Sunday, December 28, 2008


With Hanukkah starting on the night of the 21st and Christmas on the 25th, it was quite a hectic holiday season!

Despite the small size of our apartment and our limited time for decorating, I think we did a nice job of making our stove festive. The Santa on the top of the tree was made by Marisa in 1981 and Owen made his own stocking at daycare (you can see it handing on the wall - it's the small red one).

We spent the weekend of the 20-21 up in Breck. Owen had some congestion from the dryness and didn't sleep well, but that didn't seem to slow him down too much in the morning hours (though his parents are a different story!). He enjoyed playing in the snow and even took his first steps (he stands on his own and will take a few unassisted steps when he is distracted enough but otherwise still prefers to cruise or crawl to get from place to place) or ride/push his new bike (a hand-me-down from Pancho and Coco):

For the first night of Hanukkah, we lit the candles, played dreidl, and Owen got a new set of toy car keys. Sean and I will hopefully never have to look for our keys under piles of Owen's toys again! Woo Hoo!

On Christmas morning, Owen (as usual) was up early and seemed eager to find out if Santa came. He wasn't too pleased to find that Daddy was still tired...

He seemed to enjoy opening his gifts and have sausage balls (a Raymond famiy Christmas tradition)

(this last picture shows Owen playing with a birthday gift from Roshini and Judd. Due to a FedEx error, Owen's gifts from Vovo and Grandpa didn't arrive so we let Owen open one of his birthday gifts. Roshini and Judd - THANK YOU!! Owen LOVES the magnetic farm and played with it for a long, long time!)

Then, it was up to Breck again to spend Christmas day (and the next week) with Nan and Pip. About an hour before we had planned to leave, Owen got fussy and had a low-grade fever. Assuming it was due to teething, we gave him some tylenol and bundled him up for Breck.

Nan and Pip gave Owen "Yertle the Turtle" and enjoyed watching his reaction as he opened the gift...

Unfortunately, Owen's low-grade fever became a full-blown fever (104 at it's highest) by Friday and we ended up at the Breck Medical Center for a diagnosis of a throat infection and confirmation that the amoxicillan he was on last week for the ear infection didn't finish the job. So, it's more antibiotics for this kiddo. But, we hope that he will be sickness-free in time for his birthday on Thursday!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Greetings!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Owen Bear - UPDATED

We bought this hat in France because... well, how could we resist? He looks so cute!

And this outfit was given to us by Damhnait. It's a little small but still ridiculously cute too:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A day in Sauternes: Nov 8

1In my (Sean's) opinion, one of the highlights of our time in France was our trip to visit some chateaux in the Sauternes region. We went on Saturday, Nov 8, with three visitors: Yol, Jonathan and Petra. We rented a giant car, the Ulysse, so we could all fit inside. It was open house weekend in Sauternes so there were a bunch of chateaux open to the public. For those of you who are not in the loop, Sauternes is a town about 30 km south of Bordeaux where they make some famous sweet wine that is very tasty to drink with Roquefort cheese or foie gras. We drank a lot of Sauternes while we were there. Here is a picture of Jonathan and Petra in front of the Maison Mercure before we headed out.

Our first chateau was not that exciting -- a chateau with pretty good wine where Petra bought some foie gras. We hung around a bit and then headed out. But when I took a look at their vineyard, it seemed like there was something weird hanging out on the vines... Then, all of a sudden, about 10,000 birds flew off the vines at the same time.

For the next half hour the birds swirled across the sky in crazy patterns. Sometimes they would settle on a big tree for a minute, then something would spook them and they would take off again. It was spectacular! We have some videos but they probably won't come out well in low-res so if you want to see it let me know.

We kept watching the birds on the way to our next stop, the chateau just across the street, called Chateau d'Armajan des Cormes (in the background of the photo of Owen and Marisa below). We got a full tour from the nephew of the current owner, most of whose family lived nearby and helped with the winemaking.

We had a really time at the chateau-- we got to look into the bubbling vat where the wine was fermenting, we saw the barn and the tractors, the vines and the barrels. Then we got to taste a few different bottles of their Sauternes -- the best was one that fruity and light and not too sweet. Very nice stuff and a fantastic visit -- Owen enjoyed walking around the vines! Here are some photos from chateau d'Armajan des Cormes:

We were getting pretty hungry so we drove around a bit and finally found a chateau that was making food as part of its open house. I can't remember the name of that chateau but they made some great magret de canard (grilled duck)!

We hung out for a little while then we decided to hit one more place on the way back to Floirac. We chose the last place based solely on its name: Clos Dady! This place had pretty good wine but we had tried so many by that point that we were kind of Sauternes-ed out. They did have some nice art on the wall in their barrel-room:

By this time, Petra and I had gotten into the mood for red wine, as Clos Dady also made some reds. The guy who was showing us around told us that the 2005 "clos des remparts" was fantastic -- one bottle was on display as if to be tasted, but he told us that they were all out. Petra decided to just buy a bottle of the 2006, but I became intrigued by this apparent paradox: how could they be all out of a wine when they had a bottle on display? So I told the guy I wanted to buy the display bottle of the 2005. He ran this idea by his boss, but she wasn't confident of the quality of the display bottle since it had been standing up for a while rather than being left on its side like any well-behaved bottle. Trying to make her point, the boss-lady told me that she didn't even have any of the 2005 in her own cellar. I was not deterred and kept asking for a bottle of the 2005. The guy finally had a little chat with the boss-lady and they decided that it wouldn't do any harm to let one buffoon (me) have one of their secret and apparently prized bottles of 2005. So, after about a 20 minute debate, the guy went into the cave and brought me a bottle of the 2005 -- great success! I was overcome with a feeling of great self-satisfaction -- I had somehow persuaded these folks to give me a bottle of their most prized and secret wine, and I was surely a master of humankind! Petra thought me a complete wacko but I didn't care. It wasn't until we got home that I discovered that they had actually given me a bottle of the 2006! Those bastards! The bottle from Clos Dady ("clos des ramparts") is the fourth from the left in the photo below, and the chateau d'armajan des cormes is the fifth from the left.

