Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Adjusting To Life Indoors Again

Two weekends ago when Grandma and Grandpa came down for Mayfest, and to take Gracie and I back to Lynchburg, they were kind enough to bring us the patio set that they don't use. It looks (and fits) perfect on our little deck. While I was in Lynchburg, I also picked out a little umbrella to help shade us while we were out there. It looks really nice out there, and Gracie loves it!

Gracie, meanwhile, is having a little bit of a hard time adjusting to life back in our apartment. When we pulled in to our parking lot on Tuesday morning, Gracie got so upset, she tried to get back in the car yelling "carseat! carseat!" She didn't understand that when she got in the car at Grandma's house yesterday morning, that she wouldn't be returning. Garren carried our crying girl upstairs and I comforted her the best I could. I let her play for a few minutes and then it was clear she needed to take some time to rest. While I was cuddling her I told her we would see Grandma again soon and she whimpered and said "bye-bye swing...see you tomorrow" in the most pitiful voice! It broke my heart! Well, her grandparents don't have to worry about being missed! They are!

Besides her grandparents, and of course the swing--I think Gracie mainly missing playing outside. The little patio set has given us a chance to sit outside and eat snacks outside and do little things to make the day a bit easier. I really, really appreciate mom and dad letting us have that set--and the umbrella is great too!

Note: I moved Garren's saga of "ShipleyNet" since I got emails that people thought I hadn't updated...so, now you can see blog's from Gracie's trip to Lynchburg on the front page. And, by the way, Garren posts when ever he gets the urge, as do I so, just scroll down to make sure you have read everything new! To read the "ShipleyNet" saga click here.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Happy Birthday Aunt Sharon


Happy Birthday Aunt Sharon!
I hope you had a really fun day with lots of
balloons, and cake
...and water and bubbles!

***
I hope to see you again soon!
***
Hugs & Kisses,
Gracie

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Princess Grace's Day

Hmmm, what a day my little princess has had today. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself! Well, then again, just about anything can happen at Grandma's and Grandpa's.

7am: her highness awakens, is carried into the bed by Grandpa where she falls back asleep. Gracie tosses and turns a bit as she and Grandpa keep disturbing each other with their snoring (I am told this by Grandma).

9am: Gracie awakens again, this time to watch TV in bed.

10am: We go to a breakfast buffet. (Yes, we skipped church, but I think the grandparents try to squeeze in every minute with her!) At said breakfast buffet Gracie eats pancakes, hash browned potatoes, eggs with cheese and honeydew melon. Then, she is allowed to play with the unopened creamers for Grandpa's coffee. She is content to stack them until Grandpa starts throwing them in the air.

11am: Gracie wants to play water. The baby pool is filled with warm water from the tap and the sun umbrella is moved to completely cover her body so it won't be tainted by the sun.

Noon-1:30pm: She alternates-water, swing, sandbox with Grandma and Grandpa

1:30-2:45: She fights her mommy to take a nap

5pm!: The princess Grace awakens from her nap and returns to the outdoors where she plays more in the water, sand and swing and now bubbles.

7pm: She is completely in the water, which has cooled off a bit now, so I am commanded by the Queen (grandma) to put warm water from the tap to make sure she doesn't get too cool. Since she is already in there, I decided to put in some baby bath. So, Gracie got a warm outdoor spa bath treatment this evening!

8pm: She is toweled and re-dressed, and watching Sprout's "Goodnight Show." Mom and Dad got Direct TV last month, and boy is it awesome--plenty of kids programming!

8:30pm: Gracie decides she is hungry! She gets a warm bowl of Dora soup and apple slices while in her pajamas!

9pm: She is finally in bed!

What a day. When is the last time you got such a pampered day? I know I can't remember ever getting that kind of service. These people sure weren't my parents!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

It's Really Getting Hot!


It has been hot here all week--but this is getting ridiculous! It got up to at least 86 today, I know because mom has one of those thermometers in her car.

I have been looking for some new clothes to replace the ones I have had since oh...college! So, I drug mom and Gracie to the mall this morning...that's after I hit a few yard sales (yes, I too am having a good time!) I found some good deals. And, as per our usual routine, mommy gets to go out in the mornings and Gracie gets to stay outside all afternoon.

