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