Tuesday, July 27, 2010

18 Month Check Up (A Little Early)

I wanted to get Thomas in to see the pediatrician before we move and have to quickly find a new doctor. He will be 18 months on August 9th, so really it isn't that early.

We were in and out in about 20 minutes, which was good since he only took momentary pauses between the screaming.

Now, if you thought Thomas was pitiful, you should have seen Gracie!

Usually, I can work it out where Gracie is in school, or Daddy is home for her, but I was desperate to get him in before the end of the month, and got what I could. So, Gracie had to go with me since it is a Richmond dad for daddy.

The poor thing. She sat still and tried to comfort him. Of course, nothing would work. Every once in a while why trying to bounce and soothe him I would look over and she was almost literally wringing her 6 year old hands. I would hear her say "I am just so worried about him." I spent more time trying to comfort big sister.

She took Lambie with her, and she kept reassuring her stuffed lamb that Thomas was okay. I think she was trying to convince herself.

The nurse was so impressed that she took Gracie and let her pick out 2 stickers for being such a brave big sister!

Thomas got some stickers too, but he couldn't have cared less, he wanted out of there!

My little boy is still average, and below average, and I know he is growing along the same curve, but it just worries me. I am used to nurturing a giant, and now I have this tiny little thing. My tough giant could have taken out several toddlers her own age, and now I find myself braced for impact whenever he is around other kids!

He falls in the 50th percentile for height, and just below for weight. His big ole head isn't even that big. It is in the 50-75th range.

The pediatrician says he is fine, and I know she is right.

I have had some concerns about his speech. Not that he can't talk, but that he doesn't. I don't think there is anything wrong with his ability to make words, he just has so few. But again, Gracie was talking up a storm by his age.

We try so hard as parents not to compare our children, but in reality, Gracie is all I know, so it is only inevitable be unnerved when the second child isn't at the same place.

Of course why should he talk? Gracie never stops talking long enough to let him get a word in, and we are constantly at his beckoned call and grunt. Who needs to say words when you have 3 people (and most of the time more) tripping over themselves to serve your every need?! :)

The long and the short is: he is fine in speech too. Kids his age should have around 6 words. We have that covered, so we will keep plugging along.

And, I have some time to find a new doctor for the kids. He doesn't need more shots until 6 months from now.

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's A Girl?!!!

I finally got a chance to video Gracie's response to Candice's big news. Candice sent back the card that Gracie had made for her so many months ago. She filled in the "yes" box for girl. You have to love Gracie's reaction.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Baby Got A New Pair Of Shoes

Hard Sunday

Words can not express my emotions and feelings-- and how many tissues I went through this morning.

I had hoped that all of the excitement surrounding the end of Bible School and the kids performance would take my mind off it being our last Sunday in church here at Strasburg.

It did...until the end.

I should be proud of myself for making it that long, and not occupying my mind the entire service about how much I would miss all of these amazing people who found there ways in to my children's lives, and my life....and our hearts.

Now, for the record, I had asked Reverend Ed if we could avoid the "standing in front of the church" part of the service where we have to face everyone and say goodbye. Guess he likes the drama, because he called us up.

Poor Gracie wouldn't budge. She stood so hard and so firm I couldn't even pick her up to carry her to the front. She locked on to her Aunt Ruth and there she stood while Thomas, Daddy and I made our way to the waiting Reverend.

Thomas loved all eyes being on him, and he showed off. But, apparently the constant flow of tears from my eyes and the fact that I couldn't even look up caused a ripple of tears in the isles in front of me.

I didn't see them of course, but I wasn't the only one red and puffy as we left the service.

We were asked to stand in the back and greet the other church goers as they left.

Honestly, it was all a blurr. I was trying to hide my tears, but I couldn't, so I hid my face, mainly in the warm hugs of person after person who either wished us luck or said how sad they were to see us go.

I had begged Ruth and George the night before to not say goodbye to us today. I just couldn't take that on top of everything. Not only did they refrain, but they also didn't join the lines of hugging church members out the door. For that, I am eternally grateful!

My eyes remained puffy for most of the day, and I know the tears will return many more times this week. In fact, I am not doing very well keeping them at bay as I type this out.

I made this statement earlier tonight on Facebook, and I think it is the best way to sum up how I feel.... I appreciate all of the well wishes and the love, but the constant string of "you'll be fine" and "you'll make new friends," and "it will all work out," make it seem like it isn't okay to feel so sad. Truth is, I know we will be fine, but right now my heart is breaking. I have decided "it's my move and I'll cry if I want too!"

