Tuesday, November 27, 2012


This year our Thanksgiving celebrations were different than usual.  Every year since we moved to North Carolina, we have spent the holiday up in New Jersey with my dad and family, and the Saturday after Thanksgiving is usually spent romping around New York City.  But this year with the arrival of our small son, we knew it would be a year to stay close to home.

Part of our Thanksgiving tradition this year was introducing a Thanksgiving tree.  Gigi and I gathered dead sticks on a nature walk, my mom artfully arranged them in a watering can, and I sat down with scissors and scraps of paper and cut out leaves.  In the days prior to Thanksgiving and in the days since, we have been busy writing down things we are thankful for on each of the leaves.  Gigi has been fun to watch; at first the concept of gratitude was only getting to her on a concrete level, and her contributions were things she could see, like "windows" and "chairs", but over the past week she has started to think of more abstract ideas.  She has added "pets" to our Thanksgiving tree, and "my house", and today her contribution was, "I am thankful for planets: saturn, earth and mars".  

Because I have mixed feelings towards turkeys and my ability to cook them well, and knowing that we would have a new baby in the house at holiday time, I had decided months ago to keep the meal simple and just buy rotisserie chicken for Thanksgiving this year.  My mom talked me into at least roasting a chicken with vegetables, and with all of the ladies in the house contributing a few dishes, we had a complete meal of roasted chicken and vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and grapes, and a Brazilian Christmas cake, chocolate pecan pie, and an apple pie to top off the evening.  At the time it felt like an enormous amount of food, but with one more meal of leftovers the following night, we wiped out the Thanksgiving meal almost entirely!  Yes! 

Luckily, the desserts have lasted long enough to have for breakfast for the past few days.  Mmmm....

I do hope that next year we get to be up North with my dad and our New England family, but this year it was perfect to spend a quiet week at home with baby Orion and our local family.  Having a loving family and a superb community of friends, having the means to prepare a Thanksgiving feast, having a warm home and cars that function, and especially being parents to these healthy strong children gives us so much to be thankful for!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Two Weeks Later

Today Orion is two weeks old.  This has been a very interesting adjustment, and by "interesting" I mean hard, hard, hard.  If you see me out and about you probably wouldn't think that I'm struggling, but it's only because after the two hour process of leaving the house I'm just so excited to be on the road that I probably look passably pleasant.  Our transition from zero to one child was smooth enough - we were swelling with baby love and Giovanna had no competition for time and attention, but from one child to two children has been tricky.  We are no longer so anxious about newborn care and keeping him alive - my concerns when Giovanna was born - but trying to care for two children, and care for them well leaves me feeling stretched.  

Add in a newborn with a terrible latch who eats like a shark, one very independent two year old, and one exhausted mamma, and sometimes it just makes for the perfect storm.  

But we're making it, and this boy has not lacked for love or attention.  Despite all of my pain with breastfeeding and my total exhaustion, I can't stop kissing this boy.  He is so handsome and well mannered.  We are totally smitten.  

The other day Gigi said "I'm so glad that we have a baby boy in our family", and so far this seems to be holding true.  She is very protective of him, and has started to be more aware of her physical presence in the world.  I did not realize how spastic she was with her falling and jumping until I brought home a small infant whose safety is under my care, and suddenly she seemed like a giant whirlwind.  In fact, everything about her seems giant to me nowadays, after all of the time I spend with a little man with chicken legs.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Welcome to our Family, Baby Orion!

We are so pleased to welcome Marcos Orion Prieto to our family!  He carries his father and grandfather's name of Marcos, but we have chosen to call him by his middle name, "Orion".  After a progressive labor, he was born Monday, November 5th at 6:01pm.  He was born 7 lbs. 12 oz., 19.7 inches, and is everything sweet, mellow and perfect.  

Welcome to our family, sweet, sweet little boy!

Monday, November 5, 2012

"This is My Family"

Gigi missed her nap today so her behavior wasn't 100% cute tonight, but we left her to her own devices with the crayons, and her artwork was pretty much 100% cute.  I can't get over the hair, and the little arms, legs, hands and feet.  So adorable.

Marcos is on the left, Gigi is in the middle, and I'm the tiny one on the right.  

Baby is still hanging out.  What can I say?  I'm a comfortable place to hang out.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Belle is here!

In the middle of all of this Halloween holiday hubbub, we took a break last Saturday and had brunch out with our family!  We are not only lucky enough to have Marcos' mom Vitoria with us, but now we have his sister Elizabeth as well.  She is visiting us from Sao Paulo until the beginning of December, and it's been so fun to have a sister in the house!  She makes Gigi giggle endlessly, she is upbeat and fun to be with, and partnered with Mamãe they make an incredibly dynamic duo around the house.  I try to thank them every day for their help, but I don't think I can thank them enough for helping to keep our home together.  With my energy level where it is, it has been a real blessing to have a lot of hands on deck caring for Gigi, cooking and keeping our home presentable and clean.

