Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fun with friends in West Virginia

Our church participates with a consortium of other churches in the DC area to take turns using a really beautiful retreat site near Harper's Ferry. This past weekend our Friends and Families group got a turn to go and had a blast just hanging out, doing a community service mulching project and relaxing in a way that does not seem possible in the big city. We had something like 14 kids and 12 adults and I know our boys are already looking forward to our next trip. Without further ado, a pic or two... (or more)

After grinding up branches in a wood-chipper it was time to load up the wagon.
This hard working gang got to ride with the mulch to the garden. Nice mask to protect against gnats don't you think? ;-)

Then it was time to load up the wheel-barrels with mulch and get back to work.

Benji honed his supervisory skills.

The kids did their own version of London Bridges. Or something like that.

Our friend Catherine kept the kids engaged in a game for hours. We love her.

And in honor of Earth Day the kids had fun making the world out of clay and other fun crafts. Overall a great weekend!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ode to the Space Shuttle

The boys were pretty excited about the space shuttle making its final laps around Washington, DC on Tuesday. At bedtime, Danny instructed me exactly how add a toy stuffed plane onto their Lufthansa model. Totally cracks me up every time I see it! -M

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


It's that time of year again. Time for the boys to shed their shaggy manes and get ready for summer. Benji has no qualms about this now annual spring event, but his older brother Daniel is Mr. Reluctant.

However, this year after stalling for a whole day about it, he finally agreed to let Susanne buzz him.

My favorite part is our our hybrid superhero helper. Benjamin is Spiderman on the top, and Superman on the bottom (his very favorite pajama bottoms by the way). I'm thinking we are going to have to cut the sleeves and legs on his Superman pajama set to make it wearable all summer.

Without further ado...the shearing ;-)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Recent Ramblings on FB Relating to our Really Rowdy Rugrats...

April 12
Danny is definitely starting to pick up some Spanish in his immersion school, and loves to tell us when he hears the language being spoken around us. He cracked me up the other day though when he asked what language the Beatles were singing when "Obadi, Oblada, Life Goes On" came on the radio. I'm thinking Bob Dylan would really confuse him.

April 11
Our pediatrician’s office has a pretty cool basketball net right in the exam room, so Danny enjoyed playing while we waited the other day. When we were done and the doc left I said “okay buddy, just 3 shots and we’re out of here”. I couldn’t figure out why he got so upset. Turns out while I meant basketball shots, he thought I meant vaccinations. Was he ever happy when I clarified!

April 7
Embarrassing kid question #249--"What's that thing for?" Asked Danny when we hauled out our iron for a guest to use this morning. (Note, it was not embarrassing for him!)

April 5
Danny: "I don't like nuts." Susanne: "Sure you do. And they are good brain food--they'll make you smarter." Danny: "I already ARE smart Mama".

April 3
Dear Benjamin. Next time we see a stooped over older gentleman at the grocery store with coke bottle glasses pointing at something can you please refrain from excitedly yelling “ET!”? Going to cut you a break this time because you’re only 27 months old…

March 20
There are 13 “body parts” in the game Operation. This morning after the boys were done playing there were only 7. Wild searching ensued. I was beginning to fear our two year old had swallowed them when we asked yet again “where are the rest of the pieces boys?” Benji said “hind you”. Susanne was holding the game board and sure enough, behind it jammed into the battery area mechanism were the missing 6 pieces. What a great way to start the day.

March 17
(Posted by Susanne) Monica to Susanne: What are you going to get at T@get? Danny: A discount?

March 12
The adults proudly watched as our adorable one year old neighbor mounted our tricycle. "Benji, would you like to push him?" Would he ever! But instead of pushing him along for a ride, Benni sidled over and pushed the little guy to the ground! Two year olds are not only very literal, they are awfully possessive it turns out. (So sorry G & M!)

March 10
Homeward bound. My apologies in advance to the poor woman in 23A who will experience intermittent "foot percussion" in the small of her back for the next two hours.

March 8
"Paper, rock, scissors, shoot" "Ummmm..what is that Danny?" "Gun, I choose gun." "Well there are only three choices--paper, rock or scissors." "No gun? Then why do you keep saying shoot?"

March 7
"Here I am" is apparently not the proper response to "ready or not here I come!" The 2 year old versus 4 year old battle continues.

March 5
Having fun on vacation. Best part so far? Danny excitedly yelling "Guys! Look! A blond eagle!"

Feb 13
Last night Danny informed Susanne that she was the "rightest" mom when he realized she was correct about something he had doubted. Is it wrong for me to hope that this actually makes me the "leftist" mom? ;-)

Feb 12
The other night coming through the front door after work I exclaimed "something smells really good!" Without missing a beat Danny piped up "it isn't me."

Monday, April 09, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom and Dad

Dad, me and mom on vacation in North Carolina in the mid 1990s.
My dad Joe was born on April 8, 1930 and my mom Mary Ellen on April 9, 1932. I wish so much that I could tell them happy birthday in person, but they have both passed away, so that's just not possible.

Like most people who have lost loved ones, I wish I could see them both just one more time. I have just memories and pictures and a few "treasures". Nothing fancy. I have the flag that draped dad's casket. But far more valuable to me somehow is the little Tootsie Roll we found in his bathrobe pocket after he'd died. Oh how he loved those little Tootsie Rolls. The years of chemo for his cancer kept him feeling pretty crappy for the most part, so I'm glad he found some pleasure in his occasional chocolatey treat. I have that "keepsake" in a safe place lest it get accidentally eaten. But I do see it from time to time and I smile. Next month it will be 10 years since Dad died. How is that possible?