And, I will, and will some more. And, the tears will fall like rain in the future when I hear the hymn that our beloved church friends and family sang to us before we left this morning.

Friday, July 23, 2010

No Caption Necessary....

Bible School, Day 5

Our last night was a successful one!

The kids were far more wound up than any other night this week.

They each got a Bible School t-shirt and got to take home all of their crafts. They practiced their songs again for Sunday, and I have at least 3 of my 6 kids who will be there to perform. 2 others weren't sure.

The kids finished up Chadder's video adventure, and help make blankets to send to kids in Africa who didn't have any beds to sleep on. I think this really touched a lot of them.

We kind of reviewed lessons from the week and they got a little surprise snack in the end.

A very successful week at Bible School and I know the church volunteers were thrilled at the turnout and the week's activities.

And Thomas was happier too. He wasn't passed hip to hip for the first night. He stayed attached to only one: his Aunt Ruth's. Ruth and George and their sons came back from their Florida vacation last night, and both of my kids were thrilled! :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bible School, Day 4

Paint fun tonight at Bible School!

Those craft volunteers were saints tonight as they guided 80 kids (yep, we are up to 80 enrolled!!) through making painted hand prints on a captain's wheel paper craft.

Amazingly they did it well and there was very little mess!

In addition to paint fun, was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner, more songs, more Bible lessons, and a very touching video about an inspirational little girl who stars in the Bible School videos.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bible School, Day 3

Another fun evening at Bible School tonight.

Thomas seems to be getting better, but I find him walking around on various hips through out the evening as I take my kids to each station. Of course, we have to play dodge the baby's sight--but we manage. Many, many thank you's to those voluneteers and nursery workers!!

Tonight we made kaleidoscopes, had another Bible Adventure, and watched more excitement in the Chadder Chipmunk video, and now the kids are really getting good at their songs and motions.

We of course are hoping that most of them will return to our sanctuary on Sunday to perform the songs and hopefully keep coming back week after week.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bible School, Day 2

More fun tonight...

The kids made stain-glass window crafts from colored tissue paper, sang more songs, watched another adventure of Chadder Chipmunk and went on a pretend boat ride while hearing the story of Paul the prisoner and the storm.

Don't you wish you were with us? ;)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bible School, Day 1

Gracie and I are having a great time at Bible School.

Thomas? Not so much.

This is the first year that we have been at Strasburg UMC that they have decided to do a week long Bible School.

In years past Gracie and I have attended for a day long course, followed by the church picnic and pool party.

I was so excited to see that they would do a week long program this year, and even more excited that we would get to be here for it. (Originally we had planned to be in Richmond by July1st). I signed Gracie up, and I was asked to help out.

I have a group of 6 kids ranging in age from upcoming 1st graders (my Gracie) to incoming 6th graders.

After an evening with "my kids" and seeing the many other groups, I am proud to tout that I have the quiet group!! It was if these kids were meant to be with the shyest group leader in the building. I asked for Gracie of course, who is shy, and then I seemed to get the rest that way as well.

Not that these kids aren't having fun--because they are! They are making friends with each other and participating, but they are also quiet and calm when they need to be.

Tonight the kids had pizza for a small dinner, we sang songs, heard a Bible Story, watched a video about a chipmunk on a ship, and made anchor name tags.

It was quite a success. Not only was it fun--there were 70 kids!! That is a lot of kids for our small church to bring in, and I know the organizers are thrilled.

And what about poor Thomas?

Well, apparently he spent his evening screaming in the nursery, and then being passed around and carried throughout the church by multiple volunteers to keep him happy. I feel terribly for the chaos and inconvenience he has caused, but you can't really blame him since I never leave him.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Walking Commercial

I have been noticing an upsetting trend in our home with our 6 year old. For one, she seems to be watching far too much television. And for "two," she has become a walking TV commercial!

I can not tell you how embarrassing it has become to go grocery shopping with Gracie lately. At first, I laughed it off, but now it is embarrassing...and annoying!

Lord help me if we see something in the isles that has been advertised heavily on TV!

I remember once waiting to check out at Walmart and Gracie notices the boxes of "Snuggies" on the display shelf beside our isle. She starts listing the qualities of the "Snuggie" which she decides she needs.

(Paraphrased) "Mommy, you can use it to keep warm, while still keeping your hands free! It is so soft and comfortable, and it is machine washable!"

