:eating ice cream cake with her cousins.  she LOVED her cousins!  ahweewee (olivia) iva (ivor) and elilileelele (eliot - the birthday boy. my sister was pregnant with him at our wedding!):

:lots of snow:

:eating cheese and drinking wine - there was a lot of this:

:i always say this, but i love to see vera get to know and have fun with her family.  i was a bad photographer this time and didn't get any with grandma & papa sam:

I tried to move this to the top, but can't figure out Ben's Mac.  We're home for a brief 10 hours before we fly out for California in the morning...  After un- and re- packing, I thought I'd post some of our favs from Ward Christmas 2008 - I don't want to be all backlogged when we get back :)

and grrr I've been waiting like 20 minutes for this cute picture of the three of us eating Christmas dinner to upload.  prime rib, yorkshire pudding, pumpkin rolls.... sooooo good.  vera's favorite was the green beans. ?  I still smile remembering how she shoved another in real fast before we prayed.  like it was candy or something she shouldn't have.


*a good day

We had a wonderful Christmas! Some choice ones of Vera - more later...


daddy/daughter time

The other day, I (Ben) took Vera on a hike with Boone. It had just snowed, which made everything look beautiful. Vera got cold, and so we had to go home shortly after we arrived. But we still had a great time.


*Christmas Vacation!

Ben turned in his last paper for the semester and is soooo happy.  Other semesters he's had work carry over the break, and I can imagine how good it feels to have this clean slate*.  We had a great afternoon... I got some errands ran and Ben went for a walk in the snow with Vera and Boone.  It was a classic last day of school with heavy, steady snowfall all day.  This evening there was that soft, quiet, pinkish light that I remember so well from being young.  Those times we'd have snowball fights late [well what I thought was late] into the night, somehow never feeling cold.  Ha, am I making this sound romantic?  Most of those nights probably actually ended in Liz or I running inside crying because George nailed us in the face with a snowball :)

Anyway, we are so looking forward to the holidays!!!  It's just so great to be with family, especially when you live away.  We actually get to see both sides - we'll spend Christmas in Nevada with mine and then head down to California again after the New Year.

*For those of you who wonder, Ben is probably about 2 years from finishing.  He'll take one class in the Spring, but that's it as far as coursework [he'll be teaching one as well].  In March he'll take some big exams, after which he'll be considered a PhD candidate.  After that he'll start researching for the dissertation which generally takes a year - then another year to write.  Over halfway!  We're real proud :)



We live by a pretty amazing park with a decent sledding hill. This first time Vera was a little overwhelmed and underdressed, but we have all winter ...

and last year! 7 months old I think:


A few things about Vera lately that I want to remember:

°She's really into praying before meals now. She likes to hold hands and bows her head in a funny little way. When we finish she says ah-me! and then signs "again." Last night we prayed "again" at least 10 times.

°I love how she makes her stuffed animals and dolls do things. Over Thanksgiving I noticed her play-feeding Bunny. She put down the spoon, signed "more" with his paws, and continued the feeding. He and the other little friends also sign thank you and wave bye-bye. One day after I showed her how to slide off the couch on her tummy, I saw her sliding Bunny off on his tummy too. Last night, I think she was trying to put Bunny in a sling. She had one of my tank tops around her neck and was trying to stuff him in too ... I wrapped it around and they hung out like that for a while. It was mpossible to get a good picture:

°Last night she discovered that she could blow out votives and wouldn't let Tia [our neighbor] rest until she'd re-lit them 20 times.

°She loves to brush her teeth and I can guarantee if I start brushing mine, she comes running from wherever she's been for her turn.

°Tonight she stuffed some brocolli up her nose. Ben laughed and called me in to see. Hopefully he remembers next time that you don't laugh at those things! She was still snorting out brocolli by bathtime.

°She loves shoes and hats. She always labels our shoes and hats: Mama! Daddy! Mama! Yesterday I thought she might have labeled one as Vera's! She says her name like a Vvvbbbba breathy type sound. Her friend Amelia has this same hat and she labels it too:


*a true toddler

Vera started clearly saying the dreaded "no" a week or two ago. I noticed she'd copy me when I spill something and say "oh nooo!", which was kind of cute. A few nights ago Ben asked if she wanted to get out of the tub three times, and each time she gave him a clear no. This morning she started a game where she holds something out to Stella or me, and just as we go to take it, she swings it back around and says no! I don't like this game very much, and am at a bit of a loss [and I feel like I'm being duped, because every time I think she really is giving me the object. she's very convincing.] My first reaction is to say [obviously], "no, Vera!" What do you suggest?



I'm so grateful for Ben motivating me to get up & out. I was feeling totally unproductive and bored and sluggish one morning last week, and so he suggested we go for a hike - with Vera and Stella. Guess what? You can go on an outing with two babies [and a dog too]! There was no whining or crying in the car or on the trail and we all got some lovely, cool, fresh air.

