Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Teaching Mommy

Boy did I learn a lot today about shapes.

My first lesson began today during lunch. I was eating my baked potato when Gracie asked for the chalk to her chalkboard. I gave her a piece and she began to draw circles and then she looked at me and pointed to the board and said "what's that?!" It was so cute, it took all I had not to laugh at her. I answered "a circle?" She said "circle!" Then she drew two more and said "three circles."

I was so glad that I had gotten my shape lesson. But, she wasn't quite finished with me yet. After I cleaned up from lunch, she took me in to her room to play "shapes," with her snail shape sorter.

She conquered this very difficult sorter about two months ago, but now she is so good, and is very proud of herself so she wants to do it all the time.

Anyway, she dumped the shapes out and handed them to me and said "here go momma." She wanted to test my ability. I asked her where the first one went (a flower), and she was kind enough to show me. And, she gave me a second chance to get it right. What a patient teacher!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Wait, I Am On A Call

Gracie and I had a very fun time today playing pretend in her room. She didn't even have time to smile for this photo as she was very busy with an important phone call. I didn't catch much of the conversation except "hey" and "yeah." Boy, are daddy and I going to have to work on our phone manners. I guess with cell phones these days conversations on the phone are far more relaxed than I realized!

I am excited that mom and dad will be bringing more "pretend" toys with them when they come this weekend. Gracie has a very vivid imagination--she gets that from me!

Friday, February 24, 2006

My Dearest Apologies Little One

Dearest Gracie:

What a job it has been to be your mother over the past 23 months. It has been a joy, a gift, a lesson in patience and understanding, a marathon, a sermon and a once in a lifetime opportunity. But, I know that I have not been perfect. Here lies my confessions of apology to you, my littlest baby and greatest reward.

I am sorry this morning when you wanted to play cups and I wanted to sleep. I put in a Barney video hoping you would give me 5 minutes of peace before I had to start the day. But, there you were again and again bringing me a new toy to my bedside every three minutes before I caved in and got up. There are so few minutes left in your toddler years, and I am most sorry for losing the ones I had this morning.

I am sorry that I eschewed you away when I was trying to do the dishes. You wanted my attention, but I was in a hurry to have the house clean before someone was to come over. I told you to go play in your room, when I should have tossed aside the soapy water to hold you and find out what magical adventure you wanted me to accompany you on.

I am sorry that I got frustrated at you when we went to the store. You wanted to run down the isles and touch everything. So many fascinating colors and textures, you saw a world of opportunity, and I wanted to get the few things on our list and get you home for a nap.

I am sorry that I wouldn't let you have another granola bar for snack. You love their sugary taste, but I want you to be healthy. They are a simple pleasure, but my fear of your following in my obese footsteps kept me from allowing you to enjoy another.

I am sorry that I couldn't understand you when you were whining and crying this afternoon after your snack. I didn't take the time to try and figure out what you wanted, and I grew frustrated that you wouldn't remove the binki from your mouth to annunciate. I want you to be a baby forever, and yet there are times I treat you as if you couldn't grow up fast enough.

I am sorry that I didn't try harder to find you something that you would eat for dinner tonight. I know that your teeth are bothering you and you didn't want to eat. And even though I offered you applesauce and you refused, I wish I had found something to fill your tiny belly

I am sorry that I held you so long this afternoon when you woke up from your nap. You wanted to play, but I wanted to keep stroking your beautiful curls like you had let me do for several minutes in my lap. Your need to play and get busy was as overwhelming to you as my need to hug and hold you.

I am sorry that I gave you so many kisses today. You squirmed and wiggled in my arms each time I gave you more than two. You want to be independent, but I can't let you go until you know how much I love you.

I am sorry I kept putting the bow in your hair today, I know how much you dislike it. It keeps the hair out of your eyes, but secretly I love it because I can see your precious face better.

I am sorry I put you in a turtle neck and dress today. Two things you like to wear the least. I know you like it when your daddy dresses you in jeans and a pull over shirt. But, I love to watch you twirl around as you play and see the skirt flair out just like a princess.

I am sorry I held you extra long tonight before I put you to bed. You see I can't fall asleep myself until I know that you love me too.