In case you were wondering, we had brunch at Breadmen's in Chapel Hill.  If you ever visit us, please remind me to take you there!  I am still dreaming about the potato, sausage and feta cheese omelette I had, and those home fried potatoes...  Mmmm...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Waller Family Farm

The week I resigned from work we had some serious field trips to enjoy.  A tour of the Waller Family Farm was up first, with Farmer Mark.  We've done U-picking in past years at his strawberry field, so it was interesting to hear about the strawberry planting process, and to visit with his animals.  This is us being patient while we wait for the group of friends to gather so that we can head out onto the farm.

Gigi has a buddy named Isaac.  He is 6, and likes to look out for her and make sure that she's in line.  They were pretty fun during Farmer Mark's tour.

I learned a lot about farm animals during the tour.  Who knew that horns on a cow's head has nothing to do with gender, and everything to do with breed?  It blew my mind.  All this time I thought that horns were separating girls from boys.  Not so!

My mom came with us, which was fun as usual.  She likes to join us on family outings when she is available, and it adds a lot to our life.  Gigi loves her Tutu, and it is so helpful to have an extra pair of hands on deck when I'm trying to take photos or just don't have enough energy to run after Gigi.  She's very responsive to my instructions, about 30% of the time.

And then there was the nudy chapter of the tour.  Towards the end of the farm tour Gigi stood in a fire ant hill and my motherly instincts kicked in and stripped her down to get the buggers off of her before they did too much damage.  The only time she complained about the ants was when she was initially crying.  I, on the other hand, have been suffering from my bites for the past few weeks.  Those things are terrible!  The things we do for our children...

And Gigi got to pick out a pumpkin too!  What a great guy, that Farmer Mark.

Gigi at "Two and a Half"

Tonight is Halloween Night.  Gigi had a preschool class party this morning with her little friends, for dinner Marcos' mom and sister made a warm yummy Brazilian meal and my mom came over, Marcos and I took Gigi to the Carrboro town fall festival for games after dinner, we went trick or treating with friends, and then after putting Gigi down, we celebrated Marcos' father's birthday with a cake and a beautiful slideshow that his mother had made.  It was a really nice day.

But to be frank, I'm a little overwhelmed.  I'm behind on posting photos from our field trips from the last few weeks, and after all this sugar tonight I'm being pummeled from the inside and don't have a lot of brain power to focus on an elaborate post (baby boy is still in there - only three days after due date so far!  Gigi was ten days over...  lawd have mercy...).

So, instead of telling you about fabulous farm tours and Marcos' fabulous sister Lizzy coming into town (yay!) I have decided to include the interview I've conducted with Gigi at two years old, or as she likes to tell people, "two and a half" years old.  In baby years, this is a huge difference.

M: Gigi, what is your favorite sport?
G: Jumping and hiking with my families.

M: If you could get on a plane and visit one place in the world where would you go?
G: To Brazil.
M: Ohhh....  Brazil.  What would you do there?
G: Speak Spanish.  And go on a trip.
(Uhhhmmm....  we'll work on that Spanish part.  We speak Portuguese with her.  Promise).

M: Gigi, what do you want to be when you get bigger?
G: A teenager!
M: Oh!  What do you want to be after you are a teenager?
G: A grown up!
M: (Trying to rephrase) Okay... when you're a grown up, you can choose a job.  Can you think of a job that sounds like fun?
G: I will draw a rabbit, like this, and a scale, like that, and a froggie.  And then I will go to the midwife.

M: Gigi, what is your favorite song?
G: *Starts singing "I love to see the Temple"*

M: What's your favorite food?
G: Lasagna, cupcakes and cake with frosting.

M: Gigi, how do you feel about baby boy coming?
G: *Long pause* Happy!
M: Happy!  What will you do with baby boy when he comes?
G: I will share my toys with him.
M: That's a good idea.  What toys do you think he will like?
G: The cooking toys in my room.


And because I can't resist, here is a typical Gigi conversation from today.  I wish tiny children could write poetry.  Poetry for adults is strung together by the emotional connections we derive from life experiences that leave objects and feelings in closer proximity than logic would suggest.  Gigi has so few life experiences that one word for her will only pull up two or three files of connection she has stored in that brain of hers, and I feel like I'm constantly trying to figure out what connections she is making.  Check out how communication is with her nowadays:

*While talking about the Pyramids of Giza.  It is one of her favorite world landmarks, and the recent holiday festivities have exposed her to mummies, which of course lead back to the Pyramids...*

M: ...And they wrapped the mummies to preserve the dead bodies.
G: And to keep them warm.
M: Yes, and to keep them warm.
G: Khufu was in the biggest pyramid?
M: Yes, he was in the biggest pyramid because he was the King.
G: Of pop?
M: Of pop?  Ummm...  Oh!  The King of Pop?  No, who was the King of Pop?
G: Michael Jackson was the King of Pop.
M: You got it, girl.