RachaelRachael Rachael is mom to Megan and Abigail and wife to Josh. She is the managing editor for Mumbling Mommy, has dabbled in freelance writing and editing, and worked as a newspaper editor in her life before kids. Rachael enjoys gardening, singing at church, reading Charlotte Bronte novels, and helping to edit her husband’s science fiction books. She also likes camping, as long it’s not raining. She and her family live in the St. Louis area with their xenophobic cat, Hildegard. You can contact Rachael by emailing rachael@mumblingmommy.com.
By Rachael

Megan playing with my vintage Barbie shopping mall.
Every home
buyer is looking for certain features that turn a plain old house into a dream
home. When I started house hunting this past summer, I had a few ideas about
what I wanted. The choices are endless.
I wanted
something fairly large, not too pink, with at least two or three floors, one
bathroom, a master bedroom, and a nursery. 
A swimming pool or hot tub and a balcony would have been nice, too, but
their absence would not be a deal breaker. Oh, and the house had to be
proportioned to accommodate 12-inch dolls.
Yep. I was
looking for a Barbie house.
A few weeks
ago, I settled on the doll house of dreams. The box from Amazon arrived the
other week and is sitting in the spare bedroom in our basement, awaiting
assembly at the hands of my husband and my father-in law. The house will be a
Christmas gift for my oldest daughter, Megan, who is almost 5 years old. Eventually,
her 1-year-old sister, Abigail, will share the house. Their grandparents, my
in-laws, generously offered to fund the gift.
Megan has a
growing family of Barbie dolls, and she recently inherited a shopping mall, some
furniture, and a few other Barbie doodads surviving from my childhood collection.
The well-loved Barbie Dream Cottage my dolls inhabited when I was a kid was
sold long ago, so Megan’s Barbies need a permanent home. I looked on Pinterest
at all the homemade doll houses crafted from bookshelves. Then I came to my
senses and admitted there is no shame in purchasing a ready-made doll house.

As soon as I
started my search, though, I realized I had some big decisions to make. Beach
house or townhouse? Stately southern mansion or modern eclectic pad? I relived
my childhood as I browsed. I would have loved any of the doll houses on the
market today.
One can, of
course, go with the large pink plastic home plastered with the official Barbie
logo. I was disappointed but not surprised at how very, very pink it is.
Mostly, though, I liked the kitchen and bathroom, which came fully stocked with
food in the fridge, a loadable dishwasher, and a tiny soap dish and toothbrush
holder.
Home buyers
looking for something less trendy and less pink can find all sorts of more
traditional-looking doll houses that don’t carry the Barbie name. They come
with basic wooden furniture. It’s all nice and solid. The dining room chairs
probably don’t fall over when Barbie perches in them. Some of these homes also
include baby nurseries, something that is decidedly missing from the official
Barbie home. I guess they think Barbie is too busy with social engagements to
bother with babies. But the main drawback, in my view, to these “off-brand” but
quite nice homes is that the kitchens aren’t full of tiny, darling plastic
things, and there are no little toothbrushes in the bathrooms.  
I had a hard
time deciding. Whenever I thought I had finally settled on a house, my helpful
in-laws would show me another one they spotted in a toy catalog. I read
online reviews. I printed out pictures of doll houses and pored over them with
Megan, asking her which ones she liked and why. (She loves the houses with
balconies, but she also likes how pink the official Barbie home is.) My husband
obliged me by listening as I recited facts about all the doll houses on the
market.
At the last
minute, I veered away from the official Barbie house and selected a different
brand. It’s tastefully decorated and very large. The house’s size is a good
thing, considering that two girls will be playing with it in a few short years.
Scratch that. Two girls will probably be playing with the house immediately,
because the 1-year-old loves all things that have to do with being a big kid. Abigail
toddles into Megan’s room whenever she gets the opportunity and rummages
through all the Barbie things. She’s gentle for a 1-year-old, and I’m impressed
by how little she actually tries to put in her mouth.
The house I
ended up buying is also reasonably sturdy, according to reviews. Also a good
thing when the house is for two girls, one of whom is 1 going on 4.
It’s
well-furnished but lacking the array of tiny food and bathroom accessories that
make my heart quicken. I figured I got a good house, though, and I can add
little things to it over the years. Dilemma solved.
So, the house
sits tucked away in an inconspicuous box, waiting to be constructed. And I
can’t wait until Christmas to see Megan’s face when she first lays eyes on her
gift, a gift that much thought went into. Purchasing a
doll house is almost as much work as purchasing a real home. But it’s a lot
more fun, because the bathroom doesn’t need cleaning and there’s no lawn to
mow. You can bet I’ll be playing right along with my girls during the coming
years. Now where’s my Barbie doll? It’s time to get her dressed for dinner!
You can
contact Rachael by e-mailing her at Rachael@mumblingmommy.com.
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