Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

A very happy daddy's day to our favorite daddy and....

daddy to Mommy & Uncle Brian

Uncle Brian
daddy to Mariah as well as Isaac, Sue-Anna, Mark & Matthew

Uncle George
daddy to Zachary & Logan

daddy to Daddy, Aunt Heather & Uncle Luke

daddy to Mason, Taylor, Jonas, Van & Carrington

daddy to Mallory

daddy to Luke & Claire

daddy to Bryson & Braylee

daddy to Logan & Ella

daddy to Stella

daddy to Joshua, Sarah & Sam

daddy to Tyler

and Happy 1st Father's Day to

daddy to Elliott

daddy to Nina

...and soon to be daddy!

daddy to baby GeFellers (to arrive in Sept!)

**Thank you Ruth for the great picture idea!!** (Click to enlarge)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Thomas' Big Day

Well, first we notice that tooth #15 has popped through.

I have never known a baby to have so many teeth so young. He is just over a week in to being 16 months old!

Tooth #16 will likely be here any day now, and he will have a complete set until he is around 3. Or maybe not--he is so far ahead, maybe he will have everything by age 3!

And, to top off a day of Thomas news...look what my little stinker can do now!!!

I have decided that this is Aunt Ruth's fault ;) he he :)

She walked him up the stairs in the choir loft and let him turn the fan switch on and off.

When she went to go and read to Gracie, Thomas wanted to turn the switch on and off some more. So, one of the choir girls (whom ALL adore him) took him up and did it a few times until she got tired. Thomas could do this all day, so the next thing I know he is going up the shallow carpeted steps himself!

So, I guess he figured, "if I can do it at church, why not here at home."

I guess it is now time for a baby gate across the steps. We hadn't done it before because he was not interested in them, and I knew if I put up a gate it would be dangerous for us adults, and he would become very interested in what we were trying to keep him from--he works that way. Plus, I never take my eyes off of him for a second, so he was never in danger of getting to close to the steps to begin with.

Whew! A new challenge for Mommy!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cooking Spray Is A Mom's Best Friend!

It can be used to make cleaning your pots and pans much easier...

It can be used to make perfectly golden pancakes...

It can be used to make cake baking a breeze...

It can be used to free your screaming child from the rocking chair that he got his leg stuck in!!!

Now, how many of you are actually surprised by this little gem of a story? Seriously?!

Thomas is learning to sit in a chair, and I am completely baffled how his leg got so stuck, but it was in there good. In fact, it took about 5 or more minutes to get it out--although it seemed more like an hour to this frantic mother!

He had wedged his leg in the crack between the seat and the back of the child sized solid wood rocking chair.

I mention the fact that it was solid wood, becuase as time was ticking away and Garren and I could not get his leg out, I began to try and break the chair apart! It did not budge!

My son is a small little boy, but he has the Miller thighs, and the rings of fat had made it even more difficult to get him loose. And, the fact that he had twisted his leg before getting it stuck, complicated things worse.

Garren was holding Thomas, I was holding the chair and we moved together to try and loosen our screaming boy. I think the screams were partly pain, but mostly panic.

We took him to the kitchen and I sprayed cooking spray from every angle. After smoothing it over the rolls of skin we were able to get his leg un-stuck after another few minutes.

Thankfully the incident didn't break the skin, but it left scrape-shaped bruise marks on his little baby thighs.

He is fine now.

Mommy is fine now.

And, she begs mother's of boys...heck, ALL mothers: get yourself a can of cooking spray and keep it on hand. You will never know when your child will get in to a "tight" situation!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Swan Song

Okay, we are really starting to emotionally drain the mommy!

Now, we have listened to Gracie's last song in the church children's choir: God's Voices.

I am not sure I can take much more of these "lasts' and "finals" and "end of's!"

But, since you likely missed her beautiful voice raised in song, you can hear it now and smile instead of cry like I tried so hard not to do. Of course, I was beaming all the while as well! I am so proud of my little angel!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kindergarten Graduate!

