Of girl toys and boy toys

Target announced recently that they are doing away with gender identifying labels for their toys. Apparently, this pissed a lot of people off. I, personally, don’t understand why or what the big deal is. All their doing is changing aisles labels – for example, “Building Sets and Girl’s Building Sets” to just “Building Sets.” I hardly see how that is going to impact someone’s life in some negative way. Personally, I think it’s a good thing.

Growing up I was always very aware of “girl” toys and “boy” toys. I always had girl toys. Our house was filled with baby dolls and barbies. My grandma made these fabulous outfits for the barbies too. My sister and I each at one point got a baby crib for Christmas for our dolls. I never had any idea that there was a whole other world of toys out there.
So when we had our first kid, I swore I wasn’t going to make her into a girly girl like me. She could play with whatever toys she wanted and dress however she wanted. I’ve always bought her clothes from both the boys and girls departments. And sure enough, Ellabelle does not discriminate. Her Elsa and Merida dolls sit next to Ironman and Rocket Raccoon. Her Little People Princesses hang out with Batman and the Joker. She has hot wheels and Legos and comic books. She has barbies and dress up clothes and a baby crib. She wears plastic high heels while she swings around a lightsaber. She carries around a wrestling championship belt while she’s donning a Rapunzel crown.
I complained to my mom that I wasn’t allowed to have Legos or trucks growing up because they were “boy” toys. She told me it wasn’t because of the gender, it was because I never asked for them. I always asked for barbies and babies. And she’s right, I never asked. The reason being that I was under the impression that I wasn’t allowed to have those kinds of toys. Boys had their toys where they built things and raced cars, and girls had pretty blonde plastic dolls with hair you could style. It all seems so stupid to me now. Even at day camp, the boys played basketball every morning, and the girls sat on the bleachers and made friendship bracelets and key chains. And this was not necessarily by choice. I remember being told it was time to play and I had to give up my ball and hoop my friend and I were playing at for the boys to have the whole court. And I didn’t question it because I was a girl, and girls sat on the bleachers.
I don’t ever want my girls to sit on the bleachers unless they want to.
They can be princesses who fight crime or superheroes that wear crowns.
They can be the one to save day, not the one waiting for the prince (or plumber) to come along.
They can play in the dirt and kick soccer balls and wear nail polish while doing it.
They can grow up and become a teacher or mommy or nurse or fire fighter or CEO.
They can do anything boys can do and they will know that it’s ok for boys to do anything a girl can do even if others disagree.
And if someday, my beautiful blue eyed beauties look at me and tell me that they should’ve been born “Eli” or “Matthew” instead of how they biologically came out, then I will find a way to be ok with that because being a boy or a girl is not defined by what labels and expectation we put on mundane things – starting with toys.

My girls can do anything they want. They can become anything they want. They can play and dream about anything they want. And I’ll be damned if something as simple as blue or pink packaging material holds them back.

Of mom moments, festivals, and paint

It’s been a busy weekend for us around here. My Friday started with a migraine. I popped some aspirin and tried to push through the day. Mattie was upset for no reason all morning. Ellabelle was taking full advantage of me not feeling well (which she always does. I swear she has spidey senses for this kind of thing). After much fights and arguing, I decided to get the girls out of the house. We went for a walk. We’ve all been stir crazy anyways because the weather has been so unpredictable. So I got dressed, dressed and changed both girls, and loaded them up, and we made our way around the complex. And of course, I had us out around noon without realizing it so the sun was high and hot. I had Mattie in a hat, but we zigged and zagged under whatever shade we could find. 20150809-172257.jpg

We made it home and I patted myself on the back for making it in and out of the house easily and making it a whole mile (baby stepping back into things). Go us!

I congratulated myself a little too soon because then all hell broke loose. Ellabelle ran off and refused to stay with me while I tried to get Mattie in the house. I managed to get both of them in and chuck the double strolled into the front of Josh’s car. Then I discovered Maisy had decided to make the girls toy area her personal bathroom and took a few toys with her. Mattie decided she was hungry and started screaming. Ellabelle was mad because I wouldn’t get her a snack or her iPad. This moment was not my shining moment as a mother. Like face-turning-red embarrassing mom moment. I was the mom I swore I’d never be. I also had no idea just how hard motherhood was going to be. I failed as a mother in that moment.

However, it was just a moment. I got Maisy’s mess cleaned up and put Ellabelle down for a nap and feed the baby and things seemed to settle down. Moms put too much pressure on themselves (at least I do), and I know I need to remember that I’m human and am allowed to be stress and crazed too. I popped two more aspirin in, and I managed to get a shower without Mattie screaming during it and get dressed for date night.

