Category Archives: Maryellen

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July everyone! Since we have a lack of parades and fireworks this year, I thought the least I could do to get in the holiday spirit was to get Maryellen and Molly dressed in good ol’ red, white and blue.

Today we are celebrating by watching Hamilton on Disney Plus (and thinking of mega-fan Heather at Dollightful Dolls), ordering sub sandwiches, and maybe watching Eat the Nation with Padma Lakshmi which is an interesting show that looks at all of the food traditions that come from American immigrants. How are you celebrating today?

During the time at home during the pandemic I have kept Molly on my dresser, and usually Kit, in outfits that match the seasons. Every since I got Molly restrung I have been enjoying having her out. I might spring a few more blog posts on you this summer… Brianna (who will be a sophomore!!) will lend me her photo skills.

Thinking of you all fondly and hoping you are finding a balance of safety and connection in your life. ūüíó

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 . . .

Summer Surprise

Maryellen couldn’t believe how hot it was on the last day of school. ¬†The windows on the school bus were open but it made no difference at all.

She gave her bus driver a hug goodbye and bounded up the driveway.  The front hallway was already piled with backpacks and school folders dropped hastily by her older siblings.

“Summer is finally here,” she said to no one in particular.

She could see Mother through the windows of the Florida room busy with the younger kids outside.  She decided to get out of her sticky dress first.

Maryellen was irked to see someone had left their stuff on her bed.  But wait, there was a note!

Dear Maryellen,

I thought these would be pretty on you.  Happy Summer!

Love, Mom

Maryellen’s heart swelled with joy to know that her mom had bought something special just for her!

She admired the nubby, dotted cotton.  The babydoll pajamas were so fresh and crisp she was sure they would make her feel 10 degrees cooler!

It was so thrilling to have something brand-new.  In her big family, pajamas always were hand-me-downs, and usually had worn, pilled seats and replaced elastic waistbands at that.

She laid down for a few moments to keep the joy of her special pajamas to herself for just a while longer.


I received these pajamas for Mother’s Day. ¬†Maryellen has been wearing them for a while but it is hot today and this story came to me. ¬†It was partially inspired by one of my own experiences. ¬†When I came home from college once, my mom had new flannel sheets on my bed with a pretty floral pattern. ¬†I’ve never forgotten that and still have the pillowcase even though the sheets have long since been loved into oblivion. ¬†I hope in the photo below you can see the detail of the fabric.

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!

Maryellen’s New Friends

Maryellen was looking forward to some quiet time around the house on Sunday when most of the girls would be doing homework at friends’ houses or at sports practice. ¬†She grabbed a snack, a good book, and joined Tutu in bed.

Not long after, Addy came in.

“Hey Maryellen, I was just looking for my Algebra book. . . .” Addy’s voice trailed off as her eyes realized the situation before her.

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“Are you eating tortilla chips in Isabelle’s bed?! And those are Julie’s slippers!”

Crunch Crunch. ¬†“Don’t worry about it Addy. ¬†The fairies will take care of it.”

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Maryellen brushed all the shards of tortilla chips right onto the floor.

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“What are you talking about Maryellen?! You’re making a huge mess and Isabelle will kill you if her sheets smell like Taco Bell!”

“My book. ¬†It says I’m helping fairies.”

Addy didn’t know whether to bite and ask what Maryellen was reading or whether to walk away and pretend she never saw any of it.

“You’re reading about fairies?” Addy couldn’t resist.

“I’m reading Betty Bib’s Fairy Handbook. ¬†She is THE expert on all things fairy.” ¬†Addy’s simple question had opened the fairy floodgates and Maryellen kept on talking.

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“It says here that it is important to support fairy populations. ¬†In fact, ‘thank-you-note fairies’ and ‘handkerchief fairies’ are almost extinct! ¬†Let me read this to you:

Foraging fairies are very useful to have around. ¬†It’s their job to sweep up forgotten crumbs, which are just the right size for a fairy snack and make a good base for a fairy trifle. ¬†So don’t worry if you drop a few morsels here and there, because you are actually helping to keep up fairy numbers.

“Here, I’ll show you a domestic fairy. ¬†She’s so sweet, Addy!”

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“Yeah, I hope there is some kind of ‘Angry Sister Protector Fairy’ because you are sure going to need one when Isabelle gets home!” ¬†Addy grabbed her book and left.

