Monday, August 31, 2009

Emotional Rollercoaster

Today started the first day of what I deem will be the second hardest week of my life. Next Monday, will start the hardest week of my life.

I have commented to friends, family, and even in my Facebook status about how hard of a time I am having letting go. Sometimes I offer the information, and sometimes I am asked, but my answers are consistent: "I don't know how I am going to do it."

I would like to say that I have found a fountain of support for my predicament, but I have been mostly met with understated "I am sorry," chuckles of how silly I am being, or the ever present "she will do fine."

I know she will do fine, and I know that this isn't really about me. But, unfortunately I am human, and what happens around me, also happens to me.

And no one understands.

I know every hair on her head. I can tell you what she ate for breakfast and how many snacks she has asked for today.

But, I don't want to let her go...and no one understands.

I know every bruise on her body, every scar, every scrape.

But, I can't band aid my own heart...and no one understands.

I know how she likes her sandwiches made and cut. I know the answers to her silly jokes, and what she wants to watch for Family Movie Night.

But I have cried night after night....and no one understands.

I know her favorite foods, her favorite books, her favorite shows and movies.

But I have to let a stranger have her all day....and no one understands.

I have been there every minute of her life. I know her likes and pains and what makes her laugh and cry.

But, I have to put her on the bus.....and no one understands.

I taught her how to have a tea party, how to dress herself, how to brush her teeth. I taught her silly songs, how to count, and how to cut a straight line.

But, I have to hand over my teaching reigns...and no one understands.

No one knows the heartache that I can't help but feel. No one knows my tears, and how much I already miss her--and she isn't even gone yet. No one will know how empty this house will be and how lonely my days will be with out my sunshine. No one will know the worry I will feel each morning as I watch her climb the bus steps, and the relief I will feel when she climbs back down each afternoon. No one knows how close I am to my daughter and how she has never left my side. No one will know my undying love for her, and the pain that will come when I have to walk away from her for the first time, unsure of what lies ahead.

And, no one ever will.

So, as I head in to the next several days to get excited for her as she takes this next journey in her life, I will continue to paint on my smile, and cry in my pillow at night. I will worry, and hate the silence, and far from gracefully I will push on through the pain.

I am a good mommy, I am a devoted mommy, I am loving mommy, I am a fun mommy. And, I am mad at myself for letting so many well meaning "friends" make me doubt that.

I am Gracie's mommy, and I don't want to let go. But, I will....and I can cry if I want to.

Thomas Laughs

Making Mommy Smile

Daddy sent this to me today via email, and he has no idea how much I needed it.

We recorded this over the weekend on his work tape recorder, as getting his reactions on video is limited because he is so engrossed in the camera.

Listen to his laughter, and watch your heart melt, and your smile get bigger.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Won't Be Long Now!

I captured several videos yesterday of Thomas getting up and moving. It looks like he will be ready to crawl anytime now.

He seems to be doing everything so fast. But, I have heard from other mom's with more than one child, that later siblings seems to pick things up quicker than the first born.

Makes sense I guess. They have someone closer to their size to mimic!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gracie's First Choir Practice

Now that she is a super big girl and will be entering Kindergarten in T-minus 13 days, she is old enough to join the kids choir at church.

Aptly named "God's Voices," Gracie attended her first choir practice tonight.

She was very excited about going. But as usual, excitement turned into absolute fear.

Thomas and I hung around to watch her, and after several minutes of coaxing and even sitting in the choir loft with her for a few moments, she warmed up and belted it out!

They started with "He's Got The Whole World" and she knew this song and a smile covered her face.

It was so much fun to watch her, although I could only see her eyes when they were sitting down as she is so small!

30 minutes later the practice was over and Gracie was sorely disappointed! She told me she wanted to go back and sing everyday.

I think this will be something she will really enjoy.

The choir will sing during the church service every second Sunday of the month. So, her first "performance' with the group will be Sunday, September 13th. You can be sure I will have pictures and video to share.

