Saturday, January 23, 2010

Starting Over

(from email)
Friends & Family:

2010 is shaping up to be a whopper for us Shipley's! We are pleased to announce that Garren has accepted a new job.

Many of you know how much he has always loved politics--well now, he won't just be writing about it--he will be involved in it. He is thrilled to have been named the new Director of Communications for the Republican Party of Virginia.

Everything happened so fast; he ended his 12+ years of journalism on Friday, and Monday he started his new career in politics.

While, we are so proud of Garren, it will mean more than just a career change for this family. In June we will be moving to the Richmond area.

We are so pleased that all of you have been apart of our lives for so long and through so many twist and turns, and we hope that you will stick with us through this one as well.

And, there are even more exciting things happening this year. Thomas will be turning a year old in just a few weeks, and our big girl (who is more than excelling in Kindergarten) will be turning the big 0-6 in early March.

We have quite an eventful year ahead, and we pray that all of you are starting your year off well and healthy and happy.

If you want to read more about the move (from my perspective) you can see my latest post on the blog. And of course you can catch up with mommy's little genius (who was the Start Student of the Week at school this past week), and my little frog prince who constantly challenges and amazes me, on the blog as well.

Much love to you all!
Barbara, Garren, Gracie & Thomas

No Pictures Please!

A New Year For Change

Six months from now I will have to pack up all the things in this house and take my two small children and move them to a new home...140 miles and two and a half hours away.

I struggle to even write this post as all the thoughts of what I will "miss out on" cloud my my mind.

What I should be concentrating on is all of the doors that will open for Gracie & Thomas, all the new adventures we will have, and all of the new friends we will make.

But, I have never been good at making friends, my idea of an adventure is finding a new thrift store, and I don't handle change very well.

So, with a new year, and a new decade will come more challenges for me. The challenge of saying goodbye, the challenge of learning new places, the challenge of starting over, the challenge of getting to know a new school and new teachers that will spend more of the day with my child than I will.

Pretty pitiful huh?!!

Garren gets a new and amazing job and I sit around and cry in my Wheaties (well, actually I am eating some ice cream)!

It just all happened so fast. One day we are taking down the Christmas tree, the next we are talking about a new home in Richmond,VA. One day my husband is a reporter, the next he is the new Communications Director for the Republican Party of Virginia!

It really did happen that fast. He interviewed on a Saturday. By Friday he had decided to take the job and worked his last day at the Northern VA Daily, summing up a 12+ year career as a journalist. This past Monday he started his new job.

We are very happy, and even more proud of Garren. Not only for the new and exciting job, but for taking a HUGE leap of faith and starting a whole new chapter in his life. The least we can do is jump with him.

There are some good points to all of this. For starters, his new bosses are allowing Garren to work from home until June when Gracie graduates from Kindergarten. The idea of having to take her out of school mid year during such a formative and important year was too much for mommy. And, mommy has a few high school classmates that live in the area, so we won't have to start over with out a little support in the same zip code (like we did last time!)

You know, I have done all of this before. I picked the University Of Tennessee as a college choice and left my hometown to go to school 6 hours away. I loved the idea of starting fresh and on a new adventure. And after graduation I looked at jobs in South Carolina and Georgia and couldn't wait to move on an have a new chapter. Then, I pushed (gently, I hope) Garren in to interviewing for a new job and we landed here in Strasburg ready to start fresh and new.

But, that was a long time ago. I am old now. I am old and I have children. I am not youthful and full of life--I am mother seeking an anchor for my family. So, you can't blame me for dragging my feet and sobbing wildly when no one is looking.

So, when I am not being a drama queen, I plan to make the most of my 6 months. I will spend as much time enjoying this wonderful town that we have fallen in love with. We are going to spend so much extra time with Aunt Ruth & Uncle George and the Mozingo's that they are going to get so sick of us. And, I am stocking up on all the thrift store deals I can because they may not have them in Richmond!

And, we will be coming back! We have too many people we love here to drop everything and never look back. You can expect us back at least once a month for church services and lunch out, and time at some of our favorite places and with the people we have grown to love like family.

So, it will be okay. We will be just fine. And, we will grow as a family....and God will continue his plan for us, and me. And, just maybe I can do it all with a little bit of grace ( I said "little bit"--thank goodness I have six months to pull that one off! :)

So keep us in your prayers as we start over again, and Garren starts a new job (that he is SO excited about). And, don't forget us, because we won't forget you.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dealing With Death At Age 5

I don't think she understands completely that Papaw Charles is gone.