Grandma brought up the baby pool and put it on the deck and we filled it with warm water. Gracie played and splashed and had a fantastic time. She even sat in the water, but she wanted to sit in the chair like she did earlier in the week when playing with the sprinkler. Now, as her mother I wouldn't have let her have the chair, I would have told her to sit in the water like she was. But, that's the difference in parents and grandparents. I am sure you can see from the picture above that she got her way. She looks pretty comfortable huh!

Gracie spent several hours splashing around in the pool before we got some dinner. The neighbors were grilling out, so we ended up sending Grandpa to Hardee's for some of those huge burgers because Grandma got a craving.

All in all it was a fun, but VERY hot day. I think we are in for a rough summer!

More Lynchburg Pictures

Friday, May 26, 2006

Another Fun Day With The Girls


Mariah and Gracie got to spend another fun afternoon together today...well, once Gracie woke up from her 3 hour nap! I guess all that shopping this morning tuckered her out!

The cloudy skies did not deter Gracie from demanding to go outside. Mariah was a good sport and went with her to play on the swings and in the sandbox in the few minutes before we got a another downpour. I think they had a good time, and I know they enjoyed the ice cream snacks they got before play time.

Grandma thought it would be a good idea to save my tacos for tonight, so I made a buffet of toppings for the girls to make their own (Gracie got some help!). After woofing down their tacos they were off to play again. I don't know where that energy comes from. Before dinner Mariah gave us a karate demonstration on Grandpa and Gracie just chuckled. And after dinner the two put on a dancing performance in the livingroom. Next thing we know Mariah is playing waitress, and as usual Gracie is trying to do everything Mariah does.

I am posting one of the better pictures from today. I think both girls really had a good time because Mariah had a hard time saying goodbye, and Gracie cried after her pal had to go home.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Good Clean Fun

Gracie, Grandma and I started off our day today with a trip to one of the many thrift stores in Lynchburg looking for great finds....and as you can imagine we found plenty!

One of the "finds" was a Pooh sprinkler that had Pooh, Tigger and Piglet characters. Since this afternoon was very hot and sticky Gracie got to try out her new toy in Grandma's front yard.

Gracie had a blast as she played with the cool water, splashing herself and trying to splash momma! It didn't take long before she was soaked, but she wasn't eager to give up the water fun. Grandpa even brought her a little chair to sit in while she played with the sprinkler (to less the mud she soaked up), and she went on for at least another hour splashing and giggling.

Gracie is having a wonderful time at Grandma and Grandpa's. I have taken lots of pictures and videos, and now that mom's computer is back "online" I can share!!!!

Other fun things this week: sandbox, swinging, bubbles, riding the tricycle, picnics, plenty of ice cream, and her first trip to Olive Garden (grandma's too!).

Tomorrow we get to spend another day with Mariah and I am sure that the two girls will have a wonderful time together!

To see a small collection of pictures from this week, click here.


***Top: Gracie running through the sprinkler. We didn't do this until the end when she gathered enough courage. I am holding her hand...if you look close you will seee the Pooh sprinkler in the background. You can see her sitting in the chair in the bottom picture. This what she did for most of the time as we had the water shooting out of the sprinkler at barely a trickle***

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Together Again

Gracie and Mariah had a wonderful re-union this afternoon. It had been four months since the two had gotten together, and it seemed like only yesterday since they played.

We surprised Mariah by picking her up at school, and Gracie was ecstatic to see her pal again.

We had to wait, though not very patiently, until Mariah finished her homework before playtime could begin. But, when the work was done they both headed outdoors to play in bubbles. The two played for nearly an hour before Grandpa started watering the lawn with the hose. Well, you know Gracie and water! Before long, Grandpa was spraying Gracie from across the lawn and there was enough giggling to be heard several neighborhoods over!

The girls seemed to have a wonderful time, and they even shared a chocolate ice cream cone at dinner (I couldn't watch!). Mariah will be back for more fun with Gracie on Friday after she gets out of school.

