January 11, 2018

Luciana Vega!

I am this penguin at this point in my life.

A few months ago, I accidentally clicked a sidebar video on youtube that attempts to explain quantum mechanics to seven year olds. The guy had a British accent, so I kept watching. (I mean.) Three hours and a million videos later, I had convinced myself that I could possibly be the one to solve the mystery of wave-particle duality. (I told you. I'm an optimist.)
I'm in magical, twirling, swooning, puppy love with science right now. Particularly quantum physics, because it's so fascinating. I WANT TO KNOW THE THINGS. All the details of creation just make me love the Creator so much more. So you can imagine my excitement when American Girl announced their Girl of the Year, Luciana Vega, who is into STEM, and wants to be the first kid on Mars. How cool is that theme for an American Girl character?! Plus, she has a permanent purple streak in her wig, and (even though it's not pink) I love the sassiness of that.

The doll itself is just so beautiful. Luciana is Latina (Chilean) and I love her coloring. She looks beautiful in everything!

Ah! That purple streak! :) We pulled her hair up so you could see it well, but it is pretty discrete when her hair is down. 

When we opened the box, we were so surprised to also find her space suit in it!! I was so delighted to have the actual suit, but it was also the gesture that just felt like a warm hug from them. I know that's silly, but it was just such a sweet, unexpected surprise. It made me feel loved. They are such a kind and generous company. 

So the kids and I put on Luci's space suit and went to the moon for a photoshoot. And if you're thinking that the moon looks a lot like a huge mound of shoveled, dirty snow in a parking lot...well that's just silly. There aren't even cars on the moon, why would they need parking lots?

I had read a couple of reviews that said the space suit was super hard to put on...and maybe it's the years of training I've had squeezing a wriggling Ace into his skinny jeans, but I had no trouble with the suit at all! It was quite simple, and it even comes with a little instruction booklet just in case you're not sure which piece goes on first. 

Luciana has many other amazing pieces in her collection. We went down to Indianapolis to check them out in the AG store, and they are just beautiful, so many cool features. Delicious quality, as usual, and great attention to detail. I love that they don't just throw together a collection of themed merchandise. They have an advisory board with NASA scientists, astronauts, and Chilean culture specialists that inspect the collection for accuracy and authenticity. I love that the toys are for fun, and also for education, and character building. And built to last for generations. I'm just a sucker for that kind of thing. Here are a few photos from American Girl that showcase them beautifully! 

It's always interesting to see what other American Girl fans online think of the new dolls, and I have to say, this has been the most enthusiastic response I've ever seen to a new release. And understandably so! I think American Girl hit a bullseye with this doll/collection. Paige and I just finished the first Luciana book, too, and it was really good, you guys. More on that later though. :)

Thanks so much, American Girl!! I love you :)

And I love you! Take care :)

Post sponsored by American Girl *dance emoji*

December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, sweet friends!
It started snowing this morning and it has been such a magical Christmas Eve!! I brought my camera to church since the kids were already dolled up and we stopped at a park near our house to snap a few pictures. I am so excited to have a white Christmas!!
This year we are just hanging out at home with the kids all day, and I think this will be the first year we've ever done that. It's been so relaxing not having anything to prepare for. Just wrapping presents while listening to Christmas music with the (fake) fireplace going and drinking coffee. Ahhhh.
I hope your Christmas is relaxing and peaceful, or chaotic and exciting, but merry either way!


December 20, 2017

A Year Without Sugar

I decided to commit to a year without sugar.  I remember reading about a family that did that a few years ago and I thought: "How crazy and extreme and tough that would be!" But it must have planted a seed of inspiration in my head, because here I am.

