Monthly Archives: August 2015

Falling for Maryellen

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon

I’m smitten.  Brianna finished Maryellen’s first book “The One and Only” the first day it was released.  It took me two days to finish it because I had to savor it just a little… and make dinner now and again.

I will not spoil the book for you because you simply must read it!  My first reading of the samples that Amazon posted in their “Look Inside” feature gave me the impression that this might be a “lite” book for kids.  I was very wrong.

Maryellen is a 1950s girl struggling to find her identity in a family of 6 kids.  In her efforts to be “the one and only Maryellen” she makes some poorly thought out choices.  Think Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy.  I truly did “LOL” during the book!  The comedic moments are accompanied by themes of being unique vs being part of a family, making our individual dreams come true vs sharing our joy with others, and seeing people as individuals vs excluding them based on groups they belong to.  This book is more Molly than Addy or Caroline.  So far Maryellen is not risking her life to intervene in the history of the day.  Her journey in the first book is inward.

Debbie Reynolds. Read the book and learn why I pinned this photo.

Debbie Reynolds. Read the book and learn why I pinned this photo.

Brianna thinks I can be too critical, but my complaints are that Dad isn’t a very developed character — at least so far.  I’m not even sure what his occupation is.  We don’t get to know him in the same was we get to know Caroline’s father in her books.  My other complaint is that the loss of small drawings in the historical books is very sad.  I made myself a Pinterest board as I read, looking up details like “Rosemary Clooney’s gown in White Christmas.”  The story is so much richer when these details have an accompanying image.  A lot of kids may not even have a reference for “coffee-cake” or “round suitcase”…. not to mention “cold cream.”  I hope that the historical dolls won’t lose their appeal as new readers discover their stories without the artwork we all associate with the original books.

Surprisingly, this is a Christmas story in Daytona!  It would make a wonderful gift during the holiday season, or could be read with a loved one who grew up in Maryellen’s time period.  Multi-generation book club?  Absolutely!

I found my heart warmed as I uncovered the deeper significance behind the clothing that is available for the doll.

The Maryellen doll may or may not be on your “wishlist” but don’t miss an opportunity to get to know her as a character.  I hope to hear your thoughts after you’ve read the book too!  No spoilers please.





Reaching Out with Dolls

Friends, all summer I have been meaning to write about a special time Brianna and I had together.  My Grandma (Brianna’s Great-Grandma) is in Assisted Living.  Every time we visit, we make a point of bringing one of our dolls along.  My Grandma always enjoys having one of our girls riding on her scooter with her, and it’s a must to take the doll to the dining room where they are a source of many smiles.

Grandma and Grace on the Move!

Grandma and Grace on the Move!

Our church recently had a service day and I noticed many members went to the Lutheran Home to sing, play instruments and such.  It gave me the idea to take our dolls out to share our passion with women who may not have dolls as a part of their life anymore.

noexif_IMG_5979_privateI contacted my Grandma’s Assisted Living center and worked with the Occupational Therapy department to book a time slot.  My Grandma was thrilled!  We wanted to talk about the historical dolls, but first we needed more historicals!  Two neighbors were extremely trusting and gracious to let us borrow their PC Nellie and Samantha dolls.  (At that time we didn’t have Caroline and Kit.)  Getting all these girls into their historical outfits took some effort!  We brought Grace in a hospital gown so we could talk about the AG Doll Hospital.

See you when we get there!

See you when we get there!

We wrote a script and kept it pretty basic … just enough to learn about the doll’s time in history and some of the unique challenges each character overcomes.  We also talked about Pleasant Rowland and her vision in creating the doll line.  Our greater purpose was to provide the sense of touching a doll, seeing a doll, and recalling dolls in the residents’ own lives.

Seniors and DollsWe were slotted against the local Senior Choir… and I am happy to say we held our own in attendance, thank you very much!  A half-hour before our presentation we already had a front row forming!  My mom came, too, so this was a 4-generation initiative.  She helped transport some ladies.  We lined up our dolls on a table.  Isabelle came along too… we wanted enough dolls to go around.  The Precious Moments doll was brought by one of the residents to share at our “doll show.”

Version 2I wish I could show you the photos of the smiles on the ladies’ faces!  Here is a resident enjoying Samantha’s amazing hair.  If you saw the rest of the photo it would warm your heart to see the BIG SMILE!  When Brianna talked, I walked a doll around.  Then we switched spots.  Having a microphone was very important to making this a success.

