Wednesday, February 28, 2007


This article in today’s Washington Post was incredibly sad and infuriating. The health care system in this country is BROKEN! This 12 year old boy died of an infection caused by a toothache because it was almost impossible for him to get the care he needed. He ended up needing emergency brain surgery that cost tens of thousand of dollars but could not get in to see a dentist for an $80 tooth extraction because of how Medicaid “works”. This from the article...

Deamonte refused to eat but otherwise appeared happy, his mother said. They played cards and watched a show on television, lying together in his hospital bed. But after she left him that evening, he called her.

"Make sure you pray before you go to sleep," he told her.

The next morning at about 6, she got another call, this time from the boy's grandmother. Deamonte was unresponsive. She rushed back to the hospital.

"When I got there, my baby was gone," recounted his mother.

I hope this story gets the immediate attention that last week’s Post article on the decrepit state of Walter Reed Medical Center housing did. Congress, the Pentagon…everyone was all over that, and renovations were already underway within hours of publication.

This poor boy and his devastated family. Do you realize for every tragic story like this there are countless other people in our country dealing with relentless pain because they can’t get medical care? How powerless. How inhumane. How unacceptable.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The "flurry" of 2007

Su and I spent a whole lot of time going though just about every item we own this weekend as we continue our renovation project. She's doing well--a bit of an achy breaky back, but it seems to come and go. Thank goodness for heating pads eh?

We finally have almost all of our books in one place (our new office/guest room) and it’s a great little library if I do say so myself. Our friend Amy is in town from MN this weekend (just beat the midwest blizzard in) and she was like a kid in a candy store with our wall of books. One very funny thing was that after Amy commented on all of our classics and “must reads” I admitted that we mostly read the murder mysteries that our neighbor gives us regularly. As I motioned toward them she said “oh, you’ve got Vince Flynn, he’s one of “our guys”.


“Vince is Katy’s brother, he was a Tommy.” Translated, this means that the writer went to the boys school next to the girls high school where I used to teach (Amy is a former student) and Katy was also a very sweet student who I remember well. What a small world I say. I’m looking forward to starting that book now too!

We are having fun hanging out with Amy. She’s a hoot. And on Saturday we had dinner with friends V&S and much to our delight V is expecting a baby now too. In August. Susanne notes that we now have friends giving birth in February, March, April, May, June, July and now August. We are the friends giving birth in June ;-) (Well, we are very friendly!) Anyway, what fun! We also enjoyed experimenting making vegan key lime pie with our friend Tom this weekend. It actually tastes really good but the consistency was a bit more like soup than he wanted. Still, that's a pretty random thing huh?

Let’s see? What else? We had a flurry that turned into 5 inches of snow yesterday. What good is that I ask on a Sunday? Gosh, I love snow days. But here I am at work watching everything melt out the window (I mean focusing on my work.)

Okey, dokey. Back to work. This Friday we are going on a fun trip for Su’s birthday and we’re considering this our babymoon too. I CAN’T WAIT! -Monica

Friday, February 23, 2007


Since I featured Harley last week in a blog entry I thought it only fair to write a bit about CJ. And what better way to introduce our darling baby cat than to reprint a post I did on our old website from just about one year ago. She is a very funny and active cat. We got her when she was about 3 months old on election night of 2004 and believe you me, she was the only good thing about that night. ;-) I present to you....CJ!!!

So the other morning I came downstairs only to find an entire ball of yarn cleverly twisted around every piece of furniture as far as the eye could see. I immediately blamed CJ because of her rambunctious nature, but I guess we really can't rule Harley out.

If only there were a CSI show for cat crimes. Would the DNA from CJ's paw be found woven into the fabric of the battered yarn? Would Harley have a tell tale whisp of fabric stuck to his furry underbelly? If only our yarn could talk! (The photo here by the way is only a re-enactment created in the "paint" program.)

Regardless of which cat actually did the decorating, I have to say that CJ was by far the one most interested in my clean up efforts. Apparently piles of yarn are just as much fun to play with as balls of yarn are.

Of course the real question the feline CSI technicias would ask would be "and so why is your basket of yarn just sitting out in the living room?" -Monica

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The good, the bad and the snuggly...

Top 5 things about NOT being the pregnant one in the relationship… (from the perspective of the “other mother”)

5. No one asks you 10 times a day if you’ve “felt the baby move yet today?”

4. You are able to sleep the entire night without having to get up to use the bathroom.

3. You can still let your cats curl up on you anytime without having to unceremoniously dump them off.

2. You don’t have to get all new clothes (okay this one could go either way.)

1. Not only can you tie your shoes, but your shoes still fit.

Top 5 things about being the pregnant one in the relationship… (again from the perspective of the “other mother”)

5. You get to have a wonderful glow about you which includes beautiful skin and gorgeous hair.

4. Your partner gets to be in charge of kitty litter for at least 9 months.

3. Everyone lights up when they see you, and when they ask you how you are feeling, it’s not just a rhetorical question.

2. You get to talk to your baby 24/7 if you want (or could if you were one of those 24/7 talkers).

Drumroll please…

1. You get to experience the most amazing miracle EVER growing inside of you! ;-)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sweet Mother of Saws!

