Monday, October 28, 2013

A Blogoversary Celebration!! :D

Hello, my dearest readers!  Today is a very special day.  I can hardly believe that two years ago today I launched this blog, and that right around three years ago I started contributing to Tess and Maggie's blog.  The time has flown by so quickly, and so much has changed!

I have so much to share with all of you about what's been going on over the past few weeks, but I wanted to take the time to celebrate this special occasion. :)

To commemorate my accomplishment, Beast'sbelle insisted on a photo shoot (you know how she is). ;)  She gathered my friends and we all got together to take some pictures.  I hope you enjoy these shots of the faces you've come to know and love over the past few years. :)

Here we all are, gathered together for a group photo.  Of course, there are many missing from our midst who have moved on over the years: Tiana, Isabella, and more.  This is our core group now. :}

Rapunzel was very sweet and let me borrow her super fancy dress since it was such a special occasion.  I don't think she's actually worn it other than that one day.  It is pretty stiff and itchy, so I can't say that I blame her.  I couldn't wait to get it off after the pictures were done. ;)

Eugene and Rapunzel with their sweet little family.  Well...I guess their family's not so little, but you know what I mean. ;)  Rapunzel was getting pretty frazzled trying to keep four kids sitting still for pictures (any moms out there will be able to sympathize). ;)  Oh, and you'll notice that even Pascal made an appearance. :)

Here is Ben, the doll I thought I should be with for all my days.  Funny how things change. ;)  I really hate to show you these pictures when I'm not caught up on about major spoilers!!  As you can probably tell from the pics, though, Ben and Paige are quite serious, both in personality and in their relationship.  (Hee hee...I just couldn't resist!) ;)

They're so cute together!  I promise I'll give you the whole story soon!! ;)

Here I am with the two most important dolls in my life. ;) 

Eugene and Rapunzel got to pose for a nice couple picture, too.

Thomas agreed to keep an eye on his younger sisters while they did so.

He's such a good older brother! ;)

And of course, Rapunzel and I needed a picture together.  She's been such a dear friend to me throughout all of the crazy events of the past few years.  

I honestly don't know what I'd do without her friendship. :)

Beast'sbelle thought we should get a mother/daughter picture, too.  :)

The men of Belle's Bulletins. ;)

So, as most of you should know by now, Belle's Bulletins is drawing to a close.  I've already gone into my reasons in an earlier post, so I won't repeat them here.  The blog will continue for at least a couple more weeks (more on that in a moment).  While it will be strange to stop sharing everything important that happens here on the blog, I know I'm making the right choice.  It's time for me to move on and spend more time with my family and friends and less time stressing over blog posts. :}  I plan on continuing to update my Facebook page every once in a while, so you'll be able to check out what I'm up to over there.  And for those of you who have expressed concern over this, I will keep my blog open so that everyone can continue to read my past posts. :)

Now on to something fun. :)  Per one of my readers' suggestions, we are going to do something very special here at Belle's Bulletins to go out with a bang, so to speak. ;)  Two weeks from today, I will publish an interview post with questions from our readers.  Several of my friends have agreed to be part of a special Belle's Bulletins Panel.  You, my readers, can ask any (appropriate, of course) question of any of the dolls participating!  Here are the participants:

-Belle (me!) ;)

To ask a question, simply leave it in the comments below.  In two weeks, we'll put up the post with all of our answers. :)

If you happen to have a question for someone not included in the panel list, go ahead and leave it in the comments and tell us who the question is for.  I'll do my best to get an answer for you. ;)

I had originally planned to give a big, heartfelt thank you speech now, but I find I'm not quite ready.  I think I'll save it for my very last post instead. :}

I'll talk to you again soon, dearest readers.  I can't wait to see the questions you leave for us! :)

P.S.  I almost forgot!  Since I'm putting up a special blogoversary header, I wanted to include my old header here:

Monday, October 14, 2013

I've Been Awarded...A Very Long Time Ago

Good gracious!  I just realized that I never did my Elegant Blogger Award post, even though the dolls over at 10 Dolls, 1 Blog awarded me exactly a month ago.  How embarrassing. :{

The rules for this award:
1.  Link back to the original blog (All Things Good) that started the award and the blog that awarded you (10 Dolls, 1 Blog).

