Monday, November 23, 2009

Our Little Helper

Amelia has become quite the little helper lately. She loves to help load the washing machine, and now that she has nearly mastered putting things "in," she can also be asked to help pick up, and we have quite the bucket brigade going as we grocery shop and I pick up the items we need and she throws them into our cart. Here are a couple of pictures of her helping her Daddy stack up our wood as we prepare for winter. Well, maybe not so much stacking, but she did take several small pieces from the pile on the driveway and throw them onto the garage floor. You can see her contribution in the background of the top photo.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Horse Fair!


A couple of weekends ago we took a family trip to Golega for their annual horsefair. This town lives and breathes horses, and proclaims themselves the horse capital. The center of town has a huge outdoor arena with a riding track around the outside, and stables built into the cozy squares all around town. During the 10 day long fair there are lots of daily events, and horses absolutely everywhere. The streets have wooden fencing inserted to keep a path for the horses being ridden (or driven) to the arena, and the whole place was bustling with horse and non-horse people alike, and shops selling every possible item of horse paraphernalia you can imagine. I of course was too excited to take any pictures of the whole going on, but Dan managed to snap a few for us. Unfortuantely for him, Amelia also seemed quite taken by the big kittys. I sense an expensive hobby in her future!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is it naptime yet?

It has been an eventful fall thus far. With wonderful visits from friends from home, and trips to visit friends and family in England and France, the last two months have been filled with castles and ruins and Port tastings and history and scenery and good food and even better company. Top that all off with milestones like Amelia's first birthday and first steps and we have been pretty busy!




I've just posted lots of new photos here and here.
During that time Amelia has progressed from her first few tentative steps, to nearly forgetting that she used to have to crawl everywhere. There are still lots of stumbles and a few bumps and bruises, but she gets back up and keeps on truckin' (and going, and going, and going). While keeping us on our toes, she also keeps us pretty entertained these days, whether it is waving goodbye to the babysitter as soon as I walk in the door, headbutting the dogs and cat to mimic their play, the endless procession of moving the (clean) diapers from the dryer to the washer and back again, "talking" on our cell phones (or remotes, or sippy cups), and numerous other antics.

It was wonderful to see everyone, though I must admit that we are now looking forward to a little rest before we start it all again for the holidays!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Rolling...

Just a quick picture from our first family bike outing. Amelia had a great time, though she did start to doze off at the end of it, I guess next time we go after her nap.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Houston, we have lift-off

Amelia has looked nearly ready to venture off on her own for a while now. She is very stable standing on her own, and I've been encouraging her to reach out for me and take that first step, and this morning she actually did. It was just two quick steps to me, and then she grabbed my hands, but then several more times throughout the day she tried again and added a few more. She even showed Dan as soon as he arrived home. We tried to get her on video, but usually she is so entralled with the camera that she would crawl right to it.We did manage to get a video of a couple of tentative steps. You can see it by clicking here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

ONE

One is definitely not the lonliest number when it is refering to your first birthday. Amelia ushered in this milestone surrounded by friends in Portugal, and in the thoughts of friends and family around the world. We hosted a birthday party at our home, and Amelia loved all the attention from everyone, and was happily passed around and social the whole time, despite a couple of sleepless nights and cranky days prior due to those pesky molars coming in (one down, three to go). She was little overwhelmed being the center of attention during cake time, but happily munched down two pieces very daintily and avoided that whole cake all over my hair first birthday photo op.

Here is a little video of her birthday song.

Here are the rest of her party photos.

And some other photos from this summer.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Spain

Sorry for the delay posting this...I actually started writing it soon after we got back, but didn't manage to finish it up until now. Well, we are back from a wonderful 2 weeks in Spain. It was a great combination of relaxing, sight-seeing, and visiting with family. The first week was just the three of us, we visited the lovely northern city of San Sebastian. It is a coastal town with a lot of (Basque) culture, a great old-town, and it seems to be in one of the few regions of Spain, along with Galicia, with a really vibrant green landscape. It is pretty different to see lush green mountains rising up from the edge of each beach bay. We loved the atmosphere of the tapas bars, and thoroughly enjoyed our nightly ice cream and stroll after dinner. Amelia got her first taste of ice cream, as one night while we were trying to make our decisions I was surprised by the scooper handing me a tiny little baby cone of vanilla ice cream for Amelia. Everyone in the shop was entertained by her tentative first bite, followed quickly by her putting her entire mouth on the cone and getting it all over her face. I guess she is hooked.

