Thursday, July 31, 2014

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

Hi Ellie,

I must tell you that this summer has certainly been a busy one with visitors (friends and family) staying with us and also us staying with friends and family!   So much so that I think it is important to blog about it!

Final Thought:  If you want to have a special relationship with a specific person, or what I call a forever friendship, it takes hard work and a strong commitment on both sides to secure its long-lasting.

Our summer as you know started off with a visit from Gram Bubbles.  

We had a delightful time playing, touring and exploring with you and Will.  She no sooner left when we had another visitor, Jim and Carol Stigale, on two separate occasions because they were moving Taylor, your cousin, into the dorm for Penn State’s summer session.  Ellie, they no sooner left when we had two very special visitors, Gram and Pop Russell, come home for a few weeks.  Just like with Gram Bubbles, we had a lot of together playing, touring and exploring with you and your brother.  I think Gram Russell’s favorite time with you two were when we went for ice cream!  And of course Pop just loved to watch you two play.  
Right before it was their time to return to Florida, we had another visit from some of our awesome relatives.  And that would be Aunt Phyllis, Missy, Marie, their children, and of course their children’s children!  Thirteen in all!  The best part of that weekend was that we ‘parked’ ourselves at your Mommy’s house from 12 noon (their arrival time) until 9 pm that evening, and then again the following day.  

El, you were absolutely in your glory playing with your cousins.  I don’t know what you had more fun doing…   playing with all the dress-up clothes (including the ones in your closet that you have never even attempted to wear) or playing outside.  And actually this timeframe brought on some of the day’s funnier moments because Annabelle who insisted on wearing your poodle costume did so for hours even though it was probably 3 sizes too small for her!  

You also enjoyed playing outside on the Slip-n-Slde, where for the most part you all waited your turn.  I giggled quite a bit though as little Richie somehow slid into the front of the line every other turn!  

It took quite a few rounds before you girls figured that one out.  We also had a short game of playing baseball, which by the way we need to practice with you on the correct direction to run bases.  Sometimes you went from home base to 3rd base to 1st baseball and then double looped hitting 2nd base before heading home again.  

Oh, and never once did you ‘touch’ any of the bases!  Sunday’s activities included a trip to the Creamery where everyone had their favorite ice cream flavor before heading home. 

The next visit entailed you, Will, your Mommy and me traveling to Green Bay to see family, friends and participate in your cousin Stephanie’s wedding.  This is the trip we are currently in the midst of!  The plane ride getting there wasn’t too bad especially since we all had to get up and start the day at 4:00 am although I was the one that got a scolding from your mommy for giving you a candy bar at 6:00 am.  Hmph.  You were hungry and I wasn’t about to argue!  

When we arrived in Green Bay we were greeted at Gram’s house with Uncle Stevie who knew right away how to connect with you.  He got down on the floor and showed you a unique way to play with the Potholder Loom Set…. No, he did not weave it into a cute little square but rather showed you how to hang them from your ears, nose, glasses and toes!  

Aunt Sheri and all your cousins stopped by throughout the day to see you and Will.  Speaking of Will, he has been a little stinker and quite the explorer.  With Will we need multiple eyes… too bad we don’t have them in the back of our heads!  On Tuesday your young cousin Samantha, your Mommy, Will and I took you to the Wild Life Sanctuary to feed the thousands (and trust me I do mean thousands) of ducks and geese.  It is such a wonderful place to visit and all it cost is $1.00 for a bag of corn!  

Thankfully the geese do not have teeth because one grabbed the kernels right out of your hand giving you quite a startle and another just assumed Will’s big toe was a kernel of corn and went ahead and give it a good nip!  Yes, Will was not a happy camper… his lower lip came out and then the tears came… not because it hurt, but more because it startled him also!  You also got to see some really cool owls, hawks, turkey vultures and badgers.  If we can fit it in Ellie, I would also love to take you to the other side of the pond where there is a nature trail with lots of interesting ‘stuff’ to see!  Maybe on Thursday!  Tuesday evening was a relaxing one spent at Aunt Dawn’s and Uncle Stevie’s home where you and Will got to play with their big Samoyed dog, Jade, and also their two cats!  

