Friday, December 29, 2006
Anyway, the thought that comes to my mind is that although Susanne is naturally much quieter than I am, and will write much shorter and to the point paragraphs, contrary to popular belief, she is FULL of words. Case in point. Scrabble. We spent some time every day playing Scrabble with Su’s mom in South Carolina. And guess who always won? Susanne. I’d like to point out that Su’s mom is a brilliant PhD who regularly kicks both of our butts with crossword puzzles, but when it comes to Scrabble Su beats her too. But how? Is her brain wired to “see” words that I don’t?
She always ends up getting an inordinate number of those multiple word words (like can take a down word and an across word and somehow bridge things to make a whole new word that gets her all the total points.) And triple word scores? On our board those squares should just read “Susanne’s”. Did you know that if you use all seven of your letters you get 50 extra points? How is that not pouring salt into the wounds of people like me who come up with words like “not” and on the next turn go for the killer “knot”? (Hey there’s 5 points for a “K” you know.)
Anyway, Su’s mom is really excellent and always beats me too (and German is her first language!). It’s all so, so, well…it’s actually quite fun. I’m an eternal optimist and dream of the day when I shall be victorious! (Can you imagine how many points I could get for the word VICTORIOUS?)
I was just e-mailing with my friend Amy this morning and I suddenly remembered that brother Jim is a REALLY GREAT player who won the 2006 U.S. Scrabble Open (who knew there was a National Scrabble Association?) Hmmm…Amy’s coming to visit us next month. Perhaps we should see if her brother might tag along…? (evil right?)
Happy New Year everyone! -Monica
Thursday, December 28, 2006
I was really struck by how incredibly embarrassed that driver must have felt. There were hundreds of people stuck there watching the whole thing. Mired in muck, and nothing to be done about it until a tow truck could arrive. But then the more I thought about it the more I realized that I had no idea how the driver felt. In other words, just because my reaction would have been one of sheer horror at everyone gawking at what an idiot I was, perhaps other people in that same situation wouldn’t have been embarrassed at all. This is giving me something to think about. I also assumed that every other person witnessing this from both sides of the highway must have been thinking “what an idiot” but then again, maybe they didn’t think that at all. So my reaction would have been to what I assumed others thought. Again, something to think about.
Anyway, we brought our little kitties Harley and CJ back with us. They seemed to enjoy their 4 week vacation at grandma’s (we went there at Thanksgiving too and instead of transporting the cats 4 total times we left them there so they’d only be subjected to the 8 hour trip two times.)
Did you know that cats can operate the windows on cars? Or at least we learned Harley can. We don't leave them in their carriers for the whole time so they were sort of like "free range" cats at times. The window went down around an inch and Su heard the rushing wind right away. I think he was more scared than we were. Fortunately using the control buttons on the driver's side, I was able to return the rear window to its secure and upright postion, and the window lock button was quickly engaged. Susanne and I filed away another lesson learned for travel with cats (and children). They are both happy to be home, and last evening we were not too surpried to hear a familiar crashing sound. Our curious cats. Yeah, they’re back and it's a good thing our house is cat-proofed!
Susanne is doing well—she’s at week 16 now and even though some people can begin to feel the quickening at 16 weeks we are figuring it will take a few weeks longer. I love watching how her body shape is slowly changing. Sometimes she seems to look obviously pregnant and other times she looks the same as always. She is still wearing her favorite jeans, but not too much longer we expect. But that doesn’t mean anything. After this week of delicious meals and desserts my jeans aren’t fitting so well either! -Monica
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Anyone else out there who thinks that a screaming tea kettle sounds a lot like an insistent child? I miss the days when Susanne loved her morning coffee. Coffee makers are just so patient aren't they? They quietly wait for you to wander over when you feel like it. Tea pots? A totally different temperament (and yes, I do see the irony.) -Monica
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
“Is it something you smell? A taste? A sound? “Sound” she said. We live in a row house with neighbors who we sometimes here rattling around but never too much. I asked that series of questions because since Su has been pregnant, things definitely smell and taste different and I thought it might just be that.
Now alarmed, I muted the TV and listened intently upstairs to hear if there could be someone in the house. About a million thoughts (all bad) flashed through my mind in a fraction of a second. Next thing I knew though Su was calmly removing a not so tiny bit of egg shell from her mouth. “Egg shell?” I asked with disbelief. “Honey that is not a sound!” Au contraire. Apparently when one bites down real hard on an egg shell it IS a sound (to them at least). Sheeessssh…. Wow, I felt a tremendous sense of relief.
I see now why both Alprazolam and Xanax both appear in Google’s top 10 “What is” searches this year (they are both the same thing by the way. Alprazolam is the generic of Xanax).
