Friday, September 2, 2011

Characteristic Traists of September- Blog 1: Letters from Mom & Mimi

To My Dearest Ellie,

This month, your Mimi came up with the topic of Characteristic Traits so that you know who we are (not just as your mom and grandmother, but as real people).  To jump start us, we asked those people who grew up with us for one word that best describes us and why.   

I emailed your Poppy and Ryan to help me because I knew they would be honest (especially your Uncle Ryan) and they lived with me the longest (aside from your Mimi).  And as much as I value her opinion, your Mimi and I tend to just tell each other how wonderful the other is so I’m not sure how deep this would go if we asked each other!).

So Poppy emailed me a list (very typical and sweet of him but I only wanted one, so this one topped the bunch), “Driven- When you see or want something you put your mind to it and figure out a way to make it happen.”  I really think that this is his nice way to say anal.  You see Ellie, I can’t let anything go unfinished.  EVER.   

I would be the student in school and through college that others hated because I would do a homework assignment the day it was given, despite its due date several days or weeks later.  I’m like that with books I am hooked on… I will stay up all night to finish them.  And now this seems to be the case with the mail… I can’t let one day pass without checking the postal box (and as soon as I do, I have to pay any bills, put away any pictures I ordered, or write thank you notes immediately to any gifts sent).  I know, I am a bit retentive!  And in retrospect, it’s not the best trait to have… I may get things done quickly but that doesn’t mean that it’s always the best quality.  The best example, these blogs… I have them done days (sometimes the framework completed weeks) in advance.  As much as I appreciate a challenge, the idea of a looming deadline worries me to no end.  And in my eyes a finished project is finished… it’s like pulling teeth to have me go back and revise after my mind has mentally shut it down.  I love to-do lists so I can cross off items (in fact, I write items I already completed on them just so I can check them off- it’s the best feeling of relief!).  So Ellie, I love my Dad for being so optimistic but I think this is a lifelong struggle of mine to realize that I can get to things tomorrow and relax today (and taking the time to do the best work possible anytime, even when I think I am done).  Maybe hiding the mail key someday will help (or drive me to the insane asylum so don’t try that!).  
Ryan texted me his response, “Bossy- This should be self-explanatory.  It’s no surprise you became a teacher since you used to make me sit in your pretend class and write a giant letter “F” on each piece of my pretend homework.”  Poor Ryan, who is two and half years younger than me, never had a chance.  When I started kindergarten, I used to come home and play school and try to recreate everything that I learned that day.  I was the teacher of course and Ryan was the student.  But Ryan was only barely three, had never been to school, and couldn’t yet read so of course I had to fail him when he couldn’t complete my work!  But he got me back in the end- I distinctly remember (and I bet I could find the scar) when he bit me in retaliation for all the red marks (from the red felt-tipped pen my Mom bought me) that I made on his incorrect responses on papers.  Very ironic that we both ended up as educators… I hope that I learned some compassion from him and I hope that he learned to try a little harder ;)  Truly, I’m glad Ryan doesn’t have self-esteem issues from those days!
I wish I had a picture of my play room that I turned into my classroom.  Suffice it to say, that despite it all Ryan and I still got along and he was always the dutiful brother supporting his big sis! 

You know Ellie, I’m loving this stage you are in right now.  You are a Momma’s girl through and through. 

You mimic me, borrow my bracelets and headbands, repeat my words, and cry when I leave (and although this breaks my heart and usually makes me cry too, I do find some comfort in how attached you are to me because I know it won’t last forever).  

If I had to describe you in one word, it would be radiant because your smile and eyes light up a room but so do your facial expressions and your incredibly bright (and somewhat sarcastic) humor.   

You truly draw people in Ellie (but at the same time, it’s when you choose too as you are very selective and cautious with you who you let into your circle!). 

So now let’s ask Mimi what her best traits are after asking those that knew her best growing up.  I wonder if the word selfless will show up because that’s the one word that encompasses your Mimi’s whole being (and I think you feel that and that’s why you are so connected with her spirit).  Like I always say, I hope I can be half the Mom that she was and is.

I love you Ellie, more than I ever thought possible.

And now from your Mimi…    

Good Morning Ellie,

I arose early to get a head start on the day, but found it raining quite harshly.  The sky looks as though all its beauty has been washed away leaving in its place an endless sight of bleak grayness.  Needless to say, 2 hours later I am still in my comfy PJ’s, and of course a cup of tea is sitting to the right side of my computer and Daisy to my left meowing up a storm!  Perfect combo?  Not!  Daisy has to go!

This month of September your mommy and I decided to make our blog about the character traits of “us.”  We also decided that this first week we would ask family members who have known us the longest, what character trait of ours stood out to be what they thought was the strongest one.  Their answers were quite diverse, as you shall read.  But first Ellie, here is its definition.
Character Traits:  The Combination of qualities or features that distinguish one person from another. 

