My girls are growing up fast. Faster than I could have ever imagined back when they were learning to crawl backwards and walk then talk. Everything used to feel like it took an eternity. Now, everything is so fast. Now, I’m the one saying, “Wait up! Stop this train. I want to get off.”
The girls are no longer toddlers and preschoolers but elementary aged girls headed straight for that awkward in-between age. You know that time where kids look like puppies with overgrown paws? You know they are going to eventually grow into themselves but they still have that dang baby face that you just want to smother them with kisses. That is until they roll their eyes at you. I swear I spend a lot of time talking about rolling eyeballs on this blog lately. My mom used to wish a daughter “just like” me on me when I was a teen. Now, I get it. I’ll have two.
Anyways, in a lot of ways they are growing up. They can do a lot of stuff on their own. Heck, I even let them play outside in the yard with no supervision these days. (why yes, I am a recovering helicopter mom.) They have their own phones and they can have real conversations about the world but, in many ways, they are still my babies.
I love seeing them develop into the kind of people they are going to be someday. I see interests and issues that they love and support. They are thinkers and doers and that makes me proud. One loves to write and the other draw. One loves to dance and the other do gymnastics. They are similar but so different. Their personalities are really emerging at this age and it’s a beautiful thing to watch. I feel like one day I will be able to say, I was there when.
One minute they are making music.lys and the next they are playing with American Girl dolls. One minute they are telling me, “No mom, I can do it myself.” And the next, they are coming in hot for mommy time. Hey, I’ll take it. I’m not complaining. I know these moments are fleeting. Yes, even the eye rolls. I’m sure one day, I will even miss those.
So, I really appreciate it when there are toys that they can play with and love but at the same time love and learn from. It’s rare that you find that because toys these days are either strictly for flexing the brain or completely pointless other than wasting your money and maybe giving your kids a few hours of entertainment. Yes, I realize those smiles are priceless.
I’ve always been a fan of dolls. Maybe because I’m a girl. Maybe because I have girls or maybe I just like the idea of a toy that teaches a child to be nurturing and compassionate; a “toy” that teaches your child to care for something else. It’s even more so when it is relateable to the child. Shared physical traits or, in the case of American Girl dolls which have their own backstory, shared interests and books to elaborate on that kinship.
This year’s American Girl of the Year is Gabriela McBride. Gabriela (the doll) is a quiet and creative girl growing up in a family of artists. In her story, Gabriela struggles with stuttering, but uses the power of poetry to find her voice and gain the confidence to make a difference in her community. I can relate to this because I was a clutterer and writing has always been my way of expressing myself.
The first book Gabriela, hits shelves in January and tells the story of a quiet and creative girl growing up in a family of artists. Gabriela inherited a love of the arts from her parents, especially her mother, but spoken word poetry is becoming her own passion. Although Gabriela often finds herself in a battle with her own words because of her stuttering, she discovers that her poetry, filled with wit and honesty, helps her speech flow more easily and gives her the confidence to find her voice to help save her beloved community arts center from being torn down.
As many of you know, I have my own Gabi who also happens to be a creative. She dances and loves to scribble on her drawing pad or in her journal and when she’s not doing that, she is making music.lys. You see, my Gabi is also a quiet girl who is an old soul. She is very observant and loves anything artistic and animals, more than just about anything else. She’s quite shy when around new people but through music.ly, she has opened up by being able to express herself without someone looking directly at her and she has been blossoming. Her music.lys are pretty hilarious. I just love seeing her enjoy herself and double bonus when she and her sister do them together because that means they are not bickering, as they so often do lately.
The 18”Gabriela doll has curly dark-brown hair and warm brown eyes. The first thing my daughters said when they saw her was, “Look mama, she looks like you!” It’s true, we both have some pretty awesome curly hair and warm chocolate eyes. Only, I wish I was a dancer.
My Gabi fell in love with Gabriela McBride the moment she saw her. She loves that Gabriela is musically inclined and has cool accessories that she can use further personalize her experience to Gabriela like the performance case and the creative studio.
The performance case has everything Gabriela needs to set a performance or mix music. The case includes a laptop with a retractable cord for her drum pad and microphone, as well as 3 reversible and interchangeable screens. The drum pad can be plugged into the computer for sound mixing and comes with drumsticks. The case also includes a stylish pair of stylish rhinestone headphones so she can tune everybody out and prepare for a performance.
Gabriela loves nothing more than to dance, create and dream in the studio at her community center, much like my Gabriella and her beloved ballet studio. The creative studio comes with a metal barre that’s perfect for practicing moves from her ballet board and a reversible backdrop with the interior and exterior of the studio. It also comes with a water bottle, because every dancer needs to stay hydrated and a soft yellow towel because every dancer knows after a hard class, you sweat. Your tiny dancer or future YouTube, music.ly or funimate star will adore these add-ons for Gabriela.
Additional Gabriela products and books will be available starting this spring and, for the first time ever, the Girl of the Year collection will be available for a full 12 months and beyond!
To connect both boys and girls with Gabby’s inspiring message, American Girl is partnering with Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and leader in comprehensive educational materials, to create and distribute Express Yourself, a custom curriculum program that teaches 3rd-5th grade students how to use poetry as a tool for self-expression. The free materials will be available on www.scholastic.com starting March 1, 2017, and include teacher lessons and corresponding classroom activities, a poetry poster, plus parent tips and learning ideas to do at home. In addition, to celebrate National Poetry Month, the program also features a poetry contest for students that will run throughout the month of April. The Express Yourself program will encourage all students to find their creative voices and share their own personal stories, while building confidence along the way.
To learn more about Gabriela and the Girl of the Year™ line, go to americangirl.com, Facebook at facebook.com/americangirl, Twitter at twitter.com/american_girl, Pinterest at pinterest.com/agofficial, and American Girl’s Instagram page at instagram.com/americangirlbrand.
I was provided a doll for review by American Girl and they are letting me give one away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment on who your favorite American Girl doll is and why below in the comments section and enter via the rafflecopter entry.