Monday, November 30, 2009

Memory of memories

I got to thinking the other day that if blogs that many parents keep stand the test of time, some incidents will surely become a part of our children's memory of childhood.

But the thing is, a lot of our memories of childhood are not really our memories. They are the stories that were told enough times that they became sort of folklore. In our family for instance I once had to go to the doctor to get my stomach x-rayed because my older sister reported that I'd eaten a roofing nail. Apparently when I realized all of the concern this seemed to engender, I happy corroborated the story and the rest is history. There was no nail. But I got a heck of a lot of attention which was pretty precious in a large family.

But I was young. Maybe three or almost three. And although I could swear to you that I remember the event is detail, I really don't remember it at all. I just remember what the others told me.

So, I wonder if there is only so much room for these family stories in our collective memories. Will our babies too think they "remember" these things? But think of the difference in volume. I have probably 3 or 4 stories that have stood the test of time and are "Monica stories" in my family's "folklore". Danny has at least 100 on this blog already.

And what of the fact that often siblings have very different memories life in their households. If a blogger tells a story and no one is there to challenge it or correct it, is it rendered "the truth"? Isn't all truth relative to one's own experience anyway?

Did I mention that I have a reputation in my family as being an "embellisher"? Every story I tell is a bit more grandiose and colorful than what really happened. Or so it is said. Keep that in mind little Daniel, as you one day read this blog. Or worse yet when someone you have a crush on learns all kinds of embarrassing things your mommy wrote about your with a simple search on the WayBackMachine.

That's all I've got to say today. But tomorrow, fortunately, is another day! -Monica

P.S. Not to say that I think blogging is in any way a bad thing. It's really just a diary. A web log to be exact (that's where the word "blog" came from.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To all the "funny e-mail" forwarders out there...

It's called a "blind cc". That way when you forward what you think is a hilarious e-mail, no one has to wade through a long list of your friends, your friend's friends and your friend's friend's friends e-mail addresses.

You know. To read your "funny" e-mail.

But don't stop sending them. Much like I have a hard time admitting that that from time to time I actually read the National Enq*irer, I also must admit I enjoy your "funnies".

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! -Monica

P.S. The Reader's Digest dramatic rescue stories always make me cry too. How do they do that? 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Rubik’s Cube Theory

So perhaps those of you who already have more than one child can help me out with a theory that I'm incubating. (Pun intended).

My thought is that having one child keeps you busy but at least there are several options that are available for different scenarios if there are two parents in the mix. You kind of negotiate things like “you take Danny food shopping and I’ll take care of this other task”. Or “how about if I blah, blah blah…and you blah, blah, blah.” You know, simple things like that.

But with more than one child to coordinate, I have a sense that things can get exponentially more complicated.

It’s sort of like a Rubik’s cube to my way of thinking. You can try all different kinds of ideas, but if you really want to solve the Rubik’s cube you’ve really got to think!

This thought came to me last week when Su and I took Danny to Home Depot to get some wood and stuff to make his loft bed. We needed a truck, but since we hadn’t arranged for anyone to watch Danny (it was a Federal Holiday) we also needed to take him. Our friend with the truck was happy to lend it, but she needed to pick someone up at the airport. So of course we said she could use our car. Then we realized we’d need to figure something else out since there was no way to get a car seat in the truck.

Luck had it that we were able to borrow yet another friend’s car and off we went—me and Danny following Su who was in the pickup on this great adventure!

We bought tons (I want to say literally) of lumber and plywood. We were in a bit of a hurry to get the borrowed car back home when, just as we were ready to head to the check out area, Danny required a diaper change. (Let’s just say it was a stinker).

Not wanting Susanne to be doing any unnecessary lifting etc…my plan had been to push all the heavy stuff to the checkout area, leave him with her to pay while I went to get the truck, then I’d load up the truck and finally walk back our borrowed car with Danny to head back home again in tandem.

But now he was in serious need of a diaper change. I felt stumped. The bathroom was seemingly a mile away and it made no sense for Susanne to deal with Mr. Squirmy Wormy “I HATE getting my diaper changed on those little fold down tables”, so we decided I would take him to the bathroom.

In the meanwhile, (again, we were in a bit of a hurry) Susanne pushed the heavy cart up to the front, paid, and then went out to get the truck (did I mention it was pouring rain outside?) She’s very quick to point out that she is not an invalid. Which I agree is true, but I also really don’t think she needs to be lifting (or even pushing) anything heavy when she's 8 months pregnant when I can do it for her (which she also agrees with to a certain extent, and just a certain extent.)

Long story short, I realized in this moment of “what do we do now?” that with two babies life is going to be more complicated than it is now. I know Danny is almost 2 ½  and can help more and more, but I have a feeling that there will be a lot more discussions and options on the table about who needs to do what and when (and how and where.)

