Thursday, January 31, 2013

Happy Birthday Daddy

Many thanks to those of you who wished daddy a Happy Birthday by card or emil or Facebook today.  He had to work, but he seems to have had a good day.

The kids and I made him a cake.  We went with a Top Gear theme (the British one, NOT the US one ;)  He seemed to really like it.

Daddy has chosen to wait on his birthday dinner out, which was a good thing because he didn't get home until late and had to go back out!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chick Magnet

The weather was perfect today. Apparently good enough for picking up "babes" at the park.

I had to post this picture that I captured of my son this afternoon at our local playground. 

The place was packed as every other mom also wanted to take advantage of this gorgeous and brief warm winter day and get the kids out of the house. 

The kids didn't seem to mind the busy space and they went off in their own directions.  Attempting not to helicopter (as I usually do--I am working on it!!), I watched Gracie proudly climb something while shouting "mommy look at me!"  While my back is turned my son is off memorizing the ladies.

I turn back to find Thomas in the plastic car, in the drivers seat, surrounded by little girls.

I know my jaw dropped and it took several seconds, maybe a minute, for the image to "load" in my brain.  I thought to myself, wait until Garren sees this, and I snapped his picture.  He sure was proud of himself. 

I have decided he was having fun, and he had no idea the gender of the FIVE children who surrounded him on the hood, trunk and passenger seat of that car.  I have to decide that, otherwise I won't make it until age 13.

As you can imagine...he father is beyond proud.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Just For Thomas

I saw this idea on Pinterest.  Thomas loved it!!  Sometimes it is something so simple that can make your child's day!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Daddy Bought A Death Trap

...and mommy could only watch for a few frozen minutes.

Can you blame me!!

That's my baby!

As for my other "baby," well, daddy crashed her into the backyard fence and she wouldn't ride any more.

Can you blame her.

Gotta love my "daredevil" and my consummate "chicken."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Little Man

Dear Tom,

Thomas as usual was the center of attention around our pew (and beyond) this morning.  People are always commenting on his cuteness and often try to get his attention knowing full well he will do the all-too-cute-shyness bit.

He is mommy's handsome fellow.

He has always turned heads, even in the hospital the nurses made such a fuss.

Of course I have always thought he was the most handsome little boy in the world.  But, he is my pride and joy, and what mother wouldn't deem him such?

Garren knows his powers over others, and just how emense his cuteness is.  He jokes and says "he must use his powers for good not evil."  I am pretty sure that is a Star Wars reference, but it is true.

Our Thomas makes people stop in their tracks.  They can't help put pat him on the head or gush over his hair or bow ties. They go on and on (mostly the ladies) about what a sweet handsome boy he is, and how well behaved he is, and how well he is dressed.

I always thank them for compliment, and try to shrug off  their insistence that he is well behaved, for they don't seem him as often as I do.

Thomas will be 4 in a few weeks, and he finally took a growth spurt and actually fits into most of his 4T clothes.  He got taller, his shoe size went up, and his body looks more like a preschooler and less like a toddler.

I guess that others have noticed this change too.

We don't have people here that we know or see on a regular basis.  But, the church goers we sit near lately have made it a point to tell me how big he is getting.

I always hated it when people said that to me about Gracie.  Mothers like me want those baby, and toddler, and preschooler, and little girl days to last forever.  But they don't, and we don't like to be reminded of how quickly the days and months and years are passing.

Mothers like me don't like to be reminded when it comes to their little boys either.

The congregation goers that make it a point to fuss over Thomas don't pat him on the head any more.  They further hold back the urge to pinch his cheeks.

They shake his hand.  

And while you know that Thomas developed this ability very early on and was dubbed "Daddy's Little Politician," --it speaks volumes.

I don't have just a little boy anymore, I have a young man.  While the sadness of that is overwhelming, the responsibility of it is far more so.

I have to raise a boy into a man.  Not alone thankfully, but I still have to do it, and do it well.

