Friday, October 31, 2014

Mon quatorzième anniversaire avec mes amies!

Salut mes amies,
August 9th was my 14th birthday. Having just returned from New York City, I assumed I wasn't going to do anything special for my birthday this year. It was just going to be another night in front of Netflix . . . right? Wrong.

Juliette showed up. Juliette showed up avec mes parents. Usually Juliette flies to America alone for visits, but this time, my parents decided to accompany her. I guess their daughter can only turn 14 once, right? They all showed up in my dorm room right as I was getting back from breakfast in the mess hall, yelling, "SURPRISE!" with balloons and confetti going everywhere. Well, maybe not the balloons and confetti part. But it was a surprise to see them all standing there - Maman, Papa, and Juliette, my newly turned teenaged sister. They told me to get gussied up because we were going out for a night on the town. Where, they couldn't say, because this little American city is a far cry from Paris, but they were taking this birthday girl out for dinner. Complete with party hats.

Somewhere along the line somebody decided on this cute, but cheesy little Italian place a few blocks from the school. I'm sure it wasn't my parents' first choice just because they so abide by the "classic" French/Italian rivalry. I guess they were trying to win over Chiara, one of my best friends who happens to be from Italy. Never mind that Chiara really has a distaste for Italian American cuisine, but whatever! We were all going out to dinner, and we were going to have a good time.

In addition to inviting Chiara, they'd also invited Nathalie. Both girls were good sports and obligingly wore the party hats my parents had so enthusiastically purchased for the affair.

We decided on a classic Italian dish for dinner: spaghetti and meatballs, salad, and fresh rolls. Yum!

After we'd all finished eating, it was time for party games! My parents had picked up a 'Pin the Flower on the Stem' game for us to play. We felt a little silly spinning around blindfolded in a restaurant, but we all decided that a birthday was as good a time as any to act youthful. Chiara went first . . .

. . . and stuck her flower sticker pretty close, leaving the rest of us feeling a bit daunted! 

Nathalie took a turn next . . .  and proceeded to get a little upset when she didn't place her flower exactly on the right spot. A figure skater at heart, she's the most competitive of all of us. It's okay, Nat. It's only a game! 

Juliette took a turn and placed her sticker in exactly the right spot. We all figured she'd probably cheated, but who knows? We'll give her the benefit of the doubt. 

She was pretty pleased with herself. 

I went last, and as I didn't get anywhere close, we all proclaimed Juliette the winner.

We decided to have our dessert next. Everyone decided to take turns singing 'Happy Birthday' to me in various languages. Nathalie sang the traditional song in English, Juliette sang in French, and Chiara followed up with an Italian rendition. 

When they were done singing, I made a wish and blew out the candle on my birthday bundt cake. I can't tell you what I wished for because then it wouldn't come true! 

In addition to the slices of bundt cake, we had dishes of ice cream and fruit tarts. Un petit plaisir, non? 

Finally, it was time to open presents! Nathalie handed me this fancy gift bag to open first. It was from my good friends Zipporah, Chickadee, Violet, Sora, and Lorikeet Valdez - hooray! I couldn't wait to see what they'd sent me.

Opening the bag, I pulled out a French-themed deck of cards. The illustrations were so pretty to look at that we all took several moments to look through all of the cards. I think Samantha Parkington would've had a set of playing cards like these! 

The quints had also sent two pairs of skinny jeans (one to share with Juliette!) and a bunch of new hair clips. How fun! A girl can never have too many clothes and accessories.

The quints sent along a few belated Christmas presents, too. Inside this festive mailbox, I found a polar bear snow-globe. Isn't it adorable?

Nathalie and I were really intrigued by this 'Snow In A Can'. The quints sure know how much I love la neige, but how can one make snow? Unless Queen Elsa pops out the minute I open the can? Thank you so much, Zipporah, Chickadee, Violet, Lorikeet, and Sora! You girls are always so thoughtful. I miss you five so much!

Nathalie pushed an all-too-familiar looking red bag over to me. "This is from Chiara and me, but don't get too excited. It's not what you think!" 

