Friday, April 26, 2013

Back At The Track

Thomas went to bed after 10, and so did his sister-but he was still up around 8 this morning.  I probably shouldn't have taken him back to the track, but I promised.

Since I took him the first time 2 years ago, we have gone to the track on race weekends to look around at the concourse. There they have cars and games and tons of freebies.

He always loves it, but this year he was exhausted and it is hard to follow up a real race in the stands.

We didn't stay but and hour, and I got some pictures, but mostly he was shy and towards the end he was getting moody.

But, not moody enough to let the ladies see.

As we were headed toward the exit, Thomas spied the Krispy Kreme Doughnut "stand." They had a game to win freebies and as we stood in line he saw the truck where you could buy doughnuts. I told him after he spun the wheel I would get him ONE doughnut and we would head home.

We got to the front of the line, and like everywhere else we had been that day, the ladies gushed and gushed over him. He won a pair of sunglasses, but she asked him if he would rather have a beach ball. Of course he would.  She gave him a paper and told him that a race car driver would be back at 4:30 to sign autographs, and would he like to meet a real driver.  I smiled knowing I was NOT going to bring him back.  Thomas told her  "cool."

We got out of line and I ordered his doughnut.  Then a man came over to us and asked Thomas "I hear you want to meet me."

Those ladies went into the trailer and found the driver of the Krispy Kreme doughnut car that we saw race last night and brought him out to see Thomas!

Thomas got a little shy, but he shook his hand and waited patiently as the man signed an autograph for him (the driver's idea, not Thomas' or mine!). He told me how cute he thought Thomas was and I asked if it was okay to get a picture. He said sure, and now I have several very neat souvenirs from our day, and Thomas' first race.

Only my son!!!

Picture for Bryce in front of the Monster Truck.

Annual picture for Papaw in front of the Jeff Gordon trailer :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Shipley's Go Racin'

Daddy surprised the three of us with tickets to tonight's NASCAR charity race--making it mine, Gracie's, and Thomas' first ever NASCAR race! (Daddy has been to several at Bristol).

I don't think I can blog about this in any sort of organized way, so I will just show you our night!

 Thomas' first peek at the track--I love this picture!

Gracie was more nervous than anyone! She wouldn't take those ear protectors off for anything--and at this point there was no car noise! ;)

Thomas' favorite vehicle of the night?! The Tow Truck of course! He yelled and cheered every time the tow truck went around the track. (Which was several times before any race started)  "Go tuck truck go! You win!!!!"

Not bad for a self taken family pic!

 The the fun began.  We had great seats. Which wasn't that hard since the place was practically empty--a far cry from what it will look like tomorrow night and Saturday night.  I have decided I am "Thursday race" kind of people.   Here we are watching the lowest level of the races, for lack of a better description: the beginner drivers.

My favorite picture of the night!  Love his reaction!

 Mama keeps snapping those pictures--so annoying!

And if you couldn't see all the action, you could just look up at the big screen!

But, there wasn't  much need--we could see it all, even the wrecks!

 And we have a winner! He did burn outs and everything after he climbed out of the car and back in.

The charity race was next and it had the big names. I told Garren I at least wanted to see a few laps and tell everyone I saw famous drivers run at my first race. I had no idea my favorite driver would be in a car tonight! He hasn't raced much in the past few years since he is commentating and owns his own cars.

This was my last glimpse at the cars (Mikey's is the #15 there) as Thomas made it only 4 laps in to the big race.  He asked to go home. And it was late, and he needed it.

We don't do family outings as much as we would like, and we don't always ALL have fun.  But tonight, all of the Shipley's left with big smiles.  And the littlest one summed it up the best as he was carried by his daddy from the stands.

"That...was...awesome!" --Thomas

More Music

I guess music is the theme of the week, because Gracie earned a Show & Tell at school and insisted on taking in her new Tangled guitar.  And, I just as much insisted that it would not ride on the bus.

So, I drove her to school, and promised I would come and pick it up after I got Thomas this afternoon. 

She was very proud that she got to take in her new favorite thing, and even prouder to show off the two chord progressions he daddy taught her.

She would probably less proud if she knew this is how it rode back to the house ;)

And, Thomas got a little musical today too--besides nabbing the guitar from the backseat while I was driving.

He brought home the cutest xylophone from preschool today! Clearly they practiced the letter "X," but this is one of the neater crafts he has ever made. I love it!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rainbow Music

**A special thank you to Aunt Ruth for helping me coordinate colors with notes on the music.  I knew that this would be a fun idea for the kids, but I didn't think about how I was going to be able to tell what note was what! :) ***

Both kids love this vintage-esque Fisher Price piano I got from a thrift store (yard sale, who remembers) many years ago, especially Gracie.

