To Mattie on her 2nd birthday

To my dear sweet Matilda,

You are two years old today. Two whole years you’ve been earthside. It feels like you were just placed in my arms to be wheeled to recovery yesterday, but also like you’ve been apart of our lives forever. I cannot imagine our lives without you, and I don’t know how we ever lived without your sweet face. You are always a ray of sunshine. Every morning, daddy gets you out of bed and you come toddling through the house and down the hallway making a beeline to mommy. You want to be picked up and snuggled before you’re ready to start your day. And if I happen to get you up, you always snuggle right back into me. You are a mama’s girl and I ain’t mad about it.

You are just a big ball of energy. You make the silliest faces. You are constantly dancing even when there’s no music. 

You love being a little girly girl – putting on every necklace, bracelet, ring, and hat you can find. You do a little shoulder shrug when you’re feeling pretty. You’ve always been in love with your reflection. I always hold you up in front of the bathroom mirror after bath and ask “who is that?” You’ve always smiled and giggled. Recently, you’ve discovered the full length mirror on our bedroom door. You love to look at, dance, and kiss your reflection. 

You have found your little voice and your vocabulary grows by the day. All we have say is “I smell baby feet,” and you yell, “Mah feet!” and hide your toes cause you know we’re about to cover those little piggys in kisses. You’re so polite and say “thank you” and “bless you” all the time. You just learned to say “Ellabelle” and it’s the most adorable thing I’ve ever heard. But your favorite thing to say is “I walk!” because you refuse to be held back anymore.

I love that you’re still waiting for those teeth on each side of your front bottom four to come in. They’ve finally started poking through, but I love your little grin with the spots missing.


You occasionally you cross your fingers for some reason, and it freaks your daddy out. You hate when there’s anything on your hands, and insist on having a napkin or having me wipe it off.


You hate wearing shoes and tear them off your feet as soon as you get in the car or at home. You also the do the strangest thing with your shoes and socks. You like the take just one shoe and/or sock off and leave the other one on. You just walk around like that.


Every time I’m eating, you wander over from your table and slyly ask “Want bite” in hopes that i’ll share whatever I’m eating. It doesn’t matter if it’s the same exact thing you have on your plate, you still want mama’s.


You always wanna see what I’m doing in the kitchen. You love throwing stuff in the trash. You love getting things out of the fridge especially your cup. You get so excited and yell “milk!” when you see it.


Your true love is still your “pay-pay.” You get mad when daddy pretends to use it. If you come across a different one, you’ll take the one in your mouth out and switch them. If you see food, however, you take it out of your mouth and you throw it. Like throw it. We lose a lot of them because of this.


You are such a sweet happy baby, but you seem to live in extremes because when you aren’t happy. You really aren’t happy. You have monumental tantrums. You throw yourself down on the spot and kick and thrash and scream. You did this at Ellabelle’s soccer game this past Monday. You wanted to walk across the bridge, but it was a bit of a downward slope so I helped you down it. And you LOST it. You literally threw yourself face forward on the grass and screamed and kicked. It’s ridiculous and hilarious and we have to try to not to laugh at you.
You are easy going and a handful all at the same time. I love your kisses, your hugs, and smooching those big squishy cheeks. I didn’t know I needed you until you got here, but I’m so grateful to you for picking me to be your mommy. I love you, my Mattie Monster. Happy Birthday! 



Keeping and Building Memories (for Grandma’s birthday) 

I’m sitting here, at my desk, waiting for a disc to burn on my computer. There’s an annoying sunbeam that peaks through the top of the closed blinds that is actually welcomed. It’s been a while since it’s irritated my eyes while I tried to work. I’m sipping my morning cup of tea. There’s a little Lipton tag hanging down the side of my mug. And I’m thinking about my grandma. Every time I see Lipton tea I think of her, but especially today.

It’s her birthday.
98 years ago Ethyl Louise was born.

And when I think about her birthday it always makes me think about a birthday 93 years later – when Ellabelle Louise was born. I have come to closely link the two in my head. Because of them name, of course, but also because I believe my grandma is the reason we both survived that day in July almost 5 years ago. I don’t believe in angels or heaven, but I do believe those we love don’t leave us. I know our souls go somewhere beyond here and, on that day, my grandma told that doctor to skip her shower and get to the hospital as fast as she could. I also know that she was holding onto my baby to keep her safe until the doctor could get her out earthside. I’m pretty sure Josh thinks I’m crazy for thinking this, but I feel it in my heart. Regardless of it’s true or not, it makes me happy.

I mourn my grandparents never being able to meet my babies, on this side of the universe anyways. I know how much they would’ve loved them because I know how much they loved me. It amazes me to think that this woman I only had the privilege of knowing for 19 years had such an impact on me. Honestly, as sad as it makes me, there’s so much I don’t know about her and her life. So many things I would want to know now especially since I’m older. But that doesn’t change how she made me feel and her love still lives inside me today.
I want to be that kind of person, leave that kind of legacy. I want my children and grandchildren to love me as fiercely as Ethyl’s did. I want my children to have those kinds of bonds to their grandparents. I want them to leave such an impression on them that when it’s almost 10 years later, they still ache from missing them. I want them to build memories so solid that they can’t see or hear or smell certain things without thinking about them and smiling.

For me, it’s Lipton tea, ginger, blowing kisses at the door, and her smell. I don’t know exactly what she wore, but I was in Yankee candle store one day and lifted a darker pink candle to my nose and it stopped my breath. They call it “Rose of Morocco.” To me, it flooded me with memories of my grandma.

