Thursday, December 26, 2013

Life Lessons Month of December: Blog 4- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Hi Ellie,

Oh how I love this time of year!

Life Lessoned Learned #43: Continue holiday traditions.

You had so much fun with Griz, our Elf on the Shelf this past month.  We have now had Griz in our life for 4 Christmas seasons. 

This year, he was very creative!  He hid in the cup holder of your car seat, in the freezer with your pancakes, in Will’s swing looking at your photo album, and so many more places.  When he was sitting on your desk in your playroom, I later found out that you had garnished him with glasses and a cell phone (swearing that you never actually touched him in the process).  

You know that Griz’s magic wears off if he is touched, which is why you were in a tizzy when we had some friends and their children over.  Their one year old daughter saw Griz hiding in your advent calendar and grabbed him (after all, he is very friendly looking).  But I reassured you that Santa understands that some children aren’t old enough to understand the elf rules so that doesn’t count. 

On day one, you found Griz on the couch with his Elf on the Shelf book and your own Elf on the Shelf mug with a hot chocolate packet.  You desperately wanted Will to meet Griz but remembering the rule of no touching, you came up with a unique idea: your Dad’s grilling tongs!  So instead of bringing Will to Griz, you brought Griz to Will!  You are always so sweet to your brother! 

Griz has even left you a few personally written letters on sticky notes.  One when he was upside down on the light above the kitchen sink, he wrote that you did a fabulous job dancing in the Nutcracker (which was true, you were amazing in those 2 minutes and 30 seconds.  My favorite part was when your class came out in a very small box… it was kind of like a clown car as they kept pulling each one of you out)!  

Another note was on your bed next to an outfit that Griz must have pulled from your closet.  He asked you specifically to wear that holiday get-up for your Dad’s Christmas party, which was a good idea because you probably would have chosen your very worn and beloved fleece-on-fleece outfit.  Despite saying it was a little itchy and a little tight, you wore the new reindeer outfit for Santa and Griz (and you looked adorable!!!).  

Griz is getting manipulative!  And on one of the days, Griz even left you a note saying that Santa gave his approval for you to play with him for that day only (he must have known that I had a lot of wrapping to do and didn’t have much time to play with you that morning).  This was like Christmas for you.  You smothered Griz (and told him repeatedly, “I love you!”) and you kept each other busy for hours.

For the past two weeks, you have found it amazing that somehow Griz has ended up on my nightstand every evening.  I wonder if that’s because Griz knew I woke up in a panic in the middle of the night on the same day that we found Griz in the car (and left him there).  I bet Griz thought I would be worried that he wouldn’t be able to find a new place to hide in the house and that you would be sad if he were still in the cupholder of your carseat the next day.  Good thing he always reassures me by reminding me at bedtime!  

Christmas this year was filled with so much magic Ellie.  You are at the perfect age because you have such wonderment and excitement.  And to have Will here with us too made it perfect.

We will for sure see Griz next December!

Love you Ellie Bean and Merry Christmas my sweet girl!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Life Lessons Month of December: Blog 3- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Hi Ellie!

Well, after reading your Mom’s blog last week, it seemed only apropos to piggyback off it with a few recipe blunders of my own!  Like mother; like daughter… you will see that the apple did not fall far from the tree in our yard!  I think that is good news for you El as ‘perfection’ in our two kitchens is not even on the grid!  So for my blog this week let’s go with:

Life Lesson Learned #42:  After 50 years, practice still doesn’t make perfect!

I will be the first to honestly admit that I am not chef material in any category El.  My recipe blunders come freely in the comfort of my very own kitchen!  You might be surprised by this admission, but if you have ever seen the cupboard above my stove you would think I was a Julia Child wanna-be!  Up till recently I have had it stocked with thousands of magazine recipes such as main entrees, soups, side dishes, salads and of course desserts all of which I have had every intention of someday creating.  You see El, I read recipes like romance novels… their words are a seduction to my palette.  And each time I find one that I fall in love with, well…. I carefully cut it out and store it in a place that is easily accessible to retrieve for all the times I plan on pretending to be a kitchen guru.  Well, Julia Child’s I am not, and those so called ‘times’ I thought would come never have as of this date.  In fact, not one of those numerous recipes have ever seen a mixing bowl, a baking dish, my stove or refrigerator, not even my kitchen counters and I can say with 99.99 percent accuracy that they probably never will!  And I am sure you are now thinking, “So why collect them?”  And the answer to that Ellie is, “I don’t have the slightest idea!” I would like to believe that with all the recipe reading I do, my kitchen skills would improve over time.  It hasn’t happened yet, but I am an eternal optimist!
Until then, the best I can do at the moment is add to your Mommy’s list of a few cooking tips that I have learned of what not to do in the kitchen:

