Sunday, September 30, 2007

7 Years Together

I decided maybe we needed a picture so we could look back when we are 80 and think; "hey we didn't look that bad."

I really don't like the picture of the two of us, but the whole family one isn't that bad. I always glow when I have my whole family together.

I snapped this picture after church, and after I slipped down the stairs and really hurt my foot. I don't think it is broken, but it hurts A-LOT.

Oh, and thank you mom and Candice for the e-cards for our anniversary yesterday. It is nice to be remembered.

That Barbecue Recipe... and other tidbits.

It's been a while since I've posted, so here's a few things that I've wanted to bring to everyone's attention in one fell swoop.

The Comet, Gracie's first-ever big girl roller coaster last week at Hershey Park. Also, she road the Trailblazer. Daddy rode the Storm Runner and Great Bear. Lots of fun was had by all. Gracie is a very, very brave little girl.

Halo 3 is out. Play it. Love it. Love the music, too.

I've been also meaning to put this chicken picture up for a while, but events have been quicker on the draw than me.


• 4 tsp. Kosher Salt (don't skimp, get the real deal)
• 2 tsp. chili powder
• 2 tsp. light brown sugar
• 2 tsp. garlic powder
• 2 tsp. paprika
• 1 tsp. celery seed
• 1 tsp. cumin
• 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper (again, don't skimp. Get a pepper mill and do it right.)
• 2-3 cups oil (vegetable, peanut or extra virgin olive, depending on your level of nuance.)

This is the simple part. Throw it all into a bowl and blend until you get a nice, smooth suspension. Brush on to the meat you'll be serving. If possible, let the mix stand for a half hour or so to soak up as much of the spices as you can. Also, if you can wait another half hour after that, let the meat stand after you've brushed it on. That lets all the goodness soak in. Head to the grill, and let the magic begin.

This recipe works very well on a grill at about 450 degrees, particularly with kabobs. I'd suggest green peppers and and onions. Also, if you can set up an aluminum foil packet of hickory to steam/smoke the meat as it cooks, all the better.

Now for the super special magic:

Garren's Tennessee Sweet n' Sour Sauce

• 3/4 cup apple juice
• 2/3 cup light brown sugar
• 1/3 cup Jack Daniel's Old No. 7
• 1/2 - 2/3 cup ketchup (good stuff, don't go cheap)
• 3 tbsp. cider vinegar
• 2 tsp. soy sauce
• 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
• 2 tsp. molasses
• 1/2 tsp. chili powder
• 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
• 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Not much to this... mix like crazy, bring to a slow boil, reduce volume by about half. Vary the ketchup based on how you like your sauce, less for a darker, sweeter sauce, more for a lighter, more western style. I'd seriously recommend doubling or even quadrupling this recipe if you're cooking for more than just a few people. Also, whisk this stuff every two minutes at a minimum... you don't want the colloid to form until you've reduced most of the water and all of the alcohol out.

Let me know how it turns out.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fun With Mallory

It may have been our 7th wedding anniversary, but it was Gracie who had all of the fun.

As usual we didn't do anything for our anniversary, but Garren did cook chicken-on-a-stick, so we invited Colette and Mallory to have dinner with us. (Tom was working super late). After all, they had fixed dinner for us last night (taco salad).

Gracie enjoyed the few bites of dinner she decided to eat, and then she waited not very patiently at all, to play with Mallory.

Mallory is such a trooper. They played games and cards, and when Gracie's energy was at its fullest, she thought up new active games to play with a very willing Gracie.

Those two are super cute together, and we owe Mallory a great deal of thanks for putting up with her. ;)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ready To Learn

These pictures are mainly for the Grandparents, plus I like to blog about her days at preschool to create a journal of sorts.

She was raring to go this morning when I dropped her off, despite the fact that she coughed all night last night. Garren and I have had very little sleep, but she was chipper. It must have been since she spent the last 3 hours in our bed!

Gracie made a craft today in school; a tambourine. She was more than happy to show it off and demonstrate how it worked.

