Friday, April 29, 2011

Renewal Month of April: Blog 5: Letters From Mom & Mimi

Our Easter Baby
Happy Easter Ellie Jelly Bean!

I love that your Mimi included Aunt Sammy in last week's blog, she fits into our family perfectly and we are so excited for her and Uncle Ryan's upcoming wedding.  Now, I just wish Aunt Samantha lived closer to come visit us for a girls' weekend in Denver!  I also laughed when your Mimi wrote about her favorite dress as a child... of course it was rainbow colored.  You will never meet anyone who enjoys bright colors as much as your Mimi Ellie!  Embrace it, color and brightness bring smiles and make days more happy!

Celebrating this holiday with you these past 40 days of Lent has been fun in part because I dressed you up in fluffy princess dresses!  We took you to visit the Easter Bunny and you thought we were crazy (afterall, why would you like to sit on a giant rodent's lap?!).
Visiting the Easter Bunny for the 1st time!

You tried your Dad's delicious fried perogies that we had on Fridays (in place of meat) and you loved them (despite their hot seasoning).  It's hard to believe that this is your second Easter with us.  Last year, you weren't even two weeks old.  Mimi bought you a gorgeous newborn Easter dress but it was way too big since you were just a peanut of a thing.
Your First Easter- 2010

As for this year, we weren't quite ready to dye eggs or hide them (at the rate you opened your Christmas presents, those eggs would rot by the time you would find them!).  So we went to morning Mass (in which you thought the children's room was a wonderful party and you entertained everyone with your walking, talking, and silly noises.  We need to work on teaching you prayer, reflection, and meditation!  But for the first time, you walked up to the basket for the offering!), then we went to a delicious fancy brunch with friends (but because you love ketchup, you lost half of your Easter outfit to the mess and you and I spent most of our time in the lobby so you could show off your running skills... and since we were near the door low and behold we saw John Elway leaving!).

Your Easter gift from your Dad & I are Mommy & Me swim classes that start next week!  And of course you did get an Easter basket that was mailed to you from your Mimi- filled with fruit bars, books, headbands, and clothes!!!
Mimi knows just what you love (including this adorable outfit)!

And that basket was shipped in shredded paper that you thought was candy...
My Paper Eater

Mimi, what is your best Easter memory?  Ellie, your Mimi is always great at trying new foods at holidays and one year, we had lobster.  I will let her tell you about that one.  But my favorite Easters were when your Uncle Ryan and I were kids in Philadelphia.  We would look for the eggs that the bunny would hide (and your Poppy couldn't help himself and he would always tell us where the best ones were hidden). The bunny would also hide the big, giant Easter baskets filled with candy and gifts- not an easy feat in a tiny rowhouse (but I can't tell you where these places were in case the bunny uses the same on you in the future).  Then, after breakfast (yummy tomato and egg sandwiches), we would go down to Great-Gigi and Great-Pop's house down the street where the bunny left us another basket of goodies there too!  Many Easters, Great-Pop would have to work at the firehouse and after we were in our Easter dresses/suits and bonnets, we would go and visit him.  I think he liked that!

But best of all was our Sunday dinners at Great-Gigi's (and these didn't just happen on Easter, they happened every Sunday! The only difference is that we were dressed up on holidays).  Here is her delicious recipe for Twice-Baked Potatoes, one of my favorite dishes that she makes (and she says it goes best with roast beef but I say they go with everything!):

Gram Russell's Yummy Twice Baked Potatoes:
Idaho potatoes- rinse, pierce with fork & cook in oven for about 1 hour, then cut in half & scoop potatoes out of their skins  and put them in a bowl
Heat milk & butter in a saucepan & add to potatoes and beat with mixer
Add salt, pepper & refill shells---add your favorite topping & enjoy!

Remember Ellie, family time feeds not only your belly but your soul too.  On holidays as a family prayer, we always go around and share what we are thankful for and most often than not, we say each other.  I sure am grateful for you and your Daddy in my life (and the rest of our crazy large family too!). That's what Easter is- celebrating LIFE!!!  Don't forget that.
The beautiful Easter girl in her new outfit from Mimi & Poppy!

Not to cut this letter short but it is girls' weekend with Aunt Joanne and Gigi (and we are having a lot of fun!!!)- so until next week when we will celebrate moms in the month of May my sweet baby!

I love you Elle-belle!

And now from your Mimi...

Good Morning Ellie Jelly Bean!

It is quite early in the morning Ellie... a very peaceful time.  The rain is coming down ever so softly.  The pitter-patters of raindrops are just barely brushing against the windows, almost like a whisper.  Days like this can be very calming... all you need is a warm cup of tea, a comfy place to rest and a window to daydream!  Days like this can surely bring smiles for they are quite soothing!  And if that old saying "April Showers bring May Flowers" is really true, then the month of May is going to be very pleasing to the eye indeed!

Easter weekend as always was a wonderful time.  Your Uncle Ryan and Aunt Sammy joined Poppy and I for a night out at the movies... we went to see Water For Elephants.  Good movie, but I wish I read the book first to make or change that call.  We also took advantage of the rainy weekend to work on some house projects.  (It is easier to start and finish them when you know you are stuck inside!)  The PSU baseball game we had planned to attend was rained out so we had no excuse to delay working!  As for our Easter dinner, I did not make the typical ham Ellie, nor did we go out to one of the more popular restaurants for a late brunch like we have in the past.... no, I cooked up a homemade and incredibly delicious meal if I must say so myself!  A Filet Mignon Tenderloin Roast with all the trimmings!  That is the Entree recipe that I will share below!  Oh Ellie, Easter Sunday was truly the most beautiful day, as it is every year. I changed our usual itinerary and Poppy and I started the day by attending 7:30 am mass.  Not to take away from any other weekend Ellie, but there is something special about Easter Mass.  It allows us to reflect on our past, to see if we are carrying out God's Will in life... and a chance to get 'a movin' if we've gotten a slow start.  It is a wake-up call; for Easter is a day of renewal and hope, faith and love, forgiveness and purpose.  I love to arrive at church a bit earlier than the actual start of mass so as to meditate, say prayers and remember all who have touched my heart from past and present, all who have loved and guided me and all who have been called “home.”  Those in particular that never leave my mind are your great-great Grandmom Mundy (my gram), your great-Pop-pop Bud (my dad) and your brother Kyle.  I have such happy and wonderful thoughts of each of them but yet this emotional time brings tears to me also; many happy memories and sadness that they are not still here with us.  But I am thankful for every moment we did have together.  Life is so very precious and should never be taken for granted.

Seeing you in your pretty navy-blue sailor outfit Ellie reminded me of our Easter's past.... when your Mommy and Uncle Ryan were dressed up in their Easter finest too.  Your Mommy wore the prettiest and frilliest of dresses with a matching wide brimmed hat and white patent leather shoes.  She also loved to carry along a little fancy white pocketbook that toted pretend make-up and a mirror!  And she was a stickler for her hair being "just so!"   The night before Easter I would roll up your mommy's hair in lots and lots of sponge curlers, and in the morning right before leaving for church I would brush those pretty curls out, hoping that when I combed up a portion to be clipped in a barrette or swooped into a ponytail, no lumps or bumps would present themselves!  If one did she would look at me wide-eyed and sternly say "Fix it Mommy" before hair-do trauma set in!  (I think she must have worked as an inspector in a pudding factory in a past life Ellie and found one too many containers filled with way more than the allotted lump allowance!)  This theory is the only one that makes sense to me, for her intolerance to lumps and bumps has followed her through the years!  Luckily for me I have lots of patience, so "most" of the time I got it right... at least by the second or third try!  No matter though Ellie, lumps or no lumps, your Mommy was blessed with a natural beauty outside and in, just like you!  And needless to say she was always ready for a "Kodak" moment too, just like you!  As for your Uncle Ryan, I would dress him in romper style blue sailor-suits, each sporting a matching beret ...

