Sunday, April 29, 2007

Plants In The Ground!

Garren, Gracie and I worked some more on the garden this afternoon, and it looks awesome! I have a rock border around the edges and a welcome sign and everything. Even though the idea is to let the girls plant the flowers and vegetables, we went ahead and planted the few things that we had here, so they have a better change of growing.

I am so excited about the whole project. It came together so well. I plan to send out invitations for this Friday so the girls can get down and in the dirt. I will get the tomato sets and more marigolds maybe Wednesday so we will have things to plant on Friday. The plan is to plant the rest in seeds. I have tons of different veggies I want to grow like : corn, squash, cucumbers, watermelons, potatoes, pumpkins, tomatoes, carrots, strawberries and green peppers. I even have a drawn out map where everything is going to go.

You can tell I am so excited.

Gracie is excited too--but a late afternoon bo-bo made her sour on the project. Gracie tripped and fell on the asphalt as she was following Garren upstairs and scraped herself pretty good. I would say it's her biggest owie to date. Garren cleaned her up and bandaged it--but she milked it pretty good. She sat the rest of the evening on a rock chair Garren "made" her next to the garden and sort of supervised while she held a towel over her knee (I don't know why, I think it just made her feel better). She "had" to be carried everywhere and was quite the pitiful princess. While I am positive she hasn't been hurt that bad (just a little blood), she likely bruised her knee a bit. But, Garren and I are confident she will make a full recovery. You are welcome to leave your bo-bo sympathies if you would like though. :)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Gardening and Grandparents

I got some flowers and plants for my garden today!

I can't wait to get the area completely ready and have the girls start to plant. I think I have blogged before about the garden, but I got special permission from the landlord to dig one for the girls to learn and watch things grow. The area we are using is extremely rocky and hard; it is taking a lot of hard work to clear it--but I am having the time of my life!

Garren worked out there for several hours this afternoon with better tools (thanks to Dad!), while Grandma and Gracie and I went to Winchester. Mom and Dad came in very briefly today so Dad could visit Grandma Anna for her birthday.

Mom wanted to celebrate Gracie's potty success, so she bought her 3 packages of big girl pants. Gracie picked out Cinderella, Princesses, and Dora of course. I was amazed at how many characters you can find for your child to sport around on their tooshy!

Mom was also quite generous, and bought me a strawberry plant and a set of marigolds for the garden.

By the time we got back there was just enough time to have dinner before Grandma and Grandpa had to head home. Hopefully they will come back soon so we can play more!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Potty Update

Things are still going well on the "business end" around here. :)

Gracie continues to use the potty on a regular basis and the "accidents" are fewer and fewer. She still wears a diaper at nap time and bedtime of course, but I am sure it won't be long until we can cut out the nap time one. From what I understand the bedtime diaper will remain for quite a while.

I was worried that trying to deal with potty training and a 9 month old at the same time would be more than I can handle--but, it seems to be going very smoothly. I guess that's my reward for all the mess, money and frustration of trying to train her on and off since 18 months!

While it doesn't seem to be too difficult as Gracie heads to the bathroom quickly and only needs a little help getting the undies off; Emma is not as happy with the breaks in the fun. The picture above is of Emma waiting patiently (for a few moments anyway) for Gracie to get out of the bathroom and play. A few moments later I snapped another picture when Emma pushed the door open unwilling to wait any longer!

Those two are so cute together.

I have decided to give Gracie a "potty party" next weekend. I have invited the neighbor's over and Grandma and Grandpa may come in with Mariah--so it made for a good time to celebrate. I will make her cupcakes, and the idea is to give her gifts of big girl underwear and make a big deal out of this new stage in her life. Family and friends are welcome to send cards and/or underwear if you would like. You will likely have to make a card or get a blank one, since I am sure Hallmark has over looked this kind of celebration. If you want to send underwear she wears a size 6. I will put these away for her and give them to her at the party. Don't feel obligated, but I don't want to leave family out just because they live in another state!

