Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Elephant In The Room

Here's a shocker for you. I have no intention of raising my children to be "colorblind". I hate the term, and it isn't something we strive for in my home. For me, ignoring that people have different colored skin is as stupid as acting like we don't have different color hair or eyes or freckles...Why would we do that? It makes no sense, right? So why would I try to raise them to not see different skin colors? 

Because it makes some white people feel better to say it? To say "I don't see color." Why? Why does it make people feel better? Could it be that, in not seeing color (which is a complete lie, by the way) we can also choose not to see the horrible inequalities that still happen in the world today because of it? If you "don't see color" you can not see the shocking statistics of police brutality against people of color? If you "don't see color" you can ignore the instances of racism that happen right in front of you? If you "don't see color" you can pretend that there isn't still a very real issue in this country? It is something that is truly still rooted in every aspect of day to day life, but people have spent so much time trying not to see it that many don't. But if we don't see it we can't fix it, and if we can't fix it nothing, I repeat nothing will change. 

And I can't accept that for the world my children are growing up in.

When I told my children that I'd finally seen leaks of the new GOTY for 2017, the first thing my oldest asked was "Did they finally do an African American doll?" We were all so happy to see that finally American Girl was listening to the requests of its customer base. That finally little girls of color could have a doll released that represented them. (Given my middle child's speech and motor delay, we were also happy to see a doll with a disability represented too, but that's not what this post is about.) Then there started to be more and more leaks of her collection, and our excitement turned into confusion, disappointment, and anger. 

Unless there are some huge secrets being kept by AG, which I have very little hope about at this point, it could not be more obvious that American Girl is setting Gabriela McBride up to fail as a GOTY and a DOC. Yes, they finally released a DOC for their GOTY, but they backed that by giving her the smallest collection of any girl in recent memory. There is no "big ticket item", and the clothing items that have leaked so far look pathetic and cheaply made. A mesh dance shirt, AG? That will survive tiny hands and frequent costume changes for about 3 minutes. An accessories chest that looks like it belongs to either Marisol or Isabelle leftovers found in some warehouse, and another fluffy cat...though I do like her kitten's name and the reason for choosing it that you find out when reading Gabriela's book. The rumors have long suggested that 2017 would be the last year for GOTY, but recent revelations certainly make it seem like AG plans to point the finger at Gabriela for the purpose of the line's demise...and as a probably excuse not to release another DOC for a good long while. 

On the other hand we have Tenney Grant, the rumored first character in America Girl's new "contemporary" line of dolls, who already has a larger leaked collection than Gabriela despite having no set release date. Blond hair, light skin, freckles, country singer, and both excitement and anger surrounding the thought that she will be accompanied by American Girl's first named boy doll, Logan. If you look at the leaks for both dolls, it is clear who AG is backing, clear who they are putting more thought, time, and effort into, and clear that they have left Gabriela to blow in the wind. It makes me sad. And it makes me mad.

As for me and mine, we'll be getting Gabby's entire collection for the first time in the history of GOTY. Money talks, and I hope others will also send a nice, loud message to AG by supporting Gabriela and showing them that DOC do sell, and that we want girls of all colors to feel represented by this company that is supposed to be about empowering them instead of telling them that they aren't good enough. 

This is still a very real issue in out country and our world. In 2016, almost 2017, the battle of racism and bigotry is still being fought everywhere. From our streets to our toy stores. So, no, I won't teach my children to be colorblind. I will teach them to celebrate and appreciate every hue humanity has to offer, and yes, to fight for the injustices that happen to people for no other reason than because of that color. It is our responsibility as human beings to do that, and I fully intend for us to do our part. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

GOTY 2017 Rumors

There aren't many to go on so far, but the few rumors that I've managed to get my hands on aren't good. At least, not for anyone who was hoping for a Girl of the Year of color. Everything I have heard so far points to a light skinned doll with dark hair. 

Really? Really, AG? Along with the rumors that the 2017 Girl of the Year will be the last GOTY, it now looks as though there will never be an African American GOTY. Talk about a huge slap in the face to the fandom. 

Let's hope they are indeed just rumors.

~Mrs. D

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Dollstagramer Spotlight of the Week

Yes, I know, I've already done a Dollstagramer post this week, but I'm behind, so this is my playing catch up. Besides, you really should check these accounts out on Instagram. 