What a hard concept to explain to a five year old. And what an even harder job for a parent to do.

Garren came back from Tennessee yesterday afternoon where he spent the week with family and attended the funeral of his grandfather. I asked him refrain from telling her when he got in.

I know I coddle her too much, and I have done far too many things to keep her from hearing and seeing bad things in the world. From my perspective we have too few years to live so care and worry free. She has most of her life to worry and cry and be scared. Let her enjoy the innocence as long as she can.

But, I can't shield her from this. She wanted to see Papaw Charles and send him a card to feel better--and some one had to tell her he wasn't going to get better.

Garren asked to do it alone. I wasn't a fan of the idea, since I wanted to talk to her together and let her be in a safe environment--but I stepped back and let him do what he needed to do.

I didn't need to worry so much. She was apparently somber, but okay with the talk. She even went and brought her daddy a box of tissues.

I think she will have more questions and we will have to do some extra explaining over the next few days and weeks.

This goes down as one of the "hard parts" of being a parent.

**Picture from October 2009, when we went to see him, knowing that he wanted to meet Thomas, and knowing that his cancer was getting the better of him **

$10 Of Happiness

Neither snow, nor sleet, nor driving rain will keep me from an amazing bargain!

I may have to post a picture later of my "loot," but thanks to Aunt Heather watching my kids for a few hours, I was able to take advantage of the twice annual "bag sale" at my favorite thrift store!

I got 2 kitchen sized trash bags and filled them with clothes for Thomas and Gracie, and even found a few things for myself. All for $10.50!

Did I mention I was the second one there this morning when the opened! It was like my own personal Christmas :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gracie's First War Wounds

What a day!

For starters we had a rocky morning this morning when mommy apparently feel asleep while feeding Thomas at 6:30 this morning. I turned off the alarm clock after getting his bottle so he would maybe sleep while I got Gracie ready for school. I must have dozed off because I looked up and found him asleep in my arm, the bottle on the bed, and the clock shining "7:14!"

I rolled Thomas over, got Gracie up and we scrambled to get her ready. I knew I would have to drive her to school this morning. So, after getting the three of us ready, a lunch packed, and Thomas bundled up we headed to school in a slight rain.

I dropped Gracie off at the designated spot in the line and she waved to me goodbye and headed inside.

I brought Thomas home and I started to get things ready for our bi-weekly trip to the Walmart for groceries. I couldn't have been home 10-15 minutes when the phone rings. "This is xxx from Sandy Hook Elementary School." At this point my heart stops. The lady goes on to tell me Gracie fell on her way into school. She speaks firmly and calmly and tells me she is a trooper and is fine. There doesn't seem to be any swelling and she wants to go back to class. She tells me she will let Gracie talk to me.

Mommy: "Gracie, did you fall honey?"

Gracie: "yea."

Mommy: "Are you okay?

Gracie: "yea."

Mommy: "Do you feel well enough to go back to class?"

Gracie: "yea."

Mommy: "Okay, don't forget you wanted to buy milk today."

Gracie: "yea."

Mommy: "Okay sweetie, have a good day, I love you!"

Gracie: "Love you, bye."

The nurse gets back on the phone to tell me that she will be sending a note home. I thank her and hang up. Then I ball like a little girl.

My child is fine. But, I am crying like she was hit by a car.

I think it was because I wasn't there to comfort her. I wasn't the one who helped her up and bandaged her owie.

I calmed down and talked myself out of staying home all day "just in case she needed me and had to call."

I gathered myself, got Thomas, and went to the store.

I forgot many things on my list. Clearly my mind was quite scattered.

It wasn't until she got off the bus that I saw just how bad it was. The nurse made it sound like a little scrape. Her poor face was scratched up in several places.

I didn't let her see the reaction I was feeling and gave her extra hugs and kisses.

I also promised her ice cream.

Now, as you look at the picture I snuck tonight (because she is embarrassed. I had her pose with her new DVD she earned for dry nights)--you will see a large and very deep scratch on her cheek. The pavement didn't do that. Thomas did!

I didn't see it happen, but I think it was an accident. He must have a super sharp nail or one that has broken a little.

Poor Gracie. She has had a bad day.

Tonight after her shower I gave her some Tylenol as she was starting to get sore, and I put a lot of ointment on all of her owies.

