Thursday, January 30, 2014

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

Hi Ellie!

I always wonder, and yes sometimes fret, as to where my blog week’s life lesson will come from.  In the past my ideas have appeared from time spent with special people, interesting conversations, long ago memories and also my own random thoughts.  Thankfully something always “pops” up at just the right time!  This week my blog idea came from a simple cardboard box.  Imagine that!  Here it is:

Life Lesson Learned #49:  As you age, you will never get bored of playing board games!

Ellie, Poppy and I had some friends over recently for a relaxing afternoon to play some board games.  I opted for a good ole fashioned game of Clue (which was invented in the 1940’s) while Poppy voted for a relatively “younger” game called Sequence (and by ‘younger’ I mean it was invented in the 1970’s.)  So to keep the two of us happy… after all it was our house… we played both!  And our friends brought some games as well, one in particular was called Word On The Street which was a lot of fun but a bit nerve-racking too!  The variety of choices added to a truly enjoyable afternoon along with laughter, silliness, good conversation, appetizers, wine and of course great company! 

El, I want you to know that as much as I enjoy this type of game day… there is another type that brings me great pleasure also… maybe even a smidgeon more.  And that would be playing board games with you! There is a vast difference though between the ages on how ‘the players’ interpret the rules.  Our adult friends are pretty good at following the game’s directions to the letter.  You on the other hand, infer to your own ideas of what the rules should be.  I will give you two examples: the first being from the game Candyland.  Ellie, the object of the game is to reach the Candy Castle first.  But you view this colorful board game differently.  In your eyes the object of winning is to accumulate all of the picture cards.  You could care less about the double-color cards which will help you get to the castle first but take greater delight in picking cards like the Duke of Swirl who hangs out in the ice-cream slopes, Grammy Nutt who lives in the Peanut Brittle House and even Jolly who is found in the Gumdrop Mountains!  And yes Ellie, when it is your turn sometimes you pick not one card, but rather three, four or even more cards till you get one of your liking!  The game is finished when you and you alone have visited all six specialty cards!   Within seconds of this amazing feat you will then state the words “I quit” with great satisfaction!  Another example of how you interpret game rules can be seen when playing Chutes and Ladders.  El, the object of this game is to overcome the obstacles (the ladders and chutes of course) by climbing from the number 1 to 100 and getting to the top first.  But again, you see this game board in a whole different light.  Instead of getting upset when a chute or ladder takes you down to a lower number, you try and purposely move your pawn to land on such spaces allowing you to slide all over the board.  And once you’ve completed traveling up as well as down on all the ladders and chutes (mind you it does not matter if you are on the number 5 or 95) you will deem the game ‘done’ and move on to playing restaurant or school!

I guess in time, and as you grow, the rules will fall into place Ellie.  You will also see that there is a whole new level to playing games… it is called ‘competition.’  It will certainly be interesting to see just how competitive you will become.  Games challenge us Ellie, not only our minds but also how we interact with others.  Remember it is ok to win, after all that is the point of playing, but more important is to show good sportsmanship.

And with that being said, I think the lesson I have learned Ellie is that playing board games is a wonderful way to spend unhurried time with good friends and/or family. Board games give us a chance to gather around a table, enjoy the surrounding company and strengthen friendships.   These moments will also bring you a treasured gift El, and that is the gift of a “forever memory.”  And you my darling grand daughter bring me a ‘new memory’ to cherish each and everyday as there is no “bored” in playing board games with you!

Love you Little Miss Rule Maker!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

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

Hi Ellie,

So this month was significant to our family because routine has prevailed.  The craziness of the holidays are long past, I am back to work part-time, and Will is sleeping 11 hours at night.  We are all on a schedule.  And anyone who knows me understands how much I love, need, and crave that!  But for me, routine means that I have time to read my books again (before this month, I haven’t touched my Kindle since the night before Will was born but I am happy to say that I have read two of my own books these past two weeks!).  I suppose that my lesson here could very well be to carve out time for yourself but I think what I learned recently is more than that.      

Life Lessoned Learned #47:  Share your passion with others.

Just because I didn’t touch one of my books in these past few months doesn’t mean I didn’t read at all.  It’s quite the opposite actually.  I read you and Will many books!  And you read Will lots of books (we’ve read some of your favorites so many times through that you have memorized them perfectly). 