Version 2

Touching Samantha’s Thick Hair

One of the highlights of the afternoon was giving the attendees time to talk about the dolls in their lives.  We heard stories of doll’s heads coming off, dolls whose name would change every time their brother had a new girlfriend, and one woman shared that she had a custom Scandinavian outfit sewn for a Barbie doll.  That’s some doll love!

I have since learned that in many countries, dolls are a well-researched therapy aid — especially for memory care patients.  Some studies found that Alzheimer’s disease patients were better able to eat in the dining facility if they had their doll to care for at the same time.  This effect was noted even in people who never had children.  Stuffed animals did not have the same results.

My view is that whether you are 3 or 103, there is a basic human need to care for other beings.  During some life stages that is not possible, but a doll is a way to express this instinct.  I well remember Brianna lining up stuffed animals at age 2 or 3 and giving them each their bottle.  For older adults, days can be long and even TV and reading can be a challenge for failing hearing and vision.  A doll is always there as a friend.

We have requests to continue our outreach at other senior facilities, and we hope to give another program before the year ends.  My Grandma is already lobbying for us to come back!  You know I get as excited about the latest American Girl release as the next doll fan, but I am grateful we have found a way to give a deeper meaning to our acquisitions.








Amazon, Portal into AG Future?

Lately Amazon’s website seems like the best place to decipher what American Girl has in store for us. Heather over at Dollightful Dolls mentioned in a comment to me that Amazon has a new Beforever 2016 book listed to be published on JANUARY 1 2016!!? You can visit the link here.  Clearly this would be the story for the new African-American doll that AG promised on their Facebook feed for 2016.  The author of the new book also wrote the Cecile books and Addy’s Journey book.

You have to think this is some sort of mistake… but I was able to pre-order the book and plan to keep checking up on this.  Could Lea Clark and BF2016 arrive at the same time?  Hard to believe… possible?

Meanwhile… Maryellen appears to not only be getting a Journey book, but also a mystery on March 1, 2016 for a total of 4 books.  The author of the mystery also wrote many Rebecca’s books.

Maryellen takes a break from practicing for the big “Rock Around the Clock” holiday dance to go to the beach with her friend Davy. While playing in the waves, they find a barnacle-encrusted ring buried in the sand. They imagine that it’s lost treasure from a sunken ship. But why do other people seem desperate to get the ring?

If you haven’t already done so, visit the Doll Diaries website to have an opportunity to win Maryellen!

Now I am turning you over to Brianna… Hi! It’s Brianna, I have a little update myself. The other day while shopping with my Grandma at Barnes & Noble I stumbled upon the Maryellen Mini Doll! Barnes & Noble had started selling Maryellen Books and Mini Dolls before the release date, which is tomorrow! Mini Maryellen is kind of pricey at $25. I took a good look at the Mini Doll and I saw that American Girl had a done an amazing job on Mini Maryellen. Some of the Mini Dolls don’t have the best faces but Mini Maryellen’s face is very detailed and well done!

Back to Jen…. As always, the links above are a courtesy to you and I do not receive any reimbursement from Amazon.

Get a good night’s sleep… Maryellen will be waiting for you in the morning!


GOTY 2016… Brazil, Here We Come!

It’s official–American Girl’s 2016 Girl of the Year is headed to Brazil.

Girls will love hiking through the rainforest and visiting beautiful Brazilian beaches with the 2016 Girl of the Year! This inspiring series of adventure stories includes three books.

A link to the three box set on Amazon

The temporary titles on Amazon are
GOTY Dives In
GOTY Leads the Way
GOTY and Camila… This appears to be the third book, and a mystery?

For spring break, GOTY 2016 has invited her friend Camila to St. Louis for a stateside adventure. They find a stray kitten and make a mysterious discovery while visiting a grand but crumbling mansion. GOTY 2016 is determined to uncover the secrets of her discovery, but in her search for clues she forgets to be a good host to Camila. And when GOTY 2016’s best friend, Abby, becomes fast friends with Camila, GOTY 2016 feels a little left out. Can she find a way to reconnect with her friends — and solve the mystery, too?

Author is Lisa Yee, of the Kanani books (and an Ivy book). St Louis, looks like you will be getting an AG shoutout next year!