***Gracie and Mariah have fun playing bubbles in the front yard!***

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sharing

... or How Gracie and a VPN connection taught me an important lesson.

Barbara and Gracie are enjoying a week in Lynchburg with Grandma and Grandpa. I walked into her room a little while ago, and saw her neat little toddler bed all made up, with Lamby on the pillow. It was kind of sad.

I love my girls so much, it's hard when they go away for a while, even though I know they are having so much more fun playing in a real sandbox, running in real grass, and generally being doted on something fierce.

Barbara is the soul of this house, and Gracie is its smile. My wife makes it a warm, inviting place to come back to, and my daughter makes it a place where even a screen door can be a thing of wonder.

This house is just plain old quiet when they're gone.

For those who know me, it's no surprise that I've been working with Luke to build "Shipleynet," a giant network that spans from Illinois to Strasburg, Lynchburg to Limestone. The end result, hopefully, will be a place where we can all share the photos, home movies and music we enjoy.

But, networking seven computers over four networks is not small feat, and as such, it's about to drive me out of my mind. I was up until 3 a.m. today trying to put the first leg of the connection together. It's a major pain right now, but I know when it's done, it'll bring my family closer together and make a lot of people very happy.

It'll be worth it.

So is sharing my family with others for a while. Yeah, it's hard. It's sad to see things right where I left them when I come back home from work. I've come to appreciated chaos in my two years as a parent. But sharing the two most wonderful things in my life brings so much joy to other people, it'd be a sin to keep them to myself all the time.

Thus, I plod along, from waffles to hot pockets and back, knowing that the entire city of Lynchburg is that much brighter because my girls are there, sharing the light and love that they share with me every day.

It's humbling when a two-year-old teaches you a lesson. It's that much more humbling when she does it and she's not even in the same zip code...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Mayfest Fun With Grandma & Grandpa


Grandma and Grandpa heard about Gracie having so much fun yesterday at Mayfest...that they decided to join in!

Actually, they came to kidnap Gracie and I for a week. We will be spending lots of quality time in the swing and backyard, and doing other things, that are apparently only "fun" at Grandma's house.

Today was a lot of fun, but very breezy, as we returned to Strasburg's main street. The wind was blowing very hard, and the weather was surprisingly cool. But, that didn't stop Gracie and Grandma and Grandpa from doing all sorts of things together.

We got another look at the animals, and this time Gracie was a little less shy around them, as she pointed to each one so her grandparents could see.

We also walked and saw lots of crafts and exhibits, as well as peeking in on the ponies...and of course Gracie got another lemonade. And, this time she also got to try some carnival food. She tasted a BBQ sandwich, butterfly potatoes, and seasoned fries. But, the most enjoyable event of the afternoon was the duck race.

About 200 ducks were purchased by patrons (including Gracie of course!). They dumped "ye ole cardboard box of ducks" in to the town run as they call it (really its a creek!), and it was every plastic duck for himself. The five us rooted for number 141, but he was banked about two yards from the starting point. He was able to "wiggle" himself loose for another bout at the $200 grand prize, but again he was thwarted as he found another unlucky banking. It was here that his case seemed hopeless. A duck race official was kind enough to pry him loose, but it was too late--a blue plastic duck had already beat him to the punch. It was a sad day for number 141. But, there is a happy ending, as Grandpa waded in to the run to save the little yellow duck, bathe him and dry him clean with a hanky to be hugged by an adoring two year old fan.

Gracie was so proud of her duck. She held him and kept patting his head saying, "you tried." It was too cute!

We didn't stay much after the race since it was getting so cold.

We played for a little while at the house before loading up Grandpa's Blazer and heading for Lynchburg.

I will try to keep you posted while we are in Lynchburg, but I make no promises---things get very busy!! :)

***Grandpa, Gracie & Grandma enjoy watching the little goats at Mayfest***

Saturday, May 20, 2006

More family fun



Gracie got hold of a sundae cone for the first time today, and the results were hilarious. FYI, she had a good bath afterward.

Barbara has already said a great deal about our little girl's big day, but she wasn't there for the whole thing...

