On Saturday, our wee baby girl turned EIGHT freakin' YEARS OLD, guys. Can you believe it?! I can't. My baby. Is old. Which means I'm old. Gosh!
By the way, blue, because her favorite color is now blue. Gone are the days of all pink-and-purple all the time. Le sigh.
Also by the way, because I'm thinking of it, she's the youngest kid, yet she's the biggest by quite a bit. Chloë is the size of a 6½-year-old and has the maturity to match, whilst Sophia's maturity matches her chronological age. It's quite an interesting dynamic, and by that I mean... frustrating entirely too often.
Anyway. Saturday, Sophia's birthday, was a beautiful day. Just gorgeous. And we had a blast. But first, there were the presents:
Grandma (Rob's mom) sent a jumprope, headbands, puzzles that got put together immediately by all three kiddos, and a doodling book that she's been working in for hours on end each day since it came;
Aunt Gail (Rob's sister), a new Scentsy consultant, sent her a Scentsy kitty which, as you can see, was met with much excitement; and,
on Friday night, she not only got a card with money from her Grandpa (Rob's dad, along with his stepmom), but our realtor stopped by to take the lockbox off our front door and, upon learning it was Sophie's birthday, whipped a $20 bill out of her wallet and gave it to the extremely delighted child, amidst our protests! So we took her to Wally-World and let her have a little shopping spree. What fun that was!
But back to Saturday, her special day... We were headed out to do a plethora of mystery shops that I'd lined up for the weekend, but the first one didn't pan out (and none of the rest 'cept one did, in the end), so we ended up in Miami's Bayside Marketplace. In all my years living in Miami the first time around, I'd never made it to Bayside, which turned out to be a feast for the eyes and ears. What a bizarre bazaar! I instantly loved it.
The kids meandered around for a while, looking at this and that, before they happened upon the family bikes for rent. We didn't get a chance to ride that day, but we've done it before and I'm sure we'll do it again one day. Or have we? I can't remember, now that I think of it, when we actually did, so maybe I just made that part up.
After that, Sophia got to ride in the carousel, choosing of course to sit in the spinny-thingy that she loves so much, for the mystery shop portion of our visit to Bayside. I'd have let the other kids go, too, but fundage is at a premium right now and I could only let one kid go. Being the birthday kid, choosing Sophie was a no-brainer.
She also got to ride the train, as part of my evaluation, but she didn't sit here for long, oh no, she didn't!
Instead, she climbed into the caboose (after determining that she wasn't allowed to ride in the engine car) and pretended she was a caged lion at the circus. Silly girl!!
The ticket seller gave me a free punching balloon for her birthday. I don't know about you, but I love a punching balloon, and I'm pretty damn good at it, too. Much better than these goons kids of mine, but Jack is getting to be the best of the bunch at it. Sophia and Chloë, er, not so good...
That ^^^ is what I had to do after the mystery shop portion of our visit. And so, I did.
Since we were at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant for me to GO, the kids were posing outside in Forrest's photo-op bench and shoes for Rob. Silliness.
Across from the restaurant was this enormous banyan tree, which is my second favorite kind of tree, I think, after palm trees. This one was about 100 years old, though they can live to be about 1,000 years. Did you know that when the branches reach down all the way into the ground, they grow into new roots of the tree? Isn't that amazing?!
Chloë had fun climbing up into the tree, and then Rob joined her. He climbed quite a bit higher, but not as high as he'd wanted to go before he got stuck with slick branches from the thunderstorm we'd gotten earlier that day. Indeed, the flooded roads are what stopped me from being able to get to my first mystery shop on time.
After climbing the banyan tree, we stopped at Häagen-Dazs to get ice cream for Sophia. Again, I couldn't afford to get treats for all three kids and still do my mystery shops (which I later ended up abandoning anyway), and I had a coupon for one small kid's cone, so Sophia got it. She did share with her brother and sister, but Jack ended up crying about the ice cream and made me feel like complete crap. He knows we don't have a ton of money and that the birthday kid is the one who gets somewhat spoiled on their day, just like he did, but it's still hard to understand and accept at 10 years old... so I told him and Chloë they could each spend a dollar or two on something at the market. Again, ::sigh::
Chloë was simpler, as usual, as she's relatively easy to please and Jack is impossible. She wanted her fortune told, so we spent her dollar on that. Sophia ended up getting her fortune read, too. Except it was funny, because Chloë hit the button for Spanish, and the fortune teller switched to Spanish for all of his mumbo-jumbo, of which I undertood not a word this time. Bah.