2.  Display the award in the post.

3.  Answer the 12 questions in this post (don't make your own questions).

4.  Nominate 12 other bloggers.

5.  Notify them of their nomination.

To make this a little easier on myself and because this award has been circling around for quite some time now, I am going to ignore the last two steps.  (I hope you don't mind.)  However, if this award passed you by as it made the rounds and you are feeling particularly elegant today, consider yourself awarded and feel free to answer the questions on your own blog. ;)

Now for the questions:

1. What made you decide to start blogging?
     As most of you know, I decided to start blogging because I had no one to talk to and was completely stressed out over the pressures of being a non-typical Disney Princess doll. :)

2. What is your fashion style?
     Princessy...although I love wearing jeans and a t-shirt if they're available.  I pretty much have to go with whatever Beast'sbelle provides, and she's into fancy dresses. :}    

3. What is something none of your followers know about you?
     I hate mustard.  I once had a sandwich with mustard and decided I never wanted to eat it again! :}    

4. What are some of your blogging goals?
     To finish well.  As you all know, this is my last month of blogging, and I would love to look back and be satisfied with the way I ended things. ;)

5. What are some of your favorite places to shop?
     To be honest, I don't really shop.  Beast'sbelle does the shopping and brings us whatever we need.  I wouldn't even know where to begin! ;)

6. What would your ideal amount of blog followers be?
     I'm amazed that I have as many as I do!  I never thought I'd have this many.  I think it would be amazing to reach 100 followers, but I doubt that's possible in the next few weeks. ;)

7. What are your talents?
     Um...discordant singing? ;)

8. Are you a leader or a follower?
     Is there a third option?  I'm not really a leader, or at least I don't think I am, but I don't like to just do whatever someone else tells me to do (especially depending on who the someone else is).  I think I'm more of an independent sort: I lead if I have to and follow if I have to, but I'd really rather just do my own thing.

9. What is one of your favorite quotes?
     "Look back at me." ~from BBC's "North and South"

10. What is your favorite book series?
     I really enjoyed Beast'sbelle's Jane Austen books when we were over by her bookshelf.  Little Women was fun, too.  Oh, and we also loved reading the Narnia books. :)

11. Out of all the synonyms for elegant, which would you describe yourself with: smart, stylish, dressy, graceful, dainty, or fine?
     Oh dear, what choices!  Well, I suppose I'm somewhat smart, but I've been known to do some really stupid things, too.  Stylish and dressy aren't quite what I imagine myself to be.  Graceful?  Ha!  Certainly not!  Dainty?  I suppose that works, with me being a fashion doll and all.  Fine?  Not so much.  So I suppose dainty is the best choice out of all of them. :}

12. What is your favorite flower?
     Purple violets, like the ones that grow in Beast'sbelle's front yard.  I do like roses too (I know, predictable). ;)

Thank you so much for awarding me, girls!  I hope you enjoyed the answers. :)

Rapunzel and I have finally scheduled our get-together with Raven and company for later this week, so I'll be sure to tell you all about it! :)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Song for Robby

I stayed and played the guitar until I heard the rumble of Beast'sbelle's truck pulling into the driveway.  In a panic, I jumped up from my place in the living room and tore down the hallway.  Just in time, too.  The moment I crossed the threshold of Beast'sbelle's room, I heard the door to the house open and the humans enter.  Whew.  That was too close.

I hid my guitar underneath the 18 inchers' rooms.  I wasn't quite ready to show it to Robby yet, but I had a plan.  I would practice until I could play a song perfectly.  Then I would play for him instead of sing.  It was brilliant...and hopefully it would be more successful than my attempt today. :}

As I climbed onto our home on top of the curio, I saw that Emilie was already asleep in her bed.  Thank you, Rapunzel, I thought gratefully.  At least she was more attentive than I had been.

I also noticed that the string of Christmas lights we'd used on our old shelf was back up.  I loved the warm glow the lights left.  It made the room bright and happy even in the evening hours.

Robby was waiting up for me in the sitting room, although he'd already spread out our blanket and pillow.  He watched me carefully as I came in.

"Hi," I said nervously.

