You know how last time I wrote I said Sophie was reading, but I wasn’t really sure how much because I rarely heard her do it? Those days are over, people. She’s reading to us all the time now, and very proud of herself. She enjoys reading The Foot Book backwards just for a lark (“feet air the in up!”), and she can also carefully work her way through reading me a chapter of the Boxcar Children. We are all pleased about this…I may have gotten into a discussion of her reading with the guy who works in the children’s department at Phoenix Books in Burlington, because he understood my excitement. :)
Other than reading, we’ve had a great Halloween and spent a lot of time outside this month, playing in the leaves and hiking and so on while the getting is still good. There was even a Halloween bike ride – 300 people came out in costume to bike around the city and then meet up at our favorite coffee shop for a little afterparty. It was great!
Sophie wore her lion costume for the bike ride. Here she is being very cat-like and chasing a ribbon.
Ryan (a ghost) and Sophie the lion ready for the bike ride
For trick or treating, Sophie was Alice when she grew huge inside the white rabbit’s house. She and Ryan made a very elaborate cardboard house, and it looked awesome. She had a hard time actually wearing it, though, so for a lot of the night she was just Alice. With a coat on. But hey, it was still a great idea. ;)
Here is one more shot so you can see the cucumber frame on the side. Alice fans will understand why Sophie really wanted this detail included. :)
Here are some other photos from the month:
Three 4 year olds who did a longer hike that we'd planned (2.5 hours!) and came out smiling. And also tired and hungry. :)
Studying a leaf she pulled out of her clothes. :)
On the merry-go-round with Ryan at the Shelburne Museum
A thing I am kind of proud of: when Sophie is outside lately, she likes to find a big stick, poke a tree with it, and pretend that she is Yoshimi battling the pink robots (the tree is the pink robot). I think that’s a level-up right there. (For the uninitiated, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” is a Flaming Lips song.)
Another thing Sophie is loving right now is art. She is doing the art class that she did last spring again, and it is super fun. One of her favorite things at home is to have Ryan draw her a picture (or me, in a pinch ;)), and then she colors it. On her own, she started adding in speech bubbles. Speech bubbles! That may also be a nerd level-up. The first one she did was in this picture Ryan drew of Peter Pan, crying about his shadow. Sophie drew Wendy under him as if he had sat on her by accident, and the speech bubble says “OOOOH”. Poor Wendy. Sophie thought it was a funny joke though! She also added some pretty alarming teeth because she does that on most of her pictures of people. And then she asked Ryan to write “Boy, why are you crying” at the top, and Sophie added in (a correct spelled) “SHE SAID”. She isn’t writing very much yet, I think because she’s been focusing on reading… so those speech bubbles were a surprise! But now that she is reading, writing is starting to come just a bit. She did her first phonetic spelling a day or two ago…she tried to write “Sebastian” – SBSJN.
A very strange art collaboration, featuring baby's first speech bubble. ;)
Sophie and her mantis
Sophie’s praying mantis died a few days ago. He has lived with us since he and his thousands of brethren and sistren hatched in June. Sophie loved the mantis and thought of him as her pet, and she was of course very sad about his death. She communicated that if he was not here, she was afraid she would forget him, and I told her I took some pictures of him when he was alive that she could remember him by. So in honor of remembering the mantis, for Sophie’s sake, I am sharing this photo. He was a fascinating and sort of gruesome creature, and Sophie really loved him.
I suppose with this: we went to Disney World! It was, as you might imagine, Sophie’s first time…and it was really great. I have a bazillion photos, but I will try to show restraint in making this post.
We got not one, but TWO audiences with Alice. Once with the white rabbit. It was pretty much amazing.
These were possibly the most emotional moments of the trip for all of us. Sophie was so happy, and watching her have this little dream-come-true moment was just so sweet. The first time, I think we all got a bit teared up, Sophie included. She had these long, relaxed talks with Alice each time, got her picture taken, and then came stumbling back to us, sort of breathless and stunned. The second time, when the white rabbit was there too, she came back and asked me to pick her up. I did, and we asked her how it was. She said “It’s a lot to take in.”
Sophie's first and possibly last rides of the trip were on Spaceship Earth. :)
For the first day or two, she was pretty much stunned and so overwhelmed she couldn’t even verbalize her experiences very well: “That was fun,” she would say very seriously, and then we’d move on to the next thing. Then there was a day or two where she was pretty exhausted, so we went out in the morning and spent the afternoon hanging around the hotel room, playing in the pool, and so on. She got her stride in the last few days, and then she relaxed a bit and started to be able to talk about what she was enjoying and feeling and so on. It was an interesting process to watch. The first day, her face was especially fun to watch – it tended to look a bit like this all day:
Taking in her first "It's a Small World" ride!
Her favorite rides were Peter Pan, The Haunted Mansion, the Little Mermaid ride, and Pirates. Each of those got done at least 5 times. She also really liked the Nemo ride, Spaceship Earth, and It’s a Small World. She was really excited about the Muppets, but found the 3D presentation a bit uncomfortable (she told me she knew it was just pretend, but her brain didn’t like it when things came pretend-close to her face. Which, you know, makes sense.) She likes to recite the Haunted Mansion, and if she’s in the right mood she will do an entire, detailed walkthrough description of the Peter Pan ride.