Jack's tastes aren't cheap - everything he wants has wheels or is some mode of transportation or another, and he pointed out things that cost anywhere from ten bucks to $200! Um, no. I said a dollar, Jacky darling...
The girls were in heaven when we found this corner of a toy store decked out in Hello Kitty, well, everything! Sophia urged me to get the HK steering wheel, but I passed. Hee. I could just see me driving Penelope around with that on it, right?
In a shell shop, Sophia put a dried-out sea star on her ear and pretended to be a mermaid. That's another thing she loves - mermaids. She did look pretty with it there, I have to say.
Across the hall, we headed into the Brookstone store to see if there was anything (bahahaa) Jack wanted and could afford. I knew we wouldn't, but I humored the lad. We all found various massaging apparati that we all desperately wanted - and needed, you see, because we still don't have our household goods from the move and have been sleeping on tile floors for almost 2 weeks now. Talk about your aching bones!
Finally, we found a candy store - which is seriously the last thing Jack really needs - and he got some Pop Rocks and a push-up thingamajig to spend his buck-fitty on. Ah, well. Remind me to call a dentist tomorrow, m'kay?
Right after that, the kids were begging to go to the beach, which we'd promised this weekend, but first, Sophia had to dance to the salsa and merengue music playing outside by (I'm guessing) a local band. She stopped after I took this picture, came over to me, and whispered, "I'm kind of embarrassed, Mom. I don't know how to dance in public." So cute!
And then, there was a fountain as we made our way over to the merengue band, so of course I had to fish three pennies out of my satchel to let them each make a wish. Rob and I abstained for once, though we usually join in and toss a coin or two.
At the bandstand, there were plenty of listeners up front and center dancing to the music. Good times, good times, and no, I'm not near brave enough to have joined them. Not in a million years, though I like to listen and watch!
On our way over to the parking garage, Sophia spotted a man twisting up balloon animals. She ran over and told him it was her birthday, so he asked her to pick a color and tell him what she wanted. He didn't speak much English, so she just dove into his bucket of balloons and fished out a blue one, asking for a dog. He whipped it up in no time flat, then made the sign of the cross and wished her many blessings for her birthday. Nice.
A pretty smile and a blue poodle. A bloodle?
At last, we made it out to Key Biscayne. First stop was Diver's Paradise, the dive shop where I used to work back in the day, to visit "the Omars" who own it. Only, Omar Jr. wasn't there because his wife had just had a baby boy, and Omar Sr. wasn't there because of the awful diving weather earlier in the day. Bummer; it's a looooong, long drive out to Key Biscayne from Homestead, so I don't know when I'll get out there to see them again. I will, though - count on that - but probably not before we get a dive in on the other end of the Florida Keys.
Y por fin, we made it to la playa. Those are my buried feet at the bottom of the picture; I'd have shown you my piggie toes, but my toenails aren't painted, and once, in college, a guy told me that girls' feet are ugly if the toenails aren't painted. Hee!
Sophia was the only one who'd kept her bathing suit on after (we thought) the thunderstorms altered our plans to go to the beach, so she plunged RIGHT in the water and had herself a birthday ball. That, right there, is a happy, happy 8-year-old.
Somewhere between the Sophie picture and this one, I'd dropped my iPhone and my keys into the water. Only, I didn't realize at the time about the keys, since I was so intent on rescuing my phone to get the next great picture. Hm. We'll revisit that later. See the muck behind Chloë, where Jack is? It was gooey and goopy, and she ran through it shouting, "EW! EW! EW! EW! EW!" in a very Chloë-like way.
Rob found this whorling shell - a mini conch, mayhaps? - in the low tidal zone, and thus began a collection between him and Sophia. They found many a cool shell that day.
And then, someone found a crab in the water, and all the Latinos ran screaming away, yelling (in Spanish) that it was poisonous and would kill them. I laughed and said it wouldn't, so my girl Sophia was the first one to dive back in and check out the crab. The Latino children kept running over, screaming, and running away, in a most amusing - albeit histrionic - way.
A while later, I managed to find this itty-bitty hermit crab walking in the shallows, so I gave the kids an on-the-spot lesson about the crabs, their unique anatomy, and how they make their living.
