Friday, June 24, 2011

Father's Day Month of June- Blog 4: Letters from Mom & Mimi

Hanging out at your Dad's softball game!

So Miss Ellie Spaghetti,
Let's sum up this Father's Day on what constitutes a great dad...

1.  Unconditional Love
2.  A sense of humor
3.  Protective
4.  Fun
5.  Puts family first

And you sure are blessed and lucky that your dad encompasses all of these.

Ellie, you are learning that dinner time is important at our house.  We don't always sit at the dining room table but the process of making dinner and sitting down somewhere together is what is most important.  Your favorite is when you and I join your Dad on the porch as he grills.  You love to run around (even picking up dried up worms once or twice), enjoy the gorgeous summer weather, and having your family together in one place.  If we aren't outside while your Dad grills, you are pounding on the sliding glass door yelling his name. 
You are yelling for your Dad in this one!

For this month's recipe, it's only appropriate that I share my favorite grilling recipe of your dad's (in fact, it's the one I chose for him to make every Mother's Day!):

Grilled Salmon
-          Sprinkle with lemon juice
-          Add Salt and pepper
-          Completely coat with Grey Poupon
-          Add Salt and pepper again
-          Grill to taste.  I like Salmon cooked Medium-Well to Well, so I grill it for about 20 minutes on high.

This song (and I think of songs as poems that are sung) always reminded me of your dad since the day you were born.  His nickname for you Ellie is Baby and you truly have stolen his heart.  When you fall down as you are perfecting your walk, he feels the pain sometimes more than you. 

Tim McGraw's My Little Girl

Gotta hold on easy as I let you go
Gonna tell you how much I love you
Though you think you already know
I remember I thought you looked like an angel wrapped in pink so soft and warm
You've had me wrapped around your finger since the day you were born

You beautiful baby from the outside in
Chase your dreams but always know the road that'll lead you home again
Go on, take on this whole world
But to me you know you'll always be, my little girl

When you were in trouble that crooked little smile could melt my heart of stone
Now look at you, I've turned around and you've almost grown
Sometimes you're asleep I whisper "I Love You" in the moonlight at your door
As I walk away, I hear you say, "Daddy Love You More"

Your beautiful baby from the outside in
Chase your dreams but always know the road that'll lead you home again
Go on, take on this whole world
But to me you know you'll always be, my little girl

Someday, some boy will come and ask me for your hand
But I won't say "yes" to him unless I know, he's the half
That makes you whole, he has a poet's soul, and the heart of a man's man
I know he'll say that he's in love
But between you and me
He won't be good enough

Your beautiful baby from the outside in
Chase your dreams but always know the road that'll lead you home again
Go on, take on this whole world
But to me you know you'll always be, my little girl

Make sure you always tell your Dad how much you love him!

And now from your Mimi…

Hi Ellie,    

I feel that since this is the last week of our Father's Day Month blog, I need to incorporate something "manly" into my "tea" opening!  So how about this?  Here is an excerpt from Chris Cason's article on The Tea Party: History and Ideas.

It was early on the crisp December evening.  A group of 200 some-odd men assembled in disguise on a nearby hill.  The crowd marched down to the wharf two-by-two, crying, "Boston harbor, a teapot tonight!"  They descended upon 3 ships and demanded the captains grant them access to the holds.  With the faux-tomahawks from their costumes, they split open all 340 chests of cargo and pitched them overboard.  This single event, organized as a protest against a tax that made it harder to get tea, was dubbed "The Boston Tea Party."

Wow!  Can you believe they threw All that tea overboard?  I have a hard time throwing a bottle of almost empty Catsup away!  It drives Poppy crazy that I try to get every last drop of that yummy tasting condiment out of the bottle, and the only way to do that is to turn it upside down in the refrigerator so that it is continuously standing on its head!  I am certainly not one to be wasteful!  But back to the story at hand.  Hmmmmm.... leave it to a man always trying to "fix" things!  But I guess in this case it worked!  I do think the women of this "time period" could have accomplished the same result Ellie if they were given a chance... and they probably could have accomplished it without having to throw all that precious tea overboard too!  My guess would be that the towns women probably would have had the fires a roaring, the kettles a boiling, the chatter a going and the tea a sipping!  And they probably would have had all their friends along with foe joining in with their merry festivities, only to end the tea party with everyone forgetting what their beginning purpose of drinking all the tea was actually for!  As for me, the only time I throw out my tea is when it tastes "funky" which I can tell you is very rare!  And at this very moment the only place this delicious cup of tea that I have in my hand will be thrown to; is down my throat!   Mmmmmmm....yup, it is a good one!  Waste not, want not.

So Ellie, I asked your Poppy to give me his thoughts on what makes a "great dad."  Here is what he said:

1.  Live your values:  The choices you make in life not only reflect on you but your family too.
2.  Assume personal responsibility:  If you are brave enough to do things, make sure you are brave enough to accept the responsibility and or the consequences that go along with it.
3.  Your word and handshake are everything:  When you say something and when you promise something... make sure you follow through with it.  It will show honesty, integrity and good faith.
4.:  Learn something new each day, Laugh at least once a day and work hard everyday:  Tomorrow is promised to no one.

