Monday, September 24, 2012

Living and Dining

I think that our home is pretty much together now.  And it has only been...  four months since we've moved in?  I am pretty sure that putting our place together may be my only artistic accomplishment as of late, so here are some photos of what we ended up with.

The Metta style is quite eclectic.  I find things that I like - often at thrift stores - and then start shuffling them.  The real trick - if you are like me and have no real training in how to put a home together - is to stop shuffling when a space looks pleasing to the eye.  Above is our little entry area: I inherited the dresser from a friend who was moving a few years ago and then refinished and painted it.  It is topped with a runner I sewed from a Pottery Barn curtain panel I bought years ago at the thrift store, topped with my favorite tins (thrift store - you got it!), and some other little randoms that I like: an airplane to remind us to travel, and a little Eiffel Tower.  On the wall is a beautiful koi fish print that I found at the thrift store, framed by a deep red frame from Michaels.  

Designing the wall behind the couch was a headache, and it is every time we move.  Nailing a hole in the wall feels very committal, and it's hard to think about what you might want to look at every time you spend time in your living space.  Plus, wall art - especially large wall art - is expensive, and since we do not have the means to purchase new things every time we move, even though our tastes change over time, we have to work with what we already have.  This time we added a few new elements, got rid of a few of the old, and we are planning to switch out some of the photos once little boy is here and we have more current images of our family.  

We only have one large window in the living room (hence the funny warm lighting), and since the most tender shoots should get the best light, Gigi's table and chairs are directly in front of the window.  She colors there, makes her designs, plays with her stickers and makes her mischief. Although all of our furniture pieces are Craigslist finds, her table and chairs set has probably been our most favorite investment.  She is so happy in the space that is uniquely hers.

And then there is our kitchen.  It is one of the true beauties of living in this home.  It is the first time in four Chapel Hill rentals that we have had a large, open, and well lit kitchen and dining space, and it is a beautiful feeling.  It encourages happy and comfortable cooking, good eating, a lot of informal family time spent together, and hot cocoa parties on Sunday evenings.  We have always known that a big kitchen must be a nice thing, but living with one now will make going backwards very difficult if we ever need to downsize.  I hope that we stay here a good long time...

And our table says it all: Happy Fall everyone!  This morning I woke up and could see my breath as I was walking to the bus stop, so I think that the new season is officially upon us.  We've got about five weeks until baby boy's due date, and there are a lot of leaves to kick, pumpkin patches to visit and soups to make before he arrives!  Enjoy the changes in the world around you!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fall Beach Trip

We are definitely not the awesomest at exploring the great outdoors and taking full advantage of living in the great state of North Carolina, but we have been really good at catching a fall trip to the Outer Banks every year since we have lived here!  

This year we went a little earlier than usual.  Our usual timing of mid-October means that the weather is usually kind of hit or miss, and with my due date at the end of October, it just made more sense to aim for early September.  We went to one of our favorite beach houses in Kill Devil Hills called the Relax Inn, with our friends Kim and Jason Hill and their two girls, who have been our close friends and beach companions for many lucky years.

On Friday, after Kim and Jason made a breakfast of yummy bagel sandwiches and fruit, we packed a picnic and headed for the beach for our first day at the ocean.  These photos do NO justice to how big the waves were!  The ocean looks glassy in these images, but there were warning flags up because of the rough waves and strong current.  Little Miss had to be held back because no part of her fears the ocean.  I grew up in Hawaii, but even for me, the waves were too strong to risk little bun in the oven getting hurt over something that could have easily been avoided.

There's just some point during pregnancy at which a tankini becomes more like a bikini, and we're definitely there.  Yes, you could say that I'm major pageant material.  I get it a lot.

Some photos with our buddies.  It's a good tradition to be beach friends.

For dinner that night we celebrated Kinsey's 6th birthday.  The girls even had bell pepper party hats!  Kim and Jason made a great dinner of pizza quesadillas - I was skeptical, but proven very, very wrong: they were SO good...

...and there was a veggie platter, and fancy drinks.  The beach house was outfitted with an assortment of fancy glasses, so we went over the top with ginger ale and cherries.