We are so thankful for all of the wonderful friends and family who share this evening with us, celebrating our Kindergartner's successful year!!

What a fun time!

At first I was a little afraid the heat and storms would put a damper on the festivities, but even the air conditioner (which could not keep up) couldn't melt the smiles tonight.

I always have such a wonderful time when I am celebrating my children--and it is made even more wonderful by the people who give up their time and their miles to share and enjoy such celebrations!

Daddy and Uncle Luke made sure we were all well fed and willingly survived the heat to grill burgers and hot dogs. Although, I did notice that several other of the menfolk went out side to join them--in the awful, awful heat!!

The food was good, Thomas was a handful, and Gracie was bouncing off the walls with all of the added attention. Thankfully, there was more than enough people to give each of my children the attention they needed.

After the food, I snuck Gracie into the living room and we put on the cap and gown I had ordered her.

Yes, I ordered her a purple cap and gown. I was so disapointed that there was not a graduation ceremony, that I decided I would give her some pomp and circumstance--thus, the cap and gown and party and cake.

She beamed as we all "ohhed" and "ahhed" over her in her purple robe. And, even with the added heat, Gracie loved being all dressed up for the occasion.

I had each guest pose for a picture with our little graduate, and then they "earned" cake. Sounds a little much I know, but poor Gracie wanted to eat cake, but I had asked her to please wait for pictures, knowing full well she would be wearing the cake and since it was colored icing I knew she would likely break out from it on her face. So, as each guest posed for a picture I told them "you have now earned cake."

Gracie finally earned her cake as well, and from the laughter from the kitchen I am sure she does as she usually does in those rare instances when I let her have sugar--she inhaled it!

The cake is a sperate story, but let me tell you it was the second cake disaster in a month. Although, I found a way to salvage the cake for the party and we all enjoyed the "Ram" in the end.

After Gracie inhaled her desert, we went in to the living room where it was slightly cooler and let Gracie open her presents.

She got so many wonderful gifts and cards! We are so blessed to have such caring people in our lives!

Gracie got a teddy bear with a Strasburg Ram's football uniform on, she got a special purse (with lucky penny included), a glow in the dark t-shirt, spending money, a date to make her own girly lotion, a box full of dolls, and from us a memory quilt and a Barbie DVD.

Thomas got a special Strasburg t-shirt as well (which made me nearly break down in tears! It is going to be so hard to leave this place and these special people who adore out children!!), and plenty of attention!

The boys (this is what she calls Zachary and Logan, Ruth & George's sons) played and played with Thomas. They had him surfing, and snow boarding and many other hilarious "boy activities." The laughter and cackling was contagious!

The evening ended around 8:30, and my children begrudgingly went to bed.

What a special day it has been for Gracie. What a special and very busy week! I think I am actually more exhausted than she is!

Thank you all for your well wishes to our Gracie. We are so proud of her and all she has accomplished in the past 9 months.

Graduation Well Wishers

Friday, June 11, 2010

Congratulations Gracie!

Congratulations Gracie on a wonderful Kindergarten year! We are so proud of you, and love you so much!

Mommy, Daddy & Thomas

Last Day Of Kindergarten

There were so many good-byes today!

I hadn't planned on witnessing them, but I realized yesterday that today would be my last chance to do anything with Gracie in Kindergarten, or at Sandy Hook. So, I begged my husband to look out for Thomas during his morning nap while I spent the half day of school with my Gracie.

This morning I put a drink in her lunch box with a note that read "surprise!"

I decided to keep my volunteering a secret from her, but I was sure to ask if it was okay with her teacher.

I stopped by Food Lion and got us an assorted lunch to share. I got to the school just moments before they lined up to go to the cafeteria. Gracie was very surprised to see me. While she was waiting in line I told her to open her lunch box. Her face fell when she saw there was nothing in there. I told her to read the note, and she beamed.

We sat together at the lunch table and had our "special" lunch together. She was very excited and very clingy, which was good since she has been very moody and sad these past few weeks with everything coming to a close.

I walked with her back to her classroom. The kids finished up a movie, and I helped put all of the kids final things in their folders and mailboxes.

