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American Girl

Nanea Mitchell, American Girl, WWII, Pearl Harbor

How important do you think it really is to teach your kids about the history? Do you actively teach your children about their past, the past of the world so they can live accordingly or do you place your focus on the future? Eyes on the prize and all that.

I had a secondary focus on History in university so I learned early on that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. It’s the first thing they teach you and it’s true. It’s like my tween trying to school me on how cool “The Smiths” are. Girl, I was there in the beginning. I know how cool they are. You are only cool enough to understand how cool they are because I made you so.

I make sure that my children know what the world was like before they came into it because if you don’t know the struggle, it’s hard to appreciate that it no longer exists or how far we’ve come to get where we are. Otherwise, we all become complacent and stop growing in any meaningful way. In this way, I think it’s my responsibility to teach my girls.

Not all kids love history unless it is relatable to them in some way. When you are a kid, you are the center of the universe and seeing it any other way is almost impossible. This is one of the reasons I love the BeForever series at American Girl. It has helped me make history palatable for girls no matter the age.

For example, American Girl’s newest BeForever character, Nanea Mitchell, a Hawaiian girl growing up on the island of Oahu in 1941 helps me to explain WWII to my girls.

Nanea Mitchell, American Girl, WWII, Pearl Harbor

Nanea’s story explores what life was like for islanders in the weeks leading up to and the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the U.S.’s entry into World War Two. In bringing this significant period in history to life for girls today, Nanea’s story illuminates how the courage, patriotism, and aloha spirit of the Hawaiian people inspired a nation at war and shows how one girl can make a meaningful difference in the face of big change.

“The BeForever line is about building a bridge of understanding, helping girls today see the interconnectedness—the feelings, experiences, hopes, and dreams—that exists between themselves and girls from long ago,” says Katy Dickson, president of American Girl.

The hope is that Nanea’s powerful story of resilience, responsibility to others, and contributing for the common good—or kokua, as it’s known in Hawaii—will resonate with girls and show them they have the power within to face the obstacles that come their way.

Written by Newbery Honor Award-winning author Kirby Larson, the Nanea series introduces readers to 9-year- old Nanea Mitchell. Nanea loves her close-knit extended family, dancing the hula, fishing with her father, and playing with her dog, Mele. Nanea is also eager to “dip her paddle in” to be useful at home and at her grandparents’ store.

When Pearl Harbor—the naval base where her father works—is attacked by Japan, the peaceful existence the Mitchells and their neighbors enjoy is replaced with martial law, and rumors of additional attacks and frequent air-raid drills have everyone on edge.

Amid the chaos and uncertainty, Nanea embraces her spirit of aloha and deeply held belief in kokua—doing good deeds and giving selflessly—to do her part for the war effort and help restore peace to her beloved Hawaiian home.

Nanea Mitchell, American Girl, WWII, Pearl Harbor

 

In addition to the stories, the Nanea collection features a beautiful 18-inch doll featuring an all-new face mold, hazel eyes, and dark brown hair, plus several 1940s-era, Hawaiian-inspired doll outfits and Nanea-inspired apparel for girls. Numerous authentic-to- the-era accessories round out the play experience, including Nanea’s Hula Outfit and Hula Implements and Nanea’s Family Market, with 90 pieces, including a wooden store with a movable counter, food, supplies, displays, and more.

To help ensure the historical accuracy and cultural authenticity of Nanea’s story and products, American Girl worked closely with a five-member advisory board who provided their expertise in Hawaiian culture, language, and history to inform all aspects of Nanea’s development—including the doll, books, outfits, and accessories.

To support Nanea’s inspiring message, from August 21 until the end of 2017, American Girl will be collecting donations for the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) program to help provide comfort and care to the members of the military, veterans, and their families.

American Girl will match every dollar donation made at americangirl.com or at any American Girl store in the U.S. up to a maximum total donation of $75,000. American Girl is also giving $575,000 worth of its signature 18-inch dolls to the American Red Cross to provide a bit of cheer to children in times of crisis.

Through the generosity of American Girl Dolls, I am giving away a Nanea Mitchell doll to one lucky reader to give to the little girl in her life, just in time for the holidays too!

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Gabriela McBride, American Girl, GIveaway, Girl Mom

My girls are growing up fast. Faster than I could have ever imagined back when they were learning to crawl backwards and walk then talk. Everything used to feel like it took an eternity. Now, everything is so fast. Now, I’m the one saying, “Wait up! Stop this train. I want to get off.”

