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Since I live in an area of town where mailboxes get looted frequently I have a P.O. box. My husband runs a small business and clients pay him with paper checks that get mailed. The amounts can be quite large so any of them coming up missing would really ruin my day (and budget). Once an AG package got stolen off my front porch (hope you enjoyed the Addy collection, fool) I started having all my parcels delivered at the post office when possible. I had been meaning to do this for awhile but had forgotten or put it off and having a $250 order stolen off your front door is a wake up call.

With AG this was a little odd. On the same phone call to CS where I reported the stolen package, I asked the rep if I could put a P.O. box address in as my primary so this wouldn’t happen again. She said yes and did so. On the first delivery to the P.O. box they didn’t send me a tracking number. I call them. The rep tells me that they don’t assign tracking numbers to packages delivered to P.O. boxes.

This makes zero sense. “So how do I know you even sent the package?” I asked her suspiciously. She still swore there was nothing that could be done. The package eventually showed up (I never did get a tracking number) and every delivery that has been sent to the P.O. box since then has had tracking, so I have no idea what happened there.

Any large item shipped FedEx two day like Grace’s Bakery wasn’t able to be delivered to the post office so I’ve had to arrange someone to be home to accept the delivery. I didn’t want a parcel the size of the Exxon Valdez sitting out on my front porch all day unattended. So the last delivery to the actual house was October of 2015. All other deliveries have been made to the post office.

I still get AG catalogs at both addresses though. The top catalog is the one that was sent to the P.O. box and the bottom is the one that was sent to the house.

The P.O. box catalog is also addressed to me by name and the house catalog is addressed to “(my surname) Family”. Not sure if that has any significance but it is a difference.

I’ve never gotten one of the elusive 20% off coupons; this is the first. Since I used it to buy the Mars Habitat and it had to be shipped to the house, it’ll probably be another 2-3 years before I see another one. Annoying to be sure but at least I got the one. Until then, for future orders I will wait for free shipping.

Disillusion, or Depression? Your guess is as good as mine.

Like all well made plans, my promise to update this blog more often once I got out of grad school fell completely off the face of the earth once my mother died in May, which was expected (ALS) but then five months later in October my grandmother also died, which was unexpected.

I am glad that I graduated with my masters, my curling team won another league championship, and I landed my dream job because other than that 2017 didn’t have much going for it.

Grandma hadn’t been dead two weeks before the farmhouse got broken into twice. The first time a TV was stolen, the second time the house was completely ransacked. I still don’t know what all was taken. But my father had to go deal with the aftermath of that too, paying for and installing a security system, filling out police reports, cleaning up the mess and replacing broken windows…

Then my husband wrecked his car three days after my grandmother’s death. Thanks be to God that no one was killed or injured as a result of the accident. The car was a gift from his late father; it was also totaled.

So that’s how we sailed into the holiday season. For the first time since my husband and I have been dating (seven years), I got to see my dad on Christmas Day since we hosted my family at our house for the first time ever; we’ve always spent the holidays with my husband’s family. This ruffled some feathers but may I present my general reaction to that:

My father isn’t getting the short end of the stick ever ever bloody again. Hill to die on, right here.

So after the winter break that wasn’t much of a break at all, I finally sat down and looked at Luciana’s collection a week into the new year.

My general attention to AG has waned. I am not sure if my disinterest is temporary (a result of depression from the fact we can’t seem to go a few months without some sort of catastrophe), or permanent. I don’t think that I am an example of a normal AG consumer by any means, but I used to be what I would think any company would want in a customer. Excited about their product. Ready to spend money on said product. Passionate and ready to write about and connect with others over said product. I don’t know about you, but I’m always more tuned in and spend more on products that have a well established and active fan base.

I had the nostalgia factor, as part of the Pleasant Company generation that grew up with these dolls. Happy memories.

I have a niece to buy for, so I’m not just shopping for me, I’m buying for target market aged girls.

AG, you had me 100% even into adulthood.

But the continued cost cutting is wearing me down. How many reasons do I have left to keep expanding my collection and keep buying dolls? Especially with the Permapanties fiasco, which I’m thinking was really just an opening salvo in their quest to cut costs.

I was all ready to tip my hat to AG for the reversal of the permapanty, but then…

Even though I took a step back from the hobby during all my family issues I had someone who was keeping me familiar with all the latest doll developments.

So I heard about the change in stringing the joints.

I heard about the squishy vinyl and how you can squeeze a head flat with no trouble at all.

I heard about the Create Your Own fiasco, from stock back orders to quality control.

I also heard about the switch to a cheaper eye mechanism. Now I’m terrified to send any of my old GOTY to the doll hospital.

I don’t hold any illusions that AG reads this or even cares about what I have to say. But just in case they are here, I’d like to say this:

I want to spend money on luxury brands, experiences, things that make me happy. But all this quality cutting (crooked wigs on $200 Create Your Own? Are you serious?) and characteristics that look more at home on an Our Generation doll (the eye posts) has made me ask:

Why should I buy any dolls from you?

