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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Forty-Day Blessing

On the fortieth day of Theodore Gregory's birth, we all went to church for the forty-day blessing or "churching." Prayers were said in the narthex for me, for him, and for his future godfather. (There may have been other prayers, but then he started to fuss a bit and I lost concentration.) Then Fr. Peter took Teddy in his arms and walked up the main aisle of the church. Teddy was intently looking at the Pantokrator in the dome. They went into the altar and around the altar table. I followed up the aisle and waited for them on the solea. More prayers were said, and that was about it.

We had invited the priests and presvyteres of our parish to come celebrate this with us, as something of a preview, since we predicted everything would be hectic on the first Sunday. So they came as they were able. Fr. Constantine took pictures and Fr. James helped me figure out what I needed to be doing, and Fr. Petros just beamed. Afterwards we had a little snack with muffins and koulourakia and coffee in the hall lobby.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Eighth Day Blessing

On the eighth day of the child's life, the service of naming is prayed over the child.

"O Lord our God, we pray to you and beseech you let the light of your countenance shine upon your servant Theodore Gregory and let the Cross of your only-begotten Son be sealed in his heart and in his thoughts, so as to escape the vanity of the world and every evil plot of the enemy and follow your commandments. And grant, O Lord, that your holy name shall remain indelible upon him, so that at the proper time he will be attached to your Church and be perfected by the awesome mysteries of your Christ; so that having lived in accordance with your commandments, and having kept the seal inviolate, he may achieve the blessedness of your chosen ones in your kingdom." —Service on the Giving a Name to the Child on the Eighth Day

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Watching Teddy after a feeding, I couldn't help exclaiming, "It looks like he's half hiccuping, half burping, and half throwing up." To which Magda had to reply, "Yeah, I think this one-and-a-half thing is really agitating him."

Sunday, October 5, 2008


I had been having some trouble breastfeeding. In short, Teddy was startling himself awake, and then chewing on his fists and fussing. I had learned to interpret this as, "Oh, the baby's hungry. I must feed him." Except that he wasn't hungry. Clever Daddy figured this out and swaddled him. Since then, we've been working on expanding the two-hour spacing for feedings. Mommy and Teddy both get more rest and are happier.

But during the five hours of struggling to get the little one to eat (as opposed to fuss and stick his mittened fists in his mouth), while maintaining good posture and relaxed shoulders (especially tricky with no contacts in so you can't see the baby without hunching over), I developed a pattern of chanting: the Jesus Prayer for nursing and "Παναγία Δέσπινα" for burping, both from the CD Panagia With Us All. Now I'm addicted to my system for the most part.

As I nurse little Teddy, the part of his anatomy most visible to me is his ear, and I feel like I am pouring goodness into his body and soul.

It also helps me relax my shoulders and sit up straight, so caring for my baby is nourishing my body and soul as well.

"Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control" (I Timothy 2:15, from Teddy's Orthodox Study Bible).

Friday, October 3, 2008

He eats a lot...

Today we went to the first-week check-up at the pediatrician's office. The doctor looked at the notes.

"Hmm. He's at 9 lbs., 14 oz., and his birth weight was 9 lbs., 10 oz. So he's gained 4 ounces over a week. Usually we like to see babies gain about an ounce a day ..."

My husband pointed out that when we had come in for the 24-hour visit on Saturday, the baby weighed 9 lbs., 3 oz., so he'd gained 11 ounces, not three.

"Oh!" Eyebrows went up. "Well, I'd say he's doing pretty well, then."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More Fatherhood Fun

M: "Thank you for cutting up the banana bread for me, and for making me banana bread"
P (interrupting): Oh, no. My wife is banana bread.
M: What?
T gurgles
P: Yes, he got the joke. (to Teddy) Didn't you?
T smiles momentarily
M: You're supposed to wait until he can at least understand speech! [ed.n. co-opting Teddy into poking fun at her]

M. note: "This is what I get for sharing the childhood story of 'Make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.' 'Poof! You're a peanut butter and jelly sandwich' ... which was not appreciated then, either."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Surprises of Fatherhood

It is quite an amazing feeling to find out that your less-than-one-day-old son likes to stay on his side because you put him down on his back and watched as he turned his head around, then the rest of his body and came to what seemed to be a very satisfying conclusion for him, on his side. :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Happy birthday

After 35 hours of natural labor, our Theodore Gregory was born on September 26 at 2:39 pm. At birth, he weighed 9 pounds, 10 ounces, measured 23 inches long, and had a head circumference of 14 inches (and I didn't even tear). He has dark hair, and his grandmother pronounced him quite handsome. He is not supposed to be able to pick up his head and look at things, but he obviously hasn't read up on his abilities.

