A train. And some shopping.

While I wouldn't say that I looked forward to going back to school each year, there were two events leading up to the inevitable that I did look forward to: getting school supplies and going school clothes shopping. So a couple of weeks ago as we wandered the aisles of WalMart looking for pencils and erasers and paper, it was so fun to watch my girl select her little school box, scissors, markers, glue stick, papers, pee chee's... (all pink, I might add).

And after taking inventory of the kids' clothing, I came away with a modest list of things the kids need, and proposed to Ella that we go on a date to go "school clothes shopping" for her. She couldn't wait. Neither could I.

My plan was to head to the mall and spend one hour in one store and get a few things and then come home and let Ella show them off to daddy and the boys. But by the time Mark got off work and we received some unexpected out-of-town guests, it was past dinnertime and I hadn't even started dinner prep. Mark suggested that I take Ella to dinner first while he whipped up some macaroni and cheese for the boys. (Isn't he the best?)

So I figured we'd eat in the mall's food court (for efficiency's sake) before we went shopping. And then as we climbed into the van she said, "Mommy, I'm so excited. I've never gone out to eat with just you before!" And the way she said it made me think: she's thinking restaurant, not food court. (And now why wouldn't she be?) So I asked her, and she emphatically said, "Restaurant!" And not only that, but knew exactly what she wanted to order, too. A chicken burger with french fries. How's that for decisive?

So I drove towards a restaurant we hadn't been to in years, but I was pretty sure it had a train chugging around the walls of the restaurant, so I figured that would be a hit. And they had chicken burgers there, too.

Ella was wide eyed and appreciative of every detail, all night long. She commented about every single person she saw come in and get seated around us, and then pointed out the train going by, and then talked to me about that teacher (read: waiter or busser) cleaning off the tables, and how many dishes he was carrying, and then the train going by again, and then made observations about every one around us (and what they were eating if she could see their plate from her seat), and then the train again: "Look, mommy! It's going around the bend!"

Once when a couple got up from their table and walked by, she even exclaimed (to my chagrin): "That man has a BIG tummy!" Whereupon my eyes got wide and I checked to be sure the big-tummied man hadn't heard-- and I think he did not--, or at least he was gracious enough not to glare. I first assured her that I didn't think the man had heard what she'd said, but that while some people may indeed have big tummies, they don't always like it that they do; sometimes it makes them sad that their tummies are big. So I told her that if she thought that about someone it was best to keep the thought inside, because it might hurt someone's feelings if they heard you talk about their big tummies. She was very silent for a minute, processing it all, and then said happily, "But that man didn't hear me say that."

And that was all before we got our meal, and in between her coloring on the kids' menu she'd been given. And then when we got our meals, she was in such consternation as to what she should eat first: the fries? (too hot) the chicken burger? (also too hot) the corn on the cob, sitting atop a little dish with melted butter? (too hot) the applesauce? (with a scrunched up nose: "Here mommy, you can have that." the cookies? (a good place to start, apparently). And since they were tiny teddy grahams and the only thing besides the applesauce that wasn't too hot, I let her. And in between bites and temperature checks on her food, she continued to point out the train every time it went by and all the people and teachers ~smile~ around us and what they were doing.

By the time I'd finished my entire meal she had barely eaten 3 bites! I am SO not joking. She has been to a restaurant before, but she was just giddy.

And at one point I checked my watch and realized we'd been there nearly two hours, and encouraged her to finish up so that we could get some shopping done.

But then she had to use the Ladies' Room at the restaurant, and when we got to the mall it was after 8:00. It closes at 9:00, mind you. I got out my list and we begin to peruse clothes in the store and then she says urgently, "Mommy. I think I have to go poopy." Oh! Me: "Honey, we just went to the bathroom at the restaurant." Ella: "But I didn't have to go when we were at the restaurant." Aha. So we hurried across the mall to the restrooms, and by the time we got back to the store it was nearing 8:30.

Ella wanted pink everything. No surprise, there. When we got to the dressing room (absolutely her favorite part!) I had a pile of pink clothes over my arm. The pants she tried on were low-waisted so I said no on all of those, but we did head home with 3 long-sleeved shirts. (And only two pink ones. I convinced her to choose a blue shirt with little white hearts that had no trace of pink whatsoever!)

We stopped at DQ on the way home (at 9:00) to get dipped cones for us and the boys waiting at home. They were getting their pj's on, and had spent the evening happily over dinner: an orange themed dinner, I was told: with orange macaroni and cheese, orange juice, and orange sherbet ice cream for dessert. Then they played legos until we got home. And then they ate ice cream for the second time that night.

Ella tried on each of her shirts to the sheer delight of all of us. Daddy took pictures and complimented her, and even Isaac told her which one his favorite was. And he wanted to hear all about the dressing rooms. After I tried to explain what they were-- "You know, budders: sometimes you come in with mama when I try on clothes? There's a mirror in there and usually a bench?" Isaac said, "You mean, Ella went in there and tried on teeny clothes ?" So cute.

So that was our night of school-clothes shopping.

I hope all of you are having a great Saturday! Enjoy your Sabbath tomorrow!


  1. How cute, Stacy. I marvel at the things the kids think are the coolest (dressing rooms). I love your description of the whole restaurant experience. what a wonderful night for you both.

  2. OK, I'm melting over here-- that was just the cutest!! Such a sweet time with a sweet little girl!

  3. Oh man, I'm so looking forward to those days with my little Delaney. And I like how you handled the big tummy predicament. :) So cute.

  4. Sounds like a great time together! I love moments like those. My daughter is the same way, wanting everything pink. :)

  5. Oh the wonderful memories you both will have of your first back to school shopping trip!

    Your Ella is just too cute and you are a wonderful Mama.

    Glad that God blessed your time together...isn't He the best!

    mama to 6
    one homemade and 5 adopted

  6. This was so delightful to read, Stacy. :) Your girly sounds like a similar creature to mine. We just had a evening out together last night, too. Dinner and a Twila Paris concert! It's so nice to get a chance to focus on one at a time and be able to notice *every* little thing they do.


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