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2004-12-04 - 3:05 p.m.

"Hi Honey, do you want to meet Emma and me for an early dinner at Cheesecake Factory?" This is a sentence you will not hear me utter again any time soon. In fact, I think the next time I will enter a sit-down restaurant with Emma will be when she is old enough to read the menu herself. It is not that she is not cute or good, oh she is. She charms the hostess and the waitress with smiles and her new laugh. I should start by saying that before you can even sit down with Emma, you have to clear off most of the table around her and then struggle to get the highchair buckle fastened. This is before you have even sat down. She "helped" Emily (our sweet waitress) by holding her arm while she tried to write down our order. The other hand was reaching the entire time for Emily's pen. We ordered french fries, toast and bananas for Emma. She ate bites of her crackers and fruit puffs from home. I won't say that she did not try some of the other food, I think I saw 2 or 3 bites of french fry pass her lips. Of course, this means that 23 french fries ended up on the floor. Buttered toast (which she normally loves) was squished in her fat hands and promptly dropped on the floor. Pieces of banana rubbed on her pants and dropped on the floor....getting the picture yet??!! I spent half of the meal wishing I carried around a portable broom and dust pan and the other half of the meal grateful that someone else had to clean up the mess. I quickly discovered that Emma's newfound ability to toss things extended beyond Fisher Price Little People. Thankfully, Pedro Martinez she is not, so most of the projectile food products stayed within our area. Most of this fun occurred before our meals had actually arrived. Because you have to keep most of the table around Emma cleared, I wound up with about a 2x2 area in which to balance my dinner plate, Emma's french fry plate, the plate that held soggy pieces of toast and an extra set of silverware. Emma likes to reach for things these days, she really puts her all into it, stretching her arms farther and farther each time. Of course, she just had to have my dinner plate (filled with the VERY large Cheesecake Factory portions). So, I attempted to eat while having a death grip on the side of my plate and playing keep away with Emma. Has the fun started yet? I will say that the only positive to dining out with my child is that it could make a heck of a diet trick, since I think I only actually consumed a 1/4 of my food. By the time the check arrived, I felt like I should give our poor waitress Emma's college fund as a tip just for the mess we left behind. And to think, this was all my idea!

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