"Cheese grater": On November 30th (and after years of preparatory work, appliances, and headgear), Cameron finally had braces put on his teeth. He was most nervous about how the braces would affect his trumpet playing, but initial tries suggest that he'll be back to his solo-quality sound pretty quickly. (To see Cameron's new smile, visit his Album.)
Off to a good start: Cameron earned straight A's for the first quarter of 8th grade. Way to go!
"Trick or treat!": Sofia learned to pronounce this Halloween threat, although she probably still thinks that it's all one word. It was a Halloween of firsts for her: first pumpkin farm visit, first participation at a Halloween party, and first door-to-door trick-or-treating. Halloween night, she began tentatively, but once she realized that people answering the doors were putting something into her bag for her (despite the fact that she didn't know what it was and wasn't allowed to open any of it), she was eager to walk up to doors and wouldn't release her grip on her bag for any reason. Since Sofia isn't allowed to eat candy, Amy and Jan found it fatteningly necessary to abscond with it later that evening. Meanwhile, Cameron didn't dress up, but he accompanied Sofia on her first Halloween tour, and people were happy to supply a helpful big brother with candy, too. (For more Halloween photos, see Sofia's Album and Cameron's Album.)
Cameron and Sofia at a local pumpkin farm, where the family didn't pick any pumpkins but did successfully maneuver a complicated cornfield maze.
In the swing again: With Cameron's help (babysitting), Jan and Amy finally scheduled our first regular time together since Sofia's arrival by taking a weekly evening swing dance class during September and October. The classes, through Left Foot Swing (which teaches relatively near us on the East Side), have been a nice way to get some exercise and a great way to reconnect. Usually, students regularly change partners throughout the hour, but after the second class, we asked permission to dance only with each other. Hey, with a 20-month-old at home, this is our together time!
A fish is born: In September, Sofia took a semi-weekly, half-hour swim class at Northwest Aerials. Fearless Sofia was comfortable in the water from the first class, happy to splash, get her face wet, even jump from the side into Papa's waiting arms. In fact, the teacher commented that her extreme relaxation was actually working against her learning to swim, since she wasn't having the normal instinctive reaction of paddling to keep her head above the water. Nevertheless, in the fourth week she finally got it, and by the last class she was moving arms and legs to keep her balance and push herself around (with the help of floats attached to her torso). Northwest Aerials has an outdoor pool and won't hold swim classes again until next spring, but Sofia enjoyed the swimming (Zwemmen!" she says) so much that we'll be sure to find indoor winter swim classes for her. (Swimming photos are in Sofia's Album.)
Sudden transformation: Over the course of just four days—September 22, 23, 26, and 27—the de Rie home was significantly transformed with the installation of landscaping in the back and side yards. The process of watching the yard grow from plain to beautiful was exciting. Especially nice is a new rock stairway and slate path on the north side [below] that will allow us to easily walk from the front of the house to the back without sliding down the slippery south side. A number of large trees—maples, flowering plums, golden chains, and cedars—were planted to give us more privacy; grass was removed, particularly on the north side, where a lovely shade garden surrounds the pathway; the beds were shaped and widened all around the fences; and the south side terraces were filled with sun-loving plants. Hydrangea, lilac, nandina, barberry, mock orange, viburnum, heather, lavender, rosemary, and many other plants will give us variation in colors, flowers, and fragrances year 'round. The landscaper (design and installation) was the Highridge Corporation, and we couldn't be more pleased. If there's any problem it's this: the beautiful plant beds make the suffering grass look even more terrible...and Jan has a big lawn rehabilitation job ahead of him!
School daze: Cameron will be a busy guy this year. Besides Language Arts, Social Studies, Geometry, and Science, his first semester includes P.E. and Symphonic (8th grade) band. On top of that, he's playing trumpet in the Jazz Band, which meets one hour before school each day, and for Fall Quarter, he is also on the Kamiakin tennis team, which meets every day for 1 1/2 hours after school. Matches are every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon through the end of October.