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Old 01-22-2014, 05:33 PM   #16
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WOW what a start. Glad you finally made it and safely. Our granddaughter named my wife's car as soon as she saw it. It is a bright red Dodge Durango, now known as the FIRETRUCK. Well technically that is not a name but is close. Never thought to name mine. Sorry Amanda is having t live with such a diet. Not sure how anyone can stick with twigs and berries.
Thats a cute name. We used to have names for my grandparents cars. My grampa named them. I can only remember one though.,.....the "Brown Bomber".
I really have felt bad for Amanda over the holidays. She did really well though. And she has lost quite a bit of weight which was needed so she is happy about that as well. Her biggest thing was she had to give up Mt. Dew, which she drank non-stop.

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Tom Cruze... I love it!! I LOVE cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory, which is definitely saying something because I don't care for cheesecake normally.
I do love cheesecake but it is extra good there. Some places have pretty crappy cheesecake so you don't always get a good piece when you eat out...but there it is YUM!

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I'm glad you finally made it after that awful traffic and rain. I'm also glad they finally seated you - what a pain you had having to wait like that. There's nothing worse than watching people who arrived after you being seated.
I think the theme of this trip was waiting at all restuarants. We never had fast service anywhere the whole trip.

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Nice new car! All of our cars have had names, and my current Edge has been called Starship Enterprise from day one because of all its technology. I love Cheesecake Factory.
I love that name. It's amazing how things on Star Trek seemd so far fetched and now a lot is kind of come into being. Well not a spaceship...but things like talking to a computer. Technology has come so far. it will be interesting to see in just 10 more years what we come up with.
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Old 01-22-2014, 05:34 PM   #17
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Sept. 21, Sat.

We got up and started getting ready. Amanda was kind of relaxing and then realized she needed to get ready. She had misjudged her time for some reason, so she had to rush around in the end.
Claire was bouncing off the wall waiting to go.
For some stupid reason, I forgot to pack myself socks. I have no clue how I forgot to do that, but I only had the pair I wore down with me. Amanda let me borrow a pair and I told her I would buy some while we were out for the day.
As we sat there waiting to leave, I mentioned that I was waiting for a phone call from Dad saying that he would meet us at the American Girl store. LOL!!!! If you read my Williamsburg report, you know that the morning we were going to fly out Dad decided to join us and called to let us know he would be driving to Williamsburg to meet us.
Well I guess the AG store is not quite as exciting as he never called.

We piled in Mom’s car once again and Amanda drove us to the mall. This mall has a lot of great stores ……BUT…….it’s an outdoor mall. I hate those kinds of malls. I can see if it was Florida, but in Ohio it’s either raining, snowing, too cold or way too hot. There are only a few days a year where the weather is comfortable enough to walk from store to store.
Amanda decided she would drop us off near the store and then she would find a parking spot, but as we drove around we could see the place was basically empty. We found a spot nearby and all walked together. Amanda said she has never been to the mall before opening and had no clue that parking could be that easy then. Sadly it was a drizzly day and we had to wear coats and umbrellas.

We arrived about 15 minutes or so before opening and there were a few others waiting already as well. We stood in a covered area next to the store and Claire looked through the window.



And this was what it was like outside. We got a little downpour before they opened.







Finally the doors opened and Claire and I made the mad dash to the back to get in line to have her dolls hair done. Something I did not know was the store had another entrance back there so there were already people in line when we got there. It took a few minutes for the workers to get things started, but we lucked out and got the last doll styling chair available, so our wait wasn’t too long.





It was really loud in there and hard to hear anything. Our girl didn’t talk very loud and I could barely hear her. Also I kind of felt like she was still new and wasn’t very skilled. I heard how they can really fix the hair up nice and sadly, Claire’s doll Marie Grace needed some fixing. Claire picked out a basic braid for her doll and our girl went to brushing the hair out.