Then, they line up again for recess.

Here is where I am so thankful for my sunglasses! Yes, it was hot and sunny, but they did more than protect my eyes..they hid the unwanted tears.

I watched as Gracie ran around the playground with her little friends and the teacher was telling me how they had talked about first grade this morning before I arrived.

I told her how out of sorts Gracie had been over the past few weeks, but apparently she had been fine at school--until this morning.

She told the other kids she wouldn't be with them in first grade and that she was going to go to a new school. Apparently this prompted an outpouring of "we will miss you Gracie!" from all of her little classmates.

That's the part that teared me up the most.

I dried it up quickly, and we headed back inside.

I helped the teachers take down posters and charts, and anything else they needed done. I also snapped about a million of pictures in my few short hours in the classroom, including a precious class picture with both teachers.

The kids were allowed to go to centers, and only minutes after being inside from recess, it was time to pack up. Since I had driven to the school, I decided to take Gracie home with me, no sense in her having to wait for the bus and sitting in the heat. Plus, she got to ride this morning, so she didn't miss out on sitting with her bus friends on the last day (and I got pictures this morning too).

I gathered all of her things and she hugged her teachers good bye.

There went the tears again. Not Gracie, but me.

What wonderful ladies these two had been all year long. They are exactly what Gracie and I both needed for her first year of school.

When I got home Thomas was still asleep and I was still very emotional. But, as I thought on it for the remainder of the day, I realized that the tears were likely more the end of Kindergarten than anything else. I think that if we weren't moving, I would still have been crying over the last day. That's just me. The end of another milestone for Gracie, another year gone. I have such a hard time with those sort of things. I tear up when I have to pack out grown clothes away!

I know there isn't a need for tears. I thankfully don't waste my time with my kids. They are my priority and joy every day. We play, we make things, we tell stories--every moment is a memory--but, still I miss it when it is over.

I am thankful for such a great Kindergarten year. I am thankful for two God-sent teachers. And, I am praying for a smooth transition to 1st grade in a new home, a new school, with new kids and new teachers.

But, today, I shall focus on a very proud Kindergarten "graduate."

She has asked for a spaghetti celebratory dinner tonight. I think we can manage that!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Field Day

I wasn't so sure that I wanted to join Gracie for a day of outside sports, but when I saw that it was only for 2 hours, and I realized that my time with her at Kindergarten was coming to a close--I asked Daddy to again watch Thomas for a little while.

I got there a few minutes "late." They were in the field, but they hadn't started yet.

There were many other parents there for this morning's fun in the sun, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn't that hot, and we had a little wind.

Gracie's class started off getting wet.

I knew that many of their field day activities would involve water, and I was sure to pack and extra set of clothes for her as they requested.

Gracie had paired up with her best friend Rebecca as usual. They took turns tossing and catching squeeze water balls to each other.

As I joked, out of Gracie's earshot, to the other parents: my Gracie is neither athletic or graceful.

The poor thing does as she usually does here, almost crosses her arms and closes her eyes in an attempt to "catch" the water soaked ball.

But the kids could care less about whether or not they caught the balls, they were having to much squealing about the water dripping out, and practically nailing the person that was supposed to catch the flying wet object.

There was a "buzzer" of some sort and the kids went from station to station.

By our fourth station, the kids were really excited--and soaked!

The object was to dunk a car washing sponge into the bucket and pass it over your head to the person behind you, who passed it, who passed it....until you got to the last person who squeezed it all out in the bucket at the end of the line. The team who filled the back bucket first "won."

There weren't any real prizes, or announcement of winners, which I know is good for moral. And, thankfully at this age they aren't as consumed with winning and losing--they are doing good to be able to follow the directions.

We continued on around the field. The kids played with the parachute, got one "station" at the playground, were given popscicles and were told to race with hula hoops and other such things.

Gracie, who didn't care about winning either, struggled with her poor tall body. She unfortunately takes after her mother in the coordination department. That is until we got to a soccer relay!

