Thursday, July 31, 2008

Not so good

A few weeks ago I wrote the following in a blog post:

“Susanne and I are incredibly happy to share that if all goes well, we will welcome a new little brother or sister for Danny sometime this spring.”

When I wrote this I was careful to write “if all goes well”. Sadly, sometimes things do not go well. We are so very sad to share that this baby will not grace our lives. Su started experiencing the classic symptoms of a miscarriage earlier this week, and an ultrasound confirmed our worst fear--that this baby was not staying with us.

The human reproductive system is very good at letting nature take its course when something is not quite as it should be. But the human heart is not so good at it.

-Monica and Susanne

Monday, July 28, 2008

All the right things for the wrong reason

Yeah!!!!Tonight we are going to feast on succulent pork tenderloin, roasted red potatoes, assorted veggies and a tantalizing home made fruit pie. Sounds wonderful right?

Well, the reason we are having this feast (AKA an epicurean delight) is that I accidentally left the freezer door ajar last night. The meat, veggies and fruit were pretty soft by the time we discovered my error, so a complete inventory was conducted and the tossing of many items ensued. It wasn't a happy morning.

On the bright side, Susanne is home with Danny today so she’s cooking up all this wonderful stuff now.

On then not so bright side, sadly the ice cream didn’t make it.

Not that I really deserve any ice cream after the great Meltdown of ’08. –Monica

P.S. We had a wonderful weekend—a picnic with new friends, and then a visit to Waldorf where we shopped like mad for clothes with the help of someone with actual style. To top it all off, Danny got to “swim” with his good friend Bailey. Yeah!

Friday, July 25, 2008

It's all relative. I know, I know, but...

Young, charismatic, optimistic, and energetic. These are some of the words that pop up when you do a search on Senator Barack Obama. I think the guy is pretty amazing anyway, but even more than I might otherwise because he is perceived as being so young.

I like that you see, because I myself was not quite a year old yet when he was born.

So even though I sometimes feel old (that’s what I get for being married to someone who is much younger than I am) whenever I see him speak, I am reminded that 46 is the new 26. Or something like that. Go Obama! -Monica

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Table 1 - Danny 0

So last night Danny was in his high chair as I was cleaning up after supper while Su was out picking up a few groceries. I decided to give him a bit more banana (he hadn’t eaten much of his supper and I thought he’d appreciate it.) Did he ever!

He shrieked with joy as I approached with the banana, and then proceeded to throw his head down with incredible glee. Right on to the very hard table. Oh our poor, poor baby! He was stunned, and I raced to him not sure exactly where he was most hurt. His nose? His mouth? A little scary.

I got him out of the straps and he was still just stunned--not a sound. I could see some blood on his mouth and on his shirt and held him close trying to comfort him when he let out the loudest scream I’d ever heard. Our poor, poor baby.

Fortunately the screaming quickly diminished to whimpering. Upon closer inspection I could see that it was his lip that was bleeding. We went to the freezer and got out the little children’s ice pack which he proceeded to put in his mouth. Normally, not really allowed, but it this case it was exactly what he needed.

Within minutes he was okay. His lip was a little fat last night but it's already healed this morning. But wow, I was a bit anxious. I kept thinking about how the Redskin’s former quarterback Brad Johnson once head-butted the stadium wall after scoring a touchdown. He was just so excited. Unfortunately he gave himself a concussion. And I don’t think he’s head-butted a wall since. I sure hope Danny learned a similar lesson.
Our poor, poor boy.

Danny and his table in happier times--like his first birthday in May.

Human Being? Or Human Doing?

So as humans we all have many identities right? Hair color and gender for example. But there are more examples. Level of education, profession, geographic location. We have a lot in common with others in the same "worlds".

But I was thinking about how when I trained for that marathon I posted about a few days ago, I thought that after I ran that marathon I would BE a marathoner.

But I wasn't. I was, and forever will be, a person who once ran a marathon.

So what is the difference? I've got to admit that I don't really know.

But I do know that when Su was pregnant with Danny, I knew that I was going to BECOME a mom--not just be a person who was raising a child.

And now that baby number two is incubating it dawns on me that the birth of this child will not change my newfound identity as a mother. I already am one. And that feels very different than when we were waiting for our first born.

Just a deep thought that I'm tossing around in my head today. Have a good one. -Monica

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What a difference a year makes huh?

