Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas in heaven mom

Mom passed away at around 7 pm Minnesota time last night on Christmas. So happy that she is at peace and reunited with so many she loved so much. Love you Mama. -Monica

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Love you sweetie pie

Sorry to be such a bad blogger, but it's been a pretty tough time of late. My dear mom who had been trying to come back from a second hip break in one year took a very bad turn for the worse in recent days.

I traveled from Washington, DC to Minnesota to be with her and it's been so sad to see her leaving us. We love her so much. The reason I titled this post "love you sweetie pie" is that after many days of not being able to speak, she finally did again when her favorite priest came and said "Mary, I'm so glad to see you!" She responded "I'm glad to see you too." I think she needed the spriritual nourishment he came to bring. I'd already returned to DC so I wasn't there in person to witness this, but by all accounts it was awe inspiring.

She has continued to speak a bit now, so I was overjoyed when my sister put the phone up to her ear she said "hi Monica" and "love you sweetie pie". I'll never hear words so sweet again. -M

P.S. Here is a pic of me and mom with Danny from 2009.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Benji!!!!

We love you! (Yes, we know it was yesterday.)  Your 12-month slide show is coming soon, we promise! - Mommy & Mama

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Our budding gardener...

Benji in Nana's back yard in South Carolina a few weeks ago. This boy is interested in everything!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Jeez! I feel like freaking Job!

Enough! Although my broken toe is healing and I can now wear tennis shoes, my limp is pretty darn dramatic as I try my best to not put pressure on that darn appendage. To add insult to my injury, I had a sunspot on my face blasted with liquid nitrogen this week, so now my cheek is transforming from a slightly red spot to a blistering and soon-to be scabby bump. Lovely. The things I do for health.

And today I did a blood donation at the Red Cross called apheresis. They take blood out of one arm, remove the good stuff like platelets and return your plasma and red blood cells into the other arm (along with some saline solution). It's a continious process that lasts about 2 hours. The platelets are used by those who are undergoing cancer treatments and I like to do this because it seems like a pretty simple way to help people in need. But unfortunately I ended up with some sort of saline leak into the area around the return needle site. Lovely. Tingly, hard and swollen.

Job I tell you.

But. I will not get down about this temporary state of affairs. I will walk normally again in about three weeks. My sunspot will be gone by then too. And this arm with some heat and elevation it should be cleared by tonight.

Lots of people have it way worse than I do. And I have to say, that being forced to just relax and watch a movie for two straight hours isn't all bad. "A Mighty Wind" is still hilarious! -M

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Can you believe that the holidays are upon us???

I'm definitely having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that there are only a few short weeks left until Christmas. This year we once again put 24 little gifts in bags for the boys (okay Danny) to open one each morning. This sort of living Advent Calendar has been a huge hit this year. As a 3 year old Danny is much more into trying to figure out what is in each bag than he was at two.

Of course all this counting only makes more real the fact that time is flying! We've got a little one year old birthday to celebrate, decorations to get out this weekend and of course there is always "tree time"!

Figuring out presents is usually a bit of a challenge. We've not yet really done any shopping yet so I guess we have a clean slate. Twenty two days left to go. Wow.

We'll be hosting two events at our house this holiday season. A party for Su's work team and of course Benji's first birthday. All the rest of our activities are at other people's houses which I really like. Much less cleaning up to do at the end ;-)

Have a great day everybody. If you have any good ideas for gifts for Susanne e-mail me at my work address if you know me okay? Thanks! -M

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Yes you! Nice and slow now. Hand over the turkey and nobody gets hurt!

We had a wonderful Thankgiving visiting Nana in South Carolina. The boys had lots of fun playing, particularly with these golfing toys, which happen to also make excellent sword and axes! Thanks Nana.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

The nine lives of Benji...

Last Friday morning Benji was playing in our upstairs hallway with the gate securely latched while Su was a few steps away in a bedroom. She heard a "boom, boom, boom" and running out to the hallway, for a moment couldn't figure out where he was as most of the other doors were closed.

Then she heard him crying and COULD NOT BELIEVE IT when she saw him at the landing at the foot of the stairs. Thank all the stars in heaven, he was absolutely fine. Scared, and crying but fine. (She checked him for injuries and carefully monitored his pupils before and after he went down for his nap.)

She remembers racing down to him and assumed he'd managed to unlatch the white baby gate and somehow squeezed through. 

Later that night though, we decided to do a controlled experiment with him and were shocked to see that what most likely really happened is that he stepped through the permanent black railing and dropped more than a foot before tumbling down down our wood steps.

You see we have some plants on a shelf on that staircase that he loves to grab for when we carry him up or down. Apparently he REALLY likes this plant. In our little reenactment, he eagerly (seriously, he was delighted to do this) demonstrated how he could reach through, step over the small bar at his feet and, well, reach until he couldn't reach any farther (but this time we were there to catch him.)