He gave me a smile.  "Hi, yourself," he responded.

We were both quiet for a while.

"I like the lights," I offered.

He nodded.  "Eugene helped me put them back up."

An awkward silence hung between us once more.

I finally took a seat beside him.  "I''d like to apologize for before.  It didn't exactly go the way I'd planned."

Robby nodded.  "I could tell something was bothering you."

I wanted to explain everything to him right then and there, but somehow I found it difficult to begin.

Robby seemed to sense this.  He patted the blanket beside him.  "Come here," he said.  "Let me help you with your hair."

I smiled and took my place.  This had become one of our new traditions.  Robby loved helping me with my hair at the end of the day, and I loved having him play with it once all the claws or bands had been removed.

I sat quietly as he carefully pulled the claws from my brown locks.  Having someone play with my hair always relaxed me.  

"So," he said as he removed the last claw, "do you want to talk about it?"

I separated my flyaway strands with my fingers and turned to face him.  "I..." I stopped for a moment, still trying to find the right words.  Then I realized that the best method was probably to just say it.  "I was going to sing for you today," I blurted out.  "But I completely froze...and then I was embarrassed...and then you got a headache from that stupid candle...and...yeah...the whole thing was pretty much a disaster."

My husband looked amused.  "Is that all?"

I dropped my hands to my lap.  "How can you say that?  It's what you've been wanting me to do since we've been married!"

Robby shook his head.  "Sweetheart," he said, tenderly tucking a strand of hair back from my face, "you don't need to stress about it so much.  Of course I would love to have you sing for me, but I don't want you panicking about it like this.  I said I'd wait until you were ready, and I meant it."

Tears came to my eyes.  "But...but I really wanted to be ready for you today," I whispered.  "I just couldn't quite do it..."

He smiled at me warmly.  "When you're ready, you'll know, Belle."

I sniffed and wiped my eyes in exasperation.  "I'm probably the only Disney Princess doll in the world who hasn't sung to her husband yet," I muttered.

Robby pulled me back so I was leaning against him.  "Even if you never sing for me," he said quietly, "I'll still be glad I married you."

"Really?" I asked in a small voice.

I heard him chuckle.  "Of course, you silly goose."  He played with the ends of my hair.  "And just so you know, I don't need a big production with all the bells and whistles.  You don't need to go to so much trouble."  He must have realized how this comment might come across (and to be honest, I was feeling a bit miffed), so he added, "I do appreciate you doing all that for me...but..."  He stopped himself again.

I turned to look up at him.

"I guess what I'm trying to say is...I hate to see you stress over making it this 'perfect moment' when that's not as important to me.  I mean, you could just belt something out randomly in the middle of dinner and I'd be perfectly content."

I wrinkled my nose at this less-than-romantic thought, and he laughed.  "Okay, maybe there's a happy medium somewhere."

He sat up and cradled my cheek in his hand.  "Just know that I love you, Belle, no matter what sort of grand notions or plans get into your head and whether or not you accomplish them."  He kissed me gently, and as he pulled back, he held me in his warm gaze.  

To be loved so fully, so completely, was almost more than I could bear.  I couldn't understand it at all, but my little plastic heart was soaring.  

I slowly stood up.  "I need to get changed.  I'll be back in just a minute." 

He winked.  "I'll be right here."

As I pulled off my sparkly gown and slipped into my comfy green frock, the things he'd said were playing over and over in my mind.  Maybe I had been stressing about everything being perfect.  The perfect setting.  The perfect song.  The perfect voice.  And boy, had Beast'sbelle been right.  He loved me for me.  Singing off-key or not singing at all wouldn't change that...I was sure of it.  How had I ended up with such a wonderful doll?

I crept softly back into the sitting room.  Robby lay awake, watching me as I came over to him.  And suddenly it came again, that urge to sing, but this time so powerful and wondrous that I knew no amount of biting my lip or clamping my mouth shut would hold it back.  It was as if all of the love and gratefulness I held within me for him was bursting forth in a song I couldn't contain.  I leaned over him, and from my lips flowed the opening lines of "Healing Incantation", the song that had eluded me just hours earlier.

