A good start to high school: For Cameron's first 9th-grade semester, he earned straight A's! On top of that, for the first time in years, every teacher wrote glowing comments—with no remarks about talking too much in class. We celebrated these first grades that count toward high school graduation with dinner at T.G.I. Fridays.
Another birthday party: Sofia had a second birthday party, this one for her three-year-old friends Joseph, Merel, and Ava, on February 4th. The theme was Elmo, and the house was decorated in primary colored crêpe paper and balloons. The children drank lemonade and ate miniature quiches, grapes and mandarin oranges in ice cream cone cups, and Jello jigglers. They played "stick the nose on the Elmo," and everyone received a prize of a Sesame Street ring. Sofia got to blow out three candles next to Elmo on her chocolate birthday cake. As usual, she liked the ice cream better than the cake. Her friends helped her open her gifts, and she gave them all big hugs. For pictures of her birthday party, see Sofia's Album.
Doctor's verdict: perfectly healthy: Sofia's three-year visit to the pediatrician was uneventful. She was excited for Dr. Johnson to come see her, then got shy when he entered the room. But she was curious and cooperative. She is 30 lbs (45th percentile) and 38 1/4 inches (75th percentile). She received one booster shot and a flu shot so quickly that she didn't even cry.
Celebrating THREE years: On January 29th, Sofia turned 3 years old. She was as excited to be having a birthday as the rest of us were to be celebrating the end of the "terrible twos." She didn't nap (a growing trend), so she opened family gifts in the afternoon and played with her new toys the rest of the day. Her birthday dinner consisted of spaghetti (the only food she reliably enjoys), buttered toast, and chocolate birthday cake. She loved blowing out the candles. For photos of Sofia's birthday and a glimpse of her life at three, see Sofia's Album.
More snow?!: On Wednesday, January 10th, the greater Seattle area experienced its first major snowstorm of 2007—but the third major storm of the season following November's snow and December's winds. Schools were not only closed Thursday and Friday but, because of more snow on Monday night, the 13th (the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday), also on Tuesday the 16th. Cameron didn't mind (see Cameron's Album), but this means that he'll be in class later than expected in June. Sofia also enjoyed the second chance in her lifetime to build a snowman and walk through a winter wonderland.
Our neighborhood winter wonderland
Farewell: On January 7th, after days of preparation to make sure that her two over-stuffed suitcases didn't weigh more than 50 pounds, we drove Jolien to the airport. We walked with her as far as we could go, which isn't very far these days with all the airport security, and we all cried as we hugged and kissed goodbye. Sofia sat on Jan's shoulders and waved until Jolien was out of sight. Jolien's sweetness, energy, and good-natured willingness made her a welcome presence in our household, and although we wish her much happiness back home again, we'll miss her terribly.
Merry Christmas / Gelukkig Kerstmis
Happy New Year / Gelukkig Nieuwe Jaar!
Festive weekend: Avoiding the chill of Seattle's powerful windstorm, Jan, Amy, Sofia, and Jolien drove to Portland to spend the weekend of December 15th with the Williamsons. Always the epitome of graciousness, David and Jeanne treated us to a wonderful weekend of holiday festivities, relaxation, and gourmet meals. The highlight of the weekend was a 40-minute trip on the Holiday Express, out of Oaks Park Station, pulled by historic steam engine SP #4449 maintained by the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation. We all enjoyed the ride, but Sofia, in particular, loved standing at the coupling, watching the ground pass by, feeling the rocking of the wheels, and listening to the train's loud whistle. Santa was on the train, too. Sofia said, "We're going to the North Pole!" (See Sofia's Album)
Wicked winter wind: One of the most powerful windstorms ever to hit the greater Puget Sound area knocked out power to nearly 1 million Washington residents the night of Thursday, December 14th. We lost electricity about 2:30 AM. Very fortuitously, we were already scheduled to make a trip to Portland that weekend, so we left Friday morning (lucky to be able to drive out of the neighborhood because of locally downed trees and power lines) and missed the cold and other challenges that most Puget Sound residents faced. A neighbor reported that our power returned at about 2:00 PM on Saturday, but when we returned to our 50 degree house on Sunday night, other friends in the area were still struggling without heat. We felt very fortunate.
Sinterklaas visits Seattle: The de Rie family celebrated Sinterklaas over the first weekend in December. For several days already, Sofia had been placing carrots in a shoe in front of the fireplace and receiving small chocolate coins overnight. On Saturday, December 2nd, the Oranjeschool held a big celebration that included a visit from Sinterklaas and several Zwarte Pieten. Sofia gave kisses to both Sinterklaas and a Zwarte Piet. Later that same day Jan, Amy, and Sofia went to the Holland-America Club's annual Sinterklaas party on the shores of Lake Washington, where Sinterklaas arrived on a motor boat. After dinner on Monday night, December 4th, Sinterklaas left a bag of presents outside the front door. When Sofia heard his knock, she knew who it was and ran to the door excitedly. No one was disappointed, and it was a gezellig evening. (See Sofia's Album)