Your Poppy is a wonderful man Ellie and he adores you to the moon and back.  By taking your Daddy's advice and your Poppy's advice, you will grow up to be a very wise and insightful woman.

For this month’s recipe I have chosen grilled vegetables, as it would be a nice "side dish" to serve with your daddy's famous grilled salmon!
Here it is:

Balsamic Grilled Vegetables

1 medium yellow squash and 1 medium zucchini, sliced on a bias
1 medium eggplant and 1 red onion, sliced in 1/2 inch thick circles
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced in 1/2 lengthwise
1 red bell pepper and 1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and quartered
2 portobello mushroom caps, gilled and peeled
3 green onions
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2-cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2-cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat grill to high
Prepare all vegetables.  Place them in a roasting pan with the mushroom caps and green onions.  Season vegetables generously with salt and pepper, and toss with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Place vegetables; cut side down, on the hot grill and cook for a couple minutes on each side, or until tender and nicely marked by the grill.  Remove from grill and toss with an additional 1/4-cup balsamic vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper to taste!

Now here is a poem that I think is befitting of "Dads" everywhere and a perfect end to this month’s blog on Father's Day.

Only A Dad
By:  Edgar Albert Guest

Only a dad with a tired face, coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame, to show how well he has played the game,
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice, to see him come and to hear his voice.

Only a dad with a brood of four, one of ten million men or more.
Plodding along in the daily strife, bearing the whips and the scorns of life,
With never a whimper of pain or hate, for the sake of those who at home await.

Only a dad neither rich nor proud, merely one of the surging crowd,
Toiling, striving from day to day, facing whatever may come his way.
Silent whenever the harsh condemn, and bearing it all for the love of them.

Only a dad but he gives his all, to smooth the way for his children small.
Doing with courage stern and grim, the deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen, Only a dad, but the best of men.

So Kimberly, how about for our July blogs we make them a "Vacation Theme"?  Since so much travel is going on this summer it only seems to fit perfectly!  I would actually like to start out the month with sharing our story of the 3 of us traveling to Wisconsin to visit our Green Bay family!  Something tells me that the plane ride with Ellie could prove to be a very memorable experience!

Till next time Ellie-bean,
Love Mimi

Friday, June 17, 2011

Father's Day & Then Some Month of June- Blog 3: Letters from Mom & Mimi

Your Mimi & I in character as Dee and Ruthie!

Hello Sweet Ellie!

I need to take a one week break from honoring dads to refresh your memory of the past week.  First off, your Mimi is back to visit!!!  Yay!  And nothing is ever dull when she is here... in fact, life seems to be so much more fun during her visits.  And so, we started her vacation with a bang.  Your Mimi had this great idea to have a Murder Mystery Tea Party!  So who to invite for a Thursday acting day?  My school friends of course.  Unfortunately, you are too small to be a part of this kind of tea party but I wanted to share it with you so that someday we can do it together.  I was the snooty hostess and your Mimi was the clumsy neighbor.  The 9 of us had scripts to read to give clues as to why our neighbor was murdered all during a three course meal (scones, tea sandwiches, and dessert) served with tea of course (your Mimi prepared everything and boy was it delicious… and even better, I got to claim credit for all the work as my role was Dee, the amazing hostess).  Your Mimi provided us with hours of fun and laughter. 

I am so glad my Mom is here Ellie and so are you.  You can say Mimi clearly and you sure do love her as much as she loves you.  As I keep saying, there aren't many people you particularly like or will freely go to (I think the total is 5), but you have a special bond and run to your Mimi when you see her at the airport (as you can see by these gigantic smiles of excitement!).  

You've already showed her your fun in the pool and outside at the park. 

So what's next on our crazy 2 1/2 week agenda with your Mimi?  Well, we will celebrate Father's Day of course and we need to make time for the zoo.  And then, it's off to see Mimi's family in Green Bay- just us girls for 5 days.  And I'm so glad that Mimi will be flying with us Ellie as you need a lot of entertainment these days!  And when we come back, our goal is to fit in a hike and mani/pedi...  Girl time = Fun time! 

Love you Spaghetti!

And now from your Mimi…

Hi Ellie-belle,

I know it is the month of celebrating Father's Day but this week is a bit special as I am calling it the "Then Some" part of our blog.  You see, I have come to Denver to visit you and your parents.  I can tell you the anticipation of my trip west has had me pretty excited.... so much so that I drank one too many cups of tea the eve before my plane departure.  And yes... that meant I pretty much watched the clock on the hour every hour until the alarm went off at 4:30 in the morning!  Tired?..... maybe a little.  Anxious to see you?..... definitely, 100% yes!

So I have now been visiting with you, your mommy and daddy for a day and a half and every minute has been special Ellie.  It began at the airport when you came running to me with your tiny arms up in the air and those precious little fingers of yours wiggling back and forth as if they were saying out loud "pick me up!"  Of course those baby blue eyes of yours were sparkling like the sun and your smile was as big as Texas and so genuine Ellie that again, you have stolen my heart.  For someone so young, you are very good at that little munchkin! Before dinner we were able to take in a quick swim where you showed off your love of the water for me.  

