Thursday, June 30, 2016

Nora Breaks Her Silence (Photo Story)

I decided to move forward with the stories focusing on Lena’s friends and family. The missing character(s) will just have to be omitted from photo stories for now.

Today, Lena and Eleanor (Nora) have come to Monica’s house for a visit. The older kids are playing in the fenced yard while the moms chat. There’s a sliding glass door that provides a good view of the outdoor play area. As a reminder, Lena is married to Jamal, and he is associate pastor at the local church. Monica and her husband own and operate a child care center together. Nora teaches first grade, and her husband, Kirk, is an IT consultant. Lena, Monica, and Nora met in college and have been friends ever since.

I’d offer you some wine, but we don’t have any at the moment. We cleared it all out once Adam and I decided to start trying for another baby. I have some sodas in the fridge. (Monica)

It’s okay. I’m still nursing Brittany, and it’s such a pain when I have to pump and dump. (Eleanor)

Girl, you know alcohol just makes me sleepy. I need to drink more water anyway, so I’ll take a glass of ice water if you don’t mind. (Lena)
Me, too. (Eleanor)

Coming right up. And I’ll get us some chips to snack on, too. (Monica)

So, you’re really ready to have another baby? Raymond’s what…three, and Nicole just turned one, right? (Eleanor)
Yeah. I figure if it doesn’t happen right away, then they’ll be at least two years apart. Girls are supposed to be easier to potty train, so if I’m lucky I can get Nicole out of diapers just before or just after the baby comes.  And this is going to be our last baby. (Monica)

Sounds like a good plan if the timing works out. But don’t be surprised if it happens sooner than you think. When I got pregnant with Zahara, I told JJ I wanted a baby girl, and I needed to be pregnant by the end of the month. I’ll be darned if it didn’t happen. (Lena)

I guess he works well under pressure! (laughs) We weren’t really trying with Raymond, but we weren’t trying not to either. It took almost a year to get pregnant with Nicole, though. (Monica)

I know what you mean. It seemed to take forever to get pregnant with Brittany. Kirk loved it in the beginning, but once I started scheduling everything around the ovulation calendar, I think it felt more like a job to him than anything else. (Eleanor)

Did you get pregnant with Faith just as easily? (Eleanor)
Faith was the surprise result of a weekend getaway JJ planned for us. I had stopped taking birth control after Zahara was born, because JJ promised to get a vasectomy. Since he kept postponing the procedure, I insisted we use condoms. At the hotel suite, Casanova put his only condom on wrong, and then had to throw it out. And the rest is history… (Lena)
They all laugh.

So, are y’all having any more? (Monica)
Girl, no. He finally got his vasectomy last year. (Lena)

What about you, Nora? I know Brittany is only six months old, but are y’all planning to have any more kids? (Monica)
Nora doesn’t answer, but her eyes fill up with tears.

Oh my goodness, what did I say? (Monica)
Nothing. I’m sorry for getting all weepy. It’s just that…It’s just that I don’t see how we can have more babies when…when we barely make love anymore. (Eleanor)

Oh, honey, don’t worry. It takes some couples longer than others to get back into a groove after having a baby. That’s not unusual. (Lena)

No, it’s not that. (Eleanor)
What, then? You know you can talk to us. (Monica)

We stopped making love when I was five months pregnant, because my doctor said it was too risky in my condition. That’s when it started, or maybe it was soon after that. Heck, for all I know it started long before that and the lack of intimacy just made it okay in his mind. I started seeing these websites in the search history, you see. (Eleanor)

Oh, no (Monica, whispering)
Then after Brittany was born and I got the go ahead at my postpartum checkup, I found myself hesitating. At first I thought I was just tired or maybe nervous that it would be uncomfortable, but I finally had to admit to myself that I didn’t feel like I turned him on anymore. I can’t compete with those women on those websites. I don’t look like them, especially now that I’ve had a baby. (Eleanor)

Honey, you don’t have to compete with those women. Almost nothing about them is real- from the way they look to the way they act. I’m sure Kirk is happy with you the way you are. Have you told him how you feel? (Lena)

I’ve tried talking to him a few times, but I just end up in tears. He apologizes for hurting me and promises to stop visiting the websites, but he doesn’t. And now, we’re caught in a vicious cycle. I resent him for turning to porn. The more he does it, the more I withdraw and the more I withdraw, the more he turns to those filthy websites. (Eleanor, beginning to cry again)
What a jerk. (Monica)

Jamal could counsel y’all- individually and then the two of you together if you wanted. Do you think Kirk would be willing to talk about it? (Lena)
Pfft…sit down with one of our pastors and discuss his addiction to pornography? I seriously doubt it. If he knew I’d mentioned it to you two, he’d probably stop speaking to me. I probably should have just kept it to myself. After all, doesn’t love cover a multitude of sins or something like that? (Eleanor)

Yeah, something like that. But what that verse means is that we should forgive small offenses, not that we should hide someone’s wrongdoing. What Kirk is doing is hurting both of you, and has the potential to hurt your daughter in the long run. You were right to speak up. (Lena)
Well, that’s a relief, because it feels good to get it off my chest. I don’t know what good it will do, though. (Eleanor)

We’re here for you. (Monica, grabbing Nora’s hand)

Just try to hang in there while I figure out what to do, okay. (Lena)

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

New Fashionistas

I realized yesterday that I hadn't photographed any of the nearly two dozen dolls I've purchased this year. Shame on me! Notice I said nearly two dozen. So before you ask, No, I haven't gone over my 24 doll limit for the year...but I'll admit I'm getting close. I'm going to introduce my new Barbie Fashionistas in this post. I'll save the other introductions for another post.

