Saturday, February 28, 2015

Polar Plunge

Yup, daddy jumped in to an ice cold pool of water.

He did it for charity, but still--whew! Gracie and I were freezing in our winter coats just watching him!

Daddy raised over $300 for special olyimpics and got a lot of cheers for his big splash.

While we shivered and shook our heads at the insanity, we are super proud of daddy for raising that much money, and for being brave enough to jump in ice water!

--Before--                                                   --After--

                     ***Yes, I have a video, and no he won't let me share it on my blog ;) **

Big Boy Birthday Party Goer

He went to his first birthday party all by himself!

By himself!!

Gracie hasn't even been to a drop off party!

But, he wasn't about to miss best friend Bryce's birthday lunch party. No way!

Bryce and his parents (and grandparents) hosted Thomas, and 4 other boys at Stevie B's for lunch today.

Clearly they had a great time at his monster truck theme party.

Thomas kissed me goodbye and waved me off when I dropped him off, and he couldn't stop chatting about everything they did when I picked him up.

Grace says that he was well behaved--here's hoping that he really was.

Happy Birthday Bryce!!!

Thank you so much for inviting Thomas, Bryce, it means so much to us that you want to include our boy in your special day!  (And thanks Grace for the pictures--they are great, and you know me well enough to know I would want them!!!)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Arena Cart Racing

I guess my boys hadn't had enough loud this month, and they just had to return to the Richmond Coliseum to watch Arena Cart racing, and they drug us girls along.

Okay, they drug mommy, Gracie loved it. It was hilarious watching Gracie really getting into it.

Thomas wanted to take Bryce, and those boys had a great time sharing the noisy (and smelly) experience.

It was a long evening of racing, but my family + Bryce was loving every minute.  I am glad they had a chance to cheer for the grown ups and the kids (they let 8 year olds race!!!)  And, I am glad daddy said he felt capable of doing it solo next time. ;)

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Buy A House

Well, maybe not funny.

Our first house is on the back burner for now. I guess God has bigger adventures in store for us.

The new year has turned out to be full of "adventures" and twists and turns, and chaos, and refection, and a multitude of other emotions that no one wants to start their year off with.

I guess it was time. Last year was a good one for us. A growing year for me personally, uneventful compared to the less than 2 months of  2015.

I won't elaborate on all the details, mostly because there were too many too count, but also because they are personal and in many ways still very raw.

We are okay.  We will be okay. We trust in God's plan and his timing, and we trust in our family and lean on each other through all of life's twists and turns.

At the end of the school year we will pack up this house and move.  At the end of today daddy will come home for the last time from his Richmond job.  On Monday he will start a new job.

I know that doesn't sound like that much of a life change.  But, for us it was unplanned, unexpected, and in many ways unwanted.

We are slow "growers." We have been in Mechanicsville for 4 and a half years now and we were finally getting into the swing of things.  We were making friends, the kids were flourishing in school, I was volunteering and putting myself out there, and we were getting more involved as a family. We had made a life for ourselves and we were looking to plant roots here and buy our first ever home.

If you are keeping score at home, you might remember that it took roughly 5 years in Strasburg to do much of the same thing. We I lived life as a hermit with my one child, and then two children until I found a way into the hearts and lives of others.  And, while we were house hunting here, Strasburg will always be where my family and my heart resides.

While daddy and I have had a few weeks to process all of this change, I am sure from the post you have already read, this life "change" is still new and emotional.  I am the mama, my primary concern is for the kids and our home.  Knowing that I will have to take our kids out of a place they know and put them in a place they know nothing about where they will have to make new friends and start over with new teachers and neighbors turns my stomach. But, like many parents often realize, our children are stronger than we give them credit for, and often stronger than their mamas.

Gracie knows that we are moving at the end of the school year, and Thomas knows daddy will start working from home on Monday.  We aren't protecting him so much as his distracted little mind will never hold on to the entire concept, so there is no use in banging our heads against the wall for the next 4 months getting him to fully understand.

We are thankful for this opportunity, and we are proud of daddy. We thank daddy's new employers for allowing him to work from home and commute a few times a week so that the kids can finish out their school years with the teachers they adore and the friends and school they love.

