Monday, April 30, 2007

On the road...

Greetings from beautiful Williamsburg, VA. I am attending a conference for work, and although it's been for the most part a bit ho hum, I did get really excited about a presentation I saw from one of the top IT folks at Adobe. He talked about a next generation of internet where the we'll be able to do tasks with wizards (like we can do now) but the interface will look a lot more like our desktops with draggable folders etc... So for example if you were on a website trying to find out if you were elegible for certain benefits, the more questions you answered, the platform would narrow down the programs you could apply for and display folders. With one click you'd be applying and scheduling meetings with case managers. (It really is the stuff of science fiction in that regard ;-) But I love stuff like that. Coming up with ideas that really help people accomplish their tasks online. It's just that creative part of me I guess.

Of course being away for a few days on a trip like this has its fun side, but in all honesty I HATE being away from my sweetie. I've been glued to my cell phone for the last two days on the off, off chance that Susanne might need me to come back right away (I think all expectant parents go through this.) We are 7 short weeks away from our due date, and although the chances are slim that a problem could arise, I am ready to jump in the car and be back to DC in less than 3 hours.

I just got off the phone with my lovely wife however and all is fine. Tomorrow I will be back in town and all will be right with the world again. Also our friends Mikki and Kelly are at the hospital now and will welcome their daughter Bailey into the world soon. We have the honor of "guest" posting their happy news when we hear from them.'s a whole lot of positive energy to Our Little Honey!!!! -Monica and Susanne

Friday, April 27, 2007


Remember in the old days (like 10 years ago) when companies would start out small and give employees e-mail addresses like Then they’d hire another Sue. Then there would be Sue1 and Sue2 and then Sue3…hmmm…soon there were problems. So they’d have to totally revamp the e-mail system to add last names which meant you had to tell all your business contacts your new info. There weren’t even aliases so the “bad” old address would get forwarded to your new address. Fun!

So the new protocol was “first initial.lastname@...” This also presented problems when the organization got too big. Because even though they'd make you start being 1, 2 and 3 etc...again, no one rememberd that and they'd just type in the persons first initial and last name and send, send, send. When I worked for an international organization there was a country director working half way around the world who had my same first initial and last name, and let me tell you, I got some e-mails that were really meant for that guy’s eyes only. Confidential stuff that his volunteers really thought they were sending to him. I’d of course forward them on to him, but it was really not cool at all.

Also then if someone was named Cindy Hill she’d end up with an address like Sam Tinker would be, or true story, my friend whose first name started with a “B” with last name Allgood became Needless to say she REALLY, REALLY didn’t like that. Anybody else have any funny ones?

I wonder if one day we’ll just look in a camera and think of the person we want to send an e-mail to, and it will magically get to them.? Or, what the heck, skip the writing the e-mail part. Yeah, I’m looking forward to the future. ;-) -Monica

Thursday, April 26, 2007

New traditions waiting to be born...

I was thinking this morning about all of the fun ways that family traditions from both my family and Susanne’s family will come together for our baby. I guess that’s the way it usually is with families but since I’ve never been a parent before I’d never really thought much about it until today.

When Su was a child, on her birthday she always had a present waiting for her on the breakfast table on that special day. There was cake and other stuff later too, but that was her fondest memory. What a neat idea—I can’t think of a better way to start a birthday!

For me, my favorite birthday memory was that the birthday kid (there were 7 of us) would get to go to Snyder’s Drug store with our dad on our birthdays, after he got home from work. I think there was some sort of price limit ($5.00?) or something, but we could pick out whatever we wanted from the toy aisle within that limit. Being one of so many, it really was a treat to get to ride with JUST dad (ie…no other kids) all the way to the next town over and then experience the rapture of picking out whatever we wanted. That trip to Snyder’s will always be a wonderful memory for me.

Since there were 9 total people with mom and dad, square Pepperidge Farm cakes which very easily cut into 9 equal pieces, were also a part of our tradition. The birthday kid got to pick the flavor. Chocolate with chocolate frosting. Some things never change ;-)

So, I think our baby is going to luck out. A breakfast surprise AND the special trip to the store. And just because our baby will have two moms rather than a mom and a dad? Doesn’t seem to be a deal breaker as far as I can tell. We’ll ask the baby in a few years okay? Have a great day everybody. -Monica

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Brought to you by the letter "e"

Greetings friends and family. Hope it’s a nice day wherever you are. Here in DC it’s a gorgeous day. 70 degrees and sunny. Today Susanne and I went to the Birthing Center for a checkup and she is officially 33 weeks pregnant! Everything was fine at this morning’s visit and it won’t be too much longer before we become parents. We can’t wait!

