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Trip to Albuquerque and 2nd Birthday

The potty training thing is actually starting to happen. Simone has been interested in her potty for a little while, but in the past two days she has been sitting on it and trying to use it, which is pretty exciting for us. No big results yet, but I think she’ll get it down pretty soon …

Going back in time a little bit, I wanted to post some pictures from our recent trip to Albuquerque. We had a great time! The flight out was good, and although I was nervous to fly alone with Simone, and we had to go to Albuquerque by way of Chicago and St. Louis, we made it in one piece and she actually made it fun to travel and there weren’t any mishaps. On the way back, not so good … but we’ll get to that later.

I stayed with my sister Elena for two nights on the west side of town, and her three boys Jojo, Christian, and Gaby were very good to Simone and she had fun playing with all of them. Every morning she would ask for “monkey munch” (her words for cereal, which I taught her and do not regret), and here she is having some with her cousins, along with a photo of her with her great grandma and my dad, her grandpa:

Her birthday party day arrived (a few days before her actual birthday), and we thought it would be fun to try curling her hair. She didn’t mind the curlers being in her hair, but she did mind taking them out. They should have stayed in longer, but she still got a bit of a curl from the process (the picture below right has her great aunt Patsy, grandma and grandpa in it):

Then, it was time for cake! Several family members and some of my friends and my parents friends were able to attend the party. The other picture below is my aunt Patsy holding Simone while Patsy tries to figure out her digital camera and Simone practices smiling.

We ate at Sadie’s restaurant the next day, and I finally got to eat a bunch of chips and salsa. They really do have the best salsa, and I bought two jars of it to bring home. I had a long list of New Mexican restaurants to eat at, and although I did not make it to as many as I would have liked, I was glad I went here (and The Frontier and Blake’s and the Indian Cultural Center’s restaurant). The kids got bored and headed over to the Ms. Pac-Man machine. If you know me at all, you know I love this video game and it warmed my heart to see her take an interest in the very best video game of all time (hands down). Although we hope she does not take an interest in other technical gadgets, TV, and games yet, but we know that’s a pipe dream. I think if you replace the milk bottle on the tabletop console with a pint of beer, you could sum up a good chunk of my 20’s:

Finally, there is this ad I saw on the side of the road for Blake’s (who make the very best green chile cheese burgers), and it made me laugh since they just flipped over their usual mascot:

As most everyone knows by now, Simone threw up all over the Duke student who sat next to me half an hour into a four hour flight from Phoenix to Raleigh. Rather than give you all the gory details, suffice it to say it was an unpleasant experience but everybody on the plane was very nice about it all and we somehow survived. I used to have a fear of flying, but after that experience I fear nothing – the worst has already happened.

We had a great time and miss everybody back in Albuquerque! Happy 2nd birthday Simone! I will post all of these and other pictures to our online album soon, along with some videos, and then our next entry will show the other birthday party we had for her in Durham.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Christmas was low key and relaxing around the Sweet-Chavez household this year. Simone was excited about and also scared of Santa Claus. Every time a phone rang she thought it was Santa checking up on her. She got some very nice presents, one of which is this sweater/dress from grandma Sweet:

The day after Chrismas, we went to Ashevile in the western part of the state for the first time. It was nice to see snow and mountains again. Our original plan was to stay in a house for two days in the mountains, but there was too much snow to make it there so we stayed at a hotel near West Asheville instead. We ate at a few good restaurants and bought a nice print of a painting/collage made by a local artist at Early Girl, a very good breakfast restaurant. Here’s Simone at two different locations in downtown Asheville:

On Christmas Eve, I put out luminarias, which are very typical of New Mexico. I don’t think many people in Durham have seen them before, so hopefully the neighbors enjoyed seeing these:

Simone is wearing her Santa hat in that one.

Papa and Simone are off to Albuquerque together early next month, so we’ll have a bunch of new photos after that trip to post. I can’t wait to have more green chile and see the family!

Happy New Year!!!

Typical Two’s

Simone is racing towards her 2nd birthday – 26 days and counting – and the Typical, sometimes Terrible, Two’s are in full effect. This morning while Mama and Papa were embroiled in a discussion about healthcare reform, there was an ominous silence from Simone. Searching the house, we found one guilty looking toddler standing next to the toilet and the toilet jammed full of Kleenex and about to overflow. She had been happily transferring them from the Kleenex dispenser to the bowl and flushing away merrily – until she saw our faces. Her mouth immediately quivered and she burst into tears, throwing herself into my arms. It’s hard to mete out punishment when the person to be punished is in footie pyjamas and crying like her heart will break. We’ve instituted the Naughty Chair (an old booster seat in the corner of her room) but when we threaten it she chirps “Naughty Chair?” and skips happily to it.

She also suddenly cares if what she is wearing is “pwetty” and will ask for bracelets and necklaces from my dresser, and believe me, this isn’t something I’ve been pushing. And yesterday morning I heard a mysterious clomping from upstairs and took the camera to find out the source of the noise. This is what I found:
And here she is, admiring herself in the mirror:

We’ve been having lots of fun with our Advent Activities this year – my brother gave me a German Advent calendar, with little pouches for each day. We made a list of 24 things we wanted to do this Christmas season, cut them up and put them randomly in the bags. Each day we draw a slip of paper and do our activity. Sometimes it is as simple as baking a batch of Ginger Krinkles and sometimes it takes a little more planning – like ice skating, which we’re saving to do this Sunday. Instead of being stressful, it’s been a nice, relaxed way to check all the fun and Must Do’s off of our list. I think this will be a permanent Christmas tradition, and hopefully some happy memories for Simone.
We’ll update post-Christmas and share the fun!

