Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Special Delivery - Clara Olsen

A few weeks ago, on the morning of her birthday, my good and very pregnant friend Jen went into labor and in the evening texted me asking if I would be interested in coming to the hospital to take photos of her newborn.  The plan was for me to arrive shortly after the baby's birth since Jen was close to pushing and I would be coming on short notice.  But when I arrived, we had a gift: her little girl hadn't arrived yet, and because Jen had an epidural, we had nearly an hour to talk and enjoy the final peaceful moments before Jen and Jordan became parents to three children instead of two.  

Her team of midwife and nurse were amazing!  And Jen was amazing too!  When it came time to push, Jen pushed once with a contraction, turned to be sick into her bucket, and little Clara came out into the world!  That cramping of stomach muscles was highly effective.  Clara was healthy and so very beautiful.  Here are just a few of my favorite images from that night.

I was available to serve as a doula if need be, but Jen was pro and so I stationed myself behind my camera.  This is the 5th birth I've been present for, besides my own children, and it is always such a holy, sacred space.  Congratulations Jen and Jordan!  Clara could not have asked for a more wonderful family to be born into.  Such a lucky girl.

Car Washing - A Poem

Car Washing

Today is spring break
and sunny -
the perfect day to scrub winter off of the family van.
Sometimes I get a hankering to teach
my daughter.
Today is lesson #4,892
in being THOROUGH.
(Possibly my very favorite word).
My daughter is five.
She chooses the rags
and sprays the van
and rubs the wide sides in roving designs of muddy soap.
And then she is gone,
reappearing with maracas
to cheer on my hard work.
And then back with pom poms
and then a world atlas, from which she pretends to recite
scattered lines from The Jabberwocky.
I want to redirect and reel her in -
show her yet another daily application
of being THOROUGH -
the satisfaction of stretching a rag stuffed with pinky finger
into every metal groove of the hub caps
the glory of scrubbing
each inch of the top of the minivan
that nobody ever sees.
But today the warm breeze blows me wise
And I bite my tongue
And allow her to be THOROUGH
in nothing but the things that she does best.

Written Feburary 17th, 2015
By Metta Prieto

This Girl Looks Like She's FIVE

In April our big girl turned 5 years old!  It felt like she had been 4 for an awfully long time, and it was high time to move on.  Especially since she has been the youngest in her class this year, and age is such a vitally important thing to a Kindergartener, I think Gigi was ready to feel on par with the rest of the crowd.

Since her birthday fell during spring break, we did a lot of fun things that week and called them birthday celebrations.  On the morning of Gigi's actual birthday, we went hiking with Tutu at Johnson Mill Creek.  Gigi said, "I never want to come here again!" which made me think, "Wow, we really need to take the kids hiking more often".  (See how I did that?  Mean mom).

After soccer practice that afternoon (where we shared cupcakes with her soccer friends) and a sushi dinner out on the town per Gigi's request, we came home to presents!  That got an enthusiastic thumbs up.

But the celebrations just kept on going.  The week after Gigi's birthday we celebrated at her school, and the tradition is for parents and siblings to come and bring a few photos and talk briefly about their little one's life.  Gigi was very proud to show her school friends the photos from her infancy.  The kids baked a birthday cake for snack, there was a sweet advancing-through-life ritual, we brought fruit to share, and Gigi got to pick flowers in the yard and decorate her beautiful cake.  

I am so glad that Marcos was able to join us for Gigi's birthday celebration!  Since he is working a 9-5 type of a job, the parental presence at Emerson Waldorf School this year has primarily been my own.  It was fun to be there together as a family on a school day.

And then at the beginning of May we threw Gigi a birthday party!  It was in true Prieto form - cupcakes at Wilson park with a whole lot of people.  I tried offering her the "you can have a party... OR a really exciting, fabulous, super fun, amazing night as a family at a HOTEL!" trick, but she would not be swayed.  She wanted the party.  This was the first year that Gigi really wanted to do a themed party (some of her ideas were a blueberry party or a Marilyn Monroe/Pop Art party) but when I told her that we could either do a small party with a theme or a big party at the park without a theme, she quickly went for the big party.  Atta girl!

