Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ringing In The New Year

Mommy & Daddy & Gracie rang in the New Year in style tonight!

Actually, we rang in 10pm in our pajamas as we never got dressed today--but hey, you should totally end the year the way you started it, huh?!

We had planned for a night in Winchester for New Year's Eve, but since the wind is howling so loud and the snow has been spitting most of the day, we opted for a warmer "homier" kind of celebration.

But, you know me, I didn't settle for sitting around the TV. I found some fun ideas online, and a few from my imagination and made the evening in to tons of preschool fun.

Daddy even joined us for the festivities and we made peace doves, hats, shakers, and helped Gracie fill out her favorite parts of 2008 and what she is looking forward to in 09.

I also made a few fun snacks like Jello jigglers, punch for Garren, popcorn, and a New Year's cake which was Gracie's idea.

My four year old got plenty hyped up on sugar and at 9:59 we faked a countdown and celebrated as loudly as if we were in Times Square.

Gracie had been so excited all day, but not really understanding why she should be excited. I think it takes a while before this holiday gets any significance for youngsters.

While I was sure with the punch and cake and excitement her eyelids may make it until midnight, she surprised us both by falling asleep within 30 minutes.

Garren and I barely made it until midnight, but as the hour rolled around we were already tucked in bed and watched the last few minutes of Dick Clark, had our kiss, and fell to sleep in a matter of minutes. Man are we old!!!

We have had plenty of memorable and wonderful moments in the year that has past, and we are looking forward to many more memories in well as a new camera ( can you believe I wore this one out since last Christmas! The flash died on me today, so I don't have but one picture fom tonight.)

We hope all of you had a wonderful holiday and will make the most of this brand new year.

**In the only picture from the night that came out, our hats....can you tell which one is Daddy's? Also our peace doves. Mine named "Lovey." Gracie's named "Pinkie," and Daddy's? Well...."Through Superior Fire Power." Yep, that's our Garren. We also made the water bottle shakers and that was tons of fun. We added beads and glitter and sparkles to bottles with water in them and added a few drops of food coloring to make a more muted shaker sound.***

**We had to help Gracie a little with the list, she kept focusing on what we did today and what she wanted to do tomorrow. But, by the end of the exercise I think she was starting to understand about remembering the good times we had and thinking about all of the fun stuff we will do. Click to enlarge picture**

Happy New Year

(from email to family & friends)

The Shipley family wants to wish all of you a very Happy 2009,
and we hope that your Christmas holidays were filled with lots of joy too!

2008 was a wonderful year for the three of us. Gracie started another year at preschool where she is coming more and more out of her shell every day. This year she is learning letters and new songs and doing fun crafts all of the time. And she went on her first field trip and I got to go along too! I think I may have had just as much fun at the pumpkin patch this fall with Gracie and her class.

We meet our new nieces and nephews this year as well, when Uncle Brian surprised us with a wedding in August and introduced us to Aunt Dawn, Issac, Sue-Anna, Matthew & Mark. Gracie adored her new "cous-its," and we have gotten several more chances to visit with them this fall and winter. We of course look forward to many more family outings as well, and Grandma and Grandpa seem to be thrilled to add 4 more grandbabies to the family taking their total to 6!

We haven't taken a lot of time to travel, and perhaps we will add that to our "to do" list in 2009, but we were able to spend a week in Tennessee with my best friend Candice and her husband this summer, and we returned for Thanksgiving with a stay at Mamaw & Papaw's. We also got to "doggie sit" this summer for my friend Sara who lives in Chesapeake, and enjoyed a fun week with Grandma at the beach. We also started what will likely become a new family tradition of going to Hershey Park over the holidays. Gracie and mommy and daddy had the best time, although slightly frigid, at the Pennsylvania theme park.

Our little girl continues to grow and grow and is becoming the girlest girl of all. Clearly she doesn't get it from me, and she likely picked up her feminine habits from our neighbor's daughter Mallory, whom Gracie adores. Gracie wants to go to the beauty parlor for her 5th birthday and she asked Santa for a pretend beauty set. She loves to have curls in her hair and "beauties" all of her stuffy friends and daddy from time to time. What a little princess we have raised.