We then spent a couple of days in Barcelona. With our hotel right on the lively Rambla, we were right in the middle of the action. And of course our little social butterfly Amelia wanted to take it all in, so she didn't want to go to sleep and miss any of the action, but we did get her to settle down eventually. While in Barcelona we toured the Picasso museum and a few of Gaudi's buildings, and spent a lot of our time wandering Las Ramblas and the Bari Gotic quarter.

To top it all off we had a week north of Barcelona on the Costa Brava in an 800 year old villa with Dan's family (16 of us including the babies). It was great to finally introduce Amelia to everyone and to get her together with her cousins Coco, Calvin, and Isabel. It was particularly fun to to see her with Coco, who is only 3.5 months older, and the two of them seemed to have their own language that none of us understood. The week was filled with amazing food, a trip to the Dali museum, watching the riders on the Tour de France zoom by, and relaxing on the terraces or pool of the villa or the nearby beaches.

Amelia was a pretty good traveller, with long drives on several days, it wasn't until the last day that she finally started complaining a little. So, a fifth country visited for our little girl, some great time with family, and now back to the daily routine in Portugal.


Friday, July 31, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Us!

It's been 5 whole years since that lovely summer day in Vermont. I guess you can say we have made many big changes in the last five years, added masters degrees and MBAs, added two dogs, three cats, and a baby to our family, moved to a foreign country, welcomed many wonderful new people in our lives (and tried to keep all you wonderful people who were already part of our life), and said good-bye to some special people as well. Through it all I can not imagine doing it with anyone else by my side, and without the love and support of all our wonderful friends and family. Even though Bosch has made it so that we won't actually get to see each other today, I am really looking forward to getting Dan back home again tomorrow, so I can tell him that in person.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

First Father's Day Weekend

We celebrated Dan's first father's day this past weekend, so here are a couple of photos. On Saturday we checked out a riverside beach, and it was nice to have some warmer, fresh water to play in. Amelia really loved splashing around in the river, and it was also great to have the shade of some trees to protect her (and us) from the hot, hot sun. Sunday we treated her Daddy to a breakfast of blueberry pancakes, which Amelia also was a big fan of (as was I), and then took him on a picnic to the Bu├žaco Forest. Hope he enjoyed himself despite the temperature rising to near 100 degrees!

In other Amelia culinary news...this week she was a big fan of my mushroom risotto and stuffed eggplant. I hear they get pickier as they get older, but at least she has good taste for now!

The Algarve


Dan and I found out in April or May that he had 2 days in a row off of work earlier this month (we never know the schedule of Portuguese holidays), so decided to add one more and take a little 5 day get away to the Algarve, the southern coast of Portugal. It was our first time down there, and we decided to take the puppies for a little holiday of their own. We rented a little farmhouse apartment that we could walk to the beach from, and spent a few relaxing days in the sun (or trying to keep Amelia out of it), and exploring a little bit of the region. It was a change from the beaches where we live because the water was warm enough to be comfortable hanging out in it, and there we were hoping for a breeze to cool us down, while here we usually set up a wind screen to keep out of it! It was a great little relaxing mini-break, and when we returned we only had two weeks left until the big Spain trip coming up in a few days now.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Visit from Friends


Well you may know that we love visitors, so I was particularly excited to welcome our good friends Antonia and Zach to Portugal at the end of May.
Though with Amelia in-tow I can't say it was exactly like old times, but we did get to show them a bit of Portugal, and, like it or not, they got to see what toting around an 8 month old may be like for them someday! It turns out Zach is an excellent carseat entertainer and apparently just looking at him can make babies smile, and Antonia seemed like a natural while giving me a break for that all important chance at a morning shower and strolling around Lisbon with Amelia during dinner (and even finding her way back to the restaurant...eventually).

We've now got some good planning and sight-seeing under our belt for future visitors as well, so whatever your interests, whether it is relaxing on the beach, visiting Portugal's wine producing regions, historic castles and monestaries, hiking in the mountains, or enjoying the culture and museums of Lisbon, we can try to put together your perfect Portugal holiday (ok, I know that sounds like a travel brochure, but shameless promotion for visitors is acceptable isn't it?).
For some of the pictures of their trip, click here (though I forgot my camera a couple of days...so may post more from Tone later)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Madeira


In May as the rain blew away and some warm temperatures showed up it was time for a family getaway, so we made a short visit to Madeira, an island that belongs to Portugal but is actually closer to Morocco. We took a couple of vacation days from work to spend a 5-day weekend there. It’s only a 2-hour flight away, which after taking Amelia on an 11-hour flight from Frankfurt to Portland seemed pretty easy.

The island reminded us of the Caribbean and Hawaii with its steep volcanic mountainsides and tropical flora, with sun shining on the coast and rainclouds hanging onto the mountains. What was missing was the sandy beaches. Madeira has very few beaches and almost no sand. The switchback driving was exciting, though, and the views always tremendous.

