Wednesday, September 29, 2010

10 Years Together

Every year you are together should be a celebrated milestone...but ten years is requires extra special attention.

Happy 10th Anniversary Garren

Happy Tenth! A milestone that seems
As natural as stones upon a hill,
Placed by wind and rain and swollen streams
Plunging down to work their wayward will.
Yet our will alone has placed this stele
That stands amid the wilderness of time,
Each choosing each each day that we might feel
Nearer to a grace we can't define.
The loves that last are cultivated flowers:
Half pure mystery, half purely ours.

A Decade

You know there are days when it seems like we have been married for 20 years, and days when it seems like we were born married and our lives never even existed outside of each other.

I guess that is a good thing.

If you know us well, or really at all; you will know we aren't the smushy-mushy kind of couple. We don't hold hands and kiss in public. We are very reserved about our affection. But it works for us, and time has been the true testimony.

Now, for those of you who had "one year" in the pool for our divorce--ha! And for those of you who decided to be risky and go with "5 years"--ha ha! And to those of you who wonder how in the world we made it this far...well, I guess you may have a point there.

Garren and I joke that we haven't divorced yet because we have too much stuff and neither of us wants to move it. We also laugh that our marriage must be okay since neither has killed the other.

But, the truth is, we wouldn't have lasted this long without a whole lot of love.

I am no expert on any subject, but as we reach this decade of "wedded bliss," perhaps we have some knowledge that may help our kids one day.

First of all, don't believe in "wedded bliss." This will get you every time. There is no such thing as "happily ever after." You don't just get married and then the romantic story ends. Come to that conclusion now and you will save yourselves some heartache. It will not all be wine and roses. You will fight, you will disagree, you may even think about leaving. There is a reason the Grim Brothers decided to put the "the end" after the wedding. Odds are they were married themselves.

Second: Do NOT compare yourselves to other married couples ESPECIALLY your parents! You are not, and should not, try and do things exactly as they did it--or more importantly expect your spouse to behave/respond the same way they did. Because, you are not exactly like them, and neither is your spouse. This leaves you both with expectations that you can not hope to reach, and when you fall on your behind trying to reach them, you will fall hard.

Third: Talk to him, talk to her. About everything, about nothing, about the weather--it doesn't matter. I hate the term "communication" when they talk about it being the key to marriage--just because it sounds like a text book. But they are right. When you stop talking, you inch yourselves away from each other little by little, and you will have to fight to get those inches back. I remember someone telling me "never go to bed angry," and I wish to heaven that I had followed that advice. Talking and sharing are what made you want to get married in the first place, and it will be what makes you want to stay married.

Fourth: Know from the start that you are both going to change, and you are both going to have to work at being married. People grow and change--it is a fact of life. You can not expect your husband or wife to be the same person you married 2, 5,...10 years from now. And to keep from being so alarmed years down the road at the person they are no longer resembling, you are going to have to work--and I mean hard--at staying together and being happy that you stayed together. You can't just put on the rings and be done. You will have to make changes together--small ones, big ones, ones you didn't even see coming. You have to listen to her, you have to listen to him!

And last (for this list anyway): Fight like crazy for him or her. Don't let stupid things get in the way. Don't let your anger, or your pride, or your big mouth make such a distance that you don't think it is worth it to erase it. Find the reason you married them, and then remember that it is worth fighting for.

Okay, so all of these things seem "common knowledge-eque." But I was young and newly married once and I didn't listen. And I was not so young once and married for a few years, and I still didn't listen.

So, perhaps my "wisdom" will help some poor soul. But, I hope that like us, even if you don't listen to sound advice and you find your own way to do it--you also find your own way to fight to stay together...and you too live to tell about it 10 years later.

For those of you there at the beginning, and for those of you there now--we thank you for being apart in some way of our now ten years together.


Thank you mom for the card and the phone call. And thanks to you Candice for the phone call of congrats as well. And a big thanks to the almost 20 Facebook friends (i.e non obligated people :) who were so sweet to wish us well And thank you Garren for the 6 dozen roses. They are beautiful!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Back To School Night

So, tonight I loaded up Thomas and Gracie and we went to Gracie's school for Back To School Night.

I am not sure what I envisioned for this "event," and to be honest I am not sure what I got.

Miss. Anderson was as lovely and kind as I remember her from Open House. Myself and three other parents and kids sat and listened for about 20 minutes as she did a run down of the kids day, and what they were focusing on thus far.

It wasn't really anything new. In fact all of her topics were based on paper work that she has sent home over the past few weeks. But, I think maybe hearing it out loud was supposed to clarify things. The most new information I received was that there were spelling tests each Friday, which was not included in the info I saw, and when I thought this might be the case last week, I asked Gracie she said "no."

I think maybe I went into this night with a very negative mindset. My mind has been progressively getting more and more negative as the year goes on. It seems like every day my daughter brings home the drama of the day--and it is all over discipline and behavior issues.

I thought it was sad that only 4 out of the 20 parents were present. I didn't see the other classrooms, but I would bet that the percentages were about the same. It is so sad to see that parents don't take a more active role in their children's education. That's not to say if they didn't go, they don't care. And, maybe it is just me, but I want to know everything there is to know about my child's class, her learning environment, her education...etc.

But, back to the evening.

Thomas made his best attempt at well behaved, which as you may know is far from what I would like. But, what toddler wants to sit quietly and listen to a teacher in a room full of toys and other shiny things that fit perfectly into a small mouth?!

After the teacher went through her outline she asked for questions. I decided not to be the bad parent and shout out "why is my daughter coming home and telling me about something new everyday she missed out on because her classmates can't manage the rules?!!"

Instead, I let Gracie show me around her room and I took pictures of all of her proudly displayed works.

I briefly broached the subject of discipline when we left the room, but she had another teacher come by, and so I wrapped it up and we left.

The more I think about it, I wonder if the problem here is not slightly mama. We talked to Gracie about new expectations for her in first grade, how things would be harder and different. But, while I was lecturing her, I never thought that things would be different for me as a parent.

In kindergarten I received Gracie's school work home each day (unless something had to dry :)
In first grade I get an overwhelmingly huge lump of papers once a week in a Tuesday Folder

In kindergarten the focus of notes home was of her academic achievement/needs
In first grade 9 out of 10 notes home have to deal with behavior, rules...or giving more money (all of which have to be signed by the way. I sign more for first grade than I did to buy a car!!)

In kindergarten I felt like I was being listened to by the teacher, and my concerns were addressed.
In first grade, I feel like I am being dismissed and I am overly (whatever) at the time.