There. Those are my rambling thoughts for the day. Parents of more than one? (or anyone for that matter?) Any insights? -Monica

Monday, November 23, 2009

I got nothing...

Been trying to think of what to blog about, but I've run out of time. Must go home. Yeah!

Tune in tomorrow. Who knows what could happen between now and then! -Monica

Friday, November 20, 2009

The dawning of awareness...

The little guy loves to sing and play music. He takes our Swiffer moppy thing and holds it like a guitar, then pretends he's singing into a microphone (he gets that from me because I sing in front of a microphone with our group at church every Sunday.)

He likes me to either accompany him with either our drum, my real guitar or like today on his little toy keyboard, which has always been fun.

Until today. You see, as I tapped out the "ABC" song, followed by "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and then "Baa Baa Blacksheep" it all became clear.

THEY ARE THE SAME EXACT SONG. Sure the rhythm is different for each but they are the exact same tune. Go ahead, give them a hum.See what I'm saying?

What next? The sun doesn't actually come up each morning like Danny commands it to? Wait? Didn't Galileo have a theory on the earth revolving around the sun? So rising and setting are just sort of figments of our imagination? Oh, this just gets worse and worse.

So many deep thoughts. So little time. Have a great weekend everybody ;-)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Say what?

Su and I like to think we do a pretty good job of translating Danny's burgeoning English, but this week we both had moments where we had to pause.

The first was when he was running excitedly around while contruction of his new bed was going on yelling "kicking butt! kicking butt!" Huh?

But apparently he was yelling "fixing bed! fixing bed!" Ohhhh....  (Good use of the gerund though buddy!)

Then last night when we were driving downtown to get Su, I suddenly stopped my singing mid-note after hearing what I swear sounded like "shut up! shut up!". I will admit I felt a little shattered. We always used to tell our mom not to sing when we were kids and I guess I was now getting my just desserts.

To be sure though I asked "what did you say?"

"Sun up! Sun up!" Awesome. He was just mad that the sun had gone down for the night!

And now, back to my favorite song. -Monica

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Big Boy Bed!

This weekend marked a new stage in Danny's life. Life in a "big boy bed". He not only moved into it, but actually helped make it. Sort of. That task actually fell to Susanne and her dad. I am relieved, I must admit, that Danny seems very interested in all this planning and measuring and building. I'd really like him to be as handy as Su and her parents, and it appears he is! He even had his own little tool kit with him at all times to help and thought it was really fun to take down the crib.

The bed is actually a small loft that was designed so that we can easily take it apart and move it from the little room Danny is in now to the larger room he will share with his new sibling starting next summer. It's got about 36" of space underneath to play (which he is loving) and guard rails that conform to all the safety standards.

Su had scoped out how much it would cost to buy such a bed online, and they were amazingly expensive. So she found some basic plans which she altered to fit our needs and diagrammed everything. Then we bought and lugged home all the 2"x"4s and 4"x4"s and plywood we'd need in our neighbor's truck. Then Danny's PopPop came up for the weekend and the sawing and the drilling and the bolt ratcheting etc...began in earnest.

I was in charge of keeping everyone fed and watered and also getting Danny out of the house for some long stretches so they could work without distraction.

And how has Danny adjusted to his new "big boy bed"? He is so proud! We've had to adjust some of our night time routine but he's been cool with it. And he's slept through the night without waking up once most nights since it went up. First thing in the morning he says "Danny has big bed!" Seriously, this new twin mattress has got to be a lot more comfortable than the very firm infant mattress he's been on since he went into the crib. No wonder he's sleeping so well.

We still have to affix some handles to help him climb up better. The steps are a bit too wide for him to grab on well enough to lift himself, but other than that it's awesome. I will admit that I have been nervous that he might fall out, but Danny was never one to even climb out of his crib. He could have for months now, but just didn't want to. He prefers to call for one of us to come get him. Let's keep thinking that way little guy okay? Once the new handles are in place he'll be able to get in and out on his own which makes me feel better too. His cousins in Germany had similar beds at the same age so I feel less and less anxious about him falling every day. And now, with no further ado, here are a few pics.

P.S. Great building job family!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Drawing near...

With the baby due on Christmas Day, it seems like Christmas is far away, and yet almost here at the same time. In 6 weeks Susanne will hit that milestone of 40 weeks, but actually a baby is considered full term at 37 weeks. And 37 weeks is only 3 weeks away. Wow. Danny made his grand entrance into the world at 38 weeks so the baby coming a bit early would not be that surprising.

Are we ready? I many ways I think so. Baby clothes? Check. Stroller/Carseat? Check? Sleeping and changing area? Check. Tons of infant friendly items? Again check.