This was also the first year that we hosted not only neighbors and church friends and college friends, but the Waldorf crowd as well.  Only two of her classmates were not able to come, so we had a blast merging our worlds and the people we love!

With over 80 people and 5 varieties of cupcakes, I received a lot of compliments and awe for the time I had spent baking in preparation for the party.  But if any compliments were deserved it was simply for my talent at delegating - my sweet friends were happy to help out and brought goodies for the spread - we had chocolate cupcakes, red velvet, strawberry with homemade strawberry frosting, carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and banana muffins with chocolate chips.  It was a cupcake feast!  With a lot of other healthy snacks that friends had brought to share, of course.  

The main attraction after singing and cupcakes were the water balloons.  I delegated the water balloon games to Marcos, and he was awesome at rounding up the kiddos, as usual.  After some pairing up and fun back-and-forth toss games....

...either Marcos threw a water balloon at me, or I threw one at him, or someone threw a water balloon at someone else, and suddenly the place was a crazy water balloon fight.  Orion may have ended up crying at the end, but the other dozens of kids were thrilled, so life goes on.

After all of the hundreds of water balloons had been popped, Marcos led the kids in a traditional Jedi ritual of scanning the territory for pieces of popped balloon.  

And finally, here is Marcos with a few of his best buds from college, who came to celebrate Gigi's birthday with us.  It was such a fun party.  Thanks Gigi for making us such happy parents.  We love every little inch of silly little you!

And lest you think you can get away with reading a post of my children that doesn't contain any quotes, here you are:

Tutu: Thank you for having a birthday, Gigi!
Gigi: Don't thank me!  Thank mom and dad because they made me at just the right time!

One night when Marcos was doing bedtime routine and asking Orion to comply with some orders...
Orion: Poppy you are not the boss!
Marcos: Oh, then who is the boss?
Orion: Mommy is the boss!
Gigi: And you are the assistant, right?

One night, after we left the home of some close friends, Gigi was having a particularly quiet moment in the car...
Gigi: I am sending a message with my heart. I am sending a message to Kate and Amber's hearts.
Metta: Oh. What is your heart telling their hearts?
Gigi: Well there were some things that I forgot to say. Like, thank you for having me over and thank you for the delicious lasagna...

One day, just because I wanted her to know...
Metta: I really love your father.
Gigi: Thank you for loving him.  I really love him too.  We should all love him.

While planning out her future...
Gigi: Some day I will be a famous artist.  And I will work with my husband.  I will be a worker and my kids will go to daycare!

One afternoon, zero went the way of Pluto...
Gigi: Zero is not a number.
Metta: Yeah, I think it is, honey.
Gigi: It's a dwarf number.  It's really little.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Easter 2015.  This year we decided to do a Lenten Fast, which was a first for us.  I fasted from sweets and Marcos committed to going to bed on time, and we made it about 14 days instead of 40, but maybe next year we'll make it all the way to the finish line.  Baby steps...

For the kids, the weeks leading up to Easter meant various egg hunts, spending time with friends and eating candy.  After an egg hunt the Easter baskets were always put up high in the kitchen at night, and inevitably, if Marcos and I decided to sleep in the next morning, we would come down to a kitchen strewn with opened (and empty) plastic eggs, and the tools used to accomplish their design laid out on the floor where the kids left them - stools, the hose of the vacuum cleaner, anything to lengthen those little arms and get down the candy baskets!  The Prieto kids are very, very motivated by sugar.  

(I have no idea where they got that from).

Here are the kids with our friends the Bruesekes, and our little neighbor friend Edon, after the church egg hunt.  