Needless to say, a large barrier has now been affixed to that railing.

We are still thanking our lucky stars that our sweet boy did not get hurt. Word to the wise? Check out your railings if you have little ones folks. If you don't, they will. -M

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Candle surgery

This fall I picked up some really cheap Halloween candles which Danny thought were awesome. When one broke, he assisted Mama in performing surgery to repair it.

He does say he wants to be a doctor (and about 1000 other things) every day. ;-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy Eleven months Benji

Well, I wasn't sure we could do this, but Su set up our computer that was holding all our pics hostage, so we are able to post this little slide show. Whew. Just under the wire--one hour til midnight. Can't wait for your birthday party on December 17th!

Love, your moms

P.S. Here's a little teaser from the show.

Eleven months old today!

Good morning Benji! I know that today is the day that we are supposed to post an adorable slide show of your eleventh month but, oh no!, we have a problem!
You see with the office renovation our home computer, (you know, the one with all of your pictures on it) is not set up. So we are sadly pictureless. I promise the moment that it is up an running again, we'll make you a slide show.

In the meanwhile, this cell phone photo taken this morning will have to do. Clearly, bibs have no place any more in your life! Love you baby! -Mommy

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Apparently I am not a Super Hero...

Have you ever heard of a Super Hero getting hurt while saving the world? Me neither. That's how I know I am not one.

Well, come to think of it I was not actully saving the world. But I was doing the next best thing--rushing to the aid of my little boy.

This time it was baby Benjamin getting in a jam. He got his fingers caught in a grate that is part of a small door that houses the controls to our gas fireplace. There was no danger of him being able to actually operate any of the controls, so when I'd seen him playing with the door, I wasn't too concerned. We were all down the basement on Saturday night enjoying our first ever Movie Night (it was so much fun!). Our Disney flick was just about over when Benji started to shriek.

Su and I both jumped up, but I unfortunatley jumped up right into a very heavy coffee table with bare feet. You could say I stubbed my toe, but that would be a bit of an understatement. I hopped on my good foot to get him as I was closest to him and was relieved that he was okay. I handed him to Su and then realized that not only was my toe hurting, it didn't look so good either.

You see, I struck it so hard, I not only broke the bone in my big toe through and through, but I managed to sort of make the tissue round my toe nail sort of, well, explode. It's actually called an avulsion, and believe you me, it is VERY PAINFUL. Imagine throwing an orange against the wall as hard as you could. The skin would break and the flesh of the orange would pop out. Yeah, it was like that.

After seeing a doc in urgent care I've spent the past few days hobbling, resting, taking pain medication and now antibiotics. The podiatrist I saw yesterday predicts I'll be good as new by Christmas.

The antibiotics were just perscribed yesterday as this toe continues to bleed no matter how careful and ginger I think I'm being with it. On the bright side, today for the first time, my toe actually feels better. Or at least not horrible. One of those two.

But, looking on the bright side of life, Benji was absolutely fine. And movie night was fun. And next week is Thankgiving. Oh, and resting is not an entirely bad thing. ;-)

Onward and upward! -Monica

Thursday, November 04, 2010

I am NOT a hypochondriac!

Really, I’m not a hypochondriac! Or am I?  Maybe it’s like the Kinsey Scale-- everyone is somewhere on a spectrum. Sigh. I don’t know, but I do know one thing. Several times a day I think that I am having a catastrophic breakdown of my central nervous system.
That is until I remember, yet again, that when I put my cell phone on vibrate and then carry it around in my back pocket, well, it will vibrate when I get a call.  And then I am absolutely convinced, for at least one second, that I’m dying.
Well, at least it’s not as bad as the 5 second ordeal I suffered once. I’d lugged our two cats in to see the vet, and as I sank down in a chair in the waiting room, a painfully warm and almost slimy sensation began in my right hip and quickly spread to my thigh! I was on fire!

I jumped up, terrified that I was having maybe an embolism/stroke/allergy/cancer/dermatological attack of some sort when I spied a huge stain spreading down said leg.
Apparently I’d put a travel mug of hot coffee in my shoulder bag that morning and forgotten all about it. It managed to stay upright and covered until that fateful moment when I sat down.

Oh, and I wasn’t really on fire. In fact, our "awesome" travel mug had rendered the coffee tepid by the time it attacked me.
Good thing I’m not melodramatic or anything! -M

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Curious George and The (Little) Man with the Yellow Hat wish you all a very happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thoughts on being an older parent...

First and foremost, I think being an older parent means at times being mistaken for being a grandparent. This is my least favorite part of being an older mom.

I am definitely more financially secure now than I was when most of my peers were becoming parents, and that makes me feel good.