For 2009 we have plenty to look forward too. Gracie will end her years in preschool, and while I am very tearful about her start in Kindergarten, I know my little flower will blossom in her first year at Sandy Hook Elementary.

We are looking forward to finding a new home in the coming year. While we have our fingers crossed to buy our first home, we will find a larger place one way or another.

Gracie will also celebrate her fifth birthday, hopefully learn new things like tying her shoes, reading, and will likely grow another foot if she keeps up her current pace :) Oh, and she will get to be a big sister too! Gracie and mommy and daddy are so excited to welcome a new member in to our little family on February 9th. We don't have much longer to go. And while 2009 will likely also be filled with sleepless nights, it will also be filled with plenty of love.

Wishing you and your families the happiest of new years!

All our love,
Barbara, Garren & Gracie Shipley

Plenty of Pictures:
Christmas 2008
Preschool 08-09
Fall 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mommy Racked Up!

I know that not many, if any, of you are ever impressed with my bargaining skills; but when you saw what I got today for as little as I did--you couldn't possibly ignore it!

After I took Gracie to get her Christmas pictures taken at JC Penney's (yea, I know, but we are always so busy before the holiday), we made it in to a mommy & Gracie day. We splurged on a lunch at Country Cookin, and then just had to take in a few thrift stores.

First stop: Goodwill. That's where we got the Cinderella puzzle (.59), book (.50), 2 bassinet sheets ($1 each), and the Baby Einstein turtle baby toy (.59). Grand total: $3.84!

Next, Hospice thrift store #1. Kelly puzzle (.25), Rudolph that sings (and sings and sings) (.25), 2 spit rags (.25 each), 2 little people characters (.50), Franklin video (.25), Pound Puppy puppet (.25), grab bag that included an Ariel jump rope, Chick-fil-A cow, and a Wizard of Oz collectible (.50). Total: $2.63

Salvation Army thrift store. That beautiful Laura Ashley dress with the price tag still on!! (3.99). I would never pay $4 for a dress, but I just had to have this one! Baby outfit still new (1.00). Candyland 50th edition (2.00).

The last stop was the biggest thrill. After finding another bassinet sheet (1.00), 12 kids books (1.00), a elephant stuffy rattle for the baby (.75), and another Baby Einstein rattle (.25), Gracie and I came upon the coolest find. A Fisher Price Aquarium Cradle Swing for $20!! We needed a new swing, and this one brand new goes for $109! I am so thrilled to find this. This is one less big expense needed for our new bundle. And, Gracie loves it. She is just as excited about finding things for the baby as I am. Have I mentioned what an awesome big sister she is going to be.

Okay, I couldn't help but brag a little about all of the cool things I got today. That is all ;)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

When She's Five

Gracie has the big girl blues. She suddenly feels very little and wants to know how old she must be to do a wide array of things.

I am not sure when this crisis of age began, but only one Shipley woman can be depressed about her age at a time--and I win!

I think being around her older cousins, and talking about being a big sister has her thinking about wanting to do bigger kid things. It all seemed to start when her cousins got these scratch art kits from Grandma. Gracie got tons of things, but she watched as her older cousins were in thralled in these pictures. She wanted to do one, but the stick you use is very, very sharp and we told her maybe when she is older.

Now, I am thinking back, and we don't say that I am guessing it is just something that is on her mind lately.

She has been asking "how old do I have to be to do..." fill in the blank here. This has become quite the headache over the past few days, and I worry about her trying to grow up before her time. So, today I sat her down and we talked about all the things she would get to do when she is 5.

I started at 5, because her birthday is in a little over 2 months. We talked about her getting to go to Kindergarten, learning to tie her shoes, learning to read, becoming a big sister, going fishing. Yep, she wants to go fishing and camping. She is still a girly girl, and I don't think she will like it much once she tries it--but I won't discourage her. She sees camping and fishing from the characters on Noggin, and they make it look fun.

