Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I'm Still Alive!!

Hey everyone, I'm sorry I haven't been on much this week.  Alisa, your post will be up by TOMORROW, even if I have to stay up until midnight!!  Sorry for the delay!  :(

Middle Gal is completely recovered from her ordeal, which is such a relief!  You'd never think she just went through surgery 2 weeks ago!  Thank you to all of you who were praying for her...your prayers are greatly appreciated!

This week turned out to be pretty crazy as well, but in a good way.  My brother and his wife just had their first baby on Tuesday night, a little girl. :D  We're all very excited!  I haven't gotten to see her sister in law ended up having a cesarean delivery, so we wanted to give her plenty of time to rest before we went and visited.  We'll be going to see them at the hospital sometime tomorrow.  I'm so excited!  I get to hold an adorable baby, and then give her back to mommy, go home, and have 8 hours of sleep!  It's the best of both worlds. ;)

The next few weeks are going to be a bit hectic as I prepare for two parties (Middle Gal's birthday party is now going to be back to back with Little Gal's...yikes!).  This means I actually have to have a house that's presentable.  Today I managed to get the dishes done and get sort of caught up on the laundry.  Sigh...where is Mary Poppins when I need her?  Snap!  The room's clean. ;)

Okay, that's all for now.  I had a rough time getting to the computer because Belle was typing like mad about her wonderful day with Robby. ;)  I think Emma's working on a post for Jane Austen and Unicorns, too, so hopefully all 3 blogs will be caught up soon! :)

Talk to all of you again soon! :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Tangled Ever After Items at the Disney Store! :)

Hey guys, I just got an email from about their new Tangled Ever After collection! :)  They have some great items, including a beautiful limited edition 17" Wedding Rapunzel doll with short brown hair! (See picture below.)  They also have Barbie-sized wedding Rapunzel and Eugene dolls.  Of course, that Rapunzel still has long blonde hair, which really bothers me!  Accuracy, people! ;)

Anyway, I thought you might be interested in seeing what they have to offer.  Click HERE to see everything.  I'm thinking of getting the mini doll set with mini wedding Rapunzel and Eugene.  What are your favorite items?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Thrift Store Goodies and McDonald's Build-A-Bears

I have a random collection of fun doll goodies I've accumulated in the past week or so, and thought all of you would enjoy seeing them. :)

First up, for those of you who don't know, McDonald's currently has small plush Build-A-Bear animals in their Happy Meals.  These are just the right size for your 18" dolls.  The animals this year have a Valentine's Day theme.  Here are two of them:

A cute green froggy.

A sweet pink and white bunny.

I believe there are 6 different animals in all, if I remember correctly.  They're already on #3 or #4 in our area, so if you're interested in adding these to your doll's stuffed animals, I would get to McDonald's sooner rather than later.  

For the record, I like the mini Ty Beanie Babies that McDonald's does a little bit better, but these guys are cute too.

Next up, we have a doll-sized hand puppet...sort of.  It doesn't actually fit over their thumb.  My mom and I found these at Michael's.  They're actually human finger puppets, but we think they work pretty well for dolls, too.

Mom got the cow...isn't he cute? :)

Now on to the thrift store goodies.  I've been collecting vintage 80s and 90s stuff for Hayden, since I'm basically making her like me when I was 12.  My mom found this really cute Rainbow Brite doll-sized nightgown at one of the thrift stores in town.  I thought it would be just perfect for Hayden. :)

I was never into the Rainbow Brite cartoons as a kid (and was actually pretty disappointed the first time I watched one), but a lot of my friends had Rainbow Brite dolls.  I always loved the pictures of Starlite, too.  I thought that no horse could be lovelier.  I was very disappointed to discover that Starlite was a boy!  I'd always pictured him as a girl!  He's also quite snooty and conceited in the cartoons.  So I just enjoy the pictures and pretend the cartoons don't exist! ;)

Just today, I went into Salvation Army and found this adorable doll-sized radio for just $2.50.  I didn't expect it to still work, but I put some new batteries in, and it worked perfectly! :)  I'm thinking I'll probably put this in Maggie and Rachel's room. 

The handle can come up, just like a real radio.

The speakers can also be detached, although I'll probably just keep them together.  

That's all for now.  Have any of you found any doll-sized treasures lately?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Feeling Annoyed and Other Randomness

Okay, I'm almost wishing I hadn't said anything about "Once Upon a Time" after last night's episode.  I'm so fed up with the way they're ruining Mary Margaret and David Nolan in Storybrooke!  I found last night's Fairy Tale segment pretty interesting overall, although the siren scene was just creepy.  I'm glad we got to find out what happened to Abigail and that, in the Fairy Tale world at least, she and Prince Charming parted ways on good terms.

Anyway, I wanted to apologize in case any of you watched last night and were offended or surprised that I had cautiously recommended the series.  And for those of you who haven't seen it, hopefully I haven't roused your curiosity just enough to make you go watch it now.  If you do, just realize that I was very disappointed by the plot line from last night's show and would not recommend that episode in particular.  Once again, nothing overly explicit was in it, but I was frustrated by the choices and character portrayed by ;)  My main interest in the show is to find out what happens to Rumpelstiltskin and Belle.

