Thursday, March 27, 2014

Final Thoughts Month of March: Blog 4- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Hi Ellie…

I decided at the last minute to change my blog.  I scrapped my original writing as I realized it was much more important to give you a memory of your 4th children’s birthday party.  When I see you on a daily basis in your “go-to 2 outfits” you come across as Cinderella way before the Ball scene.  And then when I saw you the morning of your birthday all dressed up in a beautiful blue gown, well…

Final Thoughts:  Every little girl is born a princess.

Here is a memory for you Ellie.

What a wonderful birthday weekend you had!  I would like to touch upon it as this birthday was truly like a fairytale written just for you!  When your Mommy decided to have a children’s party separate from the family/friend party… we had no idea what was in store for us.  Seeing you answer the door in your Elsa costume was absolutely priceless.  Ellie, from your crown and earrings to your dress and glass slippers, instead of flitting around the room like a butterfly, you walked as though you were balancing a bowl full of fruit on your head!  My guess is that the high-heeled shoes must have been a bit tricky to walk in!  

Before the party ‘officially’ started as each of your friends arrived they were drawn to your playroom like magnets.  Everyone started shedding their clothes and donning all your princess costumes (except for Thomas who opted for the penguin attire!) And from their they found your vanity which housed what all little girls love; make-up (I think a new fashion trend erupted involving lots of eye shadow because we saw more than one uni-brow in deep purple and turquoise emerge)!  Anyway, when all your guests arrived we started the birthday party with a friendly greeting followed with games like Limbo, Pin the Tiara on Princess Aurora, Toss the Easter Eggs into the Bucket, and Musical Mats! Your Aunt Joanne had me giggling with her analogy of entertaining 10 preschool aged children.  She said, “Playing games with children under 6 years old is like trying to herd cats!”… And we all know how impossible that is!  Since you are usually in charge, your birthday was no different.  El, you tried to take control of each game and it really wouldn’t have been such a big deal if you actually knew the proper way to play them.  I think you may have had one minor meltdown at the beginning of the Egg Toss Game.  You insisted that the buckets be placed against the solid living room wall when I insisted they be placed in front of the couch.  You did not want to listen to my reasoning that if the buckets were placed where you wanted them, and the kids torpedoed those eggs, that wall was going to look like a hailstorm came through leaving oodles of ‘dings’!  Sorry El, but my reasoning won out since your reasoning was basically, “But I want it there!”  After the games were finished everyone gathered around the table to sing you happy birthday.  With a smile of satisfaction you inhaled deeply and exhaled trying to blow out all 4 candles at once.  One slight problem arose though when you ran out of air after extinguishing 3 of the 4 candles.  You quickly took in another breath and just as you were ready to blow it out, one of your little friends beat you to it.  Yep… that led to another very tiny meltdown.  But once the ice cream, juice, cookies and cake were served, 10 sweet smiles appeared, yours being the broadest!  

You then had everyone follow you into the playroom where you all settled down to watch a little bit of the movie Frozen. I went in at one point to check on everyone and was quickly attacked by what I call those Lizard Tongue Party Blowers!  Yikes… I high-tailed it out of there quickly!  Once everyone’s bellies were full (which didn’t take all that long) it was time for you to open your presents.  I think you loved everyone surrounding you as you tore off each gifts wrapping paper.  And each friend seemed excited and happy when you smiled at their gift and thanked them.  After 2 full hours Ellie, your birthday party had come to its end, and you gave everyone a ‘thank you’ goodie bag filled with prizes and candy to take home.  Then that evening you had another birthday party with family and friends.  More cake, more food, more presents (talk about a full day)!!! 

All-in-all, your birthday celebration was lots and lots of fun!  Now we need Spring to come because your Poppy and I can’t wait El till you are able to ride your new purple bike from one end of the block to the other like the big 4 year old that you officially are!
Love you Ellie-princess!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Final Thoughts Month of March: Blog 3- Letters from Mom & Mimi

To the Almost-4-Year-Old,

It is the eve of your birthday my love!

