Monday, September 27, 2010

One Recurring Thought

My one recurring thought this week:

I hope and I hope and I hope some more that Gigi will grow up getting a natural high - that rush of excitement, click your heels type of feeling - when she serves other people, and that she will crave the feeling often enough to live her life in kindness and helpfulness.

Aloha comes to North Carolina

We had the absolute joy of having family visit us last week. My Uncle John and Auntie Lani were in town from Hawaii to visit my cousin Hannah and her family as they celebrated the graduation of her husband from Special Forces Training (it was something like that). Living on the polar opposite side of the United States from Hawaii means that our visitors are few and far between, so we love it when family comes to town.

Uncle John and Gigi, my cousin Hannah, Sally her mother-in-law with Hannah's little girl Makena on her lap, me and my Auntie Lani. We met them at Duke Gardens and brought a big picnic to enjoy outdoors.

My Uncle John (my mom's older brother) was really taken with Gigi's pleasant nature, and most of the time we were together Gigi sat contentedly on his lap. We never know if our impressions of our child are the same as other people's impressions, so we were pleased that he found her so easy to be around.

It was so nice to be together with our Hawaii family again, and to show off the place we have made our home and the little girl we have brought into it. If everything goes as planned (and a few miracles occur), we should be seeing them again at Christmas time, next time back in Hawaii!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Salt Air and Sand

Each year we try to visit the beach in the early fall, when the prices drop and we can afford a long weekend getaway. This past weekend we had an amazing few days at the beach in a great little beach house, thanks to Kim and Sharon, who made all of the arrangements and plans while the rest of us worked!

I could not get over how great our beach house was. We actually stayed at this exact beach house last year for a night, but as we were crashing our friends 24-person family reunion at the time, last year we slept on our air mattress under the kitchen table. This time, we did not sleep under the kitchen table. We slept in a great little room (the second photo down), and our friends with their families slept in the other two equally adorable bedrooms. Adorable is not my favorite word, but there is really no other way to describe that house.

Those smooth wooden floors, those big plump couches, that newly refurnished kitchen... ooooh, aaaahhh...

Our first day we made a picnic, and spent the afternoon at the beach that was just three blocks away. Why make it complicated when simple does the job so well? Below, Sharon holds Gigi, who is just a ball of joy these days.

Eliza and Kinsey, Eliza and Kinsey... the source of so much fun, and some serious 4-year old drama. I'm so glad that a lot of our friends have kiddos older than Gigi, because we learn so much from how they parent! Such good examples...

Gigi loved being at the beach, but she did not love the frigid water.

Gigi spent some time hanging out in the beach chair, because she can't sit up quite yet on her own in the sand. I took lots of photos of her, to keep from eating her because I think she is so cute. Below, Sharon and Mark and three of the little ladies.

In past years we have gone boogie boarding, but the waves were fairly rough this time around. We spent most of our time on the shore, and in the shallow place where the waves wash up the beach. Below, Kaitlyn plays in the sand.

Shocking: more great photos of Marcos and Gigi! As long as I'm on this side of the camera and taking hundreds of photos (hundreds means that we're bound to have a few good ones), we will have a lifetime of good photos of Marcos and Gigi, which I'm not complaining about because they are my favorite people to look at.

And this brings us to Day 2: Ocracoke Island! I've always wanted to go to Ocracoke Island. We took the ferry over in the morning, spent the afternoon at a nearly deserted stretch of beach, and had dinner in the little Ocracoke village before heading back to Kill Devil Hills.

Gigi has started doing something that I love: when she is tired, she sucks her fingers and snuggles against whomever is holding her. In the photo above, it happens to be Jason. Lucky him!

Below, Kaitlyn and Camille chill in the sand. The entire trip, we couldn't help but think that Camille is what Gigi will look like in the future. She has the same loose dark curls, and the same chunky thighs.

For us three young families, beach time meant quality time. Jason and Kim went into the surf break that afternoon, and spent a lot of time just holding hands and jumping waves (or getting pummeled by them, depending on the size of the wave). For those of us who have young families, finding time to hold hands and jump waves is not easy. It was lovely to see their love in action.

Sharon and Mark spent hours digging in the sand with the girls. They covered them up, and made holes together, and it was endearing to watch them make memories together for their kiddos.

Me? I took pictures of Marcos and Gigi. Lots of pictures.

And finally, we finished off our trip to Ocracoke Island with dinner and the sunset at Jolly Roger's in the village. Fish tacos and hush puppies never tasted so good!

Our trip to the beach was the perfect way to end the summer. With the craziness that is this chapter of our lives right now, there is no better remedy than to be near the ocean.