The look on his face was priceless.  I know I messed up most of the notes, and I think I even missed a few of the words.  But oh, the adoration that spread across his features was the best gift he could offer me.  It gave me the courage to sing on.  Never before had I felt more cherished, more connected with this doll I'd married.

I continued singing softly as I lay down next to him, draping my arm across his chest.  I found it was a bit easier to sing to him when I didn't have to gaze into his eyes. 

As the last few notes left my lips, my husband lifted his voice and began the first few lines of Eugene's solo from "I See the Light".  And before I knew it, I was joining him on the chorus.  (I have to admit, even in the middle of such a sweet moment, I found it a bit humorous that we were singing songs from the "wrong" movie.) ;)  

Be glad you didn't hear it.  A typical Disney performance it was not.  Well, Robby was amazing, but me?  Just be grateful you weren't subjected to such a poor rendition of songs from "Tangled". ;)  But amazingly, my husband told me again and again how beautiful my voice was, and how beautiful I was, and he thanked me for giving him such a precious gift.  To think that I put myself through all of this misery for so long...and it was totally fine!  I suppose many of the things we stress and worry about are like that, though.  Usually the problem is not nearly as horrible as we make it. :}

When we had finished singing, we both drifted off to sleep, wrapped in a warm embrace and dreaming pleasant dreams.

That is, until a little voice interrupted.  


We both sat up.  Emilie stood at edge of our blanket, clutching her Beast doll and trembling.  

"What is it, sweetie?" I asked her sleepily.

"I had a bad dream," she whimpered.

I smiled sympathetically.  "Come here, Darling," I said, holding out my arms.

She scrambled up over the covers and snuggled in my lap.  Robby propped up the pillow behind us and spread the blanket around her.

And then, almost before I realized what I was doing, I started humming a soft song.  Emilie looked up at me with surprise, but a sweet little smile came to her lips.  She nestled her head against me and closed her eyes.

I felt Robby's strong arm wrap itself around my shoulders, and suddenly his deep, rich voice was humming along with me.  He stayed firmly on key, while I drifted in and out between his notes, sometimes humming the right thing, sometimes not.  Yet he looked down at me as if I were the most talented singer in all of creation.

Emilie was asleep within minutes.  I leaned my head against Robby's.  "I love you," I whispered.

He gazed down at me so tenderly that I wanted to cry.  "I love you, too, Sweetheart," he whispered back, squeezing my shoulder with his hand.

I knew that eventually we should move Emilie back to her room and go to sleep again, but for now, I just wanted to hold onto this beautiful moment.  When I was old and nearly bald and my plastic had started deteriorating, I would look back on this time with fondness.

And I would probably sing about it. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Best Laid Plans

Oh my goodness, you have all been so patient with me...thank you.  I'm sorry that my grand plans of blogging more often haven't really worked out the way I planned.  

But enough apologizing.  It's quite pathetic that I start almost every post with an apology. :}

True to her word, as soon as Beast'sbelle was back and settled from her trip, she met with me to arrange a day and time for my special date with Robby.  Rapunzel and I selected the perfect spot and got everything ready.  Beast'sbelle picked a few roses from her backyard and even spread some petals all around "to add a nice romantic touch".  

I dressed in a new dress, put on my necklace from Robby, had Rapunzel do my hair, and then sent Emilie off with Rapunzel.  It was time to go get Robby.  Today, in the middle of a beautiful, romantic picnic together, I would sing for my husband.  I had it all planned out.  After we'd eaten, I would look deeply into his eyes and sing to him from my heart.  I had been practicing the "Healing Incantation" song from Disney's "Tangled" all week.  (I was going for short and uncomplicated.) :}  It still sounded horrible, I was sure, but I was determined to sing no matter how silly or scared I felt. 

I found Robby resting in one of our easy chairs in our sitting room.

Oh dear.  Forgive me this parenthetical photo shoot, but I just realized that you haven't seen our new house set up. :}

Here it is!  We still don't have any pictures up, but it's looking a lot more homey. :)

This is our sitting area.  We have our green shelf, two easy chairs, our coffee table and tea set, our beautiful new curio (a present from Beast'sbelle's dear friend's mom), and an extra chair for guests.

