Santa Lucia Day

 Lucia is coming this midwinter’s night

when all is dark and cold.

She’s coming and wearing a crown of light,

she wishes you peace and Christmas joy,

she’s bringing you love and joy.

 Santa Lucia was a 3rd century martyr who brought food and provisions to Christians hiding from persecution in catacombs. The legend says that in order for her to use both her hands to carry everything, she made a wreath of candles and put it on her head to provide light.

In honor of that, girls today, especially in Sweden and Norway will wake up earlier than the sun on December 13th, dress in white, signifying being pure with Christ through baptism with a red sash that symbolizes the blood of Lucia’s martyrdom. They will walk with a wreath of light on their heads and bring cookies and saffron buns which is also a symbol of showing Christ’s Light traveling to the dark places in the world.

I would have loved to have re-enacted Kirsten’s Christmas story with the dolls, but she still got to celebrate Santa Lucia Day anyway bringing cookies and pretzels and tofee (don’t have saffron buns) to Lily and Katie!

Happy Santa Lucia Day!

More adventures with Kirsten coming up soon! Stay tuned!


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Walking Wisconsin

This past weekend I took a trip to Wisconsin and visited Lake Geneva and Madison. My sister Hillary and friend Alexis decided to take a 23 mile walk around the entire lake! We started at 6:30am!! I am SO not a morning person! The last time I got up that early for a hike was for this craziest of hikes! And the hike we did Saturday was pretty crazy too!

I can’t remember if I’ve ever been outside to see a sunrise! But this weekend I saw one:

 Of course we had to take a doll along! I thought it would be fun to have two Alexises on this hike so I brought Alexis O’Shay (known as Alex in this post)! Hillary and I took turns carrying her.

 This reminded me of scenes from My Girl.

 The trail was really different. It pretty much always kept very close to the shore of the lake. So on one side you had the lake to look at, and on the other HUGE mansion summer homes that were mostly vacant! Can you imagine! Living in homes such as these! And they’re not even permanent homes! This first one was one of many owned by the Wrigley family.

Yes! These huge things, only your home for the summer!!!! We saw one house that had a chandelier as big as the one from Beauty and the Beast! It took up the whole ceiling of the room!!!

The path we walked on changed about every 10 feet too. I believe each house maintains the section of the trail that’s on their property. Sometimes we’d be walking on crushed stone, grass, large stones, boulders that you had to climb, packed dirt, pavement, sidewalk, bricks, and paving stones that you see here. Some were interesting like this hopscotch one. There was another that had paving stones shaped as different varieties of leaves. I forgot to take a pic of it! It was really cool!

Occasionally, you’d come to one of these random steps placed in the middle of nowhere for what seems like no reason! If you lived before cars were invented you’d know the reason! Ladies were never supposed to expose themselves, especially their ankles! So these steps and platforms were built so the women could walk up and get in their carriage without having to lift up their dress exposing skin!

It was fun to walk along the lake and watch the progression of the sunrise.

 Alex would ride in the backpack with Alexis the human (who really does like dolls and loves American Girl) complaining, “Alex is staring at me! Now she’s winking at me! It think she wants to come out and get me!”

I had thought bringing Alex along would be a hassle! I hardly hike on trails half as long with dolls on my back let alone a 23 mile one! But actually, Alex and her backpack carry case ended up being a blessing! It was cold, and during the day the wind really picked up and the waves got strong. We were exposed to a cold biting wind. Despite my sister having more hiking experience than me, she did not dress well for this and was freezing in minutes! She was grateful for the backpack along with my extra shirt and pair of gloves to keep her warm. She carried the backpack most of the way.

 Alex and I greet the sun!

In the morning we took a number of little photo breaks. The sun was warm, and the wind hadn’t picked up yet.

 Alex was so excited to find a lighthouse her size!

 Every house had these white wooden boards resting on the shore of their yard. The piers had to come out and rest on land or they’d get damaged when the lake froze over. Most of the piers had tiny shells attached to them and they stank so badly! We’d have to walk past them quickly and hold our breath so we didn’t have to endure the stench!

You can see in the background, the crane taking apart a pier and hoisting it onto the shore. Despite the ugly and smelly boards we did get to see some fun things:


And it was very fun hiking and talking together.

