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

Thursday, August 12, 2010

When we call him DANIEL, he knows he's in trouble...

I think it would be safe to say that the vast majority of posts about our children are positive and upbeat. We love both Danny and Benji more than anything in the world, so it's pretty easy to wax poetic about the little guys.

But I have to tell you, Danny is getting on our last collective nerve. Apparently "listening" is for losers, and the answer to any question the past for few days has basically been a shrill and diabolical laugh.

So here's how it goes down. He does something he has been repeatedly warned not to. Then he goes into timeout for 3 minutes, is very contrite and apologetic and  I swear, not 2 minutes later does the same exact thing that got him into trouble in the first place. Argh!!! Example, he climbs again on a glass top coffee table, or dings plates on the table with his fork, or so annoyingly, smears whatever food he has on his plate all over his body like he's at some fru fru day spa applying a mud mask. Argh!.

We know. We know. All of the parenting books talk about how kids at this age are testing their boundaries, yada, yada, yada. 

I just hope that this is a VERY SHORT phase he's entered into. Suggestions welcome. -Monica

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Hip Hip No Hurray

In the winter of 2010 my mom fell and broke her left hip. In the months since then, she's worked hard to be able to walk again without assistance and, no pun intended, has made great strides.

Until today that is. She's broken her other hip and will have surgery tomorrow morning. She was returning from a car trip with my brother and niece. They'd driven from Minnesota to Colorado to visit my sister and were just starting their trip back home when she fell after feeling dizzy at a rest stop.

It's so odd. Like dejavu all over again but much more complicated because she is so far from home. We just pray that her surgery tomorrow goes well and that we can get her back home (home to the rehab hospital where she spent so much time last winter to be more specific).

The only thing that has given me any joy since I got the news was when I spoke to her on the phone a few hours later. She's tired and drugged up but she's mom. She laughed when I told her how little Danny just lit up with a big smile when he heard Grandma got to go for a ride in an ambulance.It was nice to hear her laugh.

Please keep my mom, Mary Ellen, in your prayers if you are one for prayers. She's got a long road ahead of her.

2010, I think you can be done soon. -Monica

Monday, August 02, 2010

It's like School's in Now Forever!

It’s now August of 2010. Danny is three years old and this month will start regular school at the Pre-K3 level. With some before and after school care that means he’ll be at school from 7:30 every morning until around 5:45 at night. It’s a great school, but wow. He’ll go there until 2019 when he’ll finish 6th grade as an eleven year old and then just keep on going and going education wise. Junior high, high school, and probably beyond.

I will admit I feel a little shocked that the tiny baby we rocked to sleep as an infant (and who are we kidding, we still rock to sleep) is really starting school. Now. This month.

His grandmother (Nana) is visiting and hadn’t seen him since late May. She couldn’t believe the way he’s changing. His baby face is thinning out. His clever mind is always spinning. And sometimes he complains of aches and pains at night because his body is busting out of his toddler frame .

I like to think he will always be our baby. And sometimes when we least expect it, he is.

Love you baby. I mean, big boy. -Mommy