Our shelf is full of all sorts of trinkets and treasures. :)

The back of the shelf serves as a "wall" for Emilie's bedroom.  We're quite pleased with how her little room turned out.

Okay, now on to the story...really. :}  

Robby eyed me appreciatively as I came into the room. 

"Beautiful dress," he said.  "What's the occasion?"

"'s a surprise," I told him shyly.  "You have to come with me."

He raised one brow but followed me obediently.

I led him all the way out to the living room.  There, on the tile section next to the front door, our picnic blanket was spread.

Robby put his arm around me.  "All this for me?" he teased.

I blushed and nodded.

We walked over to the blanket.  Beast'sbelle had sliced part of a Costco poppy seed muffin into small pieces just our size.  A candle was burning (and staying lit this time, unlike our outdoor anniversary picnic).  The rose petals scattered all around were a perfect touch.  Beast'sbelle had been right. :)

We sat down, and Robby watched me expectantly.  I realized then that I was used to him being the orchestrator in these situations.  

"Um, help yourself to some muffin cake," I offered awkwardly, picking a small portion off of my own slice.

He smiled and took some cake.  "Delicious," he said after taking a bite.

I nodded and absently toyed with some crumbs that had fallen to my plate.

Robby finished his cake contentedly while I sat there, too nervous to eat.  My plan had been to sing as soon as he was done eating.  That time was now.

But now that it came down to the moment, I felt nauseated.  I could see him watching me from my peripheral vision, which made me even more nervous.

I wet my lips, determined to work through this...and a sudden panic seized me.  I couldn't remember the ALL.  I couldn't even remember what song I had planned on singing.

I looked away, searching frantically through my thoughts for even a snippet of a song, any song!  But my mind was a total blank.

That's when I felt Robby's hand take mine.

"Are you okay, Hon?" he asked kindly.  He looked down.  "Your hands are like little ice cubes!"

My face flamed again.  "I'm fine," I lied.  What were the words?!  I should be singing right now!!

Robby didn't look totally convinced.  In fact, he almost looked like he was in pain.  He kept scrunching his eyebrows every few moments.  He managed a smile, though.  "Thank you for this, Babe.  It's always nice getting a little together time."  He looked around.  "You put a lot of work into this.  Was there a special occasion I'm not remembering?" he asked again.

I looked into my husband's dear face and tried desperately to pull myself together.  "I...I just wanted let you know how much I love you," I finished sadly.  I had failed...again.

Ordinarily, Robby would probably have noticed the tone of my voice and persisted with his interrogation, but he didn't say anything.  Worried that he was angry, I peeked over at him.  He was rubbing his forehead as if it was aching.

He slowly got to his feet.  "You know, this has been wonderful, but I have a bit of a headache, so I think I'll head back.  Would you like to join me?"

And then it hit me.  Of course!  The candle!!  Its fragrance always gave him a headache!  I'd been so preoccupied with my grand plans that I hadn't remembered.  Nice going, Belle, I thought to myself angrily.  This date was going from bad to worse.

"Um, you go on ahead," I said, fighting back tears.  "I think I'll stay here for a while."

He nodded and gave me half a smile.  His head was probably throbbing by now, but he was such a gentleman he'd never let on.

I watched him go, leaning heavily on his cane as he took the long walk back to our home.  Alone.  Without a song from his pathetic wife.

I don't know how long I sat there, alone in my gloomy and self-condemning thoughts.  But suddenly, Beast'sbelle was there next to me.

"So, how'd it go?" she asked slowly, obviously guessing from my demeanor that things hadn't been successful.

"Oh, perfectly!" I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm.  "Not only did I manage to completely blank on the song and find myself unable to sing even a note, but I also managed to give my husband a raging headache."

"Really?" Beast'sbelle asked.

"The candle," I said miserably.  "It gives him a headache, especially when we burn it indoors."

"I'm so sorry, Belle," Beast'sbelle offered with convincing sympathy.  "You worked so hard on this."

"I just wanted to do the only thing he's ever asked me for," I confessed.  "He wants me to sing to him...but I just can't!  No matter what I try, I always mess up or chicken out."  I picked up a rose petal and tossed it angrily.  "Why can't I just be like every other Disney Princess doll on the planet?!"

