Thursday, September 25, 2014

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

Hi Ellie!

This is such a beautiful, sunny, blue-sky kind of Sunday!  And it is one that hopefully many have taken advantage of and played outside!  We sure did… your Mommy and I took you and Will (both in strollers of course) to the PSU Creamery to grab an ice cream cone and leisurely eat them while taking a stroll over to the Arboretum and back.  What fun we always have!  But this week I am not going to write a blog about “our” time, rather it is going to be about “quality time” you spent with your Poppy.

Final Thought:  If you have a memory of a special time with a special person in your life as a child… don’t hesitate to repeat that memory or something very similar years later when you become an adult.

Ellie… one of Poppy’s favorite memories was one that his grandfather gave him.  It was not a monetary gift or a material gift but rather a gift of “his grandfather’s time.”  When Poppy was a little boy his grandfather would take him, and just him, for a trolley ride into Center City Philadelphia and back (if you are wondering what a trolley is, it is kind of like a bus on rails.  And instead of running on gas, they run on electricity down streets and through underground tunnels).  Anyway, to a little boy this was a really cool trip to take.  Poppy told me once that the experience of just looking out the trolley window, and seeing all the buildings, and people rushing from place to place, and traveling deep into dark tunnels with your grandpa sitting beside you chatting about it all was the absolute best.  And because of that long lasting treasured memory, he wanted to somehow give you that same experience… well maybe modified a bit because the small town we live in has no trolley cars.  So Poppy asked you the other day if you would like to take a bus ride around campus.  Ellie, I laughed because it was like history repeating itself… you excitedly said, “Of course Poppy!  When can we go?”  So Poppy set the date for just the two of you to ride the bus last Friday afternoon.  Ellie, I was not present but after talking with him that evening and you on Saturday, I don’t know who was more thrilled… you or Poppy!  You both talked incessantly and excitedly about the fun you had.  Here is what I heard:
* First your Mommy told me that even though Poppy had said that he wouldn’t be over to get you until around 3:00 pm for your campus bus ride, you waited quite a long time sitting on the steps outside of your house beforehand… you were that anxious!  She also said that you were perplexed as to where do you go to get a bus?
Never having a reason to ride a campus bus Ellie, you had no clue that there were quite a few places to ‘get’ a bus!
* Both Poppy and you told me the same backpack story.  Once you stepped onto the bus and took your seats towards the back door, Poppy said to you that everyone on the bus was probably thinking that you two were college kids.   You replied with a “No Poppy… I don’t think so.”  When Poppy asked you why, you continued with, “Well, we forgot our backpacks so they won’t think we are college kids!  Maybe next time I can bring my princess one!”  Poppy smiled and happily agreed.
* Poppy told me that one of the things you were really amazed at was the sheer number of buses that passed by while you two were traveling both on and off the bus.  You were constantly saying, “There goes a bus Poppy!  Oh boy, there goes another bus Poppy.  And another one!  And another one!” You, my sweet little Bean also told me the same story.  You were completely boggled by all the buses out there!
* Poppy told me that when you first got on the bus its number was 18.  He also said that you had no idea that when you exited the bus that it was at the very same stop where you began your journey!  Apparently when you completed your bus loop so to speak, you and Poppy went to have ice cream.   And you got quite excited when you saw that same bus number (18) pass while Poppy and you were sitting outside devouring your treat!  When I asked you the next day what your bus number was … you had to think for a minute and told me, “ um I think there was a 9 and a 1 in it.”
Giggling I thought to myself… close enough!

* Poppy told me that the long yellowish plastic ‘string’, which was located above the windows and ran the whole length of the bus, really intrigued you.  As badly as you wanted to randomly pull it, Poppy had to remind you that that was a “no-no” because every time it is pulled, it’s telling the bus driver that someone needs to exit the bus.  You told me there was a string on the bus that you were now big enough to pull because you are almost 5 years old and Poppy let you pull it when it was time for you and him to get off the bus!  El, you seemed mighty proud of yourself… all 34 inches of you!
* Poppy told me that you two chatted about all kinds of things during your 25-minute bus ride and extended ice cream adventure.   He said that while listening to you he could see how much you have grown just over the past few months and he soooooo enjoyed this time with you!  You told me that you two saw the Nittany Lion Statue (but didn’t get off the bus to see it), Rita’s Water Ice Shop and also the Toy Store, which is your favorite toy store (but you didn’t get off the bus to see those places either.)  You said you just saw them from your window!
*  Poppy told me the perfect ending to your bus ride adventure was visiting the PSU Creamery for some ice cream.  And you insisted on sitting outside even though it was chilly.  You told me that after the bus ride you and Poppy got ice cream in a cup (both chocolate) and you took Selfie pictures!