The girls are no longer toddlers and preschoolers but elementary aged girls headed straight for that awkward in-between age. You know that time where kids look like puppies with overgrown paws? You know they are going to eventually grow into themselves but they still have that dang baby face that you just want to smother them with kisses. That is until they roll their eyes at you. I swear I spend a lot of time talking about rolling eyeballs on this blog lately. My mom used to wish a daughter “just like” me on me when I was a teen. Now, I get it. I’ll have two.

Anyways, in a lot of ways they are growing up. They can do a lot of stuff on their own. Heck, I even let them play outside in the yard with no supervision these days. (why yes, I am a recovering helicopter mom.) They have their own phones and they can have real conversations about the world but, in many ways, they are still my babies.

I love seeing them develop into the kind of people they are going to be someday. I see interests and issues that they love and support. They are thinkers and doers and that makes me proud. One loves to write and the other draw. One loves to dance and the other do gymnastics. They are similar but so different. Their personalities are really emerging at this age and it’s a beautiful thing to watch. I feel like one day I will be able to say, I was there when.

One minute they are making music.lys and the next they are playing with American Girl dolls. One minute they are telling me, “No mom, I can do it myself.” And the next, they are coming in hot for mommy time. Hey, I’ll take it. I’m not complaining. I know these moments are fleeting. Yes, even the eye rolls. I’m sure one day, I will even miss those.

So, I really appreciate it when there are toys that they can play with and love but at the same time love and learn from. It’s rare that you find that because toys these days are either strictly for flexing the brain or completely pointless other than wasting your money and maybe giving your kids a few hours of entertainment. Yes, I realize those smiles are priceless.

I’ve always been a fan of dolls. Maybe because I’m a girl. Maybe because I have girls or maybe I just like the idea of a toy that teaches a child to be nurturing and compassionate; a “toy” that teaches your child to care for something else. It’s even more so when it is relateable to the child. Shared physical traits or, in the case of American Girl dolls which have their own backstory, shared interests and books to elaborate on that kinship.

This year’s American Girl of the Year is Gabriela McBride. Gabriela (the doll) is a quiet and creative girl growing up in a family of artists. In her story, Gabriela struggles with stuttering, but uses the power of poetry to find her voice and gain the confidence to make a difference in her community. I can relate to this because I was a clutterer and writing has always been my way of expressing myself.

Gabriela McBride, American Girl, GIveaway, Girl MomThe first book Gabriela, hits shelves in January and tells the story of a quiet and creative girl growing up in a family of artists. Gabriela inherited a love of the arts from her parents, especially her mother, but spoken word poetry is becoming her own passion. Although Gabriela often finds herself in a battle with her own words because of her stuttering, she discovers that her poetry, filled with wit and honesty, helps her speech flow more easily and gives her the confidence to find her voice to help save her beloved community arts center from being torn down.

As many of you know, I have my own Gabi who also happens to be a creative. She dances and loves to scribble on her drawing pad or in her journal and when she’s not doing that, she is making music.lys. You see, my Gabi is also a quiet girl who is an old soul. She is very observant and loves anything artistic and animals, more than just about anything else. She’s quite shy when around new people but through music.ly, she has opened up by being able to express herself without someone looking directly at her and she has been blossoming. Her music.lys are pretty hilarious. I just love seeing her enjoy herself and double bonus when she and her sister do them together because that means they are not bickering, as they so often do lately.

 

Gabriela McBride, American Girl, GIveaway, Girl Mom

The 18”Gabriela doll has curly dark-brown hair and warm brown eyes. The first thing my daughters said when they saw her was, “Look mama, she looks like you!” It’s true, we both have some pretty awesome curly hair and warm chocolate eyes. Only, I wish I was a dancer.

My Gabi fell in love with Gabriela McBride the moment she saw her. She loves that Gabriela is musically inclined and has cool accessories that she can use further personalize her experience to Gabriela like the performance case and the creative studio.

The performance case has everything Gabriela needs to set a performance or mix music. The case includes a laptop with a retractable cord for her drum pad and microphone, as well as 3 reversible and interchangeable screens. The drum pad can be plugged into the computer for sound mixing and comes with drumsticks. The case also includes a stylish pair of stylish rhinestone headphones so she can tune everybody out and prepare for a performance.