I have a feeling her scratches are going to last for several days.

Her first official war wound from school.

**The lower picture she let me take of her knee, she asked me to show it to Grandma. Gotta love the pouty look on her face! ***

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Star Student Of The Week

You are looking at the Star Student Of The Week for Ms. Orndorff's kindergarten class!

But really, are you surprised?

You are also looking at the kindergartner who has mastered lists 1 - 7 of her sight words, calendar helper for last week, and who also had one of her papers put on the "super board."

The teachers sent home a neat worksheet for us to fill out so the class can get to know Gracie a little better.

Well, we had the best time making it. It said to draw or color or paste pictures on to the stars that answered the questions. It also listed "photos" as an option. So, I got out the camera and we had fun finding a creative way to show what Gracie's favorite's were.

Now, most of you could have guessed nearly all of these--but for those of you who don't know my dumpling inside and out by now (and clearly you aren't an avid blog reader), this will give you some insight. :) (click to enlarge)

Congratulations to Ms. Orndorff's Star Student of The Week: MY Gracie!


**Just in case you missed it, you will notice that "Grandma's house" is her favorite place, and the drawing is of Aunt Ruth, Gracie & Uncle George (whom she insisted on giving a "little bit" of hair :)***

Monday, January 18, 2010

Gracie's Dinner Quote

Mommy: "You could eat more dinner if you stopped being so chatty!"

Gracie: "That's the way God made me!"

Mommy: "Yes it is Gracie (defeated smile)"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Brief Visit

Aunt Heather stopped in for a very brief visit to our Strasburg home before heading to Tennessee this very rainy afternoon.

Garren picked his sister up from the airport this morning after she flew in from Illinois. The two of them are drove to Tennessee after a short stop at the house, where they will visit with family and attend the funeral of their grandfather.

Gracie was excited to see Aunt Heather, which is a remarkable difference from the last time the two encountered each other. It has been almost 3 years since Heather saw Gracie, and in those days she was painfully shy. And now, as Heather noticed, "she isn't shy any more!"

This was also the first time that Aunt Heather got to meet Thomas. He isn't exactly an adorable little infant, but he's pretty cute and seemed quite enamored of his Aunt.

Garren and Heather should return to Strasburg on Friday and she will get a chance to visit with the kids for another night before catching a plane back home on Saturday morning.

Sunday Pink


Just had to share this wonderful picture of my two babies from this morning.

It is cold and rainy and it has been a roller coaster ride of a weekend, but my two precious children look quite cheery snuggled together in spring colors.

Maybe their pinks will help speed Spring along. I sure could use it. :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mallory's Big Day

Gracie and I were thrilled to get to be apart of Mallory's big day at her school today!

Daddy and Thomas stayed home and we girls went to see Mallory be a princess AND a cheerleader for her high school.

Let me tell you, Gracie was over the moon with these events and cheered her little heart out for her favorite high schooler.

Mallory is a Junior at Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy and was choosen to represent the class during its homecoming celebration at tonight's basketball game. So, we first saw her all decked out and as beautiful as ever in her "princess" gown and she even had a sash. Gracie couldn't get over the fact that Mallory was getting to be a princess!

Of course the pageantry of the whole thing only helped my daughters royal excitement...


video

After the ceremony Mallory (and Mr. Tom) got changed and we got to see her wear her second hat of the evening.

Gracie cheered right along with Mallory and the other cheerleaders for the Varsity boys team to win.

I don't know if they won or not since it was nearly 9pm at half time and I decided to take my princess-in-training home.

We did get a chance to see Mallory do a dance routine, and Gracie saw the small cheerleaders (elementary age) put on a performance at half time. And thus, she has now decided she wants to do cheerleading instead of ballet :)

It was such a special night for Mallory and her family, and for Gracie and I as we got to cheer for and with her.

Way to go Mallory!

Gooney Bird Greene

I am not exactly clear on who this little girl is, but I have heard bits and pieces about her for weeks now.

Gracie's class, along with the entire Sandy Hook Elementary School have been reading this book together this month as apart of their "One school, one book" program.

Actually, I wasn't even sure it was a little girl until the notice came home at the beginning of the week, saying they could dress like the character on Friday to celebrate finishing the book.

Apparently the story is about a little girl who dresses rather wildly, and from what I can gather must fib a lot. I am thinking maybe like Junie B. Jones a little?