Growing Up So Big!

I had this awesome idea to create flowers to show how big the girls are. The flower petals are their hand prints, the leaves are their feet prints and the flower is as tall as they are, with their actual heights written in the middle of the flower.

They came out so cute. I love it when I get good ideas!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Potty Success (Knock On Wood!)

The Shipley Potty Success Method:

1. Start training child at 20 months, be over joyed when you get some results and fool yourself in to thinking it will be easy and that your child is gifted and will be trained before she reaches 2.

2. Agree that she is too young after several months of lack luster results and decide to try after she turns two.

3. Start talking about being a big girl, purchase little girl underwear to entice toddler in to starting to train again.

4. Spend fortune in training pants that get minimal results.

5. Watch frustrated as 2 year old cries and fusses over the mention of potty or trying to potty.

6. Give up for a while and go back to diapers to save some money since the training pants don't hold much.

7. Sit in despair as you face the reality that your child may still need diapers in college.

8. One random weekend mention big girl underwear and let 3 year old wear them for fun. Watch as child manages to get the concept in a matter of days!!!

Leave it to my child to "get it" in a matter of days when it comes to potty training. Its enough to make you bang your head against a hard surface. All the work and time and money, and it clicks this weekend in her head. Although, I must admit that I think Gracie could have done it back when we first started, but she is the type that will do things when she wants to.

This Saturday, we put big girl underwear on her after her bath since bedtime was just 45 minutes away. She seemed excited since I let her pick out the ones she wanted to wear. That night she stayed dry until bedtime when she got a diaper. On Sunday we let her wear the underwear all day. There were a few accidents, but we would make it to the bathroom before I had to clean the carpet. She didn't seem discouraged, so we kept it up. She only got a diaper on Sunday for nap time and bedtime. On Monday with Emma here, I didn't even attempt the underwear (a mistake I know, consistency is key). Yesterday (Tuesday) I put underwear on her after she got up. 3 days after the first time she puts on big girl underwear, she is telling us when she has to potty, and each time she is doing it! Out of the 5 times she went potty-- she got wet twice. I would say those are good odds!

Each time she potties she is getting rewarded.

So what have we learned? The correct answer was "just put the underwear on her." I got that advice from some moms, but as a person who rents an apartment with carpet I wasn't thrilled with that idea. But it worked for Gracie. That and giving her privacy while she pottied. I guess there is nothing like the pressure of trying to "go" while mommy or daddy sit in there with you. We really found success with letting her go by herself (after we helped her get on her potty). Couple all of that with sweet treats and we are well on our way to "no more diapers."

I am so happy for Gracie!!! And as proud as a mother of a gifted child can be ;) I plan to throw her a potty party very soon. I will let you know when so you can send potty congratulations if you would like.

I knew she could do it, and part of me wants to find the phone numbers of all the people who scoffed at Gracie still being in diapers and tout, but I am bigger than that--and I know most of them didn't mean harm. So, I will merely bask in the glow of another milestone for my precious "big girl!"

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I Miss My Baby!

(L-R) April 2006, April 2005, April 2004

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ambitious List

I was sitting down the other day on the computer looking for a fun family beach vacation spot since Garren promises we can go to the beach this year. (I plan to remind him of this often, and now that it is in black and white you can all back me up :)

But, the more things I found, the more I decided that I would like for this family to get out more and see all the amazing things that are out there. It is so easy for us to sit around this house, and Gracie is at such an awesome age that I want her to experience so many things. So, I came up with a list of 10 things I want to do this year. It's really not that ambitious, but for my spouse who is happiest in the comfort of his own home--it could be a challenge!

1. Nashville, TN for Erica's wedding!
2. Washington, DC Zoo
3. A Museum in DC
4. Visit an aquarium (Baltimore, DC, VA Beach)
5. Beach Trip (top picks: Charleston, SC; Kitty Hawk, NC, VA Beach)
6. Tweetsie Railroad (NC)
7. Amazement Square (Lynchburg)
8. The Ballet
9. Hershey Park, PA (day trip)
10. Candice's House!

