Happy Holidays!

December 28, 2009

Dear Teo,

Last month, we celebrated your first Thanksgiving with Grammy, Auntie Sarah and Oceana, and we started a new family tradition: The Gratitude Wall.  We have a chalkboard wall in our kitchen, and every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we'll write things that we are grateful for on the wall.  Here is what we have up there this year.

A couple of weeks ago, I returned to work at the Relief Nursery.  The first day I went to work was the first time I've ever been away from you for more than an hour and a half.  I was really nervous because you had never taken a bottle (and cried loudly whenever one was offered to you).  But Grammy and Aunt Sarah worked their magic, and after my four hours of teaching, I came home to find you fussy but not frantic, and Grammy said you hadn't cried much at all (although you still didn't take the bottle). 

So, I took you back to the Nursery for the second half of my work day, where you made friends with my coworkers and seemed to enjoy the excitement of being somewhere new.  Here you are with my friend (and fellow teacher), Jessie H.  We have a joke at work that she is the "Bad Jessie" and I am the "Good Jessie," but I think you bring out her angelic side. 

The second day that I had to leave you to go to work, your papa took care of you, and you were peaceful and happy when I got home.  So, in spite of my concerns, I think this transition will go pretty smoothly . . . at least for you.  As for me, it will take some time to adjust to this new schedule and dividing my energy between work and home. 

The weekend before Christmas, we went up to Portland to see the Grotto - a family tradition.  This year we took the train up, which is a great way to travel with a baby.  You were totally content the whole trip, except that evening in the hotel room.  You seemed really nervous to be going to sleep somewhere other than your own familiar bed.   

Our friends, Kelly and Colin and their three children joined us at the Grotto.

Their youngest daughter, Maya, alternated between calling you "Matato" and "Potato."  

Your first Christmas - We kept things pretty simple this year, enjoyed time with friends and family and ate a lot of good food.  

Oceana trimming the tree.

 Oceana's gingerbread masterpiece (complete with a shop, a playhouse, a garden and a compost heap).

Your Papa cooked Christmas Eve dinner - breaded fish, which was his family's tradition.

Here are some other photos from your third month.  

Checking out your friend, Leto, at Birth to Three. 

Hiking at Mt. Pisgah and Willamette Park. 

  Hanging out with Auntie Sarah.

Chewing on my wrap . . . we think you are teething.

We love you, sweet boy!

Opapa's Visit

December 12, 2009

Dear Teo,

Last weekend your Grandpa Ben flew out from Oklahoma for a visit. You will know him as Opapa (German for Grandpa).  We had a wonderful time with him.  One thing that I noticed about your Opapa was his open, generous heart. He was obviously delighted in you from the moment he saw you. He never tired of talking to you, telling you the names of things, playing pat-a-cake with you, and getting you to smile.

Your Opapa has a lot to share with you about your family history.  He is a member of the Creek Indian nation, and he finds a lot of meaning in his Native American heritage.  He likes to call you Nokose, your Creek middle name (meaning "bear").

Opapa brought some special gifts for you, including a hand-carved ceremonial bear rattle, a stone bear totem, a beautiful pair of moccasins, and a lizard fetish which is made to hold your umbilical cord.  He also gave you a book about bears.  He wants to pass things on to you that will continue to be meaningful to you for your whole life - things that represent your connection to the Creek culture.

During Opapa's visit we went to a Christmas tree farm. A horse-drawn wagon took us to a field of trees of various types and sizes. We spent about twenty minutes searching for just the right tree. Then your papa cut it and we rode back in on the wagon. Opapa and I drank hot cider while papa got the tree on the car.

When we got home, papa and Oceana got the tree ready, and papa put up Christmas lights on our house. The next day, the decorating continued.  Oceana and Opapa and I made paper snowflakes to hang on the window.

Opapa's visit was a wonderful Christmas gift. We hope to visit him and his wife, Mary Louise, in Oklahoma sometime soon. We really want you to get to know him. His kindness and wisdom will nurture you as you grow.

Our Little Chili Pepper is Two Months Old!

November 24, 2009

Dear Teo,

My sweet boy, how much you have grown in the last month!