Your Easter picture reminded me of this Ellie!

But where you discard clothes and shoes in establishments faster than a blink, your Uncle Ryan always kept his clothing intact looking like a brand new store bought Dresden Doll!  And like you and your Mommy, he too was a very handsome little boy!  Dressing them up was always one of my favorite things to do!

Easter mornings were always a lot of fun in our household Ellie.  Preparations actually started on Good Friday when we set an hour aside to dye 2 dozen hard-boiled eggs.  Everyone participated in the coloring of eggs and for the most part they turned out quite beautiful....with the exception of the 2 or 3 that were accidentally dropped from little hands pulling them out of the dyed water too fast!  But even with their cracks and dents, they too made the egg carton that was refrigerated until the Easter Bunny came in the middle of the night to hide them.  And the Easter Bunny was a terrific egg hider if I must say so myself!  He would take those eggs and hide them in the craziest of places upstairs and downstairs, in the likes of shoes and coat pockets, flower pots and silverware drawers, soap containers and lamp shades just to name a few!   Poppy always played the Hot, Warm, Cold Game with them to make sure they found every egg!  And sometimes he just couldn't help himself Ellie... if your Mommy and Uncle Ryan couldn't find an egg, even with all the clues given, he would get so excited and just come right out and tell them its exact location!    He loved the egg hunt just as much as they did!  (And how we escaped Salmonella poisoning year after year from eating those room temperature eggs for up to a week after Easter is mind boggling!... I guess back then we didn't know any better!)  Anyway, that very smart Easter Bunny also liked hiding the Easter Baskets too!  Each year he found an even better hiding place for them than the previous one!  Make sure to ask your mommy someday about those clever hiding places!  Once the egg hunt, breakfast and church were finished, we would all gather for tea and something deliciously sweet at Grandmom Mundy's.  Then afternoons would consist of watching the neighborhood children play outside in their pretty clothes while we adults soaked up some sun!  Dinner was always held at Grandmom Gigi's house which usually meant roast beef and lamb-chops (yummmm) with all the trimmings!  Your great Gigi was a fantastic cook and we were always thrilled to be invited!  The evenings would end with a final cup of tea at Gram Mundy's with neighborhood friends and lots of cheery conversation!  Another Easter that needs to be mentioned would be the one when your mommy decided to participate in a Foreign Exchange Program.  Since she had gone to live with a host family in France for three weeks one early spring, we in turn had to host a French gentleman for 3 weeks in our home.  Thankfully he was a very nice young man but unfortunately he spoke very little English.  Since his arrival was the day before Easter we decided to go forth and continue our yearly traditions anyway, so the Easter Bunny made a basket for him too.  When he awoke Easter morning, he had no clue what he was in for.  Since his family did not follow our traditions, it was like playing a game of Charades to help him find the hidden eggs all around our house.  Poppy, your mommy and Uncle Ryan would show him where to find a hidden egg, then guide him back to the center of the living room to deposit the egg into a large bowl that sat on the floor, only to venture off again to repeat this process! Gratefully, he was a very good sport in participating with what I am sure he thought was "very bizarre behavior!"  The following year we hosted a foreign exchange student again, this time a beautiful young lady from England.   She too was with us over an Easter Holiday and loved participating in our Easter Day activities!.. You know this lovely woman well Ellie... she is one of your mommy's dearest friends, Aunt Catherine!   You see, everyone is welcome in our home, whether it is a holiday or weekday, our door is always open with smiling faces to greet you! 

So I guess the lesson to be learned here Ellie is:  Family traditions are very important.  Tweak them if you must, but continue them throughout your life as they will bring you new friendships and happy memories of all the years gone by!    

Now for an Easter Main Dish Recipe:

Roast Filet Mignon Tenderloin

3 lb Filet Mignon Tenderloin
3/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp Montreal Steak Seasoning Rub

Mix soy sauce and lemon juice together and marinate tenderloin in mixture for 3 or 4 hours.
Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees.
Place marinated meat on shallow Pam sprayed baking dish
(Save marinated mixture and bring to a boil over medium heat then turning it down to simmer)
Rub steak seasoning all over meat
Place in baking dish in center of oven and cook for 23 minutes
Turn oven off letting meat cook down.  NEVER open the oven door during this time!
When oven is cool, meat is done.... no more than 2 hours.
Slice meat thinly and pour cooked marinated mixture over top.
Serve and enjoy!

Oh, and here is a delicious side dish that goes wonderful with the Tenderloin.

Broccoli Casserole

1 1/2 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup milk
2 cups frozen chopped broccoli
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 eggs well beaten
Salt and pepper

Make a roux of melted butter and flour, and blend in milk to make 1/2 cup thick white sauce.  Combine broccoli, white sauce, mayonnaise, lemon juice, eggs, salt and pepper to taste in a well-greased 1-quart casserole dish.  Set dish in pan of hot water.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until firm!

Ellie, the above 2 recipes combined with your mommy's yummy Twice Baked Potato Recipe will make for a delicious dinner!  One that will be a sure hit no matter who you are serving!

As for the rest of my week before the month of May begins ... Poppy is getting ready to visit Great Pop Russell for a few days, so I will hopefully have some time to create a few more pages in your 1 year old scrapbook!  (I know, I know.... I am slightly behind!  But I am working on it!)  And I hope too to be able to take advantage and see a movie with a girlfriend and possibly a Saturday lunch at Panera's with your Aunt Sammy!

So what is our agenda for the month of May Kimberly?  How about since Mother's Day falls in this beautiful month, what do you think about honoring special moms?

Oh Ellie, because May is known as the month of spring awakening and new growth,... I think I will be changing your nickname to Ellie-rosebud for a few weeks, for you are like a beautiful flower Ellie blooming "newness" each and every day!

Till then little bean,
Love Mimi

Friday, April 22, 2011

Renewal Month of April: Blog 4: Letters from Mom & Mimi

Girls' weekends are always fun! 

Hi Fashionista Ellie!

So, I'm going to be frank- shopping is FUN and when it's within your means, can be refreshing and bring life to your soul (I love that your Mimi brought this up in her last blog because her and I have a great time together at the mall... and we are teaching you the ropes so you can always join us)!  Remember, I'm not encouraging you to spend money you don't have (because that would be the opposite of filling your energy, that would be incredibly stressful and deplete it!) and giving is always better than getting but there is nothing like an afternoon with girlfriends to head to the mall, have a wonderful lunch, and spend some time in the stores.  The best is when you find the perfect pair of jeans or a dress (because you will see that when you are on a mission to find these two things, there are none to be had so buy them when you spot them!).

Now, my favorite store (also the favorites of your Mimi, Aunt Joanne, Cousin Donna, and Aunt Ally) is Nordstrom- remember that name.  They have the most perfect service (an incredible return policy and personal shoppers to help you on your quest) and the most amazing shoes of any other store.  Now they can be pricey so hit the sale racks first.  And sometimes, paying a little extra for quality is worth it!  Black leather flats do last longer if they are made well.  And pay more for classic pieces because they won't go out of style. 