We know that all of you out there will have lists of your own, and will be traveling all over the place-- and we want to go too! Please keep sending postcards, it has become such a fun and exciting project as we talk about where people have been and what they did, and then finding that place on the map. (And, thanks to Katie and Matt, I am looking for a world map, they are so awesome about sending us postcards from their adventures. In March they were in London!)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

What A Day

It is a beautiful, warm, perfect spring day today here in Strasburg and my family is soaking it all up. Ordinarily this would have been a typical Shipley Saturday with the 3 of us maybe making a trip out as a family and then resting and playing together--but today was anything but usual. Here's the rundown:

First, we had Emma until noon as her Mom worked a Saturday shift at the bank, and her Dad was moving their things in their new home.

We left the house around 12:30 and headed to Winchester on a story with Daddy. Garren was covering a ground breaking ceremony for a new addition for the children's hands on museum. I hadn't expected it to be quite so warm, but I was loving the spring weather that finally decided to come our way. When we got to the ceremony, Gracie quickly discovered that it wasn't quite as fun for kids and the press release had suggested. There were a lot of suits and politicians and far too much speech giving for the likes of a 3 year old, and the free stuff wasn't much comfort. So, Gracie and I hiked further down in the park to the coolest playground I have ever seen! This place was awesome. There were basically 2 play areas: one for bigger kids, and one for littler ones. As I have become accustomed to, my child sat down once we were at the playground and refused to play. She must think that other children are wild animals or something! After some prodding I got her to play as long as I held her hand the entire time. She went down a slide, crossed a neat path of swinging circle steps, and climbed a little inside the massive jungle gym. But that was about it, and anytime another child came within 2 feet of her she threw up her hands and froze. I really have to work on that!!! Gracie gave up on playing after about 20 minutes and that left me to climb the huge hill we had just come down back to where Daddy was. It worked out well though, Garren got to show off Gracie and when all the people finally finished talking there was free ice cream for the kids, so Gracie was happy.

After ice cream we headed to Taco Bell to pick up a quick lunch and I got to run in the Goodwill where I found a few cute books and a Fisher Price Little People SoftPlay set. Gracie fell asleep in the car which meant she didn't take a nap when we got home, so at this point she is beyond tired.

Daddy decides to change the oil, so Gracie and I go out to keep him company. I take her and my small gardening spade to show her where the garden is going, and she amuses her self for quite a while digging holes in the dirt. She had the best time with that little shovel--she is too cute.

Daddy needed a big helper, so Gracie decided to help him with changing the oil and filter. She seemed very proud of herself as she brought daddy tools. She wasn't quite so thrilled though when Daddy got oil all over himself. She bent over and looked under the hood and said "look what you did!" It was cute though.

At this point it is bath time, and I run to Food Lion to get hot dog buns and leave Garren to bath duty. When I get back Gracie is sitting on the potty. Her new "get out of bath card" is telling us she has to potty when she doesn't. She hates having her hair washed and finds that this trick will get her a few extra moments, when in reality she refuses to even sit on the potty or talk about becoming a big girl and wearing big girl pants. Anyway, Garren leaves her on the potty and we walk away to take a deep breath (she can be quite a handful), when a few moments later she is screaming "I did it, I did it!"

Sure enough, Gracie poopied in the potty. Garren and I make a huge deal over it and she beams. We got through the rest of the bath okay with minimal tears as I go on and on about her being a big girl. That's when daddy mentions that now that she is a big girl she should get to use mommy's smelly good lotion. Her eyes about pop out of her head. She is so proud! She gets a little of the lotion (I am afraid she will break out), and since bedtime is approaching quickly she gets to wear big girl underwear. I serve a celebratory dinner of hot dogs, chips and ice cream for desert. Our big girl is beaming by the time she heads for bed, you can really see what a difference we have made and how special she feels.

