Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy 2008!

Danny snuggled up to grandpa when he came to visit last week. Too sweet huh? We've put together a short slide show to capture his 7th month that you can see by clicking on this link (or on the sidebar.)

Honestly, I can't imagine how any year could be better than this one has been for me and Susanne. But somehow we think it's only going to get better and better! Happy New Year everyone. Blessings and blissings. -Monica and Susanne and Daniel

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Laughing All The Way!!!

Danny and his lovely mama smile for the camera!

Danny's first Christmas was tremendous. As the youngest member of Luther Place church Danny was invited by Pastor Robin (as a sort of a spur of the moment idea) to lay baby Jesus into the Nativity scene at the altar while all the children gathered around to sing Away in a Manger. He happily complied--taking Baby Jesus into his little hand, but then proceeded to try and eat him. I suppose it's what we do at Communion every week if you look at it that way! ;-) Mommy helped him out, and after church it was time to head home for Christmas Eve present opening and our traditional German dinner.

As you can see here, Danny and mama had lots of fun with all his amazing presents including his rocking duck. Yes, you read that right. A rocking duck. He LOVES it! All the presents were very exciting! In fact when Susanne nursed him before putting him to sleep, she said that he drowsily looked up at her and laughed. When she came downstairs she asked me and her mom to listen up the stairs, and sure enough, he was in his crib laughing. What a beautiful sound!

Hope everyone had as merry a time as our little boy did. And thanks for all the gifts family and friends. They are all perfect! Merry Christmas! -Monica (and Susanne and Danny)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry First Christmas Dreamy Boy! Love, your Moms

What is the Secret Sound?

True story. Yesterday Susanne was out Christmas shopping with almost 7 months old Danny at Michaels, and he was in an extremely happy mood. Apparently he was “vocalizing” quite loudly—an amazing assortment of enthusiastic yips, yaps, grunts and “EHHHHS”!

A woman shopping smiled at Susanne and said “I’ve never heard a baby make sounds like that!”

She continued… “and I’m a pediatrician.”

Gulp. Our boy makes unique sounds. Hey. Maybe we could put him on one of those radio shows where they have the “secret sounds”. I can only imagine what listeners might come up with.

1. Baby sea lion discovering food for first time.
2. George of the Jungle playing with Curious George.
3. Old LP 33 record of Wolfman Jack being played backwards (while skipping).

Aw... It's not that loud nor grunty. Did I mention that we find his happy noises ADORABLE! Merry Christmas everyone! Love, Monica and Susanne and Danny

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Go mbeannai Dia duit

The Cliffs or Moher

St. Stephen's Green in Dublin

A coffee shop in Cashel

Today I decided to share a few lovely pictures that my sweetie Susanne took on our 2004 trip to Ireland.

Do you think a new camera will help her be a better photographer? Is that really possible? We'll have to see about that. Gotta run. -Monica

P.S. Go mbeannai Dia duit means May God Bless You.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

So proud of Susanne

So a week or so ago Su was watching local TV news and saw this very short story that said that the DC Birth Center (part of the The Developing Families Center) was in danger of closing unless emergency funding legislation was passed by the DC City Council early the next week to help with their incredibly high malpractice insurance bill. For those who don’t know, the only other two nearby area birth centers closed this spring because of the exact same issue.

We are big proponents of natural birth and believe all women who don’t want to have a hospital setting and prefer natural birth with midwives either at home or in a birth center should have that option. And just as importantly, the DC Birth Center is the major health facility for many, many low income women in DC. The midwives can either “catch babies” at the center in a birthing room or at Washington Hospital Center where they have privileges, so the flexibility of choice is another great feature of this place. (Most midwives think that it’s the moms who actually deliver the babies—sounds about right to me.)

The midwives at the DC Birth Center are awesome and they accept all patients regardless of ones ability to pay. The fine care afforded to women there improves birth outcomes and saves the government a lot of money by simply being proactive and preventative. The thing I like most about this place is the community based experience we had. All pregnant women are grouped with other women due around the same time, so from early on in a pregnancy, everyone comes together monthly to learn from the midwives and each other, before branching off to their individual appointments. It is a very cool model.

Anyway, Susanne saw this little news piece, immediately contacted the director of the clinic and offered to help in any way possible. I guess her social worker/advocacy/moral outrage sensors kicked in.

The director wrote back that she really needed help getting a message crafted and out to get people to write to their DC Council members and time was of the essence. The emergency legislation (co-sponsored by our local council member since the center is in our ward) was asking for $300,000 as a stop gap to solve the short term problem. Without this influx of money the Center would in all likelihood have to close immediately. This shortfall is not for lack of planning. It’s due directly to skyrocketing malpractice insurance costs that seem to be out of control. As I understand it there may be a way for several medical clinics to collectively address this for future, but this emergency legislation was being proposed because this had become a true emergency—threatening the existence of the Center.

Dang if Susanne didn’t write this awesome template for people to use to contact their council member. She ran it by the Director and then she got it out via e-mail to tons of people we know and asked them to forward it. She got it out on a bunch of list serves. It started spreading like crazy as apparently it struck a chord for many. In addition past and current patients at the center were asked to sign the letters for delivery to their Council members.

Apparently a lot of people followed up and sent letters (we were cc'd on several and it was really touching to see what people wrote when they learned that the center was in danger of closing.) I’m very happy to report that the director called our house last night to let Su know that the legislation PASSED. And several council members wrote her this morning thanking her for her letter to them and letting her know that it passed.