A friend who also became a new parent in his late 40s told me “no one ever told me it would be this hard”. He then followed that up by saying “and no one ever told me it would be this much fun”. Well said.

I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about this, but statistically, my chances of dying before the boys are grown is higher now than when I was younger. Me no like this thought. (Susanne doesn't either).

I am more tired now than I was when I was younger. I have memories of running around and playing with my nieces years ago—what fun it was I remember. Now I am happy that I have younger friends and relatives who love to run around with our boys. (Point of clarification: I do play a lot with the boys, but find myself eyeing my armchair way too longingly!)

On the bright side, being older means being being wiser (or so I’ve always been told.) Jury is still out on that one I must say.

Let’s see? For me being older means having to wear glasses. And we all know that snatching (and can I say crushing?) glasses is more fun than just about anything in the world to growing babies.

And last but not least, if one of the boys has kids when he’s only 20, I won’t be able to say “oh, no, I can’t be a grandmother yet! I’m only 67!) ;-) -Monica

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Drumroll please...

Ten things I’m grateful for:
10. That Danny now asks “Is this a school day?” and if it is, he says “Yeah!” (Better than the September morning sob festivals).
9.  That my mom is improving, and even though these past 2+ months have been a real roller coaster in terms of her health, she’s upbeat and walking with a walker on that darn broken hip. Go mom!
8. That Benji (like his brother) is generally such a happy little guy.
7. That in two weeks I get to move to a new office building that is a 15 minute bike ride from home.
6. That we’ll be in that new building for at least five years (our current building is being renovated). Five years from now puts me at almost the age I could retire. Not that I probably will, but it’s nice to know I COULD. ;-)
5. That we are heading into the cool fall weather and the wonderful holidays that follow.  Benji’s second Christmas is going to be so much fun this year. Being a week old for the first one made it pretty unmemorable for him I'm guessing.
4. That Susanne still puts up with my occasional messiness/forgetfulness/silliness/laziness and anxiousness.  More than just “put up” with these traits, she still seems to actually love AND like me!
3. That we have such a great mix of friends. Old friends, new friends, borrowed friend, blue friends… oh wait. I’ve messed that up again right?
2. That our little boys still think we are the “end all be all”. Spent some time with my wonderful 13 year old niece last weekend and was shocked to learn that not only am I not cool, I’m actually quite embarrassing! ;-)
1. And last but not least, that we have our health, our families, our beautiful boys, our jobs, and each other.  Yes, very grateful indeed.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's okay?

Time: Yesterday afternoon.

Location: Unloading Danny and his favorite neighbors out of the car after school in front of the house.

Josie and Callagh's mom said, "Bye now. Say...we're going to make some chocolate chip cookies and we'll bring a plate over when they are done."

I said, "Oh don't go to any trouble. I know you've got a lot going on today, so no need to come by if life gets too busy."

Out of the blue, Danny suddenly blurts out "No, no! It's okay Mommy. It's okay. It's okay for Josie and Callagh and their Mama and Dada come to our house and bring cookies."

He was so earnest. We couldn't really tell if it were a question or a statement. (And yes, Melissa and I both burst out laughing).

An hour or so later, Danny answered the knock at the door he'd been waiting for! -Monica

P.S. We love our neighbors!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Again--shock and awe

So why the big shock? Well our little dude just turned 10 months old today. And yes, this tradition of growing older each month still manages to catch us off guard.

You know, for Danny we did one slide show a month until he hit one year and we promised ourselves when Benjamin was born that we would do the same for him. But of course when Danny was a baby he was our only child and the star of virtually every pic we took. With Benji, well, let's just say he doesn't get as much camera time what with Danny mugging for the camera at every opportunity. The reason I say this is that it seems much harder to come up with dozen or so slides for Benji than it ever was for his big brother.

That all being said, without further ado, we offer Benji's ten month slide show.

How very sweet he is! -Monica (and Susanne)

P.S. Sneak peak--

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What a difference two years makes...

Danny and his favorite neighbor Callagh shown in 2008 and again in 2010. They are in Pre K together and and I can't help but hum the tune "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof, a bit wistfully (yet oh so proudly) as I watch them grow. And yes, I do know that I shouldn't be humming that until they are teenagers or something, but gosh they grow so fast! -M

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When Benji wouldn't keep his shoes on...

Yes, last week at the zoo we could not keep Benjamin's socks nor shoes on him and it was COLD in Minnesota. So we did the next best thing. Sort of looks like a double snouted elephant calf right! ;-)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Of Mice and, well, Apes...

Being the mom of two little ones, I will admit that I do watch some children's television each week, and if truth be told, I actually love snuggling with the boys as we tune in. We tend to watch public TV and free Video on Demand so I feel pretty contented in the fact that we avoid an overabundance of commercials (aka Satan's siren call).

