Sorry to keep you hanging for so long. When I said I'd be slowing down on this blog a bit, I didn't exactly have THIS slow in mind. ;) Thanks for bearing with me.
A lot has been going on since I last posted, so here are a few things you might be curious about. (Or not...maybe you haven't thought about it at all...which is totally okay.) ;)
One of the biggest things to report is that we got our roof replaced! A contractor friend from church was able to squeeze us in between projects last month, so the rotting parts of the roof are all repaired. He gave us a wonderful deal, but we'll still be making payments for quite a while...and then paying off some pretty major credit card debt. Sigh. Being a homeowner can stink sometimes. ;)
Our next project will be replacing the mildewy drywall in our room and the two younger girls' room, hopefully within the next month. Once that's finished, we'll repaint those walls, seal and repaint the outside of the house, and eventually repaint the inside with the goal of reselling. I'll admit, I had hoped we'd be able to fix things up quickly and immediately turn around and resell the house to recoup some of our expenses, but it looks like God has other plans. The type of permit Hubby had to get for the roof requires us to wait at least a year to resell, so we'll be here at least until next June.
I was pretty disappointed by this at first. I had hoped we could avoid being in debt for that long, and I'd started getting excited about finding a place that would fit our needs a little better. Now, though, I realize it's probably for the best to take things a little slower and fix things as we can.
I'll keep you guys posted on our progress.
Our other big news is that we added a kitten to our furry family. :} It began as a project. Several new kittens were born to the feral cats living in our neighbor's backyard, and we got sucked into the cuteness in spite of having a dog. (At least they weren't born in our backyard this time.) A lot of them had goopy eyes, bad fleas, and respiratory problems, so we took one of our favorites to the vet to see what was going on. My main reasons for doing this were to make sure it was okay for the girls to be handling them, and also to prepare the girls for a sad outcome if the prognosis wasn't all that great.
Poor kitty on his way to the vet's.
To make a long story short, we ended up keeping said kitten in our house and treating him with medicine from the vet's until we became hopelessly attached to him.
"Please come out and play, Pumpkin!" ;)
Here are a few of my favorite pictures from our trips:
Our lovely campsite in Trinidad. (Middle Gal, Little Gal, and Hubby are pictured.)
Little M on Moonstone Beach.
The caves on Moonstone. :)
An incredible sky. :)
The beautiful wilderness of the Trinity Alps Resort.
Little Gal giving Teddy a hug. He wasn't a big fan of the water! ;)
Our favorite swimming hole at Trinity: Cherry Flat.
The water was higher and had a stronger current than it has in a long time. (Don't worry, this isn't where we swam.) ;)
Little Gal and her cousin eating ice cream and enjoying the view right before we headed back home.
So, what's been happening with my writing? Well, I have a few exciting things to report. I finally got my book sent off to the agent I met at Mount Hermon in 2016. I doubt I will hear back from her anytime soon, but I've already signed up for a meeting with her at Realm Makers, the speculative fiction writing conference I'll be attending at the end of this month. So even if I don't hear from her, I have a very unique opportunity for a face-to-face follow-up, which is always a good thing.
In other news, the small publishing company I submitted my first three chapters to in November contacted me at the beginning of June and asked to see my full manuscript. I should hear back from them by the end of the summer. Another great thing about Realm Makers is that many of the publishing company's editors will be there, so I'll get a chance to meet some of them in person as well.
Oh, and also writing related, I had my first official published story released in May! :) Spark Magazine, also known as Splickety Love, selected my short "flash fiction" piece for their May issue. It's called "The Tower," and is a tragic romance set at the Tower of Babel. It was a little overly sentimental, but lots of fun to write. :) You can see a copy of the issue on Amazon HERE, and I think you can even read my story in the sample pages. ;)
My writing blog is slowly but steadily moving along. I miss the community here, that's for sure. It can be pretty dead over there. But I keep reminding myself that Never Grow Up started out small, too. I just need to keep posting and networking, and eventually, it will grow. I hope. :}
Oh, and also in preparation for Realm Makers, I got some professional headshots done and new business cards made at Vistaprint.com. I love how they turned out! :)
I feel so official! ;)
I did a whole big post about my headshots and my photo insecurities on my writing blog. You can read it HERE, if you like. ;)
I don't have a whole lot to report on the toy front. Sadly, almost all of my toys are still packed away until we get the mildew repaired. My room is so depressing right now! I am still planning on downsizing, but I'm looking forward to brightening my room with dolls and toys again once repairs have been made. :)
I have managed to snag a few smaller items here and there, in spite of limiting my spending.
