Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Just a sec!

When Susanne went into labor with Benjamin eight days before her due date, I remember feeling an initial sense of control and calm. It was about 5:30 in the morning on December 17th, and I wasn’t too surprised to see her up already and walking around. The last few weeks of pregnancy make it pretty hard for any pregnant woman to sleep comfortably, so seeing her up was no big deal.

Until she mentioned that, although she wasn’t sure, she thought she might be feeling contractions. This was unusual. She never had much in the way of Braxton-Hicks contractions with any of her two pregnancies so this really made me sit up and pay attention.

And I knew exactly what to do. As the birth partner, the best help I could offer now was to time and record every contraction. I remembered perfectly that I’d need to note the time one began, the duration, and the number of minutes before the next one started. And I was ready. Sort of.

You see with Danny’s birth in 2007 I did this just fine using a watch I’d purchased in 2001 to run my one and only marathon. It was one of those high tech gizmos with all kinds of functions including a stopwatch function. In fact I own two of those watches since during my training for the marathon I’d lost one and replaced it, then eventually found the first one. So timing contractions with Danny back then was a breeze.

Fast forward to two weeks ago when I realized I need to get hopping and start timing. “Hmmmm…” I wondered out loud. “Honey, do you know where either of those two watches are?”

I had no idea you see. Su, in between rather painful if short contractions (at least early on), gave me a few good ideas and I spent a good 15 minutes looking everywhere—to no avail.

This was ridiculous. Surely we had another watch with a second hand right? But we didn’t. You see, we don’t wear watches. We actually use our electronic devices to see what time it is, and they don’t have second hands. Neither does any clock in our house, and you can be sure that Su was not going to labor in the kitchen so I could use the the microwave timer.

While I continued my frantic searching we came up with two solutions. Su remembered that her ipod had a stopwatch app. Which actually sort of worked except that by the time you tapped the right things to start it again, several seconds had already elapsed and we realized that this was not the best solution.

Then I found this annoying stopwatch that I’d gotten as a freebee at a conference. I’m surprised we still had it, as my recollection, it beeped at all hours of the day and night and drove us both mad. But my super efficient wife did her magic and made the annoying stopwatch actually work properly so I could proceed in my duties. Benjamin was born later that day so these contractions were indeed the real thing.

The moral of this story is that all of you out there who are partners of expectant women should take this as a cautionary tale. Make sure you’ve got a timing device. Seriously. Oh, and those two awesome watches I mentioned I owned? Still haven’t found them. And now that I think of it, if they were new in 2001 and I know I used one of them in 2007, how sure am I really that either still has any battery life now that it's almost 2010?

Baby Benjamin, I hope you can forgive me. It won’t be the last time I’ll beg for you indulgence. Love, Mommy

P.S. Couldn't resist. Pictured below, the boys.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oh the layers we'll wear!

I was just thinking...

Daniel was born in late May 2007 and the day he came home from the hospital it was 102 degrees outside. Hot, hot, hot.

 Benjamin was born in late December 2009 and the day he came home from the hospital is was in the low 20s. Cold, cold, cold.

Which has caused me to realized that summer babies don't require much more to wear than a diaper, a onsie and a recieving blanket. And they actually find the chill of regular diaper changes refreshingly cool (cold mommy hands and all).

But winter babies have got it rougher. You've got your diaper and your onsie of course. Then you've got your warm sleeper or outfit (for night and day). And when it's time to go night night, a warm and cozy sleep sack gets added. And maybe even another receiving blanket. So diaper changes are not only unrefreshingly cold for our December boy, they take a lot of time!

Benji is handling it quite well though I'd say. I'm the one regularly cursing the little snaps that are maddeningly arragned just to drive me mad--especially in the low light of night time.

Wonder what other observations will come to light as the days pass? Only time will tell. Have a great day everybody! -Monica

Monday, December 28, 2009

Time flies when you are having fun...

Hi everybody. Sorry for the delay in getting up some more pictures of our lovely lad. We've decided that since we did a one week slide show of Danny, and then a monthly one until he was a year old, it only seems fair to do the same for his brother Benji.

So, we hope you'll enjoy "Benji's First Week". They are posted in Shutterfly and you don't need to log into anything to see them. Just follow the prompts from "view album".

Benjamin is doing great. He's steadily gaining back the weight that most babies lose in the first few days of life. His temperament is very sweet so far although when he does get cranky it's usually in the evenings. Nothing that a quick dose of the elixir of the Gods won't help (yes, that is breast milk.)

We are all doing fine as a matter of fact and enjoyed taking Benji to Christmas Eve service. I won't say he upstaged any other baby that night, but he was very much the focus of much "oohing" and "ahhing" from the wonderful friends we've made at Luther Place.