Maryellen shrugged her shoulders. ¬†Anyone doing Algebra on a Sunday couldn’t possibly understand the importance of fairies. ¬†She went back to reading her book.

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Ellie’s Christmas Dress

By Maryellen

I am so lucky!  This year Jen’s Mother-in-Law gave me a new dress to wear to church on Christmas Eve.  We have a special connection because she also grew up with many siblings and understands what life is like when you get hand-me-downs and have to take care of annoying younger siblings.

img_8221Everything about my outfit is really special, from the fuzzy “angora” sweater . . .

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to my red patent leather shoes.  I do have to be careful not to put my thumbs through the sweater when I put in on.  This might be a sweater for older girls.

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We have many headbands for dolls, but this one actually fits my head!  It has a piece of elastic connecting the ends of the ribbon so I can put it on without messing up my hair.

This dress is almost exactly the same color as the paint I used to make our front door “the one and only” red door on the block!

Julie and I are ready to leave for church.  I hope your Christmas was merry!

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Thanksgiving: The Day After

Twas the day after Thanksgiving, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for Maryellen . . . who was on her second draft of a Christmas wish list.

img_8083All the big girls had gone out for 50% off on jeggings at Old Navy, so it was just Maryellen, Tutu, and some Christmas music on the the ol’ record player.

Christmas lists were something Maryellen took very seriously.  In such a big family, Christmas  was a rare opportunity to get something new.

The back door slammed shut and in walked Josefina.

img_8084“Josie, I thought you went to the mall.¬† What’s in the paper bag?”

“I went to the grocery store.¬† It was really quiet there!¬† I’m just in the mood for something different to eat.¬† I’ve had all the turkey I can take!”

“Come join me in the kitchen if you want to help.”

img_8085Maryellen jumped at the opportunity to spend time alone with Josefina.

She called out, “Hey!¬† wait for me!”

Josefina was unpacking the groceries.

img_8090“Looks like Grace went a little overboard on the pastries,” Josefina said.¬† “There’s barely any room for food!”

img_8091“What are we making, Josefina?¬† I want to help!¬† Why is there a tomato on the counter?¬† Are you making salads?”

Maryellen’s questions made Josefina a bit annoyed, but she let it slide.

“I’m making something Italian that serves a crowd – lasagna!¬† You can help by chopping some tomatoes while I finish unpacking groceries,” said Josefina.

img_8089Maryellen was in awe of the way Josefina knew how to make lasagna without even using a recipe.  She vowed to try to spend more time in the kitchen so she could be as good as Josie some day.

Josefina showed Maryellen how to layer the noodles, sauce, and cheese.  While it baked in the oven, Maryellen set the table as fancy as she could for her special meal with Josefina.

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Josefina was famous for her garlic bread, which was more butter than bread.

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Finally the golden, cheesy lasagna came out of the oven, and it was just Maryellen and Josefina enjoying the quiet in the house and eating something that was definitely not turkey!

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How was your Thanksgiving?  Josefina appears in the story for my Mother-in-Law, who is a Josefina fan.  The lasagna set was my purchase from the Toys r Us AG launch a few weeks ago.  It was kind of a frivolous purchase, but look at it!  No regrets.

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Maryellen’s Extraordinary Christmas

Maryellen’s Christmas short film was released today on Amazon (free for those with Amazon Prime) and follows on the heels of Melody’s short film which was released last month.

We watched the film in two sittings during Thanksgiving, to the chagrin of Mr. Jen who was trying to watch the Detroit Lions’ game. ¬†Sorry, but holidays and American Girl just go together so well!

I thought the movie reflected the charm of Maryellen’s personality as shown in the books by Valerie¬†Tripp… only one terrific character is missing, and that is Scooter! The movie more heavily develops the polio/Jonas Salk storyline. ¬†Davey Fenstermacher, Maryellen’s best neighborhood friend who happens to be a boy, is a major character in the movie, which is a refreshing change of pace for AG films.

Those who sew or enjoy vintage fashions will want to see the movie. ¬†A number of the American Girl Maryellen outfits are shown, including the meet outfit, school outfit, pajamas and cherries play outfit. ¬†Other dresses, which aren’t part of her collection, are great candidates to show up on Etsy.

The movie is appropriate for all ages… and a fun choice if you have family staying with you this weekend.

Now if only my Christmas catalog would arrive!

Maryellen Larkin