I'm not a huge Tsum Tsum fan, but I couldn't resist trying for the adorable Beauty and the Beast-themed ones.
My first try, I ended up with two Beasts, but about a week later, I found my Belle to go with him. :) Just haven't had the chance to take a picture of her yet. ;)
Walmart had these cool little Marvel and DC Comics die cast metal figures for just 97 cents! They're only about an inch tall, but are painted really well. I picked up Spiderman...
...and Cap for my 18 inch Marvel fans. ;)
If you've been in the toy aisles at all recently, you've probably seen the little minion blind bags from Moose Toys. These are really fun.
He's so cute! I probably won't do too many of these ones myself, just because you can end up with some really random ones. They're great for Despicable Me fans, though. :)
I don't usually do "Fashems" either, just because I don't like how sticky they are and how dust, hair, and everything else sticks to them. But I really love Sanrio characters, especially My Melody and Chococat, so I decided to root through all of them and try my luck. Thankfully, you can look through the tiny holes at the top and bottom and pretty much figure out who's inside. I ended up with both of my favorites.
Chococat (too bad about his nose rub)...
...and sweet My Melody. :)
***There have been some great sales on toys recently, too. I think stores are clearing out the extras in preparation for the new fall releases. Check places like Walmart and Target for some great deals!
We got this Shoppies set at Walmart for only $4.50. Little Gal did a video review of it on her own to surprise me. It was so cute, I plan on adding it to my YouTube channel. I'll let you know when it's up. :)
And speaking of sales, those of you interested in the live action Beauty and the Beast dolls from the Disney Store might want to snag them now. The Beast doll is sold out, but the Belle doll is on sale for $24.95, and the Belle and Gaston set is on sale for $48.99. This is a great time to try out those custom ideas! ;) I'd love to eventually snag a Belle and Gaston set, but I think I'm going to take my chances and see if they go down any further in price.
***Most of the big toy releases will happen in another month or so, but there have been some new items released already. Season 2 of the LOL dolls have been spotted at our local Target. I'm not a huge fan of these myself, but the girls love them.
Any of you who are Barbie fans have probably heard about the newest line of Fashionistas. Not only are there more great hair, eye, and body combinations for the girls, but Ken is now getting a more extreme makeover, too! He'll come in three different body types: Original, Broad, and Slim. No Tall yet. Hopefully that will change.
Most of them are on the official Mattel website, but I did a Pinterest board with all of the new faces, which you can see HERE (if you don't want to scroll through the old ones as well). Some of them are already available for purchase, some of them will be available in the fall, and some of them won't be released until spring of 2018.
The girls and I are super excited about some of the new releases. I've been really good financially lately, but I did snag the two new Fashionista girls I really wanted when I found them at my local Walmart.
Powder Pink Lace, #65, and Blue Beauty, #69, both stood out to me when I first saw the new releases. I'm so glad I was able to find them.
The names of the dolls are now found on the backs of their packaging...
...and now only their number is on the front of the packaging. It no longer states whether they are Curvy, Tall, or Petite.
"Blue Beauty" is aptly named; she's absolutely stunning. She's a Tall. I'm still deciding on her name. I thought "Skye" might be cool, because of the blue hair. What do you guys think?
I love her side glance and brown eyes.
Her hair, unfortunately, is rooted a little thin, and her scalp is painted black, which makes it look like her original dark roots are growing out. ;) Time to dye again!
I also noticed that she has a bit of a thin patch in the front where her sunglasses were, but I was able to work the hair around it to make it less noticeable.
Check out those shades. ;)
This girl is a Curvy. I'm so very excited about her, because she looks almost exactly like one of my book characters! :D
She has such a sweet expression.