Gabriela loves nothing more than to dance, create and dream in the studio at her community center, much like my Gabriella and her beloved ballet studio. The creative studio comes with a metal barre that’s perfect for practicing moves from her ballet board and a reversible backdrop with the interior and exterior of the studio. It also comes with a water bottle, because every dancer needs to stay hydrated and a soft yellow towel because every dancer knows after a hard class, you sweat. Your tiny dancer or future YouTube, music.ly or funimate star will adore these add-ons for Gabriela.

Additional Gabriela products and books will be available starting this spring and, for the first time ever, the Girl of the Year collection will be available for a full 12 months and beyond!

To connect both boys and girls with Gabby’s inspiring message, American Girl is partnering with Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and leader in comprehensive educational materials, to create and distribute Express Yourself, a custom curriculum program that teaches 3rd-5th grade students how to use poetry as a tool for self-expression. The free materials will be available on www.scholastic.com starting March 1, 2017, and include teacher lessons and corresponding classroom activities, a poetry poster, plus parent tips and learning ideas to do at home. In addition, to celebrate National Poetry Month, the program also features a poetry contest for students that will run throughout the month of April. The Express Yourself program will encourage all students to find their creative voices and share their own personal stories, while building confidence along the way.

To learn more about Gabriela and the Girl of the Year line, go to americangirl.com, Facebook at facebook.com/americangirl, Twitter at twitter.com/american_girl, Pinterest at pinterest.com/agofficial, and American Girl’s Instagram page at instagram.com/americangirlbrand.

Gabriela McBride, American Girl, GIveaway, Girl MomI was provided a doll for review by American Girl and they are letting me give one away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment on who your favorite American Girl doll is and why below in the comments section and enter via the rafflecopter entry.

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Melody Ellison, American Girl, human rights

In a world where we still have to sound off to remind the world that #BlackLivesMatter, American Girl Doll Melody Ellison is a relevant reminder that the struggle is still very real for minorities and the only way to change that is to speak up and to teach our children to speak up for what’s right and just; human equality across the board.

Melody Ellison, the newest character to join American Girl’s popular BeForever line, is a hopeful and positive 9-year-old African-American girl growing up in Detroit, Michigan, during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. She loves to sing and blend her voice with others in harmony. After seeing her family members face racial discrimination and experiencing it for herself, Melody decides to add her voice to those who are speaking up about inequality.

Melody Ellison, Civil Rights, Equal Rights, American Girl

The beautiful 18-inch Melody doll has dark brown eyes and black hair. Melody comes in a bright blue-and-green houndstooth dress, a blue ribbon headband, and shiny blue patent shoes. Also included is No Ordinary Sound, the first volume in Melody’s classic series, by Denise Lewis Patrick.

My daughters love the American Girl dolls and their stories. Every doll has a story and every story matters. This is so important to me as a mom because I’ve spent my years as a mom teaching my daughters that every human being is created equal, every single person matters and everyone’s story is worth telling. AG perpetuates that same idea through their dolls, books and movies. Of course, some stories need to be told more than others and right now, the world needs Melody Ellison more than ever.

The new, nearly 50-minute film called “An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win” available on Amazon Prime is centered around a 10-year-old girl who sees inequality in all directions. That includes police brutality against peaceful African American protesters, young girls being arrested for eating at an all-white lunch counter, and most traumatically the 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing. It’s an old story but ironically, it’s more relevant than ever today.

In the film, Melody personally experiences many forms of racism—racist classmates, wrongly being accused of stealing a dress from a department store and seeing a display of white dolls. Many themes in the film feel especially relevant to what’s happening in America today, in particular, the Black Lives Matter movement that has arisen in the wake of dozens of high-profile murders of African-Americans by the police.

“The story is set in the 1960s but today’s girl can relate to what she’s seeing in the media,” said American Girl President Katy Dickson. She added that young girls today can connect to Melody’s struggle in making sense of the inequalities and injustices around her. The film ends with a hopeful message. “She learns that love and the strength of her family and choosing courage over fear are the things that will sustain her,” Dickson added.

In the face of the recent election, this doll and this movie are a perfect teachable moment and an opportunity for parents to spread a message of love, inclusiveness, and tolerance to their children. I think we need that now more than ever. I get that it’s just a doll and just a kid’s movie but it’s more than that, it’s a chance to be better and to do better as a society.