In other news, I should be able to do a bit more blogging than I thought this week since I'll be home with Middle Gal.  She's feeling pretty much back to normal, so I think my main task is going to be keeping her from climbing, running, jumping, and other similar activities. ;)

Alisa, dear, good news for you!  I will have your post about meeting one's future spouse up sometime this week!  I hope you don't think I've forgotten you.  Truth be told, I'd taken some notes in one of my little writing notebooks on what I wanted to cover, and then couldn't find the notebook!  On Saturday, it was returned to me.  I'd left it at my sister-in-law's house! :}  So, don't worry...that post is on my "to do" list for this week. :)

I don't know that I really have much else to share.  Hope everyone has a great week, and I'll talk to all of you again soon! :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

More Rumpelstiltskin and Belle Collages

Okay, once I got started the other night, I couldn't stop! ;)  Here are a few more collages that I put together.  Some of them will be pretty small, but if you click on the pictures, you can see them close up. :)

What can I say?  I just love! ;)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Some Thoughts on "Once Upon a Time"

Hi everyone!  Thank you much for your prayers and encouraging comments regarding Middle Gal's recovery.  She's doing really well! :)
This is a post I've been working on all week, and I wanted to get it published before the next episode.  Hope you enjoy it!

Okay, I've been holding out on writing about this series because I wanted to see the direction it was going, but I admit it...I've gotten a bit hooked on "Once Upon a Time".

WARNING:  THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AHEAD!  If you haven't watched this series and don't want to know anything about it before watching, I would suggest you skip this post.  I'll try to warn you before the big spoilers, but there will inevitably be things I have to reveal as I share my thoughts.

WARNING #2:  I've been working through this stuff in my head for a while, so I'm most likely going to be very wordy, just so you know.  You've been fairly warned. ;)

I was able to hold my ground for quite a while.  I was a bit concerned with some of the content, and reluctant to get interested in a series that was written by guys whose last series lasted for EIGHT SEASONS!!!! ("Once Upon a Time" is written by the same guys who wrote "Lost", which I have not seen, by the way.)  But after last week's episode, "Skin Deep", I could feel my resolve slipping.

When I first heard that ABC was doing a TV series called "Once Upon a Time", I was cautiously excited.  I have always loved fairy tales, and I thought it had some great potential.  As I learned a little bit more about the series, I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, even as I got interested in the story line.  There were some definite similarities to my stories I'd been developing and working on.  Not that they were identical or anything, but my book would definitely have been more original if it had been published before "Once Upon a Time". :{

For those of you who are not familiar with the series, the basic premise is that every fairy tale story you've ever heard really happened.  All of the fairy tale characters we know and love really existed in their own world.  However, angry over Snow White's happy ending, the Evil Queen put a curse on the entire fairy tale world.  Now all of the fairy tale characters are stuck in Storybrooke, Maine, where the Evil Queen resides as mayor.  None of them know their true identities (except for the mayor and one other character), and only one person can break the curse:  the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, Emma Swan.  Emma was transported to our world via magical wardrobe (hmm, Narnia, anyone?) as a baby by her parents.  Of course, she has no memory of her life as a fairy tale character, which could prove a daunting obstacle.  And she's not in Storybrooke.  Thankfully, her son, Henry, whom she gave up for adoption as an infant, finds her and takes her there.  He's been given a book of fairy tales by his teacher at school and has connected the dots.  Now all he has to do is convince Emma that the stories are true, and that only she can save them.  Oh, and that his adopted mom is the Evil Queen from Snow White's story.

Involved, I know.  It's hard to describe.  The idea is great, though.  I was just a little concerned with what they'd do to all of my favorite fairy tales, so I tried to go into it very cautiously.  I didn't want to get swept off my feet before I could properly evaluate everything.

There are definitely some things that they got right on this series.  The writing is great.  At the end of each week, you find yourself dying to know what happens next!  While the writing style can sometimes make it a bit difficult to remember details from past episodes, as they jump from character to character for weeks at a time, it definitely keeps you hooked!

The stories have overall been much cleaner than I expected, too:  not too much swearing, no explicit sexual content.  Also, because ABC is owned by Disney, there are a lot of clever references to the Disney versions of the fairy tales that we've all grown up with.  

The acting is phenomenal, and the casting is superb.  I haven't seen any character yet that made me think, "They just really don't look the way I imagined them."

And speaking of characters, just who have we met so far?  Snow White and her dwarfs, Prince Charming, the Evil Queen, Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin, Jiminy Cricket, Red Riding Hood, Belle, and many, many more.  The writers go "behind the scenes" of the fairy tales we all know so well and give us all sorts of extra information on what happened between the pages of their original stories.

I also appreciate that the characters are very layered.  Instead of the perfect sweet and kind "good guys" and the melodramatic "bad guys", you see believable human characteristics in each.  Good characters sometimes make mistakes, but try to learn from them.  With some of the "bad guys", we see the progression of their characters.  It doesn't excuse their behavior, but you can see how the choices they made and the influences they chose to follow affected their life and shaped them into the person they became.  There are some great opportunities for spiritual application here.  More on that later, though. :)  

Of course, as is to be expected, the series has its faults.  The most frustrating issue for me involves Snow White and Prince Charming.  Because of the fact that no one remembers who they are in Storybrooke, some of the characters have been separated from each other, including Snow White and Prince Charming.  It is believed, at least at this point in the series, that Prince Charming's Storybrooke counterpart, David Nolan, is married.  SPOILER!!! (At the beginning of the series, David is in a coma, and when he wakes up, he doesn't remember anything.  Right when he and Snow White's Storybrooke counterpart begin to get close, the mayor/Evil Queen conveniently shows up with David's "wife".) END OF SPOILER (SORT OF)  Yet he "feels a connection" with Mary Margaret Blanchard (known as Snow White in the fairy tale world) that he doesn't feel with his wife.  As a result, the two of them end up starting a relationship in spite of his marriage.  It is not specified how far this relationship has gone, but they are at least very emotionally involved and have shared kisses and embraces.

