Friday, December 31, 2010

Shipley Family New Years Eve

Gracie's Year (2010)


Calendar helper at school.

Star Student Of The Week.

I can do 36 of my s
ight words!


Second ear infection :(

Daddy sends me my first delivery flowers!

Valentine's party at school.

Snow fun!


Happy Birthday to me! I am 6!!

Barbie birthday party.

Kindergarten field trip to see a play.

Cheer leading class!!

I watch first professional play--Cinderella.


Third ear infection :(

Trip to Kings Dominion with just Mommy & Daddy.

First performance--Kindergarten play.

School Easter egg hunt.


Farm Day in Kindergarten

Cinderella play at the high school.

The circus.

Last day of kindergarten.

Kindergarten graduation party.

First field day.


Bible school at church.

The BIG inflatables at the park for the 4th for the first time!


Tooth #3 comes out.

Rebecca comes to visit!

A new house and new room.

My first backyard!

Learned to tie my shoes!


First day of First Grade.

I have my own desk!

Walking home by myself from the bus.

Beach trip!

I have a new cousin!

I get my first library card.


Tooth #4 comes out.

Tooth #5 comes out.

My first SOL (and I ace it :)


First First Grade Field Trip

First real report card.

First school project.

Thanksgiving feast at school.

Jumping in my first leaf pile!

Starts treatments for allergy induced asthma :(


Princesses on ice!!!

Tooth #5 comes out.

First snow play in Richmond.

Thomas' Year (2010)


First taste of whole milk.

I meet Aunt Heather.


Happy Birthday to me! I am ONE!!

First birthday party.

First pair of shoes.

First juice.

I feed myself with a spoon!

I take my first step

tooth #8


Mommy cuts my hair for the first time.

Tooth #9

Tooth #10

Tooth #11

Tooth #12


I say "Ow-Side."

I climb out of my crib.

I sleep through the night--finally at age 14 months!!

Tooth #13

My first circus!


Tooth #14

My first time out :(


I climb the steps.

Tooth #15


Tooth #16


My first backyard.


First story time at the library.

First trip to the beach.

First trip to a library.


I put a puzzle together.

I can find my ear.

My first "real" haircut.


I jumped in my first leaf pile.


First Christmas parade.

First winter coat.

First sucker (lollipop).

The Happily 2010 For Friends & Family

Brides And Grooms Exchanging Vows...

Shira Hartsook & Scott Evans
July 27


Karen Tignor & David Smallwood

Beautiful New Babies....

Jolee Ella GeFellers
August 22
to Candice & Elliott GeFellers

Devon Alexander Stewart
October 8
to Stefanie & Doug Stewart

New Big Sisters & Brothers

Big brother Colton & big sister Dorie welcome
Ryson Lee Walters
March 3
(parents Abby & Jamie)

Big brothers DJ, Ryan & Casey welcome
Charles Thomas Walsh
September 7
(parents Heather & Kenny)

Big brother Ethan, big sisters Ella & Grabriella welcome
Holden Reichard
November 18
(parents Kelly & Dan)

Graduating Seniors....

Kayla Racey
Strasburg High School

Bye Bye 2010

I won't be shedding tears at midnight. I will be glad to see this year go.

I know people have had worst years than I, a few people I know, and many, many more I don't--but life still stunk for me this year.

I left my "home."

I watched my daughter finish Kindergarten.

I listened to her last song in the children's choir.

I attended my last service at a church that is so dear to me.

I has to say goodbye to friends who were family to me.

My husband ended his 14+ year career as a journalist.

I enrolled my daughter in a school I didn't know, with teachers and staff I didn't know.

I put my daughter on a bus full of kids I didn't know.

I moved into a house in 1 day without power or water.

I loaded and unloaded all of our belongings in a place that was too big, too fast, and too uncertain.

I got rid of at least 1/3 of all of our possessions to fit in said house.

I broke the review mirror off my car.

My son ran away from home.

My daughter didn't get off the bus.

Okay, if I think long enough I could fill this entire web page with my sad little 2010 story. So, let's just leave it at the fact I am glad a New Year is here.

Now, if I am going to be glad for a New Year, that means I have to do my part to make it a better year. So, I have to buck it up some more (although, you have to admit I am making progress), and stop whining and crying.

So, here is to 2011, and my attempt at making myself at least like this place we are now calling home.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Chewey & Thomas

Yesterday Ruth asked me if Chewey was still loved. I can not even begin to explain how much Thomas loves that stuffed best friend of I made a cute movie to show everyone.

