Girls and Dolls: A fun peek inside American Girl Place

Recently, I took Journey to American Girl Place in NYC.  She has been dying to get her doll’s hair done ever since she realized that the store has a hair salon.  Journey has also been wanting to take the doll to the hospital in the store.  Luckily, she is smart enough to know that getting your hair done is much less expensive than going to the hospital!

If you’ve never been to this store before, I must tell you it is unlike anything you have ever seen.  Three floors of everything that you can imagine…all for dolls.   You can create a doll from a selection of 40 different skin, hair and eye color combinations.  Plus, you can add accessories that match your little girl’s physical appearance and interests like glasses, sports equipment, musical instruments and so much more!  In addition to the hair salon and hospital, the store also features a café and a photo studio.

After we got our hair appointment, we went to see if the café any cancellations for lunch.  (A few days before our visit, I tried to get a reservation at the café for lunch, but they were booked.)  Luckily for us, they did!  When it was Alexandria’s hair done (that’s the dolls name—at least it was on that day, it changes quite often), the stylist confirmed the hairstyle that Journey had chosen as she strapped Alexandria into her chair and put a cape around her neck.    Then, the stylist proceeded to give us tips on how to do the dolls hair.  Turns out, the process to achieve Alexandria’s hairstyle is the same as the process that I use to do Journey’s.  But there’s no way, I’m spending that much time on a doll’s hair!

Fresh from the hair salon, we headed to the café for lunch.  It was quite an experience.  Each doll is placed in a booster seat and served tea.  If you do not have a doll, they will lend you one to dine with.  The set price for lunch includes an appetizer of cinnamon rolls as well as a plate of fruit, cheese and warm pretzel sticks.  I assumed the menu choices would be limited to chicken fingers, PB&J and the like—I was wrong.  I enjoyed a grilled vegetable panini and sweet potatoes fries.  They had a nice selection of salads and other entrees as well.   And for dessert—a fruit kabob, a heart-shaped piece of vanilla cake and a flowerpot filled with chocolate mousse, topped with crumbled Oreos.

As we left the store, Journey said, “I’m sure she’ll need her hair done when we come back for Christmas.  Next time we’ll have afternoon tea.”

For store locations or to purchase a doll online, go to

Get ready, get set, GO back to school!!

If you are like me, you are counting the hours until schools starts.  And if you are like me, you will have to spend some time breaking habits that your kids picked up while at their grandparents, stepparents, extended family, and every other place they visited during the summer!

Make the “back to school” transition easier on yourself and the kids by following the tips below a week or two before school starts.

Turn off the TV

I am guilty of allowing Journey watch way too much television during the summer.  Now I am stuck with a zombie that only answers to call “time to eat!”  She cannot focus on ANYTHING as long as the television is on.  So each day, I limit the amount of time she is allowed to watch so that by the time school starts we are back to our usual one hour of television per day.

Set the clock

There are no “morning people” in my house.  Getting everyone up and out on time is something that I do not miss over the summer.  To adjust, we start setting the alarm.  The earlier Journey wakes up, the earlier she will go to bed.  It also helps that I fill the void left by the first tip with lots of physical activity to get her nice and tired before bedtime.  And of course, napping is not allowed!

Brush up on basic skills

Trying to keep little brains in school mode all year is near impossible!  To help keep Journey on track, we visit the library every couple of weeks.  In addition to a few fun books, she selects a book about a subject that she is interested in learning more about (i.e. birds, India, dinosaurs).  After she reads the book, she draws pictures and writes facts that she finds interesting.  It’s a great activity that covers reading, writing, comprehension, art and math (depending on the book topic).

Set Goals

Each year around this time, Journey and I have a conversation about what she would like to accomplish during the school year academically and personally.    She writes down her goals and posts them so that they can be seen daily.  We reviewed the goals periodically to ensure that she remains focused on achieving them.

Last year, Journey set goals to:

–   Become a better reader

–   Be a better friend

–   Be a better listener

I am happy to say that she achieved all of them…although I think we can all work on being better listeners:)