If you are featured on this list, please feel free to post this image on your Instagram, blog, website, etc. You're fantastic! Brag about it!

  • asylumdolls has some beautiful girls in her collection, and her photography shows them off to their full advantage. 
  • pineyfleur not only has some beautiful dolls and stunning photography, but her girls have a better wardrobe than I do. I'm not sure if I should be impressed or jealous. 
  • mommynmeag is a mother daughter team that not only rocks Instagram, but also has their own YouTube channel. Be sure to check them out on both. 
  • sugar7483 shares not only my love of dolls, but of Harry Potter, so how could I not feature her here? If American Girl dolls with tiny copies of The Quibbler are wrong I will never be right!
  • aghollyk is another adult collector with quite a following on AGIG. I was first brought to her page due to an absolutely breathtaking photograph of Saige, but I started following her when I realized that all of her photography is like that! I hope you'll enjoy her too. 

Follow these AGIGers! And keep your eyes open for more talent in my Dollstagramer Spotlight! 

Do you have a favorite AGIGer? Make sure to tell me about them. 

~Mrs. D 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Dollstagramer Spotlight of the Week!

I missed 2 weeks! I'm sorry! There are so many amazing Dollstagramers out there that I can't really afford to miss any weeks, or I'm going to be updating you until my youngest finished college. To make up for it I'm going to post four Dollstagramers in this post, and I will do my darndest not to miss any more weeks! I might even start doing two or three a week, because there are really so many amazing Dollstagramers out there.

If you are featured on this list, please feel free to post this image on your Instagram, blog, website, etc. You're fantastic! Brag about it!

  • _dollgutsandgristle is an adult collecter out of Colorado. She has 11 beautiful dolls that she spoils and photographs regularly. Her dolls have a wardrobe that my dolls are jealous of!
  • dolllovelovelove is another adult collector with an absolutely beautiful collection of both dolls and photographs! With almost 2,500 posts on Instagram there is pleanty to look at. (And drool over!)
  • itsadollaffair has some of the most beautiful customs I've ever seen. She doesn't limit herself to AGs either. I doubt that there is a doll that passes through her hands that she doesn't turn into an absolute piece of art! One day I hope I can get my hands on one. 
  • darlingdolliess has 14 dolls and a YouTube channel. Her girls, their outfits, and her photography are gorgeous. Definitely one to check out if you are an AGIGer. 

Who else do I need to see? Who is your favorite AGIGer? Let me know so I can look them up!

~Mrs. D

Addy 2K16

Long ago and far away, when I was a little girl pouring over the catalogs dreamily, I always went to my favorite two dolls first. Addy and Felicity. Felicity and Addy. They were my dream girls! For Felicity the appeal was in large her love of Penny. I too was a lover of horses, though I never was able to own my own. (Someday, Mr. D promises. It's still on my birthday list every year!) I also was head over heels in love with her bed, and the fact that she was, like me, a tomboy who rejected the notion of being limited to only "ladylike" pursuits, though she liked being able to dress up and go to a ball now and then. (I also sort of adore red heads, which explains my strange obsession with Fred and George Weasley to this day.) 

Then there was Addy. I was given both her and Felicity's books one year, and from the moment I read about her I was hooked. Addy is simply amazing. She is everything that an American Girl should be. Brave. Honest. Faithful. Loving. She has hopes and dreams like every little girl out there, and throughout her books she discovers that those dreams aren't always the reality of the situation. She doesn't let that stop her though, because she is learning about what is truly important, and her resilience to horrible situations is something to be admired. Addy also questions inequality. She doesn't just go along with it because "that's how it is". She wants to know why. She wants it to be different, and I firmly believe that Addy would have spent her life trying to make it so. 

Add to that the fact that Addy is absolutely stunning, and her collection amazing, (that rope bed, folks) and she was the other girls I wanted, needed, and couldn't live without. 

Fast forward several decades, and I somehow managed to live. It didn't meant I didn't still want though, and the first time I walked into an American Girl store as a woman of 30 I cried. (And probably really alarmed the employees. I was pregnant at the time, so maybe we can blame it on the hormones.) I cried, too, when I opened up my very own Felicity one Christmas morning. No one judged me this time. My children and Mr. D knew what this meant to me. She was secondhand, pre-loved, with legs that swung if so much as blew on them, but she was mine! Finally, mine! And, I had an advantage that 7 year old me never could have. As an adult, I can now hunt down her collection and have it all! Challenging? Yes. I enjoy the rush of the hunt though, and Felicity has collected quite a wardrobe since I opened that brightly wrapped box. (Her legs still swing a bit though. I will have to get on that.) 