Not long after we came home, Gracie and I went out again to grab some drinks and ice cream. Food Lion just remodeled, and now has those tiny, no-passenger grocery carts for those people who don't need a giant load of supplies.

We were there for just a few things, so Gracie and I grabbed a small cart — and Gracie decided to push it. And push it she did. Through the store, to the check out, and out to the car. I walked in front (steering is a third year skill), and my big girl dutifully hiked along behind, giving an earnest "eerrrrch!" when we'd stop.

I think she had a good time being such a big girl. As we trundled along from the soft drinks to the ice cream, a little boy had a major meltdown at the checkout. He wanted a candy bar, but momma said no. Gracie stopped, looked at him, and unless I'm crazy, she shook here head and started pushing the cart again.

I have an incredible daughter.

Mayfest Fun!

Gracie, Daddy and I spent several hours this afternoon in downtown Strasburg, for the annual "Mayfest" festivities. We are starting our fourth year here in this little town, but this was the fist year we stayed in town for the fun.

Since we live mile or two from the "main street" (actually called King St.), we decided to walk. Bad idea! It was very hot and farther than we anticipated, especially on the way home!

Anyway, Gracie had a wonderful time as we saw the animals at the petting zoo, smelled lots of yummy foods, played some kiddy games, saw the carousel, and watched the parade. Gracie was having such a good time, that when we stopped at a picnic table to have some lunch she wouldn't eat and kept saying "something else, something else!"

We squeezed in a spot to watch the parade, as the place was very crowded. You wouldn't have know it was a small town if you put everyone along King Street. Anyway, Gracie watched in amazement local kids and cars, etc in the parade while sipping on the lemonade that daddy had gotten her (and she LOVED!). We missed half of the parade, because we got up thinking it was over. Apparently there was a hold up with some tiny tots from a local preschool. It was such a huge hole, that lots of people started walking away. But, we didn't waste the time since we decided to make a return trip to see the animals once again, and then Gracie got a Dora ice cream bar.

All in all it was a wonderful time, and we are sure that Grandma & Grandpa will have just as much fun when they take her tomorrow.

See more pictures from Mayfest in the May 2006 folder I created on Snapfish. See below for a video from Mayfest, as Gracie enjoyed her Dora ice cream.


***An editor's note: Gracie and I will be in Lynchburg this coming week--but since mom now has DSL, it will be fun to update the blog. So, hopefully you won't even know we were gone!**

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

We Love Books!

Yesterday I spent Gracie's naptime cataloging her books. I know, I know...but any of you who have ever worked with me know I actually enjoy doing things like that. Anyway, as I saw just how many there were I smiled and remembered what a treasure books were to me.

This will always be a reading household. I grew up in a house with books. Instead of being rewarded with money or candy for good grades and deeds, I was given another book, something I always looked forward too (I was a big fan of The Babysitter Club Books!).

I promised myself that reading would be reinforced with my children, and I really hope that they will develop the same love for reading I had.

It actually took several hours to write down all of her books and type them in. I even went downstairs to our storage unit and wrote down the books she had out grown and the books she is too young for (which were in 4 boxes!)

Anyway, I didn't do all of this to flaunt Gracie's things. After all, mom has given her tons that she collected or got from the book fair, and I buy them for dimes and quarters from the second hand store...and now I have my own Scholastic "dealer" (Thanks Candice!). I did it to make it easier when I look for new books, so as not to duplicate, or when mom wants to buy her more, she will remember what she has already given her.

The books have really paid off, Gracie asks for "Storytime" at least 3-5 times a day and many more times I find her in a pile of books in her room "reading." Of course books are only half of the equasion, you have to take time to read to your child, which for me is my favorite times of the day!

Since we have read so many books, I am linking Gracie's book list to this entry so you can see them, and if you are interested in a book maybe we can review it for you or help you find a good one for your child or niece or nephew, etc.

Gracie has her favorites too. At Age 2 Gracie loves: "Don't Wake The Baby," by Dawn Apperly and "Llama, Llama, Red Pajama." Both are books we got from the library and I am currently looking to purchase (if I can find them!). Gracie loves Little Critter books, and of course Clifford. Some other favorites: "The Zoo Book," "The Big Hungry Bear (and the red ripe strawberry)," and "The Little Engine That Could."

