Friday, March 25, 2011

Celebration Month of March- Blog 5: Letters from Mom & Mimi

The Birthday Girl!!!

Dear Birthday Girl Ellie,

I have never seen a baby as loved by so many as you are.  You have been showered with so many gifts, cards, and birthday wishes.  I am in awe and so humbled by the love that surrounds you.  I have always been a believer that people are put on this earth to fulfill a purpose.  For a child of twelve months, I feel like you are already fulfilling one of your reasons of being- spreading happiness to all those who know you and making people appreciate life itself. 

I still can't believe you are officially one year old!  What a fun, crazy party we had with your friends on Sunday at Lil' Gym and then for your actual birthday- your first flu hit!  We didn't get to have that quiet celebration with just you, your Dad, and I on your actual birthday that we had planned with the left-over cupcakes from Sunday's party.  Nope, we saved all that for the day after.  I hope, even though you won't remember the specifics (I'm talking about your birthday, not the stomach bug you had), you always have the foundation of celebrating your life.  I feel like you have grown over night these past two weeks- 8 teeth in total (2 that just popped through), taking your first steps (to me on my birthday!), transitioning to whole milk, liking your sippy cup, and becoming so independent in everything you do!  I love your personality Ellie- you are a fireball of energy.

Silly Mimi, you can't ask someone what they wished for when they blow out their birthday candles until it comes true.  And let me tell you Ellie, my wishes seem to get answered.  Two years ago, I wished for a second, beautiful, healthy baby and within three months I was pregnant with you!  And last year, I wished for an easy birth as you were coming three days later.  How about you Mimi, any wishes that you can share? 

In your last blog Mimi, I do have to say that I loved your stories about Gram Mundy.  Ellie, Gram Mundy is the inspiration for this teatime blog and taking the time to document our lives.  So Mimi, please share more about her amazing life because I would love for Ellie to know her strong character.

Birthdays are bittersweet though, as all good things come to an end.  We said good-bye to Mimi and Poppy a few days ago, they had to go home.  And boy do you miss them!  It seems like yesterday that we picked up Mimi and you crawled over to her in the baggage claim and begged her to pick you up.  You wouldn't let her put you down from then on.  You never take to people like that Ellie- you have such a connection with your Mimi.  I think you must remember her from those days after your birth when we brought you home from the hospital and your Mimi helped me when you didn't sleep at night (that's when we first met Walter, a nickname your Mimi affectionately gave your grumpy face!).  So for now, it's back to skyping everyday.  We miss you Mimi and Poppy!

But the good news is that we have lots to look forward to... Part of your Daddy's birthday gift to me was a plane ticket to see one of my favorite people in the whole wide world...

We are now just about to leave for your God-Mother's house in Vermont for a long weekend visit.  And I am so excited.  Aunt Ally is a truly special friend of mine, the kind of best friend you are lucky to have in your life.  We met our freshman year of college as we lived across the hall from each other.  The funny thing is, we only were together for two years before I transferred to a different school.   After that, we only saw each other once every few months.  After graduation, our visits were reduced to about once a year since we lived in different states.  But the coolest part of our relationship is that the miles between us made us stronger and appreciate each other more.  You probably already know that when the phone rings, chances are it's either Mimi or Aunt Ally.  Aunt Ally and I talk at least once every other day if not every day.  I always say that Aunt Ally is my soul-mate in only a way that female best friends could be. 

The times we do visit with each other are so special though.  We don't even like to plan a lot because we just want to sit and spend time with each other.  We are opposites.  My favorite color is anything colorful with glitter (hence why she calls me Rainbow Bright), while her favorite color is black (our family calls her Jackie O).  She is very reserved, classy (remember that your first set of pearls are from her), and shy.  But she has the biggest heart of anyone I know.

It has been 4 years since I've been to Vermont to see Aunt Ally and in the meantime, she has been out to see me every opportunity and big moment that has passed starting with my wedding.  Aunt Ally came after Kyle passed away and let me share his life with her by watching our home videos, looking at all 700 hundred of his pictures, and letting me share my beloved scrapbook that we put together.  And then she came back out a few months later, when I had just found out I was pregnant with you Ellie girl.  She then had to come right after you born to meet you (and you loved to dance with her in the middle of the night as an eight week old).  And then of course, she came for Kyle's 5k last summer along with your baptism.  Aunt Ally is the kind of friend that is there whenever you need her.  I love her with all of my heart and I know as you get older, you will too.  So it's time that we see her new place, her new town, and her new friends.  I'm hoping you won't need to dance with Aunt Ally in the middle of the night anymore :)

And guess what?  She shares a birthday in the month of March with us too!  So more celebrating on our trip- I told you that we extend our birthdays as long as we can in our family!  And truly Ellie, Aunt Ally knows what a blessing you are to me so we will be celebrating you and your life there.

So let's get packing Ellie Spaghetti.  And please be a good girl on the plane!!!

Love you Sweet Angel,


PS Let's ask Mimi who her female soulmate/bestfriend is and maybe she'll share a favorite story of their friendship.  And Mimi, anymore ideas of a name for the three of us?  I'm still giggling over the lassies... 

And now from your Mimi:

Hi Ellie Sunshine!

