Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Let's Go Fly A Kite

...in the front yard.

Yeah, not their greatest plan, but oh well, they enjoyed attempting to get their new kids airborne.

Little Princess PosIng

What a lucky lady am I?!!!

Five wonderful ladies let me photograph their sweet little ladies today for my ETSY shop.

I met up with these precious girls, 3 moms, 1 grandma and Ms. Jo for a photo session at Three Lakes Park this morning.

They all did such wonderful jobs and I was so grateful for their help!

They each seemed to love showing off the dresses I had made and posing.  I can't wait to see how they look on my ETSY site!!


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tooth Fairy Strikes Again

Thomas sprang out of bed not too long after he was put in the bed announcing "My tooth came out!!!"

He was proud and excited until he saw how much blood was gushing out--and then he panicked.

He panicked, and cried for quite awhile and mommy and daddy soothed him before he was ready to head back to bed with his tooth carefully wrapped and in his tow truck tooth fairy pillow.

And, with all the commotion, Gracie bounded out of bed and remembered that she had 2 teeth still on her dresser that she still hasn't put under her pillow either (for more than a month!!)

The tooth fairy has her job cut out for her tonight!

Here's the good news: its one of the two teeth that MUST come out before the dentist has to help them come out.  So, keep on cheering for the other one to come out on its own--I know I am!!!

Palm Sunday 2015

I love Palm Sunday.  Don't get me wrong, then entire Easter season is a powerful and beautiful one, but something about Palm Sunday brings out a great "happy" in me. 

I remember waving the palm branches as a child, and that's significant, since I really don't have a great deal of memories from my childhood that I was able to hold on to (for whatever reason, nothing tragic).

And, there is nothing that makes a mama beam with pride more than watching her child or children front in center at church.  I bubble over with joy when I watch my Gracie and Thomas march down the center church isle waving their palm branches.

So, as you can imagine, I videoed today's "parade," and it got me to thinking about all of their Palm Sundays as we face moving to another place and attempting to find another church in which to rejoice our Savior's resurrection.

I took the past 11 years of photos and videos and added them to a recording of my favorite Palm Sunday in which Gracie and all the choirs at Strasburg United Methodist church sang the most beautiful procession.  I was sad to see that Gracie did not attend Palm Sunday services until she was 2.  I am glad that she has since been in church nearly every Sunday since.

You are welcome to view and enjoy with me.

Happy Palm Sunday

Friday, March 27, 2015

Dear Virginia Beach

To the people of the Virginia Beach area,

We are coming.  My husband, two kids and myself are all packing up in a few months and moving into your "neck of the woods."

I doubt that most of you will even notice us when we arrive, and won't even notice we have left when that time comes as well.

But, if you happen to be looking out your front window when the moving truck pulls up, or your kid is in my child's class, or you notice us uncomfortably sitting in a pew trying to find God in a new and not yet comfortable space--maybe you will think twice about walking away without saying hello or a smile.

I am not a prize by any means. I am human, and flawed, and well...down right nutty.

But, I am worth getting to know.

I am terribly shy and don't have much in the way of self esteem; but, I can cook, and sew and I am super crafty.

I am terrible with phone calls as they make me uncomfortable; but, I am a really good writer and a great listener.

You won't want to invite me to parties or out for "girls night" because I am not at all "grown up" fun and a great big stick in the mud; but, I am very creative and get tons of ideas and share.

I don't drink, not just because I am uptight, but because I am a person moved by smell, and I can't stand the stench of beer and wine; but, I will be the first to bring your family dinner if someone is sick, or an extra desert or treat just because.

You will likely hurt my feelings, as you won't be any more perfect than I am;  but, I am fiercely loyal, and I will always be there for you and your family for whatever you need.

I won't have any clue who the super stars are you are that talking about, as my idea of a great show is "The Golden Girls" and my car radio station stays planted on the Christian music channel; but, I will always think of you first when my kids out grow something or they are done with a toy or book.

Your home will be so much trendier than mine, as I am very old fashioned and super cheap; but, I will cheer on your Pinterest goals and help you paint or cut or sand or wax.

I won't be the first to volunteer for anything as I am painfully shy and well aware of my non-existent leadership qualities; but, I am a great follower and with enough encouragement I have no problem giving of my time, my energy and myself.

I don't go to the movies or nice restaurants, mostly because I am crazy cheap, but also because social situations make me uncomfortable (and, I am working on it!) ; but, I'll organize the class parties and be the room mom and make the crafts and cookies and cupcakes so you won't have to, or to share the load that you usually bare.