From mom, I have her Claddagh ring and some Dublin Crystal candle holders she liked. They too make me smile when I see them. Mom's been gone less than 2 years. Losing her still feels really raw, and some reason I think it always will. Maybe that's how it is with moms and daughters? I don't know.

Mom and Dad, if I really could see you both one more time, much as I think I'd have to come up with something perfect to say, I think what I'd really want to do is to just listen to you (I know, I know--for once right?) Seriously though. We don't have too much video of your voices and I miss the sounds of your Boston and Brooklyn accents. Oh how comforting and soothing they were to me. (I can just hear mom saying "I don't have an accent!)

Happy birthdays dear parents. I hope it's not presumptuous of me to guess that there is most likely very good cake in heaven. Love you, and miss you. -Monica

Easter--Friends, Family and Fun

We had a wonderful Easter. After church we stepped outside to enjoy a delightful Easter Egg Hunt. Then at home we held one of our own for all the neighborhood children and then followed that with a delightful lunchner (is that what you call lunch and dinner together?) with neighbors, and traditional Easter Egg Roll. The kids went to bed exhausted but happy. Hope everyone else had a wonderful weekend too!

Danny and Benji strategize with pals from church before the Easter Egg hunt begins.

Alleluia! He is risen!

Back home. Let the games begin!

Susanne and Jo Ellen teamed to make an amazing banana bunny cake.

The boys' Nana catches a breath. These kids are full of energy.

Neighbors pose for a sweet pic.

Benji and Callagh get down to business watering basically everything in the back yard.

Danny and friends try their best to hit a piece of candy with their egg. A wonderful German tradition courtesy of Nana.

Welcome spring. You can stay ;-)

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Fun at the Blossom Kite Festival

Daniel strikes a pose when he's not busy running around and oohing and aaahing at all the cool kites!

Benji's favorite part of the day was rolling down a hill. Over and over and over again.
Susanne's box kite got way up there and our neighbor's bird kite looked pretty cool too!

Not sure who had more fun--the kids or the parents. It was a beautiful day to fly kites last Saturday, and the Washington Monument is a pretty cool backdrop don't you think? Have a great day! -Monica

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Double Take

Danny is going to turn 5 years old next month. FIVE! Okay, so maybe every parent goes through these odd phases of being absolutely amazed that their child is growing up. But even so, to actually experience it is really striking. I don't mourn the loss of baby Danny (or baby Benji for that matter). But I'm not sure that the word celebrate is the right one to describe this "gain" of children growing up.

Case in point. Last Saturday we stopped at our local Target and the boys got new bike helmets. I was walking down the street holding Benji's hand while Susanne and Danny walked ahead of us. Danny had his helmet down on his side--sort of holding it like a schoolbook. He and Susanne were just chatting away and I suddenly realized he was loping. Striding alongside of her with no effort. None of that half running to keep up with Mama's longer legs or anything like that. And they were actually conversing. Talking and laughing together like two adults might. Nodding and gesturing. It was really striking to me.

Of course withing 5 minutes he was having a fit about not having the toy he wanted and complaining about his carseat straps, so he is still our little guy. But for that moment on 14th Street, Danny became just Dan. No longer a baby or a toddler--not even a preschooler. A real live little boy. I guess I'll remember this as my Gepetto moment.

Oh who am I kidding? These two will always be our babies! -Monica

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


Yesterday I learned an EXTREMELY valuable lesson. It's a lesson that I hope anyone who ever reads this never has to experience for themselves.

You see I had taken both boys shopping for groceries. I put 2 year old Benji in the cart seat and let 4 year old Danny jump up on the side where he delighted in yelling "all aboard" and pretending he was Mr. Conductor.

We'd just entered the store and the cart was empty. It was a fairly old metal cart I remember and spying a bag of small oranges across the way, I started walking away. I'd taken maybe 5 steps and as I turned back my heart stopped. The cart was tipping over. Danny was trying to jump off and it was falling and Benji was trapped. I don't know how I raced with my heart stopped. I wish I could say it didn't tip over. And that Benji's head did not hit the ground. But I can't.

I did get there before it fell all the way. I did slow its descent but could not stop it. I did see Benji's little head strike the floor. The store wasn't very crowded and everyone ran over. I pulled the cart up a bit and got Benji out. He was in the throes of a silent cry which ended in a horrible wail. I just hugged him for I don't know how long.  A man at the store ran to get a bag of ice.

After he'd calmed down he wanted to sit inside the basket (not in the seat he'd been in.) He'd already spotted some "baby bananas" he wanted and I was so amazed by his resilience.

Throughout all this, my sensitive 4 year old was crying too. I actually had to carry him as we got our groceries and went back to the car. He was very upset about the cart. I knew how he felt.

I'm so filled with gratitude that Benji is okay. We watched his eyes for signs of a concussion. We watched for unusual sleepiness--no sign of that at bedtime. Our dear sweet boy is fine. And I will never, ever, ever, let either boy ride on the side of a cart again. And I'm thinking they won't ask any more either.

Thank you God. Thank you. -Monica