And of course, we topped off the night with presents, songs and candles, cupcakes and ice cream.  A perfect way to celebrate six!

The next day, after we made a huge batch of secret Prieto recipe pancakes and sausages, we went shopping for a bit, back to the beach house for lunch, and then headed to the beach again in the afternoon.  It was kind of nice to take off without a picnic this time, and without much to carry.  

After a few hours, a lifeguard rode by on his 4-wheeler and said, "A storm is coming.  You might want to pack up.  It's as big as the entire Outer Banks".  We looked down the beach and didn't need too much convincing.

That night Marcos and I made Hawaiian haystacks and after two days of going strong with minimal sleep, we were all kind of beat.  Gigi started slumping in the middle of her dinner, and fell fast asleep on her tray.  She never falls asleep over her food, but after two days without her usual nap, she was out.  Some kiddos have outgrown naps by her age, so we were very glad to know that she still needs them.

On Sunday we were up early to pack and straighten up the beach house before heading to church for Sacrament Meeting.  On the way home we passed Roanoke Island, and decided to visit the aquarium.  After a picnic lunch, we explored and had a great time seeing the exhibits and touching sting rays.  It was really strange for me to walk through a North Carolina themed aquarium with otters, alligators and coastal fish, when I was so used to seeing things like tropical fish and Hawaiian monk seals.

The only bummer about our beach trips is that they always feel too short.  We can't wait for the day when we have loads of free time and money, and we can go for an entire week.  Thanks Kim and Jason for a great weekend!  It's always the perfect way to kick off the fall!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Budding Artist

It is possible to spend a lot of money for things of little value, and very little money for things of great value.  I think some of our best investments have been a few toys that allow Gigi free reign to creative time.  

A few months ago, when I was trying to help her learn shapes, I saw this wooden shapes toy of sorts at a local toy store, and brought it home.  It has been so cool to watch her become more sophisticated in what she creates.  It has also sustained her attention far longer than most other toys she has.  "Look at my design!" is probably one of the most repeated sentences in our home. 

A few days ago she came up with this self-portrait and I had to capture it.  Usually her designs are rocketships or houses that vaguely look like rocketships or houses, but this was something unique: her careful symmetry and use of color was such a stone's throw from what she used to make that as her mother, I was - humbly of course - very, very impressed.

Gigi also loves painting.  Tutu bought her a crayola waterpaint set for her birthday in April, and we finally have a good kitchen with a big open layout to let her loose in.  We pull her little table and a chair in from the living room, strip her down, take a deep adult breath and let her at the paints.  Yesterday I was able to make a big pot of harvest soup, and for over an hour she painted very contentedly while I cooked in the kitchen. It was one of those moments that makes you think, "Wait...  Did we just achieve domestic bliss?".

And I feel like I should note: that cabbage leaf is not a prop for a still life painting (and I painted that "A").  Before Gigi was painting she was up on the counter "helping" me as my sous chef, and she pulled off a leaf of cabbage to use as a hat, which ended up on the table.  Oh, c'mon!  I know I have my schedule for her training as a Mensa candidate, but give me some credit here.  I'm not going to push my 2 year old into painting a still life...  Ha ha ha!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Yesterday I sent in my official letter of resignation, so I think it is really happening: Effective October 16, 2012 my title will go from Visiting Clinical Instructor at the University of North Carolina School of Social Work to Stay at Home Mom.  Wow!

There are definitely things I will miss about working.  The paycheck comes most quickly to mind, but the more fulfilling things at work are definitely my friendships with my office team and the faculty at the School of Social Work, my interactions with the Student Ambassadors in the program I coordinate, and even though it can be exasperating at times, I like being the first contact from the School of Social Work for most prospective students.  Working on the recruitment end allows me a small part in creating the highest quality of program possible, and it's inspiring to work with young people who are 100% all about creating change in their world.

However, as my body is growing and requiring more down time, and as Giovanna's education becomes more demanding (first days of coop preschool and ballet class are this week!), sometimes it feels like October 16th can't come soon enough.  I have to admit, the idea of not having to get up for work sounds really good a lot of mornings when that alarm goes off.  I really enjoy my job, but my jobs at home are starting to require more of me, and this timing feels really good for a transition.  In about seven weeks (!) I will be outnumbered by my children, and I feel really good about taking this chapter for them.  For now, this is definitely the right thing for us!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Write that down!