I vowed then and there she would not watch any more TV for the rest of her life. Not only did she have the commercial memorized, but she decided that she needs one for herself.

Being a former "TV person," as my husband put it, she has had the multiple talks about commercials and what they are trying to get us to do. We even made a game out of it and would as her "what do they want us to buy?" Some ads were easier than others, and eventually she would tell us what they wanted to spend our hard earned money on.

Apparently that little lesson didn't stick. She knows what they want us to buy--and she's completely fine with that.

Lately, her newest obsession are the Pillow Pets....and if you are one of those moms out there who are tired of hearing about them too, you know the little song went off in your head when you read those words..."it's a pillow. It's a pet. It's a Pillow Pet!" Ingenuous writing, huh?!

Now, I am NOT going to buy her a Pillow Pet. Not just because they are $20 PLUS shipping, and not just because she has far too many toys and stuffies now, but because I want her to learn she can't have everything she wants and sees on TV.

We tried the method of telling her that products don't always live up to their commercials. She wanted "Sketchers" when we bought her new school shoes last fall. I told her that we were going to buy her the toughest and best shoes for her feet. This ended up in many tantrums of sorts (thankfully all in the car or at home!), and she did not get the brand she wanted.

Now, I am sure that experts would say that your child has to figure these things out on her own--but of course they can say that--it is not their money they are wasting. And, when she gets a little older and has money of her own, she will have to learn those hard lessons. In the meantime I can give you all the info on just about any child-targeted product out there.

Irony I guess. Once upon a time my job and pay check depended on commercials, now I want them banned from existence!

For all of those of you laughing, I am well aware this is one of the perils of parenting. I guess it could be worse--I haven't gotten to the "I hate you!" phase. So, I think I will try and relax and work on the lessons of a free-market commercial society.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A New House For Us

from email sent to family & friends 7/18/10

***NOTE: the original email listed our current and new address, for obvious reasons I will not add these to the blog. If you did not get, or misplaced your copies, let me know and I will be happy to send you our new mailing address. You can email me at lovemybabygracie@yahoo.com since I am sure our Shentel address will expire soon after we move. We will be sure to share our new email address as soon as possible. **

Dear friends and family:

I will call it "home" when my family is safely nestled inside and I have gone through the 6-7 boxes of tissues it will take after saying good bye to the many people we love here in Strasburg.

We got an extra month, and I am very grateful for that time, but August is getting closer and it will be time to start a new adventure.

After a very stressful process, we have found a house that will meet our needs in Mechanicsville, VA. This will be our first "house", a structure that shares no walls!! We are only renting the house, but it has a back and front yard (another very first for us!!), a deck/patio...and did I mention we won't share a single wall with any one?!!

I am giving up my beautiful and spacious kitchen, and the kids will lose their large playroom, but we will gain the yard, and thankfully lose one of the sets of stairs! A two level home will be a welcome change to this three level daily workout. The kids rooms will be larger, and the previous owners/renters started a vegetable patch, so those are positives. We won't have a guest room any longer, but hope that people will still visit us!!!

While I know that Gracie will make new friends, and maybe the rest of us too, the transition will likely be bumpy, as it would for anyone. Gracie will attend Mechanicsville Elementary School, which is one of 10 schools in this city. Yep, it is a city--long gone will be my simple town life--but Garren is thrilled to be able to drive 5 minutes to just about anything he wants/needs. And, not having to drive the kids 15-20 miles to the nearest Walmart kind of has its perks ;)

We hope you will pray for us as we try to pack up our old life and unload it in a much smaller space without breaking any treasures...or nerves!

We will adjust, and I will stop being a drama queen...eventually ;) In the meantime, please keep in touch. I have sent out a request to parents of Gracie's preschool and Kindergarten friends to send letters and cards and pictures to help her not feel so alone and sad. Our poor 6 year old is having a very hard time adjusting to the situation. She has her moments when she is excited about a new room and a yard, but the other 23 hours of the day are spent with her moping or out of sorts. She can't really explain why she feels the way she does, and we are doing our very best to help her cope. And while it may seem silly to you, or you may think it is as simple as telling her she will make new friends; this is the only place she has ever known, and she is a very shy and emotional little girl (wonder where she gets that from?!!). So, if you feel inspired to give her some comfort, give her a hug the next time you see her, or send her a card at her new house, or here at the old one before we move. I know we would all like to know we won't be forgotten...not that we plan to let you :)

We wish you all a great rest of the summer, and if you are ever in the Richmond area, please stop by and visit! You can run around our yard, or yell really loud and no one will hear you!! :)

Much Love,
Barbara, Garren, Gracie & Thomas Shipley

****A NOTE TO OUR STRASBURG "FAMILY": Garren and I will be here until everything is loaded and cleaned up, so we will be around until July 31st. The kids will be here through the 27th at least. They will be staying with Grandma and Grandpa while Garren and I do the heavy lifting. Our last church service as a family will be Sunday, July 25th, and Gracie will be attending Bible School this coming week. ****

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's A Girl!

