Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter From The Shipley Family

(and thank you to the man who snapped this great family picture for me this morning in the sanctuary.  The rain kept us from doing a traditional one outside in front of the cross)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Boy's Biggest Love

...after his mama of course!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Gracie's Turn

Shew it has been a a busy week, and the weekend is packed too!

It was Gracie's turn for an egg hunt and picnic at school.

Getting to be the Room Mom, I got to plan the egg hunt and I threw in a twist for these third graders.  It was a treasure hunt and they had to find a certain number of each style of egg.

I think they loved the challenge and had a great time.

The picnic lunch was a great success as well.

And, Thomas was a great trooper and helper.

Plus, today is early release, so the kids all had a win/win day!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Preschool Egg Hunt

...and party!

I love being able to say "Easter Party."  Because that is what we celebrate, and Kitty's Kids is Biblically based education for my Thomas and his classmates. 

With Gracie's school and class we have to be sure to NOT say "Easter" and only "Spring."

Anyway, Thomas and his friends had a wonderful time at their party and they were too precious as the searched for eggs.

Each child got to find 12 eggs, and it is so funny watch oblivious 3 &4 year olds look for brightly colored eggs that are all over the place. :)

Thomas of course looked the part.  I couldn't send him to school today not dressed to the nines now could I?

Dapper Thomas

When you look this good it is HARD not to flaunt it.

Ready for preschool and the Easter Party & Egg Hunt today!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Homework Helper

I came downstairs to find this peaceful moment between brother and sister.

Gracie tells me that Thomas is helping her with her homework.

Bonus points she says because he is learning factions :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Gracie's First Workout

She's 9 now, so she gets to use the gym like the adults.  Well, except the treadmill.

Since there was no school today, what a perfect chance for her to try out the machines.  The people at AFF even gave Gracie her own trainer to help show her the ropes.

Gracie even made it 5 minutes on the elliptical before heading to the stationary bike, and back to the elliptical and BACK to the bike! She even did some weight machines!

Way to go Gracie!

Are You Kidding Me?!!


It's Palm Sunday!

We are 7 days from Easter, and there is currently 4 inches of snow on my front lawn.  The front lawn that Garren mowed for the first time this season.

And, the school just called--no school tomorrow!

Not cool Mother Nature--not cool!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday

**Warning, this mommy got a cuteness overload and some might get on you!! ;) ***

How sweet do my angels look?!!!

 And, Thomas went with the other kids and waved palms without me!! He held his sisters hand and cheesed the whole time! I am so proud of him, and for her being such an awesome big sister.  And since the processional ended at the front with the children's message, he sat through that without me for the first time too!

Want to watch them? Of course you do!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Snowy Start To The School Day

Of course the kids thought it was awesome to leave for school with the snow falling.  It is just a few flake;, but as the current and cranky snow Grinch mommy, I am not amused by even the playfulness of of snowfalls.

Since both kids walked through the white stuff, it was obviously not enough to cancel or delay school--just enough to boost the excitement level and to feel sorry for your kids teachers.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Carrot Countdown

We are counting down to Easter!  I had the cute idea to use these hollow carrot "eggs" that I had in the Easter decorations box to count down the days until Easter is here.

The kids un-earth one carrot each night after dinner. Inside the carrot is the same number of days counted out in M&M's.  )And, yes, I realize that as the days dwindle they get less and less chocolate.  They should be thrilled I let them have any at all! ;)

Thomas and Gracie both seem to love the new countdown, and it looks pretty cute as the centerpiece on our table.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dear Tom

Dear Tom,

Both kids brought home these seeds inside a plastic cup from church one Sunday in late January/early February.

It was a fun idea, and I will be honest, I can't remember the Bible story that they had to go along with it. I am sure it was important and meaningful.  All I know is I was desperately trying to remember to keep them alive.  Here were two small seeds and I knew I had to keep them watered and with plenty of sun.  

On a few occasions after the stems and leaves sprouted I would find them wilted and sagging and I would know that I had not done my job.  I had failed them again.  A little water would always bring them bouncing back to life, and I would carefully monitor them for the next week or so before life would keep me distracted and I would loose focus on my little growing sprouts.