Alrighty then. To end this post, I'd like to challenge those of you who don't think Benji looks like Danny to pick which boy is which. The correct answer can be found in the slide show. Have a tremendous day everybody! -Monica

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Back home with our two boys

Well here is the obligatory first picture of Benjamin with his big brother Daniel. As you can see, they are quite sweet together, and in fact, I also want to share this picture which we took a few minutes after arriving home with the baby. When Danny saw Benji asleep on the couch he decided that he needed a nap too and climbed on up to lay down with his brother. Beyond cute right?


Everything is going great. We did manage to have Benji in the midst of one of the biggest blizzards we’ve seen in DC in a long time, and were basically trapped at the hospital which went into a big lockdown at 2 pm on Saturday. This means that the thousands of workers there could not leave and had to bunk down and take over shifts for those who could not get in. Patients were also basically prohibited from being discharged as the city had declared a state of emergency. The roads were horrible. In a way it was kind of a cool, “we are all in this together” sort of mentality and it was fun hearing everyone tell their story of how many hours they’d been there. One nurse joked that it was sort of like a slumber party, except with no music, and bland food.

We actually arrived there on Thursday not even knowing a storm was heading our way. By Saturday though, there were 18” of snow on the ground and it was still falling.

We were not concerned about being trapped there for two reasons. The first being that Benji was born via an unplanned C-Section so Su needed a few days to recover. And secondly, becaue Danny was in good hands with his Nana who got here from South Carolina before the first snow fell. Good timing Benjamin! I was actually able to get home every night except one to put Danny to bed which I think helped, and he did a great job on the night that I was unable to get home because of the storm (thanks Nana!)

Back to Benji. I think it is safe to say that his birth was rather stressful. He was stuck very much like his brother Daniel had been, and after hours of pushing, it was decided that for the safety of the baby it would be best to do the C-Section. It was not the birth we imagined, but it was the birth we got, and I know that we are both just so grateful that he’s okay and that Susanne is okay too.

The baby also had jaundice which is pretty common but it also means that he had to be nursed every two hours to keep up his hydration. He was also put under big lights in the nursery for about 20 hours. The lights work to break down bilirubin in the blood. We knew the procedure since we'd gone through the same thing with Danny, but you do forget how tiring it can be. Since you time the feedings to be two hours apart from the start of one feeding to the start of the next, you don’t get much rest.  I can’t complain though. I’m not the one who had major surgery and then has to do this over and over again on little rest. I’ve been there every minute, but Su’s job is much harder, bless her heart. She is amazing.

We are still doing the feedings every few hours but everything is just easier now that we are home.

Anyway, just wanted to post a bit more about the birth of our beautiful little boy. Happy Holidays everyone. We are happy as can be that Benjamin came in time for us all to celebrate baby's first Christmas this year! Yes! -M

Friday, December 18, 2009

Welcome sweet boy--we've been waiting for you!

Weighing in at 8 lbs. 1 oz., the incredibly adorable Benjamin! He was born yesterday afternoon, and we are so incredibly happy!  Anybody else out there think he looks an awful lot like big brother Danny did as a newborn?

Su and baby are doing fine. She can tell the birth story later. Happy day everybody!!!! -Monica & Susanne & sons

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Keeping busy. In the best possible ways...

This weekend our favorite group of Peace Corps buddies threw a "White Elephant/Baby Shower" party and it was a blast. The final present selected for the White Elephant portion of the event was a dollar store gum ball machine with big box of gumballs. As you can see, there was no question but that this gift would leave in the hands of little Danny.

He hasn't managed to open the box of gumballs yet thank goodness. But he's got the "machine" all taken apart and loves it even though the little door mechanism where the candy comes out out snaps his finger like a turtle.

This morning his first words upon waking were "gumballs mom!" He is a single minded little guy like that. We're not actually going to let him have gumballs we've decided. Maybe some more healthful snack can come out instead. We'll see.

And here he practices being angelic for our church Advent Play yesterday.The two year olds were the hit of the show in my somewhat biased estimation!

Hope you all had a great weekend too. -Monica

P.S. In case you're wondering, no sign of the baby coming anytime soon.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Last night at 10:46 pm


“Good, that was excellent. Just relax now.”

“Ready? Here we go again…”

“Three, two, one…okay—stop, stop.”

“Last time now honey. You can do it!”

And with those words, Susanne and I finished filling in the blind cc section of an empty draft e-mail that is now ready to send once the baby comes. Su was holding down the Ctrl key and selecting the names, and we agreed to stop and add groups after about every twenty names so she didn’t accidently let go of the Ctrl key and lose everything we’d been selecting. It’s a lot of pressure to keep holding down that key without slipping up. So it was good to relax in between sets to get ready for that next group of names.