We did have a problem with bathrooms. We were fine for the first 4-5 hrs. There would be many houses under construction and we’d find a portapotty and go there. Or we’d come to a town and go in a store/gas station or something. But after that, there were no more stores and we stopped seeing houses under construction. Both H and I had to go. We walked and walked and nothing. Finally we came to this Gigantic-bigger-than-a-mansion building and we figured it’s not a house. H and I went up the steps and a man was just coming out. We told him what we’re doing and what our problem was. He said this building was the club house and sure he could get us in! He was SO kind! Letting us use their fancy bathroom, giving us water bottles and he even offered to drive us home! I ALMOST said yes! By this time, my feet were hurting from blisters, Alexis was in bad shape, but my usual hating-to-fail-once-I-commit-I‘m-going-to-do-it mentality kicked in and I refused. He had already been generous enough already!

 Finally and at last, just as the sun was now setting, we slogged the last hour towards home!

We laughed that we had been up hiking before the sun and continued hiking even after the sun had set and the wind had calmed down again! Thank God for bright flashlights on phones! We ended up hiking the last leg in the dark!

 Would I ever do this again? No. I’m glad I did it and it was mostly fun, but hiking for that long without any real variety just got to be a bit much.

Thankful though, that we all made it sore but safely back! Buuuut hahahaha, funny enough, our day STILL wasn’t over! That night, Hillary and I left our human friend Alexis and drove to Madison!

The next day, despite my aching feet of blisters we walked and hiked some more!! I had never been to Madison and I wanted to see all the sights!

One really fun thing we did was take a tour of the Capitol building.

We had a great tour guide who described what happened in every room we entered and about the design and paintings of the room itself. What’s special about the Capitol building of Wisconsin is that the outside is pure granite and the inside is made up of the most variety of marble than any other building! We saw marble from different states and different countries, and marble that was cut so you could ‘see pictures’ inside of it, and marble with actual fossils found in it!

This is the rotunda. At the end of the tour we got to climb up the dome walk outside, and when you got back in, you could circle around the inside of the dome and see the rotunda from below!

Each mosaic depicts a part of our government, the legislature, judicial and executive branch. The woman in green is Miss Liberty.

Badgers are a huge deal in Wisconsin, not only is it the state animal but Bucky the Badger is U of M’s mascot. We saw many badgers all around the Capitol building, sometimes in paintings and sometimes statues. This was the biggest statue of a badger. If you rub his nose you will get good luck. That’s why his nose is all shiny and golden!

 The first room we went in was the Governor’s conference room. It was the most elaborate room with gold filigree and huge paintings everywhere.

 The biggest fireplace can be found in this room. The Capitol building has had trouble with fires. The first official building was used for a very short amount of time and only one decision was made there; where to move the Capitol Building! They built a Capitol building that looked very much like the one you see today. It had a sprinkler system and officials thought their sprinkler system was so good they didn’t need to purchase fire insurance. But one night, a fire started. The sprinkler system had been shut off due to maintenance work and it was the middle of February! The nozzles of the firetrucks froze. They requested help from Milwaukee, but by the time Milwaukee firetrucks arrived, their hose nozzles were frozen too! Students from the University ran in and out trying to save as many things as they could. The whole building burned to the ground. And guess what? Today, the Capitol building STILL doesn’t have fire insurance!!!

The Capitol contains many skylights in the rooms. They wanted as much natural light as possible. Above is the room unlit by artificial lights, but our tour guide turned them on so we could see the murals on the wall.

This room was funded by a railroad company so the paintings depict every, or almost every kind of transportation in history. It was daring of the painter to put an airplane in the picture above. Only two airplanes were in existence when he painted that but he envisioned the sky to one day end up like the railroads we have on the ground.

 Can you name some modes of transportation that cannot be found in these murals?

 The other fascinating thing about this room was the marble. The marble is Mediterranean. We all used our imaginations and saw pictures inside the marble. I saw completely different things than what the tour guide thought he saw!

We also saw some real pictures in this marble – snail fossils! So cool!

The courtroom got me all excited because Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson and Madison were ‘there’!

 It was hard to get a good picture of this because the only lighting was the natural light coming from the skylight.

 Here are Hamilton and Madison in deep conversation, perhaps discussing the Federalist Papers!

This picture is of the signing of the Constitution. The one guy who is in this painting but wasn’t ‘in the room where it happens’ was Thomas Jefferson! Of course, Aaron Burr wasn’t there either!

 But Jefferson was the only one who really should have been ‘missed’ in this picture! (hee! Okay! Done with the puns!) I was singing all those songs in my head while listening to our tour guide! Hamilton fun! Oh yes!

 The senate chamber is the second largest room with the biggest skylight.

This is a painting that represents the Panama Canal and the joining of the Continents. The first painting is the offering of peace to China and the East and Polynesia. The middle pic is the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans being represented by the woman in green and the man in blue coming together through the canal, and the young United States in the foreground; the cherubs holding their shield.

