*8 months

Lucky girl gets to have her birthday on gnocchi day. I am just amazed at how much she changes day to day. She's been army-crawling for a while now, and last week was doing a little handstand thing that I think was an attempt to move forward. This morning she really crawled for the first time! She's also pulling herself up on just about everything, is starting to show signs of 'playing' with us, has 2 little teeth, is still sleeping about 12 hours at night and has continued to develop a healthy little temper. She still doesn't like naps, but I think she's starting to understand that she doesn't have a choice.


*the cheerful life

Someone sent me an email recently and commented that [per the blog] our life here seems so peaceful and cheery. It is for the most part. However, I think this is kind of an exercise in finding the good in our days. Not that it's hard to find, but if you know me, you might know that I can tend to be a little ... negative. I remember one time finding out that someone thought I was a complainer. I was insensed -- what?! me? I relayed the information to Heather and Leslie [or was it Julie and Sarah?] and they gave each other a little twinkly-eyed look that told me that yes, it was true. Good thing I can laugh at myself, eh? So anyway, I just want you to know that although I share with you all the fun, cute happy times here at the Cater household, we [yes, mostly me] have our fair share of downtime. I struggle especially with patience with Vera [when she wakes up again after a 15 minute nap - this is getting better, by the way], with feeling unproductive [mostly not contributing any $$ to our destitute brokeness], with few good friends here [Jenny, I am so so thankful for you], with of course the usual feeling pasty and out of shape - with lots of things.

I've been reading the Psalms lately and am encouraged to be joyful, cheerful, glad, grateful ... even when we all feel like this:

(this, by the way, is lately how Vera expresses her despair)

*spring break

We had a great time in Carson. My older sister and her family were there too - Vera loved seeing her cousins running around and thought they were pretty funny. We didn't do a whole lot, just hung out at home and got to visit with lots of old friends and family. Good food too, of course [Sarah, we had a bunny cake - the picture didn't turn out very well...]. Vera didn't have any trouble falling asleep in another place -- good because this was a trial run for our upcoming trip to Seattle!!

Visiting Great-Grandma Kay at the ranch [um yes, Liz, I'm wearing your clothes...]::Playing peek-a-boo with Eliot:: Egg hunting with Olivia, Ivor + Eliot. Vera found the one we set right in front of her::Easter dinner [sooo good. local lamb, stuffed tomatoes, butternut squash, homemade bread, yummy wine... oh and see the bunny cake in the right corner! There was a lamb cake too - Great Great Granny Mae's sour cream cake. It was so good.]::

All dressed up::

Being pulled around on my old VW bug [which Eliot was reluctant to share]::


*The Easter Dress

Little Easter Dresses deserve their own post. I always remember having a special one - usually made by my mom and usually matching my little sister's. I was so excited to see Vera in hers! Ben's mom bought it for her - maybe next year I can make one :) I didn't get a picture of the adorable little ruffled and laced bloomers - they were probably the best part.

Of course, the special dress is for a special day. Easter is my favorite Sunday of the year - so joyful and triumphant. He is risen!


*happy spring!

Off to Nevada tomorrow for a week!


*happy moment

A sunny afternoon, a peanut butter cup, a hot mate*, a happy baby and a resting husband.

*[I realize that if you don't know how to pronouce mate - it looks like I'm talking about a hot australian buddy. It's 'mah-tay'. Also -- to be honest, this happy moment was last week before I discovered that mate does indeed make for a hyper little baby. Sad, I was really starting to like it again.]


*a favorite scene

Vera's got a cold this week and so the past couple nights has taken her first baths in the big tub - the steamy bathroom helps to clear up her stuffy nose. I liked to witness this nightly little daddy/daughter ritual and will miss it once she graduates full-time to the big kid tub.



Yesterday I was able to make a whole batch of these ----

----while Vera kept herself busy here:

Totally unprecedented. Afterwards, we went downstairs [yes I carried baby and tray :)] to share with Daddy. Vera was pretty upset that peanut butter and milk are both on her not-allowed-to-eat list.



My first attempt at feeding Vera homemade food. Like her friend, Sam, she wasn't very interested. Most of butternut squash/pear mixture you see on her face was my attempt at sneaking little bites in when she happened to open her little mouth. I took a video too. After the first look of disgust, she kept her mouth tightly closed, little stinker. She was much happier when I gave up and handed over the spoon. What is it about store-bought food? My mom used to make the most delicious homemade mac+cheese, yet all I wanted was the boxed Kraft [I have since realized the superiority of the former]. Just you wait, Vera, you will like what I make! and that's final!



Ben's been loving his new bike - riding to school [almost] everyday just like we used to in Missoula. And look! He's wearing a helmet. Our neighbor down the street was hit by a car on his bike and apparently cracked the woman's windshield with his helmeted head. Lesson learned.

