Tag Archives: dolls

Fabulous Fridays: My favorite American Girls

For those not “into” doll collecting, the American Girl Company has announced that it is launching it’s BeForever line this fall and bringing back the retired Samantha Parkington as it’s first return “historical” character.

I personally have always been a fan of their historical line and I won’t lie, I am more than a little bummed about how the company has been getting away from that focus in the past few years. While I won’t go into a tirade over the infusion of “pink” in everything that they sell or the lack of imagination in the recent story lines, here’s hoping that the return of Samantha will bring a renewed interest in the historicals and that they won’t go by the wayside as did the “Girls of Many Lands” and other ill-conceived product lines that didn’t last long.

I choose for this blog post to focus on celebrating my Top Five American Girls and why they mean so much to me.

felicity_brand   5. Felicity Merriman: I have to admit that initially, I wasn’t all that crazy about Felicity. I don’t know if it was her clothes or what…but something about her didn’t work for me. I liked her stories though, or at least part of them. the Christmas story when her mother falls ill after giving birth causing Felicity to have to take care of the household while her Mom’s life hung in the balance, and nearly missing the Governor’s Ball…yeah, that definitely struck a chord with me, but it wasn’t until they made Felicity into a movie that I gained new appreciation for the character. I think that once I saw it in “real life” I had a greater sense of the responsibility placed on young girls at the time and how much more mature they had to be during a time in which our nation was being established.

Kitlogo    4. Kit Kitterage: Kit was the last American Girl to have the traditional book format (i.e. a School story, Christmas Story, Birthday Story, Saves the Day Story and Changes story) as I recall and like Molly, the one things I really appreciated about Kit is the way she gave me new appreciation for a time period I knew next-to-nothing about. Kit grows up in the great depression and sees many of the harsh realities of life. She watches as people are evicted from their homes. She has a friend whose father has skipped town out of shame and embarrassment. She has to act as a maid in her own house when her mom turns the place into a boarding home and she has a friend whose family hasn’t been hit as hard by the economic downturn as Kit’s family has and it causes a strain in their relationship. Love, Love, Love these books and the movie was kind of fun too!

molly_brand     3. Molly McIntyre: I first read the Molly series at a time when a show called “Homefront” was on TV. “Homefront” was all about the 1940’s and the post-WWII era so the Molly books provided me with a lot of context to help me understand some of these characters I was watching on ABC. I became obsessed with the all-hands-on-deck mentality in the Molly books and how everyone seemed to work together for the common cause. One of my favorite stories in the Molly series is her Christmas story when her father sends home a box of presents from London and she keeps it hidden until Christmas morning as a surprise for everyone and although I have the movie that was made about her, I was not as crazy about it because her father was such a heavy presence in the film. In the books he’s been gone for such a long time that I thought deploying him and bringing him back so soon cheapened the amount of time most of these men were away from home.

Samanthalogo      2. Samantha Parkington: Samantha was my first American Girl and I positively loved everything about her. Her long brown hair reminded me of mine when I was a kid and I thought her storyline was so delightful. Who wouldn’t have wanted to grow up in a large Victorian home with a wealthy grandmother and servants? Of course Samantha has her issues as well. She is an orphan. Her best friend is a maid who lives a far different reality than Samantha does but she opens her eyes to the less-than-priviledge world and it’s a sure bet that Samantha isn’t going to forget everything she sees or stand by and allow things to go on when she knows it’s not right. As far as the dolls went, she was the only one that had a fairly colorful wardrobe and I just thought her furniture and accessories were the neatest ever and I was so happy when her story was made into a movie. She is the Girl who got me hooked!

Jul2007_6_Big      1. Julie Albright: The reason why I love Julie should be fairly obvious though my son accuses me of showing favoritism. Not only does the girl possess my first name but she was also from the 1970’s, which is a decade close to my heart. Though I have a major issue with the fact that she is a blond while I am a brunette, there is a lot to like about this character and there are so many things that resonate in her storyline for me. She reads the Little House books. Her sister plays tennis. Her sister’s name is Tracy (I have a cousin by the same name) and in her original product line, her Christmas goodies included the very same Quick Curl Barbie Doll head that I owned when I was a little kid! How’s that for kismet?

So which American Girls are your favorites??

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MHH Column: Restoring a labor of love

IMG_7971       It is hands down, the most ambitious home renovation I have ever embarked on. The property is a charming fixer upper that has been in my family for more than three decades, but in the past 16 years or so, has fallen into a state of disrepair due to abandonment and neglect.

There is no electricity and no running water. The windows are long gone, the roof deck is missing and the only hint of the structure’s former glory lies in the faded yellow paper still clinging to the walls in a variety of patterns like some kind of tribute to bad taste.

As I survey each room, I can’t help thinking about the family who called this place home once upon a time. They were a lovely, lively group who made many memories in the three-bedroom mansion and I have no doubt that there would have been many more had they not been unceremoniously evicted when the owner of the property did the unthinkable: She grew up.

IMG_7973    No question about it. Restoring the dollhouse my father built for me is a unique undertaking. As I strip the old wallpaper from the gutted structure and clean the furnishings I collected over several Christmases and birthdays, I am flooded with memories of this labor of love that my father spent two years of his life constructing.

This was no ordinary dollhouse. This was a massive structure that featured ¾” plywood, removable roof panels and individual shingles made from old slatted closet door material that my father seemed to have in limitless supply. It was a far cry from the cute, decorative (read: flimsy) models I was used to seeing in Frank’s Nursery and Crafts. My father was determined to make his strong enough to withstand the energy of an accident-prone nine-year-old. He succeeded and when I retrieved the house from the garage loft after my mother passed, I was thrilled to see that my father’s work, for the most part, had stood the test of time.

IMG_7976     There are certainly things that need to be done and challenges to be met over the course of the endeavor to freshen the house. I have no doubt that most of those challenges will shorten my life and cause more of my hair to turn gray, but I’m willing to take those on one room at a time. I’ve discovered that the windows and doors are not a standard size making replacement parts difficult to find. There is the formal dining room that is all-but-impossible to reach and I can’t help wondering how I will finish out that space without calling in the talents of a reputable, flea-sized paper hanging company, but I remain hopefully optimistic.

Because I know that in my quiet moments, when my mind is still, the answers will come. Perhaps out of my own ingenuity, or perhaps it is Dad offering me the solution to the situation in an effort to contribute something to this posthumous father/daughter project that will be enjoyed by generations of our family to come.

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