Fortunately since I’ve had my Susanne (er Susannax) in my life, I’ve not needed to use my prescription medication very often any more to help me cope with my sometimes painful anxieties. But my mind does like to spin out fabulous scenarios and probably always will. People with anxiety are not terribly bothered by the past, are fabulous at dealing with the present and are terrified of the future. I just have to keep reminding myself that when the future arrives, whatever it brings, I'll be in the present. And I'm fabulous in the present. But I think I'll hold on to my perpetual prescription to Susannax! Ahhh.... -Monica
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Well, in retrospect I did not leave the Catholic Church. It left me.
Let me share with you a letter I sent to my priest in May of 2005. (I’ve removed identifying details.)
Dear Monsignor (Name),
It is with great regret that I write today to withdraw from (Name) Parish. I’ve been struggling for a long time trying to reconcile my identity as a Roman Catholic with my identity as a gay person. I have decided that I can no longer subject myself to internalized self-hatred that only festers and grows when one is constantly barraged with negative words and attitudes. I realized this yesterday when it was announced that the new pope would be former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. I knew deep in my heart at that moment that there would be no movement away from statements like the following from a Directive prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (Ratzinger) in July 2003 and signed off on by Pope John Paul II:
“There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family ... Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Where they already exist, work towards repealing them. Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development,'' it said.
Perhaps I had naively clung to the hope that a new “administration” at the Vatican would signal positive changes regarding such hateful positions. It will not. I realized yesterday that my continued faithfulness to the Catholic Church makes no sense. I’ve missed Mass many times in the past year, partly because I’ve been volunteering with a hospice program to care for a dying woman so her daughter could go to her own church to receive spiritual nourishment, but partly I’ve missed because I’ve been so angry.
Angry at this Church--what I'd always thought was MY CHURCH--which has basically damned me and my partner Susanne and any children we may one day raise. Where is the spiritual nourishment for us?
If I were an infant and helpless I would of course stay with an abusive parent because I wouldn’t have the comprehension, resources, maturity or freedom to leave. I look at leaving the Catholic Church at this time as a step away remaining a helpless infant. Sadly if I didn’t have an abusive “parent” in this Church I’d never want nor need to leave.
My biggest regret is withdrawing the money that we donate each month to the ministry of (Name) Church. Susanne and I will join another church and donate to their charitable works. Susanne is not Catholic but has supported me through this painful struggle like only a loving spouse could. Perhaps there is a reason I attended a Lutheran college for 4 years? Maybe God knew that one day I’d have to draw a line and begin my own personal “protest” as a Protestant.
My faith in God our heavenly father, Jesus his beloved son and my savior and the power of the Holy Spirit are unwavering. As always my desire is to love and serve God in all that I say and do. My intentions are pure, my pain real. I don’t know if the sudden withdrawal of financial support by me (and others?) will send any sort of message to the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, but clearly we must put our money where our mouths are.
The money that has been automatically sent from our bank to (Name) Church on the first of every month has been cancelled. On a personal note Monsignor (Name), I want to tell you how much I appreciate your kind words and support over this past year. You are a blessing to so many who hunger for love and acceptance. I pray that God will continue to bless you and everyone at (Name) Church. Sincerely and sadly. -Monica
Violence against our children? Give me a break! Perhaps the Catholic Church could spend more time and energy focusing on true violence to children, like the violence that occurs in abusive homes and in families where crippling poverty and hunger are every day realities. I have never regretted for one minute sending that note.
In the spring of 2006 Susanne and I joined a welcoming and affirming ELCA Lutheran Church called Luther Place and it has been wonderful. Meanwhile, just last month, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the following statement called: "Ministry to Persons With a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care."
You can read it for yourself. I’m still shaking my head. This paragraph in particular really burned me up.
“For some persons, revealing their homosexual tendencies to certain close friends, family members, a spiritual director, confessor or members of a Church support group may provide some spiritual and emotional help and aid them in their growth in the Christian life. In the context of parish life, however, general public self-disclosures are not helpful and should not be encouraged.”
Do you think blogs count as general public self-disclosure? Do you really think having a person deny their true self and identity is healthy? Did the Catholic Church completely forget their own teaching of Primacy of Conscience? Once again, I'm just shaking my head. -Monica
Monday, December 18, 2006
In a few short weeks I may actually feel myself being kicked off the couch. And not by Susanne. Too fun! -Monica
Friday, December 15, 2006
So this picture was taken a few short years ago when Su and I went with our moms on a wonderful trip to Germany and Ireland (where this shot was taken on a ferry boat.) I post it because I am totally in "babymoon" mode and have vacation on the brain. We think March may be our optimal time to go and if we plan right we could celebrate Su's birthday in some warm and sunny place.