I know that reading about Giovanna all the time is probably getting dull, and I promise that I have some differently-themed posts coming up (photos of our home as it comes together, a trip to the beach, and some of the things I have my hands in right now - stay tuned!), but by golly, it seems that Gigi is just a lot of my life.  At this young age of 2 I really enjoy capturing what she says and writing it down, and since this is my journal as much as anything, I am going to record some little snippets from the last few weeks.  (Where does she get this stuff?)

While playing on her Papai's computer chair one night (and clearly, trying out a new phrase that she hears often from me)...

Gigi: This chair has lines on it.  Okay?  Does that make sense?

and a minute later...

Gigi: I'm standing on this chair, so no using it.  Does that make sense?


While discussing the Prieto family whistle in the car...

Me: Papai's good at whistling.  I'm not very good at whistling.
Gigi: You're good at talking!


While playing with her toy foods (a favorite pastime)...

Gigi: I cooked this chicken in the oven.  I put seasonings on it.
Me: Mmmm....  what seasonings did you put on it?
Gigi: Basil and Oregano.  You want to try it?

August 5th, 2012

Gigi shared her testimony for the first time, during our first Fast and Testimony meeting in the new Chapel Hill 2nd Ward.  She let me prompt her through sentences, but Her Royal Independence was disappointed that I had to hold her up to the microphone, because even from the children's step stool she could not see over the podium.


At Subway, eating a tuna sandwich and chips...

Gigi: I love my life...


Gigi has a little rhyming obsession.  A lot of what she says is made up words, but I am happy enough that she loves rhyming and seems to get it, that the made up words don't really bother me.  Most of the time she comes up with things like "Net and debt!" (not realizing, of course, that debt is actually a word), but my favorite rhyme so far came after our talk about the benefits of water: "Minerals and binerals!".


After I very firmly told her to stop climbing on her crib...

Gigi: I NEED to climb!  My JOB is to climb!


In her high-chair, talking to herself in a sing-song voice as she justifies crunching up her tortilla chips into a million pieces...

Gigi: I can make a mess if I want to.  I'm just a girl.  That's okay...

One day we watched a video on facebook of Gigi's friend Boston singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  Later in the day, she started to sing the same song and I had an idea that it might be nice to record her singing...

Me: Gigi, we should make a video for your friend Boston.
Gigi: Did you post it?
Me: Pause, confused look as I try to figure out if she really just said what I thought she did.
Gigi: Did you post it online?


While talking about me cleaning the kitchen, so that we don't get any bugs...

Me: Papai bought poison for the ants.
Gigi: It's under the chair.
Me: Yeah, we don't touch that.  It's poisonous for people
Gigi: Like mushrooms.  They're poisonous too.


One thing I've learned about Gigi is that unless she is very obviously making up silly words and being a goof ball, all of her seemingly random questions and comments are not random, but are in fact linked to something she has experienced or learned in the past.  Sometimes it just takes me a minute to figure out where she is coming from and what she is referring to.  One day she must have been thinking back on the "kitchen" page in her Richard Scarry book ("This is the Scarry Richard book.  But he's not scary.  No, his last name is Scarry"), and we had the following conversation.

Gigi: Mommy, do we have a pitcher at home?
Me: Trying to figure out what she is referring to and what word exactly she is using.  Hmmm...  well, what do you do with a pitcher?
Gigi: You put milk or juice inside.
Me: Oh!  Yes, we do have two pitchers at home.
Gigi: Are they glass or ceramic?


And finally, I want to record her very cute little habit of saying, "Shall we talk about....?" and then suggesting a random object, for example, coats, placemats, elephants, etc.  Every once in a while we get something more interesting like, "Shall we talk about the Holy Ghost?" but usually we have little conversations where I tell her everything I know about an object until the subject is exhausted (which is very quickly for something like a placemat), and it's fun to be able to tell her about things in her world.

I so wish that my brain were as much of a sponge as hers.   What a great age!