I can't help but be proud of both my little darlings!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kindergarten Star

My little star completed her early homework for Kindergarten, and I wanted to share it with you.

They were told to decorate anyway they would like, so she colored it yellow and Mommy let her have the glitter glue to make it sparkle--just like my Gracie!

New Teeth

I finally got a picture of Thomas' new chompers! His tongue is usually in the way as I am sure he constantly feeling those sharp little suckers in his mouth.

He, and his parents and sister are very proud of his new accomplishment. And yes, we consider growing teeth an accomplishment! :)

(Click to enlarge photo)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Getting Started Already

Well, I say "already," but she only has 15 days until school.

I finally got my letter from school yesterday. Since the mail doesn't run on Sunday, I am sure it has been in the box since Saturday--but I opened it today.

Inside was a letter from the principal, a letter from the teacher to me, and a letter from the teacher to Gracie. Also inside was a "homework" assignment and this little tag to be filled out and attached to her backpack for the first week or so of school.

I resisted saying aloud "you are getting my most precious cargo and the only thing you have to help her through the biggest day of her life is a cardboard tag!!!" But, I was thinking it.

The letters were very informative, and super sweet. The teacher's letter included a different list of supplies which need to be brought in for orientation on September 3rd. It was significantly shorter than the list I already purchased, and only added one thing we didn't get: a box of colored pencils. I think we can manage that, and we will likely use the other things for around the house anyway.

Her homework is a star that she and I are to fill out and cut out, and Gracie can decorate anyway she likes. We will get on that today or tomorrow.

So, I breathe yet another sigh of relief as I get more information about Kindergarten, and the day that I have to let go.

(You can click to make the letter larger and see what Gracie's teacher had to say. Oh, and after several hours of searching the web I finally found Gracie's bus number, the bus drivers name, and the drop off and pick up time. She gets on at 7:53 am and is dropped off at 3:29pm, and her driver's name is Bob. And I assure you he will learn my name very quickly :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thank God For Peace Of Mind

I have heard many people use the phrase "He only gives us what we can handle." While, I believe in this thought, I also believe that we can handle more than we think. But, God decided to grant me some peace this Sunday morning anyway.

Gracie and Garren went to the baseball game (you can read his hilarious account of the day below), and Thomas and I went to church.

I couldn't have been in the pew five minutes before Ruth runs up to me and says "I met Gracie's Kindergarten teacher!" I know I look dumbfounded. I asked her "Ms. Orndorff?" She wasn't sure of the name, but said she goes to church here. She had talked to this lady and found out she was teaching Kindergarten at Sandy Hook. Ruth asked her if she had a Gracie Shipley. She told her "no, but I have a Tabitha Shipley." I smiled and figured that Ruth must have guessed that Gracie wasn't her first name. She went on to tell me how nice she was and how excited the woman was to be teaching.

I cannot tell you the wave of relief that fell through my body.

Ruth went off to find her husband and moments later Abby came up to my seat. "I know Gracie's Kindergarten teacher." Now, I am smiling so hard my cheeks hurt! She tells me Katie (the teacher) is in her Sunday School class and is a friend of hers. She confirms that she is in fact a first time teacher and tells me whatever one else has: first year teachers are the best to get.

Such a load off of my mind. This, what I am sure is a wonderful woman, is a gung-ho teacher fresh out of Radford (I think Abby said) and already has the approval of two of the most wonderful people I know. And, she goes to our church and will really get to know Gracie and Garren and I and have a million people who will check in to find out how Gracie is doing. (This is one time I love having a nosy small congregation! :)

Thank the Lord for answered prayers :)

The Game

I'm not a baseball guy.

Growing up in East Tennessee in the early 1990s, baseball was a foreign concept. The only games I ever got to see were Atlanta Braves and other National League games, back when the senior circuit had some incredible pitching rotations.

Needless to say, it got boring. How many times could Smoltz nibble at the corner and leave the batter standing there, looking dumbfounded? Lots. And for a kid without a deep appreciation for the game, it got old. Fast.

