Brooklyn is 11

5:19 PM

I can't believe it, but my oldest child, my beautiful, lovely daughter just turned 11.
I am delighted to say that this precious girl is just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. And that's saying something.

Just for grins, let's take a walk down Memory Lane.

Brooklyn Reese - born February 18th, 2006. 
She made me a mother and utterly altered the course of my life.

One year old - chocolate brown eyes and wisp for hair.

Two years old and her personality as a ham begins to emerge.

3 years old and somehow, we still can't find her shirt...

Four years old and looking feisty, although she isn't in the slightest.

Five years old and just truly beautiful. 

Six years old and starting to get that chiseled face look - the little baby girl is slipping away... 

Seven years old  - a kind, thoughtful, tender-hearted little girl who makes me and Kyle so proud. 

8 years old - starting to shoot up. All legs.

9 years old and bless her heart, surrounded by boys. 
Thankfully, she loves her brothers as much as they love her. 

10 years old. Double digits. Taller and leaner than ever and more gorgeous by the minute.
(She's not showing off her stomach up there, but the belt she knit herself).

And now, Ms. Brooklyn is 11 years old.
A city girl in Chicago. Looking every bit the part, although just as darling and precious as always.
On her birthday, she wanted to go to the Swedish American Museum in Andersonville (a few neighborhoods south of us), so this is where we went!

She also wanted home-made cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Good choice, O daughter mine.
I had a bit of a fiasco on this go-round with the rolls - I added the yeast when the milk was too hot and killed it all. But I took a gamble and added more yeast after the milk had sufficiently cooled and it worked perfectly. So, in case you do the same thing I did, don't throw away your milk/liquid - the dead yeast didn't appear to have any effect on the final product.

They were quite delicious.

As we walked through Andersonville, which was originally a Swedish community in Chicago, there were these interesting little walk-ways through the houses or greystones. Like hidden passages, almost.

One tiny alley was too tempting to pass by. The kids wanted to re-enact the Star Wars scene where the garbage compartment was closing in on them...

We had heard nothing but good things about the Swedish American Museum. Especially about the top floor which is a children's museum/play area.  Admission for a family is $10 (probably a bit more for our family), but we had a $5 pass and an incredibly nice lady at the front who fell in love with us and let us in for free. Thanks, Diana!

We met up with our newest best buds up here - Jonathan, Alina, Harper and Chloe. They are fellow believers and in all ways, kindred spirits. Harper is Wyeth's age and is pictured up above as though one of my kids. He and Wyeth are truly friends and it's really neat to see. We all walked through the main part of the museum which takes you through a journey of a Swedish immigrant. 

Then, we headed upstairs to the kids room which is all hands-on learning and play.
Dress up included.

Kyle poked around in the play "house" which was set up like a real Swedish house. I loved the wooden bed. Looks super cozy.

Dorien the Swede loaded up his wheelbarrow full of firewood. Winters are cold in Sweden.

In a little cottage, Kyle and I were served fake meal after fake meal by all the children.

I wore Wilder in my carrier and he slept 90% of the time. 
This is obviously part of his 10%.
And yes, that is an astronaut behind them. Buzz Aldrin was of Swedish descent, and the Swedes are very proud of him.

After the museum, we walked through some of Andersonville - it was an unseasonably warm day and people were outside in DROVES. There is still a large Swedish population and it was not uncommon to hear families speaking in Swedish! Crazy! 

We ate lunch at Taste of Heaven, a tiny cafe that isn't exactly kid-friendly, but our kids were phenomenal and even got complimented by nearby diners. 

Always makes me so thrilled when that happens. People definitely expect the worst when they see big families. That's too bad. I like to dash those expectations.

Later that day, Brooklyn opened her gifts...

One of which was a bag I had Alina make for Brooklyn. 
Alina is a phenomenal seamstress/sewing pattern designer - this bag was her invention.

I put some little goodies in the bag for Brooklyn - nail polish, lip gloss, chocolates...

Her requested dessert was a Coffee Cream Cake out of the Pioneer Woman's cookbook.
Any excuse to bake, really...

Brooklyn prepares to chow down!
It was a good birthday. 
I could not be prouder of my 11 year old. 

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