Now, I realize that they are truly married in the fairy tale world, and it's pretty likely that his "marriage" to this other woman is a hoax or a ploy set up by the Evil Queen to keep him and Snow White apart.  That being said, I am so tired of TV shows or movies using the whole "soul mates" thing to excuse sin.  If you're married, you need to be faithful to your spouse, both physically and emotionally.  It doesn't matter if you find your "soul mate" after you're married.  You have committed to your husband or wife and that's the relationship you need to be cultivating.  If more people had this mindset, we'd have a lot less divorces and unhappy marriages in this world.  I realize that in some situations, such as abusive scenarios, this just isn't possible.  But on the whole, in a normal marriage relationship, this is God's design.  We really don't need any more encouragement to "follow our hearts", especially when a romantic fairy tale couple is involved, which makes us feel all gushy inside and therefore justify their actions.

There are also several characters that are known to be sleeping together, and while we don't see anything explicit (yet! Hopefully it will stay that way!), this is treated as the norm, and even encouraged in some instances.  Sadly, this has become the norm for most of society, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.  There also have been at least a few innuendos (and probably more than that, as these tend to go over my head unless they're really obvious).

I don't remember how much swearing there is.  There have been at least a few instances of some swearing, and a few improper uses of God's name.

Alcoholic beverages are frequently consumed throughout the show.  There are also some low-cut and otherwise revealing outfits worn by some of the female characters, especially the Evil Queen and Red Riding Hood's Storybrooke counterpart, Ruby.

The other thing is that there are some pretty dark themes and some violent content in some of the episodes.  Because of this, I would definitely not recommend this show for kids.  It's geared much more towards adults.  Of course, when you read some of the original fairy tales, they were pretty dark and violent too.  Something that comes up quite frequently is murder, and it's usually instigated by the Evil Queen or those around her.

I should also mention that magic plays a pretty big part in this series too (duh!).  For the most part, though, it's Disney-ish magic:  wands, fairy godmothers, wishes from Genies, and other such things.  There is at least one battle between the Evil Queen and Maleficent that is rather Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter-esque, and a couple of dark scenes where the Evil Queen begins the curse.  I just wanted to mention this because I know this is a real issue for some people.  For me, as long as they're not constantly reciting incantations and making spells the entire focus, I'm not as bothered.  I mean, you can't really have fairy tales without magic...the plot lines would be completely impossible. :}

So what was it that finally got me really interested in this series?  You won't be surprised.  I watched Snow White and Cinderella's stories with interest, but I was able to remain fairly detached.  Rumpelstiltskin and Jiminy Cricket's stories were interesting, but sad, too.  The Magic Mirror, the Huntsman, Hansel and Gretel...all of them were interesting, but still I was doing well.

Then, last week, they did Beauty and the Beast...and I was totally sunk.  Are you shocked? ;)  It was, in my opinion, the greatest episode yet (minus the annoying secondary plot with more on the Mary Margaret/David Nolan issue, and SPOILER!! the Storybrooke Cinderella character who got pregnant before marrying her Prince Charming! Grrr!  At least this didn't happen in the fairy tale world, but still...) END OF SPOILER  I had my doubts at first when I realized that Rumpelstiltskin was going to take the role of the Beast.  The episode was written so well, though, that it didn't take me long to love it.  The writing, the acting, and the music all melded together to make one amazing episode!  It seriously took me almost all night to wrap my head around all the little nods and references to Beauty and the Beast, but with twists of their own.  SPOILER ALERT!!  Sadly, this version did not have a happy ending, but there's still a chance that the story might resolve itself later on in the series!  END OF SPOILER  I'm on pins and needles to find out what happens.  And apparently, I'm not the only one.  Just look up "Belle and Rumpelstiltskin" on YouTube, and you'll find dozens of fan videos celebrating the couple.

At first, I felt a little bad about liking the episode so much.  I mean, the more you watch of this series, the more you realize the evil that Rumpelstiltskin is capable of, and the amount of power he really holds. It made me think of a Phantom of the Opera type situation.   But at the same time, most of the things he'd done were unknown to Belle, and he truly cared for her and showed her kindness as the episode wore times, at least.  So really, from her perspective, he was just a guy that was a bit creepy-looking and a little rough around the edges. [EDIT:  In reading over this, I realized I was rationalizing the scenario because I liked the episode so much. I need to be consistent here! :}  Rumpel is not exactly the greatest candidate for a future mate (okay, that's the understatement of the year), and even though Belle didn't know everything he'd done, this still was definitely more of a Phantom case.  Of course, when Rumpel SPOILER went all ballistic on her for trying to break his curse, she wisely didn't stick around (partially by choice and partially by force).  I appreciate the fact that she stood up to him and was able to see through his phony excuses, yet she was strong enough to say goodbye, even though she still loved him. END OF SPOILER]

I think that Rumpelstiltskin, more than any of the other characters, really exemplifies the possibility of redemption.  He made some horrible choices in his life.  In the beginning, rather than facing his problems, he chose to do something wrong to give him the power he'd always dreamed of.  He justified his decision by thinking of all the good he could do, but instead, his power corrupted him and turned him into something evil. [Side note here:  While I pitied his beginning, I did not have much empathy for Rumpelstiltskin at all before this episode!  He gave me the shivers!]

