(Forgive me that this post should have been published a month ago. I've had a draft started since mid-January but while it's now old news, it has to be published because OH THE MEMORIES. I really hope to blog more this month. It's just every time I sit down these days, I can only think, "Oh, I'm so tired" over and over which would make for some pretty boring blog posts.)
This past year, Madeline has become obsessed with dolls. She got a doll from Target last Christmas, named her Samantha and loved her. Then the marketing machine known as American Girl catalogs started coming in the mail and Madeline would study them like it was finals week at Harvard.
So Christmas 2013 was the Christmas of all things dolls. We gave her my 20-year-old Molly doll and several Dolly and Me matching outfits. She received a doll wardrobe from my parents, a doll carrier (which I nicknamed "the clear casket" unbeknownst to Madeline) from my aunt and a trip to the Chicago American Girl store from my in-laws.
She had a pretty great Christmas.
She dresses her doll every day, mainly in matching outfits, and changes her in pajamas every night. She lovingly arranges and organizes and rearranges and reorganizes her wardrobe nearly every day. She carries Molly in the clear casket everywhere she goes.
Exhibit A at The Children's Museum yesterday:
Then several weeks ago, my mother-in-law, Madeline and I drove up to Chicago for the Most Epic Day of Madeline's Childhood. The night before we left, I tucked Madeline into bed, sang the Doxology, prayed together and as I left her bedroom, I heard her sweet little voice say, "Mama? I just can't believe my dream is coming true tomorrow."
I don't think she slept much and was up way too early the next morning. We got up to the city pretty quickly with only one restroom/coffee stop and Madeline asking "Are we almost there?" only about 46 times.
We knew we wanted to eat lunch before we started shopping but first we drove up and down Michigan Avenue, pointing out the fancy stores before finally passing The Store. It was one of the very few times I can remember that Madeline would have happily starved the entire day if it meant she could just stop the car and go in The Store right at that moment.
We decided to not allow her to starve and ate lunch at Ed Debevics first. It was hilarious to watch Madeline there. We explained how the staff would be rude on purpose and to not be offended but she didn't quite get it at first. I wish you could have seen her face when the waitress shoved my mother-in-law's water across the table and sneered, "There's your toilet water."
Madeline's jaw nearly hit the table. We reminded her that only here was rudeness a funny joke and then it clicked for her. She loved the restaurant and loved it even more when they brought matching hats for her and Molly.
Then it was back to Michigan Avenue and The Store. It was so fun to watch Madeline walk around and see the items she'd been drooling over for the past 12 months.
My mother-in-law gave Madeline spending money as part of her gift and Madeline also cleared out her piggy bank before we left. She had planning her purchases every day since Christmas but I thought after she saw everything in the flesh, she would change her mind about what she wanted to buy.
She didn't budge at all. She came in wanting the feel better kit, a doll hairbrush, the polar bear pajamas, Pepper the dog and to pierce Molly's ears and she left with exactly those items. Apparently she's not an emotional consumer like her momma who frequently walks into a restaurant wanting one dish and then panics while ordering and spurts out something completely random.
So many dining regrets and gift card purchases.
Anyways, Madeline had been a huge help to me during my January 2014 flu epidemic so I surprised her with a visit to the doll salon.
Oh, what's that? You didn't know you could take dolls to get their ears pierced or hair done? Oh, dear humans, there is no money-spending stone left unturned by the American Girl Doll company.
For example, the bathrooms. You might think, "How can their bathroom be any different from every other bathroom on Planet Earth?" Well, allow me to tell you. Not only are all their bathrooms glitzy and shockingly pink with black and white accents, but they also have doll hangers to hold your doll in every stall and by the sinks so you never have to set your doll down.
Madeline tells everyone the bathrooms were her favorite part of The Store and has asked me several times to buy the doll holder for our bathroom. To which I said, "Oh no, honey child."
(Also, please note that Molly already had a cast on midway through the shopping trip. Ever since Madeline purchased the feel better kit, Molly has had a lot of unfortunate accidents.)
To finish the experience, my mother-in-law also made reservations for tea at 4 p.m. We had a little bit of time before then so we went to the Disney store just one block over to browse. Because, you know, one epic toy store isn't enough. The Lego store, Disney store and American Girl store are all next to each other in Chicago. Very dangerous for parents' checking accounts in the Midwest.
We headed back to The Store for tea which was a really wonderful time. After a long afternoon of walking around, it was so nice to sit by a window with falling snow, sipping hot English breakfast tea and talking about the day. Each tea treat and dessert was named around a specific doll and of course Molly had her own seat at the table with Pepper close by.
Madeline has also since tried to convince me that Molly needs a seat at our table. Again, my response is a firm, "No, child."
Madeline changed Molly into her new pajamas at the end of tea because "Molly would get tired on the way home." Apparently it's exhausting to get your ears pierced, hair styled and enjoy tea all in one day.
After tea, my mother-in-law took Madeline around the store for the last time while I collapsed into the couches and numbly watched the Saige movie playing in the lobby. After more than five hours in The Store, my pregnant body was done.
We were all pretty tired by the time we got home but it was such a fun day with Madeline. I'm so thankful that my mother-in-law gifted her with such a memorable experience. I'm pretty sure none of us will forget it.
And based on Molly's consistent injuries since the trip, I don't think she'll forget it either.