Thursday, August 28, 2014

Final Thoughts Month of August: Blog 5- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Hi Ellie!

Can you believe it?  Summer is quickly coming to an end… and the telltale sign is that school has officially started this week!  So for our blog I thought it would be fun to share my poem on ‘a first day’.

Final Thought:  Knowledge is a wonderful thing Ellie.  So use ‘the tools’ available to you as you grow.  School is what you make of it … remember, you are your own destiny!  As Nelson Mandela stated: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  You have that capability sweetheart!

The First Day of School

A special day is here.
It’s the first day of school.
It has to be just right.
I want it to be cool.
So I set my alarm.
It rings at six o’clock.
I reach for my T-shirt,
My sneakers and red socks.
I walk into the bathroom.
Brush my teeth and wash my face.
I comb my messy hair,
And leave the bathroom a disgrace.
I skip down to the kitchen.
Eat an egg and slice of toast.
I gulp down some orange juice,
And leave the kitchen pretty gross.
I jump throughout the hallway,
To find my green backpack
That’s overstuffed with school supplies,
And leave the hall ransacked.
It’s time to catch the bus.
So out the door I run.
It’s my first day of school.
It’s going to be so fun!
When I get to the schoolyard,
The teacher is amazed.
She points at my choice outfit.
I’m still wearing my PJ’s!
It certainly is quite special.
This first day of school.
My rush to make it perfect,
Has left me for a fool!

By: Mickey Russell

I love you Ellie-bean!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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

Dear Ellie,

Last weekend, we went to the beach and stayed with our cousins (for a 4 day trip, the entire trunk of the car and beneath the car seats were full).  It was such a wonderful few days.  Your Daddy, you, Will, and I stayed with Amber, Brett, Colin, and Greyson.  And your Mimi and Poppy stayed with Jackie and Steve.

Final Thought: Continue family legacies and traditions. 

Steve and Poppy are 1st cousins but their relationship is much more than that.  They are best friends and so are the wives, Mimi and Jackie.  Since Uncle Ryan and I were small, we would go to New Jersey almost every summer and Steve, Jackie, Brett, and Craig would come to State College in the winter.  Now that us kids are grown, they do annual summer vacations together.  It’s quite a special bond that they have.  And I feel a close connection with Amber (Brett’s wife).  I hope that you and Will continue this bond with Amber and Brett’s boys and their wives one day.  

Not only was going to Cape May an amazing mini-vacation but also so was whom we spent it with.

As soon as we arrived at lunchtime on Friday, we dropped off our luggage, picked up sandwiches and headed to Stone Harbor.  Amber had the beach routine down to a science- she had a cart so that she could lug the sand toys, towels, chairs, and children from the car to the ocean.  Although, it did look like we were coming to move in!

We had a barbeque that first night at Amber and Brett’s house.  Amber invited her mom, sister Cindy, and niece Kendall too.  You already knew Cindy and Kendall because we pray for them each evening.  Kendall has a very rare and progressive disease called MLD.  

Sweet and beautiful Kendall is a living angel.  Cindy put her in a blue dress, which made her eyes sparkle.  To see Kendall smile, especially when her Mom would talk to her, lit up the room.  Kendall, only 3 years old, has touched so many people in her life including us.  I feel very blessed to know her and am thankful for social media so we can see Kendall daily.   

On Saturday, we went to the zoo.  Cape May has one of the coolest zoos (and it’s free) so we spent a whole morning there.  Most of the main path is on boards, which you and Colin pretended board monsters were lurking beneath so we weren’t allowed to step on the cracks (which is pretty hard to do with adult sized feet on 2x4’s!).  
Just outside of the entrance is a giant park, which is where you were begging to go the entire time!

That evening, we all went to the boardwalk.  You could go on so many kid rides now that you are officially over 36 inches (just by a hair though!).  

You were even brave enough to go through the Haunted House with Mimi!  For the adults, we ate the greasy and yummy food- ice cream, pizza, and fries (always the best on the boardwalk!). 

On our last day, we spent hours at the beach again.  I thought that you would have just stayed in the sand but you actually really liked the water.  You even tried boogie boarding and with your Dad’s help, you rode a couple of waves!  
You also found it very odd and then very cool that there was no bathroom on the beach.  It gave us many giggles!

You and Colin for the most part got along well.  My favorite was when you were trying to boss him around to play house.  You told him to be the dad and Will to be the dog!  Greyson and Colin were so kind to you and Will sharing their toys (even when Will tried to destroy the amazing castles that Colin made with legos).

The final night that we were there, Mimi, Poppy, Jackie, and Steve babysat the four of you children so that Brett, Amber, your Dad, and I could go out.  Brett and Amber took us to Atlantic City for a delicious dinner and some karaoke (and yes a little gambling).  
Despite not winning any money, we had a blast… so much so that we didn’t get home until 1am!  You kids were all fed, bathed, and sleeping when we walked in.  But we got to see your arts and craft projects drying on the counter- painted and decorated seashells… the perfect memento to take home and remind us of this trip.  

