Thursday, August 28, 2008

Isn't "Chuckle" a funny word? Makes me wanna...

I think when most people think of gas stations, their blood pressure rises and they instantly feel crabby. Why not? With the cost of gas around $4.00 a gallon, I agree that this is a pretty normal response.

But when I think of gas stations I actually usually chuckle. And why you may ask? Well, here are a few reasons.

When I was a kid growing up in the 1960s we had a gas station about ½ block away from our house. To get to it though, you had to cross a pretty busy (well, I guess busy is a relative term) street called Broadway . It was a Union Station—Spirit of ’76 with a big ball as its logo. One of my little brothers LOVED the old pop machine there. More specifically, he loved the icy cold soda pop.

So one day, Mr. Genius managed to purloin a quarter from the dresser in my parents’ bedroom. He was probably around 4 at the time. He gleefully headed down toward the gas station but stopped short when he got to Broadway because he was not allowed to cross the street alone. But his little buddy Pete who lived on that corner (who was the same age I might add) told my brother he would go across the street, buy the bottle of pop and bring it back.

Pete bought the bottle of pop alright, but stood there, across the street from my very distressed little brother and drank the whole thing. As I recall, because of his thievery there wasn’t much he could do in the way of “telling” on Pete. That was chuckle number one.

Humorous memory number two occurred in 1976. That same gas station gave out hundreds, maybe thousands of little “Spirit of ‘76” radio antenna balls to celebrate the bicentennial. (Get it? 76?) Anyway, this was of course back when most cars had those antennas that shot straight up. The idea was that if you put one on your car, you’d easily spot it when you’d look out in crowded parking lot. I must have been with my sisters who could already drive because I remember affixing the little ball to our car before we went up to our local shopping center. A few hours later when we came out I had to laugh. At least 75% of the cars now in that lot had those “Spirit of ’76” balls on their antennas. For some reason I felt sort of stupid. And as I recall, we couldn’t find our car right away.

The third story about gas stations that made me laugh was once when I was in Peace Corps a group of doctors came down to Guatemala from Michigan. I got to know the team over the week they were there and one of the anesthesiologists told me that that he was always annoyed when at parties etc…people would ask what he did. When they learned he was a doctor they almost always pressed him for medical advice or wanted to show him their body parts. So he came up with this idea to say he worked at a “gas station”. It was true. All day long he’d administer gas to people. He loved that once he started using this answer people seemed patently uninterested in conversing with him any longer. I thought this was brilliant and still smile when I think about it.

So, that’s all I got for today. Next time you go “fill ‘er up”, try and look at the bright side. There’s usually one out there somewhere. Ciao! -Monica

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


So it's time to cast your vote. Does anyone else out there think that little Danny looks a bit like the Huggies boy (except not quite as blonde)? Perhaps I'm the only one who thinks so?

Maybe the second photo from a few months ago may sway you. (It was taken in January).

And yes. Pun intended with un "can" ny. Get it? Diapers? The "Can"? I know, I know. Not that funny! ;-)


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's the "new" guilt

I know I’ve written longer posts before about leaving the Catholic Church when Cardinal Ratzinger was chosen as Pope. I like to think that I didn’t leave the church, it left me. Yes, he’s the one who says that gay people raising children are committing violence against those children. Ummm…I beg to differ.

But I will not start my rant on that subject now. The info above is just a prelude to this story.

A few years ago I was chatting with a Jewish friend of mine and we came up with the idea that the difference between Catholic guilt and Jewish guilt was that Catholics worry that God will be disappointed with them, while Jewish people worry that their mothers will be disappointed with them

Yes, we thought this was quite clever.

I’d kind of forgotten about this until the other day when I was telling Susanne that I didn’t know what made me feel more guilty—the fact that I was late to work way too often, or the fact that my bosses still seemed to think awfully darn highly of me.

She smiled at me and said I didn’t need to feel guilt any more.

“You’re a Lutheran now.”

Wow! Who knew!

I’m still chuckling. But…I was a bit late to work again today and I must admit I still feel guilty. I guess I’m just not really a good Lutheran yet! -Monica

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bloody Heck!

So on Friday I went to the Red Cross to donate blood as I do pretty regularly. Seems like a pretty simple way to help people in need.

The rule is, in order to donate you have to have a hemoglobin level of 12.5 or above. Susanne had even kindly reminded me to take vitamins with iron for a few days prior to going.

I came in a bit low on the first test (they draw a bit of blood from a finger) so I opted for a second test. I watched the meter clicking steadily upwards, oh so hopeful, and it stopped at 12.4.

