On Christmas day, I got my very first American Girl Doll.
Yes, I am 30 years old. Yes, I have a child of my own. Still, I cried when I read that Molly was being retired. I actually cried. Not only was she the doll that I wanted as a child but never got, but it meant that all of the “original” American Girl dolls from my childhood would be gone. Molly was the only one left since Felicity, Samantha, and Kirsten had all retired before her.
I remember vividly the first time I heard of American Girl. I was in the third grade. I think there was some sort of awkward moment and I tried to make friendly conversation with another girl.
I said “So, what do you want for Christmas?”
“American Girl.” She said, in a sort of dignified tone. I did not know what that was.
I don’t remember how I found out what it was, but before long I was browsing the catalog and imagining myself as a girl in times past. My first favorite was Kirsten, but at some point I moved on to Molly.
I was 13 for Christmas 1995 when my younger sister Holly, the blonde one, was going to get a Kirsten doll from our grandmother. I kind of still felt like I wanted a Molly doll but I thought maybe I was too old to get one. The mini dolls were released that year and she was going to get me a mini Molly instead, but they were sold out. I got a Molly Pastimes Collection which included a cookbook and theatre kit, among other things. I did really like those things, and especially loved reading the cookbook. I ended up really involved in theatre too. Looking back, I wasn’t too old. Remember that, everyone. You’re not too old for a doll at 13!
The next year my youngest sister, redheaded Amy, got a “Girl of Today” doll. After that, each granddaughter has gotten an American Girl doll from Gramma when they were seven years old.
In high school, two years in a row, I volunteered for the American Girl Pastime Parties at the library and performed in shadow plays featuring American Girl characters. I remember seeing some little girls in the audience from my church, dressed to match their dolls. The second year I did it was the year Kit was introduced.
Fast forward to 20+ years later, and I’m crying about Molly retiring. I asked my husband if it would be silly to ask for a Molly doll for Christmas. Gramma heard about it and said she was going to make sure I got one. She was sorry she didn’t get one for me earlier. We both thought I was too old for it at the time, but now we knew better. Anyone can have one.
So on Christmas morning I finally go the desired childhood doll. I’m glad I still got it as a gift from my grandmother. One of the things I always liked about Molly was that she was about the same age as Gramma, who was born in 1936. She was a little girl of similar age during World War II.
So I got to open up an American Girl doll for the first time on Christmas morning, and my little girl was there to help me. I explained about how this was a special doll I had wanted when I was a little girl. She was very interested in all the accessories, and asked me to read the book to her.
I’m making a funny face, but you should know that I’m an excellent reader and she’s not bored, just really tired.
I’ve also become interested in Saige because I think she looks a bit like me, so I ordered the mini doll and I love her. I can imagine collecting the mini versions of my childhood favorites. More on her to come.
I’m now on the lookout for accessories that I can use to better display my Molly doll. Many of my favorite accessories and outfits had already been retired. For now, I’ve got a doll stand and I managed to find a spot in my office that was tall enough. It’s nice just looking up and seeing her there.
On Halloween day, Guinevere made cupcakes with my 5 year old cousin Chloe. Here she is posing with her cupcake. So funny!
They practiced trick or treating at Gramma’s house. Chloe is dressed in her Izzy from Jake and the Never Land Pirates costume.
That night, we went to the “block party” at a friend’s church. Our church doesn’t do one anymore, but we used to when I was growing up! My sister Amy had just flown in for a friend’s wedding and my sister Holly was there with 11 week old Lane.
It’s Halloweentime at Disneyland.
Disneyland was open for 24 hours straight, from 6am to 6am. We didn’t even attempt to go all 24 hours, though there were many that did! We were most interested in the late night events. We let Guinevere nap late, and she woke up around 6pm. We were in the park by around 7pm. We went to DCA first for dinner and shared the exclusive macaroni & cheese pizza at Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta.
After that we crossed over to Disneyland.
I had read that there would be Storm Troopers in Tomorrowland but I didn’t see any, so Jerrod took Guinevere on Autopia.
By the time we were done with that, it was almost time for the fireworks. After the fireworks we rode the Astro Orbiter. When we got to the Stage Door Cafe to have some exclusive Monte Cristo Bites, the 10:30 showing of Fantasmic started. We were able to mostly watch the whole show.
Guinevere said she wanted to go on the Winnie the Pooh ride, so we headed to Critter Country. I changed her into her pajamas at the Hungry Bear restrooms, but when we got to the Winnie the Pooh ride she said she didn’t want to ride it.
That was okay, we just headed back to Fantasyland and one of our most anticipated late night events, a 12:30am Soundsational Parade! Guinevere was happy to wait for the parade, and was so excited when it started.
It was the most exciting Disneyland parade I’ve ever seen! I doubt there was anyone that wasn’t a huge fan, and it felt like a midnight premiere. The crowd was especially excited and responsive, and the performers really rose to the occasion.
By the time the parade was finished it was after 1am. Another late night event we wanted to experience was a pajama party in Toon Town after midnight. I’ve rarely seen so many people entering Toon Town! We gave Guinevere the choice of who to see first, and she chose Mickey Mouse.