Su is finally getting some relief from the hip pain she’s been experiencing at night. She’s gone to a chiropractor several times now who is specially trained to work with pregnant women. The doc also has 5 children of her own so that give her a bit of credibility right there too ;-) The first recommendation was to get a wedge pillow to support Su's belly while laying on her side. That has helped a lot, as have some of the other stretches and manipulations.

The best trick Su has discovered through, is laying on her side and letting her top leg drop off the side of the bed a little bit. She really can’t roll off, but this position stretches her hip right where she needs it. Here’s to sleeping through the night! (Well almost through the night. Nature does call you know—and not just for the pregnant one ;-)

Let’s see? What else is new? Um…the letter “e” on my keyboard is fading away. I find this interesting as all the other letters look fine. Do I use the “e” so much more than the other letters? Do I strike it particularly savagely? Hmmm…?

Did you know that the keyboard that we all know and love today could be much more efficiently laid out? Instead of typing 70 wpm we could all type 150. But will we learn the new system? No way. We like the way we do it now. Do you know why the letters are located where they are on keyboards? You see, back in the old days when you’d type, a metal rod with the letter embossed on it would rise up and strike the paper. (There was messy ribbon involved too.) Anyway, often these rods would get jammed up and you’d have to stop and “unstick” them to continue typing. So someone figured out the most commonly used letters and placed them strategically so that they’d be coming from the ends of the typewriter rather then the center which caused fewer letter collisions. This was like 100 years ago (I’m guessing on that number).

Again, if we would be open to learning a new way to type, we could be much more efficient. Of course if we in the U.S. were really open to being efficient, we’d use the metric system too. Just another example of doing things the way we always have.

On the bright side, even if my letter “e” fades away to nothing, my brain still knows exactly where it is ;-) -Monica

Monday, April 23, 2007

Baby Shower Fun

Well this weekend Susanne and I were delighted be treated to a baby shower by our friends Bob and Nancy. They invited a circle of friends whom I'd met about 6 years ago when I participated in a group called Always Our Children at a local Catholic Church. Most of the people in the group were parents of gay children and came every month to talk about their experiences and feelings and to talk about ways to deal with the Church's attitude toward homosexuality. Although most were parents of gay children a few of us were gay adults and it was a wonderful forum to talk and process what we were all going through.

I came to treasure these wonderful people--they loved their children so tremendously and yet really needed to reconcile what they'd always learned about homosexuality with what was going on in their children's lives. They say that when a parent finds out their child is gay, they often go through stages of grief. They have suffered the death of the dreams they had always had for their kids and are terrified for their well-being, safety, and sometimes for their immortal souls. So these folks had some difficult things to deal with and I consider their kids exceptionally lucky that their parents worked through their feelings and have always embraced their kids even when it was hard to do so.

I got involved in the group because a gay friend who worked with me attended the group, and encouraged me to go too. I'd realized I was gay, but was really frustrated by my church who wanted me to be who God created me to be, but couldn't accept that that could mean being gay. I was angry at my church's discounting of who I was, and being able to share with these wonderful people helped me tremendously. (I've since left the Catholic Church and Su and I are members of a very affirming Lutheran Church now.
When I met Susanne my Always Our Children friends were thrilled. And yesterday to be surrounded by such genuine love while holding the hand of my beautiful, pregnant wife I felt so peaceful. We heard what was going on with all of their children--both their gay and straight children. They got us wonderful gifts of toys and clothes for our child and I guess I found myself wishing that all gay people could experience what we did yesterday. We'll see them all again at our baby's baptism and I know that the light they shared with us yesterday will be with us again then.