You already have yours proudly on display in your playroom (up high of course so Wreck-It-Will can’t reach it).

You said your favorite part of the whole trip was playing with your cousin Colin.  And when you got in the car for the long trek home, you said that you missed him already.  That melted my heart and I knew then that this legacy relationship that started generations before you will continue.

I love you Ellie,


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

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

Good Morning Ellie,

I am writing this blog a week and a half before it is due.  Actually I am writing it while traveling home from Green Bay.  I am not sure what my “Final Thought” is yet, but I do know that I must share with you the final journey of our Green Bay trip.  What a fun and crazy time it was and a memory worth cherishing!

Final Thought:  ?

Ellie, Poppy flew in late on Thursday, which was perfect as it gave us the whole of Friday to pack in another full day… which of course we did!  We started off with a trip to the Green Bay NEW Zoo.  What an awesome place for all age groups to visit!  They have a children’s section filled with goats, llama’s, chicken’s and of course a playground.  You and Will fed the animals in pure childlike delight.  A Zip-line and Climbing Walls were also on premise, but I don’t think we will attempt them for a few years yet.  They also house giraffes and a special feeding time for little ones like yourself to actually hold a leaf plant and let the giraffe take it from your hand!  Only here you and Will opted to let Poppy and I hold the plant… I think it was because you saw how long its tongue was and didn’t want to tempt fate (getting eaten yourself!). 

The rest of the walk within the zoo was through lush vegetation where we saw lions, prairie dogs, a moose, penguins, bear and of course a carousel and train!  You being the grown-up girl you are, found the perfect carousel animal to ride.  Will on the other hand might have thought they were real as he held on to Poppy for dear life and cried the whole way around!  

The train ride was much more Will’s speed but you were not receptive at all when it came to taking pictures!  Ughhhh… getting you two on board so to speak at the same time takes great ingenuity!  

Anyway on the way out, you politely asked Poppy if he would buy you something from the gift shop.  Knowing that you still had it in the back of your mind that you were determined to purchase a gargantuan Packer fan cheesehead, I clearly told you that you could only get one thing.  You had to choose either one gift item from the Zoo or the cheesehead… not both.  So of course you smiled sweetly with those baby blues of yours and handed Poppy a stuffed giraffe! 

And I should have known better because later in the day Poppy made a special trip to the Packer Pro Shop and, yes, got you a cheesehead too!  When Poppy handed you the bag with the triangular shape inside, you got so excited.  

And I think with that twinkle in your eye and broad smile you knew all along that Poppy would come through for you!  We grandparents can be such pushovers… well, more like Poppy can!  Anyway, Friday evening Gram Bubbles treated the whole family to a fish dinner.  Now Ellie, you might be thinking, “what’s the big deal about a fish dinner?” and I will tell you, “everything!”  Friday night fish dinners in Wisconsin, (fried perch plates), are as common as brushing your teeth daily.  Since the restaurants where we live don’t host any such thing, I make sure that when I go ‘home’ a fish dinner is a must.  I will also tell you that you totally turned your nose up to such a yummy meal and opted for a grilled cheese sandwich and french-fries instead… nibbling only on the french-fries.  At some point in your life I do hope you broaden your taste-bud horizons!  But on to Friday night which also proved a bit interesting as the air mattress that you and your mommy were soundly sleeping on popped and deflated almost immediately.  Your Mommy, who was so tired, just got up and moved into Gram Bubbles bed while you never budged and slept peacefully on the floor till the next morning!   Oh to be young and not worry about stiff muscles and sore bones! 

Anyway, we are now on to Saturday, which was Stephanie’s wedding day.  And it was a beautiful one at that!  Well, except for the mini melt down you had when you decided that you no longer liked the silver shoes you chose to wear as the flower girl!  As hard as it was to ignore you, it honestly was the best medicine because when it came time for you to ‘walk’ the flower girl walk… there was no problem.  Or it could have been because your cousin Cody had plopped you up on his shoulders as soon as you arrived which seemed to help ease your shyness.  

No matter, you and Barrett sprinkled colorful pedals the whole way down the path while Brandon carried a small chalkboard hosting the words “Here Comes Your Girl” as he followed you two!  Since Stephanie is Aunt Sheri’s free-spirited child she was very true to herself and held the wedding ceremony at their cabin in the woods, which holds personal history for her.  The deep greens of the forest, the purple, turquoise, and black themed attendants attire, the beautiful bouquets that Aunt Sheri made herself, and the arbor that both your Uncle Jim and Aunt Sheri handcrafted couldn’t have been more fitting.  And you, Barrett and Brandon were the icing on the cake, so to speak, as flower girls and ring bearer!  And of course your cousin Stephanie made an absolutely gorgeous bride along with her husband, Mark, who was equally handsome in groom camo attire.  