You didn’t think we’d had the baby already did you. ;-)


Thursday, December 10, 2009

May I have this dance?

Those of you who follow this blog have surely figured out already that I am crazy about our boy. Seriously, our Danny makes me laugh, makes me beam with pride, and makes me feel all mushy and dreamy inside like 95% of the time (well except for those times that he’s testing my patience of course.)

Yes, he is a gift beyond compare to both me and Susanne.

And as I think about this, I think about something our friend Erin mentioned when her second child was born earlier this year. She said that she never realized how hard it would be to no longer just be a mom to her older toddler daughter. That relationship had to change once little brother came upon the scene. Erin, if you read this feel free to correct my memory of this, but I think you communicated something about how in a way the family had to grieve the loss of the life you’d had with just mom, dad and little AG. Of course now months later, AG probably can’t remember what life was like without her wonderful little brother, but I think that you were on to something with your use of the word grief to express how it felt in transition.

Danny has had our undivided attention for his whole life. Well. Maybe not undivided, but he has only known a world in which we are not too distracted by anyone or anything else. This of course will change soon.

He’ll be a great big brother and we’ll work on strategies to make sure he still gets lots of attention and love but this life that we have known together is going to shift gears.

Yesterday he was home sick after running a fever in the night. I happened to be rereading our copy of the “Happiest Baby on the Block” and was reminded that the same techniques that make babies feel content work for big people too. That’s why swinging in a hammock or listening to the ocean feel so soothing. Danny was starting to get cranky but but really needed to take a nap, so on a whim, I up and did something I haven’t done in a very long time. I hoisted him up onto my left shoulder and holding him tight, started swaying back and forth just like I'd done so many times when he was a baby. We do plenty of rocking in the rocking chair now as he’s grown, but I can’t remember the last time we danced like this.

Our big 27 pound "big boy" melted into my arms and was fast asleep in minutes.

And even though he seemed to get heavier with every passing minute, I couldn’t stop myself from dancing with him just a little while longer. -Monica

P.S. A pic of my very first dance with our number one son on the day he was born in 2007.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Not even remotely capable it seems...

So Danny loves remotes. Oh the joy of pushing buttons! But unfortunately, when he does, I am often reduced to a blubbering mass of total confusion. Let's see? Something about something needing to be on Channel 3, but make sure that the VCR/DVD player is on (or off?) and that the Line 1 or Cable button is properly pressed on the grey one. Or is it the black one? No, no! This TV has a "universal" remote except that it's not very universal.Or is that the one upstairs? Argh!!!

 Okay. I think I got it.

I don't got it.

And this ladies and gentlemen is why I knew Susanne was the one for me. 

Thank you honey for once again making everything right with the world. And Daniel? If you're going to insist on tracking those remotes down no matter how carefully I think I've hidden them from you, it's time for you to sit down with mama and learn the secret of "fixin' the problem". Clearly I'm a lost cause, but I have a lot of hope for you son. Love, Mommy

P.S. Sounds like my great niece ittle Johanna will need to stay in the hospital a bit longer. Maybe home Thursday? Let's hope so.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Feel better baby

This is my neice's two year old daughter in a photo taken by her mom today where she is resting at a hospital in the Twin Cities. She woke up yesterday with half of her face completely swollen and had emergency surgery last night for an infected cyst in her neck. She'll be back for more tests next week.

Rest well sweetheart. Hopefully whatever the problem is will get figured out and addressed right away.

Her grandmother (my sister) did say that the only even remotely humerous thing to come out of this is when they gave the baby some morphine because of the intense pain she was in, she started sucking her favorite thumb and with a dreamy smile announced that her "thummy was nummy!" (She also then began laughing which sounded sort of like a snorting  pig, but she probably won't want to remember that part of the story when she is older.)

The docs think they know what the problem is and how to treat it. Please keep Johanna and her family in your prayers. I hear she is doing better today, but she is one very sick little girl.

Cousin Danny sends hugs and kisses baby. Aunties too. Love, Monica

My pre New Year's Day resolution

I've always thought it interesting how New Year's Day resolutions have such a special place of honor in our lives. Interesting because most January 1st resolutions have to do with getting healthier or losing weight, when ironically most of us have just spent the last month eating and drinking way too much rich stuff. Ah...the holidays!

So. In order to make January a little less stressful for myself (especially with the wee one soon due to make an appearance) I've decided to adopt one simple resolution today, December 8, 2009.

I will be a "cat burglar". Let me explain. You see several years ago I took a W*ight Watcher's class. Our instructor was a real character. She had a very high pitched voice and a very stiff affect. I'll never forget her explaining to us that when we go to holiday parties, we all have to be "cat burglars". We need to "case the joint" when we go to a party and understand what every single food choice is there before we even pick up a plate.