To all of our Richmond friends and neighbors and fellow parents and school friends and staff, and church people, we are truly blessed to have gotten to know you at all.  I was sure that the move from my "home" almost 5 years ago would never be a positive one, and the pain would never end. It did end, and so many people welcomed us and encouraged us, and prayed for us, and influenced and affected us.  We are doing the best we can to stay positive about this new challenge and adventure. God had a plan when he sent us here, and he has a plan in sending us to another job in another part of Virginia--and we will follow with our full hearts.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Gracie Sews

Gracie is so proud of her final product!  I promised her we would spend some of this (ridiculously) long snow school break to do some mother/daughter sewing lessons.

Uncle Brian gave Gracie a doll pattern and some fabric last year, and we pulled it out yesterday and started on our first project.

Gracie chose a dress and some fabric from my stash and did amazingly well!

She pinned it, cut it out, and did a great deal of the sewing.  Mommy helped a little--but she really did the bulk of the work and detail, and did it super well.  She takes after her mama ;)

We even tried the dress on Tabitha, Gracie's first doll (not American Girl) and she seemed to love it as well.

Great job Gracie. We will make some more time for sewing and lessons even when it isn't snowing.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Monster Trucks

My boys, and Grace's boys got an afternoon full of fun this wet and slightly snowy Saturday.

I only have phone pics from the guys cameras, but clearly an awesome time was had by all at Monster Truck Jam.

Thomas' best friend Bryce LOVES monster trucks, and once upon a time Thomas was terrified of them. Clearly that has changed since both boys were bouncing at the Richmond Coliseum.

I took the one photo from Grace who got it from Jason's phone, and it's my favorite, not just of the small boys, but Garren in the background. I am not sure which of mine came home more excited.

They are already talking about it for next year!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snow Day(s)

Grace thinks the kids will be out all week--I can't say I am hoping for that, but she is probably right since there are 6+ inches out there, and below freezing temperatures foretasted for the remainder of the week.

So, instead of going straight to "snow Grinch" mode, I am attempting to stay positive in all this drippy, messy, muddy, cold white mess.

I made some goals for the kids and I to achieve this week as we attempt to stay warm and soak up family time in addition to all the puddles of snow water all over the house.

I will have to make a fun collage of the the snow activities when we are done, but here are a few pics from today's fun outside.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

My 37th Year

I guess somewhere in your thirties you start to look at life and the time that has gone.  In your 20's you don't think past the end of your day, and in your teens your future is as wide as the ocean.

Now, I am not sure at what particular number after the 3 people get all "what have I done with my life?!"--but for me, when I was nearly 36, I looked at my life as what I hadn't done.

You can read my blog post from last year, but the long and the short of it was that I vowed to do something about my very sheltered (uptight) life. I don't want to have so many regrets. And, we all have regrets, and we all will in the end, but I am pretty sure I will have more than most, because most people "live" far more than I.

I have to say, that after my 36 challenge, life in general changed for me. I was more open to new things and experiences and more willing to try things.  I feel generally happier and more in control.  I owe thanks to friends and family who support me, and to myself for pushing to reach outside of my very tight comfort zone.

I planned to do a challenge every year, but with the way this year was shaping up, there was no need--I was taking on all sorts of challenges and new experiences and really, really, pushing myself.

So, instead, here is a more than 30 (I probably did at least 37, here is just what I could remember!) things I did this year that I am super proud of, were very hard for me either physically, emotionally, personally, or a combination.  And, just like last year, I am sure that most of this list is quite lame to you, but for me--these are great victories to be counted.

Thank you for sharing any part of my 36th year with me, and I hope you'll stick around for year #37.

1. Start my own business
2. Go to Charlotte, NC
3. Leave my children over night for the first time not with Grandma
4. Attend a women's conference
5. Sell my "wares" at a community yard sale
6. Make money from sales
7.Open an ETSY shop
8. Sell dresses to perfect strangers
9. Sell more than 25 items in 4 months!
10. Volunteer for Bible School (event photographer)
11. Volunteer at school for something other than room mom or chaperone (Book Fair)
12. Get invited back to Girls Paint Night
13. Use a Groupon
14. Regularly try new foods
15. Survive the last child graduating preschool
16. Survive the last child heading to Kindergarten
17. Have wisdom teeth removed (at age 36!)
18. Look at houses to buy
19. Putting in a contract for our first home (after 2 kids and 14 years of marriage!)
20. Give up soft drinks (not a drop since July 2014!!)
21. Attend a Bible Study solo (6 weeks)
22. Volunteer to help at the church
23. Work as a Sunday School teacher (once every 2-3 months)
24. Get put in charge of the Clothes Closet at church
25. Attend a fellowship lunch/meeting for MCEF
26. Ride on a boat
27. Let Thomas spend his FIRST weekend away from me
28. Let Gracie have her first sleepover ever, and at someone else's house!
29. Hit baseballs in a batting cage
30. Attend my first NASCAR race
31. Walked through Bloomingdale's (He he ;) , trip to the big mall in Tyson's Corner)
32. Tried wine (sorry, Grace, I can't get past the smell)