Some books no infant should ever be with out: "Guess How Much I Love You," "Runaway Bunny," "Good Night Moon," and "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." Gracie adored all of these when she was very young.

If you are looking for a good laugh, Garren and I would encourage you to get two of our favorites: "Click, Clack, Moo: Cows The Type," and "Giggle, Giggle, Quack," both by Doreen Cronin. She also wrote "Duck For President." All three are sure to make you roll with laughter!

So, what's your favorite childhood book. Tell us so we can share it! Even if we have already read your book, let us know and we will dust it off and remember why it is such a good book! Put your favorite childhood book in the comments section. We look forward to seeing what you love!

**Picture is from this weekend at Grandma 7 Grandpa's House, Gracie is reading a Strawberry Shortcake Book***

Monday, May 15, 2006

Continuing A Tradition

I didn't reveal much detail about my Mother's Day, as it was quite difficult since I lost a mother figure in December. Lou was always so good about remembering me, and I never forgot to send her a Mother's Day card each May, even though she didn't have any "biological" children of her own. She was such a wonderful and loving woman, and I missed her even more than I usually did this weekend.

I did overcome my pain for a few moments though as I took Gracie to her home to have a picture taken. Since they are selling her house, I knew it was my last chance to do it--or I would regret it.

Just about everyone in our family has had their picture taken on this stone bench that stands in her front yard. Since Lou loved Gracie so much, and she loved her and got to know her...I HAD to have a picture of Gracie on that same bench I remember spending so many childhood hours on.

Above is Gracie on the bench. You'll find Brian and I on the bench at the bottom of this entry.

Happy Mother's Day Lou, I miss you!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day Weekend


Garren, Gracie and I had a wonderful weekend in Lynchburg as we celebrated Mother's Day....and, hooked up mom's DSL! Welcome to the 21 century Grandma!

Gracie got to spend lots of time playing outdoors on the swing and in the sand, and on the tricycle. We always enjoy watching Gracie get some quality outdoors time. Grandma and Grandpa got lots of "spoil time" as well, since they catered to her every whim!

We just kind of rested this weekend, which was nice since we have done so much traveling over the past month, and mom usually has a HUGE "To Do List" when we get in. Oh yeah, and we got an ice cream cake! Yum! It was a cross between Happy Birthday Uncle Brian, and Happy Mother's Day. Either way, I got my fair share!

We hope that you all had a wonderful Mother's Day as well.

To see pictures from our weekend in Lynchbur, and from the Mother's Day Tea Party, click here.

**This is a terribly unflattering picture of me, but it was the closest I was going to get to a family picture this weekend.****

Happy Mother's Day


Happy Mother's Day!
****
We hope you have a special day that will remind you of all the wonderful reasons you became a mom. I know I will.
****
Love to you all on this special day!
Barbara & Gracie

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mother's Day Tea Party


Gracie and I had a wonderful afternoon as we hosted another tea party for the ladies and their daughters from our building .

We had a delicious strawberry cake and fresh strawberries, as well as strawberry cool-aid...catching the theme yet?!

I wanted to make something special for each of the mom's, so, I had each daughter put her handprints on some fabric hearts I made. They looked really cute, and were intended to hang on our apartment doors like you would a wreath.

Anyway, the girls had a great time playing and we mother's enjoyed what is becoming our monthly chat. Its nice to talk and let the girls play together. They are each only children, so I am sure they enjoy getting together as much as we do!


**Top Picture is of Mallory and Gracie having their own pretend Princess Tea Party, Bottom picture is of the fabric heart decorations I made, this one is Gracie's**

Thursday, May 11, 2006

This or That?

I have had a lot of success over the past few months getting Gracie to do things, by giving her a choice, and now it is really starting to pay off.

In the beginning we were having such a hard time getting her to eat anything, I would give her a choice for lunch "applesauce or carrots?" Or something along those lines. I never gave her more than two choices and usually she would deliberate for a few minutes and pick the one she wanted and eat.

