Here are some of the moments we want to take with us from 2014:
In April Gigi turned 4! And this is what we love about her: Gigi is inquisitive and independent, and her interests include art, hostessing, building very cool and generally symmetrical structures, improv dancing, singing and beat boxing, communicating and negotiating, and helping her brother (when they are not busy squabbling). Since she started school this fall, she has learned to recite poetry with vigor, her imaginary world has come to life, and we have been able to see how she loves to play with everyone and is a silly, joyful friend. In a few ways, however, this sweet little apple has fallen far from the Prieto tree: unlike Marcos and me, she is very entrepreneurial and is often working on a business plan, and very unlike Marcos and me, she is exceedingly adventurous when it comes to eating meat. When we have pho with our friends the Liengs, she always requests the tripe (cow intestines) on her soup, and at a recent Annandag Jul party where a suckling pig was the center of the smorgasbord, she asked if she could have the pig eyeball, which she popped in her mouth and chewed until the final bits were too tough and she had to spit them out. Believe me, the whole ordeal makes us queasy, but we try to smile and encourage her adventurous spirit even when it requires us to suppress our gag reflex.
But don't worry, she is also very normal and loves cake and cupcakes.
In May we also celebrated the warming weather with a day trip to the beach with our friends the Hill Family, as well as lake trips and camping trips with friends.
In the spring I read the book I Am Malala and told Gigi about this incredible young girl. Gigi decided to write her a letter, and in so doing wrote her first celebrity letter to Malala Yousafzai, who later in the year was the youngest person to ever win a Nobel Peace Prize. Go Malala!
And when the weather got hot, hot, hot, we bought our very own mini-van and took a trip with Tutu to Washington, DC! We loved being in the center of so much history and eye candy, but highlights of the trip were definitely meeting up with our friends the Coyne family, and my friend Katherine Spinney from graduate school. We had hoped to take a very exotic family vacation to somewhere like Venice, or Sao Paulo, or Antarctica, but driving to Washington DC was where we were at this year. (The purpose of this letter is to make you feel really good about yourself, and normal for having not actually achieved some of your goals or travel plans).
When we got back, Marcos started working at Fidelity. I have been sworn not to divulge too many details on the internet, but after what turned out to be a... "long" (we'll just leave it at that) training period, Marcos is working now in the Personal Investment business unit in mobile development - something he has always been interested in. There are some challenging things about working in corporate America, but we have been taking note of the way that Fidelity treats its employees. Although the idea of someone working for only one company for his or her entire career seems like such an outdated concept, people stay at Fidelity for a long time, and we're starting to see why.
And when Marcos is not at work, he is home building magnatile skyscrapers and having "tough time" with the kids, washing dishes in his happy world with a good audiobook, enjoying Guys Night Out at the local taco trucks, building furniture in his friend TJ's garage, organizing activities as the new Stake Young Men's President at church, or telling me how much he loves me and how beautiful I am. But seriously... this year a number of our friends have been struggling in the marriage department and we keep getting the message to not ever take each other for granted. So, we have been trying to be more mindful of each other and harp less on the nonessentials. I am actually very talented at harping on the nonessentials, but even more than that I really think this guy is the whole chimichanga - dashing, kind, serviceable, devoted, hard-working, a peace maker and a freaking genius at whatever he does at work! I love you, I love you, I love you... I love you, I love you... You're totally worth keeping around.
In the fall Gigi also played soccer for the first time, which was not necessarily her forte, but which she enjoyed enough to want to play again in the Spring. Starting in March, Marcos will be jumping into soccer as well, as the assistant coach for her team. Woohoo! Go Sparkle Rocket Dragons!
Fall is my favorite time of year, and there were so many ways to enjoy the season. For the second year in a row we went with the Hills to the NC Hot Air Balloon Festival, which was magical as always.
We had a great Halloween with Iguana boy and Cowgirl...
...and in early November we celebrated Orion's 2nd Birthday! Orion is a boy and as his mother, I pretty much want to eat him all of the time. Maybe because Gigi is an older child, or a small woman, or something I can't put my finger on, I respect her and give her space. But Orion? I just want to eat him. He is generally very agreeable ("Yeah, I will!", "Sure!"), quick to laugh, and he loves to play with Gigi, trucks, balls and trains. He is this funny mixture of reserved and shy and frightened by loud noises or new people or small Darth Vader figurines and creepy masks, but he is also very independent. He is not a kid to hide behind my legs for long - once he is comfortable, he is happy to walk around, explore, play with new friends and entertain himself. He has a knack for communicating, and says pretty much... everything. He loves slapstick humor, his "Papi", Pentatonix, asking permission for everything ("Can I hit you?"), and cuddling. Since Gigi started school in August, I have had one-on-one time with him for the first time ever, and those hours are worth gold. We are all so smitten with this little guy.
For Thanksgiving we traveled to Spring Lake on the Jersey Shore, where we spent a few days at a beach house with my Dad and Emili, and family and friends. Great company, amazing food and salt breeze were easy reminders of all that we are thankful for!
And finally we're in the neighborhood of now (thanks for holding on). Last week we celebrated Christmas with a Mary and Joseph dinner with friends, a surprisingly reverent portrayal of the nativity story, and all of the sweet things of the season - a few presents, good food and family.
And while we're looking at me, let's you know, talk about me. Well, Orion's 2nd birthday in November marked the 2 year point from which I stopped working at the UNC School of Social Work. I was planning to possibly go crazy, and the verdict is still out on whether or not that has happened, but in general, this being at home thing is my work for this short chapter while my littles are so little, and I am happy here. Did I read The Feminine Mystique recently and do I have ambition to jump back into meaningful employment? Yes and yes, but not for a while yet. Right now, steering the Prieto ship and growing children well is my chosen job (THIS IS MARCOS - READ: SHE IS AN AMAZING, FANTASTIC, INCREDIBLE, TOP-NOTCH MOM AND PARTNER). Other things that I have loved this year are oodles of audiobooks, being strong and continuing to exercise, connection time with girlfriends, making and consuming really good food, and learning how to needle felt. I was also recently released from my church job of being the President of the Primary children's organization, so that has been a new transition, after a year and a half of being in that leadership role, and pouring myself into the kiddos. And do you want to know something cool? I just had my first million dollar idea! If you get my card next year and our family actually made it to Antarctica, you will know that it all worked out...
And last but not least, we rang in the New Year Brazilian Style just two nights ago! We ate Brazilian food up to our eyeballs, sang the New Years song in Portuguese, wore white like they do in Brazil, and then had the kids make wishes and jump over a pretend wave seven times, for good luck. We celebrated on Rio time (9pm our time) and toasted to 2015 with our friends the Olsens and the Bruesekes! Simple, and kid-friendly, and fun. This week we have been making our resolutions for 2015 and we're full of hope and enthusiasm for this coming year. Top of the list? SLEEP MORE. You know we need it.
Well, friends, the beauty and danger of making this a blog greeting was that I was not limited to a 5x7 card, and so the year's "summary" got a little out of hand! For those of you who have fought the good fight and are still here at the end, feel very firmly squeezed. We send the warmest greetings to you and your families, and wish you a powerful, meaningful and happy 2015!
Lots of Love,
The Prieto Family
Metta, Marcos, Giovanna (4.5) and Orion (2)