While the man I am supposed to nurture and teach fills his pants pockets with cars and strips himself nearly bare and runs around the house, the gravity of it all consumes me this day.

I know that I will find away.  That we will all find a way, his father and I, his family, his teachers, his mentors, those people who sit a few pews back.  We will find a way to turn mommy's precious little boy into a man of the world, and a man of substance & strength, and a man of God.  A man who looks a lot like the man who shares his name. A man like you.

So tonight dear Tom, say an extra prayer for an anxious mother, and a precious boy whom she wants to grow tall and strong and slowly as he can.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Snow Day

We all got a snow day today!  Well, except daddy.  His snow-day consisted of cleaning off the car and driving to work in the snow.

I am NOT a fan of snow, but I am a fan of snow-days, because that means mommy can sleep in!  Yea!!

Unfortunately, the kids love snow days too, but they are up early begging to go out and play in the snow.  That made it very clear that just looking at it from the window was not an option.

So, I got up.

I got them dressed, me dressed and I let them throw snowballs at each other, and me.

Then we went inside :)

I made them Mickey-shaped chocolate chip pancakes and hot chocolate.  Somehow I think that took the sting out of having a Snow Grinch for a mom.

Then, I became even more awesome mom, and I filled plastic containers with snow and brought it inside and they are STILL playing at the kitchen table with toys and cups and spoons and tons of imagination.

I even mixed up some cool aid and let them eat their pretend snow cones for real.

Yep, I am a  Snow Grinch...but I rock!

**The snow-bin idea isn't new, I actually thought that up years ago when Gracie was a toddler and we lived in an apartment and we didn't have a back yard to enjoy the snow in.  I have done it for many years since, but not as often since we got a backyard 3 years ago!  But, it made for a great activity today, especially since most of the snow (thankfully!) is gone as we only barely got an inch total in snowfall. **

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Snow Grinch

The Snow Grouch
by: me, Barbara Shipley

I do not like it on my nose, I do not like it on my toes,

I do not like it in my hair, I do not like it anywhere!

I do not like it on the ground, I do not like it swirling 'round.

I do not like it where I stand, I do not like it in a man.

I do not like it on my house, I do not like it--it makes me grouse!

I do not like it near or far, I do not like it on my car,

I do not like the snow you see, I do not like it--leave me be!

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Okay, all done rain!  Five days is enough!  Mommy and Thomas are all wet and soggy and cold!

(Unfortunately, it seems like we will trade rain for snow tonight)

But, doesn't he look cute in his new raincoat? :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

A New Day, A New Promise

Dear Tom,

We missed church yesterday.  

It always weighs on me when the kids and I miss services.  Admittedly, mostly I feel guilty. I feel guilty for not being a better mother and taking my kids to Sunday School and services. I feel guilty that the day is wasted.  It isn't wasted, but the guilt weighs me down for most of it and I walk around in a funk, and thus most of the day is gone before I pull myself together.  

But, aside from the guilt, I think the "funk" I feel is from the lack of renewal I usually get on a Sunday.

As a kid I hated Sundays!  My parents never wanted to do anything. Everyone just lay around the house all day.  We were kids and we wanted to do something! It was a day off school and it seemed so wasted.

Of course I am a parent now and I don't want to do anything on a Sunday except rest and it drives the kids crazy--circle of life I guess.

But, Sundays give me some sort of "renewed energy" for the week.  I feel better when I get home.  My mind and my heart are lighter as I fix lunch, or sit and listen to Garren yelling at the football players on TV while the kids nap or quietly play.

I never look forward the rush and hustle of Sunday mornings and kids and clothes and hurried breakfast and wiping sticky hands, and finding dress shoes. But, I look forward to the reverence, the quiet, the calm, and the feeling of reverent energy at the services end.

We all seem in a better mood when we leave church.

I have no doubt that you are able to do that for your congregation as well.  You feed more than their minds and hearts, you feed their souls.  It is just like friends and neighbors you haven't seen in a long time, when you meet again you feel renewed and your heart is filled once again.

