Sofia's World

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Winter 2011-2012

Molbak's, November 2011

The day after Thanksgiving, we all went to Molbak's, just as we do every year. We had some Scandinavian Kringle, spiced cider, and slices of "ice apple" (late harvested  Fujis from Wenatchee). We wandered through all the decorated Christmas trees and ornaments; my favorite was the upside down "undersea" tree with hanging jellies and fish. We looked at the winter villages, which included a Victorian Christmas, 1940s Christmas (featuring characters and props from A Christmas Story), and Santa's Workshop. I especially like the parts that light up and move.

Santa was there, I sat on his lap, and even Cameron had a chat with him. He took some photos with us and discussed how he takes care of his reindeer.

We wandered through the poinsettias and took photos. We took a lot of pictures in front of the tall poinsettia tree, but our official Christmas photo [right] was taken in a quiet corner with big lighted snowflakes.  

Once we've gone to Molbak's and taken pictures, I absolutely know that Christmas is on the way.

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Santa, November

Our visit to see Santa was a whole night of fun. First, we went to Nordstrom's, where Santa hangs out on the third floor. After I'd taken my official photo, I gave him my list [left] and explained what I wanted. I asked for a Clarice stuffed reindeer, an Imaginex apatasaurus, an Imaginex wind scorpion, and some Hexbot bugs. He said he'd see what he could do and gave me a hug and a candy cane (I ate it right away). 

Then Mommy, Papa, and I had dinner at the Nordstrom's Marketplace Cafe. I like their pizza (just cheese; no pepperoni). 

Then we spent some time walking around the mall, and I played in the kids' area.

Finally, at 7:00, we went outside to see the Snowflake Lane celebration. While Christmas music played and colored lights moved over the buildings, lots of high school "soldiers" drummed around us, and I got to meet and dance with snow princesses, snow fairies, and even Frosty and Rudolph! At the end, "snow" fell (it was really bubbles) from the sky. It wasn't very cold or crowded, and we had a great time.

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Sinterklaas, December

Once again, my anticipation of Sinterklaas was just as good as the night itself. It certainly lasted longer: for the week between Thanksgiving and Sinterklaas, I put my wooden shoes in front of our fireplace, and each night the Zwarte Pieten put candy and small toys in them while I slept. I'm rich with foiled-covered chocolate euros!

December 3rd was a Saturday, and the Oranjeschool had a big party. I dressed in my costume, and we sang songs and played games. Then Sinterklaas arrived with the Zware Pieten [right]. I was so excited! He talked to us, and each class made a presentation to him. Then the Zwarte Pieten handed out small gifts. 

Sunday afternoon the Holland-America Club hosted a party in Lake Forest Park. There were more games and Dutch foods to eat. Sinterklaas arrived on a power boat. As always, there were too many kids and too much noise, but I found a place to sit and participate in the songs and games. Sinterklaas had something to say, and then the Pieten handed out one more gift for each of us. I went home with a bag full of pepernoten to share with my class.

Monday night, the 5th, we had our traditional waffles, fruit, and whipped cream. Grandpa and Bonnie came over to to celebrate with us, so Papa also made a healthy omelet. (Breakfast for dinner!) As we were finishing our meal, someone knocked at the door. I rushed to open it. I wasn’t quick enough to catch Sinterklaas, but his burlap sack was on the front porch. I dragged it inside and pulled out gifts and poems for everyone. Sint gave me a two DVDs: How to Train Your Dragon (I'd been wanting that one SO badly!) and Tom and Jerry's Best Chases, as well as a little canvas bag from Zeeland with an electronic pet inside. I also got two nice poems, one in English and one in Dutch. Mommy and Papa each received a present, too, and even Grandpa and Bonnie got a bottle of wine. Sinterklaas is amazing!

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Caribbean, December

A very special part of our December this year was a cruise in the Caribbean. We left on Sunday, December 11th, for Ft. Lauderdale. It was a long day of flying. We stayed overnight in Ft. Lauderdale, then boarded the ship Monday morning [left]. 

The first two days we were on our ship, the Carnival Miracle. I spent most of my time either swimming in one of the two big pools or at Camp Carnival. I loved going there and playing games with other kids. During the cruise, the campers also got to be part of two musical shows on the big theater stage! One was called "Singin' with the Big Band," and we got up on stage with the Miracle dancers and the whole show band when Christopher Alan Graves sang The Candy Man. The other was a holiday celebration with more singers, dancers, and the band, and we got to stand up with reindeer antlers on our heads and sing Christmas songs for the whole audience. Afterward, Santa arrived and handed out presents!

Our first stop was Grand Turk (part of the Turks and Caicos islands). We had excursions planned; Papa was going to snorkel, and Mommy and I were going to visit a small cay and swim with rays. But the water was too murky because of winds, so the excursions were cancelled. At first, I was very disappointed. But just off the ship was a beach, shopping complex and fancy pool. We all put on lots of sunscreen, Mommy and Papa read and drank umbrella drinks, and I found friends to play with all afternoon. We had a very fun time.