As for other details, she was close-mouthed. It was Brady's birthday today so they had cookies for snack. I overheard Ms. Christine tell another parent that they went outside today, but that's all I know about that. She said they sang the friend song again and the story was something about rain.

I am guessing since it's the end of the month, they sent home Gracie's other crafts including the leaf she painted on Tuesday, and the Grasshopper she made at the beginning of the month (that was displayed in the window).

Not that any of you are shocked, but school work doesn't end in class. Gracie and I continue to work on letters, letter sounds, numbers, counting and more here at home. Today we did the sounds of letters F-L along with associating upper case letters (A-G) with their lower case counterparts. We also did plenty of counting and early math. She is really getting good. She also did cutting and pasting for the first time and I was so proud of how well she did on her own. She uses her scissors a lot, but this time she had to cut on lines.

My little genius! :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tumbling Tot

Gracie had another fun afternoon at her Wednesday Tumble Tots class. Today they opened with the parachute. All of the kids had a blast doing 'popcorn' with the balls, and running under and sitting on the edge to make a mushroom.

After parachute fun, they went on to "centers." Gracie started with a mini-obstacle course. She still needs work going through the rings with out knocking them down (she is super tall!), but she has really become a master of the balance beam. This time the coach had the kids balance beanbags as they crossed. Oh, and Gracie crawled through a caterpillar toy. You may have seen those baby toys where you crawl through. This is a big step because Gracie can't handle enclosed spaces. I was shocked that she went under the parachute, and then to crawl through the small caterpillar. She has come a long way in a week!

Other fun activities: moving on scooters and working on forward rolls, back bends and more.

Gracie cried again this time, but only when it was time to leave. She loves this class, and I am so excited for her. And proud too!

See more tumble tots pictures here. This week she wore the pink leotard, last week it was the blue.

I took plenty more videos as well. I will share two of them.

Tumble Tots--Scooters

Tumble Tots--Balance Beam (very quick, 5 sec)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Well Taken Care Of

Gracie has yet another cold. Just when we thought the last one was gone, she gets another one. When she got home from school she seemed her worst yet. I was hoping that she would take a nap, but no dice. So, I had her spend the rest of the afternoon in my bed. Getting her to stay put was no easy feat. Although if you were treated like this, wouldn't you stay in bed?!

Gracie's Leaf

Here is the leaf Gracie painted and made on September 25, 2007

All About Fall

Gracie looked super adorable in this fall colored smocked dress that Grandma finished for her. My autumn hair bow polished the look off. So, she was perfect for the fall lesson plan her preschool had in store.

Today the class went for a walk to look at the leaves, then they painted one of their own (red). We had to leave that behind today because it was wet.

Gracie said they read a story about Max & Maggie who raked the leaves. Snack was cheesy cracker circles, and she came home with a coloring page she had done during free time.

She got a smiley face on her thumb again today, but she also got a scrape. Like I said, today was all about fall! Ms. Stephanie said she tripped down the stairs after their walk. I had to sign a very involved form where they listed everything about the "incident." Apparently it didn't bleed and she didn't cry. I chuckled a little to myself when they told me. Gracie is the biggest klutz. Her feet can never keep up with her mind!

This was the second sheet I got today. This morning when I dropped her off there were papers waiting for us parents. Apparently one of the kids had chicken pox at school on Thursday, and were given an "exposure form." Gracie, luckily, has had the chicken pox vaccine, but I called the pediatrician anyway to make sure she would be covered. The nurse there told me that even with the vaccine she could get a few pox and run a mild fever. Good to know. The paper says the incubation period is 2-3 weeks. Hopefully she won't get anything at all!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Gracie's Map Update

We have gotten to color in 2 more states on Gracie's US map this summer. How exciting. She is still waiting to visit Florida!