I've talked to you before about going without sugar, and why. Basically, I was incredibly addicted to sugar, and it was making me sick. Also nervous, because diabetes is all over both sides of my family. Back in the beginning of last year I decided to go a couple of months without sugar or any other sweeteners (with my vanilla soy milk coffee creamer as my only exception) and it turned into 5 months because I felt so good. My energy and moods were much more balanced, my skin was clearer, my mind was clearer, and I'd lost 20 pounds, without any additional lifestyle chances. Pretty cool. But then I was at a work camp our church goes to for a week and had to eat what was provided. I tried to eat well, but by the end of the week I was eating pizza and brownies, and that swung me back into sugar-overload mode until autumn, when I went another 3 months without sugar. Buuuut then Christmas.

One thing I know: I cannot moderate myself. I am like a cocaine addict. I go off, then I go back on. I try hard, I pray about it, I make plans, but as soon as my "two months" or whatever is up, I go right back. (Incidentally, this has given me a lot more compassion and insight into the struggle of drug addicts.) I cannot eat sugar in moderation. At least at this point in my life. And the life of a sugar addict...well I'm just too good for it. Thinking of sugar first thing every morning? Letting it control my mood? Being a slave to cravings? Nah. We were meant for better things.
So I thought maybe if I committed to a full year, this time with no soy milk, and no exceptions whatsoever, I could reset my mind and body and get over it somehow.  I was thinking maybe after the end of it, I might even be able to do what I've known I should probably do, but wasn't ready to: commit to a lifestyle of no sugar. That's a tough one, because who wants to be the weird girl who "can't eat that" all the time? The one that nobody wants to have over for dinner because her diet is "special", and not even for real medical reasons. You know what I'm talking about. Also, can I really commit to the rest of my life without Brach's candy corn?? (Not a sponsor, haha. But you know that's the ONLY brand.)

A couple of months into this year without sweeteners, I had already realized that this is the life I want. I want to feel good. I want to rest within my "None at all" boundaries, so I don't have to struggle with moderation. I know it seems like it wouldn't be this way, but I actually find it easier to eat strictly no sweeteners than to try to only eat a little now and then. Because I can put it out of my mind completely, like it doesn't even exist. So after this year of no sweeteners is finished (July 2 of '18), I'm going to just continue, and make it a lifestyle. However, I'm toying with the idea of allowing something on my birthday and/or Christmas. That way I don't have to feel like I can never have a certain thing ever again. I'll try it on my birthday in July, and if it causes too many cravings or problems, I won't do it again. But I know myself pretty well here and I think it will be ok, as long as I know that it's just for that day.

So yeah. A year without sugar. It's not as crazy as I thought it would be, it's actually awesome. I'm over 5 months in, and by now I'm pretty familiar with which foods have sweeteners in the ingredient list (everything. just, everything.) and which restaurants I can eat at (It's a long list: Chipotle.) and most people are pretty understanding about why I'm doing it. And I feel so, so good. When you're eating nothing with sweeteners, you're almost always eating pretty healthy food, which is so nice. I never worry about my weight anymore, because it's almost impossible to gain too much eating like this. It's so funny, because with all the restrictions of eating this way, what I really feel is...free! So apparently there is something to this "self control" thing. Looks like my Creator was right again. Thank you, God, for giving us advice that gives us freedom.

Love you :)

August 30, 2017

American (Girl) Dream

The other day, my husband said: "Your blog is pretty much an American Girl blog now." and I was like: "Yeeeaaahhhh..." Haha. I laughed, but actually sometimes I do feel a little embarrassed about how excited I am about dolls. I mean I'm 32, I get it. It's quirky. But I gotta be me, you know? And me loves dolls, I always have.

I write sponsored posts for AG every time they send me a doll, but I wanted to write a little post that wasn't sponsored, so you'd know how I authentically feel. (Which you already do, fyi, authenticity is kind of a thing with me.)