That was cool. Anyway, I guess I’m just trying to say I’m really proud of Susanne. She’s always makes everything better. Not just for me and Danny. For everyone.

This picture was taken about an hour after Danny was born.
We'll always be grateful for our midwife Lisa from the DC Birth Center who was with us every step of the way.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Play Dates!

This week Danny had many friends over. On Sunday Bailey came with her moms, and the kids had great fun playing. Danny loves to watch what Bailey can do so he can try and imitate her later.

Then on Monday Su hosted a play date for a few friends who are all new moms and little Danny, Genevieve, Rowan, Tobias and Oscar got to play while their moms Janna, Vicky, Lara and Jenni got to know each other.

It was great fun but I've decided to post this special picture of Oscar and his mom Jenni taken at yesterday's play date because I think he looks a bit self-satisfied. You see his mom had just blogged about all the troubles he's been giving his parents with the whole sleeping thing lately, and that very night (last night as a matter of fact) Danny had the most sleepless night of his young life. So Oscar? What did you two talk about in that baby talk of yours? Inquiring minds want to know. ;-)

When Su heads back to work next month Jenni (and Oscar ;-) will take care of Danny (which we are thrilled about) and I'm curious to see what these two boys will come up with to torment us all. Aw, heck. When they are this cute it's hard to call it "torment" right? Except maybe at 2 am, 3 am, get the picture.

Have a great day everybody! -Monica

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Left Shoulder

You probably remember the movie My Left Foot, that famous film from Ireland. Well, stand back! I can top that left foot! You see, it’s all about My Left Shoulder.

Our 6 month old son, being a breast fed boy, has a very natural affinity for being held by his other mother Susanne (especially when there is a “snack” involved) but at just about any other time, if he’s whiney, fidgety, cranky, crabby or just in a mood to “winge” (you of Irish descent out there know what I’m talking about) he gets hoisted up over My Left Shoulder and all is right with the world. (Pay no attention to the photo in my previous blog post where he is sitting on my right shoulder. That was only to get the star up!)

Anyway, as I recall, this began on the day he was born and has never changed. He kind of sinks into my body and not unlike a king, surveys all his dominion from there his lofty perch.

It’s really pretty amazing. Susanne’s shoulders don't work—NO ONE ELSE’S do. And even my right shoulder cannot do the trick. (Left leaning boy eh?) Anyway, he stops all his complaining and either becomes contemplatively quiet or actually begins to laugh as soon as I hoist him on up!

Is it because My Left Shoulder is closest to my heart which is pretty much perpetually bursting with love for him? What else could it be? Yes, I guess that’s it.

All I know is that I love that I can comfort him in a way no one else can. he gets bigger though, I’ve got to find a way to teach him to come to appreciate sitting on My Left Knee. Have a great day everybody! -Monica

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Register, Vote, Repeat

In 1998 Jesse “The Body” Ventura, a former professional wrestler, became the 38th governor of Minnesota much to the shock of many Minnesotans. After being elected he announced that he was now Jesse “The Mind” Ventura (by the way I grew up in the Twin Cities so even though I live in DC, believe me I heard a lot about this election from family and friends.)

How did he do it? He fired up a large block of voters who historically didn’t get involved. Young voters (the biggest demographic was young men in their 20s) not only registered to vote to support him, but actually went to the polls. He was totally appealing as an All Star Wrestler!

The sheer number of their votes made the difference and he was elected even though many "regular" voters scoffed at the very notion that this independent had a chance to win. They were wrong. Governor Ventura served a full term but did not run for a second term, as his original high popularity plummeted after a few quirky things he said and did, but he was indeed elected by the people.

Why do I bring this up? OprahWinfrey! She is an amazing motivator and I’m guessing that large blocks of voters from virtually all demographic groups will be inspired to follow her lead in supporting Barack Obama for President.

I mean, look at her book club? This woman has inspired millions to read dozens of books including Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina! Think about it. This tome was written in the 1800s. And in Russian. Wow. She has single handedly turned people, who refused to read much of anything in school, on fire for Tolstoy. That’s pretty amazing. I can’t think of a single other famous person who can energize people like she can.

This is going to be a very interesting primary don’t you think?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hallo Patrick und Onkel Norbert!

During our October trip to Germany Danny's cousin Patrick took a few shots of our boy. Danke für die Bilder von Danny, Patrick! Tschüß! ;-)

-Monica and Susanne

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

And the runner!

Here's Danny a few weeks ago practicing his baseball fundamentals.
(And he thought he was just having fun on his swing! ;-)

Monday, December 10, 2007

And now, a public service annoucement...

This is our son.

This is our son on bananas.

Any questions?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Lessons Learned

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound?

Some might say that this is a “philosophical riddle that raises questions regarding observation and knowledge of reality.”

Well, I’m here to tell you the answer is YES!

You see, using my deductive capabilities and cunning ability to analogize (is that even a word?) I can tell you without a doubt that I know that the answer is YES because this statement is also true:

If a baby cries in his crib and no one is there to hear him does he make a sound?

Sigh…can you ever forgive us Danny?

Let me start from the beginning. You see, two nights ago Danny slept like a champ---9.5 hours before waking to nurse and then another few hours after that. It was like heaven. It was just last week that we started putting him to bed in his crib which is about 5 steps down the hall from our bedroom and he’s been able to sleep longer and longer every night. (His yummy dinner and full tummy also help I’m sure.)

So, we put him to bed upstairs around 7:00, put on the monitor in his room and down the basement where we ususally hang out at night, and when we go to bed later we turn off all the monitors because, again, we are very near to him when we are all upstairs. Anyway, we leave our door open and his room doesn’t yet have door so we hear him at night, but not his every sound.