By the time the 3 of us arrived home, your dad was ready to grill some amazing chicken, as it was "Mexican Wednesday."  (I think it is usually Mexican Monday but they were sweet to wait for my visit in the middle of the week but couldn't think of a "W" word to go with Wednesday.  So we will have to work on that one Ellie!)  Anyway, as the 4 of us were eating, (you of course were in your highchair), we were enjoying each other’s company while catching up on each ones day to day happenings too.  I guess there must have been a moment where you were not the center of attention because very quietly and very gently you lifted your plate and placed it quite carefully on top of your head where it balanced perfectly!  

The funniest part of this story Ellie is that you knew not to move your head or the plate would fall off, so you copped a pose moving only your eyes from your mom to your dad to me and returning to your mom only to repeat this process!  Ellie, you had us giggling all night!  I love you so!  

And today was another special day.  Your mommy is a bundle of energy Ellie and so much fun to always be around.  I love her so, also!  About a month ago I bought a Murder Mystery Themed Tea Party on line so your mommy decided to host it during my visit.   She is so good at "taking the ball and running with it"!  So with some of her wonderful colleagues we were all given a specific character to role-play for the afternoon and what fun we had!   Your mommy was to be a "June Clever" of sorts and I was to be a clumsy oaf of sorts, but your cousin Steve Russell upon closer inspection put us in a completely different category.  

Apparently your mommy looked more like the cartoon character Wilma Flintstone and I looked like Betty Rubble!   When you get older Ellie, never be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone as there is a world filled with exciting adventures just waiting to be explored! 

Now tomorrow has yet to come but the plan is for you, your mommy and I to visit the Denver Zoo!  I believe a busy weekend is in store too followed by a fun filled week in Green Bay to spend with more relatives who adore you!  I will tell you more about your Green Bay family in a later blog.

So Ellie, I guess the lesson to be learned this week is to always enjoy the time spent with the company you keep.  Your mommy will always be your mommy and the best is, she can be your best friend too!  Make sure to share fun moments with her often and make sure to share quiet times of reflection with her too.  You will continually learn new things about the wonderful person she is Ellie and you will also learn new things about yourself and what makes you the wonderful person you are!  Embrace every moment for they truly are times to treasure! 

OK Kimberly, how about next week we finish up our June blog with what makes a "Great Dad" along with an awesome grilling recipe in honor of Father's Day!

Till then Ellie-bean,
Love Mimi

Friday, June 10, 2011

Father's Day Month of June- Blog 2: Letters from Mom & Mimi

Ellie, this is your first picture with your Dad.
So Ellie Belle,

To continue celebrating Father's, let's talk about your Daddy (and you say Daddy in the sweetest way about a million times in a day either looking for your Dad if he is at work or wanting his attention when he is home).  He is hands down, the FUNNIEST person I know (and with the way you like to make people laugh, I think you are taking after him).  He is gentle, sweet, and kind (especially when he is with you).  You share his passion for the couch.  In fact, you love the exact cushion he favors and you lay on it in the same way that he does.  Even when you push your dad's buttons, I have never heard him raise his voice with you.  Rather, he will try anything to get you to smile (including letting you crawl up and down the stairs a million times as you practice). 
Playing with your Dad on the couch!
Your Dad was at every doctor's appointment leading up to your birth and slept in the recliner chair for four days in the hospital (as you were a c-section baby) after you were born so that he could get to you faster if you cried.  Your Dad would take every other night feeding after you came home.  And now that you are so mobile, he loves to roll balls to you on the floor.  I think he has high hopes for you to be in little league baseball!  And now that we joined the rec center, we are at the pool.  Your Dad enjoys seeing you be a natural fish in the water!
Heading to your Dad's baseball game for the first time!

But I already knew that your Dad was the perfect father before you born because he was amazing with Kyle.  I remember him holding Kyle so softly that Kyle felt at peace.  I always said that Kyle felt most comfortable in your Daddy's arms.  When Kyle died, your Dad's comfort, peace, and stability made it easier for me to live on (even in his deepest despair, your Dad's strength never ceases to amaze me).  
My boys...
Ellie at 1 year old, you have a silly sense of humor that you get from your Dad.  You try to make people laugh by sticking out your tongue, giving people your toys and snatching them back, and making hilarious noises.  The more people laugh, the more you do it.  And just like your Dad, you show affection to those you care most about.  My favorite is when you walk by your Dad and stop and kiss his knee and keep on going.
You were your Dad's best medicine after his shoulder surgery!

The things I love most about your Dad that I hope you inherit:
1.  His Humor
2.  His Loyalty
3.  His Honesty
4.  His Generosity
5.  His Love for His Family

I also love your Daddy because he gave me you and Kyle.
Our first family portrait (and Kyle's in it to as his picture is in my locket).
We really do have the best family Ellie and being at home with you and your Dad is my favorite place to be.

And now from your Mimi…

Good Morning Ellie Sunshine!