Now we are at Wednesday.  This morning my Godmother, Aunt Snuffy, and Uncle Rollie came to visit along with one of Gram Bubbles very old friends Ginny.  I am so grateful that Gram thought to call them for coffee and Danish as I rarely get to see them.  Here again as you can see it takes work and commitment to keep relationships long lasting!  And then this afternoon your Mommy and I took you and your brother to Bay Beach Park, which is an amusement park like no other!  Ellie, they have every ride imaginable for little ones to ride on in delight! (Big ones too!)  And the best part is that each ticket only costs 25cents.  Will watched from his stroller while you rode the Ferris Wheel, the Boats, the Ladybug, the Planes, the Train and also the Ponies.  

And you know what I loved hearing?  You saying, “Mimi, this is the best day ever!”  My dear friend from high school, Julie, met us at Bay Beach so that she could meet Will and see how much you have grown over the last 2 years.  Catching up with her was lots of fun too!  But now it is late into the evening and I think it is time for bed.  You my little sleepy head girl are fighting closing those eyes of yours so maybe I need to end my final thoughts here for this week.  We can’t wait for cousin Stephanie’s wedding on Saturday.  What a beautiful and exciting event it shall be and a wonderful time to connect with family and friends. 

Remember to cherish the relationships that hold a special meaning to you and don’t ever let them slip away.  When you are a tad bit older like me Ellie-bean, you will be so thankful that you kept them close to your heart!

“To have a friend, you must be a friend.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love you El!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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

Dear Ellie,

We just had a really wonderful weekend with your Mimi.

Final Thought: You are never too old to have a sleepover!

Because your Daddy went to Pittsburgh for a concert, you, your Mimi, and I all slept in Mim’s king-sized bed last Saturday (poor Poppy slept in my old room, even though he was taking a 26 mile bike ride the next morning and Will was in Uncle Ryan’s old room).  We turned out the lights (which made you panic because you didn’t have your stuff so once we got your situated with Ellie Bear, your polka dot blankie, and your Santa blanket, we were set for some fun) and played 20 Questions.

It went like this:

Me: I’m going first.  It’s a person.
Mimi: Is it an animal?
Me: No.
Ellie:  Is it a small cat that someone rides on?
Me: ???NO????

Mimi: Is it a food?
Me: No.
Ellie: Is it a carrot?
Me: No????

Mimi: Is it a person?
Me: Yes.
Mimi: Is it a girl?
Me: Yes.
Ellie: Is she wearing a hat?
Me: Not currently I don’t think.  Wait; remember this isn’t exactly like the game Guess Who (it’s just similar).  But this person does sometimes wear a hat.
Mimi: Is she 4 years old?
Me: No.
Ellie: Is it me?
Me: You’re 4 so no it can’t be you.
Ellie: Is she 3 years old?
Me: No.
Mimi: Does she go to Ellie’s school?
Me: No.
Ellie: Is it my preschool teacher, Mrs. Lower?
Me: No????

And this round ensued far past 20 questions.  I didn’t think my person, Grandma Bubbles, would have been that hard!  The first round of our game took so long that we didn’t have time to play more than 2 more before prayers. 

You suggested for prayer time that we each say our own prayer aloud.  I went first and chose the Hail Mary.  For your turn, you went a different route and said the most beautiful prayer I have ever heard.  You started singing and your words were “Thank you for” as you sang about our day.  Truly touching El!

And through it all, you managed to lose your “stuff” again and again (so the lights went on so you could find Ellie Bear, Blankie, and Santa blanket and get them all snuggled in their place). 