I will make many mistakes in my hopefully long career as your mother. But, I will never regret each day and each memory I live with you. You are my most cherished gift. You are worth every verse of every song we sing, every step of every dance we perform, every hug and every kiss, every puzzle and every crayon. You are my world, and I only hope that you can forgive me for loving you so much and holding you so tightly.

Your Mommy

Daddy & Gracie Color

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sleep Success Story

Garren and I think we have found a solution to Gracie's sleeping problems, well the "staying-up-for-hours-at-night-talking/whining-in-her-crib-problem." In desperation, I wondered if too much light was to blame for Gracie's inability to sleep. I had covered the window with a shade nearly a year ago, and that helped, but now we needed less light still. On a whim, I unplugged the touch lamp that is in her room and plugged up a simple night light. I worried that with the door closed it would be too dark. But, every night since we darkened the room Gracie has gone down well, and we haven't heard a peep from her until the next morning! I hope I won't jinx the situation, but we have had success since Sunday night.

On another good note, Gracie took a nap today, her first in several days. On the downside, her molars are coming in and she is miserable! She has cut her fingers up so bad from putting her hand in her mouth to rub them. My poor baby. She is getting Tylenol for the pain, and plenty of hugs and cuddles for the discomfort.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Grabby Hands

Warning: never say your child will do something, because not only will they do it--they will excel at it! My mother told me this when I was pregnant, and I didn't listen. I had a list a mile long of "my child will NEVER do "x."

Gracie has now reached the age where hands come flying out of the grocery cart to grab all sorts of shiny and fun things from the isles. This morning I took her to Food Lion, where she promptly threw 2-3 fits when I wouldn't let her have the shiny object of her choice. These "things" were usually something with a familiar face on it like Dora or Elmo. This newfound "skill" was repeated this evening as we walked through the toys isles in Walmart.

Unfortunately, Gracie has embarrassed me by excelling at two of the things I said she would never do: grab at things on the shelves, and throw a temper tantrum when she didn't get what she wanted.

Its not too late--heed my warning: never say "never" when it comes to your child, save yourselves!!!!

Gracie Update

From email 2/21/06
Friends & Family:

Its been a while since the last "Gracie Update," and since I am sure that you all just love to hear about our adorable toddler--you have to wait no longer :)
Just when we thought that winter was going to skip Northern Virginia all together, we got 12 inches of snow mid February. Gracie had a blast for the second year in her homemade laundry basket sled. Her father was embarrassed by it for the second year in a row. He wants to get her one of those $8 plastic death traps from Wal Mart, which he calmly refers to as a "snow dish." She does love the snow regardless of how she gets to play in it. Although, the fun part this year was watching her try to walk in it. She couldn't walk last winter.
Gracie hosted her first ever "Tea Party," this month on Valentine's Day. I invited three other sets of mothers and daughters to join us (two from the apartment we live in, and another set that used to live here in the apartment). Gracie had a wonderful time. I went all out. I decorated the place, I made homemade party hats out of construction paper, we had red cool aid and animal crackers--it was a feast fit for a princess! I love Valentine's Day so much, that it was a real treat. The sad part is that it has taken me three years to really try and get to know my neighbors. It is so easy to stay cooped up in this apartment with Gracie, and not get out and make new friends. I still really miss the old friends I had. But, Gracie and I are unfolding our "social butterfly" wings now, and I am sure that we will have plenty more chances to entertain.
In less than 2 weeks my little baby, will officially no longer be a "baby" anymore. Gracie turns 2 March 5th. I am so proud of all that she has accomplished, and how much she has grown, but I wouldn't be a mommy if I wasn't a little sad. We have decided to have a party for her here in Strasburg this year. I am planning a "farm" theme. Mom and Dad will come down, so it will likely be the 5 of us, but I am thinking of inviting the same neighbors for a small birthday get together the Friday before.
Potty training is not going well, as Gracie has decided she no longer has the time or the energy to try. I guess they just go through phases like that--she had been doing so well, but clearly she isn't ready yet, and we aren't going to push her. As far as skills are concerned, our little prodigy knows all of her colors and abc's (she's known them since 18 months), she can count to 20, sing 10 nursery rhymes and songs with all the words, and she is now putting together puzzles with pieces. We are so very proud of our little munchkin. Please don't think I am bragging...well I am, but for some in the family, these emails are the only way they keep up with how Gracie is growing.
I continue to update my blog daily (http://allaboutgracie.blogspot.com/), and now Garren has decided to add his two cents worth as well, so you can see both sides of the parental structure here in Strasburg. We are all doing well, and appreciate the cards and birthday wishes for Garren in January and me on the 15th of this month. We miss those of you we don't see often, and maybe this spring and summer will open up opportunities for us to visit you. Please let us know how you are doing, we would love to hear from you all.


