Wednesday, February 26, 2014

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

Ellie… this has been some winter so far!  Yes in the beginning it was beautiful and Christmas card perfect, but I am no longer ooooooooing and ahhhhhhing over the at-one-time lovely snowfall and freezing temperatures!  At the rate it has been snowing, we will be lucky to dig ourselves out by May! 
I would like to yell out “Enough already!”… But we still have March to contend with and I certainly don’t want to jinx the weather whereas another foot or two of snow may appear.   I think this cold spell has already validated the authenticity of the phrase ‘Going stir crazy’!!!!  Hmmmm… so what to do about it?  I know.  Write a blog entry!

Life Lesson Learned #53:  Bring fun and creativity into those uncooperative winter-blues months!

Ellie… I know of a great way to lighten everyone’s moods during these harsh winter months.   If you are not taking advantage of skiing, sledding or building snowmen, then it is best to find fun things to do inside that will take your mind off the bitter cold and also the shoveling schedule.  I believe if you create an event involving friends, you can help melt away the doldrums of winter and replace each spirit with the warmth of fun and laughter.  Yep El, my creativity during this teeth-chattering time of year led me to host another Murder Mystery Tea Party and this time my guests were all teachers!  

Some might think it is an awful lot of prep work, but I find the process delightful!  The best part is matching my guests’ personalities with the available fictitious characters as it can be a bit challenging, but on the day when the drama unfolds I am never disappointed!  Your Mommy and I were familiar with this particular Mystery Tea Party as we used it for play last year on Aunt Sammy’s birthday and boy oh boy was it ever a great time!  So this time we took on new roles and gave my teacher friends all the rest.  And you know what Ellie?  As fun as it was this time around, it was also amazing at how differently this group of people played out their characters.  So yes, the company was great, the tea and food were scrumptious and the flow of conversation was hilarious!  

Rachel and Poppy split their babysitting duties of you and Will in half, so I was grateful that Poppy didn’t bring you over to join us until the end when we were all just sitting around and catching up on each others ‘real life’ events (at almost 4 years of age, unfamiliar adults can still at times overwhelm you, so we try not to put you in those situations if we can).  Anyway, after everyone left Ellie, you had a brilliant brainstorm to have another tea party with Poppy, Mommy, and me only this time we used ‘your’ tea set.  I realized after I boiled the water, added the teabags and steeped the tea for a bit that the only reason why you were so interested in creating another mini tea time was that I had changed up my regular sugar bowl, which housed granulated sugar, and replaced it with a bowl full of sugar cubes.  Apparently you had been eyeing up those sugar cubes since the moment you walked into the dining room!  Your comment was, “Ohhhhhh… I LOVE this kind of sugar!” and then you quickly plunked about 8 sugar cubes into the tea making it very, very, very sweet!  

You then added some milk, gave it a quick stir and then allowed me to pour your tea concoction into your little pink teapot.  Once that was done, you again took over and poured the tea from your little pink and turquoise teapot into 4 little matching teacups.  

Then, with everyone’s pinkie extended outward, we all lifted our teacups and sipped your tasty tea!  When the flavorsome liquid was completely gone, (about 10 minutes tops) you were finished with the tea party and ready to head to another party (your friend Tucker’s first birthday).  El, when you are done, you are done!  But no matter, it was still a great way to have fun inside when all you want to do is get outside but can’t.  Supposedly another “polar vortex” (and before I continue on, where in the world did those 2 words come from???  Polar Vortex???  Are they kidding us???  Up until this year we always called it a “cold front”!  To me Polar Vortex sounds like a blast of cold air being forced into an extra small spandex container that is on the brink of exploding!  Actually, I think the weather people are just trying to ‘snowball’ us into thinking something new is happening within the climate patterns so we all stop whining about the excess of cold fronts!)  Sorry El, I really went off course.  OK, back on track.  What I began to write was that another ‘cold front’ is supposedly arriving (uninvited of course) at the end of the week.  So again, what to do, what to do???  Yep, you guessed it… another Murder Mystery Party but this time with a twist.  You see your Aunt Sammy’s sisters, mom, and aunts are coming to visit next weekend.  And since the weather isn’t going to be so great, I suggested that we have an evening wine/appetizer mystery party.  Of course Aunt Sammy loved the idea and added a few extra girlfriends to the list so Ellie, we will be hosting a Beauty Queen Murder Mystery Pageant!  Because her family is such a hoot, we are guaranteed to have the absolute best time ever!  Can you imagine the drama 15 beauty queen contestants will create under one roof?  Since the party won’t be taking place until after this blog entry goes to print, I will have to catch you up on the evening’s events at a later date.

So till then Ellie, I guess the lesson learned is to make the best of the winter doldrums by having fun, fun, fun!  Because before you know it, spring will arrive and with it will come freshness, color and rebirth.   And the cold months will soon be forgotten… well, that is until next year!