Well last night when I went to bed I was telling Susanne about how a door that keeps our cats secluded in the basement at night wasn’t closing properly. I guess I closed our door to see for myself as I explained how it should work. We then both proceeded to sort of forgot about the door and went to sleep. At 5 am Susanne jumped out of bed because she could hear Danny crying. Again, he’s very close so if he’d been really screaming we think we would have heard him, but I guess we’ll never really know whether he slept pretty peacefully for 10 straight hours like he’d done recently, or whether he'd been pathetically crying hoping we’d come comfort him. Can you imagine how terrible we felt?

Thank goodness, he seemed quite fine this morning. He was his ususal smiley self after he nursed for a good long time. Then we all slept a few more hours. I’m trying not to beat myself up over this because we’ll just never know if he truly was distressed. So I've been working on managing my anxiety the best I can this morning.

But then Susanne gave me a call at work a few minutes ago and asked me if there was any chance I’d changed the channel on the monitor in his bedroom. I didn’t even know that there were different channels! (Apparently there are two in case a nearby neighbor has monitors on the same frequency so you can avoid overlap.)

Anyway, she'd just noticed the channel problem because she thought there was so much extra static in the basement as he napped upstairs. (Or so she thought.) When she got it to the proper frequency she could hear him muttering away. Not in distress. Just babbling. Geez! I probably messed it up last night when I was groping in the dark to get it turned on right.

Crap. Alright. So, I guess we call these lessons learned. Danny, we’re sorry and I promise to do better. I can’t do much worse right? Love you baby. -Mommy Monica

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A touch of spring

Since it's icy and cold here in DC I thought I'd warm things up by pulling out a few of my favorite foliage pics that my talented wife has taken over the past few years. The Gingko was taken in Germany, the Wisteria in South Carolina and the Orchid???? Honey??? My brain is full. Can't remember. Oh well, enjoy everybody! -Monica

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Ode to the serial Forwarders...

When I first started started using e-mail (I'd been working overseas for a long time and didn't really get a "desk job" until the 1990s,) there was a guy in my agency named Cliff who seemed to take it upon himself to forward every "funny" and joke that came along. Some were really funny, some were quite "deleteable", but I never minded getting them. I decided that maybe every one had a Cliff. Do you think that's true?

We'll I lost touch with Cliff after switching jobs, but never fear--my new "Cliff" became Dennis and Ruth. We met many years ago when were Peace Corps volunteers in the same little town in Guatemala. This married couple was a lot older than me--I was in my 20s and they'd already raised a family and retired. Fast forward 20 more years to today and Dennis and Ruth (now REALLY retired) forward me and Susanne messages all the time. (I don't know where they get this stuff. Maybe they have serial forwarders in their lives too?)

Anyway truth be told some of Dennis's messages tick me off because we have very different views on politics. Don't get me wrong. I love the cantankerous Billy Goat Gruff that is Dennis (and he's quite proud of his reputation). But it's his wife Ruth's e-mails that make me smile.

For example, in the past few weeks we've gotten:

Fw: VIDEO: THIS Ballet IS A MUST SEE!!!!!!!!!
Fw: Twisted Halloween Pumpkins..
Fw: 10 Fun Pictures
Fw: Hummingbirds ---
Fw: Thoughts
Fw: Beautiful Song and Photos

Sweet right? I don't always look at them right away, and some I think are sort of silly, but some are really cool (and yes, I do look at what Dennis sends too.) My point though is that when Dennis and Ruth send us e-mails they are just trying to stay connected. And I appreciate their intention. I guess I'm saying I hope everyone has a Cliff or a Dennis or a Ruth. -Monica

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What You Talking 'Bout Mom?

"And then there is this stuff called giblets that you have to dig out first..."

We never did post any pics from Thanksgiving so here is a classic moment from Danny's first Turkey Day. I think we may now be raising an accidental vegetarian. (Not that there's anything wrong with that of course! ;-)

Anyway, we realized that we have suddenly gotten very behind in keeping up with Danny's monthly slide shows, so we now proudly present Danny's 5th month (with pictures of Germany) and Danny's 6th Month. The shows will also show up on the sidebar of our blog. Is it possible for this boy to get cuter? Are we biased? Have a great day everybody! -Monica (and Susanne)

Monday, December 03, 2007

In an Instant

This morning I was reading the paper while Danny played beside me on the floor with his favorite toys. He’d just woken up (very early as usual) and was filled with his usual energy and curiosity.

My eye spied a story that immediately made me sit up and take notice. Two 15 month old twin boys had drowned in a bathtub together about a month ago in a town not too far from us. The curious toddlers had gotten past a safety gate that wasn’t properly latched and got the water running in the tub. Apparently the family knew they’d figured out how to do this, and put towels or shirts over the water faucets to try and keep them from messing with the controls. Tragically it was the cloth that kept the water from draining properly and both boys were discovered unconscious by their sister. They died the same day at a nearby hospital.

I tell you my heart just broke reading that story. Tears streamed down my face and I picked up little Danny and held him close. Usually when he’s not very tired the last thing he wants to do is cuddle sweetly—he’d rather push away and keep exploring—craning his little neck around the room to see what’s happening.

But this morning Danny must have sensed something was wrong. He pulled back and looked at me. Then he touched my tearstained face and buried his head in my neck and stayed right there. I guess he knew something was wrong. As I held and rocked him, I promised him I’d do everything in my power always to keep him safe. And then I cried some more because I’m sure all parents vow this to their children.