Some of the things you are enjoying these days are: your fish mobile, the game where I stick out my tongue and then you stick out yours, the game where papa lifts you up over his head and then back down over and over until his arms feel like they are going to fall off, having conversations with your Grammy, listening to me tell the story of the Three Little Pigs with silly voices, a book with photos of baby faces, papa's made-up songs, and snuggling with me all night long.

Some things you do not like: riding in the car seat, skipping your morning nap, trying to nurse while people are talking, trying to nurse if I'm not looking in your eyes and holding your hand,  the pacifier, the bottle, hiccups, and 7:00 in the evening (appropriately called the "witching hour" by some parents).

Your Grammy has been babysitting you for about an hour a day.  I use that time to take a shower, go for a run or get chores done.  I often wonder how parents survive without a Grammy (or some loving, patient, intuitive person) nearby. 

And here is your honorary grandma.  We went back for another visit with our midwife at the Birth Center, and this time we remembered to get a photo!!

Papa and I have joined a Birth to Three group.  Birth to Three is a local non-profit organization that brings together parents with babies the same age.  We meet every other week with a facilitator who offers some parent education, and we share with and get to know 9 other families and their babies.  The groups will be really fun once you and the other kids start to notice each other and interact.  I know some people who went through Birth to Three with their babies who are still in contact with the other parents when their kids are teenagers.  It is helpful to have a community of people who are experiencing the same joys and struggles of parenting.

For your first Halloween we dressed you as a chili pepper.  You had your costume on for about 10 minutes, and then seemed to find it irritating, so we took it off.  You slept peacefully through the party we went to, which was no small feat since it was a party of boisterous two-year-olds!  

On your two month birthday, I planned to take a photo of you.  Note to self: don't schedule a photo shoot and vaccinations on the same day.  Actually, don't schedule anything on vaccination day!  You got your shots at 10:30 in the morning.  You cried for most of the day and by 4:00 in the afternoon you were running a fever.  We skipped our Birth to Three group that night, not wanting to put you through yet another car ride, and we ended up taking your photo a couple of days later.

Other family news: 
Your Uncle Levi sent us this amazing shelf that he build.  It is made without any screws or nails.  Instead, it is held together by wooden pegs.  We put it in the kitchen to hold jars of cooking supplies.  It makes me happy every time I look at it because I think of Levi. 

Your papa got me a pizza stone and a bread recipe book, and I have been learning to bake bread.  This (and cooking in general) have been so nurturing for me.  When I met your papa, I literally didn't know how to cook anything more complicated that macaroni and cheese.  Somehow I survived until my young adulthood without ever learning to cook or plan meals.  After some diligent work (and lots of experimenting) on my part, it now feels fairly easy to cook healthy meals for our little family.  I look forward to when you start eating and I can try making your baby food.

Your cousin Oceana has been enjoying helping me bake.  Muffins are her specialty, and she particularly likes any baking project that includes chocolate chips.  She and my sister, Sarah, are going to help me make Thanksgiving dinner this week. 

We have so much to be thankful for this year, Teo.  Most of all, we are thankful for you and all the fun and learning and sweetness you bring to our lives.

All our love,
Mama and Papa

Special Toys for a Special Boy

October 29, 2009

Dear Teo,
A lot has happened in the last two weeks.  You got your first cold.  Luckily it only lasted a few days, but that meant a few nights of very little sleep for me and papa.  One morning, your papa was so tired he almost poured ketchup into his tea instead of agave!

You are all better now, and growing like crazy.  The last two times we have taken you to the birth center for your weekly weigh in, you had gained 10 ounces each time.  You are now over 8 pounds.

You are ever more alert and interested in things around you.  Last night I played the piano while you were in my wrap, and you seemed to enjoy it.  Your eyes got big, and you made soft cooing sounds.

You definitely smile in response to us now.  In fact, you smile at papa almost every time you see him!  You have also started smiling sometimes when I play peek-a-boo with you, though other times you stare at me like I'm being strange. 

You are just starting to show an interest in toys.  You especially like a ladybug with crinkly wings.  Several of our friends have given you some really amazing hand-made toys that I am sure you will enjoy as you get older.  I am happy to surround you with things made by the hands of people who love you.

Our friend, Amee Pacheco stopped by for a visit a couple of weeks ago.  She is, among other things, a knitter extraordinaire, and she made this adorable little pig in board shorts for you.  It even has a belly button and a curly tail.

