Okay, after a deep breath or a hundred....I am back and I wanted to share with you guys the pre-Birthday adventure my daughter and I went on to Dallas. We traveled over 5 hours just to go the American Girl Place. Was it worth it, you ask.....
Definitely. We took off on the 21st and drove our little hearts out down I45. I have to tell you it was really nice to have that time alone with her. Considering her moods consist mostly of pouting and frowning lately (hello pre-teendom!), it was great to see her relaxed and happy. Plus, we got to listen to the music we wanted to and not her stinky brothers. We arrived at the Residence Inn by Marriott and she said it looked like really great apartments, which she loved. She felt so grown-up. We checked in with our American Girl package that they do. We got to our room and she was so excited to see the American Girl travel bed complete with pillow with the logo on it and a satiny blanket. She immediately wanted to fill out the entry for the contest for the next Girl of the Year doll. We decided on the Residence Inn because of the location (across the freeway from the American Girl Place), the package they offered and the price. The price was awesome. It was the last hotel listed on the AG site and the last one I called. I guess they save the best for last. It was only $119/night. That was with the American Girl package! She got to bring home the travel bed. It also included the shuttle if we would've gone a bit earlier, it only runs until 3pm on weekends. The room was so cute. There was a full kitchen which was very updated by the way. Stainless appliances, even a dishwasher. Almost made me sad we left the boys and the hubby home. I said almost. The bedroom was very nice and the bathroom even better. Me being the Green Geek that I am I loved that they had a note to put the towels you wanted to reuse in a designated spot to save on energy.
We headed out to the American Girl Place and Bistro at around 4 and parked across the street from the Dallas Galleria to avoid the parking garage. I try to avoid those when by myself with the kiddos. I know I'm paranoid. We walked past the gorgeous windows of Nieman's and Saks to get to the American Girl Place. I wasn't looking for the building really, I was more concerned if the State Trooper was going to stop the cars for us to cross. Rhys saw it though. I heard her gasp and she said " Oh, my gosh.....it's awesome!" and I looked up to see her dream come true. I took pics outside the store like a total tourist and we went in. That place is truly magical. All the dolls you could imagine were set up in display cases or out on display tables with all the clothing and accessories you could imagine. Rhys had already decided on the car ride up that she wanted Chrissa, the Girl of the Year. We found the area where she was and then roamed around the store for hours. They had the salon area which was pretty cool but I told Rhys that I thought we should spend the $20 on clothes for the dolls that would last alot longer. She truly is in love with all her dolls (she has 6 now) and I feel it is a good investment, at least that's how I look at the purchases. I think she will appreciate these now and love that I saved them in case she has a daughter someday. Even though I've already thought about the eBay price tag I could get on them! After browsing and making our first purchase of Chrissa and a shirt for Rhys and a matching one for her doll and of course a new outfit for her beloved Julie, who joined us on our journey, we went upstairs to the Bistro which is just as magical as downstairs. There's all the Just Like You dolls clothes and accessories, a little bar stool area where they make the best milkshakes and floats. They showed us to our table (that we made reservations for to make her feel even more special) and handed Rhys her Treat Seat, which is a super cute booster seat for the dolls that attaches to the table. How cute is that?! We sat down in the multi-colored-striped booth and put Julie on the side of the table in her Treat Seat. Rhys could not stop smiling and laughing. There were little girls (and some unlucky brothers) everywhere. The light fixtures were even cute and especially the huge flower chandelier that hung over a table. We looked at our menus and set Julie's mini menu in front of her and we chose our starters and meals. It was $14.50 a person for the starter and meal. The menu was pretty diversified. Rhys had pretzel bread with melted cheese to dip and honey mustard sauce (she didn't like this dip though). I had flat bread with tomatoes, basil and cheese and it was excellent. For dinner Rhys had the chicken strips that came with mac and cheese and a fruit or veggie skewer. I had the ham panini with olive tapennade. It was excellent! For dessert we both had the chocolate mint frostie, we put them in to-go cups so could do another round of shopping. The dessert was the best part for both of us! Our ticket was around $55 and the service was good but slow because of all the people eating. We never felt it was too loud or crowded where we were seated. We went back downstairs and got a few more things to celebrate her 8Th Birthday.
When we left it was 8:30pm and of course dark outside and the plus of going this time of year was seeing the beautiful Christmas lights at the Galleria. We got in the car and headed back to the Residence Inn, went upstairs to our room and she laid out all of her loot on the bed to admire. We called home to let everyone know how the shopping excursion went and got relaxed and watched iCarly together on the couch.
In the morning we went downstairs to the lobby for a free(!), yes, I said free breakfast and this is not a continental breakfast with a cold danish and lukewarm coffee. There was a whole spread of fresh fruit, juices, oatmeal with all the fixings', eggs, hashbrowns, sausage, biscuits and gravy. There was even a waffle maker if you wanted to attempt that. A large flat screen was above the fireplace and the coffee was excellent. I consider this probably the most important part of breakfast since I have to have about 4 cups every morning. This hotel was so inviting and relaxing. I also felt very safe staying there alone with my daughter. There was also free parking which can sometimes be hard to find with hotels who love to valet your car....for money!
On the whole, I wold say that I am so glad I made this trek. Although my back and tailbone were killing me the whole next week from all the sitting and driving I did in such a short time. The look on my daughter's face and the joy I saw in her big, brown eyes was worth every second and every penny.
There are American Girl stores in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Dallas. Since we live in Southeast Texas this was our obvious choice. If you do decide to go to the American Girl Place and Bistro in Dallas be very educated on your directions before you get on the expressways in Dallas. It was a smooth ride the whole way until we hit Dallas and there were some fierce drivers. You better know what exit you need to take before you see it or you will miss it and it will take you forever to get back to it. My family will definitely be using the Residence Inn again also. It will be great for when we have all 5 of us together. With a full size fridge we can store Griff's juice and there's even a pantry for all the other snacks. I also was reading the in-room brochure and since you can use it like an extended stay there's even a grocery service. You fill out your grocery list and give it to the front desk and they will shop for your groceries and deliver them to your room and the only charge is for the groceries! What a great idea. I told my husband we will definitely be trying it out again!
What a great Birthday celebration with my only daughter. A very nice break from Batman or sibling squabbles over nothing.