Since tea inspires my writing to you, I will never be without a cup!  But since it is after 7:00 pm., I have to change over to decaffeinated tea.  (Ellie, don't let anyone convince you that it is just as delicious as an original teabag, because it is NOT!)  Now don't get me wrong, it can still be good as long as it is made a certain way!  For me, I need to use the right size mug.  And that would be my over-sized Disney mug with the name mickey highlighted in red lower-cased block styled letters.  With this mug, I insist that the decaf teabag sit twice as long in the boiling water as an original teabag would, I add an extra half teaspoon of sugar to the 2 heaping ones I have already stirred in, along with a smidgen more of creamy milk to make the perfect coloring! Then with a little 'pretending', it becomes the almost perfect cup of tea!  Of course it will take me 2 hours and lots of reheating to drink it, but that is ok.... as it warms my soul.  While writing this, two thoughts have come to mind.  The first being the Disney mickey mug.  It reminded me of a story my parents told me long ago on how I came to acquire such an unusual nickname.  You see, when I was born in 1957, a TV show called "The Mickey Mouse Club" was very popular.  Even though the birth name my parents gave me was Michelle, my mother wanted to nickname me 'Shelly'.  Apparently my father said absolutely not and I believe the show inspired him to pick the name 'Mickey' for me instead.  Well it stuck so well that as I grew, when someone called me Michelle, I wouldn't answer right away, and not because I was ignorant, but rather I forgot that was my real name!!!  What was particularly endearing to me was that he called me 'Mickey Mouse' until the day he passed away.  I was 42 years old at that time Ellie and never once did I think it was silly.  It gave me a special connection with my father.  Which brings me to thought number two... a funny time when your mommy and I convinced your daddy to have a cup of tea with us.  Ellie, watching him make his tea was like watching a painter take a brush and lots of color to a canvas!  First your daddy got his 'mug' (which looked like a fiesta-ware soup bowl) out of the cupboard, he then poured the boiling water into it, quickly dipping the teabag in and out a few times as though the teabag was saying "ouch, too hot" after each dunking, then reaching for the glass sugar container he would remove the lid and calculate with eye measurement the exact amount of sugar his bowl, I mean cup needed!  Let me just say it was a LOT... we needed to replenish the sugar bowl once your dad was done with it!  And lastly he would take the milk and filler up to the brim!!  Ellie it was like watching a masterpiece take form!  And the best part of all was that he did not sip it slow like "us" ladies.... he drank it like a man.... downed it in about 3 big gulps!  He sure made us giggle that day Ellie.  Your dad is such a wonderful sport for giving our teatime a try!

I am home now and I just want to say I had a wonderful week with you!  It was very hard leaving on Monday morning but when we had the chance to Skype Monday evening, you gave me a laugh that I really needed.  Ellie, you got soooooooo excited when the 'skype sound' came on the computer and when you saw us your expression was priceless.  You looked at us in the computer "box", you looked at your mommy, you looked at us in the computer "box" again, you looked behind you and then you returned your look to us in the computer "box" once more.  Ellie, the way your head tilted, the look of perplexity on your face, your pensive eyebrows furrowed close together and your mouth in the shape of a perfect little "o" was clearly stating....."Poppy and Mimi, how did you get from my house into that tiny little computer box?"  Thank you for that Ellie.  You turned my sad frown upside down! :)

So now you are officially one year old Ellie!  Yeahhhhh!  It seems like only yesterday that your mommy and daddy brought you home from the hospital.  Ellie you were so tiny, so beautiful, so angelic... well, the angelic part was short lived that is up till your mommy (who nursed you the first two weeks) cluelessly ate two helpings of a delicious homemade Chicken Cacciatore dinner overloaded with extra onions and peppers!  Unbeknown to your mom.... those "foods" were the worst to eat while nursing.  We learned that quite quickly when a few hours later you woke up, and let everyone in the house know what your lung and voice capacity could reach, and not only how high and how loud you could cry, but more important how looooooooooong you could cry!  Between your daddy and your mommy and I, we tried to rotate turns in soothing you.  Luck was with me finally at about 3:00am.  I held you so that your back was against my chest and I pulled your legs up close to your belly while my other hand firmly held your belly in!  Ellie.... you were wide awake and the look on your face was that of such a grumpy old man.... so grumpy that you looked like the ventriloquist Jeff Dunham's oldest puppet "Walter!"  All your mommy and I could do was laugh!  And from that day on, every once in awhile you would show that grumpy precious face.... so Poppy and I got you a pink hat with the name Walter embroidered on it!  Mommy had you wear it when you showed your special face and yes... we have pictures!

As for birthday wishes... hmmmmmm.  Your mommy is right Ellie in saying that no one is to tell their birthday wish out loud after they blow out the candles because it is said that it won't come true if you do.  I can remember one of my birthday wishes that happened a very long time ago. It is a rather silly one.  I think I might have been around 13 years old... there was a very cute boy about two years older than me who lived on our street a few houses away.  I remember wishing that he would like me.  Well..... I think my birthday wish came true.  That summer he kindly allowed me to play basketball with him as he had a basketball hoop attached to the drain spout above his garage.  I remember playing the game Horse.  It didn't matter to me that there were a number of other neighborhood kids there too... it was that I got asked also.  So in my mind, my wish came true!  Sadly he moved away at the beginning of the school year, so my first romance didn't really amount to much!  I'm sure my parents were thrilled!