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"Every other Disney Princess doll I know has a beautiful voice.  For them, singing is as natural as breathing!  Why did I have to be the oddball that missed out in the singing department?"  

"Being different isn't always bad," Beast'sbelle said slowly, "although it can be difficult."

"That's easy for you to say," I grumbled.  "I've heard you sing.  You're not tone deaf like me."

"No," Beast'sbelle admitted, "but I know what it's like to be different than others around you."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

She laughed.  "Well, you may not know this, but most humans my age don't have the equivalent of a doll and toy museum in their bedroom."

"Really?"  I was surprised at this.  I'd never been to any other human houses except that one family we visited in the summer, but I hadn't been in every room.  I'd just assumed that the doll room was one I hadn't visited.  "You mean, not everyone has a place for dolls to stay?"

Beast'sbelle shook her head.  "And some people think I'm really weird for having dolls stay with me."  Then she smiled.  "I'm glad I do, though.  If I had let my differences bother me and change me, I would never have met you, or Robby, or Rapunzel, or Eugene, or any of the other dolls that live here.  I would have missed out on so much."

I thought of all of the friends I'd made here at Beast'sbelle's house, and of how rich and full my life had been, aside from a few disagreements and misunderstandings with Beast'sbelle and the whole thing with Emilie.  But even that had helped me appreciate my daughter so much more.  Now that I was far away enough from the situation, I was able to see my own error in the scenario, and was mature enough to realize that that experience had given me a depth that I hadn't had before.  And the thought of never meeting Robby or Rapunzel or Emilie was too horrible to contemplate.

"I'm glad you decided to let us stay," I admitted, "but I still don't see how that helps me.  The fact that I can't sing isn't going to change the course of history."

"Not if you don't let it," Beast'sbelle said.  "But Belle, I've watched you struggle with this from the beginning.  You're so concerned about your voice that you've let it steal your joy.  You're always afraid to sing.  You're afraid what Robby might think if you do open up and sing to him.  You're constantly expecting others to judge you.  If you let that fear continue to motivate you, it will start to affect every aspect of your life until it drives you away from everyone you love."

I laughed.  "That's a little over-dramatic, don't you think?"

"What do you think?" she asked.

I was caught off guard.  "I...I don't know.  I don't see how this...I mean..."  Come to think of it, some of what she said did rather make sense.  "Maybe.." I finally mumbled.

There was a compassionate smile on Beast'sbelle's face.  "I know it's not easy, Belle.  Being different never is.  But if we were all the same, think how boring things would be!"

She let this sink in for a moment before continuing.  "I also know that Robby and your other friends love you for you.  Whether you can sing or not isn't going to make a difference to them.  And you're a Disney Princess doll!  You were made to sing, even if you don't sing the way you wish you could."

As I continued to mull this over, Beast'sbelle reached into her pocket.  "This is why I came to see you.  I forgot that I picked this up for you on my trip."  She held out her hand.  It was a guitar.

I took it from her and gave her a rather blank look.  "Um, what is this for?"

She grinned.  "Well, sometimes when you aren't blessed in one area, you can shine in another.  I thought you might like to try your hand at an instrument.  There are plenty of ways to make music, you know."

"What makes you think I'll be any better at this than singing?" I asked skeptically.  

"I don't know that you will," she answered simply.  "But sometimes it's fun to try something new."

She reached into her pocket again, pulled out her cell phone, and glanced at it.  "Well, I've got to go pick up the girls from school.  We'll be running errands and taking Oldest Gal to AWANA, so we won't be back until after dinner.  Think about what I said, okay?"

I nodded, so distracted by the millions of thoughts spinning through my head that I forgot to say goodbye.

I cautiously put the guitar strap over my shoulder and strummed a few notes.  It sounded awful.  I shivered and started to put the guitar aside.  But something stopped me.  

For the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, I sat and strummed and adjusted, and strummed and adjusted, and strummed some more.  By the end of the day, I could pick out a tune.  It was simple, but it was a tune...and it stayed on key!!  The best part was that using the guitar to make music gave me the same joy that singing should.  Maybe Beast'sbelle was right...maybe I could do this.  And maybe singing off key wasn't the most horrible thing in the world.