Gracie joined a team with Rebecca, Jordan & Morgan, who is on a soccer team. My eyes bugged out of my head watching Gracie control that ball and kick it straight where she wanted it to go.

I cheered for her at all of the stations, but I think I may have been a little louder here. I even wondered out loud "when did you get athletic?"

She was beaming at her success, and her girl team "won" the relay.

Now, the rest of the stations, she was back to struggling. But, I am not one of those parents who obsesses over my child's prowess on the field (I have issues about her prowess in the classroom--still working on that by the way), so I just stood back and watched, and cheered, and took tons of pictures.

When we finished the stations outside they divided the 9 classes into 3 big groups. From there we went on to play something called "Cat & Mouse." I didn't get it, but there were balls and kids kicking the balls and such. We parents just kind of hung out and watched this, although several of the dads and moms got right in there and played with them.

Now, I am an active parent, and I do all sorts of activities with my children--running and kicking aren't one of them. Not that I wouldn't if they wanted me to--in our own backyard--but, I really didn't want to show off my lack of coordination and skill in front of 60 kids and parents.

After the cat and mouse game we got to go inside for a game in the gym.

Boy was this fun to watch!!!

The kids had scooters. I remember having those when I was in gym class, only it was a peice of wood nailed to 4 wheels. These kids had nice plastic ones with handles!

The kids took turns being "it" based on the color of their scooter, and they tagged those that tried to get away from them.

I took lots of pictures, that didn't turn out well with the florescent lights, but when it was Gracie's turn to be "it" I turned the camera to video.

I just happened to get a clip of Gracie tagging Ms. Orndorff who was playing right along with the kids.

You have to see this!

Our last game was back outside, and to tell you the truth I didn't get it either. Something about snakes in the grass. It involved jump ropes. We parents kind of found a nice place to sit and roast. It was starting to get hot outside and many of the kids were getting whiny.

Thankfully Field Day ended before any one could melt. The kids went inside for lunch and I kissed a very sweaty Gracie good bye.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Kindergarten Day To Remember

There was so much fun today.... so much excitement, so much emotion. And, I got to share it all with my Gracie.

I put Gracie on the bus this morning and reminded her I would see her in about an hour.

Garren had promised to watch Thomas this morning several weeks ago, so I could go on the last Kindergarten Field Trip with her.

I waited for the bus to arrive at our town lot around 8:45. As usual they were late--but when she did step off the bus she was beaming.

The kids from 3 of the 9 Kindergarten classes were going to visit the "community helpers" around town.
Our class started off at the town library. The kids got a tour of the restored home and then were treated to a story about the beach.

From there we headed to the Town Hall where the Police Station is located here in Strasburg.

The kids participated in the discussion about strangers, and later a very gross discussion about germs. They got to see a police bike, the lockers, charts, bulletins and more.

And, then came the fun part--getting to see the cruiser. The officers let them see inside the front seat of the car, they all heard the sirens and watched the lights. And then, he let them crawl through the back seat where the "bad guys" sit.

The kids did their best to stand still and be patient and wait their turns, but this was by far the most participatory and most fun stop on our journey.

After they said "thank you" to the officers, we crossed the street to the Fire Department and the kids got to peek inside the many doors and compartments on the fire trucks and the ambulance.

I for one, had no idea they had the much stuff hidden inside, and I definitely didn't know we had rescue boats!

We finished up a little early at the Fire Station, and Ms. Orndorff arranged the kids for a class photo. As I leaned to ask her about one, she had already thought of the same thing. So, the kids stood and knelt in front of the rescue truck.

As usual it is not easy to get 20 kids to look in the same direction, so mine aren't the best, but hey, they are kindergartners, and you can see Gracie--so that's good enough for me!

The kids lined up to get back on the bus, and I gave Gracie a kiss. I told her I would meet her at the park for the picnic. She and the other kids were quite excited. Not about the food though, they were all told they could go and play on the playground after lunch and their songs.

I drove over to the park and found Garren, Luke & Thomas waiting under the pavillion. Garren had to go back to his car as work things "blew up" as he says. Gracie joined us and we ate our Subway sandwiches and the other treats I had brought.

