Wednesday, March 31, 2010

April Fools!

Aw crap.

Maybe tomorrow.

Must think of clever April Fools idea now. Not sure how that will happen as I can't even think of anything clever to write for a blog post.

Until tomorrow...

Be afraid. Not very afraid. Just a little afraid ;-)

Monday, March 29, 2010

A visit to a petting zoo while visiting Nana

Word to the wise.

Sometimes it's better to just look than to try and pet.

Hi there smiley Benji!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Well that's a relief

You know, I don't have too many aspirations for my children. Just want them to be able to give and receive love, kindness and peace etc... and well, to be healthy.  But there is one other thing that I've always secretly hoped for, and that would be that they'd follow Susanne's lead regarding table manners.

You see, Susanne like most people who originally come from Europe, eats elegantly. Her fork and knife magically dance together on her plate to gracefully make it all look so easy.  She even knows how to lay the silverware in the proper position when she's done at a restaurant to signal that she is finished. Her whole German family is a bunch of elegant eaters if you want to know the truth.

I, on the other hand, am sort of a food shoveler. I think it probably comes from having so many brothers and sisters. You see, I learned to eat fast, using the arm not holding a utensil to protectively guard my plate. (I believe the word is "uncouth"). I never thought much about this as a kid. Seemed to me to be a pretty efficient way to eat in all honestly.  Anyway, as I grew older it occurred to me that I might need to modify this method lest I look like starving hyena. So I began to study others. For example, I soon learned that people often start their meals by putting their napkin on their laps. Hmmmm...interesting.

And I don't think I'd ever noticed as a kid that tables were supposed to be set a certain way. Fortunately my friend Amy M. once gave me some great advice to help me keep this all straight. She taught me that every utensil with 5 letters goes on the right (cuz the word right has 5 letters see) and every utensil with 4 letters goes on the left (cuz the word left has 4 letters.) Try it! Fork, left. Knife, spoon to the right. This little trick has saved me from a lot of embarrassment over the years.

I got to work with some State Department protocol officers a few years ago and it was fascinating have dinner with them often while we traveled and hear stories of how they were trained. Who knew you should tear off one piece of bread at a time off your dinner roll, butter that piece and eat it, before tearing another piece? Eye opening to say the least. 

The point of my story? Well even though at age two Danny still tends toward not even using silverware very much at all, he's getting better about it and surprised us about a week ago by grabbing a nearby knife (which I'm sure was on my right) and properly cutting his food just like he's seen Mama Susanne do a million times.

Warms my heart it does. Let's hope he picks up on lots of other stuff the way she does it! Have a great weekend everybody. -Monica

P.S. In the pic above Danny models how to elegantly eat his "eggy". He also loves to make his "eggy". One egg, splash of milk, bit of salt and pepper (all in a large glass bowl) beaten together with a fork (which is his favorite part). Then 1 minute in the microwave. It really is quite good. Try it!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Our happy discovery

You know how people are always finding potato chips and stains on pizza boxes that look like people in the bible and stuff? Well, as we opened up our left over mashed potatoes last night, I couldn't help but notice that we too seemed to be eligible to become a part of this exclusive club.

What to do about it? Quick!! Call the blogosphere!

I guess I should just be happy that this plastic-ware company didn't choose a name like "CRANKY" or "BITTER". Have a great day everybody. I know I'll be glad to! -Monica

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Boys will be boys

This photo comes to us courtesy of our dear friend Jenni at Oscarelli. Jenni is Danny's "day mother" (if you translate from the German) and her task every day is to herd cats. I make sure Danny and Oscar don't have too many opportunites to conspire against us. A nobel and apparently very difficult task! Welcome to spring boys! They love being outside. Don't we all! -Monica

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Memories, light the corner of my office

I've started a new daily ritual at work. You see, the federal agency where I work is going to completely renovate our historic building, which means that almost everybody has to relocate for several years.

I'm actually pretty happy about it. I get to move to a brand new building that is just about 2 miles from our house (yeah!) . The move is slated to begin around Christmastime and my new ritual involves taking 5 minutes every morning to attack another drawer to recycle, toss or shred stuff I just do not need to keep. I figure if I do a little bit every day it won't be so overwhelming come winter.