In kindergarten I was greeted with positive parts of the day by my child
In first grade I get nothing but negative feed back on what goes on

Now, she did address that the kids had to make a huge adjustment and that if they were coming home saying things like they don't like first grade or school any more to not be concerned, that they will adjust and grow. She reassured us they were in good capable hands (she is very defensive as well, but I guess all teachers have to be that way anymore).

I know she is in capable hands. I have every faith that my daughter's teacher is nurturing her and educating her. But, I don't agree that if your child is coming home and saying they don't like school that it is not something you should worry about.

So, I might be even more confused about how to deal and feel about first grade now, than I did before I went. But, I am not as angry about it. It was good to hear someone verbally run down what the children are and are supposed to be doing. Even if it had a happy smiley spin to it.

So, more prayers, and hopeful waiting. But, isn't that what all parents do?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Daddy's Big Race

Gracie (and mommy too!) was very proud of her daddy today. She told him he should have been the champion of the race!

Daddy started running a year and half ago (or more) in an attempt to alleviate stress. Even though everyone assumes so, he was trying to shed anger, not pounds--and over the months he found himself not only with less stress, but he was really adding on distance.

When he started running he told us he would love to run a marathon someday, and participate in the Virginia Ten Miler, which is held in Lynchburg.

Well, today he accomplished one of those goals.

That was daddy crossing the finish line at the 10 mile mark.

Now, Garren was not that happy with his run, or his finish time, but he accomplished his three personal goals for the race..

1. Finish the race (check)
2. Don't die (check)
3. Don't come in last (check)

We are very proud of daddy for even attempting this race. As any one who is an avid runner will tell you--this course is the hardest in the state!

We are also very proud of Isaac, who decided to run in the race after grandma told him Uncle Garren was running.

He decided two weeks ago that he wanted to do this, having never competed in a race before--and having never run more than a mile.

Now, for anyone else this would have been more than difficult--it would have been foolishly impossible. And, even though his parents tried to talk him out of it--he was insistent on participating.

Did I mention he was 16?

And, 16 year old bodies and energy can do amazing things.
After only two weeks of "training," and never having run a race before EVER--Isaac came in 14th in his age group, and finished 341st over all (out of 1080) with the very impressive time of 1:24!

So, we are proud of both guys and we cheered them on as they took on a task very few would even attempt.

As for me? I run only when chased! :)

Oh, and I had so many old friends who took to the course today as well!

Frankie from high school took 20th in his age group. Amy & John ran (she beat him--he he :). Amy's dad and brother also ran and they ranked very well.

Friends Connie and Janet ran in the 4 miler which was at a 15 minute delay from the 10 miler. And then Amy's mom, sister, and new sister in law all did the walk/run portion of the 4 miler.

And yesterday Amy's son's all participated in the children's version of the event: The Amazing Mile.

Sullivan came in -- overall in his age group which was 5 and under. Taylor, Mason & Jonas all came through the mile in record time as well!

Gracie says maybe she will do it next year. Won't that be cute? Daddy and daughter running "together" for the same event. Although, when I asked Garren about next year, I hadn't waited long enough for him to "heal," and he is already saying "no way!"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rough School Week

I would love to report back to you that this week was a better one at school for Gracie, but that would be far from the truth. In fact, I am pretty sure it got worse.

I am not going to continue to blog about every little issue that comes up--because it won't do any good, and I am just too frustrated over it.

Back to School Night is next week and I plan to have a rather long list of questions that I want answered. I am hoping that this will give me an opportunity to find out more of what is going on during the day, and to attempt to understand the thoughts behind the actions from teachers and staff.

In the meantime, I really appreciate all of those suggestions and words of encouragement from those of you on Facebook and else where. I find myself at the end of "my rope," and I just want to pack her and the rest of us up and go home! But, we are here now, and I have to find some more "rope," becuase my daughter is not, and can not, get a quality education with the chaos that she is telling us about.

Plan A was emailing her teacher--fail.

Plan B getting advice from friends and other parents--helpful for me, but not for her

Plan C calling Karen (first grade teacher from home) in tears hoping she could help. Again, she helped me, and talked to Gracie, and reminded me that this kind of atmosphere isn't at Sandy Hook! But, it doesn't solve the problem at school.

Plan D getting some serious answers from school

Plan E going to school and "volunteering" so I can see for myself.

Garren's Plan: look into private school.

While most parents would skip many of these steps and take out loans for private school, I would rather work with this new school and attempt a solution that isn't so drastic.

...but don't think I won't if I have too!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mother Goose, Week 2

Thomas and I gave story time another try--and it was great.

Of course mommy loved it last week. And, Thomas was a little more at ease, so we can officially move him up to "kind of liked."

The group was a little different this week as far as kids.

We did the same routine with the name tags, and welcome song, and goodbye song. But, she did different rhymes and songs and motions in between the hello and goodbye.

Thomas was so much more at ease this week, and I am thinking by next week he will be even better still.

(And maybe we can hide the bink!)

And, I got some better pictures of him this time too since he wasn't glued to me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A True Beach Boy

At 19 months Thomas got his first taste of the sand and the waves.

{We had taken Gracie at age 6 months, something else to add to the guilt pile!}

Since we live so much closer to the shore now, it seemed like we would be able to just pack up and go to the beachfront any time we would want, for a day trip.

Have you ever attempted a day trip to the beach with kids?

Call me if you ever even think about it! ;)

By the time we got the kids in the car, the stuff in the car, and made many stops along the way--we didn't arrive at the ocean until noon.

We weren't in a hurry, and actually spirits were good despite the cold that Gracie had developed Friday evening, which pushed the trip forward that was planned for yesterday.

We found a spot somewhere in the middle of TONS of beach goers. I guess the warm weather and beautiful day had everyone hoping for one last good weekend at the shore.

Garren carried Thomas to the water and I hurried to catch up with the camera making sure I caught his first reactions on video.

He smiled a lot, and seemed very interested in all of the sights and sounds.

He even liked the waves washing over his bare feet--the first time. After that, he was over it and totted back to the sand and the space we had captured.

It took several more visits to the water line, and mommy holding him before he was okay with the water.

Then, he was in LOVE with it.

Mommy sat for an hour or more with her little beach baby in her lap cheering as the water would rush over our legs.

He would get so excited when we got soaked, and so very disappointed when a wave wouldn't quite each us.

