Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happy 4th night of Hanukkah- A spotlight on the Valdez Quints

Tonight I want to share with you the work of one of my favorite doll world people. The Valdez Quintuplets.  
Today I get to share with you a recent email I got from Jillian about her work. I hope you will enjoy! Here in her own words is Jillian...
"On Why the dolls are Jewish: Zipporah was my first “real” doll. By that I mean, she was the first doll I received that seemed like an actual little person to me and not just a pretty plaything. Everything about her was special, and her background full of things chosen because they were/ are personal interests of mine. I’d heard her name on a Dateline episode several months before I ever thought about getting another AG doll, let alone her, and had fallen in love with it. Since it’s a Hebrew name, and I have a strong personal interest in Judaism (though I am not Jewish myself), I decided she (and at that time I was only thinking of creating a character for a story, not a doll that’d take over my whole world, lol) would be Jewish. I’d hoped it’d help me learn more about Judaism and Jewish culture, and it has. And the more I’ve learned, the stronger my love for it has grown. So as the years went by and singleton Zipporah became a twin, then a quad, then a quint, I kept that part of her initial background and gave it to her siblings as well."
"How I began celebrating Hanukkah with them: My interest in Judaism is part of a personal spiritual quest, and several years ago I decided that just reading books about Judaism wasn’t enough. So I thought I’d begin actually trying to live Jewishly, in an attempt to better learn and understand what I’d been reading about. That same year, I signed up for my first holiday gift swap on a messageboard for older American Girl fans. Participants were asked to fill out a survey and that was then given to another participant, who would send you a surprise doll related gift in time for the holidays. In my survey, I did mention the quints being Jewish and that I was also wanting to celebrate Hanukkah myself. I didn’t expect big gifts for all the quints, just maybe a t-shirt for each or even one item they could all enjoy together (like enough handmade food for all five to eat together or a game to play). So when a box packed full of small, individually wrapped gifts arrived, my jaw dropped. Then I discovered that not only was there a gift for each quint, but there was a gift for each girl for every night of Hanukkah! The gifts were not only wrapped, but each night’s set had been wrapped differently to distinguish one set from another. A note had been included to let me know which set of gifts to give the girls each night. It turned out that the gifts got bigger each night. All that thought and effort floored me, and inspired me. I decided to celebrate “properly” and bought a menorah and candles, and checked out a book of Hanukkah stories and games from the library, along with a CD of Hanukkah songs. Each night I lit the candles as I’d learned how from the reading I’d done; I played the CD and had the quints and their friend Sophie (who was a traveling doll that was visiting at the time) play a game, or I’d read them a story from the book. Each night had a different activity, so I never got bored. And, of course, I fried up some latkes. It was so much fun, that all year long I look forward to celebrating Hanukkah with them."
"This year’s Hanukkah: I had big plans for our Hanukkah this year, but not everything has turned out as I’d hoped. Still, I’m hoping it’ll be lots of fun anyway. I hope to make some Hanukkah doll food with the quints this year, and try out at least one new recipe for human food, lol. Maybe I can even round up some games or activities, though it’s rather last minute. But, if nothing else, I did manage to collect some fun gifts for them that I can’t wait to be able to play with. There’s quite a range in their gifts, as far as prices go. I don’t have tons of money to spend, and having to buy one present per girl for every night of Hanukkah gets expensive fast. So I try to start very early, and do lots of list making and planning. By early, I mean several months in advance. I think I started creating lists of present ideas back in June, lol. That way I have several months to spread the costs over, and also lots of time to find just the right thing. I don’t want to buy something just to have a gift. I want it to be something I can actually use regularly. An asset to my doll collection, in other words. But that doesn’t mean it’s always an AG item, or something expensive. I found little clacking ball toys at Party City for ten cents each. They came in the different favorite colors of the quints, and will work well as Purim groggers (which they also had, but I liked these better). Several other finds came from the dollar section of Target. Their big gift this year was going to be a antique style mini radio that I have been wanting to get for their room for over a year. (Only now the big gift will be something even better, due to a lucky find recently). I was lucky to find a gorgeous domed style one on eBay this summer for under $20, including shipping. That’s another trick I like to do – find one gift they can all share. I also buy them people sized things that they’d like, such as a book or paper doll set. Ideally I’d recreate the item in miniature, somehow, but I rarely get around to actually doing that. So this year they’ll be getting some things that aren’t their size, but I’ll still enjoy them and maybe in the future I really will get around to re-sizing the item. "
"Other Quint Info: Most of the quints changed their names earlier this year, so if anyone’s heard of them previously but hasn’t been following them regularly, they might be confused about who Tatiana, Sabina and Catalina are and where Sora, Lorikeet and Lyre Chickadee went. My friend Laura gives her dolls names that are actually commonly used in the culture her doll’s background has her from, and I really liked that concept. So I came up with a list of names I liked that were used in both Spain and Romania, where their parents are from, and made a list of my favorites. Happily, two of my very favorite names (Sabina and Catalina) were on the list of possibilities. My mom insisted I use the name Tatiana for one of them, so I gave it to my mom’s favorite quint – Sora, the most responsible one. Sabina was my favorite of the potential new names, so I gave it to my second favorite quint (yes, I have favorites, lol, but I try not to let them influence me too much in how I treat the girls). That left Lyre Chickadee with two possible names, once again. The last time I’d renamed that doll, I just combined the two names into one first name. But Adelina Catalina or Catalina Adelina seemed too long, lol. So in the end, I decided on Catalina so that I could use the nickname “Kitty”. It’s most likely not an authentic Spanish or Romanian nickname for Catalina, but I love Catherine “Kitty” Bennet from Pride & Prejudice (the A&E miniseries version) and decided this was my chance to pay tribute to her. Adelina then became their Mama’s name, which had previously been Sabina until I decided I’d rather a quint had that name so that I could use it all the time. Violet’s name still suited her so well, that I really didn’t want to change it but decided I would if it wasn’t going to fit in with the background. Luckily, though, I found “Violeta” in name lists for both countries, so that became her “new” name. Zipporah’s name doesn’t fit the theme of the others’, of course, but it’s my absolute favorite and I couldn’t possibly change it. Not to mention  both Laura and my mom pretty much forbade me from doing so, lol. It does reflect their Jewish background, though, so that makes me feel better about keeping it."
"Their blog and website hasn’t been active much this year, due to lots of things going on in my personal life, but I am still committed to both and have been working on lots of ideas for content. I hope to do some updates soon and to post about this year’s Hanukkah celebrations this month, but have even bigger plans for early next year."
"As for the stories about them? I’ve been spending the year struggling with my writing. Mostly I have been studying hard to improve, as I don’t want their stories to be just “good”. I want them to be great. But I also have so many ideas for them that it’s very difficult to stick with one. As much as they’d love to be like Nancy Drew, they are also inspired by Shirley Temple and the Olsen Twins to be child stars. They also have loved the idea of competing in beauty pageants, or being gymnasts, or ballerinas, or even just your “average” kids next door (like the Sweet Valley Twins). And part of me still yearns for the “dolls come to life” storyline I wrote a few years ago."

You can read about them one their blog spot by clicking here or you can find them on their new Website

I want to thank Jillian for sharing with us today and last year she kindly shared about herself and her dolls on my blog click here to read that interview.
 I wish Jillian and the Quints and all my readers of the Jewish Faith a very Happy Hanukkah.

As with all my posts I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment here or email me at karenmowen@gmail.com

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