But are you ever really ready? How can you feel like you already know someone, this tiny bundle of joy, completely and perfectly, and yet also feel like a complete stranger is coming into your lives and will forever change life as you know it?

How can you wish every minute that the baby would just get here already, and in the next moment be thinking that it's incredibly important to savor this time in our lives where Su and Danny and I have a rhythm and pace that is good and comfortable?

We know that everything will change, and that we'll have a new "normal", but it will take some getting used to.

The best part is that we know that the change that is coming is distinctive. It's the difference between knowing that there is a bill in the mail for you for a million dollars, versus knowing there is a check in the mail for you for a million dollars!

My last thought on this is that for me, the baby coming at Christmas time has been very cool because there are so many indications that sort of prepare you for that special day (at least those of us who are Christians.). We are entering into a time of waiting for Jesus's birth--advent. It's all very symbolic and awe-inspiring. And so our waiting is sort of in parallel in my mind.

You know,  I've seen the TV commercials hawking Christmas already and they have not touched my heart. Store decorations too. They are artificial to me. But this morning, bringing Danny to Jenni's, I saw a house with a Christmas wreath on the door. Not a big garish display of reindeer or a Santa Snowglobe or anything. Just a simple wreath--and in that moment I truly felt in my heart that the season of Christmas is drawing nearer. For real.

And that made me smile and feel an excitement I've not yet felt. Our baby's time to come and be with us is truly drawing near now. And as hard as change can be, this change is the most welcome change I could ever imagine. Our own little lamb from God!  How blessed we are. How awesome. -Monica

Friday, November 13, 2009

Of all things seen and unseen

If you see me walking around today, I'll most likely be shaking my head in disbelief over the latest in the saga of the District of Columbia's City Council's attempt to pass legislation to allow for same sex marriage.

You see yesterday, the Catholic Church announced that if the law passes they will end its contracts with the DC government. You know, those contracts that help them feed the poor. This article  and this article in today's Washington Post give great overviews of what's going on.

So let's see if we can sum this up? The Church would not have to let gay people get married in their churches. They would not have to let gay couples rent their properties for ceremonies or parties. But as the article cited above says " they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians" 

Yes, you read that right. And so "Church officials say Catholic Charities would have to suspend its social services work for the city, rather than provide employee benefits to same-sex married couples or allow them to adopt".

Funny how the Church did not give this same ultimatum when Connecticut approved gay marriage. Hmmm...could it be that DC is so small compared to other such places, the Church saw it as a good place to make a point? Then they should make their point everywhere. But they won't. That would not be good for the bottom line.

And in all honesty whatever your opinion on whether gay people should have to opportunity in this society to marry and adopt children, I hope that you can agree that there is something inherently wrong, dare I say unchristian, about using the poor as pawns in a something that is no game.

The DC City Council to their credit does not appear interested in negotiating with such strong arm tactics. They will find the money (roughly 20M per year) elsewhere to continue these social services in some way shape or form. But who suffers in this kind of transition? I think you know.

You know the Church over time has completely changed its views on usury and slavery. So maybe all we need is more time for it to change its views on this. But that won't happen soon I'm afraid.

You know, I thought I was as disappointed as I could ever be with the Church when I left it 5 years ago.  But I was wrong.  -Monica

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I had a little e-mail conversation the other day with one of my favorite bloggers. Xbox4NappyRash, an Irish guy who lives in the Netherlands, shared a tremendous amount of information (in a most entertaining way) about his and his wife’s two year journey of trying to conceive (also known as TTC).

They finally saw their dream come true last spring when they found out they were pregnant (due a month after Su), and as I’ve read his blog in recent months, I’ve noticed two things.

1. He is the happiest guy in the world; and
2. For some reason, his commenters seem a bit less plentiful and a bit less humored.

For instance he wrote about his wife going to a prenatal fitness and well being class a while back and he got lots of comments from people aghast that he wasn’t at the class too. He clarified that he’d be going to some meetings later but again, these were not the kind of comments Xbox used to get. This is just one of a few examples I’ve noticed of a little more judgment and a little less cheering.

So it got me thinking that the difference is that he was one of the few men in the blogosphere who blogged honestly and painfully about the ups and downs of TTC and while he did so he was a hero! His identity was that of the super guy who “communicated” and “shared his feelings”. Now he was some sort of Neanderthal who was probably going to camp out in the hospital waiting room passing out cigars and never once change a diaper.

As he blogged during the two years of trying, he basically also continually failed at attaining all that he and his wife wanted. A baby. They were so “unrequited” for so long. And on some level that made it fun to go back for more.

After all, isn’t it human nature to keep watching unrequited love? Remember the show Moonlighting? Or today we have shows like Bones and NCSI. If Dr. Brennan and Agent Booth got together would Bones still hold its same appeal? What about Tony and Zeva? (Do I watch too much TV?)

