Saturday, January 31, 2009

Happy Birthday Daddy

Even though Daddy is still not completely over the flu, we took time to celebrate the 31st anniversary of his birth.

Gracie and I made blueberry muffins for breakfast and we put a candle in one. We sang to him and he seemed to enjoy his meal.

Tonight I made chicken quesedias, his favorite, and we had a stadium birthday cake (carrot, also his favorite).

I didn't snap any pictures as we are all still recovering and resting, and trust me you wouldn't have wanted to see us!

But we love daddy anyway and hope he had a great birthday!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Gracie's Homework

Can you believe she has homework tonight?! Is that not adorable! She was so excited about this new level of responsibility that it was the first thing she told me when I picked her up from school.

I am guessing this was a last minute decision by the teachers, but clearly it was a hit because all of the kids were talking about it when their parents got there. Gracie told me if she brings it back on Monday she gets a surprise.

So, after her nap today we sat at the kitchen table and did her homework together. How I loved this!! You know I am not ready for kindergarten and her growing up--but I have just found a small silver lining in the aging process of my baby. I am actually looking forward to sitting at the kitchen table with her and doing homework together and challenging her to take the next level in her studies.

Other school excitement: finger painting and Pooh crackers for snack. They worked on "Q" papers today during school, and the homework was the "Q" paper they would have done if they hadn't have missed Wednesday.

We also got the calendar for February and a class list for Valentines. I have already gotten Gracie's valentines ready as I am trying to get as many things done as possible before our big day. I hate that I am going to miss out on so many things that she will be doing at school, but I know when she gets home she will tell me all about them, and I am just going to have to deal.

One More Time

We were sad to find out yesterday that our Fun Expedition is closing this weekend. Garren heard from someone he works with, and I know that we were very upset that they are taking away one of the only family friendly places we have.

We fell in love with the amusement business, which is a lot like Chuck E Cheeses, but without the mouse, the small space, and on a scale x10. We first experienced Fun Expedition in Johnson City when they got one, and were very impressed. It is run by a faith based family or organization and there are bible verses on the wall, the staff is super friendly, and it is a place you can go and not worry about alcohol or bad words, etc.

At first we figured they were closing because of the economy, and we were sort of right. The Fun Expedition in Winchester is in an old Circuit City building, and since Circuit City folded they have to liquidate their assets--thus they can no longer lease the space to Fun Expedition.

I still have my fingers crossed that they are able to find a different space and rebuild, but just in case I knew I needed to take Gracie to play one last time.

After I picked her up from school today we went to Winchester for the "surprise" play date. She was thrilled when we pulled in the parking lot and had a great time playing the games, riding the mini carousel and playing a round of bowling.

I felt bad for the staff as they all looked sullen and you could tell they had learned they were losing their jobs at the same time I heard--48 hours ago.

Apparently many other parents had the same idea because by the time we finished up our fun card the place was beginning to get packed, and it was only 1pm.

Gracie exchanged her "tickets" for prizes and we headed home.

I certainly hope that the city will either find a new location for this great business or we get something else along the same lines. There really isn't much left for families with younger children any more.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Angel

What a difference a trip to grandma's makes!

Last week, I wasn't sure if Gracie and I were going to make it in the same house (one of us had to go!), and this week, she has been a perfect angel.

There was no school today because of yesterday's snow and last night's ice, so we are taking it slow here at home.

This morning I brought in several bowls full of snow and she got to play in it in the kitchen sink. She loves this activity, and since I still have the cough, it keeps me from having to go out in the very bitter temperatures that are outside. She used cups and spoons and her miniatures and made at least an hour of fun for herself.

We have also played school and worked on new words. She also helped me clean up her old baby carrier and car seat and now Lambie is getting plenty of good use out of it.

I seriously can't even tell you how wonderful she has been for the past three days. It has been such a relief as I have so much to do and very little time to do it. Plus, my body is so tired and I am struggling to move around and get to those things on my list, much less make extra time for crafts and activities.

And, I am truly grateful that this week has gone so well since the week (especially the first few days) after Grandma's house are always unbareable around here. She misses them so much and is so whiny and in the worst mood. Her renewed spirit may be from both extra sleep, and the fact that Grandma is coming to stay with her for a whole week in just 12 days. Yep, 12 more days!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Scissor Practice

Didn't she do a good job on her snowman? Gracie and her classmates got to try their hands at using scissors today. Of course Gracie has been using scissors for a while, but I am glad that they are doing more at school.

