I told Anna that since we'd be having lots of other celebrations, I wanted to keep her birthday party small and simple. She invited her three best friends from her class at school and they ate pizza, played outside, danced, and made candles and lip gloss together. We have loved these girls. They are kind and creative and encouraging and have been the very best thing for Anna.
Anna requested brownie topped chocolate cupcakes for her birthday and I was more more than happy to oblige. They really are so good.
The weekend before Anna's birthday, Van and Ruth came down to celebrate Anna. Somehow I can't find any pictures from the weekend, but it was great. They gave Anna a scrapbook kit and the Lea American girl doll that Anna had been wanting since it had caramel colored blonde/brown hair just like hers. On Saturday morning Anna attended her friend Katie's first communion so Levi got some special Grandparent time. After lunch at Panera, Anna played dolls and worked on some scrapbook pages with her Grandma while Levi and Grandpa played games and read books. For dinner we went to Macaroni Grill (I forgot how great a place that is for kids!) and talked and ate and colored. The waiter thoroughly embarrassed Anna by singing an Italian Happy Birthday in an operatic voice. She wouldn't even look at him! Sunday and time to say goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa came too soon.
On Anna's actual birthday, she opened presents before school, brought donuts to class, and ate lunch with her teacher (and hero), Mrs. Landry.
Here's a bit about Anna at age 8:
Anna just keeps growing growing growing in so many ways! I am amazed at all she learns and does and creates. This year she handled moving, making new friends, adding new sports, and carrying more responsibility at home with grace and (usually) good humor. She helps out daily with Emily, singing, reading, or playing with her as well as actual care like feeding, dressing, diapering, and getting Emily up from naps.
I can usually trust Anna to completely get herself ready for school and bed (please refer to the post about Levi to know just how invaluable this skill is to my sanity). She took care to make sure her homework was done each week to the very best of her ability, even up to the last week of school when I was encouraging her to write "blah, blah, blah" on her paper and hand it in. "What can they do? Fail you?" only received an icy glare.
Anna loves to be goofy. She loves to use silly voices, make up crazy what-if's, and is dipping her toes in the waters of sarcasm (this we're trying to nip in the bud). She often gets the giggles with her friends or at something funny her Dad does. She is a world-class eye-roller. We joke that Anna came into the world bum first and has been shaking her booty in our faces ever since.
Anna thrives at school, loving the praise she gets for her good work, her good example in the classroom, and her creativity. Anna did a poetry unit at school this year and I was so impressed with some of the things she wrote. Each poem would have about one line in it that really captured an image or gave the topic some depth. She loves writing and hopes to be an author someday.
This year Anna did gymnastics in Grapevine, cheer leading tumbling here in The Woodlands, and swim team. She also had piano lessons throughout the year. She's been doing gymnastics for a while and mastered a back bend and a one-handed cartwheel this year. Swimming was new and hard. It was late in the day when she was already tired and required new muscles and skills. One night, Anna broke down crying in the car. We talked about how brave she was for trying something again and again even though it was hard and though she was embarrassed at being behind her peers in skill. Ever since that night, Anna ran confidently into swimming knowing she was a brave girl and that practice was the only thing that could make her a better swimmer. I love watching Anna and seeing how strong she is. I envy her good posture ;) She is proud of what her body can do and I am, too.
Anna also did piano this year and has started to really love it. Her teacher was just starting out her business this year so we didn't have a recital, but we look forward to that next year. Anna does not enjoy performing, no matter how good she is, so it will be a good stretch for her.
Anna has always had some pretty big emotions and this year she learned how to respond to them much better. We talked about the connection between her gut and her brain and how being hungry can make you cranky or being angry can make your stomach hurt. A couple weeks before her baptism, we had a wonderful talk about how God is pleased with us when we desire to believe and judges us by the desires of our hearts, even if our actions aren't always what we hope them to be. She told me she had prayed about the Book of Mormon, felt peaceful, and believes it's true.
A couple weeks after her baptism, we were reading the scriptures like we usually do at night. Afterwards, I found Anna crying in her room and she was so worried about how mean she had been to Levi that day. I told her, "This is wonderful! You are feeling the Holy Ghost. He is whispering to you that maybe you didn't make the best choices today and nudging you to do something about it." She asked, "How come I didn't feel bad right after I was mean to Levi and only do now?" So we talked about how the scriptures open our hearts to feel the Spirit and hear what God has to say to us. We talked about the steps of repentance and after she apologized to Levi, we prayed together. It was a sweet and special moment with my tender girl.
I love her so much and can't wait to see what the next year brings for our Anna Sophia!