As I mentioned in the last post, we made a quick trip to Atlanta this week. Chad had to schedule a last minute trip to Iowa with one of his surgeons, and couldn't find any flights out of Birmingham so needed a ride to the Atlanta airport. He booked the kids and me and hotel room so that we wouldn't have to drive there and straight back. The kids don't have school on Wednesdays anyway and we're always looking for something to do, so this worked out perfectly for us.
We arrived in Atlanta around 4pm on Tuesday afternoon and ate an early dinner at America's oldest drive-in, The Varsity. We'd wanted to eat here for a long time, as it is pretty popular and we'd seen it on Food Network, plus we needed something fast since Chad had to fly out a couple hours later. The Varsity did not disappoint! We indulged in chili dogs, fries, onion rings and their famous orange soda. The kids loved the views of downtown and their paper hats, and we would definitely go back for more.
After dinner we dropped Chad off at the airport then headed north to our hotel in Alpharetta. But not without stopping at Ikea first. I can't go to Atlanta without at least making one stop at Ikea. I wasn't in the market for anything specific but managed to pick up some stocking stuffers, an easel for Mary Ella (at $14.99 you can't beat the price for their easel!) and a few odds and ends for organizing. I also bought some bright red and white horizontal stripe wrapping paper that I LOVE. The kids enjoyed the trip for the most part, but Sam was ready to be DONE with Ikea by the time we got to the checkout line. Bless.
We finally arrived at our hotel around 7pm that night. Sam was tired and went straight to bed and Mary Ella and I stayed up and watched TV and looked through the American Girl catalog we'd received in the mail last week. Around 9pm we did what all gals do when they have a girls night out at a hotel; we ordered take-out. Chinese food, to be exact. We sat at our hotel desk and ate lo mein and egg rolls and she taught me some Chinese she'd learned from Kai Lan; then I let her eat 5 mini butterfingers. Yep. I figured, hey, why not? We're on vacay.
I wish I could say the rest of the hotel stay was as delightful as those first 3 hours; unfortunately Sam woke up around 11pm screaming, and basically screamed on and off until we finally fell asleep around 4:30am. I tried everything to calm him down; milk, Motrin, rocking, holding him, laying with him, the iPad, watching TV; nothing would work. I don't know if he was scared or just hurting or what. At one point (or maybe several points) I almost packed our bag and loaded up to drive back to Birmingham. I thought surely any minute the hotel manager would come knocking on our door telling us we were a disturbance and we needed to leave immediately. Thankfully that didn't happen. On top of Sam screaming, I could not sleep or lay flat due to my cough. So every time he would semi-calm down and quit crying, I would have to cough and it would just make him start crying all over again. We went from couch bed to the real bed until finally we both got to sleep. I'm not even sure where we ended up sleeping, to tell you the truth. All I know is I woke up at 9am and was ex.hau.sted. To say the least. The kids, on the other hand, were ready to go, full of energy and in great moods. Kids are awesome like that.
(I appliqued their shirts in the picture above; they are giraffes and the applique idea came from Pinterest. Although when I showed Sam the shirt he said "Moo" so I'm not sure they look enough like giraffes.)
I'd thought about what I wanted to do on Wednesday and it came down to the Children's Museum, the Aquarium or the American Girl Store. And the little girl in me won that battle; I'd never been to the AG Store, but grew up loving and collecting the American Girl dolls, so I decided we'd go there. Plus, it's in a less busy part of Atlanta (Alpharetta, to be exact) and in a rather large mall with lots of stores, so I figured by the time we walked the mall and looked around at the doll store, we'd be good to go. I planned to let her "look around" and pick out a few things she might like for Christmas. Since I didn't go with the mindset of purchasing a new doll, I let her take my Kirsten doll (circa 1990 maybe?) As you can see, Kirsten is looking a little frazzled. But Mary Ella was excited nonetheless.