Friday, September 24, 2010

French Bread to live for

I'm not being modest when I say that I'm no good at baking. Which is why I want you to pay special attention to the photo below.

Do you see that bread? Me, the Queen of All Failed Baked Goods, made a French bread that was as perfectly delicious as it was gorgeous. As I was browsing my books for French bread recipes so that I could take something yummy to a potluck party we were invited to, I knew I had come across the right one when I read, "this bread is a no-fail winner". No fail is right.

French Bread
...from The Essential Mormon Cookbook

2.5 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
6 cups flour
1 egg, beaten
sesame seeds or poppy seeds

In a large bowl combine water, sugar and yeast. Let stand for about 5 minutes or until foamy. Stir in salt, oil and 3 cups of the flour. Stir vigorously. Add remaining 3 cups of flour and mix well. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir down. Repeat this process 5 times, which will take one hour. Place dough onto a floured board. Knead only enough to coat dough with flour so it can be handled; divide in half. Roll into two rectangles about 9x12 inches long. Roll up from long side. Moisten seam with small amount of water and pinch to seal. Arrange both loaves lengthwise on a large, well-greased cookie sheet. Place seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30 to 45 minutes.

Glaze with beaten egg (brush on very gently) and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Use a very sharp knife to gently make 3 diagonal gashes in the top of each loaf.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove to cooling racks and cover with a towel (this keep the crust soft). Serve warm. Makes 2 loaves.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


What have we been up to? Here's a hint!

Monday, September 20, 2010

What I would have said to Diane

Last week Marcos and I were listening to NPR's Diane Rehm show in the car, and all of a sudden I felt passionately enough about the topic to call in. Call in! This is National Public Radio we're talking about!

Apparently, the entire nation was equally as moved. After inviting people to call in and advertising the telephone number only once, Diane stopped repeating the number because the lines were already so busy. After Marcos and I attempted to remake the number in our heads, and I tried calling random toll free numbers with similar digits, finally I got a hold of Miss Jeanne of some motel in Alabama, and I stopped dialing and gave up.

Diane Rehm, of one of the best radio shows ever.

Just to get you up to speed, the show was actually an interview with William Powers about his new book called "Hamlet's BlackBerry", about the advantages and pitfalls of living in a world of constantly changing technology. He had a few really interesting things to say, and both Marcos and I were intrigued. Together as a couple, we often agree that our evening life would be much different and - *gasp* - better if the internet were disconnected at a certain early-ish time, however, we have never quite been able to pull it off. But William Powers said that in his family they observe the "internet Sabbath": each Friday evening the modem is disconnected FOR THE ENTIRE WEEKEND. He said that at first it was difficult, but he had come to realize that the availability of internet access had allowed everyone in the family to disappear to their own computer stations and that it was affecting their family unity in a negative way. He was not anti-technology at all - in fact, he gave many examples of how modern technology enhances our lives - but his point was simply that we should be careful consumers.

So now you get to hear what I wanted to say.

What I wanted to say to William Powers and Diane, and what I've been thinking about for a long time, is how amazing it is that we "young" people in society have such a lack of healthy skepticism when it comes to technology. When we weigh the decision of whether or not to purchase a technological gadget, our cost/benefit analysis is often missing a crucial element. Under the "benefits" lists are always detailed descriptions of how this thing is going to revolutionize our life in endless ways, but the "costs" list usually ever includes only one thing: money. Sometimes we get lost in the analysis of how the cost of the attractive sexy machine plus the monthly cost of making it work will put a hole in our pockets, when I think that the ultimate question is, "In the bigger scheme of things, is this gadget going to enhance or distract from the truly essential things in my life?". Forget about the money. What about our families? Does what we want to buy increase quality time, or does it distract from real interpersonal connection and our responsibilities? It seems like once a gadget has passed those questions favorably, only then is it time to start looking at the monetary cost...

Steve Jobs, of the iWorld

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gigi rolls

We caught it on video! Gigi makes rolling look cool.

Monday, September 13, 2010

5 months

Gigi just made her five month mark as a resident of planet earth, and we're enjoying her more than ever before. She laughs more now, she smiles at anyone willing to chat and smile at her, and she's even starting to move. She rolls from back to front and front to back, and she can almost sit up without support. She is wide awake at absolutely all social events (although she did fall asleep to some very loud Cuban music and flailing dancers at my zumba class on Saturday - go figure), and she is happy to be held by strangers about 90% of the time.

Gigi makes bathrobes look good!