This weekend we'll host our neighbors for one hour of a traditional block "progressive dinner". I love to see everyone but the only problem is the self-induced stress I experience around making sure the house is as clean as it can be. We are pretty neat so it's not like there is a ton to do, but I still can physically feel the worry that is only solved by doing something. Ask Susanne. This morning I was up at 5 am with this thought that we had to get the Christmas letters out by Dec. 15 as promised (well to ourselves anyway). I started pulling one of those big tape contraptions around one of the packages we were sending off (which really did sound like a very unhappy cat) when I heard this plaintive wail of "can you just come back to bed?" Oops... See, I get a bit compulsive when I'm anxious.
Anyway, on this topic of housecleaning, we were watching the Simpson's a few nights ago and Marge got ticked off and made everybody clean the house. Homer was down the basement on his knees screaming up the stairs "ARE WE SO VAIN?" That just totally cracked me up. So in summary. I don't think we are vain. I do think the party will be fun. I do get a little compulsive sometimes. I LOVE my beautiful wife (she's the one in the yellow raincoat), and...what else, what else? Oh, I REALLY WANT TO GO ON A BABYMOON. Have a great weekend everybody! -Monica
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
About the gift exchange though, I learned the hard way that it's not how much the item costs you, it's what you SPENT! In other words I last year got my specially selected brother a really nice dress shirt that normally sold for $50 but sort of let it slip that I'd gotten it for $18. You see being able to spot bargains is usually something that gains kudos in my family, but NOT with this $25 Christmas gift exchange. I was actually $7 in arrears and boy did I ever hear about it! (Ummm, mom doesn't read this blog does she guys?)
Anyway we picked names this fall when most of us were assembled in MN. I got my brother Neil who happens to work for Sears as an HVAC repairman and he gets a discount when he shops at there. That made it a no brainer. Before I even left MN I picked up a $25 gift card and left it for him with my mom who is sort of our all purpose utility arranger/gift wrapper/organizer.
So when my sister's boyfriend had dinner with Su and me in DC tonight so we could do the gift handoff" (he comes to DC every December for work and we traditionally send stuff back with him and get our stuff) he had this big grin on his face. "You're gonna love this" he said. Out came a $25 gift card from--you guessed it--Neil. And it was from Sears. I was so reminded of that "Oh Henry" story about the woman selling her locks of hair to buy her husband a watch fob while he sold his watch to buy pins for her lovely hair. (Hey...wait one minute here. Do you think that Neil had to pay a full $25 for that card with his Sears employee discount? "Oh, moooommmmyyyy!")
So all's well that ends well. I can get the Land's End stuff that Sears sells that I wanted anyway, and Uncle Neily can get whatever his heart desires. I guess we could have cut out the "middle man" and told each other to just not get each other a present. But it's way more fun this way don't you think? Merry Christmas baby brother and thank you! (And just in case your wondering, our "secret Santa's" never stay very secret for long. We're sort of talkers so suffice to say that Neil and I knew we had coincidentally picked each other pretty early on.)
Oh, well, off to sleep I go. I'm taking a Project Management course this week and am almost done with my Master's Certificate. I think I'll buy my graduation present at Sears! Happy Holidays everyone. Hasta la proxima! -Monica
P.S. Shhhh....if you see Susanne, tell her not to look in the front hall closet. No reason...
Monday, December 11, 2006
She told us that she and her husband had taken turns with night feedings (she breastfed while he fed the babies milk she'd expressed earlier.) They somehow came up with a brilliant idea to make sure their babies would stay asleep once they were ready to put back in the crib. They filled a hot water bottle (not too hot mind you) and whenever they took the baby out of the crib for a feeding they'd place it on the cribsheet. When it came time to put the baby back down, out came the water bottle and in settled the baby with a contented (and very importantly--still quite asleep) sigh.
I really think this makes a lot of sense. Either that or we are going to have to make a recording of Su's heartbeat and hide the recorder somewhere in the mattress (just kidding! That in no way sounds safe!) Anyway, as I told Elisa, their idea is definitely "blogworthy" so here it is!
Maybe I'll start doing that water bottle thing for Su as her nocturnal trips to the bathroom become more frequent in the months to come. Wait...keeping Susanne warm is my job! Brilliant I say. Brilliant! -Monica
Friday, December 08, 2006
Then on the Metro ride home I heard someone asking someone else if she had children. (The woman had been playing peek-a-boo with the other one’s toddler so it was a perfectly fine question.) They proceeded to chat away about their children and the whole conversation really made me think about the times in my life when I’ve been asked that question. The answer has always been “no, but I have lots of nieces blah, blah, blah etc….” That is still true or course, but come June, God willing, I’ll be able to start answering that affirmatively. I can imagine future me saying “You betcha, our little boy is 1 now” or “Why yes, I have a three year old daughter” or something to that effect. That seems really neat to me. We are going to be moms!