Final Thoughts: Just as we have been celebrating the coming of your birthday, rejoice Lent in the same way as we approach Easter.

Although we started Lent with a particularly early morning, it became the best day.  7am Mass on Ash Wednesday is where we met your Mimi and then we headed to breakfast before babysitter/preschool drop-offs and work appointments.  It was a day filled with sunshine and I felt such a sense of glory. 

At Ash Wednesday’s Mass, Father Val gave a memorable sermon.  For many Catholics, namely me, I feel like I need to give something up every year for the 40 days in order to understand sacrifice.  Father Val said that’s not always the case.  He said why give up something that we don’t necessarily need anyway, is that really a sacrifice?  I felt like he was talking directly to me, as I have been known to give up my beloved diet coke or gum in years past.  Instead, he suggested actions that would make you feel closer to your faith.  So we all left church that day with ashes on our head (even Will!).  

And I made a new resolution for the days leading up to Easter: that you and I will pray more purposefully to better our hearts and souls.

Luckily your Catholic preschool has provided me with some guidance.  Our normal routine has been to use our prayer cube (a 6 sided block that we each toss to come up with which evening prayer we will say) or say the Hail Mary before we thank God for something specific and then we ask for special blessings for sick people or anyone who needs extra prayers.  Well, Ellie you have realized how to breeze through these prayers to get to reading your books faster… you tell me each and every night, “Mama, I’m going to pray for you because I love you.”  At first, this made my heart melt but then I realized your strategy.  So perfect timing for my Lenten goal!  We’ve now added: Pope Francis’ Five Finger Prayer
1.    The thumb is the closest finger to you. So start praying for those who are closest to you. They are the persons easiest to remember. To pray for our dear ones is a “sweet obligation.”
2.    The next finger is the index. Pray for those who teach you, instruct you and heal you. They need the support and wisdom to show direction to others. Always keep them in your prayers.
3.    The following finger is the tallest. It reminds us of our leaders, the governors and those who have authority. They need God’s guidance.
4.    The fourth finger is the ring finger. Even though it may surprise you, it is our weakest finger. It should remind us to pray for the weakest, the sick or those plagued by problems. They need your prayers.
5.    And finally we have our smallest finger, the smallest of all. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. When you are done praying for the other four groups, you will be able to see your own needs but in the proper perspective, and also you will be able to pray for your own needs in a better way.

These categories give us a place to start our discussions.  And you have thought about so many friends and family in our nightly practice.  Granted, you still look around you (especially to your bulletin board where your most beloved family members and friends are pictured) but I feel like this makes you think a little deeper.

Ellie, just as I’ve written before, I don’t mind if you don’t follow my rituals as you grow.  But I do want you to realize that you are not alone in this universe (there is a higher power).  And please don’t be lazy or slack in understanding your beliefs- simply saying that you are a believer is very different from doing what a believer does.

Yes, you will get many presents to unwrap from all of us tomorrow but these are some words that I am gifting to you that I hope you will take with you on your life’s journey.

I love you so much Ellie.  You have made these past 4 years the best of my whole life!


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Final Thoughts Month of March: Blog 2- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Hi Ellie-bean!

So I had to think a bit as to how I wanted to start out this year’s blog as your Mom termed it ‘final thoughts’.  It is amazing to me El that you are already turning 4 years of age!  How did those 1st four years pass by so quickly?  It seems like only yesterday when you were 3 days old and I was trying to help your Mommy comfort you at 3:00 am.  You were crying and gassy, crying and cranky, and still crying as well as just being plain ornery!  But oh how we fell in love with that original and ‘who in heavens name does she take after’ personality!  And then it hit me… my blog for this year should begin with a Then and Now comparison story of you, your Mommy and myself.   By beginning with this thought, I can also add to it each week if I so choose or possibly in the middle of the year, and if we really do end our blog in 2015 it would be a perfect way to finish our last entry.  But that is a big ‘IF’… because like your Mommy stated, “we have a love, hate relationship with this writing assignment,” and a part of me would be sad to see it actually end (thankfully we don’t have to deal with that for another 12 months!).
So here goes Ellie: 

Final Thoughts: Then and Now

1961 – Mimi:  (Shopping with a Grandparent.)  It just didn’t happen.  I was never invited along.   Now that could be because my grandmother did not drive, so my mother or father would take her shopping.  When I asked Gram Bubbles what she did with Aunt Sheri and me during those bi-weekly excursions, her answer was, “I guess your father watched you girls because I never took you!  In fact, you never saw the inside of a store not unless you were getting fitted for shoes!”