I am hoping that by focusing on the exciting things she can do now will help curb those desires to be bigger. She has plenty of time to grow up and I am certainly in no hurry. As for other limits. She wants to wear make up--that has been given the age of 16. Ear piercing at 12, Barbies at 6 (it has been hard to make her wait when all of her little friends at school have Barbies and everything Barbie. But, I think she can wait another year so I am caving in at 6 instead of making her wait until she is 8 or 9), the scratch art I arbitrarily said at 8 only because Matthew (the youngest cousin) is 8 and he got one.

As for what she is looking forward to the most; she wants to go to the beauty parlor for her fifth birthday! She wants to get "beautied," and I think it is a neat idea. So, that will be her present, a trip to the beauty parlor. I of course intend to talk to the people before we go. A woman I know opened her own shop a few years back and I know she will be wonderful with her.

For now talking about all the exciting things she can do that she couldn't before, and all of the things to look forward to this year, seems to be helping.

I am sure many of you know what it is like to want to be older, and now that you are, you wish you could turn back time. I know I do!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Memories

I had a very neat idea this afternoon. Gracie and Daddy and I were talking a few days ago about what we remembered getting from Santa. While I can't compete with Daddy's unbelievable memory, there are a few things that stick out in my mind.

Since Gracie is only 4, I thought she wouldn't remember much about Christmas' past--but she has her father's memory as well. She could remember what she asked Santa for last year and a few things from year's past.

So, with me being hormonal, I went back and found pictures from all 5 of Gracie's Christmas' to show her. I thought how neat it might be for everyone else to look back. Then, I looked through and found a few old Christmas pictures of Garren's and mine to add to the mix.

Enjoy our slide show and tell us about your Christmas memories. Too bad I don't have more pictures, I would love to see some from Candice's childhood and more from Garren's or Aunt Heather's....if you have some pictures--share! I know Gracie will love to hear what Santa brought you.

Christmas Morning

We all need a nap! Even though I didn't read Candice's comments to Gracie last night, they must have been in tune with each other. Gracie was up and raring to go at 7:30 this morning. Now, I know how dad felt all those years when we wanted him to get up on Christmas morning. While 7:30 may not seem that early to any of you, Gracie didn't finally fall asleep last night until 10:30! It's actually kind of funny, because when she stops for a few minutes after bouncing, her eyes kind of glaze over.

Santa was very good to Gracie and she has had a blast playing all morning. Santa doesn't wrap Gracie's gifts, he leaves them out for her to see in the morning, just like he did for mommy when she was little.

Gracie got all three things she asked for: the singing Aurora doll, pretend beauty set, and the Minty Christmas DVD. The biggest hit of the morning being that beauty set. It has a hair drier in it that runs on batteries as well as several viles of "make up" and a curling iron. Everyone has been beautified this morning including her new Aurora and Tinker Bell dolls.

What else? Oh, she loves the present Mamaw and Papaw sent. It was the My Little Pony Amusement park. Her little ponies have been riding on the Ferris wheel and "roller poster" all morning long.

She has taken a few breaks to grab some sugar and a little breakfast, but she is in toy heaven in our living room.

Our neighbors are headed out of town this morning, but they stopped by a few minutes ago and dropped off yet another pink present for Gracie. A stuffed Pinkie Pie (My Little Pony) pillow. Gracie has now gotten her cow girl hat and has put candy canes on Pinkies ear and is riding her around the couch.

It has been an exciting morning and the floor is full of very girly toys, paper, boxes, and tons of those plastic ties that make it nearly impossible to remove toys from their packages.

We are truly blessed. I am not sure how much other children woke up to this morning, and there are times that I worry that we can't get our child as much as many others--but Gracie is so blessed and so thankful. We couldn't ask for a better Christmas. We have so much and so many people have so little. I shouldn't have a worry in the world.

As we wind down from an excitment filled and sugar riddled morning, we want to take a few minutes to wish you a very Merry Christmas as well. We hope Santa was good to you, and you remember to say "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.

