This year December 5th was on a Friday. All
week long Cameron and I had been leaving our wooden klompjes on the floor in front of our family room fireplace, and
each morning I raced downstairs to find little candies and toys in them
that the Zwarte Piets had left.
I must have been good because they didn’t leave any rocks or coal.
For December 5th dinner we had our traditional waffles
with fruit and whipped cream—yum! When we were done eating, there was a
knock on the door. I rushed to open it and found that Sinterklaas had left
a large burlap bag on the doorstep! Cameron helped me drag it inside, and
then I got down into it as far as I could and pulled all the goodies out.
There were chocolate letters, poems, and wrapped gifts. I got in so deep
that Cameron had to pull me out
of the bag! Then we opened our gifts, read our poems (some in Dutch, some
in English) and ate a little chocolate. I probably had a hard time getting
to sleep with all that sugar!
The next morning I went to Oranjeschool, where we had a Sinterklaas party. He came to the
gymnasium with the Zwarte Piets,
and the classes sang songs, played games, and everyone got a present. I
gave him a kiss.
Then that afternoon Mommy, Papa, and I went to Lake
Forest Park for a big Sinterklaas party hosted by the Holland-America
Club. I love costumes, and I dressed in my Zwarte
Piet pants and hat—with an earring, too [right]! Inside I got a
little passport to collect stickers at all the game stations, and I played
bowling, made a paper hat, and colored a Sinterklaas picture. Since it was
a sunny day, I also played outside while we waited for Sinterklaas to
arrive; I was very impatient. Finally his boat pulled up to the dock, and
out he came with his Zwarte Piets.
Once inside again, there were so many children and parents in such a small
space that I was very uncomfortable, but eventually I found a spot sitting
right beside a Zwarte Piet, who
gave me pieces of pepernoten,
and I was happy.
|To visit Santa, I got all dressed up and we
went to Bellevue Square. I’m not sure why Santa stays at the Nordstrom
there, but he’s very nice. He remembered me! While I sat on his lap
[left], I told him that for Christmas I wanted a reindeer costume, a
dollhouse, and a cupcake maker. He said he’d try his best. Then he told
me that I was a special girl and that I should brush my teeth and listen
to my mother. Of course I do!
I immediately ate my candy cane, so I wasn’t too
hungry for dinner at the restaurant. Then we went to the street to watch
the Snowflake Lane celebration. There were music and lights, people
singing, soldiers drumming, and even a few snowflakes falling. The best
part was that I got to shake hands with a polar bear, a penguin, a
snowflake princess, and have my picture taken with Rudolph.
December 14th through the 25th the temperature froze and froze… and the
skies snowed and snowed. Each morning I’d look out the window with Mommy
and wonder whether I was going to school or sledding. (Sometimes going to
school included a little sledding in the car!) The Montessori closed three
days before the official winter break, and Mommy even missed three days of
work. By Christmas Day, we had about 24 inches on our back porch!
to say, I wore my snow clothes almost every day. Because it was not always
easy or safe to get around, we didn’t do all our traditional Christmas
activities, like driving at night to see Christmas lights, going to the
Bellevue Botanical Gardens, or visiting downtown Seattle. But every day I
threw snowballs, made snow angels, built snow men and women, and rode my
sled right outside our front door [right]. I also drank lots of hot
chocolate. All that snow fun was plenty Christmas-y for me!
|On Christmas Eve we went to Grandpa Paul and
Bonnie’s house. There was lots of snow on the ground. I was the only
small kid there this year. This meant that all the grown-up talk was very
boring. But Bonnie keeps a box of toys to play with, and some parts of the
night, like eating Christmas cookies for dessert and opening presents,
were very fun.
Because I was the only kid (apparently Cameron’s not a
kid anymore since he’s taller than Mom), I also had some important
responsibilities. After dinner, of which I ate very little, it was my
crucial job to distribute the presents. Sometimes I could read the tags,
but sometimes I needed help. And sometimes I didn’t know a grownup’s
name and Mom had to tell me. But everyone got their gifts! Later that
night I also had the distinguished task of using the snuffer to extinguish
the table candles, one of my favorite things to do.
Sometimes it’s not so bad to be the littlest one.
Christmas Day, December
Mommy warned Cameron and me that we couldn’t wake her
and Papa until 7:00 on Christmas day. Cameron said he woke up really
early, and at 7:00 he woke me up. Then I went into Mommy
and Papa’s room. “Wake up!” I yelled as I jumped on their bed.
“It’s Christmas morning! Santa
When we went downstairs, I could immediately see that
Santa HAD come… because waiting for me beside the tree, wrapped in a
giant red bow, was a pink dollhouse as tall as I am [right]!
It was already filled with furniture—including a bathtub and a
toilet—and I started playing with it right away, even before I retrieved
dolls to put in it. Pretty soon,
Mommy encouraged us to empty our stockings, and that was followed by a few
more gifts from Santa. He also brought me the cupcake maker I had asked
for, but not the reindeer costume. For a while I was very disappointed,
but then we moved on to the next packages to open and I put it behind me.