I doubt I will have any idea of the "man candy" you are referring to as my idea of the "perfect man" (after my husband of course) is Andy Taylor; but, I have two kids that are older and I have been through 11 years of parenting and I can help, or at least listen and pray for you.

You may resent me because I get to stay at home with my kids all day every day; but, I will admire you for how hard you have to balance your life.

You will get frustrated with my inability to navigate, my ridiculous thriftiness, my helicopter parenting and/or my constant apologies for myself and children; but, I am typically non-drama.

You may only call or talk to me when you need something, or when you are bored; but, I will be thankful that someone decided that I was worthy of calling or talking to.

I will never be your "best friend," because there will be someone you have known longer or find way more fun; but, I won't know a lot of people, and you take a lot of your time to share with me, and that may just make you my "best" friend.

So, maybe you will find in me a reason God decided to uproot myself and my family, and maybe I will find in you the same thing.  I happened last time.

Barbara Shipley
The nutty stay at home mom of two who is thankful God finds her worthy

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Daddy's New Ride

Daddy has a new set of wheels.

I would tell you all about it, but really, he is happy so I am happy, and Thomas loves it almost as much as daddy does.

The End.

I know it is a Honda, I know it is a V6.

I know it has 2 doors.

I know it has a stick shifty thing.

I know I have no desire to drive it.

I know that he made sure to not pay any more per month for this car than he did for the last one.

The point is, he's happy.

And, see in the background?!!  I'm happy too, because mama is getting a new living room set. Her VERY FIRST all matching grown up set!!! And, let me tell you, as a mama I am so seeing why plastic slip covers were a thing! I am thinking about sewing up a set so the kids can't ruin my pretty!

I took a picture of it in the store, but then decided not to post it because then you will see how pretty it is supposed to look all arranged and then you might come to my house and see how I so fell short of those expectations.

It's delivery date is April 25th (the chair and sofa were back ordered :(

Proud Sunday School Teacher

That would be me!

Of course, I am always a proud mama, but today my Thomas made me proud as a fill-in Sunday school teacher.

I took the Pre-K/Kindergarten class this morning while Daddy and Gracie headed to the sanctuary for church.

It is usually just 4-5 kids for the 11:15 service, and that's what we had today.

So, as I was going over the Bible Lesson, Thomas raises his  hand and says "I can read it."

I told him to give it a try.  And, he did--and got every word right!

So, when we finished the lesson and completed the crafts I wrote the Bible verse on the wipe board and let the 3 kindergarteners in the classroom take turns reading it.  They were so proud.  And, I of course videoed Thomas' turn, because I am "that mom."  You can do that when you are the Sunday school teacher ;)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Arena Racing...Again

So, we can now cross that off the "Richmond Bucket List."

We went a few weeks ago and took Bryce, and this time we went again and took his whole family!

All the boys seemed to have a great time, and at least one of us girls enjoyed ourselves (that would be Gracie, I failed at trying to find an excuse to stay at home and soak up 4 hours of just me time).

This time around we were sure to get there early enough for autographs. Thomas was super bummed that we didn't get any last time.

While, I am not an Arena Cart super fan, I have to say this race was much more exciting. There were 4x as many wrecks and impressive crashes/bumps. And, lets be honest, that is the most "fun" part of people driving in a tight circle for 3 hours.

Well, that an the t-shirts they toss out.  My kids didn't get lucky, but both Bryce & Emmy got one thanks to the long and athletic arms of their mom and dad!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Richmond Bucket List

So, now that the countdown is on, I was thinking about all the places I want to see or take the kids one last time. (That's dramatic, but you know what I mean)  Most of these things we have already done and really enjoyed, and a few we kept wanting to do, but never did.

If there is anything on this list you want to do with us--come on!


 Botanical Gardens, 1 Million Blooms
Squirrel's Game
Paddle Boats (near Maymont)
Richmond Zoo
Buzz & Neds
Arena Racing
NASCAR Spring Race


 Big Goodwill Downtown
 Paint Night


It's been a rough week. A week of tears and worries and stress and sleepless nights and headaches.

This picture was taken Tuesday morning as the kids climbed on the bus.  This was the morning after my little boy realized that life as he knew it was not going to be the same.

Thomas has known for several weeks now that Daddy got a new job and that he would be working in the playroom most of the week and driving to his new office two times a week 2 hours away.

On Sunday, he realized that would mean we would have to move. 

In church Sunday, a member started talking to the congregation about volunteering and gearing up for Bible School. On the ride home Gracie wanted to know if I was going to do it again this year.  When I told her "no," she wanted to know why, and so did Thomas. I had to explain that we would be moving in June and we couldn't do Bible School.  This was Thomas' first mental connection to new job and a new house.  We talked to him all the way home about the move and a new school and a new place to live in a new city.  He took it rather well, and in my heart I knew he didn't fully understand everything despite him arguing that he did.