1984 – Mommy:  (Shopping with a Grandparent.)  When I asked your Mommy what she remembered about grocery shopping with Gram Russell (Gram Bubbles lived 4 states away, so those type of outings did not take place with her), your Mom said she didn’t recall ever going with Gram.  And that was because Gram Russell was a cashier for the Shop-N-Bag grocery store and would shop right after her shift was done.  Your Mommy does remember though that Gram Russell always brought home plenty of the colorful barrel bottle drinks (Hugs) to hand out whenever asked as well as some kind of yummy snack!

2014 – Ellie:  (Shopping with a Grandparent.)  That is something we do quite often Ellie and yes, it is always an experience as well as a really fun time.  Here is an example.  Last week I needed to pick up a few items at the grocery store after church.  Of course you conned your way into letting me take you along and convincing your Mommy to pick you up at my house later in the afternoon.  Ellie, normally I let you get something from the 25-cent prize machines (which are located near the entrance/exit doors) when we are finished our shopping excursion, but this specific time I caved to your pleading and allowed you to choose 1 machine prize on our way in.  Well… instead of choosing your favorite gumball, you chose a machine that spit out a plastic container holding a 1-inch gummy-like substance in the shape of a miniature hand on a 2-inch long rubbery arm.  As an adult Ellie, I had no idea just how entertaining that thing was going to be for the next hour!  As I walked up and down the aisles filling our cart, you were flinging that thing from side to side lassoing everything and anything that it would stick too.  And by everything and anything I mean vegetable cans, fruit, milk cartons, pasta boxes, other people’s carts and my hair!   I think we laughed and giggled our way through the store El.  By the time we hit the bakery aisle you hurled that gummy hand pretty forcefully where it landed in-between two loaves of bread.  Sadly, when you tried to retrieve it the rubbery arm snapped back without the hand, which led to more giggles and a search for a trashcan!   Of course this comical event had me completely distracted to the point that I forgot to get half of what was on my grocery list! But no matter, you were a very happy shopper as you also got your 25-cent blue gumball on the way out of the store!  I on the other hand had to return the next day to finish my list… solo! 

Ellie, shopping trips of any kind are never boring when you are present!  I hope as you grow up, you always remember these outings and the special bond we have because someday they will become a “Then” memory for you!

Love you Ellie-spaghetti!


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Final Thoughts Month of March: Blog 1- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Happy Birthday Month Ellie!

March brings so much new into our lives every year- a season of spring, longer days, warmer weather, our trio of birthdays… and a new blog theme!  I am so proud of our blogging journey and all of our letters that are waiting for you when you are old enough to read them.  Going into these next 12 months, we have a beautiful new yellow binder to house this year’s letters.  

Your Mimi and I are at a crossroads though.  We gave this blog to you as a gift when you were 1 year old and we have explored so much in these weeks, months, and years since then.  We THINK that this might be the last year that we write to you on a weekly basis for several reasons.  Namely, you will be 5 next year and you will have your own memories at that point.   And secondly, we believe that you should have a measure of privacy.  I’ve always shared you online with friends and family with censored pictures and captions but at some point I believe that you should have a say in what becomes public.  So until your Mimi and I figure out our next chapter (as we both are struggling with our passion for writing, our love of you, our hatred of deadlines, and our confusion with where we go from here), we will theme year 4 as final thoughts…  but the takeaway from it all and the common theme for our writing these past few years has been: Document as much as you can of your children’s lives- the good, bad, and really funny moments!

What I’ve learned along the way is that there isn’t one way to parent.  I’m not sure if love is always enough but I know I have a lot of it to give to you and Will so even in my parenting failures, you both always know that you are valued and treasured.