It is easy to feel alone in this world, especially when you don't do much to make yourself less alone.  And it is easy to feel like things will never get better, or the load will never lighten.  It is easy to forget that God promises us a new day and a new start with each dawn.

I saw that promise in living color this morning and just had to share it with you.

Gracie rode off to school under the biggest, brightest, fullest rainbow I had ever seen.  It reminded me it was a new day.  I had new chances to begin again, and new opportunity to find a positive and hold on to it.  It filled me again, that rainbow.  It reminded me that each new day is a new promise, not just for small things like chances to be a better mother or wife, but for big promises like days ahead to visit a place that is more like home and see friends who are more like family, and share all the adventures we have like the last time talked was yesterday.  Those are the promises that get me through the months.  And the renewal I feel on Sundays is what makes those days and weeks and months more bearable.

Until we meet again,

Monday Sunrise

As Gracie was getting ready for school this morning I had to grab the camera and take pictures of the prettiest sunrise.

Usually it is dark in the mornings as we wait for the bus, but this morning the sun was so bright as it peeked over the horizon.

 Kind of put me in a better mood.  Not, that I was in a bad one, but getting up and getting a child ready, feed, brushed, dressed and to the bus stop at the crack of dawn isn't my favorite part of parenthood.

Even Gracie seemed a little "sunnier" than usual this morning, as she is also not a morning person.

***Our Thomas is the only one among the Shipleys that bounces out of bed at an ridiculous hour ready to take on the day***

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The "Haves" and The "Have Nots"

Last year around back to school time a friend and myself were having a Facebook disagreement about the need for 20 glue sticks per kid.  While we both agreed it was because I was buying for more than my child, her point was that Kindergarteners (or young school aged kids) shouldn't be able to distringuish between the "haves" and the "have nots" soon in life.

This concept bothered me.  At the time it was because I knew she would never see my side of the school supply debacle (mostly because she didn't have a child in school yet), and it seemed to me she was looking down at me and decided that I was emotioanlly bankrupt.

If you know me, you know I have enough emotions to outfit a small country!  And, often my big heart breaks on a weekly or daily basis over a rainbow of things.

My family never had much, and there are only a handful of times that I felt that.  I knew it, but I never felt the sting of it.  Not really.  I will admit those few times that it did have stuck with me throughout my life and give me a cold feeling when I recall them. 

Even fewer times in my married life have I ever felt the reality of where our family lies on the financial mountain.  Gracie and Thomas have always had everything they needed, and more.  They have gone to private preschool, they have closets full of clothes, and bins and bins of books and toys.

I enjoy, and often tout my great finds at Thrift stores and other bargain places.  I am proud of how I economize, and my kids have never (so far) been embarrassed of what they wear or what they have.

I was uncomfortable today.

I stayed up late making Gracie and her doll matching outfits to wear today.

4 other girls arrived with matching outfits for themselves and their dolls that were straight from a catalog.

2 other girls had American Girl shirts to wear.

I proudly fluffed out LiAnna's hair and took her picture as we did the activities.

Nearly all 50+ girls dolls were brand name American Girl dolls.

Several of them had "McKenna" Gracie's dream doll that she didn't get for Christmas.

I watched Gracie move LiAnna's arm and dance and flip her around.

The girls around her traded outfits and accessories for their dolls to play with.

I felt like I had cheated my daughter.

Only minutes ago I was so excited to take her to an event with something that she really loves.  And, now I was feeling like the room had a great big divider down the middle, and Gracie was on the side of the "have nots."

We have raised our children to be grateful and to feel blessed, and at times it is a hard concept for them to remember all the time, and for them to accept.  Kids will be kids.  They are always going to want what someone else has, or more than they have, and definitely more than they need. As a mother I know it is my job to be sure they have what is necessary, and some of what they want, and the ability to teach them the difference.

