Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wrapping up the Job

The week before I resigned, my work hosted a really nice baby shower for me and baby boy.  Of course my family came and Gigi was more than happy to show her ballet moves and sing for anyone who was interested.  Since secretly I am extremely embarrassed by parties that are about me (it may be the only time I truly feel shy), I was happy to have her there pulling in some of the attention.

I really enjoyed having my family there, including Marcos.  After the party they had nothing but kind things to say about the people I work with, and it confirmed to me how blessed I have been to work in a place with such generous, kind and loving people.  Being part of this group of co-workers, and part of my family and our church family, and our extended circle of friends, makes me feel really confident that I am bringing my child into a beautiful world of good people.  

With Sharon, my boss, Anna, one of our undergraduate assistants, and the killer Whole Foods chocolate raspberry cake.  Sharon is the Director of Recruitment, Admissions and Financial Aid at the UNC School of Social Work, and I have nothing but endless respect and admiration for her.  She is lovely both as a friend and as a professional.  I worked with her my first year as a graduate student, and a year after I graduated she called to ask if I would come in for her while she was out on maternity leave.

And now it's my turn to rotate out for a chapter.

On October 16th I went to work, and after a lunch with my work team, and farewells, I took a deep breath and made my way out of the building for the last time as an employee.  It's been about two weeks since I was at work, and honestly, I have been so busy with seasonal and holiday activities that I haven't missed it much.  But part of it is because I know that any day I can walk into the building and I know where to find my friends.  They are near by, and I look forward to taking little boy to meet them sometime in the next few weeks!

October is Birthday Month

October is birthday month in our family!  Marcos' mom was born the 1st, Marcos on the 4th, me on the 8th, and Marcos' Papai on the 31st, which is this Wednesday.  The first week of the month was so full of birthday celebrations that sometimes I'm not sure whose we were celebrating in these photos!

The day before Mamae's birthday we visited one of her missionaries who now lives in NC with his family, and we did a surprise birthday celebration for her there.  It was a really happy evening.  A few days later we did a dinner for Marquinhos, and I know this was his table setting because his favorite fall tradition is brie cheese, water crackers and sliced pear with apple cider.  I think that night was pot roast, but I can no longer remember because almost every night that week was some sort of special meal.  We take whatever excuse we can find around here to call our life a celebration.

It was also my close work-friend Lisa's kiddo's birthday party that week, which ended up being momentous for Gigi.  How cool is Lisa?  Not only were there cupcakes and pizza, face painting and a backyard of fun, but she called up the local fire station and had them bring their firetruck over to their house.  I think that I was as thrilled as the kiddos were.  Who knew that unless they are busy with an emergency, our local fire stations are happy to show up at parties for free to put in their volunteer hours?  Gigi still talks about the fire hat that she received from the firefighters that day.

And it's not a true birthday month without our annual birthday dinner with Kim and Jason and the gang. Kim always makes her spaghetti (we would maybe request something different if Kim didn't have the most amazing spaghetti sauce in the world), and we had watermelon, my mom made one of her famous salads, I made homemade french bread, and Kim brought her Italian dipping oil.  Oh, and we ended the night with Kim's homemade pumpkin roll cake.  Mmmm...

For my birthday my mom and I made balsamic glazed porkchops with latkes, applesauce, french bread and salad.  I am noticing a trend here - all I've talked about is the food we ate that week, but we're not huge on gift giving, so I think that our love language that week was about spending quality time together over the meals we prepared for each other.  

And other activities, like this...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


In line with my personal mission to always choose my addictions very carefully, I have avoided Pinterest for years because I could see myself enjoying it too much.  When Gigi started preschool last month I finally joined so that I could access the board of free teaching resources that my friend Kristy kept raving about.  Fortunately, the whole format is still a bit over my head, so it hasn't posed a huge waste of time.  