As for our postcard map; thanks to Becky we were able to fill in Georgia, and thanks to Mallory we put a paw print on Pennsylvania. We also got postcards from Heather H and Aunt Sharon this summer. Many, many thanks to all of you!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hershey Fun

Check out all the fun we had at Hershey Park today! We had a great time on our day-long adventure, and we stayed until the doors closed. Gracie rode her first real roller coaster and daddy was happy to have a coaster buddy. What a fun time. Maybe we will do it again sometime!

Hershey Park Pictures

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Church Yard Party

How adorable was this! Our church really knows how to put on a party.

When I told Gracie that we were going to a church party, she asked "are they going to have cake!" Not wanting to crush her spirits I pulled out my catchall "I don't know, we will have to find out." Well wouldn't you know it; Gracie won the cake walk!

The yard party was a carnival theme and it had the cutest games manned by volunteers from the church. Each game was 1 ticket, and each ticket was .25. Since the money went to the church, I opted for the $5 bag of 25 tickets figuring we would give the rest to another child. As you can imagine, we really didn't get a chance to give any away.

Gracie had the best time playing the games. She won so many prizes the canvas bag I had taken to hold my camera and wallet and her juice filled up very quickly. Her favorite game was the duck walk. She picked a duck and it had a number on the bottom to tell you which prize you got. She also played ring toss, fishing, color wheel, lollipop tree, and of course the cake walk. She also got a bag of popcorn and a slew of prizes.

I hated that we stayed only until we ran out of tickets, but it was so unbearably hot and Gracie's cheeks were very flush. We went inside at one point to check out the items up for silent auction, but she got bored quickly and wanted to play more games.

The yard party was super cute, and I hope they have much success. They are supposed to have music later in the evening and the silent auction wraps up at 8:30. We will stick around here though and cool off and rest, because tomorrow we have a super surprise for her--we are going to Hershey Park!

More pictures from the yard party are in the Fall 2007 Picasa folder.

Triple Stack

Gracie and Daddy had fun playing today with our favorite guest: Emma.

Kathy and Tom decided to take the morning/early afternoon and celebrate their second anniversary; and I jumped at the chance to babysit.

Emma was so happy to see me. Well, me and later Gracie and Garren. Her face just lit up when I opened the door. She remained all smiles and giggles for the rest of the time we had her. I think she and Gracie pulled out every toy in the house, but they had a wonderful time together.

Emma left around 3:00. We are hoping she will be back soon!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cute Kitty

I got so many compliments on Gracie's kitty cat dress today. We have to thank Grandma for making it for her and bringing it when she visited this past weekend. My kitty hair bow accented it purrfectly. (I crack myself up)

Gracie had a good day at school. No tears. She bounded up to me when I walked in the classroom to pick her up. She told me all about her day. They made apple trees and did an apple toss game. They practiced their friend song. Goldfish were for snack, and the story was "Caring and Sharing," a Barney book.

She has such a good time at school. And, she shared her shells from the beach today. I took them Tuesday, but they ran out of time. You should have seen me in the beach gift shop counting out 21 of the same shell from a bin.

I snapped a picture of her dress and her smiley face thumb when we got back to the car. I am so proud of my little grasshopper!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tumble Tots

Look at that grin! I don't have to tell you how much fun my Gracie had this afternoon at her very first Tumble Tots class.

She was raring to go and looked adorable in her blue leotard and blue pony tail holder. But, her enthusiasm took a hit as we gathered in the middle of the gym for stretching. I was afraid that the next 45 minutes was not going to go well, as my daughter clung to my leg. I did everything I could to get her to do what the teacher and the other kids were doing, but she wasn't having it. (This is a parents-involved class, so I was with her every step and I joined in)

She perked up when it was time for the obstacle course. It took about 30 seconds for her to go from shy to bouncy. She walked across the low beam, forward rolled down the map, walked across the high beam, jumped on the trampolines and crawled through the rings before doing it 3 more times.

Next, it was on to the mats. The teacher showed the kids the bear crawl, and after each kid went 3-4 times, they started in on the crab walk. The bear crawl was a cinch for Gracie, but she cried with frustration when she couldn't get the crab walk.