Attached are some of the best pictures from these two months. For more pictures:

January 2006
Valentine's Day Tea Party
February 2006


With Love,
Barbara, Garren & Gracie

Monday, February 20, 2006

Balance... or how to take a business call while changing a poopy diaper

By: Gracie's Daddy

Back when I thought I knew everything, I got really sick of people saying they had trouble finding "balance" in their lives. Balance between work and home, work and school, yin and yang, Atkins and South Beach and so on...

Now that I have a daughter and a career, I have learned that these people, while annoying, were on to something. Balance is tough...

I'm blessed with a job that allows me to work from home quite a bit. It's challenging, is kind of high stress and requires some travel. But, I can do the job on some days sitting in my running shorts on the couch. Those of you who know me understand just how scary that is.

But sometimes, things can backfire. Like one recent morning, when work and home collided in a four-car pile up that would have made the national news.

Barbara had gone to the gym, per her usual routine. That leaves Gracie and daddy at home for "Waffle Time!" We both get two Eggos with way too much syrup. We both eat both waffles. Gracie seldom helps with clean-up. That's when work began to intrude.

My cell phone, which I had left in the vibrate mode, started buzzing its way off the shelf. I pick it up. A state Senator wants to talk (I'm a reporter, BTW, for those of you who don't know me.) Gracie is off watching Barney, the purple dinosaur from realms beyond evil.

We're talking about a major bill moving through the statehouse, when, out of nowhere, comes the Princess. And she smells. She smells bad. And she wants me to know it, using her favorite phrase in the world.

"DID YOU POOPIE?! DID YOU POOPIE?! DID YOU POOPIE?!"

And then she was gone, back to the playroom for more Barney.

I'll leave you with this thought. Balance is good. Working from home is good. Having major business contacts say, "I think she pooped," is not good.

This is my life. Envy me.

Guess Who?

Kind of scary isn't it!!! Mom and I found some pictures of me when I was little at my Aunt Lou's. Mom kept telling me that Gracie looked like me, but I didn't belive her. I do now!

Puzzle Mania


For several months now, Gracie has been intrigued by puzzles. Mom brought some with her the last time they visited in October, since then she can't get enough of them.

The puzzles vary in age and difficulty. We bought her some of the wooden cutout puzzles that have the pegs in them for Christmas. She had mastered them by the end of the day. Now, she is working her way up.

Today, she completed a 7 piece Sesame Street puzzle all by herself, as well as a 6 piece one. We are so proud! And, you can tell she is very proud of herself for figuring it out too. It is so much fun to watch as her mind works. She is a very determined little girl.

Yeah Gracie, you completed your first real puzzle! We knew you could do it!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Daddy Has Something To Say

Garren has decided that he would like to add his two cents worth to our blog. And, since he is Gracie's Daddy after much consideration I said "okay." Look for Daddy's exciting entries in the near future. You can tell which articles are his by the name at the bottom. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday Becky


Happy 28th Birthday to our friend Becky!
May your day be filled with lots of love, and plenty of chocolate!
Have a great day...you deserve it!
Barbara, Garren & Gracie

Saturday, February 18, 2006

What A Personality....What A Temper!


Gracie, nearly two years old now, wakes up with a flash each morning between her father and I. She has joined us early in the morning somewhere between 6am and 7am. Those last few hours of toddler sleep can only be achieved, or so it seems, with one bony heel digging in to her fathers hip, and a hard and heavy noggin edging mommy out of the bed. What a happy toddler she is when she wakes up though; right where she wants to be, between the two people who adore her. Waking from naptime isn't quite as energetic though. If I am able to get her to sleep for an hour or so mid-day, she wakes up and needs to be cuddled for several minutes before the Princess Grace is ready to face the rest of the day. But, I don't mind. It seems that the more she grows, the less cuddling I get.