I love you my little sugar cube!


Thursday, February 20, 2014

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

Hi Ellie,

When I am quiet with no distractions, I can hear God and feel closer with Kyle.  I feel refreshed and have a new sense of purpose, self, and perspective. 

Life Lessoned Learned #52: Take the time to be still once in awhile.

Last week, your Dad and I went on a 4-day mini-vacation to Vermont, where your Aunt Ally lives.  

The purpose of the trip was not meditative at all; in fact it was the opposite.  It was to catch up with my best friend, reconnect with your Dad, get to know Ally’s husband, and relax (and by that I mean drinking wine, hot-tubbing, eating great food, and enjoying each other’s company).  Ally lives in a gorgeous ski town so of course your Dad wanted to take advantage of the powder (and also Ally and Jim’s expertise of the mountain slopes).  

But you know me, Ellie.  I am the least athletic and most uncoordinated person you will ever meet so skiing is not a sport I want to conquer.  So for the two mornings they all went out on the slopes, I sat in a very comfortable leather chair in a quiet lodge with a hot chocolate and a good book.  Although I did a lot of reading, I also put my book down and let my mind be calm. 

This kind of tranquility for me just about never happens anymore Ellie through circumstances and choices.  Between the busyness of having two children under the age of 4, I barely am alone anymore.  And if I am by myself, I am working or going to appointments.  Even at church, between keeping an eye on you and Will and trying to listen to the sermon keeps the morning hectic.  After you and Will go to sleep at night, I definitely have my own engaging routines- Downton Abbey and Big Bang Theory, my Kindle, and enjoying time with your Dad.   So at bedtime, I usually collapse pretty quickly. 

Now, I wouldn’t trade a minute of my crazy life.  But being reminded that having a still moment is bliss was significant, especially because of the timing.  You see, it’s Kyle’s 11 days right now.  Between February 18-March 1, he miraculously lived more days than anyone thought he could.  Of course, I didn’t need a quiet moment to remember that or him, I think of him everyday day.  But to have time to reflect back, given the 5-year time lapse was important.  5 years.  Realizing that while I was in the lodge by myself literally took my breath away.  5 years.  When I exhaled, I felt his finger in my clenched fist- it was as if we were back in the NICU and I was holding his hand.  He’s still with me Ellie, with all of us.  Kyle is happy and he wants us to be happy.  And just as your Mimi always said, Kyle is love and love is Kyle.  When you are old enough, quiet your mind and feel Kyle around you.  You will feel such a peaceful adoration, one that will energize you to keep you going.  That’s what it took for your Dad and I to continue on after losing our first-born baby.

Be happy, give love, and let yourself be loved- that’s what Kyle’s message was for me in that lodge.  It has been 5 years since I felt him in my arms, looked into his deep blue eyes, and let him go.  We never did say good-bye though because he never really left us.  He is in our hearts; we just have to listen.

I love you Ellie just as I love all of my children.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Life Lessons Month of February: Blog 2- Letters from Mommy & Mimi

Happy Valentine’s Day Ellie-bean!

I think the best way to start this blog is to give you a little bit of information as to how Valentine’s Day came to be.  There are a few different legends Ellie, pretty much all having the same outcome. One story states that in the 3rd century Emperor Claudius II banned marriage completely as he thought young men would become better soldiers if they did not have a wife and children.  Valentine, a priest who served in Rome at the time did not agree with Claudius II, so he continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.  It did not take long for such news to spread, and when Claudius II found out he ordered that Valentine be put to death.  Another story is that Valentine and Claudius II were friends, but when Valentine tried to convert him to Christianity, Claudius II had him beheaded.  And a 3rd story has it that Valentine helped Christians escape from prisons and the harsh beatings they had to endure.  Valentine, a prisoner himself, supposedly fell in love with the jailer’s daughter who visited him daily and prayed with him during his confinement.  It is said that when he sent her a greeting, he signed it “From your Valentine” which is a term we still use today.  In the year 496 Pope Gelasius canonized Valentine as a saint and declared February 14th as the day to celebrate his martyrdom.  Today St. Valentine is recognized as the patron saint of engaged couples, lovers, beekeepers (not sure why for this one), and epilepsy (possibly because he too suffered with this illness.)  Whether the legends are true or not, Valentine has been sensationalized over the years and has become one of our greatest heroes as well as romantic figures.  So Ellie, for me….

Life Lesson Learned #51:  Valentine’s Day should not be the only day that we send and receive notes of affection and gifts.  Any day or everyday would be the perfect day to perform random acts of kindness to those we know well and even those we don’t!  