Today was an awesome day!

PS: She got a diaper for bedtime and stayed dry until that time.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Tattle Tale

"Momma, Emma is chewing on my block!" "Momma, Emma is crawling!" "Momma, Emma has my Little People!"

Emma always seems to be doing something wrong in Gracie's eyes these days, and she is sure to tell me every second.

I have a new-found respect for mothers of two or more children (not that I didn't respect you before!). How do you not pull your hair out when one of them becomes a "tattle tale?!"

Don't get me wrong, Gracie still adores Emma, but for the past two days I guess there hasn't been enough personal space for the two of them.

What makes it even more frustrating is, I am right there watching Emma every minute. Nothing Gracie has brought to my attention is news, nor is it bad. I find myself trying to gather my patience and tell Gracie that Emma is allowed to chew on that because it is safe, or Emma just wants to crawl and see you because she likes you. I am starting to feel like a referee.

I have a feeling that Gracie is just needing some more positive reinforcement from me, and I need to make even more opportunities for Gracie and mommy play time. Plus, this week has been a little longer as we have had Emma longer in the afternoon's, Gracie hasn't taken a nap all week, and it has been too cold to get outside and get out of these four walls.

I think I am handing things okay, despite my little news reporter, but this weekend will do us some good--just the 3 of us. In the meantime I am sure my mother is chuckling remembering all of those long car rides to Grandma's house with Brian and I yelling "mom, he hit me!" "Mom, she is looking at me!"

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Itty Bitty Tea

Gracie and Emma have a tea party with mommy. They were just too cute, and Gracie seemed to get a kick out of Emma's "table manners."

Another Must Read!

I encourage any parent to check out "The Web Files" from their nearest library.

I loved this book and it was so cute I could hardly keep from giggling throughout the story.

Most of the references are lost on the kids, but its an awesome story anyway. Parents will have as much fun reading this as the kids will hearing it! A must read!

Happy Anniversary

Big hugs and kisses to Mamaw and Papaw today as they celebrate their anniversary. We hope that they have a wonderful day together.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hopes and Prayers

It's been a while since I checked in, but I wanted to thank everyone for their calls and messages this week asking about us. No, I wasn't dispatched to Blacksburg, but I have been involved in our coverage. Working around so much sorrow is not an easy thing.

It's been a tough week to be a citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia. More than 30 families from all across our adopted home state were lost in a senseless act of evil that struck like a bolt out of the blue.

Neither Barbara nor I went to Virginia Tech, but we've both known lots of people that have. I have regular dealings with people on campus as part of my job. They're hurting right now in a way that we can't possibly understand. Please pray for them.

But also keep the rest of our state in your prayers. Even for those of us who have no tangible connection to Tech, it's been tough. It kind of feels like 9/11 all over again. So much helpless anger, wanting to lash out at the person who had the temerity to attack our people on our home soil. So many of us want to act, to lash out, to do something, anything. But we can't. There is nothing that can be done.

Governor Kaine said it well on Tuesday, when he told a convocation in Blacksburg with tears in his eyes that it's very easy to remember Christ's words of despair on the cross at a time like this: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" But he was also right when he said that the best thing we all have going for us is each other.

There's nothing we could do Monday, but there is something we can do now. Pray for those who have been hurt, and do everything we can to help them carry what must be an unbearable burden of grief. Lift one another up to God, so that we can see hope again, where before there was nothing but despair.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Dueling Noise Machines

Gracie and Emma play on their toy tables. The one Gracie is playing with I grabbed from the Goodwill 2 weeks ago for $3!!! All it needed was some cleaning and new batteries, and it's a Leap Frog! Since Emma adored the table, I promised Kathy (Emma's mom) that if I ever found another one I would get it for her. Well, as luck would have it the Goodwill had this Playschool one for $5.

