Monday, September 30, 2013

Sophia-Centered Weekend

Who am I kidding? Most weekends around here are Sophia-centric. However, this one was even more than most... It was her birthday, after all.

Friday night, Grandmary came for birthday dinner of Chinese delivery. And here is Sophia perched in the window waiting for the food, for Grandmary and waving at her friends.

I made shortcake for her special birthday dessert, and she made a wish.

Then she played a post-dinner concert for all of us. I do enjoy watching her play.

Saturday was Sophia's party at BounceU in Chesterfield. Her crazy friends were happy to bounce around and celebrate Sophia.

Yet another delicious dessert and another wish.

Here's my seven-year-old in all her post-bounce and sugary glory. Very happy with her party and her friends. 

I love Sophia's birthdays almost as much as she does. Of course, I hate the passing years that come with them, but a great excuse to spoil my main girl is always welcome.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Happy Birthday, Sophia!

Happy birthday Sophia!

I love writing this letter every year. I get to think back about all the fun we had this year and think about all the ways you've changed, grown and stayed the same. I get to celebrate the person you're becoming as you get ready to celebrate your birthday. With presents.

Six was as big a year as you've had so far. So much independence and change! Stepping away from the comfort and protection of home and going out into the world in a big way on your own. It's been fun and scary for us to watch, but I am so proud of the way you carry yourself out in this world.

You are one of those people that all people find themselves searching out. You are so full of life. You're generous and kind, with your words and your actions. You speak up for yourself and others, even when it gets uncomfortable. That isn't easy for any of us, and I'm amazed every time I hear that you made that choice.

I've noticed lately that you are more attached to Daddy and me than you have been in a long time. I assume that it's because of all this newly found independence. I hope that you know no matter how much you flex your independence or how far you go on your own, we will always be here. You don't have to check in to keep us here, but we'll enjoy the extra snuggles while you do. 

The challenges that have come with six will continue forever. It's just part of growing up. You always need to know why. You question our (my) judgment. You have a different plan. I understand how that is. And, for the most part, we work through that together. Building trust between us. Developing the conversation that will get us through to 2024 (when you're 18) and beyond. 

I've enjoyed this year that you've been six. Adventure, comedy, drama: all of these have been part of our daily lives with you. I have no doubt that seven will be more of the same. I hope seven is lucky for you! Full to the brim with giggling with your friends, mud in your hands, excitement in your eyes. 

I love you, Sophia. I hope every wish you make comes true.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Starting Sophia's Birthday Week

Sophia was very happy to start her birthday week with our good friends in Farmington. It has been sooo long since we've seen them, that I had never even met this darling girl!!

The only activity away from the house was at the pond. Paul caught this fish but let Sophia reel it in and hold it. Marking her very first interaction with a bluegill.

This is how they walked home. I just loved watching them follow one another, discussing their most recent and their next adventures.

Yesterday, the three of us went to Eckert's Farm. That place is huge. And very fun. We picked some apples.

And Sophia rode some rides. The ticket system there is pretty reasonable really, in case you're interested in heading to Belleville for just such an occasion.

I think her week of birthday fun is more or less on hold until her actual birthday, which is Friday. The rest of the week promises to be more or less routine... Unless we can think of something exciting to throw in.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Silly Sunday

It was a beautiful day yesterday. We started it outside with some grass weaving. I helped braid, but the primary braider was Sophia.

She was in such a good mood that I got an actual smile out of her. Beautiful smile.

The middle of the day was filled with football watching, resting, card games, imagination games and such. We got a little bored but had determined we were not going out. So, what did we do? Face crayons, of course.

In case there was ever any doubt, Sophia marked me. "Clown."

We are very serious about our makeovers. Intensity suits our moustaches quite nicely, yes?

Frame it.

It's impossible to make Sophia look ridiculous. Not sure I'd really try, but seriously. That face.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dream Come True

I have been dreaming of this day since I was a little girl. I don't think it looked exactly like this. When I was on the back of a horse or messing around in the barn, I did not see myself living in an urban area, let alone in St. Louis. I didn't think I would have only one child and no dogs. Still, the part where I watched a child of mine climb on the back of a horse . . . that part was in the dream.

And that's just my dream. Sophia's been dreaming of this since, well, since she rode a pony on the fourth of July. Still, a long time for a nearly seven-year-old.

The day was even better than either of us hoped. Through a friend, we found a farm that is laid back, easy, full of dogs, horses, cats and happy girls. It's even in Illinois, so that part is about right.

This adventure started, as any adventure should, with new boots.