The crying didn't last long as everyone gathered around for fun with the parachute. The kids loved this part. They wiggled the parachute and held it over their heads. Gracie grinned from ear to ear.

Tumble Tots was over as quickly as it began, and my little gymnast was not happy to go. She cried for the third time...this time because she didn't want to go home.

There was a lot of crying this session, but I have to keep in mind how sensitive she is, and that this was her first class. No one else cried at all, but not all of the other kids could follow directions or stay focused on what was going on. So, I feel secure about Gracie's level. Plus, school will help a great deal with her socialization at the gym.

We are looking forward to next week. Oh, and I took videos! You will have to see them. Click here for more pictures.

Gracie's Forward Roll

Gracie's Bear Crawl (very quick--5 sec)

Fun With The Parachute

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Week 3

You would think it would have happened the first day, but Gracie decides to have a melt down on the the third week.

I knew things weren't going well this morning when she started crying and telling me she didn't want to go to school, she wanted to stay home with me. I did everything under the sun to get her excited about the day ahead, but to no avail.

She cried as we walked down the apartment steps, she cried in the car, she cried as we walked down to the sidewalk, and she was still crying when we walked in the front door of her preschool.

Ms. Stephanie greeted us at the door, and I told her we were having a bad morning. She encouraged her to hang up her backpack, and I sat with her for a few moments as she started coloring a picture. She dried her tears and began to look excited. I snapped a picture. A few moments later I told her the other parents were leaving and that I loved her.

The waterworks started again. Ms. Stephanie came quickly to the rescue. I hated leaving her their crying. I hated it because I wasn't there to soothe her, and I really hated to leave someone else to deal with her sadness. I adore my daughter, but I still hold to a big belief that my child should not be anyone else's concern/problem/inconvenience. Many of you disagree with my philosophy, but I had her and no one else should have their dinner ruined, or have to clean up an extra mess, or feed or change her. I clean up the floor and table at a restaurant and we leave if she makes a scene or is interfering with others good time. I didn't even let other people change or feed her as a baby--it wasn't their responsibility, it was mine. And my joy.

Now, that you are up to speed on my issues, you can see how much I hated to leave her. I kept waiting the entire morning for a phone call from the school to come and get her.

The call never came, and when I went to pick her up she was chipper and excited to see me. I asked Ms. Stephanie if she cried for long and she said "no," and that she played better today than she ever had. I was shocked, but very happy.

I left the room with a happy girl who got a smiley face on her thumb again today, made a craft and received a certificate. Obviously, I had nothing to worry about.

As for her day at school; she told me they had Pooh crackers for snack, the story was something about going to the doctor, and they made binoculars. According to the calendar they sent home at Orientation; this weeks shape is the circle, and the song is "Won't You Be A Friend Of Mine."

Gracie's Preschool Pictures

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Gracie got a wonderful surprise this afternoon as Grandma drove all the way from Lynchburg to play with her.

Actually, Grandpa needed to see Grandma Anna (his mother, my grandmother, who lives in Wardensville, about 30 minutes from here) and he dropped Grandma off on the way.

Gracie and Grandma played for several hours with every toy in this house. They started with dressing baby dolls and ended with games and tools.

When Grandpa came to pick up Grandma, Gracie was not a happy camper. Grandpa stayed and played a game or two, but then they had to head back. But, not before she impresses both of them with her computer skills.

Gracie hugged them goodbye, but cried for a good 5 minutes after they left. She broke my heart (and theirs), by crying out "stay and play with me," "come back!"

I have reassured Gracie that we will go and visit Grandma and Grandpa for a nice long visit first weekend in October. Not being able to tell time yet, she is less than satisfied.

By the way, I tried this dress on her that she is to wear Tuesday for school. She only had it on for a short while, I don't want you to think I had her wear a dirty dress to school!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Too Pretty To Go Home!

Wouldn't you know it--our last day at the beach is sunny and warm! We had fun things planned of course, but I hated to leave such a beautiful place.