But way before boyfriends should come friendships.  Ellie, this week you are blessed to be visiting one of your mommy's closest and dearest friends.... your Godmother Ally!  Not everyone is lucky enough to find someone they connect with Ellie so for every "someone" you meet... get to know them as you never know the rewards that may come from a first hello.  Your mommy asked me if I had a soulmate/bestfriend and as I sit here and ponder that question Ellie, I would definitely say yes.  It is not an easy question to answer as there are so many special women in my life.  So many that each and every one will be told about in blogs to come.   I could tell you many stories of two of my closest friends from back home, Robin and Julie, who have been in my life since high school.   Even though many miles divide us now, we are in touch throughout the year and can carry on as though we saw each other yesterday.  I could tell you about my sister, your Aunt Sheri, who as sisters go, I have the best!  I could tell you about my two closest aunts in Philadelphia, Aunt Phyllis and Aunt Midge, who took me in and made me part of their family when I moved so far away from home.  I could tell you about all of my closest and most wonderful friends here in State College... these particular women are incredible and I am forever grateful to them for being in my life.  But I guess when it comes to a soulmate/friend, that would have to be my best friend Jackie, who is married to your Poppy's best friend/cousin Steve.  Ellie, I met Jackie thirty-five years ago when I moved east.  From that time on, she has been very special in my life.  She is the type of friend that will call on a Saturday morning and ask me if I would like to have a cup of tea with her.  I get so excited when that happens as I know that means our conversations are meant to last indefinitely!  Sometimes we can talk for hours!  We will talk about our happiness, our troubles, our jobs, our ideas, our wishes, our passion of photography, our families, our husbands, our children, our most joyful pleasure which is our grandchildren and whatever else life has in store for us.   We have vacationed together as couples each and every year and each of those vacations has brought us more laughter and memories than the one previously!  That is because Jackie believes the best part of any vacation is the "anticipation", the many days leading up to the trip that brings forth the excitement!   One year when we were going to take a Mediterranean cruise, 40 days prior the trip I started to send her and everyone tidbits and fun facts of the places we would be seeing!  What fun we had with that!!   She is the type of person that knows when I need her without me having to ask her.  By trade she is a nurse practitioner.  Her profession fits her perfectly because she is always thinking of others first and always taking care of family, friends and even strangers in need.  She is a "listener" and only a "fixer" if requested.  She is happy by nature, spiritual, a positive thinker and always supportive in what I do.  Her energy is magnetic and her patience is endless.  By this description I am sure you can now understand why I love her so.  When your mommy moved to Denver, it was Jackie whose words gave me comfort.  When your brother Kyle passed away, it was Jackie who helped me through his loss.  She did not force, but allowed me to cry when I needed to cry.  I have learned to do the same for her.  She is fun to shop with, she is fun to have a glass of wine with, she is fun to make homemade bagels with, she is fun period!  But she has seen much sadness too.   For the past many months Jackie has been caring for her terminally ill sister.  It has been an extremely difficult road for her, yet she never complains.  And as I try to reciprocate my time with her... she still finds a way to make me think 'wow'.  While juggling her career, her family, making sure her mom is comfortable in the nursing home and caring for her sister, last week she found the time to send me a very sentimental/priceless birthday gift.  I was in awe because she knows how much I love broaches Ellie,.. and she sent me a beautiful one, a large purple stone encased in pearls set atop a gold turtle that belonged to her grandmother.  When I asked why... she simply stated that she knew I would wear it and that in itself would make her happy!  I guess I am telling you all this Ellie because it will hopefully show you the importance of friendships.  You see, there is a very simple yet important lesson to be learned here.  And it is this:  To have a friend, you need to be a friend.  If you can succeed at this, you will have a blessed and wonderful life!

I can't wait for you to return to Denver as I will be on Kimberly/Ellie withdrawal for a better part of the week!  But when you do arrive back into Denver we will be entering a new month... April!  Kimberly.... what topic do we have in store for Ellie for this wonderful Easter month?
I can't wait to see what you decide on!  I love you Kim... and just so you know, you too are my soulmate/bestfriend!

Till then my little Ellie rainbow girl,
I love you!

P.S.  What do you think of the name "Three M's"????   Stands for Mimi, Mommy and Me.   or how about "Two Ladies and a Lass"????  They were Gram B's suggestions.  I'm not 100 percent sold on them... You????????

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Celebration Month of March- Blog 4: Letters from Mom & Mimi

The birthday girls together!

Dear Ellie (who is 2 days away from being one year old!!!),

I remember this time last year saying to you, "Ellie in my belly, it's time to come out and meet your mommy!"  I am posting this as we are getting ready to leave for your first birthday party at Lil' Gym.  You have so many friends coming to celebrate with you, it shows what an amazing little person you already are.  You attract people with your spirit and your infectious (but sometimes devilish) laugh.  You take after your Mimi the way you attract people and you take after your daddy with your comedic sense of humor.

Even though you may not remember this week, it was pretty spectacular.  Your Mimi came out last Sunday and while I worked, you played with her and loved her.  You always learn and experience so many new things with her- new words (remember in December she taught you uh-oh?! And this week, you can now moo when she asks you what sound a cow makes!), new songs, new books (you are now obsessed with Elmo), new foods (Cream of Wheat being one messy new one that I will not make you often), new dances...  And the time that I did get to spend after work with you, we were busy.  I am so happy that Mimi expects to be out shopping, eating, and having fun with you tagging along.  In Mimi's world, she says the more the merrier- no matter how young!  And Ellie-girl, you rose to the occasion being on your best behavior.

And then your Poppy came out later in the week and you sure love him, especially playing on the floor with him.  And how clearly you can say his name, "Hi Poppy!"

I have to say that my birthday was a little sweeter this year (literally, as I got to enjoy a yummy glass of wine unlike last year when I was preggo!!!).  No matter how old I get, I will always appreciate March 19.  I think because it's a testament to what came before and all the many things I have to live for still.

I already know what Mimi got you for your birthday (but you have to wait 2 days to see for yourself) and it's pretty great.  As for me, my best birthday present as I've said before was you.  And then of course, the year before you came, my dad (your Poppy) came up with the idea of setting up a scholarship for your brother Kyle and put the initial money in the account to start it off.  Wow- a gift like that truly is a gift that continues to give and brings me comfort in knowing that Kyle lives on. 

