There's a new member of our family. It's an American Girl. Her name is Julie Allbright and she's groovy!
At the beginning of our Route 66 road trip, Paris and I made a deal: If she behaved, I would buy one doll at the American Girl store in Chicago. We created a doll fund and put away $8 on each day of our vacation—a lesson in earning and saving.
After two weeks of "behaving" in the backseat of the car, Paris finally made it to American Girl Place (watch the video above). She took the event quite seriously, insisting that I iron her dress, part her hair, and loan her some lip gloss before we hopped on a bus to Michigan Avenue.
I was skeptical of American Girl. I'm easily turned off by toy companies with overzealous marketing. But when we walked into the store and I looked at my smiling daughter, I embraced the moment. I didn't even roll my eyes when we peaked into the hair salon where you can pay up to $25 to have your dolls' hair styled. If our budget wasn't so tight, I would have handed over my credit card for braids in Julie's hair.
Paris arrived at the store knowing that she wanted Julie Allbright, described in the catalog as "a fun-loving girl growing up in San Francisco in the 1970s." Julie comes wearing bell-bottom jeans, a peasant top, and platform sandals--an outfit right out of a store in Haight Ashbury. Paris was oblivious to Julie's 70s look; she simply liked her because "she has long hair."
American Girl offers an assortment of dolls, each representing a different time period. Molly McIntire is a patriotic girl growing up in Jefferson, Ill., during World War II, while Kit Kittredge lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, during the Great Depression. (The new American Girl movie tells the story of Kit's life.) Each doll stars in a historical six-book series. The Felicity Merriman books are set in colonial times during the Revolutionary War; the Julie Allbright books talk about Julie's parents' divorce (that's the 70s!).
After adopting (paying $90 for) Julie, we treated her to a special lunch at the American Girl Cafe. Julie sat at our table in her own special chair and Paris helped her sip tea from a tiny teacup.
As we were eating our fruit kebabs, I looked over at Paris and said, "I love you."
"Do you love Julie too?" she asked.
"Yes, I love Julie too." And I sort of meant it.