Sunday, January 27, 2013


The same hoodie towel, the same quilt, but two different kiddos!  I didn't realize how similar our children look until I put these photos side by side.  Any obvious differences?  Orion is on the left and Gigi is on the right.  

Presidential Inauguration 2013

One of the many great things about living in North Carolina is that we are a quick 4-hour drive from Washington DC.  

A few weeks ago, our close friends Amanda and Josh stopped by on their long roadtrip from Provo, Utah on their way to an internship in the Nation's Capital.  Josh told us that one of the perks of working this semester in DC for Utah Senator Mike Lee (R) was that he was going to receive tickets to the Presidential Inauguration.  Marcos told him that if he could somehow get a hold of two more tickets, we'd do everything within our power to make it for Barack Obama's big day.  Along with this being a chance in a lifetime opportunity to see a US President take the oath of office, we also happen to really like Barack Obama.

When we received the call last week that they were able to score two more tickets for us, Marcos was elated and I was, frankly, really nervous.  I so wanted to go, but I had a feeling that taking such a young baby was going to be a bit of a logistical nightmare.  And honestly, it was.  But there are just some things that are worth doing anyway.    

We drove up on Sunday afternoon, and managed to miraculously avoid all traffic.  We arrived in time to catch up with Josh and Amanda, take a tour of their cute studio apartment, make a big spaghetti dinner, and do the honors of opening the ticket packet with our name on it.  The invitation was extremely formal, embossed, with gold foil, tassels and signed photos of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.  It felt pretty awesome to think that we were invited to a place where the President would be, and we were asked to come wearing business casual.  It was almost like being on a first name basis, except that he didn't know that we exist.

After dinner we drove to the beautiful Washington DC Temple to check out the Visitors Center and take a few photos outside in the bitter cold night.  Being outdoors in the cold was good preparation for the following day.

At 3:40am the next morning we woke up, bundled up and grabbed something to eat, and headed to Union Station.  Isn't Washington DC just a cool place?  Marcos and I have been watching this old show called The West Wing over the past few weeks, and it has totally rekindled our awe and love for the complex and totally insane thing called American politics.  It has given us a glimpse of how complicated it is to run a nation, and we have a lot of respect for anyone who takes on the job.  

The Inauguration started at 11:30am, and suffice it to say, my morning was kind of complicated.  Amanda and Josh entered at the security checkpoint for their section as soon as we arrived downtown, and they found amazing seats.  Marcos also went in early to our section and captured beautiful shots of the sunrise behind the Capital building, but gave up his prime spot to come back out and help me.  I had Orion and we spent the morning moving between Starbucks, a hotel lobby and a grill to keep warm, rest and feed the baby.  By the time we left around 10am to get back into line, there were thousands of people with us and we finally got through security at about 11:35am.  We missed a few minutes at the beginning of the Inauguration, but were in our section to hear Barack Obama sworn into office as well as the poetry and Beyonce's beautiful rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.  It was incredible to be present for such a memorable event.

When it was all over, people streamed out of the gates by the thousands, and we were stuck in a herd of people all trying to fit through one small opening.  When Orion made his little peeps, people looked at Marcos in surprise, who had the baby under his coat in a baby carrier.  We heard a lot of kind comments, and I'm sure a lot of people thought that we were crazy.  One man with a Russian fur hat struck up a conversation with Marcos about the baby, and we only realized after he made his way through the crowd that he was David Arquette.  Who?  Don't worry, I didn't know him either.  But apparently the gaggle of girls behind us were Dancing with the Stars fans and asked him, "Are you David?".  I'm sure there were hundreds of celebrities sprinkled amongst the crowd of us commoners.

After the Inauguration we met up with Josh and Amanda and had a late lunch in Union Station.  I had made a seriously stupid decision to wear boots that were extremely uncomfortable so that my outfit was business casual from top to bottom (the things you do for the President!).  Five minutes into our day my feet were already in agony, so as soon as the event was over I threw my boots in a trashcan and found the only affordable footwear in the Union Station shops - these hideous faux animal fur house slipper boots on sale at Claire's Accessories, which I affectionately call "Sasquatch".  Sure it threw off the outfit a little bit, but I can't even describe to you the feeling of having my battered feet sink into the inch of soft foam at the bottom of that hairy shoe.

And it ended all too soon.  After appetizers at Josh and Amanda's, who were such lovely hosts, we packed up the car and drove back to North Carolina.  This trip was extremely short, and we can't wait to drive up to DC again when we have more time to visit the Smithsonians, the Memorials, the White House as well as enjoy some of the good digs in the city!