But one thing I hadn't counted on was how it would feel to do this every morning. I've ended up discovering a very random collection of stuff (umbrellas, eight year old boxes of raisins, sippy cups?) but it's the note pads and old calendars that really get to me. Because the words there reflect different chunks of my life that now rarely cross my mind.

The perspective can be good. I can remember how stressed I was let's say six years ago about a certain project and now reading the words I don't feel stress at all (heck, I can't even remember some of the stuff that seemed SO IMPORTANT back then). Anyway, this gives me great hope that the things that are so stressful to me today will one day be equally unimportant in my life.

But some things I've read are really poignant to me. Like today I pulled out an old calendar--2002 At a Glance. I guess I relied more on paper calendars than back then than I do now, because there is so much detail in what I wrote. One that really brought me back in time was a little doodly note I scratched out on May 25, 2002.

"Grief is really hard work. You'd think I'd be much thinner now."

My dad had died on May 16th, which is why I wrote the note--losing him was just heartbreaking and I was trying to go on, but it was really hard. The reason this struck me so much is because this is EXACTLY the kind of thing my dad would have said. I miss him so much still, but I also feel some peace in the fact that his goofy way of looking at the world lives on. Not just in me, but in my brothers and sisters and all of us. I'll always regret that he never got to meet Danny and Benji. He would have been in heaven. Wait, I'm pretty sure that's where he is now! (Yes, this is an example of goofy.)

By the way, in case you're wondering, I tossed this calendar out with the rest. I always think of the Indigo Girl's song that says "don't take a picture, remember this in your heart". I just can't keep everything. Well, maybe just a few things... ;-)

Alrighty then. Back to my regularly scheduled work day. Wonder what tomorrow's 5 minutes of cleaning will bring! -M

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Down the aisle

I’m very behind in my blogging but I wanted to share a bit about our experience a few weeks ago when Susanne and I applied for our marriage license. March 3rd was the magic day that it became law that we could get married here, and even though we were not among the very first to get in line, early the following week, when our schedule allowed, we trekked on down to the Marriage License Bureau in DC Superior Court.

We submitted all of our paperwork and swore and affirmed "so help us" that we intended to legally marry here in DC.

There were several other couples (mostly gay) who were already waiting in a corridor (or aisle) and the mood was very upbeat. As we stood in a line, a staff member walked down the hall talking to each couple to make sure they had all the right documentation and forms. Right behind us was a group of 3 young people--two men and a woman. At first we weren’t sure who of the group was getting married to each other, but it soon became clear that the woman was just along as a friend. The staff member asked both men if they had ID to show that they were at least 18 and of course I had to comment in a not so soft whisper, “hey, she didn’t ask me if I had ID to prove I was over 18!” For a second she thought I was serious, but she cracked up along with everyone else when she quickly realized that I was JUST KIDDING!

Eventually we were seated in room with couches where we all quietly waited our turn. Benji slept peacefully though it all in his stroller and after about an hour we were all done and headed home with instructions to return in 3 business days to pick up the license.

As I understand it, the bureau usually processes an average of 12 licenses on a given day, but with this new law just going into effect, their workload has increased significantly. Now they are doing something like 12 per hour instead of per day. I read this morning that 700 licenses had been applied for so far in March. To their credit, the staff did a great job handling the crowd.

I returned that Friday as directed, this time to pick up our official license with two year old Danny this time (Su stayed home with Benji because it was so rainy but Danny and I splashed our way over on the Metro). This time the line out in the hallway was much longer, probably 40 couples. I was able to scoot right to the front since I was there to “pick up” which was good because I think those folks were going to be there for several hours.

The mood on this day was even more festive! The staff had figured out they could process people faster if they changed their procedure a bit, so they were out in the waiting area administering the oaths as fast as they could in an attempt to keep up. Although people had been waiting for hours they were cool. In fact it was kind of a party atmosphere. As the clerk called the next couples’ names for the next thing to do, every one whooped and cheered. It’s like they’d all been friends forever!

When my name was called and a clerk handed me our license I turned around to calls of “you go girl” and stuff like that. I took a little bow and said "now Danny's other mom and I can be legally married" and everyone clapped and cheered even louder (especially Danny who thought this was great fun!)