For my grandpa, I feel a squeeze when I see Pepsi cans, cocktail shakers, dum dums and horse races. Josh tells me about his Mamaw every time we hear a tree frog, and he brings up his Grandma whenever he sees liver and onion on a menu or bran muffins in a store. He tells me stories about cigar smoke and orange Gatorade when reminiscing about his grandpa.

For my kids, it’ll be completely different. Maybe it’ll be the smell of almond extract from baking with Oma every Christmas. Or peppermint because she has an unhealthy obsession with it. Maybe they’ll associate the click and fuzziness that happens for a second when an old radio gets turned on with Opa, just like I do. It’s probably more likely they’ll associate Opa with Good and Plentys, whipped cream, and suckers (much like I do with my grandpa). Maybe it’ll be the smell of the grill that takes them back to their Papaw’s house, and maybe whenever they see fuzzy socks they’ll think of Mamaw (in fact, they already do).

Memories are all we leave behind. It’s really hard to take in the enormity of that (for me anyways). I hope I create such loving memories with my children that they pass that love on for generations. Someday I’ll do the same for my grandchildren.

My grandmother spent 88 years here on earth. That’s a lot of life. I only got about 13-14 years of memories I can actually remember out of that. It was enough though. If you love big enough and strong enough, even the smallest bit is enough.

I love you and miss you, Grandma! Happy birthday! 🎂

Resting and learning to rest

So, 2016 went out with a bang (or a surgery, same diff) and my 2017 started nice and slow. I literally slept for most of the first week. Pain pills and walking around the house like an old person kept me going. I hardly ate because I didn’t feel like it. When I was awake, I was depressed – depressed because I couldn’t hug my babies (like Matilda had to literally be kept away from me), I couldn’t spend time with my husband (cause I was so tired), I felt like I was failing as a mom and that I had failed myself somehow because my organ needed removed. None of this was true and Josh tried so hard to remind me of this. He did such an awesome job being a full time dad and taking care of a whiney sick wife. It was very hard on me because I hate just sitting around. It was also hard to do anything. So my body forced me to rest. I think it’s what I needed especially after Christmas. With being so busy almost everyday, maybe my body was just ready to take it easy. Funny how your body always seems to know.

We were both so relieved when I finally started feeling better on Friday, and on Saturday Oma watched the girls so Josh and I could go out for his birthday. We went down to Newport to eat at Joes Crab Shack because Josh loves seafood. The first thing that greeted us upon arrival was a firetruck. Josh pointed out this isn’t exactly the best sign at a restaurant you’re planning on eating at.

It was freezing, and the restaurant had a pipe burst. There was water flooding out of the bathrooms that a guy was trying to mop up. Thankfully, the kitchen was not affected. We had a nice quiet lunch, and Josh got him some mussels so he was a happy birthday boy.

When we got back my parents house to get the girls, Ellabelle had helped Oma bake a birthday cake for Josh. Ellabelle insisted it have strawberries on it. She then proceeded to pick off and eat every strawberry off the cake.

On Sunday, we went BW3s with my parents and Angie and Mike to celebrate Josh’s bday. The girls were awful as usual while out at a restaurant. However, they were both very happy to have a captive audience. Ellabelle ran back and forth around the table, and Mattie was unhappy because she wanted to run around too but was strapped into a high chair. Ellabelle threw a massive fit when we left because she was given a balloon by a table next to ours and she let it go almost as soon as she had it. She wanted another one and we were not about to ask the nice strangers for another so that mean the world was ending.
If you’re signed up for the Red Robin card, you get a free burger and so we went and got burgers for Josh’s birthday. We like to extend the birthdays around here. I’ve managed to stretch mine for a whole month before. Now, mind you, this was Monday. The first day back to work for me following my surgery as well as the first day of my “healthy lifestyle change.” I did not enjoy my salad for lunch and needed something fattening. Thankfully, I’ve been doing a lot better with the eating better and eating the right things when I do eat. That first day was rough though.

So, I came back to work and, while I was gone, I had received an invitation to my promotion ceremony. So I got to dress all nice and go to the Chief of Police’s staff meeting and he read a little thing about me and we took pictures and I got a certificate. It was all very exciting. Josh is jealous. He’s never been promoted so he’s never gotten to do this. He still makes more money than me so I’d rather have the cash then the certificate, but I get his point.

So I made it through my first week back fairly easily. I had a rough time with my incisions hurting, and I had to switch to yoga pants instead of work pants to help, but I pushed through. Martin Luther King Day was that next Monday. So, I took Ellabelle to see Moana in theaters. We went to one of those super fancy new theaters with the huge reclining leather chairs. She loved it and the icee and the movie.

She did super well during it. I thought she’d be a pain because this was my first movie with her and others who have taken her said she likes to talk and move around a lot, but she did great. Moana was absolutely adorable, and she loved it so much she’s getting the bluray for Valentine’s Day.
The next week ended in a down note – Donald Trump was inaugurated into the office of President. Hearing him referred to as president still makes my skin crawl every time. I’m still in denial about it, I guess. In an effort to help myself feel better about the world I’m raising two young girls in and to actually get out there and do something, I made Josh go to the local Women’s March.

He was reluctant at first, and not because he doesn’t support women’s rights. We got down there and the crowd was huge. It was amazing. Being surround by people who think like us and feel passionate about the same causes was something we needed. We live in a very conservative area and it’s so easy to feel lost and alone. Josh told me he was really glad I made him go. And we took the girls too. I wanted them to be a part of it even if they likely won’t remember it. Unfortunately, it looks it’s a fight they’ll be fighting along side me someday, but we have to start somewhere.