And below is our Easter morning.  We hosted Easter brunch and invited over some friends.  I didn't take any photos of the brunch spread, but it was divine. After brunch we went outside and did yet another egg hunt with the re-re-re-recycled plastic eggs, and the weather was as perfect as can be.  Gigi made out like a bandit this year at all of the egg hunts because she is fast and strategic, but in each hunt she also found a littler kid at the end who didn't have very many eggs, and she shared her loot.  After Easter she articulated that she felt good inside when she shared with others who didn't have as many easter eggs as she did.

Papas and the boys.

After the first egg hunt, Orion knew exactly what it was all about, and it was difficult to get him to keep searching.  After two or three eggs in the basket, he was more than content to stop and eat instead of finding more eggs.

Here are all of the brunch party kids: Pearl, Gigi, Declan, and in the front row Boy Boy, Evan and Orion.

And then I thought, hey everyone looks nice, let's take family photos so that we can all remember this beautiful Easter morning!  My mom with Rosemary and Frank Pierce (our adopted grandparents), Courtney, Scotty, Boy Boy and Evan Lieng, Declan and Spencer Dorsey (Ann is an urgent care doc at Duke and was working that day), Julie, Luke and Pearl Drake, and us of course.   

Happy Easter!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Snapshot: Giovanna

Name: Gigi

Current age: Just shy of 5

Current Interests: Fashion, "playing orphans" with Tutu, being read The Little House on the Prairie series, talking about possible themes for her 5th birthday party (so far she has come up with a blueberry theme, clown theme and a Marilyn Monroe theme), playing outside and getting dirty, jokes and silliness, sewing and drawing, peeling and cutting vegetables as a sous chef to whomever is making dinner, hearing us tell stories about our family, making other people laugh, and playing with Orion.

Current Fears: The draft.  She is concerned that the men in her life will be drafted into war.  I don't think this will last long, but it is definitely one of the times I wish I had held my tongue and not given her the "adult explanation".

Some recent gems...

Gigi sits down in the new little rocking chair...
Orion: Ooooo, can I sit?
Gigi: You got to do phone book this morning, and I didn't.  So I'm going to sit because you're not the center of the world.

Gigi, cleaning up the magnatiles in our bedroom...
Gigi: I'm cleaning up right now.  My heart doesn't want to but I am.

Talking about what people have said our family members look like...
Gigi: Well, if Papai is President Obama, then I am a nun.
Me: What?  I don't understand the connection.
Gigi: Remember, President Obama has two daughters and they are nuns?
Me: Are you thinking about Galileo?
Gigi: Oh, yes!  It's Galileo!

Me: And so and so is having a birthday party.  She is turning 5.
Gigi: Wait.  She's bigger than me?  I thought I was bigger than her.  Then why was she kicking and hitting my chair on Sunday?  She knows better.

Chatting in the kitchen...
Gigi: I'm too little to be in love with someone or have a girlfriend or boyfriend!

Gigi: Mom, I thought Bruno Mars got shot while he was doing his talk.
Me: I think you mean Martin Luther King Junior.
Gigi: Oh yeah!  Did some people not like that he said the color of your skin doesn't matter, but only your character?  Were they acting like teenagers?

At the dinner table...
Gigi: I better eat my food because I know Papai wants to go [to FHE at our friends' house] and it's illegal for an adult to leave a child all alone at home, right?

Gigi singing to herself, about the existential question that she grapples with the most...
Gigi: And they all joined hands and tried to go to Heaven because they thought Jesus could tell them how the dinosaurs died...  how the dinosaurs died....

Monday, March 16, 2015

Snapshot: Orion

I haven't captured the kids in a few months, so here goes!  

A friend set up a little Valentines backdrop a few weeks ago to take festive photos for Grandparents, and invited anyone to come and bring their littles, so we gave it a whirl.  I wish I were better at photography, but I like how they came out, because I love that little face.

Name: "Marcos OOOOOwion!"