As one of the marginalized of the world, I know those who are not marginalized have a different perspective not always through a fault of their own but this is your chance to change that for your children. Go the extra step to teach your child kindness and acceptance, to perpetuate the good in the world. We can make the world a better place for our children and help them make it a better place for their children through examples of love and standing up for what’s right. Let’s do this.

In celebration of the release of Melody Ellison and her movie, An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win, American Girl is allowing me to give away a Melody Ellison doll to one lucky subscriber all you need to do is enter below.

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Wellie Wishers, American Girl, raising girls

Have you heard of the Wellie Wishers? This summer has been full of hectic crazy fun; packed with sunshine and the great outdoors. We’ve traveled, seen the beach and watched movies outside under the stars. But what do you do when it rains, right in the middle of summer? We made lemonade out of those lemons. The girls invited a few of their friends over for a movie play date. I work with American Girl so they sent us the newest American Girl Movie Lea to the Rescue. The girls were more than happy to watch it at our house together.

I popped some popcorn, made some actual lemonade and ordered pizzas. Meanwhile, the girls and their favorite American Girl dolls “watched” Lea to the Rescue. I’m not going to lie, it was the perfect rainy day activity for a group of girls in the 5 to 13-year-old age range. To be honest, I am more than a little past a teenager and I thoroughly enjoyed it too.

Speaking of rainy days and little girls, have you heard of American Girl’s latest line of dolls? They are called Wellie Wishers and they spread the message to today’s little girls everywhere that we should all consider what it means to “stand in another person’s wellies.”

The Wellie Wishers, a line of five fun-loving characters, Willa, Kendall, Ashlyn, Emerson, and Camille are out to make the world a kinder and friendlier place.

It’s the golden rule in full effect. Treat others how you would like to be treated (or for you more modern day moms) to have a good friend you’ve got to be a good friend. Either way you slice it, the message is don’t judge others. Always consider what it might be like to stand in their wellies.

American Girl created Wellie Wishers to help younger girls, ages 5-7, discover the social and emotional skills they need to become empathetic, compassionate, and thoughtfully motivated individuals. Timeless life lessons on sharing, cooperation, respecting feelings, and making things right are passed along to girls through each Wellie Wishers character, who navigates the ins and outs of friendship through play, songs, and imagination.

The Wellie Wishers celebrate an amazing time in a little girl’s life when she’s learning about herself through the world around her. Through their stories, the Wellie Wishers help our daughters make good choices today defining the person she’ll become tomorrow.

The beautiful, whimsically illustrated early chapter books about the Wellie Wishers’ fun and fanciful outdoor adventures are written with humor and heart by American Girl author Valerie Tripp. The stories will delight girls and their mothers as they celebrate the promise and potential of young readers and gently model the life skills that help build strength of character and confidence.

The Wellie Wishers’ adventures and lessons further unfold in American Girl’s first-ever animated series, airing in fall 2016. Each 11-minute episode follows the fun-filled exploits of the five smart and lively six-year-olds, who have limitless imaginations and the same big wish: to be a good friend. When the Wellie Wishers step into their colorful rain boots, they are ready for anything in their aunt’s whimsical backyard garden. Young viewers are entertained through stories, humor, and catchy songs as the Wellie Wishers work, dream, and play together—feeding birds, making mud pies, creating art, and putting on shows—all while imparting valuable lessons in friendship.

To further engage girls and bring the characters to life, American Girl is debuting a free Wellie Wishers app, where players can explore the interactive garden world through three mini games—Carrot Care, Mud Pie Maker, and Garden Harmony. Little girls will delight in the sweet, silly, and unexpected surprises that get unlocked the more they play. The free app is available through play.americangirl.com.

Rounding out the play experience is a line of adorable 14½-inch dolls (retail $60) and garden-themed accessories, including a magical theater stage and a premium wooden playhouse with over 30 pieces. Young girls can even dress like their favorite character with a selection of dress-like-your-doll clothing, like enchanted garden PJs or a pair of peek-a-boo wellies.

Wellie Wishers, American Girl, raising girls

My girls love their Wellie Wishers and thanks to the generosity of American Girl, we would like to give away a doll to one lucky reader. Enter below! Mandatory entries include subscribing to The TRUTH newsletter, following The TRUTH about Motherhood on Facebook and leaving a comment below!