It drives me bananas because you guys really slammed it out of the park with Luciana’s collection. I want to be thrilled about a STEM collection. I have been harassing you guys to make a Saturn V rocket for years. But I’m not buying the doll because of the eye and joint quality cuts and since you already have me suspicious I’m worried about the quality of other pieces.

Add into it the fact that you just can’t acknowledge free shipping after a certain price point on an everyday basis is what I expect in the age of Amazon–and you’re going to charge me to ship packages to my house for a journey that will take anywhere from 1-2 weeks–

Why should I buy from you?

When I see other collectors get 20% off coupons and I don’t, why should I buy from you? Shoppers have the internet now. We talk.

More and more of my posts that are AG themed question my intention to buy in the future. You’ve got me with the STEM collection but I’m not buying the doll. I can probably keep this blog going for years on items I’ve already bought in my house that I’ve never even opened, provided I don’t change the focus of it entirely.

Not quite sure what to do here, AG. Your move.

Class Pet Hamster

For my favorite of the new release….the hamster.

Not Richard Hammond, but this hamster:


I am sincerely very sorry–for real, no snark or sarcasm here–for everyone who paid $50-$70 for the hamster from McKenna’s Loft Bed Set, and I am also very glad that I did not do that.  I sure hope this means that someone from AG is watching the secondary market and the various discussion forums to see what hot items to break out of larger sets like McK’s Loft to offer as stand alone packs.

I was also seriously stoked to see that hamster set.  I had completely forgotten about the new releases and I was so happy to finally be excited about something released by AG again.  For $24 you get the cage, wheel, hamster, food dish, water bottle, and booklet on hamster care.  The bedding chips are fixed to the cage itself, the other pieces are removable.


The wheel does spin, and stands freely easily.  The hamster also fits easily inside the wheel.

The hamster has that soft flocking like fuzz on its surface; plastic underneath.  The eyes are clearly marked.  I tried to rub the flocking off but it stayed; I did not try to scratch any off.  Realistic color for a class hamster.

I could see a part of the seam on one side of him, but that doesn’t really bother me.  Paws are also colored.

I have a bad feeling that this accessory set might get some kids starting a campaign for a real hamster.  At least they have this booklet on the care and feeding of the little rodents.  Information is accurate; might be presented at a reading level below the typical target market but this is probably just a space limitation/restriction of the layout more than anything else.

Watermarked14(2017-06-29-1848)The plastic for the lid feels solid to my touch and to have a bit of give to it.  Sure wish the furniture for the grand hotel, if it had to be plastic, had this weight.  It fits easily on the top of the cage.


Dish of pellets, also accurate.  Probably could be used for any pet.  Points for versatility.

The cage.  I certainly don’t expect them to make loose shavings for the cage.  At first glance I thought the bottle was fixed to the cage wall as well, then thought I’d better double back and take another look.  I’m glad I did that, because the bottle DOES come off the cage.


It’s fixed very snugly in, I had to kind of give it some force and push on the ends of the C looking end to get it off.  The ring does slide off the bottle as well.

Very realistic and very detailed, I feel like this set is worth the $24.  According to the employees at AG Kansas City the hamster was the star of the show–everyone who was coming in to buy wanted one of the hamster sets.  Wait until free shipping if you have to, but yes, if you want to get it you should.  I am SO GLAD that they didn’t make the cage with ALL of the little pieces fixed/molded to the floor of the cage–that would have been absolutely unbearable.  But they got this one right, so thanks AG!

Z’s Filming Accessories


Initially I thought I was going to pass up Z Yang but the more I read about her and see her “capsule collection” the more I am intrigued.  Her filming accessories ($28) could be used for any modern, so I picked them up on Friday.


The iPhone gets full marks for accuracy, and I really like it.  However, when I went to test the strap on the back to see how easy the dolls could hold it, I picked up Logan first.  I had temporarily forgotten about his different hand molds and I had real difficulty finding a way to get him to hold the thing.

The only way I could get it to work was to have him holding it on the outside of his left hand.  On Claire (a TM eyeswap with the standard hands) however, it was easier.

She was able to hold it correctly just fine in either hand.  This doesn’t bother me because I’d rather have the instrument-holding hands even if it means they can’t hold the iPhone.  Everyone knows you shouldn’t be texting during rehearsal anyway! 🙂

Click on the mosaic pictures for full scale.  The little C clamp-ish looking piece snaps on to the top of the tripod.  This is worlds and away better made that the telescope tripod from Queen’s Treasures that I ripped apart on this post here.  The legs on the tripod are a little spongy-like when you open them, but I suppose that’s to give them a bit more flexibility during play and not so easy to snap off.  You can definitely set this down on any furniture without it scratching, unlike the Queen’s Treasures one.  You slide the iPhone into the C of the clamp and it holds it in place.

