Category Archives: Fiction

It’s All About the Rods and Cones

Julie Eclipse

“Hey Isabelle!  How was tennis practice?”

“Great!  Um, Julie … why are you sitting in the driveway by yourself?”

Isabelle Tennis Ag

“I’m waiting for the eclipse!  But don’t worry, I have sunscreen on.”

“Julie!  What about your eyes?  Those Target sunglasses don’t stand a chance against the sun.  Girl, protect your rods and cones!  Come inside with me and we’ll see what Josefina is up to.”

Josefina Nanea

“Josefina, I found Julie in the driveway trying to view the eclipse with Our Generation sunglasses on!  The safe viewing glasses have been sold out for weeks!”

“Ah, not a good idea.  I’m too busy in here to bother with the moon and the sun.  The new Nanea book arrived!  I can’t put it down.”

Josefina Necklace

“I totally forgot about Nanea!” said Isabelle.  “We have to hop on the American Girl website and study her collection!”

“That sounds much safer that watching the eclipse,” said Josefina.  “AG release party in Isabelle’s room in 5 minutes!”


What are your plans today?

 

 

 

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Surprise for Rebecca

Rrrrring.   Rrrrring.  Rebecca picked up the phone and heard an excited Lanie on the other end.

“Beckie?  It’s Lanie.  I have the BEST idea!  Can you set the garden table and put a summer dress on?  I’ll be home in 15 minutes.”

Rebecca was curious about Lanie’s plans, and jumped into action immediately.  She slipped on a purple chiffon dress and gathered up some place settings.

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She poured a pink lemonade and put the tea kettle on for Lanie, who was a nature lover and favored Celestial Seasonings teas with pretty names like Lavender Lemon Lane.  

Everything had been great since joining the family in July, but lately Rebecca was starting to feel worried about a new school.  When she wasn’t worried about the new school, she was worried she was wasting the last few weeks of school being worried! It felt good to be pouring tea and getting ready for… whatever it was Lanie had up her sleeve.

Rebecca Garden Table

Lanie came rushing into the backyard with a big bakery box.  “Beckie, I’m here!!”

Doll Garden Table

“Wow, Lanie! You’re all dressed up too.  What’s in the big box?  Is it someone’s birthday?”

“Nope!  I heard something on the radio today and it gave me an idea… Are you ready to see what I brought home?”

Doll Tea Party

“Ta-da!  It’s a pie!” exclaimed Lanie.

“Wow, it looks delicious.  What kind is it?  And what made you think about buying a pie?”

“It’s National Lemon Meringue Pie Day!  Why don’t you do the honors Beckie and slice it up.”

Queens Treasures Lemon Pie

“I never knew there was such a day,” said Rebecca while she eased a fluffy piece out of the tin.

Lanie said, “It seems like there is a special day for everything these days, but I’m not complaining when it involves pie!  Did you brew a tea for me?  Thank you!”

“Oh, I was happy to do it.  I have to confess that it was a nice distraction.  I’m feeling worried about school starting in September. . .

“I’m sorry to hear that you were worrying, Beckie.  I know you’ll feel better once school starts, but in the meanwhile, maybe we could load up our backpacks with supplies and ask the school secretary if we can find your locker and I can show you around.  I moved in last year in February, and I know it is hard to be new.”

“I already feel so much better just talking to you… and I haven’t even tried the pie yet!”

Lemon Pie Day

Jen says... I recently purchased the pie from The Queen’s Treasures.  Little did I know that it would be just the right prop for National Lemon Meringue Pie Day!  I like the picture of Rebecca serving the pie and the happy feeling that a piece of pie is imminent.

When I took the pictures I didn’t know what story I would write.  Somehow when I hear Lanie’s voice in my head she sounds like Peppermint Patty from the Peanuts.  Our pastor preached this week about asking for help when you are facing difficult times, and I guess that message was on my mind.

Will you be seeking out a piece of lemon meringue today?  Or even making one from scratch?

 

Bookworm Gardens

Brianna and I have reached the part of summer where accelerate our fun before we head back to school.  One item on our summer bucket list was to take a trip to Bookworm Gardens  in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Bookworm Gardens has child-friendly plantings themed to match well-loved children’s books.  We brought Rebecca and Addy along on our mini road-trip.