Being an adult also meant that I could finally get Addy. Now, Addy was still available in the stores, but I wanted my Addy. The Addy with the pink dress and soft eyelashes that I'd daydreamed about for so many hours on end as a little thing. I've hunted, and I've searched. There have been times I've let an Addy go because of a hair cut or broken eyes, and a couple I have let go because the hair was a matted mess that I felt was beyond my abilities. (I'm new to this rehabing thing, remember.) There are a few I've loved and wanted on eBay that slipped through my fingers. I've kept searching though, because I knew my perfect Addy was out there. 

And then I went to Melody's release, and it became extremely apparent that Addy is retiring. (I don't care what American Girl says on the subject. They aren't even carrying or restocking her entire line at this point. She's on her way out, the question is only when.) I panicked. In searching for my perfect Addy it looked very possible that I wasn't going to get one at all. So, less than 2 weeks after getting Melody, I drove right back to the store to pick out a BeForever Addy. My oldest and I went through every box they had, which didn't take long since they only have 6 on display at this point, (but sure you don't have any plans to retire her, AG. We believe you.) and found the sweetest little face starting back at us to bring home. Her sweet smile has gone straight to my heart, and she and Melody are probably my favorite two to photograph right now. (So, if you follow me on Instagram, you're going to be seeing a lot of them in the future. I'm not even going to say I'm sorry, because I'm not.)

I'm still hunting for my sweet PC Addy, and have big plans for when I find her. You see, it would be too simple to just have two Addys. Instead, one of my Addys will become Edith Aduke, the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Addy Walker. I'm excited, because this will give me the opportunity to have a "modern" doll of my own. I've never had my own, make-up-my-own-story modern doll before, and I might be more excited about it than a woman in her 30s should be. (Excited as in I stayed up until 2am writing out her entire family tree all the way back to Addy a couple of nights ago. It's a pretty awesome family tree full of strong, determined women!) Until then though, I am loving having my own Addy to dress up, photograph, and play with. (My youngest is loving it too. Addy seems to be her hands down favorite, and she might just need one before long.) 

She's stunning, right?!

I'm behind on my Melody Release post. Everyone else has already shared the images they have of all the new things, I'm still going to share it though, because it was such an amazing experience. My oldest and I are already counting down to the release of the new GOTY on January first. I'm hoping that she is a girl that we'll both want to get. (She'll be a birthday present for me, because that's how I can justify it in my head.) I'm waiting anxiously for any leaks, so if anyone knows anything, I'd love to hear. 

What was the first doll you got where you made up her story? Was she modern or a historical? 

~Mrs. D

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Rebecca Rubin Project

Back at the beginning of August I wrote about a $10 Rebecca that I was lucky enough to find on Craig's List. She was nude, and had gotten on the wrong side of a canine at some point, but you just don't pass up a $10 Rebecca. You don't. Her hair was a little dry, but not as bad as I've seen, and her eyes worked well. Her limbs weren't even very loose, and in good condition if you could overlook the missing hand. 

I could. Besides, I'd been looking for a doll to experiment with rehabing on, and I found her!

This is an "after" image. Keep reading for her "befores" and a description of how I got her there. 

I knew very little about Rebecca before we picked her up, so the first stop was our local library. (Naturally) In less than a day we, as a family, were all caught up on Rebecca's story. I have to say, I am surprisingly fond of this spunky little girl from NYC! I'd never been interested before, and only wanted to get her one day as a means to complete my Historical Collection, but I'm very glad that I picked her up.

Of course, I then was facing the challenge of making her look good again. Outside of some cleaning, Oxy treatments, and minor hair work, I'd never much of a rehab on any doll. I'd certainly never swapped out limbs, but unless I wanted to wrap Rebecca's hand in a handkerchief and pretend she lost it in a factory accident, I had no choice. It was time to tackle the limbs!

