Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Haul

Gracie has been severely spoiled tonight as she brought home a canvas bag, to heavy for her to lift, home from trick or treating.

Garren scouted out a very well-to-do neighborhood, and they certainly didn't skimp on the candy. Since we live in an apartment, she has to go else where for goodies. This is the first year we have roamed the streets in Strasburg. Usually we go to Lynchburg, but we didn't want Gracie to miss tumble tots and a day of school, plus Mariah is out of town. I am sure Grandma is sadly passing out her goodies tonight without a cute black kitty.

Yes, I only let her have 2 pieces of candy. It is late, and sugar runs through our child like a drug!! We had pizza for dinner, she got cookies at Tumble Tots, and she had cool aid today. That is enough! She has had a great time and gotten sugary bites all week.

We hope you each had a Happy Halloween and tons of fun either trick or treating, or watching the adorable tricksters.

More pictures here.

Trick Or Treat!

Halloween Email From Gracie

Have a fun Halloween and trick or treating! I'm going to be a black kitty, and get candy after I go to Tumble Tots. I had fun at my preschool party. Everyone in my class dressed up for Halloween. What are you going to be? I am sending you some fun treats for your goody bags!


Gracie Halloween Pictures
(I'll be adding more after tonight to this same folder!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Gracie's Story

After school, and a tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich, Gracie and I made a story about a pumpkin. You can read Gracie's story here. You will see Gracie's input underlined in the story. It was interesting to work around her ideas, but I think it came out beautifully!

My Day At Preschool

I think I was about as excited as Gracie this morning when I got her dressed and out the door for Preschool.

I woke her up extra early this morning, since my little slow poke had extra clothes to put on, plus the kitty cat makeup. We actually got everything together on time, and we made it to the car with her costume on, ghost lollipops in hand, and nectarine jack-o-lanterns (4 hours of my life I will never get back!!) balanced in the other. That was when my first hurdle occurred.

We were finally in the car on time for the first time in weeks, when a heavy frost made me take several minutes to clear the car. Cold and shivering, I pile in the car and head down the block. I get Gracie inside and all of her goodies and ask again if it is okay that I come back.

I am really excited about getting a sneak peak at what Gracie does during the day, and then I start to feel embarrassed. How silly of me to ask to attend a preschool party clearly meant for the kids. No other parents were so sad as to want to attend and take pictures. I am starting to realize how stupid it was of me, and how goofy those dedicated teachers must think I am. I am only going to be in the way and look silly as the only parent there. I have no doubt that my daughter will be confessing this to a shrink years later about how her pathetic mommy scared her for life. But, now I am in a predicament. I no longer want to go, but I made a promise, and I don't want to give the impression that I am flaky on top of goofy.

So, I went anyway. When I got there around 10:30, they were not ready for their snack/party at all. I asked what I could do to help, and they put me to work right a way (whew!). I filled the kids treat bags with goodies the parents sent. Then, I helped fix the plates for each kid. They were so smart to put a little of everything on each plate and then put the plates at the table.

There was so much food. And I was feeling helpful instead of a nuisance. Plus, much to my relief another mother showed.

Now, the whole reason I showed was to watch and take pictures. Here comes the other snag in the plan. I pull my camera out to start clicking away, and what should happen? My batteries are dead. My heart sinks. I knew I should have charged them last night. Those stinky batteries don't hold a charge for more than a day. As you can imagine, new batteries are at the top of my list for the grocery store this week. Now I feel even more goofy, just standing there, and I can't even take pictures, which I mentioned was the whole reason I asked to attend.

It took me 5 minutes to remember--hey, I have a camera on my phone! The pictures are very grainy (as you can see), but something is better than nothing!

It takes me a minute to remember how to use the thing, and then I start snapping away. Crisis averted.

After 10 minutes or so, the kids finish gobbling up their huge plates full of treats. One by one the costumed 3 year olds take their plates to the trash and get cleaned up. I am noticing, but at this point not caring so much, that one by one my jack-o-lanterns are getting dumped uneaten. I am not surprised by this since I heard several of the kids calling out "apples, eww!" when they got to the table. Ms. Stephanie has already mentioned that they don't have to eat what they don't like. But, apparently this doesn't stop a few of them from complaining about anything healthy on their plates. I chuckled under my breath and thanked God for a "good eater."