You get a total of six cards that you can place in between the iPhone and the clamp will hold it in place.  I had to be careful putting it on though.  If I wanted to have the screen on the phone for hand held use, I’d need a pinhead sized dot of thumb tack or some kind of adhesive goo that you can reuse.


The story of my life…

The camera is larger than the Canon USB lookalike that I use with Lea, and worlds away better than the Queen’s Treasures one (link to same post as above).  The lens doesn’t spin to focus or come off, which is fine.  Normal sized lens caps are easy enough to lose.  You aren’t going to be able to get the strap over the doll’s head–there is a tiny buttonhole on each side that you have to remove the strap end from, then you can attach it around the doll’s neck.  I think this is great–the doll can wear the camera and it’s not hanging down around her hips or her knees.

Please note in the image above I wasn’t paying attention–the entire hook goes through the buttonhole, not just the end.  But hey, even that way it still works.

The camcorder was another piece that I was really excited to get my hands on.  The viewfinder comes open, a great touch, along with a red recording light.  If you want to get super creative and realistic I could see sizing and printing images for the viewfinder and fixing them to the surface.

Logan had the same sort of issues with holding the camcorder.  I don’t think I could get it to hold properly in his left hand at all.  Honestly, I can’t see this being much of a big deal during imaginative play when the camcorder is probably going to be held to the doll’s eye.  This doesn’t necessarily bother me regarding accuracy, but still thought I would mention it.  If you are a collector/photographer and it really bugs you, get some of those little clear Goody hair elastics for kids and use that to hold it to the doll’s hand.

Claire, with the classic hands, holding the camcorder.


Some sort of nylon blend for the backpack, perhaps?  It is textured and feels like real backpack fabric so thumbs up to AG from me for that detail.  The Z and decoration on the flap are silkscreened on.  I tried to scratch them with my thumb and they didn’t shift or wear.  The ties are held down with velcro, but they still put metallic buckles on the straps anyway for looks.  The bottom of the straps on the backside also have thick, heavy metal buckles that you use to resize the straps to make them larger/smaller, just like the real thing.  Thank you for attention to detail American Girl!  Please keep doing it!

I didn’t have any problems getting the straps over the arms and getting the doll to wear the backpack, even when fully loaded.  You can put all of the filming equipment in the bag, except for the camera–which is no big deal since it has that neck strap.


This accessory set is worth getting excited about and has made me sit up and pay attention to Z and her collection.  Even if you don’t get Z, this is a great set for the price for any modern doll.

EDIT: I was scrolling this post on my iPhone after it had posted and saw that none of the slideshows could be seen because of a lack of JavaScript.  I have changed all the slideshows to tiled mosaics; if you click on one image it should pop up at a larger size.

June 22, 2017 AG Release

*claps hands* Right, let’s get to it.  First off, I apologize for the layout of this post–for some reason it won’t let me post photos in a mosaic, or combine the images, on mobile.  

Some of these items were also released prior to yesterday (like Z), but with graduation+job search+my mother’s passing my attention and focus (on pretty much everything) has been sporadic at best.  Figured I would cover it anyway. 

Yup, it’s a McKenna redux and while I think McK’s came with better accessories, I like the color scheme for this.  One thing–and you can’t really see it because of where the doll’s head is but this is the only one on display–is the printed brick wall with posters and such on it.  

The reason I have a problem with it is the same reason I have a problem with Tenny’s background on the stage.  It looks kind of cheap and I feel like it would be difficult to use with another character with the preprinted Gabby related images on the brick wall. (Yes, I know it’s in Gabby’s color scheme but hopefully you get what I mean.) I am glad that those who missed out on McKenna’s loft bed who just want a loft bed can have this option without resorting to the secondary market.  I am considering purchasing this but did not do so today. 

Chair, cushion, snacks.  This could be great for any modern character.

This was the first chance I got to see Z.  (And in my efforts to the the best little Canadienne I can possibly be, I keep calling her “Zed” instead of “Zee”. 

Now that AG has resolved the Permapanty Issue (THANK YOU AG SERIOUSLY) I am now open to the possibility of getting Z and her collection.  Well fleshed out characters with small yet cohesive collections sounds right up my alley right now. 

Serious props to picking such an interesting focus for her character–stop motion photography.  It seems to be popular with the older girls in the target market, and a great way to foster creativity.

I love the little goodies her desk comes with.

I love her scooter.  This scene makes me think Z and Lindsey would get on quite well.  Her photography items looked amazing in store and I did purchase those.


Boy I am glad I did not pay $70 for one of McKenna’s hamsters on the secondary market.  This is perfect in every way.  The moment I stepped into the store I shouted “WHERE IS THE HAMSTER!” and according to the employees at Kansas City this little rodent has been the star of the release.  Yes.  Yes.  Buy the hamster.  You know you want to.  Do it.

The hot lunch looks fine.  Everyone loves tacos.