When you shop, you should find someone to join you.  But here's the bottom line, not everyone is a perfect shopping partner.  You need to find someone who has similar taste so you can hit the same stores.  And you need to find someone who browses in a similar fashion to you.  Otherwise, you may get frustrated and come home empty handed.  All of this advice pretty much came from Joanne...

Now in one week, we are having a girls' weekend with two amazing women- your Great-Gigi and your Great-Aunt Joanne.  Joanne is my aunt too but we aren't they far apart in age and she's always been more like a sister to me.  She is a generous, smart (really intelligent), funny, and truly beautiful woman who has been a mentor, friend, and mom to me throughout the years.  She has more energy than anyone I know.  She is up at the crack of dawn and she's an avid exerciser.  She also can claim many titles as she does all of these activities in her free time- chef, party planner, decorator (she has the most amazing house, all that she designed herself including the coolest wall art in her dining room...), entrepreneur, teacher, world traveler, volunteer, and the list could go on and on.  She gives back every chance she can and she's an active member of her church.  I told you she is an extraordinary person.  I will also be forever grateful to her as not only as she been there through everything in my life and given me every opportunity imaginable (including college); she also started my passion for reading.  She is the one who introduced me to The Color Purple when I was an adolescent.  Joanne is a strong, willful woman and she got me started reading about characters that have that same trait.  Joanne is a mover and a shaker (don't think for one second that with her small stature, she's weak. She's one of the most determined people I know).  She makes changes, she's not one to sit idly by and wait.
 Aunt Joanne loving Ellie when she was a week old.

As for your Gigi, my Gram is the warmest and sweetest lady you will know.  She always puts her family first.  She will be the first one to send you a birthday card and will always make sure you have a full stomach (even if you only want to eat brownies and ice cream!).  You can call her at anytime, day or night and she will make time for you.  And you will love her one-liners; she can really make you life with her dry humor.  She has been through so much and will share her history over tea if you ask her to (my favorite stories are about her Grandmother, who sounded like one tough cookie but she took Gigi in as a girl and helped raise her, and also about her really funny and very protective older brother).  I am sooooo excited to have them stay with us for a girls' weekend!

Gigi visiting Ellie when she was 1 week old.

And the best part is- they are the GREATEST shopping partners.  Gigi will take you in the stroller and show you off to people in the mall while Joanne and I try on and shop for clothes.  My favorite part of shopping with Joanne is she still experiments with fashion- she will try on the most ridiculous shoes just to see how they look and she LOVES make-up.  She has been known to walk out of the make-up department with two different colored eyelids because she is trying on all the new spring line colors of Bare Minerals!  I have the greatest time with her and laugh so much!  But seriously, have your Aunt Joanne teach you about make-up.  Because of her experiments, she knows everything and she applies eye shadow for real for her date nights like no one else I know (although it helps that she has pretty eyes to begin with).

Get ready Ellie, this is going to be a fun weekend with the girls coming up!  We will have lots of tea, yummy food (your Aunt Joanne is the best cook and it's all healthy!!!), many laughs, and long-awaited conversations.  The only thing missing is the other women in our family but we will make up that time at all the upcoming weddings!

Love you Ellie and I hope you are a great shopper (and if not, we will teach you to be!),

And now from your Mimi…
Hi Ellie bean!

Tea Trivia Fact:  Did you know that tea is the most popular beverage except for water worldwide?  Happily I can say that I am an important contributor in making this statement true!  Tea.  I wouldn't ever be without a cup!  Did you also know there are many health benefits within its brewed leaves!  Mmmmmmmm!  Yep.  My cup is filled and I am ready to blog!

So this week we are talking about "Shopping!"  Ellie, I laughed and laughed as I read your mommy's part of our blog.  Everything she said about your Aunt Joanne's shopping ventures are true!  You will truly enjoy a "Mall" day with her but be forewarned that you will also come home exhausted from a full day of what I would call fashion exercise!  The walking from one end of the mall to the other including in and out of every store, the shoes and clothes that will be tried on and taken off which will be repeated many times throughout the day... (more so in select stores than others), and the bags and bags you will be carrying during your excursion will certainly tone every muscle in your body!  But you will find it to be so much fun!  

Another fantastic shopper that you will love to travel the malls with Ellie, is your Aunt Sammy!  She too has a great love of shopping!  Aunt Sammy loves to hit the trendy stores and load up her arms with oodles of trendy clothes to take to the fitting room which then follow her to the checkout counter ... and best of all she is a bargain shopper!  With her you will definitely double your take-home packages!  She too loves that special time with girlfriends... shopping, lunch and the camaraderie that goes with it!

You haven't shopped with Aunt Sammy yet but you always have fun with her!
And then there is your Mimi, Ellie!  I also love shopping and agree with your mommy that it brings life to your soul.  I love shopping for myself, and I love shopping for others.  There is nothing more exhilarating than searching through racks, scanning shelves, and finally eying the perfect gift that will make your family, your friends and the ones you love, smile that perfect smile which says "you know me, you understand me, you get me!"  Right now I am finding that you, precious one, are the most fun to shop for!  With little girls everything is pinks and purples, turquoises and yellows and so much more!  With little girls everything is stripes and polka-dots, solids and busy patterns and so much more!  With little girls everything is ruffles and bows, lace and gems and so much more!  The choices are endless and you are already teaching us your fashion likes and dislikes!  An example would be "Anything that goes on your head!"  Ellie, over the past year I have purchased more colorful hats and outrageous headbands for you to wear.  Recently though you have put them in your "dislike" category.... especially the headbands!  I laugh whenever I see you with one.  At one year old, you have perfected (in record time I might add) grabbing and removing the headband from your head only to fling it across the room like a Junior Olympian Discus Thrower going for the gold!  Not even a camera is quick enough to capture this remarkable feat you have!

In a beautiful outfit from Cousin Donna but you just wouldn't keep that headband from Mimi on your head!

Ohhhhhhhhhhh.... and speaking of feat, let us switch over to the other type.... feet.  Ellie, "feet" means "shoes" and that would be one of my favorite departments to browse through.  Shoe Shopping is the best!  I will admit to a slight addiction in this category.  Even Poppy will tell you that my closet is filled with too many shoes, most of which I don't wear (that is because I can't for they hurt my feet, but for some reason I can't part with them either!).  A shoe department for me is like a candy shop for a child!  I love all the styles they showcase!...There are the very high high-heels (you will come to know these quite well by the time you hit your teens Ellie, which is a safer age to attempt walking in them rather than at my age.)  If I actually tried to walk across a room in stiletto's, I would probably break an ankle or two!  Another gorgeous shoe on the racks are the very, very narrow pointy ones.  Oh Ellie, they are the coolest but honestly for me, I might as well stick my foot into an electric pencil sharpener as I would receive the same results.... Pain!  Oh and then there are the big chunky clunky ones that scream "Grandma no-no's"!  But no matter Ellie, I have loved shoes from the time I was a little girl, so I guess it is safe to say that, that part of me isn't going to change in this lifetime of mine!  Now for you the trick is going to be how to "keep" fashionable shoes and socks on your pretty little feet?!  They too seem to quickly disappear like a Houdini trick with you sighing a sweet "Uh-oh" meaning "Where oh where could they have gone!"   But I already see what a fun little shopper you are going to be Ellie!  And I believe your mommy will allow you to find your own "style" as you grow!  You know, when I was about 10 years old my mother, your great-great grand-mom Jones allowed me to find my own "style."  And boy did I ever!  I found a dress Ellie that screamed "Buy me, I am the perfect dress for you!" And so I did.  Now the first time I slipped that dress over my head and walked out in public, I thought I was "the cats meow!"... (but looking back I now understand why my mother bit her lip!)  This dress was every bit a true fashion nightmare, but not to me!  No, no!  This dress was awesome!  From the neckline to the hemline, its pleated stripes were a conglomeration of every color in the rainbow and then some!  And it hung on me like a tower-bell, so that when I spun around and around, the dress ballooned and twirled making me look like a psychedelic pinwheel in perpetual motion!  I actually thought the stares I received from onlookers at the time were of envy..... never thinking it was probably that of horror!  But with the years I have fine tuned it some.... well actually not all that much Ellie, but I have toned down wearing all fashion highlights at one time!  So I guess the lesson to be learned here is not to be intimidated of the fashion world but rather to embrace and enjoy it!  Shopping should be fun Ellie and it should lighten your spirit!  But like your mommy said... stay within your means and always remember that giving to others is actually more fun than receiving from others!.... (most of the time!)

