Thursday, August 29, 2013

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

You and Joe are exploring your new house!
Dear Angel,

And when I call you my Angel, I mean that so sincerely right now… you have been one in every sense of the word as your Dad and I have completely disrupted your world with a big house move and the impending birth of your brother.  You have gone along with everything we have asked you and you transitioned so seamlessly- even sleeping perfectly in your new room complete with your new bed since day one.

And now that we are just about settled in our new place, we are anxiously awaiting the newest member of our family.  I am in crazy nesting mode (which combined with my Type A personality made it possible for us to be completely unpacked in our new house in 2 days… yes, 2 days- all the boxes were emptied and organized including all of the baby’s clothes (through 24 months) which I washed and folded).  And now, it’s time to hang the pictures.  This is where your Dad and my parents keep telling me that I have a lifetime here in the house to put it together… there is no rush.  But for me, that’s always been a challenge.

Life Lessons Learned #26:  As my Dad always says (but doesn’t always do), enjoy the ride Ellie.

The one area where I feel like I am actually taking his advice is with this pregnancy.  I know it’s my last baby so I am in no hurry to deliver.  Aside from Kyle’s genetic issues, pregnancy for me has always been easy on my body.  I am probably one of the few people who really loves being pregnant all the way through.  I am excited to have a bump, feel kicks and hiccups, and see the ripple of movement on my stomach when your brother turns.  My pregnancies are also the few times in my life where I have truly felt beautiful- like this is what my body was made for.  I think there really is something to that line about pregnant women glowing.  It’s when I feel the most strong and purposeful.   And I can’t lie… I love devouring a large order of cheese fries for dinner without anyone judging!

Seeing how visibly pregnant I am often garnishes many stares and comments, namely being, “You must be so ready to have this baby!” but my answer is always the same, “Not yet.”  I will miss these days of flutters, just as I did with you and Kyle.  I remember waking up some nights after you were both born and my immediate thought was that your kicks in my belly awoke me but then I quickly realized that wasn’t it and it made me a bit melancholy and wistful.  Don’t misunderstand me, I am so anxious to meet this little boy in my tummy just as I was with you and Kyle but I am enjoying the journey of waiting for him to come.    

Of course, I wonder what he will look like (will he be my one baby to have hair as I have had much more acid reflex in this pregnancy than the prior two?) and what will his personality be like (will he be more quiet like Kyle or serious like you?).  But I will have my answers soon enough and I am ok to wait because I will never get this time back.  My body will never feel another baby within it and that’s ok.  Our family is complete and I feel whole.   

Always take it one day at a time, despite how difficult that may be (as I am off to hang more pictures).

I love you Bean!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

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

(On the way home from the amusement park...)
Hi Ellie-Bean!

What a busy and beautiful day it has been.  Weather-wise it was almost just right.  A tad bit on the warm side but blue skies and sunshine all the way through!  You just left our house after a busy day at school and then a trip to Sunset Park where you and I created a very imaginative playtime.  I must tell you El that one of my favorite pastimes is just watching you.  I love trying to see the world and all its happenings through your eyes because I know each precise moment can never again be repeated with the same innocent excitement.  You always try though, but the first time is always my memory keeper! And because of your enthusiasm and love of new places, my blog this week was inspired by the trip you and I took to DelGrosso’s Amusement Park.  Here it is:

Life Lesson Learned #25:  Courage may come in different forms but they are always met with the same voracity; to overcome or conquer a challenging and at times life-altering situation.

Ellie I have three stories to share with you this week.  The first will be a story of you because, like I said, you inspired this thought in me.  The second will be a story about Poppy because he too has shown me another side of courage.  And lastly, I shall tell you a story about four special women, one being a mommy and her little daughter, whose lives have been changed greatly and how their courage is seeing them through.

