A Change of Scenery ~ a Photostory


After the Road to Pamel VIP party, we went straight home. My feet were aching inside my tight blue shoes, and I walked behind the others with a stiff stride.

I could hear the girls giggling and gossiping in front of me. Whenever I saw them like that, it always reminded me that I was new. Not really part of the family.

And it hurt.


Suddenly, the girls turned left, crossing the silent street. Confused, but not wanting to be left behind, I followed them nervously. They stopped in front of a tall white building.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

Caroline smiled at me. “Your birthday was on December 6th, right Nevaeh?” When I nodded, she tilted her head forward, confessing, “We forgot. And we’re really sorry about that. But we got you something anyway.”

My cheeks glowing with excitement, I stared at the building in front of me. Was my present in there? It was probably something big. A karaoke machine, maybe?


MJ and Ivy threw open the doors. And there . . . there was a room!

“Happy birthday, Nevaeh!” everyone shouted.

One of the older people on our street leaned out their window and hissed, “Shh!”

My family, looking embarrassed, tried again. “Happy birthday!” They whispered it this time.


I stepped forward, blinking in disbelief. This beautiful room . . . it was mine?

There was a mossy green carpet on the floor, along with a circular purple-and-blue rug on the right side. On the floor was a brand new cat toy, as well as several books and a heart-covered teddy bear. The blue bedspread resembled a picnic blanket. There were three fluffy handmade pillows. Lyric, my Siamese cat, was sleeping on the bed. I even spotted my guitar case in the corner.


“It’s all yours,” MJ told me as I crawled onto the bed, feeling the knitted pillows.

“Thank you!” I exclaimed tearfully. Ever since I’d come to Happy House of AG, I’d had to sleep on the downstairs couch. It was wonderful to finally have a real bed to sleep in again.

Lyric headbutted me, purring loudly.


My family headed back to the main house, giving me time to look around my new bedroom before dinner.

I leaned back against the pillows, stroking my cat. “I do belong here,” I whispered into her ear. “Lyric, I really do.”

What was the best birthday present you’ve ever received?


Something Important Happened on the 29th . . .

You just have to pretend that today is the 29th of September, and not the first day of October (oh, hello, October!), alright? Good.



On your birthday, you’d typically expect to wake up to the delicious smell of breakfast being carried right to your bed. Maybe you’d get bacon and pancakes and cocoa to eat. But being poked and prodded by your best friend, having your cheeks pinched and your nose wiggled back and forth . . . that’s not exactly the best wake-up-it’s-your-birthday thing.

Of course that’s what I got.

I cracked one eye open groggily and peered up at Molly. “Could you stop?” I moaned, scowling at her.

She smiled and pinched my cheek one more time.

I rolled onto my side so I was facing her. “It’s my birthday.”



I dragged myself sluggishly out of bed. Molly helpfully found my glasses for me and stuck them on my face, prodding the end into my eye before she got the glasses on correctly.

The weird thing about birthdays here is that you never know when the party will happen, if ever. We might celebrate before school, at lunch time, at ten-o-clock at night. It could be a week after your special day before anyone remembers your birthday.

The way Molly was helping to put my glasses on told me that we might celebrate in the morning.


I wandered sleepily toward the stairs, but as I turned away from the bunk bed that I shared with Molly I saw ALL of my sisters crammed into the right side of the third floor. When I spotted them, they shouted, “Happy birthday!” in several languages: English (of course), Spanish, French, Greek, even Latin.

It made my inner nerd happy.


Growing more awake by the second, I made my way over to my family and sat down in front of my presents. Our cat, who was recently given the name Lyric, strutted over to me, and I scratched her behind the ear. She purred with pleasure.

“So, which present should I open first?” I asked once Lyric had walked away. I probably sounded rather rude, blurting that out and not thanking them for the cool multilingual “happy birthday.” But I’d just woken up, and my sisters knew that I couldn’t function normally until about ten AM.

“One of the small ones,” Molly replied.


There were two small presents — one wrapped in purple, the other green — and I selected the green one first. I’ve always loved trying to guess what was in a box by the sound it makes, so I shook the gift back and forth beside my ear. All I heard was a faint jingle.