So this weekend as we worked on cutting the quarter round molding for our guest room we encountered some smoothness issues. We wisely called up a neighbor to see if he had a better saw, and did he ever! Have you ever heard of a Japanese saw? Read on… (this is from

How Pull-Stroke Saws Work
Perhaps you have noticed the Japanese-style saws; if not, take some time to investigate. Unlike their Western counterparts (push-stroke saws), they work exactly opposite of what we learned growing up—they cut on the pull stroke. If you observe your own behavior, you’ll notice that a majority of your everyday gestures involve a pulling motion. If you don’t believe it, then think about the next time you open the door to your car or home, or better yet, when you slice a tomato or cut a steak. Do you believe me now? How about when you take a tissue out of the box? The idea of pulling—rather than pushing—a saw may be new to us, but the Japanese have successfully used this technique for hundreds of years.

Advantages of the Pull Stroke
The difference between the two saw techniques (pull vs. push) is rooted in the thinness of the blade metal which produces a narrower kerf (width of cut), thus the saw requires less effort to use. The blades are uniquely designed so each tooth has three cutting edges (except the rip tooth; it only has two). This allows the saw to cut straighter, faster, smoother, and cleaner and yet still be able to rip and crosscut. With this tooth design, it appears as though the teeth would clog with waste material during the cut. Not so! Every time you pull the saw to cut and return with a push-stroke, the blade cleans itself, and it really works. The two inside edges clean while the point does the actual cutting—not tearing, but slicing.

Now of course this has me thinking about how we could apply this concept to childbirth (forget the words tearing and slicing and think easy and efficient ;-) Let me think about this. In the meanwhile, we highly recommend the Japanese saw for any fine cutting you may ever need to do! -Monica

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Zero sum game (sort of)

The Gallup Organizaton has several great books including “First Break All the Rules” and “Now Discover Your Strengths” which has a “strenghtsfinder” test that you take and you learn what you are strong in. The concept is that oftentimes we try to train people to get better at what they aren’t naturally good at, rather than recognizing their strengths and developing those qualities in a person.

A few years ago both Su and I took the online test (you get a password when you buy the book to take it) and learned what our top 5 strengths were (there are 34 possible strengths). It was very interesting and we think very accurate. The cool thing is that once you recognize strengths (in yourself and others) you can learn how to navigate conflict in work and relationships. I decided to write on this topic today because of our long Presidents' Day weekend.

You see, for Achievers, (which is Su’s number 1 strength) every day, including weekends and holidays start from zero and it’s very important to get a lot of work done. Otherwise it’s just frustrating. Um…for me, the Achiever ranked #24 of 34 on the list). I guess somedays for me can just start and end on zero especially if it's a holiday.

On a positive note our guest room renovation is 98.5% done now.

P.S. For those of you who know us, please let me know if any of these descriptions make you laugh out loud and nod in agreement!

Susanne’s Top 5 Strengths
People strong in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive. Every day starts from zero.

People strong in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.

People strong in the Self-assurance theme feel confident in their ability to manage their own lives. They possess an inner compass that gives them confidence that their decisions are right.

People strong in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.

People strong in the Analytical theme search for reasons and causes. They have the ability to think about all the factors that might affect a situation.

Monica’s Top 5 strengths
People strong in the Ideation theme search are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.

People strong in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.

People strong in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

People strong in the Individualization theme are intrigued by the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.

People strong in the Arranger theme can organize, but they also have a flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all of the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Oh Happy Day!

This morning we got more details on the radiology report from our 20 week ultrasound. It was wonderful to hear that all of the baby’s measurements they could get were exactly as they should be, and the only additional note was that because of the transverse position the baby was in they couldn’t get one view of the heart that they wanted. Our option is to get another ultrasound before our week 28 appt. or do nothing at all. Su and I decided that we’ll go ahead and get another ultrasound but not at the same place where we had Ms. Uncommunicative. We’ll let our new technician know right away that we’d like to know what we are looking at as we go along (except for the sex of the baby of course!)

So all in all, it was a wonderful visit this morning. The baby is measuring a tiny bit bigger than it might which is perfectly normal. All of Su’s numbers were great and the baby’s heart was solid and strong beating away at 150 bpm.

So we are looking forward to the long weekend. Su’s mom is coming to town which will be fun (scrabble anyone? ;-) and some other fun get together with friends are in the works.

