Thursday, November 30, 2006

Spices of Life...

So do you ever watch those shows on the Food Network? Like the ones with like Rachel Ray and Gina Lollabrigida or whatever the Italian lady's name is? Well, I try my best to cook like they do. I take out the recipe and review it first. I even pull out a few implements and ingredients and then, just like on the shows, I fire up that frying pan and get started.

But while they merrily chat away about this or that, what I find is that suddenly the onions or whatever is heating in my pan up are already DONE and I've hardly gotten a jump on cutting anything else up or measuring out any spices. I'm dumping cumin or corriander or basil or bay leaves or whatever spice is closest into the pan and hoping for the best. And another thing...on the show, Rachel Ray always starts filling up a big pot of water and then walks away for like 5 minutes to got fetch some EVOO (don't ask) from her pantry and when she finally remembers the pot it's not even overflowing. I however am not so lucky. Truly, when I set out to cook something I feel my stress levels start to spin out. Instead of chatting merrily with my sweetie, I'm like an overzealous surgeon in the ER barking "honey, I need a glass of white wine STAT!"

Now Susanne on the other hand is a wonderul cook and she actually has fun during the process of cooking. (I tend to have my most fun during the process of eating.) So although we both cook, my best case scenario is to let her cook away and I clean up. This works out great because the cleaning up isn't so much fun when one is a creative cook. All of this talk about food is just making me hungry though. Ymmmmmm....gotta go! -Monica

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Plugging along

Our trip back home from South Carolina after Thankgiving was no problem despite our concerns about traffic. We left at 5 in the morning for the 8 hour drive and were very psyched to see that the HOV lanes were open to northbound traffic as we hit DC. We basically never got stuck in stopped traffic once! That was cool.

Our cats have been on pretty good behavior we hear from my mother-in-law. Except for the knocked over flower vase and the furball. She thinks they miss us because they laid around and slept all day. We let her know that this is what they do. Sleep all day. I definitely want to be a cat in my next life.

Susanne is feeling fine. We'll be through week 11 soon and enter trimester 2 in a few days. She's not as tired as before but she definitely makes more trips to the bathroom. I guess our fig sized little one is exerting his or her right to space in Su's abdomen--bladder be damned right?

I'm up very early this morning because I had to send what I hope is a final draft of a voluntary agreement our neighborhood has been negotiating with a "coffee shop" that wants a liquor licence that will allow it to be open until 2 in the morning most nights and 3 in the morning on weekends. They've requested what's called a "tavern" license and to make a long story short we've been in negotiations with them for over 6 months over this thing. They insist there won't be any problems. It will be a calm, quiet and relaxing place. Our houses are steps away and we worry that it will be a late night watering hole. Or shall I say a late night rowdy watering hole? Anyway, we built in a provision to the agreement that will allow us to go back fairly quickly and protest the hours if there are disturbances to "peace, quiet and order".

I guess I feel like before that liquor license appeared it WAS peaceful and calm here and now it just seems like there has just been so much energy put into this. I agreed to represent the neighborhood because there is a part of me that will always be an advocate. The neighbors have been great helping, but I'm sick of all of this and hope to God that they are right--that all of our concerns are for naught.

Alrighty then. I can smell the coffee brewing in the kitchen so I must leave you now. Have a great day everybody! -Monica

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Cats (not the musical)

So, Susanne and I got a good sense of what it will be like to be parents yesterday. We left the house at 4:00 am with our 5 year old and 2 year old cats and the little one didn't really like it one bit. We started out with the two of them in their carriers and as soon as we started driving an incessant "meow, meow, meow" began eminating from CJ's carrier.

Hmmmm....maybe she'll feel better if she can get out? Big mistake. We released both cats and Harley our older cat comfortably ensconced himself on Su's lap but CJ began to mix howls in with her meows. No matter how often we reassured her that "everything's okay baby" "shhhh don't cry CJ" she just continued crying. As I was saying, I think we might experience this with Junior someday no?