All right El, I shall begin with you.  Last week you and I had a very special day together because your Mommy and Daddy had to go to a wedding out of town.  Poppy had to golf for an all day benefit so it was just you and I and a lot of hours to have some fun.  So off to DelGrosso’s Park we went, as the day was pretty nice.  Not knowing what to expect Ellie, your excitement grew, as we got closer.  In fact, when I finally parked the car in their lot and took you to the ticket booth (which was on the opposite side of the street from the amusement attractions) you could see a few of the rides peaking over the trees.  Your blue eyes opened wide as you inhaled quickly and then held your breath for three quick seconds before calling out excitedly, “Look Mimi, look over there!  Did you see that?!  Hurry up, let’s go!”  I had to giggle Ellie because it was still a good distance away and we had to cross the over-the-road- bridge, which was set up like a Disney line with railings.  Once you saw that, you became breathless and with your one hand on your tummy and your other hand on your forehead you got a bit giddy!  Ellie, as you looked at the road with the cars and then at the bridge above, you started to laugh and stated, “Mimi, I never did this before.  I don’t think I can do it.”  With a little laugh I answered you with a, “Ellie the bridge is not one of DelGrosso’s rides, it’s the only means we have to get to the other side where the rides actually are!”  You replied, “ OHHHHHHHH.  Ok.  I will try but I still don’t know if I can!”  Right then and there El I knew it was going to be an awesome day so I took your small hand in mine and together we walked over the very long bridge!  Throughout the afternoon you took turns going on all the rides repeatedly and the one you and I called “The Caterpillar” was definitely your favorite.  The Caterpillar, actually known in its true form as The Wacky Worm, was a kiddie roller-coaster.  And even though it was meant strictly for smaller children, you did not meet the height requirement to ride it by yourself, so I had to join you.  Ellie it was this ride that inspired my writing.  Once we were seat-belted in, The Wacky Worm slowly inched down the track and up a small incline.  It took on a little bit of speed when it inched over three bumps that had us rocking back and forth.  As it turned a corner and sped down a hill, the look on your face was priceless!  It is that same look a person has when they open a door and unbeknownst to them everyone on the other side yells ‘Surprise!’  You had that look Ellie right before you let out a shrill scream of pure delight!  And then The Wacky Worm raced around a sharp turn at its fastest speed sending you into a fit of the giggles before slowing down only to repeat the process one more time.  With smiling eyes and a grin from ear to ear your one request Ellie was, “Can we do that again Mimi?!”  So in between the Boat Ride, the Carousel, the Fish Ride, the Train and all the other rides in Kiddie Land, you constantly chose the Wacky Worm Ride.  

Now on the second, third and forth turns I encouraged you to let go of the bar and raise your hands high above your head as we climbed that first little incline (I had to convince you first that we were strapped in securely and the bar that rested in our lap was also locked in place so that we would not fall out). You were apprehensive at first El, but each time we rode it, little by little you would remove your hands from the bar.  The first time you held them in front of your chest but quickly grabbed the bar when the ride began to jerk.  The next time you raised your hands as high as your face but still grabbed the bar when you were uncomfortable.  The third time I could see your courage growing and by the sixth time you rode that ride with your hands held high and never once grabbed the bar until the ride came to its complete stop! Now that is what I call Courageous! Anyone could see that you were quite proud of yourself Ellie as you jumped out of that Worm Car with a look that said ‘ask me and I will tell you not to be scared and how easy it is to just do it’ look!  In other words El, you conquered a challenging situation with your courage and became the Pro!