The mini doll is also listed on Amazon, but alas, no photo yet! It appears from the mini doll image leaks that she has light blue eyes like Caroline.

Any possibility we see a Brazilian doll (presumably Camila) to go with Lea 2016 GOTY? Look out Tutu and Inkpot, I sense a new cat coming to store shelves in 2016!

Review of Maryellen TV Console App

imageHello everyone! It’s Brianna here, and today I have a review on Maryellen’s TV Console App. This app came out before Maryellen was released strangely enough.  Enjoy the post everyone!


  • The app it self is free for everyone in the app store, which is really nice for people who don’t want to spend money on an app.
  • It gives you some previews of Maryellen’s items in the 2 videos American Girl made. [The Seaside Diner looks really great.]
  • The videos you make on the app can transfer over easily to Maryellen’s toy TV Set which is the coolest thing ever, I personally think.
  • AG makes the app so 1950’s appropriate, with the TV only being in black and white and the background music is so 1950’s.
  • AG makes it easy to make a video of your own dolls in the app, which is great because I’ve played apps that are really complicated.
Instructions for using with toy TV

Instructions for using with toy TV


  • It takes awhile for the videos to load if you made a  video that’s kind of long, which I do most of the time.
  • When you’re finished making the video it’s just so easy to push the wrong button and have the video you made deleted without any heads up beforehand. This is really a pain when you made a long video.

This app is one of the best that American Girl has made. It still has a few things AG could fix but if you take time to think about it, almost every app does in some way.  I hope you can download this app someday. It’s very entertaining and fun! Bye for now.

This game is rated ages 4+ and appears to require iPad 2nd generation and up.

Maryellen and her dog Scooter

Maryellen and her dog Scooter



Isabelle Sews a Bag and Mends a Fence

Isabelle had been thinking for a few days about how she could make her own truly unique bookbag.  Like a lot of creative people, these were the sort of thoughts that kept her awake at night and got her out of bed in the morning.  On a rare afternoon when Julie had basketball practice and the rest of the girls were at the pool, Isabelle started her project.

First, she had to move Tutu off the bed.  She didn’t feel too badly because Tutu was spoiled!


She enjoyed the solitude of her bedroom and got her sewing kit out.

noexif_IMG_6260_privatenoexif_IMG_6261_privateShe had some cream canvas to use up, so she cut out some basic squares and straps.  She probably had enough fabric to make a few bags, come to think of it.

noexif_IMG_6262_privateShe sewed the bags by hand.  A sewing machine would help, but she pretended she was back in the 1800s sewing beautiful garments by hand.

Isabelle sews a dance bagThey came together pretty easily!  She grabbed some of the macarons Grace had made for dessert, spread newspaper on the floor, and got to work with her fabric markers.

Jen's Mom made these from clay!!

Jen’s Mom made these from clay!!


Dance Eternally!

Dance Eternally!

Julie came bounding in and she thought the bag was the coolest!  Soon Julie was making her own gym bag.


Isabelle told Julie about Saige’s fancy messenger bag.  Saige had been a little TOO proud, but on the other hand, Isabelle hadn’t really made an attempt to share in Saige’s enthusiasm.  Julie suggested they could make a tote bag for Saige and her riding gear, so they got to work.  In a family this large, the girls knew you had to patch things up quickly!  A special bag seemed like the perfect way to smooth things over, and getting creative helped Isabelle forget about the tension over the fancy backpack.

Bags purchased at Michaels and Brianna and I used fabric markers to make personalized bags.  We had 5 bags and more than 5 girls, so hopefully some won’t mind sharing?  Brianna made Isabelle’s skirt with Grandma.  Thanks to Isabelle for reminding us about forgiveness.

The Tale of the Doodle Backpack

I want to take a brief break from the backpack drama between Isabelle and Saige to tell you about our trip to Chicago and American Girl Place.

Store Window

Store Window

We had no wishlist in mind when we stopped at AGP, other than Brianna wanted to “see” the doodle backpack.  Could not find it anywhere, so we asked at Customer Service.  The gals there were very nice, but they didn’t seem to have the capability to look in their inventory and tell us whether the backpack was there or not.  The store is so huge it would be easy to miss!  Chalk this up to AGs continuing tech woes.