Oh and don't forget too that shopping with a best friend has the best rewards of all!  A fun day with a girlfriend, lunch out and even a small pleasure, such as a fudgenie from Nordstrom's, will bring happiness to your soul and a true smile to your face every single time!  I know this for a fact Ellie as this is one of my many favorite activities to do with your mommy!  And soon you too!

Buying 3 Nordstrom fudgenies for us girls last summer! 

I can't wait to shop with you for tea party dresses and all the accessories (from shoes, to hats, to gloves, to jewelry, to pocketbooks,) anything that will compliment and complete the outfits!  No matter how old you are and how outrageous your fashion sense... I know your mommy will allow you to create an original "Ellie" style!!  (And hopefully it doesn't give your Aunt Ally too big of a heart-attack!) Oh what fun we are going to have!

Kimberly, next week is Easter... let's blog about this wonderful holiday, maybe share a story for Ellie of present and past, and also about our week leading up to the month of May!  What do you think?

Ooooooooh, and we can't forget about our Recipe's!  Kim, are you still planning to add your Twice Baked Potato recipe?  I will enter a main entree and maybe a side dish too!  Just thinking about which yummy choice to make is making my mouth water!  

So Ellie, I shall end here with a special wish for you:  May the threads of many friendships weave their way to a permanent place in your heart throughout the years to come!  

Till next time trendy fashion girl!
Love, Mimi

Friday, April 15, 2011

Renewal Month of April: Blog 3: Letters from Mom & Mimi

Mimi's book, Where Can They Be, is Ellie's favorite!
Hello Elle-Belle!

I love reading your Mimi's blogs- they show how she wears her heart on her sleeve.  Truly, her smile (like yours) and optimism are contagious.  And I think her idea for Lent of passing on smiles and goodness is the best idea.  Even better, I bet it would make people pass on those deeds to others.  Can you imagine a world where people cared about each other, even strangers?  Wow, your Mimi's words open up possibilities to dream about!

And so you can see that I enjoy reading these blogs as much as writing them because reading is the best ever!  Reading is my greatest passion and way to feed my soul.  It's a way for me mentally to take a vacation.  Ellie, literacy is such a gift and a true freedom!!!  I enjoy when people share what they are reading, as word of mouth is the way I've found my favorite books.  So from here on out, your Mimi and I will add a link on the sidebar of this Blog to say what we are currently reading (and that may change daily, weekly, or monthly depending on how busy we are and sometimes we may be reading more than one book at a time since we can both be multi-taskers!).

My favorite genre of books is historical fiction.  I love reading about characters living in a time period that seems so mysterious.  My favorite books are Pillars of the Earth, The Help, Book Thief, The Red Tent, The Color Purple, and The Other Boleyn Girl.  So Mimi, what are your favorites?  You know, looking at my list, the books also have really strong female characters that drive the story.  And historically, since women didn't have many rights, these authors give voices to those untold stories.   

Another way that I de-stress is book club.  A group of girls who share the same love of books get together on the third Wednesday of every month (and we have been keeping this tradition going for 2 years now).  We discuss the books over great company, food, and drinks (usually we do more talking about our lives than the books).  The coolest thing about book club is that each girl gets a chance to choose a book so I get introduced to a lot of different kinds of writing.  But really Ellie, a night out with my friends (who are incredible women) gives me such energy and optimism (and to know that I'm not alone in my daily conundrums is also comforting)!  I get excited for these nights because I laugh and relate in ways you can only do with other women.  Even your Mimi plans her visits to see me to overlap my book club.  And when I go out with my friends on these nights, you get a night with just your Daddy, whom you love very much!

As for you Ellie, your favorite books (aside from Mimi's book, Where Can They Be?, that she authored) are anything that sings (you will dance to the book's music in not quite the right rhythm) and anything that has texture (you love to feel the books).  Aunt Shiloh gave you an Easter book with a pop-out bunny finger puppet.  You kiss it and love it (and call it your kitty!).  Gigi gave you a flip-up book and there is a page where you need to identify the little girl's lips.  To do that you, have to lift up the picture of the sippy cup, which you try to drink from!  The silliest is the singing Elmo book from Mimi and Poppy- you bounce along to the beat of the songs! 

Dancing to the Elmo book!

But Ellie, I do wish we lived closer to your Mimi so she could read to you.  I know she reads to you over Skype but sometimes it's just not the same thing.  When I was little, Mimi would put voices to characters in books and make them come alive.  Mimi was so good at this that when we lived next door to your Great-Great Gram Mundy, she would come out and sit by the window to hear your Mimi read to your Uncle Ryan and I.  Reading is fun Ellie.  Mimi, your Uncle Ryan, and I used to ride our bikes to the library when we lived in Philly.  It's all about the adventure you put into it. 

Books are magical; they make you use your imagination and dream.  And this is why you will always see piles of books around the house- they are my to-read piles that are always bottomless because I'm forever adding to them!  Let's make a deal that you and will set aside reading time with each other no matter how old and have our own book club.  Someday, when we have a bigger house, I want to create a library.  Nothing grand but a room with floor to ceiling built in shelves and two plush, cushioned armchairs with ottomans (and a table between the chairs for our tea) so we are perfectly comfortable when we read (and maybe a gorgeous Tiffany lamp to create just the right lighting in addition to the window, there is nothing like a naturally sunlit house)!  Doesn't that sound a bit like heaven?  We will fill the shelves with only our favorite books and those that we still want to read (although I tend to get so excited about books that I have fallen in love with that I pass them onto others so our shelves might be barren if I keep pushing my passion on people!).  Your Dad would laugh at my dream room and think it might be a waste of space- he is so technological and I keep telling him there is nothing like the smell of paper, turning real pages, and getting immersed in a hardback book.  I'm sure he thinks a NOOK or Kindle is long overdue for me but I can't make the switch (not yet anyway, who knows what time will tell!). 

And as you get older, I can't wait to introduce you to new friends- Eloise, Madeline, Sister Bear and so many of my favorite children's book personalities that I read about when I was little.  And I am anxious to meet new characters in books that have been recently written too!

Oh Ellie, I love everyday with you!  Because really Ellie, I LOVE spending time with you.  You are your own person already.  I can already tell that you are going to be independent and stubborn (you never let me lead you around by the fingers to help you learn to walk, you just started on your own.  When I do try to help you with something, like holding your bottle or adjusting your sippy cup, you refuse to take it anymore you little stinker!).  You are smart and you are thoughtful.  You say so many words now and you can already shrug your shoulders when I ask you a question you don't know (like where the kitty went!).  You crack me up and I hope Mimi will take one of your adventures and write a new book! 

