Thursday, May 30, 2013

Life Lesson Month of May: Blog 5- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Good Morning Beaner!

And what a beautiful one at that!  It is mornings like this that I just want to hold on to for a bit longer… (2 cups of tea would be well worth the time!) J  Anyway, it is my week to blog so here it is.

Life Lesson Learned #13:  Don’t wish to be someone or something you are not.  If you use your strengths and best assets in a positive way, they will make your imperfections quite small. 

Ellie, I think this is a common mistake made by many.  For some, the reasons that go behind it are well meaning and sincere, and yet for others they may not even realize that they are doing it.  Just remember God made each and everyone of us different for a purpose.  And everyone’s purpose is unique: great or small.

Right now I have a quick story to tell that is all about you of course!  I just hope that I can give you and everyone who reads this blog a clear, and vivid image through the words I am about to share.  It has to do with your ‘size.’  Here goes…

Let me just start Ellie by first reminding you that according to your medical charts from birth till now your height and weight are in the low percentile range.  But not to worry as they are right in sink with each other.  And given the fact that both your mom and dad don’t carry the “giant” gene, well, the odds are not in your favor that you are going to be tall either.  But according to you at your ‘mighty’ age of three, the word “little” is not an option to be used in reference to yourself.   A perfect example would be how there are 3 Ellie’s at your pre-school.  There is “Big-Ellie” whose name I think belongs to a 4 year old and there is also a “Little-Ellie” whose name belongs to a 2 year old.  So I asked you once if you were called “Middle-Ellie”.  With a scowled look on your face, your curt response to me was a strong, “NO Mimi.  And DON’T call me LITTLE either because I am NOT little!”  Enough said.  I wouldn’t dare!  But another little boy at your school did.  Poor Seth made the mistake of saying, “Hi Little-Ellie” to you… and not because he got mixed up with the other ‘Little Ellie’ but simply because you are L-I-T-T-L-E!  I bet he never does that again… especially since you gave him the scolding of his life!  I am pretty sure that yours and Seth’s exchange of words is clear testament as to why little boys do not like little girls; they really are quite bossy!  Yours would be a proven case!

Now with that being said (Miss Mighty 3 year old), you and your Mommy came over for a tea visit last Sunday.  You were wearing an adorable spring themed dress.  Its flower pattern were the colors of kelly-green, magenta-pink, sunshine-yellow and white.  It was very bright and very ‘You’… especially since it was paired with wide-striped stockings in the same bold colors (all your outfit was missing was the flowerpot headpiece that the Munchkins wore in the movie The Wizard of Oz!).  

Anyway El, since you are officially three years old, you should technically be wearing a size 3-T, which your outfit was.  However the dress, which should have come to your knee in length, did not.  On you, it came to about 2 inches below your knee, which only allowed about 2 inches of your stockings to show.  We adults thought you looked precious.  You apparently thought differently.  When I went to put something away in your Mommy’s old bedroom, I found you looking at yourself in the full-length mirror that covers one complete wall.  You were in the ‘zone.’  So I stepped back quietly and just watched your actions for a few minutes, which were quite endearing.  Here is what I saw:  First you gave yourself a total look-over.  And then your eyes settled on your legs… the little bit that you could see below your dress.  While staring, you crossed one leg over the other.  Next, you took one of your legs and stretched it outward… held it there for a few seconds before allowing your foot to drop to the floor where you tapped your toe for a while.  Upon letting that leg finally rest, you gave yourself another ‘once over look’ before crossing your arms over your chest and keeping them there.  And then your eyes traveled down to the bottom of your legs again where you kept your focus.  Your face became stern (definitely noted because of the sharp V etched into your brow), then pensive, and from the way you kept moving your mouth to the far right of your jaw, I would say next your expression became serious, very serious.  After that, the look of frustration took over (again noted by your pursed lips and narrowed eyes), and lastly (this one was a heart-tugger), defeat.  And by that, I don’t mean a “beaten-up” look.  Ellie, with your whole being you gave a deep sigh and all of your facial muscles completely relaxed (and I guess they would after the three-minute intense work out you had just given them!).  Anyway, your ‘look’ wasn’t a sad look… it was more of an acceptance look.  So when I asked you if you were ok, your answer made perfect sense.  You said, “ Oh Mim’s… I AM little!”  And then off you trotted down the hallway, back into the living room where you discarded your dress and stockings only to play happily as your free-spirit self… in your underwear!  I am not sure if shedding your clothes helped wipe away the “Little” moment that had just taken place or if you finally came to the conclusion: It is what it is and I am who I am.  No matter, you Ellie-bean will always be our little munchkin!