Actually, the morning went very well, and I was happy that I got a chance to see what goes on while Gracie is at school. And, the teachers were so gracious and thanked me repeatedly for helping out.

So, what did Gracie do in school today? For starters she is a good listener and well behaved. One worry to cross off. She stayed in her seat when I came in, she followed all directions the teacher gave her, and she participated. While I helped out, they finished up taking pictures of each child in their costumes and discussing what every one was. Gracie sat quietly at her seat and answered too. Then, the kids got tickets to wash hands. I guess that is to make sure everyone gets washed. Next, they gathered round for story time. They read a Teeny Witch story about her Halloween ride. They sang the Johnny Appleseed blessing and headed back to their seats where the plates that I had helped fix were waiting. It took them 10 minutes or so to eat, and then as they finished they were allowed to get a book to read on the floor. Oh, and they were allowed to get books and read at their seats while they waited to wash hands earlier too. So, they always keep them busy. Idle hands, idle hands. The kids are getting restless and there isn't much time left, so Ms. Stephanie starts a game of Mr. Pumpkin Says.

After being there for nearly and hour, I am starting to notice the trouble makers in the room, and just how good these women are at keeping 20 kids under control! Mason is the biggest ball of energy that doesn't always listen. That would be the kid who sits next to Gracie and picks at her.

She rounds them up again with promises that everyone gets a smiley thumb today. They sit back at their chairs and sing the Goodbye Song. Oh, if only my camera had worked I would have videoed it. Too precious!!!!

It was time to go at this point.

Clearly Gracie gets a lot of activity and positive reinforcement at school and I am so blessed that she has such a wonderful atmosphere to learn and grow. Plus, now with a better idea of what happens when I am not around, I can cross off yet another worry off my list.

Oh, and by the way, I took 20 nectarines, scooped out all of the middles (2 hours), drew jack-o-lantern faces on them (30 minutes), made Jello to fill them and filled them (30 minutes). Some leak, and then I am thinking that we really aren't supposed to cook anything that goes to school. I scoop out all of the Jello from each one (10 minutes) which has hardened in the 30 minutes I second guess myself. I then open cans of sugar-free fruit cocktail in the pantry, convincing myself that this isn't cooking and surely they will let them have them. (20 minutes) Another note: after I did all that and the kids wouldn't eat them, I should mention that one mom (or dad) made rice crispy treats in the shape of a spider and added licorice legs for each kid, one mom made those Halloween shape cookies that you find in the refrigerator section, and another mom baked cupcakes! And, no matter how cute my ghost lollipops were, I couldn't surpass the mother who made each kid a little pumpkin canvas bag and wrote their names on them in puffy paint and filled them with treats! Lesson learned. About the snack anyway. No sense in putting a lot of time in to something that they probably aren't going to eat anyway. As for the pumpkin bags, I say who has that kind of time, but secretly I am thinking "man, I wish I had thought of that--it was so cute!"

The rest of the pictures I took today are in the Halloween folder. They aren't very good, but they are there if you want to see them. Click here.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Our Pumpkins

They came out pretty cute, huh! I found the templates for Mickey and Cinderella's castle online. They look really good. The patterns are in PDF format, if you want a copy, email me and I will send it to you.

Pumpkin Carving 2007

You'll have to check out the pictures too!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

More Candy Fun

As if yesterday's sugar-palooza wasn't enough, Gracie was out and ready to capture more flavored goodies tonight!

Colette & Tom's church in Woodstock hosted a Trunk Or Treat event tonight, and we decided to go. We missed last year because of the rain and super-cold temperatures, and I was afraid rain would keep us away again this year; but the sun shone all day.

This was the first time we would get to see Gracie in her costume, and what an adorable kitty she is!!! The costume was adorable, and the tail and ears added the puurfect touch. I of course snapped tons of pictures.

I wasn't sure what to expect at the event, since I have never been to a Trunk or Treat, but these people went all out. There were games, prizes, an inflatable bouncy thing, and much more. All with a religious message of course.

Gracie had a great time, especially after Emma and Kathy arrived. Gracie had been waiting to see Emma in her pumpkin costume all week. You may remember that Kathy goes to church with Colette. Emma was so excited to see Gracie, and I got lots of hugs too.