But my favorite tangible thing/gift was my Christmas present in 4th grade from Santa Clause.  He brought me a trunk filled with prom dresses, wedding dresses, high heels, all kinds of costume jewelry, hats, and more (all from the consignment store as I've heard).  The gift brought endless hours of imagination to me and my friends that year.  My 2nd favorite gift of all-time was Christmas during my 3rd grade year.  Santa surprised me with a vanity set filled with Cover Girl make-up... all colors of eye shadow, nail polish, and lipstick.  I'm not sure if anyone taught me how to put it on (as many would argue that I still love all color and glitter and I tend not to agree with the saying less is more because really more is more!).  Another favorite is a few years back, Ryan saw all of our VHS tapes (that contained family memories- holidays, birthdays, recitals...) disintegrating in the storage room.  He painstakingly scanned each one into a set of DVDs  and gave a copy to each of us.  It probably didn't cost him much but the amount of his time that he spent to lovingly save those precious memories was priceless.  And now because of him, we still have all of our family's memories preserved through the years (and Ellie can watch Ryan and I sing the 12 Days of Christmas in that pitiful but hilarious rendition).  And then there's your incredibly generous Aunt Joanne... she spoils us every chance she gets... for my 16th birthday, the most exciting and biggest gift was waiting in my driveway from her- a magenta Jeep Wrangler!  Yup, I drove the Barbie car through high school and it was awesome!  And now that I am older, your dad is extremely good at picking out jewelry.  He even remembered the "push present" gifts for you and Kyle (even though I technically didn't push!)- your dad is a pretty spectacular guy.  Yes Ellie, diamonds really are a girl's best friend and size does matter (and little blue boxes are the best kind to open next to David Yurman)!  Mimi, what was your best gift?  Was it the year that Dad worked so much overtime to buy you that beautiful diamond ring when I was about 7 years old?  I still remember your face as you opened up that present. 

Ellie, in all seriousness, gifts are fun yes (and truly your dad will tell you that I am materialistic and love presents).  But you need to remember two things.  One, always show your gratitude- write hand-written thank you notes and tell people how they affected you.  And two, the best gift is the gift of giving.  I bet Mimi will tell you that shopping for those dress up clothes in the trunk and the make-up for the vanity was much better than any gift she got that year because she saw that look of pure joy on an unexpected child.  Give back Ellie.  Find what brings people joy and bring smiles to the world.  We don't get to give Kyle gifts anymore so we give to members of the community in his honor.  Already, at almost one year old, you give us your gift of laughter.  Don't ever lose that. 

I love you Sweet Pea and I can't wait to see what the next year has in store for us.  It's hard for me to imagine that it can get any better than it already is now.
PS Any luck Mimi on the trio name?

And now, from your Mimi:

Good Morning Ellie!
As I write this Blog, you are peacefully napping.  The sun is a brilliant ball of light and the sky is a crisp, vibrant royal blue.  The mountains to the right are layered. The lower ones resemble a rich brown pie crust mounded high with gooey blueberries, while the ones farther behind are so white they look like someone squeezed a tube of toothpaste over them!  I am a daydreamer Ellie and the beauty outside encourages me to wander at times!  Right now my tea cup is sitting to the left of me looking quite delicious with its rich caramel coloring and steam rising!  The reason I am describing this moment to you Ellie is that my visit with you, your mommy, and daddy will soon be coming to an end.  And I don't want to be sad.  So what is the best thing to help in that matter???  Daydream of something wonderful!   So I looked into my teacup and let my mind wander back to a wonderful time when your Great-great grandmother Mundy was alive.  Ellie, because of her, I just realized that my visit here to participate in yours and your mommy's birthday Celebration wasn't my only reason for being here.... but more important, my being here is more about Celebrating the "time" we have together.  That is how Grandmom Mundy lived every day of her life.  She opened her home early each day to everyone who needed a cup of tea and an ear to bend.  And that door to her home stayed open until she went to bed late each night.  You see Ellie, each day she Celebrated her "time" with the people she cared and friends!  

So for me, this week has been absolutely wonderful!  I loved Celebrating each and every hour with you.  Getting down on the floor to play, reading books... especially Elmo's Sing Along, chatting in a nonsensical and silly voice with you, watching you play telephone with my shoe, the coaster and even your hand held to your ear, and giggling... lots of giggling has made this week a cherished memory etched in my heart for always!  And yours and your mommy's birthday is kind of like the icing on the cake!  It completes my smile!  Of course seeing you interact with your Poppy brings smiles too as he is so gentle with you even though you encourage him to be rough and tough, especially on the couch with all the pillows!  I love how you laugh when one of our fingers pokes up from between the cushions and you try to grab it thinking it is a wiggly worm and it slips through your tiny fingers!... And we repeat this playtime over and over getting the same reaction from you!

I do wish I could be with you on your actual birthday day Ellie.  I would love to watch that special look of 'awe, wonder, and excitement' on your face when you open your gifts.  Being one year old is special as everything is "new" to you.  You are seeing and experiencing everything as a "first" Ellie.  This only happens once in our lifetime.  So even though you may be too young to remember, I hope your mommy's and my blog will capture a bit of it for you!

I did laugh when your mommy recited all her "favorites"...  if there was ever anyone that truly enjoyed all celebrations that would have to be your mom!  Ellie, along with the big gifts, she would get just as excited over the very littlest ones too!  One of the things I loved was her Christmas list.  Every year her #1 and #2 must haves were Thank you notes and Stamps!  Every year your Uncle Ryan's #1, #3, #5, #7 and so on was always a dog!  Two children with very different thoughts... I loved them both!  But back to your mother.  There is one Christmas story that you must hear about.  When she was 6 years old she was so excited as she descended the stairs on Christmas morning and saw standing against the couch near the tree a bright orange saucer.  Her response and reaction to it are a story we love to tell yearly!  When she got to the very bottom step, not seeing any of the many other presents, there was a smile as big as Pennsylvania on your mommy's face as she yelled out "Look Mom and Dad.... Santa brought us a LID!!"  (It was actually a sled!)  To this day we still laugh about it!  Ellie, your mommy was always thankful, always grateful and always appreciate of whatever was given to her.  It is so much a part of her that I believe she will pass this special quality on to you too!