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Lea Clark, American Girl, Girl of the Year 2016, Giveaway,sadness

It’s been a difficult past 7 days. The kind of epic bad days those tear jerker country songs are made of. Last Thursday, my youngest daughter’s pet Guinea Pig got pneumonia, I took him to the vet, got him meds and we held him all day long nursing him back to health and then he just died. I was mad. I wanted a refund. I did all the things I was supposed to do and yet, still, I had to break my kids’ hearts.

We had to tell the girls when they came home from school and they both had massive breakdowns, one of which was outside on the front porch, screaming and wailing. Of course, this in turn broke our parent hearts and we all sat sobbing for most of Friday evening.

Lea Clark, American Girl, Girl of the Year 2016, Giveaway

Saturday, we had a funeral for said Guinea Pig. Sunday, I was awoken at 10:30 by my daughter who insisted we go to 11 a.m. mass. Did I mention that I hadn’t slept since Wednesday night when the guinea pig first presented with the sniffles? So to mass I went, after spending all of 5 minutes getting ready. Did I mention I am on the board at our school, which is at our church? Oh yeah, did I mention I know everyone there and I looked CRAZY.

Monday, my husband gave me the news about the death of David Bowie. Then on the way to finally get my stitches out from my second surgery to this never ending broken leg saga, just when not walking like a pirate was in my line of sight, my car decided that it doesn’t like the cold. In fact, it hates the bitter cold we are experiencing so badly that a censor automatically turns traction control off which in turn reduces the engine power basically leaving you stranded in traffic moving at the pace of a slow turtle. We’ve had snow days, delays and elearning ( shoot.me.now) and it’s only Wednesday.

***Update: Thursday, my daughters’ school was locked down due to a crazed man and a hostage situation in the neighborhood addition behind the school! Bonus, the school didn’t even inform the parents until pick up. I’m assuming it was to avoid mama bears like myself from scaling the building to get to their locked down children. This is no joke a terrible week.

The car can’t be seen until Friday. Oh and the dog also has to be seen Friday by the vet because apparently the stress and bitter cold have also made her start losing her hair on her flanks. Great alopecia one more thing to worry about. On a week when we have a thousand places to be, the snow, ice and bitter cold does not want us to do any of it.

Any ways, now that you know how horrible my last 7 days have been I will tell you that I need a little joy in my life. They say be the change you want to see in the world so I am turning this frown upside down, pulling on my big girl panties and faking it until I make it and all that. I’m holding fast to the little victories, like I had my first shower in 4 months standing on my own 2 feet without using the bench for the elderly that I have been dependent upon since September.

To start the happy train rolling, I am giving away one 2016 Girl of the Year doll, Lea Clark!

I refuse to let this chaos keep me down so I spread a little happiness by giving a Lea Clark doll to my daughters and through the generosity of American Girl; I am also giving one away to a lucky reader.

I love that American Girl’s 2016 Girl of the Year, Lea Clark, dives into adventure and helps girls see life through a new lens and is in collaboration with the world wildlife fund to help protect animals and their habitats. Grace was perfect for my eldest daughter because she is a little chef and loves all things Parisian but Lea is my youngest all the way. She even looks like my little girl.There is so much to identify with and my little girl adores Lea. I think yours will too.

Lea Clark a talented photographer with a love for animals, discovers a wide world of possibilities when she embarks on a faraway adventure to Brazil.   Available for only one year, Lea’s collection includes a beautiful 18-inch Lea doll featuring long wavy hair and warm hazel eyes, plus several tropical-inspired outfits, accessories, and toys that reflect her Brazilian travels—including Lea’s Rainforest House with over 30 pieces! Coming this summer, an all-new, action-adventure film will debut on DVD from Universal Studios Home Entertainment .

Written by award-winning author Lisa Yee, the 2016 Girl of the Year books—Lea Dives In, Lea Leads the Way, and Lea and Camila—introduce girls to a curious ten-year-old girl with an adventurous spirit. On a family trip to Brazil to visit her older brother, Zac, who is studying the Amazon rainforest, Lea is excited to capture everything she sees with her camera. Soon Lea   makes some incredible discoveries, but she also faces unexpected challenges, including a fear of the ocean, tension with Zac, and finding a baby sloth that has been gravely injured. With the help of her family, her new Brazilian friend, Camila, and her late grandmother’s guiding inspiration, Lea finds the inner strength and confidence to live her new adventures to the fullest.