Love you Gorgeous Baby Girl!

And now from your Mimi…

Hi Ellie Jelly-Bean!

With Easter coming this seems to be the perfect nick-name for you!  Jelly beans are tiny, colorful and sweet.... just like you!

It is 6:00 am and I am trying very quietly to make my tea so as not to wake your Poppy!   Even though the old saying says "A watched pot never boils".... the kettle has to be watched this morning so I can grab it on the first whistle!  And I will admit that a watched kettle seems to take almost forever to boil but not quite a lifetime!  Tick, tick, tick, yeah.... my tea is finally ready!

Your mommy's idea of a monthly "Book" week is a terrific idea for our blog Ellie!  I like that we will be able to share favorite books, stories, poems and friendship clubs with you!  I think this may be your moms favorite week of the month blog as she has always been the most happiest with stacks of books surrounding her (that is second to you and your daddy of course!)!  Her teaching profession is a perfect fit, but as her mom I think the second runner up would have been a Librarian!!  Ellie, can't you just taste your moms excitement, feel her optimism and envision her ideas and dreams in her writing?  Reading is one of her joyful passions sweetheart, and I must tell you that it began when she was your age.  Like you, she loved turning book pages back and forth over and over again, (and like you sometimes chewing on a few corners when those baby teeth were popping through the gum!).  I loved how she would rummage through the toy-box or two-tiered bookshelf in the small back room off our kitchen to find a book or two that she wanted read and then take my hand, pull me down to sit with her and read the stories she picked .  Sometimes Ellie the paragraphs on each page would be a bit too long for a little one to sit through, so I would change up the dialog and use whatever voice fit the picture!  We would do this for hours on end!  And we read everything back then from board books to series books!  I believe her favorites (when she was little) were definitely The Bernstein Bear's series.  I remember a time when she turned five years old or so and your Uncle Ryan was about three years old, we would all snuggle on the couch and read Miss Nelson Is Missing. I used to love this book as I could make my voice all soft and sweet and then quickly change it to a cackle and piercing screech when Miss Viola Swamp came upon the scene!  Your mom would laugh in delight wanting more, while your Uncle Ryan would high-tale it off the couch and run to another room!  As your mommy grew older, her love of reading started to show in her own writings of which she is extremely talented!  I believe one of her greatest gifts to herself Ellie was to open her mind to books of all genres! In doing so, she has been able to share her passion and open the doors of imagination and creative thought with so many others... young and old, including me!

If I were to tell you what my favorite Inspirational book is, I would have to say that it would be the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.  And of course my favorite from this series would be Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul ll.  I am prejudice to this one because it holds a heartwarming story from a very special author, and that author would be your mommy!  Yes Ellie, your mom is an accomplished published author among her many other talents too.  Her published story is called A Geek, a Nerd, a Bookworm and it is about young relationships!  It is a wonderful story!  Maybe we can read it together when you officially become a teenager!

Excited to read Mommy's short story someday.

As for the other types of books I enjoy... I am open to all but gravitate towards Historical Fiction, and Mysteries.  Some of my favorites are Sarah's Key, The Book Thief, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Help and Nineteen Minutes.  I like books that make you think about choices the characters make and feel what they may have endured.  I also enjoy books with an unsuspecting twist to the ending!  When I was younger (OK I still do it now on occasion) before actually reading my book of choice I would read the very last page first to see if I would like it.  Now some people tell me that I am ruining it for myself, but Ellie I see it as a way to quench a portion of my curiosity for I would then have to read the book to see why it ended the way it did!  Peculiar?.. maybe.. but it makes sense to me!  At present I too am in a book club with some great friends from the school I work at.  This month we are reading a book called The Water is Wide: A Memoir by Pat Conroy.  The Charleston Evening Post said it perfectly, "... it is about man's inhumanity to man..."   It is about the children of Yamacraw Island (an island off of South Carolina) that are "low performing" because of teachers so entrenched in the segregated past to care about making the changes needed.  It is about ignorance to its fullest.  That is until Pat Conroy came on the scene to educate the children.  After much perseverance he broke down barriers, took on administrators and opened the children's eyes to a new world.  You will cry, you will laugh, you will find anger and you will find love throughout this book all because of this man.  At the moment I am 3/4ths of the way through this book and I have not cheated by reading the end... but I am already finding that Pat Conroy is a wonderful inspiration.  I am confident to say that at this point in my reading I would highly recommend this book to others.

When I am visiting with you Ellie, I love, love, love reading to you.  I tend to pick books with rhyme as they are quite catchy and draw you back when you start drifting away!  A few of my favorites that I have read to you are Silly Sally by Audrey Wood and the Hiccupotamus by Aaron Zenz.  And of course you never tire of Dr. Seuss!

 Mimi reading Dr. Seuss to Ellie when she was first born.

I hope with each of my visits this will become a special time for us Ellie and we always find exciting new books to venture into!  Hey, here is an idea!  Kimberly, how about during my summer visits to Denver, you, Ellie and I make a trek to Denver's Public Library to see what fun children's programs we can participate in and check out more fun books to read, read, read?!!!  

Your mommy loves you so much Ellie and I know she will continuously encourage you to join her in her passion of reading.  As she stated in her part of our blog... "Literacy is a gift and a freedom."  It will open many doors and enable you to accomplish many goals in life that you set out to fulfill!  Just recently I came across a beautiful quote by Mother Theresa, Ellie.  She said: Reach high for stars lie hidden in your soul, Dream deep for every dream precedes a goal.   Those 'words' are deeply felt!

So Ellie... if your mommy's wish comes true and she does get her dream library some day, make sure there is an extra over-sized high-back comfy chair added with "Mimi's" name on it in letters of hot pink, lime green, sunburst yellow and pumpkin orange!  Oh, and I would love it too if it sat right next to her beautiful standing Tiffany lamp!   

Kimberly, with the celebration of Easter almost upon us, how about in our next blog we delve into some of our shopping expeditions!  I think you could write pages on this subject Kim and I am sure Ellie will enjoy reading about them as she grows from a child into a young adult!  I think I can hold my own with some stories to share too!

Till next time Sweet Ellie!
Love Mimi

Friday, April 8, 2011

Renewal Month of April: Blog 2: Letters from Mom & Mimi

Ellie helping me organize the office space... 

Ok Dear Ellie Spaghetti (who is now officially walking and I have the video clip to show it!!!),

Renewing the spirit sometimes means cleaning house, literally!  Nothing feels better than getting rid of clutter.  So far, I have packed away 5 moving boxes filled with clothes you have outgrown.  Well, I realized that first, you are extremely loved and second, you are growing so fast!  As for the rest of the house, you helped me clean out my filing cabinet now that taxes are done (and by cleaned, I really mean tried to eat my bills).  And after you were in bed, I went through the medicine cabinets, the pantry, and the refrigerator.  Ahhhhh- good feeling.  Mimi is a bit of a fanatic when it comes to cleaning so I'm not sure if she does any major overhauling once a year or if she does little bits often.

Now, clutter doesn't just fill our house.  I need to clean house figuratively too because clutter also fills our to fix that?  Find your passion or find a new hobby that requires quiet time.  After Kyle died, I tried cooking.  I know I'm still not great at it but I try and I do find comfort in making my family satisfied (I like baking best of all).  And you don't seem to mind when I try sweet things- like chocolate pudding!  Your Mimi is an excellent cook and she loves to feed her family including you.  Let's ask her about what new things she cooked for you on her last visit.  