I am still proud of my thriftiness. It is apart of me.  I am proud of my children and who they are and how they present themselves.

But, I am also a human woman, and I saw a vast  difference today, and it didn't seem nearly as simple as a glue stick.

Thomas' First Birthday Party

Well, for someone that he isn't related to anyway!!

He was actually invited to his first party back in December by his preschool friends Eli & Matthew for their 4th birthday party, but we already made plans for Chirstmas in Lynchburg.

So, I was thrilled that he got another chance!  This time his best preschool friend Preston invited him and all of his classmates.

It was so neat to see him interact with his little friends, and to go and do something different.  He is so different from his shy violet sister!  He was shouting back answers to the people at the Romp And Roll facility he was excitedly participating, and joyfully jumping, romping, and rolling on everything!  I was exhausted (even more so) trying to keep up with him!

I wasn't sure how cake-time would go since this was another little boys party, but Thomas was so exhausted that he barely sat without slumping as Preston got his cake.  Now, he did of course cover his ears for the singing of Happy Birthday (he does that!  and for most other singing situations!), but he seemed to enjoy himself.  He was tired and got clingy for the cake part. He wouldn't eat his cake and he was so thirsty he drank his juice box in seconds flat.

I figured we were done, but nope, they announced more play time and he ran right ahead!

His favorite part was the trapeze! My little boy can swing!

I took as many pictures as I could, and I was sure to get a picture of Thomas and the birthday boy.  Sadly, Preston is moving away at the end of the month! Of course Thomas doesn't know, he wouldn't understand anyway--but it will be many weeks of questions and sadness when he realizes Preston isn't coming back to school.

But, for today the boys got to be bestest friends.

I only hope the kids will have just as much fun at Thomas' birthday celebration too!

American Girl Morning

Gracie has been excited for days once I reminded her the American Girl "event" at the library was this weekend.

Gracie has quite the decision to make...which doll to take: LiAnna (her new doll) or Tabitha (tried and true doll)?

She ended up deciding that since Tabitha has gotten to do lots of other events and things and even go to school with her, LiAnna needed a turn.

(She is so funny how she reasons these things out :)

So...I stayed up way to late making them matching skirts.  Really, don't waste your time by pretending to be surprised!  I made my first ever "circle skirt" and it came out cute! Gracie loved the way it twirled, and I am sure LiAnna loved that it was just like Gracie's.

Just us girls drove to Ashland to find that branches library.  We always go here in Mechanicsville, but the sign we saw advertising it was disappointingly showed the Ashland branch was hosting it.

No, biggie.  I found it.

And so did 50+ other girls!!

The person who put together the event was that branches children's program director, and you could see her beam and get nervous all at the same time as girls, girls, girls, and more girls piled in all clutching their favorite dolls.

Gracie and I found our way to all of the craft tables and she managed to make a card, and we grabbed a felt craft to take home since all the needles and thread were in use, and she even got part of a snack before things ran out.

She didn't mind, and neither did I.  She was in little girl heaven, and she even found some girls to talk to and play with after she finished up her activities.

It was neat to see her this way. She was with other girls who understood her.  Too many little girls these days (it seems) are to interested in boys, music, and electronic gadgets instead of being little girls for the brief time it lasts.  The girls at the event were all much younger than Gracie, but none of them seemed to notice.  They also didn't notice what else I couldn't help but notice: they all had American Girl dolls, and my daughter had an off-brand.

Truly being innocent is a stage to be treasured and NOT rushed through.  Keep that in mind moms.  Our little ladies will all grow up fast enough as it is, no need to push them to go any quicker.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Go Outside And Play

It was a rare January day to be warm enough to send the kids outside.  It was far too nice to stay indoors and not soak up some fresh air. It was even warm enough for the kids to play without jackets.

And, since the temperatures were nice (though the sky never looked it all day), there was no excuse for me not to get the Christmas boxes out once again and put all of our holiday decor away.