Ellabelle loved it because she thought she was in a parade.

After the march, I took Josh to his friends house, and he went off and had a guys night. So it was a girls night at the Hawkins House. We napped and hung out and made brownies and watched Lego Movie while we ate brownies.

We had a quiet morning the following day and then we went over to Oma and Opa’s house. Maisy had a puppy play date with her cousin Beanie. Maisy scared Beanie and chased her around the house at first, but eventually they both settled down. I don’t think they’ll be best buddies anytime soon, but at least they’ll be able to hang together in the future if necessary.

Josh and I both took our birthday holidays from work on the 27th. We literally slept all day since we were both so exhausted. We ran up to the Disney store though because I wanted to get Ellabelle’s Valentine’s Day gift because she wasn’t with us.
We all watched Big Hero 6 on the 28th. I’m not good at relaxing and sitting – especially for a movie. But I love my whole family being snuggled up on a couch. January’s was slow paced compared to December and even November. So I’m working hard on just being at home and being relaxed on weekend.

Ellabelle got her first library card. She was so excited. She picked out books for herself to check out, and she wants to go back to visit already. I’ve been trying to instill in my girls the love of reading, and so far so good.

Our month ended on a not so great note -Miss Ellabelle was sick. She had a bad cough and kept wanting to sleep on the couch which is way out of character. So Josh had to stay home with her. She’s doing better, but this crazy Ohio weather (mid-50s one day, snowing and 20s the next) is so hard on the girl’s sinuses anyways that it makes colds even worse.

My February is looking crazy on the calendar because there’s nothing planned. Sure, Valentine’s Day is in there, but my weekends are blank. I think I may be kinda happy about it. Like I said, I’m not good at doing nothing. So it’s a constant process to grow and slow down and just be. But I’m working on it. I want to be better. I want to learn to be more present. We spent most of the weekends in January at home. I was still healing, but it was nice to kinda hibernate. I love spending time with crazy girls. They keep things fun in the house even if they also keep it very loud and messy.

Brought to you by the letter “F”

Four. IMG_4242

How far we’ve come in 4 short years. It seems like it’s flown by and yet like you’ve been a part of our lives forever. There are more words than I have the time to say to describe the fascinating little person you are. Four years ago, you were ushered into this world in quite an over the top fashion – a 12 minute c-section is far from ordinary. Then for 2 hours you cleared your lungs but you didn’t make a peep. There’s an idea that you enter the world crying from your past life. I’ve said from the start that that means you’re a fresh little soul. Maybe that’s why everything seems like a learning experience with you. You barrel through life wanting to see and experience everything. You’re fast and opinioned and ready to take everything head on, and everyone better get out of your way.

You are my mini-me which means we butt heads – A LOT. It also means I understand you and the way your mind works. You are a true joy when you aren’t being a pain. You dance and giggle and chase bubbles and butterflies. You love to make your sister laugh and snuggle with me and your daddy. You are so smart and clever. You say little things that just make my heart smile. You are really just the most wonderful little person. I love the free spirit you continue to develop as you grow. IMG_0052

You are also extremely ornery and strong willed, and you make being a parent very, very hard sometimes. You fight and push, and I know that you will be able to harness and use these traits to your advantage someday, but for now, it makes our lives hard sometimes. Some days I wish I had a receipt so I could return you. Then, you lay on the couch and tell me about the pokemon you found and have stuck in your pocket or who your new Tsum Tsum is on your game, and I remember why I keep you around. You really are the gentlest soul inside a sometimes rugged exterior. I know all too well how it feels to have too many emotions to handle, and I’m sure it’s even harder when your four and can’t properly deal with them. I know that’s why you scream and cry and cause a scene in a grocery store. There’s just too much for you to deal with all at once. It will get easier. I promise. I’ve been there. IMG_4105

You are a true balancing act to deal with every single day. It also the greatest privilege to be your mommy. I love you and look forward to watching you and your mind grow as you learn and experience more of the world. I promise to protect you from all the evils in every way that I can, and to teach you love and compassion towards everyone. Be you. Be(You)tiful. I’m sure you’ll tire of hearing it, but thank you for picking me to be your mommy. It was what I was born to do. I wished and hoped and longed for my own baby, and I was lucky enough to get you. Thank you for being my dreams come true. Happy fourth birthday to my sweet baby bee. IMG_4262


Monster Birthday

So, I failed. I work really hard, like super hard, to make sure that the Mattie never feels like she’s missing out on anything just because she’s the second child. I also work, like at a job, that consumes a lot of my daily time, and I do all the mom stuff that has to be done as well. And things fall through the cracks. It sucks, and I hate it, but it’s just a fact. I fall really far behind on my posts here, but I wanted to make sure that Mattie got her 1st birthday post because Ellabelle got one. Well, I wrote one. I patted myself on the back because I found the time and I got it done. Yah! And then I never got around to posting it. Boo. So, I failed. But here it is a week later because it’s better late than never.

May 19, 2016

A year ago, I was scared. Actually, I was terrified. I was terrified of what May 19 was going to bring to our lives. I was terrified of how our family was going to be altered, how Ellabelle’s world was about to be changed. I was terrified I wouldn’t love her the same or be able to share my love. I was terrified of surgery and needles and that somehow I would end up reliving July 22. I was terrified that something would be wrong or a body part might not be the right place. I was terrified of the bright lights and cold table and the smell of burning flesh. I was terrified because they said there was an irregular heartbeat, and I had to lay here, looking anywhere but at the light overhead reflecting what the doctors were doing.