Sometimes though quiet time isn't enough and sacrifice or moderation can do the trick.  That's why I appreciate Lent.  It's a reason to make a full fledged surrender to devote yourself to something greater than your possessions or things that you think you are tied to.  It's not about suffering; it's about limiting the chaos to understand what's really important.  Uncle Ryan and Aunt Samantha gave up television last year, I bet they had a lot of time for reflection!  Ask Mimi what she gave up for Lent this year, it will make you laugh!  As for me, I have my semi-annual dentist appointment coming up so I am flossing for these 40 days (it's something I despise as my teeth are so close together and it's not easy getting that piece of string through.  My brother, your Uncle Ryan, teases me about, what he calls, my horse teeth.  But I think he's just jealous.  Dear Ellie, your teeth are coming in very pretty and very large, like Chicklet gum pieces, so I think you are inheriting my gigantic mouth.  So show off those pearly whites Ellie, be proud because you have a beautiful and very large smile).  And remember, dental hygiene is important even if there is some discomfort!  Your smile is contagious Ellie so take care of those gorgeous new pearly white teeth that you have!  

You know Ellie, another trick to de-clutter life is to rid yourself of bad relationships and spend time with people who uplift you (and do you notice how you already attract people because your laugh is infectious).  I promise that our house is and always will be a happy home.  Right now, I am really into taking evening walks with you.  Sometimes we go to the park but more often, we get some fresh air and enjoy the beautiful evenings.  You love it and it makes you sleep well!  I wish your Mimi were closer because she would be joining us!

I love you my precious baby!
PS The Three G's name you came up with Mimi sounds like money... isn't G a slang term for a thousand dollars? 

And now from your Mimi…

Hi Ellie Jellie Bean!

I just realized that I ran out of my favorite teabag, Tetley.  Luckily I have a small box of Lipton teabags stored in the cupboard as a backup.  Did you know that our ancestors, the Scots, helped make tea a global drink?  Yep.  Lipton was actually started by a Scottish citizen named Thomas Lipton.  In 1871 he started a grocery business in Glasgow Scotland.  After expanding his business to many stores, he then entered into the tea business.  He was not only the first to sell tea at low prices to the public, but also the first to create a specific brand of tea that was to be sold the same everywhere. He expanded his brand to many countries, where it finally reached America in the 1890's!  Huh.... how about that, a little history along with our teablog!  OK... Lipton may not be my favorite, but it is still very worthy of brewing and sipping!  So now that I have my tea, I shall start writing!

Today is another beautiful day Ellie.  The air is cool and crisp.  The sky is a beautiful blue.  The grass is no longer straw yellow, but a lush velvety green brought on from the vast amount of rain we have had the past few weeks.  Ellie, there are flower buds everywhere playing peek-a-boo with the rich earth beneath.  It is easy to see soft shades of pastel in the tiny sprouts sporting a shyness along with a palette of bolder, more colorful sprouts looking to make a shocking garden statement!  This beauty that I am witness to today reminded me of a beautiful Denver day two years ago while I was taking your black Labrador, Nittany, for a walk and came across a very bare tree.  Luckily I had my camera with me, so I crouched down to take a picture of the blue sky showing itself through the stark branches.  Now most people would probably think this tree just looked like a bunch of tangled raw sticks that were wrapped tightly together with heavy sheets of grey paper.  But what I saw Ellie was a tree filled with goodness.  A tree filled with hope, a hope that all things are possible.  A tree filled with new beginnings, a chance to start fresh.  A tree that continuously sees the Circle of Life.  I then put this picture in your brother Kyle's scrapbook and the reason I did so was because this tree, as bare as it was reminded me to never let go of faith.  If you ask your mommy if she remembers this picture, she will tell you 'yes'.  Even though we both kind of joke about it now (wondering where exactly my mind was when I took it), your mommy understands it. 

Here is the picture of the tree scanned in from the scrapbook... very fitting that Kyle's little legs are at the top (afterall, he is in heaven)! 

And the reason why I am telling you this story Ellie is because I took that walk during the Lenten season.  And here we are again; in the Lenten season.  When your mommy explained the sacrifices we make during Lent, it reminded me of some of my own "give up items" that I have made through the years during the forty days of Lent.  Looking back, some are quite funny.  Here is one example:  When I was nine years old I decided to give up a TV show for Lent.  Now mind you, I did not give up TV altogether because to a nine year old NO TV watching for forty days would have definitely brought on the ultimate sacrifice which in a child's eyes would be death or so I believed!  And I wasn't quite ready for that.  So instead I gave up my favorite TV show called Gilligan's Island... and let me tell you that that choice was a very difficult one.  You see my brother, Uncle Stevie, also loved this particular show so when it aired I had to remove myself from the family room, where the TV was stationed, and go to another room (where I could still hear the dialog!).  When a commercial would come on, I would stroll into the kitchen which was conveniently located next to the family room to get a drink of water.  I would then linger a bit so that when the show came back on, I hopefully could catch a glimpse of Mr. and Mrs. Howl, or the Professor, or the Skipper or of Gilligan himself for that matter!  How silly is that Ellie?!  And now that I am much older, I don't think I have changed much with my sacrifices.  This year I decided to give up my all time favorite candy, Tootsie Rolls.  I don't know how much it really counts as I just replaced them with jellybeans to satisfy my sweet-tooth!  (Sometimes growing up is a bit hard!)  But what I have learned over the years Ellie is to give something more from myself along with a sacrifice.   Something I truly love to do is to smile and say hi to people of all types. It doesn't matter if it is on a sidewalk, if it is in a grocery store line, if it is at church or while on vacation.  What I have found is that a kind smile and a cheery hello will create a smile on their face too.  This year while talking with a friend, she gave me a wonderful idea to try and I did.  When I went to Star Bucks to order my favorite drink (hot chocolate) I told the cashier that I would also like to pay for the order made from the car behind mine.  Some might think that is self-gratitude, but Ellie, all I could think about was the smile it hopefully gave!  So when your mommy suggested that "Cleaning House Figuratively" was a wonderful way to cleanse the soul she was so very right.  Remember Ellie, if you have goodness in your soul and happiness in your heart, you will have a smile and receive a smile wherever you go.

And speaking of "Cleaning House Figuratively" Ellie.... how about "Cleaning House Reality!"  Just like your mom, I too love the beginning of spring because it is a wonderful time to throw open the windows and let all the fresh air in!  The only problem with this scenario in my house is that when I do it, the "dust bunnies" that were good at hiding here, there and everywhere throughout the winter have now come out in full force as though they were dancing the Waltz on my hardwood floors!  And the only way to tame these little "Hip-Hoppers" is with a good old fashioned Mr. Swiffer Mop and a Bucket of Murphy Oil Soap!  Ughhhhhh!  But once I start Ellie, I continue to clean with a vengeance!  I too love to clean out closets and rid the medicine cabinet and refrigerator of expired items!  Oooooh, and then there is the garage.... that is a cleaning all in itself!  But with garage cleaning comes the anticipation of getting ready for May planting, gardening and lawn cleaning.... Ellie, there are lots of funny Poppy stories to tell here, but I shall wait for a future blog to do so!

