Monday, November 25, 2013

Thankful For Virginia

It was Gracie's turn to shine as she and her classmates put on a Thanksgiving choral performance at school tonight.

They mixed lesson plans and music as they sang songs about Virginia.

Gracie was excited to show all three of us what she had learned.  She was a little bummed last week that she didn't get a speaking part, but she did get a turkey rattle for the last song, so that perked her up.

Here's a clip of our Gracie and her classmates along with the entire 4th grade at MES.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Kitty Sleeps Over, Part Two

Time to go get Kitty from the library!

Gracie decides to go too (I think she is more curious about what Kitty did overnight than Thomas, he just wants her home).

We have to wait for a few minutes before we go in, because they are just waking up.  But, that doesn't stop Thomas, and all the other kids from trying to peek through the doors and windows to see their friends.

The kids find their stuffies and get cookies and milk and find a place on the floor to watch a a video about what their fluffy friends did all night.

While they are waiting, they get a picture collage of a few of the things the librarians caught them doing! (so cute!)

The video they showed was on the wall, so I don't have the world's best video of a video, but it is cute, and I thought Thomas might like it later on, but you can see it too!


Each of the friends received an awards certificate.  Kitty got hers for "Best at Making Friends."  Doesn't surprise us in the least.

We are so glad that you had a great time at the sleepover Kitty, but we are even more glad you are home with Thomas.

Thank you again Mrs. Carolyn--you did a great job taking care of Kitty and her friends.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Kitty Sleeps Over, Part One

Guess what tonight is?!

The Teddy Bear Sleepover at the library!

Surely Kitty is excited.

Nope, Thomas tells us she is ner-bus and doesn't want to go.

Seriously Kitty?!!!!  You've been in the "C Team" stuffy bucket for a year and you just got out this week and you DON'T want to go?!!!

Silly Kitty!

Thomas Kitty gathered her nerves and we went to the program anyway.

I wasn't sure she was going to get to stay--it was stop and go there for a little while, but she stayed.

First we had to sign her in. We had to answer all sorts of questions about her, like whether she was a boy or girl (now you know).

We also made her a fancy name tag so the other stuffed friends would know her name in case she got shy.

After paperwork she got to play with Thomas and the other friends with the parachute. She really liked flying!

Then, it was story time. Thomas, Kitty started to get nervous and really didn't want to listen to the story, but mommy held her and she listened.

Thomas and Kitty did the "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear Turn Around," song/movement and then it was time to say good night.

Kitty never made it to the stuffy line up pile, she was carefully laid in the trusting arms of Mrs. Carolyn who was asked in a very small and shaky voice:

"Mrs. Car-o-win, you take good care of my Kitty?"

Mrs. Carolyn immediately answered with a resounding yes and held Kitty until we left the room.

That's a good great librarian folks!

She is so awesome, that she texted me a picture of Kitty and how she was doing a few hours later so that Thomas could feel less worried.  And, let me tell you, it was several hours of worry and a shaky bedtime for Kitty's human tonight.

I Is For.....

Ice Cream Truck!


Identical Ice Cream Trucks!

How cute is it that (by accident) Thomas and Bryce not only chose to take in ice cream trucks for Show & Tell today, but they had matching ones!!  Bryce got his from his beach trip. Thomas got his from a thrift store cars/trucks goody bag score.

The two precious preschoolers not only shared a Show & Tell item today, they got to share the same car ride home (mine this time) and lunch together and play time at Bryce's house.

What a nice day it is today! We moms didn't want to waste it--although it was Grace's idea to hang out at her house after school. I just picked them up while she fixed them dino nuggets and mac & cheese for lunch.

So,"I" for Incredible After School Play Date too :)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mama Is An Artist

...and can cross off number 16 & 26.

I was invited to do something I would never usually do (but want to do so much!!), and I actually went.  And, bonus points since it was a group activity full of women I don't know and the kids stayed at home with the husband!