But the best parts happen when the boots get dusty. Sophia helped get her horse for the day, Karoly, ready for the ride.

She's even responsible for the tack. I was lucky to get a picture of Karoly with his eyes open. A good old horse, who used to be in Circus Flora, he's now less than energetic. A perfect starter horse.

Then it was off to the ring to get her first real taste of riding.

I don't know if you can see this or not, but it's the best picture I could get of her very first "I'm actually on this horse" grin and, possibly, prayer of thanks.

More smiles

She cuts a pretty fine figure on horseback. Says her ever so proud mama.

I look forward to many more (at least twice a month) afternoons at the barn. I'll sneak a sniff of horse neck on the sly and hope they don't notice...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sun and Music and some Yoga

LouFest rocked Forest Park this weekend. Erick and I were lucky enough to get to spend all weekend (well, as much as we wanted to, at least) there on our own, for the most part.

Saturday was hot. Humid and hot. So hot. The festival organizers had arranged for a free water bottle refilling station. That really saved all of us. I'm convinced. There was not a moment of the day that there weren't ten to twenty concert goers in line with one or two bottles for refilling. All the bands emphasized during their sets, "Stay hydrated, people!" It was not the kind of day that one messes around with that.

We did manage to find shade for a couple of sets. The only stage that had shade for the audience was the smallest stage. There were some good bands there, but the shade wasn't worth it to miss out on some of the other stuff.

Like this band, for example. Jukebox the Ghost. A great show. Entertaining, lively, a perfect cover of "Somebody to Love" right when they needed it. Performers. Their own music was incredible. And their most recent album, which we now own, lives up to the live experience.

Here's the thing about Saturday, though. We did not stay for Wilco, the main act of the night. In spite of all the water and the occasional shade, we were wiped out. We had a wonderful day, but the idea of forcing ourselves to stick it out through another two or three hours made me want to weep. We were asleep at 9:00. And it was glorious. I can't even pretend to regret that decision. "Make good choices!" is a phrase we always hold dear on weekends like these. And we did just that.

We did talk Sophia into giving it a try for a bit after my parents left on Sunday. Another great choice.

LouFest had a surprisingly large kid presence and a some fun, unique things for them to do. Plus, all kids 12 and under are free! And, as long as you're all right with your kids hearing an occasional f-bomb, then it's well worth the effort of getting out and in a crowd on a hot day. She loved doing yoga with this instructor. It was a lot of fun to watch. And less sweaty.

After we got Sophia home and ourselves back to a normal body temperature yet again, we returned for more great music. There were many incredible bands. Many, many that I would pay to see again on their own.

Another of my favorites, as I knew they would be, was Alabama Shakes. Their lead singer and the lady who put them all together is Brittany Howard. Her voice is stirring. Their group dynamics and musical instincts are just amazing. This is a band that works on every level.

Then The Killers closed out the night and the festival. I was looking forward to them, but not as much as Erick was. Next time, I'll be even more giddy than he was. They put on just an outstanding show. They knew what we wanted - a mix of old and new - and they gave it to us. So well put together. I expected a festival performance, but they went full out concert. It was great.

 There were lots of other memorable performances and moments. Great things about the festival's organization. The Mizzou game on TV at the beer tent Saturday. A quinoa and tomato salad that was cold and refreshing at just the right moment. But I think you've heard enough. Next year, I'll save you a spot on the blanket.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Play Date Chatter

This afternoon Sophia had a friend over to play. And chat. They had a magnificent time. And I had an entertaining afternoon listening to them. Sophia listened when her friend talked, but she was the one who felt particularly "share-y" today.

The afternoon started off with a look through Sophia's baby book. Always a favorite pastime of hers. Other topics covered this afternoon were: all three of her dead pets (two fish and a hermit crab), the Missouri Tigers, the Portland Timbers, her aunts, her singing career (five years in the making) and much, much more. She is very lucky to have friends who find her as interesting as she finds herself. Hopefully it stays that way.

I've been pretty fortunate in that area myself, so I assume Sophia will choose wisely as I have.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Holiday

We had fun this weekend. As we always do. But at least 33% more fun. Since we had another day in the weekend...

Most of the weekend was really spent relaxing. No pictures of that. Legos. Violin practice. Reading. TV. Playing. Pool.

We washed both cars. We do that about once a year. And it's fun for that reason.

My favorite part, probably, but not by much, was paddling a boat around the waterways of Forest Park.

Who could help having a good time with this kid?

We brought bread. At one point, she counted twelve ducks chasing our boat.

That made for a good time for the ducks. Spreading the love is the name of the game. Hope you all felt some love on your weekend with 33% more time.