Madeira has a famous system of walking paths that follow along the remarkable network of irrigation ditches (called levadas) that crisscross the island. It’s a wonderful way to explore the island since the paths are flat as they hug the mountainsides and afford amazing views along the way. It was a nice way to hike with Amelia and to see some of the waterfalls. One of our walking trails went through 4 tunnels, including one of 200 meters. Amelia didn’t seem to mind the darkness as much as I (Dan) did.

One of the highlights of the visit had to be Nelson, our rather comical B&B host. He was Portuguese/South African and was quite enamored with our daughter. He insisted on holding her during each breakfast and called her “Happy Face” and “Smiley Face” and referring to her as “well-adjusted”. He did seem to think it was necessary to warn us not to have another baby because we may not be so lucky with the next one. We’re still thinking about that.

Overall, a great little getaway, with a chance to spend time as a family, have some good seafood (including parrotfish, which we had never tried before), and explore a part of Portugal.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Biju

As if we didn't have enough on our hands doing damage control for Amelia, last week we added a new destructive force into our household. His name is Biju, and he is a 7 week old kitten that we adopted from a local group that rescues abandoned dogs and cats and helps spay and neuter street cats. He is already fitting into the family well, and has started to accept Tazzy's incessant attempts at friendship and play, and Amelia's rough love. He loves Amelia's toys, and so far is a very affectionate little fellow who enjoys a good lap to sleep on after the play is done. Watch for more from him in the upcoming months!

Monday, May 4, 2009

BACK TO THE US OF A

We made a bittersweet trip back to the States in mid-April. We don’t necessarily miss the States in general, but we miss you friends and family. The purpose of this trip was for family visits and to get Dan to another one of his training sessions for work. We decided to fly to Germany and stay the night there so that we could do the 11-hour flight from Frankfurt direct to Portland. This may surprise you, but Amelia was rather easy. She either slept or played, and of course made eyes at all the men on the plane (she seems to like staring and laughing at grown up men, especially Grandpa Kevin).

The end of the long journey brought us to Grandpa Steve and Grandma Pam’s house. There Amelia got to meet and play with her grandparents and lots of new cousins. Unfortunately, we weren’t in Portland only for a family visit. We attended Alec’s memorial service in Portland and while it was a beautiful event full of tears and memories, it was also quite emotionally painful. Nonetheless, it was important for us to be able to participate, and also to have Amelia there to say good-bye to the uncle she never got to meet.

We parted ways at that point with Katrin doing more visiting in Oregon with Amelia meeting and spending time with her great-grandparents, grandparents, great-aunts and uncles, cousins, and lots of friends. Then they flew across the country for further visits in Washington DC where fellow passengers described Amelia as “the best flying baby ever,” since she either slept or smiled and laughed the whole way from Portland to New York.

I (Dan) was supposed to uneventfully go to Detroit for a training session but decided to pass out on the plane from Salt Lake. Taking the cautious route, the airline decided to make a pit-stop in Denver and get me to a hospital. Talk about a plane full of unhappy campers! Anyway, after many tests and then a few more, the doctors pronounced me free to go which got me to Detroit only one day late. Apparently the stomach virus I had that day caused me to have low blood pressure and standing up on the plane caused me to pass out, but I suspect the stress of work and a memorial service and dehydration from lots of traveling all had something to do with it too. I’ll try not to do that again! Many of you found it funny that we travelled so far with a seven month old, but it was her dad that fellow passengers wished wasn’t on their plane.

Then we all met up in New York. It was quite a sight on the platform at Penn Station seeing Katrin pile out with a baby, car seat, stroller, suitcase, diaper bag, backpack and more. We decided taking a cab up to Peter and Jane’s apartment would be better than the subway. In New York we got to have a delightful dinner with my aunt and uncle, my cousins and Amelia’s cousins who are 20 months and 16 months.

The trip back to Portugal wasn’t quite as smooth as the way over, but considering all the smiles Amelia gave us throughout the travel, time zones, family events, erratic eating and sleeping schedule, etc., she sort of deserved to let off a little steam (sorry to fellow passengers, though the girls next to us swore they hardly heard her at all).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Surprise!

Amelia turned 7 months old today, and she surprised us this past weekend by crawling over to the coffee table and pulling herself up to standing. She is also crawling all over the house now, and we have to watch her closely, since now it takes mere seconds for her to get into trouble.