Here were your top picks these past three months:

My Name is Not Isabella by Jennifer Fosberry (this one may just be one of my absolute favorites at the moment because of the strong feminist voice)

Paperdolls by Julia Donaldson (which we then made our own paper dolls so that we had more characters when we read the book aloud)

The HICCUPotamus by Aaron Zenz (which you chose often for Will because he gets the hic-ups a lot after he giggles… just as did you- hence how we acquired the book from Mimi who gave it to you when you were a hic-cupping baby).

The Great Big Enormous Turnip by Alexei Tolstoy (which your Mimi gave me when I was 17 weeks pregnant with you, when according to a website, you were the size of a turnip.  She sent it when we lived in Denver when I was so nervous waiting for the AFP results that went so badly with Kyle.  She sent me a care package to make me smile and appreciate you, my little growing vegetable!)

The Black & White Rainbow by John Trent (this one is a spiritual book given to you by your Great-Gram Bubbles which generated a discussion on forgiveness, a word that you have never heard before but actually understood very well.  You then demonstrated your new knowledge of what forgiveness means by telling me about how you forgave a boy at school for accidently kicking you).

Presss Here by Herve Tullet (I love that this book because it makes you think of your Denver friend Ben.  He gave this to you on your second birthday).

Declan Grows Up: It’s Just Not Fair by C. Austin Lee (our family friend Linda, who’s relative wrote this book, gave this one to you not too long ago but we’ve read it several times since.  It has allowed us to have conversations about our talents and focusing on what we are good at… you proudly told me you are really good at eating and playing with your Ferbie and hope to get better at soccer!)

Oh No! by Candace Fleming

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

Where Can They Be? by your Mimi, Mickey Russell

Three Billy Goats Fluff by Rachael Mortimer

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple (your Poppy gave you this one when you were born… he could foresee the independent person you were going to become!)

The Jellybeans by Laura Numeroff and Nate Evans

Bernstein Bears books (which Great-Gram Russell sends you.  Ellie, you particularly like the one about telling the truth.  You never heard the word lie before so that generated a long talk about always being honest)

Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault

The Little Red Hen by John Escott

Dr. Seuss books- your favorite is I Wish I Had Duck Feet (we have quite the Seussical library as our cousin Taylor, who is now a senior in high school, passed on her collection to you as a gift for your baby shower)

Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire

Peter Rabbit by Frederick Warne

Goldilocks and the Three Bears (we have two different versions and you love to compare them)

I hope you share these with your children someday Ellie because they have brought so many smiles to our bedtime routine!

Love you Bean,


Thursday, January 16, 2014

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

Hello Little Miss Princess of the Ice!

Ellie, I was worried that I was going to have writers block this week until… yep…  you, your Mommy, Aunt Sammy and I went ice-skating!  As always, you are my definite ‘go to girl’ when it comes to learning a life lesson.  So with that being said… here is what you taught me!

Life Lesson Learned #46:  Don’t be afraid to conquer your fears!

OK… our, or rather your, first ever ice-skating attempt was hands-down the funniest experience I have encountered with you so far Ellie.  Let me start from the beginning.  A few days ago your Mommy informed you that ‘we’ girls were going to go ice-skating while the boys went to the PSU men’s basketball game. (Will didn’t have the option of participating in either choice, so Rachel was called in to babysit).  Good thing too because if he would have went to the basketball game with the boys, his three month old frame and head would have been moving back and forth like a bobble-head doll following the team up and down the court with no knowledge of what was actually happening!  And if he would have went ice-skating with us… well I don’t think they rent skates tiny enough for Will’s feet that don’t even walk yet!  And that was fine because we had our hands full with you alone!  You see, your apprehension of our upcoming skating afternoon started a few days ago and slowly increased as our outing crept closer.  You stated that you were a bit scared.  So on the morning of the big event, your Mommy thought of a great way to put your fears at ease by YouTubing some ice-skating performances.  That way you could see what we four would actually be doing! …  But oh your silly Mommy, what was she thinking?  Those YouTube snips she chose on the computer were of Olympic Skating hopeful’s… aka, professionals!  We would be lucky if we didn’t fall and bruise our bums a half dozen times, but we were definitely not telling you that!  Anyway, fast-forward a few hours to when we were driving up to Penn State’s Pegula Ice Rink. Ellie, while sitting in your car seat you had that nervous/hi-low anticipation in your giggle, in your talk, and even in your sigh.  Upon entering the building we paid our fee and rented skates, which you have now learned are nothing like the soft, oversized, flexible shoes you wear on a daily basis.  No… these skates were made of rock hard leather that were to fit snugly and when laced, they were so stiff that you couldn’t even move your ankles.  And that led to your first mild meltdown; well maybe not quite… now that I think of it, that one was your second.  The first was when you were holding one of your ice-skates and accidentally dropped it on top of your foot.  Oooops… (“You” and “change” don’t fare well together!)  The next “change” came when you stepped onto the ice and realized that just standing on what looked to be a sheet of glass is nothing like standing on the sidewalk or your living room carpet or even a hardwood floor for that matter.  And that would also be the exact moment that you remembered your fear… ice-skating is scary!  So I quickly glided in behind you, bent down low and slid my arms underneath yours as I wrapped them securely around your chest.  Now that I had a firm grasp on you, we slowly fell into skating with the rotation.  And let me just tell you that was nooooooooooooo easy feat!  Your two legs were like wet noodles, bending and turning every which way but not moving at all in the direction they were suppose to… straight forward that is!  And on top of that you were crying of which totally confused me because you kept saying that you liked skating and did not want to quit!  