It is almost Chewey's birthday you know. He came in to our lives January 1st of last year when Aunt Ruth and Uncle George gave him to Thomas for a Christmas present. (The snow put things on quite a delay last year).

So watch these two best friends in action....they go everywhere together!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Shipley Family Christmas

I thought it would be easier to make a movie to show you Christmas here in Mechanicsville. So, get out the popcorn and enjoy. You will see the Christmas preparations, and then Christmas day.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Post Card To Santa, From Mommy

Christmas Greetings From The Kids

Christmas Sweets

There is way too much sugar in this house!

How do I know? My kids are bouncing off the walls.

Although, they really haven't been eating that much--just making things.

Gracie and I made a Gingerbread kit today. We got this huge craft from Costco and it made Santa's house and toy shop. Super cute. It took a long while to put it together, but the final outcome is pretty cute.

And, of course we had to make some Christmas cookies for Santa.

Lots and lots of sugar today--but I am not sure that any of it is the reason the kids are so excited ;)

What Is Better Than A Visit From Santa?

A visit from Santa.... and the Tooth Fairy the night before!

Yep, there went another one.

This one was such a surprise we didn't even have time to name it! Gracie came into the bedroom for her nightly bedtime story after brushing her teeth and announced "my tooth is bloody mommy."

That tooth was super loose, and I really wanted it out of there before she a) choked on it in her sleep, b) stayed up all night wiggling it and c) got blood all over her bed.

Can you believe she actually pulled it out?! It took almost an hour, and much prompting and frustration from mommy--but she got it out--eventually.

What an eventful week for our 6 year old!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thomas' Second Santa Torture

I shall let the picture speak for itself...and he will have ammo for his shrink visits in a few years.

Doesn't this scream "Merry Christmas!" *

*Nope, that wasn't what he was screaming ;)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Still No Christmas Cards

This might be the first year I haven't sent out Christmas cards before (or at least really close to) Christmas.

I am heart broken over it.

I love to send out cards. I love receiving cards. Just look at all the wonderful ones we have received this year!

I don't know why I didn't get it together this year.

My heart wasn't in to it? Maybe.

I am homesick? Probably.

Thomas wears me out and I have little time to breathe much less plan? More than likely.

Please know that all of you out there are loved and thought of this Christmas and always, even if you don't have a card to prove it.

I am hoping that I can get some sort of Happy 2011 cards together. Not the same--but I want to send out holiday greetings, and as they always say..."better late than never!"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Decorating The Christmas Tree 2010

So, it is up three days before Christmas--but it is up!

Now, it wasn't the bah-humbug that kept us from putting up the tree. It was the expectation that our toddler would either a) eat the tree b) eat the ornaments c) completely pull over the tree d) chew the lights...well, you get the idea.

We tried to get him to help put the ornaments on, but settled for letting him bring them to us.

Mommy was pretty smart and I only pulled out ornaments that are wooden, fabric, and in general "non-breakable."

Actually, I think it looks kind of pretty. Like a country home made Christmas tree.

So far no chewed lights, or tree, or ornaments. I will keep you posted when (I mean if) this changes.

**Again, sorry about the dark pictures, I am using the only camera I have and the flash is broken on it. I brought back mom's old camera from her house, but it wasn't charged and I wanted pictures of the kids decorating the tree. Hey, you get what you can :) ***

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Visit With Santa, 2010

Hmmm, how can I best describe this?

....extremely long line

...antsy toddler

....fussy toddler

....overly tired toddler

....toddler freaks out when we finally get to see Santa child in picture with Santa.

My mother always said "if you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all." So, here's the "nice" version of my 2010 adventure to take my kids to see Santa.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas At Grandma's

It was a busy weekend and Gracie and Thomas got plenty spoiled. They also got to see the "cous-its"--almost all of them! Brian and Dawn brought children Jacob (and wife Anna and daughter Kaylin), Emily, Isaac, Sue-Anna, Mark & Matthew. Mariah was unable to attend.

So it was a house full of kids at Grandma's and they were all bouncing off the walls from the doting and the sugar.

I found the cutest craft idea and my kids had matching Christmas shirts and pants. You know me.

Let's see, Thomas got homemade cloth books, cars, a coloring book and much more. Gracie got My Little Pony mermaids, Hello Kitty games, beads, and much, much more.

Thomas also got a trip to the mall where he refused to see Santa, more than a whole cup of coffee fed to him spoon by spoon by Grandpa, rides on the train, and was dubbed "fan and light police" by all of us.

