Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Recital/All A's

(Our regular camera 'bit the dust,' so we are down to our iPhones, thus the lack of quality in pictures these days.)

Gracie had her violin recital Saturday. She did well and continues to enjoy taking lessons. (She just needs to practice a bit more.)

She started out the day cuddling with her daddy who had made the decision to stay in town for her recital rather than attend the OU/Texas Tech game in Norman. Such a sweet daddy.

Heading into the recital.

Posing with her sisters.

I think she was getting a bit nervous (and annoyed that we kept taking pictures.)
I hate that the picture is from so far away, but here she is!
Posing with her trophy.
Not only was it Gracie's recital day, but the day before had been report card day. We were very proud of both girls for making straight A's! We decided to go to Outback to 'celebrate!'


All gone!

I happened to catch Ellie the other day in a funny pose. She loves to put on clothes...no matter whose they are! This happens to be Katie's dress!

Friday, November 12, 2010


tidbits from the Shanks:

One of the things I love most about where we live is the sidewalks that run thoughout the neighborhood. One morning on the way to school, I just had to try to capture this. It was so pretty, and I know my iPhone didn't capture it well enough, but I'm thankful for the beauty of it.

Chris sent me roses the other day! Very beautiful Fall flowers!

Updates from our lives:

*Sweet, sweet Ellie! What a talker she is becoming! She is so smart, too! (of course, right?) Chris & I comment on the context she picks up. For example, Katie had on a band aid, and she said something about her being hurt. She is really so much fun, and I'm so glad God blessed us with our little 'surprise!' She is really funny and full of personality! She loves men and knows how to be a bit coy with them! Someone commented on how little girls just know how to be that way! Her favorite little friend right now is definitely Jack! She LOVES him! She is also quite fond of "Coco."

*When we go to HEB, she loves to get one of the free balloons they have at the front door.
*The other day, I was doing some baking & cooking, so I gave her some uncooked noodles, pretzels, and a little shredded cheese. She had fun and was quite proud of her creation!

*Pretty much everyday, she sits on my bathroom countertop while I do her hair. I have a picture of my parents with all of their grandchildren, and she likes to look at it and try to name everyone in the picture. Very sweet.
*She actually has an ear infection right now. Hopefully, that will be cleared up soon!
*Katie is loving 1st grade and excelling. She is reading up a storm and writing a lot. Math seems to come easily to her thankfully (it doesn't come easily to me!) Her teacher is fabulous and nice and fun and experienced and just wonderful. Katie is just eating it all up! She likes to play with Maddie & Hillary at school (those are the 2 girls she mentions the most) and talks about some of the boys a lot, too. For awhile, she was in the habit of "flying" to school while the rest of walked. Buzz Lightyear style of course!
Here is an example of one of her writings that I thought was cute. (Click to make it bigger.)
*She is a good big sister to Ellie. They butt heads a lot, but they also have fun together and seem to have similar personalities! (Fun for us! LOL) Here she is being the teacher as Ellie is the student.
*Although Katie doesn't get in trouble at school, she has her moments at home! :) However, she is a pure joy, and I love her spirit and enthusiasm for life! Here she was during one of her "moments," when she had to clean the sink before school after she made a mess in it. She wasn't real thrilled with me!

Here she is later in the same day! Happy, happy!
*Katie is pretty well into her allergy shots. I think they're helping. The biggest improvement I see is with her sleeping; she seems to be sleeping much better and waking up more refreshed in the morning. She still stays stopped up a lot but not as much as before. She takes almost daily Allegra & nose spray to help with her allergy problems as well.
*Our sweet Katie plays hard and lives life to the fullest, but at the end of the day, she crashes hard, too!

*Yesterday was a hard day for my sweet girl. I met them outside the school as usual, and as soon as she got to me, I noticed she was crying! I immediately asked what was wrong, and she said, through her sobbing, "I got a mark!!!!!!!!" Poor thing! She had gotten her first EVER mark at school. She was soooo upset! Her teacher is quite strict, but Gracie has never gotten any marks from her. We've been extremely happy with her as Gracie's teacher this year; I have no complaints about her at all. The mark was given to her by a substitute!

I guess the sub had told them to be quiet (it was right before the end of the day). She'd just been handed a letter from the principal congratulating her on being selected (after being interviewed by her earlier in the day)to be part of the morning news crew. (She'll be "Webmaster" which means she puts up the pictures of the flags during the pledge (I think?) and the "Moment of Silence" sign during the morning newscast.) Anyway, after she read the letter, she handed it to a friend next to her to read, and the sub told her to bring her folder and gave her a mark!
She said she didn't talk, but I figure the sub "meant" be quiet and do something independently and when she saw Gracie pass over the letter.....well, anyway, she got a mark. Apparently, Gracie started crying and the sub told her it was okay; that it wasn't the end of the world. She told her she could tell she wasn't one to cause trouble but it wouldn't be fair not to give her a mark. Some of her friends said things to her to try to help her feel better about it too which I thought was sweet.
It made me sad to see her SO sad, but I don't think I fault the sub. She will have this sub awhile longer due to her teacher having surgery, so if she gets in trouble again, we may have to discuss if the sub is being a bit too strict since she's never had issues with any other teachers (and last year's teachers and this year's teacher are strict).