Whovian date night

I’ll say that again – DATE NIGHT!!

Mamaw and Papaw had requested Ellabelle for the night so we asked if they’d also watch Mattie for the evening. We dropped them off and went and saw Ant-man. It was amazing and totally stands up against all the other awesome Marvel movies in the cinematic universe. We grabbed dinner (Josh kept watching an video billboard out the window while we ate) and picked up our little one.

Saturday morning we went and grabbed breakfast, and it was nice and quiet. It’s so easy to forget how much work goes into taking a toddler out in public. Afterwards, Josh tore a bush out of our backyard while I worked on straightening up the girls room. I think he had the easier job because I got stuck with the baskets. (Insert face over a flashlight in the dark making scary noise). Cause let’s be honest – washing, drying, and folding laundry is only half the battle. It’s a whole other story to get them all hung up in the closet. It took a lot of focus and perseverance, by I got it done with a few pit spots thanks to my special helper demanding a bottle and a butt change in the process.

We picked Ellabelle up from Josh’s dads house and had dinner with them while we watched Big Hero 6.

We stopped at St. John’s festival on our way home. It’s a church right up the street from our house. We had to park up on a big hill and walk down through the church’s prayer trail. It was muddy and slick, and Ellabelle kept trying to push me into the weeds. We all survived and collected ourselves, and we had a really good time. We played a few games and rode a few rides. Ellabelle and I went down the slide. She thought it was amazing. image

And since the guy didn’t charge me any tickets to go down the slide Ellabelle got to ride two more rides instead of one. image image

Today ended up being another day of work. I got up early and ran to the grocery store and came home and made breakfast. Ellabelle has a cold so she laid on the couch and watched Rapunzel. Josh trimmed the rest of the bushes around our house and mowed. I cleaned the living room and kitchen and then painted the railing around our front porch. Thankfully, Josh helped me finish the floor. We got half way done and ran out of paint. Oops.


But that’s a problem for another day. Cause Josh is grilling out dinner with his helper

20150809-174503.jpg and I made cookies for dessert for while we watch Big Brother (Ellabelle cheers every time it comes on. Lol)

Busy July

July is always crazy busy for us. From beginning to end, there seems to be something always going on. This year, the month started with an event in downtown Hamilton called “Alive after 5!” It was superhero themed so the girls got to dress up, IMG_7368 and Ellabelle loved spending time with “her boys.”

First picture as a family of 4
First picture as a family of 4

Then came Independence Day which is always been a big deal for my family. IMG_7346

It’s a day filled with fun and whimsy at the Northside Parade followed by good food and company until dark where there are usually fireworks to close out the night. This year was Ellabelle’s first year to really experience and enjoy the parade. She was still a little too young to really get into it last year. She just knew it was loud and there was music she could dance to. This year she did pretty good at grabbing candy out of the street and enjoying the sights. IMG_7349-0 IMG_7347-0 Mattie was obviously too young to really enjoy it – being just shy of 6 weeks. We kept her in the shade, and she slept for the most part. IMG_7348

After that, we went to a family friends house. The evening there ended in fireworks which Mattie hated so Josh took her inside. Ellabelle soon joined them because she screamed and shook every time a firework exploded. IMG_7343IMG_7344  They watched Captain America instead which made Ellabelle very happy. IMG_7345

My cousin was in town so we went to a family gathering at Oma and Opa’s house on the 6th. Mattie got to meet her middle namesake and Great Grandma for the the first time.

Matilda Gayle and Virginia Gayle (Oma shares the middle name too)
Matilda Gayle and Virginia Gayle (Oma shares the middle name too)
4 generations
4 generations

Ellabelle got to run around and play with her older cousins. IMG_7337

Auntie Ang’s birthday is the 6th, but we went out to Outback to celebrate on the 7th. IMG_7334

I had my 6 week postpartum doctors appointment on the 10th and was cleared to get back into living. Lol. I can exercise and swim and lift Ellabelle again. That was a huge relief.

