Sunday Stealing: 40Q Meme, Part II
It's Like A Zoo Up In Here

She's An American Girl

This past weekend, for her tenth (!!) birthday celebration, Chloë I took the train up to Washington, D.C., to have some fun at the new(ish) American Girl store there. She didn't have an American Girl doll before, so the whole point was to pick one out and, for me, to enhance the experience for her in whatever way I could.

I'll post about the two days in two separate posts, because both promise to be quite lengthy - and you know me, I simply cannot make a long story short!


Here's Chloë on the train, shortly after we boarded in Newport News around 0800. My reasons for doing the train instead of driving were three-fold: (1) To save money on gas and parking to and in DC, (2) to leave the van so Rob and the kids could get around in our absence, and (3) for the fun of it! I love riding the train. Chloë has ridden the DC Metro and the NYC Subway system before, but this, I believe, was her first "real" train experience. She loved it, although halfway or so into the four-plus-hour sojourn, she was quite bored, as she'd forgotten her current book (which she's already read at least twice, and which makes her cry every time because it reminds her of losing Robby, sweet thing). (At least I had my iPhone! So she played on that while I snoozed a little.)


The Instagram pic I posted of her to Facebook - love that app!


Finally, we arrived at Union Station in DC, almost an hour later than expected. I had planned to go right to our hotel, check in and drop off our luggage before heading to the American Girl store in McLean, VA, but we had lunch reservations that we were going to miss if we didn't go straight there. So here's Miss Curls waiting for the first Metro train of the day, once we figured out where in the h-e-double hockey sticks we were supposed to be!

{By the by, if her face looks a little 'odd' to you, it is. The left side (right for you; the one with the scratch on her cheek) is swollen, thanks to a booboo from her dental appliance. Fortunately, she has an appointment on the books tomorrow anyway, so we can get that looked at.}


And again, the obligatory Instagram "check-in" Facebook photo


Here she is, as her Grandma said, looking "10 going on 14" as we waited for subway train #2 in our trek to the mall. After that, we took the bus. With all our luggage and stuff. Oy.


Finally, we made it to the mall!! She was so excited, and I was, too, for her. She made me photograph this first sign we spotted inside the mall, indicating our destination...


...and this banner, too. Excitement was mounting with every step closer to the store.


Finally, we arrived where she's been waiting years to go: the American Girl store. And folks, let me tell you what: this place is an absolute EXPLOSION of pink. Pink, pink, pink. Pink everywhere. (Read: Don't take your total tomboy daughters to this place. It wouldn't do.)

Now, by then, I was a little frustrated and upset (for her sake), because I'd spent over a month trying to get in contact with their personal shopper for an appointment for Chloë, and also because we missed our lunch reservations by about 45 minutes thanks to public transit. So the first thing I did was look for a manager, explain the situation, and ask her for help in making the whole event a positive one for my baby. Who is no longer a baby, but so what? Ten. Sheesh.

The manager, Doris, was fantastic. She marched us right up to the Bistro, where we'd missed our reservations, and got us a table immediately. She left us there with instructions that we were to find her afterward, so that she could connect us with the Personal Shopper. She was going to take care of us. That much was clear. And I was so relieved.


Since she hadn't gotten her own American Girl (AG) doll yet, Chloë was able to pick out a "loaner" doll from a wall of them sitting near the front of the Bistro, along with a chair that clipped directly to the table next to her. She really enjoyed that. Silliness, but hey. We decided to call the loaner doll "Sarah."


She pored over the menu, in which we were each supposed to find a starter and an entrée, according to their pricing plan. Look at that cheek! Tsk, tsk.


She was going to have milk with her meal, and then I showed her the beverage menu that was available and said she could pick off that if she wanted. This is not a posed expression; she really did that. Hee!


Curls and the menu, of which she wanted a picture. Pink, pink, pink!


Even though "Sarah" was only a loaner, she was still giddy with excitement over eating with her. It was her first hands-on experience with AG dolls, and she kept pulling her out of the chair to explore her, and posing with her for more pictures. She was loving this and informed me multiple times that, "This is even better than I imagined it would be!" Win!


When our drinks were brought, Sarah got her own cup, too. Chlo thought that was so cute, of course.


The centerpiece - more pink!


Chloë insisted I come look at the bakery case while we waited for our food. She was beside herself about there being "mini" things for everything for the AG dolls, including each dessert!


Her starter plate consisted of fruit kebabs, berries, and muffins for dipping into strawberry yogurt. She stuffed herself on this, except for the muffins, which she took home with her.


I had the cheddar cheese fondue, which was better than I'd expected. (You say "fondue" and I'm there, pretty much.) I filled up on bread and cheese. The two of us could've just done the starters and been happy, but their menu doesn't work like that.


Lunch was spaghetti and meatballs, but she took two bites and decided she couldn't pack in another morsel. I felt her pain. She had this for dinner later, instead.


