*las frases

A sampling of the "sentences" we're hearing lately:

"star. eatit [she can't say -ing]. mouth. six four four six." [eating all of Stella's star puffs the other day]

"Desta. chew. hurt. cry." [this was one of her first conversations with me a couple months ago after Stella choked a bit on her dry cereal. Vera brings this up at least every other day.]

"all-clea(n). sharp. dang(er)ous." [cheese grater on the floor]

"yucky bug. table. clean. auntie." [she brings this one up a lot too. there was a cockroach in a restaurant in NYC - they need to clean. auntie J was there.]

"bye! store. church" [she's always pretending to go bye-bye. church, store and park are the places she knows to go.]

"ba ba ba ba, elmo [i think she was singing elmo's world here]. piglet. mommy. bag, coat." [I have nooo idea]

*play dough

I just found these pictures in an old file and it made me laugh to remember. Back in November our friends gave us some homemade play dough . I was so excited to have her try it out.. however, she would NOT even touch it and cowered as far into the bookcase as she could. Sadly I think the video was lost when Ben's Mac crashed. Anyway it was hilarious. I wonder what she'd think of it now?


*casi dos años

At just 2 months short of a year, Vera knows all her colors, is going through a picky-eater stage where I'm always a little nervous if she'll eat what I put in front of her [unless it's yogurt, a popsicle, ice cream or strawberries], can say her abc's up to d :) and can identify a handful of letters like C for cat, M for Mommy, D for Daddy, A for apple & Amelia, , etc. She loves rainbows, baby ducks+geese, dogs, coloring, cooking and helping in the yard. She is napping again at least an hour every day - yay! and sleeps really well at night. I'd say this is an extra fun stage, especially being able to have mini-conversations :)

Just the other day I tried to teach her her full name [your 2 were too cute, jenny :)]. In the car this morning out of the blue she started saying it - so cute. She even put together "Mommy Cater" on her own, though she seems to have already forgotten:


*foto de la familia

...Central Park...


*memorial day

We had a lovely little picnic and playtime today at Red Butte Gardens. The weather has been just perfect and we're savoring every moment before it gets scorching hot...


*Nueva York

We had such a great time in New York with Ben's family!!! I have always always wanted to go. Our stay was way too short, however, and I never really had a bearing of where exactly I was, what direction was what, what neighborhood has what feel, etc. It was a good little overview though, and I can't wait to go back someday :) It was definitely very distinct from the other big cities I've visited and I would so love to get to know it! At one point I had taken Vera out of a restaurant to walk on the sidewalk and I pretended that I was blending in: just another resident of the West Village [I confess, I always like to imagine I'm a local... :)]

Vera was a little star - going to bed super late, surviving on mostly milk, ice cream and yogurt, skipping naps [making her tired enough to sleep through diaper/PJ changes!!] and all the while happy and easy-going and so excited to be with her auntie, uncles and Lola + Poppop [still not sure what she'll eventually call him...]. Really it is so fun now how she knows who people are and can anticipate things. The very first morning she raised her head and seeing Lola and Matty through the door lit up in the sweetest, biggest smile. Throughout the day she'd go up to Ben's mom and just say "Hi Lola!" - it was so cute.

Anyway, some highlights. I wish my pictures were better, but you get the idea [maybe Matty can send me some of his always amazing shots?]:

...walking, one of my favorite things about a big city:

...Central Park - to always hear so much about it and finally get to experience it:

...Metropolitan Museum of Art. I couldn't believe how well little V behaved herself. She spent most of her time with Mike and Rosie and apparently she loved pointing out all the horseys. My favorites were the Cezanne, Degas, Van Gogh and whatever you call it post-Modern pieces by Jackson Pollock (sp), Lichtenstein, etc. I love seeing things that I remember learning about in my one college art history class. I also loved the whole medieval armor/swords. You kind of come to think they were just a fabrication of Monty Python or The Sword and the Stone, but they're not!

The food! We had some delicious meals, always so much fun with Ben's family [well mine too], as they all know and love to eat good food and share a meal together. We had Argentinean, Greek, Jewish deli fare and an extra special Italian meal at L'Artusi - tho' I still wish I ordered what Ben did :)

Jessie and Ben's adorable tiny apartment. If I could hire a personal interior designer/stylist/buyer it would be her!