To see more pictures from this morning, which I am afraid I don't have many as my camera couldn't keep up and most of them came out blurry! ;( click here to start, and then click forward

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Season's Greetings

..from the Shipley's.
We send you all warmest Christmas wishes from our family to yours.

Barbara, Garren, Gracie & Baby Shipley

Christmas Eve 2008

Gracie is tucked into bed, and is trying hard to sleep. She got up a few minutes ago and told us that she had to go potty. But first, "I looked out the window to make sure I didn't see Santa to make sure I could get up and go potty."

We told her that Santa wouldn't come until she was asleep. And then Daddy added "if you hear reindeer or jingle bells, don't get up, because you wouldn't want to scare Santa." Like she needs something else to worry about! But, she is happy and in bed and excited about the morning.

We have left cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. We also left our customary note. Since Gracie is noticing that we don't have a chimney, we reassured her that we would leave the glass door unlocked for Santa to get in. She decided Rudolph would come in and eat the carrots--but I told her that I doubt a reindeer could fit in our apartment, so Santa will likely take them out to him and his friends. This seemed to answer her questions.

We went to Christmas Eve services tonight at church. I was surprised with the low turnout at the 5pm service, but it was nice. This is the first year they divided the service into 2. I for one thought it was an excellent idea since we have a small church and it is so crowded on Christmas Eve. The later service was having communion and a candlelight service, so I think most wanted to attend that one. The 5pm service was especially for families. We decided to go earlier since it is so late by the time we get home.

As an early gift we were given nearly 60 degree weather today. Well, we got those temperatures along with some scary winds--but if we can't have a white Christmas I am all for a warm one!

I promise to post pictures and musings from Christmas morning for anyone interested.

We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!

**And don't you love this smocked dress I found!! I got it at a consignment shop over Thanksgiving in Tennessee. I spent last night taking out the hem, and I think she looks precious! I plan to take her to Penney's later this week or next week and have her Christmas pictures taken. I never make it before Christmas! **

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Picture Updates

I finally got around to updating our pictures! I have created 2 new folders, and added to another one. Not that you haven't gotten enough of Gracie, here are some more of her finest moments.

Fall Favorites 2008
Preschool 2008-9 (has pictures from her Christmas party)
All Things Christmas 08 (including pictures from Lynchburg)

..And if you haven't checked in awhile, I have updated Gracie's Big Sister Blog as well.

Ask Santa

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas At School

I love it when I get to help out at school. It is so cheesy, but getting those brief glimpses in to what my daughter does when I am not around is a rare treat. And, since this is her last year in preschool, I doubt I will have many more opportunities to be apart of her school world.

But enough of that!!

I got to help out for the kids Christmas "party." Which, is basically snacks--but they have a good time. As usual there was a ton of food--most of it very sugary! I brought in cheese, but I think that and Jello were the only less hyperactive foods on those kids plates. But, there was so much most of the kids didn't eat it all, and even Gracie wasn't the last to leave the table as usual.

I helped with cupcake wrappers and filling up drinks. I know, so simple, yet I was loving every minute. And, then one of the kids asked why I brought my camera. I told him "I love to take pictures. Does your mommy take lots of pictures of you?" The answer was an eye rolling "yes" which made me grin. Then everyone at the table wanted me to take their picture and then see it on the screen. This got silly as they each tried to out do each other.

After snack they played and Gracie asked her teacher to turn on the Christmas music. This lead to Gracie dancing with a number of little friends.

When everyone was done I helped clean up and the kids played for a while before gathering in a circle to get jingle bells and sing Christmas songs. The kids really got into this.

The kids brought home their presents for the parents, and a goodie bag filled with treats. As for Gracie "she" brought in candy cane mice for the kids, and peppermint sticks for the teachers.

We all bundled up our favorite tykes and rushed to cars as it is 26 degrees here, and that wind is so icy I think my face may freeze at any point. It's not supposed to warm up either--so, I think we will just stay in and stay warm.