It was sweet the way a couple of my friends were quick to come to Gracie's defense, but Gracie's not perfect. I truly don't think she meant to disobey, but the sub chose to give her a mark. Lesson learned I guess that when this sub says be quiet maybe that means more than just "don't talk." I still find it a bit ironic that we'd been told before the year started about how strict her regular teacher is and she's been so great!!!!!!!! The time she gets a mark is with the sub! Suffice it to say, we didn't give her any more punishment for the mark. She punished herself quite enough. We talked to her a lot about how we don't WANT her to get marks, but that we don't expect her to be perfect, etc. We talked about how we support her and are on her side and if we felt there was a reason to talk to the sub, we would, but for now, the mark is the mark. My poor, sweet girl. I think it would have been much easier for her if she'd gotten a few marks along the way before 5th grade! Sweet girl.

After I'd spent awhile comforting her, my friend & neighbor, Stephanie called me to tell me to go outside and look up at the double rainbow in the sky. She said to tell Gracie the rainbow was for her! :)
*She is enjoying being a part of the 5th grade choir this year. She has practice 2 days a week before school and has performed at 2 nursing homes. She is really excited about performing at a local mall in December. They wear a little uniform which she wasn't too thrilled about, but she really seems to enjoy the singing part! This picture was from before her first performance. Once they got to school, they got bow ties & cumberbunds. Well, come to think about it, I'll have to ask Gracie to see if they got bow ties. I know they got cumberbunds.
*She is participating in a program at school called "Read, Deed, Run." It's a neat program that will continue for 26 weeks and involve her reading 26 books (or 2600 pages), doing 26 'good deeds,' and running 26 miles, with a final run at the end where we will go watch. They meet after school on Tuesdays. One week they do a deed and the next week, they run a mile together. They will do 13 deeds & run 13 miles together in the after school meetings while the reading and the rest of the deeds & miles will be done on their own time. Chris ran a mile with her last weekend. She's done 4 miles total so far with the last mile being her best time! It was 11:50. I'm so proud of her for sticking with this! Here she is after her 1st run....tired, hot, sweaty, and wondering what in the world she's gotten herself into! :)
*She & I attended the "Kind Campaign" at our church a few weeks ago. 2 girls are traveling the country, putting the focus on being KIND. They have put together a documentary that is very raw & very (unfortunately) real about how mean girls are to each other. It's a really great thing they're doing, and it gave us a chance to open up the lines of communication about bullying and how important it is to be kind and what that means: not just being nice but also sticking up for others when someone else is being mean to them and not just standing by and allowing it to happen, etc. Thankfully, Gracie says the girls in her class are nice and that she hasn't really experienced any of this. Prayerfully, this won't be a huge problem for her, but chances are she will experience it at some time or another, with her being on one side or the other, so I hope to equip her beforehand so she knows how to respond.
These are the 2 girls who started the Kind Campaign.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Halloween 2010

Halloween 2010 has come & gone, and it was a good one!

We started off the holiday with the Fall Festival at Ellie's little preschool, a few days before Halloween. I only have 2 pictures from before the festival started b/c I didn't actually go over there during the party. I'm hoping to 'borrow' a few pictures from someone else at some point.

Here is Ellie with one of her favorite men from church, Mr. David, and also with Mr. Mike, one of our youth interns. He was holding a banana AND a strawberry! :) They're both sweet to Ellie.
Here are my sweet girls on a beautiful Sunday, Halloween, morning, heading to church!

After church, we enjoyed lunch AT church, then changed the girls into their costumes for the church Fall Festival. The people who organized it did a great job, and everything seemed to flow smoothly, and the kids had a great time!

Here are the girls: a strawberry-"berry fairy," Buzz Lightyear, and a LEGO! Chris did a great job making Gracie's LEGO costume. Our inspiration came from the ACU Homecoming parade, where one of the social club's pledges were dressed at LEGOs. They were really cute, and inspiration was planted in Gracie's brain!

Gracie enjoyed running around with her friends at the festival. Of course, she couldn't keep up too well with the LEGO on!
She also found it hard to take a drink with her costume on!
Ellie had a great time playing all of the different games!

Here she is with "Boo," from Monster's, Inc. and possibly her favorite Buzz!

Here's MY favorite Buzz, zooming down one of the inflatables!

When the festival was over, we headed over to Texas Children's Hospital to help with a party for some of the patients. Our friends, the Schaefers, had a sweet little boy, Malachi, who suffered from Leukemia and passed away a few years ago. His birthday is November 1, so each Halloween, they try to give back to the hospital by helping bring some joy to the patients there. They are an inspiration to us all, and we had fun playing games with the kids.
Here is Katie with one of her BFFs, and Malachi's big sister, Emily!

Our sweet strawberry was tired after such a long day, but she was so good and enjoyed sitting up on the ledge and watching everyone.

Katie had such a good time playing all the games, and Gracie remarked more than once on how much fun it was! I'm not sure they even realized that we were there to help b/c they were having so much fun!

Like I said, Ellie was tired! LOL

Chris had some fun playing a game, too!

Ellie loves Mr. Ben!

It was a long day but fun. Poor Katie ended up being sick, even running a confirmed fever that night when we got home. She spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday home with me and ended up with a strep diagnosis! She is, thankfully, feeling much better now!