The assembly room is the largest room in the building. This painting is the most fascinating out of all the ones we saw. The woman sitting in the chair is Wisconsin. Near her are confederate soldiers. The Present is speaking to her and the couple behind the tree is the Future, telling each other we must take care of our resources for our children to come.

Can you find the badger in this close up shot? The badger was not there before. Someone asked the painter to put it there and he decided he had to get rid of something in order to do it. He got rid of a soldier and after a number of years, a crew came to clean the painting. They found the shadow of the soldier who used to be there. Can you see the soldier ghost in this photo? It’s much easier to see in real life of course, so the next time you’re in Madison, be sure to take a free tour of the Capitol building!

The Assembly Room was the end of the tour, but we were able to go up the dome on our own. It was so cool to walk out and see the whole city of Madison spread out before our eyes!

 Here are the skylights from the rooftops!

And that little white glass dome in the center is the Overture Center where my sister performs with the Madison Symphony! So check out the Capitol Building and then head over to a concert! It’s worth the trip!

till next time-


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Part 2 of A Change in Names

Read this story. for part 1

Miranda sat in front of Megan’s laptop staring at the blank email she was going to try to write. Then her fingers just started typing:

From: Miranda Alvarez <>

Date: November 20, 2017 at 9:48 PM CST

To: Denilynn <>

Hello Deni!

I’m Miranda Alvarez, one of Heather’s dolls. You know about me already and I wanted to thank you for helping me to see who I am outside myself. It’s funny how people sometimes go about their lives, never really noticing or thinking about what they’re doing or how they’re acting, but then someone points it out to them, and they take a step back, and they see themselves. This happened to me in two different ways.

I never saw myself as always being content or grateful or persevering or a survivor. I just was! You know? It’s who I am. But when Heather read me that email, and you pointed it out, I realized how MUCH God blessed me! How richly He put His Spirit in me so that I COULD be that way, and not complain or feel miserable and make everybody else miserable because of that. And not ONLY that! But after you wrote that, I saw even more how God and His grace and blessings shone through Samantha and Molly and Heather. It was just the coolest thing! More than cool!!!

And then the second way, where I just didn’t think, and didn’t listen to dolls around me, and just went ahead being selfish and stupid and look where it got me! Stuck in my room waiting for Heather to come scold me! But it was good, a good/cool thing. Good that Heather, Jacky, Lanie, and Alison were all pointing out what I was doing. And although it took forever, I was able to take a step back and see myself and realize what I was doing. And I am repenting of it now. I won’t do that again.

So I don’t know, if I will meet you at Christmas time. I hope so. Or at least someday. And I hope so badly to meet your mom. I feel like we have this connection – this strength through Christ and it’s always so good to see that in other people. It’s so encouraging for everyone!

I was writing this, meaning to ask you who you’d like to come for Christmas, but now, all I want to say is…..tell your mom she’s so super cool! Cooler than cool! Totally awesome! And give her a hug from me! I’m sure if Heather were here, she’d say send her her love too!

Thank you. From me and all the Dollsies!

-Miranda Alvarez

She read it over once more and pressed ‘send.’ She changed into her pajamas and tried to read a book but her thoughts kept drifting.

She thought about everything that had happened. Everything she’d done and laughed to herself. Jacky had told her that she was always happy, always grateful, always content but hadn’t she just been showing the complete opposite of all that? She hadn’t been content because she wanted to go on the Christmas trip. She had done everything in her power to get what she wanted, and it had completely consumed her. She ignored and avoided people she held dear. She didn’t listen to her friends. And although she hadn’t exactly been miserable, she certainly hadn’t been happy. Keeping all these secrets, getting her friends to cover up for her. It was not at all who she wanted to be. It was not what God wanted her to be. She hadn’t been following the Lord and getting strength from Him, and she had not been content.

Just then, Heather came in the room,”Hi Miranda. Is there something bothering you? Between us? Because I don’t understand why you didn’t just ask me who’s going on the Christmas trip instead of going behind my back and making such a huge effort to try and find out yourself. I’m not angry with you. I’m just concerned, that you didn’t feel comfortable enough to come to me.”

“It’s not that. At all,” Miranda responded, “I just…..I really didn’t even think! I didn’t think about the options I had. And when my friends reminded me I could just ask you or ask Samantha, I was so deeply involved in what I was doing I just ignored them! It’s not at all that I don’t trust you! And I’m so sorry I’ve been avoiding you! I’ve kind of been completely blinded by what I wanted and didn’t care about anything else. Anyone else.”