Gracie is an energetic toddler who wants to do everything herself. Most of the time she is so thrilled to learn new things and accomplish those tasks that plague her. Her beaming smile can be seen a mile away, her laugh is surely heard in the apartment two floors down. Gracie's favorite times are usually "pretend" times. She will adorn herself early in the day with several layers of faux jewelry and the book bucket from the bathroom adorns her head. The pediatrician said to encourage her to potty, we should have a supply of books for her in the bathroom. Little did we know that the "book bucket," could have multiple uses. Gracie is now "Gracie Queen of The Potty." All that is missing is her scepter. I am sure in time, she will find something suitable. She bounces around this house in her own special way. Almost always with a smile on her face, and something fun to do. Gracie is very creative and often plays "work." This is a game she made up with Grandma where she closes a door behind her and you have to tell her to have a good day at work. Seconds later, she can't stand the excitement and she bounds from behind the door shouting "home!" She is now home from work, and is too excited and must return to "work" a few moments later.

Throughout the day, Gracie will read many, many stories. Sometimes she "reads" what the book says, other times she makes up her own fun adventure with the characters. When she isn't reading or doing puzzles (her favorite thing these days), she has her pretend food out and we are on a picnic, or shopping in the store. What an amazing little girl she is.

Her vocabulary is expanding exponentially these days. She is so polite, and her personality comes shining through. Yesterday, I asked her if she wanted an apple, she replied "um... no thanks." We have taught her to say "no thank you," or "no thanks" instead of just no. When she can't get something that she is trying, I will ask "do you need help?" She replies "momma, I do it." She is a strong wonderful little person, and I am so proud to have a hand in what she has become.

Now, while the Princess Grace usually bestows good and generosity on her kingdom; hell hath no fury like a toddler temper. She honestly gets her temper from her daddy, and her Uncle Brian. I watch as my beautiful girl turns red in the face and shakes her head and arms when she doesn't get something she wants, or if the puzzle piece won't fit. We are working on the temper, and teaching her how to control it. We also don't let her get away with it--we don't want it to become more than frustration.

Nothing can turn my little darling in to a beast better than naptime. The energetic one year old wanting to explore and do and play can not squeeze in an hour or so into her busy day to rest. This is also true when it comes time for a clean diaper or training pants. I can not fully describe Gracie's temper to you, you would have to see it up close and personal. And while, it can be difficult to deal with, it only adds to her very complex personality.

What a little person we have raised. It is a true blessing to watch her grow, and become the person that she is going to be....and the world is going to love her!

****Gracie's new thing is saying "cheese" and making that face when you take her picture! I have no idea where she learned this, but it is very cute!****

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Pictures To Share

February Pictures (including snow)
Enjoy!

Thank You

Thank to all of you who wished me a Happy 28 today. It feels good to be remembered. My love to all of you!

Barbara

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Tea


Gracie and I hosted our first "tea" party this afternoon. I hatched the great idea yesterday afternoon. I invited two sets of mothers and daughters from my apartment building, and my friend Jessica and her infant girl Sierra.

Last night I stayed up making decorations, paper flowers, and cupcakes. Our neighbors Collette and Mallory couldn't come over for the afternoon tea, so we invited them to have lunch with us instead. We had a wonderful time, and Gracie really enjoyed the attention of 13 year old Mallory.

Gracie took pretty good nap, and then at 3:40 I dressed Gracie in an adorable pink dress, and we got ready for the party. Tara and her 7 year old daughter LeLu arrived, and then Jessica and 3 month old Sierra. I think everyone enjoyed the party. We had party hats that I made, cupcakes, popcorn, animal crackers, and red cool-aid to top off the festivities.

I love Valentine's Day!!! I had to so much fun throwing this party. I will have to do it again. It is nice to meet some of the other people who live here--it can get really lonesome here alone with Gracie. I crave the adult art of conversation.

Gracie, Garren and I had a wonderful Valentine's Day, and we hope that you did too!!!

***Pictured (Left to right) Tara (holding Jessica's daughter Sierra), Jessica, LeLu, Gracie and Me in the back.***

Happy Heart Day!


Happy Valentine's Day!
********
May you have a great day full of all the love you deserve.
And may your heart overflow
with the love that we are sending your way!
*********
Happy Heart Day!
Barbara, Garren & Gracie
********
**You can send your Valentine wishes to Gracie in the comments section.**

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Wow, Look How Much Snow!