Mommy's Birthday Wish List

I don't know if you remember my goals for my birthday last year, but they were lofty, and accomplished.

Well, this year, even though I loved the outcome of my "36 things to do before I turn 36" (and I promised to do it each year)--I didn't do it (and I'll explain why in my next post), but I did continue the idea of making (fun all about me) goals for my actual birth-day.

I posted this reasoning on Facebook, and it really sums up my journey to find love of self:

For the past 15+ years I have let my birthday come and go with little or no celebrating. As a mom and wife my day wasn't as important as days for my family. And then last year I made a list of things to do before I turned 36 and then made a fun list of things to do on my birthday. It felt wonderful. I may be too old for parties and cake and decorations, but it made me feel like I was important too. So this year I decided to remind myself that I matter again. I have birthday money in my pocket thanks to my mom & dad and I am going to spend it on myself they way I want to!! 

And, I did celebrate. I checked off all 10 birthday wishes and even got a bonus wish granted despite my cold.

Here they are:

#1: Hide the grey hairs
#2: Hot & Sour Soup
#3: Goodwill
#4: $5 (free) from Khols
#5: Ice Cream Cake
#6: Don't have to cook dinner
#7: Get Garren's Cold
#8: NCIS
#9: Fingers & Toes
#10: Birthday Picture
BONUS: 55% off coupon from A.C. Moore in my inbox later this morning!

I sincerely thank everyone who celebrated with me, called me, texted me, and remembered me today. Even at 37 it feels good to be thought of and wished well.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Gifts Of Love

There is nothing sweeter than valentine's from school mates.

Valentine's Day has always been my favorite holiday, and usually I go all out around the house.

(This year--all of 2015--has been really tough on us Shipley adults, and I dropped the ball in a major way, like just now updating the blog for the first time since January!)

Look at all the love my kids received this year!

Elementary School Valentine's Day

Mommy was a busy bee this Friday the 13th.

Being room mom for both of the kids classes has its perks...and it's exhaustion levels.

I started out in Kindergarten...

Mrs. Naff's class celebrated after lunch and enjoyed a fun tissue paper heart craft and decorating their own Valentine's Day cookie.

While the liked the craft, icing and adding sprinkles and topping to their cookies was definitely the bigger hit.


The 5th grade girls were deeply entranced with watching the movie Charlie and The Chocolate Factory when I arrived at their classroom. In fact, they groaned when Mrs. Madison turned the movie off to let them have the cookies and milk I planned for their Valentine's treat at school.

So...we let them eat cookies...and watch the rest of the movie.  

That was easy!

I am so thrilled that I get to share special moments like this with my kids!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

100th Day of Kindergarten

He's 100 days smarter...

   ...and cuter!

Thomas and his classmates celebrated their 100th day of school on day 99, because their awesome kindergarten teacher has a meeting for much of the day tomorrow and didn't want to miss out on the celebration!

The kids each had to make a 100th day project, and I may (or may not have) suggested Legos to Thomas.  I think his project came out super cute, as did the special shirt I made for him to wear today.

Grace and I helped count out and mix 100th day snack baggies earlier this week.  Parents signed up to bring in the goodies and each kid got 10 marshmallows, 10 pretzel sticks, 10 goldfish crackers, 10 red hots, 10 M&M candies, 10 chocolate chips, 10 peanut butter chips, 10 Rice Chex cereal bites 10 jellybeans,

and 10 Cheerios.

The kids loved sorting and eating their special snack today along with all of the other fun 100th day activities they had.

Happy 100th day sweetheart!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pyramid Concert

Gracie got to show off her skills tonight to the parents and friends of 7 different school choirs.

