Thursday, August 29, 2013


This week has been exhausting--and it is only Thursday.

It has been so exhausting in fact that I declared the first ever "junk food dinner." We went to Walamrt and everyone got to pick something out. Thomas picked cheese sticks, Gracie wanted frozen pizza, and I picked jalepeno poppers.

My oven is nearly done with all of the fried (and really bad for you) food, and the kids and daddy are watching football.

We needed this.

We needed a chance to throw out the rules and just sit and chill out.  It has been a long week for all of us.

This wasn't the first time I got a chance to breathe today, and so I really shouldn't need another one, but I did.

This afternoon, after open house, my favorite radio station posted a verse on Facebook, and I instantly understood.

A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. -Proverbs 11:25

If you know me--at all--you know I will not ask for help. I really have a problem with asking for help in all forms--especially when it comes to my children.

At the end of the last school year I asked Grace, Bryce's mom,  how she would feel about letting Thomas play with Bryce while I went to field day with Gracie.  I was so glad to get a chance to spend that one on one time with Gracie without little brother, and I cherished it, and I was thankful for it. But, I never intended to make it a habit. I reached out, and was blessed, and earned my virtual sticker, but that was enough for me.

A few weeks back, I am ashamed to say, I mentioned to Grace about Gracie's open house and since her house was right next door what if Thomas' played with Bryce while I concentrated yet agian on Gracie.

Clearly I have gone from not asking for help, to being a habitual giver-away of my child...but that is a problem to correct at another, albeit soon, time.

You might wonder how in the world trekking around a school finding a classroom and filling out stacks and stacks of paperwork is "refreshing," but it was. I was able to concentrate on one child and be sure that she had everything that she needed. I could ask and answer questions coherently without calling out "Thomas!" over and over again.  I was able to be refreshed and feel confident about sending my first born beautiful girl to school next week with all she is going through.

A thank-you is not enough.  Thanks seems hardly adequate for taking care of my child along with her own two children, and her niece.  Not enough for not only watching my child, but for giving me a rare chance to focus on one child and one big day.  A small time to refresh myself as a parent.

It seems kind of like a given that we should all help one another, but the help you give, may mean more to that person that you will ever know.  And, it WILL make the Lord smile upon you.

4th Grade, Open House

We had a slight advantage since we already knew her teachers name, but that was all of our advantage.  We trekked across the campus--waaaaaay past the library and found Ms. Mullenaux's classroom. I think we were the first of her students to arrive, which is interesting since I had to start a 3rd row in the grass to park.

Gracie was my typical shy violet, but Ms. Mullenaux was a nice and sweet and comforting as she could be.

Since I had already contacted her about Gracie's arm (I thought it would be best to know about the incident and how Gracie was handling it before meeting her for the first time), our new teacher was prepared for Gracie and her arm and found her a corner desk to make things a bit easier since that monstrosity takes up so much room.

Gracie found spaces for all of her supplies and, and I filled out my yearly novel.

The longer we were there and the more friends she saw, the more at ease she seemed. She perked up a little more and said a few more words.

We saw best friend Ashley, who will not be in her class this year, first thing, and then we saw friend Mary Gray, and back in the parking lot we caught up with other best friend Clara, who will be in her class this year.

Gracie and I were prepared with Sharpies, and she was excited to let her friends sign her cast.  She got ALOT of stares and questions, but she handled them like a champ and I was very proud of her.

We did stop by and say hi to Mrs. Joyner. I hate to bother other teachers on Open House as I know they are very swamped with new kids. So, we just waved as we passed by her window, but she rushed to the door, and I think Gracie was thrilled that we made the stop. I am pretty sure Mrs. Joyner will always be her favorite teacher.

I was sure to take many pictures, as I usually do, and Gracie and her cast look stunning in the dress I made for her. By the time we left her smile was really shinning and I felt so much more confident for next week.

Thanks Grandma

...for the get well card and the gift card and stickers and book marks inside.  Gracie picked out FOUR books (2 My Little Ponies, 1 Barbie, and a new Princess series--not Disney--) and let her brother pick out one with her gift card.

Finding New Ways to Do Old Things

We are in day #4 of the gigantic pink cast, and we are finding more and more creative ways to get things done.