Fun In The Snow

Gracie and Daddy and I had a wonderful time this morning in the snow. We got about a foot, though it had melted some, especially around the pavement areas. Gracie got to take several sled-rides in mommy's homemade laundry basket sled. Although, Garren informs me that this will be the last year she uses it because he is too embarrassed to pull her around in a laundry basket. He thinks I am too over protective since I won't let him get her a round plastic "death trap" for a snow sled.

Anyway, hopefully Gracie can return to the snow tomorrow. There is still plenty out there, and she really had a good time. I took plenty of pictures. The best ones are here on the blog. I got some cute videos too. I think her favorite part was knocking the snow off the cars.

Oh, and Garren did take her in the grass to see how deep the snow was....it was up to her knees!!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

It's Snowing...Hard


The snow outside continues to pour. At this hour we have five inches or so, based on the pile that is sitting ontop of our balcony rail. We are supposed to get anywhere between 6 to 12 inches of snow tonight, with it stopping sometime tomorrow morning. Garren is in seventh heaven watching it all, along with the forecasts and traffic camera's. I think he got his birthday wish. Gracie was intrigued, and somewhat excited to see the snow. We went out this afternoon to the library, because I was afraid we would be stuck here for several days and we had already finished all of the books from last week. It was lightly snowing when we went. It is now coming down very steadily. We will likely take Gracie out to play in it tomorrow and I will post pictures. Church will more than likely be called off because the crews won't have time to get that much snow plowed. Check back here for pictures tomorrow. And, if you have snow where you are....be safe!

PS: We send our condolences to Candice who is devastated that the snow didn't come to play at her house, and she will likely have to go to work on Monday. We are so sorry for your loss. We will pray that you get some of the white stuff before winter is over!

***Garren took this picture around 9pm tonight***

Friday, February 10, 2006

Our Love Tree

Last week I took a large piece of newsprint and drew a happy little tree on it and hung it on our apartment door. I decided to create "our love tree." With Valentine's Day approaching (my favorite holiday ever!) I decided that it would be nice to remember all of the people we love, and to be thankful for the people who love us. I cut out more than 51 pink hearts and wrote more than 75 different names on them and placed them on the tree.

What a neat reminder of how much we are cared about, and how much we care and love others. There is a lesson in that tree, more than how many people we know, but that each person is special. Some are harder to love than others, and some need more tender loving care than the rest; but all together they are branches, and branches of God's children.

Above the tree is a piece of paper with a beautiful scripture:

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek it's own, is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

We send our love to all of you each and every day!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Making Valentines


We spent an hour or so after Gracie's nap today to make Valentine's. Gracie liked the coloring part best of all. Well...that and the stickers! She is still trying to figure out what makes them stick!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Just The Two Of Us

Gracie and I are on our own for three days as Garren heads off to Richmond for his second business trip of the year. While he is out hob nobbing with Virginia's political elite, I will be here (likely in my pajamas) socializing with Strasburg's littlest ham!

I write this blog entry after the fact 1. Because I didn't think it was a good idea to announce via the internet that Gracie and I were home alone 2. Like I had time! Boy has she been a handful this week!

Tuesday: Daddy leaves around 11am after we take a trip to the grocery store to get some snacks for Daddy. Gracie woke up at 5:30am and hasn't gone back to sleep. We kiss daddy goodbye and I wait until noon to put her down for a nap. Wanting one myself, since I too have been up since 5:30 am, I am shocked that she sleeps for one hour and is ready to get up! Gracie's sleep deficit:now 3 hours. We have a snack and play for a while. She is in a terrible mood. Then again who can blame her; she's exhausted! I try to get her to sleep for another hour late afternoon, we end up just resting as she refuses to sleep! I fix grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner. We read and have milk and she is in bed by 7:40. I don't hear a peep from her after she is down!!! Yeah.