Giving Back with Lea Clark

To show girls that, together, they can make a difference in helping protect animals and their habitats, American Girl has created Wild at Art, a year-long fund-raising campaign in support of World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Starting January 1, American Girl is encouraging girls to use their artistic abilities to host an art sale and donate the proceeds to WWF. To launch the campaign, American Girl has made a $50,000 donation to WWF and also invites customers to contribute at American Girl retail stores and americangirl.com. Parents can visit americangirl.com/wildatart to learn more and register for Wild at Art, plus get animal-themed craft ideas, and be entered into a sweepstakes for the chance to win one of 17 Lea prize packages.

In addition, from January 1 through December 31, 2016, for every purchase of one of the three plush animals in Lea’s collection—the margay, sea turtle, or sloth—American Girl will donate $1 (up to a maximum of $100,000) to WWF.

Just leave a comment below telling me who your favorite American Girl doll is and why. One lucky reader will randomly be selected to win a Lea Clark doll.

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American Girl, Grace Thomas, American Girl Giveaway, Giveaway, Girl of the Year 2015

Whose little girl doesn’t love an American Girl Doll? Valentine’s Day is in little less than a month and that means time to gift the people I love something they will love. Obviously, it’s not about the gift but I really do love giving my girls something that makes their face light up. I’ve partnered with American Girl doll to give my girls something I know they will absolutely LOVE.

There are so many great things at American Girl that any little girl would love to get this Valentine’s Day, perhaps, one of the many dolls from the new BeForever Collection like Samantha who has returned from retirement, or a doll and me matching outfit or the coveted, 2015 American Girl of the Year, Grace Thomas.

Grace Thomas™, the 2015 Girl of the Year, is an avid baker with an entrepreneurial spirit, is motivated to follow her dream of starting a baking business after an inspiring trip to Paris. Available for only one year, the Grace collection includes a beautiful 18-inch Grace™ doll featuring long dark-brown hair and sparkling blue eyes, plus several French-inspired outfits, accessories, and toys that reflect her interests, such as the premium French Bakery Set with more than 60 pieces!

The 2015 Girl of the Year books—Grace, Grace Stirs It Up, and Grace Makes It Great—written by Mary Casanova, introduce girls to an inventive, enthusiastic nine-year-old girl who is full of big ideas. A planner at heart, Grace finds the courage to step outside her comfort zone during a trip to Paris that broadens her perspective and challenges her to try new things. Back home, Grace uses her newfound courage and culinary skills to start her own French baking business with her two best friends. Learning to combine their talents, Grace and her friends mix together some great ideas that, ultimately, lead to many sweet rewards. To bring Grace’s story to life, a full-length movie will debut on DVD from Universal Studios Home Entertainment in summer 2015.

For Goodness, Bake!
To further Grace’s message that working together is the best recipe for success, American Girl has created For Goodness, Bake!, a year-long fund-raising initiative in support of No Kid Hungry®, the campaign to end childhood hunger in America from Share Our Strength®. Starting January 1, American Girl is encouraging girls to host charity bake sales in their local communities and donate proceeds to No Kid Hungry. Because 1 in 5 children struggles with hunger in the United States, American Girl is helping ensure all children get the healthy food they need every day. For every $1 a girl raises, No Kid Hungry can connect a child with ten additional meals.

To kick off the initiative, American Girl has donated $50,000 to No Kid Hungry, and it invites customers to also donate directly at americangirl.com and at American Girl retail stores. Parents can visit americangirl.com/girloftheyear to learn more about the initiative, to register for the Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry, and be entered into the For Goodness, Bake! sweepstakes for the chance to win one of 41 Grace prize packages.

American Girl is known for giving back and this is a virtue that I want to instill in my daughters.

I think this will be a great way to personalize the value of charity and helping those less fortunate than we are. My youngest has a big heart and can’t help but want to help every person who asks, I think the No Kid Hungry project is an amazing service project to let my girls be involved in so I am happy to give them Grace Thomas for Valentine’s Day.

American Girl, Grace Thomas, American Girl Giveaway, Giveaway, Girl of the Year 2015

I would also love to give one lucky reader a Grace Thomas doll to share with her own little girl this Valentine’s Day! The contest will run from today until February 9th, 2015 at 11:59 p.m.. To be eligible you must be in the U.S. or Canada and you must answer the question: What’s your favorite blog post or blog that you’ve read this week (other than your own)?