Back to "Cleaning House Figuratively"... your mommy shared one of her passions with you Ellie which was baking.  I must say that she bakes the absolutely best chocolate chip cookies ever!  And she has made some wonderful desserts too... one in particular comes from the back of the graham cracker box!  Ask her about it!  She can bake for me anytime... it certainly would make me smile!  I too love to try new things in the kitchen Ellie.  Last month while spending time with you, your mommy started introducing you to new foods. She gave me free reign to try also.  So my brilliant idea was to introduce you to a cooked cereal called "Cream of Wheat."  Once I finished following the directions for a perfect baby serving, and brought it to the perfect consistency, I filled your bowl and placed it on your highchair tray with a baby spoon.  Well, before I could blink Ellie, your little hands dove into that bowl so fast and before I could gasp, your little hands slathered that goo all over your pretty face and throughout your hair.  Can I just tell you that Cream of Wheat should be a main ingredient in making sidewalks as it only took about three minutes for that gooey mess to harden all over your body like cement!  Needless to say the bowl, the spoon and the tray went right into the kitchen sink while you went right into the bathtub!  And what did you do in the bathtub?  Yep.  Giggle.  And what response did it give me?  Yep.  A smile.  Ellie, just like "the tree", you are goodness to the core. That is a characteristic of your soul and it is a wonderful one to have.  As for the Cream of Wheat?... I don't foresee your mom attempting to try it with you ever, but I do foresee it going right into the trashcan, for good!

Kimberly, I have been thinking about this month and the 'topic' we have given it.  So far we have touched on the meaning of renewal, we have touched on faith and Lent  and also spring cleaning... what about books?  Can you tell me what your favorite inspirational book is and also what you are reading now???  I know how reading soothes your soul as it does mine too.  How about we share our thoughts on this each month.... and maybe someday You Ellie, can look up your mommy's and my book "picks" at the library and read them yourself!  And if I am not in full fledged senility by then, maybe the three of us can have some book discussions!  How much fun would that be... three different thoughts from three different generations?!  I for one will look forward to it!

Till next time my little love,

Friday, April 1, 2011

Renewal Month of April: Blog 1: Letters from Mom & Mimi

Angel Bear Blanket from Jackie

So Miss Petite Peanut (and that name is truly fitting as you went to your 1 year check-up today.  You weigh 18lbs 13oz, which puts you in the 13th percentile for weight.  And you are 28in long, which puts you in the 14th percentile for height.  You are teeny and so squeezable!),

Welcome to spring- my favorite time of year!  With this season and with our blog this month, our focus is going to be on renewal.  And it's so fitting that we just had a refreshing spring break vacation with Aunt Ally- she really is the best and we had such a good time with her.  She spoiled you- letting you play with her cell phone and television remote control (things you are not allowed to play with at home!) and even gave you ice cream that you couldn't get enough of.  You loved being on the couch with us girls chatting and watching reality TV.  I think you learned quickly the meaning of girls' weekend- shopping, eating, and spending quality time together.  And yes, you even took a trip to the spa with us (and you looked so chic in your pink Minnie Mouse bathing suit and matching cover-up from your Poppy- which was a saving grace that you are so darn cute because you got your grilled cheese all over the lounge chairs by the pool!).  I think Aunt Ally would agree that you were awesome and you will be invited back!  I still can't even believe that was your 7th round-trip plane ride in your 12 months of living.  Geez Girl!  You are meant to be a world traveler... just always be sure to take your Mom and your Mimi with you!

Mimi is right, to have a friend, you must be a friend.  And your Mimi and I are both blessed with so many amazing friendships- I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to share them with you in future blogs (and have you be able to see them firsthand as you are understanding more about people and their interactions)!  Your Mimi's relationship with Jackie that she wrote about in the last Blog is so special because both women are very alike with their enormous hearts of gold.  Jackie is the one who often sends you gifts that are in memory of your brother- your angel bear blanket and your Kyle bear & book are two that you especially love.  She knows how important it is to me for you to know your brother. 

And I love that Mimi explained how she got her nickname Mickey from her dad (and isn't it ironic that Mimi married someone- your Poppy- who loves Mickey Mouse and all things Disney?!).  I think my Mom's passive personality is from my Grandfather.  Meanwhile, my Gram Bubbles is very outspoken.  Your Mimi may not have gotten that from her but she did get her strength.  But even better, she inherited Gram Bubbles' amazing creativity and artistic ability.  It's Gram Bubbles' painting that's above your crib and Mimi is following suit by creating a beautiful scrapbook documenting your first year.  Mimi, tell us more about the scrapbook and how you use your creative energy to be your best self.

Spending time with the people that know you best and you love most will fill your spirit.  That's why I enjoy spending so much time with you Ellie Girl- your laugh, energy, and curiosity are infectious!      

Ok Ellie, quick metaphor about renewal: The seasons mimic our life cycle- spring is birth, summer is young adulthood, fall is mature adult years, and winter is when you are old. 

Remember that cycles are circles (both are never-ending) so even after death, life comes back- perfect that Easter falls around this time too, right?!  THERE IS LIFE AFTER DEATH.

And in your life that you were given, it is important to be the best you because it is such a gift.  But to do that, you will need to refuel at times because life can also be overwhelming.  Here's what I do- if it's self-reflection and quiet time that I need, I read (curled up on my rocking chair with a good cup of hot chocolate and Joepa on my lap)  Or spend time, phone calls and Skype definitely count, with my family and friends if it's energy that I need.  Those are my favorite things to do in the whole world to renew my spirit.  What do you do Mimi?  Actually, I bet I can guess.  Your Mimi is always running in a gazillion directions but when she settles down quietly, she is the most talented writer.  Now you have gotten glimpses of her beautiful writing through this blog so you can see how descriptive she is.  Everything is always so vivid when she writes; I can always picture her story as a movie in my mind.  But it's Mimi's poetry that is my favorite.  I have a folder of her work for you when you are older to keep and cherish.  We should publish these into an anthology someday.  They really are uplifting and they warm the heart because that's where my Mom writes from.

Ok Ellie, we all know though that life doesn't always go according to plan no matter how much re-energizing we do.  So now memorize this prayer (that your Mimi and I know very well):
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things that I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

In times of frustration, my Gram Mundy used to whisper this under her breath and now I do too (you can ask your dad, he's heard it plenty of times!).  Prayer and meditation will ground you.  Finding balance in your life Ellie with all the noise and stress of everyday life is important.  You will find that the only thing you really can control in life is yourself so be focused and clear to make the best choices possible. 

Prayer, religion, and faith can be very private matters to some people.  Your Mimi and I have never been preachers but we will both agree that we are extremely spiritual.  And I'm a firm believer that questioning your faith makes it stronger.  Know that it's ok to speak to God or to past loved ones Ellie (and be sure to listen too) because that's where the best answers or responses can sometimes come from.  Mimi has a prayer routine and it's a little out of the ordinary.  Perhaps, if she's comfortable, she can share it with us.  Or maybe she can tell us her favorite prayer.  

I think Mimi that our recipes for this month should focus around a meal that we would have for a Sunday family dinner because when I think back, those times spent as a family focused me for the week and reminded me what the most important priority was.  These days Ellie, your Dad and I tend to have family night on Fridays.  We make dinner, sit at the dining room table, and can talk for hours.  And yes, Ellie you join us and are a part of our conversations that are filled with lots of laughter.  Church and these family dinners will always be a tradition in our home too (I know Ellie, I have to be more diligent about church).

Love you baby girl!

