Friday, May 27, 2011

Mother's Day Month of May: Blog 4- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Ellie loves her baby almost as much as I love Ellie, my baby!

Hi Elle-Belle!

So to sum up for May and our month of Motherhood, your Mimi and I are going to finish with some advice on how to be the best mom ever.  Now this advice is a compilation of what we've learned, experienced, and observed- please don't think I am an expert at all (I have LOTS to learn.  Your Mimi already is the expert because she is the greatest mom and Mimi ever).  Good thing I have such amazing maternal figures surrounding me all the time.

First and foremost, love your child with all of your being.  I promise Ellie, it's natural.  And Ellie, I don't know how it's possible but I love you more each new day.  I absolutely adore you and each new moment with you; just as I did with Kyle.
Pick a name for your child that has meaning.  Kyle's name in Celtic means, near the chapel... we couldn't have picked a more perfect name.  There was always something heavenly and angelic about him. And God did call him home.  As for you, Ellie means shining light.  And you really were our brightness after the storm.  I sing You are My Sunshine to you before bed every night.  You bring radiance, brilliance, and rays of happiness into our lives always.

Share your child with others.  Children are a gift and there can never be enough love that surrounds them.  Take pictures to document their growth, write down stories, and upload videos.  After time passes, memories fade.  And so many of our family and friends live far away Ellie, that I want them to know you… so therefore you have become a Facebook and Skype regular (and hence, the start of this blog too!).   
For instance, I was able to share your first taste of a Popsicle this week (and as you can see, you weren't a fan).

Make time for your child.  Sit on the floor, turn off the TV, and play make-believe.  Children grow too fast and you can't get that time back.  Although sometimes Nick Jr. is a savior when making dinner.  You love the Fresh Beat Band, Blue’s Clues, and the Backyardigans (and you sing and dance along with them) and I can quickly get the laundry caught up!

Make family traditions- they instill values.  For us, we have family dinners just about every night.  The gym, pool time, walks, and park are also fun to do together.  But this time also includes prayer, reflection, and God; go to church with your children as you do with me (and even though this week, your laps around the children’s’ room totaled 11, I think you still got something out of the sermon… and if you didn’t, I did.  The priest talked about interdependence and kindness, but I think that’s when your attention turned to the pieces of paper on the floor that you were trying to eat).

Make sure you are ready for a family.  Children are A LOT of work and worth it when you are financially, emotionally, and physically ready.  You are only young once so make the most of that time in college, don't rush to grow up.  Ellie, I love you with all of my heart but since you have been born there are nights that I don’t even roll over and sleep so soundly because I am just plain EXHAUSTED!  You play harder than any athlete I have ever met (and because you get into everything that means I follow you!). 
Playing on the kitchen floor.

All children are a blessing, even those that have special needs (like Kyle).  God gives children to us for one (or both) of these two reasons: 1. You are to parent that child because you have the ability to raise them well and/or 2. That child was given to you to teach you life-long lessons.   

I know that it seems like children are a regular occurrence (isn't it something like a child is born every 8 seconds?) but really it is a miraculous event.  There is so much that has to go right in forming a baby.  Life is to be treasured and celebrated (although that being said, don't live outside of your means.  Children are expensive so be prepared).  And to celebrate the birth, be ready for that first year- be sure to have a diaper genie, a velcro swaddle, a video monitor, an excellent crib mattress, and a swing.  We found those to be our necessities and you were always a good little sleeper since you were 8 weeks old!  

Cherish the time that you have with your babies, no matter how big or small.  And for those little girls you may have one day, have tea parties and add lots of flair (dress up, bring out the china, have high tea, or spend a little money to find a tea house).  Your Mimi and I are enclosing recipes for those special moments at home... your Mimi's craisin cookies are my favorite especially dunked in a cup of tea.

Mimi’s Craisin Cookies
1 cup of margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed firm
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups quick rising oatmeal
1 cup craisins

Preaheat oven to 375 degrees.  Beat margarine and sugar with mixer.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.  Add dry ingredients and mix.  Add oatmeal and craisins.  Drop spoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart on an ungreased (or wax paper lined) cookie sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes. 

Above all Ellie, say I love you and hug and kiss your children as many times as you can.
I love that you not only let me hug and kiss you, you love it too!

I love you baby girl and I am blowing you a kiss as I close this letter,

And now from your Mimi...

Hi Ellie Rosebud!

Your Great Grandmom Jones sent me an awesome booklet called Teatime Treats.  I have just learned from reading the very first page that a "tea" is not really considered a "tea" at all without at least one generous serving of sandwiches and one dessert!  And I also just found out that some "teas" are actually complete meals!  So Ellie, I guess I am considered (one of two... Poppy being the other person) in attendance of an "in home tea party" during my breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Hmmmm.... I wonder what it is called when I am just drinking cup after cup of tea alone?  I don't mean me personally Ellie; I am talking about my teacup of which I am drinking from at this very moment with no goodies present!   But now the power of suggestion has just been placed in my head to go in search of something sweet and tasty!  Thank-fully your Aunt Sammy made and brought over some delicious homemade oatmeal-raisin cookies last week, (my favorite), that I haven't quite finished up yet!  Mmmmmm, they make great little dunkers!

OK... now I'm ready to blog.  Wow, your mommy came up with some great, from the heart, advice as to how each of us can be the best Mom ever.  And you know what?  This list can also be used as a guide for us grandmoms to be the best that we can be too!  I believe that no one is ever too old to learn Ellie!  Kimberly, I love how you started your list off with the most important piece of advice: love your child with all of your being!  I couldn't agree with you more!  
Mimi has loved you with all of her being since your first day with us!

Here are a few of my own thoughts that I would like to add to yours:

Say "I Love You" daily and often.  You can never say those 3 precious words enough.  Children need to hear this... a lot. And make sure too that your little one knows you will love him or her unconditionally.  It surly will make for a happy child!  Oh, and let them see you smile... from your heart... and often!  I found this to be so true over the years of raising your mommy and Uncle Ryan.  By bringing oodles of love into their lives, they in turn have brought love and laughter into mine and so many others.