Another awesome thing – the food aspect went very well. While I had been reassured that Disney was great at handling food allergies, it was really quite a relief to see how relatively easy it was and how comfortable we felt. At table service restaurants, the chef would come out and talk to us about what Sophie would like to eat and they would make changes if necessary in order to keep her safe. They were super aware of cross-contamination issues, which always makes me feel a zillion times better. At the counter service places, they had “allergy binders” with all the ingredients for everything, and the allergy binder keeper person would personally place and carry out your order to keep it from becoming contaminated at any point. It was great, and Sophie was very appreciative. At the Moroccan counter service, she was able to eat a bunch of things she doesn’t usually get to have when we are not at home, and she was so happy. She said “Today is a special day because I can eat everything on the table!” She had a yogurt cup for dessert and said “I’ve never had dessert in a restaurant before!” On the one hand, it made me want to cry, but on the other hand, I was happy for her. :)
Exhausted Sophie eating "everything on the table" in Epcot's Morocco
Because I have other stuff to post photos of, I will let you look at more Disney pictures if you want to…just check out the set at our Flickr.
When we got home from incredibly humid, 90-something degree Florida, it was crisp and cool and delicious here in Vermont. We took a couple of days to just play quietly at home…but there’s a lot of good stuff to do in this beautiful weather, so we got to it pretty quickly. Here are Sophie and her pal Tavi being overjoyed to interact with a goat at Shelburne Farms:
And having refreshments on a lovely hike that ended with some very wet feet…
Making faces with velcro parts on a pumpkin at the garden park harvest festival:
With maple lemonade at the south end food truck stop:
We went apple picking with a bunch of friends for my birthday, and it was awesome. I could make a whole other photo post for that because apple picking in Vermont with lovely people is a really photogenic experience…but I’ll refer you to Flickr instead. Except okay, here is one of Sophie enjoying the big rope swing they have at the orchard:
One last important piece of news, that was hard for me to save until last: Sophie is reading! Now, of course there are conditions to this statement: sheoften won’t do it if asked to, she is reluctant to sound out anything that doesn’t come to her very quickly, and she tends to just sort of skip over parts she doesn’t understand. But, she read an entire easy reader by herself, and she can read large parts of a chapter book we have read repeatedly together through a mix of memorization, context, cues from pictures, and some word decoding. She reads a lot of signs and things we see when out and about, and she enjoyed finding lines she could read in the book I was reading the other day. Her favorite way to read is by very quietly muttering the words to herself as she slowly goes through a book she’s really into. I don’t usually get to hear her do it unless she doesn’t realize I’m paying attention, but it is happening! The best part: we silently read together for like an hour the other day. This is the best! We are so excited. While reluctant to perform, Sophie is still very proud. :)
Here is Sophie taking after me: attempting to read while walking. :)
There have been a couple of big accomplishments for Sophie in the past month. She took swim lessons at the pool we go to, and she was super brave. She practiced kicks, putting her face in the water, and front and back floats. At her last lesson, she back floated on her own and kicked towards me – she swam a teensy bit on her own for a few seconds! Her teacher was great – she managed to push Sophie past her comfort zone a little bit each time, but very gently and without any judgement or coercion. The only bad part was that it was often very chilly – this was not exactly an extremely hot August. Next time, July afternoons or bust!
She also found a pedal bike she really liked at a garage sale the other day. (She has been balance-biking all summer and is pretty good at that, so she has been wanting to try a pedal bike. 2 wheels, she doesn’t even know about training wheels I don’t think!) We brought it home, and she tried it out in our parking area with Ryan. After a few tries, she managed to ride on her own! Now she goes back and forth, riding on her own a little bit at a time, staying up for a few seconds each time. She is still working on starting on her own, and she has only managed to turn a couple of times without putting her feet down – but she is enthusiastic, so she’ll probably learn pretty fast! I took a whole 14 seconds of video you can see:
And let’s close with some Sophie-isms, shall we?
Of some local plums we got one day: “I have never ate-n so good a fruit as these.”
Pretending to be a mother pig, nursing her piglets: “I only have two nipples, so you’ll all have to take turns.”
Regarding the cup of cold juice she was holding: “This is like, a cold scenario.”
On things she wants to do in her life: “There are so many things I want to do and people I want to be that I don’t know if I can do it all! I want to do hundreds of things!”
The day before her birthday, Shelburne Museum had an Alice In Wonderland event. It was perfectly timed, and Sophie’s dream come true. She met every character, played croquet with the White Rabbit while the Queen of Hearts looked on, and painted some roses red. It was pretty much amazing. And we didn’t have our good camera with us, so thank goodness for iPhones.
She had a pool party for her birthday, which is sort of the tradition at this point. This year, the cupcakes said “Eat Me” spelled out in currants, as in Alice In Wonderland, and Sophie had a big “Drink Me” tag on her strawberry lemonade. This was all her idea. I don’t have a good representative shot of the party – somehow I didn’t take a group shot or a picture of her cupcakes or anything! But you can find the photos I did take at our Flickr account.
