Tuesday, November 12, 2013

American Girl Lessons

While waiting in an excruciatingly long line at JoAnne Fabrics one day, I pulled an American Girl Magazine off the rack in a last ditch attempt to quiet my whining daughter. Full of fun quizzes and art projects - and advertisements for dolls and books and crafts and clothes (all sold by American Girl) - it was love at first sight. When we finally got to the register I had no choice but to buy it and bring it on home.

Naturally, the requests began. First - Maia asked for a doll that looked just like her. We created it on their website and ordered it for her 2012 Chanukah gift. Meanwhile I discovered American Girl books. Really good books. Everything from historical and contemporary novels, to self-help, to arts and crafts. I embraced them and began gifting them to Maia. She didn't complain.

Eventually Maia read that one of the (American Girl) books she loved had been made into a movie and was available to view via amazon. It was McKenna, about a young gymnast. After watching it 10 million several times, Maia requested gymnastics classes for herself. I signed her up and she continues to go now (8 months and counting) The sport has provided her with exercise and motivation for improvement. 

Then came Saige. I don't know which was first - the movie, the doll, or the book. Regardless, we managed to acquire all three (plus a matching "Saige" outfit in Maia-size). She must have read the book 5 or 10 times and watched the movie even more. This is Saige's story:

Saige’s new school year isn’t starting out well. She and her best friend, Tessa, seem to be growing apart. And because of funding cuts, Saige won’t have art—her favorite class—at school this year. Her grandma Mimi suggests that she do something about it, such as lead a "save the arts" parade and fund-raiser on Mimi’s horse Picasso. Soon Saige is training Picasso for the parade, which helps take her mind off her troubles at school.

Then Mimi is injured in an accident, and Saige waits and worries, wondering what she can do. Can she ride Picasso in the parade and make her grandma proud? Can she still raise money to protect art at school? Saige is determined to try. (From the AG website.)

On the drive to school one day, Maia told me her own story: "we only get to go to Cooking Class once a month now and Gardening Class is gone all together. I asked [my teacher] why and she said it's because funds have been cut. I said we should have a fundraiser so we can make enough money to bring the classes back... Maybe a bake sale, or a fashion show or ... a parade." 

Wow. Talk about life imitating art. 

I assured Maia that people were doing many things to try to raise money for these programs. The North Berkeley Gourmet Ghetto was putting on a tasting event, the PTA was trying to funnel more money into the programs, and the Inaugural Berkeley Half Marathon had a team to raise money for the Berkeley Public School Fund....

And everything came together - of course: I could run the 10k option and would join the the team to raise money for Berkeley schools. Even better, I could allocate HALF the money I raise to the school of my choice: Maia's school.

The race is two weeks away and Maia is elated - eagerly helping me figure out ways to approach people for donations. She looks at the fundraising site regularly to view the bar graph that shows how close we are to the $1000 goal. Together we subtract what's been given so far from our final goal to see what we have yet to raise. She watches my training carefully - making sure I'll be up to the task of running 10k in two weeks. It's all been a very very good lesson.

Sunday, November 24 (2013) will see me running my first ever race. Maia (and her brother) will be on the sidelines cheering me on. Last week I ran six and a half miles, so physically, I'm ready. Fundraising is a little slower, but we'll get there. Want to help? A $5 or $10 donation to the campaign "buys" a lot: 1. monetary support for Berkeley Public Schools with half the funds going directly to Maia's school; 2. lessons in math, strategy, and community involvement for my daughter; 3. encouragement for me to continue my quest for fitness in middle age. 


I am in no way affiliated with American Girl and this post is not an advertisement.


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