When we arrive at Chris & Yukiko's house these days, it takes about five seconds before the girls disappear to play. Usually they head to Maria's room in order to systematically take it apart. Erika plays with the girls for a bit before settling down with her Harry Potter book (she's not as interested in other books but has devoured the HP series multiple times). Matthew follows along and is tolerated if he isn't too destructive.
Elizabeth loves playing with Maria, but at the same time doesn't quite understand why her eight year old friends are suddenly more interested in reading and other more sedate activities when they could be playing in the sandbox or playing house. Strangely Erika (and neighbours Noemie and Meg) don't want to spend all their time on all fours pretending to be cats anymore. I point out to Elizabeth that she can try other games and the big kids are actually more patient with her than she is with Matthew. I point out to Erika that she should put the book down while she has visitors (while mentally apologizing to my third grade self who HATED doing the same). We take Matthew downstairs to play with Grandma and Grandpa.
This visit the girls spent a bit more time hanging out downstairs than usual - it's Maria's FIFTH birthday and she requested sushi as an appetiser! Maria has taken to putting her hands over her ears whenever anyone sings these days. But while she didn't seem to appreciate our rendition of happy birthday, she liked blowing out the candles and eating her cake! And she loved opening her presents!
Most of us pooled together to give her a week at camp with Erika and Maria. Elizabeth was not impressed with the idea that she would therefore have nothing physical to open. So she decided to give Maria her OWN present that she could unwrap (sidewalk chalk).