I didn't get many more details about school today. Snack was chocolate chip teddy grahams, and she did say she played with Carson and Mia and Emma. Oh, and Carson gave out her birthday party invites. Luckily the party is the Sunday before the baby's arrival, so I think we can manage to get Gracie there before Grandma comes to town. Carson and Gracie are the cutest little friends, and we will be cooped up for so long in this house, so this will be a great opportunity for her to get out with her friends.

The kids also practiced the letter "Q."

It snowed on the way to school today as well as the way home, and we are expecting more this week. So, I am not sure how many days she will get to go this week. It is so adorable how much she loves school, and is disappointed when they cancel classes. In a few years she will be cheering along with the other kids as they listen to the radio for school closings.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Big Sister Success!

Gracie's Big Sister Party was such fun for everyone. There were so many friends, and plenty of kids, and I think everyone had a great time celebrating this fun time in our lives.

It didn't take too long for the kids to start to play with each other, and they seemed to like the games I thought up. Well, they liked them, they just didn't play them quite the way I had planned. But, oh well--it was a lot of fun watching them run around with plenty of excitement.

We had pizza and cupcakes and other treats, and each of the children were so adorable. I hadn't met any of my friends children in person, except for the cous-its of course, so what a treat for me! Janet was there with her two year old twins, who were precious; Amy brought all five of her kids including her newborn daughter; Nanette had her newborn son, and Gracie became fast friends with Ameka's daughter. Then of course were Dawn's four kids, who I must say were great sports at the party clearly geared more for Gracie's age.

I think the biggest hits of the day were the duckie race, and pin-the-pacifier on the baby game.

Even though I had literally no voice, and the kids prizes were found after every one left; I was so glad that I was able to plan this little party for Gracie.

She got quite a lot of goodies as well. Grandma, as always, went over board--but she loves her Fisher Price baby monkey and has named it Bananas. She also got many other goodies like a new doll, many new books, a baby My Little Pony, dress up garb including a hand made scarf from my friend Sara, princess pajamas and so much much more!

Since I was hosting and helping, my camera stayed dormant most of the party, but I know Dawn and Helen took tons of pictures. I was able to get a few from mom's camera, and I snapped three I think. I made a folder for the pictures, and once I get everyone's in I will re-post the link.

Many, many, many thanks to everyone who came and played. We had such a good time!!! Gracie feels very special, and so do I knowing that there are so many friend out there who care enough to come to a party hosting by a very proud mommy!

Oh, and click here to see the picture of the day!!!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Gracie and I are in Lynchburg. We got here around 3:20, which worked out well since Mariah was cheering for LCA's JV Girl's Basketball this afternoon.

Mom had told me that if we got in in time that Gracie might like to go and watch Mariah cheer. Gracie of course loved the idea, and I found the Washington Nationals cheer leading outfit that daddy had gotten for her, and dressed her up before we piled in the car to leave Strasburg.

(Gracie has an adorable UT cheer leading outfit from Mamaw & Papaw, but since the Nationals and LCA have the same colors, I thought it was more approproate.)

So while I uloaded the car, Grandma and Gracie headed to the ball game. Uncle Brian and Aunt Dawn also go to go, so it was a family affair.

Mom took some great pictures, and I wanted to show you this one of how proud my little cheer leader is with her big cous-it Mariah, whom she idolizes.

I am feel better, and I plan to be completely over all of this yuck by Saturday (I am not contagious by the way, just kind of miserable, although much less miserable than a few days ago). We are in town to celebrate and have a Big Sister Party for Gracie. She is very excited about the party, and of course loves the idea of another long weekend with Grandma and Grandpa.

Things worked out well since I had a Dr.'s appointment today and she doesn't have school tomorrow. Plus, we better enjoy our trip while we can--I am thinking this will be the last one for a long while (18 days to go)!

I will do my best to blog while I am here--but you know Grandma, she packs in so many things I barely have time to breathe ;)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gracie's Take On The New President

I am sure that when Gracie gets older she will be asked, "where were you when Obama was sworn in as President." When she has to answer this challenging history question she can honestly say...

"I was in my princess pajamas playing with play dough at the blue table and daddy turned the TV from Noggin and told me to watch because it was important."

Then when they ask "what did you think, or how did you feel when our country swore in it's first African American President?" She can honestly say...

"I wish Ariel was president. Ariel's Prince Eric could be the President because he is a boy."