Thus, I went against generations of Shipleys and became a football guy. I'm not an expert (at least nowhere near to the level of my kid brother down at UT Law) but I know my 3-4s from my 4-3s and dimes. I've got an autographed Franco Harris football on my desk at work.

Which is why it will likely come as a great shock to many to learn that Gracie and I made the trek down Prince William Parkway to see the Potomac Nationals play the Salem Red Sox today.

And let me tell you, it was an experience.

I learned never to trust stadium directions. It would seem that they never contemplated that anyone from outside of Northern Virginia proper would ever try to visit their park... but I digress.

The day was about Gracie, and how she reacted to her first baseball game. And did she ever have a big time.

After a marathon trek to the stadium, we settled into our seats just in time to see the first few pitches. Gracie tapped on my shoulder and pulled on my shirt to give me a very warm, wet whisper.

"Daddy, when he's done, can we go and get something to eat? We can get popcorn and have a popcorn race!" And so at the middle of the first we were down to the concession stand for our first trip of many.

For some reason, I thought Sunday's promotion was free hotdogs for kids day. Turns out it was some kind of bring your dog to the park day. So I laid out another stack of cash for food before we ran back to our seats. Gracie got pack of Crackerjacks, and I got a Gatorade.

We made it all the way to the third inning before the heat, about 85 degrees, started to take its toll. "Whew, it's hot," she said, dropping her hat. About that time, the stadium announcer mentions a misting station.

And so we were off again, this time to find the two water hoses feeding the cold water mist. Gracie was sufficiently refreshed, so we went back to watch the ongoing offensive futility.

She made it another inning before she had to go back to the mister. After that she, she was pleased just to splash herself with water from the water bottle Barbara had packed. (And let me offer my sincere apologies to the man and his son who sat behind us. Hand to God, if I had known the water would fly that far when she splashed her face, I would have told her not to.)

In the bottom of the 6th, the P-Nats started to show signs of life, scoring one with two out. But Gracie, now fanning herself and splashing water on her face, had decided that it was time to go, offense or no.

"Can we go sneak foul balls now?" she asked. "In just a minute," I answered. The Red Sox pitcher delivered a high fastball for a third ball. Full count. "How about now?" she asked.

So we left with one inning to go, and walked around the outside of the stadium looking for one of the legion of foul balls that flew out of the stadium during the past six innings on the way back to the car. We didn't have any luck, but we did find that lots of kids hang out outside the stadium snagging foul balls for the entire game.

While Gracie was chatting and sweating, Daddy found that the P-Nats have the spiffiest home jersey's I've ever seen. Available here. Hint, hint.

Pearls of wisdom from Gracie at the game:

After seeing a hard throw to the plate, successfully grabbed by the catcher right in front of the umpire...
• "Daddy, the vampire got it!"

After a long series of cheers at wholly inappropriate times...
• Daddy: "You have no idea what's going on, do you?"
• Gracie: A long pause... "No.... Go Nationals!!!"

The trip home was priceless as well. All during the trip to the stadium, I begged her to go easy on the drinks. I wasn't entirely sure where we were going, and I didn't want to make an emergency pit stop.

At the game she chugged like a college senior, but was sweating so fast I thought she'd have no problem making it home.

We had a good time on the drive back. We blasted the radio, and Gracie learned to sing along with the chorus of the Plain White T's "Delilah" in that tone that is at the same time very cute and earsplitting. She may be shy in public, but when it's Gracie, Daddy and the radio, she sings.

She sings loud.

About five minutes outside of Front Royal, she got a very plaintive look on her face, grabbed her middle and looked up at me.

"Daddy, I don't know how to tell you this, but I've got to go potty," she said. We were in the middle of nowhere. "We'll be in Front Royal in about five miles. Can you hold it?" I asked. "Okay," she said, looking very distressed.

"If you absolutely have to, I can pull over on the side of the highway," I offered.