I was actually surprised she ate as much as she did with all of the excitement!

We made sure Daddy came back over for the "ceremony" part of the afternoon, and we watched as Gracie and her class sang the two cutest songs about their year as Kindergartners.

I was fighting back the tears watching her sing, but thankfully I had to distract Thomas and video the whole thing at the same time, so I didn't have time to cry!

After songs the teacher gave each child an award tailored just for them.

Our Gracie was awarded the "Caring Award." Many times this past year Ms. Orndorff has sent home a note about Gracie doing something super sweet. Once a child was all alone in a center and she asked the teacher if she could switch centers so they weren't lonely! She was the helper for the new little girl in the class, she was always making notes and giving them to her friends. She was just showing in class what I get to see all the time at home. This was the perfect award for her!

Once all of the kids were recognized, we went through them again.

This time they were given their Kindergarten certificates.

Somehow I made it through this process as well, but I lost it when Ms. Orndorff teared up herself when talking about how the kids would always hold a special place in her heart since they were her first class as a teacher.

We of course couldn't have been more thrilled to have her as Gracie's first teacher. I have no doubt that God answered my prayers when I was struggling so much 9 months ago at the thought of her leaving me and going to a place to be with strangers all day.

The kids barely let the teachers finish their final instructions before running like mad to the playground.

I made Gracie stop and get her picture taken with Ms. Orndorff. Well, she was happy to do that, but excited to go and play.

And I even let her get out of her dress and into a t-shirt! She had shorts underneath and went off to play with the others, and look like them as well. (Did you hear that Candice--t-shirt and shorts on a school day!)

Garren had to rush back to deal with work things at home as soon as he gave her hugs. Thomas and I stuck around and let her play for about 45 minutes.

Everyone said it was supposed to stay cool today--but that sun was blazing hot!

We took Gracie home with us, hot and tired, and very full of pride.

What a day for Gracie!

What a day for Mommy!

Miss. Orndorff Mrs. Kupeski

**This is only a fraction of the 175 pictures I took today, but they are the ones that best describe the day. The picture of her on the playground is with her best school friend Rebecca. **

Sunday, June 06, 2010

A Real Princess Shows Grace Even Through Adversity

So, I am sure Gracie is a real princess through and through.

This morning after her terrible ordeal she managed to look lovely when we arrived at church.

Of course she only looked lovelier when she added the pink beaded necklace and hair comb that her Uncle George had made her from beads they had purchased yesterday at the great bead store.

Oh, if you could have seen the look on her face! She walked proudly around the rest of the day--beaming!

You hardly would have known that the little prince had made a rather large bite mark on her leg this morning for who knows what reason!

We had thought the biting phase was over--guess not!

Of course you have to find it suspicious that Gracie is the only person he seems to bite! Now, he has (embarrassingly!!!) bitten others, but usually once and he has the worst "sorry sad face" you have ever seen. But, his poor sister seems to get repeated "wounds."

Many, many thanks to Uncle George for making our pink princess sparkle even more than she already does!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Fun Continues

We just couldn't get enough fun with Aunt Ruth today.

She and I had been talking about taking the kids strawberry picking for a few weeks now, but with Gracie's school schedule and her work schedule there never seemed to be enough time.

Well, today was cloudy, but hot. I decided I would rather be hot and not have the sun beaming down on the kids while I was picking berries, so I called and asked her if she wanted to take us to the place she knew in Edinburg.

I told her she should be taking a nap, but you know Aunt Ruth--she has the most abundant energy!!!

So, we picked her up this afternoon and she showed us to the cutest little berry farm maybe ever!

I wasn't sure how Thomas would do. Last year he was a few months old when Gracie and I stopped on our way back from Lynchburg. Well, it was hot, and the sun was blazing, he was screaming, and Gracie was needing my help. It was an experience, and she enjoyed the berries and was completely stained in them--but it wasn't exactly the Norman Rockwell portrait I was going for.

So, I had no idea how this afternoon would go.