We ended up going out for a fun dinner in Bordeaux with J&P -- all around a super fun day!

ps - I actually found Clos Dady Sauternes in a liquor store in Boulder after we got back... No way I'm buying anything from those scoundrels!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Visitors from Utrecht: Nov 6-9

Marisa's cousins Jonathan and Petra came to visit us in Bordeaux from Utrecht. We had a great time!

They had quite an adventure getting to our place. Trying to avoid the traffic delay
that resulted in the Guajardo's spending too much time in the tiny Saxo, we told Jonathan and Petra to take the bus from the airport to the center of town and we would pick them up there. Well, apparently, buses don't go any faster in traffic so, they had to wait a long time to meet Owen too.

Owen was excited to meet his cousins and he showed off his Halloween costume. Petra and Jonathan brought Owen a Miffy and Friends toy (think the Dutch Hello Kitty - except a rabbit). Petra played with Owen on the floor:

Then we went into Bordeaux and Owen gave Jonathan and Petra a brief history of the Miroir d'Eau and showed them his new shoes:

The weekend turned out to be an "Open gates" weekend in Sauternes, a town that makes sweet wine, about 45 minutes south of Bordeaux. So, naturally, we had to go. Sean will fill in the details of this day in a separate post.

After our day in Sauternes, Vovo babysat for Owen so the cousins could go out to dinner in town. We found a tasty little restaurant and had a great dinner and some very yummy wine. A bit tipsy, we boarded the tram home:

Owen meets Santa

We are still quite behind on our postings so for those of you who don't know, we are back in Colorado now. We left France and went to Florida for Thanksgiving (there will be a blog about this because we had SO MUCH fun! Thanks Max & Sue!) and then we flew back to Colorado on December 2.

So, there will be more posts soon but I had to post this picture of Owen meeting Santa at the mall last Friday. From the look on his face, you may think that our son has already learned about and is disappointed in the commercialism of the holiday season. But, in reality, it turns out that he had a pretty bad ear infection that we did not know about until several hours later (he woke up from a nap with a high fever and we ended up in urgent care).

But, enough blabbing. Here is Owen and Santa:


Being a January baby, there was snow on the ground when Owen was born. But he was so little and as first time parents, we really didn't give him a chance to explore. So, when we woke up last Tuesday (12/9) to 6 inches of snow, Owen looked out the window and thought it was the greatest thing in the world:

So, we put on his snow suit and took him outside... clearly, he wasn't as impressed from close-up.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Visit from Vovo: Nov 3-10

Vovo Yol came to visit for a week. We really enjoyed having her here and Owen loved the new books she brought. Here is a really cute picture of her and Owen enjoying a picnic at the Observatory:

Oct 31-Nov 3: OZ meets MJ

The Guajardos came to visit from Copenhagen! It was so much fun to see Nanda and JJ and it was adorable to watch Owen and Mathilde play together. At only 10 months old, the two babies seem to have already developed so much of their personalities and it was so much more evident when seeing the two of them together than what I have noticed watching Owen over the last few months. Mathilde is 2 weeks older than Owen but her vocal skills are light-years ahead! She knows how to point, shake her head “no”, and trumpets like an elephant on cue. Owen, on the other hand, is obsessed with walking around, anything with wheels, and stomping on everything in sight. But, despite their differences, you could tell that the two of them enjoyed hanging out.

They had fun reading books together and playing on the floor:

We ate pizza at Ragazzi de Peppone and hung around Bordeaux:

And, on Monday, before their flight home, we went wine tasting at some nearby chateaux with my mom who flew in that morning:

As for the adults, we had a rally good time too. It was great to see our friends! And I enjoyed talking discussing parenting and parenthood. We are struggling with many of the same issues, most notably getting our kiddos to eat…

… and sleep!

It was very helpful to share ideas and to hear the advice that Nanda was getting from the midwives/doctors and her international friends in Denmark. It’s interesting to learn about the cultural differences in parenthood. For example, in France, we have seen 5 and 6 year old children with pacifiers whereas in the US, even giving a pacifier to a baby is controversial. In Denmark, Nanda was telling us, the midwives were telling her to feed MJ butter and olive oil to help with constipation and increase caloric intake. I read a quote on the internet after the Guajardos left that I think is important for us high-maintenance, well-educated, first-time parents to remember: We are not raising a child. We are raising our child. As Nanda and I discussed, it is important to remember that advice is just that – a suggestion of one way to proceed. But, advice isn’t the law. And Owen and MJ are clearly happy, healthy, and loved kiddos who are doing great – despite our anxiety. (Now, if only I could recall this in my anxious states!)

But enough about the kids, as fun as it was to watch and play with them, it was great to put the kids to bed and have some “adult” time to catch up, eat some tasty duck a la JJ, and drink some tasty wine. We were sad to say good-bye and are looking forward to seeing our friends again soon!