Yeah, this is the way it went down around noon today.

Despite how you feel about our new President, you have to agree that it is a historic moment for our country, and it is important for our kids to know what is going on. Well, at least that's how Garren and I feel.

To be honest I have been so sick I completely forgot the inauguration was today, and since our TV stays glued to kids programming I would have missed it and felt bad. But, just before Garren left he turned it to one of the major networks and tried to explain to our four year old just how important it was.

After Daddy left, Gracie told me "Daddy is at work now, you can turn it back to my channel." I smiled a bit and told her to be patient that it was important and something like this doesn't happen all the time. Luckily for me singing was next. Gracie though Aretha Franklin sang a beautiful "lullabye." If you missed out, she sang "My Country Tis Of Thee," it was beautiful and soulful, but it was slow and I guess from a four year old's persepective it did sound like a lullabye.

So, Gracie played play dough and kept an eye on what was going on. When it came time for the swearing in, I called her over to the sofa with me and told her this was the important part. She told me "is she nervous?" I then realised she though Michelle Obama was the new President. I told Gracie that they were probably both nervous, but it was the man with the tie that was the new President. That's when she told me "I wish Ariel could be president." That's my Gracie.

I don't think too much of this historic day sank in, but I feel like she got something out of it. And, we are saving the paper for when she is older and will be more interested. But, she did take away a small lesson. I told her that you don't have to be a boy to be President. We haven't had a girl President yet, but they can be one too. She smiled and seemed to find relief in that statement. So, one of these days when a Disney Princess steps up to take the oath of office, you will know who her campaign manager was ;)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sick Mommy

The mommy is sick.
Gracie is driving me nuts.
There is no preschool today, and it is snowing.
I am a lot behind in my blogging.
I will catch up soon :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Unbareably Cold



Lo 19°F

Slight Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Slight Chc
Hi 36°F

Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 40%
Lo 21°F

Slight Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Slight Chc
Hi 32°F

Mostly Cloudy
Lo 16°F

Slight Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Slight Chc
Hi 29°F

Mostly Cloudy
Lo 17°F

Mostly Sunny
Hi 36°F

Partly Cloudy
Lo 17°F

I don't know what the weather is like where you live, but here in Virginia -25 is not something we hear very often...or at all.

But despite our history records, that's how low the wind chill got last night.

Our poor central heat couldn't keep up. Garren and I woke up several times last night to check on things. Around 2am Garren turned on the emergency heat since the temperature inside had dropped to around 65 degrees. At 4 am we pulled out extra covers and made sure Gracie was layered up as well as ourselves. At 6:45 am the emergency heat still could not compete and we were resting rather chillingly at 61 degrees. That's when Garren opened the oven and turned it on to 450.

The oven is the only thing that has kept the temperature inside our home nearing 70 today. Without the windchill last night the temperature was down to 2 degrees. It warmed up to 14 around noon today, and I believe the highest we got was 25 degrees.

We knew a cold front was coming through, and while it was quite the inconvience (and worry for parents of one and a half), we not only survived, we made do quite well. We live in an apartment complex surrounded (and insulated) by 9 other homes. I can only imagine how cold it got for others last night. And, to think of all of those people who don't have central air, or rely on fireplaces or wooden stoves.

I feel very lucky, and very blessed this evening. And, I am praying that those families will make it through another miserably cold night tonight.

As for us, we may all share the big mommy and daddy bed tonight. We might get more sleep, especially since most of the night we spent our sleepless hours worrying about our precious princesses and checking to make sure she was warm every five minutes.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Um, Not Ready Yet!

Gracie's Aurora doll was not all I got an ear full about from her teachers today.

With the cutest smirks on their faces, Ms. Christine and Ms. Stephanie went on to tell me that a little boy in their afternoon class took quite an interest in my little darling today.

Apparently Evan made a necklace and told the teacher "it's for that girl" and pointed to Gracie.

Gracie overheard her teachers telling me this and seemed oblivious--and I am very happy with that. While I forced a smile on my face, I am no where near ready to even think about puppy love or little crushes--she is four!!

I may have mentioned the conversation that took place at preschool orientation this year. One of the moms was mentioning how several of the little girls and boys had paired off. Apparently there was even a fight between two girls over a particular boy last year. I am so glad I didn't know that the three year old class had become Beverly Hills 22657.