Current Age: 2 and a few months

Current Strong Interests: the sock fuzz between his toes, friends and new toys, being defiant and ornery, balls, vehicles, puzzles, desserts, saying "I'm tired" and "I'm frustrated", building with legos/magnatiles/blocks, "tough time" with Papai, apologizing, helping out in the kitchen, potty talk with Gigi, talking all the time, the Temple Song, "Brazil songs", and being a big boy.

Things he says: 

Gigi, parenting Orion in the next room.
Gigi: Orion, go to timeout!  One...  Two... -
Orion: No!  You're not the office!

Pretty much every time he is busted and has to apologize.
Orion: I'm sorry for hitting you, Gigi.  Thank you for apologizing, I forgive you.
Gigi: No, I'm supposed to say that!

Asking to go outside last week.
Orion: Can I go outside and play with bubbles?  On the duck?  On the dick?  Out there?
Metta: Oh!  On the DECK.
Orion: Yeah, on the deck.

Orion washing his hands, to Gigi who was crowding him at the sink.
Orion: Give me space.  I'm washing my hands!

Orion, when some friends were over and their baby son was put to bed in Orion's crib.
Orion: I don't want baby Sam in my bed.  It make me upset!

Marcos: Orion, I just gave a talk at the Priesthood Meeting.
Orion: Wow!  That's awesome!

Metta: Orion, you did it!  You are becoming so independent!  Can you say "independent"?
Orion: No!  I don't want to!  I don't want to say independent!

Orion, asking me to put the Pentatonix Little Drummer Boy video on the computer.
Orion: I do the computer?
Metta: No...
Orion: My job is to sit on the sofa!

Orion: There's boogies in there!  I can't breathe very well!

Trying to teach Orion Portuguese.
Metta: "Ce-va-da".
Orion: I can't say that word.  It's kind of tricky for me.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Snow Days

We were having a really mild winter, until a few weeks ago.  In the past two weeks we've been snowed in multiple days, school has been cancelled and Marcos has even worked from home on a few occasions.  My favorite day was when we were all snowed in, and our internet was down all on the same day.  We were fortunate to have power (many in the Triangle were out), but it was new and refreshing to be completely disconnected from the internet.

The first big snow dump was a strange one.  The top had iced over, so although it looked soft and inviting, it was basically an ice skating rink right outside our door!  Here are some photos from that day.

First, the kids trying to get up the hill!  The neighbors across the street have a hill up to their home, and Gigi and Michael (our next door neighbor) had a difficult time crawling uphill on the icy snow.

My courageous girl, love her.

We brought out the sand toys for Orion to play with and it threw him off.  While we were outside he kept shoveling piles of snow and saying, "Look at my sand, Mommy!".  Almost, buddy, almost...

I love this one of Michael, Gigi and Orion.  Whenever we talk about someday possibly moving, Gigi is upset because she wants to live next door to Michael forever.

The next big snow dump the following week was your typical deep powdery snow - perfect for snowball fights and for making snowmen! 

Our collective snowman had such personality!  I think it was the eyebrows.

Michael, James and Jacqui, our beloved neighbors.  When you live in a duplex and share a wall with another family, it's very fortunate if you get along with each other!

Over the past week, we have had conversations with neighbors with whom we haven't exchanged a word in a year.  The snow really stopped life and allowed everyone to come out of their caves and connect with each other in this magical winter wonderland.  Warm weather also tends to do that around here, but I can't even remember what warm weather feels like.

Later that afternoon, Marcos took the kids out for a walk around the block.

They stumbled across a couple who had made an igloo, lit it with candles, and were eating a dinner of ice cream together!

But on that trip around the block, Gigi and Orion's socks had gotten soaked, and they returned home wet and freezing cold.  It was time to turn on the space heater and let the kids snuggle up!  Lots of hot cocoa, lots of snuggling and family time this week.  Thanks, winter weather!