My point is, when Xbox and his wife got pregnant they kind of took on a new identity in the blogosphere. Instead of TTC they are Expecting.

His blog posts are still so clever but infused with great happiness where as before they ranged from hope to bitterness and angst to despair (and back again). So this shift to happy Xbox has been an adjustment for many. And probably for some, too painful to read as they still struggle to get pregnant. Or maybe for some the suspense is gone now so it's time to move on? I don't know. But I do know that I still love to keep up.

For his part, he’s shared that “you can't control other people, you can influence what they get to read about you, but that’s not the whole truth, never is.” He also said that he’s no angel, but no devil either.

I think he’s gonna be a really great dad. -Monica

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Scared straight

Remember that TV show where they took troubled kids into jails and scared the heck out of them in hopes that they'd stay away from a life of crime? It was called "Scared Straight".

This weekend a longtime friend who was in Americorps with Susanne came for a visit. She's at one of those watershed kinds of moments in her life where she's ready for a change (job, probably location etc...) and drove up to spend a weekend with us to talk through some of her options.

Her name is Constance (not really) and she's got a very serene life. Two cats, lots of peace and quiet but a job that doesn't really work for her. After approximately 12 hours with us, including Danny and a couple other toddlers on the block she suddenly realized that some things about her life were actually pretty good. And peaceful.

Constance, we totally get you. Little kids are demanding. And awesome. And exhausting. And amazing. And, well, you get the drift.

We are so glad you came to visit. Sometimes stepping away from life for a few days helps you realize what you've got .

Excuse me. I've got to go and extract Danny's blanket from the refrigerator. Love, Monica (and Su)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

My imaginary want ad...

Seeking out spontaneous friend who lives far away to text me while I’m in a boring meeting to say “I just flew into DC--wanna get lunch in an hour?” Friend must be one of those people that goes way back, and totally makes my day.

I love it when my daydreams come true!

Thanks for getting in touch with me today Amy! As always it’s wonderful seeing you, and I’m so touched that you found time to see me during your quick work trip out here. I love surprises like this!

Amy and I have been friends for a long time now, and we share something in common. We both have uber accomplished spouses. Her Matt is a brilliant lawyer, marathoner, mechanic, chef etc., etc. My Susanne is fabulous at everything else (and could totally beat Matt in a cooking contest I say!) Or so our ongoing “argument” goes. They are both cute as can be too.

I would like to add, however, that even though Amy talked highly of Matt’s next project plan to build a garage with a hydraulic lift, she had to concede defeat when I told her that Susanne grew 17 million brain cells for the baby yesterday.

What a fun lunch! Thanks again Amy. Catch you in Minnesota next time! –Monica

P.S. Hugs to Matt and the kiddies!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Just Another Sunshine Day...

Fact: When I was away from home for 3 nights last week, two year old Danny slept pretty peacefully each night and Susanne actually had to WAKE HIM UP by 7:30 to make sure he got something to eat before going to Jenni’s.

Fact: When I have been home for the other 877 nights in his life, he has been known to begin his supplications at around 4:00 am. (Oh and by the way, with the baby due next month, I've been getting up nights with Danny as necessary. Happy, happy, joy, joy!)

“Mommy! Mama! Mommy! Mama!”

“Num Num! Num Num! (Yes, this means Yum Yum or "I'm hungry people!)

“Sun up! Sun up!”

“Choo Choo Mouse! Choo Choo Mouse! (This is a Mickey Mouse cartoon).

“Boo Boo. Danny Boo Boo.” (He does not really have a boo boo. He is crying wolf.)


Best case scenario? He stops his litany after 3 or 4 words and drifts back to sleep. And sometimes I can soothe him with a quiet word and a well placed blanket or even rock him back to sleep in less than a minute. But sometimes, (and this is especially true with this week’s daylight savings time change) there is no stopping the escalation.

Like this morning. He really didn’t eat much for supper last night so his cries for food were actually believable. So I decided to take him downstairs and give him a banana and some milk. This has been known to be the magic elixir. But this morning he was not willing to simply relax into my arms to go back to bed. But up we went anyway.

So began the 20 minutes of full on crying and fighting with the door in his bedroom as I refused to let him out. I sat on the floor with his favorite blanket and eventually he came over to me and collapsed into my arms and finally let me lay him down. He was up again an hour later at 5:30 really ready to start his day. Yawn.

So where was I going with this? Oh right. He slept so great when I was not home. What does it all mean? Is it me? Oh, and by the way, I think he’s starting to believe that he can command the sun to come up. So far it has every morning, much to his delight ;-) -Monica

Monday, November 02, 2009

Bee Happy!

Yup. Just Bee happy. Danny sure was this Halloween! Happy autumn everybody. -Monica (and Su and Danny)