Saturday was my niece's seventh birthday. My sister is out of town, so my niece, my brother-in-law, his mother, his aunt and her fiance (husband? I may have missed a development), my husband and I met for dinner at a Japanese steakhouse to celebrate. My niece chose the cuisine, evidently for the opportunity to stuff herself with shrimp. She's a shrimp-eatin' fool, that girl.
After dinner, my niece came back home with us for a sleepover (and to bake chocolate chip cookies, per her specification).
Taking a leaf from my friend Me's book, I'd decided to start a tradition with my niece of taking her shopping and letting her choose her own birthday gift. That was the plan for Sunday afternoon. Somehow I had failed to fully convey this to her, as evidenced by the following conversation:
Jane: Okay, let's bake cookies!
Niece: And then we can open presents.
Jane: What presents?
Niece: The presents you got me for my birthday.
Jane: I didn't get you any presents. Tomorrow we're going shopping and you can pick out your own presents.
Niece: You didn't get me any presents?!?
It took a little more explaining, but before long she had decided that we would visit Target in the morning to expand her already enormous collection of Littlest Pet Shop stuff.
We baked cookies until well after my niece's bedtime. She brushed her teeth, settled down into her sleeping bag and asked me to read a story. She hadn't packed any of her own, so I decided it was time I introduced her to the Oz books. I chose one of my many copies of The Wizard of Oz (which you can read in its entirety here) and read her the first chapter and part of the second before she started to nod off. I tucked it into her suitcase so her parents could read her the rest.
The next morning, we made our Target run and my niece chose a Littlest Pet Shop Digital Mouse. We went back home to release it from its plastic shell and I offered my niece the instructions, but she had it figured out in no time on her own.
She brought her toy with her as we drove to Lawrence, Kansas to meet my aunt for lunch at the Free State Brewing Company. After lunch, we shopped up and down Massachusetts Street for a while until we reached an enormous toy store. My niece spotted something in the window that got her very excited, and beelined into middle of the store before we even realized she'd taken off.
I followed her and found out the source of her excitement: a big bin of Ugly Dolls. I had seen Ugly Dolls online, but assumed that they were only ever purchased by graphic designers as cubicle decorations. I'd considered buying them for my niece and nephew, but had decided they were too weird. Boy, was I wrong.
My niece knew all their names and took a good 10 minutes deciding which one she wanted after I told her I'd be happy to get her one as an additional birthday gift. (Up to that point, I'd only bought her one cheap toy anyway.) She looked them over one by one and finally selected Icebat. An excellent choice, I thought.
Once she had Icebat, she was over the whole shopping thing. I almost stopped at Eangee Home Design on my way home to purchase a jellyfish light that had caught my eye, but decided I could always get it later.
I dropped her off so she could go to a 5:00 p.m. soccer game, headed home and took a nice nap with the cats before having dinner with my husband and getting caught up on an entire week's worth of TiVo'ed entertainment.
I didn't get any housework done this weekend, nor did I work on songs, catch up on laundry or even cook a meal at home. It was all worth it, though.