Friday, November 28, 2008

There Was a Little Girl

Who had a little curl

Right in the middle of her forehead . . .

So Fresh and So Clean

Don't I look wonderful?

This Sure Isn't Ama's

No Thanksgiving is complete without pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie may be Thanksgiving if you are in a country like Ecuador where simply thinking of standing in an unair-conditioned kitchen cooking all day makes you start to melt and break out in a heat rash.

We didn't make pumpkin pie last year, but it wasn't a big deal. Three reasons:

(1) Ama is the one who makes the pumpkin pies and she wasn't with us last year. She is the pie girl, I am the bread girl, Nana is the turkey lady, and Opa is the potato man. That is just the way it is. If Ama doesn't make it, I'm not sure if I want to eat it.

(2) Natalia and I were flying home from Ecuador to be with Nana and Opa on Thanksgiving. We started out the trip home at 10:00 pm the night before. Having already done this trip alone with a baby I knew that, while pumpkin pie rocks my world, my bed would rock my world more.

(3) Natalia wasn't eating solid food yet, so I wasn't depriving her of anything.

"Ama's the pie girl" excuse doesn't quite hold this year. We aren't traveling and Natalia eats solid food (though you wouldn't know that since we arrived in Ecuador - I'm used to her nursing a bit more when we are here, but seriously child, EAT SOME FOOD!!!)

So I decided to make pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin pie is not that hard to make when living in the US. Simply open a can of pumpkin, open some cans of evaporated milk, mix in sugar, eggs, spices and pour into crust. Bake. Viola - pumpkin pie.

Not so much here. Geovanny assured me that they have pumpkins here. But these are no North American pumpkins. The may be orange on the inside, but they are green and white and warty on the outside. And they are shaped like teardrops. And they take 4 hours in the oven to soften. Add a couple hours to cool before scooping out and Thanksgiving day is pretty much shot. I could have had a large turkey ready before this "pumpkin".

Now it is Black Friday. We still don't have a pumpkin pie. We MUST have pumpkin pie. So Natalia and I start scooping out the pumpkin.

Then we mash it by hand

I finally get it all mixed together and stick it in the oven. But our oven doesn't have any indication of the temperature it is at. Just a knob with the words "OFF" and "Min". They don't even tell me where "Max" is. SERIOUSLY!!!! So I wing it, just like I've been winging the whole thing.

Magically, it seems like it works. The knife in the middle comes out clean. The pie smells good. I set it down to cool.

Now if I could only find Cool Whip . . .

I'm Gonna Catch You

Laurie Berkner. Those of you unfortunate enough to not have watched her videos 5,000 times on YouTube may be wondering who this person is. She is mentioned often with regard to Natalia's listening preferences on this blog, so I feel as though I should explain who she is.

I have no memory of how I found out about the Laurie Berkner Band, or why I decided to go to YouTube to try and listen to one of her songs. It was probably instigated by Danielle asking me if we hand any "kids music" in the car for Ava and Natalia to listen to on our ride wherever we were going. Alas, I had generally been playing Paul Simon (Natalia is particular to "Live from Africa" songs with LadySmith Black Mambazo) or a mix that Ama made for us. Anyway, for whatever reason, I decided to look this Laurie Berkner up.

The very first song I ever listed to was "I'm Gonna Catch You". I had the same reaction as Aunt Izzy. Who was this woman running around in orange pants, a yellow shirt, and a green tank top? Why did she want to catch me? And was listening to this really going to be good for my child?

But then, as always happens, Natalia came in the room.

And she looked at the computer screen.

And she started dancing.

She was shaking her butt. She was bouncing up and down. She was turning in circles.

My heart melted. A little chase song couldn't hurt, right? And with other songs like "Pig on Her head" and "Song in My Tummy" how could I say no. There is a song about two guys who like Tabasco on their spaghetti. And it rhymes. What's not to like?