I felt like an American gymnast in Beijing. So close! –Monica

P.S. Guess I’ll have to start eating spinach or something before I go try again.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

By special request for Grandma

Grandma Ulli, your wish is our command. In addition to the Rock You show below, here is the Shutterfly slide show you asked for! Featuring, who else, your very handsome grandson! -

Danny's First "Summer Vacation"

Friday, August 22, 2008

I Muse, Therefore I am…

I guess Shakespeare already took all the good stuff about love, so there’s not much else left out there. But I decided to go ahead anyway and muse about how I experience love for the two most important people in my life. And I think you know who they are…

My love for Susanne, is powerful. Think of a magnet and steel. (Yes, yes, I do know that this is the title of a 60s rock song.) I know that this doesn’t sound particularly romantic yet, but give me a chance!

What I mean by this is that as we go through our days, two strong independent working women. We are busy doing stuff and not focused on what the other is up to every second of the day (well I’ll speak for myself ;-). And yet, as the time comes to head home, I sense in myself a wonderful pull of anticipation that we’ll be together again soon. This is where the magnetic pull analogy comes to my mind. Once we’re home we are pretty much connected. It’s a rare night of television or reading or what not where we are not in some way touching. Legs entwined on the couch—a loving touch of the hand. Yup. I love this woman so much—I still sometimes cannot believe she picked me! Sweet! *Note, I'm not sure which of us is the magnet and which one is the steel. ;-)

Then Danny. How can I say this? I feel like we are permanently connected by an invisible rubber band (I imagine it to be clear.) Even through it stretches so we can be more than 10 miles apart most days while Jenni takes wonderful care of him, I can feel that imaginary rubber band gently tugging on me almost all the time. I just want to be together with our boy again.

So when the little guy is back in my arms this imaginary rubber band can finally relax. I especially love it when he gets into his “Koala Bear” mode (refusing to dismount from his prime time spot on one hip.) Oh how I love this boy!

I feel so blessed and I’m reminded of my favorite quote by St. John of the Cross:

“If you find no love, put love there, then you will find love.”

Now if only I could be so profound. –Monica

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Milky Way

“I think he doesn’t like milk anymore.”

This was what I said to Susanne this morning after Danny had refused his milk:

a) when offered to him in a sippy cup yesterday morning
b) when offered to him in a bottle last night
c) when it was offered to him in a bottle this morning

I was definitely perplexed. I mean, the boy has always loved milk and I figured he must be pretty thirsty after having gone from about 7 pm to 7 am without a drop of liquid.

Now, Susanne and I are a bit different. I don’t think of her as the brain trust of the family for nothing.

Her response to my statement above was “could the milk be sour?”

“Well of course not. I just opened it yesterday and it’s not even expired until September 8th or something like that.”

“Did you taste it?”

Now, in retrospect I wonder why I always have to be the one to taste the foods and beverages we are unsure of, but I was pretty concerned about Danny and I happened to be holding the freshly poured bottle.

The moral of this story is that Susanne is always right and expiration dates on the boxes apparently are NOT always right.

Happily Danny gulped down a bottle of other whole milk we had that was not expired so our tale has a happy ending. But I have an oddly bitter taste in my mouth still--even hours later. I wonder, does this make me the worst mom ever or just the least deductive one? -Monica

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Food for thought (at the Splendid Table)

I have a clear recollection learning as a teacher not to threaten to punish kids with stuff that was actually good for them. Such as "if you don't behave I'm going to make you do 100 jumping jacks, or run 10 times around the track." Turns out that exercise is actually good for you, so threatening kids with it can set up a very bad precedent for the future.

Likewise, it's not good to use food. Such as "if you don't finish your pasta, I'm going to make you eat broccoli!" I think you are getting the picture by now.

Which leads me to the point of this blog post. Neither Susanne nor I want to be big threateners. For gosh sakes, we watch The Nanny. We know all about "redirecting" and "time outs" and what not.

So you can imagine the horror we felt the other day when Danny for the 20th time started playing with the stereo as his fun little children's songs were playing. Almost simultaneously we cried out;

"Danny, if you don't stop that you'll have to listen to NPR!"

You see, National Public Radio (which we love) is the only station we have programmed. So in effect we threatened our son with being forced to listen to thoughtful commentary and innovative programming. He's probably now afraid of Garrison Keillor and all the pretend people at Lake Wobegon. Maybe he'll have nightmares about Science Fridays! What have we done?

In our defense, it wasn't really a threat. It was just a statement of the outcome that was most likely to occur if he continued to push all the stereo buttons in such a willy nilly manner.

Parenting. Sometimes it's harder than you think ;-)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Just some more baby love...