Next we stopped at La Romana, Dominican Republic. There we took a bus excursion for the day. We went to the town of Higüey, where we got out to visit the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia. I don't think churches are very interesting, but Mommy bought a candle to light in honor of Grandma Joanie. Then we stopped at the house of Juan Ponce de Leon; he left from there to conquer Puerto Rico and Florida in 1508. Finally, we stopped at a small fishing village called Bayahibe, where we walked on the beach along the fishing boats pulled up onto the sand. I liked seeing all the kids walking home from school; they wear uniforms to school just like I do.

 

Our third stop was on Aruba. Rather than lay around on the beach, Mommy and Papa wanted to see what Aruba was all about, so we took another bus tour. We stopped first at the California lighthouse (which is not in California) along the north coast. I thought it was unusual to see so many cacti right next to the ocean. Then we drove to the Casibari Rock formation. There we climbed boulders the size of houses and could see much of the rest of the very flat island. Then we returned to the coast to see the Natural Bridge, a rock bridge created after waves wore away a hole through rock. The bus dropped us off in Oranjestad, the capital, and we did a little shopping. 

Our final stop was on Curaçao. We spent our day walking the capital of Willemstad, where Papa found lots of people speaking Dutch (also English, Spanish, and Papiamentu). We were rained on twice, but only for 10 minutes each time, and we didn't even need a jacket because it was so warm. We visited the Curaçao Market (Mommy bought me some handmade candies). We crossed the St Anna Bay, which bisects Willemstad [right], two ways: on a passenger ferry and over the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge. It swings open when boats need to sail through. One time we almost got stuck on it and had to run to the other side! We also spent some time at the Kura Hulanda Museum, which has exhibits about the African slave trade to the Caribbean. 

We spent two more days on the ship heading north. On December 20th, we disembarked from the ship and headed home for Christmas. I was excited the Christmas was near, but I quickly missed sunshine, 80-degree weather, and vacation on the ship.

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Christmas preparations, December

There wasn't nearly as much time this year as usual for Christmas preparations because of our trip, but Mom did her best to make most of it happen anyway.

Mommy, Cameron, and I decorated our Christmas tree before we left. I'm getting much better at putting on ornaments, although Cameron still tells me not to put them all in one place on the tree. While we were gone, our neighbor Kristina did two important jobs for us: one was to take care of Tabitha the cat; the other was to water our tree every day so that it would still be fresh when we got home.

After we got back on the 20th, I helped Mommy with wrapping . I discovered that it's fun to wrap, so I took it upon myself to wrap some extra gifts for Papa. (Boy was he surprised by the cat toy and the tree branch on Christmas Day!) 

I also helped with baking. Mommy made chocolate fudge, white chocolate candy with dried apricots and cranberries, her famous snowball cookies, and sugar cookies. I helped by decorating 13 sugar cookies [left]. Papa decorated two, and Mommy decorated 20. 

Finally, one night we went driving to look at Christmas lights. We visited two special houses, one in Kirkland where the yard full of lights flashed in time to Christmas music on the radio, and one in Bothell where we could actually drive through the decorations. We drove through four times!

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Christmas Eve, December

We spent Christmas Eve at Grandpa and Bonnie's house. All the Lundbergs were there and some of the Buckinghams, but the Feutzs were in Chicago. I ate up at the counter with Cameron, Laura and Sarah. 

After dinner, the big kids gave a musical presentation: they sang "Baby, It's Cold Outside," with the guys singing the high parts and the girls singing the low parts. I wanted to do something, too. I found Grandpa's red jacket in the closet so I made a Santa costume by cutting paper strips for the hem, sleeves, and hat. Jeff put it on and stuffed his stomach with a pillow. Then he pretended to be Santa while I sang one of my favorite Christmas carols, "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." Everyone applauded!

Next came presents, and I helped Sarah hand them out. When we all had them, we were allowed to open them. Grandpa and Bonnie gave me a third-grade workbook and a canister painted like Maggie, their Shetland sheepdog. Inside were three long bead necklaces. 

We ended the evening by taking a family photo. Even with some people missing, it was difficult to fit in the whole group of 17. An advantage to being the smallest person, though, is that I could just sit on someone's lap right in frontsurrounded by all my family.

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Christmas Day, December

Even though I was eager and impatient for Christmas, somehow everyone slept in Christmas morning! We didn't wake up until after 8:00! By the time we got downstairs, it was time to call Holland and talk to Oma, whose 80th birthday was on the 26th. So we didn't dig into stockings and gifts until pretty late. But that just made it all last longer.

I was excited to find that Santa had eaten the cookies and drunk most of the milk I left the night before. He even wrote a note thanking me!

Our stockings were very full. Some of the things that fell out of mine were giant spinner balloons, Pokemon "dogtags" and a key chain, magnetic rocks, lip gloss, and chocolates, of course.