And then, I saw you. One of the nurses placed you in your daddy’s arms, and I saw your sweet little face, your “perfect round head” (according to the doctor), and your pink warm skin. And none of it mattered. None of the worries. All that mattered was that our lives had been empty and missing a vital piece that only Matilda Gayle could fill.

Since the day you got here, you have made our lives so much better, so much more joyful. You’ve always been so laid back, so happy. You warm the room with your smile and infectious personality. I loved your little bald head with your angel kiss on the back, and now I love your soft whispy baby hair. I’m still not sure what color it’s going to end up being. Some days it looks blonde. Some days brown. Some days red. You weren’t as good of a sleeper as your big sister so we took more adjusting to your schedule, but you finally got it down.

I’ve kept track of things throughout this first year that I never want to forget. That’s how it is. You do something so often that it’s just part of who you are, and the one day we realize it’s gone. You’ve already changed so much in just 12 months.

Things I already miss but never want to forget:

The way your voice used to get real low and soft when you were fighting sleep but were almost there.

The difference between your “feed me” cry and your “I want attention” cry

The way you used to stick out that little pouty lip of yours when anyone would accidentally bump you in your chair (usually by big sister’s doing) or when you were startled or when you were really, really hungry

The way you used to attack Ellabelle’s singing turtle as soon as we put you down on the changing table

The way you lifted your swaddled feet up in the air and slammed them down on the play n pack making a huge clang every night and then in the morning. We called them your fish flops.

The way you used to pull yourself up on your knees like you were gonna crawl and then plop down your belly to move forward.

And now, there are things I love that I know that in maybe a months time could be gone:

The way you sleep in a “heap” (as daddy calls it) with your butt in the air.

The way you suck on her upper lip (your old man face) or stick out your tongue for no reason.

The way you throw your head back and forth when you’re fighting sleep.

The way you scream when you see a bottle even if you’ve already been fed.

The way you wave whenever anyone around you says “Hi”.

The way you twist and flip your wrist whenever we sing “All the single babies”.

The way you makes the sweetest sound when you makes big yawns.

The way you refuses to let us put a pacifier in your mouth, but take it and do it yourself instead.

The way you crawl around your crib frantically when we put you in it at night.

The way you shake your head “No” if we do it to you first.

The little way you dance by holding your arms to your side and swing back and forth.

The way you insist on being fed anytime anyone else eating around.

Lately, you’ve earned the nickname Mischievous Mattie and you defend that title daily. You have this little grin you do when you get caught doing something you aren’t suppose to. You know you’re cute, and you use that to you advantage.

You adore your sister. She’s always loved you, but now that you’re on the move, she’s not a huge fan. I have a feeling she’ll move past this stage cause she is still so sweet to you. You follow her around the living room, watch her when she talks, and laugh big belly laughs at her silly antics. I look forward to watching your bond grow and strengthen as you both grow up.

There are so many little things I could sit and document and preserve forever, but what’s important is that you are you, and you make my heart so full and my life so wonderful just by being here. Simply looking at you sitting on the floor wearing just a diaper with your little pudgy Buddha belly hanging out makes me so indescribably happy. You were meant to be in our lives. You are a ray of sunshine.

Babies change so much in their first year, and here we are about to start year 2 with you. You’re crawling, standing with both hands on the floor, you babble like crazy, you love to eat, and you have two little teeth. You use a sippy cup at dinner, but refuse to take your morning milk from anything other than a bottle. You love Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse, mum mums, and stealing mommy’s shoes.

I want to thank you for picking me to be your mommy. Your sister may have made me a mom, but you’ve helped make me a better one. I have learned more about appreciating time because it doesn’t slow down. You’ve made my life better, and I plan on doing everything in my power to return the favor. I love you, Mattie GG. I hope you have a wonderful birthday, my little monster. 

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From May to the end of July, we are busy. Always. Like every day. It’s pretty nonstop. But August comes and things slow down, and it’s a nice welcome change. This year was no different. August came and went with little to report on. Oktoberfest slipped in there and that’s always fun, but it’s a pretty slow month compared to the 3 before it. Then September arrived. And it was crazy busy. More so than I expected. As previously reported, we went out for my birthday, we slipped in some pool visits before they closed it (try explaining to a 3 year old that its hot, but the pool closed all of a sudden), labor day weekend was busy with the park and the Reds game, but it just kept coming.

Not that being busy is bad. It’s not. Josh will tell you I don’t know how to relax, and that’s true. I like to have things planned and go and do, but that doesn’t mean I’m not exhausted at the end of the day too.

So, our September (from where we left off):

9/12 – Cincy Comicon

Josh volunteered in the morning, and the girls and I met him after. Ellabelle was dressed as the 11th doctor, and Mattie was a dalek (with her own whisk and plunger cause what’s a dalek without them?)

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We got some cool stuff and saw some awesome things. It’s always nice to be surrounded by your own (cough::nerds::cough) when normally people in Cincinnati aren’t the most welcoming of anything different.