When Belle came into his life, he slowly started to remember his humanity.  She brought back feelings that I'm sure he thought he no longer had.  This episode showed a different side to him, a vulnerable man who had the capacity to love, if only he would let go of his bitterness and desire for power.  We were also shown in this episode that he made another decision that he came to bitterly regret...a decision that still haunted him, even in Storybrooke.  

I think there's hope for Rumpel yet.  In all the episodes about the Evil Queen, we've seen her make bad decision after bad decision.  While she seems to have some feelings beneath that icy exterior, she is ruthless and never fails to crush all who get in her way.  She is manipulative, power-hungry, and will stop at nothing to pursue her own interests.

Rumpel has similarly made some horrible choices and done some horrible things.  Yet there is still a shred of goodness that is fighting to get out.  SPOILER!!  He still cherishes his memories of Belle, so much so that his most prized possession is a chipped teacup (you'll have to watch the episode to find out why!). END OF SPOILER  Don't get me wrong.  Rumpelstiltskin (and his Storybrooke double, Mr. Gold) is far from a nice guy!  He's got a long way to go...but there's still hope. :) 

I think this is such a wonderful picture of us regular, non-fairy tale humans. ;)  In our lives, we are daily presented with choices, and every choice we make affects our future path.  The friends we make, the influences we follow, the books we read, the movies we watch, and the goals we set all determine who we become.  We can choose to do what is right, or do what "feels good" and works best for us.  And any of us who have been on this earth for a considerable period of time know that the more we keep giving into our selfish nature and to the evil influences around us, the easier it is to continue down that road.

But, praise be to God, we do not have to redeem ourselves.  In fact, there is nothing we can do to save ourselves.  It is only by accepting Christ's sacrifice for us on the cross that we can be saved.  And His death covers every sin that ever has been or ever will be committed.  It may be difficult to choose what is right after years and years of doing what is wrong, but it is never impossible.  No one is a lost cause.  And I think that Rumpelstiltskin may possibly end up being an illustration of that.  The problem is, he's going to have to make the right decision first...and that could be a pretty tough choice.

 Even as followers of Christ, we are not immune to the pull of sin and the world.  It is a daily struggle to yield to Christ and His will for our lives.  Thankfully, when we fall, we need only to confess our sins to our Savior, and we can start fresh again.  I think that's why, especially as I get older and become more acquainted with my struggles and failings, I tend to appreciate less-than-perfect heroes and heroines.  I've come to love characters who can be used for good in spite of their flaws, who learn from their mistakes and move on.  

I would like end with a word of caution to my younger, unmarried sisters in Christ.  It is so easy to get caught up in a story like this and not think about the tragedy of giving our hearts to someone who does not share our faith.  I think that as women, we have a natural desire to "save" someone when we see their potential.  Think of all of the stories that pull at our heartstrings, like "Beauty and the Beast", "The Phantom of the Opera", "Jane Eyre", and more, where the main character is a tortured soul with a capacity for goodness.  May I just encourage you to keep these sorts of relationships for your stories and stay away from them in real life?  You will avoid so much heartache if you do.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with befriending and witnessing to someone who needs to know about the love of Christ.  But dating or courting someone with the soul purpose of converting them almost never works, and once your heart is involved, it's harder and harder to let go.  How sad to share your life with someone who may not ever be able to relate to what is most important in your life!

Okay, getting down from my soapbox now. ;)  I just know that it's easy to get caught up in the romance and excitement of stories like these without thinking about the dangers of seeking that sort of a relationship in real life.

For those of you who are now interested in watching "Once Upon a Time", I have to say that I cannot fully recommend this show, especially for my younger audience, and I can't guarantee that it won't get worse (most shows do!), so proceed at your own discretion.  I think, though, for my older readers and lovers of fairy tales, this show has some potential, aside from the issues I've mentioned.  More than anything, this show inspires me to keep writing my own fairy tale series I've been working on! :)  

I'll leave you with a couple of collages I did of my favorite couple, just for fun. :)

I almost cried when I watched this scene!! (Sorry the picture is so can click on it to make it bigger.  I've also added it to the bottom of my blog.) :)

An Unordinary Birthday Gift

Hi everyone!  I feel like I've been gone for ages, although most of you probably figured I've just been busy with birthday preparations.  If only that were the case!

As you all know from my last post, "Middle Gal" celebrated her 6th birthday on Wednesday the 15th, and was looking forward to her first "friend party" with her school friends today.  

Well, sometimes the Lord has other plans.  Let's just say that there will not be a party here today.  Perhaps in another week or so.  

Thursday morning when I got up, Middle Gal asked me to please make breakfast soon because her tummy was hurting, which is pretty unusual.  While I was making breakfast, she came and told me that her "hip" hurt.  I told her to try going potty to see if that was the problem.  She was able to go, but still felt bad.  By the time I finished breakfast (only about 15-20 minutes after I'd first woken up), she was hurting so badly that she only managed to eat her vitamins and about 2 bites of toast.  I sent her to her bed and continued working on my breakfast.  