The father of the twins ended the article by saying that "I wish there was something that I could say that was profound," he said, pausing to think. "I wish that this could, if nothing else, be a cautionary tale. I don't know if there is anything profound except to say it can happen. It can happen in an instant."

My heart and prayers go out to this family. And to all families who have suffered such unimaginable loss. –Monica

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Boundless Love

Yesterday, the paperwork signed by the judge for Danny’s adoption case came to the house, and we thought it was rather touching that it read in part:

That this Decree of Adoption is hereby entered establishing the legal relationship of natural parent and natural child for all purposes between [my name], the petitioner, and the adoptee, [our son’s name], to the same extent as if the adoptee had been naturally born to the petitioner.

Wow! And as I happily told Susanne, “and I didn’t even have to go through labor!” (I don’t really understand why she didn’t seem to think that was as cool as I did ;-)

Anyway, this is all quite wonderful or course, except for the song I keep singing to Danny.

cause you make me feel
you make me feel
you make me feel like a natural mother (mothaaa)

(I swear, he really likes it!)
Anyway, on a more serious note, our little boy has been a miracle to both me and Susanne, and on this his “half birthday” we celebrate our amazing fortune and hope and pray that all families that are trying to conceive, adopt or otherwise bring a child into their lives are successful very soon.

I’ll also add that we are very blessed indeed to live in a part of the U.S. which allows for second parent adoptions for same-sex couples. That being said, we hope to see the day when gay couples, simply by virtue of being united in legal marriage, will not have to adopt their own babies. –Monica (and the rest of the family)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Say What????

Two things have happened pretty much simultaneously this past week.

1. It’s like someone turned up Danny's volume controls. When he starts crying or muttering “may-may-may-may” (which adorably sounds very much like ma-ma-ma-ma) you can definitely hear him. Even if you’re not in the same room with him. Or, I’m pretty sure, even if you’re not in the same house with him (we’ll have to ask our row house neighbors if they’ve noticed this.)
And as another example, when I had him over my shoulder he endearingly wrapped his arms around my head while “telling me something", and I'm pretty sure something might have become detached. Like my ear drum. But ya gotta love his enthusiasm for life (and us!)

2. The second thing is that he’s been waking up roughly every two hours with a loud cry. He’s never done that before, and it’s, well, startling. Actually he’ll sleep for about 4 hours without stirring, but then starts the 2 hour intervals. Since we can sometimes “shush” him back to sleep, we think it may be teething pain that leaves as quickly as it comes. He definitely has all the symptoms of teething and although we tried baby Tylenol, it didn’t work as well as we’d hoped. Fortunately after some soothing or nursing he settles right back to sleep, but this pattern is very tiring.

Other than that he’s his happy old self during the day. Except louder. Much louder ;-)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Before and After

What a difference a month makes. This picture was taken last month when we were in Germany. When we returned, Danny started on solid foods, and just one short month later he seems so much bigger! Of course he's a real big boy now that he just got his first sippy cup (see handsome boy below).

He also now officially weighs more than our "portly" cat Harley (who is now, by the way, a great source of entertainment to our sunny/sonny boy.) I guess when you are only about 6 months old it doesn't take much eh? Hasta la vista! -Monica

Friday, November 23, 2007

My New Wardrobe Assistant

What luck! I wore a prune colored shirt to work today. And coincidentally, Danny ate prunes for breakfast. So when I noticed how messy my shirt was a few minutes ago, I also noticed that you could hardly see the stains. Outstanding!
Now...what to wear tomorrow? Maybe my pea green shirt? ;-) -Monica

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What? Why? Who? Huh?

“It’s not him.”

Now, if you heard this statement wouldn’t your logical next question be,

“Well who is it then?”

Logical right? Gosh, I make so much sense in my little tiny mind. Let me step back and put the following exchange in context.

We always put Danny in his warm little “sleep sack” and read him his bedtime story at about 7:00. Then when he is almost asleep we put him in his pack and play which is in our room. So far, (knock on wood) he’s been really good about going to sleep without any fuss.

Later, when we sneak in to get ready for bed, we temporarily put a blanket over the top of the “crib” so he’s not disturbed if we turn the light on. Last night I was already drifting off when Su came in. She made some comment about how it smelled in our room. I assumed she meant it was stuffy, so I mumbled something about how in the morning we could open the window and air the room out.

But unbeknownst to me, apparently she thought it smelled a little “rooty , tooty”, in other words, a little stinky. Not stuffy. Before too long I’d drifted off again totally forgetting about the smell thing.

A while later with half closed eye’s I saw Su peek under the baby’s blanket and pronounce,

“It’s not him”.

I of course wondered who else could possibly be in our baby’s pack and play. Not really in an alarmed sort of way though. Just drowsily trying to make sense of it all.

“HUH? Who is it then?”

Su just looked at me incredulously.

"No, it's not his diaper that's smelly. Do you really think we put Callagh in there by mistake?" (Three month old neighbor Callagh had been over for dinner with her family earlier in the evening.)

We both looked at each other and burst out laughing, once again accidentally waking up our little boy. But it all worked out because he got to be cuddled and fed by his mama—two of his favorite things ever!

He’s very patient with us I must say.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Have we ever got some things to be THANKFUL for this year!!! –Monica, Susanne and Danny

Oh, yeah. That's our baby! (He's a few months older than this now, but the same cutie pie!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It Took Chocolate for me to See...