The next week was busy because, between Josh and I taking a city test in the middle of the day, there was party prep to be done. On the 18th, we went to the little one of Ellabelle’s boys birthday party. He turned four, and we went fossil hunting. Both daddy and Ellabelle loved it. IMG_6299 Daddy enjoyed looking for fossils, and Ellabelle enjoyed dumping out the bucket of fossils and putting sand and dirt in it instead. IMG_6311

The next day was Super Bees birthday party! IMG_6357

It was a huge mess because it was suppose to be at a water playground, but it was thundering and lightening the whole drive there. The park wasn’t even open yet and the manager told us it was likely it wouldn’t open. So after being told twice that we had to wait and see, I sent Josh up to talk to her, and we got our money refunded. We called everyone and had them meet us at a park by our house instead. It wasn’t at all what I pictured for her birthday. We told people who were from out of town not to come so we didn’t get to see them. It was hot and, of course, the sun came out about an hour after we got to the playground. However, Ellabelle had a blast playing on the playground, and, as far as she was concerned, it was a great party. I mean, it’s not often that all her favorite people are all together at once. IMG_6360 IMG_6367 IMG_6378

Then on that following Monday (the 20th), I had a job interview with the city for parking. It went horribly. However, I didn’t really want the job so maybe it was a good thing that it sucked so bad. Josh keeps telling me it was good practice for the next interview that really matters. Still, I like to be the best at things (ok, maybe everything) and not being picked so I could turn them down kinda stung a little.

Wednesday the 22nd was the biggest day of the month (IMO) – Super Bee turned 3! IMG_6479

I took Ellabelle out for her birthday somewhere special. I feel like it’s really important to have her know that this day is just as important to me as it is to her. So, I took her to Jumpzone in Florence. It’s a room filled with inflated jump houses and slides. 247107_10100982055784640_8631401270864668736_nShe had a blast. She loved the big slide. 11760324_10100982055849510_5515973536734133020_n

I was proud of her for going up and down all on her own because I figured she’d be too chicken. She insisted on going in a maze jump house, and she got stuck. She was screaming and crying and she smacked some kid in the face all while I couldn’t see her. Luckily, another mom noticed my panic and sent in her 8 year old to retrieve her. Once she was out, it took a little calming down, and we left. I had to wear Mattie the whole time and she was getting hot and I couldn’t really help Ellabelle climb up into things. So hindsight it wasn’t the best place to take a 2 month old and a 3 year old, but all Ellabelle seems to remember is the video of her laughing down the slide. 11700836_10100982055894420_2604684544595066686_n

After that, I got Ellabelle “nuggies” from McDonald’s, and we took Mattie to daddy’s work. Josh watched Mattie while I took Ellabelle down to Smale Park on the river. It is gorgeous down there, and Ellabelle had a blast in the fountains. imageimageimage She didn’t want to leave. However, we did eventually go home (after picking Mattie back up) and that night we went out for dinner with Oma and Opa and Auntie Ang at LaRosas because Ellabelle loves pizza! imageWe got Graeters on the way home to end a perfect birthday.

Since Ellabelle had a cookie at her birthday dinner and ice cream afterwards, we did her cake on the 23rd. image image She loved it because momma came through with the promised Opa blue cake with pink icing. image

The 25th we went to Newport, KY to Joe’s Crab Shack for Alex’s birthday. image Ellabelle had a blast spending time with her older cousin, and it was Mattie’s first trip to Kentucky. Then we took Ellabelle to Smale again. image image image Mattie even got in on the fun for a little bit. image Josh told me, “I’m glad you make me do things. I thought this was going to be awful,  and it was really fun.” Well, that’s my job.

The 28th was Opa’s birthday, and, since Oma was out of town in California, Auntie Ang and I wanted to take him out to celebrate. He, in turn, ended up adding another 5 people to the mix which was totally ok because he deserved a big turn out, and it was fun to have so many more people to celebrate our Opa. image

We closed out the month on July 31st with a visit to the place where this crazy life of ours all started – Northern Kentucky University. IMG_7191 Josh and I met here back in 2006 while we were both attending. It was so special to get to bring the girls here and share a part of our history with them. The campus is just beautiful, and they’ve done a lot of work since we were last here. IMG_7163

It was also fun to relive some old memories with my big kid. IMG_7227 IMG_7229

I also took the opportunity to let Ellabelle feed some of the campus ducks. She was very overwhelmed by their interest in the crackers she had and a little too slow – one of them managed to snap the cracker right out of her fingers! IMG_7215 She insists she doesn’t like ducks anymore because one “bite” her. lol

We also managed to find time to track down a few All-Star Game mustaches around town. 11755781_10100982058509180_1665827088653351765_n11760198_10100976165723370_402389492743174508_n 10986650_10100976166182450_7948083577032710314_n 11751725_10100984590465120_3212464898958661716_n11745898_10100984590510030_110127275082880717_n

Oh, and did I mention that on top of all of this, we’ve been potty training. Yes, our crazy Baby Bee is staying dry almost all day and most nights and has been promoted to big girl panties! She’s so proud, and so are we.

August is looking a little more calm which will be a welcomed change. Don’t get me wrong.  I love how crazy busy we are when those crazy busy days are with and in celebration of the people we love. But quiet is good also. image