On a different note, I'd meant to blog about a funny thing from last week. We were on our flight to Minnesota and two 12 or 13 year old girls were in the seats across the aisle from us. They had a laptop computer and a word document open with a pretty large font. They SILENTLY had conversation the entire trip. One would type then turn the computer to the other and she would reply--in writing. They were both really fast and accurate typists by the way and we could easily see what they were writing. Stuff like

"Who do you think Rachel should go out with? Tom or Teddy? I see her more with Teddy because he likes to go out and do stuff and Tom is just too lazy I think. Do you want to get ice cream when we land? I luv the rocky road stuff."
It was hysterical. They even wrote LOL for Laughing out Loud which you'd think might make them actually laugh out loud, but it didn't. Yes, we are definitely looking forward to those 'tween years. Oh my gosh, I just LOLed. Out Loud. Really! ;-) -Monica

Friday, April 20, 2007

Experiments are good

Hmm...can you put a chart into blogger? I'm thinking of setting up a site to keep all my Peace Corps buddies appraised as to who is coming to our reunion this summer and thought a chart would be perfect. Let's see....

This chart is a test

If I can copy and paste

I want to see

Into Blogger

Ummm....obviously my experiment was sort of a failure. Onward and upward. I'll make lists instead! -Monica

Thursday, April 19, 2007

And we're back...

We had a good time in Minnesota. Fun with family, wonderful music (my sister’s Sweet Adeline quartet AND the fabulous Celtic Woman) and a chance to meet little Johanna who is my niece’s 3 week old daughter. She’s a cutie pie and seeing and holding her makes me even more excited to soon become a mom!

Su handled the flying very well though we are glad we planned a direct flight rather than one of our typical budget-shopping multiple-leg flights. We’ll fly once more to our friend Emily’s wedding in Kansas in early May and after that we’ll be traveling for three! (If we think we have to pack a lot of stuff now...well...)

We were home with my mom the day that the horrific murders happened at Virginia Tech, glued to the TV. What a nightmare. I can't imagine what it must have been like to be there. I have lots of other thoughts on the media "armchair quarterbacks" and our health care system particularly in regard to mental health, and gun laws, but I think I'll keep them to myself right now.

I pray for peace for the victims of these senseless murders and for the family of the murderer who I'm guessing could never have imagined this. Who in his right mind could? -Monica

Friday, April 13, 2007

Pretty as a Picture...

Well I just had to post this picture. You may have noticed that we don't put many pictures of ourselves up, but I figured this one would serve the dual purpose of showing off how beautiful my wife is, AND showing the adoration of Harley the wondercat.

So even though some might say the bright glow about his eyes comes from the reflection of his name tag as the sun strikes it just so, I disagree. I swear so Harley reminds me more of a dog than a cat in the way that he adores her. There is no "aloof" in this cat when she is in the room.

I think Susanne looks beautiful in this picture. A couple of weeks have gone by since I took it, so our baby is dominating the spotlight even more now. It's truly a beautiful thing to witness.

Let's see? What else? Oh right. We were watching the Nationals game last night on TV (they actually won!) and at one point the announcer mentioned that some guy was on the DL.

Now I've followed baseball for a long time, so I know all about the Disabled List, but I've got to say, for a split second I thought that the announcer was saying that this guy was on the Down Low. And I swear I don't watch very much Oprah or Dr. Phil!

Have a great weekend everyone. -Monica

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Celtic Women

Our dear mother turned 75 this month and my two sisters have done a marvelous job of making sure that it's a birthday to remember. Months ago Alice had the idea of getting tickets to go see Celtic Women performing live. Mom LOVES them and has only seen them on TV.

This plan soon morphed into me and Susanne traveling to join the fun, so next week basically a whole bunch of Celtic Women will go see the Celtic Women. My sister Mary and her eldest daughter have seen to all of the dinner plans before the show and it sounds like it's going to be a fabulous night.

For those of you who don't know about the Celtic Women, here is what Wikipedia says:

Celtic Woman is a musical ensemble comprised of five Irish and one New Zealand female. The group's repertoire ranges from traditional Celtic tunes to modern songs. To date, the group has released three albums, Celtic Woman, Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration and Celtic Woman: A New Journey, and have undertaken a number of world tours. The foundation for Celtic music's popularity outside of Ireland and Europe was previously set by artists Enya and Clannad, along with stage shows Riverdance and Lord of the Dance. To this end, Celtic Woman has been referred to as "Riverdance for the voice".

Get ready to dance ma--with your voice that is ;-) Happy Birthday Mom. See you soon! -M
P.S. And we get to see two week old little Jojo!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ode to Harley

Take special note of the the fear of vacuum cleaners. And the barf gland. And the adoration of just one spot on the bed. And...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


When I went to Guatemala in 1987 as a Peace Corps Volunteer I couldn’t really speak any Spanish. It was pretty painful, but after three months of intensive language training I headed out to the little town of Quezaltepeque and was able to ask things like “where is the bathroom?” and “how much does that food cost?” You know, the basics. It definitely got better over the two years I was there, but I remember how hard it was to learn.