She did the braid and it looked awful to me. Claire liked it though. But the girl couldn’t do anything for the curls around the face that she brushed out. She told me to put perm rods in it to recurl them. They sell them at the store, but being that I did hair for many years, I have a ton of them at home…..though I have yet to get them out and put them in to freshen the curls. Anyways…the braid was not all that nice and she handed me the doll and to look over, there was a strand of hair completely left out and I pointed that out to her. I knew that would drive me nuts all day and I think if I am paying for a hairstyle it should be done right, so she started by trying to tuck it in and gave up and redid the braid. This time it did look better, but still not at nice as I thought she would have done. But Claire was happy and that is all the counts. I asked Claire if she would like to pierce Marie Grace’s ears and she said no, so we paid for the hairstyle and then started the shopping.

While we were getting the hair done, our Aunt Laura, who also lives in Columbus kept texting Amanda. She wanted to have dinner with all of us that evening. That was fine, but it was made into a big production because she was giving Amanda choices and Amanda was stressing out. I kept saying I didn’t care. She could choose. She was going back and forth and looking at menus and I just said as long as there was something Claire would eat, we would make due with where ever. It shouldn’t have been stressful, but no one would choose a place. My only issue was that I only brought jeans along for the trip, so I couldn’t go anywhere too fancy. Of course Mom then said that she would buy me some nice pants to wear if needed. Ok then, I don’t care where we go! I think Mom and Amanda finally decided on a place and that crisis was ended.

After the hair was done and the dinner plans were made, it was time to shop! Claire took off with Amanda and within a few minutes had a stack of boxes she brought back to me. Claire knew exactly what she wanted as she had been circling things in a catalog for weeks. I just had to laugh. Skip had given her $100 to spend and she was making sure she used every dime of it. Her choices were odd to me, but what do I know. She picked out a pet dog, a pair of PJ’s for the doll, the crutches set, and a set for braces….and a few other things. I got a shopping bag and put them in there and we browsed around some more. We then looked at dolls. Claire had 2 already, Marie Grace and Cecile. I had the intention of buying her a new one while there, but never told her so. So we looked at dolls and I asked if she had a favorite and it came down to 2 that she said she liked best. I told her if she could pick one, which would it be and she said Caroline. I said, OK, go ahead and grab her and we’ll get her. She was beyond excited! This was a dream come true.
Mom and Amanda had been shopping around and Mom picked out a few things to get for all 3 granddaughters in the AG age range. She then came up to me and grabbed a bunch of boxes out of my bag and said she would pay for those as well. Ok then. Sure thing!
I then let Claire pick out some of Caroline’s outfits since she still basically had her spending money left.
Mom got in line to pay for her items and shortly after I did as well.

Claire was pretty darn excited with all her new purchases.



Of course she started asking when we would be going home so she could play with it all, but we informed her it would be awhile since we still had lunch at the bistro there to do as well as a bit of other shopping.



We then realized that we had charms with some of the outfits and we also had charms at home, but we didn’t buy a necklace for them, so I asked one of the clerks where I could find one. She told me they were at the counter and they are supposed to offer them to you when you check out, which never happened. But I decided while we were here I might as well and got back in line …which I forgot to mention was LONG! These lines weaved back and forth, but they did move fairly fast. I got the necklace purchased and we still had a bit of time before lunch so we did look around a little bit more.







The Bistro there is very small, with only a few tables. I have heard it is next to impossible to get a reservation unless you book very far ahead of time. I was lucky to have my sister’s reservation. When she went down, she didn’t have one and had to wait about 4 hours for an opening as a walk up.
While wasting time I had seen many people walk up and ask about getting a seat and the same thing was told to everyone, basically they were full but they might be able to get in after several hours. The thing is….NO ONE was in there. I personally would be annoyed to be told I had a wait and not a single person was even in there. Sure they might not be open yet, but if they did open earlier they would make a killing.
So we decided to go and check in early and we were seated right away. I think we were the first to be seated that day. And it was probably 15-20 minutes till anyone came in after us.