...the taxi rides! except the one where we accidentally left a backpack and never to be seen again laptop. oops - part of the experience?

...and I didn't get any pictures on my camera, but... seeing Jessie graduate from such a prestigious, demanding program at Columbia!!


*el jardín

We got home from New York City [!] last night. I'll post pictures/stories later, but will share now that we came home to a blooming garden. Irises and peonies and wildflowers are blooming and there's tons of cilantro and parsley. The beets [yes, rivaling Shrute Farms] are almost ready to harvest - maybe we can do it early and have fashionably baby ones.

I've never been successful with cilantro before, and am so happy to have so much! While it lasts this recipe is going to be a staple. So so good and addicting - I got it from chowhound.com.

Cilantro Rice
for each cup of rice - any type:

cook with 1 tsp salt, then add following, pureed:

2/3 C cilantro
1/3 C chopped onion
1/4 C scallions
1 jalapeño (I did half and it was fine for Vera)
1 Tb. lime juice
1.5 tsp. olive oil.


*cien años

My Grandpa JohnD would have been 100 tomorrow. He passed away a few years ago and it still makes me teary remembering him. Living near him and my Grandma was an extremely special and I think formative part of my childhood. I took these pictures [of pictures] last time I was home - they are just exactly how I remember him... always with his cowboy hat and boots, dusty jeans and pearl snap buttons. I loved riding with him in the old yellow Scout, and later the succession of F150s, down to the fields or corral - I still vividly remember the dusty sagebrush smell and the scratchy seat covers, the tic-tacs in the glove compartment, making conversation about the horses or the river or stories from before. For some reason I always remember too how he would wiggle his ears and when you came close to see he'd give a little jump and scare the bejezus out of you :)

I was able to see him just a week before he died. He had been fairly invalid for a while, with Alzheimer's and then cancer. My mom and I stood by his bed - still at home looking out over the beautiful valley - and just held his hand. My mom told him he was a wonderful father and grandfather, and I remember a look of lucidity crossed his face and he said in his familiar voice, "why I didn't know that!" - makes me cry just thinking of it now. Anyway, we miss you Grandpa! I will make sure my children know their Grandparents like I did.

[p.s. happy birthday to you too ecw-g!]


*sacando fotos

I don't know why I loved this tonight.. I guess just more proof that we no longer have a baby, but a little girl who has ideas and communicates them. So she first wanted a picture with Bunny - she saw the camera in our room, said "picture? Ubba-ubba?", ran to get Bunny and posed:
...then she wanted a picture with Bunny while sitting on Lamb [I can't stop laughing at this one]:
...then she wanted to take a picture of her kitchen, after which she 'showed' the picture to the kitchen and said "see?"


Well Vera had her first camping experience this weekend. She would probably tell you she had a fantastic time - setting up the tent with daddy, poking around all the gear, feeding/watering Boone [as well as tricking him by throwing rocks - cracked herself up]. She also slept great - in the back of the truck with me. That was the part I was most worried about, but it was quite easy. She only popped up a couple times exclaiming "bats!" "bugs!" "boone!" before flopping over a couple times and beginning to snore [it helped I was going to bed too]. She probably got the best sleep of any of us... I happened to come down with a flu-like bug on the drive down, so my night was rather restless, cold and achy. I literally watched the moon slowly travel allllll the way across the sky, wondering if it would ever be morning. Ben slept in the tent, though he forgot his brand new sleeping bag/pad and slept on the cold hard ground [added later.. he did sleep in a bag, just not the nice new one!] :(

We headed out about 10:30 the next morning, planning to spend some time walking around Goblin Valley and the slot canyons, but Vera fell asleep within minutes of being in the carseat and I started to feel worse and worse. So we ended up just driving straight home! Strangely, though we didn't actually see what we went to see, and though I sat in the chair or laid in the truck the whole time, it was worth it. Worth it to drive through some beautiful country, worth it to see how happy and excited both Vera and Ben were, bustling around fixing up camp, getting dinner ready, etc. We had a cozy little soup dinner too and it was fun just being a family.