The girls did several things together, and then they walked around the parking lot going from one trunk to another. Now these weren't ordinary trunks. The volunteers really got into the celebration. The Mozingo mobile was decorated like a pyramid. Mallory was in full Cleopatra garb, and she had her books and collectibles out to share. The next car had a toilet and the girls were dressed in bathrobes and had towels on their heads. Gracie like this one because she got to pick a duck out of the "tub" to win a prize. There were several more decked out patrons, like the Christmas car, a country truck with a tub full of dried corn that the kids sifted through to find candy (hug hit with Gracie and Emma), and Tom who had a camping scene set up.

I am so glad we got a chance to go. Gracie had a blast, and it was done so well. Trick or Treating will have a hard time comparing to this!

More Halloween pictures from Trunk or Treat.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Halloween Tea Party

One Halloween celebration down...3 more to go!

The Halloween Tea Party wasn't exactly as I expected, and I had to do a lot of thinking on my feet; but 7 neighborhood kids had a great time.

The kids started showing up 10 minutes early. I told them to go and play. Two minutes later they knock again, and there are more of them. I ask them for 3 minutes to finish getting Gracie dressed. 1 and a half minutes later, there they are again. I give up and let them in. Only, there is one more than I had planned. The tea parties don't usually include boys, just because my parties are girley, and I didn't think they would enjoy it. So, now I have 5 kids (including Gracie), one of which I hadn't expected (a brother), and NO parents!

Fifteen minutes later, much to my relief, Colette and Mallory arrived. The kids had been playing in Gracie's room until this point. I gathered them all in the kitchen and they were very excited to fill their plates with goodies. Five minutes in to snack, and Charlie Brown Halloween special, there is another knock on the door. This time it is the new little boy who lives downstairs. Apparently, he was looking for someone to play with and another neighbor directed him to my apartment where all the kids were. He was not bashful about coming right in and joining the fun. I made him go and tell his mother where he was. He came beaming, and said he could stay.

The kids finished the treats, and then we played Halloween Bingo. I had found the cute idea online, but I didn't like their pictures, so I made my own. Each child got a baggie of candy corn to use as markers, and after a few games, everyone won at least once.

We did a craft after the game. Not expecting so many kids, I had to improvise, but the older 2 kids were great sports. They decorated treat bags to take with them on Wednesday. Each one really got in touch with their creative sides, and seemed to love this project.

When the treat bags were finished, I read them 2 stories: Trick Or Treat, Smell My Feet and Arthur's Halloween. By that time it was 5, and they were instructed to head home.

All of the kids were on there best behavior, and they had a great time. Every time I announced a new task, they would cheer "yea!." It was the boost I needed.

Some of our treats included cupcakes with pumpkins on top, spider crackers, and popcorn. Not to mention the lollipop ghosts and far too many more sugary prizes.

You can see pictures here. I plan to make this a blanket folder for everything Halloween, so be sure to check back later!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

So True

Soggy School Day

It is very miserable and rainy here in Strasburg, as it has been for the past 2 days. But, none of us can complain with the big drought we are experiencing.

Along with the rain there is cooler weather, and it finally feels like autumn. So, Gracie got a chance to wear one of the adorable dresses Mamaw sent her to school today.

Gracie got tons of comments about her ballet dress this morning. And, I signed us up for Halloween party treats for Tuesday. Plus, when I picked her up, I volunteered to help set up for the party. Apparently, the party is just for the kids, but she told me I could help out and bring my camera. Yea!!!

The craft at school today was decorating their treat bags for Tuesday's party. I saw the white lunch bags this morning when I dropped her off. She told me she put 5 orange pumpkins on it.

Her story was something about a farmer. Snack was crackers and juice. She told me they sang songs, did the pledge, and talked about today's weather: rainy. Also, she and Mason played with the wooden blocks.

I am looking forward to next week. She gets to wear her costume to the party. And, now I get a sneak peak at what she does at school!

**Above: Daddy walks over from work to see Gracie after she gets out of school. His office is 2 buildings down from our church/Gracie's preschool.**

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More Tumbling Tot

Today's Tumble Tots class again focused on mat work. They teach them several techniques to help get them ready for real gymnastics.

Gracie has the pencil roll, bear walk, and crab walk down. Her forward roll is good, but she still can't push her self over, she needs help. She can't do the mule kicks or frog jump. Well, she can do them; but she won't land on her feet, only her knees. We will have to keep working on that.