Gracie got to see Santa, ride on the train, get several rides through the hallway on the rolling computer chair powered by Grandpa, a soak in the tub with more toys than water, Wii fun with Grandma and apparently the opportunity to do everything mommy said she couldn't.

They aren't spoiled are they?!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Princesses On Ice

Christmas came early for Gracie this year. You would have thought that she had won the lottery! And, if you haven't heard her talk about her experience--well, you will!

Mommy found out that Disney On Ice was coming to Richmond, and as luck would have it--it was the Princess Classics show.

I have never taken Gracie to a show--not like this anyway. We have been to high school plays, and such--but never anything of "concert quality."

Of course, mommy doesn't often do these sort of things herself.

I am attempting to describe our experience, but I guess the best way to put it was "Gracie was over the moon" throughout the entire show.

The ice skaters were very talented and they did more than dress up and skate. They did lifts and jumps and twirls and spins and oh so much more.

It was very enjoyable to watch.

I took tons of pictures, and several videos and wasn't sure how any of them would turn out. Garren's old camera that I had been using since mine died at the beach back in September died on me earlier this week, so I dug and dug and found the camera that lost it's flash several years back.

I was amazed that the pictures were decent, and the videos were awesome! Of course now I wish I had done more videos. But, oh well.

Mommy and Gracie had such a good time that I have promised her we would go the next time they are in Richmond.

And, being as cheap as I was. We both went and got decent seats for $30 total!

A very fun mommy & daughter evening, and if you want to know anything at all about this night, you just call Gracie and set aside about and hour to hear EVERY detail!

Here is one of the many videos I took, so you can get a glimpse at the fun we had!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

First Snow Play Day

It wasn't the season's first snow--that happened Monday--but it was the first day the kids went out and played in the snow.

Gracie is out of school today, and will likely be again tomorrow (which will really upset her since it was Polar Express/Pajama party day) because of the season's second snow storm.

Thomas was pretty indifferent to the cold white stuff. In fact, I brought him back in after a short period of time because he didn't like to be cold and wet.

Gracie however, had a great time. She and daddy threw snowballs at each other and she made snow angels and just ran around like a silly person.

I brought out the laundry basket for a sled ride for Thomas--but he wasn't so sure. We got him to the bottom of the street (hill!) and I asked Garren if he was smiling, he said "no." Apparently he was thinking "this is it?" He got out and walked his way back up the street.

Gracie was jealous and wanted a turn. I am not sure how she squeezed in that basket, but she didn't go very far, very fast.

I brought Thomas in and we watched from the front door.

It seems all of the neighborhood children were having a good time outside in the snow.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snowy Wait For School

Clearly Mechanicsville doesn't "freak out" about snow as much as Strasburg did.

I went to get Gracie up for school this morning when I saw that the ground was covered in snow!

So, before I woke her up and started the morning "struggle," I had Garren help me check websites and TV and such. But, nope--no closing or delay.

We had just a little while to catch the bus and I didn't want to run with the now inch or more of snow covering our sidewalk and yard.

I bundled her up and checked again--nope--nothing.

We opened the front door and saw the other mom walking her child down and we slowly caught up to them. She told me the same things--she had checked and checked.

It wasn't but a minute later that the bus pulled up. I was surprised--I figured she would be a few minutes behind waiting for straggling children whose parents were also taking it slow and double checking the TV and radio.

Of course now the snow is falling hard and I am wondering how long it will be before they send them back home.

The snow really isn't sticking to the street, and there wasn't any on the roadways in our neighborhood when I walked her to the bus stop. But, now you can see it is starting to do so.

Maybe things just run more smoothly here in the "big city."

The kids didn't seem to care. In fact, my daughter was trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue.

I doubt the kids will learn much at all today with all of this excitement! (Although Gracie's room has no window or door to the outside, so they may settle down--eventually!)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tacky Lights And Cheap Entertainment

I will confess--I am NOT in the Christmas spirit. I am sure there is a lot of that going around because of the economy, or commercialism, or loss of loved ones--but mine is plain and simple home-sickness. I missed the Christmas parade (at home), Gracie won't sing Christmas songs in the choir tomorrow morning, we will miss the AOJ concert, we didn't bake cookies with Aunt Ruth, and worst of all--we won't be there for Christmas Eve services.

Now that I have vented all of that I will move on...

It was actually my idea to load the kids up in the car and go and look at the lights. I wasn't sure how well the trip was going to go since it is pouring rain and Thomas was in a bad mood (he was very tired!).

Just because mommy is feeling like the Grinch--doesn't mean I won't make every effort to be sure that the kids have the best Christmas yet!

