A mother makes her daughter's dream come to life with a getaway to remember—for both of them

My girlfriends and I are forever swapping tales of the triumphs and tribulations of our smart, sweet, sassy daughters. After all, we were once (and maybe, still are!) smart, sweet, and sassy ourselves.

So much is different for today’s girls. But just as we once had dolls to see us through, our daughters have American Girl dolls. These dolls do more than celebrate diverse interests; they allow our daughters to see and be themselves and dream big.  The BeForever’s named dolls depict past and current history through spunky characters like Josefina Montoya from 1824, Rebecca Rubin from 1914 and Julie Albright from 1974. These are characters with brains, courage, and spirit—dolls much like today’s girls.

The backstories of the dolls in the BeForever line fascinate my eight-year old, Brianna, who is obsessed with American Girl—and even more so since she visited her cousin, Ella, in Alpharetta, Georgia and they hung out for hours in the American Girl store. Brianna has collected several of the dolls; her favorite is Kaya, a Nez Perce girl who has a fondness for nature.

Because our city doesn’t have an American Girl store, Brianna’s been clamoring for a return trip to buy Kaya’s accessories and enjoy the excitement of the immersive store experience. I decided to surprise Brianna with a girls’ trip to Georgia over spring break where we would meet up with her cousin and my sister.

She threw her arms around me with delight, and rushed off to call Ella. My sister, Caroline, was especially excited because Ella recently got a hearing aid, and was a little bummed about the “hardware.” A special excursion like this with her mom, aunt, and cousin would help take her mind off of it.

An elated reunion

When we met up in the Atlanta airport, it was hard to tell who was more excited: the moms or the daughters.

I hadn’t seen Caroline for nearly a year, so we squealed nearly as loud as our girls when we saw each other. The girls greeted each other and their dolls: Brianna and Kaya, and Ella and Samantha Parkington.

Brianna noticed Ella’s hearing aid Caroline had previously mentioned and said, “I like it, Ella. It’s pink and cute!”

Ella didn’t appear to entirely agree, but graciously responded with, “Thanks.”

When we got to our Alpharetta hotel, there was a special check-in just for us because we booked the American Girl Store Experience Package. Along with our deluxe accommodations, which featured pink bedding and towels, the girls received an American Girl book and doll bed to keep.

The desk clerk explained that since it’s a weekend-long experience designed just for American Girl fans, there would be an American Girl movie, beanbag chairs, pink lemonade, and popcorn.

“Oh and there will be milk and cookies for you and your doll every night in your suite,” she added with a smile.

Caroline and I beamed. We may not still play with dolls, but we remember the excitement of a slumber party.  Turns out girls do still wanna have fun: ours spent the evening giggling, having pillow fights, and posing for selfies.

All dolled up

First up on our to-do list the next morning: the American Girl store at nearby North Point Mall, where I’d made reservations for lunch at the in-store American Girl Bistro and salon appointments for our daughters’ dolls.

When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by our personal shopper, a young woman named Mandy. She asked Brianna and Ella a few questions and determined what they each were looking to find. And we were off!

While Brianna and Ella wanted literally every single thing in the store, Mandy helped them narrow things down. Brianna settled on a fringe skirt to coordinate with Kaya’s traditional American Indian outfit, plus a mare and saddle. Ella got a new friend, Lea. Lea is the 2016 Girl of the Year doll who wears a multicolored, strappy sundress, which also conveniently comes in Ella’s size.

We took a shopping break for our dolls’ salon appointment. When Mandy came in to check on us, she overheard Ella complaining about her hearing aid.

“I’ll be right back,” she told us.

A moment later she was back with the perfect accessory. Ella leapt from her seat beaming when she saw what Mandy had pulled from a shelf. It was a pink-and-white hearing aid for Samantha.

I can’t be certain what Ella was shrieking exactly, but I think it was something like, “Oh my gosh! It looks just like mine! I can’t believe it! Thank-you-so-much! I love it!”

Caroline’s smile was as wide as the Cheshire cat’s.

Wrapping up

With the dolls’ hair poofed and polished, we returned to the store for more browsing. The girls absolutely loved the bistro experience. The menu had lots of delicious choices such as cheese quesadillas, chicken tenders, and pizza, and their choice for dessert was unanimous—one Biggest Banana Split Ever, please! The menu’s claim that it serves 4-6 people was correct—all of us shared it. I thought it was beyond cute that their dolls got their own chairs to sit at the table with us, and their own miniature cups and saucers. Brianna and Ella had a blast pretending to feed their dolls as we ate, and I swear I saw smiles from the dolls when they “tried” their bites of banana split.

When we returned to the hotel, the girls excitedly relived their day in conversation.  As I watched them, I happily imagined the next time we’d be back here, and surely we will!

Find more ways to play as a family in Alpharetta.

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