1.)   Don’t try to double your great-grandfather Bud’s fudge recipe.  That’s what I did Ellie, and the reason I did it was to cut down on time (my first mistake)… and it backfired on me big time.  I had two big pots going full boil on the stove, one hand stirring the right pot clockwise and the other hand stirring the left pot counter-clockwise.  My arms got tired quickly so I upped the heat (my second mistake)… Don’t do that.  Make sure to use the candy thermometer properly (my third mistake).  Don’t round up.  And after pouring the fudge into a pan and refrigerating it for the proper time frame… don’t be so surprised when you take it out and it’s still ‘soup’ consistency.  My fifth mistake came when I asked your Great-Gram Bubbles what I should do.  Her answer was to pour the fudge into a jar, refrigerate it, and use as an ice-cream topping.   Sounds like a perfectly great idea right?  Wrong!  When we tried serving it this way, the ice-cream tasted as though it had a gritty sandpaper burnt chocolate taste drizzled all over the top of it.  At that moment, four pounds of fudge went right into the trash.

2.)   When making a turkey for dinner, check the bird’s cavity to see if there are little paper bags filled with the bird’s organs and remove them before placing the turkey in the oven.  All I will say is … Ooooops, your turkey may have a livery taste to it… not horrible, but not yummy delicious either!

3.)   If a recipe calls for 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, don’t add a ‘0’ to the end of either number just because the original recipe doesn’t look like it called for enough of them.  Apparently garlic does not have to be seen in a dish to give off a wonderful presentation (who knew???).  After serving your Poppy spaghetti and clams with 40 cloves… well, let’s just say it creates a 2 day upset stomach.  Knowing that I felt kind of bad for his illness, your Poppy found a perk to eating this revised dish.  He commented afterwards that if there were such a thing as vampires, he would be exempt from their bite in at least a 40-mile radius.  Leave it to Poppy to find words of kindness! 

4.)   When making Cajun fish, don’t ‘Cajun it to death.’  Your Poppy said I lit his butt on fire.

5.)   And lastly, when cooking, don’t train your family that the smoke alarm is the ‘call bell’ for “Dinner is Ready!”

So I guess the lesson I have learned Ellie is that mastering a recipe is definitely possible, but be ready for another mouth-watering challenge to take its place.  Remember, “Practice doesn’t always make perfect.”  It’s more like, “Practice paves the way to evolving.”  Like your Mommy said, “Kitchens are a great place for friends and family to congregate.  After all, food brings people together.”  So “blunder” away my little Ellie Crocker… and do it with love.  If you cook, people will come.

Love you bunches Ellie-bean,

Friday, December 13, 2013

Life Lessons Month of December: Blog 2- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Hi My Sweet Girl,

I find this lesson to be particularly important during the holiday season.

Life Lessoned Learned #41:  Food brings people together.

Food preparation is not as easy as it may seem but it’s worth the effort.  Good food encourages company to stay and come back again.  It makes your house warm and smell delicious.  Don’t be afraid to try new things and practice.  However, I can save you some time with five tips I learned first-hand.     

1.     Don’t substitute summer sausage for regular sausage.  I don’t like to cook meat (nor eat much of it) so I didn’t realize that they have completely different tastes and can change the flavor of a dish in a not-so-yummy way.

2.     Be careful when you try to make a butterfly out of waffles and bananas.  You and I were making this scrumptious and beautiful creation when your Dad pointed out with quite the smirk that ours didn’t look like a butterfly.  You didn’t notice and gobbled it up!

3.     Just because you like an ingredient doesn’t mean you should put more than what the recipe asks for.  Your Dad calls my meatloaf an onion loaf (I used 3x the amount of onion).  And for a chicken bake I tried recently, I added extra cans of fire roasted tomatoes, which just made the whole casserole soggy.

4.     Definitely tear the minute rice bag to vent.  There was a terribly loud popping noise before rice exploded all over the microwave.

5.     Make sure you add water to the Kraft microwave mac n’ cheese.  The smell of burnt noodles and plastic along with some smoke stayed a few hours that afternoon.  Unfortunately, it was during a play date with some of your friends.  I can only imagine what the other mom must have thought!

6.     Have the local pizza delivery restaurant on speed dial.

Based on what I just wrote, it’s obvious that I don’t like to cook (your Aunt Samantha and Mimi should be your guides in that area).   However, I do love to bake.  And I’m sharing my passion for that with you.  You help me make all kinds of truffles (the latest being nutella flavored), chocolate covered pretzels, many varieties of cookies, and a range of different muffin types.