Regardless of my lack of knowledge in the story, it must have a been a very successful program, as my daughter and several of the other kids in Gracie's church choir have all been talking about it.

So, with little knowledge of the character I was able to help Gracie come up with the above outfit.

I snapped a picture of her before she left for school, but as I mentioned Gracie has an awesome teacher and she included a picture from Friday's dress up day and I wanted to share another pic from her classroom.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Calendar Helper


My kindergartner got to be "calendar helper" this week in her classroom!

It is special things like this that I hate that I miss while I am at home and she is at school. But, luckily for me Gracie has an amazing teacher who sent me some pictures that made my week!!

As you can see, my little shy violet isn't quiet so shy any more. I just beamed with pride when I saw these pictures of her standing at the head of the classroom leading her friends for the morning routine.

What a big girl she is. And, as if I wasn't proud enough! :)


(you've gotta love the hand on the hip! )

11 Months, Late

Mommy's froggy prince turned 11 months on Saturday, but thanks to another nasty cold he was far to ill to go through a photo session with mommy.

So, a few days late here are the newest pictures of my dapper little man.

What's he doing these days?

Well, he cruises all over the place, and if he would get a little more brave I know he could take a few steps on his own. But, in the meantime he will walk a little behind his Hippo toy.

He is as onry as ever and is in to EVERYTHING. He will look at you when he knows he is doing, or about to do, something he shouldn't. He will grin and do it anyway. Talk about testing his limits. He runs mommy ragged on a daily basis--whew what a little boy!

He still loves his sister, but she definitely gets on his nerves and he has no problem letting her know that with a hair pull or pushing her face away. Of course poor obtuse Gracie just smiles at him and shouts more baby language at him. I am nervous about when he can really show her how he feels!

His favorite things right now are chewing and bath time. Any time he hears water running he will take off to find it. And, you can't leave any bathroom door open or you will find him standing up over the tub waiting to get in. I guess I should be happy since my other child screamed and dreaded baths for 4 and a half out of her 5 years!

He eats pretty well and still has just the 7 teeth, but tons of drool tells me #8 will likely be here soon.

He isn't in to anything in particular, but is starting to form attachments. If he hears Barney on TV he will stop what he is doing and watch. This is a break from his normal routine as he is all over the place and rarely stays with any one thing or place unless he is into something he shouldn't. He has also become attached to "Chewy" (named for what he will be doing all over him, not the Star Wars thing) that Aunt Ruth & Uncle George gave him for Christmas. It is the softest stuffed puppy and he hugs and kisses...and chews on it a lot. We even put it in the crib for him to snuggle to sleep. I guess Thomas may have found his equivalent to "Lambie."

I guess in the coming month we will be planning and hosting a first birthday party. In some ways I can't believe a year has nearly passed, and in others instances it seems like I have been trying to keep up with him for 5 years!

We thank you all for sharing this adventure with our family, and hope you will stay tuned for even more in the coming months and years.

As an added bonus...watch Thomas walk with his hippo toy. It won't be long now.


video

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Wonderful Quote

I told Ruth about this one, and decided to post it as it seemed to make her and others smile tonight at choir practice. Gracie was in the kitchen last week some time and she started peeking under the counter and said...


"You know how Reverend Ed is always saying to look for God everywhere? I have been looking and I just can't find him."

After smiling a lot, this opened up a great discussion for her father and I to have with her about God. What precious things come out of the mouths of children.

36 Words And Counting!

video

Are you not AMAZED! She only fumbled on two, but usually she can do it almost perfectly. I can't be more proud!!

Each day we add 3-4 new words to the stack and go over and over them until she has those mastered too. It won't be long and she will have the whole list done :) And, with that many words under her belt she will be reading whole books sooner than you know. She can already get through much of the reader books that we pull out for practice or bedtime.

And, while Gracie is smart--reading to her since she was an infant has significantly helped! Take the time with your kids, you won't be sorry and they will develop a love of reading and that is worth it's weight in gold!