After greeting Mickey in his pajamas, Guinevere and Jerrod were getting tired and didn’t want to wait for more characters, so we started walking out. Guinevere fell asleep on the way to the car. We left at about 2am.
Inspired by Britt of Britt-ish designs‘ “Project Mouse” stuff and of course the “Project Life” trend, I’ve been doing a Project Mouse that’s a bit more like Project Life. Since I’m a local, I don’t go to Disneyland on vacation, I go for a couple hours, sometimes weekly. I take lots of pictures but I never make a big vacation “album” or anything.
My idea is to do a page per visit, similar to the page per week I would do for project life. Some visits needed a two page spread. Actually, I found some visits, like my daughter’s birthday, needed a third page. I’ve found that if I was having trouble getting everything on the page sometimes I just need to add a page and it’s amazing how quickly I’m able to get it together.
One thing I’ve been doing is I try to make a psd file and put down a little journaling about what we did that day, and I’ll usually put the pictures in too. This is usually that night or the next day. Often I do it during Guinevere’s post-Disneyland nap! I don’t usually do anything else with it right away, but when I’m ready to create, everything is right there and I haven’t forgotten the details of the day.
Here are the pages I’ve made so far.
I’m hoping to be able to eventually backtrack to Guinevere’s first trip to Disneyland. I know she would love looking at a book of all of her days at Disneyland.
Amy has been living in Washington DC for several months now, trying to make her dream job come true. She visited us for the weekend and of course one of the days was Disneyland day! Guinevere and I arrived just as the rest of the group were getting on the Dumbo ride. I was able to pass her over to Grandpa and she got to ride with Grammy, no waiting!
We went to wait in line to meet Rapunzel and while we waited, Pinochio came and stood nearby to greet guests. Holly, Amy, Guinevere and I went to take a picture with him while my parents and Melodee waited in the Rapunzel line.
We had lunch in Frontierland at the Stage Door Cafe and Holly and Amy’s friend Kristin joined us. We all love Kristin and she loves playing with Guinevere. We rode Pirates which Guinevere was very interested in, then went to wait for the parade.
Guinevere had everyone in hysterics as she sang and danced along with the Soundsational Parade.
And we tried to wake up Figaro, but he wouldn’t wake!
I’ve decided to start project life. All digital of course, because paper is my nemesis. I’ve enjoyed inconsistent digital scrapbooking for a number of years but have never been very regular or “album oriented”. I’ve only managed to make two books, ever, and my wedding book took like 4 years to complete and get made. I finished a book for Guinevere’s second year shortly after her second birthday when I noticed a coupon for a free book from shutterfly.
I finally heard about “project life” and “pocket style” enough for it to sink in and for me to start to “get” what it is. So I started where I was and have done a couple of the prior weeks and I already have 3 pages fully completed and 3 more mostly done (like pictures in, but no papers, etc). I’m basically doing a page per week, but I’m giving myself the option of flexibility for like a double page for a really big week or a page dedicated just to a holiday.
Let me preface my report by explaining that I live about 10 minutes from Disneyland and I have an Annual Pass. I’m also a former cast member and my sister is a current cast member.
I love Disneyland and go there often, but obviously we don’t need to stay at the hotels because we live in the area. So I’ve never had a “Disney Vacation”. We also never took real vacations growing up. If we went anywhere it was to visit family in the midwest, or it was a day trip. The first time I stayed in one of the hotels at the resort was the night of my wedding almost four years ago when we stayed at the Disneyland Hotel.
My husband and I were feeling desperate for some alone time. With his birthday coming up this week, we decided to stay the night at the Grand Californian Hotel.
We left our toddler with Gramma and went to have dinner and some alone time for the evening. We were going to do Blue Bayou but opted not to. We had a great date night, then went home to pick up our daughter to spend the night with us back at the hotel. It was so much fun, we let her walk around the hotel grounds a bit and showed her our room, then we went through the downtown disney entrance and got smoothies at Jamba Juice, which was so close to the hotel entrance(And they give a 10% AP discount!). We were able to just enjoy the room, watch the olympics and in the morning we got a room service breakfast. I think it was definitely worth the experience even though we live here.
We spent a little time in DCA, rode Little Mermaid and such, but this is where we got the best of both worlds because we left at about 2pm and our 16mo Guinevere was asleep before we were even off of Disneyland Drive. She napped for 2 hours when we got home!
But this little overnight “trip” has kind of opened my eyes to something I’d never experienced. When we walked from the hotel right into Downtown Disney, my husband said “Downtown Disney is the best downtown there is!” And then it hit me. That’s what Downtown Disney is for! In June we went to San Francisco for a conference and we stayed at a hotel that was “downtown” but we didn’t feel too comfortable walking around and it was not stroller friendly at all. Downtown Disney is like the “downtown” you would experience living in a city, but Disneyfied. I didn’t really get that before, as a local. It just seemed like a Disney adjacent mall(and it is that too).
This really made me want to experience this “on the premises” type vacation again, so much that I’m going to start planning a trip to Disney World in Florida, something I’ve never cared that much about before. But I really want to get that “resort” experience and I’d like to do it somewhere I don’t actually live. I didn’t appreciate until now how different the local experience is to the “resort guest” experience. Don’t take it the wrong way, I LOVE being a local. But I want to get that other experience too.