Wednesday: I slept wonderfully! Since I was so exhausted I went to bed myself last night at 10:30. Gracie and I were up at 8:30. Earlier than we usually do, but we are well rested and feel much better. Despite her sleep she still seems fussy, I think it's just a phase and there is a lot of drool so I think she might have teeth pain. We play in sandbox and with blocks...etc. She throws a temper-tantrum over an apple while watching Max & Ruby. She loves apples, and I had gotten some at the store. I sent two with Garren and left two for her. She had one yesterday. She wants an apple now! Unfortunately, Garren somehow picked up the third one, and I am forced to deal with an angry toddler who is watching an episode about apples! I can't change the channel, Max & Ruby are her favorite--so I just try to give her something else...thank goodness for sliced cheese. I debate on a "time out" before the cheese, but realize she is hungry and hasn't eaten many of the froot loops she had for breakfast. The cheese works. I am starving too, and since Garren is out I make a call to Ciro's for a cheesesteak hoagie and chicken nuggets for Gracie. When the food gets here Gracie again won't eat. I think her teeth are really bothering her. She goes down for a nap like a champ! She's out for 2 hours. I print off some coloring pages for her and get things together to make Valentines. We do crafts for a while, then we play in sandbox, with puzzles, ect. I am at a loss for dinner, I make some pasta, but we are out of Parmesan cheese--what a let down. We go to the store. We get some treats and soup. I give Gracie a can of Dora soup that is on sale for a $1. She gets attatched to the soup and throws a tantrum at the checkout when they scan it and bag it. The sales girl shows pitty on me and hands Gracie the can to carry to the car. We get home and she eats the entire can of soup. I am picking up on the food pattern--only soft things! Poor Gracie. I let her watch Baby Einstein while I clean up and get bedtime things ready. I forgot to buy apples!! The Baby MacDonald video is full of apples! Now Gracie is demanding the apple again. It's close to bedtime, so I take a deep breath and deal. We do books and milk and this time she doesn't want to sleep. I gave her some Tylenol for her teeth...it kicks in around 10.

Thursday: Gracie is up at 9:30, today will be much the same as it usually is. Garren will be home by 6 (he says) and we will go to Walmart--it's grocery night. I can handle Gracie on my own just fine, but I am so glad that I have someone to share her with!

**Picture from Tuesday, we have been pretty relaxed these past few days, staying in our pajama's eating junk food (somewhat in moderation)***

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sleep Baby Sleep

I think it has been two years since I have felt as helpless, overwhelmed, and frustrated as I have felt in the past month. Gracie is going through another of her sleepless phases and it is stretching me very thin.

On average this past month I have spent 30 minutes to 3 hours a day trying to get her to take a nap. Somedays I am successful, others we live the horror of Gracie without a nap. At bedtime Gracie talks, cries, throws things on average for 1-4 hours before finally falling asleep from boredom or exhaustion. In the early morning hours; we spend an average of 1 to 2 hours; 2-3 times a week with a very awake Gracie who refuses to go back to sleep.

Now we all know that toddlers need sleep. Not as much as they once did. For Gracie's age, experts recommend 11-12 hours a day. That's 10-11 at night, and an hour nap. Gracie without a nap is not an option. She goes so hard all day, and by the last few hours of the day she is cranky, sleepy, and whines and cries practically non-stop. The pediatrician advised us a long time ago NOT to change the bedtime schedule. So for the past year or more we read and have milk at 7:30, brush teeth at 7:50, do good-nights and she is in her crib by 8.

Sleep has been a problem for Gracie since she was born. Most people tell me its because she is so smart and she wants to take in everything, others say its because she is so hyper and is afraid she will miss something, while others still say its the fact that I baby her and she has got dependent on me rocking her from birth to 9 months.

Right now Gracie is in her crib fussing and talking. She was put there 10 minutes ago after I fought with her for 45 minutes to talk a nap. She woke up this morning at 9am. Crib time will not work, I have learned that from experience. She is merely in there to give me a break. The only way Gracie sleeps is if she is cuddled so that she can't kick and talk and move about, and in a dark room where light and colors and objects distract her. For the past 2 years I have, in fact, cuddled her to sleep for a nap. I have tried this several different ways, like waiting for her to fall asleep on her own in her crib, or leaving her in my bed. Gracie is too rambunctious for either of these options. She either gets off the bed, opens the door and runs to play, or she will stay awake fussing and singing and talking in her crib for as many hours as I want to leave her in there.

I am at a loss, and I am terribly frustrated. I try very hard to stay calm and not negative during these sleep bouts, but after a month, I am losing myself, and Gracie has picked up on this. She is not worried by this, but in fact happy that she is winning. I think it adds insult to injury when I am firm with her about going to sleep and she laughs at me.