..so proud and happy to help with the tent..

..we were laughing at what a dusty little raggamuffin she was here and then as I took the picture she let out a big belch. lovely..



It was an old-fashioned day of family fun at the park today :)


*then and now

I like to look back in the picture files. A year ago today it looks like my mom was visiting. I remember we spent a lot of our time outside getting the garden planted - tried to put Vera in the playpen, but she would not have it. She was literally scaling the walls, about to tip it over before I took her out. Aren't babies supposed to like playpens - like Uncle Jail-bird Joey? [someone please know that reference...]

We've been spending a lot of time outdoors as well - explains my lack of posting here [feels good to be away from the internet and tv!]. We go to the park about 3 times a day to go on the slide [she is a regular-grown-up little kid now - all by herself!] and look for the ducklings and goslings [babies, where arrrre you? we call :)] pick flowers in the backyard, fetch parsley and cilantro for dinner, water the pansies and tomatoes, pick weeds, etc. Vera knows which are the weeds and loves to throw them out to the street or into the lawn. She also loves to blow dandelion seeds.. this slows down our walks considerably as we always have to have a 'new' one in hand. So that's what we're up to lately!

Also in case you're wondering, Ben passed his exams!! He is now a doctoral candidate - done with all the schooling and ready to start researching and writing his dissertation. We're not going anywhere for a while :)


*los juguetes

I've been meaning* to write about some of the toys that I would buy [or be given/handed-down :)] again. I have learned along the way the things that capture her attention and the things that just haven't - as cute as some of them are.

So here's a small selection of the toys that Vera loooves and that I would recommend to others:

Wooden ring stacker thing: As simple as this is, she still likes to put it together often. The wood makes such a satisfying sound as it plunks down. The smaller ones also serve as pretend panqueques :) I bought ours at Ikea for $6!

Chicco car shape sorter: This one has held her attention since before she could even army-crawl! First she'd play with the shapes, then she could push the car around, then she'd sort the shapes with my help [I loved it when I first noticed how she'd mimic finding the right slot "no, no, no, no, yes!"], and now she can do it really easily on her own and can identify the colors and stars/circles, etc. My sister handed this one down :)

Tea set: She loves her tea set! I try to remember to keep it put away in her little cupboards or she'd be asking me to fill it with water all day long. She's quite adept at pouring us each a cup now - though it's usually coffee, not tea now that she pours.

Push wagon/stroller: We were going to get her a beautiful Haba one for Christmas, but it didn't work out [gifter please see forthcoming email]. I got her this one at a garage sale for 3$. It's definitely not as cute as the Haba one but, it works great and is used all throughout the day [a little lesson for me in snobbery?].

Dragon push toy: She literally laughed out loud when she first opened this one at Christmas and has continued to play with it since [sometimes Dragon is used more like a baseball bat and is therefore taken away :)]. Both Stella and our neighbors' little guy laugh out loud at him as well - this one is cute and wooden and probably German - and worth it :)

Blocks: while sometimes it seems all they're there for is for her to scatter and knock over, they're still so great and versatile. She started by knocking over our towers, moved on to building small ones of her own and identifying the little pictures. Now she can identify some of the letters and builds them into long trains and even sautees them into soup and 'cake' [not muffins, mind you].

[on a similar note, as cute as soft blocks are, they didn't get as much play as I thought they would have.]

*meaning to write about this for a long time. in fact we've lost the contents on two laptops while I gathered pictures for this post! so I just gave some links...


*mi chiquita

I'm still finding it too early to tell if Vera will be a girly girl, though she did choose these glasses over all the others [at REI with Daddy]. I wish I caught the enormous smile when she first showed me - so proud and happy.


*el campeón

So Ben finished his last written exam yesterday and feels it couldn't have gone better! I was never on the edge of my seat to find that out - I knew he would do amazingly. Last night a friend offered [thank you!!] to watch Vera and so the two of us went out to celebrate. We went to a place that doesn't even allow anyone under 21, which made it feel extra special :) We both had some amazing food and beer [not so readily available in the great state of UT]. He still has his oral exams next Wednesday and will have to grade papers/exams for his own class, but essentially summer vacation starts today :) :)