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Foos & a Rothko.

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Foos marveling at Minerva Visiting the Muses on Mount Parnassus by Claude Lorrain.

Both of these were taken at the Cummer Museum, by Seth.  Happy Weekend!

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Part of the reason of why Foos’ birthday party was such a low key affair is because what she really wanted to do was go to Disney.  She started asking last year, and we always deferred it for cost reasons.  This year, as her birthday inched closer, she started telling people without consulting with us, that yep, she was going to Disney for her birthday.  I mean, we had promised her that she would go eventually and I think she was starting to think we wouldn’t keep our word.  So we skimped on the party and she got her trip.  It was also my first time there, and it was nice experiencing long lines and cheap thrills together for the first time. I kid, I had a good time too.  After three hours there I had seen what I came to see and was ready to go home,  but we stayed until after the fireworks and didn’t get home till 2 am. Memorable birthday, indeed!

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Foos finally turned 6 last month.  We never do huge parties; normally its a cake, piñata, pizza, goodie bags at the park.  It’s strategic on my part, I posit that if I go crazy every year, she is going to expect crazy every year and sometimes that is simply not possible.  We are poor, so I like to keep expectations low, haha.  If we exceed them that is great, if not there is no disappointment. This year was an even more low key affair, it was just cake and family. And you know what? She loved it just as much. I baked a version of  this  rainbow layer cake with candy surprise.  I subbed the candy well in the middle with all kinds if different sprinkles (easier to chew) and it was a big hit and very beautiful. If you are going to try it, do follow the instructions and give yourself time to bake everything. I wasn’t happy while baking the cake until 10 pm after work, but the next day I appreciated that effort because it made things a thousand times easier.

This was also the birthday where I realized her family and friends know her so well.  Though she would have loved whatever, and I always say get her what you want when people ask, she didn’t receive any frivolous toys.  Instead she was gifted lots of science kits, books, clothes, a zoo membership, a candy making class, a subscription to kiwi box.  All things that she needs and align with her interests.  It was wonderful, and added to the feeling I already have that she is truly everyone’s child.

Happy birthday, Foos!

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A few weeks ago Foos learned to ride her bike without training wheels.   We got her this bike two years ago, when she was still so little that harvesting the strength to simply get the pedals moving seemed like herculean task. Even recently, if she went a few weeks without riding the bike it was as if she was getting back on it for the first time— slow and unsteady, like a drunk walking a line.   She rode her bike to the park that morning, where she befriended a fellow bike rider, an older girl named Jessica, who turned Foos into her disciple. They excluded the bikeless from their schemes, chased each other in figure eights, raced to a victory line of their own making, and stopped short of a stranger enough times I contemplated leaving the park for fear of injury.  During one of these loops, Jessica explained to Foos that her training wheels sometimes didn’t touch the ground.  In fact, she may not need the training wheels at all! I watched this revelation unfold from afar, Jessica pointing to the wheels, Foos’ initial confusion and realization. Foos seemed so pleased by this news that when she rode her bike to tell me, grin on full display, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the wheels where designed that way.  But Jessica had planted the germ, and I was going to take it as far as I could.  As we were leaving the park I casually mentioned removing the training wheels, and she agreed without hesitation.

That afternoon, I fashioned knee pads for her out of tape and leggings while Seth removed the training wheels.  We gave her the pep talk—you will fall down, you will get hurt, you may not get it today, but eventually you will.  She rolled her eyes and walked her bike to the empty lot, the tape of her knee pads making noise every time she bent her knees. The expression on her face like she had been doomed to damnatio ad bestias. With seth holding on to the bike they went around the lot a few times. The first time he let go, she fell.  The second time, she fell.  The third time, she fell too. Big fat tears rolling down her face, threats of quitting and going back upstairs coming out of her mouth.  We had been reading The Hobbit the night before, and I sat her on my lap and asked “How would you introduce yourself to Smaug? I know how I would.  You are the never quitter, the rider of bikes, the scrape eater, queen of wheels,” and so on. She nodded her head. With her dad running after her, and me shouting introductions to Smaug, she got back on and fell down about a dozen times.  A couple of our neighbors came out to cheer. Twenty minutes later she was going around the lot on her own.  An hour after that, she was riding down the block.

She told us she promised her bike she would ride her everyday, and she almost always does.

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Yesterday I was in my kitchen cave, listening to Radiolab and making dinner, when I felt a tiny tap on my back.  When I turned around, my Foos was standing there, holding up this piece of paper and beaming at me. I got all verklempt, fell to my knees, and gave her the biggest squeeze. People say a lot of cheesy shit about their children, most of which feels obligatory, but this girl, you guys, makes me feel like the luckiest mom in the Virgo Supercluster.

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One of the things that never ceases to amaze me about living in Northern Florida is the variety of green/historical places we get to enjoy. Recently, we’ve been going on hikes at the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve. Through some miracle we found a trail that was just right for all of us – Foos included. She likes to run ahead of all of us, and I like to worry about said running ahead, even though by now I’m sure she knows the trail by heart.  I like to linger behind my family, mostly staring down at the roots with the misfortune of being in the middle of the trail, looking up once in a while to make sure everyone is still accounted for.  The trail ends in a breezy lookout we usually monopolize, annoying the shit out of other hikers by taking up the benches, audibly snacking, and singing Moana songs into the marsh. I love my family.

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