This weekend, we celebrated Hallie’s birthday with a little trip to Owensboro. That’s right, Owensboro. The dream trip of every little soon-to-be 9 year old girl, right? Let me back up and explain how a trip to Owensboro turned into a “magical” birthday….

Last year, we took a trip to Big Splash Adventure in French Lick Indiana. We lived in the water park, from the moment it opened to the moment it closed. In between multiple trips up the stairs and down the slides, Hallie decided to chill with me by the outdoor pool for a moment- take a breather.

We started up a conversation with the lady sitting next to us, who happened to be the manager of a diner. Her name was Teresa. Hallie asked her what kind of food they made, and she proceeded to tell us about their famous pancakes that ‘fall off the edge of the plate’. Hallie’s eyes got about as big as a plate, as she tried to imagine a pancake of that magnitude. But Teresa assured us that it was true, they really did fall off the edge of the plate.

We chatted with Teresa for a few more minutes, then decided it was time for some more laps around the lazy river. As we said goodbye, she handed us a few ink pens with her restaurant’s name on it- Dee’s Diner. The pens ended up staying in our car, as those back up emergency pens you always need. And every now and then, conversation would turn to Dee’s Diner. One day while we were driving, discussing what to do for dinner, Hallie suggested that we go to Dee’s Diner. That’s what sounded good to her. We informed her that it was 3 hours away, and she disappointedly said “Oh, I didn’t know that.”

If you happen to have a daughter or know any 8 year old girls, you’ll know that their attention span can be lacking at times. Same is true with Hallie. I typically wait for her to tell me that she wants something on three different occasions before it goes on the birthday list. If not, that one thing that would change her life forever may turn into a dumb idea the next day. Or a completely forgotten idea.

But a visit to Dee’s Diner never left her brain. Hallie continued to bring it up, even looked it up online, showing us pictures of the pancakes flowing over the side of the plate. So we decided that a trip to Owensboro was in order. We simply told her we were doing something for her birthday but gave her no details. We called Dee’s Diner and told them the reason or our visit, booked a hotel with a pool, and headed out. It wasn’t until we were on our way that we told her of our plan.

Saturday morning, as we rolled into the restaurant, we were overwhelmed with the show out for Hallie’s birthday. They had placed “Honk, it’s my birthday!” signs by the road, decorated her a table with all kinds of pink birthday stuff, and provided a tiara and a sash. She really didn’t know what to think when she walked in the door, but had that quiet ‘I can’t believe this is happening’ smile on her face.

And it only got better. Teresa asked us to follow her back to the kitchen where we met the one and only Dee. She wished her a happy birthday and informed her that she got to make her own pancake, that she would teach her how to flip it without breaking it. Hallie was in heaven. She got a lesson in pancake flipping and managed to turn the giant thing over all by herself!

Then she was ushered to the decorating table, where she covered her pancake in strawberries, whipped cream, powdered sugar, and sprinkles. As she walked her own pancake out to her table, the servers and several patrons all cheered at her amazing pancake. The pancake was huge, and very literally fell over her plate. I cut up a very small portion of the pancake, assuring her I’d cut more up when she needed it. That thing was so big though, that she barely made a dent in the cut up portion.

When we had arrived, Teresa told us that their pancakes were magical. And as Hallie enjoyed the birthday attention and the delicious pancake, she quietly said “This really is magical….I can’t believe they did all this just for me.”

She left with a Dee’s Diner t-shirt and cup…and wore that tiara the rest of the day. Even as she ran around a playground on Ownesboro’s riverfront. It was definitely a success- thanks entirely to the amazing staff at Dee’s Diner. In the midst of the craziness in our world right now, it was so refreshing to see some genuinely caring people take their time and resources to make a little girl from out of town that happy.

And as I looked around the restaurant at the other employees and those eating their breakfast, I could tell that it did a lot of good for them too. Huge smiles were all around, everyone stopped and slowed down to be in the moment with us.

I know I had a huge smile myself, to see Hallie that happy over something as simple as a pancake. And it reminded me to slow down and help others find the thing that warms their hearts. In a nutty, COVID world, we could all use a little help finding and savoring our pancakes that fall off our plates.


PS- If you’re anywhere near Owensboro, make sure you check out Dee’s Diner for breakfast or lunch. It’s definitely worth the visit!

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