I really wasn't a fan of the front double buns, though, so I decided to take them out.
Thankfully, I was able to use one of the brown rubber bands that held her buns in place to wrap around her head and tame the crazy curls in front. :)
Skye? with Teagan. I'm thinking they could be cousins or something. :)
Tovah (my custom Made to Move Fashionista) with "A." (Sorry, guys, her name is top secret.) ;)
I snapped a few pictures of some of the other dolls that were at Walmart. Sorry some of them aren't the best. I always feel slightly conspicuous taking pictures when they're on an end display. ;)
"Lovin' Leopard" (Curvy)
"Candy Stripes" (Original)
"Cactus Cutie" (Tall)
"Beautiful Butterflies" (Curvy)
"Patchwork Denim" (Original)
"Emoji Fun" (Curvy) This one appears to be a re-release of the former fashion pack version.
"Platinum Pop" (Curvy)
"Sweet for Silver" (Petite)
"Hyped on Stripes" (Slim) This poor guy was the only Ken there so far. While I would like to get a Slim Ken eventually, I decided I'd wait on this guy. So many of the Slim Kens have heads that look way too big for their bodies, and I really wanted the two Barbies more. Eventually, though, I'd like to get one Slim Ken and at least one Broad Ken (probably this one) to get the body comparisons.
I'd also love to get this Ken, even though he's an Original, because he also could make a good doll representation of a book character. I just need to figure out how to give him box braids. ;)
And I LOVE this cute gal! When she's released in August, I'd like to add her to my collection. I love her unique coloring and freckles. :)
Now, Mattel just needs to come out with Made to Move Kens and Made to Move Curvy Barbies, and I will be completely happy! :D
***Another fairly new announcement is from American Girl. Starting in late July, customers will have the option to create custom American Girl dolls! You get to choose hair color and style, eye color, freckles, and also choose from six different outfits and six different accessory sets. They don't say anything about skin color or face mold yet, but I'm assuming that will be part of the deal as well. These dolls will cost $200 because they come with several extras. That's a lot to spend, but man, am I tempted! After I pay off the roof. ;) You can see AG's announcement about it HERE.
***I've been keeping my eye on the Disney Store website for their annual Classic Doll release. So far, nothing has shown up. Last year, they released on June 20th, so I'm kind of surprised we haven't seen anything yet. It shouldn't be long, though. If you look up Classic Dolls on the Disney Store website right now, only Pocahontas, Merida, Mulan, Elena, and Moana show up...along with an Elsa and Anna coronation set that I'm just now discovering (how did I miss that?!?). Since the selection is so small, I'm assuming that means the new dolls will be up any day now. I'll let you guys know as soon as that happens. :)
And yes, even with my budget limitations, I'm still planning on getting this year's Belle and Rapunzel dolls. ;) I'd love to get one of the new Rapunzel dolls from "Tangled Before Ever After," too, but that purchase may have to wait for a bit.
***In just a couple of weeks, I'll be celebrating my 7th blogoversary here on Never Grow Up. Crazy. I can't believe it's been that long since I first started! Be on the lookout for a celebration post and giveaway. :)
Sigh. My whole "Fan Mail Friday" thing really went kaput. I want to apologize to both Treesa and T.K. that I never featured the lovely packages you sent me. I had hoped to do that now, but unfortunately, the things you sent me are packed away with all of my other collection stuff in big boxes in my mom and dad's garage. But again, thank you, and please know that even if I don't feature the items here, you really brightened my day by sending them.
I just got another sweet package from Treesa, and was all set to showcase her special goodies in this post. However, when I transferred some of my pictures over from my phone, I accidentally deleted some of them, and apparently Treesa's were among that group. Treesa my dear, I'll try to feature those in the next post. Thank you for your sweet gifts and thoughtful words. You always make me smile. :)
And I think that's all of my news for now. I hope you all have a lovely summer, and I'll be back soon with more to share. :)
P.S. Even though I'm not as active here, I try to keep up with my social media, especially my Facebook and Instagram. So if you miss hearing from me, you can check on me there. If you miss my mundane wordiness, you can check out my writing blog. ;)