Apparently from the window of our house everything moves predictably and slowly, and now the whole world was just whizzing by for CJ. I think it was all the headlights on the cars that really got to her. At first she was trying to follow them with her head and got frustrated. Su coaxed her up front and she decided she wanted to lay flat on the dashboard which was really not okay. She sort of hunkered down and Susanne and I were both cracking up as she tried to simultaneously drag CJ over to her side while preventing Harley from heading down to the nice warm floor where the fun brake pedal and gas pedal were.

Did I mention that they are going to stay with Su's mom until we return for Christmas break? This is probably a good idea. Both cats are now happy as can be, and we are delighted that the weather is clearing up in SC and we can get outside and enjoy the sun on this beautiful Thanksgiving day. Alrighty then, we send peace and love and joy to all. Happy Day of Thanks! -Monica (and Susanne)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

'Cuz you light up my...

Well well. Apparently the diagnosis was incorrect. Or the treatment was sub-par. What am I talking about? Our perpetual tail light. You see, about 4 days ago Susanne realized that our Subaru brake light was staying on even when she wasn’t touching the brake. If she sort of lifted the brake pedal when exiting the car it seemed to solve the problem. Of course we knew that we’d have to deal with our mechanic sooner rather than later about this. Then 3 days ago she backed it in at work and after a long day called me to say she was on her way. Then she called back about 2 minutes later to say that the battery was dead. So I took the Metro down to where she works and after AAA jumped the car we drove it around to charge up and then took it home making sure the brake light did not stay on.

After going across town to our prenatal appt. on Friday morning we joined friends for lunch, again making sure the brake light was off. It was. But upon our return it was mysteriously on again. Rats. So this morning before taking Metro down to participate in the Help the Homeless Walkathon in DC we took it to our favorite local mechanic. An $80 switch was replaced and we were good to go--or so we thought. I just looked out the window and I couldn’t believe it. The mystery light was on again. Now we are back to using our #10 wrench to disconnect the battery so that it doesn’t drain. I guess we’ll be back to visit our favorite mechanic Monday morning. Shesshhh.

This morning at the Walkathon we joined many of Susanne’s co-workers from Bread for the City and were very happy to see a co-worker who is out on maternity leave. She and her husband brought their 4 month old daughter and they also brought an friend who put together a wonderful compilation site for Lesbian blogs called Lesbian Families (see link on sidebar). It was so cool to meet her and the funny thing was that at first she didn’t make the connection that we were the authors of one of the blogs on her site. When we told her our blog was Susanica she got all excited. We spent the whole 5K walking with her and her son Noah and found ourselves talking about different blogs that we read. It almost felt like we knew people. Too funny.

She was telling me that the person who runs a site called Babes in Blogland which has straight and gay blogs on it sometimes gets sort of negative comments from people who sort of happen onto gay/lesbian blogs. What a shame. It reminded me of a story about two little kids on a playground where one says that she has two moms and her little friend replies “I have two moms too!” They were both so delighted. Turns out that one of them had two lesbian moms and the other one came from a blended family and actually had a mom and a step-mom. It all seemed good to the both of them. I think it’s the adults that get everything all charged with negativity. Kids see love. Smart kids!

Our first prenatal visit to the birthing center where Su will deliver our baby went well. The midwife used a Doppler to search for the baby’s heartbeat and after a bit of wandering around Su’s belly we learned that Su’s digestive tract is in great shape and the baby’s heart is beating away at 160 bpm which is within the normal range. It was really awesome when she finally found the spot where we could really hear that heart. We were at 10 weeks and 4 days so it was not for sure that she’d be able to detect it. Let’s see…what else is new?