Kitchens are natural places for people to congregate.  Don’t ever feel like you need to spend a lot of money either.  Recipes that are made with love are the best.  Put dishes out when people come to visit.  Oh and offer hot tea, and when you are old enough, make sure you always have a bottle of wine on hand.  When bellies are full, people are happy. 

I love you my little chef!


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Life Lessons Month of December: Blog 1- Letters from Mom & Mimi

 Hi Ellie!

The other day I went rooting through every room of this house in search of your 0 to 12 month age appropriate toys.  Poppy and I wanted to bring them out for Will to play with when he is ready.  But for the life of me, I was having a difficult time finding their hiding place.  At one point I ended up in the small storage room in back of the garage.  It was there that I found two very old large brown barrels that we had brought to State College from Philadelphia 25 years ago.  Curious as to what was in them, I immediately forgot what I had originally set out in search for and instead got a screwdriver and pried the lids off of the barrels.  To my surprise one of them was loaded with oodles of your Poppy’s old baseball shirts, a hanging tiffany lamp, a few toddler holiday outfits that belonged to your Mommy and Uncle Ryan, and an ankle length coat.  (Whatever was I thinking when I packed that barrel?)  Anyway believe it or not it was the ankle length coat that caught my attention!  Ellie, it was plum purple, filled with lots of goose feathers and enough seams to make me look like the Michelin Tire Man!   As I stood there in awe (and a bit stinky because those ‘stuffed quackers’ had been sitting idle for over 2 dozen years), it was at that moment that I knew what my blog was going to be about!  Ready?

Life Lessoned Learned #40:  There is something wonderful to say about nostalgia.

El, first let me explain the meaning of nostalgia: a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.  With that being said, ‘nostalgia’ was all around me this past week.  The ‘coat’ was just the beginning.  As I held my breath in 30-second increments (remember I said the coat smelled), I couldn’t help but go in search of a mirror.  And upon finding one, it wasn’t the Fruit of the Loom Grape man that kind-of stared back at me (that came later), but rather an image from 30 years ago when your Aunt Phyllis and I would spend an early December day at a huge and extremely fun outdoor flea-market called Englishtown.  I wore that purple coat to keep warm as we trudged up and down aisle after aisle in chilly weather looking for great bargains in what would become Christmas gifts for family and friends.  Now I know I only had that coat on for a few minutes, but it seemed a lot longer as I reminisced.  And for whatever reason, unbeknownst to even me, I took that coat to the dry-cleaner in hopes of it becoming clean and fresh.  Will I eventually wear it?  You’ll know the answer to that question if a picture of it shows up in a future blog!  Anyway, on to more nostalgia.  On Friday as I decorated our Christmas tree I came across a few special handmade ornaments given to me by your Mommy and Uncle Ryan.  The first one I picked up was a royal blue tin heart with x’s and o’s etched into it along with To Mom From Ryan.  I believe he was in second grade when he created that one-of-a-kind masterpiece that this very Mom fell in love with.  The next original creation came from your Mommy.  It was a 4 inch baked plaster candy-cane painted red and white with a K. R. on its backside.  In another bin I found 2 small plastic Christmas trees obviously colored by small hands with crayons.  On the front of each tree were a picture of your mom at age 7 ½ and your Uncle Ryan at age 5.  As I stared at those precious photos, they took me back to the days when Wheeler Street was our life.  It was a wonderful time Ellie where everyone watched out for each other.  It was a street like no other… always filled with excitement, stories and laughter.  Ahhhhh… those were the days.  There was another nostalgic moment on Wednesday Thanksgiving Eve.  You helped your Mommy make your Great-Grandmom Bubbles’ stuffing recipe that she had been making for the past 60 years.  You know El, every time I bite into a spoonful of that delicious dressing; it brings back happy memories of so many Thanksgivings gone by.   

Oooooo… I just remembered another nostalgic moment.  On Saturday morning Poppy asked me if I would like to go to the State Theater, and of course I said yes.  He wanted to take you, but you had a prior commitment with your family.  The theater was showing an hour of Looney Toon cartoons for free.  We watched Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and the Roadrunner all of which I think were made in the 1940’s.  Ellie they were hilarious and corny.  I think I most enjoyed the Roadrunner because that was my Dad’s favorite cartoon.  It brought back memories from when I was a child.  Faithfully every Saturday morning when we awoke, my dad would be watching the TV in his recliner and laughing as the scheming coyote with his bag of Acme equipment could never catch nor outsmart the crafty roadrunner!   Remembering my dad during a nostalgic moment sometimes brings tears El.  And yes, they are tears with a bit of sadness because I would love to still have him here.  You see my dad was a gentle soul and when he laughed even his eyes smiled.  But those tears are also tears of gratefulness for at least I have some wonderful memories of him.  You know Ellie, if I really took the time; I think I could walk from room to room in this house and pick up something nostalgic in each one.  I know there are oodles of nostalgia in the photo albums downstairs, and I’m sure I can find some utensils in the kitchen drawers that hold a family memory too.  And a guaranteed place to find something nostalgic would certainly be the closet.   But what you need to remember is this; it is not so much the item itself that is important; it is what memory the item brings with it.  And it is because of those memories, the ones with great sentimental value, that make us want to create new ones for those we love (maybe yours and possibly Will’s nostalgic moments Ellie will come many years from now when you pick up an old faded Disguised Turkey from a new tradition that we started at your home this very Thanksgiving!).