Trust your instincts.  Moms have a unique intuitiveness when it comes to raising a family.  Moms are the parent, the protector, the peacemaker, the comforter, the teacher, the disciplinarian, the healer, the nutritionist and the activity coordinator, plus a whole lot more.  Trust in yourself to know which role to play when.  Your child believes in you and trusts you more than anyone else!  For you will always be their mom… from the day God delivers them into your home thru the day God peacefully guides them back to his home.

Be patient with your child.  Their little hands may reach for things they shouldn't touch.  Their little feet may walk where they shouldn't go.  Since everything under the sun is new to them they will need to be taught right from wrong.  And it may take some repetition before they begin to understand this concept.  It is OK to be stern, just make sure to love, love, love them always.  They'll figure it out!  Just like you finding every spec of dirt on the floor Ellie, your mommy and Uncle Ryan found their share of inquisitive gadgets that were (as the warning labels state) not recommended for children under 3 years of age!
 A future chef perhaps?  Always trying to get into the fridge and freezer!

Lead by example.  I shall use Grandmom Mundy's best advice: Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you!    Teach your child that kindness goes a long way. People respond quicker and also friendlier to those who are kind and sincere.  Teach sharing.  By sharing they learn how to be a friend.  By sharing they learn the importance of giving.  By sharing, they are leading the example!

This one goes along with your mommy's "Make time for your child."  Add reading to this suggestion.  Read, read, and then read some more!  Read with expression!  Read with animation! Read as though the story is alive!  Watching and listening to you read will encourage them to follow in your footsteps.  Opening a book is like opening a door to explore the unknown; what is on the other side.  So many opportunities will present themselves.  
Mimi reading to you Ellie as a little baby... she still reads to you over Skype!

I loved reading to your mommy and Uncle Ryan everyday when they were little Ellie, and it definitely paid off.  From an early age on, your mommy took to reading just about anything she could get her hands on.  As an eighth- grade student, she played the leading female role of Christine in the school play Phantom of the Soap Opera.  She nailed her lines perfectly!  Then during the fall of her senior year, your mommy tried out for Centre County’s Outstanding Young Woman of the Year.  For her talent portion of the pageant, she chose to recite Shakespeare’s: A Monologue from Romeo and Juliet.  Well Ellie, she read it with such impressive passion, her talent helped her clinch 2nd runner up!  As for your Uncle Ryan, when he was a young boy and being the creative artist that he is, comic strips were his preferred reading choice!  He would devour Calvin and Hobbs along with Mother Goose and Grimm!  Now he reads books of much greater depth… some that I don’t even understand!

Encourage your child to try new things... whether it be tasting a piece of broccoli, letting go and walking on their own, joining an extra-curricular school activity, or whatever direction they may need a nudge to follow... encourage them.  Someday they could be president of the United States!  Or an amazing middle school Social Studies teacher making a positive difference in a student’s life! 
 Trying your first goldfish snack!

Make sure they know their home will always be their home, their mommy and daddy will always be their mommy and daddy and the love that surrounds them will never go away!

Being a mommy Ellie is the greatest honor, the greatest gift and the greatest feeling that God has bestowed upon us.

But that honor, that gift and that feeling can only exist if precious little ones like you are part of our world.  We may make mistakes along the way, we may fuddle and fumble through events and crisis, we may improvise at a moment’s notice... but the one thing that stays rock solid is the love we have for our children.  You Ellie are the love and the light of your mommy and daddy's eyes.  Your name is truly quite befitting of you.  You precious one are blessed and your existence has blessed so many!

I think now is the perfect time to submit my recipe for a Mother's Tea.
Here it is:

Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches with Pine Nuts
½ cup pine nuts
2 large chicken breasts (baked and finally chopped)
½ cup mayonnaise
Dash of celery salt
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
¼ cup celery, finely diced
16 slices bread
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Roast pine nuts on a baking tray for 8-10 minutes.  Stir occasionally to avoid burning.  
Blend chicken, mayonnaise, celery salt, and parsley.  
Add celery and pine nuts and mix well.
Spread over 8 slices of bread and top with remaining bread. Remove crusts with a sharp, serrated knife.  Quarter sandwiches and cover in an airtight container.  Serve within 2 hours of assembly.  Makes 32 quarter sandwiches. Serves 4 per person!

What a wonderful month May has been Ellie!  And now we get to look forward to the month of June… that means celebrating “dads!”  Kimberly, what do you think about June’s blogs following some of the same format we used for our May blog’s plus a couple of surprises? That being said, we should make the coming month’s topic be “Father’s Day” and then some!

Till next time Beautiful Light!

Love, Mimi

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mother's Day Month of May- Blog 3: Letters from Mom & Mimi

Ellie playing outside and enjoying the beautiful spring weather.

Dear Ellie Baby,

I think it's important to recognize that without you and Kyle, I wouldn't be a mom.  And you are teaching me how to a mom everyday and I am enjoying every second of it.   

I have never met anyone quite like you my free-spirited and independent girl.  You are definitely your own person and I'm learning more and more about your personality as you grow.  My favorites are:

1.  You prefer to eat off of the floor and you actually think a day old Fig Newton is kind of tasty.
2.   You are a risk taker.  You leap into my arms at the pool, you climb any stairs that you see, and in a grassy field you take off.  I don't think I will ever not be nervous again.
3.  You are still an extension of my body.  You want me to hold you almost always.
You are a drama queen and your "hard day" act is my favorite!