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Disclosure: I was provided an American Girl Doll for review purposes but all opinions are my own.

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American Girl, Doll, Children's hospital, holiday gift guide 2014, best gifts for girls

Anyone who has been a long time reader of The TRUTH knows that we are big fans of American Girl in our home. Remember the American Girl Christmas of 2013?

 

It all started with a couple of hand-me-down American Girl dolls and a Bitty Baby from my niece (who’s now 17) and my daughters were smitten. They fell in love with the AG dolls immediately.

 

Their first “new” American Girl dolls were from the My Girl collection, each girl got a doll that looked exactly like her. Both girls named their dolls after themselves. Sophie and Lucy became regulars at the dinner table, play dates and at bedtime. Wherever our girls went, so did Sophie and Lucy. It’s been love ever since.

American Girl, Doll, Children's hospital, holiday gift guide 2014, best gifts for girls

 

Anything that can make my daughters that happy is good in my book and American Girl Dolls has got even better in my book this holiday season.

 

This year American Girl has announced on an unprecedented holiday giving campaign “SHARE THE WONDER OF THE HOLIDAYS”. Starting November 24 through December 18, 2014, American Girl will match any doll purchase made online, in-store, or via phone with an 18-inch doll donation (up to 1,000 dolls each day!) to the Children’s Hospital Association. The donation, worth nearly $3 million in retail value, will help bring joy and comfort to thousands of young girls receiving care in any of the association’s 200 member hospitals in the U.S.

 

To further celebrate the excitement of giving and receiving American Girl this season, American Girl would like to invite you to share pictures and videos of your unforgettable American Girl moments-from unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning to celebrating a birthday or visiting a store-on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #Joy2EveryGirl.

 

“This holiday, we know millions of girls will experience the joy that comes with the gift of an American Girl doll. We want to share the magic and emotion of that event with even more girls-especially those who could use some extra cheer in their lives,” said Jean McKenzie, president of American Girl. “Through our partnership with the Children’s Hospital Association, we’re delighted to give thousands of deserving girls across America the opportunity to find a special friend in one of our dolls and help create a cherished holiday moment.”

American Girl has a long-standing commitment to helping children and families in need. The company is proud to support a wide range of causes and issues affecting millions of individuals, and works with leading charitable organizations to help make the world a brighter place. To learn more about American Girl’s 2014 “Share the Wonder of the Holidays” campaign, visit americangirl.com, find them on Facebook ,Pinterest , or Instagram .

American Girl, Doll, Children's hospital, holiday gift guide 2014, best gifts for girls

I know, from experience, just how much joy American Girl dolls have brought to my little girls and the thought of seeing that kind of joy on the faces of the little girls who need a smile the most, is one of the most giving and generous things I can think of giving a child. If you are planning on buying the little girl in your life an American Girl doll of her own any time soon, please buy it before December 18th and help American Girl donate one to a child who can really use something to smile about.

Disclosure: I was provided an American Girl Doll of the Year Isabelle to donate to a charity of my choice but our love for American Girl Dolls is genuine and all our own.

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Isabelle Palmer, American Girl, Doll of the year, ballet, daughters

The American Girl of the Year 2014 is named Isabelle Palmer. My daughter has a special kinship with this doll because she not only looks like her but they both are ballerinas. That’s right, this year’s American Girl is a ballerina and all the little ballerinas of the world rejoice, well, in my house anyways. You know how my girls love their American Girls; my girl, historical, bitty babies and all things including the kitchen sink American Girl Doll.  Thank goodness I have connections.

My girls have danced since they were 2, so, you see it was a no brainer when she asked for Isabelle for her 9th birthday. To be honest, I was pretty excited to get it for her. It was one of those “it” gifts.

Luckily, I’ve done some work with American Girl and was lucky enough to partner with them to review Isabelle and present her to my daughter on her birthday. I will never forget the look on her face when she opened the box and saw her. It was “that” look. You know, the look you get from your kid that melts your heart because you know you made their day and they will never forget the way you made them feel in this moment.

Firstly, I would like to say that Isabelle is beautiful. She looks has long beautiful blonde hair and big blue eyes just like my daughters. So what makes her so special? Here is a little bit about this year’s girl if the year.

Isabelle Palmer, American Girl, Doll of the year, ballet, daughters

Who is Isabelle?