When we did finally manage to close our eyes, it wasn’t a restful evening by any stretch of the means.  Because you were in the middle, you kicked Mimi and I repeatedly as you spun around in your sleep!

You are one of kind Ellie and it was the best night.
I love you!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

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

Hi Ellie!

Like always, I have another memory for you.  The Central Pennsylvania Arts Festival and The People’s Choice Festival were held here in town this past weekend, and of course our favorite day to spend there is the very first day… Children’s Day!  Let me tell you about it…

Final Thought: Make sure to support your community’s events at all ages, as they will give you enjoyment, inspiration, knowledge and an opportunity to meet new friends as well as connecting with old.

Well Ellie, thanks to your Mom (who is always on time) and Will (who bypassed his nap), we arrived at the Fest shortly after it opened and had no problem getting a parking space.  Just to give you an idea at how crazy town gets… over 100,000 people attend this five-day event yearly.  Our goal was to try and beat a good portion of the crowd… but it looked like that was everyone else’s goal too.  So before browsing the young artists booths we stopped at Starbuck’s for Gram Russell to get a coffee.  And because she loves you and Will so much she bought you each a cake-pop… chocolate I might add and you gobbled it up quite quickly.   The reason I am telling you this is because the day was already quite warm as you devoured this wonderful treat and my guess is that you wiped your ooey, gooey chocolaty fingers on your backside.  How did I know this?  I didn’t, at least not for a good portion of the morning.  My confusion stemmed from the chocolate that was smeared all over the front of my shorts after we had walked a few blocks.  Then a half hour later chocolate was smeared all over my shirt.  And yes, a short while after that chocolate was smeared all down the length of my arm.  Completely perplexed and half crazy I said to your mom, “Where in heavens name is all this chocolate coming from?  I am going to have to go home and take a bath!  No one is eating it and Ellie’s hands are clean!”  Thankfully your Mommy was standing behind you because she quickly scanned your body and started to giggle.  “Ah, check the back of Ellie’s legs.  I think that is why her hands are clean.  Every time you pick her up, you are wearing it too!”  Yep El…. The two of us looked like we were dipped in a chocolate vat!  Thankfully we had Will’s Wipey-Dipes as there was no time to waste with the kids art booths coming up.  And there were quite a few dozen to check out. 

Ellie, each booth hosted oodles of homemade merchandise from bracelets to necklaces to doll clothes to pet rocks to scented goat soap to door signs and so much more.  We all expected that you would want one of each item you saw, but you surprised us and passed each booth with a “No thank you.  I don’t want that” (except for the NO BOYS ALLOWED IN sign, that was a must!).  But then we came to the very last booth where your eyes lit up like sparklers because this specific booth was selling (of all things) bow and arrows with pom-poms.  “That’s what I want!  Can I have one please?”  You asked politely and excitedly.  And Gigi was sweet enough to buy it for you!  Funny thing though… even with practice you could not grasp the concept of how to get that bow to fly through the air!  

Not to worry El… since we were grabbing a Panera lunch-to-go so that we could picnic up on the PSU lawn where lots of activities were happening, I was able to work the bow and arrow over and over again from the blanket and you were quite happy just chasing the arrows to wherever they fell! 

While up on the lawn, we were also able to visit the real life Cat In The Hat, and the Shaver’s Creek tent where you saw a live owl only an arms length away.  You also saw a turtle and what you stated as your favorite animal… a Ratsnake!  Eeeeeewwwwww!  Ellie, I am not sure if you were really serious about that or if you were trying to shock me into making a creeped-out face… but if you were going for the latter, then you succeeded!  Actually I was most amazed at how much factual information you retained on these animals… you truly have a love of all creatures… from pets, to wildlife, to bugs, to farm animals! 

Speaking of which, the following day you, your Mom, Gigi, Will and I headed over to the People’s Choice Festival.  

After visiting a few art booths there, we gave in and let it be pretty much your day (again!)  