Family Christmas

I thought that since this is the first year Grandma and Grandpa have had such a full house, this might actually be the best picture for the weekend.

Mom made all 7 of her grandchildren, and 4 of her "children" stockings this year. She of course was proud she got them done in time, the rest of us were impressed with all of the hard work.

She made Brian's and mine when we were kids, Garren's came the year after we were married, and she had Mariah's and Gracie's done after their births...but still, 6 stockings in a short time is quite impressive. She made one for the new baby too...but since we are remaining stubborn about gender, it clearly isn't finished yet.

The weekend was damp and very cool, but it didn't stop these kids. Gracie loved having her cous-its around to play with, and even Garren got in on the fun. He took them all outside and played football with them for quite a while. I heard all about how Mariah's team won by a step or something. Needless to say it didn't take long until they were adoring their Uncle Garren.

We had yummy food--which I think the kids barely chewed so they could get to presents next. Each child was so exciting to watch as they tore through those stockings filled with goodies from Grandma and Grandpa. I could hardly keep the camera focused on just one squeal of delight!

Gracie of course was completely spoiled and she got a stocking full of girly goodies. Plenty of princess and Tinker Bell paraphernalia that she adores.

Most of the day, when not spent outside or in the throws of new gifts, was spent in the craft room at mom's making all sorts of things with glue and glitter and much more. I was fascinated to see even the older kids loving to make things. Gracie of course could spend all day making crafts--but all of the kids took turns in that room making card after card, picture after picture.

Before Brian and Dawn and all of the kids headed home, they did take time to make Mariah feel extra special. Sunday is her 11th birthday, and so Brian got an ice cream cake and everyone sang. Gracie liked the singing part--but clearly the cake was a bigger hit!

Sunday was just a Grandma, Grandpa and Gracie day. We went to the mall and she rode the train and actually talked to Santa! Well, luckily we had made a letter for Santa, and since she was so shy, he read the letter aloud while Gracie clung to Grandma. She was very excited, and Santa was wonderful to her too. We were able to get a picture, and I videoed the whole thing.

Gracie was devastated when it was time to leave. We usually don't have such short visits, but with her school party Monday, and doctor's appointments and Garren's work, we had to rush things a bit. But, we plan to return next month for a big sister celebration. So, hopefully Grandma, Grandpa and Gracie can all hang on until then.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gracie & Santa

It finally happened! Gracie is on Santa's lap, she is smiling and no tears! And it only took 5 Christmas'.

Gracie had a fantastic time in Lynchburg this weekend, and I promise to blog more about it tomorrow, but tonight I am exhausted. We got Gracie in bed, the car unloaded, and I made 20 Christmas mice with candy canes for Gracie's preschool party tomorrow. I am pooped! But, I had to share this picture with you taken earlier today at the mall in Lynchburg.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Gracie's Own Tree

Gracie is loving her very own tree that now adorns her bedroom.

I made her a HUGE collection of Christmas worksheets and crafts and activities a few weeks ago, and we have been having fun completing a few each day. Today we found the color and create ornaments. So, I thought she should have her own tree to put them on. It is pretty cute. And, thanks to the sweet My Little Pony coloring book Candice sent her yesterday, she also go to add Minty ornaments to her paper tree.

Today at school Gracie was wound up with energy as she can't wait to leave this evening for Grandma's. I am just hoping she can make it until daddy gets home!!

They made goody bags for their party on Monday. She also brought home several of her crafts from the past several days.

I am afraid that is about all the info I got, besides cheese balls for snack, since she has Lynchburg on the brain.

We leave in a little while for family Christmas, and we will return Sunday. But, hopefully I can blog at moms. Have a good weekend!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thanks Aunt Sharon!!

I made this adorable drum cake today thanks to this awesome book on edible fun that Sharon gave me for Christmas.

I have looked through the book many, many times and I can't wait to make all of the cute yummy things inside.

