Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In your dreams...

The second Danny wakes up in the morning he asks "choo choo?" So I'm guessing it's pretty easy to figure out what he's dreaming about. I also suspect that our cats constantly dream about squirrels and birds.

But what about the dreams we adults have? What a crazy blend of images and thoughts. Just think of the hundreds (maybe thousands) of images and sounds we are exposed to all the time. Television, radio, books, the internet....the list goes on and on. Last week we watched a show on TV where a guy purposely trapped people into a movie theater and set it on fire. Guess what I dreamed about?

Imagine what it must have been like to have lived in the past where you maybe just lived your whole life in one place and maybe never traveled more than 20 miles from your home. No books, no movies, nothing. What did people dream of? Apple trees? Babbling brooks?

I guess there were scary things that could enter into their thoughts and dreams. Wild animals? Accidents they saw? There's always hellfire and damnation right?

I guess I'm just saying that I think it's pretty amazing that we get any sleep at all today with the pictures that are filed away in our heads.

Just my (sleep deprived) thought for the day. -Monica

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sticker Shock

This is a photo of a 1974 Chevy Nova. Yes, the two door, three on the tree (which I hope means something to someone out there) was my pride and joy. I was finishing up college and working at the local Target when I bought it and proudly took out my first ever car loan. A whopping $900 which I paid in installments for a heck of a long time. I remember it so well. Not so much the car, but the whopping amount of money it cost me back in 1982.

Fast forward to a fine March morning in 2009. I'd just dropped both cats off for a teeth cleaning that "might" include an extraction or two last Friday. I was given an estimate, and asked to provide a number where I could be reached if they found more problems once the cleaning began.

The call came about two hours after I'd dropped them. Harley was in surgery (general anesthsia--cats don't sit still for teeth cleaning.) The doctor let me know that the cat had some pretty major teeth problems. "Down to the nerve", "not much tooth left in some places", "jaw might need some hardening solution once they extracted the bad ones".

"Looks like 8 teeth will have to come out. The Oral Resporptive Lesions are pretty bad."

What was I supposed to say? Oooohhh...that's getting pretty expensive doc. Just take a few and leave the rest? I could hear the "beep, beep, beep" of the little monitor in the background.

"Go ahead, do what you need to do."

So Harley ended up with 9 teeth removed. I got a call about CJ in the afternoon. She needed 5 teeth out.

So, where was I? Oh yes, both cats came home with pain medication, Harley with antibiotics and they are now on soft foods for two weeks. Ironically, the diet we've been feeding them is exactly right. Some cats just get these lesions we are told.

It's hard to reconcile wanting to be good and responsible pet owners with this kind of money. We would not want them to suffer unnecessarily (and we suspected Harley was from how he was scratching his face of late.) Do you get a second opinion? I've never heard of that with veterinary care either.

The fact of the matter is that this ended up being a huge and frankly unexpected expenditure. Heck, we could have been the proud owners of two and 1/2 circa 1974 Chevy Novas for what we ended up having to pay for this "teeth cleaning".

Anyway, now I've just got to figure out a way for these two toothless (well not really since they each have 30 teeth) felines can be put to work to earn their keep. Maybe we'll get a generator to charge our cells that the cats will have too run on a treadmill to provide the power. Because they are so obedient.

Oh, in re-reading this I realized that I sort of forgot to communicate how worried we were about both kitties, and how glad we were that they seemed to recover fairly quickly from some very invasive surgery. Here they are--our portly gentleman Harley with the grey coat and his littler sidekick CJ. We love our little kitties. What? No smiles for the camera? ;-)


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Some sage advice...

Have you ever seen this kind of note in the paper when your favorite advice columnist is out of town?

“Marilyn Sax is on vacation. The following are excerpts from summer 2004 live discussions on www.yourfavoritenewspaper.com

Oh my Gosh! If only I had a job where when I was away, I could just recycle old stuff.

Just imagine…

“Monica is on vacation. The following budget numbers and reports are from the previous Fiscal Year, but enjoy anyway!”

You see, I can’t get away with that because the nature of the problems change. And the numbers change. And the reporting requirements change.

But human nature? I’m not sure that the nature of the problems change much. So the answers don’t either right?

I so want to be an advice columnist now. Oh. I guess that would require me to be wise. Sigh. There is always a catch right?


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Howdy Sherriff!

Fun times at the mall. Shouldn't all shopping malls have children's play areas? Danny had great fun last week when we had to head out to suburban Maryland for an errand, and we wanted to post this photo as a special shout out to Danny's Nana's best friends Peggy and Mike. Mike spent his career as a Law Enforcement Officer in Howard County (yes, they are called LEOs--get it?) and anyway, we thought they'd appreciate this. Have a great day everybody! -M

P.S. Good thing it's an ambulance. Look what Danny is doing to that poor froggy driver's eye!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rats! Ants! Rant!