Then we opened Santa gifts. He paid attention to my list because he brought me a Clarisse stuffed reindeer and two Hexbot toys [left]: a large, remote-control spider, and two little bugs (they sort of look like electronic cockroaches) that have their own habitat to run around in.

Mommy and Papa were also very nice to me. They gave me a dragon kite (but I can't use it until the weather is right), a Kinect game called Pets, the game Snafu, a purple Chirple robot, and a dinosaur skeleton to put together. But my favorite gift may have been from Cameron: he gave me a game called Apples to Apples, and after our Christmas brunch, we all played it together for over an hour. It's really fun!

Cameron had to leave at noon to have Christmas with his dad. So Mommy and Papa and I had a quiet afternoon playing with all our new toys. I got so many nice things that I barely even made a dent in them before bedtime!

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New Year's Eve, December

We had a special New Year's Eve this year. In the past, we had a party with Joseph and his family, but they moved to a different state this year. So we were on our own.

Instead, we stayed the night at the Sheraton in downtown Seattle. Do you know they have an annual gingerbread house competition? Mommy and I had fun looking at them [right]. They also have an indoor swimming poolon the 35th floor!  The very first thing we did when we got there was head to the pool.

For dinner, we went to The Spaghetti Factory. We sat next to a train car that was inside, and I had spaghetti with meatballs and spumoni. 

Then we went to the Seattle Center, and Mommy and I spent an hour ice skating on the WinterFest ice rink. Kids could use "ice walkers" (just like Grandma's) on the ice, and with that help I was practically racing around the circle! The Seattle Center was also decorated with lots of fairy lights, a band was playing in the Center House, and a clown made me a balloon doggie. By the time we got back to the hotel, it was already 10:00!

I couldn't stay awake till midnight. Mommy and Papa watched the Space Needle fireworks on TV while I was asleep.

The next morning I swam for an hour, and then we walked to Westlake Center to have breakfast at Starbuck's. I love Starbuck's! What a great way to start the new year!

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Snow, January

All December I complained that we hadn't had any snow. Then, in January, we got more than I could have imagined!

Snow began falling in Kirkland on Saturday, the 14th. On Sunday, I spent the entire day outside with other neighborhood kids, sledding, making snow people and snow forts, and getting really cold and wet [left]. (Nothing that some hot chocolate and marshmallows couldn't fix.) We were lucky that Monday, the 16th, was the holiday of Martin Luther King, Jr., so we didn't have to worry about going to school. My school opened late Tuesday, but it continued to snow, so it was closed on Wednesday, and then on Thursday we had an ice storm, so I had no school the rest of the week! 

Our neighborhood lost power Wednesday evening at 5:00; it was really cold and dark, and Mommy put out more candles than I've ever seen lit in our house at one time. We had to go to bed in the cold, but luckily for us workers fixed the problem during the night so that we didn't wake in a 30-degree house. 

Other people weren't so fortunate; by late Thursday over 230.000 people were without power in below-30-degree temperatures. Even I eventually got tired of the cold and wet, especially because we didn't have a car that could get out of our neighborhood, so we were stuck at home the whole time!

I think I'm actually glad to be going back to school!

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Eight years old, January

Sunday, January 29th, was my birthday, but I spent the whole weekend celebrating GREAT at EIGHT! 

On Saturday, I brought chocolate cupcakes that I helped make (with sprinkles!) to Dutch class. They sang the birthday song.

On Sunday morning, Grandpa and Cameron came over to eat chocolate chip pancakesjust what I asked for. Then I opened presents. Grandpa and Bonnie gave me a real birdfeeder to put outside. Cameron gave me a green punching dinosaur. Papa and Mommy gave me some dragon books, some art books, tracing paper, nail polish, a science kit, and the Rio DVD. 

The theme of my party was dragons, and I had 17 guests. We met at the Mountlake Terrace recreation complex, and everyone had a blast swimming for an hour. Then we gathered in the Jungle Room to eat pizza, veggies and dip, and chocolate Dragon Tales cake. There were so many candles I could barely blow them all out! At the end of the party, everyone lined up to take two swings at a beautiful dragon piñatabut even with 36 hits, the piñata refused to break! Finally, Papa poked a hole in the top and dumped out the candy, and all of us threw ourselves on the floor and scrambled for candy. That was so fun!

When we got home, I opened my gifts from all my friends. Mom said the variety represented all my sides: a Barbie doll and a girls' sleepover party case; art paper, pencils, and pens; board games; books; and even two Imaginext dinosaurs and a roaring, walking dragon. I liked all my gifts (but I wasn't too excited about the thought of writing all those thank you notes over the next week).

Finally, on Monday, I took more homemade sprinkle cupcakes to school. Everyone sang Happy Birthday, and my new teacher, Mrs. Sullivan, gave me a cinnamon Smencil. It was great turning eight!

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