So Ellie, I guess the lesson I have learned this week is that we all need nostalgia in our lives.    And when a nostalgic moment comes upon us, we should give thanks for those memories past and take great care in shaping future memories for those who come after us.

I love you Merry-little-one!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Life Lessons Month of November: Blog 5- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Hi Ellie,

Happy Thanksgiving!  You have a very privileged life, my love, and I don’t ever want you to take that for granted.  Appreciate what you have and keep in mind those who are less fortunate.

Life Lessoned Learned #39: Always remember to give thanks.

Even though we acknowledge what we are thankful for in our daily nighttime prayers, I wanted to spend some more time with you making a big list in honor of this special holiday.  Here are your top 23 things you are thankful for as you quoted them to me today:

1.     My family
2.     Snow
3.     Santa Clause
4.     Bunnies
5.     Christmas time
6.     Christmas trees
7.     A pink mouse (???)
8.     The elephant on the Disney safari ride that I would like to name Ellie
9.     My blanket
10. Disney World
11. Plies in ballet
12. Pictures that I draw
13. Cameras
14. Carrots
15. Stripes (I think you got sidetracked on my striped shirt here)
16. Soft Pants
17. Our couch
18. Flowers
19. Jumping
20. Railings on the stairs
21. Songs
22. Burp cloths for Will
23. The Goldilocks and the Three Bears book

I love how you think Ellie.  Even the smallest treasures don’t go unnoticed by you, my observant girl.  And I particularly adore your #1… you already understand that relationships are one of the most important things in this world!  Enjoy this wonderful holiday and be grateful everyday for your blessings.

I thank God everyday for you, your brother Will, and of course Kyle too.
Love you,

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Life Lessons Month of November: Blog 4- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Hi Ellie-bean!

Life Lessoned Learned #38: Apparently a ‘crack’ has more than one definition!

El, my blog this week stems from a comment you made to me recently while we were playing dolls.

“Mimi, why do you have a crack on your face?”

“Is it food?” I questioned.

“Nope,” you stated matter-of-factly.

“Is it my make-up?” I asked next.

“Nope,” you said all knowingly.

“Is it a scratch?” I inquired.

“Nope… it’s just a crack,” you sighed, obviously already bored with the interrogation.
Completely perplexed by what could possibly be on my face and having no mirror to look into, I had to ask your mommy.

With a giggle she replied, “Oh, that crack is just a wrinkle!”

Now I know I am old, but for a moment I was dumbfounded!  “A wrinkle?”

“Yeah,” your mommy answered and then turned to you and explained that it was actually a laugh-line.

“A laugh-line?” I voiced as I forced the muscles in my right cheek to rise upward.
Now it was my turn to let out a giggle.  Like a said, I know I am old and I know that with ‘oldness’ comes wrinkles, but I guess this was the first time that someone actually brought attention to my being the actual ‘old one!’

And then wouldn’t you know the very next day at school I was double whammied!
While working with a group of children one of the little girls (I’ll refer to her as Sally) said that she was going to be a teacher when she grew up.  I told her that I thought she would make a wonderful teacher.  Sally then asked me if I would still be working at the school when she got her first job.  I answered with a bit of hesitation, “Welllllllllllllllllllllllll, I’m not sure.” 

“Yeah, you’ll probably be retired by then,” Sally concluded quite endearingly.

And without missing a beat a little boy sitting next to her (Ill refer to him as Jimmy) looked up from his work and blurted out, “No she won’t.  Mrs. Russell will be dead by then.  She is old.”  Jimmy said this, not to hurt me, but more like he was stating hard-facts from a World Book Encyclopedia! 

Oooooops.  I guess my reference of World Book just backed-up his statement…. I should have said Wikipedia or Snopes!

No matter Ellie… the children at school gave me a fit of the giggles just like you did!
And that one obvious crack that you brought attention too, or laugh-line, or wrinkle (which is actually one of my many) or whatever you want to call it got me thinking.