After we checked out of the hotel, we took a final walk along the boardwalk, and I grabbed pictures at some more "pretty" spots with Gracie. Her cold seems to be under control, though you can tell how tired and rundown she feels. She did sleep very well last night, so I was optimistic about the Aquarium trip.

My friend Sara met us at the Aquarium around 10:45. I had picked today because they were having a special even "Dolphin Days." This turned out to be just perfect for Gracie. They had games and activities geared for the younger crowd.

Gracie made a necklace and a hat, she did ring toss, and dolphin toss before we stopped to see an adorable puppet show. There were so many cute things this morning. She got a Nemo mask from the group from Radio Disney and a lollipop from the Boy Scouts. They had face painting, but I steer clear of that because of her skin breakouts.

Gracie had so much fun with the activities she didn't want to go to the next building. We were able to pull her along so we could see the Sea Turtles. They are always my favorite. The second building is where all of the big tanks are full of fish and sharks and other such things.

We spent about 2 hours or more exploring the Aquarium and had a wonderful time. Then, we were off to The Purple Cow. Grandma and Gracie and I discovered this adorable restaurant the last time we visited Virginia Beach, and I was thrilled to return. Sara's husband Dean met the four of us for lunch, and then it was time to hit the road.

I hate that our vacation is over, but we had a wonderful time together as a family. I think we will definitely make this a yearly Shipley vacation.

Over the next few days I will slowly, but surely add beach pictures to this folder. Enjoy!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cloudy And A Chance Of Runny Nose

Day 3 didn't exactly get off to the best start this morning, partly because Day 3 started at 3am with Gracie throwing up. They day continued to look bleak at 8:30 am when Gracie continued to throw up. Needless to say Gracie is sick, and I continue into my 2nd week of "no sleep."

It looks like it is just a cold. She was extra cranky last night and started sniffling. Luckily, we bring along every medicine our daughter could possibly need--just in case. We gave her medicine last night before bed, and as is the case when Gracie pukes; she was choking on well...snot.

She got very little sleep, but after another dose of cold medicine, a granooda bar, and about an hour of Nick Jr., she had her spirits back. Garren and I discussed going home, but I was in the "it's too soon to tell/too drastic a measure camp," and cooler heads prevailed.

We headed to the sand around 10:30am.

She had stopped puking, Candice, and hadn't shown any signs of doing that again since 8am.

I was surprised that the water and sand were as warm as they were. It was overcast, but we enjoyed the time. Gracie made sand pies and decided not to take off her shirt and shorts and get in the water. I didn't push her, but her water-loving spirit bounced back when we went to rinse the sand off after an hour of sand play. Once back in the waves, she was squealing and jumping with delight. She even pulled me so I would go further in with her! The wind was pretty strong, so were the waves. We got blasted by several large ones, and she just giggled. It didn't take long and she was soaking wet and it was getting cool. We wrapped her up and headed back for the room, much to her dismay.

She took an off & on 2 hour nap and got some much needed rest. It wasn't raining at this point, but it looked like it could start at any time. So, Daddy found a nearby mall, and thought we could mill around for a while. She was excited at this prospect, and immediately started talking about riding the horses. We have a carousel at our mall, and she was sure this one would too. Boy, was she about to get the surprise of a lifetime!

We reminded her as we got dressed and loaded into the car that this mall may not have horses. She seemed to understand, but I was a little leery.

Wouldn't you know as we pulled in to this very large mall parking lot, you could see the lights from what was to be a double decker Victorian Carousel. I wish you could have seen her eyes!! She was ecstatic. The rides were $2 a piece. I am cheap, but I knew there was no way out of this one. She chose a horse on the bottom layer of the enormous carousel and she and Daddy climbed aboard. I snapped pictures and took a video, but they don't nearly capture the splendor of this thing. For the nest 50 minutes as we roamed around the very large mall, all she could talk about was the horses. She stopped babbling for a few minutes as we came to a Disney Store and went in an looked inside. But the talk resumed quickly.