Apparently the "Pyramid Concert" is an annual tradition in Mechanicsville.  The evening started off with Atlee High School's show choir performance, then transitioned into Chickahominey Middle School's choir, and then 5 elementary school choirs performed.

Gracie and her 5th grade choir mates choose three songs to share with the overflowing auditorium.

I think singing might be in her blood. And, I am thinking this will not be our last choir performance to watch and cheer on.

Our Lego Collection

...or rather I should say "Thomas' Lego Collection."

I only made this collage to show how many he has, and for future reference when myself or a grandparent is in the toy isle wondering which ones he already has.

 My collage didn't have room for #13. Lego City #60049 Helicopter Transporter:

Monday, February 09, 2015

On The Day You Were Born

At the end of his birthday, Thomas and Mommy took some special time to talk about what a blessing he is to me and our family.  How thankful I am to God that he sent me this precious soul and how much I love and cherish my little bear.

Happy Birthday big boy.  
Your mommy loves you to the moon and back.

Birthdays Are Better With Your Best Friend

Thomas has had a pretty epic day. In fact he has had a pretty epic 24 hours.

While, it wasn't especially planned, Thomas got to spend almost his entire birthday with one of his favorite people: best friend Bryce!

Bryce was of course there when Thomas' name was called over the announcements for his birthday, and there for the school day. 

And, when I came for lunch, Bryce was allowed to sit with us as the parents table in the cafeteria. Bryce even helped Thomas pass out the napkins and plates for his birthday cupcakes (store bought, but I still forgot to snap a picture of them. I took a million pictures, but none of the cupcakes!)

And, while they ate their lunch at blue & green cupcakes, Bryce and Thomas planned out their Lego adventures and invited themselves to play with each other after school. Thankfully Grace was okay with a Lego play date.  So, Bryce brought over the matching set he had that Thomas got yesterday and helped him build his set.

Since we were on a roll, the boys were thrilled to find out that they would get to share Thomas' birthday dinner out.  We headed to Friendly's, but ended up at Johnny Rockets (a LONG story!!!) where they shared a birthday meal, and a birthday sundae.

 Birthdays are pretty awesome to begin with, but birthdays with your best friend are the bestest!

Thank you Bryce for being such a great friend to our Thomas and for sharing his special day with him.

Birthday Greetings From School

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Mrs. Naff?!!

I got this gem on my phone this morning. Even though I plan to spend lunch with my birthday boy and bring treats for his classmates, I loved getting an extra peek at my big boy!!

Good Morning 6!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Goodnight 5!

Lego Celebration

He isn't 6 until tomorrow, but Grandma and Grandpa came down to help him celebrate a little early.

Since he is so into Legos these days, and I happen to know that most of the family is getting him Lego sets, I decided to stick with the theme (really, though, you can't be surprised by that).

So, last night I searched Pinterest for a Lego cake.  5 hours later I decided it was "close enough." All that matters is that he loved it.

Of course, being the over-the-top mom I am, I had the idea that he needed a Lego shirt to wear.

I finished 5 minutes before the grandparents pulled in the driveway.  Thomas loved it, and we decided if he kept it spill-free he could wear it again tomorrow to school on his actual birthday.

Grandpa didn't stop on the drive down, so poor Grandma was starving. We decided to share the kids and let G & G take them to late lunch.  Of course, we then remembered that Brian & Dawn had given us an Olive Garden gift card for Christmas--winner!

While daddy and I enjoyed a meal without kids, apparently the kids enjoyed their pizza and tokens and prizes at Stevie B's. Mom was kind enough to take my camera and get some pictures of them at the restaurant.

When we all got back we declared it "present time!"

Thomas loved opening all the Lego sets and decided that we were going to put them all together--tonight.

He was less excited to find that he could pick one for tonight and we would do the rest a little at a time over the next week.

While he loved his cake, Thomas had asked very nicely that we didn't sing the birthday song, but he agreed to blow out the candle.  He says the song is "boring," but I believe it is rather embarrassing with everyone staring at you. So, we just counted to three and he blew out his #6.

As always we are so thankful that Grandma and Grandpa make the 5 hour round trip to celebrate our kids birthdays. It means so much that they are willing to give up their time and suffer through a long card ride just share cake and birthday moments.  And, we thank our family who are always so generous to our kids.  He really racked up!