The decisions eventually moved away from food, and it helped her be less overwhelmed. If she wanted to play with mommy and started pulling everything out, I would ask her "do you want to play blocks or tools?" I think this really helped her stay more calm when it comes time to do something. Like storytime; she has tons of books, so it is easier if I pull a few out and ask her "Little Critter or Clifford?"

Gracie's mind seems to go a mile a minute, and I think implementing these exercises to narrow down her choices and allow her to make some decisions in her daily activities, has made a huge impact. She has fewer temper-tantrums and finds it easier to settle down. In fact, Gracie enjoys making her own decisions so much, that when I give her two choices, sometimes she adds her own third choice (which is usually Baby Einstein!). I figure if she knows what she wants, then we will pick that. Of course most of the time I have to make a silly face and say "I don't think so!" when she asks for the 10th time "Baby Einstein?"

Now, her new favorite decision making process is "getting dressed." She likes to pick out what she wears, or at least what color she wears. Of course she picks it out after I have to remind her everyday that the pink frilly dress is for parties!

Of Course, there are things that can't be negotiable, like naptime, dinner time, bath...etc. And I surely wouldn't want to overwhelm Gracie even more by constantly having her make choices. I definitely use this exercise in moderation.

She is becoming more and more independent everyday. And may I suggest that if your toddler gets overwhelmed easy, you may want to try getting him or her to choose between two things. It seems to give them a sense of independence and it lessens the chaos by having a set number of variables.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Gracie Plays Dress Up

Gracie had a rough night last night, waking up three separate times...but it didn't seem to effect her playtime fun today.

A neighbor's little girl came over and played with Gracie for about an hour or so this afternoon, and they pulled out the "dress up" box. She looked to cute, I had to snap this (and several more) picture.

Yes, I realize she looks like the Statue of Liberty. I think the girls were going for fashion princess' though :)

Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Bubble Fun

It all started because I cleaned out the basement storage unit on Sunday.

I brought up some things I thought Gracie would enjoy for this summer after I completed the four hour task, among them was a tiny party favor of princess bubbles. Gracie got it last summer, but since she was too young, I put it up. Who knew bubbles went bad?!

So, now I have a frustrated toddler who wants to play bubbles, and no bubbles. So, I get the bright idea to make bubbles. Two parts liquid dish soap and one part water are carefully mixed in a large storage bin and put outside. I am a genius!

Well, not quite. I have the bubbles, but what am I going to use to make the actual bubbles. The party favor wand is so tiny that it won't work (I mean, its the thinner than your pinky), so what can I find. I search around the house and find a potato masher, a spatula (both with holes), and a plastic shirt hanger. Sounds silly, but they worked wonderfully. Gracie had a blast outside making bubbles and experimenting with the different utensils.

Oh, and if you are ever in a jam, adult shirt hangers (plastic) work the best and they make giant bubbles!!!

Enjoy the day! Go outside and blow bubbles!!!

Happy Birthday DJ & Ryan

Happy 10th Birthday
DJ & Ryan!

***
I hope you have a fun birthday and get lots of cake!!!
I hope I get to see you again this summer in Tennessee. I had lots of fun playing with you last summer.

***
Love You,
Gracie
**
**Pictures from August 2005, the last time we saw the boys.**

Happy Birthday Uncle Brian


Happy Birthday Uncle Brian!
I can't wait to see you and play with you this weekend.
I hope you get cake!
***
Love, Gracie
***
***This is a picture from June 2005, I really need to get a new one of the two of them!***

Monday, May 08, 2006

Don't Panic. We're fine.

Garren here (via Barbara's computer)--

You've all no doubt seen what's going on in Northern Virginia right now. Rest assured, the whole northern branch of the Shipley clan is safe at home. For those less versed in Virginia geography, Chantilly is to Strasburg about like Knoxville is to Greeneville -- close enough to visit, far enough away not to be dangerous when bad stuff happens.

Bottom line, we're fine. Don't worry.

Now back to your regularly scheduled blog.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Gracie Has An "Owie"

Garren was on Saturday duty today, but wanting to keep with our tradition of "family time weekends," we made an evening play date at the park for the three of us.