We’d like to send out congrats to Their Little Honey’s Moms for getting the great news on their glucose challenge test. And we also send loads of positive energy out to Maverick Mama as she is really in the home stretch now, and getting close to welcoming her son into the world. You go girls!!!! Have a great day everyone! –Monica

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Another visit to the midwives...

Tomorrow Susanne and I will go to her 24 week visit at our birthing center. (She has to go about every 4 weeks and as she gets closer to delivering she’ll have to go more frequently.) Susanne says she’s felt a bit of fear when we’ve gone to these appointments right before they listen to the baby’s heart. On some level she’s afraid they won’t hear anything. Now that the baby is moving she’s feeling a bit less worried about that possibility which is good--I wasn't even worried about that before, so I'm glad the baby is moving a ton now ;-)

This will also be our first visit since our less than pleasant experience having Su’s 20 week ultrasound. As regular readers might recall the lab technician was uncommunicative, the room was freezing and we both felt very let down that we didn’t get more of a “guided tour” of what we were seeing with each shot. The last thing that the doctor said to us after he’d come in and retaken a lot of the same shots that the technician had spent an hour taken was “everything looks pretty good, and I’ll send the report to your birthing center—they’ll call if they have anything to discuss with you.”

I have to tell you, this didn’t seem very reassuring to us. We are very glad to share that we did not get a call from our midwives which was a relief, but perhaps we do have a bit of anxiety going in tomorrow.

I think I’ve shared that I come from a family that has its share of anxiety (and depression.) I got the anxiety. I somehow learned early on that if I could imagine the very worst possible outcome of anything in life, no matter what happened, I could smugly feel “just fine” and say to myself, “see, this is nowhere near as bad as I imagined.” The only really, really bad thing about this technique is that when I do this, my mind and body, being so intertwined as they are, start freaking out. You know--fight or flight? Did you know that freezing is another amazing way the body copes? If you turned and accidentally started stepping into an abyss, before your conscious mine even realized what was happening, a deeper part of your brain would already have your body freezing in place? I find this all fascinating but I digress. Imagining catastrophic events is not healthy for me. If I can stop the negative thinking I feel 100 times better and ultimately can deal with things as they come.

In a nutshell I guess I’m saying that like all new parents we can’t help but worry that something could possibly be wrong with our baby even though statistically we know that the chances of that are small. We control for all the things we can, and the rest we have to leave in the hands of a much higher power.

I’ll write tomorrow when we come back from our 24 week appointment. -Monica

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

It's a SNOW DAY (sort of)

Well here in DC it's actually an ICE DAY! Which means very little snow but about 1/2 inch of ice everywhere. Which means a two hour delay for both me and Su.

So, it's not really a snow day but on the bright side I get to work from home today. My only grudge is against the local TV news stations. They've been hyping the "blizzard of 2007" for the past 5 days. Breathless reports of horrible weather coming through. And what's not to believe? Have you seen the tremendous amounts of snow cities to our north have endured for weeks on end? So in my mind both yesterday and today we'd have been completely snowed in. I can dream can't I? So now Su has headed out to work and I'm starting to attack my work e-mails. But I really shouldn't complain. It is Valentine's Day and we have a romantic dinner planned for tonight.

I even made her a "homemade" card on the computer using a picture I took while painting the guest room walls last weekend. Corny right? That's me. A complete cornball. Happy Valentine's Day Susanne. As I wrote in your card, you are my north, my south, my east, my west--and all points in between.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Valentine's Day! -Monica

Monday, February 12, 2007

Snap, Crackle...

In another fun milestone the other day, our little one decided it was okay to let me join in some of the fun. Su and I were hanging out on our couch when she told me that the baby was moving like crazy. I scooched down and peered at her her belly intent on seeing this. With the attention span of a gnat, I soon abandoned my effort to see, and instead laid my face down just where Su guided me. About a second later I felt this "POP". I looked up in a bit of delighted shock. "Was that the baby?"
"Yup", Su smiled.

I tried it again and the baby popped me a few more times in quick succession. By this time we were both laughing so hard it was impossible to tell what was the baby and what were our own giggles. I think I'd describe this best as what I imagine popcorn popping in a closed pot must be like. Or maybe I'm just hungry ;-)

In home renovation news, I got both rooms painted with two coats each, so it was a pretty productive weekend and the end is ALMOST in sight. Onward and upward! -Monica

Friday, February 09, 2007

Cat got your being?

This is our boy cat Harley. Susanne got him when he was a little kitten and even though our house has had two new inhabitants for a few years now (that would be little girl cat CJ and me), to Harley, that is irrelevant. He only has eyes for one person. Whenever he hears any sound that maybe, might, possibly be Susanne, I swear an angelic glow begins to emminate from him. He becomes simply rapturous!