About 10:00, Papa left to get Grandma Joanie. Not only
had Santa come over night, but so had more
snow! When Papa returned with Grandma, the car got stuck in the driveway,
and Cameron had to help Papa dig out the tires so that Grandma could get
into the house!
We had a big Christmas brunch with egg casserole (yuck),
sour cream potatoes (yuck), ham (yum), cranberry salad (I like the
marshmallows), and rolls (the best part). Then we opened even more
presents! I was sad when Mr. Scott came to get Cameron because I
didn’t want my brother to leave, but he always splits up his Christmas
Day between his two houses. I
spent some of the afternoon playing with new toys, and some time outside
in the snow with Papa.
Although Papa was able to drive Grandma home Christmas
afternoon, there was so much snow on the streets that after that Mommy and
Papa couldn’t get either of their cars out of the neighborhood for the
next two days. So it’s a good thing that I
received so many nice Christmas toys to play with because I had lots
of time at home to explore all my new things.
|I'm still asking Mommy and Papa, "When
can we go back to Hawaii?" It was the best vacation I've ever
The plane ride to Honolulu was long, but as soon as we
got off the plane the air was warm (78° to 80° all week), and I knew we were in a
different place. After we'd checked into the ResortQuest
Waikiki Beach Hotel and admired the view of Waikiki from the balcony,
I put on my bathing suit and we headed to the beach. Kuhio beach has soft
sand perfect for digging and is protected by a seawall, so I could walk
far out into the water without worrying about getting knocked over by big
waves. I played there almost every day after we returned from our other
On our first full day in Honolulu, we went to the Honolulu
Zoo. I saw lots of cool animals, some I'd never seen except in books,
like Galapagos tortoises, a rhinoceros, gharials, komodo dragons,
screaming chimpanzees, and cute
Sumatran tiger babies.
next day we took a bus to the north side of Oahu to spend the day at the Polynesian Cultural Center
We walked through little villages where people from Samoa, Aotearoa (New
Zealand), Hawaii, Fiji, Tonga, and Tahiti showed us how they live, what
they eat, and especially how they make music and dance. In Samoa, we
stayed after the presentation, and the man (who wore a skirt!) cleaned out
the coconut he had cut in half and let us taste the juice. Then he gave
the coconut half to me! After
we watched the dancing in Aotearoa, we tried swinging poi balls on
strings. Mommy was better at it than I was. In Fiji a nice woman made me
some woven leaf toys, and I got a special tattoo on my arm. In Tonga the
presentation was all about drumming, and I danced in the corner—my own
entertainment show. In Tahiti I stood up and tried dancing with my hips
fast. I liked the Rainbows of Paradise show with dancers from each island
group floating by on canoes, and later we took our own canoe ride along
the canal. The luau was pretty good; I ate chicken, rice, fresh fruit, a
smoothie in a real pineapple with a straw, and lots of dessert. Then it
got very late and the Horizons show started. It was exciting with all the
music and drumming, but I was too tired and fell asleep. On the bus ride
home I was supposed to keep sleeping, but the movie Alvin
and the Chipmunks was showing, and that
was too good to miss!
our third day we went to the Waikiki
Aquarium. I saw Hawaiian monk seals and watched an
octopus unscrew the top off a jar. My favorite activity was holding hermit
crabs in my hands. Some other kids were afraid, but I wasn't scared at
next day we rode The Bus to visit the Bishop
The Polynesian Hall was boring, but there was a special exhibit about Megalodon,
a prehistoric shark, that was really cool. At the Science Adventure Center
we watched a model volcano erupt, watched a woman make real glass by
melting lava, and made our own volcano grow with melted wax. But the part
I liked best, besides French fries for lunch, was putting on costumes in
the Science Center treehouse. I played with other kids and pretended to be
a mouse, a bird, a bee, and other Hawaiian animals. I love costumes!
the fifth day Papa rented a car so we could drive around the island. First
we went to Sea
I fed sea turtles and watched a diver in the Hawaiian Reef Aquarium dance
with some stingrays. There were sea lions and Humboldt penguins and even a
special climbing play area for kids. But the best part was the dolphin
shows. At the Dolphin Cove Show, the dolphins jumped out of the water,
swam backward on their tails, waved with their flippers, and carried
trainers on their backs and noses. At the Hawaiian Ocean Theater show, in
a big sea-through tank, the dolphins were joined by penguins and sea
lions. I didn’t want to leave, but we wanted to see the rest of the
island, too. We drove all the way around and stopped at some beaches to
play a little in the sand [above at Kailua] and eat some snacks. Mommy
bought some pineapple macadamia nut cheesecake at Ted's Bakery. Somewhere
along the North Shore I even took a little nap. When we made our last
stop, at Sunset Beach, the sun was indeed going down. It made the waves
rolling in, which were the biggest I've ever seen—taller than I by
our last full day we walked the entire length of Waikiki Beach.