So now flash ahead to 2007. My wonderful partner Susanne is gifted at foreign languages. In addition to speaking fluent Spanish (when we went to Guate a few years ago she was mistaken as being Guatemalan once—I am comforted by the fact that it must have been her dark hair that fooled them while my red hair was a dead give-away that I was not really Guatemalan. Oh and her Spanish is excellent while mine is now sort of good.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Susanne is also a native German speaker. When she was three her family moved to the U.S., so in reality she’s a native speaker of English too, but when she talks with her family it’s pretty much in German. In fact when we are in Germany, it’s assumed she is a local based on how fluent she is. But I’m not jealous of her adeptness at language. Definitely not. ;-)

So since we met, I’ve been immersed—sort of—in German. I hear her end of the phone conversation and can usually tell the story she is telling because I caught one word of it. And I can say endearing things like “good morning my little sleepy hat!” (yes they say “hat” not “head”. So cute.) But I’m always asking how to say things and Susanne is forever patiently explaining AGAIN, how to say what I asked her about last week AGAIN. I think my brain may be full.

So…our thought is that our baby will learn Spanish and German and English. And if that’s the case I’m going to have to get better at German. So I’m trying out a few new phrases. But Susanne’s not cooperating in teaching me how to say them. For instance… “your turn honey” or “the baby’s crying honey”, or that old standby, “what? I can’t hear you honey!”

Maybe our child will teach me in a few years! Guten Tag jeder. ( I love Babel Fish!)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Springtime is in the air...

Well, we survived the super cold temperatures at the baseball game on Friday night, but our poor Nationals are abysmal this year. It's still fun to go to the games though.

Today we had an orientation to the new birthing center where we'll be giving birth, and one thing they do which is kind of neat is group the families who are all expecing at the same time into sort of communal meetings. Each pregnant woman has her regular visit a Certified Nurse Midwife, but then everyone gets together to discuss what's going on. We both really like this concept and it's neat to form connections with others who are in the same time frame that you're in. Today was a general orientation so the people we met today are all due at different times (it was a first visit for all), but from now on we'll be with other June moms. Fun.

Spring is really trying to spring here in DC. the leaves are green, the flowers are in bloom. It's just really, really cold. Hopefully this will get better very soon. Alrighty then. Back to whatever it was I was doing. Onward and upward!

P.S. Happy Birthday Grandma!

Friday, April 06, 2007

To Do...

1. Find a new birthing center. Check.
2. Post something to our blog. Check.
3. Have a nice Easter weekend with my family (Susanne and baby.) Will do.

So I heard someone this morning say they had a 2 month old. Does that mean I can start saying I have a – 2 month old? (Or does that just sound like I have a 2 month old who is sort of negative? ;-) Maybe it sounds better if I say it aloud? "I have a minus 2 month old!" No. Not gonna work. Grrrr...

We toured a local birthing center yesterday and are pleased with what we saw and learned. Looks like that loose end is tied up which is quite a relief.

In a few hours we’ll be heading to the Washington Nationals baseball game. Weather predictions are for rain and snow showers this evening. Cold. Low 28F. Winds N 5-10 mph. Chance of precipitation 80%. It might be fun. We might be the only ones there! Happy Easter everyone! -M

P.S. What are the odds that a St. Bernard will come through the stadium with hot chocolate?

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I was reading an article in the Washington Post about a local 97 year old who decided that it was time to get the high school class ring she’d always wanted. Yes, you read that right. She's 97 and graduated in 1937. It’s a really sweet article, and I was thinking about when I graduated from high school I didn’t really care about getting a class ring, but what I really loved was my kelly green letter jacket.

Gosh, I loved that coat. It had all kinds of emblems and stuff on it and as the years went by I could add new things like additional letters for sports and stuff like “choir” (yes we could add our choir patches.)

This all made me think of how funny it would be if federal agencies were like high schools. Employees could get letter jackets and affix stuff to like their credentials or performance appraisals scores. Can you imagine? Hey there? I see you are CISCO certified. Dude!