Listen, if you have never unstuffed an American Girl doll, there are some things you should know going in. First, there is an absurd amount of stuffing crammed into that doll body! Like double or triple the amount that you think should be able to fit in there! It's also a little traumatizing to realize that you are completely pulling apart a $115 doll, even if you didn't spend that much on it. At some point you are sitting there, looking at the bits and pieces of what used to be an American Girl doll strewn out in front of you, thinking "Oh my God, what if I can never get it back together?!" Don't worry. You can.

Rebecca had a bit of a bite mark on her foot as well, (as you can see above) but I decided to leave that alone for now since it will be covered by her stockings and shoes. At some point in the future I plan to swap that leg out too, but for this rehab I chose to focus on her mangled arm. This meant that I only had one limb to remove, which is good, I think, for your first time. 

Since her limbs were still relatively tight, I decided not to replace the elastic at this time. (I also didn't feel like waiting to order it new, and I don't want to use the hair tie method.) It was not easy getting the knot untied. I ended up requesting Mr. D's help, and he may or may not have injured himself in the process. (I am a lucky woman!) In the end we got it, and Rebecca's offending arm was removed from her body. (No dolls were harmed in the making of this blog post.)

Now I needed to get the other tension cup out of her chewed arm so that I could use it in her new arm. There is a very little bit of give in the newer plastic, but not enough to get the tension cup out without breaking it. To soften the plastic up a bit I warmed it with my hair dryer for about 30 seconds. This made the plastic softer, and I was able to use pliers to pull the tension cup out of the arm. I used the same method on the new arm in order to get the tension cup back in.

Once you get to this point it is fairly easy to put your doll back together. Everything just goes back the way you took it apart.

I tightened this knot a bit more after taking this picture. There is also a way to replace the elastic that used metal crimps instead of tying, but I was able to tie it back fairly well. Her arm is very tight now. One day I will do a complete replace, with the elastic and everything, and I will document the crimping method.

So, this looks a little intimidating, but once you are to this point you might as well just skip over the finish line. There is a lot of stuffing, and it was a job getting it all back in. Sometimes you have to shift the stuffing about a bit, shove it down again when you think you can't anymore, but it will all fit. I promise. Things look much better when you have the body stuffed again, and even better than that when you get the head reattached. (In hindsight, I would have waiting until I got her head back on before taking her hair out of the curlers. I worried the entire time that I was going to ruin the curls I'd just put back in.)

Speaking of her hair, I think it cleaned up very nicely if I do say so myself.

I didn't use any heat. I just wet her hair thoroughly, rolled it, and then sat her in front of a box fan for a day. (I did this to help it dry since I've heard horror stories of mold growing under the wig cap, and I got her hair pretty wet.) I didn't even wash her hair first, though I might try that next time. One of these days I'm going to brave a hot water dunk. Not yet though.

I'd ordered her original meet dress around the same time that I ordered her new arms, so the only thing left to do was dress her. I'm still on the hunt for her bloomers, hair clip, and meet accessories, but there is time, and I think she looks pretty fabulous without them.

What do you think? What was your first rehab?

I know there are a lot of pictures. I'm sorry. I had a hard time choosing.

Is it common for the Josefina mold to sometimes seem like her eyes are a bit "off". I don't always notice it, but every once in awhile I do a double take on the mold. (This in no way shape or form means I don't like it. I think the Josefina mold is gorgeous. I just think there eyes look a bit funky sometimes.)

~Mrs. D

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Back to School

For anyone who didn't know, we homeschool here at Castle Dahl, and this was the first official week "back" at Dahlywood Academy. (Which is so not the name we've chosen for our homeschool, but it still amuses me to say.) Here we are 5 days in and already 6 days behind, but I think most homeschooling families feel that way. (I hope they do anyways. God forbid we are alone in this!) 

I still had time for a small back to school photo shoot with the dollies though. Okay, so with two of the dollies, because I had to take some time and photograph Addy some some. And play with her. And admire her. And photograph her some more...

This might be why we are behind. 

I plan on doing a larger back to school shoot next week when I've caught up with the Little Dahls, but I wanted to share some images that I squeezed in between Math and Music. (We're continuing our Mowtown and Gospel education this year, because Melody is such an inspiration!)


Apparently my Molly is ambidextrous. She's truly amazing, and doing great with her multiplication ever since she had Emily's help!

Felicity enjoys her lessons, but certainly misses Patriot and Penny while she's gone.