Really, "I'm Gonna Catch You" isn't that bad. I mean, I grew up with a song about a rhinoceros chasing me down a hall and I only go to therapy once a month. She'll be fine.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cranky Day

Natalia woke up cranky. Nothing makes her happy today. Not Paul Simon, not Laurie Berknern, not Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, not ohh la la shoes, not mama's boob.

I'm cranky too. Blogger won't let me upload photos, so I can't show you how cute she was yesterday hiding in one of the cabinets.

We are going to go for a walk. Leaving the house will do us both some good. Maybe when we get back everything will be better. Fresh air, sun, and humidity always does it for me. You?

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Best $2.50 I Ever Spent

This little plastic potty is the best thing ever.

(If you aren't grossed out by poop stories, read on. If grossed out, just enjoy the photo and know that tomorrow you will get a picture of the baby girl).

Geovanny and I got it two days ago. I figured that now would be a great time to start potty training since we are staying in an apartment with tile floors and no rugs. Natalia has been going "potty in the potty" every morning and after every nap for some time now, but I have not been consistent with any other type of training. Seeing as it is HOT down here, naked time is all the time. Perfect time for potty training because you don't have to take anything off. Just sit down and go.

(no she is not going in the chair, just enjoying naked time)

So we were having naked time for the 5th time that day. I was washing the dishes and Natalia brought the yet unused potty into the kitchen. I didn't pay much attention because so far she had only used the potty as a hat and a chair.

But this time she sat down with purpose.

She got a look of concentration on her face.

And she kept sitting.

Her eyes started watering a bit and her cheaks got red.

After a while she got up and we both looked in the potty. THERE WAS POOP!!!

Oh my gosh, there was poop. I was so happy (in part because she hadn't pooped in two days and who feels good after going days without pooping.)
I kissed her all over her face.
We jumped up and down.
Then we went and dumped it in the toilet and said "bye bye".
Cleaned out the little blue potty and went back into the kitchen.

I resumed my cleaning. Natalia sat back down on the potty. I think she was so excited about my response that she wanted to do it again. So she got to trying to poop again. This time the sitting was accompanied by grunting. She'd sit for a while, grunt, push, get up look to see if there was anything, get a disappointed and determined look on her face, turn around and start the whole process over again.





It was hilarious!!! Lasted a good 5 minutes. No, she's not stubborn. Not at all.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bouncy Castle

We didn't get to the park yesterday until it was already dark out. I had been trying to get us there all day, but it was just one of those days where nothing happens quite how you want it to. Not that it was bad, in fact we had a great day, it just wasn't what I was thinking it would be like. (But really, isn't that usually how life works?)

Getting to the park after dark wasn't a problem because it was Saturday night. Everyone was out, and when I say everyone, I mean everyone. I think all of Guayaquil leaves their house on Saturday night. Needless to say, the park was packed. All the play structures were lit up, there was a bouncy castle, and a kiddy train.

Here in Ecuador there are kiddy trains everywhere. I remember first seeing one when we were in Galapagos. They are ALWAYS blaring music and have flashing lights - kind of like a disco on wheels for kids. They are also generally pulled by some stinky old motor. Ours was actually smoking out the front (kind of like a fog machine, but I assure you this was not caused by water and dry ice). I could barely fit in it with my legs splayed but Natalia had a great time so it was worth it.

After the train we went to the bouncy castle. Natalia was the only one in the whole thing. Geovanny and I had to stay on the outside (only for kids under 10) but we tried to reach through the sides and bounce it up and down for her.

She had a great time sitting in the middle taking her shoes on and off.

After a while she decided it was time to go, so out she came.

And that was our night.

Natalia had picked out her entire outfit by the way. Put her shoes on all by herself. They were even on the right feet. I was so proud!!!

Nana Would Be So Proud

I know no one who hates to throw things away more than my mom. There is always some art project or possible future, unforeseen use for everything. She has graciously passed this trait onto me.

So the Welcome Home flowers were dying. At least some of them were. The leaves were decorating the counter and the apartment was starting to smell a bit. But some of those flowers were still hanging in there. Ever my mother's daughter, I was not about to throw them all away. Instead I pulled the whole thing apart, discarded the stinky ones, and rearranged them using the same vase they came in. I am actually quite pleased how it turned out.