I had a turkey panini, which I tasted to discover it was really good, but I also couldn't eat another bite. I ate mine the next day, for lunch and for dinner on the train ride home.


Eventually, our excellent server, Emmanuel, and some of the other staff came out with her desserts and sang happy birthday to her, after announcing her name and age to the whole restaurant. I noticed some other guests singing, too. It was fun.


Of course, she loved that part!


And look what they brought her! FIVE desserts! She ate the top off the two cupcakes and brought the rest home for Jack and Sophia to enjoy.


One last, lovely pose with Sarah at the end of the meal


Chloë insisted on filling out the comment card herself, which tickled me enormously. How grown up is she? Goodness.


We looked around at the dolls with a culture and history background story for a little while, before deciding to go find the Personal Shopper who was going to assist her with her purchases. Here's a little photo op with Kanani, who is obviously the Hawaiian AG.


She enjoyed showing me the different beds and pets and things that could be had for her doll-to-be, though she knew we had a budget to stick to.


Here, she's found Ginger, the little kitten she eventually wants to get for a pet for her doll. Maybe for Christmas?


Finally, we went upstairs and found Lisa, the Personal Shopper, who took Chloë under her wing and gave her her undivided attention. She really made Chlo feel like she was the star of the show, and I could tell my girl was feeling pretty special. Just what I wanted out of this experience. They're looking here at the case full of all the look-alike dolls ("My AG"), which is what she wanted, rather than one that came pre-storied. Like that term? I think I may have just made it up.


She didn't find exactly what she wanted in that case, so Miss Lisa took her over to a nearby case with their more popular My AG dolls. She picked one out that she thought would be up Chloë's alley, and she was right! Chloë's eyes lit up as soon as she saw her, and we knew she had found The One. This is her. Well, this is her box. Pink, of course.


Miss Lisa took Chloë and her new doll over to the styling salon, to get her ears pierced. Here, Chloë's touching her doll for the first time. She was so excited! Then they whisked her doll into the back "for the procedure." I asked, "Why, do they bleed and cry?" to Lisa, who started to say "no..." and then cracked up laughing at herself for actually answering me seriously.


Here she is, pierced, and dressed in the outfit that all My AG girls wear home. Does she look like a happy camper, or what?!


Lisa helped Chloë pick out a special AG hairbrush for her new doll, as well as a gymnastics outfit for her, after determining what Chloë, herself, likes to do and what her favorite things are. Then she took us back upstairs to her office to ring her up. Here's Curls in front of Cécile and Marie-Grace, the new New Orleans girls.


Miss Lisa wrapped her packages up all specially, gave her a cookie for a treat, and posed for a picture (which she asked me to email her later). She was really great to Chloë and gave her the Star Treatment, making her feel really important for her special day. Mom was thrilled with the whole thing, too. It really worked out well.


I'd looked ahead of time and found that there was a Godiva shop in the same mall, so before heading to the hotel, we stopped in for my free rewards member truffle. I picked the hazelnut one, as usual, while Chloë wanted this strawberry créme one. She didn't like it, but she ate it and the second one I bought in case she did, too. *snort*


We lugged all our bags o' red out to the bus waiting zone and, um, waited. For the bus. And ate our truffles. I listened to Chloë chatter on and on about her experience at American Girl. She'd had the best time, really enjoyed it.


Shortly after, on the bus, well, she crashed. Hard. At least I didn't have to listen to her ask, "Can I take her out of the box now?" 47 times a minute like she had been up 'til that point!


Once we got to the train depot again, she was wide awake and raring to go. I think this is Photo Number 830 of Chloë at a Place o' Transportation from this trip. Ah, well. I don't care, she's cute in every damn one anyway.


She was a little punchy by that point, and giggly, too. I said something to her, or made a face or something - I forget - that made her laugh...


...and laugh...


...and laaaaaugh!! She got me laughing pretty hard, too. Yep. We were having a swell time.


At long last, after a couple of train transfers and lugging our bags up Connecticut Avenue, we landed at our hotel and checked in. And then we were in the room, and finally it was time to take her new special-special out of the box. Well, hello there, darlin'!


She's ready for her close-up.


Chloë Raine holding "Faith Misty" for the first time. I didn't assist with the name at all. Well, I tried to get her to go with "Faith Hope" and "Faith, Trust, and Pixie-Dust" for silliness, but I got the, "Moooo-oooom" look for those efforts. They make a pretty pair, don't they?


Obligatory Instagram photo for Facebook instantaneousness

So that was our day! She immediately changed Faith into her gymnastics outfit, changed her earrings, and back and forth about 3700 times before bed that night. And of course, they slept together, snuggled up tight.


My kiddos have had a busy first half of the day, and will have a busy evening, so I'm letting them loose outside right now to expend some pent-up energy. I think I'll be back soon with Day Two of our trip!