It is hard for me to believe that my niece Zoee was four months old before I got to meet her. When she was born I resisted the urge to get on a plane for Switzerland to see her but Steve and I had just returned from Italy and I had seen my sister prior to meeting Steve in Italy. It just didn't make sense to fly back right away. Then it was prepping for Thanksgiving pie season and I thought that Jenny, Nico and baby Zoee would be in Cleveland for Christmas so it made sense to wait for them to come. Well, getting Zoee's passport proved not an easy thing (she still doesn't have it) so the Christmas trip was cancelled. All that along with the other life stuff and it was the end of January and I still hadn't held my niece.
I arrived Thursday and Zoee is the most precious thing ever. Of course I've felt that was about each of my nieces and nephews but extra special is the time you first meet them.
Zoee is a tiny little thing. She weighed just 6 lbs 7 ounces when she was born and she is probably only 10 or 11 pounds now. Her little fingers and toes and button mouth all melt my heart.
She is a pretty quiet baby, not a lot of laughing and cooing but when she does laugh, oh is it something.
She has just started teething and spends almost all of the time I hold her with my finger in her mouth rubbing her gums against it. It is a riot to see her take my hand and try to guide it to her mouth. In just the few days I've been here she is already putting her own fingers in her mouth more.
Zoee likes to be held and is not much for laying in her baby seat or on the floor on her blanket.
She loves her Mommy and Daddy. If she starts fussing when I'm holding her she immediately is consoled when she goes to Jenny.
I love holding her in my lap while Nico sits next to us playing guitar. Zoee can't take her eyes off her Daddy when he is making music for her and Jenny sings to her all the time.
Jenny and Nico were going to use Black (my sister's and my maiden name) as her middle name but when they registered her name the county contacted them to say that Black was not an acceptable name. It is strange that though Zoee is not a Swiss citizen Jenny and Nico are subject to the Swiss' rules regarding names. Nico took to calling Zoee "Ti Ti" and both he and Jenny like the name Nefertiti, the beautiful woman has come, so they have a request in to make that her middle name and are waiting to see if Nefertiti will be allowed.
I got in Thursday and took the train from Geneva. It's funny to me that I used to stress a little bit about taking the train instead of Jenny coming to the airport but now it is second nature and I don't mind it at all in fact I enjoy the train trip.
I didn't sleep well on the plane and so wanted to take a nap but I resisted. Jenny had a baby massage class in Vevey Thursday afternoon so I went with her and walked around town while she had her class then we did a little grocery shopping and ran a few errands and came home.
For dinner Thursday Jenny made pizza. She used a pre-made crust and made her own sauce with lots of onions and a little oregano, the way we had it growing up. The pizza was delicious!
Friday I spent the day leisurely cleaning the kitchen cupboards and drawers and hanging out with Jenny and Zoee. Nico worked from home that day so we got to have some time with him too. He played a lot of guitar for Zoee.
Jenny and Nico were expecting college friends of Nico's and their three month old baby for the weekend so Friday evening I cleaned the downstairs bathroom and Saturday Jenny spent the morning cleaning while I went to the Vevey market, grocery store and farm for provisions for the weekend. We had seen vongole at the grocery on Thursday and Jenny decided she would make pasta vongole for dinner Saturday night. Shortly after I got home from the market Nico's friends arrived from Lyon. While Jenny and Nico visited with them I chopped the onion, garlic and parsley for the pasta and toasted walnuts and cleaned a pomegranate for the salad. We all had a great meal and a nice evening visiting. After dinner the guys went to Vevey for a friend's birthday party.
Sunday I baked a blueberry pie while Jenny got a pot of soup going for couscous. Nico, Jenny, Zoe and their guests, Clarise, Ben and Leelou, went to Montreux to walk at the lake and I stayed behind and made radish and harissa salad and cooked peppers to have with the couscous. Steve's family calls the cooked peppers and garlic "cooked salad" or "marmula". I am unable to find an internet reference for "marmula" so perhaps I am spelling it incorrectly.
Once everyone returned from the lake we had a wonderful couscous lunch. Jenny has become a great cook. While her couscous was different from what I'm used to from Steve's Mom and aunt it was delicious. Steve's family uses a couscous blend that has cayenne, paprika, coriander and cumin while Jenny used cinnamon, cumin corriander and a little caraway. Steve's family's version is more savory while Jenny's was slightly sweet like what I've had in couscous places in Paris. I prefer the more savory but will say that of all the slightly sweet versions I've had my sister's was far and away the best.
The blueberry pie for dessert was a big hit. Nico always makes a big deal of it when I make pie which of course makes me feel like a hundred dollars. Clarise and Ben enjoyed the blueberry pie as well as I was glad that I had made a little tart with the left-over crust for them to take home. As we were finishing the pie Jenny and Nico got a call from another friend who happened to be in town from Australia and he stopped by for pie. Zoee got her first taste of blueberry pie and she was loving it. I dipped my finger in the juice from the pie and let her suck that from my finger and she kept wanting more. It was very cute and had us all laughing.
Clarise, Ben and Leelou left around five and Jenny, Nico, Zoee and I spent the rest of the day hanging around.
I talked to Steve about maybe flying home early because Nico's parents, sister and her son are coming at the end of the month and it would really be tight for all of us to be here. I had thought about going to spend a few days in Annecy but for I didn't feel like exploring a new city without Steve. It's not that I'm not adventurous just that I am thinking this is a long time to be away with out Steve and I am missing him. Steve thought I should go to Paris to see his cousins and spend time enjoying my favorite city. I was hesitant about the idea because I really just wanted to go home early but I sent a message to his cousin to see what she thought of the idea and her excitement about it made me excited so I spent the rest of the evening looking at train and plane options and this morning I booked a flight to Paris. I will go for a few days and will return to my sister's the day before my flight back to the states.
Today Jenny, Zoe and I puttered around in the morning and then we went for a walk to Brent. When we got back Nico was home from work and he, Jenny and the baby went to the pool for a swim. They are back and I am waiting for Jenny to put Zoee to bed then I will make pasta vongole round two with the clams we had left from Saturday.
We haven't planned out the rest of the week but ruled out the trip to Dijon we were thinking of. It doesn't make sense to go to Dijon for a few days when I am going to Paris. I know for sure that I will spend an afternoon at the museum in Martigny (http://www.gianadda.ch/). The current exhibit is of over a hundred works from a private collection. The collector, who wishes to remain anonymous, has long been a supporter of this museum and from what I've been told by my sister this collection is momentous. I am greatly looking forward to seeing it and have in my mind that it will be as monumental to me as the L'ecole de Paris exhibit was in Paris ten years ago.