I wanted to do my part to support the diverse body types now being offered, so I made up my mind to purchase at least one each of the petite, tall, and curvy dolls. My dolls were all purchased online at either or I have a Target debit card, so shipping is free. And I finally bit the bullet and signed up for Prime again, so two-day shipping was free from Amazon, too.

Petitle, Curvy, Regular, & Tall for height comparison

First up is the Emoji Fun curvy doll. $19.99 from Amazon
Her name is  Elon. I don't have a job or back story for her yet, but I expect I'll have something soon.
I am very happy with her complexion and face up. As others have noted, she can share some clothes with the other dolls. Loose or stretchy pieces and A-line dresses are no problem at all. 

Eboni (on a Baby Phat Chandra body) next to Elon for complexion comparison

Elon in her denim skirt and extra shoes with Fab Fringe's top

I was worried she wouldn't be able to share shoes with the other dolls when I saw the size of the pink heels she was wearing, but I was able to get the open-toe heels that came with the blue floral dress pictured below on her just fine.

The pink shoes Elon was wearing on an average Barbie foot

Elon might be stiff, but at least she can sit with her legs closed. I'm looking at you, Lammily!

Next up is the Fab Fringe tall doll. $7.99 from Target
Fab Fringe is now Freda Anthony, Robyn's cousin. I tried to get past Kanika's (blonde in first photo) huge head, but in the end I just couldn't. Kanika has been replaced as Robyn's cousin in my stories. But I won't be tossing her in the donation bin just yet. I intend to use her to practice repainting. Speaking of soon as the mood strikes me, I will give Freda a lip color that doesn't clash with her fabulous red hair. And I'm seriously debating putting her on an AA Made to Move body. It's a perfect match, but she will lose her lovely height.

Next is the Ruby Red petite doll. $7.94 from Amazon
She is Ruby Li, Meiling's younger sister. Meiling is the Made to Move doll I introduced a while back. Inspired by Shasha, I cut her long hair into an inverted bob. Ruby will get a Made to Move body, too on my next trip to TRU.

The Li sisters: Ruby and Meiling
Another view of Meiling's inverted bob

The Li sisters have a cousin on their father's side. Her name is Taleah Li. Her name is a combination of tall and Lea for her facial sculpt, but I actually had a Taleah in my class several years ago. I haven't deboxed her yet, but I will soon. $19.99 from Amazon

Taleah Li, formerly the Leather & Ruffles tall doll

I also ordered this cutie. ($14.99 from Amazon) She's not a Fashionista, but I'm showing her here because she was purchased as a body donor for Taleah. She's a perfect match, and in this case I don't care at all about the loss of height. I will be buying a few more of these as she is also a good match for the doll with the romper and a few others  with a light AA tone.

What a gorgeous face!

I'm updating this post to include two ladies who were inadvertently left out. I'd forgotten that they were never introduced, because both were purchased last year. Allow me to introduce Cheyanne and Avery. These gals are salon assistants. Avery is without a body at the moment, because I sent her off to Cyano Reroots to have her pink hair replaced with black. At our last doll club meeting, Georgia Girl did a workshop on rooting eyelashes. I finished one eye under the supervision of my awesome instructor (Thanks, Georgia Girl!!) and I did the other eye at home. I need to trim her lashes a bit, but my sharpest scissors are at work. In August, GG is doing a flocking workshop. I'm contemplating removing her blonde flocking and replacing it with black. What say you? 

Cheyanne & Avery patiently waiting for articulated bodies

Close-up of Avery's incomplete makeover

I also have plans to give Avery some tattoos and piercings. Has anyone re-bodied this doll? If so, which body did you use?

That's all for now. The next photo story will be posted in a few days.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Mother Knows Best (Photo Story)

Wedding bells will soon be ringing for these two, and Brandy has been waiting for the right moment to tell Tony about her latest idea for their pending nuptials.