Oh, our cats Harley and CJ get to go on vacation to sunny South Carolina! We are going to visit Su’s mom for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and since it’s an 8 hour drive we thought it might be easier to leave our kitties with “Gross Mutti” between the two holidays. She thought that was fine. Now the only question is how will we wake up in the morning without our “alarm cat” Harley? He always scratches on our door at 6:15 on the dot. I think we’ll manage—maybe we’ll use an alarm clock ;-). Alrighty then. I’m scraping cracks in our guest room wall so we can patch and paint that to convert it into an office/guest room and then eventually get started on our nursery. Hey there Gross Papi, if you read this you are more than welcome to come scrape with me ;-)

Oh by the way, Susanne mentioned to me that she hasn’t actually blogged since we found out we were pregnant. I knew it has been a while, but I think it’s time for her to say a few words. Don’t you, gentle readers? -Monica

Thursday, November 16, 2006


I had lunch the other day with some very nice women who I'm on a working group with, and anyway at lunch we got to talking about motherhood. (They were very excited to hear our great news!) Anyway, one friend told about how her son would have a predictable screaming fit every night at around 5:30 and that she and her husband would take turns holding him while the other made dinner. She then went on to explain that the little guy would get stiff as a board and the parent doing the comforting would basically hold on to both ankles with the little guy ramrod stiff across the shoulder screaming his head off. They even have pictures to prove it! She assured us that they’d checked for every possible illness and/or abnormality, but the kid was perfectly fine. That was just how he cried. And he only cried for about 15 minutes, stiff as a board the whole time, and then he’d stop. Kids!

This all of course makes me wonder what our son or daughter will be like. Of course I'll let you know my verdict on the nature-nurture thing once I see how our kid likes his or her toast buttered. (Apparently it's important to butter every single bit of the toast particularly the edges. Well it's important to one of our baby's moms ;-)

I do know that Susanne is going to be a fabulous mom. You should see her with people. Whether it’s a mentally ill client who needs calming down, or a neighbor who needs help, or a co-worker who needs information, or a little kid, Susanne is just very gifted at listening and responding to people. She can communicate more in 5 words than I can in 50. That’s pretty good I say. (See, she would have just said “that’s good”.) See what I mean! Gosh, I can’t wait until next June! -Monica

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Singing in the Rain

Well we’ve reached week 10 and Su’s been doing well. We have our first prenatal appt. with our group of midwives on Friday which should be interesting. We are looking forward to it.

Tomorrow I get to perform in our Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) talent show. I’m going to bring my guitar and sing the old Leonard Cohen song called Suzanne. Rather fitting that I married a woman named Susanne eh? I think it’s perfect. We do a talent show at our agency every year to try and encourage people to give. I think most people who come to it have already given which makes it sort of “preaching to the choir” but it’s still fun. I’ve only every performed singing with my guitar once—at a church where I used to sing in a choir. I don’t feel nervous about the singing because that’s easy. But I’m not a great guitar player so as long as I can remember what chords to go to I’ll be okay.

After the show I have to dash out the door to go to a funeral. I’ve been a volunteer at Capital Hospice since 2004 and mostly what I do is get assigned to a person who is terminally ill and visit them once a week or so—whatever they desire—just to chat, spend time etc… It’s certainly not the kind of volunteer work that everybody would want to do, but for me I just feel that it’s such a gift to me to be able to share in someone’s life as they near “end of life”. When my dad died in 2002 a friend gave me a book called “Final Gifts” which was written by two hospice nurses about the journeys that their patients went on and it made so much sense to me. So I decided to become a volunteer.

Tomorrow I’ll attend the funeral of a woman I’ll call Mrs. M. I met her about 1 ½ years ago when she was first admitted to hospice (most hospice patients are still in their own homes as she was). To be in hospice you have to have decided to give up aggressive treatments to prolong life. Well, when I met Ms. M she was in hospice but then she and her two sons decided to start her on cancer treatments. Technically she was no longer in the hospice program (but could come back to it at any time,) and I was faced with the choice of going on leave from the program to continue to visit her or to take on a new patient. I decided to stay. I had established a relationship with her and her family and it didn’t seem logical to me to just stop going to see her. She was still dying after all. I had neither idea how long she’s survive, nor whether her treatment were the best thing, but I completely respected her decision.