5.  The dirtier and quite frankly the less amount of clothes on you, the happier you are.  And you hate socks and shoes.
6.  Being outside is your favorite place to be (aside from our living room couch). 
7.  You are quick and have a super-short attention span.  After starting our evening prayers a few days ago, I found you digging in your trashcan.
8.  You have never been a snuggler because you are so aware and alert of everything around you.  So much for naps on the go!
9.  You LOVE animals.  And all animals to you are kitties, even those that have feathers.
10.  Just as you did in all of the ultrasound pictures, you still cross your feet whenever you are still.
Always such a lady!  
11.  You love all music, especially rap beats and you will dance along to the songs.
12.  You have the silliest laugh ever and it makes me laugh just listening to it.
13.  You hide your food underneath your body when you are finished and ketchup is your favorite food.
14.  You are stubborn.  We got you a plate that suctions to the table so that you can't throw your food but you are smart enough to pull that off and now the food really goes flying high in the air.
15.  The Skype ring makes you giggle and get excited.
16.  Your favorite toys are balls and cars (and you can make the appropriate vrooooom sound when you push them along) but you do have adorable moments with bears and baby dolls.
Your Kyle Bear from Jackie.
Quiet car rides are a thing of the best.  You have found your singing voice... it sounds very much like a constant scream. 
18.  You have the craziest hair days of anyone I've ever known.

19.  You have the most beautiful smile.
20.  Your running and leaping hugs into my arms is heaven.

21.  And every time you say Mommy, I melt.

Ellie, everyday is a new adventure.  And looking at the world through your eyes makes all things new and exciting.  I don't how it's possible but each day is better than the one before.  I am so grateful that God gave me you and let me continue my journey through motherhood.  Thank you for being the best daughter.  You are strong and you are amazing.
One of my favorite poems reminds me of who you will become:

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I love you,

And now from your Mimi…

Hi Sweet Rosebud!

This very day is a wonderful day for no other reason than it is today.  Sometimes you will find your "senses" are more in tune at certain times than others.  There is no reason or answer to why this happens Ellie, it just does.  And today, this very morning seems to be mine!  I knew the moment that I awoke.  My pillow of all things gave it away!   Its smooth silky fabric cradled my head and seemed to billow up in marshmallow puffs around my ears giving me a keen sense of security and comfort!  And now my cup of tea has validated this amazing phenomenon.  I am using my new Vera Bradley tea mug given to me by Evan and his mom Natalie for Mother's Day!  (Amazing neighbors I can always count on!)  Its days like this that I love to see the narrow stream of steam lingering around the rim of my cup as it slowly rises.  I love to see the clear liquid take its time changing to a rich deep bronze as I push on the tealeaves with my spoon.  I love when I make the right guess in adding sugar and milk bringing this trio to a perfect blend!  I breathe slower, I feel deeper and I see clearer.  It's a wonderful morning Ellie, for I just skyped with you!

This week your mommy and I thought it would be fun to reminisce the sweet, the quirky and the lovable characteristics that make you "You."  Just like Kyle, you too have changed many lives Ellie in such a wonderful way. Your pending birth, the day you were born, and each day leading up until now has brought so much happiness and love to so many family members and friends.  And I love your mommy's list of her favorite personality memories of you.  Let me share one more:

1.) Walter...  Ellie, this story is definitely a classic.  You see, your mother decided that when you were born you would be a nursed baby.  I don't think she realized that what she ate could possibly affect your disposition resulting in "no sleep!"  About a week after your birth, your mommy asked me to make her favorite dish, which was Chicken Cacciatore.  And because she loves it so much, I doubled the original recipe's amount of onions, peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms.... ooooooh, and the garlic too (actually, I probably quadrupled the amount of garlic)!  Since we had a very busy day with you, your mom was quite hungry and had 2 helpings instead of her usual 1.  It was such a satisfying dinner that afterward we all relaxed while watching some TV.  You were quite alert along with being a tiny bit fussy but we did not think anything of it, as 7pm seemed to by your daily fussy time anyway.  At 10:00 pm your mom laid you down in the bassinet hoping to get a few hours sleep before your next feeding.  Well.... that never happened.  We had all jumped in bed around the same time you went down only to hear you start whimpering.  Then your whimper got louder.... and louder.... and louder!  So your mommy took you down stairs hoping another feeding along with rocking you would be soothing and help you drift off to sleep.   That theory went quickly out the window when the clock blinked 1:00 am.  So I went downstairs to help you and your mommy out.  It was my turn to try cradling you while she grabbed a pillow and a blanket to lie on the couch.  So with my left arm wrapped around your tummy holding your back and head to my chest and my right arm cradling the bend in your knees, I slowly brought your legs up making them fit snugly against your body hoping to relieve the gas pains you seemed to be experiencing.  Well Ellie, if looks could kill this would have been the time!  You had such a puss on your face!  With your eyebrows furrowed into a perfect V shape, your nose crinkled accordion style like you just smelled a stinky sneaker and your mouth puckered tightly in a perfect "o" ring as though you just finished sucking on a juicy lemon, you not only looked angry and disgusted with your mommy and me, you gave that look to the cat, the dog, the house, and pretty much anything else that your angry eyes would focus on!  As tired as we were, by 3:00 am all your mommy and I could do was laugh as you truly could have passed as a look-a-like to Jeff Dunham's ventriloquist doll Walter.  Ellie, it was priceless!  In fact you repeated the "Walter look" the following night too.  Once your mommy figured out why you were up all night, she decided to eat a lighter dinner the next evening.  So we ordered Minestrone soup from Olive Garden (who knew that there were "gassy" ingredients in that also????).  Yep... if you are picturing a repeat of the previous night’s nightmare... then you get the grand prize!  "Walter" gave top performance!  Oh Ellie, I for one loved that face, so much so that I had Poppy buy a pink hat with the name Walter engraved on it.  I think your mommy may have a picture of you wearing it while a "Walter" face was beginning to emerge!  

Your Walter face at its finest after your first bath!

