OK…I’ll just admit I don’t have a really good reason for waiting this long to start blogging again, other than that lots of things have been going on. But that’s the end of that excuse, so it’s time to jump back on the wagon. Here goes:


For anyone who doesn’t know already, I am pregnant! Jamie will become a big brother on or around December 3. We will find out at the end of July what gender we’re expecting. In the meantime, we’re just busy trying to figure out the logistics of the house with another baby and stuff like that. So far, we still haven’t done much. We still need another crib, if anybody knows anybody…


Let’s see…what else? Jamie has been speaking in sentences for a couple of months now, and it’s really come on like gangbusters, so you can have whole conversations with him now, which is completely awesome! He has also discovered that the most exciting thing in the world to his two-and-a-half-year-old self is…picking beans! Seriously, we took him outside over the weekend when we had to pick green beans, and boy, did he go to town on that! He filled up a grocery sack, and was so proud of himself! We finally had to cut him off so there would be some left for other family members to come pick. Here’s some photos of him picking beans with Grandma on Sunday morning:


Jamie and Grandma working hard in the bean field...

Jamie and Grandma working hard in the bean field...


Here's a good one!

Here's a good one!


All in a day's work...

All in a day's work...


So now that the beans are harvested, the next big chore is figuring out how to get Jamie to EAT the beans! Seriously, he is still the pickiest eater I have ever seen, and that’s saying a lot considering his father would have to start eating more just to be classified as “eating like a bird”…I think I’m the only one in the house who actually eats dinner instead of just poking a big whole in the food on my dinner plate. YIKES. So, anyway, I’ve been trying to concentrate a lot lately on ways to involve Jamie with food preparation in hopes of engaging his interest in healthy food a bit more. I’ve also been trying to eat healthier, myself, too in order to avoid some of the issues I had when I was pregnant with Jamie, like preeclampsia and frequent UTI issues. So, with a lot of inspiration from other mothers out there trying to feed their families nutritious, healthy meals, I’ve really been occupied lately with making 100 percent homemade foods as much as possible, so I know exactly what I’m putting into every dish (and what I’m not!).  A MILLION THANKS to websites like (my daily “healthy toddler mommy” inspiration) for making this seem possible.


Let’s see…what else…Oh! Jamie got to finally “hold” his cousin, Hazel, on his own (and by on his own I mean with grown-ups on either side ready to help out if she squirmed) like a big boy. He got so excited, and she did, too. Just look:


Here's looking at you, kid...

Here's looking at you, kid...


Right back at 'ya...

Right back at 'ya...


So cute. Well, I’m sure I could think of a hundred other topics to discuss since last I blogged, but really, who can top pictures of cute little kids, huh? Not me, so I will end my post here, with the promise of a speedy return.






I give you, Hazel! These pictures were shot with my Motorola Razr on my lunch hour today at the hospital so forgive any graininess…I figure for a moment in time, I have the market cornered on online-accessible photos of exactly one human in the Universe, Little Miss herself, so beggars can’t be choosers. Better quality photos forthcoming as soon as I have some to post. In the meantime:


















I never did get her to open her eyes for the camera, although she would make occasional noises to let me know that she was not sleeping, as if to say, “I am NOT a trained monkey here for your entertainment; I will open my eyes when I feel like it.” Heehee! Already a sassy one.


She is SO cute and tiny. I wanted to hold her so badly but the universe decided to be particularly evil to me in the last 24 hours — I woke up in the middle of the night last night with a sore throat that hasn’t left yet. I’m so paranoid I’ll give the baby a cold that I haven’t touched her, even though I want to hold her and never put her down!!


Ashley is doing well after the surgery, too. All signs point to the family getting to go home tomorrow. Then the real fun will begin! 🙂



She’s finally here! My brother, Oliver, welcomed his new daughter into his arms this morning. Hazel Marie was born sometime around 10:00 a.m., tipping the scales at 6 lbs., 8 oz. According to Oliver, she has lots of thick, dark, curly hair and loves to stick her tongue out at people. Excellent. Like father, like daughter, I guess. Heehee!

My sister-in-law is doing very well after the C-section and last time I spoke with Oliver she was still waiting to officially hold her baby girl. I better start emptying all the stored data off our camera’s memory card because something tells me I’m about to fill it all up!

I am so excited to be an aunt! I cannot wait to meet my new niece! I have been sitting at my desk at work all day unable to concentrate on anything else…every time someone says something to me all I hear is, “Baby-baby-baby-baby-baby-baby-baby-baby-baby…”


I’ll post more later after I’ve gotten to hold the precious little doll. 🙂

–Aunt Gracie


P.S. — I’ve updated the “Thomas list” below several times now as I’ve heard from different relatives, so if there’s something that still needs to be updated, please let me know. But I think it’s totally current. That little guy is apparently going to have QUITE the Thomas birthday and Christmas. Can’t wait!