Ellie, for me it was such a joy to hear about yours and Poppy’s travel adventure.  For the most part both your perceptions of “The Bus Ride” were quite similar.  But I do believe that this story will change some through the coming years.  Over time, “The Bus Ride” will become bigger, grander and more personal.  That is quite normal as it is something we all do when we want to hold on to a memory from our childhood that involves someone very special to us.  By the time we (the child at the time) become the adult, we want that memory to be nothing less than perfect. 

Remember Ellie that you can’t buy ‘quality time’ with money.   Even though it comes with lots of perks such as adventures, memories, one on one conversation, and oh so much more… all of it is free.  You see… ‘quality time’ is priceless.  And if you are lucky enough to experience it in your lifetime, then make sure to repeat this gift with the generations that come after you.  If you do El, you will have given and received the greatest treasure of all…. Love.

Love Mimi

Thursday, September 18, 2014

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

Dear Ellie,

You have been back in school now for two weeks.  You are having so much fun in your 4-year preschool class.  And I have to say that I love how easy our mornings have been.

Final Thought: Starting off your day on the right foot sets the pace for what’s to follow.

On your perfect day, you could sleep in until 9am.  You wouldn’t eat breakfast for at least an hour after waking up.  You prefer to lounge on the couch for thirty minutes to ease into the morning.  On a typical morning, we often argue about what you are going to wear, which I don’t completely understand as the only stipulations I have are that the clothes are weather appropriate, they must be clean, and no pajamas (but what really sets you off is if there is a weather change and it involves altering your 2 go-to outfits).  You cry when I gently put a brush through your hair.  And you need to change your shoes at least once (never starting with what eventually ends up on your feet- your Minnie light-up Crocs) before we leave the house.

So knowing all of this, you can see how our two early mornings a week usually are rough (to say the least) where I need to get you to school, Will to daycare, and get myself ready for work (we leave the house at 7:15).  And you are not quiet about your frustrations or grumpiness (so your Dad and Will usually wake up to your cries on those days).  When I would drop you off, I often vented to your preschool teacher about the past hour because I felt horrible about how you and I both quarreled.

But this year (knock on wood), you have taken on a whole new approach.  In your words (as you bump your fists together), “No more clashing Mom.”  I haven’t been running late and you have a smile on your face as you skip out the door to my car.  I don’t know what the change is as nothing about our mornings is different.  But can I tell you how wonderful my day is with that kind of beginning?

On the night before the first day of school, when I asked you if you were going to dress up, you answered, “Of course.” As you pulled out your Nookie baseball shirt and pink shorts, you replied, “I’m going to wear my best tee shirt and clean shorts!”  Oh Ellie, I just shook my head as I thought about all of the gorgeous dresses in your closet.  So when you woke up and without hesitation put on exactly what you told me the night before, I smiled.  I love your free spirit and your independence.  I hope you hold onto your convictions as you get older but always try to be nice when you wake up (even if you still aren’t a morning person).  I promise, it’s sets a beautiful tone to the rest of the day. 

Now I know the biggest obstacle will be easing into winter clothes (although we have your fleece pants ready in the next size up- same leopard print as this year and Mimi also found them in a star pattern too).  Change is hard for most so it’s no different for you Ellie.  But I hope we can have a smooth transition and still have our peaceful mornings. 

I love you Ellie!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

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

Hi Ellie,

The other day when I was getting ready to leave your house, you asked me to do the ‘I love you’.  Of course I said yes as it has been our little ritual since you were a baby. But the question prompted your little friend, Kayleigh, who was playing with you at the time to ask,  “How do you do an I Love You?”   Oh Ellie, with a quick wink to you, I told Kayleigh that both you and I would be happy to show her.  And your return smile, which spoke volumes, told us both just how special it was!  And at that moment I also realized how important it was to blog about our customized  ‘goodbye.’ 

Final Thought: The overwhelming affection you feel for someone can be expressed deeply and effectively without ever having to voice the words.