Thanks mom

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Here are a few pictures of our lovely apartment. We are of course in Ecuador, so things are never quite what they seem. One of my main requests (okay, okay, so it is more like a demand) is that we live in a place with air conditioning. This apartment was better than some we've stayed it - every room has an air conditioner. What luxury I thought.

Until of course it was time to turn them on last night. None of them actually work.

I was also very excited about the prospect of having hot water. The showers actually have two handles, one for hot and one for cold, indicating that there is actually a hot water heater somewhere in the building. This is a GREAT improvement over the "suicide showers" of apartments past.

A "suicide shower" is one where the water is run through an electrical contraption and then empties directly onto your head. They have outlets directly above the showerhead to plug these things into. Be warned; DO NOT TOUCH them while in use!!! Touching the showerhead, to adjust the direction of the water for example, results in electrocution that leaves your arm tingling for 20 minutes. Also beware of any metal shower-caddies. They do a lovely job of holding your soap or shampoo but chipped or cracked enamel may result in fried fingers if you grab the soap in the wrong way.

Needless to say, I was very excited by the prospect of real hot water. Now I'm sure there is a water heater somewhere, but it must be about a gallon tank, because "hot" water is not hot. Not really warm either. More like just barely warmer than the cold water (which is about the temperature of Lake Tahoe).

But hey, after sweating all day without air conditioning, who wants a hot shower anyway?

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Look Mom . . .

I put on my shoes all by myself

Friday, November 21, 2008

We Have A Connection


Someone around here has Wi-Fi that I am able to use. Natalia can have her Laurie Berkner and Elmo, I can have Pushing Daisies and House, and you can have your updates.

I didn't realize how addicted I had become to blogging about Natalia, but I was really quite stressed by the thought that I wouldn't be able to until we got home. Now all we have to do is pray that the kind people who are unknowingly giving us internet don't turn it off.

The apartment is really very nice. Marble tile floors, two bathrooms, nice dark wood doors and furniture. The downside is that there are only two twin beds right now. It will be like that until Wednesday. Then we have the option of either changing apartments to one floor above (supposedly bigger and better) or the owner will bring the bed down here. I think we will probably change apartments (better view, better breeze through the apartment = less air conditioning = lower electricity bill = happier mommy).

I leave you with a couple of pictures of Natalia playing this morning at the boardwalk close to our hotel.


I just wanted to show you all that Natalia was alive and well. We took advantage of the bathtub in the hotel. A little bit of home. She LOVED it.

We Made It

We are here safe and sound in Ecuador.

We stayed in a hotel for the first three nights while trying to find an apartment. After two very hot days of hopping in and out of cabs, looking at places that were too small, too far away, too expensive, we fell in love with one. But then we found out it had just been rented to someone else an hour before.

So back into the cabs, zigzagging around the city. Too small, too far away, too expensive and then we found another one that was perfect. It was big, had a pool and great views. But then we found out that our agent hadn't check with the owner first to see if we could rent it for a month. So no on that one too.

Finally, after two days of frustration we found a nice two bedroom. There is hot water (we'll see if it works the whole time we are there), a gas stove and oven, a TV (but no cable, so it will be Spanish soaps all-day everyday). I even have a WASHING MACHINE!!!! Yay!!! But there is no internet :( Boohoo. I will do everything I can to send updates once a week, but I can't promise anything.

I think we may head to the beach next week for a couple of days. Get out of the city and go relax at the ocean.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Big Fish

Things I love:

- my Nana

- leg warmers

- Big fish in little ponds that I get to watch sleep while the rest of the family eats dinner.

Over The River . . .

. . . and through the woods to Ecuador we go. I will try and update as often as I can. We love you all and can't wait to see you when we get back.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

All I Want For Christmas

Dear Santa,

Mama has started telling me about you. She says you are this big, old guy who always wears red and has a white beard. Did you know that my Opa has a white beard. Are you related?

Mama says that you say "ho, ho, ho" and that your belly shakes. She also says that you will bring me presents in the middle of the night if I'm good.