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9/13 – Soccer with Mamaw, Papaw, and TrentIMG_9524 IMG_9522

9/18-9/19 – Mini-trip for my birthday

Josh surprised me with a trip to Northern Ohio for my birthday. We drove up and stayed in Port Clinton, OH for the night. IMG_9865

We spent Friday on Put-in-Bay, an island just off the shore of the mainland. You have to take a ferry to the island cause it’s the only way to get there. IMG_9908

Josh was so mesmerized by all the water. IMG_9948 IMG_9928 

He kept saying he thought all of Ohio looked like Cincinnati (metropolitan) or farmland. He had no idea there really was a beach in the state. The island was fun, but expensive. The only things we bought were all $1 on clearance. lol. Oh and drinks at the worlds longest bar. IMG_9910

We ate a restaurant back in Port Clinton for dinner called Crosswinds, and Josh is still talking about it. I got the rueben pizza, and it was ah-mazing! We’ve already copied the recipe here at home.

It was so good it deserves its own picture
It was so good it deserves its own picture

We also went and saw the Marblehead lighthouse before we left.  

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It was so beautiful up on the lake (even with the overcast). Josh has already said he can’t wait to go back.

It was so nice but so strange to be away from the girls. It was quiet, and we could talk to each other without being interrupted every other word, and we got to pick what we wanted to listen to on the radio! It was so nice.


But, as moms do, I missed them like crazy and was so happy to see them when we got home. It was nice to get away for the night and recharge. It was definitely needed.

9/20 – Soccer with Oma, Jean, Auntie Ang, Mike, and Lisa 


9/21 – Mattie’s 4 month check up

Oma took Ellabelle home with her after soccer on Sunday because I had to take Mattie to the doctor’s for her check up. She’s gained almost 3.5lbs and has grown over 2 inches. She looks chunky, but she’s in the 41 percentile for both height and weight so she’s proportionate. She got four shots and an oral vaccine, and she was not happy about any of it. 


After I picked up Ellabelle from Oma’s, I had to run to Hobby Lobby. I told her if she was good that she could pick out anything she wanted. She always begs for candy so I figured that’s what she’d pick. Honestly, I thought she wouldn’t be good. She was extremely well behaved (bribes do work sometimes, I guess) and picked out a christmas tree. I tried to convince her that she wanted candy or a toy or art supplies, but no. So I ran with it. I got her lights and ornaments too. She loves her “sparkle tree” (because its too early to have a christmas tree out) IMG_0104

9/23 – Playground day

I took the girls to the playground per Ellabelle’s request. I had never attempted this alone before, and it was as hard as I expected. I wore Mattie, and Ellabelle insisted on wearing her Elsa dress.

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She kept saying she had to see Elsa and Anna at the playground and wailed about it as we left. I can’t believe she remembers going to see them at a playground over a year before and have no idea how she even got it in her head that we were going to go see them that day!

July 2014 - How does she remember this?!
July 2014 – How does she remember this?!

9/26 – Max’s birthday party, Cincinnati Rollergirls game, and Josh’s guys night.

Max’s party was over in Northern Kentucky. It was a monster themed party so I dressed Ellabelle up as a witch and out Mattie in her monster onesie and tutu. Problem was it was so windy that Ellabelle’s hat kept flying off. IMG_0362IMG_0379

There was food and games and a playground (which was Ellabelle’s favorite part). IMG_0365 IMG_0428IMG_0371

We got to see people we don’t get the chance to see very often which was really nice. I wish there was more time to fit more outings with friends in, but with only one income and two kids to hull around now it’s just become harder and harder.

After that we met Lisa at her house and met her two little kittens she’s taking care of. Ellabelle was in love cause she loves animals. We then went to the CRG game. It wasn’t at their usual facility (the Cincinnati Gardens), but I think it was more fun at this place. IMG_0429IMG_0389

Josh left halfway through the first game to head to Indiana for his guys night. That left me with both girls, but luckily Lisa loves helping out with them. Ellabelle got bored which is typical of a three year old. So, Lisa found some cones and she played with them.  IMG_0406

Halftime came and they had a dance competition for moms with sons and dads with daughters so Ellabelle and I couldn’t enter. That didn’t stop Ellabelle though. She ran out into the middle of the track and shook it off! She came back to me when the music stopped, and when the started it again she was gone. She got cheers from the stands as she ran back out. Sailor Scary, one of the rollergirls, went out and danced with her. IMG_0415IMG_0408

After halftime, Ellabelle kept trying to run back out on to the track because “I play rollergirls, mommy!!” I had to keep a super close eye on her. Once the game was over, I let Ellabelle finally “play” on the track (aka run around in circles).

I got them home and in bed with no problems which was a small triumph since it was my first time hauling them in and putting them to bed alone.

9/27 – Soccer and Aunt Naoma’s birthday party

Every Sunday we fight with Ellabelle to keep working the whole hour of soccer practice. She gets tired and wants to just sit and watch. 


This practice was a full on battle. Josh got her to work for 30 mins, but then she came a laid down on the blanket I had out of Mattie. She was so tired from her no-nap busy day the day before that I didn’t blame her. IMG_0421

We had to be all the way in Germantown anyways so we left early. It’s a good thing we left early too because they ended the party an hour early so if we had stayed the whole time everyone might’ve been gone. Mattie got to meet her Great-Great Aunt. 12074849_10207813756091067_2054770987960855525_n

She was pretty cranky from her busy day the day before as well. So, it was ultimately a good thing that it ended early. We got to go home and rest before a busy week. IMG_0427

9/28 – Amy took a city test for Clerk Typist 3

Not much to report here. I took the test. Oma and Opa watched the girls. No results have been posted for it yet. IMG_0462IMG_0492

And now we’re into October (well into it, I’m afraid. I’ve been so behind on posting). We’ve been booked solid this month as well. I thought we might have a break to slow down before the madness of the holidays starts, but it looks like we’re gonna be busy until January at this point! I’ll update October’s madness at a later date, but here’s a little taste of the season to hold you over. IMG_9481

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

Super Bee is Three!