I mentioned to one of the parents that Gracie wasn't interested in boys and seemed oblivious, and maybe that's because I have been naive all my life and she takes after me, or maybe because she is an only child and not exposed to conversations and feelings by older siblings. This parent told me her oldest was after boys in preschool as well. I felt a great since of relief that my four year old remained in the dark.

Forgive me for being the prude that I am--but preschool is a little too young to start the dating process. My angel has plenty of time to deal with all the hassles (and annoyances and heartbreak and crudeness) that come with boys and feelings about boys. Me, I am hoping that she finds them icky well until she is 17 or so. In the meantime, I am sure Evan is adorable--but I am glad that his time at school is in the afternoons :)


Because of the extremely low temperatures this morning our county schools were on an hour delay--which means that Gracie's morning class and afternoon class were combined at 12:15.

This is better than schools being canceled, since as you know Gracie has been waiting all week for her turn for Show And Tell. I was worried though that with two classes to get through that she still may not be able to show off Aurora.

Boy was I relieved when I picked her up and Ms. Christine told me how impressed the class was with Gracie's Sleeping Beauty doll. I heaved a very big sigh of relief!

Gracie told me that everyone liked her doll, especially the girls. Apparently they got to play with her during center time as well. You could tell she was very proud of her choice.

So two Show And Tell's down. I wonder if they will do them in Kindergarten? I still remember getting to do that. I can't remember what I took in, but I remember it was each week or each month or something. Being painfully shy, that's probably why it sticks out in my mind. So far, even with her shyness, Gracie has done well at school and Show and Tell.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday Blues

Well, it's more like the Monday crankies for Gracie. She has had a cough since Saturday, and she is generally a moody pain in the rear.

Part of her problem is that she hasn't gotten enough sleep in oh, about a week! The other part is that she is four.

Today she is spending some quality time in her jammies and in her room. She isn't being punished, I just want her to rest and stay down so we can get rid of that cough. She actually likes days like this because mommy pampers her.

She doesn't have a fever, or any other symptom of anything contagious--well, besides the crankies--so, I sent her to school.

Today the class started Show-N-Tell week. It was the Blue table's turn and I have heard all about the adorable stuffed monkey that Carson has and the hamock swing that goes with it. Gracie is quite anxious for her turn, which doesn't come until Friday. It is hard for a child to wait, and to have to wait until the end of the week is proving quite taxing. She is debating on taking Lambie or her new singing Aurora.

The kids also practiced their letter P, and had goldfish crackers for snack. That was about all of the information I got about school, but I got an ear full about Grandma on the way home. I was reminded that it takes to long to wait to see grandma, and how much she misses her, and that calling isn't the same.

I do feel for Gracie. There isn't much I can do about making Grandma live closer. We just have to find ways to stay in touch the best we can. And, she knows that we are going to Lynchburg next week, and that Grandma and Grandpa are coming here to take care of her a few weeks later when it is time for the baby to be born.

Waiting is a cruel beast for four year olds. And trying to get a four year old to understand how to wait while being extremely cranky, is a cruel cruel beast for mommy!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Apart Of A New Family

Despite the fact that we have attended our small town church for over three years, and have been attending nearly every Sunday for the past two years; we never got around to officially joining.

We decided not to wait any longer. This morning, Garren, Gracie & I joined Strasburg United Methodist Church.

We Methodist join people pretty painlessly, although the fact that you have to stand in front of the congregation made the patriarch of our brood a little uncomfortable. But, he hung on.

With Ms. Ruth out of town, and Ms. Christine not there either, I turned to the family who sits behind us and passed my camera (without Garren noticing). He was so kind to snap nearly 30 pictures. Of those I got about 6 good ones (dark church + broken flash + several feet away= blurry and dark pictures). Of those the above one is my favorite.

I love the people who have been so welcoming at our church dearly, and I am hoping to continue to break out of our hermit like lifestyle and get more and more involved. They are such wonderful people and I really enjoying being around them.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Gracie Quote

While watching family movie: Snow White

Gracie: "Why is Grandpa like Grumpy." (uncomfortable stares from mommy & daddy)

Mommy: "Well, Grandpa can be a little grumpy, can't he?"

Gracie: "Yep, but not when I am around!"

Fun With Shaving Cream

Can you guess what we did today?

Actually, the shaving cream idea (which we have done several times at home thanks to Candice's suggestion) started at school today.

Gracie and her friends got to play in the foamy stuff at their tables. Gracie told me she practiced her "N", which is this week's letter.