Brianna noticed right away that the charming map’s artist was Graef – we are pretty sure it is Renee Graef, illustrator for many American Girl classics like Kirsten’s books.  She used to live in the area.

We started our tour near a lazy stream reminiscent of Jen’s favorite children’s book The Wind in the Willows.

Addy Rebecca

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats – Wind in the Willows

Addy is wearing the new Little House on the Prairie dress and apron from The Queen’s Treasures.  She heard there might be something related to Laura and Mary and dressed the part.

Addy Beckie Wagon

“The snug log house looked just as it always had. It did not seem to know they were going away.” Little House in the Big Woods

The whole time we were taking pictures we were trying to evade YMCA camps on a field trip.  In the wagon picture above, Brianna is under the seat ready to whisk the dolls away before the Y kids are unleashed!  Doll photography is a pursuit for the brave and decisive.

Rebecca Japan

This is our cry, this is our prayer: peace in the world – Sadako Sasako (Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes)

A Japanese garden honors several books, including Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.  This book about Hiroshima would be an excellent  companion to Nanea’s books.

Addy Winnie Pooh

“Nearly eleven o’clock,” said Pooh happily. “You’re just in time for a little smackerel of something.”

One of the neat things to see at Bookworm Gardens is a real “Magic School Bus”!  It is a retired school bus with metal insect legs and ladybug wings attached to the roof.  We dared not enter because there were little boys in it opening and closing the bus doors fevently.  I could see an accident about to happen . . . the same feeling I get in the Trader Joe’s parking lot.

We moved on to calmer places. . .

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“Twitch” is about a city mouse who moves to the country and builds his home in an oak tree.  The author, Judi Fors, was concerned that kids seemed to mostly play by re-enacting tv shows and video games, so she had a tiny door and mailbox attached to a tree at the school where she worked.  The story of Twitch was born from this experience.

Rebecca Bike

The Tin Forest by Helen Ward

If you go, we recommend arriving after 1:00, because the “afternoon nap” kids start clearing out around then.

Have you read any of the books featured in the photos above?

 

 

 

Maryellen’s Sewing Worries

Excerpted from Maryellen’s second book ‘Taking Off’ by Valerie Tripp (no spoilers).  Slight changes have been made for clarity. Kit plays Maryellen’s friend Karen, and Dakota plays Maryellen’s Italian friend Angela.  Maryellen wants to have a movie star-themed birthday and wear her bridesmaid dress to make her look like Debbie Reynolds.

“I can’t wait to see your bridesmaid dress,” said Karen. “I bet it’s gorgeous.  What does it look like?”

“Well,” said Maryellen. “It will be gorgeous, when it’s finished.  Mom’s making it.”

“Oh,” said the girls.  They hesitated for a teeny, tiny second.  “Good.”

Maryellen knew what her friends were thinking, because she was thinking the same thing, too.  They’d all had unfortunate experiences with their mothers making dresses as part of do-it-yourself crazes.  Maryellen knew that her friends were too polite to say so, but dresses made by mothers did not always turn out very well.

Angela was the first one to think of something optimistic to say.  “Since your mom is making it, your dress will fit you perfectly,” she said.

Maryellen grinned gratefully.  “I certainly hope so,” she said.  “Or else the movie star I’ll look like at my birthday party will be the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz!”


Have you had any sewing mishaps?  In high school my mom and I tried to sew a skirt for me out of a lightweight navy polka dot fabric.  The skirt turned out so small we turned it into a scarf!  I’m blaming the pattern because my mom is terrific at sewing and crafts.

You’ll have to read Maryellen’s books to find out more about her dress . . .

New Names for Cute Bunnies

Kit and Maryellen were anxiously waiting for the Easter egg hunt to begin.  Kit had on a brand new dress and Maryellen was reluctantly making do with her sundress and mint green sweater.  It was the first time it was warm enough to even wear a sleeveless dress on Easter!

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The older girls weren’t ready yet, but Isabelle gave her phone to Kit to help them pass the time.