Baby "J" cooperated today and we are all very excited that Candice & Elliott will soon welcome a baby girl.

Well, all of us that is except Gracie. Why? We haven't told her yet.

Several months back Gracie made Candice the cutest little card and inside she has a "check one" chart that she drew. She had Boy and the "yes" or "no". And then of course Girl: "Yes" or "no." Candice is going to send the card back with the appropriate box marked. I can't wait to see her reaction, in fact I want to try and video it.

She of course wants Candice to have a little girl so it can "be just like me!" And, being a 6 year old who is ALL GIRL, she of course favors the pink gender. She tried to hide her disappointment when Thomas turned out to be a "brother" or as she calls him these days: "a bother," instead of a sister.

She was going to call her sister "Sally." No word on what she thinks Candice's baby's name should be.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fancy Girls Lunch

You can imagine the excitement around our house this morning as my 6 year old awaited a much anticipated "Fancy Girls Lunch" with her kindergarten teacher, and her choir teacher from church.

I had asked these two very sweet and wonderful women if they would like to have a fun lunch with Gracie this summer before we had to move. Since both are teachers, they don't have to be at school all day, although I am sure they have tons they do during these three months.

Today seemed to suit both ladies, and I was so pleased they were willing to take time to come over.

I pulled out my finest plates and cups, I laid out cloth napkins and even polished the silver that hasn't been used but maybe twice since I got it before our wedding almost 10 years ago.

I prepared fancy sandwiches (that's bread with the crusts cut off) and orange salad, I set out bowls of strawberries and grapes along with crackers and cube cheese.

We had pink lemonade to drink, of course.

What a fun time my fancy little girl had. She took each of her teachers to see her room and she was of course decked out in fancy attire herself.

Ms. Orndorff had to leave right after lunch, but Ms. Karen stuck around and played ponies with Gracie in her room for almost an hour after lunch. I can not tell you how much this made her day!!

We have been so blessed to have these ladies in our daughter's life...and ours. What other teachers would be willing to come to a 6 year old's birthday party and a fancy lunch with no crusts?!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Look What Sister Bear Taught Me!

As long as she teaches him the important things in life...right?!! I will have to get a video of them both shouting in to my fan one of these days.

Nice way to show off that he is 17 months huh?! I am so proud! ;)

Happy 17th month of love and laughter, joy, and well....well spent energy Thomas! Mommy loves you :)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Ridiculous Heat!

Our poor air conditioner has been struggling all week to try and douse the amazing heat outside.

As you can see, it is failing since "comfortable" in our home is 70/71--but considering it has been over 100 degrees each day, it is doing pretty well. I don't want to even think about our power bill this month! One of the major setbacks to having a three level home (yes, Candice, I know you told me so ;).

We haven't been doing much this week. We are staying inside to try and keep cool, and nothing has been cooked or baked! We are also not taking showers during the day or early evening, nor using the dryer during the day. I can't imagine how much more heat that would add to this structure!

But, the kids don't seem to mind staying in. The grass is dead and crunchy and I worry to much about sunburns and heat-related sickness with them for them to go out. So, they have found tons to do just around here.

And as a bonus, we finally got PBS Sprout yesterday! Shentel promised to add it to their cable lineup June 15th...you do the math. But, it has made Gracie very happy, and mommy loves the calming effect of the "Goodnight Show!"

Hope you are all staying cool yourselves!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Happy Birthday Candice!

(Go to the potty before you watch this--it is hilarious--and it was ALL Gracie's doing!)

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Mommy Makes Gracie A Sundress

It wasn't super simple...but it wasn't super easy either. It is super pretty on her isn't it though?!!

She seems to really like it, and the purse I made to match. It is a nice cool fabric and makes her feel very "fancy."

I don't always have the time, but I sure do love making things for my very girly-girl!