Now the Leap Frog table was gotten for Emma to play with while at the house, and I figured that we would hold on to it should our family increase. But, Gracie can't resist a new toy, babyish or not. So, both girls have really enjoyed my bargain find. The second table will stay here until next week so its one less thing Kathy has to move in to the new house this weekend.

Oh, and I wanted to share the clapping picture--I love it. You can find more pictures of Emma and Gracie on Picasa.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Much Better, Thank Goodness

Thank you all for the get well wishes to Gracie, she really enjoyed hearing them. Thankfully, she is much better. All that seems to remain is the barking cough and it has died down a great deal. I have no idea what Gracie got, but it was bad: she had 3-4 days with a fever, 6 days with the congestion, and now the cough. But, I am so very thankful that it wasn't Strep. I was so terrified that she had it or would get it. When I got it back in February it was some of the worst pain I have encountered (than again Garren says I am a wienie when it comes to my throat.)

This afternoon we played "disinfect" the house. Gracie helped me wash all of her toys with antibacterial detergent. This turned in to a very fun game for her as she gave her Little People baths and then rinsed them. This also gave us a chance to talk about how water doesn't hurt and the little people don't cry when they get rinsed (Gracie still screams when we have to rinse her hair at bath time, she even cries before we rinse because she knows it is coming. I hope she grows out of this soon, the neighbors have to think we are scalding her in there!).

Oh, and it looks like Baby Emma dodged the bullet when it came to Gracie's cold/flu. I was very diligent about keeping the two separated this week and it seemed to pay off. When Emma left on Friday, she still didn't have any symptoms of it. Something else to be thankful for!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It's Going To Be A Long Day!

Gracie is already up this morning, in fact she woke up at 7:45 am after being up most of the night.

Gracie is very miserable, and although it seems to be just a cold she continues to run a fever and apparently her throat is very sore. She came in to our bed last night (for the 2nd time) around 2am and every time she would cough she would cry. After nearly and hour of trying to console her, Garren took over. They sat in the recliner and watched a Baby Einstein DVD and he gave her one of those throat pops. I tried to sleep, but when your child is up--trust me--you can't.

So, I am running on low fuel and I have both girls today. Emma is down for a morning nap and Gracie is sitting in the recliner again. Maybe I will get lucky and I can get her to take a big nap today.

I hate to see my child so miserable!

If you have the time send Gracie some get well wishes in the comment section or to our email, I know she would appreciate them. It will give her something to smile about!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Disappointed Girls

Today was a tough day for Emma and Gracie. (Not that it was easy for me by any standard!)

Gracie woke up sick this morning and burning up. Since I definitely didn't want the little one to get whatever Gracie had, I made the two stay in separate rooms. As if being sick wasn't torture enough--Gracie was miserable without her buddy.

I had Gracie make her home in my bed with plenty of books and toys and more, while Emma was limited to the living room and I moved her pack-n-play to Gracie's room.

Every time I turned my back Gracie was out of bed and moaning "but, I want to play with Emma!" Meanwhile, Emma who learned to crawl over the weekend, kept making her way in to the hallway and staring at Gracie from the floor. Those two adore each other and you could see just how much they missed each other. Emma is usually very loud and giggly--but today she just played quietly.

As for Gracie, it seems that she has a cold. All day long she was so hot, despite the thermometers low reading, but no other symptoms other than Gracie feeling sick to her stomach. This evening she sounded very stuffed up--so, I am thankful that it's not a stomach bug. Hopefully, if Gracie's fever breaks the two friends will be back together again tomorrow!!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Beauty

Doesn't she look too cute? Then again she is my spring baby!

Gracie was decked out for Easter morning services in Lynchburg with her pink smocked dress that Grandma (and Lou) made for her, a matching band around her white Easter bonnet, her white sweater (since it was freezing!), and the new bunny purse from Grandma.