Since we decided to give birth to him at a birthing center rather than a hospital, after he was born, he had his newborn exam and his vitals checked several times. I had my vitals checked several times, ate a healthy meal, drank a bottle of an electrolyte drink, took a shower, and went to the bathroom, after which we did some paperwork and went home.

Pictures to follow.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dreaming of Baby

As you may have surmised, not much to write about has been happening with Bunny. There are no new pictures, new tricks learned, no toes to goggle over (although they do pack quite a punch, it's really only for me).

However, I had an interesting experience doing a guided relaxation exercise with our Bradley Method teacher. She turned on some soothing music and had us close our eyes. She told us to imagine that we were floating on the ocean, drifting to a far shore. I don't remember more precisely what she said to direct our relaxation, but I vividly remember what I was visualizing.

I was trying to figure out whether or not I was pregnant, and ended up seeing the baby as a boy at different ages. We were floating with Peterbird on a blue cloak which the Theotokos was holding open for us. The far shore we came to was Mt. Athos, where we were greeted by Fr. Seraphim and Fr. Christodoulos, whose faces were shining with joy. Fr. Christodoulos greeted Bunny, and Bunny was going to stay there. I was a little sad to leave him, but very happy that Bunny could stay with Fr. Christodoulos in such a happy place.

Considering that the Bradley teacher is not Orthodox, and I hadn't been reading anything especially spiritual at the time, I thought it was especially interesting to have thought instinctively of all these things. I don't think I will rely on it as a True Vision or anything, but I know that I have a cloud of witnesses who love and care for me and my family even though I cannot see most of them.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Today my husband commented that it was just like me to get stretch marks in time for Pentecost. It took me a little while to get this (I can only see them in the mirror, as they are below the visibility mark, like my feet) and realize that they are shaped like tongues of fire. So we've got the "current nursery" decorations down, at least.

Bunny and I are interacting more these days. He kicks (or orples, or does something in there to attract my attention) and I pat back. If I've been paying proper attention, he wakes up and moves around about every two hours or so, and does move more when we dialogue. It reminds me of the petition for "captives" even more, since it's like two prisoners on either side of a wall, trying to communicate. "Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face-to-face."

And Fr. Peter has finally felt Bunny kick. He doesn't seem all that interested in putting his hand there, but he'll keep it there for a while if I put it on my tummy. For whatever reason, Bunny usually stops kicking when his father's hand is there, but when he does kick big enough to be felt outside (as opposed to my viscera—thanks, kiddo), his father's face lights up and delights me.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Earth Offers a Cave

We now have pictures of the 20-week ultrasounds. It really struck me that the little one looks like he's in a cave, which brought to mind the kontakion of the Nativity by St. Romanos the Melodist.

I love going to the doctors' office. Everyone is kind, and laughs at my jokes (and attempts at jokes). The ultrasound technician says things like, "The umbilical cord is perfect" and "The spine is wonderful." (I am quickly learning to be fond of people who say nice things about my baby.) Also, the doctors answer my questions (mostly with things meaning, "Yes, it's weird, but you're just pregnant. Get over it.") rather than the usual instance, where everyone asks me questions and I have to answer them.

A wonderful woman (now due with her seventh!) had talked to me about the topic of "finding out the sex of the baby." She said that in her Lamaze class, the people who found out were much more impatient the rest of the pregnancy, compared with the people who waited. I figure, I'm already so impatient for the pregnancy to end—especially with the pictures of the wee one whom I just want to cuddle in my arms—that I should choose to wait. It has been getting fun thwarting the people who ask, "Is it a boy or a girl?" (Answer: "I certainly hope so!") or "Are you going to find out?" (Answer: "Yes, within a year, we hope to have things figured out."). I don't mean to be snarky, but I like to think that my father would be laughing, since this is the kind of answer I grew up with.

Overall, I am feeling better these days. I get housework done, and revel in the happiness of a clean house. (Or at least one which is working towards cleanness.)

The "mommies of the parish" have deluged me with kindness in the form of gift cards. I took Fr. Peter shopping with me, and there is something to be said (not only for clothing which fits properly, but also) for bright, happy colors. I had not realized how Bostonian and bland my closet had become—not completely, but compared to the sunny Floridian colors. So I got a bright pink top (Emily would be so proud) and a bright turquoise top amongst the first round of using up the gift cards. (It didn't hurt that even the doctor yesterday commented that I looked well. She meant my coloring, but I was happy that I'd picked a color that looks good on me.) God bless now-Fr. Evangelos (then-Angelo) and his future presvyteres retreat about how to dress.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wee Cozonac

This is the twenty-first cozonac of this year's batch, in my husband's hand. He is a dedicated baker, who kept baking on Holy Saturday even when Dr. Tim and I went to the beach. Maybe next year he will have a helper in making messes in the kitchen. (I did separate most of the 50 eggs required this year. Before ditching him.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