But I did find a few Halloween Projects to keep my hands busy during General Conference.  Little haunted houses made out of milk cartons papered in pages from Steinbeck's The Pearl.  My fingers were loving getting back into some sketching and painting and drawing...  art, it's been way too long.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Firsts and Lasts

This season is full of so many firsts and lasts.  

In September Giovanna had her first day of coop preschool - I have been thinking about this idea for a long time, and then it suddenly came together when a friend started sending out emails asking who wanted to join in her group.  It is run by five of us mommies who rotate teaching each week.  It is only once a week, and we do a letter and number of the week, circle time, play time and activities, snacks, etc.  It's mainly a chance to let the kiddos learn very basic academics, practice sitting and paying attention for short periods of time, and to gain the essential social and problem solving skills that come with cooperating with other little beings.  Gigi is on the young side of the group, but besides having a harder time sitting still than some of the others, she does a great job with her preschool friends.  Having to teach only once every five weeks allows us mommies the time to find good resources, plan fun activities, and not get burned out.  This is Gigi on the first day of preschool.  

Another new activity for Giovanna is ballet class.  For years I've been hearing about these very affordable dance classes run by church ladies who have dance experience and want to do a little something outside of their family lives, and finally this year was the year for us to jump in.  Miss Camielle offers a class with 2 and 3 year olds, and I think it's one of Gigi's favorite activities in the week.  Honestly, when I peek in it usually looks like herding cats, but Gigi loves it so much...

We also recently joined a local Kindermusik group once a week that our friend Rachel Narula teaches, and it is one of my favorite weekly activities!  It is a small family class, so parents stay and participate, and Rachel has a great flow to the weekly lessons.  After each song, the activities change, and along with singing we might have rhythm sticks, or egg shakers, musical instruments, or do story time.  Miss Rachel is organized but calm, and easily accommodates the not-perfect attention span of the young children.  I was doing music time a year ago with Gigi at home, but like everything I do with her, it made way for other activities, so I'm thrilled to have a set time for social music-making every week.

And with all these firsts, it has made me look forward to my lasts - my last days of work.  It's very strange when it becomes the last Friday... the last Monday... and then on Tuesday I am finished completely.  Between Gigi's fun activities, my now weekly midwife appointments, and seasonal farm tours, pumpkin patch visits and Fall Festivals on the books for the coming weeks, I think that I am finally ready to let work go.  There.  I said it.  It was hard, but I think I'm finally ready to let go!

Attending a Birth

When my friend Angela asked me a few weeks ago to attend the upcoming birth of her second baby boy as their (unofficial, untrained) doula, I was so honored and excited to have a chance to welcome her sweet baby into the world, and to be present for that moment when Heaven and Earth touch for a brief moment.  

Last Sunday evening I got the call that Angela's labor was starting to get serious, and at 1:30am I was called to meet them at the hospital in Durham.  I was there by 2:00am, and when I arrived Angela and her husband Aaron were working as a team through some pretty intense contractions.  I'm not sure that "making it look easy" is quite a fair description, since Angela was doing the hardest work she will ever do, but she was so amazing.  For someone a few weeks away from jumping back into the birthing scene, it was inspirational and empowering to be present at a natural birth that was so quick and calm.  After her waters broke in the restroom and she transitioned back to the hospital bed to move into the squatting position, it only took breathing through a few pushes for this beautiful little boy to make his grand appearance.  

At 3:04am little Asher was born.  

It was funny to me looking at my photos the day after Asher's birth, because so many of them are of him crying.  On the contrary, Asher was born a mellow baby, and didn't cry even enough to suit the hospital staff.  I think these photos are of him after he was tickled and prodded a bit, to get him stimulated and annoyed enough to start clearing out his lungs.  

And here is Angela with her new baby boy.  Isn't she just a natural?  Congratulations Angela and Aaron on the addition of a wonderful little man into your family!  The world needs good, mindful, helpful men in the world and you two are just the people to raise them up!

(This photo used with permission.  It was too beautiful not to share.)