Watch out: she's on her way!: In a personal triumph, Jolien, Jan's niece, passed the Washington State written driver's test on November 30th. Because English is Jolien's second language, studying for the test was doubly challenging, and we are proud of her hard work and her accomplishment. Having passed the test, Jolien received a learner's permit. So now Uncle Jan can take her driving and give her some roadway experience before she returns to Holland and signs up for driving classes there.
A streak continues: For his first quarter of 9th grade, Cameron (once again) received straight A's. This is getting to be a habit—one we're trying not to take for granted and that we're very proud of.
“Dark and spooky”: …as Sofia likes to say. For Sofia’s third Halloween, she loved her kitty costume [below]. Besides wearing it Halloween night, she wore it to Halloween parties at her Oranjeschool and a neighbor’s home over the weekend. Halloween night, we left our house about 6:15 in the cold (but no rain!), and she had the “Trick or treat!… Thank you… Happy Halloween!” routine down in no time. Our challenge was getting her to come inside again without a major meltdown. (See Sofia's Album)
For Cameron’s 15th Halloween, he dressed as a hobo in Value Village clothes he artfully ruined [below] and attended a party with friends. Although he is now apparently too old to stay home with brother or sister, he’s still not too old to walk door-to-door to collect free candy! (See Cameron's Album)
Nadal he’s not: ...but we love him anyway. Cameron completed his second season on the school tennis team in late October. He wasn’t happy with his finish of 2 wins/6 losses (a few of which were very close), but he must have done something right. At season’s end his teammates nominated him “Most Inspirational”.
Mr. Vice President: Cameron ran a week-long campaign and won in his bid for the office of Vice President for his junior high’s chapter of National Honor Society. He still can’t explain exactly what the V.P. does, but, hey, he’s in good company: neither can Dick Cheney.
Parenting a "spirited" child: Amy began a five-week parenting class (one night a week) through Overlake Hospital called "Raising Your Spirited Child." It's based on the book of the same name, which posits that certain temperament traits are innate, including intensity, persistence, sensitivity (to environmental stimuli), perceptiveness (aka distractibility), adaptability, regularity, and energy level, and that all children are born at a particular place on the continuum for each trait. "Spirited" children—and Sofia is definitely one of them!—tend to have high levels of many of these traits and thus pose certain kinds of parenting challenges. We're hopeful that this class will give us some new ideas for more effectively parenting our high intensity, highly persistent, high energy, wonderful daughter!
The long weekend: For Amy, September 29th-October 2nd was a short vacation from home, time to reconnect with friend Elisabeth in California, and the opportunity to attend a thought-provoking, perception-changing, weekend-long More to Life seminar. For Jan, it was the parenting challenge of Sofia's short lifetime, as Mommy's absence seemed to worry and frighten her, resulting in four days of button-pushing behavior. Sofia was very happy to see Mommy at the airport again, and so was Jan, who exclaimed, "Thank God you're home!" Amy was glad to be home, too.
Daycare redux: Once again, we are trying daycare for Sofia. This time, however, she is spending time in a private home. The caregiver, Miss Stephanie, has a three-year-old girl and a 16-month-old boy of her own and gives part-time care to three other children. Sofia will attend just two 5-hour mornings; on Mondays she will be the sole visitor, and on Thursdays, one younger girl will also be there. So the number of children is very small. Miss Stephanie is knowledgeable and caring, and on Sofia's third visit, she was already comfortable enough that she didn't cry when Mommy left her behind, and she didn't want to leave when Papa returned to take her home. We are very comfortable and confident with this arrangement, and Jan is very excited to have some weekday mornings for himself!
Ninth grade begins: Cameron began his ninth-grade year on September 5th. Except that he'd be seeing his group of friends again (some of them have been in classes together since first grade), he wasn't very excited about starting classes again. (If you had a summer like his, you wouldn't want it to end, either.) But he said that he knew he had no choice, so he supposed he might as well try to enjoy it. He'll be taking Algebra II, beginning French, biology, language arts (writing and literature), social studies, and ninth grade band, as well as jazz band before school. He's also playing on the tennis team after school during Fall Quarter.