They have seats for your dolls too.









We had a look at the menu and ordered some appetizers and Amanda explained she could only eat twigs and berries and she found something that she could eat as well.
I will say the food is kind of pricey for what you get and I didn’t think it was over the top good either. I think the appetizers were better than the main course.

Marie Grace was even given a plate and cup in her size..





We had pretzel bites and quesadillas to start with. Very good, but not much to them.

Claire got chicken strips to eat and I think a smoothie or shake to drink. I think the rest of us went with water.



I don’t remember what the rest of us had, but I am thinking I had a burger. Again it was just OK. Nothing special, but it filled the belly and Claire was super excited about eating here. It was all about the experience. Sadly service was extremely slow. I am sure they could take twice as many people if they were faster. At times I actually wondered if we had been forgotten. And there weren’t many people there, though when we left the place was full…..but it only had like 10 tables.
The bill came and Mom treated us to the meal, which was totally unnecessary, but appreciated.

As we left I saw people checking in and they were told they were running almost an hour behind already. I am not sure how this could be? I mean we were in the first seating and people came in after us? But I guess the issue was probably that the service was so slow that none of us were leaving as fast as needed be.

We walked outside and it felt nice out and the rain had pretty much stopped now. There is this cute fountain right by the store and kids (and parents) were trying to figure out how to make the frogs spit water. I really don’t think it was manual, but there were a few that were convinced they were doing something to make them spit.





I told Claire to stop so I could take her picture, but she was giving me weird looks.





We then headed to the car to take the packages back. We passed a Lane Bryant on the way, so we decided to come back and take a look around. Mom quickly had things in her hands for Amanda and I to try on. I ended up getting a cute top and black pants. Amanda was trying on several things still so Claire and I headed off to Macys to get me some socks. I found a pack of socks for the same price one pair was at Lane Bryant’s there. I just needed basic black, white or brown socks and these were perfect!

We met back up and then headed back to Amanda’s. After all, Claire was antsy to play with her things.
She pulled everything out and took inventory and we laughed that her doll soon had a broken arm with cast, crutches and cast for a broken leg and braces on its teeth. We all lounged around and I had some work that had to be done and I had to call it in, so I headed off alone to do that. Sadly this vendor I was working with are a bunch of idiots and I ended up calling 3 more times over the weekend to get things squared away right.
I decided it was time for a nap so I slept in the bed and I think Mom and Amanda both dozed on the couches …and Claire …..well she just kept playing with her dolls.

After we all got a refreshing nap we got ready for dinner with my Aunt and Uncle. The place that was decided on was the Fish Market. Now if you read my Williamsburg family trip report, then you might remember we ate there the night before heading out. And during the night, several of us had cramps and were not feeling well. We all had lobster. So I vowed this time I would get something different.

We arrived a bit early and had to wait a few minutes before being seated.



Aunt Laura and Jan arrived shortly after us and we soon were seated.

I looked over the menu and Aunt Laura told me the lobster offered on special was actually a better kind as it came from colder waters. I was still leery about it, but in the end I decided to get it. Claire didn’t like her chicken strips last time as she said they tasted fishy …..I assume the probably deep fried them in the same oil as they do fish, so she went with some pasta alfredo.
Service again was a bit slow and my Aunt was having a fit. They eat here all the time and it’s not a cheap place and she expects great service. Finally our meals came out. My Aunt took one bite and sent it back. She said it was cold and she was very upset about that. Soon a manager came out and asked how the meals were. I did admit that mine was not hot either and Claire’s was basically cold. Though we both ate them anyways and they were tasty.