I know that toddlers will be toddlers and there are a few more tricks I have, but I certainly hope that this is not what us in store for me for the next year.

My short list of other options:
*Some sort of exercise/aerobics, running to wear her out before nap and before bedtime
*Having her stretch really well along with toddler/infant massage (skeptical because she won't/can't stay still for very long at all)
*Buy room darkening drapes or shades to help
*Start waking her up at 8am, keeping her awake until 1 for nap

If anyone else should have any other advise that might help me, I would greatly appreciate it.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Typical Day In My Life

Some friends and I were discussing what our days were like, and all I could really think about was 24 hours of Gracie. Ever since I had her my memory capacity has seriously downsized--I think it was all those months (years) of sleep deprivation. So, I thought it might be neat to write down everything I did one day, so I can look back at it years from now and laugh... or cry. And, I thought I would share the day with my childless friends so they will know just how much a toddler changes your life! It is also a testimonial to all of those men, but mostly women out there (some without kids, but mostly with kids) who think that being a stay-at-home mom is the lazy way out, or that we just sit around and eat bon-bons and watch tv all day. This day is some what typical; although you will see that we had to run an errand, I would have instead played more and done a craft in the time that it took us to go to the bank. And I didn't have the time to include all the hugs we gave and the songs we sang and the two dozen or so books we read togeter, but you will get an idea about my day.

The day was this past Wednesday, February 1, 2006

10:00am—Got out of bed after lying there for an hour so as not to disturb Gracie who had been in our bed since 7:45am (Long night/morning—don’t ask!)

10:10--Rush to put on gym clothes

10:15—Head to Curves for 30 minute workout (I really worked it today!!!!)

10:55—Came home soaking wet with sweat just in time for Garren to rush out the door for a 11:30 interview

11:00—Gracie demands waffles. I fix us both two with strawberries.

11:20—Gracie wants to play in sandbox. She helps me put down the sheet (to protect the carpet) and plays happily.

11:22—I take advantage of her sandbox fun to get a shower!

11:33—I head to the bedroom to get dressed in my “mommy attire,” Gracie insists on helping me, so she does.

11:37—I get started on picking up this disaster area we call home, although I am not sure why, it will be a mess again in 12 hours. I start with the bedroom.

12:00noon—On to the kitchen. Urgh! There are never paper towels when I need them (don’t you hate that! I buy several rolls each shopping trip and I can never find the roll when I need it!!)

12:06p—Stop to get paper and crayons for Gracie who wants to color.

12:19—Cleaning continues, on to the living room! Gracie still coloring at kitchen table.

12:25—Do puzzles with Gracie

12:30—TV off for the day (right after Max & Ruby I try to turn the TV off and keep it off, I worry she watches too much. It stays on from the time she gets up until this point, but I am working on ways to curb that too, although as you can see she doesn’t sit there and watch it continuously, she just listens to it as she plays)

12:31—Take down and start first load of laundry. (I don’t have a machine. There is one coin operated machine for our entire building of 10 apartments!)

12:34—Take Gracie to try and potty.

12:45—No success. Dress Gracie for the day and put on fresh Clifford training pants. (She usually gets dressed earlier as her daddy does that while I am working out—but he was in a hurry this morning)

12:48—Puzzles and animal sounds with Gracie….blocks too!

1:10—Put washed load of laundry in dryer.

1:30—Head to bank in Woodstock

2:15—We’re back (our bank is a 40 minute round trip, we only go if necessary, and Garren needed me to deposit a check.)

2:16--Run down at get dryed launrdy.

2:17—Make quick lunch. Salads and one hard boiled egg for each of us, followed by a small bowl of cherry Jello to share.

2:43—Naptime

3:00—Naptime not going well—put Gracie in crib, hope she falls asleep!

3:01—Clean up from lunch

3:05—Rest a few minutes and sneak a sliver of left over carrot cake. Oops, forgot to take chicken out of freezer….I take chicken out of freezer, resume resting.

3:13—Check and return emails, update blog.

3:23—Gracie cries out, she has pooped—change poop diaper and attempt again to cuddle her down for nap.

3:47—Success! Gracie is asleep. Return to emails/blog.

4:23—Pick up toys in living room, clean up sandbox, and pick up toys in Gracie’s room.

4:39—Make tea on stovetop for Garren.

