Monday, November 22, 2010

If Gigi were 4 years old...

If Gigi were 4 years old, I would hold a Family Home Evening tomorrow night to kick off Thanksgiving week, and I would use this simple activity to teach her the concepts of gratitude and service. I recently saw these simple graphics and really liked the idea of a Thanks tree and a Giving tree to remind us of the important things.

The idea of the activity is very simple. Starting with two bare trees, Gigi will have an opportunity to think of things she is thankful for (for the Thanks tree), and things she can do or has done recently for other people (for the Giving tree). Then using the leaf graphics below, we will label them with her ideas, and cut them out to decorate the corresponding trees, adding a few each day until Thanksgiving on Thursday.

What a very cool yet simple idea! Why didn't I come up with that? Here is where you can find the free PDFs if you know a good 4 year old.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Real Life

Real life today meant waking up early after a night of interrupted sleep, because Gigi has decided that she no longer likes sleeping all the way through the night.

Real life today meant that my six hours at work stretched on for what felt like six decades because I was tired and the gray sky outside bathed my office in a sleepy glow.

Real life today meant that a woman at work asked me when I was due, and then told me that she had mistaken me for someone else.

Real life today meant that life has been too busy, or stressful, or full of headaches for Marcos and I to feel connected.

Real life today meant that I put the groceries on the credit card again, just in case.

I love my life, but there is no doubt about it: it is definitely real.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Before we were married, Marcos once told me, "When we're married and own a car, it's not going to drive, it's going to skip down the road, because of all the happiness inside".

Well, it's time to start skipping. For my birthday in October, my office friends gave me the best group gift and it just arrived in the mail: a personalized license plate! After a lot of thinking and brainstorming, Marcos and I decided on "BEIJOS" which means "kisses" in Portuguese. Because, well, it's so.... us.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sete, SEVEN, sieben, shichi

Name: Giovanna Vitoria Prieto
Preferred appellation: Gigi

Age: 7 months old yesterday

Hobbies: Moving forward like an inch-worm, putting everything in her mouth, and laughing.

Likes: New toys, chewing on the rubberized spoon as I try to feed her rice cereal, being able to see everything going on, interacting with Auntie Lizzy and the gang, breastfeeding, and the outdoors.

Dislikes: Old toys, new teeth (if her drooling and fussiness are any indication, we may have number one on its way in), being left alone in a room, changing clothes, being put in her crib, having her hair pulled by well-meaning little friends and having her face wiped off.

Talents: Hair pulling, making a "pppppbbbbt" sound with her lips, picking up objects using a pincer grip, and making friends.

Future goals: To be potty trained by 8 months.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Stubborn or Tenacious?

As I was wrestling with Gigi to put her clothes on the other day, I caught myself thinking, "Ugh! I wish she weren't so darned stubborn!"

And then I realized that "tenacious" is just a kinder word for stubborn, and that is something I want my daughter to be.

That episode has caused me to think about Gigi and her growing personality, and what our role is as parents in raising her. Even though in frustration I sometimes wish that she weren't so *insert quality here*, I am realizing more and more that for each "stubborn" there is invariably a "tenacious" and that all of her qualities make her uniquely fit to survive and thrive in this world. My job is not to stomp out anything, but to teach her how to use the gifts that God selected specifically for her, and channel her qualities to good ends.

If any of you have figured out how to do that, please let me know.


Trick or Treating was not in the line up this year, but it has been a whirlwind few weeks of baking pumpkin cakes and loafs for all sorts of social events, window shopping sprees as a family, and Halloween festivities!

A few weeks ago our friends Emily and Josh hosted a fabulous Oktoberfest Poker Party (with no alcohol, and no playing for money, just to clarify...). I don't ever crave German cuisine, but the Bratwurst with sauerkraut, German potato salad, red cabbage and apples and homemade wheat bread made the most amazing meal. We followed it up with my homemade Black Forest Cake and a few hours of poker with our friends.

And then there was the Fall Festival at church. Our friend Jami kindly let Gigi continue her family's tradition of little caterpillars, and I thought Gigi looked kind of delicious. I tried to get Marcos to be a father butterfly, but he wasn't so keen on the wings idea.

One of last weekend's new activities was a Murder Mystery Dinner for my friend Angela's birthday! It was the first time any of us had ever participated in one, and it was pretty entertaining to watch us figure out what we were supposed to be doing. Marcos was an old Italian man, and ended up being the murderer. Oooh lala!

Halloween night we spent indoors with a big chili and cornbread dinner and games night with a group of our friends. Although we really enjoyed the frenetic activities and fun around Halloween, it started me thinking about Thanksgiving. I think that next year I would like to simplify Halloween and put more time and energy into thinking about meaningful ways to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. I don't know what that means yet, but it just seems like the most we take with us from Halloween is cavities, whereas the theme of Thanksgiving can really offer us meaningful memories if we just put a little thought into it...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Gigi came out of the bath with Elvis hair a few days ago.

Marcos brushed it down...

...and it went up instead.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Big Thing and Little Thing

Work is a Big Thing.

About a week ago, Marcos and I decided that it was time for him to find new work. Being part of a small start-up company for the last few years has been amazing for Marcos and it has provided us with a lot of flexibility and opportunities. However, the time is ripe for us to find employment that provides a more steady income. This is something we have been nervous about: Will any company be flexible enough that he can work from home with Gigi three days a week while I work? Will he be offered a competitive salary? And is there even a job out there for him, period?

So Marcos sat down on Saturday and applied to 16 different job postings online. Seven minutes after applying to the first job, he received an email response asking if he would be available to do a preliminary phone interview on Monday. Today was Monday. The interview was great, and Marcos is going into this company's Chapel Hill office on Wednesday to meet everyone and possibly set things up to start working on Thursday. They loved him, and he loved them, and this is a really Big Thing.

Big Things come from small moments of prayer and faith.


Coffee Shops are a little thing.

Tonight we went to Starbucks on Franklin Street for the first time since Gigi was born six months ago. Brisk autumn evenings for us has always meant hazelnut hot chocolate, a slice of pumpkin bread and people watching. Tonight we went with the Pumpkin Spice Steamer and a slice of banana chocolate chip loaf, Gigi-bouncing on our hip, and working on the crossword puzzle together. How are we still so in love?

Coffee Shops are definitely a little thing, but they are helping us to lay the foundation of an eternal marriage, which is really the Biggest Thing of all.