After a lasagne dinner, we watched our little dare-devil climb and run and do even more things on her own at the park than she has ever done before. She has so much fun exploring and being just plain adventurous. It is wonderful and frightening to watch. Especially the slips and falls. She popped up each time though, and said "it's okay momma," or "I okay momma." I guess she could see the grimace on my face that I was trying to hide under my "jump-up-and-dust-off" look.

Gracie had so much fun (as usual), that we had to bribe her off the playground. She was very tired and the wind was starting to get chilly. Well, I guess it isn't bribing when we had already planned to make ice cream cones at home--let's just say it helped us avoid a teary playground exit.

Gracie ran ahead of us when we pulled in to our apartment parking lot and headed up the two concrete steps that lead to our building. She is getting faster and faster at the steps....but it's the third one that's a doozy! Gracie fell on the concrete and scraped her knee. She burst into tears. Her daddy carried her up the stairs to the second floor where we live and sat her down while I got the ice. We thought that it proabably wasn't a bad boo-boo since she was so tired and can be a drama queen when she gets tired. But, she did in fact have a pretty big scrape--with blood and everything. We put some ice on it and tried to soothe her. I would like to say that the mommy hugs cured her, but I think it was the reminder that we were going to have ice cream cones that made her face turn from tear-stained mud to big smile in a hurry.

I thought I would share Gracie's war wound epic with you, and show you what a brave girl she is. We cleaned the boo-boo and she got some anti-biotic cream.

Now, don't get the wrong idea--this child has had plenty of scrapes and skinned knees in the past two years. I just thought that this one bared mentioning, as even the most super hero of kids need a boo-boo kissed every now and then to remind them (and their parents) that they are only human.

**I had an adorable picture that I took of her sitting on her daddy's lap holding ice wrapped up in a towl on her boo-boo, but somehow my computer lost the picture after I dowloaded it from the camera!!! I am not a happy camper--but I want to remember the story anyway and share it with others, so I won't delete this blog entry.**

Craft Update

I just wanted to let you know that the handprints look awsome! The salt makes the dough look like sand, a very neat effect. But, I have noticed that the imprints are still soft in places, so I advise finding a place to let them dry for 2-3 days. Maybe if you set them outside in the sunshine? Wonderful keepsake though!

Friday, May 05, 2006

More proof I lead a weird life

Warning: No Gracie Content

In the past three hours, I've been in the same room with George Hamilton and Dorothy Hamill. I've also been on the phone with the Virginia Secretary of Transportation. The two incidents were not related.

There are times when I just sit back and wonder how I wound up in this odd little corner of the Twilight Zone.

Neat Craft Idea


Gracie and I just finished making the neatest craft! It was designed for Mother's Day, so I found it only appropriate to share it with all of you.

Handprint Dough

Mix 4 cups flour with 1 cup salt, then add water to make desired dampness (I used about a cup). Mix well (I had to mix with my hands after awhile to get it to form dough). Divide dough in half. Press halves flat carefully with your hands, but keep the dough thick (if you get it too thin it cracks). Press your child's hand or feet in the dough, lifting straight up when finished so you won't have a smeared print. I used wax paper underneath the dough, so after it dries you can just peel it off and it won't make a mess on your table. Let dry for 24 hours.

I will be sure to let you all know how it comes out--but so far they look awesome! I did Gracie's hands and feet.

Oh, and don't forget to carve your child's name and the date with a knife or toothpick so you won't forget when their hands and feet were that tiny!

This craft was super simple, and I love anything with only three ingredients!!! I encourage all mom's to save their little one's hands or feet to remember later on!

Have fun!!!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Shapes & Colors

Somewhere between all the unpacking and cleaning and the catching up--Gracie and I found some quality time to play together this week.

We unpacked some of the Fisher Price games we collected on a week-long bargain store shopping spree while in Lynchburg. We got this adorable "I'm A Little Tea Pot" game, several Clifford games, Oreo Cookie matching game and Gracie had gotten an ice cream game and some flash cards for her birthday.