Some of the sand was very soft, but in other places it was coarse
and scratchy. People were on surboards, parasailing, and of course laying
on towels, sitting on chairs, and playing in the surf. We left the beach
at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, whose garden area contained koi ponds,
swans, ducks, and even macaws in the trees. Then we walked all the way
back down Kalakaua Ave. to our hotel. Along the way we stopped for a hula
lesson at the Royal Hawaiian Village. I concentrated really hard to get my
arms and legs moving in all the right places at the right times. We also
stopped at the International Marketplace and had some shave ice. Once back
at our hotel, we spent our last afternoon playing on the beach.
was hard to leave Honolulu. Saying "Aloha"—which means hello,
I love you, and goodbye—was very
hard to do.
My fifth birthday wasn't just one day,
but a four-day extravaganza!
When I woke up on January 29th I said
to Mommy, "I don't feel like I'm five." It was a Thursday, and I
had a full schedule with school, a Montessori open house that night (Mommy
and Papa came, and I showed them some of the work I do), and then a
swimming lesson. So when I finally got home Mommy gave me a fancy cupcake with a candle in it, and she and Papa sang happy
birthday, but then I
went to bed.
On Friday morning, Mommy and Papa came
to the Montessori for my school celebration. I chose a globe to carry,
Miss Jody lit the sun candle in the middle of my circle of friends, and
then while Mommy read a story about each year of my life and my friends
sang the Montessori birthday song (12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days), I
walked around the candle "sun" with the earth in my arms. Afterward, I handed out the chocolate chip
cookies Mommy and I made while Miss Jody read a birthday story. Then
everyone whispered a special wish in my ear.
That night the family—Grandma and Cameron, too—celebrated at home. We had the pizza
for dinner I asked for, and then Mommy lit candles on the chocolate cake
and everyone sang. I made a wish, blew them out, and then ate all my frosting
(but not the cake). Then I
opened presents: a beaded purse, a bracelet and necklace, a real watch,
perler beads, books, and a ladybug house. The last thing I did that night
was help Papa make cupcakes for Oranjeschool.
On Saturday I gave cinnamon spice
cupcakes with cream cheese to all my Oranjeschool friends. Everyone
sang Lang Zal Zij Leven.
Sunday arrived, the day of my big birthday party! We drove
to Jump Planet in Bothell, and my friends began to arrive. They were Merel,
Ella A., Cianna, Harry, Luna, Joseph, Emery, Finn, Jakob, Ava, Elle,
Kenna, Max, Ella T., Saskia, and
11:15 we gathered to hear the rules for the play space, and then my
friends and I spent the next hour and a half jumping, sliding, running,
bouncing, climbing, shouting, and laughing on the big inflatable
we moved to a small room upstairs that Mommy had decorated with pink,
purple, and yellow balloons to match the princess plates and napkins.
Waiting for us were pizza, juice, chips, fruit, and an amazing three-tier
cake, made by Miss Trudy, that looked like a pink princess castle complete
with three turrets topped with flying "5" flags.
the pizza, Mommy and Papa carefully placed the tall cake in front of me,
and everyone sang. There were a lot of voices! Then I successfully blew
out the candles [right]. The cake was delicious!
ended with presents—so
many packages and bags! I received books, art supplies, dolls,
puzzles, crafts, gardening tools, even a princess wall clock. At the end I
helped Mommy give out thank-you bags filled with perler bead and stamp
sets. It was such a fun party! Now I truly feel like I'm five!
at Five, January
|I'm excited to be five! I'm bigger and
smarter and stronger, and there are so many great things to do and see!
I'm big enough now
that I can reach the bathroom faucet without a stool (although I still
usually stand on one), and Mommy replaced my kitchen chair booster seat
with a just a cushion. Papa also changed the car seats so that they use
the regular seatbelt now.
I'm reading books at the Montessori, and reading is fun,
although I still like it better when Mommy reads to me. When I grow up I want to be a ballerina, a
paleontologist, and a diver. I don't carry a tune very well, but I have
really good rhythm and love all kinds of music. I like to pretend to tap
dance. Mommy's also pretty sure that I'm going to be an actress because
I'm very dramatic and love to dress in costumes. I also really like nature and know
a lot about
different kinds of animals, fish, bugs, plants, and even dinosaurs. When Mommy reads to
me each night, I insist on reading books about how my body
works and all its parts: bones, muscles, nerves, senses. It's really
interesting! I also love to swim. I've been taking twice-weekly swim
lessons at Juanita High School since the fall, and my teacher says I have
the potential to be a really good swimmer—if I pay more attention.
Then again, maybe I'll be an artist; I love to draw and color.
I like to talk and ask lots and lots of questions and
make lots and lots of—and
observations. Some nights
Mommy gets a certain look, and then she tells me that I have to be quiet
because I've used up all my
sentences for the day.
When I visited Dr. Johnson
after my birthday, he said that I'm very healthy. My eyes see 20/20, my
ears work really well, and my blood pressure was 48 over 80 (that's good).
I weigh 39.5 pounds (45th percentile) and am 43 inches tall (60th
percentile). I had to get three shots, but I was very brave and
only cried a little. That's because I'm a big girl, now... and also
because Papa promised to get me an ice cream at McDonald's!
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