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