Monday evening while daddy was at his new office, the kids and I were eating dinner-- Thomas replied "I can't believe I am almost a 1st grader!"  I took the opportunity to reassure him again about his new school where he would be a first grader and meeting new friends and getting a new teacher.

That's when he asked "what teacher will Bryce get when he moves?"

I had to tell him Bryce wasn't moving with us.

No wonder he had taken it so well Sunday, he figured his whole world was moving with him including his best friend Bryce.

Thomas lost it. He has a meltdown right there mid-chicken bite. He moved over to me and dropped his whole body on mine. I held him and comforted him without words. There was nothing I could say except "I know, it's okay."  I couldn't make this pain disappear with anything I could physically do.  And, his pain moved from his body into mine. My heart hurt. My child was in emotional pain and I couldn't fix it.  And, I couldn't hold back my tears.

After a million sobs, he asked to go to his room.  Gracie and I continued to eat our dinner. Well, more like push the food around on our plates and gave him space.

I posted this heartache on Facebook, and the mom from up the street decided to take this opportunity to let her Kindergartener know that we were moving.  She texted me a short while later to let me know her daughter was in absolute tears. She was so distraught and could not be calmed.

Everyone seems to be finding out in waves. The ladies at the front office at school asked me about Thomas and the move Tuesday morning. Mrs. Naff has already been heart broken since she found out a few weeks ago.  Thomas has been telling the kids in his class this week, and last night after leaving Bryce's church, he told me "I'm going to miss Chase."

I'm sorry.

That's all I can say, that's all I feel--and the feeling of "sorry" is overwhelming.

I'm sorry Cheyenne that Gracie and Thomas won't be at the bus stop next year, and that you can't come over to house to play after school.

I'm sorry Mrs. Naff that you had to remind me that you still love and look after "your kids" even wen they finish Kindergarten and getting to keep him through the school year is not enough.

I'm sorry Keri that I won't be here to be a backup little girl snuggler/keeper on days when you need me.

I'm sorry Mrs. Jo that you won't see my kids on Sunday mornings, and we can't be thrift store buddies any more.

I'm sorry Mrs. Joyner that you won't get Thomas in 2nd or 3rd grade. I know you wanted him as much as he couldn't wait to have you.

I'm sorry Cindy that you'll have to find someone else to take over the kids clothes closet. You entrusted me with that job, and I loved giving something back.

I'm sorry Jennifer that I can't do Bible School this year. I may not have had a huge roll in it, but I was a warm body and I helped in anyway I could.

I'm sorry Bryce that I am taking Thomas away from you. I am sorry that I made you sad and that you are going to miss him. I'm sorry he won't be in your school or your class anymore. You are his first best friend and his best buddy.

I'm sorry Grace that I made your son cry, and your son crying and hurting hurt you. I am so sorry that you will have to send him to school next year without Thomas.

This wasn't our plan, but as we must remind ourselves in all stages of life and all ups and downs: this is all apart of God's plan, and we have to abide and be faithful.  It doesn't negate all the less than excited feelings we have, but it is what we have to do.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Teacher Delivery Night

He was really hoping that his teacher would deliver his pizza tonight. So hopeful he made her a special welcome message.

This is the first time we have participated in the school's fundraiser with Papa John's for "Teacher Delivery Night."  I was always too worried about the kids teachers seeing our house, or Thomas running around in his underwear!

Since this is our last year at MES, I promised the kids we would do it.

Cheyenne from up the street wanted to wait and see who came to our door with the pizzas so she hung out with us and played.

Around 5:06 two teacher assistants showed up with our yummy dinner.

It was a fun thing, and I am sorry we didn't participate sooner.  Even if we didn't get Mrs. Naff, or Mrs. Madison, or one of our all time favorite teachers: Mrs. Joyner, all who were participating tonight.

Happy St. Patrick's Day



Green Day At School

I got to spend this St. Patrick's Day at school with some noisy little green monsters.  Otherwise known as Thomas' Kindergarten class.

I LOVE that Mrs. Naff allows the kids, and us room moms to celebrate everything possible!  I helped plan a green food tasting, and one of the cutest craft/activities I saw on Pinterest!

Plus, I got to spend an hour or so with my favorite little green guy.

We were able to get them posed for a green day picture, and they gobbled up their green snacks of grapes, apples, peeps, Andes mints, pistachios, and mint cookies.  And, they got green day treat bags that we mamas filled up.

