Thursday, September 29, 2011


Since when did Gigi get so big? I looked at her tonight in the bathtub, with her hair slicked down and no ringlets framing her face, and it struck me how old she is beginning to look. She is coming up on 18 months on October 10th, and I will have plenty of updates then, but I figure tonight is as good a night as any to tell you a little bit about what is going on in her life. If I wait another few weeks and do it all at once, it will be a VERY long post. She is just a busy little gal.

I love how these photos both look as if she took them, and did a little self-portrait session. As if I would just hand over my camera to a toddler sitting in a bathtub...

I think I'll tell you a little bit about the physical element of her life, and do chapters on her social, intellectual, etc. elements later.

Gross Motor

Gigi is definitely at the stage where her physical capacity is far more advanced than her ability to reason. Little did you know that another purpose of those bangs is to cover up all of the bruises and cuts, etc. that she gets from her adventures! Just this past weekend she took two pretty bad spills: both times because she figured out how to turn her toys upside down or sideways to make herself a higher platform from which she could see new things on our shelves. (I feel like I'm watching a cave woman sometimes... she manipulates her tools for such new and exciting purposes). The first time she turned a plastic bucket upside down and stepped up on top, and ended up flat on her back with the bucket broken in five pieces under her, and the second time she just brought down the entire toy shelf on top of her. She's fine now, but that second fall in three days motivated us to consider a whole new level of kiddo-proofing in this house. She's decided to be a climber.

But she also dances, and runs, and waves, and high 5s and "pounds" (fist to fist), and climbs safely up and down the stairs, and spins in circles. She climbs up on couches, but doesn't do as well on large rocks or with uneven ground. We're okay with that.

Fine Motor

In the last few weeks, Gigi's fine motor skills have really improved. Her two new things are eating with a spoon (although sometimes she prefers to hold the spoon in one hand and use the other as a shovel to scoop the food into her mouth), and coloring, which for some reason she calls "yellow". Last weekend we had a chance to visit the Prouses in SC for little Matthew's baby blessing, and Gigi sat at their little red table and became very serious with her scribbling. She is very forgiving with our endless sorry sketches of hats, animals, people, etc. She is kind enough to label them properly even when they don't much resemble what we are trying to draw. She loves her collection of colored pencils and one of her first clear requests (out of the context of eating and other basic needs) has been "Mamãe! Ajuda!" (Mommy, help!) as she points to the drawer where her pencils are kept. Her scribbles are becoming more intense and colorful, and she's only drawn on the wall twice. When I am upstairs in the hallway and hear her downstairs saying "No! Gigi!", I know that she is wagging her finger at the wall where she has left her marks.

And probably adding another little squiggle, knowing her.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Couch to 5K

Within the last month or two I have heard enough inspirational running stories to really start to think that I might be able to get into it, despite the fact that I greatly dislike running. You know those stories of women who consider themselves in-athletic and who then somehow are brought by peer pressure into a situation where they find themselves training for and then running a marathon with force and stamina they never knew they had? I have been really pumped by those stories lately, and suddenly, the more people I talk to about running, the more people I realize are runners. And then at a recent Women's Day Basic Running Class, I got so inspired that I did the unthinkable: in a moment of passion I announced that I would be running a 5K around Thanksgiving time, and would anyone like to join me so that we can train towards a common goal. Really, Metta? Really? Could I not have just said that it was a fabulous class, that I had been really inspired, and that I was off to eat cookies with milk and watch the movie "Run, Fatboy Run", thank you very much?

Because that's a commitment I can deal with.

But unfortunately that's not what I said, and so I went home, and three days after the class (when the panic had worn off) I did some research, found a Turkey Trot race nearby which will be held just before Thanksgiving, and looked up the Couch to 5K training schedule. And you know what? It hasn't been bad at all. True to all of the warnings I have read, I am tempted to push myself far beyond the very basic starting point of the Couch to 5K training regiment, but the last thing I want to do is sabotage my current semi-positive feelings towards running, so I'm forcing myself to take it slow. I know that for some of you, a 5K is equivalent to the warm-up to your warm-up, to your warm-up, but for me, this is just what I need to get started! Finding the time and the location has been the trickiest part of running so far, but it all finally fell into place last week and I feel really motivated to succeed with this. I hope that someday I'll be writing about my marathon, but until then, it's me and the Turkey Trot.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Gigi's favorite chore is laundry. While I blow through bottles of Spray n' Wash trying to get all of her food stains, her job is to load her clothes in the washer...