Darling Addy is so ready to go back! There are books to be read, friends to make, and spelling bees to be won! 

How is everyone enjoying being back to school? (Whether that is an exciting new grade, new college courses that you love, or waving your children off every morning!) 

~Mrs. D

Friday, September 9, 2016

Meet Addy!

No, not the book, though it is a good one. I actually mean that I'd like you to meet our Addy!

I've wanted a PC Addy for as long as I've wanted an American Girl doll! Addy and Felicity were my dream dolls, and I had to wait until my 30s to get Felicity. I've been on the hunt for the perfect, early edition, PC Addy for over a year now, and there are a couple that have slipped through my fingers on eBay. I'd eyes]d the BeForever Addy every time we go into the store, but reasoned with myself that if I bought her I'd be unable to make make a rational argument for buying my PC Addy when I found her. (Because the logical, mommy side of me wouldn't be able to justify two of the same doll for myself when there are so many things to buy for my little living dolls.) 

And then we went to the store for Melody's release, and it couldn't be more obvious that Addy is on her way out. (Yes, I know that AG says that they have "no plans to retire Addy at this time.", but she's sitting in a lonely display box at the back of the store with one outfit and her lunch pail, and they aren't even honoring the "save $5 if you buy the doll and her accessories" with her anymore. Addy is either retiring or being given the very short end of the stick here!) I've spent the last three weeks in a panic that beautiful Addy was once again going to become an impossibility for me. I just couldn't let that happen.

And here she is! Our Addy is finally home. But what about the "can't have two of one doll" thing? No worries. I've figured it out. When I do find my PC Addy this Addy is going to become the great-great-great granddaughter of Addy Walker. They will be best friends. It will be beautiful. I'm going to write a whole backstory. It might even be my first "doll fiction". (When I told Mr. D this fabulous plan with a "See! It won't be like having two of the same doll at all!" he just laughed and told me to do "whatever you need to sleep at night." I'm so lucky with that man!)

Of course, my youngest little Kewpie doll is absolutely head over heels for Addy now, and it helps that "Addy" sounds so darn cute coming out of her toddler mouth. I might be on the hunt for two more Addys...A PC one for Mommy, and a gently used one for my mini me...I wonder how I can spin that one for Mr. D?  

There will be more pictures of this beauty soon, not to mention my Rebecca clean up, a back to school photo shoot for the dollies, and Melody photos. (I can't take enough Melody photos!)

~Mrs. D

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

New Poll: What is Your Favorite Melody Outfit or Accessory?

It's been a couple of weeks since our last poll closed, but I finally got around to putting up a new one. This one, appropriately, is about the amazing Miss. Melody!

What is your favorite Melody outfit or accessory? The poll can be found on the upper right hand portion of the blog. I look forward to seeing what everyone's favorite is! You have until the 25th to get your votes in, so let me know what your favorite outfit accessory is and I'll probably write a blog on it. 

~Mrs. D

Monday, September 5, 2016

AGIG DOC Challenge Day 5

I wasn't able to get out as early as I had wanted for Kaya's photo shoot this morning, because I had a little photo assistant that doesn't understand that the sun doesn't wait for us to find our shoes, but I'm still pretty happy with the images we managed to capture this morning. I still want to try and make it out at dawn sometime, but I'm not going to stress about getting it done this week. 

Life is what happens while you're making other plans, after all, and I loved having some one on one time with one of my tiny humans. When you are a mother of more than one child you sometimes need to work a little bit harder to make sure that all of your children get that individual time with you. It's harder, because there are always going to be needs that the others have, and sometimes those will get in the way of your plans, but when you see an opportunity you quickly tell the only other person awake in the house to throw a sweatshirt on over their jammies, grab their own doll, and get a move on. 

While I snapped pictures of Kaya I was followed around by my small one taking pictures of their favorite doll with my phone, and occasionally calling out helpful suggestions like "Have her climb this tree, Mommy!" or "Don't get bit in the butt by a snake!" (As I was squatting in the tall grasses trying to get a better shot.) 

Words to live by, ladies and gentlemen. "Don't get bit in the butt by a snake."

And, because I can't go anywhere lately without Miss. Melody, (Seriously, I might have a problem!) I took a couple of her in her brand new outfit!

The #agigdocchallenge on Instagram is a fun and important way to showcase and celebrate dolls of color! Come join us on Instagram.