I took this picture outside the church just after the service ended.

We had a wonderful time in Lynchburg this weekend. Gracie got time with Mariah, and we did plenty of Easter activities including an egg hunt and egg coloring at the church, rides on the train at the mall, and even a few bundled-up swings with Grandpa on the swing set outside.

We hope that all of you had a wonderful and warm Easter weekend as well.

For more Easter pictures, click here.

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

May your holiday be filled with warmth, love...and especially family.
From our house to yours.

Barbara, Garren & Gracie

Friday, April 06, 2007

Easter Photo Session

I couldn't help setting up a small photo session and snapping some cute pictures of the girls, especially since I had so many props!

This one is the best of the two of them. I put some more in the Gracie & Emma folder on line.


As soon as Daddy gets home from work we are going to load the car and we are off to Lynchburg. We hope you all have a wonderful Easter holiday.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Easter Fun

I decided that I would NOT let the cold weather and spitting snow keep my Easter spirit down. I worked too hard on this party, and the girls were so looking forward to it; so, I told the girls to bring coats and we braved the very cold afternoon and hunted eggs anyway!!

This year Gracie understood the concept of the egg hunt and seemed to have a blast running with the other girls to find eggs. I helped her some and she was very excited each time we found a brightly colored plastic egg to add to her basket.

For the older girls it was more of a race to see who could get more, but for Gracie and Emma it was an experience to enjoy.

Mallory was such a wonderful helper and she took Emma (bundled completely in a blanket) around the apartment looking for eggs and showing her each one before she plopped them in the blue crochet basket I had for her.

The girls all got there eggs as quickly as possible and we headed for the warmth inside. Leelou, of course, got the most; but everyone shared the goodies that I put inside the eggs.

After the girls got their "bounty" we headed for the snacks. I had made some pretty cute Easter foods like butterfly celery sticks (peanut butter on celery and pretzels for the wings), ladybugs (strawberry halves with raisins on their "backs"), peanut butter and jelly bunny sandwiches and a bunny cake complete with coconut fur. You'll just have to see the bunny cake picture, I worked so hard and he was so cute!!!

After the snacks were gobbled up, the girls got to paint eggs. I blew out 18 eggs and brought out my good paints. I think this was the thrill of the afternoon. Each of the girls are so creative!

On their way out the door, each girl got a goody bag and a egg hunting certificate, plus their baggy of found candy.

I think today's party was a real success. Everyone had a good time, and I am exhausted!!!

To see more party pictures be sure to click here.

Is April....And It's Snowing

It is snowing!!!

No, I am not happy. Of all days! I planned my tea party and egg hunt for this afternoon. I hope it warms up in time. :(

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bed Woes

Okay, she's only 3 and she has already outgrown her toddler bed!!

Tonight Gracie actually fell out of her bed. Poor thing is so tall that when she tries to turn in her bed, she usually ends up hanging off the side. But, tonight she fell all the way out.

I guess it is time for a rel "big girl bed" already!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Birthday Pictures

I got an email this afternoon (the only one I have gotten in days--hint, hint) from Penney's and Gracie's birthday pictures are on Smiles By Wire (the service that lets you see low resolution forms of your pictures).

They came out so cute, and I just had to share them! If you want to order some let me know and I will give you the web address and code to do so. I ordered just a few since I am taking her back for Easter pics next week!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Gracie's Palm-Palm's

That's what she called them...her "palm-palms (pom-poms)."

We went to church this morning for the Palm Sunday service and Gracie was as well behaved as she was dressed! :) I have been waiting not so patiently for her to wear this beautiful purple sundress that I picked up for $3 when she was not even a year old. Since it was chilly she wore a little white sweater to compliment it.

Gracie really was a good girl in church, she sat still and whispered and was as quiet as a 3 year old can be.

I snapped this picture as we were leaving the services. As you can see she is very proud of palms she got. We each got one, but Gracie wanted to carry all 3 to the car.