Over the next few minutes, she got worse and worse.  She was clutching her right side and wailing.  She even threw up several times.  I gave her a warm sock full of beans to put on her "owie" and then left a message on my mom's cell phone to let her know that Middle Gal wouldn't be at school today (usually my mom watches Little Gal on Thursdays so that I can go help in Middle Gal's class).  Then, just out of curiosity (because I never can remember), I went online to check which side of the body the appendix was on.  I've tried to be really in tune to that because Hubby had a horrendous experience with a ruptured appendix as a child, and I've always worried that I something like that might happen to my kiddos.  

The computer confirmed that the appendix was on the right side, which was the side Middle Gal was holding.  I might have shrugged it off if it weren't for the fact that this seemed much more painful than any of her previous tummy issues.  I looked up a few things on diagnosing appendicitis.  One site said to try pushing on the area and then letting go.  If it hurt when I let go of the area, that was one sign.  It was also suggested to raise her right leg towards her tummy.  If that hurt, it was another possible sign.  I tried both, and both caused her pain.  (Seriously, what did moms do before the Internet?) ;) 

At this point, I decided to risk waking my mom up and called her home phone.  I explained the situation, and she suggested calling the doctor on call (our doctor's office wasn't open for the day yet).  I took her advice and called, leaving a message explaining the symptoms.  I didn't have to wait more than about 5 minutes before my call was returned.  The doctor said it sounded like it could definitely be appendicitis, and told me I should probably I take her to the Emergency Room, just in case.

So, within a half an hour, I was in the Emergency Room with my little birthday girl.  My mom stayed with the other two, and after getting ahold of my husband at UPS, took Big Gal to school and watched Little Gal.  Hubby met me at the Emergency Room, where we were put into a room fairly quickly.

[Side note here:  As soon as Middle Gal realized she was at the hospital, she looked up at me and said in a panicked voice, "Am I going to have surgery?"  Not the response you'd expect from a Kindergartner...unless one of the Kindergarten parents had just a week or two earlier come in and explained his job as a surgeon to the entire class.  I must confess, I was wishing for better timing on that!]

At this point, I was a bit nervous, because Middle Gal was acting almost normal.  I almost felt like telling the doctors, "She was really acting like she had a problem with her appendix...honest!!"  Especially since everyone's tone of voice seemed to convey their doubt that appendicitis was her problem.  The doctor that saw us was very gracious, though.  He assured me that I was right to come in considering the symptoms she'd had.  

The doctors weren't sure it was really appendicitis, especially since she wasn't running a fever and seemed to be in okay shape pain-wise, but they decided to do a blood test and a urine test, just in case.  The urine test (which, by the way, was a complete miracle, since she had absolutely nothing in her tummy!  It only took two tries, 4 large sips of water, and a quick Mommy prayer to make it happen!) came back clear, but her white blood cell count was up.  During all of this, Middle Gal had another bad spell and threw up again.  

After conferring with another doctor and talking on the phone to one of the surgeons upstairs (which resulted in an odd test where they had Middle Gal jump up and down to see if her appendix area hurt), they decided that things were suspicious enough that she should be admitted.  Middle Gal was given an IV and moved to Pediatrics, Room 4.  

In Pediatrics, we waited for several hours to be seen by the surgeon.  At this point, my mom had dropped Little Gal off with Hubby's parents and had joined us at the hospital.  This was a real blessing, because we could take turns going and getting something to eat.  Middle Gal was not allowed to eat anything until they decided what they were going to do, so we didn't want to eat in front of her.

Middle Gal looked up at him, as if she was wondering if he was serious.  He was.  She got out of bed and jumped once.  

"Higher," he told her.

She jumped again.

"Does that hurt?" he asked.

She nodded, her pitiful poochy lip in place.

"Where?" he asked.  

She pointed to the same area on her right side that had been giving her trouble.

"Yep, it's appendicitis," he said quickly.  "That's the only thing that causes that to hurt when kids jump."  He then went into a quick explanation of I don't even remember what...something to do with the upcoming surgery, and was gone in the space of 2 minutes.

Mom and I were almost in shock.  The nurse had made it clear that she was doubtful that appendicitis was the right diagnosis.  The ER guys had been a bit doubtful, too, so we had pretty much assumed we'd be sent home.  I have to say, though, I was somewhat relieved.  Of course, no parent would ever wish surgery on their child.  But I was so worried I would go home and have the same thing happen again, and wonder whether to go in again or not.  I also knew of the dangers of appendixes rupturing, and I wanted to avoid that at all costs.  

Not long afterwards, two very sweet male nurses came in to transport her up to surgery.  They asked her about her doll and her pony.  One nurse even chatted about her "My Little Pony named Fluttershy" to another nurse in surgery.  It was just the type of thing Middle Gal needed to put her at ease.  We got to go in to get her paperwork ready and kiss her goodbye, and then they wheeled my baby away.  An appendectomy is a fairly non-invasive procedure nowadays, and I knew we'd caught it early, so I knew that the odds were she'd be totally safe.  But I still felt a whole lot better when they called my name and told me she was waiting for me in recovery.  