Now, I just have to learn how to make things for Thomas. I am thinking; bow ties. I love them, and it would be something I made for him like all of the hair bows, quilts, dresses and more that I have made for her.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Fourth Fun

Our final Fourth here in Strasburg was...hot!!! Boy was it hot!! And boy did we all get cranky!

But, if you take out the crankies, the kids had a wonderful time--or at least that's what the pictures show anyway ;)

Gracie loved going from inflatable to inflatable and jumping her little heart out. I don't know how she had the energy or the patience to get that hot--but I was a good mommy and didn't complain as I waited for her to run to the next activity while holding her shoes in the blazing sun.

Gracie also got to ride the horse again, which is always her favorite thing to do.

As for Thomas, he was loving the wagon.

That is the BEST $25 I have every spent!! I have always wanted a wagon for Gracie, and then when Thomas came along I longed for one of those two seater wagons. Well imagine my excitement when I found one two weeks ago at a Goodwill!!! Now, imagine my frustration and broken heart when it took me 15 minutes to somehow wrestle the thing in my car! After all of that, it wouldn't even fit! But, the kids were in love with it, and I wanted to use it for the festivities, so Garren put it in the trunk and used a bungee to secure the trunk. Win, win.

So, he spent the hot evening going in an out.

When it finally decided to cool off and the sun went down I think we all felt A LOT better. And, just as we were able to breathe, the kids got all bouncy again as Aunt Ruth & Uncle George made the trek to the park to spend some time with them.

We were invited to watch the fireworks from Mrs. Hoffman's house which is next to the park with Aunt Ruth & Uncle George, and Logan & Zachary--but Garren wanted Uncle Luke to get the full "in your face" firework experience. If you haven't watched the above video--you must, if for no other reason than to see Uncle Luke (who is legally blind)'s reaction to the pyrotechnics.

We sit really, really close.

After some doting from the favorite people in their lives, the kids settled in with plain old mommy and daddy.

The fireworks started soon after.

The kids were prepared (and occupied) with glow things that Grandma gave them from the Dollar Store, over priced kettle corn, and Gracie had a belly full of MY funnel cake.

Of course once the booming began Gracie and Thomas were like cats in a rocking chair factory! We double teamed and Daddy held Gracie in his lap and I rocked and soothed Thomas on the blanket.

He was pretty upset for the first 10 minutes, but not hysterical (like Gracie's 2nd 4th!!). I was able to soothe him and he watched the whole show from my lap, glued to my sweaty sticky body. After about 15 minutes I removed my hands from his ears and he began to realize it was okay. He seemed to enjoy the rest of the show and even clapped at one point.

Once the finale was over, I loaded the kids back in the wagon and we headed to Mrs. Hoffman's (who is Uncle George's mother by the way) to wait out the traffic.

I figured since Gracie was so upset that she didn't get to stay with Aunt Ruth for the fireworks, she could get some "attention" after them. We would have had to wait in the car to get out with the other 200+ people anyway.

So, the kids got extra attention inside the nice air conditioned home. Thomas tried out Logan's new skateboard, and Zachary fixed Gracie blueberry pie and ate with her in the kitchen (like she needed more sugar!!)

By the time we got home it was 11:30 and we were all hot, sweaty and tired! But, it was a memory none of us will surely forget soon.

Happy Fourth Of July

from our family to yours....

Thursday, July 01, 2010

16 Teeth, 16 Months

Here's hoping his six year old molars don't come in early! He has a mouth full, which he unfortunately still chooses to use in not very "healthy" activities. Poor Gracie. Although, his bites are fewer and far between and we can usually catch him before he actually sinks his teeth in. This is something we continue to discipline...and work on. And, while we abhor the "biting" episodes no matter how rare--you have to feel sorry for him. So much discomfort at his very young age!

We have also retired the old binks and have bought new "orthodontic" ones as you could start to see his teeth making their way outward. My hope is after this tooth comes-- all the way through-- -binks will only be for bedtime.

Wish us luck! Gracie was "off the bink" days after her third birthday. We were told kids need to be completely rid of pacifiers by age 3. Those were some very hard, and very long nights.

Here's an updated chart for our little tooth-full wonder...

As you can see we can expect some more molars by 20 months, and then maybe we are done until he is 6!! Whew! Of course that means Gracie's molars should be coming in soon as well. And, for all of you inquiring minds--that pesky loose tooth STILL hasn't come out yet!

**The above picture was taken a few days before #16 popped through, but it gives a good illustration of just how full that mouth is! Click to enlarge all photos ***