So if you made what you thought was a delicious pan of lasagne but ants completely ignored the chunks on the floor by your son's high chair would you be offended?

Me niether.

I think.


P.S. The exterminator came yesterday by the way. That will be all ants. That will be all.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lighting the Corners of my Mind...

We’re going to our friend Meredith’s wedding shower this weekend and I was just reflecting back on all the weddings I’ve attended. A couple dozen I’d guess over the years. Some are more memorable than others and so I just decided to think of which memory really, really stands out.

Or course our wedding stands out to me most of all. Hands down the winner.

But could never forget watching the train of my friend Mindy’s dress catch fire when she bumped a paper bag with a candle that was lining the outdoor reception area (her husband and about a dozen guests who were far closer than I was put the flames out in an instant.) That was memorable indeed.

But the winner in my memory would have to be this story. I was attending the wedding of a friend named Lori up on the Boston area back in 1993 or 1994. She and her new husband Diego took the floor for their first dance and it was one of those songs that was all over the radio at the time that from some children’s movie. Suddenly I realized it was the music from “Beauty and the Beast”.

Beauty and the Beast? What?

True, I did think she was more attractive than her new husband, but come on! How in the heck could they have picked that? I secretly looked around to see if anyone else seemed aghast. Hmmm…no reaction at all. Hmmm… Maybe they all thought he was a beastly looking guy I thought.

And then I realized my error. It was actually the song “Somewhere Out There” from an American Tail.

I’ll never forget that wedding. And I'm an idiot sometimes. What’s your favorite wedding memory?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

For Real

When we read children’s stories to Danny that have a mommy and a daddy in them, we always change the words to say mommy and mama instead. We read this idea in a book on gay parenting (sorry I can’t remember which) and think it makes great sense.

It is possible to find stories that talk about families having two moms or two dads, but they are pretty rare. Todd Parr’s “The Family Book” is a great example, but it’s the exception not the rule.

You see, we want Danny to know that that even though our family is not the same as a lot of other kids’ families, it’s valid. It’s is true.

Truth. You may ask, “If you value truth, why would you lie to Danny by making it seem like there are two moms when there are not? Isn’t he going to realize that you’ve been lying to him when he can read on his own?”

Well, let’s take a look at this concept of truth in our world. Remember the Brady Bunch? What a fun show! And imagine how all those kids out there who had step moms and step dads loved that the Brady’s were all step siblings. Yeah! But let’s peel our onion back a little further shall we. Robert Reed played Mike Brady. The quintessential wonderful father. So handsome, so wise. Admit it. You loved him. He was a great dad.

But Robert Reed in real life was gay. And closeted. He was not free to live a truthful life, much less portray a character that was true to himself on that show. Can you imagine if they’d done a show about two dads coming together to “form a family—that’s the way they all became the Brady Bunch”? Forget about Mike and Carol! Go Mike and Herold! No, that was not an option then. Sadly, not even now I don’t think.

And what about Maurice Sendak? He wrote a children’s story that is generally regarded as a classic of American illustrated children's literature, “Where the Wild Things Are”. Mr. Sendak came out of the closet when his partner of many years died in 2007. He didn’t think he would have been a successful author, particularly of children’s stories, if people knew he were gay. So you know that our star of “Where the Wild Things Are” little Max, did not have two same sex parents. Because even if Mr. Sendak would have loved to have written a story where he and his beloved partner were the parents in that tale he could not have.

So where was I going with this?

Oh. Truth and reality. Being the son of two moms will make Danny in the minority for the most part—part of a subordinate group in our culture. Dominant groups in our society often get described with positive adjectives and subordinate groups often get described with negative adjectives. Using men and women as an example, men are often described as strong, fearless and decisive while women are often described as being weak, scattered, catty etc…

When you are a part of a subordinate group, and you internalize that crap too long it injures you. And that is wrong.

I remember once many years ago getting on an airplane and hearing voice over the PA saying something like “my name is Sarah Parker and I’ll be your pilot today”. I was momentarily stunned. In my world view pilots were tall, confident men and she was definitely not that. Was I afraid she wouldn’t be able to really fly that plane? I’m ashamed to admit on some level yes. I was afraid. But what did that say about me? Was I not able to “fly my own plane” in life? This was shocking to me.