After fifteen minutes your Mommy took over and it wasn’t long before you both fell on your bottoms. 

We all tried to giggle it off as though it were no big deal Ellie, but not you.   I think it helped validate your decision to start crying again.  So your Mommy suggested that we stop skating.  And again you yelled out between your tears,  “Noooooooooo.  I like skating and I am having fun!”  Your Aunt Sammy, Mommy and I were completely perplexed, as well as amused with your feelings but continued skating to appease you.  Every once in awhile Aunt Sammy would hold on to one of your arms while your Mommy, or me, held on to the other (between the three of us El, someone had to capture this love/hate relationship you had with ice-skating on camera, as it was that comical!).  
Well, about thirty-five minutes into this fun, fun afternoon everyone skating had to clear the ice so the rink officials could sweep it.  The timing couldn’t have come at a better moment as it gave you a chance to walk (with your skates on) on solid ground for a bit and purchase a hot chocolate and a cookie with Aunt Sammy.  
Once you both returned to where your Mommy and I were waiting, they opened the gates for everyone to re-enter the ice rink.  Ellie, I don’t know if it was the chocolate fix that you had just ingested or if it was the solid ground under your footing but when you stepped back onto the ice you stated that you were not afraid anymore.  And when I hooked my arms underneath yours, this time around the rink your legs weren’t as wobbly and your feet actually faced the direction of forward (for the most part!).  
Two times around seemed to satisfy your conquest when you finally said that you had had enough.  Ellie, with a slight trace of the crying blotches that still dotted your face, you left that rink with a huge smile like you had just conquered the impossible.  Now us three adults were thinking “one and done” but not you our little Ice princess… no, you asked if we could go again next weekend!  Go figure!  I guess the answer to that will be yes as long as I can unbend myself from being hunched over for so long on this fun excursion.  Six days ought to do it!  Till then, I will be in a warm bathtub soaking every evening!

So the lesson I have learned my little Sonja Henie… (Ellie, in case you don’t know of her, she was an amazing ice-skater back in the 1930’s who not only won multiple Olympic medals, but also brought ballet to the ice.  She was dubbed Queen of the Ice and has held that honor since.)  Sorry, I got sidetracked.  Back to the lesson I have learned.  I guess it doesn’t matter your age or your size.  A real life fear is just that… real life.  And the only way to get past it is to face it.  You’ve given me ‘food for thought’ Ellie.  I need to take a good hard look at my own fears and figure out a way to overcome them.  You my precious little one did just that on the ice with an amazing amount of courage.  As much as I think you really wanted to get off that ice rink El, you chose to persevere and trust your three comrades to keep you safe.  I guess we must have succeeded because upon your request we will be repeating this day in the near future.

OK Ellie, this is where I normally put a closure to my blog, but right now you need to eliminate the last 10 words in the previous sentence.  Before this goes to print, I must tell you about the conversation that took place between you and me after church today.  Yes, it had to do with ice-skating.  Here is our conversation… see for yourself why I need to retract those words!