Friday, January 11, 2013


In the year that got squeezed between me finishing graduate school and having little Miss Giovanna join our family, I worked a jog for my friends Rebecca Mudrick and Dena Robles at Darling Art photography, which was run out of the downstairs office of the Mudrick home.  Even all of these years later, I can't hear the theme song to the Diane Rehm show, or read through a Barefoot Contessa recipe without being transported back to the Mudrick kitchen and a lot of great memories.  So much sunshine, and flowers, and warm people to work with.

And the warmth continues.  Although Rebecca and her clan were called to greener pastures in Columbus, Ohio a few summers years ago, Rebecca visited in November for a solo weekend in Chapel Hill about ten days after Orion was born.  Could we be any luckier?  These are a few of the images she caught of us on a Saturday afternoon.

I knew that Rebecca had a gift, but these images made our heart skip a beat.  Thank you so much, dear Rebecca, for sharing your love and talents with our family!  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Orion at Two Months

Today I took Orion to his two month check up.  I am definitely not as obsessed this time around with percentiles, but here's an interesting tidbit: even after the 3 ounces he lost on the scale by going pee pee all over the wall, trashcan and floor (they weigh babies without diapers to get an accurate measure - oops!), he was still in the 65th percentile for weight.  He's just the perfect size.

As far as babies go, Orion is really very mellow during the daytime and really very tricky late at night.  During the day he still sleeps the vast majority of the time, and my Haagen Dazs milk can satisfy him for a good three or four hour stretch.  If I feed him right before a social activity, we can sometimes show up, have fun, and leave without anybody knowing there was a baby sleeping in that carseat we carry around.  At night though, it is a different story.  Generally we spend an hour or two between 11pm and 1am trying to help him settle.  He doesn't scream like he's in terrible pain, but he does cry a lot.  The crying will let up a little when we put him in a new position, but after a minute or two it's back to the drawing board.  It can be extremely exhausting. 

So, the news in mommy land is that this week I am working myself off of dairy to see if his late night discomfort is a byproduct of my dairy intake.  I say "working myself off of" instead of "quitting" because I tried to quit today, and slipped up at least five times because stopping dairy is IMPOSSIBLE if you are not used to thinking about it.  My goal is to be dairy free by the end of the week, but I'm being gentle with myself.

But I still haven't figured this out: if you don't eat dairy, what DO you eat?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Christmas Eve

For those of you who have been long-time Prietissimo readers, there are a few things you might see every year around the holidays.  One of our favorite Christmas traditions has been spending Christmas Eve at the Austin home and enjoying our annual Mary and Joseph dinner.  

For some reason this year seemed extra special to me.  Maybe it was having both grandmas with us, or maybe it was our unannounced carolers, or maybe it was the fact that we had a boy baby to hold this year.  At a Mary and Joseph dinner, it is special to have a boy baby to hold.

Dinner was amazing, as usual.  Pita bread, cheeses to knock your socks off, pomegranates, olives, grapes, salmon and my white fish baked with lemon, clementines, dolmas, roasted nuts, and an incredible beet salad.  I ate, and ate, and ate and felt perfectly well because it was simple and wholesome.

The meal trailed off into conversation around the table with clementines, and kiddos on the couch with Tutu for story time.

And then it was time for Gifts that Cannot be Wrapped.  Some shared poems, or music, and then there was a knock at the door.  It was our friends the Molnar family with all of their kids and Grandma, stopping by as a surprise to gift us with their carols at the door.  They came into the entryway and we joined them singing Christmas songs, and those few minutes were one of the highlights of Christmas for me.  We sang loudly, and with all of the harmonizing, with all of the looking into smiling, loving faces and enjoying beautiful lyrics I'll be darned if that feeling wasn't what Christmas is all about.  My heart was fit to burst.

The Molnar family stayed a while, and joined us for our reenactment of the nativity.  Gigi was Mary for about one minute, and Orion was a perfectly well-behaved baby Jesus.  But my favorite costume would have to have been Ben Austin rocking the shepherd get up.

One thing about being young and transient is that we are never sure where we will be year to year at the holiday season, but I hope that wherever we are, we will always find a way to have a Mary and Joseph dinner and share gifts that cannot be wrapped.  In the busiest season of the year, it has been our favorite way to anchor our festivities to the spirit and simplicity of Christmas.