45 seconds later: "Daddy, I think you need to pull over," she said.

And so on the eastern banks of the Shenandoah, along I-66, Gracie made her very first emergency potty stop. "Here? In the grass?" she asked. "Unless you see a potty nearby," I said. I did my best to help her, but suffice it to say that she rode home on a towel and I used up a LOT of hand sanitizer before I grabbed the wheel again.

And thus, Gracie has her first stories from the road. I'm sure they will be the first of many.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Teeth For Thomas

Gracie wasn't the only one to have a big tooth day. The swelling in Thomas' mouth went down this morning to reveal two very small, and very sharp teeth, at the same spots where Gracie lost her first 2 teeth. Pretty cute that they are sharing this experience.

I tried and tried to get a picture, but he keeps sticking his tongue out. But, as soon as I can get a good one I will post.

Milestone days for both of my babies today. It has been a busy afternoon in the Shipley house!

It's Finally Out!

The nasty loose tooth that Gracie has been fiddling with for weeks was making me so naseaus, and I couldn't be more thrilled that it is gone!

Actually, I am still stunned that it hung in there as long as it did. But, yesterday I couldn't stand it anymore and I prompted Gracie to keep wiggling. She got tissues and wiggled and wiggled and I was sure that thing would be gone by day's end. But, no, like Ahab's whale it taunted me. Yeah, me! If you have ever had a child with a loose tooth you will know how worrisome and GROSS it is. You keep waiting for them to choke on it, or loose it in food (in which case I would have lost my food), and in the meantime it makes this awful sound as they move it back and forth. (Okay, now I am making myself sick again!)

We finally popped that sucker out this afternoon before her nap. I have to admit I helped a little and gave it the final yank (but I thought it was laying there and I didn't want her to swallow it, apparently it was hanging on by a thread.)

This time there was plenty of blood. We were both spared from that last time.

This makes missing tooth #2, but as you can see in the picture, you can't tell it! The last tooth she lost was thanks to a very grown in one that literally popped the baby tooth out. So, now, she only has one gap. Behind that gap though is the top of another one. She is getting them as fast as she is losing them.

So, the Tooth Fairy will make another appearance tonight and she will find a welcome sign and the tooth in a frilly pillow, both of which mommy made.

And to the Tooth Fairy and that nasty tooth #2, I say "Good Riddance!" This is one time I won't cry over a milestone :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I know I haven't blogged lately, and it isn't for a lack of fun and photos. And at some point when I am less "frazzled" I will fill you in with plenty of details.

For starters all of Gracie's preschool friends have gotten their Kindergarten letters from the school, but because we moved after her screening, I will have to wait for the letter to be forwarded. These children's mothers have all emailed me in an attempt to see which teacher Gracie had. I couldn't stand it anymore and called the school this morning, only to find out she isn't in a class with any of them!! You may remember that my only request was that she had someone else from Grasshopper Green in her class to make the transition smoother. Now, there are other kids from her preschool that I don't know about--but it is making me very anxious.

I looked online to get info on her Kindergarten teacher now that I know her name. She is BRAND NEW. So, no picture or info. I am forced to wait until orientation. And, I can only hope this isn't her first year teaching all together.

Now that I have her teacher's name I find myself in a real panic. I thought that reality set in when we got her school supplies. Nope. Now it has and I am watching the days diminish before my child gets on a bus and I will have no way of knowing what happens to her all day long.

Yes, Gracie is excited, yes she will do fine. Says the panicky lady who has never been more than a few hours away from her daughter, and only recently let her own mother take her daughter for an extended period of time.

This is my first baby, and I am not ready, I am not prepared, and I will cry if I want to!

Added to the chaos. I need a babysitter. I have NEVER needed a sitter before and am scrambling to figure out how to manage 2 separate events where Thomas needs to stay home.