I find too many times in my daily life that I loose focus on what matters most.  My little sprouts are growing so quickly, and I am blessed to watch them bloom, but much like the marigolds in the window--they are in my sight all day long, but I often forget to tend to them in the way they need to be tended.

Of course I feed them, and I clothe and bathe them and keep them clean. But, I can also get wrapped up in the laundry, or what needs to be cleaned, vacuumed, straightened, or in a project I want to do for myself or them.  

So many good and valuable moments pass me by.  Unfortunately, unlike the flowers, I live in the guilt of missed opportunities instead of watering them again and finding my focus once more.

We are promised a new day and a new opportunity with each sunrise, and yet too often I can't see the sunrise for the rain of yesterday.  

Thankfully, like the plants, I don't throw out the kids, and they don't throw me away either.  Somewhere in the puddle of guilt I find the way back and try again to tend to my seedlings.

I don't know how you do it with a smile day after day.  Your beautiful wife tended your big and strong flower everyday and she never seemed to lose focus.  And, while I am sure there were times in her life when she did, I know that she wouldn't have waited a second for a new opportunity to tend to her daughter.

You now have a whole room full of spouting Christians and your task must be so daunting.  I have always admired your seemingly endless supply of love and giving.  I have no doubt that you water and sun your seeds weekly, and they will grow and grow in God' love. Just as I know that no matter how many times my sprouts wilt, the rain and sun will come again, my focus will return and I will revel in the opportunity to watch them grow.

God likes to find ways to make me see the answers I most often need.  

Today, Gracie's flower opened up and raised its petals to the heaven above.  Just in time for spring.


Mom VS Mom: A War With Countless Casualties

It is one of those small holidays in life and you figured you covered the bases for your kids, until you you log onto Facebook and you see that another mom friend went all out. 

You roll your eyes and shrug off that feeling of uneasiness that maybe you missed out.

You know it wasn't a big deal, but then you see three other profile pictures pop up of smiling little faces with extra holiday-fun written all over them

Now you are annoyed.

Really annoyed!

Why can't they just "phone it in" like a "real mom?"  After all not every mom has time and energy for that sort of thing!  Your frustration goes a step further when your child mentions the fun another child at school had.  Now, your annoyance turns to anger and you rant with your keyboard pounding out what you are sure is wrong with other moms and how their over-the-top measures leave you with a tantrum mess to clean up.

Your rant gets forwarded and you get high fives all over the place.  You get an extra big high five from a mom down the street.  She is annoyed too, and not only about that--but she has been feeling slighted since she can't take her kids on a week long vacation like everyone seems to be doing.  Why must they broadcast their expensive travels all over the place? 

The working mom a few blocks over is in your corner too. She doesn't have time to do all those extra holiday things, but she works hard and it isn't her fault that other families can't manage their money--she can take her kids to the moon and back and has every right to post a million pictures of their trip.  She works, she can't stay at home and watch every "first" and kiss every boo boo.  She lives for the annual trip to Disney, and clings to the magic it brings.  The magic that another mom just tainted.

The mom on maternity leave in the next county doesn't wish for Disney yet. She just wants to make it a full night of sleep.  She's tried everything and in her sleep deprived stupor she screams out in a status update about those stupid formula companies who she is sure are trying to sabotage her resolve to breastfeed.  While cursing a faceless company she uses the words "easy way out" and leaves another infant mom friend with the sharp stabs of her accusation.

Of course for the mom of four in the other school district, breast feeding is only a start, she is sure that organic and whole foods are the way to go.   She has done her research and sees her kids reaping the rewards, but it doesn't seem like anyone is listening to her.  Can't they see what the food is doing to their children?  Frustrated and feeling voiceless she chats up the other moms at soccer practice about how organic will save their kids from the long list of diseases she rattles off.

The goalies mom is in her corner 100% and that is why little Joey is in soccer and little league and Pee Wee Football.  Because if you don't put your child in team sports they will be overweight and never learn to work as a team, plus they can't gain confidence and socialize with other kids their own age.