Case in point. I’m always up first (because Harley also doubles as an alarm cat and scratches on our door at 6:15 sharp.) At around 7:00 or 7:15 Susanne will start to stir upstairs. Instantly Harley assumes the position. From wherever he is, he’ll raise his face to the heavens (okay up the stairs) and wait in the joyful hope that she’ll make another sound. Now fortunately she always does, so then he bounds up the stairs two at a time. He's so cute when he does that!

Or in the evening Harley will hear with his supercatafragelistic ears the little beep of our car alarm as Su locks the door. Oh the JOY!!!! But I can't fault him. I feel a little rapturous myself when I hear that sound too ;-)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

And She's Telling Us...

I think I mentioned that Su and I went and saw Dreamgirls a few weeks ago with our friend David. We loved it. But ever since seeing it, I've been puzzled. I couldn't quite put my finger on it until I realized that the big showstopping number that was fabulously performed by Jennifer Hudson doesn't really describe what happened. Right? I'm not going to spoil the show for those who haven't yet seen it, but here are the lyrics so you can judge for yourself...

"And I am telling you

I'm not going.

You're the best man I'll ever know.

There's no way I can ever go,

No, no, no, no way,

No, no, no, no way I'm livin' without you.

I'm not livin' without you."

I rest my case. -Monica

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I guess that's why they call it that...

I think I have the February blues. No reason. I just don’t feel like myself and Susanne can verify that I just get oddly quiet when I feel down. I have been reviewing some of my past work projects for a testing thing I'm doing in the spring, and I find myself shaking my head at how unimportant and dull everything seems in retrospect. Sadly, I know too that if I look back on my current work in a few years I’ll have the same observation. That’s inspiring right?

And don’t you hate it when you check off everything on a long “to do” list and the next day there are just more things to do? As one of my entries in my Little Zen Calendars says “Eternity is a terrible thought. I mean, where’s it going to end?”

I’ve also decided that I’m jealous that Susanne will get to stay home with the baby while I have to go to work. Susanne loves her work. Me not so much. Is this irony? Or some other tragic word?

Speaking of Susanne. She’s had a two day belly growth spurt like I can’t believe! And although I’ve been trying for days to “catch” the baby in the act of moving, last night was my very first time. We were laying down watching TV and Su put my hand on her belly and said that the baby was moving a ton. Sure enough within seconds I felt it. That cheered me up immensely. For a minute or so.

Oh well, in 2 ½ hours I’ll get to go home and be with my sweetie. That always makes me feel better. -Monica

Monday, February 05, 2007

Happy Feet (and bellies)

Thought I'd share a quick pic from our holiday party in December. Susanne made little appetizers which as you can see are adorable. Am I the only one who thinks that her olive, cream cheese and carrot penguins look a little preggers? ;-)

We should have brought some to the fabulous Super Bowl get-together we went to last night at M&K's house. These little guys would have fit in perfectly with half of the women in attendance! Thanks you two. As always it was great hanging out with you! - Monica

Thursday, February 01, 2007

So Busted...

So if I’m going to be Susanne sometimes, I really need to remember to BE Susanne. In case that doesn’t make any sense, I’ll explain. You see, sometimes it’s just easier for me to say I’m my wife when dealing with people on the phone. I set up appointments, get results that we are waiting for, deal with the bank, order free credit reports…whatever. It’s just usually convenient for us this way. Our voices sound fairly similar to most people which is a real plus!

So the other day we got a bill from Susanne’s doctor’s office that clearly had some errors on it, and I said I’d call and take care of it. Everything started out just fine. I said my (Susanne’s) name and the billing rep looked up my (her) record. She’d already asked my (Susanne’s) birth date and other identifying info etc… Then as we started discussing the bill, at one point I said something about how a certain charge was for “after Susanne got pregnant and therefore should be covered by insurance” or something to that effect. Now the woman was really confused.

Yes, I was pretty much in the midst of a full-fledged lie you see, and I’m not a very good liar. Ask anyone in my family.

So now the billing rep says,

“Before who got pregnant?” “Aren’t you pregnant?”

I’d reached the proverbial fork in the road. I seriously considered whether I should go on. Tell her all about “my” pregnancy was going. The food aversions, how the baby felt like a brick on my bladder last night…oh what a tangled web we weave. I couldn’t do it. Just couldn’t do it.

“Well…I’ve got to be honest with you. I’m Monica, Susanne’s partner and I just lied and said I was her because I thought it might be easier.”

Silence. (This is when I imagine the shock and chagrin this voice on the phone must be experiencing.)

“Monica, sweetie, your name is on all of Susanne’s records too—you can just be yourself as far as this office is concerned.” Wheww…what a relief! The best part was that we straightened out several billing errors (in our favor of course or I wouldn’t be so excited about it) and now all is well.

Oh, well. Lesson learned. I’ve GOT to plan better. Why, I think I may be experiencing Braxton-Hicks now… ;-)