[very handy, comfortable Beco carrier on loan from the twins]


*el baño

Vera normally has "tubby time" with Ben - a highlight of both their days. After she gets undressed, he's taught her to carry her dirty clothes into her room and drop them in the basket - nothing cuter than her naked little bottom running back to get in the tub. They do all these cute little projects [quite Montessori unbeknownst to Ben] like filling the pitcher with shampoo bottles one by one, lining them up on the side, taking them down, repeating, etc.

I usually don't give her a bath when he's not home, I've thought it was kind of a hassle. Last night though I did, and had so much fun just watching. The entire 25 minutes she poured water from one cup to the other. At one point she dropped a cup and it splashed in her face, making her laugh. So she switched and would pour, pour, drop one cup in the other and pour it out into the water to splash. She was cracking up - every single time. I didn't have to do anything but watch.

[my new cell phone doesn't take very good photos :( ]



Ok, ONE more.  I just posted the last one and from there Ben and I sat and watched old youtubes of Vera over and over and over.  This one is pretty cute from a couple weeks ago.  The day before we'd let her and Sam & Amelia jump in the crib, which was cra-zy - I think she was trying to recreate it:


Here's two more videos from a night last week. Ben had class late and Vera and I had a fun little dinner together and then just hung out and played. She didn't really talk or sing or put her hands up or anything else I asked her to do [geez, why won't kids perform when you want them to??]. These aren't super-exciting, but are a little snapshot of our everyday:


*unas palabras

I've been trying to upload videos all day and this is the only one that's worked. I finally got her to say some words on camera. I forgot I was going to edit the end when she doesn't say her "sah/me-me" which is a favorite. ...well that and "tomato."


*do you...

... know anyone who likes to write letters and send birthday cards? My older sister had a great idea for some of her friends: she had me make up some little sets with 4 of my birthday cards, 4 thankyous and 4 of the Be Thou My Vision notecards. If you're interested, you could send me an email.

I'm thinking $20 for shipping and everything. I won't put it on the Etsy shop (you can look there to see everything though) because it's a bit of a hassle and they take a little cut. Also supply is limited :)

* Just a thought *


*the tree

Doesn't this look sweet - decorating the tree with my little girl?

It wasn't. It was a disaster of a night. Vera freaked out when I started putting the ornaments up, furiously signing and saying ball. When I told her she couldn't touch them or the lights, it was total meltdown. Ben was telling me to pose with her helping put up an ornament and I was telling him that it wasn't a happy memory we were making. Anyway, at least now we can laugh about it :) I took off all the ornaments after she went to bed and she's since been able to keep from touching the lights.


*16 months 4 days

I can't wait untill I can officially just say she's "a year and a half." I always thought it was kind of silly how parents were always telling you their child was 17 months or 14 months etc., but now I know how quickly they change and how you want to express that. I did hear a woman talking about her 46 month old a few weeks ago - that's a little ridiculous.

ANYway, at 16 months Vera::
*finally, clearly calls me Mama!! It's a pretty sweet thing to hear.
*started climbing onto the kitchen chairs and the couch. She does it over and over and over and is tiring me out.
*is liking her bottle a little too much. oops, why did I start giving her bottles of milk at a year?? bad idea.
*loves blueberries, yogurt, ice cream, green beans, noodles, mexican food [from a restaurant, doesn't count if I make it], pinenuts and any snack that someone else has.
*loves to pour water from cup to cup.
*"smiles" when you tell her to:


*el agua

It was so nice and refreshing to be back by the ocean! Vera loved it: she was contentedly quiet the whole time and just played + played with us.


*more moments

new cater tradition. fruitball:
the weather was so nice:

every kid started at least 3 apples:

mini pumpkin pie and mini oj for breakfast:

vera loves dogs and birds and cats. she's been calling for caaaatt-ro since we got home:

fun with auntie jay:
one of the twins [who were ad-orable] with his auntie:

eating guava off the tree with lola:

others not captured on camera:
*vera running up to her grandpop at the airport - arms up yelling papa! papa! A pretty sweet sight considering her clinging-to-mommy phase. [I just realized we didn't even get a picture of him!]

*strolling through the most amazing whole foods ever with ben + jessie thanksgiving morning. Ben commented this was a favorite moment of his - anticipating the fun night ahead.
*the beach. i'll post pictures later...
*vera taking two-and-a-half-hour naps!!!


{jake thought vera was pretty cute and kept trying for hugs}

I just uploaded over 200 pictures from Thanksgiving and am a little overwhelmed as to which ones to post. We had such a great time in California - our favorite part of course just hanging out with family. It was a big Thanksgiving dinner, with all the aunties and uncles and even in-laws' in-laws present. There was lots of kids and I had so much fun watching and playing with them throughout the evening. I'll share [many] more pictures, but this was a favorite little moment. While the big kids were playing ball, Vera busied herself transporting dirt from a pot to the grass.