Oh, and she made a little friend this afternoon too; Lindsay. You know it is kind of funny. I was watching my daughter relate to the other kids. They are kind of like dogs; they sniff each other out. They got very close and stared at each other for a moment, and then they joined hands and started jumping up and down. Who knows. But, I have noticed the trend with kids getting in each others faces. Its and Alpha Dog showdown.

Pony Football

I just have to tell you about playtime this afternoon with Gracie. Well, actually, let me start by telling you about playtime yesterday evening.

Garren has been feeling super guilty about all the time he is away from home lately because of the election. So, he wanted to bring home something special for dinner. When I asked Gracie, she said she wanted Chinese food. We called Daddy together and put him on speaker phone. She told him what she wanted, and I suggested that he come home and play with her and I would go and get the food. I sneakily added that he could play ponies with her. She squealed with joy (I can imagine the silent groans on his side). We got the ponies ready and she anxiously awaited his homecoming.

Now, I must add, Daddy has a hard time playing with Gracie. Well, she is in to puzzles, games, ponies, dressing baby dolls, etc. He not being well versed with "girly" activities, and the fact that he can't stand games and puzzles-- limits their together time.

I am getting to a positive here. Daddy was a great sport last night and got right down on the floor with a very over-excited Gracie. I grabbed my purse and headed out on the 30-minute round trip to get Chinese food. (We live in the middle of no where!)

When I got back Gracie was happy to see me, and they were still in the floor where I had left them. Later that night after Gracie had gone to bed, I thanked Garren for playing with her. I asked how ponies were, and he told me they played pony football.

I got a taste of pony football this afternoon. Gracie told me "first, you line up the ponies." I am trying hard not to laugh. "Lily Lightly can be the referee." Tears are running down my eyes at this point. "Put the ball on Rarity's horn." (The ball is a hair tie knotted up. Garren explained last night since the ponies don't have hands this was his best alternative.) "Now, Rainbow Dash tries to tackle Rarity." I couldn't hold it in any longer! Gracie grabs the two ponies and demonstrates a tackle. I am laughing so hard. I told her how cute it was. You have to tell her that or she gets mad at you laughing at her. Oh, and the archway covered in flowers was the goal post. I am only sorry I didn't see how the game was supposed to end. (She only had 10 minutes until nap and she insisted on playing ponies, I agreed.)

I just had to share. Kudos to Garren for playing with our daughter the best way he knows how!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My Little Pumpkin

Gracie has been looking forward to school all weekend. Today they made pumpkin play dough, and she couldn't wait. She has been talking about it since I picked her up Thursday.

They didn't send the play dough home, so I am guessing it was one big tub that they all shared. (That is fine with me, can you imagine the smell!)

Snack: goldfish and apple juice
Story: Max & Maggie (again)
Songs: She couldn't remember, but when I asked if she sang "Round Little Pumpkin," she said "yes," so who knows?!

We are excited about her Preschool Halloween party next Tuesday. Well, I am anyway. I made 21 ghost lollipops this weekend, and I found the cutest idea for what we can bring to the party. And the kids get to wear there costumes to the party. I think I mentioned it, but Gracie going to be a kitty cat.

Gracie tells me that she plays with Joy Anna at school. I am glad she has a playmate. I asked if everyone got a smiley face today, and she said "Joy Anna did." I asked if sometimes she gets in trouble and she said "yea." I will worry about her being a bad influence later! I also asked her who the little boy was that was sitting next to her. When I picked her up he was kind of kicking her and keeping her from getting out of her seat. She said he was Mason. I asked if he liked to pick on her and she kind of said in a tisking voice "yea." She told me the pumpkin playdough was sticky and that she made a snake. This is what she makes at home with playdough too. I think it is just instinct for kids to roll it around on the table. Hmm, what else. Oh, she says Ms. Stephanie is her favorite teacher. Ms. Stephanie does the songs and Ms. Christine does story time. She also said that they hear 4 stories everyday--she had only been telling me about one. So, in addition to Max & Maggie, she read Halloween Cats.

All this information came about as we were talking and playing in her room this afternoon.

Monday, October 22, 2007

What Do Ya Think?

My first attempt at cake decorating. Not too bad (not that good either). But, I am learning. I want to get lots of practice. I would love to get very good at this, I enjoy it a great deal. I found the inspiration for this cake from an awesome book Colette gave me on cake decorating.