Dear Super Bee,

I can hardly believe that today marks the third anniversary of your birth. It’s been an amazing ride so far – exhausting but amazing. You have grown into the most inquisitive and funny little person. You keep us all so entertained and constantly on our toes. 11760094_10100982091088890_4911672204150809867_n

You can play by yourself so well and then be climbing all over us. You love wrestling with daddy, and watching “Girls” with mommy. You’re speaking so much more clearly and can tell us exactly what you want for the most part. You love shoes and hats and dresses. You are obsessed with the twinkle lights that come on in your room every day, and you have to have your fan on whenever you’re in bed. You love to go look at toys at Walmart/Target, and you know immediately that the blue oval sign means that we’re at the grocery store and that you have make sure we know that you “need” to walk.

There is so much I see of myself in you. Your love of books. Your need to do things your way. Your need to do things on your schedule. The ridiculous crinkle nerdy face you make. The look you give when someone tells you not to do something and you know you’re going to do it anyways. But all of those things are still so uniquely you. You are such a lively little character. From singing and dancing in public and putting on a show for anyone who will watch to throwing a fit when we drive past Oma and Opa’s exit on the highway and not stopping to yelling, “I happy!” and jumping up and down when you are, well, really happy about something.

Every day comes with new challenges as you get bigger and braver and smarter. You are stubborn and ornery at all the wrong times. It drives me crazy in the moment, but I know it’ll make you unstoppable when you’re older. You are so curious about the world. You love to mimic us in every way. Just the other day you told me that you had to cook in your kitchen and showed me the toy croissant in your frying pan. After we read your bedtime story to you, you read it to us, trying to repeat each page that was just read to you. You told me just today that you need to take your bus to school and that you need books for school. It amazes me the things you are able to link together.

As a mom, I feel like it’s my job to teach you all kinds of things. You can identify almost all of the letters of the alphabet and can count to 10. What amazes me though is that you are constantly teaching me new things. Like patience. Not because you show me patience, but because I need more and more of it when dealing with your stubbornness on a daily basis. You’ve also been teaching me to be carefree. Like this past weekend and today, things didn’t go as planned for your birthday, and you didn’t even notice. You just just roll with the punches and make the best out of every situation. There’s fun no matter what the circumstances, and I hope that you stay that way forever. I am so not like that. I like order and I like plans and I like things to go the way I want. But motherhood (and life) isn’t like that. Things change in a matter of seconds from chasing bubbles to a scrapped knee. I don’t handle it as well as I’d like, but I watch you with your casual shoulder shrug and a soft mumble of gibberish and you’re off to the next adventure. I will continue to work on being looser in that respect. I never want to be a reason you hold back from doing something fun just because it’s challenging for me.

Something that amazes me on a daily basis is the how you’ve shown me a love that I didn’t honestly expect to see from you. At least not in the way and amount you’ve given. You became a big sister this year, and your love for your MattieG is amazing. You are a wild child – running around and singing at the top of your lungs – but you are so sweet and gentle with her. You wait for things you want while we feed her. You are always so concerned about getting her her pacifier. You tuck her in and give her kisses. She’s the first person you look for in the morning. It is so much more than I could’ve ever hoped and I hope you’re relationship with her only continues down this path.

You made me a mom, kid. And my gratitude to you for that will never waiver. Not even when I’m 90 and you’re 66. I will still be thanking you for picking me to be your momma. You changed everything and made the world so much brighter. I just know you’ll keep spreading your personal sunshine with everyone you meet, and I am so lucky I get to call you mine.

I love you, my sweet EllieBee. 11403010_10100981807966270_3565912143956527127_n

So Long 26 and The Tale of the Pink Cast

So, my birthday post never actually came to fruition. I had plans to write one, of course, but it never actually came together into an actual post. So, now, here it is 20 days after the fact, and I’m attempting to at least make amends to age 26 for neglecting it. I guess part of the problem has been that I feel like I should have something great to say. I mean, 365 days have come and gone, shouldn’t I have something profound to say about it? I’ve come to hate my birthday for the most part because it seems to never be very important to anyone besides me. It’s the end of summer and it kinda gets swallowed up by labor day weekend. Every year, I get excited and then sad and then pissed off about my birthday. Maybe I’ll learn to just ignore it all together at some point.

I will say this about getting a year older, I definitely feel older now than I did on September 1st (my last day of being 26). That has more to do with my child taking years off my life with her first broken bone and subsequent body cast. She fell chasing a kitten at the babysitters and caused a spiral break in her left femur. It was the worst experience in my life thus far. You don’t know what pain is until you have to sit and listen to your child scream in agony as they unnecessarily twist her broken leg so they can take xrays of the rest of her body because they figured we had purposely hurt her. I literally broke down and cried in the corner of the xray room. And, as expected, she had not a single mark on her body except for that one broken bone.

Let me just break it down for you:

11:30am – get call from babysitters that EB fell and won’t get up and cries when you touch her leg.

12:00pm – Pick up baby. She screams and cries the whole way to hospital because of her carseat and the fact that we didn’t know she had a broken leg.