So, what do ya' think?!! We are taking it with us to Grandma's tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Creativity

I am pretty sure I earned a gold mommy star today. Gracie and I did a craft project and I let her do it her way!

While this may sound simple, I am a super creative person and I tend to domineer projects. But, how will Gracie ever know what she can accomplish if I keep trying to make it look like it belongs in a magazine?! So between today's gingerbread house and the tree decorating from this weekend, I am pretty proud of myself.

Gracie of course had a wonderful time making the sticky mess that eventually turned in to an adorable candy house.

This year I cheated and got a gingerbread house kit. In years past I have used icing and graham crackers to make painstakingly adorable little houses. Man was this much easier! Although a warning to anyone purchasing these kits: the icing is super thick. This makes for great "glue" to hold the parts together, but it is not easy for piping and adding trim and details.

The sad icing trim is about all I did on this house. Gracie had a wonderful time picking out where each colorful candy piece would end up. And I for one think she did a great job!

Oh, and as for school she had a good day. I should know I stayed there for about an hour! Our county schools were on a 1 hour delay, so they combined the classes again. I took Gracie to school at 12:15 and with 28 kids I again offered my help. The took me up on the offer, but just until Ms. Julie could make it in.

It was neat to watch Gracie and the other kids interact. I helped several put together this large floor puzzle 8 times! Their favorite part was tearing it up and yelling out "again!." Each time we would start 5-6 kids would run over and each want a piece. It was very fun for me.

I left just before story time, but Gracie told me they made hot chocolate mugs today. Snack was marshmallows and pretzel sticks. They read a story about Farmer Brown and did a movement activity called "Frost Says" (like Simon Says).

She was in good spirits when I picked her up, and we came home in sunny and warm temperatures. I don't think they are going to stick around though!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Baby's Bed

I put up the bassinet in our room today to get more things ready for the new baby. And, I caught an awesome picture of Gracie and her reaction to the new bed. Check it out.

Smarshmellow Pals

Gracie was very proud to show off her "present" from school: a smarshmellow pal. At least that's what she called it.

Today at school they played a movement activity/game called "Pass the Present." She told me they passed it around a circle and said the name of the person they passed it to. That person then says "Thank You!" Gracie passed it to Morgan. The second time around it was more like "hot potato." Apparently they had to pass it fast. When the game was over they opened the gift and found the marshmallow treats inside and they each picked one.

I think they made a craft today, but it was a gift for the parents so she's not telling.

Snack today was corn chips, and she did rather well on her "M" writing page as well.

She is exhausted, but made sure she told her teachers that she went to Hershey. Christine asked me if we had a good time and then told me that Gracie told her "we skipped church." Ms. Christine reassured her it was okay.

My little funny bunny. Several hours into our trip yesterday Gracie asked in a concerned voice "when are we going to do church?" I told her we skipped today, but it is okay to miss every once in a while--especially if there is something extra special to do with your family. I am not sure if she is going to make it as we will miss our church again next Sunday while in Lynchburg. Ordinarily I wouldn't plan something for a Sunday, but I wanted to take her so badly to Hershey, and we were out of days to do it. She likes to stick to her schedule--wonder where she got that ;)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gracie's Present

Gracie got her Christmas present from mommy and daddy a little early this year. We took her to Hershey Park!

She was so surprised, and we all had so much fun this may well become a yearly tradition.

After a big breakfast at Denny's we made the 2 hour journey to Hershey, PA for a day of fun at the park's Candylane.

Most of the rides were open and we perfect for her age. The roller coasters and the water park and rides were of course off limits. But, they had so many fun things to do and sights to see. They had light displays every where, Santa and his reindeer, a Christmas show, and so much more! (Can you tell mommy had a great time too!)

We stayed for about 6 hours, and really the cold wasn't bad until the sun set. Then the temperature started to drop by the minute it seemed. We let Gracie choose a few more rides and then we went to Chocolate World to warm up.

At the Chocolate factory you get to see how they make chocolate and of course get a free piece of candy and buy enormous amounts of it if you wish.