As for me, to pick one favorite gift is too hard.  Here are a couple that I really liked.  As your mommy previously stated, your Pop-pop worked very hard and lots of overtime one year to give me a diamond ring.  But the year he surprised me with a framed cover of the book I had written was definitely my favorite by far.  One year my Mother and Father surprised me with an unexpected visit that I was overjoyed by as I didn't get to see them as often as I wished because I too lived far away from them.  Your mom gave me many wonderful gifts but my favorite from her wasn't so much the gift itself but the notes she wrote inside.  She always wrote from her heart and her words always touched my soul.  My favorite gift from your Uncle Ryan is priceless... and very, very funny (it has to do with rabbits)... but I will save that story for our Blog in May as it has to do with Mother's Day!   And now I will tell you what my favorite gift from you is.  Yes, I loved my travel bag with yours and my picture on it, but my absolute favorite gift is "You!" Ellie, it is your smile, it is your beautiful and sometimes haunting crystal blue eyes, it is your imitations (this week was the bus and car sounds!), it is your wave bye-bye, it is how you say the word kitty, it is your giggle, it is your angelic voice one minute and your rough and gruff voice the next, it is how you give kisses, it is.... well, it is everything about you!  Where Kyle was gentle, you are a fireball!  And I believe your wonderful spirit is going to keep everyone on their toes (which is a good thing)!

Your mom said she hopes as you grow that you learn 2 important lessons.  One... to be appreciative.  Two… to give back.  Ellie, I couldn't agree with her more.  She is so right to be honest in saying that we all love to receive presents but that there is something far more important to remember.  And that is to help those in need and give of yourself your "time".  If you do you will be rich in love always and have a bundle of friendships at your side forever.  As little as you are, you already give to others and that is the gift of love.  May this special quality that you have Ellie follow you till you are as old as your Mimi and then some!

Now it is time to end this blog, so I would like to do so with asking your mommy what her special wish will be when she blows out her candles on her birthday cake after our yummy dinner Celebration?!  And I also wonder what thoughts Ellie will travel through your mind as you Celebrate your 1st birthday with all of your little friends on Sunday, and what thoughts will travel through your mind as you Celebrate your true birthday day with your mommy and daddy and you get to blow out your 1st year candle again?!  So 'dream' big Ellie, and always keep a part of your Great-great Grandmom Mundy within you. 

I too can't wait to see what you have in store for us in the coming year Ellie!  Ohhhhh... I almost forgot to tell you, have lots of fun next week when you go to visit and spend time with your Aunt Ally!  She is one very special person and both you and your mommy are very blessed to have her in your lives! 

P.S.  How about for a name .... "We Three Lassies"?  Uhhhhh..... now that I wrote it I think not!  We sound like triplet puppy dogs!  I will keep working on it!

I love you Ellie Peanut!
Happy Happy Happy Birthday!
Love Mimi :)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Celebration Month of March- Blog 3: Letters from Mom & Mimi

Happy Birthday Mimi and Dr. Seuss!

Dear Ellie,

With tea in hand, I'm ready to write.  Your Mimi's memories made me laugh.  Let's ask her what her favorite birthday memory was as a child.  And by the way, isn't that how we got our cat Daisy through Ryan's very easy birthdays?  Didn't he ask for a dog and somehow someone convinced him to get a free cat from a local farm (and it came with fleas)?  And didn't he want to name her something weird like Big Ears and someone convinced him that Dusty sounded better?  No wonder why Ryan always shoots for the stars now, he learned early to not settle!

And we can't forget to add- HAPPY BIRTHDAY MIMI (we get to celebrate with her here in Denver very soon, she will be here this time tomorrow as I post this blog!!!).

I don't remember celebrating birthdays so much in school- just eating cupcakes and singing for the birthday person (although I do remember a celebration for Halloween in 3rd grade when my mom was the homeroom mom and was supposed to supervise for the morning dress-up party... but she got the time wrong and as we were all silently reading and cleaned up at the end of the day, Mimi came in dressed as a giant carrot... good thing her face was painted orange because I think it was pretty red!  She is always a good sport and always knows how to make people laugh even when she doesn't mean to). 

But I do remember always celebrating at the beginning of March for a very special author's birthday!  I love that you share a birthday month with Dr. Seuss too!  I will be sure to celebrate March 2 with you every year.  You and your brother both enjoyed his books so much!  Our cousin Taylor gave you almost every book he ever wrote so we have lots of seussing to do!

Some of my favorite quotes to live by are said by this amazing author:

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." (Remember that one when we leave Disney World!!!)

"The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."  (Books will take you places Ellie that you would not even dream of.  I hope you love to read as much as I do.)

"Think left and think right and think low and think high.  Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!"  (I just love this one because it reminds me of your Uncle Ryan reading Oh, the Thinks You Can Think to Kyle and wondering what kind of person Dr. Seuss really was and having us all in a fit of laughter...)

I think we also need to celebrate Dr. Seuss in March because so many people find that you resemble Cindy Lou Who from How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Yes, Ellie you truly are that cute!!!

As for my recipe that I am going to add for our celebration month, I will tell you how to make a Strawberry and White Chocolate Buttercream Cake with the help of Betty Crocker.  I made this recipe while on maternity leave with you Ellie and it turned out fantastic... too bad you weren't able to eat solids then!!!
Here it is:

1 3/4
cups Betty Crocker SuperMoist butter recipe yellow cake mix (from 18.25-oz box)
cup water
cup butter or margarine, softened
teaspoon almond extract
Filling and Topping
oz white chocolate baking bars or squares, chopped
tablespoons butter, cut into pieces, softened
cup whipping cream
cups fresh whole strawberries, thinly sliced

  1. Heat oven to 350°F (or 325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Generously spray bottom and side of 8- or 9-inch round cake pan with baking spray with flour.
  2. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, 1/4 cup butter, the almond extract and egg with electric mixer on low speed until moistened. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan.
  3. Bake as directed on box for 8- or 9-inch rounds. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, place white chocolate and 2 tablespoons butter in medium metal bowl. In 1-quart saucepan, heat whipping cream over medium heat just to boiling. Immediately, pour hot cream over white chocolate and butter. Let stand about 5 minutes, or until mixture is melted and smooth when stirred. Cool 1 hour or until room temperature.
  5. Beat cooled white chocolate mixture on high speed until fluffy.
  6. Cut cake horizontally in half, using long, sharp knife. On serving plate, place 1 layer, cut side up. Spread with 1/2 of the filling; top with 1/2 of the strawberries. Add remaining cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining filling over top of cake; top with remaining strawberries. Store covered in refrigerator.
Makes 8 servings

And we have something else to get really excited for... Mimi's visit!  Oh the fun things we have planned for this week!