That crack took many years to form, and it has weathered many facets of life.  El, there are world-renowned photographers that have been quite successful in capturing the day-to-day lives of the elderly.  And their success came from zooming in and capturing the depth, the emotion and the grit that has gone into each of those cracks.  I would like to think mine hold some wisdom, or at least some learned knowledge that I can pass on.  Although I slightly fear my many blunders over the years might trump them.  I guess I will never really know, but I can certainly hope. 

So I guess the lesson I have learned Ellie is that for every ‘crack’ I bore, I have truly earned.  They have been formed from love, hard work, tears, compassion, faith, joy and so much more.  There is an old saying: “Beauty is only skin deep.”  Not true.  El, those cracks have great beauty for their beginnings go well beyond the surface.  Those cracks hold the history of each individual.  They tell ones story in great depth.  And the awesome thing is, just like snowflakes, there are no two cracks exactly alike!  God planned each of our “beginnings and ends” to be unique.  And even though ‘cracks’ hint at ones loss of youth, I am a firm believer of that age-old saying: You’re only as young as you feel.  And Ellie with you and Will around, I shall never get old!

I love you my little playmate!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Life Lessons Month of November: Blog 3- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Dear Ellie,

Now I am by no means claiming any sort of creative title here but I do have some decorating advice for you, as we definitely had our fun remodeling our new house.  Despite being very pregnant when we moved in, I really enjoyed making the house our home.  Thankfully, I also got a lot of ideas and recommendations from your Dad, Mimi, and Aunt Joanne.   So here’s what I learned:  

Life Lessoned Learned #37: Making a house a home doesn’t have to be expensive and should reflect who you and your family are.

1.     Get artwork from family and friends.  Not only will those pieces become keepsakes, they give character and uniqueness to spaces.

2.     Frame a bulletin board.  It beautifully organizes a mess of all things that are important to you.  You and your brother are actually getting them in your room soon as well.  This way, you can save tickets, photos, and your schoolwork.  It’s constantly a changing piece of art and you can keep it current.

3.     Pick paint colors that look good with your skin tone and colors that you actually like (and would wear as clothes).  After all, it’s you who is going to spend the most time in your house and you want to feel good in it!  You know how I love all colors Ellie so our house is a rainbow… we have a purple room, blue room, green room, pink room, yellow room… but predominantly, our house is a sea blue and it’s so calming. 
4.     For your brother’s room, we went with the theme Goodnight, Gorilla (my favorite children’s book, which happens to be a picture book).  We bought a large hard-back copy, tore out the frame, and pasted it to different colors of backing (to which my Mom secured hooks so we could hang our favorite pages that tell most of the story).

5.     When I was looking for curtains that would go in the front of my house, I couldn’t find any I loved.  On the way out of one of the many stores I scoured, I walked by the bath section and I fell in love with a cloth shower curtain.  So I bought several of them, took them to my seamstress who secured the top for the rod and hung them in the dining room and your playroom.  Now I realize that the trend is to have long curtains to give the affect of higher ceilings but for the money I saved, I feel ok with going against that fashion.

6.     Finally, do what feels right for you.  Your Dad and I felt we needed to represent Kyle so we painted our guest room a bright green color and displayed some of our 5k memorabilia.  We both know he’s not really in there but it makes us feel good to know that he’s still a part of our family in spirit.

But most of all Ellie, what makes a house a home is love and we have a lot of that!  Now I’m sure your Dad could write a book on house projects involving refinishing, landscaping, and tools so for any of those projects, seek him out! 

I love you Bean!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Life Lessons Month of November: Blog 2- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Hi Bean-sprout!

Because of your brother Will’s baptism, it has been a very busy past 2 weeks!  

Your amazing and wonderful great-grandparents came for the blessed event!  Grandmom Bubbles time of stay was the whole week before while Gigi’s and Pop’s was the whole week after!  

And each made sure to give you equal attention time with Will.  Honestly El, I think they really prefer to just sit and watch you in action because your creative originality is just that… unique!  This week my blog idea came when Miss Trixie McAllister the waitress (aka- you), your Mommy, Gram Bubbles, Will, Violet the doll, and I played restaurant.  Gram Bubbles, who couldn’t stop laughing, made a comment afterwards that our playtime should be on a video.  Ellie, she stated quite accurately that your imagination is definitely way outside of the box!  

So here is my life lesson learned for this week:

Life Lessoned Learned #36:  Playing the “If You Let” game with you my dear granddaughter, one must have patience and also an open-mind!

You have so lovingly entertained me with our game.  Here are some examples Ellie!

1.) If you let your granddaughter have free reign to whatever is on the church pew during the Mass before Will’s christening, be prepared that she will pick up his knitted baby christening cap and wear it on her own head… backwards… and casually go on about her business as though all is normal!