We had our fun and we were plenty cold, tired, and hungry by the time we all loaded back in the car to head home.

We stopped at a Red Robin for dinner, and then we loaded up and headed back. Our little angel was asleep in 10 minutes.

I had the best time, and as a family we really enjoyed the day of fun and getting to share such a special Christmastime memory.

Here are some more pictures from our very fun day at Hershey Park!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Finding The Perfect Tree

What a fun and chilly family day we had.

After Emma went home, daddy took us to a real Christmas tree farm.

Gracie liked looking at the baby trees, and the Gracie sized trees far more than searching for an appropriate sized tree. So, Daddy helped a little.

After nit-picking over several tall trees Daddy and Gracie settled on one to take home.

Since this was a real farm, they gave daddy the saw and he got to cut it down himself. It took just a few swipes of what I thought was a tiny saw and our family's Christmas tree was down for the count.

Gracie of course "helped" daddy carry it to the barn to be shaken and netted.

The whole process was just fun to do, and I am glad we got to have the experience. But, I must say, it was really hard cutting down an actual tree. I know they plant those just for Christmas--but when you buy it at the store you don't think about it being the "end" for a living thing. Now, when I was a kid we cut down our own tree, but it was in the woods and we were surrounded by trees and foliage. Plus by the time mom looked for an hour and picked the FIRST tree she saw--we were ready to chop that sucker down.

When we got home we got our tree upright. I was so exhausted that I sat back and let Gracie decorate the tree. What do you think?

Garren says it looks like a midget decorated it, but I think it is kind of cute. She did it all by herself.

Tomorrow we will help separate them a little more and get them a little higher and evenly spaced. But in the meantime, Gracie is very proud of her work.

No Babies Allowed

Do you see this sign? Gracie made it this morning. Can you guess what it says? "No Babies Allowed!"

Gracie created and taped up this sign just and hour and a half after Emma had been at our house. Apparently, Gracie wanted to play school, but Emma wouldn't be the student.

After holding in my laughter, I reminded Daddy to let Gracie work it out. We told her that Emma was only 2 and she had no idea what it meant to play school. I left it at that, and she went and made a sign. A few moments later she had calmed down and went on to other projects.

Right now? They are in opposite chairs pretending to take naps. This is after tattling on each other constantly for the past five minutes.

Life with 2 kids is really going to be interesting. Any one care to place bets on how long it will be before Gracie asks "when can we send the baby back!" Thankfully, experience and a light sense of humor are in my arsenal.

Plus, in the end, kids always find a way to work it out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Look What Gracie Made

Isn't her reindeer the cutest?

Gracie was very proud to show me her picture and her letter "L" worksheet. Daddy picked up Gracie from school today, so by the time she got home the excitement level was through the roof. Mommy tried to get a little Christmas shopping/grocery shopping done while she was in school.

Snack today was cheese balls, and she showed off her pretty pink painted nails. I didn't get much more information, except that they played with floam. Her's was green and she made lots of different things. She wouldn't tell me what things...just things.

But, she had a good day

Monday, December 08, 2008

Winter Curls

Gracie looked like a winter princess this morning all decked out in her snowman dress, and her very first ringlets!

Gracie, our very girly girl, has been asking for curls for some time now. Since school was delayed today, I figured we had plenty of time to make that happen. I should have had Garren snap some pictures of me actually using the curling iron--but oh well. Gracie loved the curls and was very pleased with how adorable she looked.

Since the county schools were on a 2 hour delay, Grasshopper Green's policy is that the morning and afternoon 4 year old classes will combine. So, at 12:15 I dropped a very excited Gracie off at school along with many, many other parents.

I called last night and volunteered my services, but apparently they had things under control even with two classes of kids.

Gracie told me she made reindeer hand prints, they had pink frosted cookies for Katlin's birthday, and when they go back they will finish their snow pictures. They also had a movement activity called "shake your flake." Apparently this was a hilarious activity and matched the days "snow" theme (hence her snowman dress).

