Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013

A Shipley Countdown

12  months of a crazy wonderful life
11 long trips in the car (9 with kids, 2 without)
10 months with school
9 birthday parties
8 pairs of new shoes
7 singing performnaces
6 different teachers
5 races run (Gracie 4, Daddy 1)
4 honor roll report cards
3 weeks with a cast
2 Bible School sessions
1 new car

Post Cards From NYE

I did have several cute ideas for the night, and my favorite was a "frame" for picture taking.  The kids were great sports and I love how they came out.

Happy New Year's Eve

I always like to make a big deal out of little occasions and big occasions and every celebration in between in this house.  Daddy could go all year with out any sort of party (like we party), but me, I love celebrating life and all that comes with it.

So, every year I make a fuss for New Year's Eve for the kids and daddy and I. I get small things and festive plates and such at the Dollar Store and we ring in the New Year--at 9:00.  The kids love it, but I always think "it could be better."

And what could make a G rated New Year's Eve party better?! Friends!

Thomas was thrilled that his best bud Bryce was going to come over and celebrate with him. He really has no clue what we are celebrating-but who cares--Bryce is coming over! ;)

In fact, he woke us this morning to remind us:

"Dad! Today Bryce comes over to my house to eats cheese sticks!!"

With guests to entertain, mommy got lots of fun food goodies and activities and pretty table ware.  All Thomas cared about was making sure we had mozzarella cheese sticks--which are officially his favorite food! 

Bryce and Emmy and their parents arrived around 6 and the big boys did a lot of yelling at the TV, and the little boys played monster trucks and the girls found dolls and stuffed animals to carry around the house while we big girls chatted a bit.

I had a few activities on hand for the kids like a printable, and noisemakers and glow sticks.  They seemed to enjoy them all.  

And, we did our traditional New Year's toast with sparkling grape juice.  (While, I love the tradition--I am not a fan of the taste. Yuck! It is like grape flavored sugar--of course all the kids asked for seconds. Surprised?! ;)

We counted down to 9pm, which was a stretch for ALL four kids, but they made it. And, I had the bubble wrap out for them to jump on.

 It was nice.

It was more than nice, it was wonderful, and I am thrilled that we got to ring in the New Year with the Whitlocks. Such a wonderful family, and it has been so long since I had a friend in the same zip code.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bike Rides In December

It is 60 degrees out there--we can't pass that up! So, we loaded up the bikes and headed to the park for some winter riding and play time.

I know there are tons out there waiting and praying for the snow--but as the official family snow-miser, I will take all the December 60 degree days the weather fairy wants to dish out (I will take them in January and February and March too!!)

Friday, December 27, 2013

A (Almost) Whole Day With Bryce

When you are four, and you have a best buddy, and you have to wait two weeks to go back to school--you will be miserable, and drive your mama crazy!

I think maybe Bryce was begging to see Thomas too, because those boys bounced all day long!

We started out at Bryce's house and saw all of his new toys and played and played and played.  But, as you can imagine, 2 hours is not much among best friends...

...so I loaded Bryce up and took him back to our house with us.

We had to stop and get some lunch supplies, but they didn't seem to mind.

Now, they could play and play and play with all of Thomas' new toys!  And, since it warmed up a bit, they could play with all of his new car stuff outside.

I did attempt to feed them lunch, but I may have gotten 5 bites a piece from them before they were off again.

These best buds played with everything inside and out, and they sat still for a few minutes to do the craft kit Uncle Brian had given Thomas for Christmas. It was TWO monster trucks and what a perfect number for best buds--especially since Bryce LOVES monster trucks.

They painted and put stickers on their final projects and then battled them against each other in the living room floor until Grace and Emmy came by to take Bryce home.

I think the boys needed their time together, and it was so much fun to watch them bounce and chatter and giggle again.

Two weeks is too long when you are four and you have a bestsest friend.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

New Movie, New Princess Love

Pretty sure the princess thing is going to last until college!

As a gift to Gracie from us, we promised a date to the newest Disney princess movie: Frozen.

I hadn't planned to take her on Christmas Day, but it was playing, and why not?!

So, just us two girls went.

It was a cute movie. A lot more singing in it than other Disney movies, almost a musical quality about it.

Mommy popped for the gigantic popcorn and two drinks (yes, you know this pained me since it was more than the movie tickets!!), and I sat for and hour and a half with a very excited nine year old.

