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