Grace invited me to go with her small church group to a painting place last month, and it looked so much fun. You know how crafty I am. But, you also know how hesitant I am about social things.

I recognized a few women from Grace's church since they help out with Thomas' kids group so I would see them on Tuesdays, but all of the ladies were nice and hilarious. You wouldn't think church ladies can be funny, but many of them were cracking me up.

Of course we needed some comedy since what looked like such a fun and simple project ended up being more stressful and hard than I could have imagined.

I went back and forth on liking my work, and hating it, but end the end I was really, really happy with it. I made it, and as you can see I went outside the box and added my own creative choices to the template we were working with.

Although, at no point did I stress as much as Grace. I think she made me laugh more than any of the rest of the ladies!

The whole project was also more time consuming than you can imagine, but the time past quickly as we brushed and mixed and edged our work.  We arrived around 6, and the class started at 6:30. We didn't leave until almost 10! 

But, as goodbyes were said I think most of the ladies felt like I did: proud to have finished the project and how it came out.  During the middle of the class there were a lot of jokes about donating to Goodwill.

So, I not only had a great deal of fun tonight, I made my first painting "masterpiece" and I went home smiling and proud of myself for opening up my world.

Thanks (again) Grace!

Now, I want to go back and do it again!

 (If you are a local person, we went to Short Pump to a place called "Spirited Art." You will have to look them up, it was really fun to do with friends.)

Little Readers

Thomas was excited to go to Story Time today.

Now, we always enjoy story time at the library, but is is a weekly occurrence, and we just go.  Today he asked me 20 times if it was time to go.

Why so excited?

Well, "Kitty" was going to go today with Chewey (she really needs a better name).

Last month Mrs. Carolyn told us about a library special activity called the "Teddy Bear Sleepover." You didn't have to bring an actual bear, but at any stuffed friend that might like to sleep over at the library for a night.

Well, I thought that was the cutest thing ever, so I signed up for one of the 20 spots for Thomas. I knew that leaving Chewey all night at the library wasn't going to happen, but I couldn't talk him into any other bedtime friends, so we chose a "C" team stuffed animal from the big box in his closet.  The cute cat was on top, and so now "Kitty" gets to go.

But, we need to make sure "Kitty" won't be ner-bus at the library, so she got to go today--WITH Chewey--to see how everything will be.

(He is too cute!)

It seems kitty will be okay with the library, and Mrs. Carolyn has promised to take great care of her for us tomorrow night.

Plus, we get to see all the fun things Kitty got to do while she was sleeping over when we pick her up on Saturday morning.

Doesn't that sounds like tons of fun?!

Preschool friend Paige was also there for our weekly library jaunt, and those two are always so cute--but today they were over the top as they read a Maisy book together.  Thomas LOVES Maisy, and apparently so does Paige.  Only she knows this book back and forth like he knows the Maisy bus book.  I love them reading together.  I edited a smaller version from a video I was able to get when they weren't paying attention.  Listen.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Stone Soup

Kitty's Kids annual "Thanksgiving" meal and performance was today, and I was just so excited (and nervous) about it all.

I have no idea why I was so anxious, all I had to do was making something to take (I chose deviled eggs). I had already made him a tie to wear and Garren took him to get his hair cut. Lord knows he doesn't get shy or nervous to perform. So,  I guess it is just mommy-nerves.

And, of course he and his friends were super cute as they sang their songs.

That is really the whole reason to go. There is food, but face it--you went to see your precious stand in front of everyone and belt out a cute song off key.

I will upload videos as I can (but it takes a while) as all of them were super cute.

I did not get stellar seats this year, so I planted myself in the floor near Thomas' side of the risers, so I only have his class in the videos and pictures.  There were 2 more sets of risers full of kids to the left.

Enjoy the cuteness!!

**And several of the better pictures Grace took. She has a fancy-schmancy camera that takes awesome close ups!! **

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rocket Launch

Did you see the rocket launch from Wallops Island tonight?  Did you know there was a rocket launch?