Not knowing what it could possibly be, I decided just to go ahead and open the gift.


I ripped off the chartreuse paper and found, lying inside a clear plastic box, a sky-blue headband and a bracelet with lime, tangerine, and amethyst-colored beads.

I blinked. “Pretty,” I remarked. I actually did like them; I was just too tired to put my feelings into words. “Thanks.”

“We thought the headband matched your eyes,” Caroline began softly. “Do you like it?”

“Yeah, thanks,” I said again, tying the bracelet around my ankle.


Pushing the green present’s wrapping aside and promising the try the headband on later, I grabbed the purple present. It was heavier than the last one, but I still couldn’t figure out what was in it by shaking it. I carefully peeled the iris-colored paper off the gift and found . . .


. . . a box if chamomile tea and a white mug with a hot pink flower painted on it.

“It’s so British!” I exclaimed gleefully. In truth, it didn’t really look British, but tea always reminds me of home.


That left two gifts —  both were huge, and I didn’t have the slightest clue as to which one I should open next. I glanced up at Molly and raised an eyebrow. Which one?

We were really quite good at communicating through subtle gestures, so when Molly shrugged, I knew that she was saying, Doesn’t matter. 


I chose to open the tawny gift bag first. I pulled out handful after handful of amethyst tissue paper, but I didn’t find anything. They must have hidden the present really well . . . Finally my hand brushed against something hard, and I pulled the thing out of the bag.


It was a doll! She had silky blonde hair and wore an orange halter dress. I squealed and hugged her against my chest.

Only Molly knew how much I’d wanted a doll. She must have convinced my family to buy one for me!

“Thank you so much!” I shouted. I fanned my face so I wouldn’t cry. I finally had a doll . . . “Did she come with a name?” I inquired after I’d calmed down a little bit.

“Kelsie, I think,” Savannah supplied. “Of course, you can change it if you want to.”

I shook my head. The name was perfect.


Tracy pointed at the last present: a giant limegreen box. “Are you going to open it?”

I didn’t know what could be better than a doll, but I figured I should probably open the last gift, just in case it was something incredibly  awesome. As I pulled the box towards me, it made a weird wimpering sound. My interest suddenly piqued, I scrambled to open the box.


Inside was the tiniest, cutest creature ever. A little black-and-white puppy, but smaller than any dog I had ever seen. It looked up at me with these huge, trusting eyes, and it seemed to smile at me.


Molly leaned over my shoulder and started chattering. “He’s really cute, isn’t he? And do you see how small he is? That’s because he’s a teacup puppy! A dalmatian, too. What are you going to name him? Do you like him? I hope you do, it is your birthday after all, Emily . . .”

I barely heard her, as I was completely lost in his sweet, gigantic eyes.


Then I blinked and asked, “Is it a boy or a girl?”

“Boy,” Molly replied. “I told you already.”

“Sorry,” I said sheepishly, rubbing the dog’s — my dog’s — head. “I wasn’t really listening.”


Suddenly, my puppy grabbed my new headband in his mouth and took off. I instantly jumped up and chased after him, scolding him affectionately as I ran. And the delighted way he looked at me as I pursued him reminded me so much of a certain character from Heroes of Olympus that in that moment I knew exactly what I would name him.



So, Emily’s birthday was on September 29th, but I didn’t get around to making a post about it until now. That seems to happen a lot, actually . . .

Anyway, I hope you liked the photostory!



Family Game Night ~ Part 2

The Percy Jackson insult battle that Tracy and I were in only stopped when Caroline offered us blue cookies. In my opinion, blue cookies — or any blue food, at that — could solve just about anything. Seriously. Take a plate of blue cookies onto a battlefield and see what happens. I dare you.


After the game of Monopoly Millionaire had been cleaned up, Briar excused herself, saying that it was time for her beauty rest.That was fine with me; our next activity didn’t have teams, so Briar wasn’t exactly needed any more.

We all curled up on a makeshift (although very comfortable) couch to watch a movie. So I guess you could say that family game night had changed to family movie night. If we were going to do something like that again in the future, I was going to call it family entertainment night.