That means Ellie we headed over to the train ride, which produced a whistle that cost a dollar. Let me just say that after a couple dozen whistle blows it suddenly disappeared.  Your Mommy said, “Hmmm… it must have gotten conveniently lost!”  (Thank heaven for Mommys!)  We also moseyed on over to the pony rides and petting zoo.  First you rode Snowy; the littlest horse that was there last year, and then you got brave and rode Honey, which looked 3 times Snowy’s size!  

After that we took you and Will into the petting zoo which you were quite at home in, but Will almost lost his mind!  

He was sooooo scared Ellie that I think he would have crawled on top of your Mommy’s head to get as far away from the baby goats and cow as he could!  Talk about sibling personalities being completely opposite!  So Gigi and I took Will back to the big white tent where they were playing music and he was much happier slapping the tables to the beat of each song, and your mommy took you to make a tie-dye T-shirt and also hit the double/sliding board Bounce House! 

Oh Ellie, what a fun, fun time visiting both festivals was! 

Like I said in the beginning: our support brings life into some very interesting community events.  They can be entertaining, a learning tool and a once in a life time experience!  Embrace them Ellie … they add to your roots!

Love you El-bean!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

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

Dear Ellie,

I have to share just a glimpse of an afternoon with you as a 4 year old. 

Final Thoughts: There is always humor in our day.

You were invited to your friend’s birthday party so off we went to find her a present.  Here’s how our shopping excursion looked in sequential order:

1.     While driving to the store, you told me “We should get her a dog toy.”  I asked why should we get her a dog toy especially if she doesn’t have a dog.  You giggled and replied, “Oops I meant a toy dog.”  Those kinds of word inversions do make the statement completely different!
2.     As soon as we arrived at Home Goods, you suggested “How about this?” referencing the display of soap dishes and dispensers (granted they were beautiful with mosaic designs).  “Or how about these?” you said as we passed the birdhouse table (which actually was a cool idea, except your friend and their family are waiting for their house to be built so they are in a temporary spot).  I think your goal was to conquer and leave as fast as you could!
3.     “This looks cool.  I think it’s a pooper scooper,” you mentioned aloud as you passed mechanical arms in the toy department.  I didn’t correct you, as I didn’t think this little girl would particularly like the toy however you use it.
4.     “This is perfect,” you said as you were clearly nearing the end of your patience.  It was a Little Tykes family set that said for ages 1-5 and I pointed that out.  You responded, “Well, it says for 5 year olds and she is going to turn 5 on her birthday so we should just hurry and get it.”  I told you that I thought she would quickly outgrow it as you discarded it grumpily. 
5.     Then you found the rocking chairs for girls- one in polka dot pink and the other leopard print (each were over $100).  “This is definitely what we should get her!” you exclaimed as you were lounging in a zebra patterned one.  I agree, your friend would love it but it was way out of our price range.
6.     Then you got distracted with the pet department across the aisle.  You found a plush stuffed dachshund toy that squeaked when you hugged it.  Again, I heard you say, “This is it!”
7.     You got reigned back in on the toy side when you saw a diary with an LED light (the idea was that you wrote down your feelings in invisible ink until the black light was shown over it revealing the secrets).  Although it was another pretty neat thought, the journal was more for a six or seven year old and I wasn’t sure if your friend was writing full sentences about her daily routines yet.

Despite the thread of a dog gift throughout our errand, we found a princess book themed present instead.

And Ellie, I was so proud of you- you didn’t ask for one thing while we were in the store proving just how grown up you are becoming.  As a final stop, we ran into Petco for cat food and you happily looked around the store (as it’s the closest thing we have to a zoo).    

I hope your friend likes her gift just as much as I loved shopping with you for it!

Love you Ellie, Mom

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

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

Good Morning Ellie!