This all being said, I do have a few questions and thoughts for my fellow children's TV watchers. First of all, why does Micky Mouse insist on asking kids to point to/choose items throughout the show? "Hey hey kids...can you see a clue that Donald is hiding somewhere nearby?" Which I have to say only encourages my very excitable three year old to jump up and point (very literally by touching the TV screen) at whatever Mickey wants--in this case a feather floating around on the screen. So Danny knows he's not supposed to touch the TV but Mickey keeps telling him to. And we all know who has more clout around here. (Darn mouse!)

My second observation of the day goes to the Curious George Show. Do you know that a person actually gets credit for being the voice of George? Seriously. For those unfamiliar, George's speech consists of "uh huh!", "uh uh" and "ooooohhhh". Man what I wouldn't give to get that gig! Do you think the actor gets a royalty with every show? Because they play the same episodes of CG over and over again on all the PBS stations. I totally missed my calling!

And last but not least, this might be a little picky, but if you haven't noticed, Curious George does not have a tail. I think this makes him technically an ape and not a monkey. Mickey on the other hand has quite a long tail, which for those of us who sort of have an aversion to mice, is a little disconcerting.

Just my two cents on some clearly very important subjects! Have a great day everybody! -Monica

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Our perfect 10...

Now, I don't think of myself as particularly superstitious, but maybe on some very deep level I am.

So can I just tell you on this 7th day of October 2010 the following trivia?

Ten days from now, in the tenth month of the tenth year of the century, our little Benjamin will turn ten months old!

Okay, okay. It would have been cooler if he actually turned ten on 10/10/10, but we were not having babies back in the year 2000, so this will have to do.

Have a great day everybody! -M

I got the "first Thursday morning" blues

Seriously. What is it with the first Thursday of every month? I am always pretty aware when the first Thurday rolls around as I have a standing meeting of a Federal Council that I report out at. And in the past 6 months it has become increasingly clear that the day is cursed.

I think 5 out of the last 6 months I've had to call in rather than attend in person because of any number of random things. One Thursday we had a flooded basement that I spent hours vaccuming up with a wet vac. Another Thurday I was really sick. Last month on the first Thursday we spent the morning at our bank changing all of our accounts after having our house burglarized the night before.

So I was not shocked when our poor Danny had a rough night last night with his ear aching. Ever since we flew back from seeing my mom who is not doing so well back in Minnesota, all of us have been a bit under the weather. I prepared to get him in to the doc as he's been sick for several days, but it seems a miracle might be occuring. He is feeling better. We ended up sending him to school and I am now leaving my office to travel to another federal building to appear in person.

Of course I won't be shocked when the school calls. Cuz they will right?

Onward and upward I say. -Monica

PS. Update--the meeting happend with nary a call from the school. The times they are a changing! I can feel it in my bones.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Why Oh Why???

Why don't we call a toothbrush a teethbrush? (Or a hairbrush a hairsbrush?)

Why aren't naps mandatory in the workplace?

Why is Smart Popcorn not such a smart choice?

And last but not least:

Why does Danny always need, AT THAT VERY MOMENT, any toy that Benji is holding?

If anyone knows the answer to these questions, you are far wiser than I. -M

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

When Good Things Happen to Good People...

It’s been nearly three weeks since that day on Danny’s first field trip when an accident happened that could have turned out very badly (but thank goodness didn’t).

The great news is that Danny seems fine both physically and mentally.  I, on the other hand, have been having a harder time I will admit.

I tend to process my feelings by talking and writing about them, so here is a bit of my thinking from an e-mail conversation I had with my friend Amy recently.

“I keep coming back to a fundamental question of the strength of my faith. My son was spared a horrible fate-horrific injuries or even death. So I am beyond grateful. Understandable. My faith is renewed right?

But what if he had suffered terribly or died? I cannot really imagine finding that same renewal of faith. In fact, quite the opposite.

So what kind of a Christian does this make me? A fair weather fan of God? I never thought I could ever doubt all that God has done in my life was anything but his (or her) wise and benevolent plan for me to learn and grow and love him or her more.

So can you really love God more than you love your dear child who, after all, is a gift from God? And if you don't think that is possible, do you really love God at all? Maybe I'm just too black and white about this all but there it is.

You know I keep thinking back on an experience I had in Peace Corps lo those many years ago. An evangelical group came to the town near where I lived and a young American couple told the story of how their baby had been so sick, but now he was healed. This experience had made them so dizzy with delight, that they were “born again” and dedicating their lives to going to revivals like this to spread the good news.

And yet even then I couldn't stop thinking “but what if your baby had died?" How can you tie all of your faith into that stroke of luck (or divine providence?) that your baby was now thriving and not writhing?

So I think I've had this sort of seed of uncertainty in me for a long time regarding anyone who seemed too zealous. Too "faith-filled" I guess. It just seems so conditional. I know the word evangelize has the word “angel” in the middle and I like to think angels were with Danny and me in that moment. But that's a whole other stream of thought.