Of course, everyone wanted to watch something different. MJ wanted Teen Beach Movie, Tracy wanted a Ninjago or Ultimate Spiderman marathon, Isabelle wanted the Swan Princess, and on and on it goes . . . In case you were wondering, I suggested a Doctor Who marathon.

But we all finally agreed on something when Savannah shouted out, “Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast!”

Disney Fairy movies. Yes.


 I was sobbing my eyes out by the time the movie ended (as was Loren), so Caroline went to get some ice cream for me to make it better. She flicked on the lights on her way out, not leaving me in the dark with all my movie-induced feelings. Caroline also didn’t leave the room. Instead of being my servant that gets me ice cream whenever I cry, she got Loren to move the laptop.


Caroline stood right in front of us, where the laptop had been moments before. She cleared her throat and began to speak. “I recently learned that there were two birthdays in this house that we didn’t celebrate. The birthdays of Isabelle and Molly.”

I gasped. How could I have possibly forgotten my best friend’s birthday?! The date came to the front of my mind: April 22. And Isabelle’s birthday . . . that was May 2nd.


Molly and Isabelle looked at each other.

“We didn’t forget,” Isabelle started softly.

“We thought that maybe you didn’t care about our birthdays,” added Molly.

“Of course we care!” we all chorused.


Caroline sat down next to Molly and took her hand. “You remember the couple you pet sat for?”

Molly nodded, a tear tracing its way down her cheek.

She had gotten her first pet sitting job in January. Some newlyweds were going on their honeymoon to Europe, and they needed someone to take care of their puppy, Boo.

I remembered when Molly had given Boo back. It was April 22nd . . . her birthday. Instead of receiving presents, she had given away something close to her heart. I knew that even though Molly had put on a brave face, even though  she’d only shed a few tears, that a little piece of her heart had stayed with Boo.

Caroline continued, “They decided to move to Europe. And the apartment –“


“Flat!” I called out. “In Europe, it’s a flat.”

“Um, OK, thank you, Emily,” Caroline said. Then she looked Molly in the eye. “The flat they’re going to move into doesn’t allow pets. So they gave Boo away.”

“Whoever got him is very lucky,” Molly said, wiping away her tear.

An idea was starting to form in my mind. It was confirmed when Saige got up from the couch and dashed out of the room.


She returned with a little dog in her arms, dressed in a soft white coat with a hood.


Molly sprang up and took Boo from Saige. The pup covered her face in wet doggy kisses.

“Boo!” Molly was crying freely now, her face buried in her dog’s head.


Saige left again, then hurried back, a red shopping bag in her hand. She placed it in Isabelle’s lap, and we all crowded around her, eager to see what was inside.


Isabelle pulled a pair of red shoes, a beige and white striped scarf, a floral jumper, and a red sweater from the bag. Everyone oohed and aahed over the outfit.


“Thank you!” Isabelle said. “I love it. And I’ll share it all with you guys.”


“That’s really kind of you, but you don’t have to do that!” protested Ivy. “It’s your birthday present.”

I should have felt the same as Ivy, but I couldn’t help imagining myself in the outfit.


“That’s right,” Izzy agreed, gathering the clothes up in her arms. “So I can do what I want with it. And I want to share it with you!” That was just the kind of sweet person she was. “But first . . . I want to try it on!”


After Isabelle had changed, she modeled the outfit for us. She looked great. The reds went with her blonde hair and the scarf with her eyes.


Finally we were all sleepy, and we stood up to get ready for bed.

“We should do this again,” I said.

A chorus of “Yeah”s, “Uh-huh”s, and “Totally”s met me.

I asked, “But next time . . . do I get presents?”


Titles Are Still Hiding From Me


I sat outside on the porch, soaking in the early spring sunshine.

Today felt special — I just didn’t know why. So I exposed myself to something highly dangerous: thought. Yes, I actually thought about why today seemed special.


After a few minutes of not very productive thinking, Tracy joined my outside. She put something on my head.


I rolled my eyes upward to try to see what she had placed on my head. I caught a glimpse of yellow, purple, and white.

“A flower crown?”

I reached up on touched the crocuses circling my head.


“Yeah,” Tracy replied. “They’re the first flowers of spring.”