Thanks to some tips from Jill, we know how to keep her cast dry int he bath, but hair was something else.  In the meantime, she comes downstairs and I lay her on the kitchen counter and wash her hair in the sink. This will get tedious over time, so I think we will look at some Home Depot options for a more permanent basis.

Until then though, it works.

I am sure the list will get longer of inventive solutions to cast problems, but here's where we have started,

*shirts with sleeves are nearly impossible, so I hit half day off at the thrift store yesterday and stocked up on sleeveless shirts.

*Rain happens!  I have purchased a plastic table cloth and a shower curtain liner from the dollar store with the thoughts of ways to wrap it up on rainy days.  And, in the same shopping outing, we found a used sized 4T raincoat at the thrift store that her cast and arm fit into.  So, we have some options to work with.

*putting her seat-belt
on is hard, but I decided not tell you how she creatively figured out how to do that one ;)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Preschool Open House

***I am just going to get it out there, and admit, I had to bribe Thomas with three potato chips and an M&M to get him to wear this outfit and his Sunday shoes. I am not above bribery for the sake of cuteness and back to school people! ***

I didn't tell Thomas until time to get dressed to go, but today was Open House at preschool.  Poor Thomas has been not so patiently counting down the days until he can go back to his classroom and his friends and his routine!

We are officially at 7 days, but we got a chance to go and see school, and teachers, and friends today, and he was beyond excited!

Excited until we arrived, and then for one of a handful of times in his life, my son felt "shy!"

He buried his head in my stomach when we entered the room and people made a fuss over him. I would have laughed it off, but I could see the fear in his eyes.

I realized quickly it was NOT the outfit! But, rather, a new classroom, a different teacher, new kids, and the realization that not all of his friends from last year would be there.

None of us Shipleys handle change well.

A few moments later I coaxed him over to a table where his friends Bryce, Eli & Matthew were all doing a craft.  After that he was just fine.

The other moms and I chatted while the kids colored and played and we skimmed through the heavy packet of materials we need to read and sign--and possibly have blood drawn for.

The four boys and we three moms all left at the same time and I convinced begged them for a group photo--one last one before the first day of school.

Typical boys decided to act silly, so I don't have a great picture of them, but I will take what I can get.  None of my pictures are stellar, back to bad fluorescent lighting and iffy shots, but I will deal.

And now, the countdown continues until Wednesday, the first day of school for preschool.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Cast Is Christened

Little brother was the first to jazz up Gracie's new pink cast.

 He wanted to draw a tow truck. I had to help him as his truck was getting a little big and would have easily taken up her whole arm.

I was worried that she would be upset by his markings, but it was her idea, and she loved it.  She is excited for everyone to sign!

Thomas' Reasoning

On the ride to today's cast appointment:

"Gracie, you ride in ambulance?!"

"No, Thomas, that is for big emergencies, my arm is just a little emergency."

"You ride in little ambulance?"

All Wrapped Up

                               Before                                    After

I couldn't get an appointment until 12:50 today, despite the fact I called as soon as they opened this morning.

The receptionist at the pediatric orthopedist explained when we arrived that it as a bad weekend for lots of kids.

Bad for Gracie.

Worse than first thought as well.

The doctor looked at her x-ray and examined her hand and arm, and found TWO broken bones. She broke her radius AND Ulna (no idea how to spell that), and the break cause some sort of curve.  So, she firmly recommended a full arm cast.

That wasn't at all what we were expecting, but she explained that because of the seriousness of the break, Gracie could do more damage if she were to fall or bump her elbow or other parts of her arm.

So, we will show off this pink monstrosity for three weeks.  She will be re-examined and x-rayed and odds are she will be back in a cast for 3 more weeks, but likely we can downsize to a smaller cast or brace.

Despite the surprise in cast needs, Gracie is handling it all like a trooper.

And, despite the fact that I have done this once already with one child, my stomach remained in massive knots

We opted out of the water-proof cast as it is not recommended for people with seriously sensitive skin--like Gracie--so we will have to be even more careful, but we will find a way to manage.

Thank you to so many who have been thinking of her and praying for her.  She and I both needed that.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Broken Gracie

I was right, it is broken.