Of course each agency would have to have a mascot too. I think NASA could be the Astros and the USDA the Packers. NOAA would be the Hurricanes and the FAA would of course be the Flyers. Hmmm...the DOT Racers? The U.S. Fire Administration Flames? Should I really go on? Have a nice day y’all! -M

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The sociology of a bit of cloth

Dinner with friends M&K last night was delightful as always (although a bit stressful for my sweetie trying to get through DC traffic on "peak Cherry Blossom day". ) But once we were all together we engaged in nonstop laughing. Then this morning I got to sleep in a bit. I had to report for jury duty you see and was very excited to be excused very early on without having to even go before the judge for selection like last time. What a relief!

If you're wondering why I've posted the picture I have here, it's because when I was on the train today I found myself staring at and thinking about the ties men wear. I wrote yesterday about dressing little boys up in suits and so today I got to thinking about the utility (or lack thereof) of ties today.

I've decided that since men tend to be stuck in a uniform (at least if they work in offices in places like DC) their tie is sort of the last resort for adding creativity and style. But I also think that ties for men are kind of like the breast feathers on male birds. They broadcast something--men actually seem to preen at times as they adjust their ties before speaking.

I worked with two men in my agency who were fairly senior level. One, whom I'll call Jim, spent a ton of money on his clothes and wore things like braces (never ever call them suspenders.) His buddy George on the other hand bought his clothes at a department store off the rack (apparently this was unfathomable to Jim). Anyway, someone once commented that Jim spent more on his ties than George spent on his suits. The funny thing was that they were both offended but for different reasons. Too funny.

There was a commercial for the Washington Post "personals" a few years ago where a man and a woman end up at her door after what appeared to be a successful first date. She seductively grabs his tie to pull him closer for a kiss. But was a clip on and it snapped off in her hands. You should have seen the look of horror as she turned and fled. Again, I guess there must be something in men's ties that broadcast something.

I actually learned how to tie a man's tie when I was a kid. I rememeber watching my dad put his on every day and it seemed pretty easy so I asked him to show me. I practiced it a few times and I realized it was easy. I've never worn a tie--I apparently avoided Madonna and Cyndi Lauper for that week in the 1980s although I think that there is photographic evidence that I did have an ascot in 4th grade.

But on the day of my dad's funeral nearly 5 years ago, my youngest brother admitted to me that he didn't know how to tie a tie. He's always worked with his hands and just somehow avoided having to ever wear one. I took the tie he'd borrowed and put it around my neck to get it started, then put it over his to make it fit right. Neil looked so grown up and handsome. It was quite touching for me I could almost picture my dad watching this whole scene. Of course that might have been just the tears that we were both crying.

So in review. I don't really understand why men have to wear ties. I do think they can look really nice, though but I'm sure that I'd sure hate to wear one every day. And lastly, "preen" is a really funny word. -Monica

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Our little…

Susanne and I were talking this morning about how little boys and little girls are socialized so differently in our society. Think about how little boy outfits are all about sports or trucks while little girls outfits are more along the lines of Strawberry Shortcake and Barbie.

“Snips and snails and puppy dog tails” are what little boys are made of while little girls are made of "sugar and spice and everything nice." Or so they say...

I was thinking about the phrase “my little man”. You hear this often enough especially when someone has dressed a little boy in a miniature coat and tie or other such "adult" clothes. It sounds so cute to make him into our little man. With girls? When dressed up we may call her “my little lady” (which sort of seems so prim and Victorian) but never “my little woman.” Is it because if a little girl dresses like an adult she is sexualized, but if a boy dresses like an adult he is not?

Hmmm….I’ll have to think more about this. I'd like to think that we’ll raise either a son or a daughter in the same way, but I’m not sure that is possible. And what is a snip? I should definitely find out if we end up with a boy right ;-) -M

Monday, April 02, 2007


Today is April 2, 2007 and I have at least 5 reasons to be grateful.

5. Friend Jill sent us the CUTEST little colorful ladybug mobile for the baby's crib. It's perfect in the nursery!
4. It's opening day for the Nationals (and 75 degrees and sunshine!) We'll be there.
3. After the game a bunch of us are barbequing!
2. The baby was making us both laugh last night as he or she seemed to demand to find out what was so funny on America's Funniest Home Videos. The question came in form of little kicks!
1. My sweet Susanne is feeling much better--seems like her cold is just about over. Wahoo!!!

P.S. The pic above is of RFK stadium and our seats are right about here on the third base line. Play ball!