Ellie.... I can't tell you how many smiles you bring, let's just say my guess would be "infinite." You have such a unique personality sweetheart!  You bring with you wherever you go life, laughter and love... the perfect blend of a beautiful baby girl! 

Now I would like to share a very meaningful and beautiful poem with you Ellie.  For me, it kind of ties up all that we have touched upon this blessed month of May.  Here it is:

God's Lent Child
I'll lend you for a little while a child of mine, God said.
For you to love while they live, and mourn for when they're dead.
It may be six or seven years, or forty-two or three.
But will you till I call them back take care of them for me?
They'll bring their charms to gladden you and should their stay be brief...
You'll have their lovely memories as a solace for your grief.
I cannot promise they will stay since all from earth return.
But there are lessons taught below I want this child to learn.
I've looked the whole world over in my search for teachers true.
And from the things that crowd life's lane I have chosen you.
Now will you give them all your love, nor think the labor vain?
Nor hate me when I come to take this "Lent Child" back again?
I fancied that I heard them say "Dear Lord thy will be done."
For all the joy thy child shall bring the risk of grief we'll run.
We will shelter them with tenderness and love them while we may.
And for the happiness we all have known forever-grateful stay.
But should thy Angel call for them much sooner than we've planned.
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand.
Author:  Unknown 

You Ellie-bean are our beautiful blessing.  It will be fun to watch you grow and find your way.  You have the capability of making a positive difference in a future filled with amazing opportunities.  And all who love you shall provide guidance. Be kind Ellie, be giving and forgiving, but most of all... be You.

I think next week Kimberly, we should end this month with a list of what we think are great attributes in the makings of a great Mom.  And our recipe for this month should probably go with the theme of a Mother's Tea.  I can't wait to see what you post... my guess is it will be a dessert seeing that you love to bake.  I think I will go with a tea sandwich recipe. Since I have three delicious choices, I may have to revert to using the "eeny, meeny, minie, moe" elimination game!  I shall surprise you with my decision!

Till next time Ellie-bean,
Love Mimi

Friday, May 13, 2011

Mother's Day Month of May- Blog 2: Letters from Mom & Mimi

You, Ellie, attended your brother's 5k last year!

Dear Ellie,

My heart goes out to all parents who have lost a child, like your Dad and I. Even though they never could formally diagnose a genetic disease, doctors said it was most likely a genetic mutation that wreaked havoc on Kyle's poor little body. I think it's important to recognize Moms who have their children in heaven this month.  Ellie, we call you our first take-home baby but it was Kyle who first made me a mom.

Your baby brother Kyle

We all go through the grief process when someone we love dies and there was a time that no one really saw that except for your Dad and Mimi when I was just plain angry (I took it out on the flowers that were sent to the door... whoever started that awful tradition of sending things that die within days, was just plain terrible- what an agonizing reminder of death!).  So, I needed refuge.  I found the most comfort in making sure Kyle's life had purpose. For me, talking about my son and acknowledging him brings me comfort and it validates what we went through. One of the NICU nurses said that she felt sad for moms of infants who die because they are not publicly recognized for their loss like someone whose son is older would have. She said even though moms like us don't grieve over a lot of memories since there aren't many, we will grieve over the memories we wished we could have- like watching our child walk for the first time, sending our child to kindergarten, kissing them off to prom, driving them to college, walking them down the aisle, and welcoming grandchildren.  That pain will never subside.  And no, time doesn't heal wounds.  Not for parents who just want one more day, one more minute with their child.  There isn't a day goes past that I don't think about your brother.  But that doesn't mean I can't have find happiness in celebrating his life.  And that is why I always want to count Kyle as one of my children and I always want those who know us to do the same- it validates his life for me and it validates the choices that we made as Kyle's parents that no parent should ever have to make.  Kyle made me understand and appreciate motherhood in ways I'm not sure I would have reached without him.  Ellie, because of Kyle, I know you are miraculous!  All life is.

You and me Ellie in front of pictures of Kyle. 

I found a lot of healing in creating a scrapbook with your Mimi of Kyle- all of the memories I did have. And I look at it- not as often as I used to and Ellie, you look at it with me. 

I'm not going to lie Ellie, your pregnancy (as happy as we were) was nerve-wracking through the end. And when we got to the hospital for your delivery, I had a panic attack reliving Kyle's birth.  Having back-to-back babies like that can be healing but it also can be extremely painful.

The biggest thing that helped the most is having Kyle's name live on. Kyle's scholarship gives meaning to Kyle's life for me and helps me understand why things happen the way that they do. I also think that Kyle would be proud of me.  I bet he is happy that you baby girl can participate in this wonderful cause.  If anyone reading the Blog wants to join us for the 2nd annual 5k (in which all proceeds go towards the scholarship and is tax deductible) or just wants to donate, I have attached the information at the bottom and I have created a website.  To visit it, please go to Our first walk-run far exceeded my expectations so I can only imagine how wonderful this year's 5k will be!  I want to thank my Dad for initiating the set up of the scholarship and giving me a healthy place to grieve that not only lets Kyle's name live on but helps others in such an amazing way.  Ellie, just like you, we love your brother very much.  Remember, it's important to have purpose, experience happiness, and find your peace!  

And now from your Mimi…

Your Mimi always counts Kyle as one of her grandchildren too (hence the #2!).

Hi Ellie Rosebud.