Final Thoughts: Make your peace with your reality.

Ellie, I live in a world where we judge each other.  And sadly the worst critic is often internal.  Mom guilt is a real feeling… But I have learned to accept what works for our family and I am ok with that.  Let me explain:

Fantasy World Scenario #1- you don’t watch any TV.
Reality: Ellie, I’ve always been a mom with strong convictions.  And I’ve always said to people, “No, Ellie hardly watches any TV!”  But I’ve realized lately (with you being able to recite infomercials and telling me I should buy a shark vac to get up the cat hair off the rug), technology is a part of our lives.  You have tried to get out of school by using symptoms you saw on Doc McStuffins (particularly the one where a hungry hippo ate too much and got full).  Your favorite show right now is Full House (I DVR it from Nick at Nite and let you watch it while I make dinner).  And on the occasional weekend nights when we have our friends over late, it’s easy and convenient to pop in a movie in your playroom for you to watch instead of going through your bedtime routine. 

Fantasy World Scenario #2- my beautiful little girl will always look like a princess.
Reality: Ellie, you have been rotating between two well-worn (although always clean) outfits.  You are hyper-sensory oriented so you insist on wearing for comfort.  Although it is a little annoying that I have on multiple occasions explained to people that yes you do have a closet full of clothes and shoes but you choose your 2 go-to outfits only.  And I’ve had to also clarify to some of my peers that yes, your leopard print fleece pants and your peace sign/happy face fleece pants do come in solid colors (and you actually own them in purple, pink, and black), but you prefer the livelier patterns.  I’ve decided to pick my battles and they will not be over clothes or hair.  What I’ve learned here is that you are even more beautiful because you are independent. 

Fantasy World Scenario #3- you only eat healthy and homemade food.
Reality: If I can get you to eat a bite of a breakfast bar, one fish stick, a piece of processed cheese, or a lick of peanut butter, I feel a measure of success that you at least got a smidge of protein at some point during the day.  If given the opportunity, you would live solely on chocolate milk and sugar.  You would rather boycott food altogether and become a complete grump-a-lump before you figure out that your blood sugar has dropped and you need to eat (this is often a source of us conflicting).  Tonight, we had a win- I was excited that you ate a couple of pieces of edamame, the white shell of a hard-boiled egg, and a few bites of an apple for dinner (but I would also have to be honest and say that you ate a fruit roll up and an ice cream sandwich for dessert).   

Fantasy World Scenario #4- you are an angel while we are grocery shopping.
Reality: You are always an angel grocery shopping because you are allowed to eat or buy most anything on our trip.  Chances are we leave with a donut and a balloon but we have a happy girl going down each of those aisles with me!

Fantasy World Scenario #5- I treat both you and Will the same.
Reality: Will is not getting weekly letters from your Mimi and I.  We are simply too tired.  He can share yours.  Although he sits in his jumparoo when you watch TV, he’s getting just as much screen time.

Basically Ellie, let go of other people’s judgments and even your own (be honest with yourself).  What works for you and for your family may not for someone else.  You are a well-adjusted child and I don’t think you are missing out on anything simply because you watch TV once in a while.  I will not have a sense of guilt about my parenting decisions.

I feel like all I did was blink and you are now just about 4 years old.  But the amazing thing about how moms are created is that we cherish and relish each phase.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said over the years, “Oh this stage is the BEST!”  And I’m still saying it.  Now that you are 4 in 2 weeks, I love that you have grown into such an imaginative, mature, sweet girl.  

I can reason with you now and even have real conversations with you.  You understand feelings.  And I’m even getting a glimpse or two of what my life will be like with you as a teenager.  You and I clash (and we acknowledge this by banging our two fists together) often because of your strong-willed personality. 

Whatever becomes of our blog next year, I’m so happy that we did this for you.  It’s like a baby book on steroids!  But seriously, it’s a conglomeration of 3 generations of love and that’s what we want most of all for you to feel Ellie and for you to pass down to your children.

I love you Ellie!