It’s been a while since my last post. I was out from work with pneumonia for 3 weeks and computer time has been at a minimum since I’ve been back and playing catch-up. However, without further ado, I give you Jamie dressed as his favorite thing in the UNIVERSE, Thomas the Tank Engine, for Halloween last week:
One happy little engine!

One happy little engine!

Jamie LOVES anything Thomas. He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s getting a train table for his birthday next month. The Thomas brand one was way too expensive, so he’s getting a less expensive table that comes with tons of Thomas-compatible track, and then we’re just encouraging friends & family to peruse the Thomas Wooden Railway line (there are like five different types of Thomas, none compatible with the others, but Jamie’s is “Thomas Wooden Railway System” and can easily be identified because they are non-powered, no-battery wooden trains with round, magnetic bumpers on front-and-back to connect to each other) as supplementary birthday presents to use on his train table.


I’ve already been fielding some preliminary questions about what he has/wants/needs as far as presents, and more specifically, Thomas, so here is a brief listing which I intend to keep updated by crossing stuff out as I know it’s coming to Jamie. Sheesh, this feels like a registry or something, but with so many family members in different places, it seemed like the best way to keep stuff straight so people know what his interests are, what he likes, and what he already has…so anyway, please do NOT feel pressured to buy him anything off this list (or anything, period, for that matter; we know what Christmas budgets are like!!), but I just thought I’d keep everyone posted this way and if it makes it easier on even one person, it’s served a purpose. 🙂





WHAT JAMIE IS GETTING from various people for either his birthday or Christmas (at the time I write this posting):



-Annie & Clarabel (Thomas’s two faithful coaches)


-James (of course!)



-The Aquarium Cars

-Sodor Engine Wash

-Sodor Caboose

 -Harold the Helicopter

-Sir Topham Hatt’s car

-Stop-and-Greet Station (This is a destination that is integrated with recognition chips to speak to the individual engines when they come through. So far I don’t know of any of the wooden talking railway trains that Jamie is getting, just regular wooden ones, so it would be cool if he got versions of some that would be identified and spoken to, though the little destination is pretty cool on its own even without that feature. It has a little door that pops open and Sir Topham Hatt comes out and says stuff, which Jamie will love.)

-Suddery Swing Bridge


-More trucks/freight/railcars for his engines to pull

-Small destinations to fit over the tons of track we’ve got, like little unload/load stations or whatever in the Thomas line…y’know, things to link his extremely generic table set to the “official” Island of Sodor where Thomas and his friends live



-The matching express coaches for Gordon would be very cool.

-Toad (Oliver’s companion)

-Mighty Mac the two-faced engine




-Bertie the Bus


And so on. There are about a trillion of these wooden characters. Actually, he would be thrilled with any Thomas item out there because our lives currently REVOLVE around Thomas and have for the better end of a year. Videos, books, coloring pages, toys, you name it–Jamie is FASCINATED with anything remotely having to do with the Island of Sodor and its Really Useful Crew. Speaking of which, it would be really cool to track down the original Rev. Awdry books about Thomas (what started it all). I’m not sure how they’d be listed on Amazon or elsewhere. I think the original name of the series was “Railway Island”…the first books are about 40 years old, so they may have renamed them now that Thomas is so popular outside of Europe as well. Who knows. The wooden trains are kind of expensive (start around $9.99) so we don’t expect anyone to go nuts here, and obviously he’s getting several characters, so again, please don’t feel like you have to give him Thomas trains. We know they’re pricey. I just know it’s hard to keep up on what little ones have, what’s popular, and all that, so I posted this for that reason. He will love anything people give him because he loves the people who give it to him and he has cool relatives. 🙂


Oh, and for those wondering, Jamie will be wearing size 2T in tops and bottoms this winter. He’s already wearing 2T shirts and is rapidly outgrowing all of his 24-month jeans. The next round of shoes will be size 7. For whatever that’s worth. I have seriously been slacking when it comes to keeping relatives up on this sort of stuff. Sorry.


On an unrelated note, check out the cool election pumpkin Hubby and I carved a couple weeks ago. It was way easier than it looked. We couldn’t believe it actually worked. It didn’t look much like him until we put the light in it, and then…POW! 🙂




Don’t forget to get out there and vote tomorrow!!!



So, my parents have chickens in the yard between our houses. One rooster, “Chanticleer,” has seriously bonded with my son. During the day, he crows ONLY when he hears Jamie in the yard. When Jamie comes near him, Chanticleer puts on a show and even dances sometimes. Jamie loves his rooster, who incidentally, has been saved from his imminent stewpot fate by befriending our little guy. Every time Jamie learns something new, or gets a new pair of shoes or hat or something, or whatever else, he has to go show his chickens. He learned the letter “B” at preschool the other day, and when we got home he immediately took off like a rocket across the yard to show his worksheet to Chanticleer and teach him about the letter B. It is hilarious.


