We are a Disney Princess family. In the beginning when Ella was first introduced to Disney, namely the princesses, I felt we had a good balance of what I’d like to call 2 categories: Princess and Not Princess. Ella really enjoyed playing with her trainset, reading all types of books (Thomas the Train, Huggle Buggle, etc.) and playing with her Princess Barbies. Lately she’s been very into Disney characters, namely the princesses. Does that mean Cinderella ate my baby? I think not.

It’s our job to support who our children are at any given point and instill in them their morals, values and ethics. I would feel sorry for your child if you tried to push him/her into something they weren’t. It’s like forcing them to play soccer if they really wanted to go to ballet class. One of my best friends has a son is the same age as Ella. He happens to enjoy playing with Barbies (dolls), puts on chapstick/lipgloss, seems halfway interested in playing dress-up, loves to cook with his kitchen, etc. My friend lets him, as she should because he enjoys doing those particular things. Is anyone judging her? Nope.

I think trying to make your child something he/she is not is more damaging than letting them play with a doll that happens to have measurements that you could probably only obtain by getting plastic surgery. It’s up to us, the parents of these young impressionable beings to teach them about what’s real and what’s not. Give them self confidence to be who they are and stop being so anti-“everything”. I’ve heard that Disney is actually talking about doing a bald Barbie for children who are going thru Chemo treatments, etc. I suppose that’s terrible also…How about American Girl dolls? These dolls have real life stories. They’re normal in size. I let Ella play with hers and she loves it. She happens to have Rebecca, the Russian Jew, by the way. Do you really think Ella knows the difference between the American Girl doll with the real life story or the skinny Barbie. Hell no.

We need to stop over analyzing absolutely everything and just let kids be kids. As long as we instill in them morals and do everything in moderation, who cares? Freaking chill out.

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Princess EllaElla has had a sense of style that just comes naturally to her.  From the time she was little she’s had input picking out her outfits.  She usually opts to wear a princess costume to school every single day.  I let her because it’s how she expresses herself.  Her reasoning for why she wears them every day when you ask her is “because I love it.”  Either way, she knows exactly what she likes and dislikes and isn’t afraid to let me know!  Being able to pick out her own clothes gives her a sense of control over her individuality and personal style, which I think is important to instill in her.  However, I’ve started to wonder where I should draw the line and step in.

Case in point…

Ella has been talking about getting her ears pierced for a while now.  Sure, I think she’d look adorable with her ears pierced, but is it really necessary to poke holes in her ears when she’s 3 years old just because she’s asking for it? I certainly don’t want to hinder her personal expression and uniqueness but I’m having trouble knowing the “right” thing to do with this particular request of hers.  What would YOU do?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday Season!  The McGinnis clan celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas, which this year, over lapped.  It was a very hectic week but one filled with love and laughter!

Ultrasound -- baby girlThings have been pretty intense the past couple of months for my family and I.  When it rains it pours is what I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older and I shouldn’t expect anything less.  Our house was on the market, unsuccessfully, I should add, we bought a new house, we’re in the process of trying to rent our old house out all during the Holiday Season, all with a 3 year old who doesn’t handle change well.  Oh yeah, I left one huge thing out…I’m pregnant!  This minor detail has made all the above even more intense and emotional than normal.

So, now that the cat is out of the bag I can breathe a sigh of relief.  It feels more real now that people know.  I’m 20 weeks along and starting to feel good again.  For those of you who don’t know me or didn’t keep up with me during my first pregnancy, let me tell you that I hated every second of every minute of being pregnant.  I gained 50 pounds, felt terrible from beginning to end.  This pregnancy for me the second time around has been a totally different experience.  Physically and emotionally. I’m half way thru and have only gained 8 pounds!  Sure, I’ve been exhausted, my sciatica has been wicked, I’ve been nauseous, etc.  but I just feel better about being pregnant in general.  Which is a welcome change compared to last time.  I don’t know if it’s because I know what to expect and feel more confident about my mothering capabilities or if I feel more prepared and don’t need anything but diapers, but either way, I’m ready for May 13, 2012 when our second little bundle of joy is expected to arrive!  Every night we read Ella stories before she goes to bed and at times when Ella has her head on my chest and we’re snuggling reading Pinkalicious or one of her gazillion princess books, our new little baby will kick.  I can’t help but smile thinking in a short time we’ll be reading to 2 beautiful little girls and our family will be complete.  Oh yeah, there’s the second cat out of the bag…we’re having another girl!