12:30-3:00pm – We sit and wait. Occasionally, we have guests. We are grilled by the doctor, the nurses, and a social worker. Some other nurses heard the story of how she broke her leg and somehow got that she fell off the changing table and broke it. (BTW our babysitter doesn’t even have a changing for that very reason). Social work grills us and then goes to talk to the doctor. She comes back and asks about where we work. When she finds out I work for the Family and Adult unit of Job and Family Services alongside the Children Services department and that Josh works for the Police Department, she laughed. Literally, chuckled. Finally, she tells us the doctor says these things can happen and she clears us. She tells us that we won’t have to deal with social services at the downtown hospital. 10696371_10100676668752700_7702550190766671266_n

3:30pm – We are transported to the ambulance to move EB to the downtown hospital. They made me watch Dora the Explorer the whole way even though EB was asleep. It was the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae from hell.

4:30pm – We arrive. We check in and around 5pm we are moved to the room she’ll be having her cast put on in.

5:00-8:30pm – What’s about to happen to EB is explained to us. They use a splint and special cast to hold her leg til it heals instead of inserting a metal rod into her leg. They explain the drugs they are going to use on her and let us pick out a color for her cast. I ask her if she wants pink or purple and she tells me she wants pink. Again, we are grilled about our story. The nurses seem sympathetic. The doctors seem skeptical. A very rude doctor from the ER comes in and tells us that social services is going to come talk to us. I told him we were cleared in Liberty and she was going to send notice down to the social worker. He rudely tells me that it doesn’t matter. This is just how things are done. Luckily, he’s wrong and we don’t see him or social worker again.

Somewhere around 8pm they take her to have full body xrays. They decided to do it without putting her cast on first (which they usual do to avoid causing pain to the child, and, yes, they actually told us this) and twist her poor little broken leg all around to get shots. They do this to make sure there’s no other breaks or signs of abuse. They made it very clear they didn’t believe our story. She came back 100% clear except for her one broken bone. I was tired, hungry, and extremely angry at this point.

8:30pm – The nurse finally manages to get all the doctors in one place to put the cast on her. It takes a bit because they don’t usually do colored casts in the ER. The guy who put on her cast knows a guy in supplies and gets the pink sent up for her.

9:00pm – She’s out cold and covered in a pink cast. But my baby is out of pain and I can snuggle her without her screaming and swatting at me. 10653676_10100676925298580_772091766708672198_n

10:00pm – She’s taken to her room and I try to wake her up since she hasn’t eaten since breakfast. She’s not having any of it.

It was an extremely long night with her waking up at least once an hour screaming and crying .She hated the heart monitor they put on her finger and threw it across the room at one point making her machine go crazy. She ate a little bit in the morning and we watched frozen 8 times before we left the hospital the next day. 10696360_10100677025402970_389244676626885536_n

Now, it’s a matter of trying to handle her attitude about being held down and trying to keep her happy the best we can. I didn’t think it was possible to miss my destructive toddler, but I do. So very much. She’s so upset because she can’t get full skin to skin contact and no one can hold her. She’s constantly held and loved on and for now she’s got three inches of plaster between her and us. She had a week 1 check up last Thursday. She went from a 27 degree angle break on the 9/11 to 17 degree on 9/18 which is good progress. Hoping for only 4 weeks with the cast. I so hope she can go on hayrides and trick or treating without the pink monster still wrapped around her. 10412001_10100682081979550_1587062076672302892_n

EBs broken leg isn’t really justice to my 26th year either. It’s just been the consuming force in our lives as of late. My 26th year wasn’t really all that exciting. Don’t get me wrong. It was a good year to us, but there was nothing spectacular to look back on. Ok, that might not be necessarily true. I did get my big girl job in February. And I bought my first car in July. And Ellabelle finally started walking and talking this year. So, I guess there were some big things that happened. It’s hard to think back about them. My brain is in a fog and my body aches all the time right now. I feel like I’m literally pushing through from one day to the next. I will be happy when our lives go back to normal.

I’m going to just let 26 go silently into the night. I’m ready to move on and embrace 27. I’m excited because I love the number 3. I mean, technically, it’s a counting compulsion that’s part of my OCD, but, regardless, three is my number and the multiples of it. So, much to my surprise, I found out that 27 is considered a perfect square. That’s 3x3x3 or 33 to those not well versed in or perhaps repressing math like I try to do. It’s a year of three 3s. If that’s not a sign for good things to come, my OCD doesn’t know what is. I’m also even more excited for fun things up ahead for us. Like our first family vacation, just the three of us, and EB being old enough to be excited about Christmas. 27 is going to be good. I can tell.

And, now, I present, my 30 before 30 list. I started this a while ago, and I’ve already managed to cross two things off!

  1. Go berry picking
  2. Go sledding with Ellabelle
  3. Skip a rock (2 hops)
  4. Fly a kite on the beach
  5. Put my toes in the Pacific
  6. Have another baby
  7. Move
  8. Buy a new car
  9. Visit the GWTW museum in GA
  10. Sit front row for a show
  11. Pet a penguin
  12. Be a size 8
  13. Go on a cruise
  14. See the Declaration of Independence
  15. Take Ellabelle fishing with my dad
  16. Shoot a gun
  17. get another tattoo
  18. Buy a house
  19. Pay off a bill
  20. Become a soccer mom
  21. Finish a scrapbook
  22. Finish EBs baby quilt
  23. Visit three new states
  24. Be vegetarian for a whole week
  25. Finish my story
  26. Take a camping trip
  27. Ride an elephant
  28. Knitting and donate 50 scarves to the homeless
  29. Play in the rain
  30. Swim with dolphins

Three years from 30. I haven’t decided if I’m afraid of 30 yet or not. I think I’m just going to focus on my perfect square for now.

Yo! Ellabelle’s two!