I love you Ellie!

Now from your Mimi:

Oh Ellie,
Your mommy sure has me laughing!  I hope I don't tip my teaspoon filled with sugar and spill the milk that I pour into my tea from all this giggling... heavens, that would make for quite a mess!  Your mommy's memory sure is picture sharp!

Yes, there was a year when I was dressed as a very, very orange carrot while everyone else around me was ... well,dressed as themselves of course!
And yes, there were a few years where it wasn't hard to convince your Uncle Ryan that his birthday gift (like the cat) were actually his very own idea!  Now when it came to your mother she wasn't as easily swayed.  You see Ellie, she was and still is a "planner."  I need to change that to "pre-planner" as your mom was always prepared days and sometimes even weeks ahead of schedule!  She would have thought the idea, planned it out, and organized the event many weeks prior to her big day.  And even on her "big day", she would make sure that everything went according to "Kimberly's" schedule.   And we are not talking about when she became an adult here.... she was like this as a little girl too!!!  Whew.... she sure did make life easy for your Pop-pop and me!

I love that our topic this month is on 'Celebrations' because along with our birthdays, last week the elementary school that I work at celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday all week long!  Last Monday we had crazy hat day, Tuesday was crazy sock day, Wednesday was pajama day (which almost all the children participated in), Thursday was wear green day for Green Eggs and Ham, and Friday was crazy hair day... that is the one and only day that I did not participate in because I had errands to run after school! (I am not sure the rest of the world outside of school would understand a 50+ year old sporting spiked hair dyed in a variety of colors with sparkles aplenty!)   Dr. Seuss was a wonderful children's author and I loved reading his books to your mommy when she was little and now to you over Skype!  You make me laugh Ellie because at times when I read to you over the computer I can tell when you are starting to lose interest and down your head goes ready to crawl away to something more interesting.... and then I throw some major expression into my voice and UP pops your head as you turn yourself around, crawl back to stand at the table and listen again ever so intently.  Sometimes we repeat this process a few times during our book reading!  You do make me giggle!!   OK.. Back to Dr. Seuss.  He takes words and writes them in the silliest of ways while teaching us a lesson to be learned at the same time.  I agree with your mommy's favorite Dr. Seuss quotes.. I too like those and one more besides.  It is:  "I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.  Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.  Which is what I do, and that enables us to laugh at life's realities."  Don't you think that is a wonderful characteristic to have in oneself Ellie???  I sure do!

My birthday day this past week was a terrific one... just like last year and the year before and the year before that.  Heck, I love all of my birthdays!!  Unlike most people I save up all my birthday cards and presents to open on my exact birthday day in the morning while I am having my tea.  This year was no different.  It is a wonderful way to start the day with smiles!  Then through the day I received many birthday wishes from family and friends and I ended the day with a wonderful dinner out!  Yeahhhh... no cooking for me!  Your Pop-pop said he hoped my birthday was a good one before we turned out the lights for the night... a perfect ending to a perfect day! 

Now I can focus on the excitement of next week!  First and foremost my visit with you!  Also time with your mommy to celebrate her birthday!  Speaking of which Kimberly... what are your thoughts on turning 31????  And should we try to make the yummy cake that you posted in your blog for your birthday treat???? How fun the upcoming days are going to be!!  And to end my visit Ellie, your Pop-pop will join me and together we will participate in an early celebration of your birthday!  I can't believe that you will be turning one year old already.  Watching you grow has brought sunshine to my "everyday"!

And with that I will end with a "tweaked" quote from Lee Scott.  In place of the bear, I have added your name Ellie.  Here it is:

If I live to be a hundred I shall never richer be than when I shared your dazzling presence and together we sipped tea;  My dear Daughter, my Grand daughter Ellie, and Me!
Love you Sunshine!
Mimi :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Celebration Month of March- Blog 2: Letters from Mom & Mimi

I couldn't resist posting a picture of you, Ellie, practicing for your big birthday celebration!

Dear Ellie (now that I have my tea, I can get writing),

Mimi is right, March is filled with so much!!!  And don't let anyone tell you differently, birthdays are the best holidays there are!  It's not about getting gifts (although that is pretty great) or going out to dinner (although that is really yummy), it's about completely celebrating you and your life, which is so special.  In fact, birthdays are so much fun, I even make them last a few days (especially if you have lots of people to celebrate with!).  And think about it Ellie, Christmas (which is my 2nd favorite holiday after my birthday), is really a birthday too... celebrating life is truly the best kind of day!

This year, you even got to participate in celebrating your brother's birthday by getting dressed up for a fancy brunch.  And I must tell you, since you probably won't remember, you were such a good girl!  You tried grilled cheese and french fries for the first time and yummed them up!  Your dad and I know that you get bored fast so we gave you a wet rag to suck on for those teeth you are cutting.  Yup, instead of toys, we bring the class, class, class (in the words of your Uncle Ryan) to classy joints!  And yes, you dropped the rag on the floor once or twice and instead of ruining the happy atmosphere, we picked it up and gave it back to you... I think Kyle was in heaven laughing and enjoying our scene. 