Then and only then could we help ourselves to a plate of food. The unspoken being that fruit, vegetables and fish dishes etc...were probably going to be a better choice than the double cheese lasagne with Death by Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake.

I'll never forget her prancing around the room trying to demonstrate how we could sneakily check everything out at an imaginary party. But as rediculous as her little demo came across, it was actually a very valuable lesson.

Case in point. I just came back to my desk after attending my very first Holiday Party at work. I forgot to be a "cat burglar" and ended up eating two big (okay fattening) sandwiches and some cookies before it dawned on me that I didn't even pick up one healthy item.

So. I am committed. I will take a few minutes to inventory every offering before I pick up my plate for the rest of this season. And I will not weigh one pound more on January 1st than I do today.

Wish me luck! Meow!!! -M

Monday, December 07, 2009


Su is not a big fan of the "pregnant belly shots", (or any photos of herself in general) but I finally got one that I think she won't hate!

I maybe got one picture of her when she was pregnant with Danny, and here is one I snapped this weekend "backstage" at the children's Advent Play rehearsal at our church. Hard to believe there are only 18 days remaining until the baby is due. We spent a lot of time this weekend getting things ready though, because big brother here decided to come out about 2 weeks early, so as far as we are concerned, this baby could come at any time now too. Su sorted tons of clothes and washed up the ones we'll need for baby. The car seat and bassinet are all set up, and I made several of our favorite meals that are now in the freezer ready to be heated up in a jiffy.

It's really odd to plan for an event without knowing when it will happen exactly right? Looks like I'm going to have to keep practicing patience. Argh! I'm not very good at that! -Monica

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Actually there really is a stupid question…

Remember that saying “the only stupid question is the one that doesn’t get asked?” Well, as it turns out, that’s a bunch of hogwash. How do I know this? Judge for yourself…

Last night as Su and I snuggled, I was really enjoying feeling the baby wiggle and move. Every time I’d press gently on her belly the baby would respond in kind. It was really sweet.

Then suddenly, my hand was actually airborne for a moment, courtesy of an amazingly hard kick or hipcheck or who knows what.

In shock, I looked at Susanne and asked in the most incredulous tone you can imagine,

“Honey, did you feel that?????”

I rest my case. It was indeed, quite possibly the stupidest question I have ever asked in my life. At least up til now. ;-)


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Danny and his Nana

Danny has fun reading "Potty Time with Elmo" with Su's mom (aka NANA!) over Thansgiving. it just me, or does it look like he is not taking this "learning how to use the potty" thing very seriously? ;-)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Today the DC City Council took the first of two votes to decide whether to pass legislation to allow for gay marriage in the District of Columbia. I'd written a post in October about my disappointment that the Council Member who represents the ward where we live was in opposition to the bill before it was even presented. I even included a bit of the e-mail exchange I'd had with him back then trying to get him to consider being a co-sponsor of the bill at that time. He did not ultimately sign on as a co-sponsor in October and I felt bad, but since such a majority was in favor of the bill, in a way his vote wasn't important. But to me it was. He knew me and my family and maybe I took it a little personally.

So as I watched the hearing live online this morning, I actually started to cry when he began speaking because he was explaining that after a lot of deliberation, he'd changed his mind! He actually voted "YES" today! I got Su on the phone once I realized that he was providing a rationale for voting "yes" and so we both heard him vote "AYE".

I am so happy! I know that he's going to get a lot of pushback from some of his constituents, but his remarks regarding discrimination were excellent. I'm sure they will be published later but for now all I remember is that he said he could not vote to discriminate against people.

I just wrote him a note to thank him. I had not idea that he was going to vote "yes". What a wonderful thing it was to see and hear! The measure passed today by a vote of 11 "yes" votes to 2 "no" votes. -Monica

P.S. After the final vote around Dec. 15th, the mayor has already said he will sign it and then it will go to congress for a 30 day reveiw before becoming law (if congress doesn't do anything to stop it). Wow!

An Advent Adventure!

Danny was delighted this morning to find colorful bags tied up with pretty ribbons cascading down the staircase. We told him it was the first day of Advent and that every day from December 1st – December 24th he’d get to cut a ribbon and open a new bag!
Needless to say, Advent is now his favorite time of the year.

Susanne did a fabulous job sewing each little bag and coming up with clever little gifts for each. Don’t tell him, but he’s going to be seeing some matchbox cars, chocolate Santas, little story books and other fun presents in the days to come. Some gifts are practical, some are whimsical and some are gosh darn delicious so every day will be an adventure! Fantasic job honey!

I love the “green” aspect of sewing the bags so they can be reused each year. This advent “calendar” idea is one that Susanne’s family did when she was growing up and I love seeing such a wonderful tradition passed on to the next generation.

Without further ado, here’s Danny’s first day of Advent.