So, we loaded up the kids and mommy packed the just made MM Christmas cookies and we started out on our journey.

Mommy and Daddy had driven past a few homes around the area that we were sure to include--and of course those neighborhoods gave way to more neighborhoods full of lights.

At several points in the evening we ended up behind buses who were actually taking people on the "tacky Lights Tour."

Yep, there is such a thing around here! And you would not believe just how "tacky" it gets!

I meant to print off some of the stops here in Mechanicsville that were on the tour, but forgot--but we saw plenty. The kids loved looking at the lights and we all got a good laugh out of the decorations.

Some yards were completely covered in inflatables, some had music to go along with their yard full of decor, and our favorite house was one that had lights on it and around it that made it look like a gingerbread house!

Now, my pictures aren't super, since it was dark, and it was raining, but you can get a good idea of the displays.

And the ride ended up being perfect for Thomas. He settled down and watched quietly from his seat, exclaiming a simple "wow!" every once in a while.

I think it did us all some good.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Note Of Thanks

I want to thank those of you who commented on my last post, and for those of you who emailed me. Most of you understood that it was just a realization that I came to. I wasn't crying in my cornflakes, or depressed (well, not about that anyway ;)--I just found myself out of sync with my peers. I have no plans to stop blogging or even using Facebook. I likely won't post as many things on Facebook as I once did--but you can rest assured that the daily chaos of Shipley Manor will be documented.

Now, I am sure you have noticed that I don't blog as much as I once did. That also has nothing to do with depression or sadness, or loss of worthiness. It has to do with a certain 6 letter word: T-H-O-M-A-S!! Whew! That child runs me ragged! Even now I have one ear perked up because he isn't making much noise and that usually means he is destroying something!!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Socially Irrelevant

If my "world" had a newspaper, the subscriptions would bankrupt the company.

Of course if I had a dime for every time my mother, or any other mother for that matter, said "no one ever listens to me!" I would be a wealthy woman and wouldn't need to rely on the subscriptions.

I joined Facebook several years ago after former high school friends urged me to jump on the social networking bandwagon.

It didn't take long before I was doing what everyone else was: sharing every detail of my life to 200 of my "closest" friends.

Over the years the electronic high school was both friend and foe--but honestly, more foe than friend.

I would stare in to this window that allowed me to get sneak peeks in to the lives of former classmates, former co-workers, former friends. They were sharing details of their lives and it was if time had reversed itself back to when we were close, when we shared things about our selves and work and school and family. It made me feel included again.

But the feeling of "inclusion" would wear off. No, I never stopped to think that the 300, 400+ "friends" they had were all getting the same information. No, I found myself looking around and realizing how sad my life seemed in comparison.

Ironically, the connection of high school classmates and friends was like high school all over again (well my high school full of over-achievers anyway). They were all showing off their flashy new careers like we compared grades more than a decade ago. They were posting pictures of new homes, cars, vacations much like seeing who had the best "ride" in the student parking lot or who got the best prom dress.They were all fawning over new loves and husbands and boyfriends like...well, that one hasn't changed at all.

There lives are so much more exiting than mine. That doesn't mean mine isn't fulfilling--but as I sat in my pajamas usually covered in baby spit up or paint or some other child related spill--I would read as my "friends" would post about their stain-free lives.

Putting jealousy aside for a moment, it was tonight that the bigger reality set in for me.

I am socially irrelevant.

I have nothing of interest to talk about.

That doesn't mean people don't like or care about me, and I know that I haven't always been confident enough to say that and mean it, but it really isn't about that.

I can put my "friends" on Facebook in to several categories.

There are the "political types." These are people who have a social concious and who are always talking (usually angrily) about the wrongs in the world and in government. They are almost always fired up about something.

There are those whose lives are almost completely work-related. They are the ones who complain about parking and traffic, they post about their work day and the people who surround them in the office.

There are the comediennes. The ones who are always joking or being sarcastic about anything and everything. They want to get a rise, or a chuckle out of their status.

There are the worldly people. Those who rave over places they have been, or those who always have some new recipe or arty thing to share.

Not everyone fits in to these groups--but the point I am trying to make is that those people have a voice that someone wants to hear.

Unless you are family, you really wouldn't care about what I have to say. I am not worldly, I am a picky eater, I don't travel, I don't work outside of the home, I am definitely not funny, and I avoid the news and all things political.

So what does that leave? The sleeping habits of a toddler, and the trials of first grade.

I have my kids. My kids are my world, and unless you think they are special like I do--I doubt you care to hear about it.