We would love for Gracie to get a message from you that she can read herself. Try using the words below...

a, am, at, I, like, me, my, see, the, to, you, and, in, is, it, big, can, go, jump, look, up, so, do, run, little, not, help, on, too, for, be, get, but, good, him, of, pretty, what, eat, now

**you can include "are" as it seems to trip her up and it is one of the words she needs to master this week :) **

She also knows these words which aren't on her list...

mommy, daddy, Gracie, Thomas, Aunt Ruth, love, princess, king, queen, God

And she can sound out just about anything. So, if you can send her a simple message I know she will love the attention and the practice.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Another Sweet Quote

I know I have been posting a lot of these lately, but the sweetest things keep popping out of her mouth, and I am at a place where I just don't want to forget anything. There are many moments where I am ready to freeze time.

"I wish Aunt Ruth lived next door. I know she doesn't live far, but I wish she were my neighbor."

And, now of course I have the Mr. Rogers theme stuck in my head, and I smile at all of the things those two would get into if there were only a wall separating their boundless energies:)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Listen To My Gracie Sing

video

The kids, especially my Gracie, did yet another beautiful job singing this morning in church. And, also as usual I caught it on video. Enjoy :)




Gracie Quote

While watching Sleeping Beauty and eating lunch this afternoon...


"Mommy, you and daddy are like a prince and princess. You got married, and princes marry princesses."

It is probably as close as I will ever get to being "royalty," but you've got to love her logic :)

Friday, January 08, 2010

Who Is "Ya-Ya?"

Speaking of words (he he), Thomas seems to have a new one. He keeps saying "ya-ya." I have no idea what or likely whom he is talking about.

Daddy is "da-da," I am "ma-ma," and we have heard "A-E" once or twice which we are pretty sure is "Gracie."

Besides "ya-ya," Thomas will say "uh" for "uh-oh" and it is too cute.

And while we are slowly teaching and learning words with Thomas, we have decided to opt for baby sign language to fill in the blanks.

Yes, I thought this was super silly myself until I kept Emma when she was a baby. Kathy was determined to use sign language and Garren and I were astounded at how much easier it was to communicate with her, and for her to tell me what she needed.

I am now a believer and Thomas knows the signs for "eat" and "more." He can even do the sign for "more." He demonstrates the sign for eat by putting his fingers to my mouth instead of his--which makes sense. I put my fingers to my mouth to do the sign for "eat."

I have already had a suggestion that "ya-ya" is a primitive word for "Aunt Ruth," and she is probably right--but if any one else has a suggestion I am all ears :)

Kindergarten Sight Words

Gracie came home this week with a printout of 8 site words for her to work on at home.

I thought to myself, "a chance to do more with Gracie's education." I have felt so guilty for so long that I haven't had (or made) the time to keep up our education program at home.

So, feeling good and exciting to get to work together I pull the sheet out. I point to the first word--she hollers it out, I point to the second, she hollers it out...this continued for all 8 words. So much for creative ideas on how to use the words and learn them.

Don't get me wrong I was thrilled to hear her shout the answers out. And, my slight "frown" didn't last long because I found the complete list (for the year I assume) on the back cover of her gray folder. Now we can get ahead and master them all!

Today Gracie is home from school since they canceled for snow. I found a box of site word flash cards that I bought at a thrift store and started pulling out the words from the large list.

You couldn't have wiped the smile off my face with anything as I heard her got through card after card shouting out the word written on the front.

I stopped after a third of the words on her list because it was getting tedious finding them in a HUGE stack of flashcards, so we still have more to do. But, I am one proud mommy!

Below is a list of sets 1-4 (of 13) of her Kindergarten Site Word list. Those she has mastered are in red :)

Set 1: a, am, at, I, like, me, my, see

Set 2: the, to, you, and, are, in, is, it

Set 3: big, can, for, go, jump, look, not, up

Set 4: come, help, here, little, play, run, said, we

You can keep up with our progress on the left hand side of the blog. I will continue to add words she has mastered in red. And, I challenge you to send her a message in the comments or our email using the words she knows or is learning from the list. It will be a great way for her to be able to read messages that you send.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Perfect Project For The New Year

Gracie and I braved the 18 degree weather (seriously) and extremely high winds and spitting snow to make it to the monthly Home Depot Kids Workshop today.

We seem to be starting a trend as the last time we went it was over snow covered Interstate.

But, it was warm--and very fun--inside.

This month's project was a wooden calendar. It was an adorable idea, and we got to use wood glue, and they even had safety goggles out this time.

Gracie seemed to have a harder time with the nails this go round. I think when you add the glue it makes the wood pieces you are trying to hammer together slip and slide. But, I am not an expert--it was just harder for some reason.

But, we got our calendar made and looking fine and dandy.