Babe, I have an idea for the wedding. (Brandy)
Okay, shoot. (Antonio)

I was thinking that we should include Kayla in the ceremony. She’s a special part of our lives now, so she should be part of the wedding, too. (Brandy)
Tony smiles.
I love you so much, Babe. I think that’s a great idea. I’ll text Lea and see what she says. (Antonio)

I don’t think that’s the kind of thing you ask someone via text, Tony. Maybe you could call her or ask her the next time you go to pick up Kayla. (Brandy)
I guess you’re right. It’s too bad you didn’t mention it sooner; I could have asked when I saw her today. (Antonio)

You saw Lea today? Did the plans change? I thought you were picking Kayla up this Friday and we were going to get to spend the weekend with her. (Brandy)
Nah, I’m still getting Kayla this weekend. I saw them when I was at Matt and Amber’s. (Antonio)
Oh, that’s... (Brandy, puzzled)

They were having a play date. I got to have tea with my nieces and baby girl. I wore a fancy hat, a pink necklace, and everything. You should have seen me. (Antonio, laughing)
Does that happen often…running into them when you go over there? (Brandy)

Not that often…this is only maybe the second or third time I’ve run into them. Turns out Lea and my sister made plans to get the kids together back at the Christmas party, and they’ve been hanging out ever since. (Antonio)
That’s nice. (Brandy, her words coming out a little too sweetly as she tries to hide the fact that she’s feeling some kind of way about what Tony just said)

Two days later, Brandy is meeting her sister and mother at My Cup of Tea to talk about the bridal shower. Rosalyn phoned to say she would be a few minutes late. Since it’s just the two of them at the moment, Brandy decides to use this opportunity to fill her sister in on recent events like Tony buying Lea a car and bumping into her repeatedly when he goes to visit his sister and best friend.

I guess they were bound to hit it off eventually with all the mommy-daughter play dates and what not. You had to know there would be some awkward family dynamics to deal with. I hate to say it but that Christmas party, which you said was uncomfortable enough, was only the beginning. You’ve got birthday parties, holiday dinners, family reunions, and lots more to look forward to. And when you have kids of your own, that will add a whole other piece to the puzzle. (Yolanda)

You’re right, of course. And I thought I was ready for all that. I guess I’m just surprised that I’m not handling things any better than I am. (Brandy)

You don’t think she’s spending time at his sister’s place hoping for a hook-up, do you? (Yolanda)
I can’t say for sure, but I doubt it. She’s been shockingly good about setting and respecting boundaries so far. She wouldn’t even accept that car from him without a written contract detailing how and when she would pay him back. (Brandy)

You’re a better woman than me, Sis. I would have said, “He!! to the naw,” if Kenneth asked me something like that. (Yolanda, shaking her head)

You wouldn’t have to, because Kenneth doesn’t have a baby mama that he feels the need to rescue for the sake of his child. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t irk me some. (Brandy)

Look on the bright side. At least now you know for sure that he’ll be a great dad when you start a family of your own. (Yolanda)

What’s this I hear? How does she know Antonio will be a great dad? (Rosalyn, catching a bit of their conversation as she walks over)

Yolanda suddenly becomes very interested in her tea. Brandy sighs. Rosalyn takes a seat. For a long moment, no one speaks.

Tony has a three year old daughter, Mother. (Brandy)
Is that so? And why haven’t I heard you mention it before now? (Rosalyn)
Because I didn’t know about her until recently. (Brandy)

What kind of man keeps a secret like that? (Rosalyn)
The kind who didn’t know the secret himself. (Brandy)
Rosalyn considers this for a moment before speaking again.

My my, that’s a tough one for sure. I see that Yolanda is being a good sister by trying to reassure you, but why exactly do you need reassuring? (Rosalyn)
Well, it’s sort of putting a strain on our relationship. (Brandy)

Hmmm…the little girl seems much too young to be creating problems intentionally, so it must be the child’s mother. Is she trying to come between you two? Does she want Antonio back? (Rosalyn)
No, I don’t think so. (Brandy)

Well then, have Antonio’s feelings changed about marrying you? Is he struggling to treat you as well as he did before he learned about the baby? (Rosalyn)
No... but… (Brandy)

Then what exactly is the issue, my dear? (Rosalyn)
I can’t explain it, Mother. (Brandy)
Yolanda starts to interject, but thinks better of it.

May I give you some advice? (Rosalyn)
Like I could stop you if I tried. (Brandy)

I won’t pretend that this…situation is what your father and I imagined for you. If I had my way, you’d marry the perfect guy and live happily ever after in a perfect marriage. The truth is there’s no such thing as a perfect guy or a perfect marriage. Still, I see potential for you to have a great marriage with a great guy. And if that is what you want, then you must commit to seeing it through without all this…whatever this is. That commitment must begin now, even before you make your vows to one another. If you’re not ready or willing to be all in, then I advise you to get out. Break it off now and cut your losses. (Rosalyn)

Yolanda clears her throat and takes another sip of tea.

This is a lovely place, Yolanda. I see why you wanted to host the bridal shower here. (Rosalyn, changing the subject)
I had a feeling you’d like it. It’s newly opened and already has a fine reputation. They haven’t done much advertising yet, but the business is growing by word of mouth. That alone should tell you how much people enjoy it. (Yolanda)

Well, I’ll go and talk to the owner about making the reservation if the bride-to-be approves. (Rosalyn, looking toward Brandy)
Brandy simply nods. Her mind is reeling with what her mother just said about needing to either commit 100% or cut her losses.

Thanks for reading!