Drat. No American Girl clothes? Then what is it . . . ? Could it be . . . ? I suspected that whatever was in this bag was purchased at Toy Tokyo, Inky's favorite toy shop in New York, since my guardian was so quick to hide the bag from me. Upon pushing past the tissue paper, my suspicions were confirmed: it was Totoro from the Studio Ghibli film My Neighbor Totoro! Isn't he cute?! I knew the Totoro plush was Chiara's contribution since she and her friend Jessa are massive Studio Ghibli fans. If you haven't seen My Neighbor Totoro or any of the other Studio Ghibli films, please do me a favor and check them out. They are really awesome!

Setting my new Totoro down, I pushed my way through the rest of the tissue paper and pulled out another cutie . . . Cheburashka! This adorable monkey is known and loved by many a Soviet/Russian child. My good friend Inky introduced me to the stopmotion animated films about him, and since then, I've been pining for a Cheburashka toy of my own. Nathalie must've talked to Inky for gift suggestions, the little sneak! 

I thanked Nathalie and Chiara for the awesome gifts. They know me so well! Don't Cheburashka and Totoro make a wonderful pair? Totoro is so tiny compared to Chebby, but we'll overlook that minuscule detail . . . 

Somehow amidst all of the excitement, Juliette and my parents had momentarily disappeared. When they returned, they didn't return alone. There was a fourth member of their party, and this fourth member was brown and furry . . . that's right, they'd brought a puppy! A PUPPY! I couldn't believe my eyes and ears! I've always wanted a pet of my own, but Juliette is allergic to pet dander. "A dog of my very own?" I wondered aloud, "How . . . why . . . can I have a dog w-with Juliette's . . . ?"

My parents explained that, as long as I kept the puppy at school, Juliette's allergies wouldn't be affected. I nodded, reaching down to pet my new furry friend. "Il est trop mignon, he is so cute!" Juliette sighed, watching me with my new gift. Then she sneezed! "If only I wasn't allergic!" 

Chiara, Nathalie, and I played happily with the puppy while poor sneezing Juliette could only look on. He kept going from one of us to another and back again, requesting pets and belly rubs and giving us plenty of puppy kisses, too! Isn't he the cutest? No amount of Totoros and Cheburashkas can make up for a live doggy, no sirree! But what should I name him?  Does anyone have any name suggestions for me? Any advice about caring for a puppy?

We ended the party by taking some group photos. From left to right, there's Juliette, me, Nathalie, and Chiara . . . and don't forget the newest addition to the family, that adorable chocolate lab! 

Thanks for letting me share my birthday excitement with you!

What was your birthday like this year? If you haven't had it yet, what do you want it to be like?

Ton amie,

What we're wearing:
On me, Sophie (MAG 25): "Military Blues" by Liberty Jane Clothing 

On Juliette (MAG 55): "The Nicole" by American Planet
On Chiara (aka Marisol, GOTY 2005): "The Liz Maxi" by LaPoupeeBijoux
On Nathalie (MAG 37): "Coral and Mint Floral Peplum Blouse" by Janie Jumps; denim shorts by Liberty Jane Clothing

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Visiting Inky

Salut mes amis, 

When my session at Camp Doll Diaries ended, my parents surprised me with a bus ticket to one of my all-time FAVORITE cities in the world: New York City! My dear friend Inky had invited me to stay with her family for a few days.

It was SO GOOD to see Inky's apartment again! As soon as I got in the door, I bounded over to Inky's room. We stayed in there half the night talking, just Inks and me. Inky's moms literally had to bribe us out with cheesy vareniki for dinner - yum! Vareniki is the Ukrainian word for pierogi, a food my Polish half is very familiar with. I love those stuffed dumplings! My family usually keeps them on reserve for Christmas Eve, so it was really a special treat indeed to have them with Inky.
After breakfast the next day, I took the subway to Manhattan with Inky's friends Iris and Miko. Our first stop was to be the American Girl Place, but of course! I immediately purchased some iced coffee at the snack shop located there, sipping on it while I browsed the summer's new releases. I decided to shop lightly this time, only picking up a pair of the chocolate glasses and Kit's floral print dress, as well as the cello for Fair Hollow's music department. The cello was on sale for $18 - SCORE! 