“Maryellen, here is a chart to help you determine your ‘Easter Bunny Name’!  Guess what, my name would be Kindheart Carrot Top!” said Kit.

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“Oh neat!  What would my name be?” inquired Maryellen, studying the chart.

“Ummm… Mighty Carrot Top!  That fits you Maryellen because of your red hair!”

“It’s cute, but I wish we had different last names,” said Maryellen.

Kit rolled her eyes and changed the subject. “Jen’s name would be Jumpy Jelly Bean!”

“Oh, I like that name a lot,” said Maryellen.

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“After the egg hunt let’s go home and make a list of the whole family’s names,”  said Kit.  “Maybe we could even print them in a special Easter edition of our newspaper!”

Maryellen and Kit were thrilled that they had a great idea for play time once the Easter excitement dwindled down.  Until then, there were plenty of eggs to hunt for.

What is your Easter Bunny Name?  We wish all who celebrate a blessed Easter!

Lanie and Maryellen ‘Hop to It’

It was a warm spring day, really the first day it was nice enough to be outside without a jacket.  Lanie and Maryellen got outside to clear the dead leaves from around the hens and chicks plants and sedum.  

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It felt so good to be outside again and see the plants come back to life after a snowy winter.  Lanie was doing most of the working and Maryellen was doing most of the talking.

“Lanie, did you see that?  The Easter bunny just ran under that bush!”

“Maryellen, what are you talking about now?!” said Lanie, wiping her brow.

“I SAID the Easter bunny ran under the bush.  Look!”

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Lanie humored Maryellen and turned around.

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A small, scared-looking brown rabbit was indeed hiding under an evergreen.

“Maryellen, I doubt that is an Easter bunny, but it does look like someone’s pet.  It doesn’t look like the grey rabbits that live in our area.  Maybe it is tame and lost?  Why don’t you quietly go into the house and bring some carrots out.  We can see if he’s hungry.”

Maryellen came back with the carrots and laid them peacefully a few feet away from the bunny.

“Look!” said Maryellen.  “He’s hungry!”

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The girls knew this was definitely a tame rabbit that wouldn’t be likely to survive on its own.  They cleared out their gardening basket, and sat down, unmoving, on their blanket.

“Stay real still, Maryellen, and he may hop over to us.”

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“He’s coming!” whispered Maryellen, trying talk without moving her lips.

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“I just know this is going to be the best Easter ever,” said Maryellen.  “We have our very own Easter bunny!”

21st Century disclaimer… you know not to try to capture animals outside, right?  Luckily Lanie and Maryellen can’t get rabies.  Julie was not available to be in this story with “Nutmeg” because she doesn’t want to take off her basketball uniform.  I am grateful for the warm weather.  It’s generating so many blog post ideas.  I really have missed being able to do photo stories outside.  The lighting is never right inside!

Over It

We got the new American Girl catalog the other day…as always Brianna and I honored our pact to look at it together first.  No peeking!  Somewhere between then and now I got over my frustration with American Girl’s changes to the dolls, clothing, packaging, and PermaPanties.

Not that I embrace those changes.  Not at all.

I think what I realized is that I’m not a collector.  Now, some may say that anyone who has received/bought three dolls since turning 40 is most definitely a collector, but the prospect of buying AG items in the years to come isn’t really where my fun comes from.

Where my interests fit in to the AG world is in the stories – both the ones written by AG authors, and especially the ones I dream up for the blog.  If I’ve got my Julie, Kit and Addy (Ok, and Brianna’s Maryellen whom I have sort of stolen from her), I have what I need to create stories.  I cherish the outfits I do have, especially some of the Christmas and historical outfits from my mom and my mother-in-law, and I hope that there will be some other quality items to add in the future (Julie’s basketball outfit, I’m talkin’ to you!)

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A favorite story from the past “Save the Eagles, Maybe?”

The other thing I appreciate about my “un-collection” is my friendship with all of you.  Whether you are a tween, teen, or way grown-up, we are bucking the idea that dolls are only for little girls.  We all deserve play time!

Whatever Mattel does with American Girl I won’t let it steal my joy.

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