Now for Poppy’s story.  Poppy is the type of person Ellie that when he makes a commitment to something or someone he sees it through.  He is a very dedicated individual with a great work ethic.  And as long as I can remember, he has always been the kind of person who will tackle any challenge that comes his way, whether it is brought to him by other individuals or whether he has created it for himself.  Like you Ellie, Poppy loves to explore and try new things, things that are not in his natural comfort zone.  And if you ask me, each and every one of those situations required LOTS of courage! Let me give you some examples if you did not already know this about him.  Poppy has gone solo-skydiving, he bungee-jumped, tried hang-gliding, took airplane flying lessons, rode numerous motorcycles and I think his favorite was scuba diving during a shark feeding.  But now at a much older age, he has taken on a new challenge Ellie and that is Bicycling (and I don’t mean peddling casually around the neighborhood!).  Last year I bought him a bike in the hopes that he would use it on a daily basis where it would become an enjoyable hobby.  And I hit the jackpot with my gift, as he seemed to like it and went on many bike rides but never more than eight miles at a clip.  When winter came, Poppy put his bike away but only for a short period of time.  It came right out again very early this past spring, and it was then that he read an article about a bicycle ride that stretched from Philadelphia, Pa. to Atlantic City, N.J. making the trip sixty-five miles long.  
It was to benefit children’s charities, which I believe was started by some Philadelphia Police Officers.  Your Poppy loves finding good causes to support and this one couldn’t have been more perfect as it involved him using his new-found hobby, his bicycle!  But your Poppy was very apprehensive in the beginning Ellie as he really wasn’t sure if he could accomplish this feat.  It took a lot of courage for your Poppy to make this commitment because as I said before, once he does he will see it through.  So he got back on his bicycle and started training.  And what a training workout he got as State College is one mountainous hill after another (if you ask me no matter which direction you go, coming or going, it always seems like you are traveling on an incline!).  Anyway, Poppy worked hard each and every day.  And I do remember during his pre-training that there were times when he questioned himself on whether he made the right decision.  But the competitive side of Poppy always comes forth and he peddled on!  Well, the race took place on July 28th and Poppy’s courage to see this commitment through squashed his apprehension and he completed the course in amazing time Ellie… biking 65 miles in 3 hours and 47 minutes.  
I had the honor of watching him cycle down the final stretch El and what a proud moment it was!  I for one am in awe of your Poppy’s courage.

Lastly Ellie there is another type of courage and that is when a challenging situation comes along concerning ones health.  Gigi, your Aunt Joanne and a very close friend of mine Lesta, have all been diagnosed with a life-threatening form of cancer in the not-so-far-off past.  I do know with each of these women that their courage to fight their battle with cancer came not only from the love of family and friends, but also from Faith and Prayer.  After many treatments and a long road to recovery, your Gigi and Aunt Joanne have overcome this disease and both are very vigilant in taking the best care of their bodies.  Lesta, who has an amazing and positive outlook, still has to fight the fight but I believe and pray her courage will see her through this too.  Another friend of ours, Cindy, and her daughter, Kendall, are dealing with a completely different kind of courage El and that is because Kendall, who is not quite three years old, has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  Cindy, her family, friends and even strangers are praying daily for a miracle to happen here.  But until it does, Cindy has had to find the courage to hear, internalize and process the diagnosis given… she then has had to find the courage to seek out support groups and others who have gone through what she is just now experiencing and most importantly she has had to find the courage within herself to get through each day with some sense of normalcy if there is such a thing any more.  Cindy has also had to find the courage not to go any further than the present day to just love her daughter for that specific moment in time.  Kendall too has courage Ellie.  I don’t know if you will remember, but at Aunt Nancy’s memorial service you and Kendall had a ‘moment.’  At that time, no one knew that Kendall was sick.  While her Mommy was holding her, you gracefully held out your arm and Kendall very slowly and very gently touched you.  No words were ever exchanged but you both stared at each other with a sense of familiarity.  I believe now Ellie that an all knowing and powerful connection passed between the two of you.  I also feel that you understand the courage that Kendall holds.  Knowing that she herself has great discomfort, Kendall will still seek her Mommy’s face and show her with a smile just how much she loves her.  She also readily accepts the many distractions of others to help her get through her day.  Your Mommy and Daddy, as well as your Poppy and I, know all too well what Cindy and Kendall are going through.  Kendall’s life is at stake and yet mommy and daughter have come to terms with appreciating each day that Kendall awakes and they make the best of that day.  Ellie, as your mommy will tell you, that takes the greatest courage of all for only God has our answers.  The best gift we can give Kendall and all who are in a similar situation is prayer.