PS I like how Gram Bubbles is giving us help on our nickname.  I'm not sold on the last suggestions but we are getting close!  And our friend Linda emailed a few suggestions after reading our blog.  Hers made me laugh- Loose Tea Girls... and although I completely understand the words, I think the term loose might give off the wrong impression if read incorrectly...  But Linda's other idea was to call us the Scottish Tea Generation Blend and that definitely has potential!  I love that this has become interactive!!!  We need all the help we can get!

Now from your Mimi

Hi Ellie Love!

I made myself a cup of tea over an hour ago, and yes I have "nuked" it twice already.  But it is still deliciously sweet, it is still soothingly warm and it is saying to me, "Get writing Mimi!"  So here I sit at the computer with the keyboard at my fingertips ready to go!

Alright, I am ready.  This new month of April I will begin with researching our Topic Word "Renewal."

Renewal:  to regain, restore or revive the physical or mental vigor of.  To fill again by supplying what has been used up.  Ahhhh, Webster's Dictionary is so on target!   Ellie, as you can see from the beginning of this blog, your mommy has a special gift when it comes to writing.  Her words breathe emotion.  Her words take on life, they not only touch our 5 senses but they actually touch our 6th sense too, our spiritual sense.  She wrote on the importance of refueling... relying on faith... and importance of family connections. Her words, such as quiet time with a book, hot chocolate and JoePa.... Gram Mundy's whisper, the angel bear blanket, and the Serenity prayer... family night Fridays, conversations with laughter and always the name Ellie and Kyle give my mind a beautiful clear picture of what she is describing, a sense of peace and always a smile.  I love too how your mommy made an analogy of the Season's to The Life Cycle.  Can I ask a question here?????  If I wanted to avoid the "Old" part of the life cycle, would moving closer to the Equator count????  Or does "winter" occur there also even if you don't see it or feel it????  Hmmmmm.... just a thought I need to ponder for a bit!  But getting back on track, Kimberly, you are correct in making reference to: The Seasons, The Life Cycle, Our Topic Word Renewal and Easter.  For Easter is about the is about restoring life.  You picked the perfect month to reflect on this subject!

As for me Ellie... I try very hard to let my spiritual sense guide me.  I am a strong believer in faith as it has never failed me in both my happiest moments and also my saddest moments.  I have a daily routine that is a bit out of the ordinary.  It is a special time for me to meditate, to reflect, to pray.  It is while I am driving.  I let the radio go silent and I fill the car with my chatter of prayers.  And there are many.  I say prayers of thanks, prayers for others and prayers for daily guidance.  I like to create a visual with each prayer too... I guess I do that so everything that goes through my mind is quite clear (especially for those on the other side to "see" so there won't be even a hint of confusion!)  And every once in awhile when I am stopped at a red light and a car pulls up next to me... I think to myself that the person in that car is going to think I am a tad bit crazy for talking to myself, so I pretend I am singing (remember the radio is silent) and I let my head be-bop around a bit as though my upper body is grovin with the movin!  Once the car passes, I go back to my original routine of meditation.  It brings me a feeling of comfort Ellie and a feeling of goodness too!  Your mom asked what my favorite prayer is.... well, I do say quite a few depending on the day, but the one prayer I faithfully say daily is The Our Father.  That prayer grounds me Ellie and it reminds me that there is a much bigger picture out there.  I believe our time here is kind of like a stepping stone.  We each have a purpose, a reason for being... and a time frame to complete that purpose.  Gram Mundy used to quote The Golden Rule "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  How beautiful is that?  Simple, truthful and kind.  Wouldn't it be grand if everyone would live by this rule?  We can always dream Ellie... I do.  I believe that someday this really could happen!  Like your mom, I am not one to preach, but I do try to set a good example just as your mommy and daddy are setting wonderful examples for you.  So watch them Ellie, learn from them and apply them.  You too have a spiritual sense.

Your mommy touched upon some wonderful ideas that help her re-energize.  She asked me what mine were.  After a bit of thought I came up with the following:  Cleaning.... compulsively at times.  I used to find this activity very relaxing, but then I turned 50 and that went right out the window! Reading.... like your mom, I too have a love of books.  But there are times when your mom gets so excited with one great book after another and of course she has to tell me about each and every one Ellie that naturally I need to put them on my list to read of which overwhelms me to the point of major stress!  Walking.... I love to walk and like the character in the movie Forest Gump, I could probably walk to the other end of the continent, except when it is cold (which is late fall to early spring)... then I have to put my sneakers away for 6 months until the weather turns warm again.  Walking is a great way to meditate though as there is so much quiet time around you and it brings your sense of sight, of smell and of hearing to an incredible height of new awareness!  Writing.... I think I could write forever - stories, poems, thoughts, but I have to be in a writing mood otherwise I just tap my pencil on the tablet like a woodpecker attacking a fresh piece of wood!  But this Blog to Ellie idea your mom came up with is awesome as it gives her and I "pen and paper" time together!  It is just another of our many ways to stay connected!  Talking on the telephone.... this would be one of my favorites.  Your Poppy might tell you that the phone receiver and cord is another limb extension of mine, but honestly Ellie I love people.  And that means of all ages.  It is not so much for me to chat someone else's ear off but rather to listen to what others have to say.  Their feelings, their thoughts, their joys and their sorrows are important to me.  And of course my favorite subject to hear about is you!  Because you live so very far away, I am thrilled when your mom calls a dozen times a day, even if it is a 5 minute phone call.... for she will tell me every new little thing you are doing and experiencing.  I particularly love it when she calls and says "Quick, hang up and let's Skype!  You have to see Ellie take a few steps!" .... or "You have to see Ellie say 'yes'," (of which you then continuously shake your head 'no'!).... or "You have to see Ellie wink" (which you do by closing both eyes together in slow motion which is so darned cute!)  I could go on and on with little stories of you as you continuously amaze me and lift my spirit with your energy, your smile, and your wonderment of all that is new in life!  It gives me a closer connection with you Ellie.... and for that, I am forever grateful.  I love your mommy!  And lastly, the most important way I re-energize is... yup... you guessed it... sipping a freshly brewed cup of tea... preferably with a friend but I also enjoy my tea alone!   So I guess Ellie the lesson to be learned here is to make the best of each day God gives you.  Trust in HIM and your life will be rich with love and happiness both on the outside and within!

So what recipe shall I share for this month Kim????  Our Easter dinner of days gone by used to be baked ham.... but ever since "The Honey Baked Ham Store" came into existence, well they not only perfected my dish but took away all the prep work and kitchen mess with it!  So it only stands to reason that I buy their ham!   You know, the same thing happened with my homemade spaghetti sauce too.  I would put hours into making it from scratch and then what do you know????.... Prego came along!  It was as though the "sauce" company loved my recipe and graciously put it in a jar!  They too took away all my prep work and kitchen mess!  Brilliant I must say!!   Hmmmmm... getting back to the recipe question, I shall need to put some thought into it.   Hopefully the weather will turn warmer soon so that I may open windows and get some fresh air in here.  That should stimulate my brain!!  And here is a question for you for next week Kimberly.  Besides the sacrifice of giving up something we desire during Lent, how else do you use this time, the 40 days before Easter?  I shall write my response in the next blog.

Till then Ellie Rosebud!
Love, Mimi :)

P.S.  I agree that Linda's name suggestion is getting close!  Any other suggestions out there????  Hey Kimberly, how about "Three G's for Tea"?????  G could stand for "girls" or "generations".  Mmmmmm.... still not sure.  Back to the drawing board I go!