Yup, me neither.

Garren emailed me from work wanting to take the kids to watch it go since it would be visible in the night sky. I am not sure how far in Virginia you could see it, but the launch site is near the Chesapeake Bay, so less than 100 miles from us here in Richmond.

Anyway, it was freezing, but daddy was excited, so that made the kids excited.  I let them grab their pretend binoculars (although Thomas' worked super well!) and we braved the very cold temperatures to watch.

Garren thought near our Kroger would be a great place to watch, and it was, and we were not the only people out there!

It was cloudy, so we couldn't see it super well, but we watched a small bright red speck go over the horizon and into the night sky. We watched it arc, and Garren explained to the kids it wasn't crashing, it just looked like it as it went--where ever it was going. (he knew, but I think I may have glazed over during the scientific talk he gave the kids.  Okay, I DID glaze over).

The kids had a blast, and I put on my excitement face for the kids even though I was cold to the bone!

It didn't take long for the rocket to go up and out of sight, so he treated the kids to a sugary snack of their choice from Kroger before we headed home and got to bed.

It was a once in a life time opportunity, and it was cold, but it was something our whole family got to share.

Here is what a scienfic-y space website where I got the good pictures from said about it all:

"An Orbital Sciences Minotaur 1 rocket lights up the night sky as it launches the Air Force's ORS-3 mission of 29 small satellites into orbit from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va., on Nov. 19, 2013."

The pictures of the actual rocket I found here.

A Happy Find

You know, you worry about whether your child is making friends and being included at school--or at least I do with Gracie. She has always been so shy, and as she gets older I worry even more because she is learning to see how different she is from others. She still loves princess and ponies and plays with dolls. Her mom is super strict about what she wears, and she doesn't get to shop in trendy stores and pick out her own clothes. We don't let her listen to certain music or watch (really any) much TV beyond PBS Kids and a little HUB. 

I don't want to change her, and I plan to stick to my morals about dress and entertainment. But, you can't help but wonder what kind of backlash she encounters.  You hear and read to many things about bullies and mean girls in this day and age.

And, then you find this in a stack of papers that your daughter left on the arm of the couch when she was rushing to get ready for school this morning.

And you feel good...and proud..and happy she is yours, and other people think she is pretty awesome too!

Monday, November 18, 2013

No Place Like Home

"I don't want to go home."

Why not Thomas?

"It is not my favorite place."

And what is your favorite place? (Realizing where this was going)

"Bryce's house."

He cracks me up, and frustrates me too. He requests at LEAST once a day to either go to Bryce's house, Bryce's church, or eat lunch with Bryce.  I think he would be perfectly happy to set up bunk beds and share every day with his best bud.

On the downside, I have no idea how I am going to tell him there isn't any more church group at Bryce's church until after the new year!

On the upside--I love how he has a best friend at age 4. And I am thrilled his mom makes a point to schedule some sort of play time with me so the boys can have extra time to play together.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Ham

Well, actually they served turkey for the luncheon after the kids Sunday performance, but we all got plenty of ham from my son during the "show!"

The kids group that Thomas has been participating in with his best friend Bryce (at Bryce's church) since April, wanted to show off all they had learned in their series called "The Story."

They took the lessons and added in songs, and each of the children even got a line or two to say.

Thomas had two lines, and since he can't read, it was a challenge to help him memorize them. He did pretty well by last week, and he could have said them without help, but I think he got caught up with all the people and he allowed one of the teen helpers to help him through his lines.

His first speaking part ever! Can you believe it?!!

And, if you think him reciting is cute, you will love the songs.

I will attempt to put as many up as possible, but it is time consuming since Blogger has limits on how big the file can be. But, here is one to entertain you for a while.

So proud of my big boy. And so thrilled that he has made such wonderful new friends and we could share a Sunday with Grace and her family at a place where they call home.

