go back to the hotel.

Day 5: Our last day, which I might add was sunny and warm again! As promised Gracie got to go back out and play in the sand for a while before we left. We also took a long walk along the boardwalk and saw the pier and the giant seashell (which is a work of art and not a real shell)

We had so much fun at the beach, I can't wait to go back. Several times over the week Gracie reminded me "momma, I love the beach!" It was so wonderful to watch Gracie learn and explore.

Editing will take a while, so be patient with a picture link. I will post as soon as I can.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Off To The Beach!

Yes, I know it is November--but, hey the beach is the beach. Mom, Gracie and I are loading up the car and we are headed for Virginia Beach. We plan to see family, and Sara and do plenty of relaxing on our four day trip. We never could find the time to go this summer, so I say "better late than never!" I just know Gracie is going to be thrilled to see the ocean. The last time she was there she was 6 months old. I don't think there will be internet access, so you will have to wait for pictures until we get back on Sunday.

It's been an exciting week--scroll down the page to see all the fun we had yesterday on Halloween!