Monday, December 16, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Prieto Family!

In light of our travels to Utah this year to spend the holiday with Marcos' family, we decided to keep life simple and not worry about a Christmas card.  We love Christmas cards, and we love preparing them and sending them, but the decision to forego that project this year has brought us a lot of peace.  And because Christmas is a season for peace, we are interrupting our regular blogging this year to say...

...From our family to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!

We hope that this finds you warm and happy this holiday season!  May you enjoy gifts, and traditions and feasts, and may you enjoy even more the time you have with your loved ones.  Go ahead, put down the gadget and connect!  We dare you!

And here is 2013 in Prieto Family updates:

In the past year Orion has grown from a tiny newborn to a running, music making, dancing, climbing, loving little boy.  After a long season of having a colicky baby, we have loved watching his personality unfold throughout the year.  He is very physical, yet cautious, and although he loves to hug, blow kisses and snuggle with us, he can also play very happily on his own with toys and the contents of the entire tupperware cupboard.  The more communicative he becomes the more we see his sweet personality blossom.  We really enjoy having him in our family.

Giovanna has also unfolded her petals in new ways this year.  Having a new brother has been an adventure for her, but they have now wiggled into a good spot and are becoming friends.  Gigi and I had a looong summer together with Orion as Marcos was doing an internship in Charlotte during the week, and for sanity I bought a kiddo workbook and Gigi learned to write her letters and is now sounding out basic words.  She loves to draw and paint, and make greeting cards and she is in coop preschool two mornings a week.  When Halloween came around this year, and all of the delicious spookiness started appearing, Gigi was at the perfect age to be entirely drawn in to the world of costumes and ghouls.  Around that time, Marcos also introduced her to comics and superheroes, and she is currently infatuated with talk of superheroes, make believe, and good vs. evil.  She is also exploring her independence lately, which is a nice way of saying that she has the tendency to completely disregard what we tell her.  As with all of her habits that drive us crazy, we hope this one is just another (very short) phase.

Marcos is finishing up his final year of studies at the University of North Carolina, and he will graduate with a Bachelors degree in Information Science next May, which is more than just a little thrilling!  This  fall semester in particular was really difficult, and the challenge made us anxious for graduation, and the beginning of a new chapter that includes evenings together as a family, and even (gasp) an income!  During the summer Marcos was the superstar intern at a great company in Charlotte, NC, and the commute gave him the chance to delve into audio books.  He has swamped me in the literary department this year and I'm a little jealous.  When he is not busy playing with the kids or giving me foot rubs (I wish), he has been using his free time to establish new Guys Night traditions (late night Taqueria Truck hopping, anyone?)

And then there's me, Metta.  This year has been an interesting one from me, and has had some real ups and downs.  However, largely through the generosity and good humor of my mom who lives nearby and loves her grandchildren, I have been able to do some things for myself that have helped me to find balance during this first year of staying home full time with two young kiddos.  One thing that I've enjoyed is a photography class that I took this fall, which has given me a chance to express myself creatively and take better photos of our family.  Another hobby I've gotten into, which has surprised even me, is exercising.  Some of my close friends and I have been doing health competitions, and I daresay that the repetition of exercising and eating better throughout the week are becoming habits that might even stick.  I've also been involved in Gigi's coop preschool, and I am President of the Primary children's organization at church.  So, I keep busy.

So that's us in a very small nutshell!  We wish you so much goodness and happiness for 2014.  We are definitely feeling like it has good things in store.

Lots of love,

The Prieto Family
Marcos, Metta, Gigi and Orion

Monday, December 9, 2013

Thanksgiving at Grandpa Gaga's House

This year we were back on schedule for our annual tradition of having Thanksgiving up in New Jersey with my dad and Emili, and Emili's parents, sister Carol and her family, and my dad's friend Mike from high school in Hong Kong and his family.  Last year little Orion had just been born and we opted out of the long drive, so this was our first year introducing both of our children to the clan.  We drove through the night on Tuesday, and the trip was surprisingly quick and doable, considering that it was 9 or so hours through the non-stop rain and pitch black night.

Wednesday was a day of preparation and cooking, but on Thursday morning, per tradition, we bundled up and drove over to the lake.  Some of us ran a few miles, some ran many miles, some played at the park, and some were wretchedly cold and miserable (my kids).  It was a very, very cold morning.

When we got home and started working on the meal and the kids were taking a nap, I couldn't find Marcos for a few minutes.  He was down in the basement with my dad, in his shop with a kazillion tools and computer parts.  Marcos switched over to Macs a few years ago, but my dad has stuck with PCs, because for people who like to tinker and fix things, Macs are useless because they don't break!  

And while the guys were talking shop, Emili and her sister Carol were preparing the tofurkeys and the celebration roasts.  Although most of the group is vegetarian, their friend Monica and I also roasted turkey breasts for the carnivores.  And while we cooked, Gigi was in heaven with Monica's daughter Evelyn, and Carol's daughter Emma, who entertained her with the rainbow loom, photos of recent high school theater productions, and coloring.

Marcos had worked his tail off before our trip so that he wouldn't have to disappear and work on school projects over the break.  It's been such a busy semester that having his attention and help was really, really nice.  I campaigned for years to get Marcos into school full time, and now that he's doing it and we're nearing the end of this chapter, we are so, so happy to be finished in the spring.  It's been a long and arduous journey.

Grandpa Mike with grandson Ben.  Mike and his wife Sylvia are Greek and the kids call them Papou and Yaya, so Gigi joined right in.  They were a real blessing to me this year.  We are the only ones with small children, and so I was hyperaware of Gigi and Orion's volume, their tendency to touch things, their total KIDness and how that was impacting the group.  But every time I talked with Mike and Sylvia, they had nothing but kind things to say about how amazing our kids are, and how well they treat each other, and how clever they are.  I don't know if it's true or not, but it was one of those times when I needed the vote of confidence from two wise and experienced grandparents.  I was so happy that they came.

The spread was incredible as usual this year.  A new family favorite was a dish of roasted bosc pears and brussels sprouts that Carol made.  I need to get that recipe!

Above, Monica does the honors with the turkey, and below, Monica, Evelyn, Emma, Carol, Sean and Nathan sit down for Thanksgiving dinner.

On the other side of the table were Mike, Sylvia, Emili, Dad, his high school friend Mike, and Evelyn who jumped around on the other side of the table.  Below are Ben with Marcos and Gigi.

Cheers!  To family, friends, and always having enough.

And so, that was our Thanksgiving meal!  We followed dinner with Emma's homemade apple pie, Nathan's to-die-for chocolate pecan pies, a sweet potato pie, ice cream and fancy chocolates.  Are you getting hungry yet?

Thank you Dad and Emili et al for a really nice Thanksgiving holiday.  We sure do enjoy spending time with you.  Next up: our trek into New York City!