Knowing I had been licked (that and the pure joy of this treat), I told her she could ride again before we left. This time she took Mommy along and we went to the top of the ride.

As you can imagine we heard about the horses all the way back to the hotel.

We kept our activities few and short today because of Gracie's cold and the threat of bad weather, but as I keep reminding myself; we had 2 gorgeous days on the beach, and tomorrow we are headed to the Aquarium before the long drive home. We may even make a stop at the Purple Cow.

**Bottom: Mommy got in a few touristy-picture stops before we headed off to the mall. This one was one of my favorites. The beach has all sorts of sculptures all on the ocean front and I have made it my fun task to photo as many as possible. When we get back home I will put tons on Picasa.**

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Beach, Day 2

What a beautiful day!

Garren got good sleep, Gracie went to sleep far too late, and I barely got any sleep at all; but a very loud F/A-18 Super Hornet woke all of us up at 8am this morning as it flew over head. These planes have been buzzing overhead since we got here; about every half hour or so.

Gracie woke up raring to go, and after a quick breakfast we headed out. We found a playground on the beach last night during a refreshing walk along the boardwalk, and that was all Gracie had on her mind. Gracie had a good time climbing and sliding with the other kids. She even climbed the climbing wall all by herself. Did I mention that the large playground was actually on the sand?!

After about a half hour she was ready to cool off in the water. We headed back down the beach to find a spot in front of the hotel (so, when we are exhausted we won't have far to go).

Gracie's bravery was up today as we jumped the waves and waded pretty far out. We had a great time in the water and making sand birthday cakes on the shore.

We hadn't expected it to be quite so warm, but the sun was definately hot out today and the water was pretty warm. We picked a great time to go!!!

Around 12:30 we headed back to the hotel and had some lunch. We also had a nap! Gracie slept about an hour, and I got about 45 minutes.

She was ready to go again. We took another walk along the "main drag" where all the shops are. I got a few postcards and some Salt Water Taffy. You could tell poor Gracie was still exhausted as she barely kept up.

We decided to splurge on dinner (I brought all of our food to save money) at Pizza Hut. After a nice pizza we went to play mini golf! This was one of the things I had planned on doing with Gracie. Thanks to Sara's suggestion we went to Jungle Golf and had a great time.

Gracie was visibly tired, and an over-competitive daddy was getting frustrated at Cheater-Gracie who kept picking up her ball and dropping it in the hole. But, we had some good family time together (for $18!!!!!)

After golf a weary Shipley family was ready for home; well, after a stop to the candy store first.

We are having a blast at the ocean, and tomorrow we plan to spend as much time in the water and sand as possible. They are calling for a 30 percent chance of showers tomorrow, and 70 percent chance on Saturday. Good thing we are going to the Aquarium Saturday.

Goodnight from the beach!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Greetings from Hampton Roads...

From one corner of Virginia to another...

After four hours in a car, we've just put the wrap on the first day of Virginia Beach vacation. I'm sitting here in the Royal Clipper Hotel, looking out a window onto the Atlantic Ocean over the Boardwalk. It's nice.

Gracie is behind me, desperately fighting to stay awake, while Barbara is unwinding with some bad television before we all just collapse. I'm sure she'll have more to follow on with later, but here are some of the highlights so far.

** A murky shot of what looks like three Nimitz-class carriers in port at the same time. I'm not certain, but I think that's U.S.S. Harry S. Truman, U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, and U.S.S. George H. W. Bush. Those who know better feel free to correct me.

** Gracie peeks out at the ocean after we arrive at the hotel. A total of 45 minutes later, she was splashing away.

** Three shots of Gracie and Daddy splashing away on our first day.




**There's lots of Navy stuff going on this week... a chinook came over the beach. Gracie was scared at first, but I told her that they were just soldiers practicing to help keep our country safe. When they came back, she waved.

**Mommy and Gracie throw sand at waves as they roll in and tickle their toes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Gracie's Grasshopper

It was sprinkling slightly this morning, but I just had to snap a picture of her next to the school's window display.