It was such a hot day, and the sun was really bearing down on our SPF 50'd exposed skin. So much so, that we actually didn't notice the 75 degree water temperatures. In fact, they felt refreshing. That is until we would leave the water for long enough to dry off.

We only stayed there on the sand for about 3.5 hours, but with the water, and the excitement, and the unbelievably hot sun--it seemed more like all day.

I had no idea how exhausted I would be, but when mommy tried to extend our day a little and maybe do a few more activities, I realized all too quickly that it was a bad idea--and the car was many, many blocks away!

Despite the onset of exhaustion by all four Shipley's, we really did have a wonderful day at the beach.

Daddy has decided that the next time we visit it will be for an over night trip, to avoid stretching ourselves too thin, and so the kids can rest and relax when they need to.

It was long over due, but our little boy's first trip to the ocean was a memorable one. And since he loved it so much, he was very upset when we carried him away from the waves--shivering, I might add!

Of course, he was asleep before we left 17th street on the ride back.

**Before my camera died during our day--yep died!--I got some pictures, but not as many as I would have liked to. Gracie, our little "chicken" stayed glued to her daddy any time she was in the water, and I couldn't snap pictures of Thomas playing in the water, or her either, and try and keep up with him at the same time, so I am really lacking I am afraid. I guess this is one of the times I will have to rely on the very vivid and warm memories I have of his water experience. **

Friday, September 17, 2010

First Grade Blues

I am still steaming from this morning.

Every child at some point will disappoint their parents. Heck, they will do it several times a week. Of course we never tell them that--or they will end up with my kind of self esteem.

But, I digress.

My child has done many things in her little life that I don't like, but this mornings betrayal I can't seem to let go of.

Garren of course chuckles at how upset I am with it, because he is sure all kids are devious and try and take the easy way out of things. He himself was apparently an expert at that as a kid as well.

Let me back up.

This morning Gracie still had some lingering sniffles from yesterday. All of our allergies are just on over-drive lately. I can only assume it is from the difference in "whatever" here in Mechanicsville from where we were. You add that change, plus the attempt the weather is making to change seasons and we have been really going through the tissues.

This morning is like yesterday morning and she is slow to motivate to get ready for school. I give her some extra medicine to try and dry up her nose, and she eats breakfast. I asked her if she was okay and she says "yeah" like Eyeore. So, as the morning routine goes on I double check her forehead--not even bed warm, I look at her, she looks anxious, but not sick. She doesn't cough at all.

Here's where I apparently made my mistake.

After several times of talking about how she will have to keep blowing her nose and getting tissues all day--and she might give someone else the "germies," I ask her "Gracie do you not feel well enough to go to school?"

My child looks at me and says "no."

Well, that was all I needed to hear. I was sure she was really sick.

My Gracie loves to go to school. My Gracie used to cry and complain when I made her stay at home when she was sick. My Gracie used to tell me she wished there was school on the weekends too!

But today My Gracie looked at me and lied!

I know she has lied to me before, but she is lousy at it just like her momma. She starts to grin and can't help but smile or giggle when she lies. Of course the smile fades when I tell her she is in double trouble because she lied to me about whatever it was.

But, this morning, she looked at me with sad eyes.

I told her okay, and I asked her to lay on the couch until Thomas woke up so he would stay down as long as possible.

I went back to our room and told Garren. He informs me that she is to stay down and in bed all day.

I had to go and get milk for Thomas, so I figured I would remind Gracie of the sick day rules.

I look in the living room where Sprout is on, but there is no Gracie. I figure she is in the potty, so I go fix the milk.

Then, I hear noises.

They are coming from the play room where I find Gracie playing with Thomas' train set!

I calmly tell her to lay back on the couch and remind her of what her daddy had said. This of course leads to a very upset Gracie. Which, you can't blame her.

I take the milk upstairs and tell Garren where I found her. I didn't think anything of it, but he goes down to talk to her.

Minutes later and stomping sounds up the stairs, and a slamming door my eyebrows raise.

Several more minutes after Garren has gone in her room to quash the tantrum, he reappears and tells me he is taking her to school.

I was in shock. I thought how could he punish her by making her go to school sick. That's when he tells me that she confessed she wanted to stay home so she could play. He tells her if she is sick she has to stay down and rest so she can get better. He gives her a choice, lay down and rest for the day, or go to school.

She choose school.

Now remember, she had already told me she felt too sick to go, not 30 minutes earlier.

She follows her father in to our room and I don't think I hid my disappointment very well at all.

A better, more well rested mother would have realized that this is just more proof that she doesn't want to go to school.

But, My Gracie had just lied to me in a way that she had never had before--so I was still reeling.

I helped Gracie get dressed, pulled her hair back, quickly packed her lunch and snack and drove her to school.

I signed some sort of tardy slip, gave her a kiss, and she walked to her classroom.

We had talked in the car about how we could discuss this more at home, but she was to focus on school today and be a good student.

I am more determined than ever to get to the bottom of this.

I have several running theories:

*She is new to the school and the other kids are leaving her out because they don't know her
(unlikely since Lilly is also new, and she tells me she has fun playing princesses and super girl with several others at recess.)

*There is some issue on the bus that she isn't tell me about
(unlikely since the bus driver has them sit by grade level, and she tells parents at the stop EVERY little detail over anything that has happened on the ride home--clogging the decent of all other kids including my Gracie as I wait impatiently for her to finally get off!)

*She can't understand or is struggling with something during the day
(She is incredibly smart, so I don't think it is academic, but it could be some part of the day and a way that the teacher explains directions)

*She can't see or hear well enough.
(Garren is convinced she needs to get her eyes and hearing checked, but I secretly tested her vision with reading a book and she was fine, and as for the hearing--she gets so lost in her world and so focused she blocks everything else out--the same as her father!!! She can hear just fine when she is paying attention)

*First Grade is hard
(I have heard from so many teachers and parents that first, third & fifth are the hardest years for kids. But, since Gracie is so far ahead academically, I am not really convinced of this either)

My most logical assumption (and more so after talking to Candice this afternoon) is that First Grade is just plain different!

In preschool you learned a little and played a lot.

In Kindergarten you played a little and learned a little.

Now, in first grade it is all work all the time. There aren't "centers" and "free time." She sits at a desk and they use the entire school day for learning.

I am leaning more toward this answer as the most logical. She won't talk to me much, but she has let a few things slip like "we are at school longer than Kindergarten!" (which of course isn't true). "We have only gotten to use our clipboards once!" (Meaning, most of the work is likely at the desk) "We just sit there!" (Again, no centers, no free time, work all the time).