It reminded me for a quick moment of a time when I was your age El, a time when I did not like my short haircut.  All I wanted was long beautiful hair.  So I tried to devise my own one day.  I went into your Great-Grandmom Bubble’s bathroom closet and pulled out a bath towel (the longest one we had) and laid it across my head.  Since she didn’t have yellow towels, which would go with my blonde hair, I had to rely on the next closest matching color… white.  Now to keep it in place, I had to bobby pin it to death at the nape of my neck, which would NOT allow me to move my head from side to side.  But that didn’t stop me.  After playing with my ‘long hair look’ for a solid five minutes or so, the towel on my head would become very heavy.  Rather than give in to what felt like a five-pound headache, I would just take it off and quit playing.  Ellie, all I wanted was to look like Farah Fawcett but sadly I think my look more resembled Sister Crazy Mary of The Cloistered Towel Closet!!!  Oh well.  

Now that I have proofread my blog, I think I just learned a new lesson Bean.  Acceptance.  It is certainly ok to wish and dream, but love yourself for who you are… imperfections and all.  For everything about us adds character, great or small.

Bye for now my little Beaner!
Love Mimi

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Life Lesson Month of May: Blog 4- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Dear Ellie,

You made my Mother’s Day soooo special!

Life Lessons Learned #12: Mother’s Day doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive to be meaningful and wonderful.

Here’s why the whole weekend was perfect:

1.     You said, “Happy Mutter’s Day Mama!” about a million times but after seeing the presents I received, you asked, “When’s Kid’s Mutter’s Day?”
2.     You and I had a girls’ slumber party the night before (as your Dad was out of town)- we painted our nails and stayed up late eating popcorn and watching Nick at Nite.

3.     Your Dad and I rented Silver Linings Playbook after you went to bed on Mother’s Day night… I have wanted to see that for months now!
4.     Your Aunt Sammy made us a delicious and healthy lunch at your Mimi’s house- a grilled vegetable salad that is to die for!
5.     You, your Dad, and I ate ice cream for dessert (and I had the best time even though you ate my ice cream cone.  You thought it tasted better than the one you ordered).

6.     I received so many heartfelt and handwritten cards with personal messages.
7.     We participated in a 5k benefitting a local non-profit the day before (even though we cut it short because of a rain storm).

8.     We spent time at church (although you and I go with Mimi weekly, there is something particularly extraordinary about Mother’s Day mass… we have a lot to be thankful for!).
9.     The phone calls, texts, emails, and Facebook messages to and from all the “moms” in our lives were so thoughtful.
10. The sun was shining outside on Mother’s Day (despite the cold temperature this year!).
11. You patted my belly and told the baby inside you love him (FYI- you call him Little Woody or Evan, your nicknames for him depending on the day).
12. We took time to think about Kyle by working on the upcoming annual walk/run.
13. We were anticipating the 20-week ultrasound appointment (that revealed that we are having a boy at the end of September)!!!

14. We got hot chocolate at Dunkin Donuts, and while there you used your vivid imagination.  You role-played that you were your friend Kalena, which made me Julie (her mom)…  so you refused to call me mom throughout the morning while we were out.  You referred to me only as Julie (which was odd, ironic, and pretty funny given that it was Mother’s Day).
15. I felt even more of “Little Woody’s” kicks.
16. I heard you call, “I love you Mama!” from your bed after our nighttime routine.
17. I got a free babysitting voucher from your Aunt Sammy and Uncle Ryan (although I know they would be babysit you anytime for free because they love you).
18. I spent my first Mother’s Day in seven years with my Mom, your Mimi, after being in Colorado.  She had us all over for a Mother’s Day luncheon and it was so fantastic to be home!

I love you Ellie… know that in order to feel loved, be loved, or give love, it doesn’t have to cost anything.

I hope you realize that my children are the greatest gifts I have ever and will ever receive.
Love, Mom

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Life Lesson Month of May: Blog 3- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Pretending to be Daisy the cat :)
Good Morning Ellie-bean!

Lately a lot of thoughts have been swirling in my head and I just keep putting them aside.  So today I decided that instead of writing a ‘story form’ blog, I would go with my thoughts instead.  And that means penning a poem, which I have not done in awhile.  So here is my life lesson learned today, and a new poem!

Life Lesson Learned #11:  When ‘words’ come into my head with deep emotion… Stop and listen.  Then jot them down before they are long forgotten.

I Am A Mighty Three Year Old

I am a mighty three year old
My Mama says it’s so.
I am by no means ‘little’
And I want the world to know.