So the other night we were watching a show on Discovery or something—Medical Mysteries I think it’s called. This Pastor had been having blurry vision. He’d started going to an 18 font to print out his sermons. He couldn’t hit tennis balls anymore either and when he’d drive he said the lights all looked like honeycombs. Of course it never dawned on him that SOMETHING MIGHT BE WRONG. He ended up having some odd genetic problem that doctors caught in just the nick of time.

I tell this story because last night as Susanne and I were enjoying a delicious bar of fine German chocolate I realized that I couldn’t really read the tiny text on the wrapper. And since it was in German, it wasn’t like I could take an educated guess at what the words might be either. As an experiment I started moving the wrapper farther and farther away until, eureka!, when my hand was about as far away as I could hold it, I could read the letters.

I thought perhaps I had a brain tumor, but Susanne assured me that I am simply farsighted. Farsighted? Oh no, there must be some mistake. I was always the one with, not just 20/20 vision, but 20/10. I think this meant that I could see at 20 feet what others could only see at 10 feet. I was the one who could hit really well in college softball because I could literally see the seams on the ball as it left the pitchers hand and when it hit my bat.

But the more I thought about it the more it makes sense. Lately when we do puzzles together as I jump from the boxes back to the clues I’ve been having a hard time finding the number I’m looking for right away. Reading at night seems more tiring. And it is true that at this year’s Nationals Games I did have to squint to see the scoreboard. Apparently like the man on the Medical Mysteries show, I have not been paying attention.

So I guess I have to go to an eye doctor to see what’s up. Can you sense the irony in my previous sentence ;-) -Monica

Monday, November 19, 2007

Danny's Got Two Mommies

Oh Happy Day! It's official! Here we are at DC Adoption Day.

OK, so it's not the greatest picture ever taken of the three of us... well, actually, there aren't that many pictures of the three of us. Apparently there was some magical process by which the mere fact of being adopted changed Danny's hair color to be exactly that of his Mommy. Or maybe both are just reflecting the garish orange of Mama's sweater (another great fashion choice!). The whole ceremony was entirely too long for a sane adult to sit through --never mind that it was celebrating children! And it focused exclusively on encouraging the adoption of children from foster care (not that this isn't truly very important, praiseworthy, deserving of encouragement -- but weren't they preaching to the choir?). Thus it reinforced for us our initial frustration as to why we had to go through this process (lawyer, social worker, home study, back ground check, hearing, etc) at all, given that we were already a family. But we are grateful that DC law allows for second parent adoption and we can't wait to see Danny's new birth certificate which will list both of his parents!

Oh, and just because he's so cute, here's another picture:

Danny Sitting Up Unassisted

Thursday, November 15, 2007


When Susanne and I began taking steps for her to conceive and give birth to our child, she told me that she wanted us to have a baby. Not just her--us. And every step of the way—from selecting a donor, to going to doctor’s appointments, to laboring and delivering our precious Daniel, we’ve, in many respects, gone through these things together. (I do realize by the way that Susanne's part of this was much, much greater than any contributions I made.)

But anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about Danny’s upcoming adoption which will formally be signed off on by a DC judge on Saturday. Something was nagging at me and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then it struck me. Since only I have to legally adopt him, this process has been about me. My background checks, my financial ability to provide for this child, my soon to be new status as Danny’s legal parent.

But I don’t envision just me standing there holding Danny, now a legal and rightful mother to our son at this cermony. I envision us, as a family, going through just one more step in the journey of our family. It’s about me and Susanne both becoming Danny’s legal parents together. I’m not sure if I’m capturing what I’m feeling about this.

In German, (which Susanne speaks fluently) the word for together is “zusammen”. I love the sound of it as it reminds me of the name Susanne. Yes that's it. This is all just zusammen!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Oh Dear...

Gosh, I've been trying to think of something interesting to blog about all day, but to no avail. So instead I will treat you my friend Alvina's six year old's favorite joke. Here you go Christina...

Q. What do you get when you mix a dog and a rose?

A. A Cauliflower

You have to admit that's pretty funny. Almost as funny as...

Q. Why did the cookie go to the hospital?

A. It felt crummy.

Yes, as a matter of fact it is time to go home now. Have a great day y'all! -Monica

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Leaps and Bounds

It’s official. Danny can now sit up better than I can. Which, when I think about it, does not speak well of my 9-5 desk jockey posture.

Anyway, on Saturday morning he could sit up for about 3 to 5 seconds at a time before starting his “Weebles Wobble” routine. But a short 24 hours later he was sitting up for minutes at a time. This while playing with toys. And eating a cheeseburger. (Okay, the part about the cheeseburger is not true, but the rest is.) He couldn’t really fit a cheeseburger in there now anyway, what with all the drool emanating from his mouth. Thank goodness for teething rings. Can I get an “amen” here?

On Saturday we went to a fun reunion of all the families that took the same prenatal “Birthworks” class and all ooohhhddd and aaahhhhddd over little Oscar and Kyra and Aidan and Jane and Grady and Alex and Danny. And then we took a group photo that I don’t think I’ll post. Our Daniel decided he was already done, and dramatically protested with his little tiny vocal cords and teeny tiny tear ducts the entire time the digital cameras clicked. That’s our expressive little boy!

Also, Grandma Mary Ellen (that would be GraME) and uncle Paul came to visit over the weekend and I’m not sure who had more fun, them or our little Buddy. Alrighty then. Back to the old grind. Can’t wait to see what he can do when I get home tonight. Maybe he'll be leaping and bounding? ;-) -Monica

Friday, November 09, 2007

I'm not asking for much...