I have been given several suggestions from people on Facebook, and I really appreciate that input, and I will continue to work with Gracie at home. And, we will conquer this loathing of the First Grade. But, I am game for any other suggestions or thoughts--especially if you have been through the First Grade blues with your child!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Breaking Bad...

Habits (again!)

Okay, now when we decided we wanted kids I gave my husband a list of traits that he was NOT to pass on to our future off spring. As usual he didn't listen--because at the top of that list was the debilitating "worry" gene that flows through his family like an ocean!

Gracie has struggled with worrying and anxiety at her young age, and many years ago when I saw it begin to surface, I vowed that she would break that habit, and fast! I refuse to let her spend the rest of her life afraid of everything! What a waste for such a precious young little girl.

I really thought we had the problem under control. She isn't the most adventurous child, but she had come so far. We had learned to throw away our worries, and we always gave things a try and when necessary we thought out "what could possibly happen if..." and then we usually came to a "plan" for what could happen.

While I sometimes didn't recognize my more adventurous girl, I was enjoying watching her live life instead of cowering from it.

But this morning our past came back to haunt us.

I watched my child almost literally wring her hands before school.

I knew something wasn't right with her, and she said her stomach hurt. We had ruled out a stomach bug yesterday when she finally told us her stomach and arms hurt and we learned that she had gone down the "slidey pole" at recess. I envision something along the lines of a fireman's pole that you can see on some play grounds. Which, of course, she was always to chicken to go down. Things clicked into place when she also said her cheeks hurt. We realized quickly that she had hurt her muscles from holding on so tight and clinching her teeth. We had her pretend to go down again and she laughed when those muscles ached harder.

So, this morning I figured her stomach was still just sore. But, she wasn't right. She was jumpy and jittery. She didn't want to eat breakfast, and you could tell she didn't want to go to school.

I started thinking back to the rest of the week and how I had noticed that she wasn't as excited when she got off the bus. She would tell us about her day, but I got very little information and she would just kind of plop when she got home. I figured she was getting exhausted from school, but when I looked at the clock this morning and realized I only had a minute to get her to the school bus she looked like a cat in a rocking chair factory.

Her stomach was fine minutes before (I asked her), and she then told me "mommy, my stomach started hurting after you said we only had a minute."

That was all the proof I needed. It is anxiety.

No one should have to suffer with anxiety, especially not a child!

I reluctantly put her on the bus.

I knew she wasn't sick--but I also knew something at school wasn't going well, or was bothering her.

I took a few minutes to regroup myself, and I emailed her teacher hoping for some sort of clue.

Her teacher emailed me back, and had no answers. She told me it was only the 2nd week of school and all of the kids still had first year jitters.

Now, I have no doubt that she is a seasoned and caring teacher--but she doesn't know Gracie, like I--her mother, does.

And since Gracie won't tell me what is bothering her about school, I guess I am going to have to wait this one out like all other mothers do.

Whatever it is will be fixed or dealt with in the quickest way possible, because I won't have her turned in knots through all of first grade.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thomas' First Story Time

Gracie and I never had anything like this to share!

"Story time" is an understatement to say the least! It was more of what I would call a "mommy & me play time."

Mommy loved it!

Thomas...well, he decided to be bashful, but as soon as it was nearly over, he was good to go.

I told you we got library cards and I saw that there was a story time for very small children. I took Gracie to story times when she was younger, but she was more preschool aged and the library offered just one a week and for mixed ages at the time.

She would have loved this!

We had to wait outside the library doors when we arrived. Apparently it doesn't open until 10am, when the story time is scheduled. I was in awe of the crowd of children and their parents or grandparents. I was glad it wouldn't just be a super small group--and thrilled it wouldn't be 60+ like when I took Gracie.

We went inside an enclosed room in the children's section of the library. They asked us to put a name tag on our little ones. We mom's starting placing bets as to how long they would actually remain on the children.

Then, we sat on a very colorful alphabet rug.

Thomas went super bashful when the library lady started to give out directions.

The program lasted about 30 minutes.

Clearly several of the kids were returning participants. This was the first session for the fall season. They opened with a hello song, and then went to each child and sang a "name" song and we did a motion with the child's name.

Thomas still hadn't unburied his head in my arm, but we all sang hello to him anyway.

We went on to sing several familiar songs and nursery rhymes with hand motions. All of the kids were on their mommies laps and it was just so neat to watch.

After several sitting songs we stood up and walked in a circle to do "Pop Goes The Weasel." Now, I was sure he would get into this since it is his favorite (thanks to Gracie). You could tell he was thinking about smiling, but we had gotten up and were doing something different, so again he refused to participate.

We ended the session with a story. He did actually get out of my lap and sit beside me for the story.

The library leader then brought out board books for the kids to look at and a few toys that are from the room.

He perked up a little at this point and liked cleaning up the pile of books and then later handing them to other kids.

I think if we go week after week he will really get into it and enjoy it a great deal.

I let him play with the interactive things in the children's section and then scooped him up to go and get some lunch!

What a very fun, and very rewarding program. I wanted something like this so badly when Gracie was small--but we didn't have any mommy & me type things in our area. I am so glad that I am getting to do this with Thomas.

Monday, September 13, 2010

How Much More Independance Can Mommy Take?

Today was a big day for my Gracie.

She got new school shoes (yep, I flaked and didn't get the, before school!), she got a prize for getting all 5's (behavior) since the first day of school...oh, and she didn't need mommy.

Okay, that's a little dramatic, but Gracie was eager to show me she could walk to our house from the bus stop all by herself today.

Last week mommy walked her to the bus stop at the bottom of the hill each morning, and Thomas and I picked her up each afternoon.

Now, I am still walking her in the mornings, but today I waited quite impatiently for her to get off the bus and walk up to the porch where Thomas and I were waiting for her.

I can see the bus and the bus stop from the porch and it is just one house down, but still!

She proudly walked up the road staying all the way to the side, and then walked up the driveway where Thomas was shouting even more impatiently for her. She waved at us and I caught the whole thing on video. Why? It's a big deal--of course!

I love this picture. I took several after I quickly switched the camera from video mode. This one better illustrates not only the afternoon, but the constant state of Gracie--mouth open and words spilling out like rushing water!

Now, as if walking home weren't a big enough show of independence, she gets asked to go and play with the other neighborhood kids a little while later.

Everything in me wants to say "no!" But, I can't do that to her. I also can't take Thomas out. Not only is he cranky, but the other kids are playing in the front of the house in the street.