So I guess the lesson to be learned here El is that Courage is instilled in all of us and we may draw upon it in any situation.  Whether it is uncertainty, danger, fear or pain, everyone’s ultimate goal is to confront and hopefully conquer these emotions.  Each of us has the strength to do so, but it takes courage to know when and how to use it.  Never be afraid Ellie of life’s many challenging situations, use your mind, heart and soul as well as your Trust in God to meet them head on.  No matter the outcome, you will become a stronger person.

Love you my courageous little Ellie-Bean!
Love Mimi

Thursday, August 15, 2013

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

Dear Angel,

Being a parent is the hardest job you will ever have… educating a child is the biggest responsibility that leaves me wondering if I am doing anything right some days!

Life Lessons Learned #24: Be compassionate and empathetic.

I struggle and wrestle with how to teach you this one Ellie other than by example.  I’ve said to your Mimi a million times that I don’t care how smart or beautiful you are; I just simply want you to be a kind person.

I know you are incredibly shy so I don’t push you to be overly friendly to strangers (even though I find it a bit ridiculous that you bury your head in my shoulder or your Mimi’s during the part of church when we shake the hands of those around us).  But I try to be courteous and polite to those we meet in public.  Despite some embarrassment with my colleagues when you snub them during the first few encounters, I respect that you have anxiety with new people (and really in the world you are growing up in, sadly I think it’s easier that way than to have to worry about you being easily coaxed into the arms of a predator).  I often wonder what exactly you see in the few people that you warm up to fastest- do children see into people’s hearts and judge them better than us adults who can be jaded?

I don’t hide my emotions from you.  It’s not often that I cry but when I do, I don’t shield it from you.  The other day, you were sitting on my bed as I got dressed and out of the blue you said in a very sad voice (with your head hanging low), “I miss my brother Kyle.”  Tears streamed down my face and I let you know that I miss him too (even though I have no idea what prompted you to think about him) and I told you that I was really glad that you talked to me about him. 

We pray every night together on our knees (most nights, you get distracted and I have to remind you to give Jesus a few minutes of our time).  After we say the Hail Mary, you and I both say something that we were thankful for that day and then we include people who need extra blessings (on Monday, you prayed for the flu-ridden sister of a friend at school and a week ago you prayed for a little boy who wasn’t nice to you but more often than not, it’s someone who pops in your head sporadically).

Your Dad and I never yell at one another but we can have heated discussions once in a great while and if it happens, it’s over our dinner conversation.  Because you are our only living child, it’s just natural that you are apart of it- you give your two cents (even agreeing with me recently that your Dad was a bit cranky with the latest development in the long process of us buying our new house).  I want you to know that emotions are ok to display- including frustration with another person (and that there is a respectful way to converse when there is a difference of opinion).  I want you to note that compromise is possible but sometimes it isn’t… and that’s when even adults take a time out.

I try to be proactive and give you positive feedback when you are particularly kind and I tell you that you are a nice girl.  Manners (or what we call at home, “our nice words”) are a must (and you are so mindful of please, thank you and I’m sorry that you often remind me and your Dad to say them!).  We don’t swear, or say hate or stupid in our house (and if we do, you remind us that we don’t say those not nice words).  And in our family unit, we don’t judge based on skin color, gender, or sexual orientation (even though these conversations are beyond your years, I hope you are gaining perspective by living in an environment of tolerance).  I try to follow the same guidelines and expectations that I create for you as often as I can because modeling can be the best form of learning.

But when it comes down to it, I wonder what you will be like as an adult Ellie.  I already know the answers to these questions right now, when you are three, but will they prevail when you are thirty-three?  Will you care deeply about others?  Will you make the world a better place? 