Little did I know I could've spent the entire day in that doll store! Wow! It's a little girl's dream. When we walked in to the mall, Mary Ella was fixated on a huge gumball machine, of course; she didn't even see the entrance to the store. When I pointed it out to her, she stopped dead in her tracks! No kidding!
And the fun had only just begun!
There were plenty of hands on displays and toys to play with, and the employees there loved on my kids like they were their own.
If any of you had a Kirsten doll, you remember she came with beautiful, silky pigtail braids that were folded; almost a Laura Ingalls type hairdo. Well, I'm pretty sure I took those pretty braids out the day after Christmas in 1990 and I guess I never cared to brush her hair ever again.
This doll needed some serious TLC!
The AG Store has a doll 'salon' where your doll's hair can be styled any way you choose. I was a bit hesitant to let Mary Ella approach the salon desk, as I was certain the lady would tell us that, tragically, our Kirsten needed a head transplant. But Mary Ella wasn't shy about it at all.
"CAN YOU FIX MY MAMA'S BABY'S HAIR??" (she referred to her as 'my mama's baby' all day)
Notice hair salon lady looking away in dismay. No, not one of those!
No, actually, she was happy to oblige, and I was happy to learn that we would not need a total head transplant and that she could untangle Kirsten's nappy hair and give her new shiny braids. She let Mary Ella point to a hairstyle that she wanted and pick out her ribbon colors.
Then she went to town! Apparently you are supposed to use a special wire brush on these dolls and only water, no products. Who knew. Oh... AND, if you have a doll with 'textured' hair, like Kirsten's, (i.e. not the smooth, shiny, silky hair), you're really supposed to leave her braids IN. Note taken.
Mary Ella watched with anticipation as Kirsten underwent her hair brushing. I'm sure Mary Ella was thinking "Geez, glad I'm not the one in that chair. What have I done??? Poor Mama's baby!!!"
(M.E. hates having her hair brushed. Tangle city.)
Finally it was over and we had a new 'do. She picked out an outfit which was very appropriate for the day - a raincoat, hat and boots, and she paraded that baby doll around the mall for the next couple hours.
The only time she ever took her eyes off Kirsten was when something else seemed more appealing.
Like a piece of Sbarro's cheese pizza the size of her head.
After eating lunch, a bathroom break, a carousel ride and some mall walking, we were ready to head back to Birmingham. But not without one more quick walk through the doll store.
And this time, Mary Ella decided she'd have more than a hairdo.
She went over to the Bitty Baby section this time (she had not spent much time there during our trip that morning, just a quick walk through) and she saw a sweet little brown baby; she picked her up, cradled her in her arms and said, "I want THIS baby from Santa." She proceeded to carry her around the store, along with her other doll, like she was a proud Mama of two. And what can I say? I caved. I just thought it was sweet that Mary Ella wanted the sweet little African American baby doll. And I LOVE it. And what's sweeter, she never once referred to it as a brown baby or black baby and has never said one thing about the color of its skin. To her, it's just a baby. A perfect little baby doll. I love that about kids! They teach us so much about the way the Lord looks at all of us and how we are all so precious in His sight.
So here she is, on her way home, with 'Mama's Baby' Kirsten and our newest addition, little Ruthie.
She has since tossed Kirsten to the side, I guess because she seems a bit 'older,' but she and Ruthie have been inseparable. And God bless little Ruthie; Mary Ella is keeping her super busy. Just today she has attended two birthday parties, breakfast at Chick Fil A, an extremely bumpy tricycle ride, and has been poked and prodded in the eyeballs by a certain 16-month old little boy, who can't get enough of the baby's open-and-close eyelids! Even so, I'm glad Mary Ella has a new 'playmate' that she adores and she's certainly having fun playing Mama to her new baby girl.
Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend.
I so appreciate the prayers and encouragement for feeling better! Thankfully, today has been a great day! My friend Jamie hooked me up with a Z-pak and I'm hoping that will knock this out!