I also do understand that this pain that I am every so grateful to have avoided (Danny’s possible agony) is exactly the same pain that God asked his beloved son to suffer for us. I used to think more about Jesus' unbelievably courageous decision to accept his father's will, but today I'm asking "what kind of a parent does that?" So yes. I'm feeling angry at God. Maybe not angry. Confused and troubled.

But I know that God still loves me and my family. I just want to be able to love back in that same way at all times.

What's life without a periodic crisis of faith after all, right? Don't worry, I'll find my peace. Just have to keep thinking about this.”

Amy of course wrote me some wonderful and wise thoughts, and she along with Susanne and others have helped me slowly reframe my thinking. And it is getting better. Slowly but surely. -M

No looking back. Or maybe even forward...

I can just imagine Benji thinking "I have seen the enemy, and the enemy is this railing."

Seemingly to his keen mind, all of these safety measures/features are simply  barriers to his complete and utter freedom.

Not that I'm terrified or anything. Gulp. -Mommy

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dear Blog,

Hi there. How are you? We are doing okay my dear Susanica Blog. You know, I want to apologize for being so out of touch lately. I'm very sorry that I've been ignoring you. I never meant to. Things just got so busy you know...

Seriously t's not you, it's me dear blog. I know you sit out there in cyberspace patiently waiting for the latest news on what's going on. And day after day lately I fail you.

Now, now. I know that you're feeling a bit worried that you heard through the cyber-grapevine that  I post a thing or two on Facebook once in a while, but don't be jealous. Facebook means nothing to me!  After all, years from now when we want to look back on the history of our lives, you're the only one we'll be able to depend on. Facebook is fleeting and the history just disappears in an instant. But you! You're so steady, so stable. Do you have any idea how often I look back to remember what happened when? How Danny hit some milestone in September of '07 and to reread it again years later makes me smile all over again? That's just one of a million examples!

Don't worry dear Blog. I'm ready to recommit to you again today. Because you help us narrate what, at least to my mind, is a grand story. Thanks for hanging in there with me friend.

Love, Monica

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good news. Right?

So my mom's blood work and MRI results all came back as normal. Which is a great relief, but also keeps us wondering just what is going on. She's gotten confused and weaker, her speech patterns have changed and she's just all around moodier.

Of course she's in a very stressful situation. She wants to go home and isn't able to until she can do some things on her own like use the restroom. She had to leave assisted living because she needed much more help then that place was able to provide and is now in a nursing home for the time being.

Suffering a second hip break in one year has been awful. And ironically it's her knee (which has already been replaced once) that gives her the most pain.

We'll see her soon enough. But not soon enough if you know what I mean. -M

Monday, September 20, 2010


I don't know much about MRI scans. But I believe they allow doctors to look at what's going on inside of the body--stuff like tumors and strokes etc...

Our mom had one this morning and we won't know the results for another day or two. Ten days ago she was doing so well we actually thought she was going to be discharged home after weeks of rehab for her broken hip, but now, it's a whole different ball game.

In a nutshell, she's not doing well. And we are all beyond worried. Let's hope that either the MRI or the other tests ordered Friday give clues to some very treatable problems. Otherwise, well, we just don't know.

All we can do now is wait. -Monica

Friday, September 17, 2010

He's been out now as long as he was in!

Yup. Our little Benjamin is nine months old today! Seems like this nine months has flown by so fast--much faster than the pregnancy (at least in my humble opinion).

As you'll see in this slide show, sometimes he looks like a little baby and sometimes he looks like real a little boy. Mind boggling I must say. We love you little dude. You and that amazing big brother of yours.

Love, Mommy and Mama

P.S. A sneak preview of the show. These were taken on our trip to the Stasburg Railroad in Pennsylvania last month!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Point or Click? Or not so fast...

So...which is it? Are you one of those people who makes a firm decision and confidently hits the "send" or "pay" button or whatever command is in front of you?

Or do you hover over the button and even go as far as to press the mouse firmly but then wait and wait and wait as you review everything again?

And most of the time you then change your mind and slide that mouse away from that button until you've had more time to think?

Well, I'm one of those quick clickers. In fact, until I met Susanne, I didn't even know you could click without letting go and change your mind.

This topic came up for some reason last night and I mentioned that I was glad she was so deliberate. After all, she picked me to spend the rest of her life with, so I thought it stood to reason that it was a very good thing that she was absolutely sure.

She of course doesn't feel my same gladness. After all, I picked her with confidence and speed.

Seems to have worked out for both of us ;-)


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ummm....can I go to bed now?

Little Benji was enjoying our dinner time chatting until he just couldn't keep his little head up any more.