We are now officially into the beautiful and "warm" month of June!  This early morning I am sitting on our deck under the patio umbrella drinking my tea while blogging to you!  I will have another cup with Poppy when he wakes up.

This week in honor of Father's Day I would like to write a little bit about your daddy Ellie and also a follow up to your mommy's story about Poppy and his "critter friends."  So here goes.

Before I began writing my part of this week’s blog Ellie, I read what your mommy wrote first.  And I must say she wrote a beautiful tribute to your Dad!  Everything she said is so very true!  He is quite funny and even funnier when he laughs at his own jokes!  I remember a time while visiting your parents I was using their computer to write an e-mail.  All of a sudden the mouse to the computer started going hay-wire and the cursor was jumping all over the screen and no matter what buttons I hit, nothing would stop it!  Ellie, I thought I broke their computer.  And then all of a sudden from behind me I could hear (just barely) a whispered chuckle.  When I turned around your daddy was on his computer, and being the savvy technological brain person that he is, he had figured out a way to take control of the mouse attached to my computer!  And he was having quite a field day with it too Ellie, the whole while giggling away quite pleased with his sneaky take-over attack!  I must say that at first I was in shock, then when I realized I didn't break anything, I was in awe of his technology capabilities and soon I too laughed along with him.  Now when I visit and write my e-mails using their computer he finds it very amusing to secretly video tape me using the Doogie Houser theme song for background music and narrates his own humorous spin of a "Dear Diary" version to my lengthy writings!  He is pretty funny Ellie.  I can't help but laugh because when he laughs it is contagious!  And yes... I do think you have his personality as you can make me giggle too!  Your mommy also talked about your daddy being the perfect father before you were born.  Ellie, I can attest to that as I witnessed the love and devotion that your dad gave to your brother Kyle.  I remember a day while your daddy was holding Kyle in the NICU, and the nurse on duty had asked your daddy how much longer he would like to hold his son.  Your daddy's response to her broke my heart for he whispered "forever."  He so loved your brother Ellie and had so many hopeful wishes for him. He was gentle with Kyle and protective of him too.  Through all the difficulties, the quick moments of happiness, the many days of unknowing, and the times of sadness, your daddy's love and strength never wavered both for Kyle and your mommy.  He truly was their "rock” Ellie.  Now seeing your daddy with you, well that same love can be seen in his eyes all over again.  That love is within his whole being and it shall be forever.  When your parents brought you home from the hospital, your dad was right there to help your mommy in every way he could.  I was pretty impressed.  He took turns with your mom for the night feedings, he changed your soiled diapers, he rocked you when you cried and he was the only one of all of us that could swaddle you like a perfect mummy making you feel completely secure! 
Your Dad perfected that swaddle technique!

Now he plays ball with you, he swims with you, and he watches your favorite TV shows with you too!   And I can't wait till you are old enough to play a game of Fish or Old Maid with him.  You see Ellie; your daddy is quite competitive.  It will be interesting to see if your age along with your relationship of being his daughter softens this edgy trait of his.  I will tell you right now that my age and my being the Mother-in-law does not!   You would think that would give me an upper hand at intimidating him into playing a gentle card game of Uno.  NO SUCH DEAL!   I will tell you that we have a blast playing this game but your dad is brutal when the game gets down to one of us holding the "Uno" card and hopefully securing a win!  The first few times we played the "wins" were mine dubbing me "Queen of Uno", but your dad was determined to quickly seize that title turning it from "Queen to King."   And yes, I will admit that he has successfully transferred the title to himself the last few games.  So I guess I am going to have to change up my strategy a bit in reclaiming the "Queen of Uno Title" since your daddy shows no mercy for the "old lady" and "mother-in-law" tactic!  So the war continues........ 

Ellie, your daddy is a really good man and a wonderful father!  You sweet child are very blessed.  

Now for Poppy.

Your Poppy is truly a "one of a kind" man, Ellie.  And I mean that in the best possible way!  Right now I would like to share with you a humorous rodent story ... it is one of many that involve your Poppy.  But we have years to write about them and catch you up with his forever determination of conquering and eliminating those pesky little critters.

I would like to title this chapter  "The Rodentator"- Poppy vs. Chippy Chipmunk
 Meet Chippy...