It was a cute movie and had some great messages in it. Gracie said that she even was hard pressed to decide which her favorite movie was now: Tangled or Frozen! And, if you know her, that is a big deal. I enjoyed the movie, but I still think the movie depicting Rapunzel is the best they have made, and I have been to the theater to see every new princess since Tiana!

Of course the best part was getting to share that moment with Gracie. I don't take those opportunities as much as I should, and I am thankful for this one.

Santa Came

...as if you thought he could skip us ;)

I am sure you can imagine the chaos and laughter and squeals--they were probably like your house now or once upon a time.

I will tell you that Santa, as always, was good to both kids. Each asked for one thing, and both received their wishes. Thomas wanted Cranky the Crane for his Thomas The Tank Engine wooden railway, and Gracie (lord help us!) wanted a Ukelele.

And, there was much rejoicing...


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

O, Holy Night

I heard this Amy Grant song for the first time this year and I instantly connected with it.  This year seemed to be the worst with chaos and noise and frustration around the holiday season. With previous Christmases I have found my inner peace and joy around a week before the 25th, but this year (like a couple others) it took until our traditional candlelight Christmas Eve service to really quiet all of the stress and commotion.

I look forward to this service with our family every year. It is the time when we shut everything secular out and we really breathe and smile and take it the joy and majesty of the moment and the reason we all celebrate to begin with.

The kids always look pretty, and regardless of their age, something happens on Christmas Eve services and they sit and listen and don't wallow.  Or maybe I don't notice it.  Christmas Eve has always been my favorite part of the whole holiday season. I find it magical and holy and I savor it all.

We hope that all of you found your joy and your reason for the season...and maybe some silent solemn moments to savor parenthood, and neighbor, and family, and love and especially peace.

Dear Santa

I felt like such a bad mom. I hadn't taken my kids to see Santa and I waited until the last minute.

Apparently so did every other mom in the Richmond area.

 This was our 3rd attempt in 24 hours to see the big man in red!

There was no place in the Bass Pro shop for us yesterday afternoon, or this morning.

Thankfully we got a 4pm ticket and (nearly) walked right up to see the jolly old elf.

I know it is silly to think my kids have to see Santa, especially after we teach them over and over again about the real reason for Christmas, but it is just one of those things. One of those moments you want to help them create.

A moment like this:

Gum Drop's Last Adventure

We loved seeing where you were each morning and imagining your adventures at night. Thank you for visiting us this Christmas Gum Drop. We can't wait to see you again next year!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Gum Drop Adventures, Day 21

Here is where we saw him when we came back from Grandma's house tonight.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Gracie's 4th Grade Winter Party

I was asked to host this year's Winter Party for Gracie's school, and with a class of all girls, I was super excited to get creative.

I went with a slumber party theme and asked permission for the girls to come to school in their PJ's (of course our awesome teacher said yes!).

I borrowed an idea from Denise & Logan's wedding this summer, and collected 21 coffee mugs and had the girls "win' them by tossing a marshmallow in the cup and it would be theirs for the whole day and they could take it home as a souvenir.  Of course most of the girls cheated and kind of placed the marshmallow in the cup they wanted, but it was hilarious.

There was tons of food, and I had the bright idea to take in my crock pot and I mixed the hot chocolate and water in the pot and let it simmer and brought a ladle.  Wow, what a ton less mess that created!!!  I highly recommend this plan to any other room mom.  Of course the girls could also chose apple cider or water if they wanted instead.

In addition to food, I had a mom volunteer sprinkles, icing and a few moms to bake plain sugar cookies. Decorating their own cookie was a HUGE hit.

I found a hilarious game on Pinterest and brought plates for the girls. They had to place the plate on their heads and draw what I told them without peeking.  Several seemed to get frustrated (I knew where the A personalities were in the room), but when the directions were over the giggles erupted! It seemed to be great fun for them.

I also bribed them.  And, I was open about the bribe.

These girls are all into the rubber band bracelet things, so I brought in Christmas colored bands and told them if they would pose for a group photo I would give them out and they could make bracelets until their hearts content.

It worked like a charm.

I have hosted and planned many parties in my day, but I can not explain to you how different and wonderful it was this year. I won't say it is because it was all girls in the room, but really, that is the only difference. ;) I am so thrilled Gracie is in this class and will stay through 5th grade as well!

Show & Tell Letter "L"

Thomas got to show off another of his hand-me-down toys that survived the childhood of Uncle Brian!

Today we chose "L" Logging truck!

Adventure's Of Gum Drop, Day 18