Anyway, I am starting a new tradition for my dolls - and maybe your dolls too! I am going to do a Month of Giving on here, just because the holidays are one of the best times to give. Every day, there will be a small photo shoot or photo story about my dolls doing a different good deed for the community! I thought it would be a lot of fun, and it would get me posting more too. Unfortunately, around the holidays I get CRAZY busy, but I'll post as many days of giving as I can!
Today, Elizabeth, Lanie, & Grace went to an afterschool program in a less fortunate community and played and baked with the children there. Here is the story:
After school, on December 1st, Elizabeth met Grace in the living room/den area of AG Farms. She was dressed from head-to-toe in red and green and she looked very festive. "Grace, you remember how I told you about our Month of Giving idea, yesterday?"
"Yes," Grace responded.
"Well, Mrs. Murray, the lady who runs the afterschool program down in the city, invited us to come help the children who go there after school. They don't get out of school until later than us, so we'd have to leave right now. Lanie and I are going, but Mrs. Murray suggested that 3 of us come. Would you like to?"
"Oh," Grace thought for a moment. She had been sad lately after everything that had happened in Paris, her home. Maybe doing a good deed would get her mind off of her troubles. "Okay."
"Great!" Elizabeth smiled kindly. "Let's go get in the car - my mom is driving us there."
Both girls headed outside to the car.
At the after school program, as soon as the 3 girls entered the building, they were ambushed by children. They all ran up to hug Lanie, who seemed the most exciting out of the 3, because of her curly hair in a funny high ponytail and her skirt and boots. Elizabeth naturally had younger children drawn to her; she always had a mothering way about her. Grace however, felt awkward in the situation. She did not often deal with younger children and she found herself feeling even more shy than usual.
"I'm going to be helping with the homework!" Lanie exclaimed to the children who then began to take out workbooks and pencils from their backpacks. Elizabeth agreed to help.
"What should I do?" Grace asked Elizabeth.
"You can do something fun with whatever children don't have homework. Stand up and tell them," Elizabeth nudged Grace to the front of the mass of young children.
"Um, I'll be doing an, uh, activity with anyone who does not have homework to do," Grace felt self conscious in front of the crowd. Would the children be able to understand her with her French accent? Did she say everything properly in English? Many thoughts swirled through her mind.
"We don't have homework!" 2 little girls cried out. Grace recognized one of the girls as Mabel, the young child that Grace had returned Honey, the dog, to.
"Alright, well, let's go," Grace waved the girls over to her, and the girls led her to the kitchen at the after school house.
"I remember you from when I found Honey," Mabel told Grace.
Grace smiled and nodded, "I remember you, too, Mabel."
"Can we have a snack? I think Mrs. Murray said that there was some chips in the snack cabinet.
"Um, well, alright," Grace shrugged, then an amazing idea popped into her head. What if she baked a treat with the girls?
"Actually, no chips," Grace shook her head, and both Mabel & Nahji began to protest. "Instead, we shall bake a cinnamon shortbread cake." Both Mabel and Nahji then proceeded to cheer at the idea of baking cookies.
"Wash your hands, girls," Grace told them, and both rushed to wash in the sink. Meanwhile, Grace rounded up the ingredients, which were all there, thank goodness.
Grace put the flour in, just because the flour was the part that was hardest to measure.
"Add the first sprinkle of cinnamon, Nahji," Grace ordered kindly. Nahji happily sprinkled in the delicious spice.
Mabel added some salt and sugar and baking powder.
Then, Grace poured the finishing touches; milk and water.
(I love this picture because the water is actually pouring out of the doll cup if you look closely)
"Since Mabel added most of the ingredients, you can stir them together," Grace told Nahji, who began to stir, while listening to Grace who gave instructions.
The batter was a bit dry, so Nahji stopped stirring so that Grace could add in a touch more of water.
After a few more stirs, and some more water, the batter was perfectly mushy and gooey and full of brown specks of spice. Both Nahji and Mabel squeezed it in their hands excitedly.