Since your Poppy grew up in the city of Philadelphia with its hustle and bustle and high crime Ellie, moving to peaceful State College and its rural ethnicity seemed to be the perfect choice to raise a family.  So we chose a suitable lot on a quiet cul-de-sac with an open field across the street to build our home.  Since it was a high sloping lot, we built a raised ranch where the back of the house butts into the ground.  Because of that, we had to create a "stone wall" about 20 feet in front of our home, which gives our front-yard two levels.   The lower level is all grass and a half-moon hedge while the upper level is colorful flowers and bushes.  (By the way, those "stones" are more like massive boulders piled on top of each other!)  Since we built in the late fall, winter was upon us in no time.  So it wasn't until the spring when your Poppy noticed "one" imperfection in our yard.  While looking out the window one day and admiring the landscaping with its budding flowers and green sprouts, your Poppy noticed something.  It was little, brown, cocky, digging holes and playing hide and seek in and out of our stone wall!  I thought your Poppy was going to lose his mind!  Next thing I know he is yelling at the little creature to scat (who by the way is on the other side of the window and can't hear a word he is saying!) "City boy" Poppy all of a sudden became "Rural Hunter" Poppy!  Off he drove to Lowe's to buy an arsenal of "Rodent's Be Gone For Good" stuff!  Ellie, Poppy doesn't do anything in small quantities!  When I asked him what he bought, he said to come and see.  He had a store bag full of "stuff!"  The first thing he pulled out of his bag was a can of foam filler.  When I asked him what he was going to do with it, he said he was going to fill all the cracks and crevices in the stone wall.  And that is exactly what he did.  (The stone wall is probably 20 feet long and 6 feet high.)  He explained that the foam he was using would expand and seal all the openings so that Chippy Chipmunk would not be able to enter his chipmunk home anymore and have to move elsewhere!  There was only one slight glitch though.  Poppy didn't just spray a little bit into the cracks, Poppy sprayed and sprayed and sprayed!  Well, it didn't take long for the foam to set in.  (It also didn't take long for the foam to expand!)   Ellie, there was so much foam in the wall, it started oozing out of all the cracks, and I mean Oozing with a capital O!    It looked like the wall was being taken over by some horrific and ugly looking fungus!  I was mortified!  But your Poppy said not to worry... he would take care of that too!  And he did!  Out of his store bag, he pulled out a can of black spray paint and proceeded to spray the yellow and white oozing foam from one end of the stone wall to the other until his can was empty.  (Can I just say that Poppy would have made an awesome graffiti artist!)  My wall now became a colorful mess of grey, black, yellow and white!  Oh.... and it was "days" before that foam stopped expanding!  So our original stonewall became quite a site to see.  And you know what?  It didn't force Chippy Chipmunk to move either.  I think that marked the day the war was officially on between that little critter and your Poppy!  Because the next day Poppy pulled out of his store bag a half dozen rattraps, which he strategically placed all around the upper portion of our front yard.  And he made sure there was lots of yummy peanut butter attached to its snap catcher too!  When guests came to visit I just told them..."Don't ask."  Ellie, the story gets funnier because I am sure you can guess what happened.  Yup.  That "Mensa" chipmunk figured out a way to fill his belly with all the peanut butter and not set one trap off!  But the story isn't quite yet finished.  There was still one more "Rodent Ridder" in that Lowe's store-bag.  So out your Poppy goes again and pulls out of the bag these little what I would call 3 inch by 3 inch sticky pads.  He placed a slew of them all around the holes where Chippy dug, and there were lots of them!  I think their purpose was when a rodent skittered across one, it would stick to the pad and then you could dispose of the animal however you wished.  Hmmmmm..... To this day we all still ponder what happened to all of our sticky pads.  My guess is that Chippy Chipmunk is one up on your Poppy!  He probably had little chipmunk shoes made for himself and all his little friends!  So the war continues.....

So I guess Ellie the lesson to be learned here is that not all "wars" are hurtful.  Wars between friends and family can be fun, competitive and humorous.  You just need to know where the boundaries are.  Rules are made for guidance, but they certainly can be changed or even "bent" a bit as long as those participating in the activity are all in agreement.  In life you should have fun with, appreciate all, and enjoy the company of those around you!

Next week I think we should blog about the "Then Some" part of our June Month!  What do you think Kimberly?  Surprises are always the most fun!

Till then Ellie-bean,
Love Mimi

Friday, June 3, 2011

Father's Day Month of June- Blog 1: Letters from Mom & Mimi

Dear Ellie Belly,

So the other amazing father that I wanted to tell you about is your Poppy.  You can say Poppy so clearly and he loves to hear it over Skype.  Sometimes, we call him Crazy Ed too.  It's hard for me to find the right words to describe your grandfather because I've never met anyone quite like him.  So I'll try to do justice of describing a man I completely admire and love by making a list of his very quirky and endearing personality: 

1.  He has biggest heart of anyone I know (he buys you anything you touch at Babies-R-Us)
He bought you your first rocking horse on his last visit...
2.  He is obsessed with Disney (he turns into the biggest kid there, he literally runs for the Magic Kingdom!)
3.  He is extremely protective of his family (your Poppy came with me on my first date, it was awful!)
4.  He is a problem-solver (call him anytime day or night with a problem and he will figure out a solution)
5.  He is very sentimental (Kyle is always close to his heart)
6.  He is a perfectionist (I always have my car detailed before he comes to visit so as not to hear him complain...)
7.  He is a little bit anal (He never sets his watch backward when he comes to Denver, he leaves it on "real time" and tends to follow meal and sleeping times of the east coast)
8.  Name brands do matter to him (which is good for you because he only buys the best and usually the most expensive!)
9.  He really likes to shop (whenever he comes out, suggest a mall outing and he will be thrilled!)
10.  He is super shy (which many people mistake for snobbery)
11.  He can tell a funny story better than anyone and make you pee your pants laughing so hard
12.  He is extremely cynical and political (unless you want an earful or a million forwards in your email inbox, don't ask him about the government)
13.  He is still working on technology (he is the only person I know with a dial-up connection and an IPhone at the same time)
14.  He can be cool (he started a monogrammed trend with you Ellie and it all began with this hat he had made before you were born.  We gave it to the nurses in the delivery room for you to wear as soon as you arrived and you wore it for quite some time!)
You (in that trendy monogrammed hat) and Pop-pop on the day you were born.
15.  He is a city boy that moved to the country (and still fights with the wildlife... yes, I had to bring friends over and explain why we had rat traps going up our front steps... my Dad thought he was onto something new on how to get rid of chipmunks eating his flowers).   Mimi, please tell Ellie the skunk story and Dad's ongoing war with the gophers!