Again, these projects are great, and FREE. If you have an older child definitely make the trip once a month to the Home Depot to do something together!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Where Has The Time Gone?

It seems like everyone is talking about the past year, and even the past 10 years today...so I figured I might as well jump on the band wagon.

2009 was by far the MOST eventful year of my life. Most people would say the year they became a mother was the biggest, but for me, having two and balancing everything else life handed me this year, was far more of a challenge, and a reward!

In January....we joined the church, celebrated our last month as a family of three, and Garren turned another year older (and wiser)

In February...we welcomed Thomas (Jack Thomas to be exact), I became another year wiser, and we saw a slew of family and friends who all wanted a sneak peek at our new addition.

In March....Gracie turned the big 05, and had her first (and maybe last!) friend birthday party.

In April....we celebrated our first big holiday as a family and Thomas got his first visit to church, and the Easter bunny. And, we decided to MOVE! A bigger place just across the street from our old apartment leaving behind the space where we brought home both of our children from the hospital.

In May...Gracie graduates from preschool. Now we are forced to think about buses and kindergarten and...separation!!!

In June...we have Thomas Christened, another big milestone in his life, and ours.

In July....we take a small break from firsts and big events. We go to Lynchburg and Thomas gets to see fireworks.

In August...we start thinking and preparing for school, we visit Gracie's classroom, meet her teacher and listen intently at Kindergarten Orientation.

In September...I have to say goodbye to my baby. Gracie boards the bus and is off to school and whole new world in Kindergarten. Mommy barely remembers anything else from this month!!! Except, Gracie sings for the first time with the children's choir in church, Thomas goes to his first football game, and mommy & daddy celebrate their 9th wedding anniversary and go out for the first time without kids in oh, 6 years!

In October...the kids get to Trick or Treat in our new neighborhood that actually has kids and houses to beg for candy! This is also Thomas' first Halloween. And, mommy gets to go with Gracie on her first Kindergarten Field Trip!

In November...we travel to Danville to have Thanksgiving with Uncle Brian & Aunt Dawn and the cousits. Also a first as we usually celebrate in TN.

In December...we celebrate our first Christmas as a family of four. We did a million things this month!

Add in post par-tum depression, no sleep, a frazzled mommy, and many other personal "challenges" and we had the makings of a VERY eventful year. But, as it had its many "downs," so to did it have many "ups" as well. We have a new home, a new baby, and we adopted some amazing new "family members" to make life even more blessed.

I guess that is life. As I look back at the past 10 years I smile and wonder how I made it through it all--and I think about how blessed I am to have gotten the chance to do it all.

2000--I graduate from UT, Garren and I get married, I start my first broadcasting job in South Carolina, I get a new job at a new station, we have our first place to call home, and we celebrate our first Christmas together!

2001--we adjust to life as a married couple and not two very strong willed-career oriented individuals (it was a tough adjustment year for us ;)

2002- A drunk driver nearly kills me and turns my world upside down! Garren and I decide that we want a family, and chuck our "no kids ever" policy out the window.

2003--we make the huge decision to move out of Tennessee and Garren takes a job here in Strasburg at the paper. I leave behind my broadcasting career and continue to pray that God will grant us a baby soon. He does--not in our time, but in His.

2004--we welcome Gracie (Tabitha Gracie to be exact) in to our lives, and every thing changes. I am blessed to get to be a mommy and stay at home and spend every moment of her life with her.

2005--more firsts with Gracie, and as a family. We loose Lou, and I struggle to deal with my first ever personal loss in life.

2006--first movie at a theater with Gracie, learning to go potty, learning to ride a tricycle, tea parties with the neighbor girls, and making crafts and learning every day with mommy.

2007--Gracie starts preschool and she and I are forced out of our little hole in the wall and we adapt to life apart for a few hours a day. We make a long trip to a wedding in the middle of a hurricane and leave Gracie behind for one of a VERY FEW times ever in our lives.

2008--Gracie grows and blossoms in school, we slowly but surely start to come out of "hiding," and life in this town is not only bearable, but we can't imagine living and growing any place else! We decide to add to the family and pray once again for a baby. And, again, not in our time, but in His, our prayers are answered. I get a new sister in law and 6 new nieces and nephews all in the same month!

2009--We welcome Thomas (Jack Thomas to be exact) to the family. Gracie becomes a big sister, we move....well, see the above!

What an amazing decade!!