Iris, Miko, and I decided to ride the subway over to the West Village for lunch. I was totally in awe of the West Village, and if I could choose a place in the city to live, this would be it. I really wanted to stay a bit longer and check out the new film Boyhood shown at the IFC movie theatre. Alas, Iris and Miko were pretty hungry, so we ate at a yummy Vietnamese restaurant. I had spring rolls on a bed of greens. For dessert, we stopped at the macaron place Inky's always raving about. It was SO hard to choose which macaron that I wanted, but I eventually decided on a lavender vanilla flavored one. It was purple and almost too pretty to eat!

After lunch, I parted ways with Iris and Miko. They were going to the Isabelle movie premiere later that day and had to get in line. Since we'd ended up back on 5th Avenue, I did some window shopping! I checked out FAO Schwarz, the Plaza Hotel (and all of the Eloise souvenirs!), and the Disney store. After wandering around for a while, I decided to stop at Bubba Gump's in Times Square for a light supper: fried shrimp, hush puppies, fried fish fillets, cole slaw, broccoli, and a tall glass of watermelon lemonade to wash everything down with! (Okay, maybe that doesn't sound light, but I had to share it with my chaperones!)

Then it was time for the MAIN EVENT (aka the reason why we came to NYC!): If/Then starring the one and only Idina Menzel!! I was so full of anticipation when I got in line at the Rodgers Theatre because I was lucky enough to have premium seating: Row E in the orchestra section! Yippee! You can probably see why I decided not to buy much at American Girl Place, but hey, Idina Menzel is that worth it to me. I have seen her in concert every 2 years since 2008, and I really couldn't break that tradition . . . now could I?

The show was beyond AMAZING! Idina blew us all away, particularly in Always Starting Over, my favorite song from If/Then. After the show was over, I met up with Inky and her mom, so I wouldn't have to survive the hustle and bustle that is Times Square alone! Somehow we made it back to the apartment to end the night watching a DVR'ed performance of Arcade Fire (my friend Nathalie's favorite musical obsession).

The next day was my last day in the city. Boo! I started the day early, so I could at least use every minute in the city to my advantage. First, I took a few selfies with Coral and Violet. It was so nice to see them both again, especially Violet, my "pretend twin"! Violet and I've met on several occasions, and she even visited my school years ago.

My sister Juliette is so envious of this photo of me and Coral! She wants to meet Coral so badly, but her summer ballet intensive keeps her from traveling as much as me (something I know Coral can relate to as well, haha). Anyway, I felt like a giant next to Coral! Inky always towers over me, but Coral is pretty short. That's all right. We all come in different sizes, yes? 

By the way, please excuse the quality of these photos. I really didn't want to lug my big camera on this trip, so I made due with my more compact one! Sometimes convenience wins out. 

After reconnecting with Coral and Violet, Inky and I set off for a day in Manhattan. Inky took me to her favorite toy stores in Greenwich Village, including Toy Tokyo! This is the store where Inks generally gets her UglyDolls from, and boy, did they have some neat toys! My chaperones picked up a few things for, I'm guessing, my birthday because they wouldn't tell me what! 

We had lunch at Veselka, this really neat Ukrainian bistro in the Village. We had the yummiest borscht (beet) soup, vareniki filled with sweet potato and broccoli/cheese, and a vanilla egg cream to top it off. Everything was delicious! 

After lunch, we made our way to the New York Public Library to play a bit on the front lawn. Due to its proximity to the bus station, we decided that it would be a good place to say our goodbyes. We took a few photos together (see Inky's blog post HERE) and promised to see each other again soon! 

It had been such a great trip for me! I nearly cried in front of everyone in the bus terminal while I was waiting for my bus to come. I have so many good friends around the country who I hardly ever get to see (and a lot of whom I've never even met in person!). The Internet is such a great way of connecting, but it's still not as awesome as getting to spend time with dear friends in person. Ah, well. Life is full of compromises, right? At least I have a way to talk with these faraway friends when I can't afford to travel. :P

Until next time,


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