Her two sons who are in their 40s are saints in my mind. I’ve never seen such caring and devotion. It was beautiful. They took turns staying with her and taking her to appointments. Last spring they invited me to a wonderful surprise party they’d planned for her 76th birthday. She thought she was going to lunch with friends but she walked in to a ballroom packed with over 100 people who loved her. It was amazing. So many people told wonderful stories and her extended family all paraded from the back carrying 76 roses. Mrs. M was so tired but so thrilled. She spoke at the end and mixed in her memories, her advice, her thoughts and her pride for her family. Although I’ll attend her funeral tomorrow, I think she had the best eulogy ever that day 6 months ago. I really enjoyed visiting Ms. M. The stories she told me of growing up in the south. The day I asked her what the yellowed newspaper on her dresser was and she spent the next hour telling me all about how she’d been impaneled on a grand jury in the 1970s. There was even a photo in that newspaper with her and her colleagues being led furtively out of the courtroom. What stories she had!

Ms. M (who her family called Sugar) died when her two sons were taking her to the hospital last week. I’m going to miss her. -Monica

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Deep Thoughts... (not really)

Susanne and I had a nice time last night hosting 5 other newly married couples from our church. Luther Place is a very accepting and affirming ELCA church and we love it there. Our new vicar who thought it might be great to have “newly-coupled” gathering about once a month to sort of continue with the concept of pre-marital counseling. Su and I are the only gay couple in the group and maybe it’s because we live in a very liberal city, I definitely feel like we are not considered an oddity or anything. We are just another newly married couple. We made spaghetti, garlic bread and salad with some Peanut Butter cookies for dessert. Hmmm…why am I suddenly hungry?

We are looking forward to really relaxing this weekend. A 3 day weekend is very welcome and we are not traveling anywhere for the first weekend in a long time. Yeah! Alright, thought for the day: Why do we say that things are “clean as a whistle?” Whistles are by nature sort of slobbered on and none too clean. Maybe we should say “clean as an autoclave?” Have a great weekend everybody! -Monica

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Top Ten Reasons I’m Feeling Happy Today…

10. The Democrats have taken control of the House.

9. The Democrats could take the Senate too! (Montana just picked up a Dem!) If Virginia goes to Webb instead of Allen, I can ALMOST forgive the people of Virginia for their constitutional amendment vote yesterday.

8. Susanne ate the sandwich I made her for lunch today (she’s been really hating all foods lately).

7. Sens. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore., introduced a bill (S. 3955) Wednesday that would allow domestic partners to benefit from federal retirement, life insurance, health insurance, workers' compensation, long-term care insurance and dental and vision benefits.

6. Donald Rumsfeld just resigned.

5. I’ve lost 15 lbs on Weight Watchers since starting in July.

4. We are having friends over for dinner tonight.

3. Friday is a federal holiday!

2. Did I mention Donald Rumsfeld just resigned?

1. Our baby is now about an inch long and Su's feeling better! Oh Happy Day!


Monday, November 06, 2006

Red Hair - (It's really orange you know...)

Hello everyone. Susanne and I send our greetings as always. We just got some wonderful news that my friend Colleen (another redhead like me) and her husband Dan out in Seattle are expecting in March. How great. Dan’s also a redhead so they are really tempting all those recessive genes to go to town! Colleen is a very special person—very spiritual and loving and I think she and Dan are going to be awesome parents. Congrats you guys.

If our baby ends up with red hair it will be pretty cool. We have less of a chance of that than Colleen and Dan, but who knows! When I was a kid my brother Joe and I were the 2 redheads out of the 7 of us. (It’s Joe’s birthday today as a matter of fact, so happy birthday little brother.)

Su and I have a dear friend Dave who I was in Peace Corps with, who also has bright red hair. He says he can remember as a boy in Iowa the little old ladies would make such a fuss over him. “You have such BEAUTIFUL red hair” they’d croon. Pretty soon Dave started thinking there must be something terribly wrong with him. After all, the blonds and kids with brown hair never got told that. So he’s start carefully agreeing—“Yes, I DO have beautiful red hair, Mrs. Peterson.” He never quite figured out what the big deal was. I can remember that too. Red hair is different and some people just love it. Susanne and I were on flight recently and the attendant could not contain his enthusiasm for the redheaded toddler in our section. I’m pretty sure the kid was thinking “Yes, yes, I DO have beautiful red hair Mr. Flight attendant”….