I made this cake for the ladies who are coming over this afternoon. I thought about making another for the Halloween Tea Party on Friday, but I think I will just stick to cupcakes.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Magic Of Reading

It wouldn't all fit on the scanner, but you get the general idea. Isn't she cute!!! Daddy took Gracie to breakfast this morning while I watched Emma (to lessen the jealousy), so Gracie got to find herself in the paper. I had them pick up a few for family.

Don't Send Angry Emails

...yeah, like I am that well read! I have gotten super behind though. This cold has really kicked my toshy. I have taken pictures from this week and have much to update, so I will get on it ASAP. I have Emma this morning for awhile, and then we will spend some much needed family time together. Poor Garren has been coming in at 8pm and later every night this week as he continues to cover the election and other such stuff.

I promise to update soon! Good thing my mom is in TN this weekend, or I would have been bombarded with emails and phone calls making me feel sufficiently guilty!!! :)

Oh, and Gracie's BIG ad should be in the paper today. I will scan it in and post that as well.


You will find all of my pictures here. Tumble Tots and school have their own folders that I continue to add to, and there are a few more categories. Everything else from Sept/Oct & November is in the folder entitled: Fall 2007.

I have updated the blog and added pictures to these folders this morning as Emma snacked on apple bites and waffle bites. If I take any pictures today it will go in the Emma & Gracie folder. Pretty cleaver huh?!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Spider Day

Well, at school anyway.

Gracie was very proud to show Daddy the spider ring she got at school today. You can imagine his reaction! Actually, he was a good sport, even as Gracie put it on his nose and cheeks to play.

As usual I didn't get much out of her, but from the time I picked her up she was jumping up and down telling me she made pumpkin playdough. Actually, that is scheduled for Tuesday, and I am guessing the teachers tell them what they will do the next time they are together. As a matter of fact, I have had to remind her several times she will get to do that on TUESDAY.

Fun things she did today. The story: We Like Bugs. Snack: animal crackers & apple juice. She told me she made a spider web today, but I am guessing it stayed at school. The only things in her backpack were a coloring page and an orange circle necklace they made last month (this month is squares).

Apparently, I am not the only mom to be left in the dark. Another mom was thanking me for bringing in the apples last time, and said her child wouldn't tell her about his day either. But on Tuesday, he loved the apple so much he told everyone he had an apple for snack. I was so pleased--about the apple.

I will have to learn to live without information I guess. I am sure as she gets older she will withhold more and more.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Best Session Ever

Today started the second session at Tumble Tots, and I wasn't sure what to expect. Was it going to be everyone from the last class? Would Gracie be the only one from the former session? Would they start over, or is is the next level up?

I needn't be worried. Today's Tumble Tots was the best ever. They did start from the beginning, meaning every session repeats the same thing, but Gracie doesn't care, she loves it! And, it was a 50/50 mix of old and new kids.

We began today with the obstacle course around the entire gym. All of the kids love this part. Today, though they added some new things. Instead of having the kids crawl through the parachute on the floor (which Gracie, and half the other kids wouldn't do), the hung the parachute over 2 sophisticated ladders and had the kids go under it. Also added, a maze made out of floor mats.

Gracie thoroughly enjoyed this session, and she was so excited, she could barely hold still until the next obstacle. Then again, most of the kids have that problem. That and going to the end of the line and waiting their turn. It helped that a lot more parents were involved this time. Last session, most sat on the bleachers and watched instead of getting down and helping with their child like the instructors asked (needed).

The session ended with the parachute to all of the kids cheers. They did some cute things with it including having all of the kids crawl to the middle and we parents turned in a circle. This was so cute, and the kids laughed and cheered.

With Gracie going so fast I couldn't snap nearly as many pictures as I would like, but all the ones I did take have her beaming!

Smart Girl

Guess what Gracie told me today! "Owls sleep during the day time, and at night they hunt for food." What a genius! I plan to start filling out her Harvard applications this afternoon. :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Share and Share A Like

Today Gracie and I have shared...

A hairbrush help make her adorable for preschool.

... with her classmates.

The leaves we found yesterday make leaf rubbings and leaf collages.

My Little Ponies we had tea party, dance recital, hot air balloon get the idea.

Pencils do worksheets together during our version of school.

Glue stick
...while working on cutting and pasting numbers in order

Coins learn about what each coin is, and how much it is worth.