I didn’t expect to feel some of the feelings I felt going through this process so far. Sitting next to Susanne in that courthouse the first day we went I felt a sense of happiness and, I think a sense of victory or something. I guess I felt like we’d “won” because we could now be legally married, and I will admit that as I looked at Susanne sitting next to me I also felt like I’d “won” because she is simply the best. I am very blessed. And on the day I went back to pick up the license I felt a real sense of camaraderie with an amazing community of people. A community I am proud to be a part of! -Monica

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bad blogger! Bad blogger!

Apologies to the handful of folk out there who enjoy regular updates. I was away on travel for work for about a week and wasn't able to blog. Promise to be better. Once I wade though several million e-mails. Hasta la vista! -Monica

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Three Months Old Already!

It's hard to believe, but our Benjamin is three months old today!  Unfortunately, the boy owns not a stich of green clothing to wear this St. Patty's Day (ok, maybe something in a light pastel and a size too small), but I think you'll find these pictures of him over the course of this last month are very cute indeed. Here's a sample:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Nana Floats His Boat

Ok , so really Mama is floating the boat, but it was Nana's idea and it sure made him happy!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hmmmm….Six Degrees of Something

So Susanne and I like to read the same kinds of books. Thrillers, murder mysteries. You get the picture. And two authors we enjoy who write similar kinds of books are Vince Flynn and Brad Thor.

Now I’m one of those wacky sort of people who actually reads all of the acknowledgements that authors put in the back of books, and last night I was very interested to see that Brad Thor in “State of the Union” (which features Navy Seal kinda character Scot Harvath) thanked his friend Washington insider David Vennett for assistance with the novel.


You see, a few years ago I noted that Vince Flynn (who writes stuff like Consent to Kill featuring Navy Seal Mitch Rapp) also thanked his Washington insider friend David Vennett for his help.

This would all be just another example of a mind that remembers perfectly random things, except for the fact that I know David Vennett. We both worked for a year on the G-8 Summit that was held on Sea Island in Georgia in 2004. (If you ever read this, hi David!)

The plot thickens.

You see I sort of know Vince Flynn’s family. I was a high school teacher early in my career and taught one of his sisters at the same time he was at a military school across the way (although I must admit I don’t remember meeting Vince).

But in this brave new connected world I would think that my new friends Vince and Brad might need to get some advice from this Washington insider. For example, I could tell them where to get the best deal on Huggies, or how not to pronounce Washington “Warshington”.

The possibilities are endless if you think about it. Maybe I should FB “friend” them.

Or maybe they should “friend” me! I’m waiting gentlemen.

Have a great night everybody! -Monica

I think I need a checklist for my checklist

  • Get local police background check done so I can legally adopt Benji.
  • Get fingerprints taken so I can send them to the FBI for totally different background check so I can legally adopt Benji.
  • Go to Office of Vital Statistics to pick up another certified copy of our Domestic Partnership Certificate so I can use it when I apply for marriage licence to legally marry my wife.
  • Go to courthouse with Susanne and apply for a marriage licence so I can legally marry my wife.
Seems like I have to do a lot of things lately so I can be legal. Considering I'm pretty darn law abiding it's a bit overkill, but I do what I'm told. Did I mention that each of these steps include paying money? I honestly feel like I've been a human ATM machine the past few days.

Oh no! I'm whining. I hate whiners. Guess this blog post is done. Have a great day everybody. -Monica

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Monday, March 08, 2010

Our beautiful Benjamin!

Rule #2376 - A steady stream of sugar results in a steady stream of ARGH!

Hi everybody. Sorry to be so bad about blogging of late. Hope to get back into more of a groove in the days to come. Life's just busy and I can't seem to make it unbusy, but that's okay.

Life is indeed busy but also very good. Benji is 2 1/2 months old now and it's been so awesome to watch him transition from flipsy flopsy little newborn into alert, engaged, smiling boy. We've got to some pics up soon. His grin is to die for. Just as sweet as can be. He especially likes it if you sort of howl like a little wolf at him. He howls right back and smiles up a storm. I had a dream right after he was born that we'd actually named him Wolfgang instead of Benjamin so I've been calling him Wolfie. Danny likes to call him Wolf sometimes too, but Susanne is not really feeling the whole Wolfie thing. Only time will tell if it will stick. All I know is that when we play our little wolf howling game he cracks up. Seems like a sign to me!