I go over the rules with Gracie...

"Don't go into anyone's house."

"If there is a car, you move immediately to the side no matter what you are doing!"

"I want to be able to see you at all times."

"Don't play in someone's yard without permission."

I think that was all the rules I somewhat shouted at her. And, I am pretty sure it made her nervous, because she said she changed her mind and wanted to stay inside. But, only minutes later another kid was knocking on the door and waiting for her.

She excitedly went out and I heard and saw several trips up our driveway to the large outdoor container that holds the kids outside toys.

Now most moms would go off and fix dinner or clean or something--but I was so distracted!!! I did put Thomas down for a second nap (he still hasn't recovered from yesterdays trip with no nap!), and I hovered at the front door.

I watched her and the other kids play with her bubbles, and her balls, and Thomas' golf set for almost an hour.

There was another mom out there. The kids Gracie was playing with, were mostly the ones she keeps after school, mixed with a few other neighborhood kids from the bus.

I know that playing with other kids is a good thing, and we live in a neighborhood now and I need to chill out (or so Garren tells me), but times aren't like when he and I were kids (like I keep telling him) there are so many new dangers!

So, I guess this will have to be a happy compromise, because I can't go out with her and keep Thomas safe, and I can not just entrust anyone to keep my child safe (yes, I know I don't let anyone watch/keep her even family...). So for now hovering at the door will have to do.

I guess it beats the hovering I usually do....just a matter of inches from either of them.

New Word

Okay, when Gracie was a baby I celebrated everything, and I have to say with two kids, while I still make such a fuss over every milestone, I may not annoyingly bring it to your attention.

But, when it comes to new words for Thomas I am thrilled to pieces.

It is no secret that I have worried over his lack of vocabulary. And it is no secret that everyone, including the pediatrician, says he is fine and where he should be in that department. It is also no secret he doesn't really need to talk--everyone breaks their necks trying to get or give him whatever he wants/needs at the slightest grunt.

Yep, he grunts. He is just like his grandpa. Nope, not as a kid--as an adult! Clearly they speak the same language. But it is another family member that is thrilled today with the new word.

At age 19 months my small, but mighty son, can get the following words out (but not very clearly):

"ah-dun" (all done)
"ah-gun" (all gone)
"Gay-ee" (Gracie)
"Uff-Uff" (that's for a dog)
"eeet" (eat)
"teee" (teeth, he wants to brush his teeth)
"Muh-ck" (milk, but he rarely says this, usually makes the sign)
"ch-eeee" (Chewey)
"ow-side" (outside)
"ff-nnn" (fan)
"offff" (off)
"Vroom-Vroom" (car of any kind, a louder version for wanting to ride with daddy)
"Whee!" (I think you get that one :)
"Mama" (which he even more infrequently says)
"Da-dieeee" (Daddy)
"Uh-Durge" (Uncle George)
"Oooo-gin" (Logan)

and now..."Ah-Roo" that would be Aunt Ruth whom he spent a wonderful doting day with.

I can not tell you how thankful I am for teaching him signs! It is so frustrating to not be able to understand what your child needs or wants. I need to work with him some more on those signs since he doesn't seem to care to try and form words. And, don't get me wrong, he isn't silent--he jabbers on and on and on and on (just like his sister) is is just incoherent.

So far he can do signs for:


Okay, and here is where I try not to compare my children and become more concerned. I knew I had kept a list of Gracie's vocabulary when she was little somewhere. I didn't find it, but I did find this blog entry of her at 18 months. Thomas is now 19 months.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Home Again

It had been six weeks, and mentally--well emotionally--I have been improving.

What choice do I have? I can't sit around here and moap, I have three people who need me. I can't cry and beg Garren to take us back because I am too homesick--that would be selfish. So, I have done what I can to try and move forward.

But today, I needed a little taste of what I miss so much.

So, I loaded the kids in the car at 7:45 am this morning, and we pulled out of the driveway by 8am.

I didn't really have much of a "plan," but I was armed with the DVD players for the kids, hand written directions, and various snacks for my bottomless pits.

I also had their church clothes and a change of play clothes in a bag, along with favorite stuffies and blankets.

The kids thought it was fun to sit in the back and watch cartoons and eat (make a mess).

A little over 2 hours later we crossed the Shenandoah County line, followed shortly by the most welcoming words I know "Welcome To Strasburg."

I nearly teared up, but I held it together--I only had 20 minutes left! I glanced back at Gracie and told her "I know you don't miss this place as much as I do--but it sure feels good to be back home." She looked up from her video and with the most serious of faces she replied "it sure does feel good to be home mommy."

A minute later I had pulled into Garren's old newspaper's side street (which is covered by trees and a building) and I was helping the kids into their church clothes. No one could see us, but if they could they would have been laughing so hard at the items flying from everywhere.

The kids were dressed and we were walking in to the front doors of the church only moments later.

I can not tell you how wonderful all the smiles and gasps were as we walked to our familiar pew. We left behind the most warm and wonderful people and I told Garren later that I think I just needed to see how much we were missed. That's not why I went back--but that is what has helped me more than anything since we returned to Mechanicsville.

I wasn't sure how many minutes we had before the great organ would begin, so I put the kids in the pew and chatted with people and gave hugs.

That's when Thomas did his usual Sunday morning church ritual. He left the pew and headed up the choir loft stairs and to the switch that controls the fan.

He knew exactly where he was!

I went and got him and let him flip the switch on. I heard a few people laughing at the familiar sight and I carried him back.

That's when George spotted us.

Keep in mind I hadn't told any one we were coming. I didn't even tell the kids I was thinking about it since we may not be able to get everything together to go.

I had been worried that Thomas would get all clingy since he hadn't seen his favorite people in 6 weeks. But, as you can imagine I had nothing to worry about. He spotted his Uncle George and thew himself out of my arms and in to his.

George gave me a look and asked if I had seen Ruth yet. I told him I wasn't sure how much time was left, but I knew I didn't want to scare her when she walked in to the piano after the service started.

Gracie and I got sidetracked when Ms. Karen spotted us, but I was still able to hear the squeal/scream that came from the back of the sanctuary.

Apparently everyone else was waiting and watching for it too.

Gracie and I went to the back to find Thomas in Ruth's arms, and her completely overwhelmed. I have had a lot of great moments with Ruth, and I have been around her for quite some time, but she isn't an emotional least not around me, so it was so heart warming to see her reaction to the three of us standing just steps away from her.