As a toddler, you have such an incredible sense of self and I think that is the basis for compassion- it’s hard to understand the plight of someone else if you don’t understand yourself first.  Don’t ever lose sight of who you are while always considering the feelings of those around you.  These days, you still get angry when people call you little or tiny and I tell you again and again that you have such a big heart because you really do (I can’t tell you how many times you kiss or say I love you simply because you feel like it at random times throughout the day).

You can still have poise and dignity and still have emotion too.  Remember to be tenderhearted but do be cautious of those who take advantage.  Be benevolent but be strong.  Maintain your character and values but respect those who may not see eye to eye with you.

I love you my kind daughter with a heart of gold.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

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

Hello Little Miss Sunshine!

El, Today I chose this term of endearment for you because of the clothing articles you picked to wear this morning.  When your Mommy brought you over to visit, you came in an outfit that definitely screamed ‘Ellie’ as you had on your Mickey Mouse 100 rainbow faces T-shirt, your red/white/blue patriotic ruffled skirt and your orange and green mosaic tiled rain boots (and it wasn’t raining outside, but that is a moot point).  

I am not sure if the fashion industry would have complimented you on your unique sense of style or if they would have simply walked away because they couldn’t uncross their eyes from the busyness that was happening on your whole being!  Honestly though El, I thought you looked gorgeous... and your Great-Grandmom Bubbles would have stated that you were definitely related to me as when I was little I too wore a lot of colors all at one time.  And the brighter the better… come to think of it, I was the color-wheel!  Anyway back to that morning… within minutes you found a bag of new outfits that I had recently bought for you in your Mom’s old closet and asked if you could try them on.  Of course I said yes… and after observing one of your quirky moments along with a few events that happened during the past few weeks, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about for my blog.  And here it is Ellie-bean.

Life Lessons Learned #23:  Color choices tell a lot about people.

OK… first I need to get back to your outfit choice and do my best at retelling the scene you set before me.  Ellie, in the clothing bag you delightfully rummaged through, you found a beautiful vibrant yellow culotte ruffled skirt.  Your response was “Oh Wow!” and off came your hot pink shorts so you could quickly don this new article of clothing, which you fell in love with instantly.  Seeing yourself in the mirror, you no longer cared for the multi-colored sequin tank top that you were sporting and started rooting through the bag to find something more matchable.   In your eyes El it had to match exactly (yellow with yellow… even if the yellows did not blend well) so instead of picking one of the complimentary tops, you chose a willowy lemon yellow sleeveless shirt to wear with the skirt.  Did it match? Nope.  Did you care?  Nope.  Were you happy with it?  Yep.  And what you did next El is what you do best.  You let your imagination take over.  In my eyes you looked like a not quite ripe Chiquita banana, but in your eyes, you saw a yellow flower, which quickly set your mind in motion!  You informed me that you were going to curl up into a little ball and be a tiny baby flower (I think you meant to say that you were going to start off by being a ‘seed’, but from past experience, I knew not to correct you!).  Anyway, I was instructed to commentate your growth.  So for the next few minutes, I elaborated on the beauty of this tiny little flower trying to reach through the soil and grasp the rays of sunshine to help in the growing process.  I then said, “Grow little one, let your stemmy body reach for the sky, let your leafy fingers stretch towards the sun, and spring upward into a beautiful yellow tulip!”  And while I talked, you slowly stretched yourself to a standing position with your arms held high over your head.  You then turned to face the full-length mirror and smiled with satisfaction!  You were now a piece of horticulture!  Oh my.  Yellow is said to create warmth and cheerfulness as well as increase ones mental activity and muscle energy.  It is also said that it stimulates the nervous system.  Well… its definition couldn’t be more perfect as you nailed it to a tee Miss Sunshine! 