When I was growing up all the way through to today, the birthday girl/boy in the family got to choose the restaurant of their choice and my parents would treat the family (and a friend or two) for dinner.  This was in addition to sleep-overs, cupcakes at school, hearing the happy birthday song over the phone from all the relatives that weren't close by to sing it in person, shopping sprees, and yes even themed parties (ask Mimi about my 8th birthday party that all the girls had to come dressed as their favorite singer and perform a song... I think it's even on a VHS tape somewhere).  So Ellie, gear up and get creative!  We have lots of parties to plan (and remember, it's not about money, it's about creativity)! 

This is the one day (or sometimes 3 days depending on the length of the celebration) to let the day be totally about you.  Do you know what my birthday present was last year, my all-time favorite gift of all?  You, baby girl!  You came 3 days later!  On my birthday dinner at the Grand Luxe Cafe, I talked excitedly about your arrival- it was all I could think about!
I love birthdays so much Ellie that I keep trying to get people to celebrate their half birthdays... wouldn't that be awesome?  How about this is something we start as our own tradition?  But a few ground-rules... since half birthdays aren't nearly as big as birthdays, we'll just do one teeny gift (and as you get older this does not indicate jewelry such as diamonds, it means smaller in price not size!) and perhaps a cooked-in dinner of your choice that you help prepare instead of going out?  And I'm not sure if a cake is appropriate since that has real birthday written all over it... what about cookies or brownies instead? about a fudgenie?!  A fudgenie is a dessert that your Mimi and I found at the Nordstrom bakery here in Denver.  It's a little piece of heaven baked right into a pan (well, literally it's a brownie with a piece of thick fudge on top).  Your Mimi and I may have to introduce it to you soon, although you may hate us for that later because they are addicting!

I think this is also the perfect time to mention that your Mimi and I agree to put in one recipe a month too.  I think this month Mimi should put in Gram B's infamous homemade chocolate icing recipe...

I may have to end here and find something sweet.  All this talk about desserts and my mouth is watering.
I love you Ellie Girl!
PS I love the idea of a nickname for the three of us... since Gram Mundy introduced tea to the family and she was from Scotland and this is our tea time... is there anything Scottish that would make sense?

And now from your Mimi...
Hi Ellie!

Your mommy started this blog on such an upbeat note!  Everyday I love her enthusiasm and zest for life!  I think you are most likely going to follow in her footsteps!  

But before I respond, I need to make my cup of tea.  I already put on the teapot and have been patiently waiting for that high pitched kettle whistle to blow.  Important tip: When making tea, make sure that the water comes to a full boil.... otherwise it is like drinking dishwater.  Yuck!  And if the whistle isn't enough to tell you the water is boiling, have a cat on your lap when it goes off and the cat will surely let you know when she plants her claws deep into your legs and skittishly springs off as though your lower torso was a diving board. Not!!  You will at least have the scratches to prove the water boiled!!

OK... tea is made. I am ready.

I love that your mom chose "celebrations" as the start of our blog.  And she is right!  Birthdays are the best and making them last as long as you can is even better!  I also love the idea Ellie of you, your mommy and daddy starting a new tradition of celebrating half birthdays.  And I like the idea of making that "celebration" more personal and a shared experience.  Cool thought!  (Wish it were mine years ago!!)  But our family has its own traditions as your mommy has already explained.   Special dinners, sleepovers and theme parties were a very big part of it.  Here are a couple of examples:  When your mommy was around the age of 8 years, she decided to have a "Dress-Up as your Favorite Singer" theme party.  Talk about funny....I remember  when it was her turn to grab the fake microphone, she sang with such a boisterous voice that was completely off key, I think she thought she was going to win the Grammy!  When she was 9 years of age she had a "Dress-Up as a Historical Person" party," when she was 16 years of age she had a "Black Tie Affair" party, when she was 17 years of age she had a "Dress-Up as a 1970's Person" party, and when she was 18 years of age she had a "Luau" party.  (Your mommy was quite original and never lacked in self confidence that is for sure!)  Your Uncle Ryan was much easier to please as a child.  A phone call to reserve space at McDonald's and 15 Happy Meals kept your uncle in smiles through many of his younger birthdays!  (Secretly though Ellie I think the big kid in him would love to have another one of those parties even though he is now in his late 20's!  Who could blame him with that bright yellow and red cool sliding-board tunnel tube McDonald's entices children with!)

As for me, one of my favorite birthday celebrations was a present that your Pop-pop and I put together for a friend just a few years back.   He did not like the idea of being more than 50 years old so we thought a gift of laughter would be fun to present to him.  So with that in mind, I came up with the idea to rent an adult chipmunk costume (with the official huge 5 pound head) and make a birthday video with props and bubble talking signs.  Your Pop-pop followed me around with the camera as I "creatively" put together a short skit. There were times when the bubble talk signs were upside down, and there were times when my head almost fell off!  As fun as it was, the only thing we did wrong was to film it on a day when it was 95 degrees outside!... boy did I sweat inside that costume, so much so that I think I lost 10 pounds that day!  I do have a copy of it if  someday you want to see it Ellie.  Julia Roberts I am not.  Fact accepted!  

But I guess the important thing here that I want you to know Ellie is that being the receiver of birthday celebrations is truly soooooo much fun, but so is being the giver.  To plan a party, to create something special, or make a memory for someone you care about is sooooooooo worth it when you see the smile that comes from your thoughtfulness in thinking of others.  It will make you smile too!

Ooooh.  I almost forgot.  Before I end this letter we need to take a moment and chat about the birthday cake. After all, what is a celebration without a cake?!
Kimberly.... are you going to put in a stupendous original, (not box) cake recipe for your daughter to add to her new blog recipe collection?
I will put in the Chocolate Icing recipe because Grand-mom Bubble's made the best homemade icing of all. You see when I was a little girl all the way up to a young adult (18),  Gram would make a homemade cake of choice for each of her children.  You will come to know quite quickly Ellie that 'chocolate' anything is my favorite!  So each year I would ask my mom to make me a chocolate cake with chocolate icing, and she was happy to oblige.  