Mimi: “So El, are we still planning to go ice-skating next Saturday?”
Ellie:  “No, I don’t think so.”
Mimi:  “ Oh?  How come?”
Ellie:  “ I have to get bigger.”
Mimi:  “But I thought you were already big.  You’re going to be 4 years old soon.”
Ellie:  “Yeah, but I need to get bigger than that.”
Mimi: “Oh.  Ok.  How big do you need to be before we go ice-skating again?
Ellie:  “Mmmmm… I think I have to be 15.”
Mimi:  “Wow… all right.  But you do know that is going to be awhile, right?  What do you think we should do till then?”
Ellie:  “I know, let’s go bowling.  I think I can push the bowling ball pretty good.  And that should be fun!”
Mimi:  “Ok then.  It’s a date!”

El-bean, even though another ice-skating adventure is no longer in our near future, I am still so very proud of you.  It is ok to try something new and find out that you are not fond of it after all.  What is important is that you faced a challenge and succeeded in seeing it through.  You continue to amaze me Ellie as well as all of your family because when we least expect it, you show us a glimpse of the strong and independent individual you are destined to become!

Love you future bowling buddy!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

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

Hi Ellie,

One of our family friends’ sons, aged 6, asked you what you wanted to be when you grow up (after he told you he was going to be a doctor before becoming president).  You responded that you just want to live with your Mom.  I had to stifle my giggles Ellie (as I know that you are still coming out of your attachment phase since bringing Will into the family).  I adore that you love living with us in this house but I need to remember to tell you this story when you become a teenager (when you will probably try to distance yourself from us).  I also think I should have more conversations with you regarding occupations and goals (everyone who knows you would agree that you have drive, my stubborn girl)!    

Life Lessoned Learned #45:  Remember your dreams.  Although they might change, they tell a lot about who you are now and where you are going.

The story above made me question what your real nightly dreams are like.  Here are eight dreams you shared with me in some mornings over a period of a month (as quoted by you):

1.     I bought a monkey at the grocery store.
2.     I was the best ballerina and did the most perfect spins.
3.     I did a funny dance for you & Daddy.
4.     I was watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and they (as in the characters on the show) were wearing capes.  Someone asked me what I wanted to watch on tv and I didn’t say anything. 
5.     I saw Tinkerbelle making a tree.  She was cutting a branch.  And then she flew away.
6.     A pterodactyl landed in a volcano that was actually a bath.  And then a monster came along.
7.     I was whooshing in ballet and I had a cupcake decoration on my head (given to me by Miss Nicole).
8.     I went to a party with Mimi and we played a game with giant pennies.

So right now based on your dreams, I surmised your stressors are monsters, baths (I assume because you hate having your hair washed), and things out of place (which is true my little compulsive child, as I currently am watching you line up our shoes ever so nicely at the front door).  And what you value most is ballet, family, and Disney World- not too shabby of a list (I would definitely agree with 2/3 of it)!

Don’t grow up too fast Ellie.  I love your innocence.  Never feel pressured to do something you don’t want to.  But do have ambition, aspiration, and purpose (knowing that you are always welcome in our home)!

Love you Ellie!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

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

Hi Ellie!

And Happy New Year!  This is the week that most people decide to make a change or two in their life and try to stay committed to that change for one full year.   It is called a “New Year’s Resolution,” and the hope is that the ‘life altering change’ becomes permanent.  People of all ages will tell you that year after year not all of their attempts are successful; after all, old habits are very hard to break.  But knowing that another ‘new year’ is always around the corner, their strongest determination for change usually happens on January 1st.  I too have a new year’s resolution Ellie.  It has to do with my writing.  I want to start penning poetry again and what a perfect blog week to do so.  So here goes El…

Life Lessoned Learned #44:  Each new year brings with it a chance to right our wrongs.

New Year’s Resolutions…  Again

The New Year is upon us
Resolutions begin
Goal setting and changes
Are the key to “win, win”

Diet and exercise
Seem to top the chart
Also quitting bad habits
For a healthier heart

A promise to read more,
Computer time… less
Correspondence to catch up on
There’s no time for rest

Finding a hobby
Or learn something new
Volunteer for a cause
Are promises too

Changing direction
With finances and debt
To ‘save more spend less’
A commitment we set

The choices above
Are obligations sincere
But easy to fall from
As we continue the year

The best resolution
That anyone can make
Is to take the day before you
And don’t repeat mistakes
The 3 parts for success
Are: Body, Soul and Mind
To achieve your resolution
They must be aligned.
So awake with a prayer
Advance with a smile
Life altering changes
May take quite awhile
“win, win!”

By: Mickey Russell
I love you Ellie-bean!  May all your thoughts and wishes come true this year!  And may all the days that come before you begin and end with a smile!

Love, Mimi