Now I will rewind to a few days prior this moment.  Ellie, I was helping your Mom and Dad paint some of the bedrooms in your new home.  Your Mommy is a girl after my own heart, as she picked out some really beautiful and bold color choices (the kind that just “pop” off the color chart!).  Upon her request, the first bedroom I tackled was your new baby brother’s room.  Here your mom asked me to paint it a striking electric blue.  

I think he will like it Ellie, as it is considered a dynamic and exhilarating color.  As he grows, he will certainly feel charged each morning and ready to tackle whatever situation awaits him!  Next I painted the guest room.  Your Mom asked me to paint this one a gorgeous neon lime green/white in memory of your older brother Kyle.  And what a perfect choice it was for its color means: spring, growth and rebirth.  Being present in this color helps to replenish and renew ones energy.  I believe Kyle would have liked that.  But since you, my sweet grandchild, seem to have an abundance of this element already, I don’t foresee you spending much time in the green room!  However, the room I do see you spending a lot of time in is your own bedroom.  Ellie, you told your Mommy that your favorite color is pink, so she picked out an eye-popping hot pink paint (its official color name is Fussy Pink) for me to slap on those walls.  Once I was finished all I could say was “Wow!”  I loved it!  The color pink is meant for all little girls because it represents sugar and spice and everything nice.  And the color hot pink represents playfulness. Well, that is a definite and I can see why El.  Do you know that every time I enter your new bedroom now I have this uncontrollable urge to break out the board game Candyland and pretend to be the character Lolly from the Lollypop Woods?!  And that statement couldn’t have been written with truer words for you too.  I noticed that every time you enter this bright and bold room your demeanor becomes lively!  Why the other day as I moved on to painting doors you came out of your new bedroom and informed me that I was to be a teenager and you would be my teenage mommy.  Let me just say that it was a very interesting as well as eye opener work/playtime!   I do believe that you and I are going to have a grand time playing Let’s Pretend in that awesome room of yours!

But besides the bold colors that we three (your Mommy, you and myself) are drawn too, there are also many subdued colors.  And I encourage you to use them Ellie when you are feeling different emotions.  Did you know that the color purple represents spirituality and also the imagination?  If you are feeling calm and quiet you should immerse yourself in the color ivory.  When I asked you the other day what color you do not like, you answered brown.  Ellie, brown represents simplicity and dependability so even though you may not care for it on yourself, keep an open mind when you view it elsewhere. 

And one last thing…  I want to show you how two completely different people, both beautiful, both intelligent, both loving and caring individuals eye the colors black and white.  Your Aunt Ally wears them because she views black and white as conservative colors.  She is a traditional woman and believes these colors represent the basics.  And these basics have survived time.  One of Aunt Ally’s points defending her own argument is that if something survives time, how can you go wrong?   She also feels that you don’t need exotic and crazy colors to accentuate beauty… simplicity will do.  She is a very classy woman Ellie… and when she wears her strand of ivory pearls, Ally reminds me of Jackie O.

Now when your Aunt Sammy wears the colors black and white she also sees this match as a very classic look, one that never goes out of style.  When I asked her how she felt when wearing these colors your Aunt Sammy said, “I feel very put together as it gives off a sophisticated look.”  And she couldn’t be more right El.  Aunt Samantha knows how to ‘dress it up’ for a stunning look when an evening out on the town is in order and she knows how to ‘dress it down’ for work and casual day wear.  She too is a classy woman El… and when she wears her gold bangles and beads, Sammy reminds me of Marilyn Monroe.

So I guess the lesson learned here Ellie is that all colors represent different emotions and what shades we wear tell others a little bit about ourselves.  It is ok to stay within our comfort zone if we so choose, and it is also ok to deviate from our set pallet as we grow.  Just remember to always be your own person Ellie.  Those who truly love you will accept you in whatever shades you don.