I went back and forth on if a 2nd birthday party was necessary for Ellabelle. I kept being told that the 2nd birthday isn’t important enough for a whole party. I agreed for a moment and decided to do something special with just the three of us. After looking into ideas, I realized what I wanted to do (stay at one of those indoor waterpark resorts) was going to cost as much as a party would. And then I asked myself, “Do I think two is important enough for a party?” The answer in my head was a resounding “Yes!” She’s still an only child so we have the time, energy, and money to do another birthday party. And when I look back on her birthday and reminisce about my tiny baby and how far we come, I have to just be thankful we are both here to celebrate a 2nd birthday. Plus, she’s my baby so if I want to through her a second then I’m gonna do it. Like Josh will tell you, I do what I want.

So once I had made up my mind to do a birthday party, I knew immediately what the theme was going to be: Yo Gabba Gabba. 10463745_10100629062895220_8096906739365271840_o

There really wasn’t any other option. Up until Mother’s Days (which is when I got Frozen on blu-ray), it was the only thing she’d watch. Now, it’s Gabba and Frozen. So, I started planning. I love planning things. It means I get to craft. And craft I did. I’ve seen every Gabba episode as many times as she has so I knew every little detail that had to be made to be included in her big Gabbabration! 10572263_10100629060390240_9089317800456349_o

The tiny yucky germs and Super Soapy Pal in the bathroom reminding people to wash their hands (because that’s what Super Soapy Pal does!) 10514439_10100629062491030_2230568345789437036_o

The flying toast (Josh’s personal favorite. He even requested to have him after the party to put on his locker at work). 10553849_10100629060385250_3618171323616034556_o

The whole Gabba gang in banner form 10443225_10100629060395230_4874973589414458502_o

She was obsessed with the banner and kept trying the steal it for the two months it sat at our house before the party.

And of course, mommy and daddy had to get in the Gabba spirit! 10245551_10100629077166620_3678528003833062292_n(1)

For her invitations, I knew I was going to make DJ Lance’s boombox. I looked everywhere for gray card stock that was big enough to be folded and couldn’t find it anywhere. So, I had to get super crafty. Enter $1 gray spray paint from Walmart. I got 12×12 white card stock and spray painted both sides of it to make it boombox gray. 3 cans of spray paint and one gray foot later, they looked pretty darn good.

I then had to measure and cut the 12×12 sheets into 3 4×12 strips. After those were all done I traced and cut out red circles for the speakers and little tiny colored rectangles to make the buttons. I then hot glues all four colors together and then put them all on the cardstock. It was quite a process, but I was really happy with how they turned out. I had to keep them hidden because every time EB would see one she’d scream and steal it. 10309209_10100572613610040_5113658188167127734_n

We had her two year pictures taken at Cox Arboritum in Miamisburg, OH at the end of May. I always do them early so I can have the picture for her invitations and party. She had an adorable outfit to wear for the family pictures we wanted, and, of course, she wasn’t having anything to do with the pictures. So, I finally gave up and changed her into her Yo Gabba Gabba outfit and pulled out the Gabba items I had brought. She lost her mind and was suddenly much more corporative with us.

I took the banner and found the perfect place to hang it.

After a little mommy magic, here’s what the inside of the invite ended up looking like. imgsvr.ashx2

Not to toot my own horn (ok maybe a little tooting cause, hey, I worked hard on them), but I’m very proud of them.

I also made signs shaped like the Gabba logo and hung them up all over the place. 10465262_10100629061852310_1750587686032609934_o
As well as labeled the food. 10470883_10100629061847320_5766308935165548744_o 10480982_10100629074921120_6880038183140474031_n

And I made Muno pretzels because he’s her fravorite. 10557284_10100627677361840_1433868899449810643_n

And what’s a Gabba party without some Dazzleberry Lemonade? 10519692_10100629061832350_6833512264533987340_o

I got the cupcakes from Kroger and made the stand myself. When I was showing Josh the boxes I was going to use to make the cupcake stand he kinda made a weird face at me. I asked him what was wrong and his response? “You do too much.” Like that’s a bad thing! I wish he’d embrace my need to go overboard instead of trying to fight it. And you know what, I’m really glad I put in the effort cause I think it looked amazing. 10295423_10100629060779460_1579643056708230498_o

I got regular decorations at Party City and made sure every inch of Oma and Opa’s house had been Gabbafied. A girl only turns 2 once. 1965477_10100629061837340_2532077465061462764_o 10494921_10100629060774470_2494508798152817354_o

The party went well. I made way too much food, but you can never really anticipate how many people are going to actually show up. And, EB had fun, and that’s all that really mattered. She was very happy and loved the attention. 10568857_10100629075589780_4854521169466762115_n

Olaf selfie!
Olaf selfie!

10570333_10100629076463030_1713546980200418964_n 10382178_10100629076487980_5270230491848570329_n 15633_10100629075879200_6525650623915764968_n10501821_10100629076597760_8126685808712528805_n

She’s very blessed to have so many people who love her. I know she had a great time and I’m glad I decided to go ahead and do it. Years from now, when I look back, I’ll remember how happy it made her to be surrounded by so much Gabba and so many people who laughed all her goofiness.10406807_10100629076707540_7583352158532180786_n 10487426_10100629076917120_7037311751274202740_n

And needless to say, she partied hard and passed out harder.10371682_10100629077001950_4517260868599519595_n

Happy Birthday (again) to my wonderful Baby Bee! We love you and think you’re AWESOME! imgsvr.ashx