I just realized that the story I want to tell today is probably one of those stories best kept confined to my own heart. I even told Susanne about it and she thought it was really sweet, but even as I was telling it, I knew that my words were not able to do justice to the love that welled up in me as I experienced it.

It’s really a rather normal story—a start to a day just like most others. But in a 10 second period of time I felt emotions I’d never felt before. Feelings that were wonderful, intense, gentle and all-encompassing.

So, here’s the story. You won’t feel the magic I did. But just scrunch up your eyes and imagine if you can.

Danny is now almost 15 months old, but he’s still kind of a little guy and when he’s asleep in his crib in his little onsie, all curled up, he is still my little, little baby fresh from Susanne’s womb.

I’d been in earlier in the morning to give him a bottle and do a quick diaper change and he’d settled back into a deep and contented sleep.

Since it was time to get going though, I quietly slipped into his still somewhat darkened room and took a step or two past where he lay sleeping. I’ve mentioned before that when we come in he loves to scramble up the side of the crib to reach out for us, but usually when he does this he’s wide awake and chattering up a storm.

Not Sunday morning. I’d slid to the other end of his crib and he sensed that someone was in the room. But I’m guessing he thought Susanne or I was near the doorway. What happened next will stick on my mind forever.

With his eyes still completely closed, and I’m certain, still asleep, he began a wobbly climb up the side of the crib. Without his eyes to see, with but months of memory to guide him, he pulled his little body upward, head cocked toward the door where he figured we were. Then without a sound he reached his arms out over the edge of the crib and lay his heavy head down in them still fast asleep.

I couldn’t tell you for the life of me why this scene touched my heart so. All I could think of was our newborn Daniel just over a year ago; his eyes not yet open rooting to find his first taste of mama’s breast milk. Or in some strange sense he seemed like a little newborn animal making his first tenuous foray into the big loud world.

When I reached down to stroke his little back and rub my face into his sweet hair, I felt such tremendous love. He rubbed my face right back, and as I gently scooped him up he already had a smile on his sweet, sweet face as I kissed his little nose and cheeks and his now opened eyes.

What would a therapist say? Was it his vulnerability, his trust or his innocence that melted my heart? Oh wait. I don’t care! Some things you’ve got to just accept as the gifts they are without trying to dissect them too much. I think for me, this is one of them. -Monica

Monday, August 18, 2008

Is it Live or is it Memorex?

Do any of you remember that ad? Some opera singer would sing a high note which cracked a glass and then they’d tape her on a Memorex tape to see if their high quality recording would also break the glass? Am I dating myself?

And why do I bring this up? Well, this weekend our trip to Richmond, Virginia, we went out to a sit down restaurant. It was kid friendly which turned out to be good.

When we finally got seated—Danny is his high chair at the end of the booth, we were just perusing them menu when suddenly we all experienced THE loudest, THE highest and THE longest shriek that young Danny had ever produced.

All heads in the place turned. Was he hurt? Were we flogging him? Um…no. But you’d better believe that he was grinning ear to ear as all four grown ups tried to “sssshhhhh” him. As the closest first responder, I’m ashamed to say that my initial response was to quickly but gently cover his mouth while instantly changing his name from “NO BITING DANNY”, to “NO SCREAMING DANNY”. He totally loved it!

“ Oh, crap”. “Okay, everybody, ignore him if he does it again, he just wants attention” we all concurred. Easier said than done. You try ignoring a SCREAMING toddler who soon realizes that when mom puts her hand over his mouth that the game gets even more fun. Then there can be attempts at biting, and better yet, fun sounds like one makes while going “aaahhhhaaahhhaaahhh” into a fan.

He actually looked a bit apoplectic--as if a gasket might blow in his head, but kept that silly grin on his face.


We made it through dinner with unbroken glassware and many sweet comments from fellow patrons who would stop by our booth on the way out to say thing like;

“Raised 6 of 'em myself, and they sure can be loud little critters can’t they?” (Can you tell we were south of the Mason-Dixon Line?)

I'm just glad he didn't practice his screech on the new baby who was sleeping oh so blissfully back at Grandpa's house.I was tempted to drug him (okay not really) for the two hour drive home but for some reason he was completely tuckered out and slept all the way home.

On the bright side, didn’t scream like that again until today. Right when I’d scooped him out of his high chair. It’s like he knew my left ear drum was right there. I’m kind of looking forward to getting a call from Jenni to see if he’s tried out his new playground voice on her and little Oscar today. Guess I’ll have to put the phone up to my right ear. Then maybe I’ll hear a bit of what she says. -Monica

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Welcome to this world baby!