School accessories.  I passed on both of these.  I don’t really have anything for school scenes.  After as long as I’ve been in college I need a break from school y’all.

New desk.  Passed on this for the same reason.  Chair is attached to desk, so it’s one unit.

One of the dolls without hair was on the display floor.  Yay!

Tenney’s new outfit.  Remember when I was annoyed at the last sequin looking top that had the sequins screened on?  No worries here.  Real sequins.

Very modern.  Reminds me of a city skyline.  I can get on board with this.

Logan’s is nice as well.  The KC store was limiting purchases of Logan and Wellie Wishers to three dolls per person.

The sequin dress is also sleeveless.

The adorable new pet!

The biggest letdown for me was the Grand Hotel.  This will have to go on sale at some point; I would not pay retail plus all the extras for it.  I get that they wanted to make a modern playset (kind of the same idea as  Julie’s bathroom) but the cost cutting corners are what sinks it for me.

Friends, the furniture is made of the lightest, cheapest plastic I’ve touched in quite some time.  It is cheap.  I would hazard a guess and say sub-OG quality. 

The dresser is the same kind of plastic.  I love all the goodies on top of it but come on.  The drawers open and shut. 

Tasty goodies, the bell does ring.

Contents of the guest info folder.  This is a nice touch.

I like the room service set–even with the plastic tray–but the dome being plastic and not metal bothers me.  Aluminum is soft, but it is cheap, and you can get it in heavier and thicker weights.  Why not do that for this?  Ugh.  The dome is such a good idea in theory. 

Yes.  I love the phone.  I would buy this off eBay, from another collector, or try to wheedle it out of AG as a replacement part (“uhhhh….my dachshund ate it”).  Endtable is plastic thought.  Dang it…

The thing that drives me bananas about the grand hotel is that whoever is in charge of stocking/designing the accessories did a great job and whoever was in charge of the furniture dropped the ball IMO.

The other side didn’t wow me that much and that’s compounded by the fact that all the things displayed on that side are packs you have to pay extra for.

….such as.  The suitcase and pillow is seperate, and much to my annoyance and chagrin…

The adorable little coconut in the bellboy costume is only available with the $50 luggage cart set!  

That’s all you get.  I am no business or marketing person but I am thinking this will have to go on sale at some point because I just can’t see it moving at that cost.  

One more picture of Coconut the Bellhop.  Can’t resist that either.

Suitcase set.  If you missed Grace’s you get a second shot in a different color scheme.  Travel dress looks fine but I didn’t think to touch and evaluate the fabric at the time because my husband showed up and started trying to shoo me out. 

So I think that AG is listening and giving us stuff we want to buy–I am very encouraged about the Permapanty reversal, the real sequins on Tenney’s dress and the hamster, for example.  

The hotel is a great idea but suffers greatly in execution.  I can’t see that moving for full retail, friends, I really can’t.  I certainly would not buy it at full cost.  And even if I DO buy the luggage cart to get that coconut, what the heck am I going to do with the cart?  How can that be repurposed?  A rolling clothing rack for Isabelle’s sewing studio, maybe?  I have no idea.  But having the hotel at its cost PLUS having to buy other packs to get the full effect makes this a swing and a miss for me.  

I bought Z’s filming equipment, the hamster, and Tenney’s new dress.  I am intrigued by Z.  Lots of things to think about.

I’m going to hurry up and post this before we get to Deepest Darkest Kansas and I lose cell signal.  As always, thanks for tuning in and I’d be interested to know what you all think of these new items.  

Can’t think of a title, sorry. Bear with me. Not doll related.

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry; and the month of May was a complete and total rollercoaster.  In chronological order: I graduated with my master’s degree, accepted a job with one of the best school districts in my area, won my third curling league championship, and my mother, who had been struggling with ALS for the past five years, finally passed on.  And with absolutely horrible timing, her funeral services ended up being on my parent’s 39th wedding anniversary.


I had thought that by the time she died I would know what to say about this.  However now that it has happened, I find that the only thing I can say is that I wish absolutely everything–everything–had been different…and that even when things were complicated (I am skipping decades of backstory, you’re welcome)…I still love my mother.

One good thing was that because my university livestreamed the commencement exercises my parents got to watch me walk across the stage and accept my Masters of Science in Speech Language Pathology.  I’d found the camera and waved to it while I was walking across the stage and my dad said it was like I was waving straight to them.  He also confessed that was the best way to watch a commencement–from his recliner with easy access to the kitchen for snacks.  At least Mom got to see me graduate with my Master’s, the first in my family, immediate and extended, to do so before she died.