Halloween stories
....for nap time and bedtime.

Spaghetti dinner
...with freshly baked bread.

View Master Reels
...while we played before bedtime.

Yuck, so we can now add tissues, medicine, and misery to the list of things Gracie and I shared today. Yea me! :)

Square In The Middle Of Things

Today Gracie and her class learned all about squares.

Yes, I know Gracie knows all of her shapes, but again the preschool is mainly for socialization--I have plenty of time to worry about how advanced she is. Did I mention we are working on math at home?

Back to the squares. Gracie was super proud of the one she had decorated at school. And, she like all of the kids today, got a smiley face on her thumb.

She was extra bouncy this afternoon when I picked her up becuase we brought in snack today. When we were at the apple orchard/pumpkin patch Sunday we were sure to pick 21 small apples for her classmates. I think they were a success.

Other preschool fun today included going outside and playing Farmer In The Dell. The teacher said the kids loved the game and they fought over who got to be in the middle. Gracie told me today's story was Clifford's Halloween, and they had orange juice with the apple snack we brought in. That is about all of the details I got out of her. She did mention playing with the frog puppet at coloring. I would love to know more, but this is all I get!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Too Pretty To Stay Inside

Gracie and I spent a perfect afternoon outside today. The weather was gorgeous, and so was the temperature for once.

After she got from her nap, she was thrilled to hear my idea. I got her shoes on and we headed to the park to play the afternoon away. Imagine my surprise, and panic when I found the park's playground covered with caution tape.

No, it wasn't a murder, this town is too small for that kind of excitement. The sign said it was closed for repairs. I can't imagine the problem, but now I had to think on my feet.

Between our church and the neighboring church there is a small playground, so I took a chance at it being not crowded. Not only was it not crowded, we were the only ones there. I say playground, but really its an elaborate swing set. But, Gracie didn't care. She had fun climbing and swinging and sliding and playing in the pea gravel.

I sat and watched her and soaked in the autumn breezes. I enjoyed myself, but at the same time found myself pining away yet again for my own home and backyard where Gracie could play all day. The neighborhood where our church is is so quiet and peaceful. I felt blessed to be a mommy and have all the things I have, and somewhat wistful at the same time. But, I have decided I am going to forgive myself for that. After all, I am human, and a female too boot. So, we can't help ourselves when it comes to wanting more.

**Above: Gracie slides again. And, hey no comments on the NASCAR overalls. They are play clothes and I couldn't pass them up for a $1 at a thrift store! :)**

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pumpkin Patch Fun

Did I mention I love fall?! Our expedition to the pumpkin patch this afternoon was tons of fun, and we brought along two extras to enjoy it with us.

Kathy and Emma came along on our little fall adventure. Emma, never having been to an apple orchard/pumpkin patch, loved every minute. Gracie as turned out, became a little jealous of sharing her afternoon, but she loosened up and had a great time too.

The girls saw all of the animals first, and a goat even tried to snack on the stroller. (Gracie had to ride in her stroller because Emma was riding in one.) Gracie was a lot more brave this trip. She petted the sheep, the baby cow, and even the extra large horse. I am sure he was a regular sized horse, but he looked huge to me!

After visiting all of the animals, we got our bag and went apple picking. Gracie was an old pro at picking apples, and she enjoyed getting them herself. She also loved being hoisted above Daddy's head to pick the ones at the top of the tree. Emma was super cute as she discovered what fun it was to run from tree to tree and try and pull the apples off. She said "apple!" over and over with the biggest toothy grin!

After apples we checked out the pumpkins and the gift shop. It was actually pretty hot outside and both girls were very tired from their afternoon of fun, so we headed back to town.

We invited Kathy and Emma to join us for lunch, but Emma feel asleep in the car ride home, and Kathy thought it would be better for her to stay asleep.

Our two little pumpkins were tuckered out. This afternoon was tons of family fun, and if we are lucky, we will find time to do it again!

I took the most amazing pictures today, and you just have to see them! Click here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Gracie Back In The Papers

From email sent 10/12/07:

I know all of you get tired of hearing me brag...but she's my baby and I can't help it. Things here at the Shipley house are going well. Gracie loves school and is so excited about getting to continue with Tumble Tots (3 year old gymnastics).