After that, Sophia hollered to me, "Look, Mom! I'm a water skipper!" and then she proceeded to run, splashing, across the top of the water like a little beetle. She's great fun, that kid.
Finally, Jack decided to brave the muck. He rolled up his pant legs, with Daddy's help, and made his way over to me. In this picture, he was telling me there was no WAY he could manage to stay in the muck and water...
...but pretty soon, realizing the fun that was to be had in the calm waters of Hobie Beach, he got over himself. I love, love, looove to see this boy have a good time.
And there's me, freckling up like a freckly frecklepuss. Check it out, I have hair again!
True to form, Sophia made a new friend. She does this absolutely everywhere she goes. The thing I loved most about this instance, though, was that Ana didn't speak a lick of Spanish, and yet Sophia still managed to pal around with her. They talked through me. Chloë and Soph asked a billion questions of Ana, and we learned that her favorite color is red, her favorite food is fried rice with eggs, she's 8 years old, and she has a pet bird.
Meanwhile, Rob was walking around, solo for the most part, on the far end of Hobie Beach. I loved watching him connect with nature and enjoy himself. I think he's home. At last, it's his turn to shine, and he will do it well, I know.
After a while, an ice cream truck sung out its offerings on the shore, and Ana dashed immediately over to her mother to ask for some helado. Naturally, so did my trio of hooligans. Remembering that Sophia had already had Häagen-Dazs that day, I threw sense to the wind and decided to make it right with Jack. So they all got ice cream. Though wouldn't you know it, three bites into his Spongebob sherbet, Jack decided his was too cold, and he didn't want it anymore. The little shit!
Sophia and her new amiguita, Ana, enjoying ice cream together wordlessly
After ice cream, Sophia apparently channeled Brookstone to give her sister and brother foot massages in the water. Jack was too squeamish to let her rub sand on his feet, though, so he ran squealing away as soon as I snapped this Instamography.
Not long after that, the sun was setting for the day, and, knowing our shark friends like to come closer to shore at that time of day, we rounded up our little'uns and started to head toward the sand. Satisfied, we were, that a full day was had, so no complaints ensued.
Sophia and Ana hugged good-bye, promising to see each other soon (though we have no way of reaching Ana). Somehow, these flowers materialized out of nowhere, and Ana gave them to Sophie, wishing her a very happy 8th birthday. Despite the ice cream stains and sand on her chin, I still think she looks beautiful here.
Immediately, Sophia decided to play "bride" and, turning around, threw the bouquet to her sister to catch. The flowers went all over the place, the girls went under water to catch them, and I had myself a good belly laugh. Hence the blur.
We got up to the arena, and Sophia dropped down to make sand angels. Of course! Who wouldn't want their wet and sand-covered birthday girl in their nice Honda Odyssey, ya know? I didn't care. It's such a messy Penelope right now, and I need to clean it out anyway...
Once we got back to Penny, I realized that I didn't have my keys. What? The doors were unlocked, too, so I scoured the front seat for them, to no avail. I sent Sophia back to where we'd left our shoes, but soon I realized that I had never put my keys down there in the first place. That's when I remembered dropping my phone. Just as a couple holding hands strolled by, I dashed down to the shallow water, and there were my keys, half-buried. I shouted, "I FOUND THEM!" to Sophia, and the male half of the couple exclaimed, "Wow! You were so lucky!" Indeed.
Sophia mentioned something about her birthday cake being the last thing she needed to make her day complete, and that's when I remembered that, oh yeah, I'd made no plans for a cake! Oops. We stopped halfway home at the Publix where I worked in college, and I chatted up Little Richard in the produce department while Sophia picked out some strawberries. My girl loves her some strawberries like nothin' else. She always tries to find the biggest one. Look at her! She's such a goose.
It was so big, she pretended she was a pig with an apple in her mouth. Jack wanted to cook her, but that's where I drew the line. I know, I'm such a good mom.
The berries were super juicy, and I had absolutely NOTHING of my cake-making schtuff to work with, so I did the best I could. Sophia didn't care a wit. She said it was the most beautiful cake ever, and she loved it. Who could argue with that?
I had a bite, but it was one bite too many. On the other hand, Sophia has managed to sneak about 2/3 of the cake since last night, so I guess the chocolate cake-and-strawberry frosting combo (which Jack said tasted like Mentos gum) was too her liking.
And that, my friends, is how you do a birthday 'round these parts.
Thanks for stopping by our little corner of the blahgisphere. Hope you'll stick around.