2.) If you let your granddaughter play in your jewelry box, be prepared that not only will she take the grandest and yes the gaudiest pieces to possibly play with, but she will leave the rest in massive knots (the last time you did this El; I had a thought…  It was that I should just send the whole jewelry mess to the game company that creates Challenging Puzzles for the Brain … because my brain has great difficulty getting past the untangling of the first knot!).

3.) If you let your granddaughter do your dishes (a more accurate statement would be … playing in a sink full of sudsy soap water) then be prepared for a tidal wave, or two, or three to occur and a man-made lake to replace your tile floor!

4.) If you let your granddaughter wear multiple velour clothes, be prepared that she will transform into a cat and you had better pet her!

5.) If you let your granddaughter create her own ice-cream cup at Sweet Frog, be prepared that she will choose at least a dozen (ex: gummy bears, pretzel bits, tropical poppers, fresh cherries, chopped snickers, banana slices, and M&M’s to name a few) of the 4 dozen toppings available and fill her cup with them!  And proudly eat every last spoonful (Oh, did I forget to mention that there is probably only a teaspoon of ice-cream underneath all that sugar substance?)!

6.) If you let your granddaughter play with your green, copper and shimmering gold eye-shadow, be prepared that a major uni-brow will take over her forehead. And you had better be prepared to follow up with acknowledging to her that she is a very talented make-up artist!

7.) If you let your granddaughter choose any board games to play, be prepared and fully understand that she controls the rules of how the game is actually played.  One example: The Sock Monkey Game: cast aside all the clue cards and play only with the half dozen that say “Go Look For It”!

8.) If you let your granddaughter apply her own lotion after a bath, be prepared in advance by purchasing stock in the lotion company, as she may make you quite wealthy but the amount she slathers all over herself and the number of bottles you will go through in her lifetime!

9.) If you let your granddaughter apply Elmer’s glue to the crafts you create, again be prepared in advance by purchasing stock in the glue factory!

10.) If you let your granddaughter snuggle on your lap while chatting with her Mommy or Poppy, be prepared that your tea will disappear as fast as she can gulp it down with that irresistible twinkle in her eye always upon you!

11.) If you let your granddaughter choose “1” toy item to take to Sunday mass, be prepared to have octopus arms that are capable of carrying multiple oversized “items” along with one arm free to carry her as well!

Ellie, I really could go on and on as I am having so much fun with this list!  I just wish I had more time!   Even though the “If You Let” game isn’t really a game, I love watching you play it because I find that it allows you that little bit of extra freedom you seem to seek out...possibly strengthening the right-side of your brain.  After all, that is the side which controls one’s creativity.  And no one can deny that you have been creating originality since birth!  So I guess my lesson learned this week El, along with your mom and dad, is to continue allowing you the freedom to explore not just the parameters, but the whole area in an around your ‘Box.’  All ready at the age of 3, you are learning how to redefine yourself daily.  My guess is that by the time you are age 99, your mirror will have seen many, many faces and your closets will have held an infinite number of hats!  Don’t ever change sweetheart, yet continue to change, shape and mold the inner you! You are truly entertaining Ellie and a joy to be around.

Love you Miss Trixie McAllister!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Life Lessons Month of November: Blog 1- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Dear Ellie,

I’m not sure how time is flying by so fast… I can hardly believe it’s November 1st!  Your brother is 5 weeks old already!  

And now that you are back from Disney and into your routine again, you have definitely realized Will is here to stay.  For the most part, you are kind and loving toward him (still wanting to help feed, grab diapers, and let him be a part of bedtime stories) but once in awhile I think he crimps your style :)

You don’t like it when your Mimi holds Will… I think because you associate Mimi as yours and I am so appreciative that your Mimi respects your feelings.  She always gives Will back to me to turn her attention over to you after you ask her to play.  Not too long ago, I asked your Mimi to hold Will when I ran upstairs to throw in laundry and I could hear you saying to her, “Just leave him!  Put him down and just leave him!” as you were trying to lead Mimi into your playroom!  Last week, you told me that you wanted to change Will’s name to George so I said, “Ok, we can call him George tonight,” (thinking that Will really wouldn’t mind).  And you responded, “Not just for tonight.  Forever!”  Luckily, you forgot about his name change by the next morning.  Two days ago, I called Will, my love bug (which I also affectionately call you too) but you didn’t like sharing your nickname.  “Hey, that’s my name!” you yelled and then said I could call Will, “Just Buggie”.  And yesterday you told me that I needed to yell at Will for being mean to you so I had to ask, “What did he do?”  And you said, “I told him I loved him and he told me that he has to think about if he loved me back!”  I didn’t know how to handle that situation so I pretended to scold Will with, “In this family Will, we love everyone unconditionally so that answer is not ok.”  Oh Ellie!  I know you are trying to understand your new place but know that you could never be forgotten and our feelings for you have only grown deeper and stronger.   