Other fun at school today: playing a movement activity called "Daddy snow comes to school." Yea, I have no idea what she was saying about that, but sure enough it is on the calendar. They also worked on their "N's" and to top off the day: Dylan's birthday.

Dylan's grandma brought in cupcakes with yellow icing. Gracie informs me that she licked off the icing first. I have been at the school for parties, and I can tell you this is a kid thing. Nearly every kid licks off the icing first. Most leave the cupcake for the trash. Of course it wasn't hard to tell they had cupcakes today; each of those kids were practically bouncing out of their chairs when we came to pick them up.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


So, I was making up a booklet of instructions for when my parents come down next month to take care of Gracie, while Garren and I and baby #2 are in the hospital.

Yea, I know how lame that sounds. They are my parents, her grandparents, and I am sure they can manage taking care of my most precious commodity. But, that's just my point, she is the most precious thing in my life, and even grandma and grandpa could never do it as well as mommy.

And yes, I am sure they will scoff at the instructions and make jokes about "having taken care of a child before," and they would likely say they could do it better. But, she is my first baby, and she comes with plenty of special needs. Like, she has to have her story before bedtime, and mommy doesn't let her have sugar, and she wears her dress coat to school, her hairbow must match her dress, I always iron her school clothes.....can they match her shoes with her dress? So, you see, they will need a Gracie expert to help direct them on how to care for the most valuable Shipley.

My manual as I have called it is already 9 pages long and incomplete. I guess I am taking things a little too far, but I want to make sure everything is in place. Which brings up another issue. Gracie has been the center of my world for so long, can I find enough space in it for baby brother or sister?

Are you laughing at me yet? I guess I am a little over protective...well, over bearing. But, if Gracie gets upset when it comes time to brush her teeth they can turn to page 3 and find out that she prefers her Tinker Bell toothbrush.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Playing School

Have I told you how smart my four year old is? Well, in the past 24 hours anyway ;)

Today was the first day back at preschool for Gracie and her friends. It was oddly comfortable outside for January 5th, and it had even warmed up more when I picked her up from school.

She and her classmates made penguins for their window decorations today. They also played "music drop." Gracie explains that this is dancing when the music is on, and then being still when it is off. Sounds like quite a challenge for 20 four year olds to me!

Snack was cheese doodles, and Gracie said that she played in a "foam table" today for center time. Apparently they have replaced the dirt, rice and water table with foam and flour tables, and you can still write on the board. Can you imagine the clean up with flour!!

When she got home, I wanted to get back in to the swing of things here too. Since I painstakingly cleaned out the pantry this weekend, I was able to easily pull out her easel. We used her chalkboard side to do words and reading. I printed a word and she sounded it out and then drew a picture of it. I was amazed at how good she has gotten. It can be so frustrating to try and teach a child to read. With phonics and so many letters it is easy for them to get discouraged as well. But, as usual, Gracie picked up more than I realized. I went through 30 words or so and she had little to no difficulty at all. I was so proud.

I continued to do more with the chalkboard and she decided she would be the teacher. She put her stuffed friends under the easel (which was the bus) and drove them to school and did more of mommy's lessons.

She excels at math--and I am so happy since she does not get that from me. I still need all of my fingers and toes to add! I wrote 4 problems on the "board" and she did them without help.

She is such a little genius, don't you think ;)

Actually, as much fun as it is to do these lessons with her, it was wonderful to see her play teacher with her "friends" and make it as much fun for them as I try to make it for her.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Feed The Birds

I found this very neat way to get more out of your live Christmas tree each year, and I am so glad that Gracie and I found time to get it ready this afternoon. The birds love it!!

We made edible ornaments for those beautiful birds that hang outside our apartment. Poor things ate the pine cones bare, but now they have a whole new tree buffet to choose from.

Since Garren had to work today, and I didn't want to waste the warm weather, I cleared the tree of ornaments and took my scissors and made the tree skinny enough to fit through the glass deck door. It looked very nice out there. Then Gracie and I added bird seed covered bells (loaf bread cut with cookie cutters), froot loop and cherrio ornaments, and topped it off with a popcorn garland.

Usually when we put new things out it will take several hours or even a whole day before the birds will venture on to the deck. But, I guess they were very hungry, or trust us a lot, because those small birds were in the tree and snacking 15 minutes later.

It will be tons of fun to watch the birds enjoy the treats over the next few days, and I will be happy knowing that the tree is being put to more use that just one Christmas in our home.

I guess Candice is right, I am becoming a "tree hugger."