Close the door...

Watch patiently while we put in the soap...

And pretend to turn the knobs. (I am happy to wait a LONG time until she really figures out how to turn on the appliances).

The real reason she helps out? She gets to watch the bubbles!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jordan Lake Revisited

For the past two weekends, we've been at Jordan Lake enjoying the last warm summer days with our friends. For nostalgia's sake I was looking at my photos from our trip to Jordan Lake last year, and I had forgotten what a chubby little baby Gigi used to be! She sure has slimmed down since she has been walking and running and dancing.

Our trip to the lake two weeks ago was a birthday outing with our friends the Hills and their 5-year old birthday girl, Kinsey. We have been friends with the Hills for about three years now, and I'm so glad that their move to Raleigh last year hasn't slowed down our friendship. So many of our great memories here in North Carolina have included the Hill family!

Here we are with our picnic spread. Kim had a brilliant suggestion this year, and requested that she and Jason bring wraps for everyone (grilled veggies with hummus sauce! YUM...), and we bring other sides to share, instead of each of us bringing our own sandwiches, and everyone having to do so much work. We made our favorite Mediterranean Pepper Salad and our new favorite oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and my mom brought genoa salami slices with smoked gouda on super delish crackers with sliced apples. It was an amazing spread, and nobody had to work too hard!

However, I am so embarrassed that this photo is the only one I took of our group, or anyone besides Gigi, for that matter! She is such a quickly moving target nowadays that I no longer trust that my camera is really getting any clear shots, so I spend way too much time behind the lens taking just-in-case photos. We really need to invest in a better machine so that I can spend more time engaging instead of capturing...

But then again, maybe I just like taking photos of her.

Our trip to Jordan lake this past weekend was for our annual Chapel Hill 1st Ward Campout - a overnighter for our church group, to welcome newcomers and friends, have a chance to see each other with unkempt hair and wearing pajamas, etc. before the school year really gets into full swing. This year, even as late as the night before the campout, we were still on the fence about camping out until my friend Becca said to me, "What are you, wussy? Of course you're staying". And suddenly I was decided: I wasn't wussy, and we were staying the night. Of course, at midnight the following night as we tried to keep Giovanna's wails from waking up the entire campsite I did have some misgivings about our decision, but it turned out that the following morning everyone who was brave enough to camp with little kiddos thought their kids were the ones keeping everyone else up, and apparently our noises didn't travel as far as we thought.

The group camping site where we stay each year is so beautiful. Early the next morning, after a warm snuggly night next to Marcos in the deluxe travel lodge, I woke up first and tip-toed out so that Gigi would sleep far into the morning. At the lake some of the kiddos had already gathered, and were catching frogs. I took photos of the visitors who had passed in the night: tracks imprinted in the sand by deer, dogs and racoons.

Gigi emerged wonderfully late in the morning from the 3 bedroom XL deluxe travel lodge. Our tent is so huge it really deserves a name. I'll get on that...

Below, the guys take on a plentiful breakfast of pancakes, eggs and bacon. Part of why camping was so nice this time around was because the Sunday School Presidency was in charge of the activity, and they provided and cooked up the breakfast. With a potluck dinner the night before and breakfast taken care of, we were able to bring just a few snacks and leave the coolers at home. It made for relatively simple packing, and breakfast was so good!

Our new friends the Vance family just moved to the area from Hawaii, and my mom and their crew all just happened to be wearing Hawaii shirts. Some states are just worth being excited about.