Plus, I have tons of adorable pictures and plenty of info to share about our trip to Lynchburg and Thomas' 6 month check up...etc. But my computer is full and I can't remember how to make a picture DVD to get some of them off of her before downloading more. And poor Garren is working his toshy off and we are so exhausted in the evenings that we can't seem to find the time.

All of this no one really wanted to know, but I needed to get off my chest. I will update my blog when I can, which will hopefully be soon . Bare with me! :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

6 Month Check Up

This would definitely be the "after" picture, during involved a lot more shrieking.

Thomas had to get 3 shots and took an oral vaccine. But, I am proud to say he made it pretty far into the visit before he started crying. He even smiled at the doctor who loved his grin. But, I did warn her he was the baby that she told me was a "first" for all out screaming.

Our chunk remains in the 75th percentile for height and weight. I was sure he would break the 20 pound marker, but he was 18 pounds, 8 ounces. As for height, 27 inches. Which means I have a little while before we have to get a new car seat. Those carriers are only rated to 20 pounds!! In fact between the weight of the carrier and the weight of my baby, I have been taking him out of the seat and picking him up to take him places. I can barely hold all of that!

Thomas is in great health, and we made our appointment for 9 months. God bless my healthy kids. Knock on wood, neither of my children have ever been to the doctor for non check ups!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Monkey Bottom

Not to be outdone by his sister, Thomas shows how absolutely adorable he is!

3rd Annual Church Ladies Tea

Gracie and I raced back from Lynchburg just in time to get dressed and grab our tea cups for the third annual Church ladies Tea Party. Gracie and I have attended the tea each year, and this year Gracie got to use a big girl cup and saucer.

Gracie traded in her Fisher Price cup and saucer (and even tea pot) to take a matching china cup and saucer from mommy's special cabinet. I thought that it was time. After all she is going into Kindergarten.

While Gracie was so excited about getting to use the "breakable cup," Mrs. Ruth was also giddy with Gracie's "promotion." She even noticed her cup without us saying a word and made the biggest deal over it. Another reason we adore Mrs. Ruth, she, like mommy make the smallest things into a big deal.

Despite the EXTREME heat in the Fellowship Hall, Gracie went through several cups of hot tea and many more plates of yummy goodies from fruit to pound cake and chocolate sauce...and everything in between.

Gracie also won a prize this year. Actually, I am pretty sure she has won a prize every year now that I think about it. She choose a miniature porcelain tea set and she has been playing with it and her Princess minatures all afternoon.

First Annual Tea, August 2007

2nd Annual Tea, August 2008

3rd Annual Tea, August 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mommy's Gift

On the car ride home from church yesterday.

Gracie :"Mommy why was my name in the song book?"

Mommy: "Becuase grace is the most precious gift God gave all of us, and you are the most precious thing he gave me, so I couldn't help but name you Gracie."

Sunday, August 09, 2009

It's Baaaack!

That would be football. Many, many, many months of football. Do you have any idea how many nights a week this game comes on! And of course Daddy wants to watch them all.

Usually Gracie is his football buddy (at least until the popcorn runs out), but this season Daddy is already grooming his son to be a pigskin junkie.

Football season kicked off tonight, and wouldn't you know Daddy's favorite team the Titans were playing.

Garren was a little sad that he wasn't sharing the game with Gracie, but she is in Lynchburg with Grandma and having an endless celebration I am sure.

Thomas seemed to get a kick out of snuggling with daddy, and he looked too cute in his Titan's onsie. He has a jersey too, and the next game that is on I will try and squeeze him in it. My linebacker continues to grow at astounding rates, but I promise to post a picture.

6 Months Old

He's six months old, and cute as a button wouldn't you say!
Happy half birthday baby boy!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Five Dollar Deals

Look what all I got for $5 from the church Yard Sale today! I love going to yard sales, but at 1pm on an extremely HOT afternoon...everything must go.

You have go to love the deals I find!