Of course there was a quick photo shoot of the wedding party, which surprisingly you not only looked dead-on into the camera lens but actually smiled too!  Go figure.  But as soon as the photographer was done, it didn’t take long for you to don the flower girl dress and put on your comfy old shorts and stained pink T-shirt!  (And you did this El before we even left the cabin for the reception!)  Thank goodness Stephanie did not mind, as all she wanted was for everyone to be happy and have a great time.  And once you found the volleyball sandpits on the side of the building that hosted the reception, that is exactly what you did… have a great time that is! 

Sadly Aunt Phyllis who flew in from Philadelphia for the wedding fell ill for most of the trip and was not able to join in the festivities.  That is until the following day, Sunday, when Aunt Sheri hosted a gift-opening/pool party for the happy couple and family.  While we watched the lovely presents being opened and filled our bellies with the delicious leftovers, you and all your cousins got water-logged and shriveled fingers from playing, splashing and jumping in the pool.  Again… another fun day to remember! 

Now we come to Monday which was the day that you, Will, your Mommy and Poppy had to return home to State College.  I think your Daddy, who was unable to make the trip, was missing you all very much.  Anyway, your flight was in the latter part of the morning and since you are not much of a morning person we let you sleep for as long as we could before awaking you.  Your Mommy moved you from the bed to the couch where you could watch cartoons while I fixed you some pancakes for breakfast (just so you know, Will was awake, dressed, fed and happy way before this time frame!).  Anyway, here is the funny part of the morning’s story.  Knowing that you can be a little bit of a grump-a-lump, I set your breakfast plate down on the side of the kitchen table where Aunt Phyllis was also sitting.  I did this so that you could still see the TV.  When I called you into the kitchen, you quietly walked in and took a look at your plate, then Aunt Phyllis and then your plate again.  And without saying a word, you slid your plate clear across to the other side of the table before seating yourself to eat your pancakes.  Aunt Phyllis watched you and your antics before stating, “Hmpf!  Good thing I don’t get my feelings hurt easily!”  Ellie I busted up laughing because that is sooooooooooo you!

Anyway, I took you all to the airport, kissed you all good-buy and returned to Gram’s house where I stayed on for a few extra days to visit with my high-school girlfriends, who always bring me much laughter and a gratefulness to our long-lasting friendship as well as spending some quieter time with my Mom (Gram Bubbles), Aunt Phyllis, Aunt Sheri, Uncle Stevie and Aunt Dawn.  Playing UpWords, having a delicious homemade dinner on Aunt Dawn’s patio with a glass of wine, and ice cream with Aunt Sheri was for me the perfect ending to a ‘never-enough-time’ trip home.  Your Gram Bubbles should be ranked as one of the best hostess’ of all time!  How the chaos and craziness of the week did not put her over the edge is beyond me… I guess Gram B. loves us El… with her whole heart she unconditionally loves us!  And for as much fun as you had with all of your cousins, I think you would agree with me that next years trip to Green Bay won’t come soon enough!

See you soon my little Travel Companion!

Love Mimi

Thursday, August 7, 2014

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

Dear Ellie,

I always feel wistful in August because I know that summer is quietly fading away.  

When you look back as an adult, I want you to think fondly of the summer when you were 4.  I created a list of what I thought would generate the most memories for you.

Final Thoughts: I hope the following words make you reminisce about the warm months of 2014 (when you practically lived outside and the only care in the world was wearing comfortable clothes to get dirty in).

While playing at home, this is our top ten list of how we kept busy:

1.     Sidewalk Chalk
2.     Bubbles
3.     Wading pool
4.     Slip-n-Slide

5.     Neighborhood Ice Cream Truck (that came on Monday nights)
6.     Big Kid Bike with Training Wheels

7.     Neighborhood Kids
8.     Popsicles
9.     BBQ’s
10. Frog Family (in the window well)

And the memories we made outside of our house were just as fun and priceless:

1.     Daddy’s Baseball Games
2.     Spikes Games and Fireworks

3.     Philly Family Weekend in State College

4.     Pittsburgh Trip
5.     Grandparents' Visits

6.     Days with Mimi

7.     Green Bay Trip (and being a flower girl in your cousin's wedding)

8.     Welch pool

9.     Reptiland

10. Vacation Bible School
11. Parks and Sandboxes
12. The Arboretum (and the new children’s section)
13. Arts Fest and People’s Choice

14. Ice Cream Stores (Sweet Frog, Meyers, the Creamery)

15. Winery Walks

Aside from our plane tickets to Green Bay, nothing on either list cost a whole lot of money proving yet again, that we create our happiness and entertainment with what we have available (and our time is always more enjoyable with the company of our family and friends).

I love you Ellie and I’m anxious to see what fall will bring.