Monday, June 27, 2005

American Girl Adventure
Wednesday, June 22 2005
Dinner seating at 5:15 PM

When we got into Chicago and FINALLY got settled into a hotel, I took a minute to call American Girl Place to see if they had any cancellation for dinner the following night. We had brunch reservations for Thursday, but after looking at the train schedule and knowing when we needed to be at the competition, I knew it just wasn't doable. The operator said the store was closed but that I should try to call the following morning as early as possible and plead my case with the employees at the cafe. So once I had Emily ready to go on stage Wed morning I called and asked the operator to connect me to the cafe. She was skeptical that I would get through to anyone since it was still so early and also doubted that they would change our reservation. Ironically, the woman at the cafe answered on the first ring and very little pleading was needed, she simply switched the reservation and said she would see us that evening.

Once Emily had completed 3 of her routines (Carousel, Gypsies, and Sugar and Spice)we stayed to awards. We were shocked when Sugar and Spice (the routine the instructor didn't want to bring ane we had brought just for fun) finished in the top 5 and qualified for the Quest for the Best on Saturday. The day was turning our perfect! We left the competition and headed back to the hotel to potty. We then went to the METRA station to catch the 2:33 PM train.

Parking at the station was confusing and it took a while to figure out how to get to the station, but once we got in, a kind local woman took pity on us and explained the whole train thing and how to catch the return train. Even I was surprised as the train rolled in with how massive it was. As we boarded the train, we were shocked to hear people calling our names. About 6 other families from the studio were on the train and were also heading to AG (although not for dinner).

The ride took a little over an hour. Tickets were $4.10 for Hannah and me. Em, Sophie and Will were free. Will slept the whole ride in (such a blessing!). Once we got off the train (double stroller, diaperbag, sling, and AG dolls in tow), a kindly METRA employee showed us how to get to the street and where we would need to go to buy return tickets (if you buy your tickets on the train when there is a ticket agent on duty there is a $2 surcharge per ticket!). The weather was gorgeous and the streets well shaded by the buildings (it reminded me of something I heard after the World Trade Centers fell, about the people finally seeing the sun, because the buildings blocked the light). We began the walk, little did I know that it was over 29 blocks away! (Translated into over 3 miles one way!). Sophie slept the whole way and luckily Will stayed in the stroller! My arm is still giving me so much trouble there was no way I could have carried him! Even with the shade it was hot and I had made the mistake of wearing sandals and a shirt. Well my fat thighs kept rubbing and I ended up with chapped/chaffed thighs! If I ever do it again I will wear capris and gym shoes!

It took us almost an hour to walk to the store. We became encourged the closer we got as we saw more and more AG bags! We got into the store and checked in at the cafe. We were assigned to table 13 (my lucky number!) and we spent the next 30 minutes shopping (seating for dinner began at 5:15 PM). The store was huge adn overwhelming, the girls just loved it! We were shocked to see that in the hair salon it was $10 to just put the dolls hair in a ponytail. (It became our joke the rest of the week as we styled the dolls hair in the hotel and would tell each other that the price was $50 or $70!).

When they seated us in the cafe, there were special chairs for the AG dolls and pretty striped hairties on the napkins for the dolls to wear. They brought out little cups and plates for the girls to feed the dolls with. Dinner began with cinnamon buns. They were sticky and gooey and heavenly! They brought us out pink lemonade to drink. They brought out an appetizer of veggies, hummus, stuffed potatoes and fruit kabobs! Emily had pasta for dinner, Sophie had pizza and Hannah and I both had the stuffed chicken breast. Dessert was chocolate mouse, a butterfly shaped sugar cookie and bite sized heart shaped cake. They sang Happy Birthday to Sophie. I thought the meal and dining experience was well worth the $18 per person. Will of course was free(he shared Sophie's pizza and all the appetizers!)! He was so well behaved during dinner, even the waiteresses said they didn't even know he was there!

Once we finished the girls picked out what they wanted to buy. We ended up with Marisol(Hannah bought with her babysitting money), Nellie (Emily's early birhtday present) and 2 t-shirts (one for Em and one for Sophie). The girls declared it the "best time ever!". We walked out of the store shortly after 7 PM and then went to teh DIsney Store because they were having a huge sale! Sophie got a stuffed Dory and Nemo and a Nemo plate. She was so excited. Will fell asleep in the stroller. We finished up and began walking back to the station. When we got to Michigan and Adams a clock showed the time as 8:01 PM. We had 29 minutes to make our train ...meaning get to the station, buy tickets and board! We starting RUNNING!

Through gasping breaths we commented that we were running the AMAZING RACE! Stroller, packages, toddlers and all we made it to the station with 8 minutes to spare. Will was very crabby the ride back and the train was PACKED! One of the commuters kept "flirting" with him to try to get him to helped a little!

Disembarking the train was scary, but we did it! We finally got back to the hotel around 10 PM!

Sophie was a bit disappointed that she didn't get a new doll, so she kept taking Nellie from Emily. We ended up going to Target and buying her a "pretend" AG doll named Chelsea. She LOVED it and thought it was cool her doll came with a puppy and Em's and Hannah's didn't! It is so nice when they are 3 and can't read! And of course Chelsea has had her fair shair of $50 hairdos!

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