There are officially no more cats in bags:)

A friend of mine posts blogs on a website for moms.  She recently sent out a Facebook note asking parents what types of presents they get their kids, ages 0-2.

This got me thinking.  Other than a couple of Barbies and a handful of other things, Jeff and I haven’t gotten Ella gifts for holidays or birthdays.  We would much rather put some extra money into her college savings account or build her stock portfolio.  How fantastic a gift would it be if Ella could go to college and come out DEBT FREE or be able to have a large down payment for a new home?  The reality is, Ella has so much stuff that she doesn’t even know what she has!  Baskets and baskets of toys go unnoticed on a daily basis.  She plays with the same few toys repeatedly and is happy as a little lamb, plus, it’s less toys for the Toy Fairy to take away when Ella decides she doesn’t want to clean up.

I think there is so much emphasis on gifts for holidays and birthdays that it overwhelms kids in that age group, at least it does Ella.  Why do we feel the need to be so excessive with gifts on a consistent basis?  In 20 years when Ella is, hopefully, out of college, has no college loans to pay off and possibly a nice safety net, I hope she’ll be able to appreciate the lack of gifts as a child and see the value in what we chose to give her instead… I know I did.

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It was time.  Ella turned three and swimming lessons were lingering in the back of our minds.  Ella has always loved the water, mainly playing by the steps, kicking, splashing and making her Barbie’s swim, etc.  Over the summer while we were at the beach I forced her down a water slide probably one too many times (mainly because I was having so much fun)… but that’s the extent of us forcing Ella to do anything she’s been very uncomfortable with.  So we signed her up for swim lessons, got thrown on a waiting list and finally heard back.  Her lessons started November 12th and I must come clean and say I was incredibly anxious at the thought of my slow- to-warm child going into a new situation completely on her own.  I gave the swim school a heads up that she would probably scream her face off but they said they were prepared for that.  Whew!

So, after talking it up with Ella for over a week we finally arrive at the swim school.  It was a huge gymnasium type of room where there’s a glass wall surrounding the pool so you can see your child acting like Ariel from The Little Mermaid.  I definitely thought we’d have to go home because if she saw us, she’d freak out and not follow the teachers instructions.  So, Jeff took Ella into the swimming area and tried to get Ella comfortable with her swim teacher, Maddie.   The oddest thing happened, though. Ella got right into the pool and never looked back!  I watched as Jeff stood there waiting for Ella to cry out to him to rescue her.  I finally had to signal Jeff to come back and sit with me.   I watched in awe as Ella immediately took to her teacher and started playing in the water.  Everything Maddie asked her to do Ella did without hesitation.  Dunk her head under water.  Sure!  Swim using water weights.  Why not?!  Wear a bucket on her head.  Abso-freaking-lutely!

The week after her first class, all Ella did was speak of her swim lessons and Maddie.  So this last Saturday, which was her second class, Ella walked into class, got right in the water and Maddie would push her thru the water, completely submerged!  Ella would lift her face out of the water beaming with pride that she’d done it.  She’d look at us and we’d clap and give thumbs up.