My Dad is the epitome of juxtaposition if I ever saw one.  But Ellie, he would give you his right arm if you needed it, which he would do for anyone he loves.  When Kyle was sick, it just about killed him that he couldn't fix it, or find someone who could not matter how much money would be involved.  My Dad would whisper into Kyle's ears during those 11 days to get better and if he did, he would take him to Disney World.  To give Kyle a glimpse of Disney, my Dad brought a giant (well giant compared to Kyle's 4 pound body) stuffed animal of Mickey Mouse.  I'm sure if Kyle did live to see Disney World, he would have been so scared of that mouse!  

In the end, because your Poppy was so sad over Kyle's death and saw how upset your Daddy and I were, he set up the scholarship in your brother's name to have his memory live on.  Kyle also is literally with your Poppy everyday too (he got Kyle's picture tattooed on his arm).     

Besides Kyle, he loves you more than anyone.  Family is my Dad's life.  Every day, you and I call him on the way to daycare and we Skype with him when we get home.  You, Ellie, bring out a side of him that I never saw.  My Dad worked very hard when I was little, often working many hours in overtime.  So to watch him sing to you, read to you, and play on the floor with you when he visits (and he is a big guy) makes my heart melt.
This chair was another Babies-R-Us purchase from your Poppy... we had to make two trips home that day to get all of the toys he bought you back to the house!
For my Dad's birthday, we celebrated when he came to visit in December.  Like I've said before, in our family the birthday person gets to choose the restaurant of their choice to spend the evening.  My Dad enjoys good food and he picked a fancy steakhouse, Shanahan's, to go to.  You were only 9 months old and I offered to get you a babysitter but he wouldn't have it (he said his birthday was meant to be with the people he cares most about).  You came with us, and although he walked you around to keep you busy while we waited for the food to come, you were a good girl and your Poppy was so happy that you spent the evening with him on his special night.   

I will save Disney World for a later blog but just know that I never saw your Poppy so excited than having him show you the Magic Kingdom.  It was him and your Mimi that took you on Winnie the Pooh and the Teacups.  

Take advantage of the fact that your Poppy is a kid at heart.  That's why we go to the zoo, the aquarium, and the park when he comes out to play with you.

Never underestimate how much he loves you.  You have taken up a huge chunk of his heart.

Like I keep saying, you are one loved child girlfriend!

Love you Ellie Girl!
And now from your Mimi…

Good Morning Ellie!

I love to start my blog to you on Sunday mornings as I am an early riser, and with my teacup in hand, the peacefulness of the outdoors brings to me fresh ideas!  As I stepped outside this morning to retrieve the paper, the warmth of the day has already seeped into the air I am breathing.  With a slow inhale and exhale I could smell the freshness of the colorful green bushes still moist from the layer of dewdrops blanketing them.  I could feel the oncoming humidity slowly edging its way into the day.  I could also see a chipper blue jay dancing from branch to branch on the neighboring evergreen tree.  I could tell this was a perfect mix for a daydreaming opportunity but my first thought settled on the temperature.  It was rising quickly (the time is not yet 7:00 am) and as the minutes passed while I stood looking out over the land, I had a split second thought that maybe I should switch my teacup of steaming tea to a tall glass of freshly brewed ice-tea!  NOT!  Better to go back into the house where Poppy keeps it cool enough that I will be retrieving a sweater soon, which surely will compliment the socks I wear with my sandals so frostbite doesn't take over my toes!

So this month our topic theme is Father's Day and Then Some!  Well Ellie, here is its definition:

Father's Day: Father’s Day is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday in June.  This day is a day for children to honor their fathers.  Father's Day began in Spokane Washington by Sonora Dodd who thought of the idea while listening to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909.  Since her father raised her solely, she wanted him to know how special he was to her. She chose to hold the First Father's Day on June 19th, 1910 (her father's birth month.)  In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the 3rd Sunday in June as Father's Day and President Nixon established it as a permanent national observance day in 1972.  It is a day to express the love and gratitude you have for your father.  It is also said that red is worn for a living father and white is worn for a deceased father.  

Now the definition for Then Some:  Being of the unknown followed next after.   Hmmmmmmm.  Interesting group of words, don't you think Ellie?  Let's see what surprises this interesting jumble of words brings to us in this beautiful month of bustling activity!  After all, June is the month when summer officially begins.  June is the month where schools across the nation close and children toss aside textbooks opting for swimming pools, barbeques and outdoor activities!  June is tank-tops, shorts, flip-flops and sunscreen! So let's get started by honoring our dad's! 