That said, Mom and I decided to contact our local toystore (which by the way if you still have not clicked on its link and shopped its expansive website, take this moment to!) and asked them if they had the Folkmanis puppet that looks like a rooster. They did, and were kind enough to keep it rocking around the store for us until I had time to pick it up today on my lunch hour. It is awesome — luckily the Folkmanis rooster is also a Buff Orpington and looks quite like Chanticleer himself. (There is a dominecker in the coop that Jamie’s not so keen on, so I’m glad the puppet didn’t turn out looking like him instead!)


Here are some photos of Jamie’s newest Folkmanis acquisition:


Sitting on my desk at work...

Sitting on my desk at work...

Proudly displaying his Folkmanis emblem...

Proudly displaying his Folkmanis emblem...

Here's looking at you, Chanticleer...

Here's looking at you, Chanticleer...

I can’t wait to go home and give him to Jamie — whee!!! Oh, and in case the relatives are going into withdrawal without any recent Jamie photo posts, here’s my boy hanging out in the recliner, which is his new favorite spot in the house…hence why we have to get him up and playing and moving!! No couch taters at our house! 🙂
Jamie doing his Daddy impression...which is very similar to his Grandpa impression.

Jamie doing his Daddy impression...which is very similar to his Grandpa impression.

And that’s about all the news from Lake Woebegon, folks. I’m hoping to take some more garden photos by this weekend. I’ll post again when I’ve got ’em!

…are spent at our local mall’s fantastic educational toy store. I love shopping there. When I can’t be with Jamie during my workday, finding him awesome presents at the mall on my lunch hour is the next best thing.


Today, I was on a mission. For some reason, over the last few months Jamie has started getting really excited every time we’re out somewhere and see something with Thomas the Tank Engine on it. I have no idea where or when he was exposed to this, because he’s never watched the show with us at home (it’s on during the day on weekdays when we’re at work) and his preschool has never shown it either. Somehow, though, Jamie knows who Thomas is and just goes absolutely nuts every time we see his picture on something, whether it’s toys, or sippy cups, or whatever.


So, I decided to poke around the toy store today and hook Jamie up with some Thomas stuff of his own. Luckily, My Favorite Toys has the largest selection of Thomas toys in Southern Illinois. (That place really rocks. They have a lot of obscure stuff, and hard-to-find stuff, and classic stuff from when parents and grandparents were little kids, and just all sorts of neat stuff. They also have tons of Folkmanis puppets, which family members have been buying for Jamie since he was born. He has quite the collection these days.) I am putting a link to this toystore’s expansive website in my list of links, because I really want these folks to stay in business for a long, long time. They are so friendly and knowledgeable — it’s like they only hire teachers or something. I’m constantly telling people to go check them out if they’ve never been in there or browsed their website. I like to keep our bucks in Southern Illinois, and I love having them as a local resource. I want them to stay put!


Anyway, getting back to Jamie and his Thomas obsession, I bought him two Thomas & Friends videos, two books (one with magnetized pages and cool magnets of all the Island of Sodor trains, and one with a clock with moveable hands so you can change the time on every page as Thomas goes through his railway schedule — how cool is that?) and a little Jamie-sized railroad engineer’s cap to wear when we watch his Thomas videos. I called Geoff, who usually gripes that Jamie has too much junk as it is, and he got really excited about coming home and playing/watching Thomas the Tank Engine with Jamie. Geoff really wants to do train sets with him when he gets older, so he was chomping at the bit to come home and have “train night” at our house.


I can’t wait to surprise Jamie with all his Thomas presents!



My computer has decided that while it still does not like photo files, it has no problem with scanned images, so I decided to try it out this morning (see below).

In sad news, my sister, along with seventeen of her co-workers, lost her job on Tuesday when the Tulsa World newspaper decided to lay off its Community World staff. Her office had no warning that this was coming. Basically, they just walked in and started handing out pink slips. Rat bastards.

Anyway, Jamie and I decided to cheer up Aunt Emily by sending her some artwork from her darling nephew. (Watch out, Auntie Em — it’s on its way to you as we speak!) I bought Jamie some finger paints last night and he thought they were mighty fine. I decided to scan his masterpiece before sending it off into the mail so Jamie’s art message could be experienced by all.

Painting: Untitled

(A mixed media in crayon, finger paint, and 3-D stickers featuring “Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends.”)

Jamie finger painting 1

I have studied this piece for a long time now, attempting to discern its theme, as the artist currently lacks the verbal skills to explain his work. I have narrowed the list down to three likely subjects:

A.) A portrait of Frida Kahlo

B.) A depiction of the Seventh Bowl Judgement of Armageddon, as felt by the cheery residents of the Island of Sodor

C.) A bowl of fruit

You can all vote on this if you like, or even better, you can offer up other ideas. Yes. I like this. Send me your own guess of Master James’ artistic theme, and I will choose a winner later and send that lucky person an original work by the artist.

That is all.

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