She is proud that she can follow the simple color coded music that we also have (that actually went to a newer alligator xylophone-- also Fisher Price, but the colors match up!!).

Anyway, I was in a thrift store last week when my mother was visiting, and she found a piano practice book that she was sure she used as a kid.

So, she bought it for Gracie, and I thought if I could match the notes, I could use colored pencils to color them in, and she would have new songs.

Well, the practice book is for a real piano, and most of the songs require two hands.  Since we only have 8 keys, that was difficult.

But, I went online. And we all know you can find anything online!  And, I found free music sheets!  I used Ruth's guide
and colored in the notes and Gracie was beyond thrilled when she could hammer out the new simple tunes.

(We are easily amused in this house ;)

Of course now she wants me to print out even more, but hopefully she will continue to practice these for a while.  I like to see her so excited when she figures something new out.  She doesn't do "failure," very easily (wonder where she gets that from!) and far too easily will give up.  So, to see her proud of herself is a wonderful thing.

And, yes, if she truly does enjoy the piano we will see about lessons and such.  This is the part where I always insert "if we were still in Strasburg Aunt Ruth would already be giving her lessons..."  but I digress.

Although, the piano may have to wait. Her newest music love is the guitar.  Mommy scored an awesome Rapunzel guitar from the thrift store for $3, and she can't stop strumming! Daddy has promised new strings, and some lessons as he is re-learning to play the guitar too.  Unfortunately, he didn't get his new "ax" at the thrift store, so he had to pay full price.

And if you want the printable music sheets--click here!

I printed off Happy Birthday, Ode To Joy (My favorite), Old McDonald, Amazing Grace, and a few more.  And, I am sure I will be back to get even more when she masters the stack I have.

Deck Racin'!

My creative kids!

I came outside to find that all of the patio chairs were lined up against the side of the house and they were racing toys cars around the rectangular table.

I doubled as spectator and announcer.

There were a lot of crashes....after all "rubbin' is racin'!"

You think he is ready for the Richmond race this weekend?!!

I usually take him the Thursday before, but this year he has preschool, so I am hoping that the festivities will still be awesome Friday morning.  I don't think we will have to deal with too much race traffic since the Busch race won't be until Friday evening.

And, Thomas and Gracie both declared themselves the I guess it was a double win in Victory Lane.

And yes, she is WAY too big for that tractor ride on, but she was having fun.  And yep, he can sip and drive at the same time and not spill a drop!

Gotta love our slightly redneck kids (comes from Garren's gene pool! ;)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

W Is For Worm

...and worms love dirt
..and dirt loves boys
...and boys love mama...
...and Jesus loves all of them. :)

Footloose & Facebook Free

Okay, that sounds more exciting than it is, but I am already noticing a difference.

For several months I have noticed that I become more agitated and annoyed faster than I ever have.  As the day goes on my shortness with the kids and my husband is more and more apparent, and while I am not always aware of it--I notice it by days end.

I know life is hectic and crazy, but with two kids who can dress and mostly do things for themselves, there is no reason for me to be so frazzled.  And, then I realized what was feeding my irritation.


I know that sounds silly. But, I checked the social site multiple times a day. I would justify it saying it was my only source for adult conversation. And while that is true, I firmly believe that those "adult" conversations/interactions are what left me in a sour mood.

Most people have Facebook these days, and odds are your news feed is nothing like mine, or maybe it is.  But as the months pass on, and the years go by, most of my "feed" is full of negativity and anger and resentment and a multitude of other negative emotions.

We all have bad days and we all have causes and issues that we feel passionately about, but those aren't the "exceptions" of what is on the mind of my "friends" these many days.  Most people either start an argument or add to it or finish it.  Whether it is over life, or politics, or religion, or the President, or guns, get the idea.

I have no problem admitting I am a sensitive person.  When people hurt I hurt for them. I have always been that way, and I pick up on other emotions and I find that I hang on to them.  I am not so good at blocking my heart.

And, I know that the easy thing to do is delete my account, and belive me I have thought about it.  But, it is my only connection and easiest communication to so many people.  I really don't want to go that route.  And second easiest is to be more strict about what I allow on my feed. You can determine who gets top billing and who gets slectively silenced on your feed, and I think  I will do that--when I get back.

I decided Sunday night that I didn't want to feel the way I was feeling anymore.  And I realized that while Facebook affects me far too much--I find that I am watching too much TV as well. At the end of the day I just crash after the kids are in bed and I let whatever is left to do stay undone and I curl up on the couch with the DVR.  After a weird dream that intertwined three different TV shows together, I knew that wasn't the way I needed to end my day.

So, yesterday I did not log on to Facebook even once.  And, I did not watch TV for me.  I let Thomas watch a little Nick Jr., but it stayed off from the time Thomas went "down" for quiet time until my bedtime.