If we are blessed with a redheaded baby it will be interesting because then our baby, although not from the same lineage as me, would look somewhat like me. Maybe I think people will be less puzzled by me being its mom if it sort of looks like I’m the mom? Maybe I should stop giving a cr*p what other people think? After all my sister’s beautiful daughter is adopted from China and although they look nothing alike there is no doubt to anyone that they are mother and daughter.

The baby that Susanne and I have next June will be our baby regardless of any physical or other attributes. And I have to say that what I really hope is that the baby looks just like Susanne. She is beautiful and I love the idea of a “mini-she” running around our house--boy or girl I say! (In this pic taken a few years ago I am apparently trying to explain to then 2 year old great-niece Cassie that when she meets a red-head she should tell them how beautiful their red hair is...) And here is a primer for those of you who don't know...we are not "carrot tops" because the tops of carrots are green. And our hair really isn't red if you look closely. ;-)

This weekend we drove about 3 hours south west of DC to visit our friend C in Virginia which was fun and tried to send “vote no” rays into the heads of unsuspecting Virginia voters all along the way. It was a very fun and relaxing time except for… Su has definitely started to have morning sickness. And morning is when she has it. I think the most unusual thing is that she’s started really hating getting up and having to go to work. She really does like her job, but just not lately. But since she’s a real trooper, we’ve trooped her in every day. We are hoping this will pass soon. Until next time. -Monica

Friday, November 03, 2006

Bizzarro World…

So this morning I woke up at 4:30 for no good reason and was suddenly inspired to start sanding and painting a few little spots left in the basement (something I’d meant to do for weeks) and a few other mundane chores that I usually never like doing. And all I could think about was clearing out guest room so we can paint that room and then begin the real transition to having an office/bedroom and new nursery. Yes, I suddenly realized I’m NESTING.

Now from what I’ve read, NESTING happens to pregnant women right before they give birth. So I ask myself…if I’m nesting now, I must be sort of empathizing with Susanne, but in reverse. So, in 7 or 8 months I’ll start having odd food cravings and aversions like she has now. Hmmm…

I can report that Su is doing fine. She’s feeling good but of course tired a lot. That’s definitely to be expected. Lucky for me I’m generally more of a sleepy head than Susanne so I've really liked that we’ve both been drifting off into dreamland a lot earlier than ususal most nights. Maybe we are like hibernating bears trying to hoard sleep. Rumor has it that sleep is a “bit” more hard to come by when the little one comes along. Oh gosh, I’ll be honest. I plan on kissing the idea of sleep goodbye once Junior makes his or her grand entrance in June (get it, Junior/June?)

We had a wonderful get together with our friends K&M last night. They are also a lesbian couple who is expecting and will have their baby about a month and a half before we do. They really are quite wonderful and we look forward to a long and happy friendship with them and their family.

Alrighty. Time to head over to meet Su and our friend L and his band of Merry Men for our favorite Friday Happy Hour. Hmmm… I feel a bit tired…wonder why? Oh right. 4:30 am.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

For the Love of...

Yesterday in the paper, last night on the news, this morning on the radio, we heard again of the ominous threat of gay marriage. Arghhhh! When Susanne and I were married in August of 2005 in Baltimore, it was an AMAZING day filled with love and grace. Just looking at our wedding pictures on my desk make me all dreamy and happy. Our families and friends embraced us both as we experienced a powerful right of passage to begin our new family. Seriously, how does our married life together do anything but bring positive changes to us and our community?

I'd like to share something that we added to the back page of our wedding program. It speaks to this topic much more eloquently than I ever could.

When the Spanish parliament took its historic vote on June 30, 2005 legalizing both gay marriage and adoption of children by gay couples, Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who put the full prestige of his office and party behind passage of the gay human rights legislation -- made probably the most remarkable speech in favor of full equality for those with same-sex hearts ever delivered by a head of government anywhere...