I had thought that because our relationship could be filed under “it’s complicated” it would shield me in some way from grief.  This did not happen.  When I bought a old New Home three thread serger off Craigslist last week–a purchase I’d been considering and putting off for about ten years–and I was flying home with it, not only did I forget that she had died, but the ALS completely slipped my mind as well.  Vintage sewing machines was really the only thing she was ever interested in talking to me about and I had a knack for finding the rare and valuable items that she wanted at bargain rate prices from people who didn’t know what they had.  She’d always wanted a Singer Featherweight and soon she had every single vintage Singer machine she’d ever wanted and that I’d found for her.  (The only thing I have never managed to find is the extension piece for the Featherweight card table.  If you find one, please drop me a line.)  She loved to research complete accessory lists, hard to find parts, books, giveway goodies from World’s Fairs…the list went on.  She was always interested in what I had stumbled across.  It was the only time she was ever really interested in anything I did, had, or thought about.  When I was going home with this serger I thought, “I can’t wait to call Mom once I get home, she’s never had one, I know she won’t like it because it isn’t a Singer but I’ll bring it to their house the next time I visit and maybe she can use it to–”


Never mind…

I wouldn’t be talking to her about the serger, she would never know I had purchased a serger, and I was never going to be able to talk to her about identifying a mystery attachment or how to use it ever again.

I was not going to write about this, but this afternoon I just had delivered to me my first sewing machine that is newer than something from the early fifties.  I was bored and decided to try a computerized machine with all its automatic adjustments and stitches and give it a whirl.  I was open to brands other than Singer, but after my research and for my budget the one that made the cut was a Singer 7258 Stylist.  When I was taking it out of the box, I thought, this is the first machine I’ve ever bought that’s brand new and made later than 1957.  I bought a new, computerized, made in China machine!  What on earth would my mother have said?  How long would the lecture on how it was a piece of junk have been?

When I pulled out the new, crisp manual that still smelled of printers ink I thought about how my mom would track down the manuals for the machines I bought that didn’t have one, even if I already had one for the same type of machines.  Singer Featherweights (her favorite machine) are like Pringles; I couldn’t stop at just one and she had a thing that every machine either of us owned had to have a complete set of attachments, foot pedal and manual–all period correct.  You would be amazed to know how many different volumes of manuals the Featherweight had, and she would match up the code number inside the book to the Singer dating system to make sure she had the version that would have been issued with that particular machine.  I have more buttonholers that I will ever need in my lifetime and more cams than I know what to do with.

I knew that the Stylist would not compare quality wise to the vintage Singers I own and in this I was correct.  The box cheerfully informed the purchaser that the Stylist had “all metal insides”.  “All metal” does not mean “all steel” and the 500 “Rocketeer” I have (seriously please humor me and look at that styling, it is a gorgeous machine), beloved by collectors and one of my favorites, has steel gears and steel rods about the width of my thumb.  That machine will go on forever; the Stylist will not.  The motherboard will fail eventually; the plastic will warp, it will not last as long as the Rocketeer already has.  But that’s okay.  I’m not expecting it to.  (I say that, but if it breaks down in six months I’ll be furious.)  If machines were made with the same quality today that they were back then no one would be able to afford them.  Cheaper quality, construction, materials…it’s just the way things are now.  So let’s see how sewing machines in 2017 roll.

I found where to pull out the accessory box and I was shocked at how cheap, light, and flimsy feeling the feet, bobbins, and bobbin case were.  I knew it would be a lot worse than what I was used to but I was still surprised.  I felt like if I tried hard enough I could snap the bobbin in my fingers–quite a change from the Class 66.  Upstairs in my sewing nook I have accessory boxes of steel feet (boxes and boxes and boxes, thanks Mom) all stamped SIMANCO (short for Singer Manufacturing Company).  These were not stamped, and felt like aluminium, made by the millions in a Chinese factory.  The buttonhole foot in particular was some of the cheapest white plastic I’ve ever seen.

I turned it over in my hand and smiled.  Mom would have been absolutely horrified.


When I sat down to make this post I was not prepared for it to go in the direction it did, but I guess I unpacked more than I thought I would when I took the Stylist out of its box.  The original intent was to discuss the latest thoughts on some changes (namely the victory over Pantygate), Z Yang, and so on.  But again, best laid plans…

Thanks for tuning in, and I should have my thoughts settled on the most recent AG developments soon.



Maryellen Bed and TV Console

With all the excitement of the Praxis exam I hadn’t even opened my box with the Couch and Console from Maryellen’s collection back when they had them 25% off.

They had shipped it Moron Post, so it had taken nearly a week and a half to arrive after it had been loaded on the Wells Fargo Wagon while the horses were being watered (eyeroll).  And yes, I paid $20 in shipping for this privilege.  

I’d fetched it from the post office, loaded it in the boot of my car, promptly dumped it in the doll room and forgotten about it.  

After the ridiculous fiasco of getting the cornstarch noodles in the sink so I could melt them–in which every little thing I did made the mess worse and I ended up with little noodle flakes all over the first floor of my house–I finally got the pieces out.

Now I really like this couch.  Very versatile and sturdy.  Comes with two pillows, an Afghan, an autograph hound and about six yards of the long sewn in tags.  