With July 4th pretty much upon us, I thought it would be fun to write about ‘celebrations.’  The only thing though is that I cannot write about the ‘fests’ events yet, as they did not happen.  So I am opting to write about a play date that you and I had a week ago with the celebration being a Wedding!

Final Thought:  Since celebrations are important events where people are engaging in fun and enjoyable social activities, I realized that pretty much every moment I spend with you is a celebration as our time together is always important to me!

Ellie, sometimes you are just tooooooo funny!  The other day when you walked into my house wearing your pink knit dress, hot pink knee socks and red high heels, my first thought was “hmmmmmm, I wonder what Little Miss Ellie has in store for us to play tonight?”  And sure enough, your idea unfolded quite quickly.  You said, “Hey Mim’s… how about we play wedding?”  “Ok,” I responded.  “So how should we do it?”  With a big smile you said, “First we have to put on wedding dresses.  Follow me!”   So off we went in search of wedding attire.  You found a pretty white dress in your dress up box and I found a boxy, hippiesh white dress in my closet.  You insisted on wearing your red shoes, less the socks thank goodness, so I took out a pair of red high heels too.  For our headpieces you decide it best that we each wear a tiara.  Unfortunately I was not allowed to pick my own which gave you first dibs on the pink sparkly one leaving me with the diamond one.  Drats!  Make-up was next… unlike every other time you plastered on the eye shadow, blush and lipstick, this time you decided to keep it light!  Lastly came the gloves.  You opted for a beautiful aqua winter set, and I went with the more traditional lace.  Once we were finished donning our wedding attire we needed to figure out who was going to be married and who was going to be the flower girl.  Again, I had no choice in say as you were in charge.  You made the executive decision that I would be the bride and was going to marry ‘Justin’ and you would be the flower girl.  One small issue arose and that was that I did not have any loose flower pedals for you to throw as you walked down the aisle (I mean hallway).  Silly me.  I should have known that you would have an immediate answer to this tiny glitch too.  Running back into the living room and over to your play kitchen, you scooped up one of the baskets and filled it with plastic vegetables, fruit, and eggs!  Yes!  Now we were ready to begin the ceremony.  

Starting off in the bedroom, you preceded down the ‘aisle’ first, tossing the pretend food to either side.  As they kerplunked on the floor I gave you a questionable look of which you responded with a shrug of the shoulders and a “That’s what flower girls do!”   Your answer was good enough for me El, so I started humming Hear Comes the Bride and down the hall we glided.  Once we got to the alter (aka… rocking chair footstool) I married Justin and you clapped.  Then you told me that next we had to go to the party.  So we cleared a large area in the living room and together we danced to the YMCA and the Chicken Dance (just so you know there was no actual music so both songs had to be sung/hummed and sporadically worded by me!).  Ellie, you are such a sweet girl as you didn’t seem to mind that my voice was pretty much off-key and that I really had no idea what the actual songs words were!)  And I didn’t mind that your dancing was done with two left feet either!  We were having a blast!  Knowing that it was getting late (I snuck a peak at the clock which read 8:30 pm) I suggested that we advance to the dining room for the wedding banquet feast.  You readily agreed as you worked up an appetite from all that exercise.  Trying to keep it on the lighter side, the dinner consisted of delicious powdered wedding doughnuts and tea!  Ahhhhhhh……. Since our bellies were now satisfied and full, I thought the wedding was officially complete.  Nope.  Again, silly me.  I should know better by now Ellie, it was time to reverse the roles.  Now it was your turn to be the bride and my turn to be the flower girl!  I am not sure El if that was your way of avoiding bedtime or if it was just a fun, fun time for you, but either way it worked… bedtime came much later!

The wedding celebration you created that evening was such a fun idea Ellie, so much so that we played it again the next day.  And I think it made me realize that from the moment you were born, everyday in the life of Ellie Russell Callahan is a joyous celebration!  I sure do hope you enjoy this memory in future years!

I love you my little firecracker!