I thought this blog would be easy to write but obviously I was wrong.  At this very moment I am at my (let me count) 26th typed word and I have already drank 3 cups of tea.  It's been type, type, delete, delete, type, type, delete, delete.  But I shall continue trying.  I think my difficulty in writing this week lies with the thought that I wanted to tell you so much about your mom; her personality, what she was like as a baby through her young adult years, the things she and I have in common and activities we love to do together, her marriage to your daddy, your brother's birth and legacy, your birth and the laughter you bring to us daily.  I could write chapters Ellie, but because today is the actual day of Mother's Day, I feel the need to "not" start at the beginning but rather nearer the end.  My blog today needs to be about your brother Kyle as he is the "one" who made your Mom a mommy.  So here goes:

Today in honor of Mother's Day I am writing about your mommy Ellie and her first pregnancy, for she more than most women has felt all that belongs to this holiday.  The happiness, the sadness, the anticipation, the devastation, the smiles, the tears, the unknown, the finality; all this at a very tender young age.  And the part of her that never wavered?..  Her Faith.  Let me take you to August of 2008 and a phone-call that I received on what I remember to be a beautiful, warm, sunny day.  It was a call from your mommy Ellie, an elated call!  She took a home pregnancy test (well, actually she took about 30 of them all at one sitting to make sure of its accuracy) and they were all positive!  Oh Ellie... in that very moment your mommy was so ecstatic, so filled with maternal love, your Poppy and I couldn't have been more happier for her and your daddy as we knew they would make phenomenal parents!  (You are now living proof of that testimony!)  Daily life seemed to go rather smoothly during her first trimester.  Your mommy and I chatted at least a dozen times each day never tiring of baby talk.  Each conversation was all about "how to decorate the baby's room", "possible names", "nursing or bottles", "what to buy", "baby showers", "can you love a baby too much" to name just a few of the many topics we would discuss and re-discuss.  And then one day after some routine testing at the doctor's office, your mommy and daddy's world came crashing down.  Things weren't the way they were supposed to be anymore.  That was a certainty, but the uncertainty was that no one seemed to have an answer as to what happened and what was yet to come.  It is here Ellie that I must tell you about your mother’s strength.  At that very moment she became the lioness and her unborn baby was the cub she would protect fiercely for all their days together no matter how long or how short.  Ellie, I took the first plane to Denver to be with your parents, to love them, to support them, to pray with them, and to take over some of their daily schedule allowing them the time needed to absorb and categorize their emotions of what will be a forever moment etched in their hearts and souls.  And even though there were many tears shed, your mom decided that she would do everything in her power to bring her pregnancy to full term and hoping beyond hope to deliver a healthy baby boy.  I must state here Ellie that I truly believe Kyle chose your parents as he knew how special they were.  He knew that they would not only take him to term, but also allow him to fulfill his God given purpose in a very short time following his birth.  He knew they would love him through all the heartache and he knew too that even through their greatest sadness they would be able to let him go seeing and understanding that he was not meant to be here for more than 11 days.  So with that being said, your mommy made sure to stay mentally and physically positive all through her pregnancy. With so many patron Saints to help in this time of need, she and I prayed many a Novena especially to Pope John Paul II. (She mentioned in her blog our prayers to St. Blaise... there is a funny story with this one Ellie but I will have your mom personally tell it to you someday!  Let's just say that it is a miracle I didn't accidentally set her on fire!)  Along with the daily novenas each day, your mommy and I together would also mental image a healthy baby boy.  But on her own she had to make sure she ate healthy and drank lots of fluids.  Thankfully she had pregnancy cravings of which she willingly gave in to (which by the way were tomato/mozzarella sandwiches **thanks to Panera** and she would eat them 24/7 if she could!  How her skin pigment didn't turn a permanent shade of cherry red is mind boggling!).  And I believe she drank enough water to fill a small sea!  She did everything in her power to stay fit.  Never once did she complain.  And never once did she say " Why me?"... for she knew to say those words would mean to pass this heartache on someone else.  And that is not who your mommy is.  She let her faith guide her decisions Ellie as she always has, confident that it would not fail her and it never did.  With the love and support of our wonderful extended family, much research was done on Kyle's condition and a doctor from Boston, along with 2 separate doctor's from CHOP in Philadelphia, and your Uncle Doug gave their professional opinions.  And even though the odds were stacked against your brother, each doctor agreed that there is more to a "life" than just "medical science."  So back in Denver an amazing out of network doctor was found who gave your parents that same bit of hope ... that no matter how small, your brother had a chance of survival.  With that information your mommy did all she could physically and mentally to bring her pregnancy as close to full term as possible (Kyle was born 2 months premature).  The morning she was scheduled to deliver Kyle, February 18th 2009, she went in to the hospital with tears in her eyes and an amazing smile across her face.   

Your Daddy took this shot of your Mimi and Mom outside of the hospital right before Kyle was born.

And while in the delivery room she and I said dozens of Hail Mary's while your dad kept a careful eye on the actual delivery of Kyle.  Her heart was filled with so much love Ellie, an unconditional love that she knew her son would feel and know.  The moment right before Kyle was born your mommy made two wishes.  1.) That he would take a breath of life... which he did as soon as he was born and right before they applied a breathing tube ... and 2.) That he would open his eyes for her before he went to Heaven... which he did on his 9th day birthday.   

This is your brother Kyle peaking at your Mom for the first time.

Oh Ellie, can I just tell you that he made your mommy so happy by doing both!  Through her tears of sadness, Kyle allowed her to shed tears of joy too.  I am in awe of your mommy Ellie for the woman she has become.  I've always said that your mom came into this world as an "old soul." She has compassion like no other, intuitiveness about her and wisdom well beyond her years.  She loves completely Ellie and wants always to share that love.  You can't help wanting to be connected to her in some way for her spirit and positive outlook is infectious.  Instead of falling into a deep depression, which would have been completely understandable, your mommy rose up seeking out a way to make Kyle's "life have purpose" and his "purpose to have life."  The medical staff in the NICU of St. Joseph's Hospital were an amazing group of professional women and men.  Because of their insight, their compassion and their expertise it only made sense for your parents to create the Kyle Russell Callahan Scholarship.  It has become a wonderful way to allow his memory to live on by helping fund the education of a young adult entering the medical field.  As proud as your parents are of Kyle for giving them 11 precious days to just love him, I believe Kyle is equally as proud of them for finding a wonderful cause in carrying out his purpose.   I've always said Ellie, that Kyle is Love and Love is Kyle.  He changed many lives in a positive way and will continue to do so for many years to come.

