American Girl, Part 2

Leah was born, and somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that meant that Molly was now hers. It was just a question of when to present her with the beloved doll. This was complex, for not only are American Girl dolls expensive, but I wanted to give Molly to Leah when I was sure she would be able to grasp how special she was.

Leah is an exceptional kid. For one, although she is a typical spoiled child who wants every toy she ever lays eyes on, she takes very good care of her things. It is extremely rare for a toy of hers to become broken or lost, and she treasures even the smallest of dollar store tokens. Molly is not only an expensive doll, with many small and equally expensive accessories, but it appears that she is also now pretty irreplaceable as the American Girl company has retired her character. Still, as I began thinking about when to present my doll to Leah, I trusted that Leah could and would take great care of her.

I thought about gifting Molly to Leah as a special token to mark the beginning of kindergarten. To show Leah what a big girl she was and that going to school is a special occasion. I was still worried about the second part, though. Leah has been so focused on things lately that I wasn’t sure if she would really see Molly as something special, or as just another toy in her collection. I put it off indefinitely.

This past Sunday Leah woke up sick. It was just a cold, but she had a fever and she was, well, pitiful. Absolutely pitiful. Her little voice was all scratchy and she was so congested she could barely breathe. She had those sad, sick doe eyes that make mommies around the world heartbroken to see. That morning I had to tell Leah that she could not go for one last swim at Mana’s house before the pool was closed. She took that stoically, but became pretty depressed when Dave told her that she could not jump around and dance in her room to the Frozen soundtrack. She pouted on the couch, looking ever so miserable.

Suddenly, I just knew that it was was the right time. I went into the laundry room and carefully opened the sacred bin that housed Molly and her accessories. I took a deep breath and hid her behind my back as I headed back to the livingroom.

“Leah,” I said, “I know that you feel yucky and are not having a great day. I have someone here who wants to keep you company and cheer you up.”

I produced Molly from behind my back and watched as Leah’s eyes got big.

“This is Molly.” I told her, “She is really, really special to me. So are you, and I know that you are such a good girl and treat your toys so well. Do you think you can take really good care of her for me?”

“I can.” Leah answered very solemnly. I could tell that she totally understood what a momentous occasion this was, even in her cough syrup induced drowsiness.

I grabbed the whole bin and began pulling things out and showing Leah. She was impressed by Molly’s old fashioned wooden school desk, and all of the details like a real miniature text book, and a PBJ sandwich. Seeing her eyes light up reminded me all over again about the wonders of American Girl, and just toys that are special in general.

I am sure we all had that toy growing up, that one you had to have and that brought you so much joy and endless hours of play. I am incredibly lucky that I had the forethought to hold onto mine so that I could pass it all down- the doll, the accessories, the joy, and the memories.

I am also lucky to have a little girl who, at the young age of only five, understands when she sees something special, and understands that I am not just giving her a doll. I am giving her an experience, one that we will both share in together. Thank you, American Girl. It started 17 years ago with a catalog arriving in the mail.


American Girl, Part 1

This is a story that Leah has already heard many times. I pull it out when I am feeling nostalgic, but I also tell it to her to drive home the point that good things come to those who wait.

I was eight years old. My parents had been divorced for about 18 months and they had both already moved on and were living with new partners. I adjusted pretty well for a child of my age. For some reason, that summer a catalog came to my mom’s apartment. It was the American Girl catalog. I got ahold of it and began flipping through, and it was lust at first sight. I wanted an American Girl doll something wicked. Every day I changed my mind about which one. I wanted Kirsten. Wait, no! Samantha! Most of all, I wanted Molly.

I carried the dog-eared catalog with me everywhere I went, fantasizing about the coveted dolls. If you turned it sideways on one of the doll pages, you could see the actual size. Therefore I would open it up to Molly’s page and carry it around, pretending that I really had the doll herself. I think I even checked the books out of the library and read them ahead of time. By August I already knew what would be on my Christmas list.

Christmas morning came and I had tons of gifts. Art supplies, toys, you name it. I had one large box left, and while most kids would be thrilled to see such a huge box, my heart sank. It was too big to be a doll. I was thrilled with all of the gifts I had, but at the same time I would have traded them all for just Molly.

I tried to act excited as I made my way amongst the wrapping paper towards the box. I didn’t want my parents to think I was ungrateful. I tore the paper off and opened up, and there she was. My parents, under the guise of Santa, had gotten not only Molly, but the entire “starter kit” which included several outfits, tons of cool accessories, and her wooden school desk. I was thrilled. Thinking back to that moment now still brings tears to my eyes.

From that moment on I was hooked. I loved Molly, and I began saving my allowance for my accessories, and even eventually got two more dolls and a horse. Every time I got a new doll, though, I told Molly that she would always be special to me. Sometime around the age of 12 I stopped playing with the dolls. I put them into a plastic bin, and I remember picking Molly up, and hugging her one last time before I put the lid on.

When I moved into my first apartment, the bin came with me, stored in an extra closet. Being a poor college student, there were times when I needed a little help with the bills, or wanted some extra money for Christmas shopping. First went my Bitty Babies. Then the American Girl of Today, the horse, and finally, Felicity. But I held onto Molly. As I gathered up everything that went with Felicity I whispered to Molly not to be afraid of the same fate. I promised her that she would stay with me, because she was my special doll, and that someday my little girl would play with her. Because you see, long before Leah was conceived, I dreamed her. I always knew that she would be in my life.

to be continued…molly

People let me tell you about my best friend

A post by my friend, Ashley. It’s about me! 😉


20 years ago I was a nervous 5 year old heading to school for the first time. I took the big girl bus and headed into my kindergarten classroom and that’s where I met her. My BFF. The macaroni to my cheese. I don’t really remember much about those first years of friendship but I do remember we had some fun play dates with yummy Italian dinners made by her dad and playing Barbies. Something we would still enjoy today.

At some point in our elementary friendship she moved away. Life went on for both of us. New friendships were made for both of us. This was the time pre-facebook so you couldn’t stalk your friend online that moved away. In High School she moved back into my life. From the moment we started talking it was instant friendship all over again. It was like we had never been apart…

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It’s amazing how quickly things change when you have kids. One minute your daughter is just entering the world, and the next she is getting ready for kindergarten.

The past eight months have just flown by for me. Everyone here in Upstate NY says that last winter was long and snowy, but I was not even aware of the weather outside. That is partly because I was sleep deprived and trying desperately to divide my time between my daughter and my new baby, and partly because I was just reveling in the joy that my expanding family gave me.

This summer has flown also. It was just May! We were just figuring out how we were going to manage a dance recital and a wedding all in one weekend. We were just getting excited by Christopher’s first smile and encouraging him to roll over. Now he is crawling and just this past week he has begun pulling himself up.

One tentative try, using the open door of the dryer as I folded laundry. That was all it took my little mischief monkey, and now he is pulling up on anything that he can reach. He has discovered a whole new world of things that he couldn’t see, let alone reach, before. Summer is ending and so is the infant stage for my son.

It is a little sad, but one thing I have learned as a mother is to enjoy every phase your children go through, even ones that are challenging. Before you know it, they will move on to something new. Chris may prefer to try some gymnastics moves while nursing now, rather than snuggling into me and staring up at my face, but that’s okay. He now calls for mama at night and crawls up and hugs my leg when he wants me.

Your children will never stop needing you. It’s just the ways in which they need you that evolve.