It's kind of a sad revelation I guess. But, now that I have come to this conclusion I can stop trying so hard. And, of course stop embarassing myself by posting the most mondane and boring information on the web.

I think Facebook is for the fascinating, and the young. I am neither. Boy my kids are going to be so embarrassed of me when they are teens.

I think I need to join a sewing circle, or find my female counterparts at the nursing home and watch Golden Girls.

What is more sad than being socially irrelevant? Having a life time of experiences and insight and knowledge that no one wants. Very few people want to know where to find the best thrift stores, how to use supplies around the house to make crafts for your kids, how to stretch a dollar tight enough to fit a one income household, and how to make it through at least 6 years of motherhood.

Maybe in another decade people will want to hear what I have to say, because their lives will have finally slowed down to the turtle pace of mine.

I shall wait and see.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Our First Christmas Lights

Well, we won't be on the great "homes tour" this year--but we aren't on the "tacky lights tour" either.

Daddy is very proud of his first ever outdoor Christmas lights display.

Garren is becoming quite the suburbanite and he seems to mix in well with the other men of the neighborhood who have donned very nice decor that reminds me of my childhood when we would drive through the rich neighborhoods to see the lights. Of course, Garren is a junior suburban, so we just have the few lights. I am sure as we climb the ranks we will be able to add more wattage to our home.

Share in the splendor:

Christmas Parade

It was by far the most cold Christmas parade I remember ever taking children to, and it happened to be the longest one too.

Mommy was so terribly homesick yesterday thinking about missing the Christmas parade at "home." But, I wasn't about to let my pathetic mood keep the kids from seeing a parade.

Today was Mechanicsville's annual Christmas parade, and I wasn't sure what to expect...or where to park, or where it went, or where to sit...but I was sure we were going to go as a family and have a good time.

This actually marked Thomas' first Christmas parade. Thanks to the enormous amounts of snow last year, Strasburg's parade was canceled. Also today Thomas wore his first ever winter coat and got and ate (drooled) his first ever lollipop-- all over said first coat-- and his first pair of gloves.

The parade started at 3pm, and I recognized Gracie's school on the parade route they had listed. Relieved, I told Garren we would park there.

Since the route went along several streets, there weren't crowds and crowds of people, so we just kind of parked along the parade route and let the kids sit on the car.

That was the smartest decision we could have made!! It was so cold that in between floats and bands (there were FOUR HIGH SCHOOL BANDS in this thing!!) the kids would warm up in the car.

Mommy made Christmas cookies and popcorn for snacks as the kids watched the parade. There were a few lulls in the action--as there are in most parades--but the floats and participants were by far incredibly well made and festive!

I was most impressed by one of the high school bands, a gymnastics float that had a girl swinging over the bar while the float drove down the street, and a float that had train cars with kids in them going around a tree. These groups and businesses really put a lot of work and effort into their projects--and it showed!

The kids were given way too much candy, and we were all freezing by the time the parade ended--but we all had a good time and that is what matters most.

Okay you have to see the girl flipping! Of course my video is of the float stopped, but that was because it took too long to get my camera out--she was doing that while it was going!

Now watch the kids going around the tree!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Future Colorgaurd Captain

I raced outside with my camera after I spotted Gracie in the front yard with my flag and pole. I had changed the fall flag out for a Christmas themed one later in the week, but with the wind I hadn't yet put it in the holder.

Her performance came with no prompting from mommy, and quite frankly I think she is pretty good! I had to share it with all of my former band friends, and they agree; (of course!) she is a natural! :)

***Oh, but TURN DOWN OR OFF YOUR SPEAKERS--Thomas fusses through the WHOLE thing (and I can't figure out to edit it off of there)****

December Home Depot Project

This months project was by far one of the easiest and least time consuming--but the most practical by far.

We loved making the picture frame together, and Gracie has millions of ideas how to decorate it and what picture(s) should go inside.

When she finished her project I had her pose with the Home Depot employee who was dressed as Santa. It seemed fitting.

12 Projects Later

Today's Home Depot project marks a full 12 months since I started taking Gracie. Of course, several others have gotten in on the fun. Uncle George & Aunt Ruth took over construction duty for most of the early spring and summer, Grandpa and Grandma got a turn some time over the summer as well, and daddy even took Gracie once this fall.

What a great way for kids to learn about tools and working with their hands--and what a great confidence builder!!

If you have a child ages 5-10 (I don't think they are super strict on the age limits they post on their website) you should take your child for a free and very fun bonding experience.

It's the first Saturday of the month from 9am until 12 noon!

Look how much fun you could be having!