Since this blog is somewhat lengthy already and I haven't even begun to address your mommy before she was a mommy, I will defer from writing it now and enter it into our future blogs.  I hope I accomplished here what I set out to do Ellie, and that was for you to see how much Love and Faith are very much a part of your mommy's being.  I also want you to know Ellie that even though I did not mention your daddy's name much in this blog; he was your mommy's rock.  He took care of her, he protected her, and he loved her with all his heart.  It was your daddy and mommy together Ellie that got them through their firstborn’s life and loss.  I will talk more about your daddy in our June blog honoring Father's Day.

This is your Mom and Dad loving Kyle just a little over a year before you were born Ellie.

So Ellie, I guess the lesson to be learned here is to not harbor pain but rather find ways to help with the healing of it.  Sharing stories, creating a scrapbook, finding a beneficial cause to honor a loved one, using a friend’s shoulder to cry on are just a few ways that may help. No one is ours to keep, therefore we need to "love" unconditionally for "time" is to be appreciated.

Next week Ellie I think we should blog about the wonderful characteristics and memories you have given us in your first year of life.  I think your mommy will find writing this blog to be quite enjoyable as she could fill pages upon pages with stories about your spunky spirit!  I would also like to add a poem befitting to the conversation of this month.  What do you think Kimberly?  

Till next time precious one.
Love, Mimi

Friday, May 6, 2011

Celebrating Mother's in the Month of May- Blog 1: Letters from Mom & Mimi

Ellie, you bring so much love into our lives!  We heart you :)

My Dear Darling Daughter,

I really like that Mimi started calling you Ellie-rosebud (I always said when you were first born how perfect your lips were shaped like that of a rose). 

Yay for Moms and the month of May to celebrate them!!!  And how appropriate that you have become such a Momma's girl these days.  You are not one to leave my side for much longer than a few minutes.  And I am appreciating every second of it!

My Mother's Day gift from Mimi last year were these matching t-shirts!

I love Ellie that you love my Mom as much as I do!  Like I've said before, when she visits you are stuck to her hip.  Even though those visits are few and far between, thank goodness for Skype or you would be in withdrawal! 

Ellie playing Peek-A-Boo with her Mimi over Skype!

Ellie, I hope one day that you are blessed to become a mom (and I'm not selfishly saying that because I want to be a grandmother).  It truly is the best experience, the craziest ride, fun adventure, and most rewarding relationship you can ever have.  As I've said before, life is a gift and to be able to give that gift is indescribable and truly miraculous.  

I have always hoped that I could be half the parents that Mimi and Poppy are to me but more on Poppy over Father's Day!  Mimi shows me at every visit that she was meant to be maternal.  Everything in her being is given to her children and her grandchildren (those of her blood and those like your dad that she's adopted in).  Her focus is completely on those that she loves.  I swear she has a sixth sense to understand babies and children.  Mimi knew how to calm Kyle.  

This is your Mimi loving your brother Kyle.

And she sure has you attached to her hip from the time that she gets here to the time she leaves.  

Obviously I have too many memories to even write down about my mom so I've decided to write down those that taught me life's biggest lessons:

1.  Never turn a blind eye (When I was about 8, we were driving home through our neighborhood after running errands and we saw a little boy we didn't know covered in blood, limping while pulling his broken bike.  Mimi pulled the car over, cleaned him up as best as you could, put his bike in the trunk, and drove him home.  Now, don't you ever talk to strangers but this little boy was in pain and needed help).
2.  Give back and give to charities (Every year for Christmas, no matter how much money we had, we always got a family's name who was down on their luck from the church and we bought them groceries and toys for the holidays and then delivered it to their house).
3.  Make time for family (We never seemed to miss weddings, anniversaries parties, or any other big celebration with family members even those that lived far away).
4.  Fill your house with family pictures, it makes a house a warm home (Your Uncle Ryan counts to make sure that he's in at least as many, if not more than me but I think you might have him beat now Ellie Girl!).
5.  Keep your door open to guests (I can't tell you how many sleep-overs and parties I had at my house.  Looking back Mimi always knew where I was, who I was with, and what I was doing).
6.  The more the merrier (although this one stresses me out, I have some fond memories of football weekends where Mimi & Poppy slept in the living room on the air mattress because there were 16 relatives staying at our house.  On the first night of using the air mattress, Poppy sat down and Mimi flew right off!  But my parents would say, it was a great time having everyone together).
7.  Laugh at yourself (Mimi is always doing something goofy- for instance, one day I stayed in the car while she bought some plants at the gardening store.  She came out and got in the drivers' seat of the car next to ours, looked over, saw me, and waved...  Oops, she was in some other person's car!). 
8.  Find your passion with someone you love hanging out with (Every semester when I was at Penn State, Mimi would find a class for her and I to join together and maybe in the next blog, she will elaborate on why we either got kicked out of these classes or never finished them: intro to drawing, poetry, jazzercise, yoga, and then I moved away before we could try belly dancing.  But not to worry, we have found hiking, tea parties, ghost tours, and painting classes here in Denver).
9.  Nothing is more important than your children (When we thought Kyle was coming early, my Mom was on the first plane out of State College).
10. Do anything to make your child smile (My Mom never scrap-booked before in her life but when Kyle died, she thought it might be therapeutic to put one together to honor his life and truly it is a work of art that I will treasure forever).
11.  There is no such thing as too much color in either what you're wearing or how you decorate (My old bedroom at home in State College is now Mimi's self-proclaimed "happy room" complete with bright yellow walls, hot pink throw rugs and curtains, and a multi-colored rainbow quilt!).
12.  Never lose hope, keep faith, and always be positive-
On January 23, 2009 during Kyle's difficult pregnancy, my Mom wrote this email (one of many that encouraged and uplifted us):

Good Morning Kimberly,
Today is going to be a wonderful day.  It is the 9th day of our Novena.  (9 is a special number)
And it is the 23rd day of February.  (2 and 3 are also special numbers)
When you read this, give the baby an extra big smile.
Then give one more powerful mental image to St. Anne to place her healing hands on the baby.
I shall talk to you early afternoon.
I love you.
I love Justin.
I love Sweet Pea.
Love Mom :)

She always has the right words Ellie!  And on a funnier side, she also was out to visit prior to Kyle's birth and we had the idea to pray to St. Blaise with candles...