Today we went to Richmond to meet Melinda -- our new sister(-in-law) and aunt. She's a sweet little angel. Su's Dad, his wife Julia, and her son David welcomed this bundle of joy on Wednesday, August 13th and she seems to be doing great. Danny was slightly more excited about the "It's a Girl!" balloon and the giant staircase at Grandpa's new house than his new auntie, but we know he'll come to enjoy this new playmate on future trips to Richmond.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

All aboard!

At the Children's Museum in Boston Danny pretends to chauffeur mommy around. Does he look like he's having fun or what? Mommy for her part pretends she is not an anxious "backseat driver". Isn't pretending fun! -M

Friday, August 15, 2008


Is anybody else who is watching the Olympics in the U.S. getting sort of sick of watching so much women's beach volleyball during prime time? I mean aren't there dozens of different sports to choose from that NBC could highlight?

I asked Su why she thought that the network was continuing with this boring programming and she pointed out that perhaps programming featuring women in bikinis appealed very much to a certain male demographic sector of the viewing audience.

Oh. I guess this just makes me just about the worst lesbian ever. It truly never occurred to me even once that that could be a reason.

Seriously, come on NBC! Mix it up will you? Really, it's just not that interesting! -M

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Run Bubby, Run! (Well, walking's good too!)

Like I mentioned the other day, Danny started walking when we were up in Vermont last week. Yup. The boy can now meander. And lumber. And stomp. See for yourself. And bring on da noise!!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ahhh...that explains it

Well there is a reason that Susanne continues to feel like she has morning sickness a full two weeks after the miscarriage. It seems her body still believes she's pregnant based on yesterday's ultrasound. The tiny sac where the baby tried its best to snuggle down and grow is still there--empty and sad. (Or maybe that's us?)

Anyway, it's not that unusual as we've learned for the body to take its time expelling all that once was, and there are a couple of options Su can use to speed things along, but she can also just give it a few more days and everything will resolve itself. On the bright side, she's perfectly fine physically, and there is no reason to believe that her future fertility is in any way compromised, which is reassuring.

Like I said the other day, continuing to have such bad morning sickness when you know you are no longer pregnant is rotten on many levels. I know we are both looking forward to Susanne feeling better. Love you sweetie. -Monica

Monday, August 11, 2008

Telolympics at our place

Hmmmm...not sure whether it's the fact that Susanne's been really tired and thus resting more than usual, or if there is some side of her that I've never seen. Seems she's entranced by the Olympics. She's managed to chop vegetables, fold clothes, play with Danny etc...all within mere feet of one of our two televisions the past few days. She loves all of it!

And I could have sworn she mentioned something about maybe needing a TV for the kitchen. She was joking. I think. ;-)


P.S. And Danny now loves Olympic swimming as much as he loves Doppler. Which is a lot!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Aaaannddd we're back!

Hello gentle readers. We returned on Friday from a trip to Boston and Vermont. It was for the most part fun and relaxing and we tried to find fun things to do every day with Danny, who by the way, slept amazingly well in his little travel pack and play. He was often shaped like the letter "L" (and a few other letters at times) when we'd peek in on him but sleep he did. Thank goodness!

We went to our friend Hannah's wedding which was really nice and hit the infamous Children's Museum of Boston. Danny LOVED it! Then we drove along the shore up near Gloucester and Salem and Danny loved the water (so did we.) The last few days were spent at our friend Raquel's house which was awesome. She has a 5 year old and a 2 year old so Danny had a new supply of toys and some new best friends. Little 2 year old Sammy adored the "baby". Our baby by the way decided to start walking this weekend while at Raquels' which resulted in lots of cheering by all. He now lumbers about a bit like a baby Frankenstein. He also still prefers to drop to all fours whenever he gets a bit off balance, but he's improving every day.

Susanne unfortunately has continued to feel pretty yucky. Feeling nauseous every morning when you know you are no longer pregnant is rotten on many levels. We think that she must still have some pretty high levels of HCG (pregnancy hormones). We'll see the doc this week and perhaps he can offer some advice.

Anyway, the first few days back are often a blur. So, I'll write again when I'm a bit less blurry. -Monica

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Lullabye Lunch

Thanks to all for your kind thoughts--it's been a rough week but we're okay. Fortunately Susanne is feeling better, and we've gone ahead with a trip we'd had planned to enjoy the cooler weather of the northeast.

Special thanks to Jenni for sending us this fun picture of Danny having lunch on Thursday. He often does this very fake sleepy routine when he eats--rubbing his eyes, his hair (yes usually with lots of food on them) but in reality he's far from sleepy. Except on Thursday apparently.

Be back online later. -Monica