Oscarelli and Danny. Still chill after all these years (okay, one year ;-)
-Monica (with special guest Jenni visiting today)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sort of like "Run Forrest!"

In 2001 I learned something about myself. I learned that I’m no good at making big dreams come true without engaging in a bit of trickery. (Or shall I call it “paradigm shifting"?)

Case in point. I decided in 2001 that I wanted to run a marathon. I figured since I’d just turned 40 that it was going to be now or never. I’d always been fairly athletic, but what in world could possibly keep me motivated to do all the things I’d need to do to attain this arguably crazy goal of running more than 26 miles? Hmmm???

So I decided to pick a marathon and pay to enter it. What a commitment! Money! I picked MN where my family was from, and signed up to run the 2001 Twin Cities Marathon. I paid in the spring so I had more than 6 months to prepare. I think I paid something like $80. I was on my way. I bought a book on how to train and all I needed to do now was run. A lot.

Oh dear.

Suddenly that $80 didn’t seem like that much money. If I didn’t do the marathon it wasn’t going to be the end of the world, right?

Maybe if I told a bunch of people I was going to do it I could shame myself into doing it I remember thinking. Well, contrary to my previous popular belief, most people didn’t really care whether I ran a marathon or not.

Oh dear.

So I visualized myself finishing, read copies of Runner Magazine, went to a real sports shoe store and got running shoes and even bought running attire--CoolMax stuff so my abundant sweat could wick properly.

Still nothing.

I felt myself growing more and more disappointed in myself. What did it matter anyway? But I started getting a sense that this lack of commitment on my part represented something larger.

I was 40 years old, had never been in a serious relationship, and lived in a tiny apartment. I just felt I was odd, no matter how many friends I had and no matter how well I’d done in school or career-wise. Somehow I’d always imagined sharing my life with someone, maybe owning a home. That all seemed very, very impossible. And far away. Maybe because I had a problem with commitment.

For some reason this all morphed into a renewed desire to really do this marathon.

I thought about signing up to do train with a group, but that just didn’t feel right to me for this. It was more of a solitary journey for me I guess. I first decided that I trusted the plan laid out in my book I’d bought. I needed to run anywhere from 20-60 minutes 4 out of the seven days of the week. It was all spelled out for me.

So first thing I decided was that all runs were half of that time (at least in my mind). What this meant was that a 40 minute run was really only a 20 minute run somewhere and then I could lope on home (still jogging of course). Not a 40 minute run which seemed really overwhelming.

Somehow psychologically this helped me a lot. And I decided I could plot my runs to hit a goal and go home. I picked the Embassies of Washington. If I needed to do a 30 minute run, I’d tell myself I was going to Ireland (that meant running to the Irish Embassy, touching the gate and running home.) The next time in was Lithuania. Whatever worked. This was quite entertaining as I’d try to learn what I could about those places.

For the really long runs (you know 30 minutes which were really 60 minute) I’d catch the bus outside my apartment and ride all the way up to Silver Spring so I could do a 60 minute run down 16th Street which was slightly downhill. This way I was running home the whole way which I loved.

And the best thing I discovered that really worked for me? I decided to commit, not to running, but to getting up early and putting on my running clothes every single day I was scheduled to run. I did this religiously and was 100% successful at this (I even laid my clothes out the night before). You see, I always reserved the right to get into my running clothes and then lay down and go back to sleep, but I never did. I ran every single time. What the heck? I was already up right?

So…to end my long story. I ran the marathon. My goal was to finish—and I did. (Thank you, thank you). I took me close to six hours and thousands of people beat me, but I was so happy!

I learned that I can do anything I set my mind to as long as I commit to the right things. The little things that truly drive my behavior. I also learned that after you run so far your thighs feel like wet bags of cement for several days. (Wait, first like wet cement and then like dry cement, especially going down stairs.) I also learned that after you run 26 miles and 385 yards, you sweat everything that was ever in you out of yourself and the smell of your clothes is, well, indescribable. I think it's possibly your very essense. I wouldn't recommend trying to bottle and sell this. ;-)

You may wonder what kept me going, lo those many miles. Well, you see, I loved the poster that was made to commemorate the 20th Twin Cities Marathon and I bought it the night before the race. But I told myself I couldn’t frame it and hang it up unless I finished. It’s here in my office now. It’s a good reminder that I can do anything I want. If I can trick myself well enough! –Monica

P.S. In 2002 I bought my first home (after engaging in lots of paradigm shifting) and met the most wonderful new neighbor two doors down. Her name was Susanne. ;-)

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Name Game begins again...