Rather than go find the item, the clerks just rang up Middleton so we could order it with no shipping charge.  While they were trying to wrangle the phone over to my side of the counter, there were wanna-be Isabelles lining up behind me to tour the Chicago ballet.  Meanwhile, a steady stream of other people started coming up to the desk.  It was like a MASH unit!  First an “Addy” with no arms and her hair… well, it was painful to see.  While I am reciting my credit card for all to hear (twice no less) the clerks have to open another service window to take more incoming wounded dolls.  Brianna later said, “Did you see Molly???” And I said, “THAT WAS MOLLY????”

You knew I would work in a plug for Julie!

You knew I would work in a plug for Julie!

Luckily for you, reader, the Doodle Backpack is currently a PWP (purchase with purchase) for $14. and it is probably sitting right at the register waiting for you. We paid $28.00.

Here is what comes inside:

World's cutest composition book

World’s cutest composition book


Pocket folder, ruler, and pencil box. The folder has alphabet stickers to personalize

noexif_IMG_6242 (1)_private

Inside folder and pencil box. Why yes, those are tiny pencils that say “American Girl”!

So, Brianna played a good hand at AG and scored the backpack.  I enjoyed saying farewell to this special girl and her collection.




Saige Stirs the Pot

Isabelle and Ruby were resting on the patio trying to stay cool.  Isabelle said, “I think this is about my third smoothie this afternoon!” Ruby replied, “It is going to be even hotter tomorrow!”


noexif_IMG_6245_privateSuddenly the screen door slammed.

noexif_IMG_6247_privateIsabelle saw Saige coming over.  What on earth was Saige up to now?


“Saige, it’s 94 degrees out!  Why are you wearing a sweater and suede boots?”

Saige said, “Back to school… do I look good?  Brianna went to Chicago and bought me this fashionable messenger bag.”

Ruby could tell that drama was about to start percolating.

Saige whipped around and showed off her new bag.

noexif_IMG_6250_privateSaige continued, “This bag is currently being shown for fall in the American Girl catalog.  I bet no one else at our school will even have one!  Wait till you see all the great supplies that came inside…”

noexif_IMG_6249_privateIsabelle interrupted her, “It’s really nice!  I am making my own school bag this year.  I like to make a one-of-a-kind statement.”  In the back of her mind, Isabelle was wondering how she would pull off making a school bag on her sewing machine.

“Well, you guys stay cool,” said Saige.  “I’m going to go work on my forms to register for school!”

To be continued….



Rummage Treasures – AG Trading Cards

Here we are back again with another installment of… Rummage Treasures!

This is a ring binder for American Girl Trading Cards from the Pleasant Company era.  It has a shiny coating to keep it from falling apart.


We got this at the same rummage where we got Lindsey’s fancy photograph.  Inside the binder are tabs for Samantha, Addy, Kirsten, Felicity and Molly.  We have about 10 trading cards for each girl.


Molly’s page

Each card features the original PC artwork and the backside has a fact or quiz about the character.  Here is Kirsten and Renee Graef’s beautiful artwork.


noexif_IMG_6178_privateWe got all of the items at this rummage for about $3.00 – it was the end of the day and these treasures were buried in heaps of books.  They were just thrilled the items were going home with someone who would appreciate them.

A final look at the pretty Samantha card…

American Girl trading card

Casting Call for Julie and Maryellen!

MIDDLETON, Wis., Aug. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — American Girl is enlisting the help of girls and the creative crowdsourcing platform Tongal to bring its inspiring BeForever historical characters to life in a whole new way. From August 14 to August 24, girls, ages 8 to 14, are invited to participate in a nationwide casting call to star in a short film about fan-favorite Julie Albright from the 1970s—or one about American Girl’s newest historical character from the 1950s, Maryellen Larkin, set to debut on August 27, 2015.

To participate in the casting call, girls and their parents can visit to register and submit audition videos. Girls can choose to read for either the Maryellen or Julie characters (or both) from the provided scripts, and casting videos should be no longer than three minutes. Girls who best embody the spirit of Maryellen and Julie will move on to a public voting phase, starting August 31, where fans can vote online for their favorite video finalists. The two winning girls will each receive a cash prize of $10,000, as well as a trip to film the movie. The 15-minute short films are being developed – from screenplays to casting to production – by the Tongal creative community and shown on American Girl’s social channels and website. For more information and official rules, visit


Julie short movie!!!!  Woo-hoo!  I think I’m too old to audition ;(

American Girl Julie