My hair at times is tangled
My clothes have spots with food
My left shoe’s on my right foot
And I may be in a mood!

I love to play Let’s Pretend
Babies, house, and school
And some days change my name
To whatever fits my rule!

My favorite place to be
Are the playground and the park
Running around outside
From morning till almost dark.

I love to play in the sand
Making castles, monsters and cake
Hiding and finding treasures
With my bucket, shovel and rake.

Gymnastics is my thing
I’m not afraid of the ‘Pit’
I twirl and jump and hoola-hoop
And of course can do a split!

They say I’m a picky eater
I can’t imagine why
I love my cookies and candy
Especially ice-cream pie!

I’m in awe of the world around me
Seeking answers to questions and more
For I am a mighty three year old
But watch out… cause soon I’ll be four!

Have a beautiful day Ellie!  And never stop exploring life outside of the box!
Love Mimi

Friday, May 10, 2013

Life Lesson Month of May: Blog 2- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Dear Ellie,

Although I normally only work two days a week (while you are at preschool), recently I took a four day long training on infant massage.  It turned out to be one of the most rewarding classes I have ever taken (but given where I am in life, that makes sense).  I only wish I had my new knowledge three years ago when you were born or four years ago when Kyle was in the NICU.  As I became a certified instructor, I came home and practiced on you… and even at your age of three, you and I had more time to connect together before bedtime (and you slept soooo good). 

Life Lessons Learned #10: Never underestimate the power of touch.

Here is what I learned as I became certified to teach infant massage to new parents:

Bonding is the establishment of an emotional relationship.  In the case of infant massage, this relationship is between the baby and his/her parents.  Sometimes, bonding isn’t spontaneous and needs to be learned (especially in cases where the moms or dads have been victims of sexual or emotional abuse and touch was not a positive experience for them).  Or perhaps that bonding is delayed due to adoption, depression, drug and/or alcohol abuse, having a special needs baby, financial stress, or perhaps it was an unwanted pregnancy, or the parents had a premature baby that needed time in the NICU.  But even in those cases where parent-baby bonding is instantaneous, that connection still needs to be nurtured.  Touch is the best way to forge that attachment. 

Being purposeful in teaching massage techniques by pointing out bonding benefits makes the experience more apparent and helps the parents become more aware of the goals.  Instructors should tell parents about the benefits of skin-to-skin contact, creating routine, spending time with their infant, increasing the baby’s immune system, relieving teething pain, and aiding colic and gas (all of these good practices are enhanced by massage).  Things like making eye contact and understanding the baby’s cues will form that attachment faster.  Parents will understand their babies better and be less frustrated and relaxed themselves. Massage is beneficial for both the parents and the baby.

For those working parents who put their children in daycare, massage is a way to connect with your baby after a long and stressful day.  It enables you to spend time with your child (with no other outside stimuli) and focus only on the baby.  Massage allows for love, attention, and little stress- all qualities that will enable a baby to thrive and will prepare him or her for situations later on in life.

Massage, facilitating bonding, allows for the child to trust and learn as well. By understanding routine and anticipation, a child will know and be able to communicate through cues his/her wants with regard to the therapy.  The more words a mother says to the child (through nursery rhymes, songs, and explanation) throughout the duration of the massage will further the vocabulary of that baby into his or her toddler years and beyond.

For premature babies in the NICU, research shows that massage allows them to be released up to five days sooner and increases weight gain.  Premature babies need to save their energy to develop and grow. Those babies who become disorganized, over-active, and over-stimulated can’t properly do that.  Massage helps calm them. It’s also a way for parents to do something for their little ones, as a parent can feel very helpless in the NICU (I know that first-hand).

Ellie, learn the techniques for infant massage when you have a baby.  You will cherish the time that you have with your little one, and knowing that you are doing something so healthy for them is such a rewarding feeling.

I love you Bean and thank you for letting me use you to practice on!

P.S. As an instructor, we teach parents to always ask their infant permission before they begin to massage.  It gets parents into the habit of teaching their children that they have a choice to be touched and it’s good practice for children to understand they have the right to say no.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

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

Hi Ellie!

Because of a slight disaster this past week, I am prepared for my week’s blog.
I shall call it:

Life Lesson Learned #9: If you are not a housepainter by trade, then don’t attempt to do your own fix-ups.