Picking out baby names is incredibly fun I think. I’m forever offering new suggestions to Susanne and am hugely entertained by the Baby Name Wizard where you type in any name that comes to mind and it does all this fancy shmanzy wizardy and shows the popularity of the name dating back as early as the 1880s. (Try it!) Which brings me to my latest name I’m in love with that is not going to happen: Linus.

You see, one of the most brilliant men to ever live was Linus Carl Pauling. According to my friend the internet, Pauling was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1954 for his study of the nature of chemical bonds, especially in complex substances. His ideas are fundamental to modern theories of molecular structure. He also investigated the properties and uses of vitamin C as related to human health. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1962 for having campaigned for the control of nuclear weapons and nuclear testing.

But does anyone think first of Linus Pauling when they hear the name Linus? Nope. You guessed it. They think of Linus Van Pelt, who inspired the term "security blanket" with his classic pose. Again, from my friend the internet, I learned that Charlie Brown’s little friend is the intellectual of the gang, and flabbergasts his friends with his philosophical revelations and solutions to problems. He suffers abuse from his big sister, Lucy, and the unwanted attentions of Charlie Brown's little sister, Sally. He is a paradox: despite his age, he can put life into perspective while sucking his thumb. He knows the true meaning of Christmas while continuing to believe in the Great Pumpkin.

I happen to believe that Linus is a very likeable character on Snoopy and would be a really cute name for a little boy.

However we need a quorum of two (if that is possible?) to select a name and Susanne isn’t really liking Linus.

As Charlie Brown would say, RATS!

Of course she doesn’t like my idea for naming twin boys Mortimer and Lester either (More and Less, get it?) Although I actually can see how this could be psychologically hard on poor little Les. Oh well. I suppose the name Bart is completely out of the question right? ;-) -Monica

Sunday, July 20, 2008

He's our Doppler Doodle Dandy!

At first we thought it might be a coincidence, but now we are pretty sure it's a fact. Whenever Danny sees Doppler Radar, he drops everything and focuses on the screen. It really seems to instantly calm him down.

He really doesn't watch too much TV. At 7:30 he watches Jeopardy with us most nights, and other than that just snippets of news as we click around. But whenever we get to see Doppler Radar he loves it. As a matter of fact on this lazy Sunday afternoon as I write this he's sound asleep in his pack and play the basement where Susanne is fixing some stuff, after being lulled to sleep by the Weather Channel.

What a sweet boy huh? -Monica
(We think so!)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mein Gott!

Or you might say Dios Mio! Or Oh My God! That is if you spoke German, Spanish and English. You see, that’s my problem.

I guess I feel like I’ve got English down pretty well by now. You might not be that impressed with my often nonsensical word order patterns, but my vocabulary is pretty darn good, and since it’s my native language, I am exceedingly confident speaking it.

Which brings us to Spanish. After living in Guatemala for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer more than 20 years ago and later living and working at a naval base in Cuba (long before it became a symbol of our country’s flaunting of the Geneva Conventions), I spoke Spanish a lot. Still can. But now things are not flowing so well. And why you may ask? Is my brain getting older? Well yes, but that’s not the problem. The problem is Duetsch.

I’ve been trying to learn German since I met Susanne—mostly informally and with the Pimsleur Method CDs (which are quite good by the way), and I recently took a real class and have improved my speaking abilities somewhat. But it seems I've developed a new language that no one can understand that I’ll call Spanman.

It’s terrible. I speak Spanish every day just gossiping with a woman who works with me and now I say “mit” instead of “con”, and “Vo ist” instead of “donde esta”. Don't even get me started on saying "und" and "y" at inopportune times. It’s nuts.

It's really rather frustrating. I am pretty sure now that the better I get at speaking German the more my Spanish will decline. Interestingly when I'm trying to come up with a way to say something in German I never think of Spanish words. It's like my brain wants to default to the German now. Great! Or shall I say “OH, MEIN DIOS!” -Monica

P.S. On the bright side Susanne speaks all three of these languages very fluently. So I guess she understands my Spanman. Small consolation.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hmm...On a scale of 1-10 I’d say this is a…

Are you sitting down? No really. Are you sitting down? (I know, I know, chances are high that you are if you are at your computer.) Okay, here goes. Susanne and I are incredibly happy to share that if all goes well, we will welcome a new little brother or sister for Danny sometime this spring.