Love you Miss Pinkalicious!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Life Lesson Month of August: Blog 1- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Dear Angel,

In a world that focuses so much on how we look, I want you to realize that inner beauty is what shines through.  Don’t be fooled by outward appearances.  When people tell you that you are smart or sweet, that should be a far better compliment than when someone tells you that you are attractive.

Life Lessons Learned #22: Love who you are.

A few weeks ago, I made a comment that the wall color in our new house is tacky.  Of course, you asked, “What does tacky mean?”  Without thinking, I replied bluntly, “Ugly.”  And you again inquired, “What’s ugly?”  You made me pause for a second Ellie.  First, I was in awe that you have been graced for three years to not know what that means (and then I felt a painful guilt that I tainted you by using the word).  Second, I was stumped at how to explain it to you because everything that God has created is beautifully made and anything is else is our unfair prejudices and judgments.  So I tried the route of, “Well, when someone is really mean on the inside, that’s what ugly looks like.”  It didn’t satisfy you so I settled on something a bit more concrete, I said, “Well, ugly is the opposite of pretty.”  You then asked, “Like a spider?”  And because I really dislike spiders, I answered, ‘”Yes,” and you went about playing.  Two days later, you brought the subject up again and stated randomly, “Ugly is when someone is mean and it’s what an ant looks like, right?.”  You do think deeply about things and I do think that you processed what I was trying to convey.  I want you to understand that ugly is something that people manifest.  I hope it’s several more years before you have to think about that word again Ellie because I really can’t think of a time where it isn’t used negatively.  It’s hard for me to picture a world where ugly doesn’t exist and for you, that’s been your life since you were born.  I can only imagine the beauty you see in everything so I will try to see the world from your vantage point!

That’s why Ellie I try really hard not to say negative things about my own body in front of you.  I want you to grow up to have a good body image so I am purposeful not to point out the many flaws I think I have.  At three, you tell me that I am pretty and I let myself believe it because you see the world so simply and wonderfully (you see the color of flowers when we are walking to the park and the shape of the clouds when we drive).  As my belly is growing with your brother inside, we talk about how amazing this experience is as you feel him kick.  You are familiar with my scar from my c-sections but you don’t see it as a disfigurement, you see it as I do- it’s more than a boo boo, it’s a line of love.  And really, isn’t that what most blemishes and wrinkles on our skin are?  They tell stories of where we’ve been.   

Don’t let the media define beauty for you.  At three, you have already redefined it.  As long as you stick with the season and your clothes are clean, you have free reign to pick out your own outfits everyday.  For a while, you would choose to wear your Little Mermaid pajamas (it looks like a house coat) out in public with your very worn sneakers (that you wear without socks).  You take pride in your choices and you definitely own them- don’t ever lose that quality!  You don’t like bows or pigtails in your hair so we cut it styled into a simple bob with bangs to keep your hair from hanging in your eyes.  We take baths regularly, and you brush your teeth twice a day so cleanliness is a must but beyond that, you go with comfort.  And really, isn’t that what’s most important?  You love to run, climb, and tumble (at the park, you get sand in your hair and dirt on your face).  For the one-hour of television you get to watch when I make dinner, you are usually watching it upside down on the couch in a headstand position.  
Don’t let clothes or someone else’s standard of beauty confine you.  Stay active and be healthy and never spend extra minutes analyzing how you look… there are far better things to do with your time!

Yes Ellie, I think you are gorgeous but what I love most about your face is how you show your emotions- I love your smile when it’s genuine and I love your furrowed brows when you problem solve and process information and I love your angry face when you pucker your mouth and narrow your eyes.  I think you’re incredibly bright and observant too.  You are creative, independent, and spunky.  You care about others.  You are strong and stubborn.  Do you see how appearance dwindles in comparison to everything else?  You are loved Ellie not because of how you look but because of who you are on the inside (and that my dear is true beauty).  And Ellie, let me tell you that you are one of a kind.  And I’m so glad that you are mine. 
I love you, Mom