As I said, I'm not asking for much, but could the manufacturers of childrens' toys and mobiles please listen up? When you create something that plays a tune, you need to consider adding the refrain. Otherwise it drives some people (okay me) MAD!

Case in point (two actually). Danny's mobile plays the beautiful tune of "Greensleeves" (also known as "What Child is This?"). Let's all sing together now...

What child is this who laid to rest on Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping?

All together now...

THIS, THIS, (you know the rest)

But no. The mobile just keeps playing those same first two lines over and over again. I think my synapses may explode!

And don't get me started on the "It's a Small World After All" toy. Yes, we know it's a world of laughter and a world of tears. It's a world of hope and a world of fears. There's so much that we share, that it's time we're aware, it's a small world after all.

Would it kill you, oh you mighty toymakers, to finish the song? Cuz, IT'S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL, IT'S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL, IT'S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL, IT'S A SMALL, SMALL WORLD!

We now return to our regularly scheduled happy and sunny blog post. Or maybe next week. Have a great weekend everybody! -Monica

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Hostess with the Leastest

So yesterday our friends Jenni and Nelson brought their adorable little boy Oscar over for dinner. It was great fun seeing them, and since our boys are about the same age it was also fun to chat about the usual—teething, rolling, sitting up, eating, and, well, getting rid of what was eaten ;-)

Both boys drifted off to sleep around 7:00. Susanne made a delicious meal as always and midway through dinner I offered to refill Jenni’s limeade. Pretty easy huh?

Well, Susanne always takes her limeade with fizzy water. In fact, sort of a splash of limeade and a big hit of the fizzy. So when I refilled Jenni’s I did the same thing. Or so I thought.

When we were cleaning up after they'd left, Su noticed the lack of bubbles in what was left in Jenni’s glass.

Su: “Um, did you use the bottle of fizzy water on the counter?”

Me: “Uhuh”

Su: “Did you notice it wasn’t fizzy?”

Me: “Huh?”

Yes, apparently a fizzy water bottle was filled with regular water (we do this periodically for car trips etc.) So what I brought to Jenni was very, very weak lime flavored water. And I guess it was lukewarm. And to top it off, her first beverage had been full strength, icy cold limeade.

Jenni, I’m so sorry. Can you ever forgive me? Come back! I’ll serve you limeade concentrate without any additional water to make up for it!

Oh when will I ever learn to pay attention? -Monica

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

You write the caption!

I snapped this photo last week when Danny first began to eat baby food. The cast of characters include from left to right-- cousin Toby, Susi, Danny and kitty Harley. (See, I told you Toby looks like Susanne right?)

Anyway, although Danny is generally pretty darn smiley (and thanks for your comment yesterday noticing that MD BabyMaker!) as you see he looks a little, well, not smiley.

He's clearly not gotten too far into his meal (as evidenced by the clean face.) I personally think he's looking at me as if to say "um, Mom, help me." Or maybe "where's the milk?" What do you think?

P.S. We did hear about the dangers of using the Bumbo seat on a table as there have been reports of babies arching backwards and falling. We only have him seated like this when we are right with him. (Thanks for sharing that recall info Jenni.)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Our favorite Halloween treat this year!


Do you remember a song from the Sound of Music that went like this?

"A crazy planet full of crazy people. Somersaulting all around the sun? And every time we turn another somersault, another day goes by? And there's no way to stop it, no there's no way to stop. You can't stop it even if you try."

Well that's how things have been feeling with us. Our travels to Germany--hosting Su's cousin (we just got back from a weekend trip to NC to get him back to his return flight)--now my mom and brother are coming it. Then it's Thanksgiving, then Christmas before you know it. It's wonderful but sort of tiring. Literally interruptions to our system I guess.

Danny is doing great. Growing and smiling and even starting to eat solid foods. Why do they call them solids though? Have you ever seen baby food prunes? ;-) Not so solid I say. Anyway, Su's going to try her hand at making some organic foods for our little guy. Since everything she cooks tastes great, Danny should be in for a real treat. Which reminds me. I'm hungry. Gotta go. -Monica

Monday, October 29, 2007

Our sweet “practice” son

When Susanne was 18 years old one of her favorite people in the world, her German first cousin Sabine, gave birth to a boy named Toby. Toby is now 15 and I like to say that he is one of those kids who is “15 going on 13” rather than “15 going on 20”. I, of course, think this is a positive thing to say, but I’m sure he would strongly disagree. Alright. I guess I would too if I were him.

But, in my defense, all I mean is that he is a very sweet and well mannered young man. He got to come to DC to visit us during this two week school break as a reward for doing so well in his English classes back in Germany. Su and I find ourselves wishing that we knew more teenage kids to introduce him to, but fortunately he’s hasn’t gone completely mad meeting lots of Danny’s little infant friends and their families. (Turns out that our social life is now sort of geared around our little fella.) Yesterday he came to our friend’s Mikki and Kelly’s house and while Su and I thoroughly enjoyed watching how adorable their almost 6 month old daughter Bailey as she happily cooed and bounced all over the place, one glance at Toby made me wonder whether he’d rather have visited the dentist. He was a great sport and all, but I could sort of feel his pain ;-)

Toby is sort of an introvert anyway, so even though we’ve gone sight seeing and shopping at malls (which he loves by the way) he’s pretty much kept himself busy on the computer.