The autographs are very clearly decals affixed onto the hound, but I don’t expect a factory worker to scribble the names on with a Sharpie so no surprises there.  

Bottom frame is plastic, came out with no issues.

I think everyone my age and up has lived or visited a home at some point who has had one of these.  My parents bought one in the late 70s that was the approximate weight of a Sherman tank with its metal frame, I slept on one at my grandmother’s house, and a friend in undergrad had one in her apartment that she’d gotten for free–but that’s because the “bed” part in the “hide a bed” was missing and while the couch was a gorgeous red microsuede with overstuffed cushions the missing frame was a problem; if you weren’t expecting it and didn’t sit down on the very edge of the cushion the couch would eat you and you’d need someone to pull you out.  (Good times.)

It makes me smile because my grandmother would crochet afghans just like this one (well, the AG one is knit, but you get the idea), and I’ve been trolling eBay looking for tiny crochet doll blankets for greater authenticity.  So the couch gets full marks and a high recommendation here on The Mouse Lair, especially if you can purchase it during the 25% sale. 

Now, the Console.

I like the idea of it, and I love the retro styling of it, but there is a glaring fatal flaw with this piece.  

To enjoy it as designed you need an iPad.  And only the full sized iPad too.  If you already have one, no harm no foul.  However, if you do not, then you’ve paid $85 (or less, if on sale) for a piece of plastic that looks like a TV set unless you buy an iPad specifically for that use (making the console more expensive than the diner). 

I have an iPad mini.  I will buy lots of things I don’t need but purchasing a regular sized iPad, even used or refurbished, just to fully enjoy this console simply is not justifiable for me.  

I had downloaded the app on my mini and yes, it’s loads of fun.  I even held it up in front of my TV (my real one) to record an I Love Lucy episode for testing purposes and I couldn’t wait to figure out a solution to make that mini fit in that console.  I was certain I could MacGyver a solution.  

I don’t know what I was thinking, because of course the app is going to be sized to fit the screen.

Dang it.

I might have been able to fudge it with the frame of the tv on the app itself but there’s no getting around the fact you can see the edge of the mini, no matter how it’s positioned in that holder or how badly you try to shift it.   

My other best bet is to print out black and white images cut and scaled to fit the opening and gluing it onto poster board to achieve the rough look; but crumbs, I really was looking forward to using that app.  

Other quibbles about the console:

The encyclopedias are one piece and non removable.  Arrrrgh, would it really have been so bad to make them real books, or leave them empty so that DIY/Etsy could fill that gap?  Poo.  

The fold out turntable was a bit of a letdown for me too; the tone arm does not move and the records do not play (not sure how feasible that would have been with the iPad on its frame the way it is anyway).  It’s purely for looks.  

For advice about this piece–especially if you don’t already own a full sized iPad–is to wait until it goes on sale (because it will–it depends on tech that will get outdated and I’ve just bought one.  You’re welcome).  You can buy it now at 25% off to make sure you get it, or roll the dice and hang in there for steeper discounts once it gets discontinued.  But if I had to guess which big piece will get the axe from Maryellen’s collection first, my guess would be this console.  


By the time I woke up on Saturday morning my husband, Forehead, had already left to judge a band contest in another part of the state.  I got up, got dressed in frumpy yet comfortable clothes, ate a small breakfast, and sat at the dining room table to make one last pass of all my study materials.

I was going in to take the Praxis exam for Speech Language Pathology, the national licensing exam.  For three years I’d sat in this same chair, at this same table, working on projects, papers, assignments, exams, study sessions and my master’s thesis.  After the most ridiculous, exhausting, exhilarating and amazing three year roller coaster, things were finally winding down.  There was a time when I never would have imagined accomplishing all of the things I did while I was a student here.  Now we were all making plans, handing out resumes, scouting out new cities, new adventures and getting ready to scatter to the four winds.  The last item on this list made me sad; I’d liked all the girls in my graduate class very much.

This time last year, I’d downloaded a countdown app to my iPad Mini to commencement, down to the very second my husband would give the downbeat for Pomp and Circumstance and we would enter the arena in our graduation regalia.  Now it had wound down to less than a month.

Classwork had been completed; comps had been passed, the master’s thesis (which, God help me, had even been submitted to ASHA for consideration for presentation at national conference) had been printed and handed in, the first rotation was complete and the second one wasn’t far behind.  The announcements were stacked on my desk.  And the way things were looking, I wasn’t going to have to be worried about being unemployed come fall.

There was only one thing left standing in my way.  This damn Praxis exam.

I’d prepared as well as I could and that combined with the perfect balance of anxiety medication gave me a pretty good sense of confidence.  I just wanted to be done.  I wanted to get on with my life.  I wanted this out from over my head.

I scanned my aphasia chart, my outlines of the cranial nerves, the chart of developing speech sounds according to age.  I flipped through the pages in my study book, but it was one of those things where I’d read the words so many times my eyes were just skipping over the words, like rocks on a pond.