Mabel scooped the batter, with clean hands, onto the special cake sheet.
"Wow, baking is so much fun! I never get to bake, maybe you could come bake something with us every week!" Mabel smiled, squishing the batter in her hands as she continued scooping it onto the sheet.
"Perhaps I might be able to," Grace replied, and she found herself actually getting excited - it was more than just a response to Mabel's suggestion; it was what Grace really felt.
Soon the cake was all smoothed out with a spatula that Grace used expertly. The cake was awfully messy and Grace knew that her French Baking Academy back in Paris would most likely be horrified at the sort of food Grace had just produced.
But, Grace didn't care. She realized that what mattered was that the 3 of them had had fun baking it together.
Grace placed it into the hot, preheated oven. "Will it rise?" Nahji asked, peering into the open oven as Grace turned it so it would fit on the baking rack.
"Some," Grace replied smiling. She was so surprised that the 2 girls had taken such an interest in creating the cake. Maybe Grace could open her very own French Baking Academy here in America.
As the cake spent its first few minutes baking, Grace sponged down Nahji and Mabel's faces and hands, which were covered in gooey, thick batter.
"I've had so much fun baking today!" Nahji exclaimed as Grace helped her get the batter off of her cheeks.
"I had a great time as well," Grace replied and she really meant it.
About ten minutes later, Mrs. Murray entered the kitchen. "Oh my!" She exclaimed. "Whatever happened in here?"
"I baked a cake with them, ma'am," Grace replied a little uneasily.
"You did?" Mrs. Murray. "We can't just have the food wasted away like that. Whatever were you-"
Nahji spoke over Mrs. Murray. "I had the best time at the afterschool program ever. Now I want to bake every day! Can Grace come back again?"
Mrs. Murray's expression softened. "Grace, congratulations, my dear. These two were the only girls who never wanted to join in the games or do any activities here at the afterschool program. You may come back once a week if that is possible. I'll work it out with your parents."
"Um, alright," Grace was taken aback by Mrs. Murray's sudden change of heart. "I'll ask my dad if I can come back."
"Wonderful," Mrs. Murray smiled. "Now, Nahji, Mabel, you need to pack up, your parents will be here to pick you up soon."
Nahji jumped up into Grace's arms to say goodbye, and Mabel hugged her hard. "Come back soon!" They both cried out.
"I know for certain that I will," Grace smiled at both of them just as the cake came out of the oven and both Mabel and Nahji's parents walked through the door to pick them up after work.
"Bye Grace!" the girls waved in unison.
Grace waved back.
Once the two girls each took their own slice of cake and left the program, and all of the other children began to leave too, Grace Lanie, and Elizabeth got together to say goodbye to Mrs. Murray.
"Mmmmm, I'm just noticing some sort of cinnamon smell. Does anyone else smell it?" Lanie asked the two girls.
Grace nodded and smiled shyly, "I actually made a cinnamon shortbread cake with the two girls, Mabel and Nahji that I worked with today."
"Well lucky you - we had to do math class all over again with the homework!" Lanie replied.
"I'm so glad that you came," Elizabeth smiled kindly. "I had a feeling you would like it."
"Well, I really did - now I am going to try to come back each week," Grace informed the two girls.
"Really?" Elizabeth asked, surprised.
"That's right," Grace smiled with confidence. Grace felt at home all of a sudden; she felt nearly as confident as she had in Paris; she didn't feel quite as at home, but that would come, she knew it. Doing a good deed for the Month of Giving had really ended up doing good for Grace too.
Well, that was A Month of Giving, Day 1! I hope you enjoyed it - I'd love to hear what you thought of the idea and if you have any suggestions as to what my dolls should do for upcoming days!
A bonus photo of the three girls together. It was so cute that I just had to get a picture! Shola is always just so sweet in photos and always so photogenic, as are Grace and Nahji too!
Oh, and PLEASE use this idea for your dolls too. Let's see if we can get a lot of different dolls from doll blogs to participate in the Month of Giving! It is never too late to start as long as you start in December! Is anyone going to?