Apparently there is a “special someone” who he IMs with at all hours of the day and night back home, but I won’t embarrass him here about that. (It’s all very cute.) Then of course there is My Space (Note: NOT Facebook as he explained to me). There is also some sort of computer game where dragons or monsters or something get killed or shall I say slayed a lot? (Really, I’m not looking over his shoulder all the time.)

He really like Japanese art so we’ve hit the Freer and Sackler at the Smithsonian and he also likes to take pictures--especially on the new camera he just bought. Apparently his Euros go a long way here after their conversion to dollars. Much like his cousin Susanne he takes mostly pictures of things and places--not people. Must be genetic I think (I on the other hand hardly ever take pictures of buildings or nature when there are people to get into the snapshots!)

Anyway, did I mention that Toby looks A LOT like Susanne. Even though they are second cousins they look like they could be brother and sister or maybe mother and son. So of course I think he’s a very handsome lad. And I’ve decided that our dear Toby is sort of a practice son.

For example when we were out the other day I found myself buying 3 hot dogs and sodas and thinking “ahhhh....this is what it feels like to shell out for 3 people instead of just 2 people.”

And then a few minutes later “ahhhh....this is what it’s like to try and carry 3 hot dogs and 3 sodas….awwww crap…spilled again!”

Or when it’s time to eat I stand at the bottom of the steps and use my best mother voice—“Toby honey, time for dinner”. “Okay, coming” he’ll call back. Gosh. It won’t be too long before it’s Danny instead of Toby. And I think that is great. (Oh, I’d better start adding in that “and don’t forget to wash your hands first young man”).

Toby has very specific tastes about his clothes. Vans for his feet, and pretty much mostly black clothes. Apparently wearing light colors, particularly white or, heaven forbids, yellow, is verboten. (And that’s an English word—you can check.)

Tonight we are going to carve pumpkins. Toby’s never done that before. Maybe we'll do a goth pumpkin...

If you’re lucky we’ll actually capture a picture of Toby soon (he abhors being in photos almost as much as his cousin Su does). And then you can see for yourself what a sweetheart he is. Ciao! -Monica

Friday, October 26, 2007

Crowding 5 months already

It seems as though time just keeps marching on by. On Sunday our little bundle of wonderfulness (is that a word?) will turn 5 months, old so Su and I thought it might be good to post a little slide show commemorating his fourth month--check it out. We haven't yet downloaded the pictures from Germany, but when we do we'll do a separate show.

Hmmm... We had a rather interesting experience the other day. I think I'll put it into the form of a note for our little guy to read, in let's say, the year 2022 or so.

"Hi Danny. Want to hear about a fun story from when you were 4 months old? Do me a favor, and ask mama about the time that teenage cousin Toby was visting from Germany and how after shopping for a bit one morning, we stopped at our favorite chicken place for lunch. Mama and Toby took off to get in line for the delicious food while mommy stayed in the car to change your diaper. The plan was for mommy to carry you in when she was done and we'd all eat there before driving home. Did I mention that it was super crowded with a long line of dozens of Spanish speaking people hungrily awaiting their Pollo Rico?"

If she says she can't really remember this, tell her how you recall that it was…

“pouring rain and it turns out that you'd had an explosive "you know what" in your diaper and that apparently your one piece sleeper was pretty much one big goopy mess. Then how mommy Monica didn't have one single other piece of clothes to put on you since you were now (Yes, that is a euphamism.) Apparently after lugging dozens of your outfits through Germany for two weeks your brilliant parents thought it unnecessary to pack a back up outfit for you. Yup. Nothing in that diaper bag but one few diapers, a couple of wipes and...doh...mama Susanne's cell phone!”

If she still can't remember, tell her that you think that…

"mommy wrapped you in her black windbreaker and carried you through the large crowd of people to find her and Toby to tell them that we needed to take our food to go. Immediately. "

If she still can't remember, remind her that the crowd seemed to be muttering in Spanish…

"look...that crazy redheaded gringa has a naked baby wrapped up in nothing but a windbreaker and it's raining all over the baby's arms and legs and face."

In my defense you did have a new diaper on which was about the only thing hidden by the windbreaker. See how important it is to understand languages other than just English? Thanks to mommy's Peace Corps experience she know exactly what everyone was saying. It wasn't traumatic for mommy or anything. There. Wasn't that a fun story from your childhood? ;-) Love, Mommy

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

And we're back!

Wow. What a fun trip to Germany! Danny met 25 relatives he'd not yet met before and it was so much fun! We started the trip with a visit to his elderly great grandparents on Su's dad's side of the family. His great-grandma is now in a nursing home confined to her bed, and so he laid with her smiling up at her as she kept murmuring how "beautiful, beautiful" he was (in German of course.) And his 87 year old great-grandfather just couldn't stop smiling the whole time we were there. Danny can have that effect on people. Then the rest of our trip was spent visiting the many cousins, aunts and uncles on Su's mom's side of the family in 4 different towns.

We'll write more later since we are all pretty exhausted after traveling for something like 22 hours yesterday (when you account for the 6 hour time change.) But I will say that Danny did really well on his flights--his only meltdown was last night when we got on our last flight--the final leg of our journey--from Charlotte to DC and the plane was really warm. I guess he'd just had it up to here so to speak. He'd been fine on the 9.5 hour flight from Frankfurt to Charlotte but this was too much. He didn't even want to nurse at that point. (I guess it would have gotten in the way of his screaming.) But fortunately after about 10 long and loud minutes he calmed down enough to breastfeed a little and then he fell blessedly to sleep. This was a very, very good thing.