I am proud to announce at only 25 months, my toddler can match shapes and colors! I am sure in the "grand toddler growth chart" this is very normal--but I am very excited for her. We played the tea pot game which matches shapes and colors and she got every one. Then, we pulled out the Oreo game which is just shapes, but there are 12 different ones making it much harder. Much to my delight, again she got everyone. I thought, I am going to stump her and pull out the matching card game--she got it too! Not everyone, but several! I was very impressed.

I also decided to try out the flash cards, she got about half of the "household items" stack right (they were pictures of harder items like: hammer, watch, cabinet, etc.), but when I pulled out the Pooh picture flashcards (simple pictures like: broom, nail, rain, etc); she got all but 3! I am so proud of her.

I had been a little worried that I might have been slacking in my teaching duties, but I guess she is catching on to more than I realize.

Yea Gracie!

I lead an odd life...

Warning: No Gracie Content

It just occured to me that I'm sitting at my desk, writing a story about a death row inmate's final appeal while listening to Perry Como's "Papa Loves Mambo." The weirdness of my day just seems to grow at every turn.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Election Day!


Today was a red letter, high holy day on the Shipley redneck calendar — Election Day. Not a big election, though, mind you. The only posts up were four seats on the Strasburg Town Council.

Barbara and I loaded up early and took Gracie to Strasburg Town Hall to cast our ballots. Gracie, as usual, was ecstatic. She didn't know what we were doing, but old people said she looked cute and she got to go with Daddy to some place he took his briefcase. We were voters 468 and 469 out of about 900.

Now that all the shouting is over, I've been thinking about why I can't get the smile off my face on Election Day.

My parents back in Tennessee took me to vote every time the polls were open. Dad even took me into the (seemingly) giant mechanical lever voting booth. Some of the best times I ever had with him were when we showed up at South Greene High School. We stepped behind the plaid curtain together. He'd tell me which levers to pull, and I'd tick off the votes with glee.

"Ka-chunk! OK, boy. We want this one. Click. This one. Click. These two. Click. Click. That one. Click. OK, now pull the red lever. Ka-chunk!"

Now, living in Virginia, we're get to celebrate this holiday at least twice every year, and it brings back the same excitement that I felt as a kid, running up that concrete ramp into the foyer, getting aggravated as Mom and Dad stopped to look at the sample ballot.

Maybe that's why I'm in the line of work I'm in. I wasn't even covering these races today, but I found myself back in the newsroom after the returns came in, chatting about what a surprise it was that an incumbent was resoundingly thrown off the council.

I have to admit, it's quite a heady rush. The gladhanding, the intrigue, the gossip... I can think of few ways I'd rather spend my days than either electioneering or writing about those who are.

It's a rush even when the stakes are low. The Town Council can't send us to war, raise the income tax or even screw up the school system. At worst, they can raise the property tax by a few dollars. At best, they can finally build that sidewalk on Capon Street that's been needed for years.

But we participate. Not only because it's our duty, but because it's fun. I hope Gracie thinks so, too.
**Above, Gracie holds on to Daddy as we leave Town Hall.

Pictures

Hey people! You've got to tell me when the picture links don't work ;)! I fixed them today, when I realized that they weren't working.

Here she is:
*Easter 2006 (including apartment Easter egg hunt)
*Trip to Tennessee
*Gracie's Big Girl Room
*April 2006

Enjoy!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Gracie's New Room


Now that we are home from two weeks on the road, I had two weeks worth of clothes, toys, etc to put away. We brought home the toddler bed we used in Tennessee, and that also had to be put together and the crib had to come down. What a great time to re-do Gracie's room.

I spent countless hours re-organizing Gracie's things, bagging up unused toys and clothes, and making her room fit for a big girl princess. It was a lot of hard work, and it was a little hard on the heart as I turned her nursery into a little girl's room. But, on the bright side--Gracie loves it!

She also loves the keyboard that Uncle Luke gave her. Gracie was fascinated with a piano two weekends ago while at a birthday party in a reception hall. In fact, she "played" the piano for 2 straight hours, we couldn't even bribe her away with cake!! So, we had thought about getting her a little piano, who knows maybe she would be the next musical prodigy! But, Uncle Luke beat us to the punch! Thanks again!

See Gracie's Big Girl Room!