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.
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