Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chicago 2014 : Part 2 Aquarium and American Girl OH MY!

As much as I enjoyed our night on the town we were so glad to have Addison back on Saturday. Leslie was so kind and thoughtful to drop her off at the hotel with us and I was psyched to show the peanut around the city a bit. 

 She sure does love her cab rides, since the age of 1! Our first stop was the Shedd Aquarium. I loved bringing visitors to this tourist attraction and having been reading a lot of Jacques Cousteau (check out the children's book Manfish!) books as well as her Ariel love, I knew this would be a hit. We braved the blistering cold and sloppy, wet snowfall and it was certainly worth it as Addison raced around the museum. Short on time we opted for their General Admission fee which limited our exhibits but we used up two hours and didn't even finish the exhibits we had access too. Only $14 for the two of us!

Thankfully, Micah had started enjoying the convention a bit the day before and had all afternoon to himself while Addison and I were away. You'll see more about the convention in Part 3

American Girls. Do I begin from my young obsession and hopes and dreams for my future dolls or the origin of Addison's interest? So much to say. I'll brief you on my love first. I used to receive the American Girl Catalog when I was a little girl and I seriously recall thinking of the things I would do when I was "grown up" and had my own house. The idea was as follows: Once I had my own house, I would reserve a room specifically for Felicity, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha and Molly-the AG girls of my time. This room would be filled with all of their accessories which, for all those who know the catalog, included elaborate furniture all the way down to a teeny tiny teacup. Well, my priorities have certainly shifted and I don't have a creepy AG girl room anywhere in my home BUT I did introduce Addison to the books several months ago. We read both the Felicity and Addy series and have since started reading Kaya. With each series, I scour the biography section of the children's library for same era books such as George Washington and Boston Tea Party books to accompany Felicity and Harriet Tubman books to accompany Addy. This really ties in the reality of the times alongside characters Addison absolutely adores. There are some films to accompany some of the books so once a series is done we watch the film. These books are filled with content and aren't exactly tailored to a four year old but Addison grew up to me reading her lengthy classics, most without illustrations and although she does not understand every details of the stories, we discuss what makes sense to her and give breaks for questions she may have. We started a little tradition of purchasing the mini doll after each series. She received a Felicity mini doll on Christmas-a little girl's heaven. I am not big on spending unreasonable amounts of money all the time on tons and tons of things, especially toys, but I do believe in special gifts occasionally. I also believe that children should be taught responsibility with certain toys. Her AG mini dolls are meant to be for her hands only and to be handled with utmost care. She takes this very seriously and I'm proud of her for even minding this small catch to getting the dolls. The information she has learned from the series we've read is extremely valuable and so reserving us dinner at the American Girl Cafe seemed to be a worthy special "treat" for Addison in Chicago. I had no idea it'd be so much more than that! 

I walked by the store almost every day while working in Chicago but never thought to go in. That wasn't exactly my priority in my early 20s. Taking Addison made me pretty anxious. Would be it all she hoped?! Would it be all I hoped for as a little girl?! We stepped in and were immediately greeted by coat check. Instantly, Addison realized we were in for a fancy afternoon. We strolled around the store with an hour to kill before dinner. I seriously was as excited as her. We went into the historical dolls area and I was blown away by the displays per doll. They literally plucked scenes from each girl's story and recreated it in a lifelike setting such as Addy's Christmas Dress shown below. For Addison to see what we read about left her speechless. She was there gawking at Addy's dress. I made two commitments prior to stepping into this place, An Addy mini doll and matching tees for her and her  Bitty Baby that Grammie got her for Christmas (from Goodwill!! With accessories!!=amazing)! It was a little scary after sifting through items in the rest of the store, I was a little shocked because, let's be real, I'm not spending $50+ on a single item for my daughter, let alone a doll. We found adorable tees for both Addison and Bitty that came to about $30. It was a great compromise compared to what we could have bought and clothing is clothing to a four year old. A red tshirt with stars was fabulous enough! After passing the hair salon upstairs, we entered the dining room lobby where we patiently awaited our dinner with my cousin and her daughter.

People were madly flocking in and out of the dining area so Addison and I plopped in a corner, considering we had a table # and we took our turn  to be seated once the madness died down.

That Pink Lemonade Addison had been raving about ordering as soon as she got to dinner went immediately out of the window as she got caught up in all the fancy fun. We were seated and her "baby" was given a seat, saucer and cup of her own. Reading through the beverage list, it didn't take long to select a Mango Smoothie. this was followed by a delicious appetizer plate, entrees (I ordered chicken with spaghetti squash and Addison had pasta) and the most adorable dessert I've ever seen.

 The girls were thrilled to bring home their napkin ring (a hairtie with a bow) and their doll's saucer and cup. Eden and I had a chance to catch up while her daughter, Amy, so sweetly took Addison around the store and even offered to gift Addison a little American Girl kitty. We're so grateful for the short but lovely time with family and for Eden treating us to this fantastic dinner. I know Addison will not ever forget this trip and what it meant to her to share the day with important ladies in her life.

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