The procedure went really well.  Apparently, her appendix was up really high, almost by her liver, so it took them a while to find it.  I'm so thankful for the Lord's provision in this area.  It might have been difficult to diagnose normally because of the location of her appendix.  

It was interesting, too, because one of the times the nurse asked her where she hurt, Middle Gal pointed up high on her side, which should have indicated something other than appendix problems.  But it really was where her appendix was!

She was very drowsy for most of that day, and stayed the night at the hospital.  We were released the next afternoon at 2:30 PM.  Mom and I were both very happy at the prospect of sleeping in our own beds Friday night! :}

I look over the whole situation and just thank the Lord for the way He directed.  If I hadn't thought to look at appendix symptoms, if we'd gotten there later and had to wait longer, if the doctors had played it safe and sent her home since she seemed okay, if we'd had a surgeon who didn't apply the "jump test"...if, if, if...

You can't live your life that way, of course.  But I definitely saw God's hand at work throughout the whole situation.  Even the little details were taken care of, like all of the wonderful staff that worked with us, who were just the perfect personalities for my nervous little gal.  God is good.  

Of course, He doesn't always choose to work things out that way, and He is still good, even when He doesn't.  But I'm so thankful for His grace to our family throughout this entire ordeal.  I'm so thankful to have a little one back in her own bed, well on her way to recovery.  I'm so thankful for a God who cares.

So my blogging may be a bit sporadic for a while.  Middle Gal has to miss a week of school.  At some point, when she's feeling better, I'll figure out the best day to reschedule her party.  Anyway, just wanted to keep all of you posted.  I'd appreciate prayers from my sisters in Christ for her recovery.  She's doing really well so far, but it's going to be a long week for Mommy. ;)

Talk to all of you later!

P.S.  Just had to share this.  I wanted to give you an example of how awesome the staff was.  The male nurse who inserted Middle Gal's IV started by giving Nahji an IV (I'd brought Nahji with us for comfort).  That way Middle Gal would know that it was going to be okay.  (Can you tell he was a dad?) ;)  All of them took such wonderful care of her. 

Nahji with her IV. :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Middle Gal is 6! :)

My middle daughter turned 6 today.  I can't believe she's already that old!  She's in Kindergarten this year, and is thriving in school.  She loves to sing, dance, draw pictures, make up stories, play with her dollies, and use her imagination for all kinds of things.

I love you, sweetie!  My prayer is that this year would be filled with God's best for you as you grow in Him. :)

"True Love" ;)  
Middle Gal and her birthday present from Mommy and Daddy:  a Hearts 4 Hearts Nahji doll! :)  Nahji has been on her wishlist since these dolls first came out.  She was one happy camper this morning. :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!!

"Hey Hayden, I've got something for you."

"Wow, thanks, Charlie!  Yum...chocolate!" :)

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! :)  I pray that you and yours have a special day together. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

18" Doll Swimsuits from EBay Seller mikyle207 :)

My mom discovered another great eBay seller who makes adorable swimsuits for 18" dolls.  I fell in love with the swimsuits she bought, so I purchased a couple for myself. :)  The seller's name is mikyle207.  You can view her items for sale HERE.  She has many other adorable bathing suits available for very reasonable prices.  

I'd never really considered getting bathing suits for my dolls before this, partially because they can't be submerged in water, and partially because most of the doll swimsuits I've seen are not very modest.  I was very pleased to see how cute and modest these ones were, though, and I figured I could use them for some summertime photo shoots, even if the dolls can't actually go swimming. ;)

Here are Hayden and Emma, modeling their new suits.

I love the pink polka dots on this suit.  It looks great with Hayden's coloring, too. :)

Front view (sorry for the faded colors...I'm still trying to figure out how to fix that on my camera; the coloring is like the colors in the first 2 pictures).  

Back view

Hayden's shoes are the garden shoes from the Friends Boutique doll line at Walmart.

Beautiful Hayden!

Here's Emma's suit.  This one makes me think of taking a Hawaiian vacation! :)  I bet Kanani would love this.

Front view

I love the fact that both suits are made with actual swimsuit material.  While Hayden's is smooth, Emma's has ribbing in the material.

Back view

Emma's shoes are from one of the Madame Alexander Friends 4 Life clothing sets from 2009.

Lovely Emma!

I would highly recommend these swimsuits, especially at such an excellent, reasonable price.  Be sure to follow the link above and see her other items.  There are many different colors and designs to choose from. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

New Hearts For Hearts Girls Revealed!!

I almost forgot to check back!!  Today, the 3 new Hearts For Hearts girls (and one horse!) were revealed on the Hearts For Hearts Facebook page (click the link to got to the page, then click the pics at the top of their Facebook page).  I don't have a Facebook account, but I was still able to view them. :)  UPDATE (3/18/12):  I just checked this link again and now Facebook is not letting me access the page without a Facebook account.  The video links in the paragraph below still work, however.  Sorry for the inconvenience! :(

The Hearts For Hearts YouTube account also some video footage from the 2012 Toy Fair revealing the new dolls.  You can view the video HERE.  There's also a video revealing the "Deluxe Editions" of Dell and Consuelo, and some new outfits for all of the dolls! :D  You can see that video HERE.

So, what are your thoughts?  I love all three of them, but my favorite from the new dolls is Mosi, the beautiful Navajo girl.  I think she's adorable!  Her horse is really cute too.  Which new doll is your favorite? :)

Activity 2 Photos Up on The Doll Wardrobe! :)

Arrgghh!!  I am in the middle of TRYING to post one of my review posts for you guys, but Blogger is being INCREDIBLY slow right now.  It's taking about 10 minutes to upload one picture!!  Really, Blogger?