Daddy insisted on taking her to the pediatric Urgent Care tonight. He had to miss out on the scary wait with Thomas as I sweated and prayed and worried and prayed, and held my crying child for hours waiting to get help and relief.

Meanwhile, he was left to just get a brief updated before my phone crashed and he was left in the dark not knowing what was going on.

He was not going to let that happen. And lets face it, he is the strong one!

So, I waited, and prayed, and worried and prayed and cleaned waiting for updates.

She was x-rayed and found to have broken badly her radius.  Garren showed me the face the people kept making when they saw the x-ray. Comforting people, comforting!

So, for now she has a brace, and I will have to make an appointment for her to get a cast on.  On the bright side, it will be the same place Thomas got his cast on.

 She is home and in bed and resting as I type this, but all along the Gracie that takes far too munch after her mother has let the worry about a first day of school with a cast on outweigh any and all physical trauma.

Happy Birthday Ashley

So, it was a happy birthday for Ashley, but the celebrations were quite dampened for Gracie.

Gracie hasn't roller skated since her friend's birthday party at the Woodstock skate land in Kindergarten. That is 4 years ago people. And, she hadn't skated before that, so we are looking at her second skate ever with a span of 4 years. So, she was a bit self conscious around her other friends--although, they too were riding the rail.

But, none of them fell and broke their wrists.  So, I guess she wins. :( Poor thing.

I was pretty sure it was broken from the get-go and we had only been a the party for 15 minutes.  She wanted to stay and see Ashley (one of her bestest friends) enjoy her party, so we stuck it out with some tears and a lot of pain.

Ashley is such an outgoing child, and had a blast skating circles around everyone else.  This group of girls from third grade was such fun!

I snapped lots of pictures, but it was dark in there, so many didn't come out--but we were thrilled to celebrate with Ashley, even with the fall.

Thomas Reads His First Word

So, I have been working this summer trying to get Thomas interested in learning to read.  As you can imagine: no dice!

I did letter sounds, sounding out things we saw.  Nope, no interest.

It hadn't occurred to me to try sight words first like I did with Gracie. (She had no interest in those despite the fact that I labeled everything in her room with cute post it notes.)

Not only did Thomas learn his first sight word, I think I get double extra points for the word it was!!

We were in church this morning and Thomas wanted me to move his finger along the bulletin for the part we read aloud, and later in the hymnal. I have done this many, many Sunday mornings, but this morning he grabbed my hand and put it on his finger so, I wouldn't forget. Well, the second song we sang, I had the page ready and whispered to him "What is that word?"

It was the first word of the song. I told him "it says "God." And, after that he said "God" whenever he saw G-O-D.

I am a proud mama.

Now, I would have been proud and brushed off the accomplishment, but when we were in the car on the ride home he found Gracie's Bible in her church bag and decided he was going to read it now. He was feeling big now that he had learned a whole word.

And, this kid learns fast--he "Read" the Bible with such eloquence
from the back seat.

That's my boy!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Another Book

I finished another one!

And, this one I read all bu the first chapter in one day! One day people! (Not that it is all that awesome for most people, but for this mom--that is HUGE I tell you!!)

Thanks again Grace for the great read. It was hilarious and touching, and at times hit really, really close to home seeing as how I have a daughter and I am a little lot obsessive about things as her mom.

Another two thumbs up from me if you are looking for a faith-based book
about motherhood!

Riding The School Bus

You know how much Thomas loves all things with wheels--well, one of his big beefs about being 4 is that he can't ride the school bus and Gracie can.

Well, today, he got his wish!

Each summer the local library has a back to school celebration, and they offer kids a chance to ride on a school bus.  The idea is to get preschoolers and Kindergarteners use to the experience before the first morning comes around. It also helps the parents since they get to ride too.

I marked this down on the calendar last summer, excited to take him, and plumb forgot! Forgot!

Well, I wasn't going to let that happen again.

So, we went. And there were plenty of other activities like crafts and story time, and face painting and goody bags--but Thomas had a one track mind--and it was focused on something big and yellow.

Sadly, he was bummed that school bus just drove in circles around the library parking lot, but he was so excited to sit on that bus and ride around.  So, excited, he rode twice!