I hope that Mimi will share her relationship with Gram Bubbles.

All I can say is that I love Mimi with all of my heart Ellie and I know you already do too.  I think you are a perfect fit into our goofy relationship with our silly ideas! 
Love you!

And now from your Mimi…

Hi Sweet Rosebud,

Today my cup of tea could not be more perfect for I have read your mommy's part of our blog and am feeling very humbled.  I am so blessed with such a loving family and I pray that this abundance of love finds its way and settles in a secure place within your heart through all time.

Happy Mother's Day Mimi!  Love you!

This month our blog theme is Mother's Day.  Here is its definition:

Mother's Day:  The United States celebrates Mother's Day on the second Sunday in May.  The holiday was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 as a day to honor ones mother.  Jarvis wanted to accomplish her mother's dream of making a celebration for all mothers, so she enlisted the services of Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker to help.  She continued to promote the holiday until President Woodrow Wilson made it an official national holiday in 1914.  

Ellie's onesie says 100% loved by Grandma- so true!!! 

So Ellie, this first week of May I shall tell you about two very special women in my life... my own mother and also Poppy's mother.

Your Great Grandmom Jones is a very strong woman Ellie with a heart of gold.  Let me take you back a bit.  She was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pa., the second oldest of 4 children.  She was tall and slender, with gorgeous dark hair and a full bottom lip, quite beautiful by the photographs we hold... your Great Pop-pop Bud would have attested to that!   To this day she is still beautiful with her short-cropped silvery hair and sparkling eyes!  Her older brother, Uncle Eddie, passed away in 1994 leaving your Great-Gram and her sisters Aunt Phyllis and Aunt Midge to watch out for each other... but more on them in another blog.  When she was 20 years old, she went to a wedding where she met my dad, your Great Pop-pop Bud, who was in the Navy and stationed at the Philadelphia. Shipyard.  Long story short... they fell in love, married, and my father whisked her away to start a new life in Green Bay, WI where he was born and raised and all his family lived.   Knowing no one in a strange town made for a somewhat difficult beginning, but my mom being the strong women she is found her way.  She and my dad had 3 children, your Aunt Sheri who is a year and a half older than me, me of course, and your Uncle Steve who is 6 and a half years younger than me.  She raised us with a lot of love and a very stern hand (that always seemed to find itself holding a wooden spoon) when it came to discipline!  She taught us to be polite and respectful to all others, especially our elders.  When my siblings and I were very little and visiting your great-great grandparents, we were given strict instructions to sit very quietly on the couch in the parlor while the adults visited in the kitchen.  Now that is a somewhat difficult task to ask of 3 children under the age of 12, but your Aunt Sheri (the leader of our pack) would take control of the evening and have us play the game "I Spy" over and over until the visit was complete.  We resembled the 3 monkeys.... Hear no evil, Speak no evil, and See no evil... I being the shyest claimed Speak no evil!   If we were very good and quiet like church mice, we would be given one little candy-bar to take home with us.  My mom was always pleased when we didn't start the "sibling fight"!  Your Great Grandmom Jones also was our strongest supporter enrolling us in multiple activities and encouraged us to be the best we could be.  Your Aunt Sheri, the first born, was of course the "straight A schoolgirl" who could also whip up a complete Thanksgiving feast containing "made from scratch" side dishes, bread and pies all at the tender age of 15!  Your Uncle Stevie of course was all "baseball" becoming a star pitcher from Little League through Babe Ruth.  And then there was me.  I guess you could call me the "2 year girl."  I took piano lessons, cello lessons, baton lessons, cheerleading, an assortment of school club activities, etc... Each and everything lasting no more than two years; as I would progressively lose interest in them.  Your Great-Grandmom never gave up on me though; she believed that eventually I would find my calling.  She also encouraged each of us to find and pursue our passion.  Your Great-Grandmom was an amazing artist.  From charcoal sketching to oil and watercolor paintings, her work was incredibly beautiful.  In fact Ellie, you have in your possession one of her original creations; a gorgeous framed and signed watercolor of your name ... treasure it always!  

Grandmom's beautiful butterfly watercolor that was made just for you Ellie!

Grandmom not only attended a variety of art classes through the years, but she also joined art clubs and taught classes herself!  Your Uncle Steve who at one time played all sports now coaches baseball, football and loves to play a round of golf with friends.  Your Aunt Sheri enjoys dabbling in different art media and also researching our ancestry.  

Mimi, Aunt Sheri, and You Ellie-Girl... this is an awesome trio of fabulous women!