She had to reluctantly hand Thomas back because the service was starting, but she was sure to snatch him back during the first hymn. And she got Gracie later too.

Thomas was his typical self for the service as well. He was so well behaved until the "quiet parts." But, he was somewhat easy to redirect and keep occupied.

We gave and received even more hugs and kisses following the service. No one lamented on our being gone, but instead asked how we were settling and how Gracie's school was going. But we got tons of "we miss you's" though, and it was really nice to hear.

Now, as I said, I didn't actually have a plan. I figured we would go to church, get some lunch and maybe go apple picking at the orchard.

I think Aunt Ruth & Uncle George were glad we didn't have a plan either, because they insisted we go to a picnic lunch with them at the park for George's family reunion.

The kids had a wonderful time playing, and eating, and playing some more.

I could bore you all to tears over every detail, but I won't. Needless to say it was 4:00 before I realized it.

No one wanted to go home, and usually I would say something pithy about the adults being ready for my kids to go home--but I am not sure that would be the case this time.

Now, to all of you we didn't see this Sunday, please don't feel left out. I didn't have a plan, and I didn't let anyone know we were coming. It was a completely last minute thing, and I didn't take time to set up visits with any one else. Of course, I hadn't planned on Ruth & George being able to get to see the kids as long as they did either--because they are usually busy folks.

I promise this is not the last time we come to visit. We will be back, and we hope you all still will miss us as much then as you made us feel missed this time.

Garren was afraid I would feel worse when I returned to this house after being in Strasburg. But, I don't feel worse. I guess I feel "refreshed." I needed to go back and see that it is not that far, and remember why I loved that place so much, and to see all the people that I missed again.

Home is where my family is, and Strasburg has a great deal of my family there, so it will always be "home" to me. And, of course here is going to have to become "home" as well--because that is where the biggest parts of my heart reside....Garren and Gracie and Thomas too.

I will find a balance. And in the meantime, I am breathing a whole lot easier each day.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

First Grade Update

(email to family & friends):

Well, we made it.

Well, I made it any way. She had far more courage on her first day of school than mommy did.

Gracie rides the bus again this year, only this time her stop has 5 kids instead of 40! She is the last to get on in the mornings, and the last off in the afternoons, but she is really enjoying the shortened bus trip. In Strasburg she wasn't at the bus stop until 3:34, here, she is off by 2:40. School does start 15 minutes earlier here, but we really haven't noticed too much of a difference, or had to rush in the mornings--so far :) Oh, and I can see the bus stop from our front porch. I have walked her to the stop in the mornings and meet her there in the afternoons this past week, but she tells me next week I can just wait on the porch and watch her walk up like a big girl.

Gracie's new teacher is Miss. Anderson, and she now attends Mechanicsville Elementary.

Her teacher is very nice, and I feel so blessed to have have been able to leave my Gracie in the hands of amazing teachers since she started in preschool! Amen!

Behavior is a big deal at this school--which I like. Each day the kids are given a number from 1-5 based on the days behavior, 5 being the best. Gracie (of course) has come home with all 5's. {For all of you making those raised eyebrows no, I have no idea what I am going to do when Thomas is in school. My Gracie has NEVER once gotten in trouble or had a bad note in school. In preschool she never got her name written on the board, and in kindergarten she didn't once move her clothespin. I have a feeling things are going to be different with Thomas, and I hope by then I will have learned how to deal with it without scaring him for life!} So, back to the 5's. Each day a parent must sign the child's number. What worries me is when Gracie tells me how many people have had to move their "fish" and get 4's and 3's and even a 2. Seriously?! The first week of school?!

Also this week Gracie has been to art and library. They have had a fire drill, and talked about rules and behavior. Unlike Kindergarten (so far) she has brought home very few papers so I don't have much but her description to let me know what she is doing during the day. Also unlike Kindergarten, folders come home once a week. They will have messages from the teacher and info on what is coming up. We did get one on the first day of school--but it wasn't a huge amount of info. I am sure this will increase. She also told me Friday they were given a spelling test and she got a pink pencil as a reward. Apparently they were testing to see how far along the kids were--which is good, but I was very disappointed we were not told about this ahead of time. I would have liked to review with her.

Gracie has learned 3-4 people in her class, and I am very glad. She seems to talk about the little girl she met at Open House the most. She is disappointed that there aren't centers like at Kindergarten, and she thinks the day is longer. I am guessing there is a LOT less free time and far more instructional time. But, she gets her own desk, which she is over the moon about!

So, things seem to be going well for our first grader in her new school, and with her new teacher, and on her new bus, and with all of the many, many new kids. I am so glad that God made kids have the ability to adjust so well.

I can't thank those of you enough for the prayers for my little girl as she goes through such a big change, and such a big step in her life. I thank you all for the prayers for the mommy too!

If you want to see/read more about Gracie's school adventures you can on the blog, I have entries for:

Ice Cream Social (pre-school)
Open House (pre-school)
Night Before First Grade
First Day (morning)
First Day (afternoon)
First Day (afternoon, part 2)

and of course I will continue to update the blog on the many exciting and fun things she will do in the coming weeks and months.

We hope all of your kids are having great first weeks, or first month at school and that this year brings good things for them as well.

Much Love!
Barbara, Garren, Gracie & Thomas too

****If for some reason you have not received or can not find our new address & phone number, please feel free to email me and I will be sure you get it (again). Also, update your email lists with this email address. Our Shentel one will be obsolete soon. ***

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Grandparents & Grandbabies

With the addition yesterday of baby Charlie it made me realize that the tiny bundle makes nephew #8 for us, and cousin #11 for Gracie & Thomas.

Sprout has been talking about Grandparents all week this week since Sunday is Grandparents Day. So, I thought I might give you a visual aid of how Gracie & Thomas' factor in to the great grandkid triangle.

(click to enlarge either or both pictures)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A Dress Dilemma

Okay, so it is not actually a "dilemma,"--or wasn't--but after purging the remaining summer dresses in Gracie's closet that I have been all but squeezing her into these past few months...she was down to 31 dresses.

That's total!

And, that's is as few as she has EVER had.

Okay, this is the part where you stop rolling your eyes.

My Gracie has always been big for her age--not chunky or fat--just HUGE. And this summer she took at least 2 growth spurts. How much bigger could she get?!!

Well, that meant saying good bye to a huge pile of adorable clothes. And as I have lamented before, clothes for her are getting harder and harder to find.