Another big milestone this month is that Sophie chose to wean just before her birthday. Of her own accord, she marked a day on the calendar (July 3rd), and on that day she stopped nursing to sleep. We did one last special good-bye nurse on her birthday to honor the transition, and now she is all done. We are both happy and proud that she chose it herself. She was also a bit sad about it, at first, though, and there are still some signs that she’s working through the Big Change that weaning was for her. Still, she’s stuck to it, and we are riding out the emotional upheaval together! As a bookend to our nursing relationship, she had her second case of mastitis right after she decided to wean. It’s odd because she had it as an infant too, and it’s usually the mother who has that problem in these situations. :P She had a fever of 104.6! Which is a memorable fever! Thankfully we were able to get in to the doctor right away, and it got better enough for her to be functional very quickly.
At 4, Sophie’s passions aside from Alice in Wonderland include dinosaurs, globes, swimming, and dresses. She says her favorite song is “Wine Red” by The Hush Sound, of all things. She is getting pretty good on a scoot bike, and really looking forward to swim lessons at the tennis club. She loves to build structures with Ryan out of the blocks she got for her birthday (little Jenga-looking ones, so you can make big complex things), and as always, she pretends to an Alice or Mary Ann a lot. She loves picking flowers and grass, trying to climb trees, swimming, watering plants on the deck, and going for little hikes.
Sophie is really enjoying summer yoga and the new summer teacher she has this year. She has been going around singing the songs, and reciting the opening chant: “I am happy, I am strong, I am happy, I am strong!” Followed by some Sanskrit. She also likes the little namaste song they sing, and she has told me a couple of times that the light in her honors the light in me. ;) This new teacher does a little song to teach the sun salutation, and I thought it was awfully cutesy at first…but wouldn’t you know, Sophie really responds to it, and she says doing sun salutations is her favorite part of class. Our little yogi!
A bee balm flower, from Gramma Martha's garden.
Picking sweet cherries with Erin, Jonny and Kai
Chowing down at the south end food truck night!
She is, as always, fiery. I love that she can be fierce about things, and even though it is sometimes extremely exhausting and difficult, I am so, so glad for her iron will. She is – and more so, will be – a stronger person for it. She is also extremely affectionate, and lately, very demonstrative: “I love you so much, I am so happy to have such a mama as you.” And she’s curious in bigger ways than she once was. The other day she asked me why there is a sky, and why it’s blue, and how fast does the Earth turn, and whether praying mantises smile and and and and and. Anyway. What I mean to say is that we really like her a lot and we are proud of her. :)
Here is a video of Arlo and Sophie dancing at Summervale! I really think this will improve your day, you should watch it!
And because it seems like a good last picture for this post, here’s Sophie coming home from her birthday party: tired, still damp, and laden with pool toys. :) Happy July, and happy 4!
I’ve waited now until she’s practically 4 to post this, so it’ll be short and sweet!
Checking out the baby mantises.
We had three praying mantis egg cases and all of them hatched, so our deck is currently an entomological wonderland. Sophie is really interested in them and has enjoyed watching them and sometimes letting them walk on her hands and arms. I let her know that bug scientists exist and are called entomologists, she thinks that job would be pretty cool and she might want to be one someday. Of course, she also wanted to be a palaeontologist when we went to see the dinosaur exhibit at Echo, and she tends to want to do just about any job we’ve ever discussed, so…yeah. But she is interested in lots of things!
She is not the least bit squeamish. This is great for scientific inquiry and general curiosity, though it does mean I’ve had to suppress a squirm myself a few times.
Here is she is touching a slug during a fairy house event at the Audobon center. She said the last time she touched a slug it made her finger really sticky and orange so this time she touched it more lightly.
Touching a slug at the Audobon center
It has been a cool and rainy June, and that has been a bummer sometimes…but Sophie’s pretty good at making the most of things. We took her for what we thought would be a quick stop at the food trucks on a rainy day, and ended up getting a table and eating our food while she danced in the rain next to us. She also got a hug from her favorite juice maker, as you will see below. :) Also every time it thunderstorms at night I have trouble getting her to sleep…but not because it scares her. It’s because it is SO EXCITING and she wants to watch the sky and listen for thunder and it is JUST SO GREAT that she could not possibly sleep. So that’s the better problem to have, I guess…
Hugging in the rain at the food truck stop!
Our biggest adventure this month was camping for a couple days at Ausable. We haven’t successfully spent a night camping with Sophie before, but this year went very well for her! She slept like a log, swam and played, and had a fantastic time. It did rain a lot the last night and morning we were there, so when we got home, we were all pretty Done. Sophie said “I want to go camping again! But maybe with a house to sleep in.”
Check out that shirt. And that cuteness.
Hunting for driftwood, I think!
Bravely venturing into the lake!
And that is a brief overview! I will see you in a few weeks when Sophie is officially four. FOUR I tell you!