I think I am still searching for my passion Ellie as it seems to be more advanced at hiding within me.  I need to look deeper than underneath beds and in closets!  I do love to write though, and this is the one passion that has lasted past my "2 year" mark.  Hmmmmm... could this be mine???  Your Great-Grandmom also showed us by example to take an active role in family.  Besides the yearly cross-country vacations to Philly and the weekly weekend vacations to Wheeler Lake, my mom was always taking us and friends to Bay Beach, Seymour Lake or the movies.  Your Great Gram also taught us from a young age on to stay within our means financially.  She was a strong believer in the idea that nothing comes free, you need to work hard and earn your place in society.  When we were young your Great-Gram had what she called a  "Job Jar" set on the kitchen counter for idle children.... meaning children who whined that there was nothing to do the day after school let out for summer vacation; actually had plenty to do!   The "Job Jar" was a glass jar and rather large so as to hold many slips of white paper with various jobs written on them.  Example:  dusting to weeding and everything in between, she covered it all!  So if we dared to complain, (which of course we did given our ages) we were marched right over to the job-jar where we would stick in our hand and pray that we did not pull out the "Clean out the window-wells" card.  Too many spiders - eeeeeeek!  Sometimes we got a fun one such as the card that read "Pull everything out of the kitchen cupboards and clean thoroughly!"  I don't know what your Aunt Sheri and I were thinking at the time, but now looking back on those days, I think your Great Grandmom Jones violated most of the child labor laws!  We tease her now Ellie but during our growing up years, she was one tough cookie.  Anytime we "wanted" something but didn't have quite enough money to purchase it ourselves, my mom would lend it to us and quickly enter our name, the date and the amount we borrowed in her little Black Book.  It was expected that we always pay back our debts and we did.  The three of us have since agreed when she passes from this world, that little Black Book is probably going to get buried with her!  Heaven help those in heaven!   Speaking of heaven, she also taught us to live by the same rule her mom taught her.... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.   She attends church faithfully and is an active volunteer member in her community.  Ellie, this is one of your Great Grandmother's greatest gifts that she has instilled within me.  I too find strength in my faith.  I too find volunteering important and a way to use our God given talents in a positive way.  It certainly validates a purpose to our lives.   When your Great Pop-pop Bud passed away 12 years ago, my mom was so appreciative of the kindness and compassion that Hospice bestowed on him, she "Paid it Forward" by joining their volunteer team and helping others in similar situations.   I admire her greatly Ellie and love her with all my heart.  She is the best role model God could have given me.  Even though there are many miles between us, she is only a phone call away.  We chat frequently.  And our teatime is taken in spirit.

Ellie's bib says, My Grandma is the Best!  Love you Great-Gram Bubbles!

Another amazing woman in my life would be your Great Grandmom Gigi, Poppy's mom.  She is beautiful Ellie, a tiny bit of a thing with gorgeous silvery white hair and smiling eyes.  When I made my decision to move permanently from Green Bay to Philly, your Great Gigi opened her door, her arms and her heart to me completely!  It was very easy to make the transition from calling her Cass to calling her Mom.  Because your Great Gigi had a complicated growing up life, of which your mommy can share some of those stories with you... she has placed great value and strong love on her own family.  She loves deeply Ellie; she would give her right arm to one of her own if necessary.  Her children, her grandchildren and now her great-grandchildren are and always were her whole world.  When your Poppy and I lived on Wheeler St. in Philly, about 10 row-houses down from your Great-Gigi, it was perfect as your mommy and Uncle Ryan would run back and forth from our house to their house dozens of times a day.  Great Gigi's door was always open, loving every minute her grandchildren would spend with her.  I remember when the neighborhood Catholic School was getting rid of their old-fashioned medal desks with the wooden sidebars, your Great Gigi purchased 2 of them for her living room.  As soon as your mommy and Uncle Ryan came into her house, Gigi would slide those big old medal desks right in front of the TV for her grandchildren to watch cartoons. She would place a bowl of their favorite ice cream on the desktop along with some coloring books and an old cigar-box filled with crayons.   Oh, and remember in our last blog that I mentioned Sunday dinners were always held at Great Gigi's home?  Well what I forgot to tell you was that she not only cooked up some awesome roast-beef dinners, she also cooked like she was feeding the whole United States Army!  Ellie, she made sure every ones plates were filled to the point of almost spilling over, never wanting anyone to leave hungry. Great Gigi loved spending time outside with your mommy and Uncle Ryan too, watching them play in the kiddy pool and riding their hot-wheels up and down the sidewalk. During family get-away vacations you would find Great Gigi spending more time with her grandchildren than with the adults.  She truly enjoys her time with them Ellie.  They are the light of her life.  Poppy's mom could have also been the mayor of our southwest Philly neighborhood because of her outgoing and always cheerful personality.  I think it was because of her employment, cashiering at the neighborhood Shop N Bag grocery store, that your Great Gigi knew everyone and everyone not only knew her, but loved her also.  She has a special knack for making people feel comfortable and first timers feeling like they've known her forever.  During her years living in Southwest Philly she was active in politics always rallying to better the neighborhood.  It was because of your Great Gigi that so many neighbors from the old street came to know each other and treat each other like family.  She was an important factor in making our "street" a one of a kind place to live, a place where outsider's were envious of.  Poppy's mom was great at rallying up a Sunday night card game too with half the street crowded around her dining-room table playing all kinds of poker hands.  She is a lot of fun Ellie.  I find her to be an amazing role model when it comes to raising a family.  Your great Gigi is also my saving grace when it comes to taking lengthy car trips.  Although sometimes we end up chatting so much so that we miss the off ramps we are suppose to take.  More times than not we end up lost, needing lots of extra time to get back on track, and of course giggling all the way.  She is a terrific shopper too. Saturday afternoons consist of a lunch usually at Panera Bread followed by a jaunt to whatever store needs to be seen.  Great Gigi is a people pleaser and because of this she has taught me that by putting others and their feelings first, you will teach kindness as well as receive kindness from others each and everyday.  I love her with all my heart Ellie and feel very blessed to have married her son, your Poppy, and been accepted so openly into her family.

Listening to your Gigi read aloud!  You like her choice of books!  Love you Gigi!

Kimberly, would it be OK if next week we dedicate our blog to Mother's who have lost children?  I would very much like to share with Ellie some stories seen through my eyes of your love and sacrifice with the pregnancy and birth of Kyle as well as your pregnancy with Ellie.  I will honor and respect your answer either way.  I thought this would be a perfect time to talk about Kyle's Walk and how something uplifting can come from a tragedy.  

I shall end here Ellie with this thought for you:  The saying "There is no greater love than a Mother's love" is true.  I for one can attest to that.

Till next time little Rosebud.
Love Mimi