Our friends from Arizona, George and Susan, visited us last week.  You spent a long time snuggled up with George.  Susan gave you this red horse, similar to the green one she made for Sage when he was born.  

My brother, your Uncle Levi, made a beautiful rattle out of wood from a walnut tree on his property in Kansas.
Amy Ripley, who was my first teaching partner at the Relief Nursery, knitted a little bear for you.  She had made a bear for Sage, too.  Yours is the smaller, light blue one . . . the little brother bear.

You were also given a very special toy by your great-aunt Elaine (my dad's sister).  This little dog was my dad's when he was a boy.  It was made for him by his great-aunt, Carlotte, a Benedictine nun.  This little dog is 65 year old!

I wish so much that you could have met Dad (your Grandpa Faulkner).  He would have teased you and tickled you and taught you many things.  And he would have loved you with all of his very big heart . . . just like we love you, Teo.

Mama and Papa

Happy Birthday - One Month

October 18, 2009

Dear Teo,
Today is your one-month birthday.  You have changed a lot in the time since your birth!  You are very alert now, and you are able to track movement with your eyes.  You like to look and my and papa's faces, and at your mobile.  You also like to look out the window.

Your happiest time of day seems to be morning.  That is when you play on your mat and have tummy time.  You push with your feet, and if I put my hands against them, you scoot yourself across the mat.  You also have "Papa Time" every morning, when the two of you play and Papa sings silly made-up songs to you.  

You have started sleeping better at night, and we're not feeling quite so tired.  I've been taking you for walks most days.  Sometimes Papa or Auntie Sarah or other friends come with us.  You usually sleep through the whole thing, though today you spent a good bit of time awake, watching the world go by.

I take you next door to visit Grammy everyday.  You are usually sleeping when she sees you, so she really likes it when you wake up and she can play with you.  A few days ago, she was holding you and she noticed you staring at the ceiling fan, so she turned it on, and you were mesmerized. 

This month seems to have gone by very fast.  Every day brings new surprises, and that is part of the gift you bring to our family . . . an ever-present sense of wonder.

We love you right up to the moon . . . and back!
Mama and Papa

Prayer Flags

October 16, 2009

I've been working on the amazing prayer flags many of you made for Teo.  I mounted them on colored background cloth.  Now all I have left to do is string them together.

Thank you to everyone who made one.  We are very touched by the thoughtful words and artwork that you all created.  If you want to make a flag but have not gotten it done yet, feel free to send it at any point.  It will be easy to add more after the flags are strung.

I made my own prayer flag today (above) with one of my favorite Hafiz poems on it. 

Your Very Special Midwife

October 15, 2009

Dear Teo,

Yesterday, we took you to visit Chris Heritage, the midwife who delivered you (and also your brother, Sage).  

Chris hugged me and your papa, and then she turned her attention to you.  You were relaxed and alert while she held you, and she was clearly delighted by you.  It was fun to watch her interact with you in that special way that grandmothers have.  She said you could be her honorary grandson.

When I was in labor with you, Chris was wearing a t-shirt that she got from a triathlon she did.  When I looked up and saw that shirt, and I felt so inspired.  I figured that if Chris has the strength and determination to finish a triathlon, then I could make it through labor. 

We are happy that you will grow up knowing Chris.  She is wise and kind and funny, and it was her generous heart and competent hands that helped guide you into this world. 

Visiting Friends at the Relief Nursery

October 6, 2009

Dear Teo,
You are 17 days old.  I took you to the Birth Center today to get weighed, and you are 7 pounds, 10 ounces.  The lactation consultant, Annie, said that your "latch" is much improved since last week.  You have figured out how to nurse without chomping (much to my relief), and nursing is going very smoothly now.  

As I write this, you are sleeping in my arms.  You have been sleeping a lot during the day, and not as much at night.  Today we went to the Relief Nursery (my work), and you slept through an hour or more of being held by my coworkers. They were very excited to meet you.  Here are some photos of them holding you.

As you can see, you invariably have one or both of your hands up by your head.  You like to sleep in that position, and when you nurse, you often rest one hand against your cheek, which makes you look very serious and thoughtful.   

Ari (Jayda's daddy)













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