So, while I was waiting and waiting for my pics to upload, I checked my dashboard and noticed that the Doll Wardrobe had put up the Activity 2 Photos for voting! Yay!! :)

I've gotta say, I was lacking any sort of creative inspiration on this round, so my picture is quite boring compared to some of the others.  But considering I had one of the worst colds I've had in a really long time, I'm just thankful I got something entered. ;)  My photo, such as it is, is number 47.  I would show it to you in this post if my computer weren't acting up right now (I may add it later).   My mom participated again this time as well and did a great job.  Her photo is number 38.  I love all the detail she put into it...good job, Mom!! :D

There are a lot of great entries again this time around!  I loved seeing all of the different holidays people chose to portray.  Hats off to everyone! :)  You can click HERE to see them all and cast your vote! :)  Voting ends on February 19th.

Now I've got to get going on my Activity 3 Photo!!  I hope I can be a little more creative this time around. :}

Friday, February 10, 2012

Slight Change to my Username and Other Random Factoids

Hey guys!  Just wanted to let you know that I've officially switched my username from "beast'sbelle" to just plain "beastsbelle", without the apostrophe (just in case anyone cares!).  The main reason for this change is that I'm really tired of being labeled as "beast&39;#sbelle" (or something along that line) on some blogs when I's rather annoying! ;)  It also keeps things simpler for me, because I have the username "beastsbelle" on several other sites, so now everything is the same.

In other news, I hope to get some actual blogging done sometime this weekend!  I was hoping to get to it today, but I've been focusing on getting my disaster area of a house ready for my middle daughter's birthday party next week!!  Blogging is much more fun than cleaning...which is pretty much why my house looks the way it does right now! :}

Let's see, I figured it was about time to give another weight-loss update as well.  The good news is that I lost about 15 pounds before Christmas!  The bad news is that I gained it all back after Christmas (my aunt's homemade fudge and gingerbread was the beginning of my downfall, not to mention that I had absolutely NO exercise in the month of January!).  I haven't given up, though.  I'm realizing that this weight thing is going to be like dishes and's something I'll have to battle all my life.  I'm trying to shift my focus to being healthy rather than being a certain dress size.  Hopefully, that will make the task a little easier and less depressing. :}  You'd think you'd get to a point where you could ignore the pressures our society puts on us to have perfect bodies.  Perhaps I'll get to that point someday, but I'm definitely not there yet!  And by the way, I'm sorry if I've already said similar stuff before...I'm bad at unintentionally repeating myself...which I think I've already mentioned (see what I mean?). ;)

I have not forgotten my promised posts....they're coming soon, I promise! :}  I also have a few review posts in the works that should be fun.  Blogger was being stinky the other night and refused to upload my pics, otherwise I would have had a post ready for you today! :}

I would also appreciate your prayers.  I've had an idea for a series of books in my head for over 2 years now.  I've actually typed up close to half of the rough draft of the first book.  The story involves retelling of fairy tales, which as you may have noticed is suddenly very "in".  I was actually really worried when ABC's "Once Upon a Time" series aired, because there are some similarities to my story ideas there.  Thankfully, they're not identical...but my story idea was a lot more unique before "Once Upon a Time". :(

So here's my dilemma.  My original plan was to wait to try to publish anything until all three of my girls were in school (which would be August of 2013), but my idea is perfect for the current market.  Should I forget my original plan, or should I stick to my plan and not worry about the current trends?  I want to think very carefully before I make a decision.  I would hate to rush into trying to get my book published and then find I was in way over my head.

I feel like I'm standing on the edge of a precipice, with a raging river below me, wondering if I dare to dive in or not.  On the one hand, this story is very important to me.  I've sensed the Lord's direction throughout my project and felt it was something that could be useful and enjoyable to others.  The characters are as real to me as if they were truly flesh and blood.  I would love to see them come to life, to introduce them to the waiting world!

And yet, on the other hand, I'm plagued by doubts and fears.  What if it's not good enough?  What if everyone hates it?  What if I invest hours and hours of my time on something that's a big-time flop?  Worse still, what if I have a deadline to finish the stories and I just can't deliver?  What if I can't figure out those last few elusive plot holes?  What on earth could I have to offer that would be even slightly interesting to anyone?  What if everyone just thinks I'm copying everyone else? (I'm really good at living in my imagination...can you tell?) ;)

The other downside to going ahead with my project is that I would have to majorly slow down on my blogging.  I would still try to have at least a little update post up each week, but many of my photo stories and things would have to be fewer and farther between.  I love my blogging!!  I don't want to have to choose between the two, but at least for a time, I'd most likely have to.

I do so desire to follow the Lord's leading through this.  I don't want to jump out ahead of the game without consulting Him and trusting His guidance.  And yet, at the same time, I don't want to wait and hem and haw so long that I miss the boat.  Just pray that I will be able to make the right decision...for me, for my family, and for everyone.

Okay, enough thinking out loud!  I'd better stop before I bore all of you to death. ;)  Thanks for following this rambling, random post.  I'll be in touch soon!