Anyway, speaking of sweetness and sugar, this weekend we had a group of friends over who have also recently given birth. It was what Su wanted for her birthday and it was a great idea. The only teeny problem was that two year old Danny was thrilled to help with all the food preparation and EATING. Cookies cut in the shape of baby carriages, chewy whole wheat chocolate chip cookie bars, homemade carrot cake with delicious cream cheese frosting and lots of other assorted yummy foods. We also put out somewhat more nutritious things, but heh, he's two and so during the course of the day he found a way to sample just about every sweet thing he could get his little mitts on.

By Saturday evening he was a bit wound up but did manage to fall asleep after the usual routine. But then he was up at 3, then 3:30 then again at 4:30 am--this time for good.

He was SO TALKATIVE. I told Susanne I think in the period of one hour he used every single word I've ever spoken to him. Just a running narrative of everything he could think of to talk about. He finally ate and egg and toast and I was hopeful that it would act like insulin and level out his clearly toxic level of sugar OD but no. He just kept chatting.

He did crash at naptime. What a relief. Lesson learned for us. I think. No wait, I can't think anymore. My brain is overloaded with toddler words and lack of sleep. Next time? I have no idea.

Onward and upward! -Monica

Thursday, March 04, 2010

And I just couldn't wait for him to start talking....

Last night.

Mommy to Danny "Baby you are so little."

Danny to Mommy "No mommy. You are SO BIG!"

(And yet I still adore him. Go figure ;-)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

What a great day! Su's birthday and this!

From the website today March 3, 2010

Marriage License Information
The minimum age for marriage in the District of Columbia is 18 years or 16 years with the consent of a parent or guardian. Proof of age for the applicant's must be shown and may be demonstrated by driver's licenses, birth certificates, passports, or similar official documents. The Marriage License Application fee is $35.00 (this fee will be waived if a Domestic Partnership Certificate registered under D.C. Code §32-702 is presented at the time of application). The Certificate of Marriage fee is $10.00. All fees must be paid by cash or money order (made out to Clerk, D.C. Superior Court) for the license to be issued.

Yes, although we were married 5 years ago in August, as of today we can apply for a marriage license where we live. And what a bonus! Since we already have a Domestic Partnership Certificate we don't have to pay the $35 application fee. It just keeps getting better and better!

We do plan to take advantage of this opportunity to get legally married soon. A big shout out to all who have fought so long for legal marriage and will continue to fight. Thank you! -Monica

Happy Birthday Mama!

This Saturday morning, Danny insisted on making a cake for Mama's upcoming birthday. Since I'm not a "from scratch" kinda baker, I rummaged around and found one cake mix. Angel food.  But we didn't have an angel food kind of pan so we ended up making two regular pans.

Of course he insisted that we make it very special, so we sort of, kind of, made it into a Dinosaur. (One of his favorite books is Danny and the Dinosaur).

Here is the end result. It was fun and surprisingly delicious. Happy Birthday Susanne. Roooaaarrrr!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Hey, I want my week back!

Have you ever had the feeling that life is going by so fast that you just missed it? I can't believe I haven't posted in a week, but I guess things are just so busy. Of course looking back on the past seven days we've had Danny getting over a viral infection, and work has been very stressful of late. (My boss is recovering from a sudden illness which means a lot more stuff got thrown my way--she is s wonderful person and I'm so glad she is doing better).

So I feel like things have been a blur. But you know, no matter how blurry things get, there is nothing like holding a smiling and cooing 2 month old and having a conversation about the joys of Monster Trucks with a two year old to really sharpen your vision. Benjamin and Daniel. What better reasons for not letting any job steal my joy.

Have a great day everybody! -Monica

P.S. Big kudos to Jenni and Nelson for inviting Danny to go to a big Monster Truck event this weekend in Baltimore! Nelson and Jenni's brother took the two boys and legend now has it that it was the event of a lifetime for both Oscar and Danny. Of course they are both only two... ;-)