Halloween 2009 – Part 2 and more recent events

At long last, here are some photos of Simone’s other Halloween outfit that Kyla made for her. Behold the sock monkey:

Simone went out trick-or-treating for the first time at a public park near our house after these photos were taken and had a good time this Halloween.
Not long after that holiday was over, my parents came to visit. They visited around this time last year (early November) and we went to Virginia and Mt. Airy. This time, we went to the coast and Wilmington, where the weather was warm and nice enough that we could walk along the beach. We had a great visit with them and here are some photos from their visit here:

And here is a video of Simone chasing a pigeon on Wrightsville Beach:

Simone chasing a pigeon at Wrightsville Beach from Kyla Sweet on Vimeo.

Kyla and Simone went to Edmonton for her mom’s 60th surprise birthday party, so I will let her post next about that … and then we have some fun photos from Simone’s first visit to the zoo (in Asheboro) from earlier today. We have our blogging work cut out for us in the next few days!

Halloween 2009 – Part 1

Simone will have not one but two exciting Halloween costumes this year, both of which Kyla is making for her. I’ll let them be a surprise until we get photos of her in both (one is for Friday, when her daycare has a Halloween party, and the other is on the actual holiday when I will take her trick-or-treating during a neighborhood event).

We carved the pumpkins tonight and she had fun helping me draw on one of them before I cut into it. Kyla got some of her decorating on video:

Simone and the Great Pumpkin from Kyla Sweet on Vimeo.

And here are a couple of recent photos, and we’ll be sure to upload more to our online photo album soon:


How do you like them apples?

Autumn arrived this week and I am so so glad. Autumns here are beautiful. Come visit in October for blue skies, yellow leaves and weather in which a cardigan may or may not be required, but you won’t be insane to think of wearing one. I love all the cliched flavors of Fall : pumpkins, apples, cranberries, cinnamon…I want to be baking non-stop.
Yesterday we ambled our way up to Virginia to pick us some apples, along the Blue Ridge Parkway which was despite its name (cliche!) all ablaze in yellow and red. Finding the Ayers Orchard near Cana, Virginia was something of a feat. It involved twisting roads, misleading signs, directions drawn by the owner on a cardboard box – and yet, somehow we still got it wrong. He told us to drive past two white houses, a half-built green house, walk past the trees that had been picked and find our way to the York apple trees, the last ones with fruit on them. Past neat rows of leafy but fruitless trees, we found a scraggle patch of red and green apple trees. A helpful ladder leaned nearby but we ended up scrambling up the trees, trying to corral Simone as she wandered amongst the windfall apples (which were very popular with wasps). 
We had picked two baskets full – about 30 pounds – when the owners wife drove up, a funny look on her face.
“Did you pick those from over there?”
“Yes”
“That’s not our orchard”
“Oops”
We all looked nervously at the house nearby and the now empty trees.
“Oh well, I’ll explain”, she shrugged and we beat our way out of there, quick, after paying the man at the apple shed.
We have big plans for our purloined apples, including an apple crisp, currently in the oven, and only a slightly guilty conscience.
Paradoxically, we’re also getting outside more now that the sweltering heat and bugs of summer has largely passed. Here’s Simone getting ready for a bike ride in the poncho her Grandma Sweet sent. You have to love a poncho.

(It took about 15 blurred picture before we managed this one – the child won’t sit still these days. If this is the not-yet-terrible-twos, I shudder to imagine what kind of displays of will we have in store…it may not surprise you that she is INCREDIBLY independent and um, willful. I couldn’t tell you who she gets that from.)
More soon, I’m sure, as we gear up for Halloween. We are taking costume suggestions, as I’m not certain I’ll really be able to pull off a full-sized squirrel tail. But I’m giving it a try!

Our next post will be in 2012

I feel like every post starts with “We need to blog more often” or “It has been so long since we last posted something”, and this will be no exception. There have been many major events in the past two months since we last posted something, and of course I won’t be able to cover them all here. In fact, since it is already so late and I don’t want to wait any longer to at least say “We’re alive!”, I’ll quickly go through what is happening in each of the five photos below and then HOPEFULLY spend a bit more time covering recent events in future posts:

The first image below is a picture of Simone and I at our old house on Elizabeth Street, shortly before we moved. There’s a long involved story having to do with why we moved from Elizabeth Street to the Burch Avenue neighborhood, and it’s an ugly tale that will be best dealt with in a future post, or feel free to ask us about it. However, we do like our new house and we especially like our new neighborhood and its close proximity to Duke’s campuses and downtown Durham. The next picture is Simone in her new room:

Next is a picture of Simone at Chris and Jessica’s wedding in Kennebunkport, Maine (Chris and Jessica appear after that). It was a nice outdoor ceremony and a very fun reception afterward. We had a great trip and it was especially good to catch up with old friends and family.

Prior to going to Maine, Kyla, Simone and I spent a couple of days in Boston. Here is a picture of Simone and I at Boston Common:

As always, you can see all of our most recent pictures (which we have been pretty good about uploading) at http://picasaweb.google.com/schavez

I’ll go into more details about these past events as well as more recent happenings in the next blog post. We are almost done unpacking, so there will be more time for blogging (at least for me) soon. Kyla, however, is already in her sixth week of school and knee-deep in homework again. We’ll have to plan our next break soon …