It was a good day!

And, I saw why Thomas thought he was lucky. I asked him who it was that "played with him," and he said "you!"

Love my little leprechaun!

And, I wasn't about to let Gracie's all girl 5th grade class go uncelebrated, so after the Kindergarten special snack Grace and Emmy went with me to drop off a little "green" for the big girls.  They weren't in their classroom, but Emmy was thrilled to find Gracie outside on the playground. I wish I had videoed the run across the field to each other, but I did get a snapshot of the goodbye hug.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Moving Woes

Half-way through dinner his world collapsed. He just assumed his best friend Bryce was moving with him. Finding out they wouldn't be in first grade together sent him into a tail spin of long loud sobbing tears mid chicken bite. He has left the dinner table and wants to be alone in his room. My heart physically hurts, and I am not able to hold back my tears for him...or me. Those two have been practically inseparable for 3 years,and he can't imagine a world without his best friend by his side.

Welcome Spring...Temperatures

I really hope these stick...but I have learned what I can count on lately!

We have little blue flowers popping up all over our front lawn, so I thought it would be cute to get a picture of Gracie in them. 

Well, I ended up getting several precious pictures of a warm afternoon of early spring enjoyment.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lego City Stacked Up

So, you are thinking me spending 5 hours organizing Gracie's room was nuts.

Well....I may have spent much of 3 days organizing Thomas' Lego's!

He has so many, and so little space to display.  Thomas is not the kind who wants to disassemble and re-assemble. He wants to play with them fully made.  Well, we were out of table space and many ended up in a Costco box. This is BAD for Lego's that took hours to put together.

Needless to say I had reassemble 80% of his Lego sets (without the pieces I needed pre-packaged--I was digging people!) again.

I remembered that I had put the stacking shelves from the playroom overhaul under the house.

And, so, 3 days and 20 something Lego sets later, he has them all on display, and they look nice all arranged by theme.

Oh, you have no idea how many "issues" I have.  Its not all my fault--my kids don't play with their toys the right way! ;)

Back At Church

We haven't been in TWO months!

Two months!!

I feel so "muddled" during the week when I don't have Sunday services to ground me.

These past 8 weeks we have either passed around illness, had scary weather, or been celebrating a birthday.

I was so glad to get back to our pew this morning, and to Mrs. Jo and church in general.

Of course, I can't lie and say that the "wholeness" I felt took a sharp turn for pain and sadness as I realized that we would have to give up these pews and this church, and the best pastor's wife ever, and wonderful people and wonderful groups, and my volunteer jobs as Sunday School teacher and clothes closet manager.

One Sunday at a time.  I will find a way to take this transition...one Sunday at a time.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Family Bowling

What a great day!

It was a rainy, wet, cold mess outside, but we--as a family--pulled of an amazing day of fun and memories.

We took daddy bowling.

I say that because the kids and I have been several times with other friends on play dates, but today daddy went, and mommy bowled! I don't usually bowl as I let the kids have fun, but this day we popped for everyone to bowl and have shoes...and pizza..and cheese fries.

I can not effectively characterize what a great day it was.  Both kids came up to me several times and said "this is the best day ever!!" They had so much fun. I had so much fun. And daddy, he had so much fun and told me this was why he took the new job. His phone didn't ring once. He didn't check his email or voice mail.  He bowled and cheered the kids and me. He ate pizza and laughed...and finally won a game.  There aren't a great deal of things I can do better than daddy, but I always whip his tooshy at bowling. Until today. For the first time in our dating and married life, daddy won a round of bowling. We all cheered for him, and for our amazing, uninterrupted family day!

Friday, March 13, 2015

5th Grade Field Trip

I survived!

I was one of 2 chaperones, so between us moms and the teacher we each got escort 6 girls each around a crazy busy science museum.

I have pictures locked firmly on my camera that I have to figure out how to save, but the ones from my phone sum it all up--I have earned some serious super-mom credit for today.

Did I mention it was an all day field trip with IMAX movie (i.e 40 minutes of trying not to puke from the dizzy), lunch in a tent, and 10 different schools all crowded in?!!

Oh, yea, I am super mom!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Chewey Goes To Bryce's Church

Chewey has been a little extra clingy lately. He might be having some big stuff going on in his pup-life right now.

But, he was insistent that he HAD to go with Thomas to Bryce's church tonight.  I told Chewey, after several rounds of "you'll be fine here," that he could go and visit, but he had to stay with me while Thomas was in his lesson.

He seemed okay with that. So, he and I left Thomas with Bryce and his other friends at church.  We'll pick him up later.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Mama Confession

What I am about to say will either shock you, or you will nod you head in validation.

