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


  1. I loved loved loved this months blog, so I hope its okay if I make a comment! You know I have a love of reading and share this same passion for books and literature! The help is one of my all time favorites and a gift from Kim! I have to say, the description of your dream reading room made me want to create one of my own...fantastic idea! So, maybe you will let me pull up a chair with the three of you someday and we can read in that fabulous room!

  2. Thank you Sam! I'm so glad you loved the Help as much as I did! I can't wait to see you soon. Miss ya!
    PS With all of your travels, are you reading much? You always give some great recommendations too and I'm always looking for some summer reads!