Monday, February 26, 2018

Lily's American Girl Birthday

Lily turned seven on February 18, and we celebrated by taking a weekend trip to Dallas to visit the American Girl store.
I came up with the original idea, after trying to come up with fun yet affordable ideas for a birthday party in February...and that's hard! Plus, I know many can relate to this, but we already have so much many little things and toys that soon lose their sparkle as soon as they're opened and tossed to the side.
Anyway, we ultimately wanted it to be Lily's choice: a local birthday party with friends or a weekend trip to the American Girl store. She's really gotten into American Girl dolls lately, so she quickly chose the latter!
And her birthday with her friends at school was special...I sent homemade cupcakes; she wore a birthday pin; I read books to her class and had lunch with them that day. So this was kind of a win-win!
Our options for "nearby" American Girl stores were limited to Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, or Nashville. We wanted to go somewhere within driving distance, and that was honestly our only prerequisite. Rob liked the idea of Dallas (I think he was secretly hoping to run in to Dak Prescott), so that's what we went with.
If you plan a similar out-of-town trip, check the area hotels to see if they offer an American Girl package. A few in Dallas did, and we ended up choosing the Marriott because we had a lot of points built up! The package made the trip extra sweet. As soon as we arrived, Lily was given an American Girl present from the hotel...a cute bed and bathrobe for her doll and a $25 gift card to the store! When we got to our room, milk and cookies were waiting on Lily and her doll too!
And now backtracking a bit...for months Lily has been flipping through her American Girl magazine, and she's had her heart set on eventually getting the doll Z Yang. Once we planned this trip, she was excited to arrive at the store and hopefully purchase the doll with some birthday money I told her she'd likely get from mom and dad, grandparents, etc. The morning we left for Dallas, Rob and I surprised her with the was a total surprise, which made it so much fun! And this way she was able to have Z on the drive over, and she was able to save her birthday money for accessories for her new doll!

I'd also put together some small goodie bags for the girls to open the morning of our trip. They got a few new movies for the car ride and some goodies from the Target Dollar Spot! :)
As soon as we arrived at the hotel, Lily had this package waiting on her!
We kept the food simple on our trip. Food wasn't the focus, and we honestly just grabbed dinners at places near our hotel. Still lots of fun!
The morning of our trip to the store, we had a few presents for Lily to open. She got money and/or gift cards from her grandparents and great-grandparents, and her great-grandparents had also given her a few accessories for Z. And they were all sweet enough to give Hadley a little bit too so she wasn't left out!
Ready to explore and shop!
I'd made reservations for us to have lunch at the American Girl Bistro, and I can't recommend this enough! It was inside the store, and we ate as soon as we arrived. The restaurant was adorable and filled with other little girls having special experiences. The waitresses were as sweet as could be and greeted Lily by name. Her doll had a special seat at the table, along with her own cup and saucer.
Poor Julie was in dire need of a new hairstyle. I booked a salon visit after lunch for a style for her, and Lily chose to get Z's ears pierced. (She originally wanted a hearing aid for Z, but we found out that a hearing aid required poking a permanent hole in the doll's neck. And if the aid was removed, the hole would be pretty visible.)
Julie looking like a new woman.
After a long day at the American Girl store, Lily still had some money left over that she wanted to spend. We went to the Galleria, and she spent the rest of her birthday money on Beanie Boos at Claire's. I think she got 10 of them because they were buy one/get one half off.
We had plans post-mall to visit The Perot Museum, but the girls wanted to return to the hotel to play with their toys. We were all pretty worn out, so Rob and I were good with that.
I snapped the pic below the morning we left Dallas and headed home. The sweetest sight ever.
It was a fantastic trip, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. We made some sweet memories as a family, and it's a birthday that Lily will remember forever, I believe.
Hope everyone has a happy Monday.

Friday, February 23, 2018

To Those Who Lost Loved Ones in Parkland

It seems like overnight spring started to pop up around here. I always notice the daffodils first. They seem to be the welcoming signal that the seasons are shifting. And then my favorite, the pink buds on the Japanese magnolia trees are opening up. I think most people look forward to the regrowth, the green, the warm sun on our skin when we step outside.
But what about you? Have you noticed the things one would normally appreciate this time of year? Do you notice the blue sky, the redbuds, the sun shining? Does any of that exist to you anymore? Or does a constant darkness cloud any of the beauty and any of the good that's all around for those of us who have not experienced what you have?
It's been 10 days since you sent your loved one to school. Valentine's Day. I've wondered, if you're a parent who lost a child that awful day, did you leave out a Valentine's Day card and a box of chocolates for your child, just like you probably did when they were little? Did your child have a crush at school that he or she hoped might notice him or her that day? Did your daughter have plans with some girlfriends that night...plans to celebrate friendship and everything else that brought them joy? Did your son buy roses for his girlfriend? Did you help him pick out a nice shirt to wear to dinner with his girl later that night? Did you talk to him about the importance of love and affection every day, not just on this one holiday each year? "Yes, mom," I imagine him saying while lovingly rolling his eyes at you.
Did your spouse, an esteemed teacher and coach at the school, have a dinner reservation for the two of you later in the evening? Did he give you a kiss when he walked out the door, promising he'd be home on time so you could make your reservation?
Does the world stop spinning when you get a phone call that there is an active shooter at your child's school? I would imagine it does. How does it not?
What happens when you find out that your child or your spouse was one of the 17 victims? How do you go on? Why do we live in a world where this is even a question? Where this is a valid nightmare for so many of us?
I've seen the kids interviewed; I've watched their impassioned speeches with tears in my eyes. I've read about their plans for action. My goodness, they are so brave. They give me, and I believe a lot of us, hope for our future...hope that change is on the horizon.
Your grief will never end. The prayers from many, that you experience peace and comfort through the pain, will hopefully help you some, but the senseless loss is still there. And always will be.
So many of us are in your corner. We can't fathom your pain, and we are heartbroken that you are living it every day. We will continue to think about you and to pray for you, but we owe it to you and to your loved one to do MORE.
We will DO more in your loved one's name. In the names of the countless many who came before him or her. We'll do whatever it takes so you can, one day, notice the daffodils blooming in early spring.