Now to start.  I agree with your mommy that we cannot write a character trait for each other because we only know love and kindness for one another and we need to give you a deeper perspective of the women we are.  Since your mommy asked your Poppy and your Uncle Ryan, I decided to ask my own mom, my sister and also my brother.   
So to give you some images from who is telling me these... your Gram Bubbles is on top with me and you from our trip this past June.  And the bottom picture is from when Aunt Sheri, Uncle Steve and I were kids...
Here is what they told me Ellie.  The first phone call I made was to my mom your Great-Grandmom Jones, and when I presented the question to her she asked me if it could be a “negative.”  Her response took me a bit off guard, but I said “sure” (a bit apprehensively of course!)  So she proceeded with, “That’s an easy question to answer Mickey…. I would say a strong trait of yours would be that you rarely finished anything you started.”  Well after my initial shock (although I should have known better) I started to giggle!  That is so like my mom.  If you are going to ask her a question, be prepared for a brutally honest answer!   It is a trait of hers Ellie that I greatly admire…. And whether we like it or not, she has never sugar coated any of her words but rather stated them straight out which in turn has helped guide us, her children, in making better choices.  But now let me go back and explain the “quitter” answer she came up with.  I think I have told you in a past blog that I have been dubbed the “2-year girl” meaning I have tried many things over the years that have lasted no more than that time frame.  However this time I think my mom was referring more to the many projects I started when I was younger and left unfinished.   One such project that comes to mind Ellie was a Hook-N- Latch Butterfly Rug that I started and quit all in one afternoon.  I remember getting as far as hooking 1 wing and ½ of the body with the colorful and plush carpet threads before setting down the needle never to be picked up again.  The rest of the plastic weaved butterfly rug laid just as that… threadless.  Needless to say it went right back into its box and stored down in the basement not to be recovered again till years later.  My mom could also have been referring to my knitting experience.   I remember a time when I wanted to make an exquisite, intricate-patterned afghan in shades of blue on my first try at knitting!   Of course that too fell short… after a dozen rows of “knit 1 pearl 2” boredom started to set in, so down went the knitting needles (also never to be picked up again) and my lovely afghan idea took on the look of a potholder!  My thinking at the time was that I could whip out this afghan in about an hour or so… and at the rate it was actually taking me to knit; it would be more like 100 years!  So of course that ended up finding its way to the basement too!  I could tell you many more stories similar to this Ellie but I shall save myself the embarrassment and tell you that your Great-Gram knows me better than most!  However if you are ever interested in hearing of those stories, you can ask her yourself for I am sure it will amuse her to tell them! 

I then asked my sister, your Aunt Sheri for a character trait.  She also spoke honestly and facebooked me this message:  “There are several traits of yours that endeared you to everyone who met or knew you when we were growing was your gullibility...we could tell you any unbelievable story...didn't matter what it was about...and you would believe it...gave everyone quite a few chuckles over the years! Love you Michelle Marie Jones Russell!”  I so love my sister Ellie, as she is the strength of us siblings.  It is her that I have always looked to for answers, for ideas, for support and for a smile.  And as much as I would like to shy away from her answer, it is the truth.  I don’t know why, but the gullibility trait is a hard one for me to swallow.  To this day I still have a difficult time “reading” people.  I am not sure why that is… when I was younger I thought God forgot to wire that part of my brain which is suppose to help me realize when someone is pulling my leg or not.  I guess I just take people at face value and assume that everyone or mostly everyone tells truths.  And of course there are times when my mouth is a good minute or so quicker than my “wait until you process all the information before you speak” brain-wire!  I am not sure if that makes sense to you Ellie but maybe the better way to put it is: Open mouth, insert foot syndrome!  I think I hold the record for this trait!  Over the years I have learned to get past the embarrassment and laugh along with family or friends once I finally “get it”, knowing that it is a character trait of mine that no matter how hard I try, I am unable to change it!  It is who I am. 

Lastly, I asked my brother, your Uncle Steve, for a character trait.  He was very sweet and told me that it wasn’t a specific word, but rather a phrase.  Ellie, he told me that when he thinks of me he sees a person that always finds the good in other people.  I have to tell you that the selfish me loved his answer (and no I did not pay my little brother to say this) and the not so selfish me is humbled by his answer.  I do love people Ellie no matter their age.  There is a part of me that knows and understands how important it is to encourage those who need encouraging, praise those you deserve praise, help those who need a helping hand and heart and love those who so need love.  Honestly Ellie, this trait could belong to a great number of people, for all it is… is taking the time to follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.  My brother is the happiest guy you could ever meet.  He takes life in stride and enjoys all aspects that it brings to him.  I believe he too wakes up with a smile each day.

Now if I were to describe a character trait of you Ellie it would be; joy.  For you bring pure joy to my life each and every day.  Even though distance wise you are so far away, we have been able through Skype to stay close and connected.   

There are times when you are so full of life that your excitement is a joy to get caught up in.   

There are times when you are quiet and observing and it is a joy watching you take in your surroundings.  There are times when you are playful and mischievous and it is a joy to see that twinkle in your eye.  

With you, Joy takes on all kinds of forms.  I see you Ellie as sunshine and blue skies.  To me that is the highest form of joy there is!

So Kimberly, how about next week we each ask our spouse for one character trait that they would say best fits us.  Hmmmmmmmm…. Next week could be an interesting blog!  Maybe we should also be honest with ourselves and state a trait that we see fit too.  What do you think of that?  Let’s hope our blog takes on a kind and humorous note… not the “my spouse is going to get the silent treatment for his response” note!

Till next time Sweet Joy,
Love Mimi


  1. Again, I so look forward to reading these blogs. You both have a way of telling a story that makes you want to read more and more. The traits one is really good and I think it will some day be really important to Elllie. Thanks again for sharing these special stories with us.

  2. Thank you Jackie! See you in 5 weeks!