Casa Marino recently had a significant toy-overhaul in preparation for something big (really big!). Upon learning that Barbie’s new 2013 Dreamhouse would be taking residence in our home, we encouraged Lucia to gather some of her toys to donate. As she packed up her old dollhouses with chubby figurines – they suddenly seemed appropriate for toddlers and not a girl soon entering the first grade. And while she waited for the day that the delivery man would ring, I felt as if I understood her childhood excitement. As a little girl, Barbie’s Dreamhouse was the sort of thing that I circled in toy catalogs – to say Lucia (and her little brother) were enamored when the gigantic package arrived is an understatement.
Since assembly (which requires time and patience!), the modern three story, 3-1/2 foot luxury Dreamhouse has not gone untouched while little people are home. Among other amenities, Barbie’s newly renovated Dreamhouse boasts six rooms, “stainless steel” appliances, two functional pull-string elevators, lights and sound effects galore, and over 50 pieces of included accessories.
Lucia’s play is shifting and becoming more sophisticated. She gravitates towards toys with movable parts and accessories. Lucia loves playing with the interchangeable pieces, and the design incorporates a mechanism for keeping all of the tiny elements secure. A swirling decorative lattice is woven through every room (and shelving unit), functioning as a surface to secure interchangeable parts. The tabletop has tiny spots to mount dining essentials and little loops for Barbie to hold accessories on her own.
The included puppy and many kitchen accessories are regularly played with. With the touch of a button, the blender has sound effects and the oven lights up. These little details are the sort of things that my children adore.
To Lucia’s delight the toilet makes a flushing sound – which is perhaps her favorite element! The bathroom is also loaded with surprises. Barbie serenades her little guests when she enters the shower and steps on her bathmat. Even her bathroom vanity has sound effects.
When I was first invited to work with Barbie, I realized how much my parenting philosophies have changed as Lucia has grown. Although I played with Barbie dolls and even saved my hand-me-down Barbie collection to pass on to my own daughter – I had very different ideals when I first gave birth to a girl. I once imagined shielding Lucia from Barbie, and many other toys marketed to young girls. Living through each moment, and watching my baby become an incredibly imaginative girl, shifted my seemingly narrow perspective. Barbie and her new Dreamhouse have been vehicles for cultivating highly creative play and elaborate storylines. I have observed Lucia working out her emotions as her Barbie dolls take on characters and explore different roles within the 6-room house. Sometimes they sound exactly like me (gasp!) and sometimes they help Lucia work out her fears in a safe context. Barbie often looks in her vanity mirror, as her friends assure her that it’s OK to feel scared about loosing at tooth. And while Lucia loves to dress and admire her Barbies and accessories, the dolls also spend time in the dressing room cultivating dreams. The Barbies are currently co-authoring a novel (about magical unicorns) on their folding laptop. I can’t wait to hear it. Barbie’s wardrobe elevator transports garments for quick costume changes between the dressing room and bathroom, but it is also utilized by the pet dog who dispenses home cooked meals for everyone to share.
Under Lucia’s care, Barbie’s central elevator often transforms into a magical rocket ship that propels (vintage) Barbie into neighboring planets.
I imagine many years of childhood dreams brewed inside this big pink house.
The Barbie Dreamhouse can be purchased at Walmart and retail stores nationwide for $184.99 (MSRP).
I was selected to participate in this sponsored campaign for One2One Network. I received monetary compensation and the above product to facilitate this post, however all opinions stated are my own.