Can you believe it! We didn’t really plan to be coy or secretive about our efforts to have our second child, but then again, we didn’t feel compelled to share what was going on with too many people. For gosh sakes, we hadn’t even told our parents that we were trying again. (They sure know now!)

We are both so delighted. Having this child is not an attempt to make our family “complete”—I wouldn’t say that, although we have definitely always envisioned having two.

I guess the feeling that I’ve had since we first saw the line on the pregnancy test late last week is joy. Joy that this is really happening. Joy that conception occurred! Wow!

What I don’t feel at all is smugness. Like, “hah hah” we got pregnant. Not at all. I’d say just about the opposite of that. I want for everyone who yearns to hold a child in their arms to hold that child. And love them forever.

So…thank you God for this precious, precious gift. Please keep Susanne and the baby safe and healthy, and please bring to everyone who is waiting happy news this time around okay? Thank you, thank you, thank you! -Monica

Monday, July 14, 2008

Stupid is as stupid does...

So this what my bike looks like. The one I haven’t ridden in about two years, but did again yesterday after our nice neighbor gave it a full tune up. Around 5:00 Susanne yelled into the house that Greg had just brought the bike over and it was in perfect shape. Yea!

So like a kid in a candy story I hopped on it and rode down the side walk checking the gears, the brakes etc…perfect. I’d hopped down on to the street and came back toward the house and attempted to gracefully hop up over our little---maybe 4 or 5 inch high curb.

Apparently if you don’t pull the front wheel up high enough to clear it, your bike will to come to a complete stop when you hit said curb. But your body will continue forward, head over heels onto the ground. And, important note. If you weigh more now than you did when you were let’s say 10, you will hit the ground with more force than you may recall.

On the bright side, my femur is NOT broken. It only feels broken. And I’ve got a huge knot of angry muscle tissue to show for it right where I was pinned between the handlebars and the curb (or ground-it’s a bit of a blur.) Fortunately Danny and Susanne (mostly Susanne) were there to help extricate me from my folly

I really shouldn’t use the word “stupid” for things like this though. I’d like Danny to know that people aren’t stupid, but sometimes people do stupid things.

Umm…like a one year old tearing pieces off of big leafy plants and then trying to “put them back” on the leaf. Wait. That’s not stupid. That’s just adorable. Right? -Monica

Friday, July 11, 2008

Must blog...

Does anyone else out there feel guilty when they don't blog? I do. I guess it's because I love when I click on familiar sites that have new stuff to see which makes me want to return the favor. Let's see--I've got approximately 5 minutes before I have to go to a meeting so I'm just going to do some live blogging here.

First thing that comes to mind is that when Su took Danny out of the car when she got home last night she stepped on a WASA (Water and Sewer Authority) switch cover that was in the front yard of our neighbors house. When the water company needs to turn on or cut water service, they remove the cover and using a long tool, reach down and turn a small valve. When she stepped on it, it tipped from flat on the ground to perpendicular, and she basically fell into it. It's a very small yet deep hole--about 15 inches in diameter and 2 feet deep.

She ended up with her entire leg up to her thigh down the hole. Not cool at all. Besides getting a bit scraped up, she also nearly dropped Danny. In fact he did hit the ground rather hard and it was his crying that alerted our neighbor Greg who ran over to help. He coudn't believe what he saw. It all happened so fast. Thank God both she and Danny were okay. She could have broken her leg or worse. And I don't even want to think about how hurt Danny could have been if she'd lost control of him when falling. I was upstairs when she got home and didn't hear any of this.

So. It's time to end this blog post. Moral of the story. Beware the holes with covers. -Monica

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


So have you ever heard of a "lovey"? Apparently it's a favorite soft and cuddly item that your baby gets attached to. I must admit I'd never heard of the term until I became a parent, but I'm well acquainted with the concept. Some of my brothers LOVED their brown blankets and as I recall sort of dragged them around everywhere.

So Danny has a couple of cuddly, soft "loveys" like the one pictured here, but he's decided that his real lovey is our shirts.

He likes nothing better than to stick one thumb in his mouth and with his other hand get a hold of one of our shirt collars. You've never seen such a blissful face on a child as he snuggles up to his chosen "victim".