Yes, I have a “Mimi” story for you.  While Poppy was away for the weekend I decided to surprise him when he got home by painting a small area (about a 3” X 3” patch) located on a wall leading to our basement.  As I prepared the area with painter’s tape and newspaper, I also scanned the rest of the wall to see if there was anything else I should touch up.  And the answer to that Ellie is, “Yes there was…. Plenty!”   So I pulled off the 6-inch strip of freshly laid blue painters tape, threw it away and got out the BIG role.  And then I proceeded to lay new tape that extended from the beginning of the stairwell (both sides), up both sets of stairs, through the hallway, back down the other side, and three large areas in the living room.  I then laid down two weeks of newspaper (thank goodness for the Sunday edition) all over the house to ward off damage from possible spills.  Proud of my professionalism, I was then ready to paint.  So I went out to the garage and looked underneath the workbench where we must have dozens of paint cans stored.  Now Ellie, keep this in mind… I did not have my glasses on, but I knew that all I needed to look for was the ‘color sample’ on top of the paint can.  Once I found it, I opened it, stirred it and got started.  Starting on the 3” X 3” wall I couldn’t find an appropriate stopping place so I just painted the whole wall.  Then, I went to the next level of steps and opted to ‘touch up’ the shorter of the two walls that lined those steps.  Since it is an extremely short wall, I just went ahead and painted that whole area too.  Next, I tackled the opposite side but since it is a much taller wall, I chose to stop right below the light switch.   My next stop was across the room where there were three miniscule smudges well below a collage of pictures I have hanging on a wall.  So I painted a 4’ X 4 ‘ exposed area while keeping about an inch distance between my paintbrush and the picture frames.  Once that was completed I headed to another area in the living room next to the bay window and painted another large patch.  If you are thinking I should be done by now… not by a long shot.  Another wall, center room, also had some smudge marks.  So I painted that one too being careful around the light switch and vent.  But that wall was also tall so I stopped just below the picture hanging there.  Then came the hallway, both sides.  At this point I started to get tired so even though I painted the entire length, I stopped at hip level.  Lastly I had to take care of a few nicks and fingerprints near the railing area on the tallest wall, which spanned both floor levels.  Not wanting to get out the ladder, I painted a line at eye level and covered everything below it with the exception of the light switch and around the handrail.  Now I was done.  Or so I thought.  I decided not to clean up or return the paint can to the garage just in case I missed a spot.  But I thought it best to wait until the paint dried to see if there were any such areas (it seemed to be taking awfully long!).  Well, after a couple of hours, more like (many), I checked over my work.  Since the sun was setting, it seemed to be casting shadows on my walls.  But upon closer inspection, that was not so.  Ellie… all my so-called ‘touch-ups’ were a different shade (and quite noticeable I might add) from the walls original paint color.  Maybe if my brush strokes went in a straight line instead of all over the place it wouldn’t have looked so bad.   At first I was shocked, then horrified, then thought, “Uh-oh… Poppy is going to kill me!”  Since it was already late in the evening I figured I would just clean up, put everything away and deal with it the next day.  So when I went to put the lid back on the paint can, there, in big bold black magic marker letters were the words ‘DON’T USE!’  Uh-oh.  How could I have ever missed that???  (Remember back at the beginning of the story when I said I was not wearing my glasses?  Well, there lies the answer!)  Now I knew I was going to be in BIG trouble.  So I just went to bed and prayed that during the middle of the night somehow the two shades of paint would come together and be as good as new in the morning.   After all, Jesus was a carpenter, right?  So painting should be right up his alley.  And I don’t think there is anyone more ‘miracle savvy’ than HIM.  Well, he must have had way more important prayers to answer because when I woke up the next morning my walls were still two-toned!  Oh well, I tried.  So off to the airport I went to pick up Poppy and gently break the news.  I greeted him with a big smile, a big kiss, an “I missed you very much”, and an “I love you very much” and then proceeded to go into my story of trying to do a good deed that backfired.  When we walked into the house Poppy looked all around and his comment was “Holy Mackerel Mic!”  El… instead of getting mad, Poppy just started to laugh.  I am not sure if he was in shock or just chalked it up to a typical ‘Mimi’ incident, but honestly, his giggling made me breathe easier.  Together we decided that before I attempt to “fix” it, he would talk to a painter friend of his to see if that is even feasible or if we should just hire a professional to take care of it.  I am opting for the professional, as I no longer want to re-paint.  It is kind of a boring job and I don’t want to give up another whole day to it (I’ve moved on)!

So that is my story for this week Ellie-bean.  I think the lesson I have learned is to leave the house painting to those who know what they are doing, and I should just stick to finger painting with you.  After all, those kinds of smudge marks are always welcomed!
 (the latest beautiful Ellie original!)
(your portrait of Poppy)

Love you El!