4:44—Fold laundry

4:52—Unload dishwasher

5:00—Gracie is up. Fruities for snack; finish tea.

5:05—Try to get Gracie to potty again, no success.

5:20—Start 2nd pot of tea, go to fisher Price.com so Gracie can play Shapes game. Sack up bathroom trash, put away folded laundry. Re-make up bed.

5:31—Start Franklin video for Gracie so I can start on dinner.

6:20—Garren home, we can finally eat! Sweet & Sour chicken, rice and noodles--yum!

6:54—Clean up dishes from dinner, Garren plays with Gracie and her blocks.

7:00—Join Gracie and Garren and play with blocks. Family fun time together

7:45—Start Gracie’s bath, get pajamas ready; pick up the toys in her room.

7:50—Put Gracie in tub, Garren washes her while I clean up the blocks in the living room, gather more laundry, Swiffer kitchen, fix milk for bedtime. Vacuuming will have to wait—ran out of time!

8:02—Heat milk for Gracie’s “books & milk” time. Put Gracie in her pajamas

8:10—Books & Milk

8:21—Bedtime (really it is the time we put her in the crib—because she is difficult when it comes to sleeping and took such a late nap, its really more—“put Gracie in the crib and see how long she stays a wake time”)

8:22—Clean up milk cup, clean up bath toys and mop up water on bathroom floor, mop kitchen.

8:32—Take down second load of laundry for the day.

I stop writing things down after this point, but the rest of the evening consisted of laundry, folding laundry, retrieving binki 4-5 times, some computer time and rest time, and talking to Garren before heading to bed around 12midnight. We are late to bed, late to rise-ers! But, it works best for us. I did get the vacuuming done the next day for those of you who were worried :)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Day With The Girls

Gracie and I had a good day today as we spent time with Jessica and baby Sierra, whom we haven't seen in awhile. I was glad to see that Gracie seemed fine with the baby. There wasn't a sense of jealousy, although she did want my attention as I took some pictures of Sierra.

Also, I took a big mommy step today as I left Gracie in Jessica's care at my apartment for 10 minutes as I ran an errand. I feel I am growing as a person :) Many of you know that I rarely ever leave Gracie and I have never left her with someone that wasn't my parents.

We had a good afternoon, we had some lunch together and the girls watched Baby Einstein as we big girls chatted a bit. I am hoping that they will come over more often to play, and we can take the girls to the park and pool together this spring and summer. I look forward to having my friend back!

On the weather front it is another warm and pretty day out there, maybe spring really has sprung. Hopefully we will get another chance to go back to the park this weekend.

***Picture of Gracie, after kissing Sierra goodbye***

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Post Card Project

One of Gracie's favorite shows is Sesame Street on PBS, and the other day I was watching it with her as Grover came back from one of his "around the world" travels. It got me to thinking (watch out). Though there are many beautiful parts of this great country, Garren Gracie and I spend most of our time here in little Strasburg, VA. So, what better way for Gracie to learn about the country and the people who live there than postcards? I thought I might ask our dear friends and family, the next time you go on a trip, even if it is just for the weekend, maybe you could send Gracie a postcard from there. You wouldn't have to write much, just about your trip, or why you were there or what you saw or did while you were there, or even describe the picture on the front. Most Walmarts and post offices and even drug stores sell inexpensive post cards that picture scenes from the city you are in (Walgreens is the best for this!). Even if you don't travel much, a post card from where you live would be neat to have. I will put these postcards away for Gracie and we will enjoy reading about all the places you have been...and maybe pick a few places we would like to go someday! If any of you would be willing to do this for us, we would be especially grateful. And to those of you who read our blog and don't know us well, Gracie would love to see where you live too. We get so many hits from all over the world. What a neat project for our family, and it will be fun for Gracie as she likes to get the mail and will really enjoy knowing how much other people care for her.

Thank you in advance!
You can send the postcards to: Gracie Shipley, 750 Colley Block Rd. #10, Strasburg, VA 22657

Happy Birthday Jessica


Happy 24 th birthday to our good friend Jessica.
We hope that you have a day filled with goodies, sweets & plenty of love.
With that new baby, you have plenty to celebrate together!

**Picture from December 2005, Jessica & Gracie (who likes Jessica better when she doesn't bring over that noisy baby, and gets all of her attention! :)