*Clifford costume (perfect for Thomas next year) *Fisher Price Piano (easily retail $30+) * Fisher Price Farm movement toy (easily retail $20+) * Books, including several vintage * Flash cards I remember from my youth! *Palace front (Gracie is using with various miniatures) * Barbie plush (technically not a Barbie doll--she's good!) *Fairy/Unicorn miniatures

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Teaching Money

..should be simple for our daughter, who could shop until she drops; but it is frustratingly hard. Like bang your head on the wall hard!

She can't seem to grasp either the concept of how much each coin is, or what the names of the coins are. I am not sure how I have failed in this, but I am determined to teach her before she gets to Kindergarten.

We have practiced with worksheets, and she seemed to get them right, but when I took the lesson and added real coins and a "store" I set up in the playroom, the wheels came off.

While she really enjoyed "buying" the toys for Thomas, she would get stumped each time. Garren pointed out that she was too young for this concept, but it is in the Kindergarten curriculum.

I did manage not to burn her out on the idea of learning money, and she is excited to play "store" again, so that is a good sign.

Maybe we should have her pay the bills, talk about a lesson in money, huh?! But then that might make her never want to learn about money again. :)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Feed Me!

My little oinker continues to demand food of all kinds. I guess that is why he has now graduated to size 3 diapers. Did I give birth to a baby, or a little piggy ;)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

School Supplies


We didn't intend to get Gracie's Kindergarten things, it just kind of happened--as did the excitement for our soon-to-be schooler, that lasted until bedtime.

I had gone online hoping to find a school list for her at our elementary school's website. With this being her first year, I figured the list would be a mile long, and I wanted to get a start on it--maybe getting a few things at time.

I didn't find anything online and was starting to wonder if they expected parents to get these things just days before classes began.

We happened to be out, and as usual ended up at Walmart. I had told Garren that if he went I would like him to look to see if they have the school lists out. Well, we found them just as we entered the door. I thought we might let her get a few things for fun, but when we got to the isle, it didn't take long before we had just about everything!

I was so surprised at how reasonable it all was. And get this. We decided to "look" at backpacks so we could get a better idea of what she wanted. Of course she got excited at the characters, and mommy got excited at $5 and $7 price tags. On backpacks! We used to spend $20 or more when I was a kid. This economy has gotten everyone spooked. Well, I found the cutest red one with pink and flowers and Gracie fell in love with it. And, it had a sale sticker on it for $3!!! I thought--you can't beat that, and even if it didn't hold up, for that price she has something to start out with.

So, it was an exciting trip to Walmart for everyone. Gracie is only missing washable markers and new shoes. (we plan to wait until the last possible minute to get shoes as we plan to get her nice shoes and her feet grow like weeds, and when you shell out $30 for kids shoes you want them to last as long as possible!).

Once we were home, Gracie pulled out all of her things and called Grandma and talked a mile a minute about all of her new treasures.

As if I could have avoided her excitement for school before, she is making it impossible now. She is ready, and is not happy that she still has 6 more weeks to wait. But, I think I can.

**And yes, I pulled out the camera in Walmart. You know me. This was her first time getting school supplies! And, Garren who also has gotten used to me now, didn't even blink an eye! And, we were specifically told not to go by the Walmart list at her screening, but I figured it was a good start and we wouldn't open anything. So, we may have more to buy, but I feel better being a little more prepared.**

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Breakfast With Friends

We had a very nice, and very early breakfast with some friends who were literally passing through this morning.

My high school friend Shannon, her husband GW and their kids Luke and Claire made their first (and hopefully not last) stop in Strasburg at a very early 8:20am. Their family traveled from Ohio yesterday and stayed over night in Winchester. Today they plan to stop at the Endless Caverns, and then JMU before heading to see family in Lynchburg.

We were thrilled that we got to see them, and that they got to see our home.

After breakfast the kids played and played, and I learned all about Star Wars from a three year old expert.

Gracie was sad when we they had to leave, but maybe they can stop by again the next time they travel this way. And just maybe some other travelers who pass through 81 will take a detour at exit 296 and come and play with us for awhile as well. Hint, hint!