He and his big brother sure do make us smile. Speaking of Danny, he is doing great. Doesn't seem to be affected as far as we can tell by the accident in the orchard I posted about the other day. Yet another thing to make us smile.

Big time. -M

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Danny's first field trip -- all that we hoped for and unfortunately more...

Yesterday was Danny’s first field trip. He and about 40 other three and four year olds got to ride on a big old school bus to an apple orchard about 45 minutes from school. I was one of the 10 or so parents who came along to help. It was so much fun to watch the kids fill their little plastic bags with apples on such a gorgeous day.

But this magical day was transformed in an instant when suddenly everyone began shouting. 

I keep trying to keep all the details straight in my mind but this is what I remember.

Some of the kids had climbed up onto a Utility Farm Vehicle. It’s basically a tricked out large motorized golf cart. It looked like this one without the roll bars on top.

I was standing a few feet in front of it taking pictures and there were kids all around us just milling about and enjoying their apples.

When the shouting started I turned to see that the cart was now rolling. It was on a slight slope and was slowly rolling down with the kids on it. One of them had accidentally popped the brake.

It happened so fast.

I ran about two steps forward and putting my hands on the hood first, tried to stop it from rolling but I just couldn’t. It was too heavy a machine. By now the other adults were racing over.

I dropped down (or maybe I was pushed down?) and I jammed my foot up against a bar that ran parallel to the front axle and pushed with every ounce of my being.

You see, as I dropped down I realized a child was under the vehicle.

And it was my child.

Danny had been standing between me and the cart and had been pushed down. I had no idea! I could now see in that instant that he was on his back crying and terrified. I  had no idea if he's already been injured or not.

Now I don’t know about any of that superhuman strength stuff. And I don’t know if the others had arrived and we all stopped it or if my jammed up foot had temporarily stopped it.

All I knew was that I could clearly see that the back axle of that Utility Vehicle was much lower than the front. So if Danny hadn’t already been injured, he was going to be very badly injured in milliseconds if the cart kept rolling.

Through the grace of God it came to a stop. Then all of the parents and teachers literally lifted the cart up in the air—maybe 6- 10 inches off the ground. There was some confusion as some thought that I was the one trapped under the vehicle because at least people could see me. I think many were stunned to realize a child was under there.

I remember thinking that we shouldn’t move him if he was injured, but also that we needed to get him out. One parent dropped down and pulled him to the side next to the cart and I crawled over to him.

He got onto my lap and I asked for emergency medical assistance. We didn’t move until the paramedics arrived, and with no visible injuries asked me to just observe him and get him into our doctor if necessary. All I could think the whole time was "thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus".

The other kids had gone on the school bus to a picnic area and we were later able to rejoin the group.

I’m not sure how much more my heart can take, but I realized a few things.

1. For the first time ever I was pretty darn happy I weigh about 180. If that’s what it took to help in any way to stop that vehicle, I am very happy. 

2. Thank God for the other parents and teacher. They were right there and helped in so many ways.

3. I feel such an INCREDIBLE sense of gratefulness to God that Danny was okay. I can’t stop playing over the “what if” scenarios. Burned, mangled… I must stop this. And...

4. My love for Danny--there are no words to describe it. I’m just so grateful that someone—me, anybody really, was standing right in front of that cart when it began rolling.

He got lots of extra hugs and kisses yesterday. -Monica

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Oh the tangled web we weave...

Greetings friends. Ah...what a week. First of all I must note that my wife and friends threw me the most awesome surprise birthday party ever on Sunday night.

It was amazing and perfect and since I'm so dim at times I never saw it coming. Thanks you guys. I just can't seem to stop smiling...

That is until Susanne and I get back to the super fun task of getting all of our banking and credit card stuff back in order. As you may recall, last week our house was burglarized so we've taken some pretty major precautions to prevent identity theft including getting new bank and credit card accounts.

Like most people, we have a lot of our regular transactions automated. Oh don't get me wrong, I watch our accounts like a hawk so they say, but even I didn't realized how challenging it would be to basically deconstruct our system of payments and start from scratch.

Some tasks were no brainers. Paychecks must go into new account. Check. Makes you almost feel like you are done. HAH!

All the monthly debits for donations and things like paying for the Washington Post require phone calls. Then you notice little things like your Bill Pays no longer appear on your account (no more college savings for you little boys! Well at least until we can get that straighted out.) Or that your credit card will not allow you to do automated billing on your new cards without filling out lots of forms and then waiting two billing cycles.

Then you realize that your bank information needs to be changed in other places. Savings accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts and federal travel systems in our case.

Ah...this is fun!

Actually it's driving me a bit mad. But I'm doing a pretty good job of hiding my frustration right? ;-) -Monica

Friday, September 03, 2010

The 8th Commandment...