We don't have as many thrift stores here, and the truth is, I was having a hard time finding cute dresses in size 8 and up at home anyway.

I figure I have a few weeks before I have to really stock up. Since it is so hot out she can wear the few dresses she has left, and then her nice long shorts with a dress shirt on other days.

But, just when I was about to accept the fact that my bargain & cute dress days with Gracie were nearly over--I hit a rather nice jackpot.

Today I took Thomas to go and look in the other thrift store near us. Yep, there is only 2 that I have found so far.

It was 1/2 off clothes day at the Salvation Army Thrift store, and I wasn't expecting to find much. But, I did! I found dress after dress, all very nice brands: Blueberri, Rare Editions, and even a Polly!!!

I didn't want to go crazy, but I did get 5 dresses for $13.

That is far more than I am used to paying, and those regular prices were ridiculous in there! But, hey this is what I have to choose from now--and beggars can't be choosers. So, I figure if I go on Wednesdays and get things at 1/2 off it will hurt my "sensibilities" less. Gotta love my reasoning.

I kind of wish now that I had gone ahead and gotten the 3-4 more dresses that were also nice and in her size and up. But, I will be back next week and hoping for great selection again.

So, as I said on Facebook today: some joy has returned to my life.

Plus, we are now up to 36 dresses. That's a little bit better :)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A New Nephew & New cousin

Aunt Heather had baby Charlie today.

Gracie & Thomas have a new baby cousin, and Garren and I have a new nephew.

Since she posted some pictures on Facebook, I don't think she will mind if I share one with you.

Welcome baby Charlie!

Gracie's First Grade Day

Well, apparently she didn't get lost, she didn't cry, she knew when to get off the bus....and her day was a major success!

Gracie came home today beaming!

She couldn't wait to chat on and on about her first day at school.

Since you don't have the time, and I couldn't possibly type it all out, allow me to sum up:

Gracie's First Day Of School FAQ's

Q: Did you make a new friend(s)

A: "I already made a new friend. Her name is Lily and she just moved here too! I didn't really get to meet anybody today because it was the first day and we were busy and stuff"

Q: Did you eat your lunch

A: "Yep"

Q: Did you have recess?

A: "Yes, but there were mostly slides and I couldn't tuck my dress under so I really couldn't play on much (the slides were too hot) and we couldn't go on...{cutting out 30 min diatribe here} mostly I just stayed in the shade and ran around a lot."

Q: Did you find your classroom?

A: "Yes, there was lady standing there and she helped us get in the door."

Q: Was you teacher nice?

A: "Yes, very nice"

Q: Who do you sit next to in class?

A: "I kind of forgot their names. But I sit at table one, but we have desks, so I don't know why we are table 1....{edit 30 minute diatribe here}

I hope this clears up any questions you may have for our favorite 6 year old. But if not please feel free to add your questions to the comment section and I will be sure to pass them along and attempt to shorten her answers as much as possible :)

Thank you to the many of you who prayed for me (and Gracie) and this very hard day and transition. And I know many of you were--and I am very grateful!!

She's Home!

I took this video when the bus finally pulled up to our cul-de-sac this afternoon--30 minutes late and in the scalding heat.

It wasn't until a few minutes ago when I was checking so see what I was able to get that I really heard the audio.

My heart melted.

Listen for Thomas in the last few seconds.

I wasn't the only one glad to see her off the bus and home again.

First Day Of First Grade

When I started Kindergarten
I was very very small
I have grown much bigger now

Can't you see how tall?
I learned to write my name and
to write my ABCs
Oh I am growing up
We are going off to First Grade

Well she is off.

And for those of you keeping score: this is the second first day of school that I have cried walking back to the house.

She just looked so small, and I kept worrying that she wouldn't be able to find her classroom. We only did that once you know!

I quizzed her lightly this morning.

"What is your teacher's name?"

"Miss. Anderson!" (high-5!)

"What do you go through first to get to your room?"

"The office!" (high -5!)

"What's after the office?"

"The stairs!" (high-5!)

"What letter do we look for?"

"D!" (high-5)

This school is so new to her...well to all of us!

She has to go through a main entrance and back outside. Then up a flight of stairs (outside). Her classroom is the first hall after those steps, and you go back inside 2 big red doors to get to it. Then she is room #D4.

This school is like a motel or something, everything is accessible from the outside. Or kind of like a college campus.

Just so scary and confusing looking!!

But, I know there will be people to help guide her.

And, just to be sure, I tied a tag to her backpack that said:

"My name is Gracie Shipley. I am new to this school. I need to be in Miss. Anderson's first grade classroom D-4. I ride bus #28."

Thankfully she is too young to be embarrassed by something like this. And, if she gets flustered and can't remember where she is going or her teachers name, or she gets choked up asking for help, she can show a teacher or an adult the tag.

Now, time to spend quality time with Thomas...breathe...and count down the minutes until my baby gets off the bus.

Man, I am going to be a mess when she goes to college!!!!

Gracie Shipley, First Grader At Last!

First Grade, First Day

First grade, first day, I wonder if I’ll get to play.
First grade, first day, I’m not sure I want to stay.
First grade, first day, my teacher seems to be okay.
First grade, first day, I hope I learn something new today!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Ready For School?

Well, ready or not, it is time to go.

All summer long, especially in those days of being a constant referee between my two "angels," I haven't really been to sad about the thought of Gracie starting a new school year.

She has been excited to go back and has been counting down the days.

I would smile along with her, and hush the voices in the back of my mind regretting that she wasn't returning to Sandy Hook.

But, it wasn't until tonight that I started to get "nerbus" about the idea of sending my little girl back out there.

I don't think I would be this tied up if she weren't starting at a new place.

It is almost like she is doing Kindergarten all over again.

I have to say good bye and worry over if she will get lost, what if she cries, will she make friends.

Deep down I know she will be just fine--but I am a mommy, and I can cry and worry and fret if I want to!

But enough about me.

Gracie is ready!

She pulled the last number off of her school bus countdown calendar I made a few weeks ago. We read the entire last kindergarten Junie B. Jones book (so they can start first grade together of course!), her clothes are laid out for the first week, and her lunch box is in the kitchen ready to be packed.

I tucked her in and gave her extra kisses.
This did not help her excitement and it took a very long time for her to finally fall asleep.

And now mommy is left with the final "before the first day of school" tasks.
I plan to finish sewing her dress and iron it. I need to make her a new hugs & kisses bag.