I always loved dolls as a little girl, any kind, every kind, but there was nothing more beautiful and sublimely perfect in my mind than the American Girl dolls. In particular, Samantha Parkington, who was not only the prettiest doll, but had my dream life: A large, elegant victorian mansion, formal dressing, piano lessons, an only child (haha), and endless lessons in manners and ladylike ways. I would have ROCKED that existence. But that $87 price tag back in the 1990's may as well have been $5,000 for my family, and to be honest, we couldn't even afford the books. So I got them from the library and read them over and over, even though I usually wouldn't pick up a book to save my life. I studied the illustrations like priceless works of art in a museum. I memorized Samantha's behavior and elegant ways. And the catalogs, OH those beautiful, glorious catalogs! I could have framed every page. Every product, every detail was utter perfection. I just knew I would never look my best until I was wearing one of Samantha's dresses for girls. The AGONY of not having them was almost too much to bear. Looking back, it must have hurt my mom's heart to hear me pining away knowing she could never get me one. But she never made me stop. She was kind like that.

So to fast forward 20 years or so, it was pretty special when Paige and I went to the Seattle AG store to get our first dolls. Remember that post? It was bittersweet, because we were over there to take our little Curly Fry (a sweet boy we took care of for a year) to meet his new foster parents. Our new dolls made it less strange and painful. A couple of years after that, American Girl started sending me samples of their new dolls as they came out, to review on Ruffles and Stuff. Can you say DREAM COME TRUE?? I seriously...I know it sounds strange, but you just have no idea what it means to me, and how special it is. Not only because, well, gorgeous new dollies, but also, and mostly, because it feels like a special gift, straight from God. I almost don't even think of them as from American Girl. When the box comes, the return address should just say "Heaven". As you all know, my heart has been through a lot of pain in the last few years with the loss of my sister, and my father leaving, & etc., and these dolls, these toys...are so much more than that to me. It's like God brought me flowers to say "I'm sorry, feel better." Does that make sense? During this season of sadness, I've seen so many little (but big) gifts like that from God. And I love it so much, because he knows life has really hard times and it has to be like that, but he comforts us in the ways that are just right for us. And I'm so thankful!

So that's why I post about my dolls. They're special to me. :O)

Love you, dear people!

August 27, 2017

Joy Medley

As you've probably gathered, the jewelry company my mother and I started, Joy Medley, is not happening at the moment. I can't tell you how disappointed and horribly embarrassed I am to tell you that.
The odd thing about blogging, and having your life be public, is sometimes you feel obligated to share details, but out of line doing so at the same time. The short story is: my dad left my mom after 40 years of marriage. He left her just months after my sister's suicide, but it was only recently finalized. There's a lot more pain and confusion and sleepless nights and true, true, heartbreak to it, but that's the gist. And we just...we just...we thought we could do the things, but we can't. At the moment.
So I'm sorry. I'm sorry to be flaky, again. And I'm sorry that you were all so encouraging and supportive for nothing. It might just be the foolish, illogical optimism that I am everlastingly plagued with, but I really think someday we will be able to run the business again. It really was such a joy to us.
For now, we're just being still. And I think that's ok.

Thank you for everything, you kind, kind people. I love you.


August 23, 2017

Nanea Mitchell!

(all images above belong to American Girl^^^)

Isn't she so beautiful!!!!! Our latest little package of happiness From American Girl came this morning! Their newest doll is a historical Character, which are our favorite! They are what made me fall in love with American Girl when I was still a little girl-the fun stories and dresses and accessories that reflect life in America at the time of whichever doll you had. So cool. This doll, Nanea Mitchell, is from Hawaii and her year is 1941. Paige and I can't wait to start her book tonight, reading about what life may have been like after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ever since they announced Nanea, back in spring, I've been counting the days until she was released! I love her new face mold, so pretty! And I mean her outfit. Those shorts! I'm dying, why are dolls so cute.
On a personal note, Nanea bares several resemblances to Ace's birth mom, which I find kind of cool. Maybe I will save her for Ace's daughter one day.
Thanks, American Girl, for giving us such a lovey gift! You make us so happy!!

Love you, friends. :)

P.S. This post was compensated by American, Girl, blah blah legal stuff, what am I supposed to say again? Opinions and gushing feelings are all mine. :o)


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