I should have guessed what would happen next but didn't. At 3:00 am he woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to play. He'd been up once already to eat so now he just wanted to play. I took him downstairs and play he did! We hope to get him back on his regular schedule in a day or two, but we can both certainly understand why he's a little "off". We are too!

Anyway, one funny observation Su made was that when you have a little infant with you at an airport just about everyone smiles and chit chats with you until you go to your departure lounge. The smiles disappear instantly! How dare you take a baby on THIS flight! LOL.

We'll post some photos later. Oh, and to any German relatives reading this...Danke, danke, danke! -Monica, Su and Danny

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

DING...this is your captain speaking... big event is finally over (yesterday) and it turned out well. Whew. As I write I'm on my blackberry in the waiting area of Philadelphia International Airport. Susanne and I were able to commandier (sp?) a corner and and have set up a little "bed for Danny (ie. My jacket and his favorite blanket). He's sort of rolling around a giggling but we think he'll drift off soon. They are piping in nice classical music which is actually quite calming.

Anyway, we got through his first leg of the journey pretty unscathed. We flew one of those little jets from DC to here. The noise of the engines immediately caused him to zonk out until an inordinate amount of messages began to be broadcast all preceeded by a loud DING.Example:

DING...(Peppy male voice) Gooood Morning ladies and gentlemen...blah, blah, blah

Five minutes later...DING...(Peppier female voice) This is your lead flight attendant Jill...

Jill was using a super woofer and tweeter sound system although no one on the flight was in, say more than 30 feet away from her. And the announcements came, say every 5 minutes on our 25 minute flight. Danny slept like a trooper through most of them thank goodness.

Maybe they won't DING so much on our upcoming 7 hour flight? Wish us luck! -Monica, sSu and Danny

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


One of these two is not coming on the trip!

Friday, October 05, 2007


Apparently lack of planning on other people's part CAN constitute an emergency for me. You see a lot of my work involves event planning. Next Tuesday 700 federal employees are registered to go to an event I've been managing for months. I've had a team working with me and although it's been hard, it hasn't been horrible. Until late last night. When a very high up person in the government decided to just change everything. Disinvite some speakers, add some others.

How did I hear about this? I was sort of "cc'd" on a few e-mail. E-mail where it was promised that I'd follow up immediately on these new developments. Did I mention that Monday is a federal holiday and no one seems to be around at this late hour on Friday? Ummm...this thing starts first thing Tuesday.

The only thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that on Wednesday I'll be on a plane with Susi and Danny flying thousands of miles away from this place.

Wait, I sound bitter don't I? I hate bitter! -Monica

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Wir gehen nach Deutschland!

Did my moms mention that we are going to Germany next week? We're going to see my great granparents and a whole bunch of aunts and uncles and cousins.

Hmmmm...why do you think my parents picked the month of October to visit Germany? Something about a festival? Octoberfestival or something like that!

I'll write more later. Have a great day everybody! -Danny

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Working Hard? Or Hardly Working...

Whew. Is it 5:55 already! I've always been pretty good at getting stuff done fast so you'd think I have a reputation as a slacker. Not so! I am constantly amazed at how productive my co-workers and bosses seem to think I am, and I do not intend to dissuade them of this idea. (My wife on the other hand knows the truth on this subject;-)

Anyway there are also certain times of the year (like now) when I've got big projects coming to fruition and I don't even seem to have five minutes to catch up on friends' blogs.

So...since I'm technically already on my way home (I'm coming Danny!) and there is no more time left in this day to expound on my thoughts, let me leave you with a little bit of fun!

If hard work were such a wonderful thing, surely the rich would have kept it all to themselves. -Lane Kirkland

Monday, October 01, 2007

Admiring Excellence

This week a man named Robert Bruss passed away. I never knew him personally but when I saw his obituary on Thursday morning I felt a real jolt of sadness. Who was this man you may ask? He was a syndicated columnist who wrote a column that was carried by the Washington Post for years called the "Real Estate Mailbag".

I know very little about Real Estate but when I started searching for my very first home about 5 years ago I started paying attention to his column. He was sort of the "Dear Abby of Real Estate". People would write him with very specific questions about home buying and he'd basically teach fundamentals. He wrote very plainly and knowledgeably and I must admit that I looked forward to reading his column long after I bought my house.

You see, there is some part of my character or personality that really, really admires excellence. When I was a kid even though I didn't really like certain sports or performances, whenever I had the chance to see someone do anything--act, sing, write, serve a volleyball, walk on a balance beam--if they were really excellent I was always thrilled and enchanted. That may be part of the reason that the people I love most in my life (such as my best friends and most certainly my wife) are really excellent at what they do. I'm just awed by people who make what would be for me, difficult things, look so easy I guess

There are a lot of people out there like Robert Bruss. And I hope that I can do a better job in my life of giving credit where credit is due before it's too late. Rest in Peace Mr. Bruss. You helped me and a lot of other people figure out what seemed unfigureoutable. Thanks. -Monica

Friday, September 28, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Things I once believed

When I was 4 my brother Paul was born at a hospital in West St. Paul, MN that was right next to a huge blue water tower. For a really, really long time I thought that Paul had been born IN the water tower. How silly of me in retrospect right! ;-)

Also when I was a kid I was also convinced that the strips of bacon that mom would cook were actually a whole bunch of piglets little tails all smooshed together in the package. I believed that for a really long time. Nutty huh?

And another just wild and crazy belief I held onto for the longest time was that if I were gay I was a terrible sinner and most likely going to hell. And that if I were gay I could never really have a family--just a lonely, sad existence. How silly AND nutty of me! :-)