Needless to say, thus far swimming lessons have been a tremendous success and we only anticipate them getting better.  Jeff has already begun dreaming of waking up with Ella and going to swim practice at 5 am before school each day.  I think we have a few years before we need to worry about that, though…

When I was pregnant with Ella I took an infant/child CPR course thru one of our hospitals.  That was over 3 years ago.  I knew I was due for a refresher course but just couldn’t find the time to take the class, it’d been lingering on my to-do list for a while.  I’m so angry with myself that I put it off because this past Sunday, those skills would have come in handy.

We’d just gotten home from my mother-in-law’s birthday party.  We weren’t home more than 10 seconds and all of a sudden I hear Ella make a tiny mouse-like shriek.  I run over thinking one of our dogs nipped her and realized after she was pawing at her mouth that she was choking…on a marble.  She’s not crying, not breathing and I pick her up, try to give her the Heimlich maneuver and as hard as I tried, the marble wouldn’t come out.  I pass her to Jeff and start going towards the phone to dial 911 when I hear the marble hit the floor and Ella start to cry.

Thank God that marble came out.  It felt like an eternity.  I wasn’t able to get it out and still replay in my head what, if anything, I did wrong.  I had two questions I’m still asking myself: 1) What if Jeff hadn’t been home and I couldn’t get the marble out and, 2) Why in the world did I put off my refresher CPR course?

So, here is my PSA…please don’t wait until an emergency occurs to realize you need to take your refresher CPR course.  Check out your local hospitals and take your course NOW!  You’ll find me at Presbyterian Hospital taking mine in a few weeks.

I was perusing Pinterest and found a link,.  It’s a list of rules written by a Dad towards other Dad’s who have daughters.  I was curious, what kind of “rules are there?  I read each rule and loved every word of every sentence I read.  It’s made me reflect on my childhood and the childhood I strive to give my daughter, and what our “rules” would be for experiencing life with our daughter.

It’s no secret that my dad wasn’t around, ever, really.  My mom raised my sister and I beautifully.  She did her best to make us feel like we weren’t “missing out” on having a father figure.  I sometimes can’t help but wonder what it’d be like to have that daddy-daughter relationship.  Now that I have a daughter, I find myself taking a step back to allow Ella and her Daddy to form the bond that I know will forever shape Ella.  Sadly, I will never really understand what that relationship is like.  But I know for Ella and Jeff, it’s something incredibly special.

I absolutely think that mothers and daughters have a bond instantly.  I think Daddy’s and daughters have to form one over time.  I’ve always wanted to give Jeff and Ella time to create a bond only the two of them will share.  I don’t know if it’s the “right” thing to do, but in my heart, I feel it is.  Watching Ella and Jeff play together melts my heart and brings a tear to my eye.  It’s beautiful watching the two of them enjoy the smallest of things together; walking the dogs, Jeff succumbing to Ella’s request of painting their toenails, playing with sidewalk chalk or having dance parties in our den.  Things that I think are small, but I know have a tremendous impact on Ella…and Jeff.  Don’t get me wrong, Ella and I do plenty together; we laugh and play often and Jeff and I make family time a priority.  However, Ella doesn’t look up at me like I’m some sort of super-hero, like she does Jeff, and I’m okay with that.

The other day, Ella and a few of my family members went to a pumpkin patch, sans Jeff as he had to work at the last-minute.  Ella rode a horse, which was a huge deal!  She was so proud of herself and we talked about it all day.  When we finally got home and I was tucking Ella in for her nap, she looked at me and said “Daddy will be so proud I rode the horse.”  I was shocked that she could already feel and articulate that her Daddy would be proud of her.  It was a beautiful moment for me to experience.  I don’t recall my Dad ever telling me he was proud of me, much less, me ever stating my Dad would be proud of me for doing something.  So, for Ella to say this, at 3 years old was amazing and powerful.  All the doubt I had in my mind about our parenting skills dissipated and made me realize that we’re on the right track.  My hope for Ella is to always feel like we’re proud of her.  No matter how “small” her accomplishment.  I think that’s the #1 rule on our list, for now.