It was such fun!

Gracie was chatty as usual and she ran from row to row. Back and forth between Aunt Ruth and me with her little metal pail.

There wasn't anyone else in the berry patch and there weren't many berries either. The man who owned the farm warned me of this when I called, but I assured him we were in it for the experience.

And how about Thomas? Well, I kept waiting for him to explode! Every time I turned around his hand was in the bucket. He would have one in his mouth and one in each hand. It was too cute! And, he loved having the freedom to roam. Usually he wants me to hold him all the time, but I put him down and he stayed very close to the bucket--but would venture out while he chewed, and then return to me and the bucket once again.

Boy was he a mess!

After we picked the berries, Ruth showed Gracie how to wash them off and weigh them. Combining Gracie's bucket and mine we weighed in at 1.5 pounds. Of course at a $1 a pound, I would say we got a pretty good deal! Although I put $2 in the box (it was an honor system kind of farm), because I figured Thomas probably ate half a pound in the half hour we were there.

I also got the most amazing pictures. It is not so much the quality of the photo, but the subjects in it.

And, what fun would berry picking be if we didn't have some for desert? None!

Mommy made strawberry shortcakes--yum, yum!

Morning Out With Aunt Ruth & Uncle George

There are so many "last" things that keep popping up...but unless we can find a place to move to in Richmond in the next few weeks, we may be able to eek out another Home Depot building project with Uncle George & Aunt Ruth.

This morning the two devoted adopted relatives picked up our Gracie for a morning of activities.

I didn't get all of the details, but they did make the cutest wooden game at the Home Depot Kids Workshop.

They also apparently went to a bead store, tried on shoes (from what I hear some very ugly ones!), waited to see Zachary (Ruth & George's elsest son), and had lunch at Five Guys.

We have never been to Five Guys Burgers, but there are several locations around here. Anyway, apparently Gracie decided to try ketchup on her fries...and LOVED it! She loved it so much Aunt Ruth had to go back and get her own.

These three are so very cute together, of course when they have both my kids they all look so happy as well, but this day was just for Gracie.

**Uncle George shared the pictures with me. I just had to post the picture that Ruth got of their hands! It could be my emotional state, but that one almost made me cry...her little hands, his big ones helping her. Great now I need another tissue! ***

Thomas & His Trucks

I have been wanting to get a video of Thomas playing with his trucks for so long now!

I noticed several weeks back that he would get on his hands and knees and "drive" the cars and trucks around the carpet.

Is it instinctive in boys to know how to play cars? Where on earth did he learn to do this? I mean, I have played with him before with his toys, including the vehicles, but it amazes me how young he is and how determined his in his own little game of cars and trucks!

Usually he is on all fours and pushing them around, but typical Thomas didn't want to anything for the camera. His daddy started playing with his cars, and it wasn't long before he decided to go along.

Watch how adorable he is (at this moment in time any way!)

Friday, June 04, 2010

A Summer "Do"

I HATE cutting the kids hair!

Thomas has only had one hair cut, and Gracie has had...well, less than five.

Not only is it hard to get the child to sit or stand still, it is just so hard to watch the locks fall to the floor.

Now, I know I am a "different" kind of mommy, but I have heard from other moms that it was hard for them too. They were talking about the first haircut...but I digress.

It is so hot here, and I know the last week of school Gracie has several outdoor activities. Not only was her hair getting very long, but it is so thick.

So, I asked her what she thought about getting a trim.

She was all for the idea, and I sank each time large chunks of my child's beautiful hair floated to the ground.

Okay plopped, but I was going for a beautiful description there.

She seemed to like it, and while wet it was a pretty good length, I know when she wakes up in the morning and I see just how short it is I will cry a little inside.

Yeah--I am pathetic, I know.

And, this is why Gracie has had 3-4 haircuts in her lifetime--including tonight's!

Of course Thomas is in desperate need of one, and I am thinking I will have to do better by him so he isn't mistaken for a little girl.

I think I will enlist Aunt Ruth's help this time though! I got too lucky last time!