It was a good morning.  And, I, as usual am beyond blessed.

My cup runneth over!

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Saturday's are my one morning a week to sleep in or lay in bed and not rush around getting people dressed or on the bus or pack lunches, so I revel in my morning.

This morning however, I had to set an alarm clock. 

Thomas had a dress rehearsal at Bryce's church for tomorrow's Sunday morning "performance," and he had to be dressed and there by 9am.

He was there and dressed...and I had clothes on. I hadn't showered and I was still a bit grumpy, but I got him there on time.

But, it paid off. I was going to head home and get a shower, and then I thought "hey, I am up, I have no kids, lets go to the Goodwill!"  So, I went. And I scored big!

I also got breakfast for the three of us Shipley's not showing off our talents this morning (unless you accept the talent of laziness ;)

I went back to pick up Thomas from practice, and since he had been denied breakfast I asked him what he wanted to eat.

He wanted doughnuts.

Much to our frustration our Dunkin' Doughnuts closed down a few months back.  That's when Grace reminds me her husband's family owns a bakery! (I knew that, I just didn't think about it)  So, Thomas and I headed in the direction of a new sugar haven (new to us, they have owned and operated that bakery for ages).

Thomas picked out a chocolate one and a pink sprinkles one.

I asked him later how they were, and he told me "super yummy!" He even ate the whole doughnut--both of them. With DD, he just ate the tops off.

So, thanks yet again Whitlock family for making my son smile! You seem to be making a habit with that!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fourth Grade Honor Roll

Gracie is yet again starting another year off well at Mechanicsville Elementary.

She and several of her classmates received awards their academic achievements. Gracie earned Honor Roll (only 1 B stopping her from all A's) and Perfect Attendance.

As always we are super proud of our shining star and all that she accomplishes in the classroom!

Great job Gracie!

**And mommy would have gotten a great shot of you receiving your awards, but another grandparent walked right in front of me and the camera at the very wrong time!**

Show & Tell, Letter "H"

H is for...


36 Things

I'm old...and getting older.

Well, okay, we all are.

Halloween starts the busy season for us Shipleys as the fun holiday leads to more holidays and then the fast paced flow of birthdays.

I wasn't really thinking about my birthday so soon, but I kind of incorporated it in my thoughts around this song.

I firmly know life is precious and what we do in this life matters.  Each year as I grow older, I grow more wise (I like to think) and find myself fine tuning the ways I view the world and what it is I am supposed to do with the life I was given.

I pray for guidance, but the Lord knows guiding me isn't easy. I am sure He feels that way about all of us humans, but when you get a woman who digs in her heels (well tennis shoes) and refuses to step out of her comfort zone (known to the rest of you as her front door), and then cries about how much time has gone by and little she has to show for it...well, you have to want to smack your head on something--hard.

Have you heard this song?

If you are feeling old, and like you have not used your years to the best of God's ability, it will suck the air right out of your lungs.  You will feel a panic, but don't worry, after the 2nd or 3rd time you replay it, you will feel lifted up and the urge to use the time God has give you more wisely.

With that being said, I have pondered over and prayed over the following list.  I don't want to (figuratively) blow out the candles and feel that same since of regret I have felt for more than a decade about what I am doing with my life.

Don't misunderstand me. I LOVE being a stay at home mom, and a devoted wife to my husband. I don't want that to change and I won't.  I want to change how I use the time I am at home and with the kids and with my husband.  I don't want to waste it. I have savored many moments with my family, but lost so many, many more to the couch or the TV, or shyness or laziness or depressed moods. And, then another year is gone, and I mourn it for the next 2 months.

Now, I know that with God all things are possible, but lets not even consider that I--the daughter of one of the most stubborn men on the planet-- can change over-night.  But, just maybe I can turn 36 without regret that so much time was wasted.