But I'm really confused. Mama says you're one person, but every time she points you out and asks me, "What does Santa say?" you look different. Sometimes you have a big head and no body. Sometimes you have a fat body and skinny legs. Sometimes you are shaped like a triangle. Sometimes you are jolly and roly.

I don't think you're a person. I think that you're an animal. Like a pig. (Man do I love making the snorting noise when asked what a pig says.) Every pig is pink, and they all have these curly tails, and they all snort or say oink. But they all look different. And Momma usually asks me what Santa says after she asks me what a pig says so it must be true. Santa is an animal.

Anyway, Mama said that I could write a letter asking for whatever I wanted and if I was good Santa would give it to me. So here it is:

1. A BIG box

Thank you, Natalia

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Big Hugs

Natalia has loved hugging for some time now. She give these great bear hugs that are genearlly accompanied by a "Mmmmmmmm" or an "Ooooohhhhhhhh".

She hugs her Nana and her Opa.

She hugs her stuffed animals.

She hugs me (and often pats my back at the same time).

But no matter how much she loves giving us hugs, she LOVES hugging Odin. Once a spazzy puppy, he as mellowed and allows her to do just about anything. Hug him, kiss him, feed him things.

He has more patience than I do.

But I have better breath.

Friday, November 14, 2008


At some point this afternoon, while Natalia was not paying much attention to me, I was able to wrangle her hair into pigtails. This was quite an accomplishment, seeing as she likes having her hair done just about as much as she likes shoes. They were very haphazard pigtails, with curls falling out all over the place.

Keeping the pigtails in did require a conversation and some bribery. As soon as she felt them in her hair she started pulling at them.

Natalia: Out.

Me: No Pumpkin, let's keep them in.

Natalia: OUT.

Me: Come on baby girl, let's go look in the mirror. You are so 'ooh la la'.

Natalia: OUT!

Me: Look Bug . . . ooh la la

Natalia: OUT!!!

Me: Let's go outside and see Odin

Natalia: Oohhhh-tay

She finally stopped pulling at them, but she did put her hands to her face and say "oh dear" a number of times.

And then the poor baby had to give herself a hug to get over the whole experience.

The things we do for beauty

Happy Birthday Aunt Sarah

Natalia wanted to say Happy Birthday to her Aunt Sarah while wearing the hoodie she gave her.



Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ooh La La

Natalia has a thing against shoes.

She hates them.

Socks too.

I have been at a total loss about how to keep her warm and comfy. I have tried every kind of slipper, shoe, and sock combo but there is no reasoning with the child. These days putting on shoes generally involves sweating, tears (usually mine), and wrestling moves pilfered from the Rock and Hulk Hogan.

Then Nana busted out some new slippers.

Natalia LOVES them.

She wears them everywhere.

The putting on of the slippers is often accompanied by a trip to the bedroom for time in front of the mirror. She'll look at herself, pose, kiss the mirror, and says, with great emotion:

"Ooh La La"

I don't dress Natalia like a princess. I don't buy her shoes with princesses or flashing lights or feathers.

But Nana sure does. And boy, does Natalia love it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Look We Will See Again

Pretty sure this will become her look of choice in 11 years or so.

"Seriously Mom, you want me to do WHAT!?! You are such an embarrassment."

Another day and another walk with Opa and Odin. We went a little later, there weren't any cows, and I made the poor baby mix stripes and polka-dots. Beautiful sunset though.

Pink Chair

We all have our own special way of sitting in chairs, don't we?

Monday, November 10, 2008


Natalia, Opa, and I went to Briones yesterday to walk Odin. As soon as we got there Odin took off running (as he does every day). Natalia immediately began calling him.

"Oo-dee. OO-DEE. OOOOO-DEEEEE!!!!!!"

During the fall and winter they let cows graze on the grass in the park so yesterday there were about 20 momma cows with their babies wandering around.

She loved following those cows!!! Until one snorted at her.