Isabelle Palmer is an inspired ballet dancer who discovers her own way to shine.

Where does Isabelle live? Isabelle lives in Washington D.C.

What’s her favorite activity? Practicing ballet and designing dance costumes.

Who are her best friends? Luisa, a modern dancer and Gabriel, a magician.

Fun fact: When isabelle is dancing, she sometimes pretends that she is a water lily skipping and spinning across a pond.

Moment of change: Realizing that she can use her design skills to help others.

The moral of the story: There is no one else out there with your unique talents.

My daughter is smitten with Isabelle and we can’t wait for her movie to be released!

Who’s your daughter’s favorite American Girl?

My girls’s are smitten with Isabella Palmer!

 

 

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American Girl, Bitty Baby, Holiday Must Have, American Girl Doll

This summer while I was at BlogHer, I had the pleasure of attending an event at the American Girl store in downtown Chicago and I saw the Bitty Baby doll. This Bitty Baby can be ordered to look just like your little girl when she was a bitty baby. Talk about a personalized baby doll.

I’d never been to American Girl at night and without a few hundred screaming little girls so it was completely different than any other time, I’d been there.  As I sipped on champagne and shopped in quiet, I saw the American Girl Dolls and Bitty baby in a way I had never seen them before. It was magical to see them all on display and have the chance to appreciate their beauty and purpose; their stories.

The event concluded with a wonderful tea upstairs complete with loads of sweets and champagne, this was mommy heaven. Now, I get why the kids all go crazy the minute they enter the door. Then for the big finale, American Girl announced an expanded and enhanced Bitty Baby line to Create One-of-a-Kind Companions for the Littlest American Girls. Better still, they were gifting each attendee her very own Bitty Baby to order to look however she liked. I obviously ordered mine to look exactly like my girls did when they were born.

American Girl, Bitty Baby, Holiday Must Have, American Girl Doll

In case you are not familiar with Bitty Babies, they are designed for girls ages 3 and up. They look like a baby instead of the usual little girl American Girl Dolls. They are a sweet 15-inch soft-bodied doll available in 11 different combinations of skin tone, eye-, and hair-color, allowing your littlest girl to choose her very own baby doll that’s just like her. Each Bitty Baby doll comes dressed in her signature sleeper, along with a special “wishing star” keepsake toy and a beautifully illustrated Bitty Baby and Me hardcover picture book. The enhanced Bitty Baby also has several new outfits in various designs available for purchase.

Our Bitty Baby arrived about a week after I returned home. I didn’t tell the girls she was coming so when she arrived, they were shocked and pleasantly surprised.

My girls adore their Bitty Baby. I’ve caught my 6-year-old on more than one occasion singing to her baby. The new Bitty Babies also include a picture-book collection so you and your little girl can snuggle up close and read along as the little girl in the book and her Bitty Baby explore their world. What’s better than an excuse to snuggle in with your own precious Bitty Baby while learning lessons about generosity, confidence, curiosity and kindness? There is also a special section called “for parents” which focuses on social and emotional development of preschoolers and has tips to help your little girl become more confident, patient and independent.

American Girl, Bitty Baby, Holiday Must Have, American Girl Doll

The new line also offers story-themed play sets to encourage imaginative play and of course, matching outfits for your little girl and her Bitty Baby. Trust me, there is nothing more adorable than a little girl an her doll dressed alike. They also now offer a new line of premium plush animals and quality furniture, including a wooden crib and changing table.

This is the perfect gift for the little American Girl Doll fan in your life. This is sure to be at the top of every little girl’s Christmas list this year.

Who is your favorite American Girl Doll?

 

Disclaimer: I was gifted a Bitty Baby at the American Girl event that I attended but all opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

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Why Every Adult Woman Should have a Best Friend, best friend, friends, girlfriends, niki, best friends, mom life

There are some things that just cannot be argued, like the beauty of a sunset, the love for your child and the importance of a best friend, even when you are all grown up. There some things in life that are absolute and though we may think that we become self-sufficient as adults because we are taking care of children, at our core, we still need those besties we had when we were children; that one person that you could be completely yourself with, tell all your secrets too and she’d love you and support you still, no matter what, even if you are dead wrong and full-on crazy. When we grow up and get married, our husbands fill that role to an extent but there is just something about a girlfriend that cannot be replaced.

This is why every adult woman should have a best friend.

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