The manager apologized about it and credited all 3 of our meals. Now I never would have asked that or even said anything about it because it was good, just not warm. But when she asked me directly I told her the truth about both our meals. Amanda later told me her meals was cold too, but she didn’t want to make a scene.
The good news is, I was fine and never felt sick later in the evening either. I really did enjoy the meal, I just wish it was warmer and came out faster. Even bread was slow coming this evening.
We did end the meal with some sharkfin pie…which is just this piece of wonderfulness. It is described as
butter fudge ice cream, honey roasted peanuts, fudge, peanut butter, & oreo cookie crust. My meal came with it, so Claire and I shared and I think some others might have had a bite too. I think a few others might have gotten some dessert as well. Once again, I was stuffed beyond stuffed and ate way too much, but it was very good.
I had sat next to Aunt Laura and she had given me a few ideas of where to go the next day. I had decided before the trip that since we were staying a full day on Sunday we should check out some of the local attractions. I had a few lined up in my mind on what I wanted to do, but being it was a Sunday, timing might not work out so well. I knew the top of my list was the Franklin Park Conservatory as they had a Chihuly exhibit going on …and for those who do not know, he is the guy who did the chandeliers on the Magic and Wonder.

Jan paid for the meal and we all thanked him and then headed out on our way.
When we got back to Amanda’s we got comfy and found The Big Bang Theory on TV. I love this show and it was a marathon of episodes on so we watched several before calling it a night. It was such a nice day and a nice get away.
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Old 01-22-2014, 07:39 PM   #18
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Oh, my! American Girl overload! You are such a wonderful mom to take your daughter there. I am sure she was thrilled!

I love the Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. We don't have the opportunity to get it very often (the closest one to us is in Massachusetts) but I can make a meal from those enormous pieces of cake.

Thanks for sharing your trip!
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Old 01-22-2014, 08:17 PM   #19
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Quite an interesting day - this is the first time I've seen the AG experience described. Glad Claire had a good day.
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Old 01-22-2014, 08:30 PM   #20
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What a great day for your daughter at American Girl!!! I miss my daughter being that age! We have been to the store in NYC - they used to do a show there and it was great for the kids! We found the food to just be so-so also - but of course the kids think its great that their dolls can sit at the table! I think my daughter has most of the store from her time!!!
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Old 01-22-2014, 10:06 PM   #21
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Claire did quite well at the American Girl Store! The Bistro looked and sounded neat, but you'd think that they could be a bit more efficient. I wouldn't have made a scene, but I would not have wanted to eat cold food.
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Old 01-22-2014, 11:06 PM   #22
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Claire sure had a great time. Never knew that such things were available for dolls. We took two of our grand-daughters to the Cabbage Patch Hospital in Georgia many years ago. I know how much they enjoyed it and can see it on Claire's face.
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Old 01-23-2014, 01:58 AM   #23
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This is also a first for me, seeing a description of an American Girl experience, so I found it fascinating. Claire did very well - look at the size of the bag she's carrying compared to her!

Sorry about your meal - that's terrible when food isn't hot and I'm glad they dealt with it quickly and comped the meals.
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Old 01-23-2014, 10:10 AM   #24
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Oh, my! American Girl overload! You are such a wonderful mom to take your daughter there. I am sure she was thrilled!

I love the Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. We don't have the opportunity to get it very often (the closest one to us is in Massachusetts) but I can make a meal from those enormous pieces of cake.

Thanks for sharing your trip!
I only knew kind of how it worked since my sister Gail has gone to the Chicago one a few times and then this one once. So she gave me the low down on how it works.
We don't get to the cheescake factory too often either, but I do love it when we go.


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Originally Posted by shazza View Post
Quite an interesting day - this is the first time I've seen the AG experience described. Glad Claire had a good day.
Claire had an excellent day. it was a whole new experience for us. I am sure it won't be too long before she wants to go again. Though next time we won't be spending as much.


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Originally Posted by lfredsbo View Post
What a great day for your daughter at American Girl!!! I miss my daughter being that age! We have been to the store in NYC - they used to do a show there and it was great for the kids! We found the food to just be so-so also - but of course the kids think its great that their dolls can sit at the table! I think my daughter has most of the store from her time!!!
I hear the NYC store is really awesome. I think the bistros are just so so too all over. But the kids love it.