I bet that our baby’s biological mom, my sweet Susanne, wishes that we could take turns every other day or so with this carrying the baby business. Today she’s not feeling very well at all and, believe me, if I could give her a break from all the work she’s putting into gestating this little one I surely would. As it is, I’ll just keep doing my best to support her in any way she needs.
We are looking forward to a fun weekend. On Saturday we’ll see a friend of Su’s who lives in California but is in DC now supervising a field trip. Gosh she’s going to be exhausted I bet. It will be fun I'm sure. The rest of the weekend we’ll spend working on our annual holiday letter and visiting with Su’s dad. Should be pretty relaxed I think. Oh, and we’re going to put our Christmas lights up. And we’re going to finish plastering the guest room. And we have to wrap my family’s gifts. And…did I say relaxed? -Monica
Thursday, December 07, 2006
We are suddenly really, really busy with holiday parties. We’re hosting a party for the folks who live on our block in DC one upcoming Sunday and we just got an e-vite to go to a friend’s house in Baltimore the same day. No problem. Is it wrong to want to do everything?
We’ll be having our annual dinner with "Santa" on Tuesday which is really dinner with my sister’s boyfriend who comes to Washington for work frequently. Dave brings us a bag of gifts from my family in Minnesota and we send home a bag of gifts with him for them. We’ve been doing this for years! Dave is the king of silly jokes, so we are ready for him. “Knock, knock?” “Who’s there?” “Scott” “Scott who?” “Scott to be a better knock, knock joke than this one this year!” Hardy, har, har. I know. Stop it already. Okay, okay.
Whoops. Will you look at the time? I’ve got to run. Hasta la vista everybody! -Monica
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I wonder if they have lesbian friends who are also pregnant? Su and I met some wonderful people in our “Maybe Baby” classes last winter (offered to gay couples who want to learn about all their options for becoming parents.) It was wonderful making new friends who were thinking about the same issues we were. Even though we are all in different circumstances, several of us are expecting right now, and we've created a neat little support network in my opinion. I don't know if Ms. Cheney and Ms. Poe went to any sort of “Maybe Baby” classes but if they did, they would have heard loud and clear that if they could choose not to live in Virginia before having their child that would be a very good idea.
As much as I detest the policies of this administration I wish this couple well in their quest to become moms. It would be really great if something positive comes out of it for all gay families. -Monica
Monday, December 04, 2006
Here is the reading that our dear friends, a beautiful married couple, read aloud as we stood united before those we hold most dear in our lives. Parents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, neighbors, friends, co-workers--they were all there for that glorious day. This reading speaks better than I ever could of the love that we have in our hearts, not only for each other, but for all of the pepole we love who grace our hearts and lives. We are so very blessed.
THE BLESSING OF THE HANDS (Anonymous)
“These are the hands of your best friend, warm and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.
These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.
These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children, the hands that will help you to hold your family as one. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.
And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.”
I love you Susanne. You do comfort me like no other--what a beautiful gift you are to me and all who are lucky enough to know you. -Your Monica
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Well December is finally upon us (at least temperature-wise). It’s been downright warm over the past week but these last two days it’s been chillier. Now if we’d only get a little bit of snow. I remember one Christmas Eve here in
Susanne is resting in bed this morning. She’s been feeling pretty miserable and nauseous recently and this morning is no exception. Her headache is taking turns bothering her right side one day and her left side the next and today it’s settled right behind her right eye. My poor baby. I keep bringing her water and checking in to see what she is hungry for. Sometimes I just rub her back. I feel a bit helpless when she’s sick. I’m just glad I can comfort her in any way I can.
At least I have one secret weapon against all of her food aversions. The “Country Breakfast”. I forget how you say it in German but I do know that it’s a dish made with fried potatoes, pickles, ham and eggs. It has always been her favorite dish and her mom make it the best! But since Mutti's not here I’m going to head on downstairs and whip up a batch. It really is quite delicious. And actually a good source of proteins and carbs. We could eat stuff A LOT worse for us!
We got some fun news yesterday that we are going to “inherit” a wonderful crib that a dear friend bought originally for her two girls. P. and I met at grad school in
It’s funny, I started this post talking about driving friends to the airport. It was P. and her family. I hadn’t really identified them when I started and then sort of segued in talking more about them. So on some level I must really be thinking about them. Even though we just talked on the phone yesterday, I think it’s time to drop by the house. As soon as my sweetie feels a little better. Ciao everybody! -Monica