“What an easy trap to fall into!” Heather said, “I know I fall into that trap! Getting so consumed by something. Even if that something is worthwhile and good! It’s still breaking the very first commandment; “You shall have no other gods except Me.” Were you happy when all you could think about was going on that trip?”

“No. Not at all,” Miranda said, “I tried not to, but I felt kind of guilty right away, and then it just seemed to be getting worse! I avoided you, I ignored my friends, I tried to change things and control things I really had no business controlling. It all spiraled out of control so quickly! And I think if I would’ve continued to let it go on, I would’ve ended up far more miserable than I am, or was, now.”

“Do you see why God gives us commandments? It’s to protect us from doing these stupid things because He knows they will all lead to hardship. He loves us. He gave us a conscience and commandments so that we wouldn’t end up being miserable like you were. But He also knows that we DO fall into those traps. We DO get consumed by things we think are more important. That’s why we live in a corrupt and evil world. But because He loves us so much, He sent His Son to die for us and pay for all our sins.”

“Huh, I never thought about it like that. God giving us commands for our protection. I just thought it was because He is so great and holy, that’s how He lives and that’s how He wants us to live. But yeah, that’s so true. And so cool!”

Heather smiled, “So, I think you’re going to have a changed attitude from now on, but I heard some weird rumor there might be some other kind of big change?”

“Oh, that,” Miranda said, “I thought it might be fun to rename the doll blog….”

Heather’s eyebrows rose in surprise, “To what?”

“Well,…… I think I actually might just want to keep it how it is. There’ve been too many changes around here anyway!”

Heather smiled again curiously, “What were you thinking of changing it too?”

“Well, I was reading your aunt’s emails and she called us something that made me feel special.”

Heather smiled even deeper, “What did she call you?”

“The Dollsies. I love it, but I don’t want to change it.”

“Awww, I like it too, but don’t you think Dollightful has a better ring to it? I agree, let’s not change it. Come on, we’ve been talking long enough as it is! We both need to get to bed. Good night Miranda!”

“Good night!”

Miranda fell asleep, finally for the first time in a while, perfectly content.

She woke up the next morning and glanced at the laptop waiting right next to her. She hurriedly grabbed it and turned it on. Sure enough! There was an email waiting for her!!!

From: Denilynn <>

Date: November 21, 2017 at 7:24 AM CST

To: Miranda Alvarez <>


Hi Miranda!

Great to hear from you!  I’ve enjoyed getting to know you and the other dolls through Heather as well as the Dollightful Dolls blog. Honestly, I’m so glad you dolls didn’t decide to change the title! It’s so catchy, memorable, and, well, delightful!  😉 When I read that part of the latest post, I almost screamed, “Nooooo!” and wanted to call Heather! So I was very relieved that it remained the same.
You seem like such fun! You remind me a bit of Anne Shirley from the books.  And a more forthright and honest doll I’ve never met. Very brave of you to be so transparent and honor God and your human friend, Heather, sharing your challenges and triumphs like that on the blog. Heather is one of the most sure and trustworthy friends a doll could have. She honors an open heart. I know I would have felt awkward asking her for “the list”, but she would never make fun of you or intentionally hurt your feelings.  It is hard to wait and let people show their love in their own time, isn’t it?  Especially when it means so much to you!  I know there have been times when I’ve found it hard to wait as well!!  So good of you to share the lessons we all can learn from!!
What’s happening in the doll room while Heather celebrates Thanksgiving with her family?   Have a blessed, happy Thanksgiving, Miranda.  And Advent comes next! My favorite season!! Hahaha! More waiting and anticipation!  Love it! Love you, too!  Sending X’s and O’s to you and all the other dolls!!
Oh! And hi from my mom, too!  She LOVED the blog post!  I’m sure she’d love to meet you as much as I.  😘🤗
Wow! thought Miranda, thinking about how she and Heather had decided not to change the blog name, It’s like she read our minds!
Miranda laughed again, because the whole time she talked with Heather last night, she never even thought about actually asking her if she was going on the trip!!! And she decided suddenly that she wouldn’t ask Heather. Heather would tell her in her own time. And besides, just like Advent, sometimes it was just so cool and fun to be completely content inside the waiting and anticipation!
-the end.
(of course there’s always a Note from Heather, right?!) This whole story started out from a text! My aunt asked me if the dolls were writing her. And I just thought, how could I get the dolls to actually write her? And this is what came of it! And yes, her email reply is real! She really wrote it! So fun!!!
Oh, and here’s what some of the dolls did for Thanksgiving! Yum!!
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