The Big Day!

This was it, the big day, the event we’ve been planning since we were dumbstruck by the idea that Emma would be turning 10 this year (this happened to us last May, when she turned 9 and we were dumbstruck by the idea that she was halfway to graduating from high school and heading off to college — what can I say? We’re easily dumbstruck.). Today is Emma’s birthday, and it was a day to remember for everyone.

We started the day at the American Girl Boutique and Bistro, and began with a pampering treatment (cleaning) for Emma’s doll Josefina. This included 4 sheets of “toenail polish” (stickers), and Emma chose the purple ones for today since her own toes are polished lavender with sparkly flowers. Then Josefina’s hair was brushed and untangled and braided by a professional, looking just as good as new. Even better than new, because Emma chose a flip-through braid which looks quite fetching and a little fancier than the plain braid.

Next we finally participated in the activity which most people go to a mall for in the first place, and which we have been putting off since our arrival… we SHOPPED! Emma had a gift certificate, and we gave her a spending limit and let her have a bit of a spree. First she chose an item she’d been eyeing since we first cruised through the store, Josefina’s fancy holiday outfit. Next she said she’d like to get Molly’s birthday outfit. Then she felt that since she had bought something for both Josefina and Molly, she should get something special for Felicity too, so she chose the outfit Felicity wears to the holiday dance. She was so cute, trying to be fair to her three dolls, making sure that none of them were left out.

It was around this time that Aramis approached me, looked up at me with his angelic face, and said, in all seriousness (I promise I’m not making this up), “Mommy, I can’t stay in this store much longer. It’s giving me the sickness.” First I cracked up, then I called to Dave to tell him what our funny boy had said. Dave laughed too and questioned Aramis about “the sickness,” and Aramis explained that there was too much girly stuff in the store and it was giving him pains. We have laughed about that all day. Leave it to Aramis to say something hysterical in all sincerity.

After shopping for her dolls, we headed upstairs to find an outfit Emma liked enough to get for herself with a matching set for one of her dolls to wear. Eragon was excited about a yoga ensemble, crying, “Mommy! They’re doing yoga!” Atticus’s interest was sparked by a baseball outfit for dolls, although they didn’t have the girl-sized version. Dave liked the snowboarder outfit for dolls, but we all agreed Emma would prefer a skier ensemble. Finally Emma chose a lovely lilac spring dress, with a matching doll-sized set. We headed to the dressing room for her to try it on, and I grabbed a couple of t-shirts for both of us to try.

I must say here that I did have one complaint about the store, although this isn’t the store’s fault, it comes from the company — there are no Mommy-sized clothes. I told several of the store salespeople that they should have Mommy/daughter/doll outfits. They agreed that it was a good idea, but they couldn’t help me out today. I did find some incredibly cute t-shirts that are bright pink with a sparkly butterfly that says “Mall of America” in small letters at the top on one side and “American Girl Boutique and Bistro” in small letters at the bottom on the other side. I thought the shirts were darling, and I talked Emma into getting one even though she dislikes pink, claiming we could match! Okay, I know I said I’d try and tone things down, but I couldn’t contain my excitement over the idea that my daughter and I could wear cute matching t-shirts advertising my new favorite place in the world! So after she tried on her lovely lilac dress, we tried on our shirts, and I pulled off the tags, insisting we’d wear them for our lunch in the Bistro and for the rest of the day! She was slightly mortified, but went along with my plan, and seemed relieved when she heard me explain what we were doing to our saleslady.

During our lunch at the Bistro, I further embarrassed her by taking pictures of everything in sight, including her, our appetizers, her, our entrees, her, the view of the amusement park out the window, her, the entrees, her, the cake and the singing people who brought the cake (yes, we had people sing to her to make sure and cement her embarrassment)… We enjoyed a super-scrumptious lunch, and Josefina joined us in a booster seat attached to the table. The waitress brought Josefina a small cup of pink lemonade and a mini-fruit cup with the fruit cut up into tiny doll-sized bites. Everything was wonderful, and the staff really made Emma feel special. The whole experience was delightful. The lady who had worked on Josefina’s hair had ascertained that it was Emma’s birthday, so she gave her a sticker that said “It’s my birthday!” and every employee we encountered thereafter was sure to wish Emma a sweet and sincere “Happy Birthday!” I’m telling you, Disneyland for AG fans!!! Only better, with personal touches!

When we were finally done at the Boutique and Bistro we asked Emma “What next?” and she said “Movie!” So we headed to the theater on the 4th floor to see Disney’s Earth, which was wonderful. Gruesome and realistic, but wonderful and beautiful. But we had arrived a bit early, so to pass the time before the movie we visited the Apple store. Something for everyone here! The kids played video computer games while Dave browsed. Then we saw the movie, and after that asked “What next?” and Emma said “Miniature golf!” So we headed to the Moose Mountain Miniature Golf Course on the 3rd floor and played a round of 18 holes. By then it was time for an event at the Lego store where the kids could make a little Lego flower in a flower pot and take it home for free! Emma had been anticipating this event since our arrival, so we couldn’t miss. This was also the perfect opportunity for the boys to pick out their “party favors.” I had told them that they would each be allowed to pick out a toy from the Lego store at some point on the trip. This turned out to be a great plan, because I think it kept them from feeling too resentful of Emma despite her receiving so much attention and being put so completely in charge of so many things. Of course they are used to her calling the shots a lot of the time, but we usually try to balance things out and give everyone a turn to be in charge. In any case, the boys were both happy to get to pick out a Star Wars Lego set for themselves from this magnificent Lego store, and we continued our day of shopping at the Mall.

After the Lego store we wanted to pick up some souvenirs, so we found two of the Minnesota themed stores in the Mall. This was also partly to kill time before our final destination of the day, The Rainforest Cafe. This was where Emma wanted to have her birthday dinner, and this stop had been on the itinerary since the early planning stages. We all enjoyed yummy dinners (Dave’s pasta-laya, like jambalaya but with pasta, was particularly delicious) and fruity drinks (Atticus loved his pineapple juice), and Emma endured MORE loud singing which accompanied the family dessert, a volcano cake complete with burning sparkler to give it the appearance of erupting. Even with the whole family pitching in we couldn’t finish the massive thing, and we headed back toward our hotel, stuffed, exhausted, and finally laden with shopping bags! What a day!

Once back in the room all the kids got a second wind. Emma sorted through her treasures and dressed Josefina in her new outfit. The boys pored over the pictures on the boxes of their Lego sets (we decided they shouldn’t open them until we get back home) and the Lego magazines (catalogs) we had acquired while in the store. Eragon began playing with his Little People (he had picked out a Diego backpack for his party favor, so he didn’t have anything new to play with, but it had been a couple of days since he’d spent time with his Little People). At 9:21 pm (the official time of her birth, although in a different time zone) we sang “Happy Birthday to Emma,” and shortly thereafter sent the kids to bed. They are still giggling and fussing with each other and trying to keep Eragon in bed and quiet, having trouble settling down after a big day full of fun. Who can blame them?

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