On Wednesday we discovered that our house had been burglarized while we were at work. Maybe I'm naive, but I still find it pretty unfathomable that there are people out there who think it's perfectly fine to steal.

Among the jumble of very powerful emotions I've felt this week, oddly I feel a sense of gratefulness that this was done while we were gone. I shudder to think of a person or people invading our home while we are there with our children.

And as angry as I am about the things that were taken, I'm also strangely grateful about the things the thief or thieves did not take. Because they got into our collection of keys, they basically took anything they wanted out of a a small firepoof safe we used for some very important documents and items--but they did not take everything.

We've gotten great support from our police and neighbors and have taken every precaution we can to prevent this from happening again. But we are hypervigilant as you can imagine.

I hope more than anything that whoever did this is caught and prosectuted to the full extent of the law. Stealing our stuff is one thing. But stealing our peace of mind, and planting seeds of worry and doubt in our toddler is quite another thing entirely.

Maybe I'm just being naive again, but I look forward to our day in court if that day ever comes. -Monica

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The talk of the 3rd grade...

At the First Day parade at Danny's school all of the littlest ones got paired up with a big third grader for the procession. Danny's new friend was a delightful little guy who chattered away in Spanish and English. Since parents were encouraged to march too, Su and I were there as well as this little boy's mom.

I was holding Danny's hand while Su balanced holding Benji and snapping photos. Then at one point during the march Ricardo asked if I was Danny's mom. I told him "Sure I am. Actually Danny's got two moms. I'm one of his moms and she's his other mom."

He was a bit confused I could tell. Then as he was asking for clarification, his mom interjected in Spanish that we must have meant that I was Danny's "abuela" or grandmother (doh!) and Su was his mom. "No, actually, we are married to each other". She seemed a bit perplexed but then I explained that since the law had changed in DC we could be legally married. Ah, this made sense. She'd heard enough of the news about gay marriage being legalized to know what we were talking about. Then little Ricardo called out to a few 3rd grade friends to tell them that his little friend had 2 moms. He'd never heard of such a thing. It was fun to watch their little brains try and figure this one out.

Ricardo's mom didn't miss a beat. She asked how long we'd been married and then happily chatted as we walked, even helped carry Benji, and sat with Su and me at the parents' breakfast after the parade. She was lovely.

I guess I feel happy that our being legally married help it all make sense to someone who had not known any gay parents before. I was happy that little Ricardo seemed interested rather than taken aback by Danny's family. (In fact, earlier in the march we were talking about languages and when he learned Susanne spoke German to Danny sometimes asked for a demo. I think he may now believe that all gay moms speak German! ;-)

We know the principal of Danny's school really well and shared with her a link to the Welcoming Schools Guide put out by the Human Rights Campaign. She was delighted, and in fact mentioned that a teacher was wondering how to do the "family tree" project with a child who has two moms. Well, Danny has a family tree and we are happy to share it, and work to help teachers with any questions they may have.

Anyway, have a great day. Can't wait to hear how the little guys third day of "big boy school" went. So far so great! -Monica

Monday, August 30, 2010

Danny's First Day of School

Wow!  Our boy went to his first day of Pre-Kindergarten at the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School (hereafter Stokes!) today.  While he was a little nervous to start, by the end of the day, he happily reported that he LOVED IT!  We were so proud.

At our front door, ready to go!
With his 3rd-grade buddy, Ricardo, in the parade!

Listening to Ms. D in the opening circle.

Learning his first Spanish from Profe Gris.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The boys of summer...

You know, we knew he'd learn German from Susanne and Spanish in school, but one thing we didn't count on was Danny learning Japanese. At least a little. This is all due to a wonderful summer friendship with a little boy name John who has lived his whole life in Japan.

John's dad is a neighbor from down the street who married a very sweet woman from Japan. The whole family has been in the US for the summer and John and Danny have so much fun together. Although John's English has improved tremendously in the months he's been here, often he talks to Danny in Japanese and Danny jabbers away at him in English and it's as if they understand each other.

Actually, I'm pretty sure they do, which is pretty cool. -M

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I think Benji is starting looking more and more like a blue eyed version of his big brother Danny? What do you think? -M

Monday, August 23, 2010

Home sweet home (or close enough)

On Saturday, accompanied on the flight by my brother Paul, our mom flew from Denver to the Twin Cities. Her week long trip to visit my sister Mary in early August was rudely interrupted by a fall which resulted in a hip broken in four places.

As you may recall, she had broken a hip in January and finally recovered from that when she had this fall in August. This time it was her other hip.

I never had any idea before how complicated it can be when a loved one gets hurt far from home. Our sister Mary in Denver was physically there for her--it was very stressful, especially when she drove mom from the Regional Hospital where she fell to the rehab/nursing home in Denver about 10 days ago. Our sister Alice is a wonderful public health nurse and coordinated everything with the hospital, the nursing home in Denver and the rehab center in Minnesota.