Now the mom of the bench warmer has two problems.  Little Cody thought he wanted to play soccer but he wants to quit because he doesn't like it.  And, she feeds her kids a balance of what they will eat and what she can afford.  What will happen to Cody now?  The list rattled off in the past 30 minutes of "innocent mom chatter" goes through her mind. Meanwhile,  a few lawn chairs over a group of soccer moms from the other team are gawking at Joey's mom's decision to let baby sister suck on a pacifier.  A debate being held a little too loud and a little too easy to hear.

When Cody's mom gets home, she throws out the dinner she has thawed and attempts to quickly read labels and lashes out at the kids and her husband when they complain that they are hungry and ask where dinner is.  That night she fights back frustrated tears and attempts to gather her self esteem back and posts pictures of her darlings in the clothes she made during her "free time" that they wore Sunday.

She gets several likes on the pictures, but the next day another ranting post pops up about moms who smother their children and who will end up stunting their growth.

Sue lives in the next state, but she saw that post too.  She had just uploaded pictures of her kids and the green crafts she had come up with for them to do the day before.  What fun it had been to do something a little extra.  To hold on to those smiles for a few more seconds and to create a memory. Now, she wonders if she spends too much time with them.  Is she spending enough time and too much money?  Are they eating healthy?  How can she afford organic food and junior sports teams on one income?  Did she make the right decision to quit her job to stay at home?  Maybe she should have home-schooled...maybe not that affects kids socially too?


It is a war that has been ongoing for generations, a war that gets more vicious with each passing year, a war that only produces losers, broken hearts, and low self esteem. A war that leaves everyone involved broken, defensive, and unsure of themselves. Mom vs Mom will never stop until we stop hurting each other out of fear.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Rainbow Treaure Hunt

I saw this great idea on Pinterest, and had planned to do the hunt outside.  The rain had other plans.  So, this mommy adapted!

I used rainbow colored yarn instead of 5 different colors (wow, cheap yearn is $3 a skeen these days!!), but it worked just as well.

I made a route for the kids to follow the rainbow through out the house until it ended at the treasure chest.

I used the Jake and The Neverland Pirates easter basket Grandma bought Thomas, which by the way is used by him for EVERYTHING! He loves it!!

Even daddy seemed to think this little idea was pretty cute.

We didn't go all out for St. Patrick's Day, but I did dress the kids in green, they got to have the Rainbow Treasure hunt and we watched a great video on Saint Patrick made by the creators of Veggie Tales (excellent for those of you moms who want to explain the biblical significance of this day, even if you aren't Catholic).

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Preston Returns

I don't know if I blogged about it, but back in January, Thomas' best preschool friend Preston moved away.

It was Thomas' first heart-ache, and let me tell you it was several long weeks of an extra cranky and moody almost 4 year old.

It has only recently been that we can make it more than a week without asking about Preston.

So, when Preston's mom emailed to say they would be back in town for the weekend, we took them up on their offer for the boys to meet for lunch and playtime!

Thomas was thrilled to see his long lost friend and they played lots and lots in the Chick Fil A play place where we met his family.

Since Preston's extended family lives here in Mechanicsville, we are hoping there will be other opportunities for play-dates--even if they are brief.

Shamrock 1K

Ah the DVR is a marvelous invention, and it is on my list of to p10--but that is mostly beacuse it is the only way I can watch what I want on TV.  The kids take up most of the time, and husband gets the that leaves mommy with naptime and my NCIS.

Anyway, this week during nap-time, I was fast forwarding through the commercials on my DVR'd show and caught a glimpse of a St. Patrick's Day Race with a Kids run. So I ran the commercial back and found out the details and signed Gracie up 24 hours before the dealine :)

This is Gracie's first race of the new year, and she seemed to have fun. Of course she got new clothes out of the deal since she doesn't own much green and has outgrown most of her running clothes (and all clothes in general!!)

When I signed her up I thought it was a 1Mile race, but daddy pointed out that the packet he picked up said "IK." Sure enough.  So, 1K is more than a half a mile, but less than a mile.

Regardless, my girl ran it in under 6 minutes!!

Super proud!!

Gracie has several other races she wants to run this spring, so she will have a lot more chances to get moving!


Garren has been watching this place (Jumpology) be built and furnished and set up.  He has been so excited to try out the concept that this facility offers: wall to wall trampolines.

As the mother of a son who has broken his leg almost one year ago, I am not as big of a fan when it comes to trying this place out, but daddy and the kids outnumbered me.