First Pascha

After the church was darkened at midnight, the candle of Pascha raised by my husband, singing, "Come receive the unwaning Light!" and we all went in a joyous procession outside, each candle burning brightly in exultation, we went into church to hold the festal Divine Liturgy. After the singing of the first set of the Paschal hymn: "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down Death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing Life," a chanter began another hymn: "This is the day of Resurrection..." which ends in the Paschal hymn. After that hymn's pronouncement of "Christ is risen!" I felt the baby move for the first time.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Names: January

Because my sister thought "Peter Gregory" was horrifyingly strange, I am enjoying going through the synaxarion on hand and further horrifying her with the thought that I might name my child after one of these saints. (For her reaction to "Peter Gregory"—which is a darn sight more normal than "Crispin Jarlath" (cool, but I don't think I would do that to a child)—this sister is disqualified from having her opinion count on naming any of my children. She also thinks pretty much any Greek name is weird. Her children's names, naturally, are "normal"—except to anyone besides her, which makes the whole thing funnier.)

However, as I was going through the pages, making fun of the "weird" names, I realized that these were people who were probably praying for me right now. Also, some of the "weirder" ones started to grow on me (in bold).

  • Fulgentius
  • Theopemptos
  • Abelard
  • Onouphrios
  • Phosterios
  • Sais
  • Agathon
  • Shemaiah
  • Abo
  • Polyefktos
  • Dometianos
  • Galacteon
  • Remigius
  • Pansophios
  • Perodzhavra *
  • Pevsippos, Elasippos, Mesippos, and Neonilla
  • Danax
  • Leobardus
  • Thyrsos
  • Babylas

  • Lupicinus
  • Barsimaeus
  • Bretanion
  • Medula
  • Auxentios
  • Xenophon
  • Paladios
  • Hyperechius
  • Abibus
  • Paregorius
  • Sarbelos
  • Bebaia
  • Mucius **
  • Ashot
  • Pitirim
  • Acepsimas
  • Aphrates
  • Hippolytus
  • Adelgonda
  • Tryphaenes

  • * still unable to pronounce this one at all, or pretty much any Georgian name, except Khahaber, thanks to knowing Fr. Khahaber

    ** extra fun teasing my sister with this one, which she managed to take seriously for quite a long while

    I had so much pleasure going through just January, I thought I should stop and savor them rather than rushing through the entire year. Yes, I could just look at September, but there's no reason to have a shared birthday/nameday, is there? Although September 19 does have Dorymedon, Seguanos, and Yaroslav, and babies are notoriously on schedule.

    Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    Psalm 139 (LXX, 138): 13-16

    For You formed my inward parts;
    You covered me in my mother's womb.
    I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    Marvelous are Your works,
    And that my soul knows very well.
    My frame was not hidden from You,
    When I was made in secret,
    And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
    Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
    And in Your book they all were written,
    The days fashioned for me,
    When as yet there were none of them.

    Tuesday, March 4, 2008

    New Doctor

    I am so much happier with the new doctor's office. At today's appointment I was told that today I am 11 weeks, 3 days, with a due date for September 19 (a birthday of one of my nephews).

    Today I feel more pregnant than I have so far. Rounder, or something. A little less scared. We have an appointment next week for an ultrasound and a discussion with the doctor about the results of tests and whatnot.

    Oh, and they gave me a goodie bag, complete with BOOK, prenatal vitamins, and an appointment book. I haven't even finished going through the bag yet. Also, everyone was super nice. I am very happy to have switched doctors. (Peterbird says, "Yeah. Me, too. ... The whole atmosphere seems more professional.")

    Saturday, March 1, 2008

    Greek Festival

    We're in the middle of the Greek Festival here at Holy Trinity. I haven't been able to keep my mouth shut to certain people, so I have been receiving congratulations at various decibel levels, from the hand-on-the-shoulder whispered one, to the shrieking, jumping-up-and-down, and hugging one.

    Several of the clergy couples have pointed out to me and Fr. Peter that, with the assistant priest usually staying only a few years here (it's currently something of a "training parish"), the birth of a "priest's kid" or PK is relatively rare. I hadn't thought about that, considering that I was in a building at seminary where people started asking what was in the water.

    I've switched doctor's offices since last time, since (1) I made an appointment for everything, which turned out to be a $35 OTC pregnancy test, and (2) they waited until I asked them to tell me that what I had been told was a molar pregnancy last year was actually an "abnormal pregnancy," i.e., a miscarriage. So I got a recommendation from another parishioner, and after looking online, I realize that the new doctor's office has the highest ratinigs and best reviews of OB/GYNs in the area. When I mention the name to other women parishioners, they recognize the doctor's name and agree that that's a good office. I sure could use all the prayers I can get, though.