You see, Alaina's 6th birthday last month left the poor girl with three gift cards and some cash that was rapidly burning a hole in her darling, little pockets. Which I can totally relate to (as most ladies can), so I promised to help mend the situation. Because, well, that's what aunts are for.
And let it be known that I would never turn down the joyful opportunity to help spend some dough on sweet, darling little-girl things. For those things make my heart go pitter patter.
Anyway, this pint-sized gal was on a mission I tell you- a mission.
Undoubtedly girly, spirited and enthusiastic, yet sensible and indecisive... and easily engrossed by window shopping, and smitten over a great deal, Alaina is a girl after my own shopaholic heart.
She dressed up for the occasion in her new pink ruffled shirt, khaki bermudas, floral shades and light-up sneakers (she changed into newly purchased flip flops in the car before we actually arrived at the mall, which made me smile).
Her souvenir metallic 'Las Vegas' purse that I got her years ago was loaded up with the essentials: lip gloss, nail polish, all of her paper and plastic loot and a small, heart-shaped Disney princess coin purse to hold "my cents", as she called it.
First, we went to Wendy's for lunch. I ordered spicy chicken nuggets with ranch dressing, french fries and a Cherry Coke. And Alaina ordered, without hesitation, a vanilla Frosty, french fries and a JR. Bacon Cheeseburger.
I finished before her, and so she brought the remainder of her frozen treat (which she managed to consume only with a straw... talk about sucking power) into the car where she spilled it all over her shorts. She was mad about this and kept calling the Frosty "silly".
Then our travels took us to Dollar General where she spent her first gift card.
I bought an American flag set for our front porch, a package of 60-watt light bulbs and some sassy blue nail polish. Alaina bought a snap bracelet making kit, two baby dolls (she graciously gifted one of them to her little sister, Julia), some butterfly barrettes, a ballerina-esque ponytail holder, a glittery pink and purple baton, sparkly purple nail polish, and a pair of flip flops for the Fourth of July.
Michaels was our next stop. I needed some embroidery hoops for a craft project I've been working on for our freshly painted guest room. And while she did not have a gift card for this store, it didn't stop her from browsing and wanting to buy something... anything.
"Keri, can I use my cents to buy something?" she asked.
I told her to keep her "cents", and bought her a little pink felt wallet for her patience.
Then we arrived at the mall. Destination: Old Navy.
This was the most fun part. I love Old Navy. And while I did notice a few cute things for myself out of the corner of my eye as I was frantically hurried to the girls' section, I resisted.
Because I did not have a gift card...
So Alaina scoured the entire section at least three times, leaving no pink ruffle or purple sparkle unconsidered, and even had me running back and forth from the dressing room to find different colors and sizes for her.
She asked for my opinion, and I gave to her, which then formed the 'yes', 'no' and 'maybe' piles. She pondered price tags, what shirt would match which shoe, and what outfit she could wear to school versus to Grandma's house this Summer.
And only when she was absolutely, positively, 100-percent sure of what she wanted to purchase with her precious card did she buy this pink top, a pair of jean shorts, this striped tank, and another pair of flip flops.
It was quite the experience.
Finally, after I insisted that I had to take her home so I could get to work, she conned me into one last stop at one of the department stores. She had a whopping two dollars to spend on another gift card and a few dollars left.
She wasn't going to let it go (I can't blame her) so I agreed, and she picked out one last thing: A bright, flower-beaded necklace/bracelet set to match her new clothes.
AND THEN she was done, but that didn't stop her from window shop all the way to the mall exit...
On the way home she asked, "Uh, where are all of my cards, Keri!?"
"You spent them all. Remember?" I replied.
"But where are they?"
"The cashier threw the cards away for you because there was nothing left on them."
"You mean, I have nothing left?!"
"That's what you do on shopping sprees, Alaina... you spend your money. But whatever you do have left is in your purse."
A few, long seconds passed as she scrambled through her bag.
"Well, all I have now is my cents..."