From that day forward I decided that I was going to take charge of my world view. Be more aware of the power of words and the messages they send. So when Danny’s old enough I’ll explain to him why we changed “daddy” to “mommy”. Because we will not be party to our son’s oppression. We’ve got a lot of work to do in the world to change the way things are. And in our little sphere of influence, this is one small way we are working to do just that.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top 'O the Morning to You!

Or as my funny brother Paul taught me to say each time St. Patty's Day rolls around--

"Top 'O the Morning To You and the Rest 'O the Day to Me!!!"

Have a great day everybody! -Monica (and the rest of the clan ;-)

Monday, March 16, 2009

While working from home today I took a break during lunch to prune our herb garden in the front yard. I think I did okay but I have a problem. Two really.

The first problem is that honest to God I cannot tell the difference between most herbs and weeds. To be even more honest I usually can’t tell the different herbs apart which is embarrassing. For example, when we use herbs in recipes and Su asks me to go outside and get a snip of sage or basil or whatever I usually struggle. Then she’ll tell me again what it looks like and kindly remind me that we have little signs next to each one that say what they are. See, this is why I love her. (One exception is that I know rosemary. It's my only certainty in garden life.)

Susanne is a gardener. She is, I think, most at peace and happy when she is outside working in the rich earth. She loves it and can make anything grow. If the weather hadn’t been so miserable this weekend she would have pruned, but instead I thought I’d volunteer to get out there today so we can focus next weekend on the cool raised beds we are going to create to expand our vegetable garden in the back.

So I mentioned I have two problems with the whole pruning thing. Yes, it’s scary to guess which things are weeds and what should go and which are actually good plants that should stay. But my second problem goes back to a story that’s minor folklore in my family.

Apparently when I was around 8 or my dad was going to replace a broken part of a bedroom wall. It needed a new sheet of sheetrock and he’d set to work pounding out the broken bits of plaster to begin the repair. Now dad wasn’t much into these home repair kinds of things so soon enough he stopped to take a nap. Eight year old me thought that pounding out the broken plaster was great fun, and I thought I’d help while he was napping. I pounded and pounded and remember being so excited to see how happy dad would be when he’d seen what I’d done. (Dad could sleep though anything so he had no idea what I was up to.)

Anyway as it turned out the other three walls in the room were perfectly fine. “Were” is the operative word here. They all now had dozens of hammer holes in them.

Needless to say it was not a good day for me (or my dad apparently). My soaring confidence was crushed and I think from that day forward I’ve always been a little afraid of accidentally taking out more than I should.

So I pruned today, but I couldn’t cut everything out even though I think I maybe should have. Funny how things that happened so long ago can still affect you so much. I definitely got punished for wrecking all the walls, but the punishment isn’t what has stayed with me. It’s the fear that whenever I think I’ve done a good job on something it's is almost always tempered by that little tiny voice that says “that’s what you think Monica”.

So, I hope that the pruning was okay. I know that Susanne won’t be mad if she needs to trim a bit more. It’s a lot easier to trim a bit more than to make herbs magically grow again if they’ve been inadvertently destroyed. Just my thought for a grey and cold afternoon. -Monica

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dysfunction Junction what's your function?

Let's see. My laptop seems to have a problem. The screen should be able to stay in a locked and upright position, but after getting progressively worse over time, it is now kaput.

The computer works fine, but the screen must be propped up by a pillow or other object at all times. And if I'm not careful it smashes down on the keys and basically shuts the computer completely off. I then lose whatever I was working on. Not fun I tell you. There also appears to be no way to tighten any screws or anything to fix it.

So I guess that in a manner of speaking my laptop is suffering from erectile dysfunction (hmmm that looks more innuenoey in writing than it does when I say it out loud).


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Not forgotten

This morning Danny was wide awake at around 5 am, (ugh!) and after taking him downstairs and giving him some milk he fell asleep in my arms on the couch for the next two hours. Just like we did in this picture taken the week he was born.

He’s a bit longer now that he’s 21 months old—stretches all the way past my knees now, but it seems to me he fits just as perfectly now as he did then.

As I held him I reflected on something that’s been on my mind of late. If the baby that we lost to a miscarriage last summer had survived, he or she would have been due right about now. This week.

This makes me (and Susanne of course) sad. I can still remember exactly the song that was playing on our CD player when she called down to me from upstairs that something was wrong. I can't listen to it anymore. I just can't.

Life does of course go on, but you're changed by this experience. You forget in one sense, but you never really forget.

But I am also reminded of one of my favorite sayings by Hafiz.

"This place where you are right now God circled on a map for you."