I haven't gotten a progress report from school, and I am not sure if they even send those out in preschool, but everyday (so far) she has gotten a smiley face on her thumb. Which, of course means she was good. She is learning much needed social skills, and they come up with the cutest things to do. I blog of course about everything. I have even scanned in some of her crafts.

I know, I know...I am a cheesy mommy. But, I love my life and I couldn't imagine anything better.

The big news this morning, well it's big news in my small world, Gracie is going to be featured in an ad for Garren's newspaper. The Daily is hosting its annual book drive, and they were looking for pictures of employee's children to use. You can imagine how excited I was when Garren showed me the email! Gracie and I set to work with a home photo session. He must have really liked my photo, because not only is she going to be in the ad for 3 days out of 10 or more (their will be other employee kids who get days too), she will be in the huge ad that runs on October 20th. Garren says it will be in a "wrapper" around the coupons.

I just had to share. I took the above picture in her room. I thought it would be cute to set up her friends to hear her story. When the paper comes out on the 20th, I will scan in the whole ad.

In the meantime we are enjoying our fall. Garren is super busy with election season, but we have still found time for fun. We visited Grandma and Grandpa last weekend and went to some fall fairs and their version of a pumpkin patch. We will probably go to our pumpkin patch this weekend (its at a real farm).

Let us know how you are doing!
Have a Happy Fall,

Barbara, Garren & Gracie

Gracie Pictures

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It's Like Night And Day

My daughter took a 4 hour nap this evening, and I couldn't be happier. I am not happy because I got to rest, or because I got some things around the house done; I am happy because I got my girl back.

No one seems to understand, that like me, Gracie requires a certain amount of sleep to function. When my three year old is well rested, she is an angel. She is full of life, she is fun and great to be around. But, the problem is she is also like her father, and she can't turn her mind off and get the much needed sleep. Gracie goes and goes without naps, and with maybe 10 hours of sleep a night, when she really needs 12-13 hours every 24 hours.

I stopped trying to explain to those people who insist that she is too old for naps and that I should just give them up. The change in her when she is well rested is so obvious to me. This afternoon after her four hour snooze, we had a great time. She didn't whine or complain once. She was fun and full of energy, but not overly excitable.

Like most people (including her mommy), with out enough sleep she is grouchy, whiny, she cries over everything, she throws temper get the idea.

Sleep issues have always plagued this house. Mommy needs to sleep, Daddy can't sleep, and Gracie doesn't get enough sleep. Then the problem mounts. Without enough Shipley's with their eyes closed, there is bound to be the creeping crankies.

And to add insult to injury, the longer Gracie and I go without our required hours, the less hours we get of sleep. I know it sounds crazy; but we are actually too tired to sleep.

So, you see the conundrum. And, you can see why I was so thankful that Gracie took a 4 hour nap.

Now, I know that this will not continue to happen. And, even when I get her to take a nap, it is usually about 2 hours. But, the extra sleep will make this weekend a happier, healthier one, and I feel very thankful for that.

More Owl Fun At School

Some time after the unbearably hot temperatures we had yesterday, and this morning; it got cool...very cool.

I wasn't aware just how cool it was until we headed to the car. Luckily, I keep extra clothes in the car, and I had one of her sweater jackets in there. Of all the days to send her to school with a jumper without a shirt under it!!

She had fun at school anyway, and apparently they didn't go outside, so she was fine.

They made owl masks, and sang the sleepy song. Snack was cheese balls she said. I am guessing it's like Cheese Doodles only in little balls?

She also told me they sang the goodbye song, and she did the pledge. She played with the frog puppet and wrote names on a board. I have no idea about the names. She told me "like my invitations momma, you know!" So, I pretended to know.

I did ask if everyone got a smiley face today, or if there were names on the big board. She said there were names on it.

Oh, and it was so funny, as the parents piled in--everyone was asking to see little thumbs. I admit, I did too! Sure enough, my angel had a smiley face.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

End Of Session One

Tonight was the final class of session one at Tumble Tots. I thought maybe there would be a little more hoopla, like the kids getting a certificate or something, but they just had them work on the mats. They didn't even get out the parachute. Gracie was a little bummed about the parachute, but it didn't bother her that there was no hoopla--after all she gets to go to the second session (And the third and fourth after I sign her up).

Like I said they stayed on the mats this time. They focused on all of their rolls, and jumps, etc. This seemed to work well because Gracie got some much needed practice.