I made a neat stack of all my study materials–hopefully I’d never have to open them again–and watched my confidence booster, Herb Brook’s pregame speech to his 1980 USA Olympic hockey team.  “This….is YOUR time!  Now go out there and take it!”

Unfortunately for me my car was in the shop so I had to call a Lyft, and while my driver was on the way I locked up the house and sat out on the front porch waiting for him to arrive.  My dachshund and my cocker spaniel pressed their faces together at the window watching me get into the strange car and leave.

I arrive at the testing center, hand them my license, lock my purse up, sit down at the computer, take a deep breath…and go.

An hour later I review all the questions I’d marked and clicked continue.  Now this is insidious.  You have the choice to report your scores or throw them out, but you have to make that choice before they reveal the score to you.  My stomach twists and I click report.

Are you sure?  asks the screen.


Immediately after I click report for the second time it pops up.  162 to pass.  As long as it’s above a 162 I don’t care what it is.

And it’s 175.  My eyes hit the number before it really registers, but then I read the page and yes, I’ve actually done it, I’ve passed.  I actually start shaking in the testing center, my cheeks flush, and I have to put my forehead down on the desk and take some deep breaths.  I’ve done it.  I’ve passed the Praxis.

It’s really over.

I’ve done it.

I call a Lyft back home, crawl under the covers and sleep like the dead for the rest of the day.


Keeping watch; Abby and Liberty

My spring break has mostly been spent studying for my Praxis (the Speech Language Pathology licensing exam).  I took a practice exam from my study materials cold with no review and while it was okay, it was not a passing grade so I’ve got work to do.  D-Day is in less than a month and while you can take the exam as often as you like, it’s $125 a pop so I would really like to get this knocked out the first time.  Prayers and good vibes are appreciated.

I have been watching the growing pile of Maplelea expand in my room and have placed an order with my AG Rewards during Free Ship.  But today, I feel moved to post again about the double homicide in Delphi, Indiana.  Law enforcement has not released any more details of note, but as of this writing a search warrant has been issued for the property where the girls were found.

The property owner has also been recently arrested on another charge (looks like the fellow has a problem with drink and DUIs and violated the conditions of his parole) and law enforcement has said that he is not a suspect in the case.  However, this hasn’t stopped speculation and the rumor mill and I’ve already seen keyboard warriors ready to hang this man from the highest tree for the murders.  Does the search warrant mean that the property owner himself had something to do with the case?  Maybe, maybe not.  We should all be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.  One thing I remember most from high school history class was my teacher asking us why we give the clearly guilty–either by confession or overwhelming evidence or both–a trial (I think Tim McVeigh was the original subject of this discussion).  We all looked at each other and shrugged.  Our teacher thumped his fist down hard on the desk.  “It is because if due process is not for everyone, then it is for no one.” That, I’ve found, is a very valuable observation.

So while the property owner where the warrant has been served may be guilty of violating his parole, he has not been charged with anything concerning the murder of the girls and for all we know the actual suspect(s) may have taken the girls onto his property to commit the crime.  We simply don’t know, and I will reserve judgement until a press release by LEO with more information surfaces.

But dang it, I want to see this case resolved.

To return attention to this case and keep it fresh in our memories, I have typed up the transcription of two speakers at the original press conference where they disclose that Libby recorded a suspect.  The first transcription is from the superintendent of the Indiana State Police, Douglas Carter.  Whatever happened to those girls…I hope it is restricted to only the jury at the trial and not released to the public.  Because just from his reaction alone, you can tell it was bad.

