Sofia's World

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Winter 2009

Sinterklaas, December

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.

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Santa, December

 

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.

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Snow! December

From 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!

Needless 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!

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Christmas Eve, December

 

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.

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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 Claus came!” 

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.

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Hawaii, January

 

I'm still asking Mommy and Papa, "When can we go back to Hawaii?"  It was the best vacation I've ever had.

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 adventures.

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.

The next day we took a bus to the north side of Oahu to spend the day at the Polynesian  Cultural Center [below]. 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!

On 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 all! 

The next day we rode The Bus to visit the Bishop Museum.  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!

 

On the fifth day Papa rented a car so we could drive around the island. First we went to Sea Life Park. 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 far!—look beautiful.

On 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.

It was hard to leave Honolulu. Saying "Aloha"—which means hello, I love you, and goodbye—was very hard to do.

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Birthday, January

 

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 familyGrandma and Cameron, toocelebrated 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.

 

Finally, 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  Marieke. At 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 toys. 

Then 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. 

After 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!

We ended with presentsso 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!

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Arrived 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 swimmerif 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 ofand lots—of 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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