My children...embarrass me.

Yes, I said it.  I am the absolute worst mother ever. What mom gets embarrassed by/with her children?! I mean kids are allowed be embarrassed by their parents, but I am sure there is something some where in the Bible that says "loveth at all times and don't turn a million shades of red when your off spring mess up."

Here's another shock: this isn't the first time I have wanted "to die" thanks to something my kid did or didn't do. So, I am a habitual breaker of some parenting embarrassment rule of law.

Now, being the neurotic that I am, I couldn't just be embarrassed. I decided to cover my embarrassment with an "I don't care at all about it" attitude that my friend Grace totally didn't buy for a second.  And, then I spent FIVE hours making sure that I wouldn't be embarrassed again in the next week or so.

Like any one ever comes to my house.

I am always embarrassed of the house. If it isn't messy (which I try really hard to keep it straight--really hard), it's worn and so out of style that it was never stylish in its life time.

Being a cheap person,  I have filled my home with cheap furniture that we use until it literally falls apart. We rent so I can't really do a lot of decorating, but what I have done can be characterized as "charming" and "simple."  Now that we have visited other homes, and we were on the hunt for our own home, coming back to my eclectic, borrowed, hand-me-down, thrift store decor is looking pretty dumpy.

But, lets go back to "mess."

As a mom, I can NEVER seem to keep this place clean and neat all the time. I pull my hair out trying, but something is always still left to be done. No, let's be real: it's been left to be RE-done.

On an average day I can be sure that the downstairs is in pretty good shape, but I leave the kids rooms to the kids.  Once upon a time I was obsessive about Gracie's room, and lets just say that I had to walk away. I.had.to.walk.away.

So, Friday, a snow day, Grace and her kids come over and of course the house is a disaster as my kids have been home from school for 2 days and Garren is working from home now and there is never a traffic-free moment to catch up laundry and dishes and dirt piles.  But, to make it worse, Emmy wants to go and play in Gracie's room.

I can't show you pictures of my daughter's room 1) because the Health Department might investigate us 2) I am embarrassed enough that one friend saw it (and, she hasn't been back since, I may never see her step foot over my threshold again! ;)  and 3) I didn't snap a picture--I just jumped in and started angrily digging.

She's 11, and she should be able to keep her room clean. It isn't that large, and it isn't that hard. But, she has no desire to keep it clean and neat, so she doesn't.

I wanted to die. And, warn the 3 year old not to get lost in there because we may never find her again!

So, I attempted to cover my severe embarrassment and I chatted with Grace while the kids played.  And, after they left, I spent FIVE hours making sure that it would never look like that again.  Yup, five hours.

No, this isn't the first time I have cleaned it up.

No, this isn't the first time it took me many, many hours.

No, this isn't the first time she or her room embarrassed me.

No, this isn't the first time someone else has seen it looking like that.

No, this isn't the first time a LOT went out in a trash bag from frustration.

But, this is first time I am publishing my journey.  The journey to accept my kids as they are. People, I struggle VERY hard with this. Especially with Gracie. I want her to be something she is completely not. I want her to be everything I envisioned when I first held her in my arms, but she won't be. I want her to be perfect, but she can't be.  I want her room to always look like this, but it will not.

So, I'll keep praying.  And working to the day that my children no longer embarrass me.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Birthday Surprise

We are keeping the birthday train rolling!

Instead of Grandma and Grandpa coming to our house today to celebrate Gracie, they met us in Tyson's Corner without her knowing it, and she got a super big birthday surprise!

As you may know, this year's American Girl Doll of The Year is "Grace Thomas," which is too awesome since it is not only Gracie's name, but also her brothers. She just had to have her. So, she started saving, and asked both sets of her grandparents for birthday money to go towards that goal. 

With the birthday money only we knew about, we knew she had enough and we gave her all the envelopes outside the mega store and sent her to shopping.

Just like last time, it was quite an adventure...so much so, I couldn't really do it justice, so I will shower you with pics (click to make each picture larger).

Ever since Gracie got her ears pierced last year she didn't stop thinking about getting one of her dolls ears pierced as well.  So, we got Grace Thomas' ears done, and she comes with extra earrings to change out.

After the shopping spree, we had dinner at the T.G.I. Friday's in the mall, and she got another surprise. Mommy snuck in a tote bag with all of her other presents and she got to open up even more birthday love at the table.

 Gracie not only had an epic day, she has had an eleventh birthday for the ages.  Thank you to all who shared in this birthday adventure in one way or another. It means so much that so many want to celebrate my child.