It was a fun and very exciting day for Gracie. Yesterday she found out she was going to be a big sister, today she got curls and got to see her other friends in the afternoon class, and to top it all off Mallory came over to play (babysit) while I went to the doctor. This child has practically bounced off the walls today. We have a very happy little girl.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Well, We Told Her

We finally told Gracie she is going to be a big sister! Thanks to Candice's suggestion we videoed her response and want to share it with you. You can see the video, and my thoughts about her finding out on our other blog: Big Sister Gracie.

**Above: Gracie tickles the new baby in mommy's tummy. And you can see from her big smile just how excited she is to a big sister. ***

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Town Christmas Parade, 2008

You've gotta love living in a small town. Actually, I can't think of anyone who knows what it is really like to live in a small town. I mean, we have 4,000 people and they will likely change the sign when the next baby is born.

It was freezing out there though as the parade made it's way through King Street. It was 30 degrees and I was actually cold all the way through even wearing a big coat covered with a blanket.

The 30 minutes of princesses and fire trucks made their way through and Gracie racked up on some serious candy. But, she loved every minute. I think we all loved it. It is nice to have these small moments together as a family. Cheesy, yes--but, I live for them.

We decided to skip the lighting of the town tree this year. It was that cold and since the parade was over by 4:30, we would have had to wait another 30 minutes and then another 15-20 minutes for our local mayor to drone on and on before they actually lit the tree at Town Hall. Instead we loaded up and ate a warm dinner at Denny's. We did drive by though after dinner and saw all of the lights on the tree and in the store fronts.

I hope that if your town or city has a Christmas parade this year that you will take time and go and watch. It will likely be cold, but you will enjoy it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Candy Cane Lane

That's the name of the game that Gracie and her preschool buddies played today. According to Gracie, there were candy cane pictures (paper) on the floor and you were supposed to stay on those. Apparently it was a game and you didn't want to get stuck in the caramel. I asked if she got in the caramel. She said "no," but she did get stuck in the sand. Sounds like an adorable idea.

Gracie looked too cute in her candy cane dress. I love to match her outfit to her theme at school. Monday's theme is about snow, so I plan to iron her snowman dress.

She can't remember the snack or story today (she is playing Play Dough, so I think she is a little distracted), but they did paint today. Gracie made finger print snowflakes on black construction paper. Those are still at school drying, but she got to bring a little home since it is all over her fingers and dress.

Another fun week ends at school. But, we have many more fun holiday things planned for the weekend. So, keep checking back! :)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Christmas Preparations

Well, I know I should have updated before now, but quite frankly, I am still exhausted!

But, in the time when I find some energy, Gracie and I are slowly getting our home, and minds ready for the upcoming Christmas season.

Gracie was thrilled when I pulled out the My Little Pony advent calendar I found a few weeks ago at Walmart. Yep, My Little Pony! We are calling it a countdown calendar to Christmas, since I feel that Advent is the last thing that should go commercial. We will be pulling out our Advent wreath and candles this week before it is time to light the candle on Sunday. That is a family tradition that started when Gracie was a year old, and we look forward to reminding our daughter of the real reason for the season each year.

But, back to the My Little Pony calendar; each day has a little door that opens and inside is a pony accessory, or an actual pony. It is the small Ponyville set, and so far she has gotten a Minty pony, a Santa hat, little red shoes, and cookies and milk. This is such an adorable idea--so kudos to Mattel.

And, while you would think one countdown would be enough, the excitement over the Thanksgiving turkey and the trip to Mamaw's has sparked the interest in counting down to Grandma's. So, today I created a Christmas tree with removable lights to countdown to family Christmas in Lynchburg. In case you are wondering: there are 15 days left.

The kids at preschool are also getting ready. This week she and her classmates have made Christmas lights for their window display and paper plate wreaths with Froot Loop berries for a classroom decoration. They are also working on winter songs and movement activities.

Gracie and I also did our first craft today. We made a hand print wreath to hang on the wall. I have a ton of extra activities to do this month as well, including a gingerbread house kit-yea!