As most of the families were packing up and heading out on Saturday morning, my mom kindly took Gigi down to the lake with Becca and her crew so that Marcos and I could pack up the tent without our little one running around underfoot. As soon as they left I had a strong feeling this would happen: our little mermaid just can't look at the water without wanting to commit. On the upside, it was a good lesson in the ultimate absorption capacity of a pampers size 3 disposable diaper. (For the record, the end result of dunking the diaper in the water is a diaper roughly the size of a small fryer hen).

Becca and Stan are my idols of the outdoor world, and of course they had brought their fishing gear along. I think that their little Emerson (top right) could identify and correctly pronounce "bass" and "trout" before he said mommy and daddy. They are so great, and provide such a rich learning experience for their kiddos.

And if we're lucky we may get to camp one more time in the mountains this fall. What a beautiful place to call home!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Jeans + Leggings

Jeans + Leggings = "Jeggings"

I buy most of Gigi's clothes at the thrift store, so clearly, staying abreast of current toddler girl fashion trends is not on the top of my list of things to care about, but I ran across "jeggings" on my last trip to Target, and it's been my favorite $8 investment of the year.

Let's Talk about my Character Flaws

I'm plotting how to exile the parts of my character that I have become tired of tolerating.

First on the list to go: my immaturity and my lack of self-discipline. When I was 23 I considered how I reacted to events at the age of 18 and thought to myself, "Wow, I was so immature then", and then at 26 I thought the same thing about my behavior at 23, and now I think the same about my behavior at 26, and someday I will be thinking the same thing about my behavior now. And self-discipline? Don't even get me started. The only way I can maintain self-respect some days is to remind myself that I am an avid teeth flosser, and that everyone probably has some areas in which they are very disciplined and other areas where they struggle.

So I've concluded that being a human being is really frustrating sometimes. Sometimes I feel frustrated not because I have any notions of being awesome 100% of the time, but because my immaturity and lack of self-discipline hurts other people's feelings, and that's not consistent with the type of person I want to be. Luckily, I have Marcos to remind me that even though I feel like some of our conversations are just repeats of the same disagreements we had when we got married four years ago, when we delve into glimpses of then vs. now, we can see significant change and improvement. It's just that on a day by day basis, character change is largely imperceptible.

On Sunday I taught a Relief Society lesson from a talk given by Jeffrey R. Holland called "Remember Lot's Wife", and I am still pondering his ideas. It's about taking from our past the things that will make us better people, and focusing on our futures to become who we want to be. I especially love that he stresses that when you believe in Jesus Christ, and you believe that his atonement has the power to help people change and evolve and become something greater, then our responsibility is to let buried problems remain buried, and to forgive each other and ourselves, and allow each other the freedom to change. He says, "Is it faith? Yes! Is it hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fast Forward

I feel like everything has been in fast forward lately. Is it just me, or is everyone trying to milk the most out of these last really warm weeks of summer? Whew!

Here are a few things we've been up to. Or rather, a few things to which I've brought the camera.

Making friends with a Chinese lady at Tutu's apartment pool...

Sunday evening picnic at Duke gardens with the Olsens, the Towers' and some visiting friends...

Making popsicles from the heaps of leftover fruit and juices from all of the watermelons we've been taking around for potluck contributions...

Making new friends at Wednesday morning playgroup...

And visiting the Durham Life and Sciences Museum with the Hills, the Thaynes and the Nielsens. If you ever make it to the Triangle area, this museum is a must see. We've been twice in the past week, and have seen just a tiny fraction of all of the exhibits and activities!

Gigi's favorites are the station of many things to clang (the congo drums are her favorite)...

...the sandbox...

...the farmyard...

...the choo choo train...

...and the butterfly house.

This is the first year that I have had the chance to explore the world with a small child. I can see why people say that these years go quickly, because I am already thrilled to welcome in the autumn, and introduce Gigi to the activities and traditions that come with the season. And then winter and the traditions around Christmas and the new year will thrill me to share with her, and then spring and Easter, and the waking up of the earth, and then suddenly we're back to summer and she is at a completely different place in childhood and able to engage with the world in a completely different way than she was a year ago.

In this quickly moving phase of my life, I appreciate all of you who read this blog and provide an incentive for me to write, and post, and tack down these small moments of nurturing a child through the seasons.