"Honorable members, we are not legislating, for people far away and not known by us. We are enlarging the opportunity for happiness to our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends and, our families: at the same time we are making a more decent society, because a decent society is one that does not humiliate its members.

Today, the Spanish society answers to a group of people that during many years have been humiliated…today the Spanish society grants them the respect they deserve, recognizes their rights, restores their dignity, affirms their identity, and restores their liberty. It is true that they are only a minority, but their triumph is everyone's triumph. It is also the triumph of those who oppose this law, even though they do not know this yet: because it is the triumph of Liberty. Their victory makes all of us (even those who oppose the law) better people, it makes our society better.

Honorable members, there is no danger to marriage or to the concept of family in allowing two people of the same sex to get married. To the contrary, what happens is these set of Spanish citizens get the potential to organize their lives with the rights and privileges of marriage and family. There is no danger to the institution of marriage, but precisely the opposite: this law enhances and respects marriage.

Today, conscious that some people and institutions are in a profound disagreement with this change in our civil law, I wish to express that like other reforms to the marriage code that preceded this one, this law will generate no evil, that its only consequence will be the avoiding of senseless suffering of decent human beings. A society that avoids senseless suffering of decent human beings is a better society.

I wish to express my profound respect to those people and institutions (that oppose this law), and I also want to ask for the same respect for all of those who approve of this law. To the homosexuals that have tolerated personally the abuse and insults for many years, I ask of you that the courage you have demonstrated in your struggle for your civil rights will contribute now an example of generosity and express your happiness with respect to those who think different that you.

With the approval of this Bill, our country takes another step in the path of liberty and tolerance that was stated by the democratic change of government. Our children will look at us with incredibility if we tell them that many years ago, our mothers had less rights than our fathers, or if we tell them that people had to stay married against their will even though they were unable to share their lives. Today we can offer them a beautiful lesson: every right gained, each access to liberty has been the result of the struggle and sacrifice of many people that deserve our recognition and praise. Today we demonstrate with this Bill that societies can better themselves and can cross barriers and create tolerance by putting a stop to the unhappiness and humiliation of some of our citizens."

Well said and so true. We applaud the government of Spain and look forward to a day when our marriage will be recognized by our government. -Monica (and Susanne)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Us and Ours

We had a nice night last night handing out Halloween candy and hanging out with our next door neighbors on the porch (it was a balmy 50 something last night here in DC.) They actually created a fake life-sized coffin for their front yard and even had a shovel menacingly dug into the ground next to it. Very spooky and fun!

Susanne and I were talking about how a year from now, God willing, our baby will be 4 months old! It’s sort of hard to imagine. Another neighbor with a one year old says that now it’s almost impossible to imagine what her life was without her daughter. She’ll think “gee, I remember going to Europe in 1999 but what did we do with JoJo on that trip?” “Doh!” I think we’ll probably feel the same.

I was talking to Su last night about being an expectant mom, but not being the pregnant woman in the relationship. The non-birth mom is basically identified only by the “non” or “not”. Non-birth, non-bio, not pregnant…you get the picture. So yes I’ll have a child in June, but technically I’ll really help Su deliver our child. It may just be semantics but it’s an interesting paradigm all the same. Su argues that in many respects “we” are pregnant. It just depends on how you define pregnant if you think about it. Merriam-Webster says it can mean “rich in significance or implication.” I like that!

I read a story once about 2 gay moms who went shopping shortly after their baby was born. The non-birth mom was holding the baby about 10 steps away from the birth mom and was chatting with someone. The stranger commented on how beautiful the baby was. “How old is she?” “A week old today” said the non-birth mom proudly. “Well you look absolutely wonderful” gushed the stranger. “Why thank you” non-birth mom smiled. As I recall, the birth mom who’d overheard the whole thing and felt weary and bloated was, let’s say, not pleased.

Oh yeah! This two mom thing is going to be fun! Wouldn't it have been funnier though if the stranger had said something like "don't worry dear--you'll get your shape back soon. ;-)