“Why’d you give it me?” I asked. “And why did you even make it in the first place?”

“It’s . . . Flower Crown Day!” Tracy said.

“Really?” How could I not know about a holiday as important as Flower Crown Day?

“No, Flower Crown Day isn’t a thing. But it should be.” My older sister smiled down at me.


The rest of my noisy family came romping out onto the porch. “Happy birthday, Saige!” they shouted.

Tracy grinned at me. “That’s really what the crown was for. Happy b-day, Saigie.”

I gasped in delight and put my hands on my cheeks. “It’s my birthday! It’s my birthday! How could I have forgotten?”

I actually had a pretty good guess why. I had really missed Mary-Jane Valdez since she left two weeks ago — the family hadn’t really felt complete without her.

I wondered if I’d ever see her again. She had promised to visit us, but she was a celebrity; when would she find time to drop in?


I followed Tracy and the others to a stack of flat rocks that would act as my Throne of Awesomeness when I received my presents. Feeling like a Hawaiian princess with my flower crown and tropical outfit, I sat on the rocks and smiled, trying to push all thoughts of MJ out of my mind. Even though she couldn’t be here to celebrate with us, this birthday would still be fun.


As soon as all the presents were on the ground in front of me, I grabbed the closest one and ripped off the paper.


After all the gifts were unwrapped, I oohed and aahed at each one. There was a set of markers, eight clips for my hair, a watercolor set and a paper doll with stick-on clothes.


Then came my favorite time of the party! While my sisters cleaned up, Savannah, Isabelle and I went crazy from all the sugar that had been in my chocolate cake. Ana sang “Girl on Fire,” Izzy danced hip-hop, and I ran in circles around them and took a bunch of selfies.


While we were flopped down in the grass, laughing and breathing hard, I spotted someone walking down the road. Though I couldn’t see her very well, she looked kind of familiar.


When she turned into our driveway, I finally realized who she was: MJ!


Isabelle had noticed her, too, and she was already running to meet her. Izzy threw her arms around MJ and exclaimed, “You came back! You really did!”

MJ squeezed her and replied, “I said I would.”


 Tracy came sprinting down the path like a cheetah with its tail on fire. She sprang into the air and tackled her friend.


Jumping up and down and squealing, MJ said, “You’re wearing pink, Sis! PINK!”

“Ugh, I know! It’s for a series Mom is filming — I hate that I’m always a girly-girl when there’s some tomboy that needs playing!


Savannah and I greeted MJ next.

“You’re back so soon!” I cried in shocked delight.


“I know — I could hardly bear to be away from you guys! I love you all so much!”

Hearing MJ say that really warmed my heart. She, a globe trotting thirteen year old celebrity know world-wide, wanted to be with a bunch of girls from a small town.

“Why are you back already?” Savannah asked. “Aren’t you supposed to be on a world tour?”


“I heard it was someone’s birthday!” MJ sang. She handed me a bundle.


Seeing the puzzled look on my face as I stared at the odd gift, MJ laughed. “It’s a scarf with a hair-band around it,” she explained.

“Oh, well, thank you!”


“There’s something I need to tell you,” MJ began. “I . . . canceled my world tour.”

Why?!” we gasped in unison.

MJ picked a snow drop and studied it as she talked. “I decided to cancel after my show in New York. You guys mean so much to me — I’d rather be near you than singing for strangers. I’m staying with you; you’re my family now.”


It was good — no, great news that MJ would be staying with us. I wanted to scream and run around and sing as loud as I could. I’d wished that MJ could live with us,  and now she would be!

But at the same time, I was sad for MJ. She loved singing, and she was amazing at it — if she stayed with us, what would that do to her future?


Savannah must have been thinking the same thing, because she asked, “What about your career?”


MJ smiled sadly. “Maybe I’m ready to give it up, maybe I’m not. But the whole time I was in New York, all I could think of was you guys. Singing used to be the only thing that made me happy after my parents died, but . . . Well, what I’m trying to say is that all of you make me so happy I want to burst. I’m willing to give up my life as a celebrity if it means I can be with you.


MJ spread her arms wide to take us all in. “I’m yours; you’re mine.”