I have made her one each school year since her first year in preschool. I told her it had hugs and kisses from mommy inside and it will stay in her backpack just in case she ever needs one. The tissues inside are covered in mommy hugs and kisses.

I also have to pack her lunch. But she wants peanut butter and jelly for a sandwich, so I think that will wait until morning.

Then maybe mommy will try to sleep--but I somehow doubt I will be getting that much shut-eye.

Ready or not First Grade, here Gracie comes!

Our Labor Day Weekend

We didn't exactly do that much to "celebrate."

Gracie asked us what the special colors are for Labor Day, and I told her it was more like a summer/cook out kind of holiday. A celebration for the end of summer. I mean she is only 6, I thought this was the best answer.

Gracie of course wanted to cookout, and she got her wish--twice.

Daddy bought steaks from Costco and we had those Saturday night. But, Gracie was sure to remind us that today was Labor Day. In fact she announced when she woke up "Happy Labor Day Mommy & Daddy!" It was about the fourth time she cheerfully shouted this greeting that daddy made the above statement.

So, we cooked out again today, but this time just hamburgers.

On Sunday we did go for a walk.
I am sad to say this was my first look at our neighborhood. I have been glued inside my protective walls hiding myself from the outside world, and the unknown for a month now.

Garren coaxed me out, and we put the kids in the wagon and went for a walk.

We took them to the gas station at the top of the hill after touring the rather large neighborhood we live in.

He let Gracie get a "slup-puppy." And yes, that is how she says it, and yes, it doesn't always sound like that--sometimes it sounds worse!

She of course got a Slush Puppy. This is something daddy treats her to when she helps him take the trash off to the dump.

Apparently my husband has some cheap bones in his body too (which surprises me), and he refuses to pay $20 a month to have the trash hauled off by a service.

We live in the county so there isn't a city/town trash service like we are used to, so you have to go to one of the competing businesses. Anyway, he hauls it to the dump which is a few miles away--for free--every few days for me and he takes her with him. They get Slush Puppies as a reward. Apparently it is like what he and his dad did after they hauled the trash to the dump when he was a little boy.

So besides the walk, and cook outs, and slush puppy, we enjoyed the backyard--a lot!

I commented on Facebook that I am still missing home a great deal, but I am in love with my first yard.

It has been a 10 year wait for me, a 6 year wait for Gracie, and I can't be more thrilled to sit on the deck and watch my two children play and play for hours!

It has been so nice and cool lately and they have enjoyed the sand box, and bubbles and the new ball I got them.
And, of course Thomas LOVES his Cozy Coupe. He even helped wash it when Daddy and Gracie washed the cars on Saturday.

We hope you had a wonderful and relaxing long weekend!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Gracie's First Library Card

Gracie is an official card holder of our local library!

Taking the kids to the library is something I had been wanting to do for several weeks now, but I was waiting until Garren and I got our new driver's licenses, since we had to prove our residency.

You can add another helping of guilt on my mommy plate, since Gracie hadn't been the library since the months before Thomas was born--and Thomas had NEVER been.

Gracie and I looked forward to our trips to Stephen's City at least once a week or every other week. We would get books and go to story times, and special events.

Then, we had Thomas, and well...mommy didn't go anywhere any more!

But, that is behind us now.

Gracie has a library card, and Thomas had officially seen the inside of a library.

Gracie got a sticker signifying the special event, and Thomas ran around and around the place looking at all the stuffies and later finding the activities.

This library is considerably smaller than what we are used to, but it was filled with hands on activities for smaller ones. Well, I guess it for any age, but it is a great distraction for younger ones while older siblings search for the perfect books.

They both loved it.

And now that Gracie will soon start back to school, Thomas and I will get to go to story times at the library together as well.

On Tuesday mornings they host a "Mother Goose" story time for ages 6-24 months. I am assuming they are prepared for not very attentive listeners.

And, of course I was the goober mom taking pictures in the library of my children's milestones. Like you are surprised.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Her Own Desk!

Yep, that's is the biggest thrill of the night!

Gracie has been excited about school for weeks now, even though she has her "nerbus" moments remembering that the other kids won't be there this fall. But, apparently she was most excited about a desk.

The kindergarten class last year went on a tour of the first grade classes before the end of the school year.

Apparently the kids were thrilled at the idea of having their own desks. And, Gracie says she wants one because she was too big for those "kindergarten chairs" and I am sure that was true. She is so tall. She told me her knees would bump under the table.

Now, I warned her for weeks that we hadn't seen the inside of this school, and I would think there would be desks for first grade, but I was sure.

You can imagine her thrill when we walked in her new room and there were desks arranged in fours.

Gracie's new teacher is Ms. Anderson, and what a very nice lady she was.

She took Gracie and showed her where to put her supplies while I sat at her desk and filled out what seemed like a million papers.

Daddy and Thomas just walked around and stayed busy.

When Gracie was finished putting her things away she went off to play in the room.

Not too long after another little girl joined her on the rug. Her name was Lilly and she too had just moved here. She was from NY, and if you can believe it--she was more shy that Gracie.

Actually, you might have been astounded as I was to see very little apprehension in our six year old last night. She chatted and chatted to that little girl and didn't stop until the girl and her parents went home. It was just like Gracie was in her own living room....or on the phone with Aunt Ruth--whew!!

It took me a while to fill out all of the papers, but when we were done I asked Gracie if I could take some pictures.

The new teacher kind of grinned at me, and so she probably already has a pretty good idea of what kind of mom I am going to be. Perhaps I should give her Ms. Orndorff's email address so she can warn her before school starts ;)

We let Gracie and Thomas go and play on the playground for a while before we finally left the school grounds.

I was very nervous about starting all over with Gracie, but her chatty mood, and the very nice and personable teacher put me at ease so much. God really has been looking out for this crazy, over protective mom ever since Gracie started preschool. I have always been blessed with the most wonderful teachers for my most wonderful little girl.
And if you were praying for that too--THANK YOU!

We are down to 5 more days and then our Gracie will board the bus and start another year in school.

You can count on tons of updates and exciting stories as the year progresses.

And, I will try to be better about pictures.

I have noticed that I haven't been sharing like I should. Whenever I go through such a hard phase (and I have been through many over the past 2 years) I get selfish and hoard my pictures and my memories. I decide somehow that by doing this it is one less thing I have to give up. Yep, I am nuts like that!
**You will have to notice names of the other kids in her class. It is going to take a while for these kids to be able to learn them. Something about my generation and unusual names. I think it is interesting that Gracie, and maybe the boy named Matthew have the most common names in the room***