It seemed easier to put it all up myself weeks ago.  It seemed much harder and far more bitter as I took it all down and packed it away myself.  I guess the holiday "spirit" helps move the decorating part along far more merrily.

But, it is done and I am thankful.

And, I am thankful the kids had a few hours to play outside, even though much of it consisted of them bickering.  I will take outdoor bickering, to indoor bickering any day.

Is it spring yet?!

Monday, January 07, 2013

Gracie's Book List 2013

Finding books that Gracie will read these days is easier than it has been for the past 12-14 months, but her interests are still narrow, and I do get often asked about her books and what she has and what she doesn't have.  I am putting this list here on my blog to not only help me keep track, but for those of you who like to send her a new book or keep an eye out for those coveted titles.

Gracie's favorite thing to read these days is American Girl books--ALL American Girls.  She has a large collection, but I was surprised to see how HUGE the overall collection out there is!

But, there are a few more series that she really enjoys too, so scroll down all the way (AG section is HUGE!)

AMERICAN GIRL by Various Authors
I have arranged these books by favorite characters:
(highlighted means we have in our collection)


McKenna by Mary Casanova  
McKenna, Ready to Fly! by Mary Casanova



Meet Rebecca: An American Girl


Meet Julie: An American Girl


Meet Marie-Grace: An American Girl
Meet Cécile: An American Girl


Meet Kit: An American Girl
Kit Learns a Lesson: A School Story 
Kit's Surprise: A Christmas Story 
Happy Birthday, Kit!:                     
Kit Saves The Day:              
 Changes for Kit: A Winter Story
Kit's Home Run                          
 Kit's Tree House                          
A Thief in the Theater
Missing Grace





Meet Molly: An American Girl
Clues in the Shadows


Meet Samantha: An American Girl


Meet Kirsten: An American Girl


Meet Addy: An American Girl
Addy Learns a Lesson: A School Story
Addy's Surprise: A Christmas Story
Happy Birthday, Addy!: A Springtime Story
Changes for Addy: A Winter Story


Meet Josefina: An American Girl


Kaya's Escape!: A Survival Story
Kaya's Hero: A Story of Giving


Nicki by Ann Howard Creel
Thanks to Nicki by Ann Howard Creel







Kailey by Amy Goldman Koss



Marisol by Gary Soto


       Designs By Isabelle
       To The Stars Isabelle

My Little Pony Chapter Books

Twilight Sparkle
Pinkie Pie
Rainbow Dash
Apple Jack

 Twice Upon A Time by Wendy Mass
Sleeping Beauty
Beauty & The Beast
Whatever After Series by Sara Mlynowski

#1 Fairest of All
#2 If The Shoe Fits
#3 Sink or Swim
#4 Dream On
Rescue Princessess by Paula Harrison

The Secret Promise 
The Wishing Pearl 
The Moonlit Mystery 
The Stolen Crystals 
The Snow Jewel 
The Magic Rings 
The Lost Gold 
The Shimmering Stone 
The Silver Locket

Wide Awake Princess by E.D. Baker

The Wide Awake Princess
Unlocking the Spell

Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel

A Bad Kitty Christmas      

Unicorn School by Linda Chapman
My Secret Unicorn by Linda Chapman
Book 1: The Magic Spell:
Book 2: Dreams Come True:
Book 3: Flying High:
Book 4: Starlight Surprise:
Book 5: Stronger Than Magic:
Book 6: A Special Friend:
Book 7: A Winter Wish:
Book 8: A Touch of Magic:
Book 9: Snowy Dreams:
Book 10: Twilight Magic:
Book 11: Friends Forever:
Book 12: Rising Star:
Book 13: Moonlight Journey:
Book 14: Keeper of Magic:
Book 15: Starry Skies:

Magic Pony Carousel by  Poppy Shire

Pony Crazed Princess by Diana Kimpton


Puppy Place Books by Ellen Miles

Disney Princess Chapter Books (Authors Listed)