So Ellie, there are two dads that I would like to honor this first week of June.  One being my own father and the other being Poppy's dad.

My dad was a good man Ellie, both kind and gentle.  And he was a great judge of character.  I remember he always said that you could tell an honest man by his handshake.  Since he passed away 12 years ago from lung cancer, my description and story of him shall be from years gone by.  I will start at his beginning.  Your great Grandpa Jones was born and raised in Green Bay Wisconsin.  Along with his parents there were two younger siblings, Uncle Don and Aunt Snuffy.  
When he graduated from high school he joined the navy for 4 years.  I believe I already told you that that is when he met your Great Gram Jones.  They married and after his service time, they settled back in his hometown of Green Bay to raise a family.  He worked full-time as a lineman at the city's utility company and also dabbled in part-time electrical jobs with his dearest friend.  My dad was of the mindset that his job was first priority to make sure that there was always food on our table, clothes on our backs and bills paid on time.  He pretty much left the disciplining to your Great Gram Jones, but when her discipline tactics fell upon our six deaf ears, she would then play the "Just Wait Till Your Father Gets Home" card!  I don't know why that scared the daylights out of us Ellie, as nothing could be worse than how that darned wooden spoon she owned magically appeared in her right hand before you blinked, but it did!  Looking back now, I don't recall my dad even raising his voice at us kids.  What I do remember though is how much he loved to take us to the lake-house of his best friend Kenny for weekend get-a-ways. Because our families were so close, they happened often. Karen, Kenny's oldest daughter, was my best friend and through the years we spent much of our waking hours in and on the water.  Since we loved to water-ski, many times my dad would haul us around the lake in their boat while we showed off our expert skiing!  Your Great-Grandpa also loved the holidays.  When we 3 children were young, Santa Claus always decorated our tree on Christmas Eve.  When your Aunt Sheri and I became teenagers (your Uncle Stevie was still a few years behind) my parents decided that we three children would relieve Santa and take over his duties of decorating our tree, so that he may add another family to his list.  So on Christmas Eve my dad would string the lights throughout the tree, then take a seat in his recliner and direct your Aunt Sheri, Uncle Stevie and I to where we should carefully place the Christmas ornaments.  (That part was fun.)   Then your Great Grandma would hand us a packet of tinsel to place on each branch and I remember your Great Grandpa saying over and over again, "One tinsel at a time kids!"  Ellie, do you know how long that takes?  Ugh!  How about forever!  (Doing it his way did not gel well with my short attention span.)  I thought I would die of old age before Santa had the opportunity to deliver our presents under the tree, so every once in awhile I would throw a fistful of that silvery stuff on a branch hoping he wouldn't catch me! Sometimes it worked, most times it didn't!  I also remember how he loved to grill on the Weber, and also bake and cook on the weekends.  Once in awhile the deep-fat fryer would come out on a Saturday morning.  That meant your Great Grandfather was going to make homemade donuts for us and Ellie were they ever delicious, both the donut holes and the donut rings, as he would leave some plain and powder-sugar the rest!  We could devour them as fast as he made them!  I think he always had a shot of brandy and a bottle of beer while sifting through this great breakfast undertaking, hmmmmm... I wonder if that was a staple ingredient handwritten in the margin of his recipe card!  Fried Chicken was another of his incredible tasting and favorite dishes to make.  Since the prep work involved a few hours... your Great Grandfather enjoyed a drink or two or three while preparing this great dinner.  Let's just say that he was a happy cook with his Brandy Manhattan at his side but didn't always join us for the actual feast when it was ready to be served as he was as the saying goes "Three Sheets to the Wind" or in simpler terms, drunk!  I always thought he was a happy "drinker", but my siblings might beg to differ.  I honestly thought this way of life was normal Ellie, it wasn't until I was much older that I realized it wasn't.  At the age of 19 I moved away from home and relocated to Philadelphia. 
This is your Pop-Pop Bud and Gram Bubbles on Mimi's wedding day Ellie. 