So, on opening weekend, we tried it out.

(Well, daddy & the kids tried it out, I sat and watched and took pictures and cringed A Lot!)

The inside is massive, and it literally is wall to wall trampolines complete with ramp trampolines for flips and stairs to jump off of, and dodge ball and foam pits!

You get a hour with your $12 per person entry fee, and you have to sign up for a time on line! This keeps a limited number of people on the floor at any given time.

I am not sure who had more fun: Garren or the kids, but I have to say I was impressed with the facility, with the fun the kids had, and the stamina--especially Thomas! He jumped for the solid hour taking very few breaks!

My pictures aren't good because the of the lighting, so you will have to check out the video, which also doesn't do the place justice.  We all had a great time, even me watching from the sidelines.


Added bonus: all three "kids" will crash early, long and hard tonight! :)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Green Day

Look at my handsome little man already for "Green Day!"

The friends at preschool are having their St. Patrick's Day celebration at school today, since it is Sunday.

He looks very dapper in his green shirt and the green tie mommy made for him, doesn't he?!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

First Signs Of Spring

It seems like it is never going to get here, and even now it is windy and cold, but low and behold...

the first buds on our backyard tree/bush (that I still don't know what it is).

Warm weather and sunny skies must be close by.

His OTHER Name

He isn't so sure, but he does have two names.

I think it might be a good thing he isn't aware of this, it means I don't yell as much as I think I do. ;)

Today's library story time theme was names and the kids got to make a "name train." I thought this was the perfect time to start introducing that other name he has--his first name!

Thomas only cared about putting his "T for Thomas" on there, so I quickly grabbed a marker and wrote in "Jack."

Poor Gracie was oblivious to her "other name" for years too. She would even argue with me and tell me it was not her name.  Eventually she caved and would proudly tell everyone "Tabifa Gwace Ship-ey!"

Maybe he will come around too.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Gracie was excited to see this in her Tuesday folder from school today.

Not just because it was an award for Honor Roll (from the first 9 weeks), but because the man that signed it knows Daddy, and daddy knows him.

One of those "cool" moments in Daddy's job. :)

Thursday, March 07, 2013


With my blanket over his head....

"Oooohhhhhh, I a GOAT!!!" --Thomas

Uncovers head...

"It's just me--Thomas!!"

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Snow Day (In March!)

How Daddy does a snow day....

How Mommy does a snow day...

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Gracie's Birthday

6:55 am:  Wake up to a balloon waterfall.  Quiet gasps of surprise from her room, and I get to hear it because I can't go back to sleep after Thomas tumbles into our room at 6:30.

7:25 am: Posing for birthday pictures in the outfit SHE picks out that includes a spring twirly dress, red ruby slippers, and her red dress coat.  How can I argue with the birthday girl.  Although, mommy insists that tennis shoes go in the backpack for gym and she wears her pretty white cardigan to keep warm.

7:28 am:  More birthday pictures at the bus stop with across the street neighbor Amanda, who we found our three years ago has the same birthday!!  Fifth grader Amanda turned 10 today!!

10:40 am:  Mommy arrives at the cafeteria with a special cupcake cake just for Gracie and her friends and gets the lunch tables all decorated and ready!

10:49 am: Lunch with mommy and her friends and Brave cupcakes for desert!

2:45 pm: Home from school and no chores.  (Might be her best present!)

3:30 pm: Mommy cleans her room (present to myself!) while she and her brother dance around bopping each other with balloons.  Grandma and Grandpa both call her to say Happy Birthday 

5:30 pm: Presents!  Daddy decides we will do presents before birthday dinner.  Gracie gets a stuffed Cinderella horse from Candice, Elliott & Jolee (and shrieks!!), a picture frame from brother bear, Squinky play sets and a subscription to American Girl magazine from Mommy & Daddy, and the monster of all present from Mamaw & Papaw: an American Girl doll!  To hear the screams scroll to the next blog entry! 

6:15 pm: Birthday dinner at her favorite restaurant: Friendly's!

7:30 pm: Birthday dinner desert and singing from the wait staff.  Gracie goes face first into a Volcano Sundae.

9:00 pm: shower and bed for the birthday girl!

What a day!!