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Originally Posted by Cam22 View Post
Claire did quite well at the American Girl Store! The Bistro looked and sounded neat, but you'd think that they could be a bit more efficient. I wouldn't have made a scene, but I would not have wanted to eat cold food.
She made out like a bandit!!!
Dinner was ok, I mean I wish it was warmer, but it still tasted good.

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Originally Posted by rhinohunter View Post
Claire sure had a great time. Never knew that such things were available for dolls. We took two of our grand-daughters to the Cabbage Patch Hospital in Georgia many years ago. I know how much they enjoyed it and can see it on Claire's face.
I have heard of the Cabbage Patch Hospital too. I remember when Amanda was little they had just come out and she got one. She loved that thing.


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Originally Posted by chezp View Post
This is also a first for me, seeing a description of an American Girl experience, so I found it fascinating. Claire did very well - look at the size of the bag she's carrying compared to her!

Sorry about your meal - that's terrible when food isn't hot and I'm glad they dealt with it quickly and comped the meals.
I really never knew much about it till my sister took Alexis to the one in Chicago. I figured we would never make it out there, but since one is now at a place not so far away we had to go. You really have to go early on a weekend or go on a weekday as it gets so crazy in there.
For the amount of money that meal costs, they really needed to step it up. I am sure out food sat for a bit before the waiter went and got it to bring to our table. He was really nice, but so slow. I asked a couple of times about bread and he kept saying it was on its way, but it took a few times of reminding him.
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Old 01-23-2014, 10:14 AM   #25
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Sept. 23, Sunday

Again, today I wanted to get a fairly early start as I was hoping to do a few things before they closed. We got up and ready and headed out to the Franklin Park Conservatory. Amanda had been there a few times, but didn’t know the way that well so we both programed the address in our phones. She and Mom rode together and I drove separately. That way, if Claire and I decided to go off to another place, she and Mom could go back to her condo and Mom had planned to leave in the afternoon.

It was quite cold this morning so we bundled up. I wore a sweat shirt and my jean jacket. For some reason I thought most of the conservatory was outside, but it wasn’t luckily.

As we were driving on the expressway all of a sudden there was construction and the road was closed and veered us to the offramp. UH oh! Thankfully Siri was fast to recalculate and soon was spitting out new directions. Amanda’s phone must’ve been slower because I got into the correct lane to turn and Amanda had not yet, but at the last second she whipped over.
Getting to the Conservatory took us through some less desirable parts of town but we made it there safely.



We headed inside and then I remembered I forgot my phone in the car and ran back out to get that just in case.









“Claire, will you pose for me?” and this is what I get…..






My first Chihuly sighting.



There were a lot of fixtures like this as well. I think this was by Bruce Munro who was going to have a Holiday exhibit.



We paid for our tickets and used the restroom. I believe there was a coat room too and I think we all shedded a layer off as it was pretty warm inside.

These were on the ceiling and they were so neat looking. These were part of the holiday display …which Amanda did come back for right after Christmas and said it was all beautiful lit up.





The map we were given did give us an idea where some of the Chihuly pieces were and we set off to take a look.



They were very interesting and so pretty.























This was the inside of one of the bowls.



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Old 01-23-2014, 11:53 AM   #26
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Beautiful exhibit.
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Old 01-23-2014, 12:12 PM   #27
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Beautiful exhibit.
There really was some neat stuff there.
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Old 01-23-2014, 12:59 PM   #28
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What a beautiful exhibition - is it temporary or permanent?
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Old 01-23-2014, 01:17 PM   #29
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My goodness, Claire made out well at the American Girl store! It looks like so much fun there. Sadly, my DD (13 now) was never all that interested in her American Girl doll. She did have a good amount of "stuff". I should sell it on ebay!
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Old 01-23-2014, 04:41 PM   #30
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The conservatory and the exhibition are so beautiful!
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