Gracie was such a good sport, she's ridden on a bus since Kindergarten, but she sat and rode happily so Thomas could get his turn.  She got her hand painted too--so she did get something out of the whole morning at the library.

PS: I am totally enjoying the moment and NOT thinking for a second that it really will be his turn on a bus next fall. So, don't bring it up!!!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Another Play Date With Clara

Clara's mom is a teacher, and that means she is already hard at work getting things ready for school to start.  So, Clara and brother Jacob hung out with us today while teacher mommy got some work done.

It was rainy so there wasn't a lot of outside time, but there was plenty of giggles and girly time, and rough and tumble boy time.

Gracie was thrilled to spend nearly an entire day with her friend, and Thomas was glad not have to share the house with just two girls!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Flying High

Day 2 (last day) of Gymnastics Camp for Gracie was another rousing success. She left beaming and chat chat chatting about all that she had done in the past 3 hours. She was sure to even get it in there that she was sad it was her last day and she wished she could stay.  (I told her we would talk about it and look into it! If you have a daughter you KNOW how pricey these things are!)

Cranky Thomas and I arrived again about 30 minutes early to pick her up. I again wanted to get a sneak peek at what she was getting to do, and I knew that they had been promised to get on the trapeze this time.  They were supposed to do it Tuesday too, but they "ran out of time."

I forgot my camera! Can you believe it?!!

When I got home, I found it right where I apparently left it, camera card and battery beside it--left when I got distracted by one or more kids! :(  Thankfully the phone came to save the day.

(Click to enlarge picture. Gracie is wearing green)

Gracie was so proud as she showed off for Thomas and I, and we were pleased to see her trying so hard.

But, seeing her fly was a moment I won't forget. Not the actual swinging and height part--but the sheer joy on her face will last me a lifetime.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Beach Day!!

I got to go to the beach!

The things that thrill this mama!

And, I got to take the kids and go with friends!

A few weeks back, I was looking on a Richmond mom blog and came across and article of must do summer activities. Well, one of the places they listed was Yorktown Beach. It was so awesome because it was only an hour drive verses the 2 hour drive traffic nightmare to Virginia Beach.  Now, this had me excited already, but the fact that it was small and quaint had me wanting to go--now.  Then, I read on.  There was a trolley. Sold!

I asked Grace if she had ever been. She had not. I was excited about the idea, but still unsure about taking two kids by myself to the waterfront in a place I had never been.

So, I asked her to go with me.

Crazy lady agreed! :)

I can not describe enough how perfect this day was. The weather, the temperature, the breezes, the water, the peacefulness, the seclusion, the picturesque town/village.  If I could have, I would have picked up and moved us in to one of the quaint charming houses along the side.  (or I would have just asked to be roommates!)

The kids had a wonderful time playing and splashing together all day long.

We had a 10 minute rain shower and opted to wait it out, and so glad we did, everyone left and we hung around and enjoyed several more hours of fun in the sun!

And, as a capper to our day--a ride on the trolley!

Thomas was so excited about riding this trolley all day. I hadn't told him about it, but he watched it go past us at our water "hole," every 25 minutes itching to climb aboard.

It was well worth the wait, if for no other reason that to watch Thomas ride it.

We MUST go back again!  Such a wonderful day!!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gymnastics Summer Camp, Day 1

"Tell her I said thank you, thank you, thank you for taking you to the thing where you won this certificate!!!"

Gracie is thrilled.

One of her many girly interests is Gymnastics (thank you American Girl McKenna!), and today Gracie got a chance to go for the gold.  So to speak.

Back in May (April?) I went with Grace and Bryce and Thomas to a Mommy & me event Grace had invited us to.  It was super cute and Thomas loved the band that performed. Anyway, everyone who walked in the door put their names in a drawing, and I won a free summer camp at CORE Gymnastics.

Well, I knew I had taken Thomas to the Mommy & Me event, but I wanted to see if they would take an over-zealous, slightly clumsy 9 year old girl who would jump through the roof at a chance to do gymnastics.

They do.

She went today. 

She gets to go again Thursday. (It is a 2 day camp 1-4 pm).

 She is over the moon!