She is wearing clothes in the 6-12 month range (besides dresses, which she never seems to outgrow because her truly large parts are her torso and thunder thighs and dresses aren't much affected by those parts), and we're thinking of starting off with some basic "solid" foods soon because she is beginning to show signs of readiness. She continues to sleep about 7 hours through the night, and she is taking the bottle like a champ when she is home with daddy on the days that I work.

Reading in bed with Daddy

Her hair is getting so long on top (she has a thin patch around the back like most babies who sleep on their back), and when I bathe her in the bathtub with my new technique of laying her on her back in an inch or two of water, all of her long curly hair waves around her head in the water like a little crown.

We definitely hit the jackpot with this one.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Marcos Creates

The person you probably hear about most on this blog is Gigi. Then comes me. And then yes, I'm still married to Marcos and he still is the love of my life.

Along with Marcos' job and being a stay-at-home dad, and his online classes and his new calling in the Young Men's Presidency and as the Assistant Scout Master, he dabbles in the world of creating websites. Recently he created two websites from scratch, which totally amazes me, because I can barely bake from scratch, and most of the things I bake I burn.

The first website Marcos made was for Condie Construction Corporation, a local construction team of completely recommendation-worthy builders (and good friends of ours). The tricky part of this website was creating the function on his "projects" page so that the images of Condie's past work come up, cycle through a slideshow, and allow the viewer to get a glimpse of his gorgeous handiwork. I have learned through watching Marcos create websites that often, the simple things we use on people's websites represent hours and hours of programming before they function without a glitch.

The second website Marcos made was for Jo Garrett, our doula (birth coach) at Gigi's birth. She just started her company called Jo For Joyful Birth, and Marcos and I worked together to design her website. She said that she wanted her website to be very simple, with organic shapes and forms, and with the color scheme of dark brown, a teal, and a pumpkin orange. After letting my imagination run loose for a few minutes, I sketched on a piece of paper what I thought her website should look like, and Marcos started working from my sketch. We debated, we fixed things, and tried new things, and ultimately came up with a website we were all really happy with. It was fun to be involved in a creative project with Marcos, especially one in which we each brought something to the table: Marcos can create everything with programming and he is so talented with the technological aspect of things, and I have a highly untrained but slightly more natural eye for design.

Our current project is creating a website for Prieto Designs, which is ours! If you've ever browsed highly ranked websites, you might have noticed that the absolute most interesting and creative websites on the internet belong to website designers (for obvious reasons - who would want to do business with a company whose own website is horrible?). So, we are working on our own website very slowly but surely. With all of the other things going on, it is not at the top of the priority list, but sometimes we flirt with the idea of making this company a bigger part of our lives.

Who knows? Someday when we're living in Bermuda and need a break from sipping smoothies on the beach it may be just the right amount of getaway from our getaway from our getaway...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hanging Rock

If I could change one rather superficial thing about myself, I would make myself more outdoorsy. I mean Heavens, what is the use of living somewhere pretty if you choose to spend your spare time indoors?

On Monday, we made a Labor Day effort, and per suggestion from our outdoorsy friends, we drove out to Hanging Rock state park for a few hikes. Just us, as a family.

It was great.

When my alarm went off at 7am for me to wake up and put together a picnic, I came very close to rolling over and going back to bed. Who wants to wake up early on a holiday? Luckily, by repeating the mantra "Memories for my family. I am helping to create memories for my family", I was able to wake up and prepare food for our two-hour journey towards the mountains.

One of the honest to goodness reasons we are not more outdoorsy is because we lack the proper equipment. At Hanging Rock state park there were oodles of hikes, some easy and some not so easy, and all we own for Gigi is a Baby Bjorn that our kind friends gave us. It sure beat the situation of the poor woman who we saw hauling her sleeping dead-weight 3 year old-ish looking child up the mountain, but the Bjorn was not created for hikes. If we want to continue being outdoorsy people, it would definitely be worth considering a frame pack for our chunker!

Hiking is a lot of work. Giovanna fell asleep for a good leg of the hike up to Hanging Rock.

Finally we made it to the top! It was really a beautiful view, looking out over endless trees and shades of green and blue.

We sat under this tree to eat our picnic. The land was nearly perfectly untouched as far as the eye could see. We had an apple in our bag, and we gave a piece to Gigi, who gnawed on it ravenously and licked it all over. It looks like she is almost ready for real food!

And so, with a simple day trip out to Hanging Rock State park we proved to ourselves that we can do outdoorsy things. I'm not sure if we are ready for a committed relationship with the outdoors - for example, camping and such - but we've definitely made it to first base, and we're interested to see where this relationship will take us.