[note: if you don't know what to put for your title, just think of the most basic thing and say it in another language: an easy way to make you sound cultured and cool]



One of the first things that struck me when Vera was new was finding her teeny shoes or socks or whatever lying around: sweet reminders of the new little person in our home.



Do all babies do this? She's been making these sounds for a long time now, but just discovered that the hot water bottle makes for the best resonancy.



Cuteness is multiplied by the number of babies present: see here.


*the art of breakfast

On the blog Simply Breakfast last week she was taking a few days off and invited readers to send links to photos of their artful morning meals. I laughed one morning when I looked down at my icky old banana peel next to a huge peanut butter jar. Before I took the photo I even moved aside a baby nasal aspirator thing and some Q-tips. So pretty.



Ben and I routinely ask each other, "what's your favorite thing about her?" The answers always change as she grows and changes herself. Lately one of my favorite things is her cute little posture when she's sitting on her blanket busily examining a toy, as well as her teeny little hands that she's discovering how to maneuver better and better. Ben's favorite thing is to sniff her little head - he still can't get over the sweet baby smell. Another favorite he told me last night is when she grabs something and so intensely wants to put it in her mouth that she shakes [like when she grabbed my hand in this video...]


*pet peeve

I have a friend whose pet peeve is pet peeves :) Isn't that right, ____?

Anyway my new pet peeve [if I may use the phrase] is packaging!!! I may sound like I want to be all cool and "green", but really, don't these companies get it?? I looked in our kitchen trash and it was filled with non-recylceable soup boxes, milk cartons, and all sorts of little useless plastic scraps. To quote my friend Jenny's husband, "Do you hate the Earth?" I loved The Good Food Store in Missoula - they had an enormous bulk section and a shelf full of sanitized yogurt tubs, jars and other containers that you could use to fill up with rice, parmesan, tofu, chopped almonds, slivered almonds, sliced almonds... I read in Real Simple the other day about a couple who only generates a half a trashbag of waste a week. Now I don't want something like this to consume our lives, but at the same time I'm going to make an effort to be creative [um - use the cloth diapers that I already have?], produce less waste and not hate the Earth :)



Who can resist taking pictures of a baby all snuggled up after bathtime?



Back from a walk with her daddy the other day. Apparently she held on to his hat the whole way. Winter is making its retreat and we are looking forward to Spring and lots of walks, hikes, quilts on the grass and generally being outdoors.


*feeling thankful

It's been a good day. Vera went down so easily for both naps and slept for almost 2 hours the second one. The whole day she was just freaking adorable and Ben and I had fun talking about her cuteness and how much we love her. This morning it was overcast and windy - a strong, warm cozy kind of wind if that makes sense. Later on, there was a big downpour that turned into fat flakes of snow. After Vera's glorious long nap, kind Ben offered to watch her and I went down to Coffee Garden to read [I just started the Omnivore's Dilemma - yikes]. I also had time to sit down with mate [I did it!] to read my Bible, was inspired for a new project, and just felt God's goodness all around.

The night is ending well too. Tonight Ben went out for Irish food and beers with our neighbor and I'm home eating a yummy dinner in front of a toasty fire. I'm quite proud of myself actually - I like to cook but am not very good at just "whipping something up" out of what's in the fridge. But I did it! I sauteed leeks, garlic and pepper flakes in a copious amount of olive oil, then wilted a bunch of spinach in it and added ricotta [it has to be that good "mozzarella fresca" brand] and a bit of the pasta water [an invaluable trick learned from Giada]. I put it all on penne with a [huge] handful of pinenuts, some parmesan and kosher salt. yum! The only thing missing is a glass [and the rest of the bottle handy] of wine.

[by the way, I love brackets because they let me add thoughts to my thoughts]

Anyway, just the kind of day that reminds me of how much I have to be thankful for.

*el veintinueve

On the 29th of every month in Argentina it's traditional to eat ñoqui (gnocchi in Italian). The couple I lived with there, Elsa y Antonio, would always have them homemade. Elsa taught me how and it's really not that hard - just time consuming. So last night being the 29th, I really wanted to have them but didn't feel like making them. The whole point of the tradition is that at the end of the month, all you have left in the cupboard is potatoes and flour. That would make sense for Ben and I [having no income and all...] but no, I went to the little gourmet shop and bought some ñoquis that would have horrified Elsa at how much they cost. Oh well -- just this once. To be honest, they weren't as good as homemade. I did put them in my big serving bowl just like we did there. Elsa would place the fuente on the table and Antonio and I would fill up our plates - at least several times. There was always a bottle of tinto on the table as well as little baguettes that lay on tablecloth waiting to be torn up to soak up sauce. Favorite memories.