Ellie, this week is Valentine’s Day and as much as it is celebrated as a romantic holiday, the reason I like it is because you will see many individuals (young and old) smiling with excitement and maybe even a tinge of secrecy!  Here is an example: in the school I work for, each of the staff has been given a ‘secret valentine buddy’ (another staff member) and each day leading up to Valentine’s Day we are to put little surprises in their mailbox.  It can be a favorite candy or snack of theirs; a note, a poem or an inspirational message; or even a promise that entails an act of kindness!  No matter what the gesture, as long as it is a positive one, it is sure to bring many a smile!  Here is another example:  Poppy knows the way to capturing my heart just as I do his.  On Valentine’s Day we will be viewing one of the greatest classic/romance movies of all time, Casablanca, at the old State Theatre.  And yes Ellie, popcorn comes with it!  Valentine’s Day for me can’t get any better than that!

Now I look forward to hearing about your Valentine’s Day Celebration at preschool!  I know you will have lots of fun, especially since I don’t think you know quite what to expect from it!  A planned party, lots of treats and a Valentine’s bag filled with sweet cards from your friends and teachers will make the festivities of the day very memorable for you!  And hopefully my dear little one, all the work that it took to get you to write your name on the Valentine cards that you planned to share at school will make you want to do it again next year!

Oh El-bean, if you only knew how much ingenuity it took this year in securing 15 signatures from you.  After three cards you stated, “Mimi this is boring.  I don’t like writing my name.  How about you do it?   This is too much work for me!”  (Looks like you are already a pro at excuses Ellie-bean!)  Sooooooo, with that being said, I conned you into sitting in Will’s highchair (which was formally yours) and yes you still fit in it.  We pretended that it was the teacher’s desk as well as her lunch table.  You readily agreed and while eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich the name Ellie miraculously (well actually with a lot of coaxing that you could do it) appeared on all 15 cards!  We were then able to stuff each card, a fishbowl which stated the words “I’m so glad you are in my school”, into a clear plastic bag with 5 Swedish fish.   Alas the task was complete and you seemed quite satisfied with their originality.

Ok… to be honest, you were more satisfied that there were left over Swedish fish for you to nibble on (and now I know why your Mommy left that job, I mean craft, for me to do with you!).  Next year let’s try to come up with something that really catches your interest!

So I guess the lesson I have learned Ellie, and even though you are not fully aware of it yet, you too are learning that St. Valentine’s purpose was very real and very important.  His actions came from his faith, and his faith encouraged him to help, support and show kindness to others no matter how difficult and sometimes unbearable a situation could be.  Ellie, this past week you have shown signs that a bit of St. Valentine is very much in your heart.  You see, when it came to making a Valentine for a very special little girl, Kendall who is gravely ill, you created two homemade ones for her, as you thought that would make her happy.  And when her Mommy reads them to her, I believe she will be.  Yes, we recognize February 14th as the designated day to show others an affection of kindness, but there is no reason why we cannot follow suit every other day of the year too.  After all, St. Valentine did.

I love you “sweetie”!


Thursday, February 6, 2014

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

Hi Ellie,

So your Mimi and Poppy have given your Dad and I several opportunities to have date nights.

Life Lessoned Learned #50: Always value your relationship with your spouse.  Regularly set aside time for just the 2 of you to connect.

That being said, I should warn your Mimi and Poppy of your latest antics.

“Careful is my middle name.” so says the world’s cutest and clumsiest almost-four-year-old (as you dance with your two left feet, jump on my bed, trip over large pieces of furniture, fall off the dining room chair, and hit your head on the bathroom counter)

At bedtime, your latest excuses are:

·      “My monkey’s tail is in a knot.” (which you tied, the poor stuffed animal)

·      “My thumb hurts, I need a Band-Aid.” (so I put one on your invisible booboo).  Then, half an hour later you called me up because you realized much later that I put the Band-Aid on the wrong thumb.

·      “I’m afraid of the dark.” (you had been upstairs in bed for 45 minutes talking to yourself prior to this).

·      “I need my flashlight.”  Two minutes later (after I am back downstairs), you call me back up because you needed two books to read with the use of your flashlight.  I’ve now learned to tell you to put the books on the bottom of your bed so you don’t call me later to put the books away.  Although, you still call me to get you new books after you finish the first and usually second round.

·      “I decided I want to wear different pj’s.”

·      “Can you read the tag and tell me what my unicorn’s name is?”  So I did as you asked and told you his name is Douglas (after the company who made it).  5 times you called me back upstairs to ask me to repeat his name.  And then you woke up at 3:30am asking me the same thing.  Note to self; come up with an easier name like Mary or Joe next time.

·      “I miss you.” (after 2 minutes of being upstairs in bed)  I have to say that this reason melted my heart.

You are truly the sweetest girl Ellie.  And despite my best attempts at resisting your pleas to stay up later, I always give in just to get that one extra hug and kiss.  And I know your Mimi and Poppy do the same… that’s why you are always so excited to have sleepovers with them.

I love you Bean,