Our brother Neil was the one driving on the original trip to Denver so he did everything he could, including comforting our teenage niece who was also on the trip and felt awful that she couldn't catch grandma when she started to fall at that rest stop.

Our dear brother Paul who works for the airline took care of all the air transport was so gentle transporting her from seat to wheelchair and vice versa on the long flight home.

I did the best I could--researching and booking hotel rooms right away for the family with her when mom was admitted to the hospital, and I also went to Denver last week to just spend time.

She's not really home yet. She's in a wonderful rehab facility about a mile from where she lives, but since she spent so much time there with the first hip break it almost feels like being home and among friends there.

Mom's seventh grandchild is due in a few months (yeah N&M!) so she's got every reason to work hard to be independent again. She sounded so happy and relieved when we spoke on the phone yesterday. Her time in Denver was not the best and she sounds like a new woman!

Thanks to everyone who offered their thoughts and prayers. And a very special thanks to all of my family who really did a FANTASTIC job. I love you all. -Monica

Mom before any broken hips with Neil and then eight month old Danny. 
(Wow, that's how old Benji is now!)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

And away he goes...

Benjamin surprised the heck out of us this weekend by figuring out how to climb up a step. It could be a fluke, but based on the way this guy is exploring his world we doubt it.

This means of course that we'll have to get our baby gates up as soon as possible. I think the thing that makes me feel most proud is that when he tried for a long time to get up the step as I hovered a few steps above him, he really surprised me by figuring out how to go to the railing and use the bars as a tool to help him.

It's like he understands technology or something!

I have a feeling the fun has just begun! Have great week everybody. -Monica

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dare I say what I think?

I hate the periods of time when I have nothing to blog about. I feel like there are so many things going on all the time that it should be easy to find something lighthearted to share, or maybe even make a profound statement.

So I've decided to take a moment to tackle the great "Mosque on Ground Zero" debate. Never mind that I feel strongly on the issue. What I want to say is that it has become clear to me that no matter how strong the arguments--no matter how witty the Comedy Central shows, no matter how much the "talking heads" tell the "truth" as they see it, I am thoroughly convinced that no one will change their mind.

Isn't that a little sad? Maybe I'm wrong, but can anyone out there tell me if you or even one person you know has changed his or her mind?

Funny thing is, most likely you don't know what many of your friends think about this topic because a lot of people just don't want to wade into this. The emotions are too strong. One friend who is a Pastor wrote on Facebook this morning that he thinks he lost 5 or 6 friends because he came out very strongly in support of allowing the Mosque to be built as planned. That is sad to me.

I will say that I feel happy that Susanne and I, as soon as we first heard this story both expressed the exact same opinion about the "wisdom" of a Mosque being built there. We both think it should be a non issue. This being said, my cousin in NY who lost his uncle (other side of the family) as a result of injuries suffered as a firefighter on that horrible autumn day DOES NOT WANT THE MOSQUE BUILT THERE. He believes it is sacrilegious and shameful. I respectfully disagree, but I do respect how he feels.

It all just seems so counterproductive and negative to me. Of course I can't help but come back to the fact that the site of this proposed building is actually two blocks away--some pretty seedy shops are in that area now and that's not considered a sacrilege. But my opinions have not swayed anyone right?

A win-win in a negotiation is when everyone walks away from the table feeling the have gained something and they have been heard and respected. I'll be interested to see how this is resolved. If it is ever resolved. -Monica

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


1. Waiting for mom to be well enough to fly from Denver to her home in Minnesota. After her fall on August 5th in a town two hours outside of Denver, she's been through surgery, a two hour drive with my sister to a nursing home in Denver, physical therapy and a bout with an mysterious infection that has made it hard to keep food down. Fortunately she is feeling better now after some antibiotics. Saturday is the big day if all goes well when my brother will accompany her on the flight home.  I just know that getting back into familiar territory will cheer her up.  (I went and saw her in Denver last weekend and it was a mix of happiness and worry to see her still so fragile.)

2. Waiting for our next door neighbors to have their baby! Their little boy was due on Monday so technically he is only two days late. But I can't stand the wait. I totally appreciate that both Danny and Benji decided to come out at 38 weeks. Way to go boys!

3. Waiting to take a short vacation to a cool place in Pennsylvania where we'll get to sleep in an actual caboose! Danny has no idea how excited he's going to be when we get there!

4. Waiting for this workday to end which should surprise no one! -M

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Guess we are having fun. Cuz time is really flying...

Benjamin is eight months old today which seems impossible. Seriously, it seems like only yesterday that we brought him home while climbing over big mountains of snow. Now he's the one doing all the climbing!

Our little guy is a true delight, and we hope you enjoy his 8 Month Slide Show.-M