 Many most of these things are going to seem so silly to you, but they are things that for me are hard and I want to accomplish or overcome. I know that they will make me feel more alive than I do today, and that is the point. I want to live life fully and purposely in a way that I can.  I can't live a life like an extrovert or a celebrity or a world-traveler, or even a working mom.  But, I can find ways breathe more life in to my protected tucked away existence where I spend more time caught up in negative emotions running circles in my head than I do fulfilling God's purpose for me.

So what can you do?  Besides turning the laughter down to about 5 when you read my list--you can encourage me and pray for me and my journey to 36--otherwise known as the second-half of my life.  (Face it people, with all the things in this world trying to kill us, living to 70 would be a HUGE blessing!)

36 Things to Do Before I Turn 36

***In no particular order***

1. Count all the people who tell me they love me...and say it back.

2. Let some one take my picture--Maybe a posed picture. Something nice, and on purpose.And post/print it.

3. Read 3 books ---sounds sad, but for a lady who never gets time/makes time to read--that's a pretty big challenge

4. Volunteer for something at church--yup, three years in the pews, and I have done nothing beyond the 11:00 service. I am too shy to even go to Wednesday night dinners and even Sunday potlucks!

5. Finish a project from the "half-done" pile in my closet

6.Watch 3 classic movies I have never seen --TCM should make this easier for me, and luckily there is a long list of the top movies ever made, most of which I have never seen.

7. Tell 5 people how much they mean to me--I forget to do that far too often.

8. Make a new friend--Sounds easy, but not for a shy hermit person like me

9. Suck it up and get the wisdom teeth pulled

10. Execute awesome Christmas card idea, & send out Christmas cards BEFORE Christmas--my track-record isn't good.

11. Visit a new church for one Sunday--just to visit. I am happy with my church home, and I should probably actually join it. Maybe that will make next year's list.

12. See a living Nativity this Christmas

13.Order something different off the menu at a restaurant --you are starting to laugh at me aren't you? Hey, well all got "issues." Some of us more than others.

14. Go a whole day without ipad, phone or computer--that sounds so sad!  And, I will answer a phone call, I don't want to scare people or not be there when the school calls.  I guess a better way to phrase it is no internet, email or games.

15. Watch a whole football game with my husband and TRY to understand, not walk away, or find the ipad.

16. Accept an invitation from someone and actually go--I am the queen of finding ways to back out of social things.

17. 5 Random Acts Of Kindness with the kids helping

18. Get all the way dressed up--reason or no reason, maybe make a person snap my picture. Do nails, hair, make-up nice dress and no flats.

19. Make and give something to someone's son & to someone's daughter--remembering my children and those ages and how blessed I am to have the talent I do, and the time and resources I have.

20. Hug my best friend

21. Submit something--a picture, a blog post, story to a contest or paper or bigger blog

22. Find something on my Pinterest page already pinned and DO IT

23. Find and prepare a new recipe

24. Do something I would ordinarily be scared to do--not like haunted house "scared", but ridiculously socially awkward lady "scared"

25. Read an entire book of the Bible--perhaps Ruth

26. Do a "group" thing --without kids or a husband to hide behind.

27. Forgive a person that really hurt me--I have done a GREAT deal of that over the years, but I am often surprised when something like that pops up and I realize I have not let it go. PS: I have no one in mind as I type this.

28. Go to a class at the gym--nope, never had the nerve to go to one alone. Only did yoga with Gracie

29. Try 2 new foods

30. Lose 1 pound--it is not about the pounds, it is about starting somewhere and trying to try again

31. Finish the kids baby books

32. Run outside--I don't know how long or how far, but I have never done it, and I have never wanted to try.

33.Take a class--pottery, cake decorating, sewing, knitting, something!

34.Read 100 books to one or both of my kids

35. Listen to Jill--I will do my absolute best to try and carry out a piece of advice she has for me.  She always keeps me grounded, and Lord knows I need more of that in my life/

36. Scrapbook this 36 step journey and repeat every birthday (with added numbers obviously)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Too Early To Be This Cold

I am going to jump on the "complaining about winter encroaching on fall" bandwagon now. It is simply to early in November to be this cold.