I was rather proud of myself.  And astounded at how much I got done in a day with out distractions and so much negativity.

I would much rather surround myself with those who lift themselves and each other up, instead of tearing down, and there are far too many online friends who use Facebook to do the later.  Hopefully I can continue to limit my distractions and stay focused on the daily life that God wants me to lead--the daily life I need to lead for me and for my husband and my family.

****I did realize this morning that I do get email through FB, so I logged on just to check messages, and sure enough I have one.  So, I did technically get on FB this morning, but I didn't read anything but the email--so here's hoping that I can find and exercise moderation with the all too addicting social website!***

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Thomas' First Shower

We really celebrate the small things around here ;)

But, tonight, Thomas took a shower.   His own solo shower and we were very proud!

(Yep, I need to get out more, I just blogged about my 4 year olds first shower!)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dear Tom

Dear Tom,

Remember these little gardening gloves?

 Okay, probably not... go ask you lovely wife.

She probably picked them out, but the three of you gave them to Gracie. It was in a set with a little shovel and a little fork like gardening tool.  You gave it to her when I had that brilliant idea to make the construction debris pile outside the apartment into a garden.

I bet you do remember that.

I remember you men laughing at me for attempting to turn that pile of rubble into tomato plants and cucumber vines.

It happened though.  I am sure you and Garren were the most shocked when little buds and leaves flourished in that pile of discarded rocks and dirt.

I wasn't. I was so sure that my plan would work.  I always seem to think that when I get creative.  I never think much about failure or how it won't work out.  I am not sure if it is my naive ways, or just my faith in things turning out for the best.  It might be a mixture, or likely my defiance to think about failure.

I have never been a pro and con kind of girl.  I just decide I am going to do something and I do it.  Of course I am not a strong and fearless lady either.  More often than not my creative ideas flop and I feel defeated--at least for a while.

I wanted to show you this picture because as the kids dug in the very small garden spot next to this house, I thought of you, and Colette and Mallory and that scrap yard garden.  I wanted to show you how your gift of love was still used and cherished and now it is getting dirty all over again with a new small set of Shipley hands.

Our Thomas wears them well.  Like most boys he loves to play in the dirt.

Gracie still loves to help year after year with the garden.

And, like so many years ago, I keep shoveling on, creatively finding ways to make piles of unwanted debris into something meaningful.

I am still looking for the meaning in being so far away from friends and family.  The most I can come up with is that distance makes the heart grow fonder, and those that we can not have, we appreciate all the more when we see them again.

This spring I am sending you all warm wishes for a new beginning and new adventures, and sending thanks that you share in so many old adventures, and that we all can savor them whenever God sends us little reminders, like a very small pair of gloves.


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Thomas' Watch

For the past few weeks Thomas is constantly asking me (and daddy, and Gracie):
"What time it is?!"

I have no idea where this new obsession with time came from, but I thought a creative solution might be to give him a watch so he can tell us instead what time it is.

A watch of course is a father son kind of thing.  So, mommy just picked bought it, it was daddy who presented the gift to our big boy.

And oh how he loves it!!

Now, instead of asking what time it is--we all know what time it is at every moment of the day! :)

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Spring at Maymont

I love to take the kids to Maymont as many times as I can every year--since I Sara took us there to discover how impressive and beautiful this space is.

There isn't a lot about Richmond that I like, and little that I really enjoy--but I genuinely love experiencing Maymont with my kids.

Daddy has never gone with us, and we will have to rectify that soon.

On a whim (and of course it is Spring Break) I decided to take the kids.  I had an ulterior motive, as I really wanted Easter pictures since it rained Sunday, but I promised them after pictures they could change in the car and we would explore.

They were game ;)

And, this time we explored new things!  Gracie suggested we find the Italian Garden, and it seemed like such a tall hike I kind of put down the request.  And thankfully, I gave in and we climbed and climbed and found the most beautiful of all the gardens before us.

I thanked Gracie for being firm about exploring a new area, and we all drank in the springtime in our new favorite Maymont location!

And, we did more new things too--we actually climbed to the spot at the top of the waterfall and we found the mansion.  We were great spring time explorers today, and I got great pictures of it all!

Oh, and not only do we want to take Daddy soon, we want to take Sara back--this time with baby Ella!!

Add caption

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Look Uncle Brian

..I am riding it!!

A year later Thomas gets brave enough to try out the four-wheeler that Uncle Brian bought for he and Gracie.

Gracie, of course, loves the Power Wheels version of Candice & Elliott's awesome ride, and now little brother is starting to think about taking it out himself.

Naturally though, after I snapped this picture, it jerked forward when he hit the petal and he was done with it.  But, he has taken several rides around the backyard holding on to his sister.

I thought my brother would get a kick out of seeing Thomas big brave smile!