Words tend to escape during these periods of times…I’ve only had a couple of situations in my lifetime when I’ve had to stand before you and say that.  Why Libby?  Why Abby?  Why Delphi?  Why Carroll County?  Why the region, why the state, why even in the nation.  I say that because this is a classic example, a clear example, that evil lives amongst us.  To the family, the community, the region, the state…as leader of Indiana State Police I say…I am so…very…sorry.  Resources…it’s unlikely that any of you will ever see nor will we ever see or experience again the level of resources that are attached to this investigation.  To the media…my gosh, all I can say is is to give you my sincere thanks.  See, this isn’t like TV.  There’s a perception that this can be solved very quickly but this is a testament that, that it can’t and we need you.  We’ve needed you last week, we need you today, we need you tomorrow.  And likely we will need the media all across this nation.  So from a simple guy like me to you, I say thank you.  To those who are dressed funny like me and those who represent the law enforcement profession, please understand that we are human beings just like you.  (I can’t make out what he says here, it’s garbled) standing behind me…and I would suggest to you that every time something like this happens a little piece of us dies as well.  I also want you to understand how committed we are…as a collective one, as a collective one and we will continue.  This  has been briefed all the way up to the director of the FBI, Director Comey and Greg Massis (sp?) is going to tell you a little bit about that.  I’ve had an opportunity to speak to my boss, Governor Holcomb and tell him about this situation…and every time I do I see this look that comes over his face, just like yours and this community…and that’s…that’s the unfortunate experience…experience of evil.  We’re NOT stopping.  The poster in front of you…someone knows who this individual is.  Someone knows who this individual is.  Is it a family member?  Is it a neighbor?  Is it an acquaintance…is it an associate?  Or maybe that one guy that lives over at that one place that’s just….kind of not right.  Maybe it’s his jeans.  Maybe it’s his jacket or sweatshirt.  Maybe it’s a shirttail.  Maybe it’s his posture.  Maybe it’s the right hand in his pocket.  You see even with technology we need human intelligence–in other words, we need you.  I’m not suggesting that everything we can do with science has been done, because we’re just…getting…started.  Abby and Libby deserve us.  They deserve every single one of us.  And not just the people standing up here on the stage that have given so much of their lives to not just this, but to their profession.  Each and every one of you, each and every person listening, watching, or seeing this in some form…we need you.  Libby and Abby need you.  Please do NOT rationalize tips away….rationalize what you think might not be important away.  By thinking ‘he would never do that to another human being’…or think ‘what I know doesn’t matter’.  Let folks like the people who are standing behind me with such incredible passion and committment and dedication to their profession make that determination.  Tips are anonymous.  Some might not want to talk about it because they don’t want to get involved.  Because they know the individual.  It may be a family member.  Probably his family.  No one will ever know.  No one will ever know.  There isn’t a better agency for helping us investigate this than the FBI.  And they are entrenched in this as anybody.  No one will know.  As poor as this picture is…somebody knows.  And if you’re watching…(long pause)…we’ll find you.  Who’s next?  I hate asking that question.  I’d give my life to not have to.  But I know you’ve asked yourself that very question.  We must recognize that we see we’re all the same…we’re all human beings.  We must keep our resolve.  For Libby and Abby.  For this community.  And frankly, to insure that good trumps evil.  And it will.  You’re going to hear more in just a minute, about what we know.  Do NOT discount the voice that you will hear.  We will stay committed, with resolve very, very rarely exhibited with human behavior.  Until this conclusion…please be patient.  Become our partners, and communicate with us as often as you can.  And now from a very humble servant, the most blessed guy on the planet to represent the profession I represent…Abby and Libby…it is my hope and prayer they are now experiencing God’s promise of eternal peace.

 Another Indiana State Trooper, Captain David Bursten, takes the podium to discuss the evidence that Libby left behind on her phone.

We do have some new information for you today, it is in the form of an audio file from the cell phone that Liberty German had with her at the time.  We’re not going to play everything that we have, but Liberty had the presence of mind to turn on her video camera…again, we’re not going to be able to share everything we have with you but we want to share this audio clip with you momentarily with the hope that somebody will recognize this voice.  Now I want to be very clear that what you are about to hear is just three short words: Down the hill.  You’re going to hear this played four times.  The audio quality is not superb, but there’s enough there that somebody could recognize the person’s voice.  And as Superintendent Carter said, not to rationalize away.  If you hear this today and think ‘my god, that sounds like…fill in the blank,’ CALL US.  Make an anonymous tip.  Tell us who you think it is.  Let us investigate it.  If it’s not the right person, they’ll just be out a little bit of time and they’ll be cleared and they’ll go on and they’ll never know that you called.  But you may tell us who the right person was.  And you could be the person that helps us solve this horrible crime.  Micah, play the clip please.  (link takes you to ISP’s audio file of the voice)  So that audio clip later today will be made available on the ISP website.  There will be information on that website about the reward that is being collected now…really, money shouldn’t be the what drives somebody to help solve this, just the sense of community and wanting to help and getting this person off the street.  The image that you see of the suspect came from Liberty’s phone.  I think many of you suspected that but we weren’t prepared to discuss that at the time.  We have more video.  We’re not releasing it.  It’s germane to our investigation.  And it’s important that we spread that person’s voice far and wide.  There is somebody that will recognize who that is and will call us and tell us.  (He gives information for the tip line here):

Tip Line: (844) 459-5786
Indiana State Police: (800) 382-7537
Carroll County Sheriff: (765) 564-2413

Libby’s grandfather gave a press conference earlier last week.  Abby’s family has chosen to not address the press directly, but to release a statement through Libby’s family.

Abby’s grandparents also wrote a note to law enforcement.

“Where are the police when you need them? I have uttered these words whenever a speeding or reckless driver nearly runs me or someone else off the road. Where are the police when you need them? They are here, in Delphi, with us. We pray for your protection, and we are forever grateful for your service” – Diane & Eric (Abby’s grandparents)

One of Abby’s friends gave an interview to media where she recalls taking a tour of the high school with Abby, and they got to see information on electives and other programs that they could take next year.  They both went to the criminal justice area to check it out.

Abby told her friend that she wanted to work as a police officer, doing forensic work.