I have to say though that I appreciate all of the well wishes that have been sent our way.  Our family and friends remember you and your new role as a big sister too!  This is such a huge transition for you (and for your Dad and I also).  The people we cherish the most have definitely honored that.  We had cooked meals for the first three weeks of coming home from the hospital and we have been inundated with congratulatory phone calls, texts, messages over Facebook, cards, presents, and guests.  We feel so very loved!

But as for my lesson this week, it stems from not forgetting yourself even in the midst of many changes.  

Life Lessoned Learned #35: Don’t lose site of yourself when your life becomes hectic.

Now that Will is a month old, I feel comfortable leaving him for a few hours.  Taking time for yourself after having a baby is completely necessary to do once in a while (although I love every second with you and your brother, children can make it difficult to remember your other roles aside from being a mom).  So as your Dad watched you and Will, I went over to your Aunt Sammy’s for a GNO (girls’ night out).  Samantha is a wonderful hostess… not only does she have the best homemade food and decorations, her parties are always themed in incredibly creative ways.  So on this night, she used Oprah’s Favorite Things as her subject matter.  All of the fifteen guests were to bring 2 of their favorite items they couldn’t live without but each couldn’t be over $10 (I brought my favorite book, The Book Thief, and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc).  And the idea is that each woman would go home with someone else’s 2 favorite things to try.  And what’s more is that Samantha never lets her guests get bored… she always has activities (that have to do with the theme) on hand.  For this girls’ evening, we played her made up version of Scattagories revolving around Favorite Things (with questions like favorite date night spots in State College and favorite wine) and Samantha awarded the winners with prizes (of her favorite things).  Samantha takes pride in her social events and they truly bring people together.   I came home feeling reenergized and missing my two beautiful babies (and I must admit that I came home a little early as I can’t stay away for too long)!  Taking even a small time apart makes your head clear and your heart full.

I love you Ellie Bean!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Life Lessons Month of October: Blog 4- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Hello my little Cinder-Ellie!

Now that we are back from Disney, I definitely need to write something about our trip, as it was one of the best vacations I have ever experienced!  However, since we were gone for 5 days and from past blogs you know I would love to write about the day-to-day events in detail, but that would lead to at minimum a 10 page story!  So I won’t.  I’ve thought of another interesting approach instead.  But before I go into it, I do hope you remember this trip for always Ellie as we shared our Disney stay with your cousin Colin and our cousins Steve and Jackie, Colin’s grandparents!

And what a wonderful time it was.  Both you and Colin (who is 1 year older than you) got along wonderfully.  During park-time as well as downtime the 2 of you chatted incessantly, entertained each other as well as us adults, and giggled at each other’s silliness!

The only time I actually saw Colin put his foot down to your many requests was when you insisted on him being a Prince!  He made it very clear to you El on the very first day that he does not like Princesses and he is not and never will be a Prince.  In Colin’s words, he “is a Boy” with a capital B!  Now with that being said I shall continue with my lesson.

Life Lessoned Learned #34: Don’t assume you would automatically know The Top 10 List of ‘Favorite Vacation Moments to Share With Mom and Dad” from a 3 ½ year old child’s perspective!

Ellie, when we arrived home I was so excited to share with your Mom all the really cool things we did.  I assumed you were too!  After watching your excitement throughout our stay I was pretty sure I had your list down pat.  If I were to ‘get into your head’ this is what I thought you would have said when your Mommy asked you (so this would be your perspective) to tell her all about Disney:

1.)  The Mickey Mouse Not So Scary Halloween Parade was by far the best one ever!  There was a headless horseman who rode through the streets and I wasn’t afraid at all!  Colin was a little bit, but I rubbed his back and told him it was pretend.  I wanted to wear my pink poodle costume but Mimi said I would be too hot so Poppy bought me a Cinderella dress with real glass slippers… oh and a princess crown too!

    Colin was an astronaut and he said he was a brave one at that.  We had front row seats right underneath the rope and got lollipops when the characters gave out candy!
2.)  My first Disney ride was on the teacups and I spun it so fast that Poppy and Mimi got soooooooo dizzy!
     And then the very next ride that Colin and I went on was Dumbo.  That ride is ok, but the circus tent that you have to pass through before you get on the ride is super fun.  It has sliding boards and climbing nets and stairs that bounce and a kid house with doors everywhere!  You get a beeper to hold and when it goes off that means it is time to get back in the Dumbo line, but if you want you can stay in the circus tent forever!