And then the bull (and this was a BIG bull) started growling at us and walking towards us. I was in black, the stroller is black and I wasn't too sure that the bull knew we were humans and not new cows. We started walking away.

He followed, growling louder.

We walked faster.

So did he.

I started to wonder how one goes about protecting themselves from an amorous bull while holding a toddler. I debated taking off my jacket, but realized I was wearing a red shirt and unless I wanted to be a matador, flashing a red shirt would not be a good choice. I began debating how I could go about climbing a tree while holding Natalia.

We started to jog.

So did he.

Okay - panic time!!!!

Just as we round the bend, Odin comes bounding up to us, all slobbery and gross. I have never been so happy to see his dirty, cow poop covered face before. And with that, the bull turned around and sauntered back to the rest of his herd.

Poor Little Deprived Child

Natalia is just like me.

Poor child.

She has the unfortunate distinction of inheriting my joints. She is double jointed just about everywhere. Her favorite thing to do right now is to pop her jaw in and out. I remember when I thought it was a fun party trick to do that. Now it just makes my jaw hurt and leave me unable to eat anything hard for a couple of days.

She has also been denied television for much of her short life. I didn't watch TV growing up and it didn't scar me too much. It may have led to my inability to multitask while in front of the TV, but I'm sure that has to do with my intense concentration skills. Okay, so I admit it. I get totally and completely sucked into TV. It really doesn't matter what it is. Infomercial, movie, Spanish soaps - I am transfixed.

Natalia is exactly the same way. When we are over at Danielle and Ava's the girls sometimes get to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. She saw it once and became obsessed with Mickey and Minny. And now, you turn on the TV and she becomes a statue. There is no moving that girl, no distracting her from the fun and adventure of Mickey.

Ava will get up, walk around, play, look at the camera. Does Natalia do that? I don't think so.

Flower Child

So Natalia LOVES flowers. We were at the farmers market on Sunday and she spent most of the time dancing around the flower stall to Bob Marley. Shake, shake, twirl, side step, side step, sniff, sniff. She has gotten much better about not pulling the petals off (I think she was a little obsessed with the "he loves me, he loves me not" game). Now she puts her hands behind her back, stick her nose right into the center of the flower and inhales. And seriously, that girl inhales. You can hear the sniff from three feet away.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Goat Slobber

My child has no fear. She climbs up anything and everything she can. Beds, chairs, sofas, display cases, jungle gyms, stairs. If she can pull herself up, she is up. She feels the same way about going down. Face first down a slide is her position of choice. This afternoon she jumped off of my bed, bounced on her mattress and face-planted on some pillows. They were placed there so that, in the event she fell off, there would be something to cushion her fall. They were not placed there to encourage her dare-devil tendencies. Oh well. She face-planted and immediately started giggling. "Mo peaz."

The same no-fear attitude applies to animals. We went to a pumpkin farm with our friends Danielle and Ava a couple of weeks ago. And on the farm they had a goat. A goat which you could feed. Natalia was obsessed.

She was in love. It didn't matter that the goats were bigger than her or that they have CRAZY looking eyes. It didn't matter that their lips curled around her fingers or that their teeth nibbled her fingertips. She couldn't get enough. She would feed them and then smack her lips together like she does when something is delicious.

She would have happily stayed for hours, but we had pumpkins to pick.

Pumpkin Picks a Pumpkin

So many pumpkins to choose from, how does one choose?

The Little Muffin

Look at how tiny she was. 17 months ago, Nana took this picture

Even at 2 days old she was already posing for the camera. I put her up on the pillow and she readjusted her head so that we could get a good shot of her.

Now she gets so excited about the camera that I have to sneak up on her. Otherwise she stops what she is doing (like the really cute new butt-shaking dance) and runs over to me.

"Pi-tu, pi-tu, pi-tu."

Tiny, usually sticky hands grab at the camera and turn it around so that she can see herself. Nope, this one is not going to be a diva.

Finally Starting

So after 17 months of taking photos and trying to keep everyone updated, I have started this blog. Natalia started wiggling when she dances and it is just too stinkin' cute to not share. Her daddy will be so proud.