P.S.  I almost forgot...tomorrow, 3 new Hearts For Hearts Girls dolls will be revealed on the Hearts For Hearts Facebook page! :D  I can't wait!!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Springfield Collection Jacket from Michael's

Hi everyone!  Thank you for being so patient.  Last week I had one of the worst colds I've had in a long time, so my blogging was pretty much nil!  It's been a week since I first came down with it, and I'm finally starting to feel like myself again!  

So, since I haven't had a chance to work on my more involved posts yet, I thought I'd tide you over with a review post I've had saved as a draft for a while. :)

My mom recently picked up one of the Springfield Collection doll jackets from Michael's for me.  I believe this retails for around $8, but as I've mentioned before, my mom gets all of the special coupons in the mail, so she was able to get it for around $5 instead. :)

Here it is as it comes in the store.

And here it is out of the packaging.

As you can see, the buttons are just for show.  The jacket has Velcro closure, which makes it very easy for little hands to manage.

Here's how it looks on a doll.  Emma was kind enough to model it for us. ;)

The jacket is a lovely shade of deep blue that looks great with Emma's skin tone and eye color.

The only complaint I have with this jacket is that at a certain angle, you can see the Velcro.  Other than that, I'm very pleased with it. :)

The material is very soft.

Emma is very pleased with her new jacket! :)

Some of you may remember that this is the jacket Hayden was wearing in the picture I used for the Doll Wardrobe's Photo Contest (and also the picture in my header).  

I thought it gave Hayden a very classy outdoor look. ;)

By the way, for any of you interested in participating, Round 2 Photos are due TODAY, so be sure to get your entry in to Nora before the day ends!  You can read the official rules HERE. :)

I'll be back later with more reviews and posts.  :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

An Update on Debonair Designs and Another Addition to the Doll Family :)

Hi guys!  For those of you who were interested in the Archipelago pattern by Debonair Designs that I had as a giveaway prize, I thought you might like to know that Deb has listed her three completed Archipelago sweater and hat sets on eBay.  You can see her listings HERE. :)

And here's a picture...just to remind you what they look like. :)

So, as the title suggests, I officially have a new addition to my doll family! :D  I wasn't planning on getting another doll this soon after Hayden, but things just kind of fell into place with this doll.  She was listed on AG Playthings, and the person selling her was willing to do a partial trade, so I got her for a really good price! :)

It was really hard being patient while waiting for my package, but it finally arrived! :)

And as the box says, my new doll is...Rebecca! :D

She came in a cute pair of pjs with a very sweet note that her former owner had written.

Here she is! :D

So, you know me...I had to take a ton of pictures of her. :)

It may be a while before she's introduced on Tess and Maggie's blog.  I want to take my time and really figure out her character and everything.  I'm pretty sure her name is going to be Jenna Rose Benson.  She'll be Rachel's 12 year old little sister.  

So far, I know she's in to carousel horses! :)  My mom found this really cute set of carousel horse miniatures from Avon at an antique store here in town.  They're the perfect size for her! :)

I also decided that she's going to be another Sanrio fan.  As you can tell from the pic, her two favorites are My Melody and Chococat (just like Piper). ;)  I found these adorable plush guys on eBay from the seller cleanitupandout.  There are still some available.  HERE is a link to Chococat, and HERE is a link to My Melody. :)  You can also get Hello Kitty, Kerropi, and Deery Lou.  

They're the perfect size!  (And yes, I snagged a Chococat for Piper, too.  He's now with her at my aunt's house.)

I've admired Rebecca since her release a few years ago.  I have to confess, though, I was a little concerned about having a Rebecca and a #55.  I was afraid they'd be too similar with their brown hair and hazel eyes. But I was delighted when I took pictures of them side by side and saw just how different they were from each other. :)

First off, their hair is very different shade.  Hayden's is much darker (and longer, too).

Here's a picture of the hair color difference with the flash.

The other thing I was concerned about was the fact that I would now have 3 dolls with hazel eyes.  Interestingly enough, though, I discovered that Jenna (aka Rebecca), Hayden (#55), and Charlie (aka Mia) all have a different shade of hazel.

Here's a close-up comparison of the different eye colors.  The order is Jenna, Hayden, Charlie, and Emma (#41), just to show the difference between the hazel and green eyes.  I tried to do these in rows, but Blogger is not cooperating with me. ;)

I wasn't sure if I'd be able to accurately capture the eye color differences, so I also did some close-ups of their faces.  Once again, the order is Jenna (Rebecca), Hayden (#55), Charlie (Mia), and Emma (#41).

It's very interesting comparing their eye colors.  Rebecca's eyes appear to have some of the bright green from the Mattel Felicity dolls with a bit of brown added.  My AG #55 has a much darker shade of hazel, while Mia's eyes are more of a brownish-green hazel.  My AG #41's are a beautiful deep green. 

Two lovely dolls! :)  

I have a feeling that Jenna and Hayden are going to be pretty close.  I've already got some ideas about some of the adventures they might share. :)

I wasn't sure if I would stick to my original idea of having Rachel and Jenna be sisters, but these pictures confirmed it.  They don't look all that much alike, but I think I can see a bit of family resemblance. ;)  Especially since they're both Josefina molds.

Rachel especially looks like an older sister in these pics because she's wearing such thick shoes. :)

I hope you enjoyed all of the pictures.  I'll be sure to let you know when Jenna makes her debut on Tess and Maggie's blog. :)