It was difficult leaving my parents, sister and brother, as we were a close-knit family, but my dad and mom always found a way to surprise me with unexpected visits!  When your mommy and Uncle Ryan were born your Great Grandpa loved them very much.  His eyes would light up when they were near.  He wasn't much for holding them in his arms Ellie... his enjoyment came from sitting close by and watching them play.  And he could do this for hours on end and be quite content.  He seemed to have nicknames for all the children, whether it be "curtain climber", "rugrat", or "ankle biter", everyone got a name.  I remember he used to call your Uncle Ryan "Ryrick" all the time and when your Uncle Ryan was old enough to answer, he would do so by calling your Great Grandpa, "Budrick!"  As the years went on your Great Grandfather's drinking became a serious health issue.  He was kind of like a cat with 9 lives using his up though way too quickly!  After one incident, his closest brush with death, we the family banned together and set up an intervention.  Ellie, from that day on your Great Grandfather was alcohol free and a somewhat changed man.  He was still gentle and kind but seemed to smile more and really appreciate his family, his friends and the love that surrounded him.  Since he was always fascinated with gadgets and technology your Poppy and I gave him our computer since we were planning on upgrading models. Ellie it was the best gift ever.  I particularly loved it, as it was a quick way for him and I to communicate.  The long distance between us didn't seem so long any more.  E-mails were frequent just to say all was well and he loved forwarding me new recipes that he was always experimenting with in the kitchen.  I so enjoyed this connection with him.  Then came that dreadful April day when I received a phone call that my father had terminal cancer and most likely no more than three months to live.  Ellie, as sad as I was, I took that time to write him a letter.  I wanted him to take my thoughts to heaven with him.  I wanted him to know how much I loved him, how grateful I was that he was my dad, how I admired him and his courage, what a wonderful grandfather he was and that he always knew how to make me smile.  Oh, I forgot to tell you Ellie that he had another nickname for me too.  He called me "Smiley" throughout my childhood when he wasn't calling me "Mickey Mouse”!  I am not sure why he dubbed me with that name... maybe it was because I kind of walked through life a bit clueless at times, always smiling though, hoping that no one would catch on, but they did Ellie, and then I would get teased for it.  But back to your Great Grandfather… God came and took him home 3 days shy of his 70th birthday, July 9th 1999.   But before he peacefully passed away, God blessed me with the chance to make it home to Green Bay in time to say goodbye to him.  He awoke briefly, long enough for me to tell him I loved him, to kiss him and smile for him one last time.  My father was a great man Ellie, a good man, and I believe he fulfilled his purpose while here.

Another "Dad" that I would like to honor Ellie is your Great Pop-pop Russell.  He is Poppy's dad.  Let me begin here with his story. Your Great Pop-pop Russell was born and raised in Philadelphia.  He was the second youngest of seven children.  He and your Great Gram Russell grew up in the same neighborhood.  They knew each other since they were both 7 years old, and eventually became high school sweethearts.  Your Great Pop-pop Russell joined the Marines and eventually married your Great Gram in 1955. They had two beautiful children, your Poppy and your Great Aunt Joanne.  Great Pop-pop Russell was of the same mindset as my father.... he worked hard to provide for his family working at Abbott's Laboratory with continual side jobs.  Within a few years he joined the Philadelphia Fire Department and worked as a firefighter for 28 years while also taking on plumbing work with his brother, your Great-great Uncle Jack, on the side.  I asked Poppy which of his parents was the stronger disciplinarian and with a slight hesitation he let your Great Gram off the hook and said it was his father.  Your Great Pop-pop Russell may have had a stern voice, but he also was fiercely protective of those he loved.  When your Poppy and I married we were blessed with the opportunity to buy a row house on the same street as your Great Pop-pop and Great Gram Russell.  We were only 10 houses away and whenever we needed them, they were there.  When your mommy and Uncle Ryan were born Ellie, I believe that they were truly your Great Pop-pop Russell's greatest joy.  He was and still is a wonderful and loving grandfather.  I remember your mommy could do no wrong in his eyes!  Where his own children were barely allowed to sit on their plastic covered couch, your mommy could jump on it, do somersaults on it and stand on it with her shoes on to look in the big mirror that hung on the wall behind it!  Sometimes your Great Gram invited us to dinner on a night your Great Pop-pop would have to work the night shift.   Before he left for work your mommy would always ask him to play with her.  So while dressed in his uniform he would sit down on the living-room floor and let your mommy put curlers in his hair and blue eye shadow on his eyes! Then he would have to go back upstairs and wash it all off before he left for work!  With your Uncle Ryan I remember your Great Pop-pop coming down to our house everyday to take him for a walk around the block, and not in a stroller Ellie but in his arms.  He also loved getting down on the floor to play with whatever toy or figurine your Uncle Ryan handed him.  I think he was your Uncle Ryan's favorite playmate! When your uncle was old enough to walk down to their house by himself to see if your Great Pop-pop was home, he tried to by-pass your Great Gram Russell by peeking through the mail slot, which was located in the middle of their front screen-door.  If Poppy's dad was home, he would be sitting on the couch where your uncle could spy him... if not, your Uncle Ryan would just high-tail it home never letting Great Gram know he was there!  Poppy's dad also helped Poppy coach your mommy's little league team and he never missed your Uncle Ryan's baseball and football games.  Now you, Ellie, bring him great joy by the pictures your mommy posts on facebook and e-mail.  He also loves to skype with you. Your Great Pop-pop Russell is truly devoted to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and loves you all very much.
And here is your Pop Russell loving you!

So next week Kimberly we should continue our Father's Day tribute.  Justin should be the priority.  And I would love to share with Ellie some of Poppy's crazy rodent stories too.... "City boy gone rural!"   
Ellie, I shall now leave you with this thought on grandfathers, fathers and their children.  It comes from Proverbs 17:6. - Children's children are the crown of old men: and the glory of children are their fathers. -   Learn from your father, respect your father and love your father.  Great admiration is an honor.  

Till next week Sunshine.
Love Mimi