And, no tears today! She actually did the whole class without me. Well, I stepped in a few times like when she broke in front of the line. She wasn't aware, and all the other kids do it through out the session, but I want Gracie to learn to take turns. And, when the teachers were getting stressed, I stepped in and helped her with her forward rolls. She didn't even cry when we left this time--whew!

Tumble Tots has been a big success, and I think it is wonderful for Gracie to interact with the other kids. Plus, I like sharing something with her. Until this class, I did everything with her. But today, all of the parents sat back, and it was a good thing since the teachers had their undivided attention, and they were being active. Gracie even participated instead of clinging to my legs for the warm ups. So, maybe sitting back was a good thing for us too.

Good Bye Song

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Back To Buisness

The fun at Grandma's is over, and it is back to our routines here in Strasburg. Not that any of us can forget our fun in Lynchburg since most of it is still in bags all over the kitchen floor, but I digress.

Gracie had a bowl of Princess cereal (one of the many, many, many things Grandma sent back) this morning, and seemed pretty excited about the school day ahead. When I dropped her off she headed for the coloring table with the other kids.

Things were light and chipper when I dropped her off, so imagine my surprise when I came to pick her up and found parents carrying out crying children. As usual I was near the end of the line (some of these moms are out there waiting 20 minutes before class is out!). Gracie seemed fine, and I kept reminding her to stay in her seat until I signed her out. The teacher walked in behind me and I kept trying to figure out what was going on. I asked about all of the crying. Apparently this was the first day some of the kids didn't get smiley faces on their thumbs. A little panic went off in my stomach and I quickly asked Gracie if she got one. I was very relieved when she proudly showed hers off. When I looked up I saw 6 or 7 names on a wipe board. I am thinking that after a month of school, the kids are expected to behave and there are consequences. I played down the mood of the room and talked to Gracie about what they did that day as we walked to the car. When we got home I told her how glad I was that she liked school, and how proud I was that she was a good girl at school, and how important it is to be good at school.

As for Gracie's day; she made an owl with square color shapes, they did a game called the "owl poky," the story was also about owls. As for snack it was goldfish crackers and apple juice. She told me she played and colored too.

Gracie also finally sang one of her songs for me! They sing a goodbye song everyday before the parents come and pick them up, and practice makes perfect.

Goodbye Song
(to the tune of Jingle Bells)

Happy day,
Happy day,
Happy day to you!

Oh, what fun we have at school,
In everything we do!



**Above: Gracie poses at her cubby before we head out of school--with her smiley face thumb!**

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Highlight Of The Day

Again today our schedule was packed! We find so many fun things to do when we visit Grandma and Grandpa. Yesterday, we found not one, but two signs for fall fairs very close by. We started at Heritage Elementary because they advertised pony rides. And, as you can imagine, Gracie was more than thrilled. She tried to be very patient as she waited in the rather long line for her turn. But, it paid off since she got the pony she had picked out while waiting. You can see her beaming as she goes round and round BY HERSELF!

We did plenty of games and took a turn in the bouncy thing before we headed to the next fall festival. This one was at Sandusky Elementary. There we got to ride a hay ride, she jumped in a another bouncy thing. And, since they were closing up we filled up brown paper bags with bake sale goodies for $1 a piece!

Another fun day with Grandma.

Friday, October 05, 2007

What Did Gracie Do Today?

A better question would be what didn't Gracie do today!!!

Janie Shipley is born! Gracie and Grandma fill her with stuffing and love.

I am pretty sure she is named after Aunt Janie in Tennessee. We opened and enjoyed the blackberry jam she sent us a few days ago, and we started talking about her. She decided on the name herself.

Grandma and Gracie play at Kids Cove in Thomas Road Baptist Church while waiting for Mariah to finish school.

Gracie sneaks a peak, and sits in, at the end of Mariah's class.

Pillow fight!

Gracie wins at Hi-Ho Cherry-O.

Fun at pumpkin patch.

More fun at the pumpkin patch.

Painting her own pumpkin to take home.

Whew! What a day. She is resting now and gearing up for another day of fun with Grandma and Grandpa. Lucky for us we saw that there are two separate fall fairs at the local elementary schools tomorrow. One more thing to add to our list.

We send our love from Lynchburg and wish all of you a wonderful fall weekend. And, daddy we miss you and we will be home Monday night in time for football!