On Thursday they painted their grasshoppers for the window, and I saw on Sunday that Ms. Stephanie had hung them up.

I had Gracie pose quickly for this picture before we went in.

You can click the picture to make it bigger. Her grasshopper is the 2nd from the bottom in the bottom middle window pane. It says "Grace," Ms. Christine seems to call her that instead of Gracie.

More... (for Mamaw)

Gracie told me that today they had goldfish for snack, they sang their Grasshopper Green song (which she won't sing for me, that's all I know about the song is that it is about Grasshopper Green being her preschool), and they painted cookies. These teachers are so neat, they send home a calendar of what they are working on each day/week. So, I can kind of fill in the blanks. The cookies are teaching shapes. Other than that she told me she played. She couldn't remember the story today. (She later told me it was Corduroy)

Oh, and I went down to the Parks and Rec department this morning while she was in class and signed her up for Tumble Tots, a 4-week gymnastics class for 3 &4 year olds. She is so excited and keeps asking when does she get to go. It starts next Wednesday and it is 45 minutes once a week (wed evenings). So, something else to look forward to!

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Daddy Related Crisis

**Gracie enjoys her first real see-saw during a brief, infernally hot trip to Marker Miller Farm Market near Winchester. Daddy managed to operate the cell phone camera and see saw all at once before heading into the 95 degree orchards to pick hot apples. Gracie was more interested in the playground.

It takes a lot to really, truly rattle me.

I've gone toe-to-toe with Congressmen and Senators, walked into rooms full of people who'd like nothing better than to see me carted off in a box, and ducked more than my share of bullets. But this past week, I got rattled real good.

Gracie went to school.

The 8 lbs. bundle I carried home in March 2004, that slept on my chest tucked under my chin, that used to make no noise at all other than a little bitty squeak, is going to pre-school. Thus, my world has spun off its axis, and Daddy is adjusting to a new reality.

I know she's enjoying it, learning vital skills and giving Mommy well-deserved break for a few hours a week, but the realization that my little girl is old enough to go somewhere else on her own for a while is startling and humbling at the same time.

Fortunately, some things haven't changed. Gracie still likes football, as long as the popcorn holds out. And sure enough, this music still gets her attention, just like it grabbed mine when I was her age, eating popcorn on the couch with my Dad.

In an unrelated matter, we're headed to the beach later this week now that Gabrielle has headed toward Europe... that got me to thinking about some of the sights and sounds I never quite get around to posting here.

**Jerry Falwell's legacy, in part. A giant Liberty University logo carved into Candler's Mountain overlooking Lynchburg... you tell people these things, but they never believe you until you show them a picture.

** Cap'n Billy's seafood wagon, a Friday afternoon staple of the northern Shenandoah Valley... think of it as a fireworks bus, but for seafood...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Happy Grandparents Day!

Happy Grandparents Day
Grandma & Grandpa
Mamaw & Papaw


" A grandmother is a lady who has no children of her own, so she likes other people's little girls and boys. A grandfather is a man grandmother. He goes for walks with the boys and they talk about fishing and tractors. Grandmothers don't have to do anything but be there. They are old, so they shouldn't play hard or run. they should never say "Hurry up". Usually they are fat, but not too fat to tie children's shoes. They wear glasses and funny underwear, and they can take their teeth and gums off. They don't have to be smart, only answer questions like why dogs hate cats and why God isn't married. They don't talk baby-talk like visitors. When they read to us, they don't skip bits, or mind if it is the same story over again. Everybody should have one, especially if you don't have television, because grandmothers are the only grown-ups who have time."
By an 8 year old

Friday, September 07, 2007

Emma's Last Day, Part 2

Emma's last day with us was last Friday, well that is until she came back yesterday. Confused? It can get that way around here in a real hurry!