Ellie, I am not sure as to the exact timeframe we started this goodbye ritual, but what I do know is that it has strongly solidified our grandmother/granddaughter connection.  When you and your Mommy would leave my house to return to yours via car, I always wanted to give you an extra special goodbye.  So after getting you buckled into your car seat and giving you a kiss on your forehead I would close the car door and use hand gestures that go with the words I – Love – You before walking away.  First, I would point to my eyes referencing the word ‘I’.  Next, I would take my pointer fingers and thumbs from both hands and fashion them in the shape of a heart near my own to reference the word ‘Love.’  Lastly, I would ball up my left fist extending only the pointer finger, which of course pointed directly at you to reference the word ‘You.’  Then I would blow you a kiss, wave good-bye and re-enter my house thinking how did someone so tiny capture my heart with the magnitude that you did so easily?  But I didn’t really need an answer, I already knew! 

So now I will fast-forward to today when you are 4 ½ years old and yes, we still do this crazy and wonderful ritual.  But let me tell you Ellie that you have fine-tuned it and with precision thought I might add (or rather fine-tuned me to do it exactly your way).  Here is how we do the ‘I Love You’ today.  First of all, it is no longer restricted to when you are in your car seat leaving me… you have now added our special goodbye to my leaving you!  So whether I am standing outside of the car looking in at you or you standing outside of my car with me inside seat belted and ready to drive off, this is how we now do the ‘I Love You.’

Oh, and before I continue on I need to tell you that when you are in your Mommy’s car all windows must be rolled up and your Mommy’s car door must be shut!  I am strongly guessing that you want to make sure that your Mama is not able to take any of my attention away that should be solely focused on you (yes, you two do fight at times over whom I should be listening too).  Anyway… first I make a ‘V’ shape letter with the pointer finger and middle finger on my left hand and point it first at my eyes then at your eyes and then back to mine so that I have both yours and my attention when referencing the word ‘I’.  Next I make the heart shape, with no added quirks, to reference the word ‘Love’ just like before.  Then I point to you, again no added quirks here either, to reference the word ‘You.’  Now comes a slight change up as I have to blow you not one, but three kisses and follow them with a couple of selfie hugs.  “Selfie hugs?”  You or someone reading this might ask.  Let me remind you of how they are performed.  First you take your left arm and wrap it around your right shoulder.  Then you take your right arm and wrap it around your left shoulder.  Next you squeeze yourself just like you would a teddy bear if you wanted it to pop its stuffing out and follow that with shaking your upper body from side to side like you would a ragdoll!  Thennnnnnnnnnnn…. I have to repeat this whole procedure again only this time switch my arm wraps!  If you think this is the end of our ‘goodbye’ ritual Ellie, think again.  I must then perform two more complete cycles of the arm-wrap with an added crazy facial expression each time.  Oh and heaven forbid if I accidentally do any portion of this ‘goodbye’ out of order because then I have to start all over again from the very beginning (and yes El, I have had to start over many times!  Obviously OSD and/or quirkiness run in our family as I can name a few other relatives with similar issues)!  I guess it always makes for some fun stories! 

But back to our ‘goodbye’ ritual… Ellie, you have had me do this in driveways, the church parking lot, department store lots and even the ice-cream lot.  I am sure people who don’t know us but watch this crazy routine are probably thinking just that…. Crazy lady!  But you know what I realized Ellie?... that I treasure this unique Ellie/Mimi habit that belongs to only us.  Your friend Kayleigh made me see just how special it is El.  And I pray this bond of ours never grows old.

Eye Heart U!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

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

Dear Ellie,

In less than one month, Will is going to turn one!  

This year has flown by!  Right now, a lot of my friends are having babies so put this entry away until you do too.  Here’s what worked for us adding a new addition to the family.    

Final Thoughts: Necessities and advice for new moms…

When you put your baby down, make sure they are semi or fully awake.  It will make them self-soothe and be better sleepers in the long run.  Don't rock them until they are fully asleep (it might be easier at first but you will create a monster)!

Get your baby on a fairly strict schedule by 4 months (meaning morning and bedtime routines and 2 daily naps and with regular feedings).  It makes putting them to bed and planning for trips or outings so much easier.

Lots of belly time and start early!

Make sure you have a good camera (or cell phone that takes great pictures that you can upload to shutterfly or some other site that you can order prints). I got month stickers from Amber, our cousin, who said she ordered them from Etsy and they are the coolest- since the baby changes so much in that first year (one of my girl friends actually blows up the pictures and uses them as decorations for the 1st birthday party to see how they grew that year).  I put them in a scrapbook and use them on the bulletin board. 