We are off to the US on Friday, so wish us luck on our long flight from Frankfurt to Portland, and we are looking forward to seeing some of you in Oregon, DC, and NY, and we'll be in touch with the rest of you when we get back.
In the meantime, here is a little Amelia video to tide you over:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Next steps

As the rivers keep moving towards the sea, and the spring flowers are once again brightening the land around me, each day brings additional healing and peace into my heart.

Amelia has been keeping us quite busy as this was a month of leaps for her, and now it takes an ever watchful eye to keep her out of mischief. She stared the month of March with the arrival of her second tooth, and shortly thereafter was introduced to the joy of the new tastes and textures that solid food can bring. So far she loves banana, and anything mixed with banana goes down with gusto. She even decided to put her head down on her highchair tray to lick up the leftovers when it was banana, we decided she must have learned her manners from her four legged siblings, Blaze and Tazzy, who view licking things off the floor as a normal part of everyday life.

In addition, she is now able to sit on her own, and just last week she made her first attempts at actual crawling rather then just scooting or pivoting in place. She still looks a little uncoordinated, with exagerated movements of her arms and not always sure what order to move her legs in (and sometimes they both go together), but she is starting to become confident that she can see something she wants to get to, and just go there. She also is trying to pull herself up and stand on her own, she doesn't have the muscles for it yet, but this is one determined little girl, so I don't think it will be long before she can do that too.

Click here for a few more photos of her milestones this month.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Loss

Alec John Peterson
May 16, 1986 - March 14, 2009
My dear little brother, I love you to tears.

I read once that there is a reason that grief comes in waves, because our bodies and minds don't have the capacity to absorb it all at once. I find my days and nights now intermixed with periods of utter sadness, and periods where life returns to normal as I continue feed and care for Amelia. I am so thankful for her being here with me now, with her innocence and her continued smiles and laughter. But I am deeply sorrowful that she will never get a chance to meet her uncle, who already loved her so much. Each night in the dim nite-lite lit glow of our bedroom, I see Alec's face reflected in Amelia's, and I know he is watching over her, and I hold her even tighter to be closer to him.

The messages of love and support that have been arriving from friends here in Portugal and working their way accross the world via e-mail or phone from those of you in the US have really meant a lot to me. Knowing I have your thoughts with me makes each day a little easier. I will carry the memories of Alec's smile, laughter, and love with me forever.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Amelia in Action

For her biggest fans...Amelia can now be seen on video by clicking these links:

1) Amelia laughing

2) Amelia sticking out tongue

Watch for more from our little star!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lisbon and Fado

Another weekend in Lisbon this February, this year it was gloriously sunny and we had Amelia in tow and Karen (my mom) and Kevin joined us. We also went to a Fado show for the first time. Fado is the traditional Portuguese music, literally translated Fado means destiny or fate, and the music is generally connected to saudade, which roughly translated means nostalgia or longing. The music itself is powerful and has a melancholy longing in it, usually for the past days when Portugal was one of the major world players. Dan and I have decided that the basic sentiment is that the future will never be as magnificent as the past. We choose to see fado at Sr. Vinho, a great restaurant, with several fadistas taking turns performing between courses.

For an example of a song from one of the most famous fado singers, Amalia Rodrigues, on YouTube click here.

Here is a photo of Amelia with one of the singers. For more photos of Amelia and Lisbon, click here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tooth!

So all that whining and that bright red drool rash has finally resulted in a singular tooth and a much happier baby. Thank goodness for that. The tooth made it's appearance last Wednesday February 18th. It is currently a little camera shy, but keep your eyes open in future photos!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Where, Oh Where, has January Gone?

Time flies when you have a little one (well, on a large scale it does, though day to day, not necessarily). It seems that January is almost over and we haven't posted anything since Christmas. It has been a busy month for Amelia. We went out for dinner on New Year's eve and brought in the New Year in the center of Aveiro with big crowds, champagne popping, a big fireworks show, and Amelia awake and wide-eyed taking it all in. A few days later she rolled herself over for the first time, with a mixture of delight and surprise, and now she pretty much flips over onto her tummy every time I set her down on her back. She has gone the other way a few times, but doesn't quite have the mechanics of it down yet. She has also really discovered her hands and will grab anything and everything within reach. This is usually a fistful of my hair with each hand, though it has also included her various toys, cans off the grocery store aisle, pots, pans, and things from the kitchen, dirty diapers as I am trying to remove them, dog ears, cell phones, etc. Hmmm...just wait until she is mobile and can do this! Now her daddy has gone off and left us again for a week, but Grandma Karen is here for an extended visit. Amelia is so excited about the latter that she can hardly sleep (literally), but we are hoping she will get used to the new faces soon. She is a very social girl and doesn't want to miss any of the action.

Click here for some recent pictures of her.