Gracie insisted on digging out her earmuffs, scarf and mitten to wait for the bus this morning. I kept how ridiculous I thought she was being, and I am glad I did--as I shivered waiting along beside her I kept thinking over and over: good grief it is cold!

One of the perk about living in the south, and now that we have moved even further away from snow was that the warm lasted until nearly mid-December.

I was robbed.  It seems I am usually denied the three full months of my favorite season.  The first year we were here temperatures were still int he 80's until November and summer wouldn't let go. Now, winter is putting his "icy hands" on my season.

Guess there is not much I can do about it.. you know besides complain.  And, be thankful for the shelter of our first "house," the warm coats that I can buy for my children, and the fact that despite the flurries yesterday there is still NO snow on the ground.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New Favorite Children's Museum

I don't think we had lived here long and I asked some people I knew in the area about the Richmond's Children's Museum. I saw online they had 3 branches and was looking for input on a place to take Thomas.

Well, all the suggestions came back telling me the one in Short Pump was small and for little ones and to try the main one first.

Well, I never did take him. He was exhausting from ages 18 months thru 3! Anyway, thanks to a weekend of "how about we try," a birthday party and Grace taking me with her, we have been to the main branch several times now.  It is big and neat and lots of fun--but loud and overwhelming.  The kids don't see it that way of course.

Anyway, today Grace asked if Thomas and I would like to go with her and the kids to the Short Pump branch.

Sure, why not!

I liked it from the door.

This place is so much closer to my level of creativity/thinking.

It was so cute-sy!!! There were themes and organized play everywhere!  I love, love, loved it!

Apparently several pieces of the "cuteness" were new including a replica of the Silver Diner for kids to play restaurant in.

Next door to the diner is a grocery store of course, you wouldn't want to run out of food!

The exhibit sponsored by the Richmond International Raceway used to be at the main branch, and was now in Short Pump, so the boys had fun pretending to be race car drivers and the flagman.

(PS: I totally want this flag stand for the backyard! How much fun would this be to play with.  I made Thomas and Bryce a set of racing flags with scrap material and wooden dowels after seeing this exhibit at Rebecca's birthday party, and Thomas loves to play with his set outside with race cars)

There was the neatest pirate ship for pretend play, and behind the pirate ship is a place to dig for buried treasure. It is that rubber pieces stuff instead of sand.  Too fun!

There was also a castle to play in and slide down and a separate jungle gym that reminded me of Jack & The Beanstalk.

But, with all that fun stuff, the boys spend most of their play time in the mechanic's garage working on a neat car.  There were even mechanics shirts to put on as you worked on the engine and tires, and you could add things like a license plate or racing numbers.  Too fun!

And, while the fix-it car area held the most interest, the most exciting part--was the train.

The boys and Emmy both got two ride around on the free under-the-sea themed train.

This location is officially my favorite!

Now, for a few times this school year I thought maybe we should invest in a membership, and then I remembered that he would be starting Kindergarten next fall, and I wouldn't have a child to take!

Quickly moving on from that thought--I can't think about it--at all!

So, next to the museum is a candy store.  Grace tells me her kids have come to expect a stop.  So, we HAD to go in ;)

What a neat place! It was all by the pound and it was all the same price, so I let Thomas pick out some different treats and we mixed them in the bag for later.

While Thomas and Bryce waited for us to check out, they hung out at the big table and played Candy land! Too precious this place is!

The kids were told no candy until after lunch. So, we crossed the street and ate at Which Which.

The temperature had dropped all morning and every time we left a place we felt even colder than when we arrived, so it wasn't much of a shock that we saw the snow swirling on our way out of the sandwich shop.

The boys were super impressed with the snow and complained when they couldn't see it anymore as we went down the Interstate.  Of course it came back and they cheered while Emmy snored on.

What a fun day. Thanks again Grace.