As I held Danny in my arms this morning, I knew with great certainty that this was true. And that we are blessed. -Monica

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Last night around midnight I awoke to the sweetest sound. Down the hallway, Danny was talking. Gently and quietly he was just chatting along. He doesn’t talk much yet, and in fact his two word “sentences” are pretty much limited to “mama, nana, choo choo, caca (helicopter) and thank you” (which sounds a little like “tattoo”). But last night even though I was too far away to hear if he was saying actual words, I could tell that he was communicating with a cadence like regular speaking. Then he drifted back to sleep. It was so sweet. Both because it’s fun to watch him grow up, but also because usually when he wakes up at night he starts crying.

In the morning I asked Su if she’d heard it too or if I’d just imagined it. She had! I guess we were too sleepy to talk about it when we heard it—either that or on some level we were afraid if he heard us talking he’d start wailing.

Anyway, I remember as I was falling back to sleep, reflecting on how after two years of speaking Spanish in Guatemala (during Peace Corps), I was astonished to learn that I had begun to dream in the language. I wonder if this is similar to what’s happening in Danny’s brain now that almost two years has gone by for him? Of course in my dreams I was much more fluent than I was in real life. (Maybe Danny too? ;-)

Anyway, thought I’d share this happy little tale. Oh and on a related sleepy note, his grandma will definitely smile to hear that when I went in to cover him up much earlier in the evening, he woke up for a brief moment from a sound sleep and immediately called out “Nana???” This boy loves his Nana!


Monday, March 09, 2009

Ah...my fair weathered friend!

This weekend we took a quick trip to our favorite B&B in the Shenandoah and enjoyed some time hiking and exploring. The best part was that Danny got to know his new best friend, AKA his shadow. Shadow was a wonderful playmate. Whatever Danny did, his shadow did too! No questions asked!

Ah to be young and delighted by such simple pleasures. Of course Shadow wasn't so playful come sunset, but Danny is a patient guy. There's always tomorrow!

Have a great day everybody! -Monica

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Note to self

I have met the enemy, and the enemy is Crayola Crayons.

I don't recommend that there be any crayons in the pockets of little clothes when you do the laundry. Especially when you wash like 90% of everything your toddler owns in one big load.

More next time on my "Adventures in Laundering".


P.S. On the bright side there are lots of good solutions to be found on the Internet!

Update! This solution as a matter of fact just totally saved the day. His once purple streaked clothes are now cleaner and brighter then they have ever been and not a bit of crayon to be seen!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Maybe? Maybe NOT!

Well yesterday was great fun as many friends came by to share cake for Su’s birthday. We had about 5 toddlers at the house until around 8 pm so you can just imagine them all slowly but surely simultaneously winding down while still going and going. It was very cute. Maybe it was the carrot cake? What goes up must come down right? (I’m talking blood sugar levels here.)

So anyway, the title of my post. I was thinking about how my life has a lot fewer maybes in it since Danny was born. Not that this is a bad thing. It’s just a thing.

For example. Last Friday I was running an afternoon forum for work and hadn’t had lunch. Sometime later in the afternoon I suddenly started absent-mindedly daydreaming about the fact that there was a MacDonald’s at the metro station across the street. Maybe when the event ended I could go grab a burger and fries before heading home? Or maybe that sandwich shop??? Until I suddenly remembered OH MY GOSH! I’VE GOT TO GET HOME AS FAST AS I CAN TO GET THE CAR AND DRIVE OVER TO GET DANNY BEFORE 6:00!

It’s like all my options are different now and there are fewer of them.

Like remember when a weekend would roll around and you had something sort of planned, but then you just decided to just stay in bed in all day and read the entire Sunday paper? Or maybe stroll over to a local coffee shop? Or maybe just, I don’t know? Sleep?

Well, the thing with kids is that they have needs that must be filled. Sippy cups of milk, diaper changes, baths once in a while, food on a regular basis (and healthy foods at that which is not as easy as feeding them cake regularly ;-) They absolutely need your love and affection too. You can negotiate who does what in terms of tasks if you have a partner, but it is non-negotiable that all of these need must be met for the little ones. So there are many fewer “maybes” built into life with a child.

And even though I’d be lying if I said that I never missed the “good old days”, I do have to say that responsibilities and all with Danny, I really do feel like these are the “great new days”. And I don’t mean maybe. -Monica

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Happy Birthday Love!

I snagged this photo from Susanne's baby book to let the world know that she is, (in my humble opinion) the most beautiful baby ever born. Until of course a tie was declared when she gave birth to Danny 33 years later ;-)

I promise I won't get all sappy or anything honey, but you are the most beautiful woman I know, and I love you with all my heart. Ditto for the little guy! Happy birthday my love. -Monica and Daniel

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Never let 'em see you sweat

But when you're only one year old you can just say "never let 'em see you drool!" -Danny!