We all hugged MJ at once. Her speech had brought tears to my eyes. We meant more to her than singing, which had been at the base of her life for years. And she was willing to leave everything she knew and come live with us.

Having MJ come home really was the only thing I wanted for my birthday. She taught me that birthdays aren’t all about presents and being at the center of attention — they’re about being with the people you love the most.

Which is my family; and now MJ is a part of it, too.

The Cool Birthday Party

We-e-ll, it’s Savannh, Tracy, and Ivy’s birthday party today!


The cool party in action. Molly did a good job decorating, didn’t she? ;)


My friend Kelsie is spending the night; she’s going up with me to AG Store tomorrow. More on that at the end of the post! She brought her doll Marie-Grace, whose birthday is tomorrow.


LOL DJ Molly :)


DJ Molly picked a slow song, and the dolls all coupled up to do the waltz.



‘Sup my peeps! Waltzes are dumb . .. lets play Gangnam Style instead!


Nomnom . . . Skittles . . .


Picture of the birthday girls :)


Real chocolate birthday cake — it’s got a Trident on it because the dolls like Percy Jackson.


LOL Look what my mom put on it xD #LeoValdez


“Give me presents! And give Loren Leo!”


So then Kelsie decided that they should go to an “Under the Sea” themed prom. She dressed the non-birthday girls up to be boys and viola — the prom . . . was there :)



Kelsie played “Under the Sea” from the Little Mermaid the whole time. LOL it was so annoying >:P





Seth and Savannah


Darrin and Tracy


From left to right: Sir Issac Newton (Issac) and Ivy; Seth and Savannah; Darrin and Tracy; Maire-Grace and Cameron.

So . .. I’m going to the American Girl doll store tomorrow (Sunday)! I’ll be there with my friends Kelsie, Kelly, and Issy. We should be at the AG store by 12. Tomorrow I’ll post what the dolls are wearing and what I’m wearing.



Happy Birthday, Savannah!


I woke up one morning (January 19th, to be exact) and smiled to myself.


Well, today is my birthday, of course!


I wiggled out of the sleeping bag and quickly rolled it up.


Then I skipped  into Saige and Izzy’s room (doing the conga) to wake them up.

But the room was empty.


I turned around, heading back to my room, and then . . .




All of my adopted sisters sprang out from hiding places around the room!


♫”Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you!”♫


♫”Happy Birthday dear Savannah . . . happy birthday to you!”♫


“Woah!” I exclaimed after they had finished singing. “How did you guys all fit in this room?!”


“It’s called magic,” Tracy said creepily, waving her arms in the air.


Molly punched her in the shoulder. “No! It’s called sneaking.”

Then we headed downstairs.


After I had pulled on a black shrug and tugged on my boots, we (including the dogs) went outside.


When we got to the “Play Fort,” Emily presented me with a present. (haha, yes, that was intended.) It was a necklace with a silver heart charm.


I took it from her. “Wow,” I murmured as it sparkled in the sunlight.


Isabelle tied it around my neck for me.


“It’s perfect! Thanks, guys,” I exclaimed.


“No problemo,” Molly said and put her arm around me. “Birthdays only come once a year!”

It’s a tradition for the dolls to take a picture with the birthday girl, so here they are . . . *please read in a weird narrator voice*


Savannah and Molly, buddies.


Saige and Savannah, party people!


Savannah and Emily in a decent portrait.


Savannah and Isabelle, blinking on purpose . . .?


Savannah and Caroline in a decent portrait.


Beauty and the Lazy Bones.


Super Savannah and Super Ivy, party crashers!


Here you can see them in their famous “We’re Hiding a Present Behind our Backs” stance, about to take off in a flurry of confetti!


Well, after all that fun, we settled down for some serious party planning. Tracy, Ivy, and I were going to have a joint celebration, so it was going to have to be absolutely CRAZY!


“Let’s start with coming up with some games,” Molly suggested, her hand poised above her notepad.


“Man Hunt!” I exclaimed.


“Night Creature!” Ivy pipped up.


“Minecraft,” Tracy added.


P.S. What’s Up Wednesday is drawing near! See the rules *here.*