3.)  Mimi and Poppy and Jackie and Steve took us to the pool each afternoon and I learned how to go down the little water slide swiftly.  First I would put my toes together and hold on to them with my hands.  That made me go fast! Then I figured out that if I pushed off the sides of the wall, that way worked even better.  Mimi called me a torpedo!  Poppy let me go down it a million times!

4.)  Colin and I got our grandparents to take us to see the Country Bear Jamboree 2 times.  Colin’s favorite animal is the talking deer on the wall.  My favorite bear is Big Al… he’s really fat and sings a funny song in a funny voice!  Silly Jackie asked me if they were real animals.   I told her “Of course they were!”
5.)  The Moon Ride is still my favorite… I don’t know why but everyone else calls it the People Mover.  It is kind of like a roller coaster but doesn’t go up and down.  You can see stars and planets and a lot of the other Disney rides while on it.
6.)  Animal Kingdom was a lot of fun.  We went on the Safari and saw the Lion King Show, but the best part was when we went to Dino Land and I got to play in a huge, huge, huge sandbox.  It had pails and shovels and even bones that we could find.  I got yelled at 1 time from a sandbox guard because I took my shoes off and wasn’t suppose to.  But that was ok; I just put them back on again.

7.)  At the Hollywood Studios Park we got to see 3 shows:  Disney Junior, The Little Mermaid and the Muppet Show.  That last one was really cool because we got to wear 3D glasses!
8.)  My favorite park is the Magic Kingdom and I was so glad that Poppy and Mimi took me there everyday.  We got to see the fireworks and the Castle show and watch Tinkerbelle fly.
9.)  Poppy bought me the snowman stuffed animal (which I named Chilly) from the movie Frozen.
     Every time Poppy and I watch the commercial to promote it I giggle because when the snowman sneezes his head always pops off!  I hope Poppy buys me the reindeer that’s in the movie too.  I think his name is Ice.  I would like to have him.
10.)    Poppy got us the best hotel room.  Our window faced the Magic Kingdom.  Some days we walked to the park and other days we rode the Monorail.  Jackie and Mimi brought games and crafts for us to do in the room.  We had lots and lots of fun!

All right Ellie… now it is time to for me to write what you actually shared with your Mommy and Daddy about our Disney experience.  At 3 ½ you my little princess, have a unique mind that thinks like no other.  See for yourself.

1.     We went to Chef Mickey’s for breakfast and while I was there I was waiting for Goofy to sign my autograph book.  Do you know what he did?  He stepped on my foot!

2.     Colin didn’t go on the Ariel ride with me because he only likes boy things.
3.     One night I got a vanilla ice cream in a cup with chocolate ears.
4.     There was a big Gumball machine in Mickey’s Halloween Parade.
5.     Mimi and me went to the Jack Black show but I didn’t raise my hand to be in it because I was too shy.  Maybe next time.  (Ellie, the show was actually a short skit and the actor in it was Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean!  Thought this might need some clarification in years to come!)
6.     The Haunted Mansion is my favorite ride.  I like the tiny ghost who rode in the car with us. 

7.     Colin had glitter stuck to his face that came from my Cinderella dress.  I told him it was there and he was not happy.  He washed it off but I told him it was still there. He tried to get it off again.  But I still told him, “That glitter is still there Colin.”  He was mad.  He doesn’t like girl things.
8.     There was a trashcan that we had to put our 3-D glasses in after the Muppet show.  It wasn’t really a trashcan but it looked like a trashcan.  It was really tall.

9.     We had to wear wristbands and it had my name on it.  I got in the park all by myself!
10.  At Monsters Inc. they told a joke.  Want to hear it?  “Knock, knock.   Who’s there?  Orange.  Orange who?  Orange you glad I didn’t say that guy?”

Ellie, each day since we’ve been back you have come up with one or two more Disney memories.  Unlike mine, yours are much more simplistic and a lot cuter.   I couldn’t stop laughing after hearing about the conversation you had with your parents.  I could actually picture in my mind everything you were saying!  Thank you El for giving your Poppy and me a priceless memory… one we shall treasure forever.

I guess the lesson I really learned here was that even though yours and my Top 10 List wasn’t quite the same, we are on the same page when it comes to Disney in general.  You see, when we were at Hollywood Studios there was a water fountain in front of the Muppet Show.  Ellie, you asked me for a penny to throw and I gladly fished one out of my pocketbook and handed to you.  Without encouragement you turned around with your tiny fist clenched tightly over the penny and closed your eyes.  After about 30 seconds, you turned back around and threw the penny into the fountain.  When I asked you what you wished for you responded with, “I wish to come back to Disney again.”  Ellie-bean I couldn’t agree with you more as it truly is one of the happiest places on earth!  And next time we will take Will along with your Mommy, Daddy, Uncle Ryan and Aunt Sammy!

Love you princess!