Kathy and Tom (Emma's parents) decided to put Emma in daycare to get her used to it, and to hopefully prepare her since Kathy is looking for a job closer to home and would eventually have to stop dropping her off here. Since we had a beach trip planned for next week and Gracie started school this week, it just seemed like a good time.

Gracie and I, and even Garren, will miss Emma. She is a joy and had enriched our daily lives. But, on the plus side, I am looking forward to more one-on-one time with Gracie.

Last Friday we took tons of pictures and made sure all of Emma's stuff was gathered. The plan was for Kathy's mom to watch Emma for the week while she was visiting from New York. Unfortunately she hurt her arm sometime and couldn't move it, much less pick Emma up. So, we got her back for 2 days.

Emma was thrilled to be back and Gracie just loved playing with her friend again. I posed the girls in this cute picture and wanted to share.

As for Gracie, I explained that Emma would be going to Baby School while she was going to Big Girl School. It seems to be doing the trick. She has talked a lot about Emma going to school just like she is.

Kathy has promised me though that they will visit. And, we will have Emma in a few weeks on a weekend so she and Tom can celebrate their anniversary. So, it isn't goodbye, just a short break.

We will miss her though!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Gracie's Grasshopper 2

Here is the Grasshopper Gracie painted and made on September 6, 2007 and displayed in the window for the month of September.

Day 2

Since the first day went so well, I thought I would let all of you know that today went just as well.

I got Gracie up this morning and she was excited to eat breakfast and get ready. She did everything so fast she even had a few minutes to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

When we got there she went right in and found her cubby. We hung up her backpack and I asked for a hug. She hugged me and went off to play not even looking back.

When I went back to pick her up she was excited to see me. I signed her out, and Ms. Stephanie said there were a few tears. I was shocked, but this morning there were a lot of kids crying, and apparently Gracie decided to cry with them. She said it was clear that Gracie felt their pain and was crying because they were. I guess I didn't have to explain that she was sensitive.

She was bubbly as we walked to the car. She said they had pretzels for snack and that she played and the teacher read a Care Bears book for story time. She also got another smiley face on her thumb. I also saw that they had painted little grasshoppers with glittery green paint. We didn't take that home. They are going to let them dry and put them on the window for display.

I think this Preschool thing is turning out to be wonderful!

This weeks song: "Grasshopper Green Is My Preschool." Shape: Circle

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Look What She Did!

Man did I have a migraine this afternoon. Gracie didn't take a nap, well not a real one any way. My head was killing me and I had to lie down. Gracie tucked me in and brought in a puzzle. I was groaning to myself when I saw that she had the US Map puzzle. She gets frustrated with puzzles with so many pieces and we hadn't really worked with this 50 small pieces in my bed.

She dumped the puzzle and I heard her grunting and groaning as she worked with the pieces. I wanted to help her, but it was taking all I had not to cry with my splitting headache.

I heard her call out states like North Carolina and Florida, and Taxi (Texas). I smiled to myself and she said a few more: New York, Tennessee, Virginia, Sobdbo (South Carolina I think). I was pleased that she knew those words and she knew they were states. She had picked these up as we made our maps a few months ago, and from the postcards that we read and mark on our Dora map.

I heard a few "ugh! It doesn't fit!" and a couple of "there it goes." I decided to sit up and check her progress, my eyes bugged out of my head. She had all of the puzzle complete from California to Louisiana--correctly!!! I switched two pieces that were opposites and beamed. You could tell she was proud.

I went to get the camera (and potty), and by the time I got back she had all of the pieces in place! Now, this is not one of those puzzles that have matching pictures in the tray. The tray has a black outline of the state and it lists the capitol and that is it.

I am sure she is a genius! ;) But, either way I am super proud!

PS: She asked where New York went and I told her at the top, that's when I decided to check on her. Sure enough she had put New York where it went along with the other states she had mentioned like Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina! Florida was the first piece she put in. She talks about Florida all the time. She can pick it out on the map. Why? Mickey Mouse lives there!

Happy Birthdays

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday

Love to you both. We hope you celebrate to the fullest!