So here it is:
Chocolate Icing Recipe.
Note: I've had my share of baking and cooking disasters, but Grand-mom Bubbles chocolate icing is pretty much fool proof!  (That means it is pretty hard to screw up!)
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar  (keep the bag out just in case you need to add a bit more)
3 or 4 Tbsp cocoa (depends on how dark you want it to look)
1/3 stick of butter (softened)
1 Tbsp milk (maybe 2 but be careful... too much makes it runny.  This is where the extra powder sugar may come in handy!)

Mix all ingredients together until creamy (that means stir, stir, and stir some more!)  
Then spread over cooled cake.

Eat up as it is yummier than yummy!

Till next week with love Ellie.
Mimi :)
P.S. I haven't forgotten but am still thinking about a 'name' to call ourselves.  I like the idea that your mommy had of incorporating our Scottish heritage into it somehow but haven't found the right one yet.  Not to worry though.... I am still looking!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Celebration Month of March! Blog 1: Letters from your Mom & Mimi

Celebrating Your Brother's Life in this Beautiful Dress from Donna and Heading to Brunch!

Dear Ellie (aka Ellie Girl, Spaghetti, Sunshine, Angel, Baby...),

Your name means shining light and your sure have brought that into our lives.  I can't believe you are about to turn one.  This year has been the best ever filled with more love, smiles, and laughter than I thought possible.  And because you have brought such happiness, your Mimi and I thought that for a birthday present, we would write to you (don't worry, given your history and how many people love you, there will be piles of gifts to open too!)  Our goal is to pick one topic per month and write letters to you circling around that topic a few times during that month.  We want to try to give you some wisdom that we already have (or think that we have).  Our goal is to teach you lessons that maybe will make your life easier (because isn't that what all moms want for their babies?) or simpler yet, give you some of our advice and stories for you to pass down to your children.

So we figured there couldn't be anything better than the topic of "Celebration" for your birthday month.  And really, who celebrates life more than a child?  You see life completely new and with fresh eyes.  Right now, as I am typing, you have found a drink coaster and have been playing excitedly for more than 20 minutes with it.  Yesterday, your dad and I were running errands with you and it was a windy but sunny day.  Each time we took you out of the car the wind would whip at your face.  Your smile was so big as you tried to drink in the wind, and you tried to keep your eyes open to enjoy the fresh air but they looked more like crescent moons as you squinted them shut shielding them from the sun.  And then last night as I sang Old McDonald, I ran out of animals on the farm so I put in a frog... and every time I would rib-bit and lick the air with my tongue you would crack up hysterically.  If we could all live life like you are right now, I think the world would be a happier place.  You are showing us Ellie (or rather reminding us) to celebrate life no matter how big or small.        

So maybe as I am starting to write this blog, this isn't going to be so much about your Mimi and I teaching you life lessons but rather the other way around!

I love you sweet pea!  Keep on smiling because it's contagious.
And now from your Mimi...

Ahhhhhhhhh.  Perfect beginning Kim!
Ok, here goes:

Dear Ellie and may I add (aka Peanut, Rosebud, Pretty Girl, Girlfriend...),

I love that your mommy came up with this wonderful idea of a "Letters to Ellie" Blog starting on your 1st birthday and hopefully lasting a lifetime! And I couldn't agree with her more by saying that it might be you teaching us a lesson or two, as our wisdom has turned some adventures into mishaps now and then!!

No matter.... your mommy and I always have fun together!  So come join us! First I shall make myself a cup of tea, then I will come back to this place with tea in hand to sit and write a note to you.

Alright, I am ready.  I will begin with researching our first Topic Word.
"Celebration"  Celebration means: the festivities engaged in to celebrate something.  If you ask me, 'Webster' couldn't have explained it any better!  By its dictionary meaning.... your mommy and I could find something every day of our lives to celebrate.  We can even celebrate small things like 'talking on the telephone'! it isn't hard to get excited when I hear your moms voice at the other end and as soon as our hello's are out of the way, we chat about work, family, friends, annoyances, ideas, books, upcoming events and so on.

The best is Ellie that we do this "celebrating" more than one time a day... heck, we probably do it at least a dozen times a day. Sometimes so much so that your daddy makes fun of us!  Example:  If we already talked a couple of times and your mom calls me back lets say in your kitchen, your dad will start the conversation with "Hello Mic, I'm doing the dishes now." or if she calls me from the closet, he will say "Hello Mic, I am amongst the hanging clothes now."  or if she calls me from the bathroom, he will say.... "Hello Mic, -well, I won't say right now what he would say!  Let's just say it is funny! And lastly,... which he did just this very minute is mimic us saying "no, you hang up." "no You hang up."  "Ok you hang up."  "No You hang up!"and on and on he would go!  He is such a tease at times Ellie!

You know, with your very first special birthday comes a few other celebrations too in this month of March!  How awesome is it that not only is it your birthday, but it is your mommy's birthday and my birthday as well!

We are a unique trio!  You know, there was a famous trio of women on the TV show Petticoat Junction (that's before your time. Heck, I think it is before my time too.)  But anyway, they were named BillyJo, BobbyJo and BettyJo, and quite famous you know.  Oh....and there is a sister trio in a garden.  They are Squash, Corn and Beans. And believe it or not, there is a Rock Group with a trio of girls. I think they are called the Pussycats... but I am not really sure.  Hmmmmm.... maybe we could come up with a name for ourselves.  I will have to think upon that.  You too Kim.  You three Ellie,... when you are older that is!  We shall work on making our name very original and quite creative!

OK, I guess my whole spin on the word celebration Ellie is for you to realize that it doesn't matter how small or how big the activity is.... just that you enjoy it to its fullest!  For if you start your day off smiling, you are sure to end it with one too!

I love you also Sweet Pea!