In both yours and Will’s rooms and in my kitchen, your Dad and I bought framed bulletin boards (I saw it in my aunt's house and fell in love with the idea).  Keep it in mind as your baby grows- it holds the latest art work (which is so much now that you are 4- I'm not sure what to do with it all!) and you can refashion it for holidays and birthdays so it takes on a different look every few weeks.  

Are you planning to breastfeed?  My milk never came in (which was just as well as I never really wanted to do it but boy did I feel the pressure).  I did try though with Kyle and you (you started to lose weight though- dropped below 6lbs before we left the hospital so we supplemented and I fully switched to formula within 2 weeks).  Because of all of that pressure and knowing that it wouldn't work for me, I didn't even bother with Will- he clearly didn't seem to mind (as he is a much better eater than you ever were).  Anyway, we used Infamil with our babies and Wegman's has an $11 cheaper generic brand that is the same thing that we love.

Treat yourself to a pedicure or hair appointment or something for you before hand- even though I had c-sections, it's great to be pampered and it may be a few weeks or months before you have that opportunity to yourself again because of time and/or money.  

If anyone gives the baby a book (you will get a lot for you shower), make sure they write a note on the inside cover (signed and dated) for your baby.  You at 4 years old still pick out books and read the inscription for who gave it to you and why and when.  It gives the book so much more meaning and it becomes a keepsake!

We used our Boppy (great for feeding and belly time) and Bumbo (for around 4 months to begin sitting and starting to eat solids- babies will grow out of it quickly though).

I credit Will’s amazing sleep cycles to the Rock n' Sleep (it wasn't around when I had you but it was the best thing ever for Will).  Don't bother with a bassinet if you get this thing.  We went right from this to the crib when he rolled at 3 months and the transition was smooth.  I credit Will's amazing sleeping to this.  One of my friends recommended it me and I thought she was crazy…. it wasn't until she got it for me for my shower and I was "forced" to try it that I was convinced.  However, I’m sure something even better will be invented by the time you have kids!

Invest in a good rocking chair and maybe a matching rocking footrest.  Even though I don't rock you and Will in it anymore, I use it to read now so it's a great investment (and a memory keeper for the time I had with my babies)!

Don't go crazy buying swaddles and clothes early- you really liked to be swaddled, Will didn't.  You were small and never fit into what we thought you would by season and Will is the opposite (and we had to give a lot away or return it because he outgrew it before the season began) so know that you can take your time with those things.  Get to your know baby first.  

If you have coupons or gift cards, invest in larger sizes of diapers (although with Will, he grew out of them so fast… he was in already in a size 5 at 9 months- you never were in size 5s and you were potty trained at 2) so my advice would be go with a box at a time so you don't have to return them.  And FYI, if your baby leaks out of them (esp. at night) that's the sign to go up a size.

Invest in a pretty diaper bag- you will be using it for at least 9 months (keep a change of clothes, socks, diapers, wipes, toys. and some ziploc bags for dirty diapers when you don't have a friendly trashcan to put them in)- gone are the days of cute small bags (although you can throw a wristlet into the bag- it's an easy way to transition from your diaper bag to your work bag).

When you are in the hospital, "steal" everything (all diapers, whipes, ointments, etc)- the nurses will encourage you too as well.  I swear, it will save you a few dollars!!!

And tell your hubby about push-presents (Justin gets so mad when I tell our friends about this!).  But tell him that you get a present for pushing (or in my case getting cut open).  I've been able to get 3 :)  Google it if you haven't heard of it… it should be sentimental- a piece of jewelry symbolizing the new baby or maybe a new diaper bag that you wouldn't get for yourself.

And trust me about this- put yourself in front of the camera in those first few weeks… I know you won't feel like it but down the road, you will regret it if you don't (don't feel pressured to put them on FB but for your personal albums, you should have them).  You don't have to look perfect but make sure there are pictures of you with your baby- several of them!!!  I promise that you will cherish them later.

You will be tired in those first few weeks.  But do remember your husband.  Do take a date night when you are ready.  Try not to talk about the baby too much.  Remember that your marriage comes first.  

But truly, there isn't much you need in those first few weeks… diapers, food (unless you breastfeed), and some basic clothes.  Register for some big things like the stroller, crib, highchair, and carseat that maybe a few relatives will go in on together.  Do your research too- some places will give you a discount for things that aren't bought on your registry for a short time after (Target is one)- we took advantage and got a good deal on a toddler carseat so put as much as you can on that registry because you can still go back and get things!

But remember, what works for one person, doesn't always work for another so trust your instincts!!!

Love you,