One slight problem. Most of the times kids use these special items to self soothe and put themselves to sleep. Rut Roh! -Monica

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Please rise as you are able...

As we go through life we all meet people who touch us deeply. Sometimes it’s a person’s intellect, or their wittiness, or their kindness…in all honesty it doesn’t really matter what it is that makes us come to love them.

As I think about my life, there is definitely a special group of people who have taken up a permanent place in my heart. Unexpectedly running into them or getting a call or e-mail from them makes me smile. Learning of their happy news makes me gush with enthusiasm. And conversely, receiving sad news about them overwhelms me with sadness.

Yesterday I learned that a dear man who was my boss for several years fell off his roof. His name is George, and I don’t know the details of why he was up there (perhaps cleaning gutters or fireworks?) but I know that he’s in the intensive care unit with multiple fractures and serious brain injuries.

Have you ever heard of the theory of hubs and spokes? Think of someone you know who walks into a room and everyone lights up. That person is a hub. George is the epitome of a hub. The rest of us are spokes who circle around him and bask in his energy. We are drawn to people like him because they brighten our worlds.

I am praying with all my heart that George recovers from this terrible accident. I dreamed last night that he was fine and we were in his hospital room and I was kidding him about gravity. “How could you have forgotten about gravity?” I remember kidding him in my dream. He came back with some clever remark about Newton’s Law or something. It was very sad to wake up and realize it was just a dream. I guess I’m hoping it was a sign. A sign of conversations yet to come.

Get well soon dear friend. The world’s not as bright as it was before you went to sleep. -Monica

Monday, July 07, 2008


Air – $1.50 to fill tires (I'm not kidding!)
Water – $1.00 for a small bottle of drinking water
Food – $4.00 extra for chicken with your already expensive entree
Priceless — apparently not so much anymore

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Eyes Have It!

I do not believe that neither Susanne nor I is colorblind. That being said, just about everything that I think is grey she believes to be beige, (or is it the other way around?) and everything that I believe is dark blue she believes to be black.

And we both register complete disbelief at the others' perception every single time.

On the bright side, perhaps she perceives my greying hair to be beige ;-) Can one have beige hair? -Monica

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A tutorial on how to fold a fitted sheet...

I was delighted to see a comment on my last post from someone I know IRL (that’s “In Real Life” for all out there who can’t figure out all this IMing mumbo jumbo.) LOL. "Laughing Out Loud". There. I have officially used all the little IM slang I know.

Anyway…the comment was from my friend Beth who I met in 1983. She was a 14 year old high school freshman and I was her teacher (at the ripe old age of 21.) It was a wonderful school--an all girls Catholic School with about 50 kids in each class, and to this day, I still keep in touch with many of my students. It was a very special time in my life. I taught there for 4 years and then headed off to Peace Corps. That same year, that crop of freshmen graduated (including Beth) so in some ways I went through the same formation as they did in those four years. I know that seems odd, but it wasn’t. Oh, and they decided that I was peppy, so since 1983 I’ve been know as Pep. Seriously. The nuns even call me that still.

This was many years before I ever figured out I was gay—that took me until the late 90s to figure out. I also must say that growing up in a fairly conservative Catholic environment, my former students have been overwhelmingly accepting of my being gay and I am proud to continue to count Beth and Amy and Marg and Jess and Karin and Laurie and so many others as wonderful friends.

Anyway, fast forward something like 25 years here we are. Beth and her husband live in Australia (their blog is in our blogroll) and it’s very fun to have blogs to keep up with the funny and poignant things that go on in each others lives.

So…when I wrote about “pilling sweaters” yesterday, Beth wrote a funny comment and lamented that "if only someone would write about how to fold a fitted sheet". So here we go… (teaching, always teaching ;-)

Beth, just fold it in half and then gently roll it up. Shove it in a drawer and when you later put it in the bed it will look perfectly ironed anyway when you stretch it out.

What’s that? The sound of dozens of cyber gasps? (Including my own dear wife’s?)

Oh wait. You must fold it like a flag. Perfectly. Tightly. First the rounded edges must be attacked and mastered. Once all four are creased and laid flat you may proceed (preferably with a willing partner) to fold the sheet perfectly in half, and then half again. Then you insert one perfect folded corner into the other and smooth the whole sheet to perfection.

Then you shove it in a drawer and when you later put it in the bed it will look perfectly ironed anyway when you stretch it out.

Does this help Beth? ;-)